This story is an autobiography, but written as a work of fiction, using imaginary names for the actual persons and most of the towns. The original author, Hope Inez Killen, was born in 1884, passed away in 1956 and her family buried her in Pineville, Louisiana.
Most of the events described in this story actually took place. For instance, her brother, Lawrence (Fred) really was killed in a lumber mill accident and left a life insurance policy in Hope Inez's favor. His monument, a Woodmen of World concrete tree, can be seen along with the graves of many other family members in the Old Red Hill (now called Dark-Neal) cemetery some five miles northwest of Boyce, LA. The town of Cedartown, in the story, is the name she gave to Boyce.
Ten miles down the Red River is the real town of Alexandria, which she called Centerton. In the 1890s, the hill country of central Louisiana was covered by a forest of Long Leaf Pine, much as she described in the story. This story chronicles Hope Inez's struggles to get out of the woods, get an education and to make her way in a working world, dominated by men, that definitely was not very women-friendly. Anita (Hope Inez) suffered many miseries but her Irish determination did not let her waver. As far as we know, she did not attempt to publish her manuscript. Instead, she passed it on to her sister, Zettie (Roberta), who left it to the eldest of her two surviving daughters. For a number of years, the manuscript seems to have been in limbo. At last the daughters, both now living in central Louisiana, resurrected the old, fading and yellowing pages and read Aunt Sudies book (Hope Inez' sister, Roberta, had nicknamed her Sudie when they were children).
A cousin, who had authored several textbooks, also became interested in Hope Inez's story. He instigated family interest and the decision was soon made to attempt publication while making as few changes as possible in the original manuscript. A Lilly Among the Tares is the result.
The reader is asked to consider the conditions that existed in Louisiana at the turn of the century and not judge Anita's innocence and naivete by today's standards. Rather, please bear in mind that she was reared in the remoteness of the 'piney woods,' that her parents had a desire to 'hide out' and that the availability of transportation from any given place was usually difficult, non-existent or unreliable at best.
When reading her story, enjoy the light of her spirit and the strength of her faith in God that shines through every page.