Posts Tagged ‘pioneer writer’

Lassoing a Groom

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, western romance

Lassoing a Groom- a western romance anthologyMy books about pioneer women tend to be quietly dramatic due to what life on the prairie was like for these women, so it was fun to write a sweet, humorous story for a western romance anthology, Lassoing a Groom that just came out by Prairie Rose Publications.

Here’s the theme for the six stories in the book.

How is a woman supposed to catch a husband? In the wild, wild west, she’s got to find a way to Lasso a Groom! Some of them are lawmen…some are outlaws. Ranchers and homesteaders are fair game, as well—none of ’em safe from love’s lariat, or the women who finally manage to rope ’em in!

Here’s the blurb about my story, The Perfect Homestead Bride.

Gussie Hamner paid cash for the abandoned Kansas prairie homestead near Ellsworth, Kansas with winnings her horse Nutcracker won against cowboys coming off the cattle trails. She plans to raise horses on her ranch, but disturbing happenings around the place and with her animals cause Gussie to worry about the safety of all that is dear to her.

Noah Wilerson left his sod house in Kansas to travel to Illinois, planning to marry and bring his sweetheart back to his new homestead. After finding his intended already married, Noah travels home to find it’s been taken over by a horsewoman in trousers.

Pushed together by well-meaning family, Gussie and Noah must work together to finish the homestead he started, but she bought to make into a perfect home and ranch for the future family she’s been dreaming of.  But danger lurking from the past may sabotage their work and lives now—and in the future.

Click now to read the start of The Perfect Homestead Bride. For more information on all the stories in Lassoing a Groom, go to Prairie Rose Publications too. Please enjoy these fun western romance stories. It was fun to participate in this book!

Can you find the well?

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

"Butter in the Well" homestead photo, taken in 1881. (copyright © Linda K. Hubalek)The first home on the “Butter in the Well” homestead was a dugout. Two years later in 1870, the Svensson family built the first section of their wood-frame house. They added on at least two more times over the next two decades.

Here are excerpts from Butter in the Well, as well as a copy of the first photo taken of the house in 1881. It shows the front of the house, which is the second addition to the house. The stone section was on the west side and did not show on this photo.

June 4, 1870
We finally have enough stone to start building our house. We have been collecting sandstone rocks whenever we come across them in the field or the creek. It has been hard to find enough rock nearby.

Yesterday Carl picked up the last wagonload of local rock. There is a rise of hills two miles south that has an outcropping of stone. The rains last week loosened the sod enough that it was easy to dig out the rocks with a spade and pick.

The cellar is dug. It will be used as storage for our preserved food, and as a root cellar for our vegetables and fruits from the garden. We also need a place for shelter from tornadoes, the cyclone winds that Kansas is known for. We’ll have one entrance to the cellar from outside on the north, one from the porch on the south and one inside the house. After the stone walls are in place in the cellar, and the floor is laid for the house, I want to move into the cellar. We’d have more room than in the dugout and the cellar floor seems drier than the dugout floor. We have had water seeping up from the floor of the dugout this spring. It is always muddy and doesn’t want to dry out. It will be so nice to get out of the damp ground and live on a wooden floor when the house is done.

Our house will measure 16 feet square. Imagine all the space we’ll have. It will consist of one big room with a loft above it. We hope to add on more rooms as we have the time and money.

Carl bought glass for three windows, a door, shingles and more lumber when he was in Salina last week. One window will go in the middle of the west wall, one in the middle of the south wall, and a little window in the west end of the loft. The front door will go in the southeast corner of the house.

Carl also bought a big cooking stove with the money he received from selling some of last year’s wheat. It will go on the west wall, just to the right of the window so I can gaze out at our farm while I’m cooking.

We’ll have a ladder on the east wall to get up into the loft, which we’ll use as storage and for an extra bedroom. I’d like to add a porch to the south eventually. Then I can sit and watch the children play while I’m sewing, snapping beans or whatever needs to be done. 

June 12, 1870
Rock by rock we are slowly building the walls. We are mixing a plaster of sand, clay and lime to cement the rock together. Benjamin and Mr. Lapsley are helping today. Adelaide came over to watch the progress and help me fix the meals for the extra hands.

As I stood inside my partially built house tonight, I tried to imagine what it will look like when it is done. I want to put up red gingham curtains that I can tie back during the day, and braid some rag rugs for the floor. The old hides have worked well in the dugout, but I want our new home to look like a real house, like the one we had in Sweden.

