Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Kansas Deserves More Attention!

Importance of Country Schools--School Isaac Werner helped build

In the 1920s, a Kansas City reporter wrote:  "Even historians don't understand Kansas.  I wonder sometimes if anybody except God understands Kansas and sometimes I think Kansas even has him fooled."  Craig Minor, a history professor at Wichita State prior to his untimely death, and the author of several books on Kansas history, including his thick volume, "Kansas, The History of the Sunflower State, 1884-2000," expressed a similar concern about how poorly even we Kansans know our own history.

"Until the Kansas everybody knows--Amelia Earhart, John Brown, Wyatt Earp, Ike Eisenhower--or think they know--Matt Dillion or Dorothy Gale--are joined by many others, our sense of place and our understanding of the local legacy will be palid."

Craig Minor's words explain my motivation for writing "Prairie Bachelor."  When I discovered Isaac Werner's journal and realized how little I knew about Kansas in the late 1800s, even though I was born and raised in the house my homesteading ancestors built, I knew there were almost certainly many other Kansans--with ancestors living at that time or relative newcomers to the state--who had no idea of the significant role Kansans played in the Populist Movement nor of the influence that Movement continues to play even today.

The Importance of early Churches: Macksville Methodist Church

Scholars know about that, but I did not want to write a scholarly book.  I wanted to write a book for readers who enjoy stories--in my case, real stories about forgotten people who played a big role in this nation.  My research for the book provides new information for scholars as well, but what excites me is hearing from friends and strangers who tell me that they fell in love with Isaac, that they have an ancestor who lived in the communities about which I write and have new respect and understanding for what their ancestors achieved, or that they relate to to "Prairie Bachelor" in some other way.  I even enjoyed the scoldings I got from two friends--one telling me she stopped reading for several days because she was angry I let Isaac die, and the other blaming me for her lazy day finishing the book after getting so involved in reading it over her morning coffee  that she couldn't put the book down until she finished it.

Importance of early businesses:  St. John, F. B. Gillmore Building

So many people have sent supportive messages during the writing of the book and compliments after reading the book, and in last weeks blog I tried to express how much all those comments have meant to me.  The blog was my effort to thank as many of you as possible--those I know and those I don't.  Thanks so much to all of you.

Like Craig Minor, who through his classes and his books sought to add to the awareness of our state and its people, I was motivated to write "Prairie Bachelor" for the same reason.  Each of you who enjoys the book justifies for me the decade of researching and writing it.  Thank you.  

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