Posts Tagged ‘Bison Farm’

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…

Movie featuring our Buffalo

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

It finally happened, and we were there! We went to Kansas City last Saturday to see the debut of Au Pair, Kansas at the AMC Kansas City FilmFest. This movie was filmed at our farm and around Lindsborg two years ago.

It was thrilling to see the movie name flashing in bright lights to all that drove or walked past the theater. (Plus, it’s not often that the word “Kansas” is in the title of a movie.)

The lights dimmed, the movie started, and there on the big screen was our buffalo…standing like huge giants oblivious to the packed theater of uplifted faces looking at them. The sold out audience (with many people from Lindsborg in it) cheered and clapped as individuals from our hometown showed up as extras in the scenes with the main actors.

Of course I tried taking a few snapshots, while watching the scenes so I didn’t miss anything. It brought tears to my eyes too since we don’t have some of those old buffalo anymore.

The view from Coronado Heights, downtown Lindsborg decorated for the Christmas season, the Swedish dancers doing familiar steps in the Swedish Pavilion in the Old Mill Museum complex—just to see them as an outsider—made me appreciate what we enjoy and see every day. I’m glad the people who put together this film saw the same qualities that make our Smoky Valley region in Kansas so special.

I’d like to say “Good Job!” to the movie screenwriter/director, JT O’Neal and everyone that had a part, large or small, in the movie. It won the award for best Heartland Narrative feature at the festival too.

It was good to see home, and my buffalo, on the big screen!

Google Alert a Surprise

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

Many of my book readers may not realize we’ve raised American buffalo since 1999. Since 1999 to last year, my blog was about our bison herd and our farm attractions – with only a little information about my books.

Our bison farm developed into a big tourist attraction over the years to the point it was more work involved that we (and the herd) wanted to deal with, so we drastically changed directions over a year ago to a simpler life without tourists. (And that’s why I now have time to devote to my writing again…)

 I get google alerts on my name to track my author marketing, and last night, low and behold, there as a five minute video from about six years ago when America’s Heartland did a TV segment on me and our tourist attraction.  Because of the internet, that video will live on forever.

I watched it again, (and thinking about the filming behind it which was a hoot when the camera man realized how fast a buffalo could move) and so glad that now we enjoy quiet time with the buffalo instead.

I took this picture of Darcy and her little 10-month old bull calf yesterday in the pasture. (It’s he just a cutie with his growing horns?) Life is much calmer now for both us and them compared to the video of my past. Sorry tourists, but I’ll only share my buffalo by photos now…