March 16, 1876
With four growing children, our house has become too small. We had hoped to add on sooner, but it hasn’t been possible until now. It is going to be an American two-story frame house.

I will have to move my flower bed from its place on the east side. I’ve collected wildflower seeds in the fall from the open prairie and now I have a beautiful variety of flowers around our home. Columbine and daisies bloom in the spring. I enjoy the primrose and phlox in the summer and the goldenrod and asters in the fall. The wild rose roots I dug up have spread everywhere so I have a nice stand of them. I throw my wash water on the flower beds when I empty the tubs, so they are well watered. I love the splash of color the flowers have added to the homestead. We dug up several small cedar and ash saplings from the riverbank and transplanted them around the house, but they are out far enough that they won’t have to be moved.

We have bought lumber, glass for windows and doors to build on four rooms. We will add two rooms to the east part of the stone room, with two rooms directly above it. Since the cellar is already a nice size, we will not dig a basement for the new section.

Carl will put in a staircase to the upstairs and seal off the hole in the ceiling we have been using to get to the loft. We’ll add a door to the side of the loft at the top of the stairway and use that area for an attic. The southeast room will be our bedroom. A smaller bedroom to the north will be used as Alfred’s nursery, and we’ll have a storage closet under the stairwell. A stove in our room will heat the new section of the house.

At the top of the stairs will be one small room for Willie and a larger room to the south for the girls. The girls are excited about having their own room, away from their brother! The upstairs will be cold during the winter, but the children can come downstairs to dress in front of the kitchen stove.

The walls will be plastered and eventually papered. There is enough wood for trim inside around the windows, doors and baseboards. I’ll need to make more curtains and Carl will have to make more furniture.

Carl even bought extra siding to cover the sandstone walls on the old part of the house. After we paint, the house will be done.

May 5, 1881
A photographist stopped by to ask if I would like a picture taken of us and the farm. He has been traveling around the area this week. I decided it would be a good idea because we do not have such a picture. Carl and I had talked about it, but we never found the time or money. We brought the animals out of the barn to show how well we are doing. We stood in front of the house. I asked Peter to be in the picture also, since he helps us out so much.”
(Excerpts from Butter in the Well, © by Linda K. Hubalek)

Butter in the Well, historical fiction book by Linda K. HubalekPerishables, before the days of electricity, were kept in crocks and buckets, and lowered down with a rope into the well to be stored right above the water level. The well was a cool place to store food that would otherwise spoil.

According to a family story, one time the rope broke so there is a crock of butter in the bottom of the well. Now you know how I came up with the title for this book, Butter in the Well.

Looking closely at the homestead photo, can you find the well? Post a comment when you find it- and anything else you find interesting or have a question about… (You can go to my Facebook page to see a larger copy of it and comment there too.)

Details in Pioneer Photos

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

Mead family dugout, Ford Co., Kansas

Mead family dugout, Ford Co., Kansas

I post pioneer photos on my Facebook page once a week, and it’s fun for people to look at the photos in detail and comment on what they see.

Last week I posted the outside and inside of a dugout home in Ford Co., Kansas that I found in www.KansasMemory.com, part of our Kansas State Historical Society website. I printed off the photos and went over them in detail with a magnifying glass too.

Interior of the Mead family dugout, Ford Co., Kansas

Interior of the Mead family dugout, Ford Co., Kansas

Readers saw that the man had a bandaged finger, commented on how tight all the furniture was inside the dugout…and wondering how long they lived in the dugout before building a home, or going back to where they came from.

One Facebook fan from England then asked about the Benders, a famous Kansas family who in 1873 killed travelers at their inn, and then buried them in their orchard.

I knew of the family’s crime since I do history research, and put their name in a Google search. Oh my, for the links and information that popped up…

There were reports in the New York Times, photos taken at the scene of the crime, just all sensationalized as things are today. It was not instant news like the one we have now, but people were still interested in the story that happened in the middle of the Kansas prairie when they did hear about it.

If you’d like to join in the fun of looking back on pioneer times, please check out my author’s fan page on Facebook.

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…

A Great Story is a Great Gift

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

I got an email from another author with this headline today and I thought—this statement is so true.

The author was promoting his books for the Christmas season, and it was a good opening line.

