Category Archives: Books

The Spirit of the Border: A Romance of the Early Settlers in the Ohio Valley (Ohio River II) (1906)

Treaty William Penn with the Lenni Lenapes; Artist: Nathaniel Currier

Treaty William Penn with the Lenni Lenapes;
Artist: Nathaniel Currier

A.L. Burt Company, 1906
Double Action Western Magazine, January 1936

The beginning of The Spirit of the Border has its roots in the peace treaty William Penn made with the Native Americans in 1682. The peace forged then ended by Governor Gordon at the Council at Conestoga, May 26, 1728. Naturally bad feelings started developing at this breach of trust. The Delaware People of the area tried to uphold their end of the peace. (Peace Treaty)

Artist: John Watson Davis

Artist: John Watson Davis

In his introduction to Spirit of the Border Zane Grey writes:

“The author does not intend to apologize for what many readers may call the “brutality” of the story; but rather to explain that its wild spirit is true to the life of the Western border as it was known only a little more than one hundred years ago.


The frontier in 1777 produced white men so savage as to be men in name only. These outcasts and renegades lived among the savages, and during thirty years harassed the border, perpetrating all manner of fiendish cruelties upon the settlers. They were no less cruel to the redmen whom they ruled, and at the height of their bloody careers made futile the Moravian missionaries’ long labors, and destroyed the beautiful hamlet of the Christian Indians, called Gnaddenhutten, or Village of Peace.


The border needed Wetzel. The settlers would have needed many more years in which to make permanent homes had it not been for him. He was never a pioneer; but always a hunter after Indians. When not on the track of the savage foe, he was in the settlement, with his keen eye and ear ever alert for signs of the enemy. To the superstitious Indians he was a shadow; a spirit of the border, which breathed menace from the dark forests. To the settlers he was the right arm of defense, a fitting leader for those few implacable and unerring frontiersmen who made the settlement of the West a possibility.”

Lewis Wentzel loads on the run; Artist:

Lewis Wetzel loads on the run (17 yrs old); From Conquering the Wilderness; Or, a New Pictorial History of the Life and Times of the Pioneer Heroes and Heroines of America; by: Colonel Frank Triplet, 1883

Lewis Wetzel did not become a hater of the Native Americans by chance. He and his brothers 13 and 11) were captured by Wyandot raiders in 1777.  Three days after capture the boys managed to escape in spite of Lewis being shot across the sternum.

From then on Lewis Wetzel made it his mission to become the best frontiersman that he could. Skills needed for that were fighting, tracking and deductive abilities. He fought the enemies of his people as well as he could, took the scalps of the enemy and sometimes rescued captured.

Consensus was that he was just killing “varmint” and doing society a service by getting rid of those pesky red-skins. Literature, propaganda and other media of the time reflected this vision of the Native Americans.

So well was he known among the Native Americans that he gained the name “Deathwind”.

Spirit of the Border is supposed to be based on the journal of Zane Grey’s ancestor, Ebenezer Zane. We continue on from Grey’s first historical novel, Betty Zane. The time is close to the time of the Moravian massacre. Most of the characters of The Spirit of the Border are based on real life characters. Artistic license has been taken with their presentation.

Nell Wells and her sister Kate have gone West with their uncle to be Moravian missionaries to the Native Americans living there. On the way there she had met Joe Downs. Joe had come West with for adventure. Adventure always sounds so much fun. Then you are in the middle of it, and well – sometimes it is, sometimes it is not.

I wanted to come West because I was tired of tame life. I love the forest; I want to fish and hunt; and I think I’d like to—to see Indians.

Joe seems to have fallen for Nell, makes his intentions clear, is rebuffed (except the rebuff was made toward his almost identical brother Jim). Zane Grey’s career as a romance writer is now a fact. So is his tendency to create love triangles. Joe, Nell, Jim and Kate are not real life characters.

