Kathryn Spurgeon

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Book signing in the 1930s hotel

I found the most awesome place to release my 1930s historical novel, A Promise Child! The lobby of the Aldridge Hotel in Shawnee, Oklahoma. That’s so appropriate since the book is set in Shawnee. The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it’s simply regal, gorgeous, and right out of the past.

The Aldridge was the tallest building in Shawnee at the time of its construction in 1929. Ten stories. The lobby and mezzanine contain much beautiful marble. Many people take wedding pictures there. The floors above contain 200 rooms and are now used for senior apartment rentals.

According to what I found on the internet, the building was built by oil man Hilton A. Phillips during the 1920’s oil boom at a cost of $750,000. I can’t believe in all the years I lived in Pott County, I never visited this beautiful historic building.

It’s located at 20-24 East 9th Street on the northwest corner of 9th and Bell Street. Come and join us at the Aldridge Hotel lobby on Tuesday, August 15, 2016, to celebrate the release of the second historical book in the Promise Series!

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A Promise Child – second novel to be released!

My second historical novel, A Promise Child, is ready! The book release date is August 15th, 2017.

Here’s the back cover of the book:

Sibyl Trimble Pope, from a wealthy banking family, marries a handsome hobo from the wrong side of the tracks.

As the Depression rips through Sibyl’s hometown of Shawnee, Oklahoma, it leaves dying stores, repossessed farms, and countless men and women out of work. Now living in poverty, Sibyl suffers the burdens of a changing world and troubled economy.

Based on a true story, Sibyl Pope wants to make the world a better place. Since her youth, she has followed her papa, a respected, clever-minded banker. Interested in socialist politics and asking the hard questions of life, she struggles to find her own purpose. She does her best to listen to God, even when her father refuses to help.

Blessings come. A new baby, a job with the PWA, and a promise of a brighter future. Concerned for her children, she still struggles to keep food on her table and love alive in her heart.

Many people head west to save their families. Will Sibyl and Fremont abandon Oklahoma and their hopes and dreams for the promises in California? Or will they find a way to survive in Shawnee?

Click here to order A Promise Child on Amazon.

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A Café with a past.

Shawnee, Oklahoma has some interesting places that have existed since the 1920’s or 30’s, some mentioned in my book, A Promise to Break. Last week, when I was in Shawnee, my mother and I ate at the Hamburger King.
She says they make the best hamburgers she’s ever eaten with toasted buns, fresh lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. They also make many kinds of homemade pies. Oh, delicious.

What important people or dignitaries may have eaten at this hamburger joint during the past decades? Many famous people came through Shawnee and could have stopped in. It’s strange to think that my great-grandparents probably ate at the same café I did. That history connects me to them in a tighter way.

Which makes me think of my ancestors’ godly, Christian lives and the way their values have been passed down through the years. Some history never fades. I hope my great-grandchildren remember the values I’ve been taught and tried to live by. Maybe that’s one reason I write historical fiction based on true stories, so future generations won’t forget their past.



Exploring a Ghost Town

Last week I explored the ghost town of Waco for some final descriptions in my new book. In the early twentieth century, Waco had (at least) a post office, a grist mill, a blacksmith shop and a church.


Not much remains of Waco now, which was about ten miles west of Shawnee. A collapsed dug out. The Black Cemetery down the road where family members are buried. Then we found the rock foundation of the church on the corner of Okay and Waco Road!

I was overjoyed. I didn’t expect to find this much. The porch steps are almost covered with brush and weeds, but this church played an important role in the background of my family’s faith. You see, the Popes, my grandparents, homesteaded in Waco and donated five acres for the church building.

The Promise Child: Faith, Loss, and Hope in the 1930s, is the second book in this series. It follows A Promise to Break. Sibyl Pope, who seeks to be a perfect wife, mother and homemaker, experiences the worst of the Depression. A third child brings her joy and she sees God’s blessings. However a crisis occurs which helps her realize that God is with us through the trials, not just through the blessings.

Set from 1936 to 1939, this second book brings the town of Shawnee to life through the eyes of a strong-willed, educated young woman.

I enjoy exploring ghost-towns and Waco may just be the focus of my next series. I’m already researching.

For more articles on researching see:


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Researching the archives of Shawnee news

Research for my second in the Promise series historical novels has been tedious, tooth-pulling and loads of fun. I’m writing about a Shawnee, Oklahoma, family who had enough drama in their lives for a TV serial. Some of which cannot be written about of course, but family secrets have a way of surfacing and influencing the next generations, even if never vocalized or recorded. Just warning you who think I have revealed too many family secrets and want to keep yours hidden.


Some of the scandalous parts of the Trimble and Pope family are in the books. However, nothing is included that would embarrass my grandmother. The audience is Christian and all questionable topics are handled with care and sensitivity.

That said, I went to the Shawnee library to research 1938 local events on microfiche because that year’s happenings were slim in my book. (The book is from 1936 to 1939). I found several newspaper articles on President Roosevelt and his entourage riding a train through Shawnee, stopping for a short speech before continuing on to Oklahoma City.

It seemed highly likely that Sibyl, my main character, would attend. She was politically minded and interested in world events. I wanted to write her standing and watching the President, Fremont reluctantly beside her. Awed and impressed. Summertime hot and uncomfortable.

These Promise series books are based on a true story. Real people. Real places. So I was not sure this actually happened. Aunt Blanche never mentioned it, nor anyone else I interviewed.

One of the characters from this book who is still living is Aunt Frances.Frances turns 90 years old in a few weeks but her mind is sharp and she has been an invaluable source of information. I’ve interviewed her many times. I went to her retirement center home and sat down at her little dining room table and watched as she ate a frozen dinner.

“Do you remember when Roosevelt rode a train through Shawnee?” I asked.

She did not hesitate. “Of course. I was there.”

She was there. That meant her sister Sibyl was probably there too. Frances was eleven years old and went with her mother. She was too short to see over the crowds of grownups trying to get a view of the president but she heard the loudspeaker telling people to stand back. Yes. She was there. She remembered.

I was elated. If I had not found this tidbit in the paper, I would not have thought to ask Frances about it.

Research does that. It brings the past to life, causing us to remember and discover new facts about history that were forgotten or misplaced.

Of course I include this incident in my second book, A Promise Child, Faith, Love and Hope in the 1930s. The first book is on Amazon, A Promise to Break. The book is almost completed and ready to send to the editor.