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Barnard, Spurgeon Win 2015 Book Awards

The top Jan Garton Prairie Heritage Book Award went  to two authors this year:  Ian Michael Spurgeon, for Soldiers in the Army of Freedom:  The 1st Kansas Colored, the Civil War’s First African American Combat Unit (Univ. of Okla. Press, 2014) and Iralee Barnard, for Field Guide to the Common Grasses of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska (Univ. of Ks. Press, 2014).

Commissioner Jim Sands presented Iralee Barnard with her award at the beginning of the Junction City Commission meeting on Tuesday, December 15, 2015, 7 p.m. Commissioner Sands (left) is president of Prairie Heritage, Inc. Junction City Vice-Mayor and Prairie Heritage president Jim Sands presents Ian Michael Spurgeon with the Jan Garton Prairie Heritage Book Award at a well attended book-talk and signing February 11, 2016, at the Dorothy Bramlage Public Library in Junction City. The award, which includes a cash prize of $1000, was given for Spurgeon's authorship of Soldiers in the Army of Freedom: The 1st Kansas Colored, The Civil War's First African American Combat Unit. Commissioner Sands shook the author's hand, but gently, as the right-handed Spurgeon had torn a muscle in his right arm just before the presentation! Board Member Deliliah Hamilton congratulates Iralee Barnard at the pre-award dinner.

Both authors received the full $1000.00 award.   

“Both books were tops in their fields, one in social history, the other in natural history,” said Prairie Heritage board member Deliliah Hamilton.  “How could we compare the two?   We had to give two awards!”

“Jan Garton would be pleased,” said board member Margy Stewart.  

Jan Garton was the beloved Kansas conservationist who led the successful fight to preserve Cheyenne Bottoms and who endowed the Prairie Heritage book awards with a bequest from her estate.   

“Jan would be so happy to see how these two skillful and dedicated authors have illuminated different aspects of our prairie heritage,” Stewart added.  

Finalists Also Honored

In addition, a number of meritorious finalists received cash awards of $100  each.   These finalists include Dru Clarke, Clearing by Noon: A Collection of Flint Hills Essays (Possum Hollow P)Diane Eickhoff & Aaron Barnhart, The Big Divide: A Travel Guide to Historic and Civil War Sites in the Missouri-Kansas Border Region (Quindaro P); Paul A. Johnsgard & Thomas D. Mangelsen, Yellowstone Wildlife: Ecology and Natural History of the Greater Yellow Yellowstone Ecosystem (UPof CO); Marybeth Lorbiecki, The Prairie that Nature Built (Dawn P); James E. Sherow & John R. Charlton, Railroad Empire Across the Heartland:  Rephotographing Alexander Gardner’s Westward Journey (UNMP); and Louise Farmer Smith, One Hundred Years of Marriage (Upper Hand P).

Books published in 2015 are eligible to apply for next year’s awards.   

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