Posts Tagged ‘pioneer women’

New Release! Lorna Loves a Lawyer

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

Lorna Loves a Lawyer by Linda K. HubalekBook nine in the Brides with Grit series has been released!

Remember Cora’s brother, Lyle from Boston, in book four, Cora Captures a Cowboy? He’s back in Clear Creek…and has his eye on someone else’s mail-order bride…

Lorna Loves a Lawyer is a sweet historical romance set in 1873. Lorna Jantz left Boston looking for adventure, signing up as a mail-order bride for a rich Kansas rancher. But, the groom only becomes rich after taking off with her money, after their twenty-four hour marriage. Which left Lorna in a pickle, stuck in a little town with no money, no home and a growing belly.

Lyle Elison was one of Boston’s worst, a spoiled, rich merchant’s son, until enforced time on the family’s Kansas ranch made him see his purpose in life. After training in Boston, he’s back in Clear Creek, Kansas, as the town’s new lawyer.

Backgrounds make Lorna and Lyle connect, but time spent together makes them good friends, willing to help each other face their respective problems. Lorna needs help tracking down the louse who stole her money and left her in a family way. Lyle needs to be married by his birthday to receive his inheritance from his grandfather’s Will.

In between their capers, each falls in love with the other, secretly wishing they could confess their love and be together forever. But first, they have to find Lorna’s wayward husband before Lyle’s birthday.

Read a preview of Lorna Loves a Lawyer now.

Please enjoy this new story of a couple finding love on the Kansas prairie.

The Woman’s Role in the Birth of Kansas

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog

Kansas State Flag

Kansas State Flag

As the state of Kansas celebrates their 152nd birthday this week, one wonders why people decided to venture out into the open prairie of the Great Plains in the first place.

The answer was free land with the 1854 opening of the Territory of Kansas and Nebraska. A surge of settlers took that opportunity to move in, stake out land claims, and build brand new towns.

What role did the woman of the family have in the decision to move, and in the building of a new life out in the middle of nowhere?

While researching for my Trail of Thread book series, I was plagued with the questions the women would be asking of themselves and their husbands about the reason for the move, and how to prepare for it.

What were these women’s feelings when they were told they were moving to an open wilderness without family or towns nearby? How could they decide what to pack and what they must leave behind? At what point did these pioneer women feel they were making progress in starting a new state?

Unfortunately, after the early homesteaders settled in the new territory, the clashes between the free-state and proslavery forces made life hard for all. While the men were out fighting for their picked cause, the women were left at home to build and defend their new homesteads.

Even though women didn’t have a vote in what was going to happen to their state, it was often the women that were holding the state together and talking care of the farms- establishing the state and its future.

So, as the 34th state looks back on its history and ahead to its future, we say thanks to the pioneer women that made Kansas a state.

Welcoming the New Year

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Kansas Quilter book series

Author Linda Hubalek's great grandmother Kizzie Pieratt

Linda Hubalek’s great grandmother Kizzie Pieratt

The year 2012 went by fast for me as my husband and I built our own house, plus me taking care of my aging parents. Both “jobs” were filled with work, trauma, and joy. But, these were important things that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.

Now I’m starting the new year by moving into my new home office and planning my dad’s 90th birthday open house on Jan. 20th.

I’m enjoying a sunny winter snow scene from my office window and getting back in gear…and still wondering what I did with… where I put… certain files… that envelope of research photos, etc.

I wasn’t able to concentrate on my writing as I would have liked to last year, but now I’m working on my next book.

I have enough research done to start writing the story of my great grandmother, Kizzie Pieratt who was a spunky pioneer, and an avid quilter.

It’s going to be fun to write her story. Please keep tuned in to see how the new book progresses.

Making Cakes from Scratch

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Eggs & butter photo from recipe book Egg Gravy, by Linda K. Hubalek.Today is my mom’s 88th birthday so I made her favorite dessert, an angel food cake to enjoy for her celebration this evening. I just added a cup of water to a packet of dry mix out of a box, turn on the mixer for a minute, put the whipped mixture in a tube pan and slid it into the electric oven.

Then I thought of the old recipes I came across while researching my recipe book, Egg Gravy. Not only did the pioneer women make their cakes from scratch, they had to produce the ingredients first.

The old photo of cartons of eggs and big balls of butter was taken back in the early 1900’s, showing products ready to take into town for trade at the grocery store.

Enjoy reading these recipes, and Happy Birthday Mom!

Angel Food Cake
Whites of 11 eggs
pinch of salt
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon vanilla  

Sift sugar and flour together 7 times. Put cream of tartar and salt in eggs and beat very light, fold in sugar and flour, add vanilla. Put in cold oven and bake slowly 1 hour.  (Make your own cake flour by sifting 4 cups flour and 1 cup cornstarch together four times.)  

