Josie Broadhead was the kind of person folks still talk about with a touch of reverence. A simple farmer's wife, she was most at home kneeling in the garden or sitting on a worn chair at the kitchen table. She gave without hesitation, spoke without fear, and believed love really could heal. At the Wisconsin farm she shared with her husband Lee for nearly sixty years, she took in child after child who needed a bed heaped in warm blankets and a refrigerator that was always full, a place where 

love and looking-after were never in short supply.

As Josie's granddaughter, Wendy Bilen had spent time in that garden and at that table. But only after years of restless circling through jobs and relationships and moves did she consider who Josie really was. Maybe, Bilen thought, if she could determine what made Josie so remarkable, she might figure out what was missing from her own life. 

Josie had been gone a good ten years by then, so Bilen went digging, trying to find her grandmother in the places and things left behind: on the prairie, in county courthouses, in cardboard boxes. As she pieced together Josie's story, she finally got to know the woman she had admired for so long, discovering that the secret to an exceptional life is pretty simple after all.

This is the story recounted in Finding Josie. Published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press in 2008, this biography-memoir received several honors:

  • 2009 Next Generation IndieBook Award for Autobiography/Memoir

  • 2008 Midwest IndependentPublishers Association Midwest BookAward forBiography/Memoir

  • Finalist, 2009 USABookNews National Best Books Award for Autobiography/Memoir

  • Finalist, 2009 National Indie Excellence Award for Memoir

  • Midwest Suggestion Pick, Midwest Booksellers Association


Finding Josie is available in hard copy and e-book editions. You can read an excerpt through Google Books.