Once upon a time, over 160 years ago, a man built a mill along a creek on one of the major wagon trails from Springfield, MO into Indian Territory and Kansas Territory. The mill became a town, and because this mill provided alcohol as well as other things for the villagers, it was named the Village of Jollification for obvious reasons–hey, we’ve got Dutch, German and Polish Catholics around here, and they do know about grain products of all sorts. All these years later, their descendants are still here, and they are some of my best friends, wonderful people, the best of neighbors–yeah, my next-door neighbor is a Chapman.
Well, Village of Jollification became a mouthful, so the name of the town was eventually shortened to Jolly Mill after the Civil War destroyed the mill and the town. But our folks around here don’t give up easily, so today Jolly Mill is a privately owned park run by a private band of citizens who live in the area. If you could see the name on the building in this picture, you would see Chapman School. This building was moved from up the road to be settled beside the restored mill along Capps Creek. The Chapmans are a tightly knit family, and I had the privilege of attending school with some of them–one of whom is now restoring a church at Jolly Mill. Some of my old high school friends and I were allowed a peek into that church by one of those very Chapmans last Saturday, when a long-time Jolly Mill resident, Elmer Batschelet, father of a dear friend, Doris, was buried in the cemetery behind that church. The first burial in the cemetery took place in 1846.
Thanks to these generous folks, I’ve been allowed to utilize Jolly Mill and some of its real-life inhabitants as a setting in my most recent series of novels. Though I write fiction, the goodness of the citizens in my make-believe Jolly Mill comes from real life–the killers in my suspense stories do not. If you wish to have a fictitious glimpse into my ideal of Jolly Mill, Eye of the Storm will show you just such a glimpse, as will Keeping Faith, my historical, to be released in September. I couldn’t have written those stories without the input and help from the locals who gave me the direction I needed. I hope someday you can visit this historic spot and see it for yourself. You’ll be in for a treat.