Sunshine Cake
1 cup butter
11 egg yolks, beaten light
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour, sifted 3 times with 2 tps. baking powder
1 cup sweet milk

Bake in tube pan 45 minutes. Use any flavoring desired.

Butter
Pour ripened cream into butter churn and churn for about 30 to 35 minutes until the butter is about the size of wheat grains. Draw off buttermilk and add cold water. Slowly churn for a few minutes, then draw off the water. Put the butter in a wooden bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of salt per pound of butter. Let stand a few minutes, then work butter with wooden paddle to get the last of the liquid out and the salt in. Press in crocks or butter molds and store in a cool place.

(Excerpts and photo from Egg Gravy: Authentic Recipes from the Butter in the Well Series, © by Linda K. Hubalek.)

 

Plastering Dugout Walls

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

A photograph showing a family posed in front of their dugout in Norton County, Kansas.We’re in the process of building our own house, doing almost all of the work ourselves. This week I’ve been pounding in nails on wall edging, and taping and mudding sheet rock. My finger joints and wrists feel like they could break off as they are so tired and sore.

But then I think of this diary entry from Butter in the Well

April 25, 1868
We saved the hard layer of sand from when we dug the well. This sand, and clay from the river bank, were mixed with water to plaster the walls of the dugout. It’s very crude, but it will have to do for our first winter. The dirt floor will get packed down in time. I’ll sprinkle my dishwater on it to help it harden. I wish we had rugs to cover the floor. It would make it warmer and easier to keep clean. I talked Carl into cutting up one board for a door. At least I’ll feel a little safer at night with it closed. The hungry howling of the wolves scares me.  (Excerpt from Butter in the Well, © by Linda K. Hubalek)

Okay, with all the modern conveniences of premixed plaster mud, and a wooden sub floor that will eventually have carpet or tile on it, I shouldn’t complain when I compare my modern tasks to what the women had to do in 1868. (Plus I’m sure my new bedroom is  bigger than most dugouts were back then.)

And also…

July 20, 1868
 I had a scare today while washing clothes. The fire pit is deep and lined with rock, but I still have to be very careful in case the wind is blowing. A gust came out of nowhere and blew a spark into the grass. I had been stirring the pot of clothes with a stick. I reacted so fast I threw out half the clothes as I flung the stick around to beat the spark out. Christina was sitting nearby. I could have scalded her to death and started a prairie fire all at the same time. Carl was working at the Robinsons’ today, so I was on my own.
Tonight when we said our evening prayers, I gave my deepest thanks to the Lord for watching over us today.  (Excerpt from Butter in the Well, © by Linda K. Hubalek)

I’m so glad I can take a hot shower and toss my dirty clothes in the washing machine at the end of my work day…

The Loss of a Friend

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Planting Dreams book series

One of my grade school classmates died suddenly this week from some yet-unknown health issue. Eventually, after the autopsy is finished, family and friends will know what struck down the man liked by so many, but now all we can do is just wonder—and remember.

He was the class clown, often times the start of mischief in our boisterous large class of almost thirty students (all in one room those days).

In his adult life people knew him as a family man, auctioneer, their kid’s softball coach, and church leader who almost always had a smile on his face and a greeting on his lips.

At first, few in our community knew of his death because he did not live locally, then the news spread through phone calls, Facebook, etc.

While researching pioneers’ lives I’m come across situations like this where no one knows why a person died, or when it happened.

Unless it was an accident, or a known disease that was plaguing the community, an autopsy wasn’t performed on a deceased a century ago. The body was prepared for viewing at home, and then buried in a local cemetery. I found out it happened more than once to my ancestors while researching my Planting Dreams book series.

Can you imagine it happening to you along a wagon trail in the mid-1800s, with no time to stop and mourn, and knowing you would never visit that grave again?

Can you imagine receiving a black-edged envelope in the mail telling to you that your child or grandchild who immigrated to America, died months ago?

Sorrow for the one lost and the memories shared are the same whether a person died generations ago, or just recently.

It is just a sad fact of life…but at least today I can remember my friend’s smile…

The Buffalo Chip Lady

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

Ada McColl gathtering buffalo chipsI love looking at old photos collected on historical  internet sites like KansasMemory.org. One of the most famous photos, that of a woman gathering cow chips, depicts the typical life of a pioneer woman in many people’s minds.

Here’s this woman, stuck out on the Western Kansas plains, with nothing but the flat prairie behind her—and she’s gathering dried buffalo manure to use as fuel to cook her family’s meals.

That was life for the women homesteading on the plains with no trees for fuel. Unless you lived on a river that had trees on its banks, you were pretty much out of luck. Prairie fires kept trees from foresting the Plains before towns and farms changed the landscape. So you gathered whatever you could find to burn, and people soon found out that dried manure gave a nice slow burning heat.

