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My endeavor to write Blood to Rubies has been a lifelong passion. I almost didn’t make it. Several years before this book was published, my congenital kidney disease from infancy finally degenerated to a heart attack, then end-stage kidney failure. But, l am blessed with wonderful family members, five of whom volunteered to save my life: my two sisters, Sue Schoen and Scheila Hufford, who were both disqualified when they discovered they had the same congenital kidney disease I had, but not life threatening; my 90-year-old mother, Dorothy Hufford, who was rejected because of her advanced age; my dear nephew Marshall Dorman, who was disqualified after he lost his leg being a Good Samaritan; and, finally, my husband, Evan Jones, who at first was disqualified but went on a yearlong campaign to lower his blood pressure until he was finally approved.


 Eternal thanks to the amazing staff at Aurora St. Luke’s in Milwaukee and their kidney transplant program, one of the best in the nation, founded by Dr. Ajjampur Vidyaranya; the ICU; Center 8th; and Interventional Radiology; Dr. Matthew Hanna, my nephrologist for thirty years, and Julia Kashou, his nurse. Their diligence, excellent training, and genuine caring saved my life.


The very same day my husband was approved as my kidney donor, my book got a publisher. Two miracles in one day! Many thanks to Koehler Books and all their staff, especially editors Hannah Woodlan and Greg Fields, book designer extraordinaire Christine Kettner, and Publisher John Koehler. They are all simply magnificent. It’s been a joy to work with them.   


I would like to thank the many friends and family who helped me throughout this long endeavor, especially my wonderful parents, Dorothy and Tom Hufford, and my dear mother-in-law, Erla Enochson Jones. There are so many others I must thank. Please see my author site at for further important acknowledgments.


I am most sincerely grateful to the best-selling authors who, early on, were supportive of my work on Blood to Rubies. Their generosity in reviewing my galley copies and providing testimonials is a gift I can never repay, except to pay it forward. Those authors are Kathleen Grissom, William Kent Krueger, Lisa Wingate, Peter Buffett, Gretel Ehrlich, Karen Fisher, and fellow Wisconsin writer Leslie Kagen, all of them best-selling and much-loved authors.


Many thanks to Dr. Steven Evans, thirty-three-year professor emeritus of Lewis and Clark College, who helped vet my book.


Most importantly, I want to thank Nez Perce elder and scholar Allen V. Pinkham, Sr., who co-authored with Dr. Evans a seminal work, Lewis and Clark Among the Nez Perce, that provides rare and little-known Nez Perce perspectives of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.


Allen Pinkham is a descendant of Chief Joseph and Chief Red Grizzly Bear, who helped save Lewis and Clark from starvation in 1805, as well as the Nez Perce warrior Wahlitits, who fought next to Joseph and died with his pregnant warrior wife in the War of 1877, a scene depicted in this book. Allen is also a leading elder of the Nez Perce tribe. (Please view Allen’s impressive bio on my author site.) He spent many hours vetting Blood to Rubies and very generously wrote its Foreword.


Among Allen Pinkham’s extraordinary accomplishments, he is the founder of the Chief Joseph Foundation in Idaho, which empowers and educates Nez Perce children through their work with Appaloosas and helps youth become first-generation students at college or trade school. Because I grew up with horses myself, I know firsthand how profound a difference horses make in a child’s life. I am donating a percentage of my Blood to Rubies royalties to the Chief Joseph Foundation ( When you purchase Blood to Rubies, you support the legacy of Chief Joseph and help Nez Perce children, many who are descendants of Joseph or those who fought beside him.


 I hope you find in Blood to Rubies inspiration and new appreciation for Native cultures, especially the Nez Perce, and for their most esteemed leader, Chief Joseph. All the world should know his story.   




There are so many others along my decades-long journey who helped me that I could fill an entire scroll a block long with names. I will not try to do that here, but please know how grateful I am to all who helped me along the way. The most I can do is pay your kindness forward, which I will surely do. 


