Sometimes a story reaches out and holds on to you, haunting your thoughts during the day and your dreams at night.
During the past five years, the story of the 1925 murder of Florence Knoblock, a farmwife and mother who lived in Coffey County, Kansas, has been front and center in my mind.
Florence had no enemies. There was no sign of a burglary. For a community that not only didn’t lock their doors, but didn’t have locks on their doors, the idea of a dangerous stranger roaming their farms and streets was terrifying.
Coffey County needed someone to pay for this crime for their own piece of mind. And that’s where the real story begins.
Four arrests. A husband who went to trial twice for his wife’s murder before being acquitted of the crime, only to lose his home, his livelihood, and the trust of many of his neighbors. A four-year-old child who no longer had a mother. Two of Kansas’ most amazing reporters covering the story. A community that needed someone–anyone–to pay for this crime for their own piece of mind. And ultimately, an unsolved crime.
I was mesmerized.
I began to research and write the story of the murder that forever changed a family and a community. I had to know how the story ended.
I had to understand why a tight-knit farm community—people who worked together, worshipped together, raised their children together—would ultimately choose to believe they had identified but failed to convict a murderer rather than accept the possibility that the real murderer lived and worked among them in anonymity.
I believe very strongly in the need to tell the story of Kansas and the people who lived here. Florence Knoblock’s murder impacted communities both near and far. The story is an important part of 1920s Kansas history, a snapshot of life and crime an era when the old was giving way to the modern. I believe this story should be available to all Kansans, Kansans at heart, and anyone with an interest in history and true crime. The completed manuscript is ready to move to the next stage.
Here’s how you can help preserve Kansas history by making it available for generations to come.
Today, I’ve launched a campaign at Kickstarter.com to raise the funds needed to create the kind of quality book that libraries will want for their shelves and readers will want in their personal collections and pass along to friends. All pledges will be acknowledged on my website (unless the giver prefers to remain anonymous). For pledge as small as $15, you’ll also get a copy Shadow on the Hill. And for a slightly bigger gift, you’ll receive a print of Stephan Anderson-Story’s fabulous photo of the old Knoblock house and farmstead.
Thank you so much for being such an amazing community of online friends. And if you can’t participate at this time, if you think this project might be exactly right for someone you know, I would be honored if you would pass along the link.