I like the statement because the stories written in my books are gifts of insight to me—and the descendants of every pioneer that homesteaded out in the middle of nowhere.

But, the line can imply other things too.

A great story will share the history from one generation to the next. That’s a gift of heritage and pride in one’s family.

A great story may calm a child—or an adult— in a crisis. That’s a gift by preventing further trauma and frightful memories.

A great story can be seen and felt through a keepsake quilt, or through the lines of a poem, giving the gift of a visual memory.

A great story saved in one’s heart can be remembered forever—even if it was just baking Christmas cookies decades ago

This list can go on and on.

I hope today you get—or give—a great story to remember the day, or a special person by.

What’s your greatest story that was a gift to you?

The Pioneer’s Cyber Monday Sales

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

While we’re ordering our holiday gifts online today because of Cyber Monday sales, I can’t help but think of the contrast of now, versus 150 years ago, when Kansas was being homesteaded by pioneers of several different nationalities.

Butter in the Well, historical fiction book by Linda K. HubalekThink how simple and thankful the pioneers were for their holidays and gift giving. When you read the diary entries from Butter in the Well, you’ll see what I mean…

“November 26, 1868

 We celebrated the American holiday called Thanksgiving with the Robinsons today. We were thankful to be asked to their home. They live in a dugout too, but have two rooms and real furniture. Benjamin had shot a turkey down near their bend of the river. He said that turkey is the traditional meat for the Thanksgiving meal back East. But Adelaide also fixed venison, potatoes, creamed hominy corn, pickled beets, fresh wheat bread (I had two thick slices) and dried currant pie. Since she has a cow, we also enjoyed fresh butter and cheese. Adelaide sent home a wedge of cheese and a loaf of bread. She is so thoughtful.

December 9, 1868

Since Carl is spending most of his time inside now that it is cold, he has been carving. He has made some wooden spoons and small bowls for me, and tool handles for himself. He carved a doll’s head and I added a little body for it out of one of Christina’s first dresses. It will be her Christmas present.

Carl bought a two-lidded stove in Salina this month to heat the dugout and so I could do some of my cooking inside. It is a very small second-hand stove, but better than cooking everything outside.

Since the days are shorter and sometimes overcast, we need more light in the dugout. Rather than use up the supply of candles, we are burning a plate of tallow, using a piece of twisted cloth as the wick, or burning the tail feathers of ducks geese. I don’t care for the smell of singed feathers, but I have to use what we’ve got.”

(Excerpts from Butter in the Well, © by Linda K. Hubalek)

Gifts were given and received, be it food or a hand-carved item, with thought and love back then. And, actually we’re still doing the same things now, only with a different means of obtaining them.

Have fun today as you think of Christmas gifts to give to others. Will you hand make some items this year, or order them online?

P.S. If you’d like to read more about these Kansas pioneers, or would like to give them as a holiday gifts, the Kindle and Nook ebooks are on sale this month as Butterfield Books Inc.’s Cyber Monday special. Or, you can buy autographed books on my website, where you always get free shipping. Happy Shopping and Giving!

Our Family’s Thanksgiving Table

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, my mind wanders back to the simple Thanksgiving days of my youth—50+years ago—when my mom, grandma, or aunts hosted the noon meal. Each year we rotated to whose house we would go to, and each holds special memories.

Various tables were pushed together so we could all sit and pass the multiple platters and bowls of steaming food in a continuous circle.

We enjoyed the traditional foods of turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes—with a few Swedish dishes mixed in. (On Aunt Maydean’s turn we got the bonus of her homemade root beer.)

After the meal we’d have to dry all the pots, pans, dishes, and silverware used that day with a tea towel that kept getting soggier by each piece. That was part of the tradition too.

Now decades have gone by, changing who sits at our family Thanksgiving table. Our generation of cousins married, adding spouses and new children to the table, or left to join a new family’s table. Others left—but not by choice—due to age or disease.

Tomorrow as I’m eating white turkey meat dipped in cranberry sauce, I’ll be thinking of Thanksgiving pasts and who is missing from our table this year.

It’s just part of Thanksgiving to be grateful for food and family, both present and past.

And I’m really grateful for those memories…

Flooding Memories

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

(This month I’m posting excerpts from my books and telling you the story behind them.)

I remember several floods while growing up on the farm I featured in my Butter in the Well book series.