Looks are not the only thing Jim and Joe have in common. Their interest in Nell is very much similar. Differences are clear to the reader, the brothers and their friends. Jim is a Moravian preacher while Joe is anything but.

Seeing things with hind-sight is always a wonderful way to read a story. Because I am an Asperger I get side-tracked easily while maintaining my focus on the main story. Facts are seductive to me. Simon Girty had been adopted into one of  the Seneca tribes as a child. Both sides in the American Revolution used Girty to their own ends. When the Americans arrested and tried Girty for treason he felt no incentive to help them any longer.

“He’s a traitor, and Jim and George Girty, his brothers, are p’isin rattlesnake Injuns. Simon Girty’s bad enough; but Jim’s the wust. He’s now wusser’n a full-blooded Delaware. He’s all the time on the lookout to capture white wimen to take to his Injun teepee. Simon Girty and his pals, McKee and Elliott, deserted from that thar fort right afore yer eyes. They’re now livin’ among the redskins down Fort Henry way, raisin’ as much hell fer the settlers as they kin.”

Joe is quite the prankster. Pranks always have unintended consequences, some of them more serious than others. Pranks across cultures are extremely difficult to pull off and Shawnee chiefs might not be the best people to pull one on. In fact Joe and Jim get captured by the same chief and his warriors not long after.


“On March 8 and 9, 1782, a group of Pennsylvania militiamen under the command of Captain David Williamson attacked the Moravian Church Mission founded by David Zeisberger at Gnadenhutten. The Americans struck the natives in retaliation for the deaths and kidnapping of several Pennsylvanians. Although the militiamen attacked the Christian Indians, these natives were not involved in the previous incident. The Christian Delaware had abandoned Gnadenhutten the year before, but had returned to harvest crops that were still in the fields.

On March 8, the militiamen arrived at Gnadenhutten. Accusing the natives of the attack on the Pennsylvania settlement, the soldiers rounded them up and placed the men and women in separate buildings in the abandoned village overnight. The militiamen then voted to execute the captives the following morning. Informed of their impending deaths, the Christian Delaware spent the night praying and singing hymns. The next morning the soldiers took the natives in pairs to a cabin, forced the natives to kneel, and proceeded to crush their skulls with a heavy mallet. In all Williamson’s men murdered 28 men, 29 women and 39 children. There were only two survivors, who alerted the missionaries and Christian Indians of what had occurred.” (Jim Cummings)

The Spirit of the Border available on Gutenberg




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Posted by on 2014-07-12 in Books


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The Last Trail (Ohio River III) (1909)

Helen being captured by Indians - By J Watson Davis

A.L. Burt, New York 1909
Double-Action Western Nov, Dec 1936, Jan, Feb 1937 (Galactic Central)

The Last Trail is the last of the Ohio River stories. It is the last novel in which we will meet Lewis Wetzel and the Zane family of yon times. Outing Publishing were the publishers.

“In 1762 two brothers, Isaac and Jonathan Zane, aged 9 and 11, were kidnapped by Indians while returning home from school” (Myeerah)

Jonathan Zane and Lewis WetzelHelen Sheppard is traveling with her father to Fort Henry. Their guide is leading them straight into a trap but something goes wrong and the trap does not close. Instead they meet Jonathan Zane and Lewis Wetzel. The Sheppard’s were incredibly glad to have gotten away from trouble scot-free and thanked Colonel Ebenezer Zane when they arrived at Fort Henry.

Sheppard Sr. has come to Fort Henry for land. What he does not seem to have realised yet is the extent to which the place gets attacked. Colonel Zane tells them more about what to expect when it comes to attacks and the two men who rescued them.

Earnestly, as a man who loves his subject, Colonel Zane told his listeners of these two most prominent characters of the border. Sixteen years previously, when but boys in years, they had cast in their lot with his, and journeyed over the Virginian Mountains, Wetzel to devote his life to the vengeful calling he had chosen, and Jonathan to give rein to an adventurous spirit and love of the wilds. By some wonderful chance, by cunning, woodcraft, or daring, both men had lived through the years of border warfare which had brought to a close the careers of all their contemporaries.