I would like to thank these generous spirits for their help: 


My longtime and very loyal Notes from the Frontier historical blog readers, who now number over 100,000 readers and first gave me hope that there was a strong interest in frontier and Native American stories. Among my blog followers are many Native Americans, history scholars and academics, teachers who use Notes from the Frontier posts as teaching aids for their students and have sent me wonderful projects their students have created based on the posts, horse lovers and lovers of history, especially the history of Native Americans, pioneers, and the western frontier.


2nd Lieutenant Gary Scheuing, Army Corps of Engineers, a Vietnam veteran awarded the Bronze Star with 1st Oak Leaf Cluster. Gary loved American military history and admired Chief Joseph. Very early on in my journey, he gave me his copy of Jerome Greene's Nez Perce Summer of 1877, which affected me profoundly and from which I gleaned so much scholarly information in writing my book.


Professor Kay Amert, an internationally known scholar of typographical history who spent her school years as Director of the famous University of Iowa Typographic Lab and her summers studying in Paris. She was my earliest and most profound mentor, who saw something in me that I did not see in myself. Her insights transformed my universe and the rest of my life. I was her graduate TA for two years and taught Writer's Workshop students at the Iowa Center for the Book how to print their chapbooks on a 1912 Vandercook behemoth printing press. Those were some of the happiest days of my life. (I could have been high on printing solvents but they can't have been responsible for such wonderment and intellectual happiness!) 


Connie Brothers, the administrative grandame of the Iowa Writers Workshop for nearly 40 years, who mentored and nurtured and guided thousands of budding great writers through the Workshop's hallowed programs. Many went on to literary greatness. I worked for Connie for two years designing and printing handmade Workshop posters for famous writers presenting at the Workshop: John Irving, James Michener, John Cheever, Marilynne Robinson, Kurt Vonnegut, John Barth, Galway Kinnell, Reynolds Price, James Levine, and so many others. Those posters became collectors' items and the Writers Workshop put on an exhibit of my posters in the Old Capitol rotunda. It was a true joy working for Connie and I was exposed to a heady echelon of the best writers in the world, a rare gift.

Rita Matute, who very early on read a rough draft (much longer than it is now) and loved it. Julia McCurdy Gimbel, whose generous encouragement meant the world to me. Julia also gave me excellent advice about setting up my historical blog.


Julia had gone before me publishing her powerful and insightful book, Student, Sailor, Skipper, Survivor, based on her Dad's writings during and after his service in WWII. She also launched a Facebook blog, Julia Writes WWII, that has a tremendous following. You can learn more about her work at: 


Fred Ziegler, who helped me with my original author's web page. He's not only a social media guru, he's a fantastic musician and songwriter. His Milwaukee band, Panalure, has several albums that are a luscious blend of folk, rock, country, and jazz. Please check them out at:


Four wonderful young people, Aengus White, Jacob Merten, Tyler Einberger of Momentic Marketing in Milwaukee, and Liz Fick, my niece, have been absolutely crucial in my effort to launch my book and manage the vexing technical and social media aspects of becoming an author.


Kim Suhr, who is the owner of the Red Oak Roundtable and has mentored scores of Milwaukee area writers. Kim reviewed a version of my manuscript and provided very helpful guidance early on. She is a wonderful writer and has published an award-winning book of short stories, Nothing Left to Lose. See more about her work at:

Catherine and Myles Hopper, who supported my editing process in a most unique way. Catherine prepared absolutely glorious meals with beautiful table settings and wonderful old China and silver. Afterward we shared a literary salon in their parlor, reading our work to each other while their cockatiels, Peachie and Toastie, provided intermittent editorial comments. I will always be grateful for those lovely evenings. Myles wrote a tender and thoughtful book about fatherhood, which Catherine edited, called My Father's Shadow. You can find it at:


 Dr. Sarah Knox, a professor at Marquette University, who read a rough draft of my manuscript and provided sound advice for a budding novelist. 


And, finally, I'd like to thank my furry friends, who enriched my life immeasurably and gave me unconditional love. My childhood horse, Sundance, an extraordinary spirit and the best horse ever; my dogs and cats who were always with me and often slept at my feet or on them while I wrote into the wee hours of the night: Gracie, Louie, Reggie, and, especially, Howie; and our sweet kitties, Rosebud and Darby. You were good boys and girls all. Rest in peace, dear friends.  

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