However, one of the interesting internet links with this photo on the Kansas Memory.org site is the story behind the staging of this picture. Yes, a young woman that wanted to be a photographer set it up. In 1893 Ada McColl posed for her camera, and her mother Polly actually took the picture featuring Ada, and her little brother Burt, (mistaken for a girl because of his clothing). You can read the whole story of the Pioneer Photographer: The Story of the Cow Chip Lady in this link (then scroll down to page 10).

I always wonder about the people and scenery in old photos, so it was neat to find the story behind this particular one. Even though Ada staged the shot, it was a common chore for many a woman on the Kansas prairie in the 1850-1870s. Ada would have used her family’s cow herd’s dried manure to fill her wheelbarrow because the buffalo herds were gone from the state twenty years before this picture was taken.

But Ada gave us more than a glimpse of how the first pioneers  scrounged for buffalo chips after a herd passed through the area. She showed the view of the endless prairie in the horizon, the taste and smell of the dirt blowing on her face from the constant wind, the dry gritty feel of the dried manure on her hands, and the weight of the wheel barrow.

That’s what I aimed to portray in my books… not only visual sights for the reader, but for all their senses as well. But, I have to admit, this picture says a lot without words…

Why I wrote Butter in the Well

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Butter in the Well, historical fiction book by Linda K. HubalekTwenty years ago I wrote my first book Butter in the Well. Writing was a new adventure for me, brought on by my husband’s job transfer to another state. I was homesick and started writing about the Swedish woman who left her country and homesteaded on the Kansas prairie that later became my childhood home.

Writing this first book changed my career and, my life. I swerved off this path for a decade while raising buffalo (which could be a book in itself), but I’m back to writing stories about pioneer women again.

Recently I re-read my books to enjoy the stories and photos that brought the characters to life, for both my readers and me.

Please join me as I post special passages from Butter in the Well in my blog to relive the life of a special Swedish immigrant, Kajsa Swenson. I’ll add background tidbits, photos, and website links so you can enjoy “the story behind the story” too.

To get you started, here is the Preface from my book, Butter in the Well. (Copyright 1992 by Linda K. Hubalek)

“This book is about a Swedish emigrant woman who homesteaded Kansas land in 1868. Maja Kajsa Svensson was a young bride of one year when she, her husband, Carl Johan, and 3-month-old daughter, Anna Christina, left Sweden in 1867.

Born to Johan Magnus Andersson and Anna Lisa Mattesdotter on June 15, 1844, in Klevmarken, Sweden, she was the first in her family to marry and the first to move to America.

After receiving an encouraging letter from a friend who had moved and settled in Illinois, the Svenssons set sail for America and settled in Jacksonville, Illinois. Carl worked in his friend’s brickyard but dreamed of farming his own land. The farmland in Illinois had already been bought up, so they needed to look elsewhere. Land agents canvassing Illinois advertised the free land in Kansas, just waiting to be claimed. Although Kajsa would have preferred to stay in Illinois, she accepted Carl’s decision and packed for the trip to Kansas.

This fictionalized account describes Kajsa’s first 20 years on her Kansas farm and how the community developed into the Smoky Valley region of Saline County, Kansas. It is seen through her eyes, as though she were writing in her journal.

I interviewed relatives and neighbors who remember stories of this family and the history of this area. I walked the cemeteries to find the tombstones of Kajsa’s relatives. Some stories, dates, and name spellings have conflicted at times, but I have tried to find the truth by researching church, cemetery, and county records. Old newspapers and books have shed light on the conditions and events that took place in the communities.

The accounts of Kajsa are meant to portray life during the late 1800s in the Smoky Valley of Kansas. Some license has been taken to depict the everyday in the life of a family in this time period.

I have not found pictures of her family prior to 1881, but those of the family and farm in later years reveal much about Kajsa’s life.

Kajsa’s daughter Julia married Peter Olson’s son Joseph, and spent her married life on his family farm directly north of where she was born. “Aunt Julia”, as almost everyone in the neighborhood called her, was like a grandmother to me. I used to take her a May Day basket filled with lilac blooms picked from the bush she helped her mother plant.

But just as important as knowing Kajsa’s family, I know the farm they homesteaded, for I grew up on that very land, roamed its acres and lived in the house that Carl and Kajsa built. Living on the land has given me a depth and feel for the life of the woman portrayed in these pages.

In Kajsa’s photos, she stares me straight in the eye as if challenging me to look into her soul. Kajsa looked like a quiet, determined woman who loved her family and land. Her story ought to be told.”

Want to read more about Kajsa and her life on the Kansas prairie?
Please watch for my next blog…