One of the younger women in the area is kidnapped by one of the tribes in the area. Jonathan suspects that if the Girtys see Helen that she will be next.

Once again we meet Betty Zane. The Zane sister has become a widow. We also meet the third Zane brother, Isaac and his wife.

Jonathan and Helen carry the romantic element of the story with all of the complications that would become part and parcel of Zane Grey’s romantic stories of the West. Both of them are real life people along with most of the other characters of the story of the settling of Ohio by Anglos and the removal of the Native Americans in the area.

Blue Jacket (1740s-1810s);

Blue Jacket (1740s-1810s);

… the name “Ohio” is an Iroquoian Indian word? It came from the Seneca name for the Ohio River, Ohiyo, which means “it is beautiful”.

Most Native Americans were forced to leave Ohio during the Indian Removals of the 1800’s. These tribes are not extinct, but except for the descendants of Ohio Indians who escaped from Removal, they do not live in Ohio anymore. They were moved to Indian reservations in Oklahoma instead. (Native American tribes of Ohio)

Blue Jacket led Native Americans at the Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794 against General Anthony Wayne’s forces. It was a major defeat for Blue Jacket, resulting, ultimately, in the Treaty of Greenville (1795) which turned over half of Ohio to the Americans. (Ohio Biographies)


The Last Trail available on Gutenberg

The Last Trail available as audiobook on YouTube










Posted by on 2014-07-11 in Books


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The Last of the Plainsmen (1908)

Credit: Zane Grey: From the 1911 Grosset & Dunlap edition

Credit: Zane Grey: From the 1911 Grosset & Dunlap edition

Hodder and Stoughton, 1908

In his introduction to The Last of the Plainsmen Zane Grey writes:

In the spring of 1907 I was the fortunate companion of the old plainsman on a trip across the desert, and a hunt in that wonderful country of yellow crags, deep canyons and giant pines. I want to tell about it. I want to show the color and beauty of those painted cliffs and the long, brown-matted bluebell-dotted aisles in the grand forests; I want to give a suggestion of the tang of the dry, cool air; and particularly I want to throw a little light upon the life and nature of that strange character and remarkable man, Buffalo Jones.

The San Francisco Peaks as viewed from Elden Mountain;  Credit: Tyler Finvold, 30 November 2006

The San Francisco Peaks as viewed from Elden Mountain;
Credit: Tyler Finvold, 30 November 2006

Buffalo Jones belonged to that strange set of hunters that loved hunting predators yet made certain they were alive. He was considered eccentric. One old-timer told Zane Grey:

“Say, young feller, I heerd yer couldn’t git acrost the Canyon fer the deep snow on the north rim. Wal, ye’re lucky. Now, yer hit the trail fer New York, an’ keep goin’! Don’t ever tackle the desert, ‘specially with them Mormons. They’ve got water on the brain, wusser ‘n religion. It’s two hundred an’ fifty miles from Flagstaff to Jones range, an’ only two drinks on the trail. I know this hyar Buffalo Jones. I knowed him way back in the seventies, when he was doin’ them ropin’ stunts thet made him famous as the preserver of the American bison. I know about that crazy trip of his’n to the Barren Lands, after musk-ox. An’ I reckon I kin guess what he’ll do over there in the Siwash. He’ll rope cougars—sure he will—an’ watch ’em jump. Jones would rope the devil, an’ tie him down if the lasso didn’t burn. Oh! he’s hell on ropin’ things. An’ he’s wusser ‘n hell on men, an’ hosses, an’ dogs.”

On their journey together Jones and Grey had their Mormon guides, five hounds and their horses.

