Born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, Jim Baumgardner resides quite literally on the old Chisholm Trail that ran from the Red River, north through Indian Territory, to the cattle towns of Kansas. Wichita is one of the original cow towns of the old west, and Jim helps keep that history alive by volunteering at the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita. His volunteer work extends both into schools and homeschool groups where he gives various programs on writing, the Underground Railroad, cowboys and trail drives, and early Wichita history.
Although Jim’s roots sink deep into Kansas, his family’s early beginnings were in Western Ohio where his great, great grandparents, John and Elizabeth were married in 1856. In 1879 their son, John Jr., left Ohio for the life of a Kansas ranch hand and cowboy. John Jr.’s son, James, after whom the author is named, followed the same course by working the land and raising cattle. Commenting on the Baumgardners Jim stated: “I’m proud of my German heritage and the work ethic passed on to me by my father and grandfathers. I come from a long line of storytellers, and it has always been fun trying to figure where the truth left off and the fiction began.”
Around age ten Jim began writing poems and songs. After reading some of Jim’s work, his father encouraged him to continue his writing. At nineteen he had his first article printed in a magazine. Forty years later at age fifty-nine his first novel, Sarah’s Wish, was published.
Mr. Baumgardner continues to reside in Wichita where he loves to stroll the dusty streets of Old Cowtown. It is there he can walk back into the Nineteenth Century and for a short time catch a glimpse of life as experienced by his grandfathers. It becomes a time to remember his roots, glean new story ideas, and never forget the hard working pioneers who contributed so much to the making of America.