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Based on the True Story of a Real Iowa Family

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The Gripping Novel Based on the True Story


A blizzard rages outside a ramshackle Iowa farmhouse in February of 1921. Five-year-old Velma and her older sister stand near a glowing Isinglass stove charged with minding their two younger brothers.

Velma senses that her father is dying in the nearby living room, and she wonders if her mother can possibly survive the raging snowstorm in her brave effort to get help.

Based on the early life of author G. L. Gooding's mother, Where Courage Began tells the story of Velma, her three siblings, and her widowed mother Alice Steele.

Life for the young family in Woodward, Iowa requires courage, tenacity, and ingenuity. Through setbacks, tragedies, and triumphs the Steeles forge a meaningful life in their adopted community during the difficult days leading up to The Great Depression. And it is young Velma, wise beyond her years, who plays a pivotal role in the family's survival.

Verified for local historical accuracy, Where Courage Began shines light on Depression-era communities and their values for God, the land, hard work, family, and friendship. The sweet aroma of Alice Steele's famous cinnamon rolls is one of the most comforting reminders of these traditional values still practiced every day in Dallas County and celebrated annually at the Woodward Friends and Neighbors Celebration.

Visit the Iowa Community Where Courage Began


Where Courage Began unfolds in Woodward, Iowa a hundred years ago...

With its small town charm, Woodward is a great place
to raise a family. 

Author G.L. Gooding says thanks to Woodward, Iowa for support of his new series.

Woodward, Iowa is the small community with a big heart.


Where Courage Began takes place in
Woodward, Iowa in 1921...

These Days Woodward
Friends and Neighbors Day
brings the community together to  keep old traditions alive.

Join the fun at the annual Woodward Friends and Family Day in Woodward, Iowa.

Host of  Write About Here kicks off the fun with a silly golf cart race in Woodward, Iowa.


Where Courage Began is a story of resilience set in Iowa in the years leading up to the
Great Depression.

Visit the history-filled communities and discover the beauty of the state. 

Discover the scenic bike trail between Des Moines and Woodward, Iowa.

Step back in time to see vintage toys and tools in Woodward, Iowa.


It happened in WOODWARD, IOWA

Help the Library celebrate its 75th anniversary!

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