Welcome to Wednesday Writers. Today’s guest is Jodie Wolfe with a great story about how she wove some family history into her new historical romance release To Claim Her Heart. So, without further ado, I give you Jodie!
September 16th will mark the 125th anniversary of the Cherokee Strip Land Run which took place in Oklahoma Territory in 1893. There were nine different starting places along the Kansas and Oklahoma Territory. Over 115,000 people showed up to race for only 42,000 packets of land. I can well imagine the fierce competition that took place.
While researching my new release, To Claim Her Heart, I discovered some interesting things about those who claimed the same parcel of land. Some waited until the courts decided for them, others went back to their original starting places and re-raced to see who won the second time, and of course some of the disputes were bloody in nature by one person shooting the other.
This book is especially meaningful for me because I was able to use some of the stories from my husband’s family who participated in the land run. The photo here is taken of the original land that was claimed. The house was built in 1894.
Come journey back in history with me to a rough and rugged land.
To Claim Her Heart
by Jodie Wolfe
In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to his ‘Promised Land. Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancée. He hasn’t counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.
Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith’s only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land’s not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She’s willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie’s determined to keep it.
Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land . . . or her heart.
Competition should be relegated to the male species. Proper young ladies should avoid a situation which permits rivalry, particularly involving the male species. If unavoidable, allow the gentleman to win. Be above reproach in this manner.
Mrs. Wigglesworth’s Essential Guide to Proper Etiquette and Manners of Refined Society
September 15, 1893, Kiowa, Kansas—Border of the Cherokee Strip
For once in all of her days, Elsie welcomed the name Pa had insisted on when her life began and Ma’s had ended.
“Is that you, son?”
“Ain’t your son.” Ain’t no one’s son. Elsie shifted her Stetson lower to ward off the man’s scrutiny.
“There’s no need to get your prickles up. Do you testify you’re at least twenty-one years of age and head of your household?”
Elsie nodded and bit back a retort.
“Then sign here.” The man shoved a paper across the makeshift desk. Beads of moisture dotted his upper lip.
She scrawled her name on the line. The page crinkled when she folded and shoved it into her shirt pocket, along with the copy of The Homestead Laws and Pa’s hand-drawn map.
“Get out of the way, kid.” A scraggly looking fellow jabbed into her shoulder.
Elsie stepped out of line, glaring at him. He ignored her and turned his attention to the clerk.
She elbowed through a crowd of men. How had her small town swelled to so many folks? Thankfully there were few she recognized, or, more so, who could recognize her. The less who knew her gender, the better. She certainly didn’t need no man to help her get the land she and Pa had dreamed about.
Elsie scooted her hat up and swiped at the sweat on her forehead before dropping it back into place, scrunching the thick braid she’d pinned up three days prior. Hefting her saddlebags to her opposite shoulder, she hiked the short distance to the livery and retrieved Buster. A short ride would clear her head and prepare her for what lay ahead.
Dust swirled and nearly choked Elsie as she rode in the opposite direction of the throngs, to see the old farm one last time.
Acrid smoke filled her lungs. Nearby fires, to deter Sooners from entering the strip before the race began, burned in the west, but not out of control.
Elsie urged Buster, careful not to tire him. Everything hinged on finding the land tomorrow.
Want to read more? Check out Jodie’s book To Claim Her Heart at Amazon
About the Author:
Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA) and has been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests. A former columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine, her articles can be found online at: Crosswalk, Christian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. She’s a contributor and co-founder of Stitches Thru Time blog. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at Jodie’s website.