This photograph shows some of the books I used in my research. Because I researched and wrote over a period of ten years, there were many books, not including the travel, interviews, cemetery visits, and other conventional and unconventional sources I sought. Blogs over the years have described many of those. In the 1970s and 1980s several surrounding towns published Centennial books, which were very important to my research. I also read many books written by the famous and once famous men and women of the Populist era. Because Isaac Werner wrote in his journal about the books in his own library, I read those, such as Caesar's Column by Ignatius Donnelly, Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, William J. Bryan's memoir, The First Battle, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, and The Great Revolt and It's Leaders written by the son of the populist newspaper editor in Medicine Lodge. As well as academic books, I read Shakespeare (whom Isaac loved), the business records of Andrew Carnegie's lawyer that were kept during the Homestead Strike, the records kept during the march to Washington by what came to be called "Coxy's Army," and so very many more reference sources that allowed me to better understand the era about which I was writing.
|Photo credit: Lyn Fenwick|
Among those books was one titled Belpre, Kansas, The Story of a Small Town, written by David M. Kearney, and published in 1978. That particular book had belonged to my mother-in-law, along with several of the Centennial books I used. For some reason I overlooked an author's note stating Kearney's age. I assumed the book had been written by an old timer.
What a pleasant surprise when someone who attended one of my book talks recently informed me that Mr. Kearney is a living author. I managed to locate him and we had a wonderful phone visit. He was pleased to learn that he and his book are referenced in the Bibliography of Prairie Bachelor, and footnoted as well.
Here is what I hope: I hope that someday children not yet born will discover Prairie Bachelor and will pick it up and begin reading. Maybe they will discover an ancestor's name, or they might recognize the name of a place where ancestors homesteaded. Maybe they will pick up the book and notice it was signed and wonder why their family had a signed book about a homesteader and the Populist Movement.
Many living people today are descendants of homesteaders, and many more yet to be born will continue the line of descendants of homesteaders. I hope they read my book and are proud of the heritage they discover. Isaac Werner passed the heart of the story to me in his journal, and I hope I can pass the story to a few more generations. As David Kearney can confirm, an author never can tell who might find his or her book and read it!