Monday, July 12, 2010

My Heroes are Mostly Anonymous

Julia’s tombstone says she died of thin shoes. Louisa was known to go through a one-hundred pound bag of flour in a day, baking bread for emigrants headed west on the Oregon Trail. Grace pieced quilt blocks to entertain herself while she tended her father’s cattle on a ranch in western Nebraska. Nan performed as a sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. Susan scandalized the neighbors by setting up housekeeping with Will without the benefit of a marriage ceremony. (Not heroic, perhaps, but definitely. . . memorable.) Luna homesteaded alone near the future Phoenix, Arizona, when she was in her 80s. And you’ve probably never heard of a single one of them. Such is the plight of many of history’s amazing women.

Back in the 1990s when I was homeschooling four children and running a home-based business and coping with my husband’s cancer diagnosis, history’s amazing women encouraged me. Oh, my life wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but I hadn’t had to strain any frogs or snakes out of the well water before making coffee that morning, and all I had to do to keep warm was turn up the thermostat. When the kids were sick, the doctor generally knew what to do, and no one in my family was going to die of thin shoes!

I’m passionately grateful to my pioneer foremothers for what they endured, and passionately interested in learning about them. The frustrating thing about writing historical fiction is all the cool stuff I learn that never makes it into my novels! Hence, Footnotes: Novel Inspirations from History.

Dear writing friend Nancy Moser and I hope you’ll enjoy learning “the rest of the story” as we share snippets from our research. It’s true: what really happened is better than anything we could ever make up! I should know. My grandfather was married seven times. Hope you’ll come back often and have fun reading our footnotes. As the saying goes:

There's not a place in earth or heaven,
There's not a task to mankind given,
There's not a blessing or a woe,
There's not a whispered yes or no,
There's not a death, there's not a birth
That has a feather's weight of worth,
Without a woman in it.

--Stephanie G.


  1. I LOVE it--Naturally you know I would--Keep going!! I think you have a hit and thanks for e mailing this---Gloria

  2. This is so great, Stephanie and Nancy! I am looking forward to hearing all the fun stories you've uncovered in your research. What an excellent idea!

  3. Your grandfather was married SEVEN times? Oh wow, what stories he must have!

    I'm really looking forward to the entries in this blog. What fun!

  4. Who was the first women you found in the graveyard by where you lived, that you and the kids did tomb stone tracings? Which character and book this is inspire you to create?

  5. Hi Stephanie -

    I'm lovin' this blog already. :)


  6. What a fun blog! Can't wait to see what you write about next. Teri

  7. Well, "technical difficulties" prevented my seeing your wonderful comments. . . and responding! Helen, to answer your question, the first pioneer woman was a Mrs. King. So. . . now you know where Jesse King's name came from. Jesse was the heroine in my very first book, Walks the Fire.

  8. Oh, and did I ever LOVE Walks the Fire. I've loved all your books I've read, Steph, but Walks the Fire may still be at the top of the list!