Lyn Fenwick, author, was a guest speaker at the Santa Fe Trail Center during last weekend’s festivities.
When Fenwick discovered a long-forgotten journal kept by a Kansas homesteader Beckley Werner of Stafford County, she wasn’t thinking about writing a book. The 480-page journal, written in an oversized book like you would find in the deed records of the courthouse, was a daily account of the farming community of Stafford, Pratt, and surrounding counties from 1884 through 1893.
Fenwick certainly had the experience as a professional author to use the journal as the center of a history of early settlers and the rise and fall of the most successful political 3rd Party in American history, having published two earlier books, the first of which earned the honor of being named The Georgia Author of the Year, where she and her husband lived at the time. Her work has been published in magazines, law journals, and her one-act play was performed in Fort Worth, Texas.
Eventually, Fenwick chose to use the homesteader’s journal as the heart of a history of the Populist Movement. After 10 years of transcribing the journal, doing extensive research about the period, and refining various drafts, Fenwick’s book, “Prairie Bachelor, the Story of a Kansas Homesteader and the Populist Movement,” was published by the University Press of Kansas and released in December of 2020. “Prairie Bachelor” has been chosen as a Kansas Notable Book by the State Librarian, an honor sponsored by the State Library of Kansas
In his review of the book, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran wrote: “Fenwick vividly transports the reader to the plains of central Kansas and describes the foundation of a pioneer spirit defined by industriousness and care for neighbor and community that exists to the present day.” Andrew Jewell, Nebraska scholar and co-editor of “The Selected Letters of Willa Cather,” wrote: “Fenwick has done a noble thing: rescued a person – and his time – from oblivion.”
Much of Fenwick’s research has found its way into her blog at https://lynfenwick.blogspot.com, which she has published weekly, resulting in over 500 weekly posts. Fenwick and her husband live on the four-generation farm on which Lyn was raised since their retirement from professional careers.