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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Finding A Platform In Kansas

As a new blogger (new to Seduced by History) to such a wealth of historical knowledge one, such as myself, can feel a little intimidated. I'm one of those people who knows a little bit about a lot of stuff and not a whole lot about any one particular thing. It's taken me a few weeks to figure out what kind of platform I could bring to the table. And it wasn't until a wise woman told me, and I quote, ". . .everyone has something to offer! Your platform is a natural byproduct of you and your writing."

It was one of those light bulb moments. I'm a Kansan, and proud of it. Many of the stories I write are set in Kansas. I know, what can anyone possibly write about Kansas, right? I mean it's flat. It has no character and very little to pique an historical guru's interest. It's far from from Europe with castles, knights and lords and ladies. And how can Kansas compare with the Border reivers along Scotland and England's . . .well, borders? It certainly doesn't have the same charm as the South, the raw ruggedness of Texas and thrilling excitement of a California gold rush. Or does it?

Let's take a moment and look at one of my favorite historiacl topics, reiving. I'm sure y'all have heard of the Bushwackers and the Jayhawkers, haven't you? Well for those of you haven't let's just say these two warring factions played out their own border reiving in the years prior to the Civil War. Some say they fought over the slavery issue, others say they fought over a man's right to vote, others say many had no idea what they fought over. Whatever the case, Kansas bled. Just like Scotland and England bled, only Kansas was on a much smaller scale. A new twist on the border reivers? Maybe.

There is so much more, too. As an historical romance writer I  don't have to look far to see all kinds of inspiration blowing in the the wind. Battles were fought in Kansas and the turmoil eventually led to the Civil War. After the war, families from both sides rushed into Kansas for a land grab and I'm sure you can see how this could cause problems.  Lawless towns like Dodge City and Abilene sprung out of the prairie bringing with them a new kind of lawman.  Each of these tales are all worth re-telling, and eventually I'll get to them, bothe the well-known ones and the not-so-well-known ones,  but for now I'd like to leave you with a diary.

 The following excerpt come from Kansas: Its Interior and Exterior by Sara T. L. Robinson. The author, as you can see, seems to have been a guest of a state prison. For those of you who do not know much about this era in Kansas history, it was during a time known as Bleeding Kansas. A time when pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions warred fiercly. If Mrs. Sara Robinson was a prisoner at Lecompton, Kansas' first capital, a pro-slavery capital, then she most likely held the values of the anti-slavery camp dear to her heart.
Its pages were penned during a three months' residence of the authoress in the United States Camp, at Lecompton, with her husband, one of the state prisoners.
This account was written in the month of June possibly in the year 1856.
7th. -- Mr. H. was very ill with an attack of pleurisy. Doctor being absent, I felt anxious, yet did the best I could. A mustard plaster and some simples removed the difficulty of breathing, and he slept quietly. He said he never was as sick before, but I was thinking he imagined himself sicker than he was just before night, and as I was wondering where E. could be, she came in, pale and almost breathless, with just enough left of life to say, "O, that rattlesnake!" I laughed at her at first; but being convinced that seeing a snake of some kind was a reality to her, and not quite liking the idea of their making a home in our neighborhood, we started out with shovel and hatchet for a battle. The spot where she saw him was very easily found, as the pail she had in her hand, while coming up the path from the spring, she set down when she came upon him. She had heard a buzzing noise, like that made by a large grasshopper, for some minutes; but her attention was attracted by a small bird flying backward and forward across the path, and no great height above it, and did not, therefore, perceive the snake until she was within a foot of him. Hastily setting down the pail, as he lay there coiled ready to spring, she took another path to the house. We looked along both paths, above and below, and far out on the hill-side, but found nothing. His fright was undoubtedly equal to hers, not being particularly partial to the cold bath she gave him in getting down her pail so hastily.
By the way, I'd like to thank Casandra Carr for helping me find my platform. Who would have thought a romance writer could find a platform in Kansas.

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