The falls shown in this photograph were 28 feet high pre-1907;  Credit: H.T. Cory

The falls shown in this photograph were 28 feet high pre-1907;
Credit: H.T. Cory

Zane Grey got to experience the fear of the old version of the Colorado River (Rio Colorado).

They arrived at Jones’ ranch and Zane Grey got meet Buffalo Jones farm-hands. Jones’ farm-hands played a mustang-prank on Grey so they could test his mettle. When they went out to take a look at Jones Cattalo, the ranch-hands gave Zane Grey a frisky white mustang so he could be challenged beyond his abilities. Grey ended up calling that mustang Satan.

Cattalo;  Credit: J.H. Cano

Credit: J.H. Cano

Jones and Grey leave the ranch and continue through their adventures of trying to catch the last buffalo herd, avoid fighting with Native Americans, keeping hydrated in the desert, listening to their guides and hunting for predators.

The Last of the Plainsmen is an interesting look at the journey of two Westerners in a country that had changed irrevocably during the life of the last of the plainsmen who just happened to be one of them.

I spoke the last good-by and turned Satan into the narrow trail. When I looked back Jones stood on the rim with the fresh glow of dawn shining on his face. The trail was steep, and claimed my attention and care, but time and time again I gazed back. Jones waved his hand till a huge jutting cliff walled him from view. Then I cast my eyes on the rough descent and the wonderful void beneath me. In my mind lingered a pleasing consciousness of my last sight of the old plainsman. He fitted the scene; he belonged there among the silent pines and the yellow crags.


The Last of the Plainsmen available on Gutenberg








University of Arizona, special collections: Title page

University of Arizona, special collections: Draft ch 15

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Posted by on 2014-07-09 in Books


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The Heritage of the Desert (1910)

Credit: Galactic Central

Credit: Galactic Central

The Popular Magazine starting 15th June 1910 (5 episode serial)
Harper & Brothers, New York 1910
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine starting May 1947
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Dec 1949, Jan 1957, and Jan 1961 (Galactic Central)

The Heritage of the Desert is set to cirka 1878 in Arizona: Lee’s Ferry and Painted Desert (ZGWS).

The Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park;  Credit: Lsaldivar, 20th July 2011

The Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park;
Credit: Lsaldivar, 20th July 2011

John Hare is discovered dying in the desert by Mormons. Because of his settings, Zane Grey often writes about Mormons. Some of his novels are scathing in their critique of their practice of polygamy. But in general he treated them as he treated any other character in his novels. Some were creeps and others were obviously admired by him.

At the very beginning of The Heritage of the Desert we meet a group of men who happen to be Mormons. These guys were worried about helping John Hare who was obviously out to get the outlaw Dene.

“Leave him here,” said one, addressing a gray-bearded giant. “He’s the fellow sent into southern Utah to spy out the cattle thieves. He’s all but dead. Dene’s outlaws are after him. Don’t cross Dene.”

I imagine most of us can relate to not wanting to mess with the baddies. Some of the group decide to leave while August Nabb and his boys decide to save Hare from death by desert.

August Nabb’s party consisted of himself, his sons and his adopted daughter Mescal, wife and other comely women.

Sunset in White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument;  Credit: PDTillman, 15th October 2012

Sunset in White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument;
Credit: PDTillman, 15th October 2012

John Hare had come West for his health. He had been thought a spy. These accusations made it necessary for him to run. Hare had gotten lost and one simply does not get lost in the desert. We quickly see that the outlaws have not given up on finding him.

What Hare discovers is that the regular settlers are harried by two main parties. One of those is the Dene outlaw gang. For the most part these guys steal cattle from the ranchers in the area. Holderness steals something that the people there hold much dearer: Land.

“August, some of our young men need no one to corrupt them. Dene had no great task to win them. He rode in here with a few outlaws and now he has a strong band. We’ve got to face it. We haven’t any law, but he can be killed. Some one must kill him. Yet bad as Dene is, he doesn’t threaten our living as Holderness does. Dene steals a few cattle, kills a man here and there. Holderness reaches out and takes our springs. Because we’ve no law to stop him, he steals the blood of our life—water—water—God’s gift to the desert! Some one must kill Holderness, too!”

