I was born in South Texas and grew up on a cotton farm in the 1950s. I owe the privilege of my Texas upbringing to the stalwart spirit of my great-grandparents Tomas and Veronika Fojt who in 1870 were among Texas’ first pioneers. They came with a hearty constitution, physical endurance, grit, perseverance, bravery and a spirit forged by love of land and freedom. As Czech immigrants they settled the Texas blacklands as farmers and blacksmiths. Unfortunately, 140 years passed before I became aware of the depth of gratitude owed them; and conversely–due largely to ignorance of their existence–had likewise been denied. After searching, I finally found the remains of their intrepid spirit on the Texas prairie–etched in stone and muted in the silence of a foreign language that as a 4th generation Texas Czech, I had long forgotten. In their memory, I published Strangers at the Gate in 2013 to honor and give thanks for their fortuitous ancestral passage to an extraordinary place called Texas.