One of the things that made the centennial celebration of the publication of My Antonia so special was the presence of descendants of Anna Pavelka. A sign at the Pavelka home greets visitors with a picture of the Pavelka family, as shown at left.
That Pavelka family has been extremely helpful and generous to the Cather Foundation in telling the story of My Antonia, which is based on their family. Each year at the spring conferences, family members are present, but the 2018 conference was particularly special because of the number of descendants that attended. At the close of the tour, the descendants gathered for a group portrait, pictured below.
Among those family members is 98-year-old Antonette Willa Skupa Turner, the granddaughter of Anna Pavelka. I believe she has attended every conference since we began attending nine years ago, and although she has grown a bit stooped and moves more slowly since we first met her, her enthusiasm has not waned. She will proudly tell you about the red beads her grandmother Anna gave to her. Recently she has established two scholarships for students from among those submitting essays about My Antonia or Neighbour Rosicky, a Cather short story first published in 1930 and republished in a collection titled Obscure Destinies. Her essay competition is open to both male and female seniors in high school, they may be planning to major in either English or History, and one of the scholarships is open to students living outside of Nebraska.
I must add this postscript: Teachers from California and New York are enthusiastically sharing Willa Cather with their students, introducing this great American author to them, at the same time most schools in Nebraska and Kansas no longer teach Cather. This accomplished author of the Great Plains should not be ignored in the very region about which she writes.
(Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.)