Years ago I traveled to western Kansas with the idea I might want to write a story set in the town of Wilson, Kansas. In 1865 a Butterfield stagecoach station was built a half mile south of the present site of Wilson. "Attica" and "Bosland" were early names for the town before the U.S. Post Office decided it was "Wilson" in 1873. Large numbers of immigrants from Czechoslovakia in the 1870's came to work on the railroad and gave the area a unique culture. Francis Swehla was the first Bohemian homesteader in 1874 and was instrumental in bringing more Czech settlers to the area. Eventually Wilson was named the "Czech Capital of Kansas". J.T. McKittrick was one of the first settlers who built hotels and business, and brought the Pennsylvania-Dutch to this area. It was my interest in the Bohemian immigrants that sparked my interest in the area, but I never got to write my story. That's the old Midland Railroad Hotel in Wilson, KS above.
However, my interest in Bohemian immigrants was sparked anew when I was researching my Amana series and discovered a Czech settlement in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. That information wasn’t used in my first series, but as I began to write the first book in my new series, Home to Amana, I decided to include a Czech family. Although they don’t’ play a huge part in the story, it was fun to learn a little more of their history and visit the Czech settlement in Cedar Rapids a couple of years ago—especially visiting the bakery and tasting the kolaches. Don't they look wonderful?
When I visited Europe this past summer, I was able to visit the Czech Republic where we toured Prague. As I viewed the beauty of the city, I was struck by the realization that you never know when research will intersect. That visit to Wilson back in 2001 rushed to the forefront of my mind as I walked the streets of Prague and I couldn’t help but wonder if some of the first settlers to Wilson, Kansas or Cedar Rapids, Iowa had walked the same streets many years ago.
May you find joy as your life intersects with others and you share the love of Jesus. ~Judy
P.S. Saturday, October 22nd is Fan Fiction Day in Lifeway Stores throughout the country. There will be wonderful sales on Christian fiction for you and for Christmas gifts and most stores will have at least one author there to sign books. I’ll be signing at the Lifeway Store in Fairlawn Plaza here in Topeka between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. so if you live nearby, please stop in and visit for a few minutes!