My grandpa used to tell me stories from his days when he was a kid growing up on a farm a mile from where I grew up. One of the stories he told was about a train wreck just south of town. If I heard that story once, I heard it fifty times. When my son John was 10 years old, I took him over to interview Grandpa and record him.
Picture of the train wreck south of my grandpa
That was in 1999.
In the interview, I asked grandpa about the train wreck, farming with horses, the story about his brother and him making moonshine…was it really true?
It was. In fact, Grandpa and the boys had an actual route where they delivered the stuff, and on this occasion, Grandpa told me something I’d never heard before.
He gave me the family recipe for making moonshine.
The interview lasted about 40 minutes.
It is priceless to me now that he is gone.
In 2007 I came across that tape and listened to it again. You can hear the coffee pot percolating in the background the first several minutes. After the interview was over, I decided to do an Internet search on local history.
I found a gold mine.
I came across an account of two men retracing a hundred mile long, early pioneer trail on foot in the early 1920’s, that passed right through our area…this was 75 years after the fact. It stirred something in me. The desire to retrace that same route myself on foot…but before doing so, I decided to immerse myself in local history. I purchased old maps, out of print county history books, anything I could get my hands on which might give me clues into life in Eastern Iowa from 1839 to 1900.
Through a chance conversation with a woman who owned a local antique store one day, as I was looking for old books, she told me me her dad, had also spent considerable time researching that same route. She asked me if I would be interested in looking through the many newspaper clippings and personal correspondence he’d had with various people he’d interacted with.
I have included several of those things in this book.
I came across enough material to make several movies. (Think Little House On The Prairie.)
Last Winter, I finally finished the rough draft of a book. A compilation of many of the stories I read, plus some of my personal reflections. A friend of mine lined up two different people to edit the rough draft, and just last week I finally finished making all the corrections.
All I have left to do is find someone to help create the cover, tidy up a few loose ends then send it to the printer. I plan to create a small Kickstart or Gofundme page in a few weeks. Print on demand publishing prices have dropped considerably since my last book. With any luck it should be in print by this May.
It is an act of love, 9 years in the making.