Not only does John Hare learn of the troubles the Mormon settlers encounter, he also learns about their faith and discovers that he is in love with Mescal. Loving Mescal is a problem because August Naab would like her to marry one of his own sons.

Painted Desert, Utah;  Credit: Eddie Lluisma

Painted Desert, Utah;
Credit: Eddie Lluisma

As with a couple of his earlier biographical works, we see Zane Grey favoring the romance genre in his writing. I find it fascinating that a man like Grey would be attracted to the romance industry. However, I have come to realize that men often wrote romance back in the day. Most of the authors on the market had male names. I don’t know what the tendency is today.

Back to The Heritage of the Desert. John Hare is very much aware of how much he owes August Nabb.

“They said I fell among thieves,” mused Hare, when he was once more alone. “I’ve fallen among saints as well.” He felt that he could never repay this August Naab. “If only I might live!” he ejaculated. How restful was this cottage garden! The green sward was a balm to his eyes. Flowers new to him, though of familiar springtime hue, lifted fresh faces everywhere; fruit-trees, with branches intermingling, blended the white and pink of blossoms. There was the soft laughter of children in the garden. Strange birds darted among the trees. Their notes were new, but their song was the old delicious monotone—the joy of living and love of spring. A green-bowered irrigation ditch led by the porch and unseen water flowed gently, with gurgle and tinkle, with music in its hurry. Innumerable bees murmured amid the blossoms.

How on earth is he supposed to resolve his obligations to Nabb, his feelings for Mescal and being wanted by Dene and possibly Holderness?

Zane Grey often anonymized real life characters. Given the timeline of the story Cap Brown is a likely candidate for the role of Dene and his gang. (Nichols) It is probable that Holderness was based on the story of the land hungry character of the cattle baron I.W. Lacy.

The expansion of Utah’s cattle industry during the 1870s and 1880s was built upon four cornerstones that included small operations throughout the state, the cattle barons–ranchers like Preston Nutter, B. F. Saunders, James W. Taylor, the Whitmores, and the McIntyres whose animals numbered in the thousands, Mormon cooperative enterprises some associated with United Orders and others such as the Bluff Pool in southeastern Utah which grew in response to outside threats by the Lacy Cattle Company to take over rangeland and control access to water and other resources, and corporate cattle companies who tapped resources in Great Britain, Pittsburgh and other eastern cities, and even Utah investors to found such companies as the Carlisle Cattle Company, the Pittsburgh Land and Livestock Company, the Webster City Cattle Company and the Ireland Cattle Company among others. (UHG)

"Herd Quitters";  By Charles Marion Russell, 1902

“Herd Quitters”;
By Charles Marion Russell, 1902

Another main character of Zane Grey’s novels becomes extremely visible in The Heritage of the Desert. This character appears in every single one of his Western Romances. In The Heritage of the Desert the name of that character is Painted Desert in Utah. On his earlier journey with Buffalo Jones, Zane Grey seemed to fall in love with the landscapes of Utah, Nevada and New Mexico. Having lived in Utah for a few years I see his point.  Grey’s writing captures the beauty of nature in a manner that even my brain manages to envision.

For Mescal was there. Far away she must be, a mere grain of sand in all that world of drifting sands, perhaps ill, perhaps hurt, but alive, waiting for him, calling for him, crying out with a voice that no distance could silence. He did not see the sharp peaks as pitiless barriers, nor the mesas and domes as black-faced death, nor the moisture-drinking sands as life-sucking foes to plant and beast and man. That painted wonderland had sheltered Mescal for a year. He had loved it for its color, its change, its secrecy; he loved it now because it had not been a grave for Mescal, but a home. Therefore he laughed at the deceiving yellow distances in the foreground of glistening mesas, at the deceiving purple distances of the far-off horizon. The wind blew a song in his ears; the dry desert odors were fragrance in his nostrils; the sand tasted sweet between his teeth, and the quivering heat-waves, veiling the desert in transparent haze, framed beautiful pictures for his eyes.