The creek runs through the middle of the farm, with the river on the west border. Most times the creek is dry, but it can flood quickly as Kajsa found out there first night on their new land.

“March 31, 1868

…Tonight and for quite a while we will sleep in the wagon and cook on the campfire. We stacked the lumber beside the wagon, so we have more room in the wagon bed. Carl may sleep on the ground, but Christina needs to be protected from the damp ground and the creatures that I’m sure will check us out tonight.

Thank goodness Christina has stayed healthy. Many children died on the long trip to America and were buried at sea. It broke my heart to hear about parents burying their babies along the wagon trails going west. The families had to move on, knowing they would never visit the grave. One woman told me she hoped her little one would be left in peace and not dug up by a wolf looking for food, or an Indian looking for clothing.

My thoughts have been interrupted several times by the dark clouds building up above the bluffs to the west. We experienced a few thunderstorms in Illinois and Christina was terrified. I was pretty uneasy myself. We were in a house then, not out in the wide open, lost in a sea of waving grass…

April 1, 1868

It poured all last night, maybe a slight pause, and then more buckets of rain. Carl and I were soaking wet, trying to keep Christina and our supplies halfway dry. Our poor animals were tied to the wagon, having no choice but to be miserable where they stood. In the dawn light we saw we were surrounded by water. The creek had flooded its banks and was rising around us. Our stack of boards was floating away so Carl and I had to jump from the wagon and splash around in the muddy waters, shoving the lumber back into the wagon. We had to move farther up our land to the northeast to escape the floodwater. The creek I was so happy about had become a life-threatening curse. It is evening now and the water is receding. We now know that the land will be our master and not the other way around.”

(Excerpt from Butter in the Well, © by Linda K. Hubalek)

The creek has flooded the farm on occasion for over 140 years. Sometimes it’s been a decade between floods, or a week depending on the year.

You can hear the floodwater coming up the “alley” between the corrals before you see it. It has seeped into the barn and granary, ruining things sitting on the floor of the buildings if they weren’t moved out in time. I remember tying the horses and 4-H calves up to the fence east of the house to be out of harm’s way when I was in grade school.

The house is on higher land but the cellar has been flooded a few times. I don’t know if their first home, a dugout was ever threatened.

Can you imagine Kajsa’s worry as the waters crept up towards their farm? It would have been the same as my parent’s worry decades later… with the same creek and the same buildings.

Morning Glory Quilt Block

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, quilts and quilting

morning glory quilt blockFinally, today, now that September is fading into history, my morning glory vine outside my kitchen window bloomed for the first time this summer. It’s been such a hot summer in Kansas that the vine just didn’t have the strength to bloom. Now that the weather has cooled down it’s covered with buds ready to burst—and my bet is we’ll have an early frost and I won’t get to enjoy its promising potential.

But as one My Quilt Place friend mentioned in an email to me, we can still enjoy flowers year round in our quilts and quilt making.

Another quilter friend completed the quilt featured in the book Prairie Flower: A Year on the Plains by Barbara Brackman. The quilter posted several of the individual flower blocks on her page so I’ll share her “morning glory” block with you.

I hope you’re enjoying the last of the summer flowers as we move into the fall season. Even with the summer flowers fading away, we have the changing fall colors to inspire us for our next quilting project…

Kansas Quilter died 40 Years ago

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

Wedding photo for Ira and Kizzie Pieratt

Ira and Kizzie Pieratt

I thought of my great grandmother Kizzie Pieratt several times yesterday. It had been 40 years since she died. Besides my having a good memory for event dates, I’ve been working on the Kansas Quilter book series about her life and the quilts she made. I watched the calendar as her death date approached.

She and husband Ira were married 70 years, and she lived another seven years after he died. My husband and I have been married 35 years this month­—half the amount that my great grandparents were married.

Kizzie and Ira were pioneer children. First generation to be born to my Kansas homesteading ancestors featured in my Trail of Thread book series.

I think of all the changes I’ve seen in my life span, and then compare it to theirs. Huge inventions—electricity, telephones, cars, and airplanes, and so much more—were invented during their lifetime.

Although Kizzie’s been gone for several decades, I still have items we both touched and used…including her quilts she hand stitched decades ago.

Electricity may have changed how we can make quilts, but quilting is still done the same way—with our hands, while thinking of who may touch the quilt in future generations.