My first timed series is about Nebraska pioneer history
'HANK OF TWIN RIVERS, JOURNEY OF CHANGE' will be out as an e-book in early spring, 2013.
Cover art by Dori Murnieks
Thirteen-year-old Hank loses his doting mother from cholera. He conflicts with his father who believes that punishment will make a man out of a boy. His Irish Uncle Mac brings humor into his life and serves as a cushion between the two. His feeling for his pet cow, Clementine, makes life easier. When Hank’s pa decides to leave their Iowa homestead to find free land on the Platte River in western Nebraska Hank is forced to go with him. He finds travel mates in Rusty, a southern dandy and the “pain in the neck “tease, seven year old Nora. He tangles with the thieving Butler Brothers, gets acquainted with a black tracker along the Platte, and discovers the preacher's daughter, a tomboy who doesn't like boys.
The story takes place from Iowa along the Missouri River, to the trails that follow the Platte River in Nebraska, mainly on the Oregon Trail between Omaha and North Platte where the north and south Platte merge. The idea came to me while living in southeast Nebraska in the town of Fremont near the Platte River where I raised my family. Having three adventurous boys we got to know the Platte river well while exploring the river banks, and checking out old cabins long ago discarded, along with fishing for catfish, and bullheads, (good eating by the way). I wondered what it would be like for a boy to travel on the trails that led thousands of people on to California and Oregon. Thus began the story.
Traveling along the Platte
The Platte is one of the most significant tributary systems in Nebraska. The river valley played an important role in the westward expansion of the United States, providing the route for several major emigrant trails, including the Oregon and Mormon Trails. The Platte River is formed in western Nebraska east of the city of North Platte by the confluence of the North Platte and the South Platt Rivers, leading to the Missouri River. It is a shallow muddy, broad, meandering stream with a swampy bottom and many islands and ever-changing mud bars. It was known for quicksand and considered a dangerous river to cross.
The emigrants lived off the land, fishing, and hunting deer, antelope, elk, ducks, geese, and their staple, the colorful prairie chickens.
Other prairie creatures entertained them.
Along the way they saw bright-eyed river otters, busy beavers,
and the sentenal of the prairie, prairie dogs. The illusive coyotes sang Hank to sleep at night.
Large herds of buffalo (dangerous when stampeding, as Hank found out.) furnished dried manure patties known as buffalo chips for making fires.
Hank, now fifteen, views the growth of Pa's trading Post, Twin Rivers, from a tall tree along the Platte River he calls his eagle's nest. He shares his eagle's nest with Becca, the preacher’s daughter, who changes her mind about liking boys. A school marm comes to town disrupting his relationship with Pa, which becomes worse when Pa takes a vote on sending escaped slaves back to their plantation.
When caught in a blizzard Hank comes face to face with the legendary Wild Woman.
He conflicts with a hard-drinking city boy who shoots his gun into the air and races his buggy through the streets endangering Becca's little sister.
Much to the displeasure of Preacher Twiddle, and the school marm, who is to be his stepmother,
Hank makes friends with a Pawnee boy.
When she convinces Pa to send him away to get a 'proper' education
he rebels and runs away following the Horse Wranglers.
Riding With the Wranglers
While Hank joins the wild horse hunters to find a horse he can call his own, Becca's father takes her away from Twin Rivers back to Missouri. When he comes home to find her gone, Hank joins up with Hoss Smith and his Wranglers to help drive the herd to Texas. They follow the Chisholm Trail through Kansas and Oklahoma into Texas. He figures he can head to Missouri from there to find Becca. His search takes him through the Ozarks where his wounds from a bear attack is healed by an Ozark witch. He witnesses a battle of the Civil War, and meets up with his old friend who he finds wounded on the battlefield. A wild, hair-raising trip on stagecoaches, and steamboats takes Becca and Hank back to Twin Rivers where he finds changes in his family.
(Book two and three will be launched sometime in 2013)