Local Author Talks Nebraska History on the Prairie

COLUMBUS – Sod houses and quilting were at the forefront of conversation Saturday afternoon at the local library.

Author Stephanie Grace Whitson came to the Columbus Public Library in hopes of enlightening her readers about life on the Nebraska prairie, a trend of her books since her first one was published in 1995, “Walks The Fire”.

Whitson started emerging herself in Nebraska history when she approached the 4th grade Nebraska History unit as she was homeschooling her kids.

“I think the sod houses was the thing that fascinated me the most right aways because I never heard about that before,” Whitson says. “And as a young mother, thinking about what it would have been like, cooking for kids in one of those homes, and trying to make due, I think it really spoke to me.”

Whitson considers herself a perpetual student, and has spent countless hours researching life on the prairie for her novels.

“It just gives perspective, to really be grateful for what I have today. Not to feel guilty about it at all, but just to be grateful and have a little perspective on it and say, ‘Ok, so I don’t really have to have fresh strawberries today.”

She says the most rewarding experience is hearing from readers of whom her book gave them hope, when hope was needed.

“I literally have at times, gone back and read those letters, and thought, ‘This is why I do this.’ I’m doing this for these people,” Whitson says. “For that woman that I will never meet, who may have thought, ‘My kids are really naughty today, but at least I don’t have 15 naughty kids today.”

Whitson’s newest book is called, “Daughter of the Regiment”, which is about an Irish immigrant named Maggie Malone.

“I think about that often, if one of these woman that I have, quote, un-quote, met in my research, if she could come and spend a day with me, what would I show her and what would we do?” Whitson says. “And I honestly have a feeling, I would probably learn more from her, than she would from me.”