Thursday, December 3, 2020

Zooming with Isaac Werner

 On December 1, 2020 the Fort Hays State University Foundation, Alumni Association, and Forsyth Library hosted a zoom book launch for my book, "Prairie Bachelor, The Story of a Kansas Homesteader and the Populist Movement."  I am late posting this blog, because since arriving home after the event until a few minutes ago, I have been sending messages and thank you's to not only the people who made the event possible at FHSU and The University Press of Kansas but all of the wonderful people who shared the zoom event.  If I have missed anybody, please forgive me.  So many were involved in the work it took to create the event and the effort to register and clear the evening to attend the celebration, especially for those who had never zoomed before.  To everyone, thank you for a perfectly wonderful evening!  

Isaac Beckley Werner's stone
When we left our farm to go to Hays, Kansas, home of Fort Hays State University, I asked my husband to make a special detour.  The book, "Prairie Bachelor," shares the story of a particular region leading up to and during the Populist Movement, as well as the other events happening across the nation during that time.  But, at its heart is Isaac Beckley Werner, his 480-page journal, and the articles he wrote for the populist newspaper, 'The County Capital.'  Isaac Werner has been a part of our lives for a decade now, and I wanted to pause at the lovely old Neelands Cemetery, where Isaac and so many of his neighbors are buried, to share a moment at his stone.
Mary, Larry, Lyn, and Leslie

That was only the beginning of a remarkable day.  When we arrived at the Forsyth Library, everything was set up so professionally that I knew it was going to be a great evening.  We were greeted by representatives of the Foundation, the Alumni Association, and the Library, and pictured are Mary Hamond, Larry and I, and Leslie Haas.

I cannot begin to thank everyone who contributed to the success of the evening.  When the Dean of the Library, Deb Ludwig, asked me if they could host a zoom book launch, I was thrilled.  Deb's last day in that position was the Friday before the event, but she will not be leaving entirely, a fortunate save for FHSU!  She led the planning for the event, but so many others contributed their talents as well, and they made everything work beautifully.  All I had to do was show up!  Since I have rarely left the house since February, showing up was a bit of a big deal, but we wore our masks and social distanced (this brief photograph being the only bit of a violation of the social distancing...but with masks on!).

Photo by Larry Fenwick
Every person who came was special, and those who braved learning how to zoom for the first time were particularly special.  There were 22 states represented among those who registered for the event, and one guest from Ukraine.  Those of you who follow this blog may have noticed many comments from my international friend Allen, originally Canadian.  Early in my blog a mutual friend who lives in Kansas suggested to Allen that he might enjoy my blog, and he became a regular follower of the blog.

Another group certainly deserves mention, for descendants of Isaac Werner's uncle were present as a family, including 92-year-young Jim Werner, whom I met in Wernersville 8 years ago and who was very helpful with my research, and Susan Davis, the great-great granddaughter of Isaac Werner's youngest sister, whom I met on early in my research and who shared family history and photographs with me as well.

I am sincere when I say that everyone who joined the celebration and many that were unable to join is special.  Many shared stories about their ancestors, some shared images, one gifted to me a book signed by Isaac that she discovered in a library deacquisition sale, others serve on museum boards and are directors of museums, are newspaper publishers and writers, others worked in libraries, courthouses, and in Hains Church in Wernersville.  Others followed my blog for a decade or are friends and strangers who continued to ask about the progress of the book.  It is dangerous to start naming so many reasons to be thankful for the help and encouragement I have received because I will unintentionally leave someone out--but not in my heart.  Sharing the zoom celebration was just one way to acknowledge how many people contributed to my completion of "Prairie Bachelor."   
Photo credit: Larry Fenwick
A special group in attendance were those from the University Press of Kansas.  It was not easy producing a book in the midst of Covid-19, but they did it.  I have personally thanked those present to celebrate with me through zoom, but there are so many others that made the book possible.

Deb planned the zoom book launch to be an informal gathering, a group of friends enjoying an evening with their favorite beverage, having an informal conversation with the author of a new book.  We discussed various topics but we had no script, no pre-planned  Q & A.  We wanted everyone to relax and have fun.  I hope everyone did just that.  I know that I did, and I think the photograph taken during the gathering makes it clear that I was having a great time.

Thank you to everyone who not only attended the zoom book launch but who encouraged and helped me along the way, particularly my biggest fan, Larry D. Fenwick.  I hope Isaac Werner would be pleased by the book his journal inspired, "Prairie Bachelor, The Story of a Kansas Homesteader and the Populist Movement," available at or to order by phone at 785-864-4155, or online or your favorite book store. 

The link to watch the celebration is . 


Deb L said...

I know the large ZOOM crowd loved hearing you talk about Isaac Beckley Werner and his times. This story and life, well told, are a must-have for anyone who loves reading about pioneers, history, and social ideals that still resonate today!

The Blog Fodder said...

Lyn, it was an honour and privilege to be part of your grand culmination of a 10 year labour of love. Please don't stop blogging but do take a break before you charge on to your next book, whatever it will be.

Grace Grits and Gardening said...

It was a wonderful Zoom launch, and I was happy to be in attendance.