November 21, 2022 |

The Grand Encampment Museum’s own Lynda Johnson has written a book about a woman connected to the town.

Johnson is the GEM’s Clothing and Textile Curator. In the 1990’s, the museum received a donation of clothes, diaries, and other personal belongs of Ruth Johanna “Hettie” Kyner. As Johnson began to archive the items, she said she felt a kinship with Hettie and was inspired to write a book.

Johnson’s book, titled Threads of Adventure, is a detailed retelling of Hettie Kyner’s travels. Born on a dairy farm in New York in 1862, Hettie’s parents both died by the time she was 23. Instead of settling down to tend the farm, Hettie decided to visit friends and family around the country. In 1901, after marrying James Kyner, Hettie moved to Encampment. Johnson reads her synopsis of the book.

To pay for room and board, Hettie would earn money by sewing and teaching piano. Johnson said she has a special connection to Hettie Kyner.

Lynda Johnson has worked for the Grand Encampment Museum for eight years. She has bachelor and master’s degrees in clothing and textile. Her master thesis was on Victorian wedding dresses. When Hettie’s granddaughter, Suzanna Yatman, donated her grandmother’s clothes to the museum, Johnson was the most qualified to catalog them.

Among the hand stitched dresses were several diaries and letters Hattie Kyner had written. Johnson said Hattie’s diaries are full of information about where she had been.

Pictured above: File photo of the Grand Encampment Museum. Photo by Bigfoot 99.

In the 90’s, when Hattie’s granddaughter donated the items to the museum, she wrote a letter to then-museum director Vera Oldman. In it, she said she hoped a book would be written about her grandmother’s life. Johnson said that inspired her to begin writing.

After five years of research, Lynda Johnson finished her book. Using diaries and correspondences, Johnson was able to tell the story of Hettie’s journey around the country. Johnson said she received assistance from an unlikely source.

Johnson self-published her book last month. It is available to purchase online and at the Grand Encampment Museum. Unfortunately, Suzanna Yatman passed away from cancer before the story of her grandmother’s life could be completed.

GEM Director Tim Nicklas said Johnson’s book contributes to people’s understanding of the town’s past.

Saturday, December 10th the Grand Encampment Museum is hosting their Christmas Sale where Lynda Johnson will be available to sign copies of her book.

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