Wolf kept to the fore for some thirty paces, and though he had ceased to stop, he still looked back to see if the horse and man were following. Hare had noted the dog occasionally in the first hours of travel, but he had given his eyes mostly to the broken line of sky and desert in the west, to the receding contour of Echo Cliffs, to the spread and break of the desert near at hand. Here and there life showed itself in a gaunt coyote sneaking into the cactus, or a horned toad huddling down in the dust, or a jewel-eyed lizard sunning himself upon a stone. It was only when his excited fancy had cooled that Hare came to look closely at Wolf. But for the dog’s color he could not have been distinguished from a real wolf. His head and ears and tail drooped, and he was lame in his right front paw.

Hare halted in the shade of a stone, dismounted and called the dog to him. Wolf returned without quickness, without eagerness, without any of the old-time friendliness of shepherding days. His eyes were sad and strange. Hare felt a sudden foreboding, but rejected it with passionate force. Yet a chill remained. Lifting Wolf’s paw he discovered that the ball of the foot was worn through; whereupon he called into service a piece of buckskin, and fashioning a rude moccasin he tied it round the foot. Wolf licked his hand, but there was no change in the sad light of his eyes. He turned toward the west as if anxious to be off.

“All right, old fellow,” said Hare, “only go slow. From the look of that foot I think you’ve turned back on a long trail.”

Again they faced the west, dog leading, man following, and addressed themselves to a gradual ascent. When it had been surmounted Hare realized that his ride so far had brought him only through an anteroom; the real portal now stood open to the Painted Desert. The immensity of the thing seemed to reach up to him with a thousand lines, ridges, canyons, all ascending out of a purple gulf. The arms of the desert enveloped him, a chill beneath their warmth. (Chapter XIV. Wolf)


The Heritage of the Desert available on Gutenberg, LibriVoxas MP3











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Posted by on 2014-07-08 in Books


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The Young Forester (1910)

Forest Ranger on forest fire patrol duty;   Cabinet National Forest, Montana, 1909;  Credit:

Forest Ranger on forest fire patrol duty;
Cabinet National Forest, Montana, 1909;

Harper & Brothers, NY 1910

Zane Grey wrote the Ken Ward Books for Boys as adventure stories for a younger audience. In each of them Kenneth Ward sets off into the unknown and through him Zane Grey gets to present both places and issues that were important to him in a manner that appealed to a younger audience.

In The Young Forester Zane Grey discusses what it meant to be a U.S. Forest Service Ranger through his character Ken Ward. Ward has a dream and that dream is to become a Forest Ranger. He just needs to convince his father to let him go to Arizona so he can check the ranger life out in the company of his friend, Dick Leslie. Dick Leslie has already proven himself as a Forest Service Ranger by having the necessary qualities and having passed the required test.

Ken’s father feels Ken has romanticized the life of a ranger too much, but after Ken has taken him through his own woods he realizes that his son has studied the subject and tried to prepare for what lies ahead. So Ken gets his go ahead on the condition that Ken comes back and continues his studies in the autumn.

On his way West, Ken meets a man called Bluell who lives in Holston (Ken’s embarkation station). Ken manages to settle for the night in a hotel and right away sees that people are a lot tougher than he is. Someone as fresh from the East as Ken is in for a lot of trickery but not all are out to get him.

His very first advice is to keep his mouth shut about going into the Ranger business. Secondly, he shouldn’t talk so much about being from the East. And finally he gets advice on how to handle his riding and pack horse. In all these things Bluell seems to steer him true.


The Tiger Creek Mill; Credit: Sierra Nevada Logging Museum

Certain things come to light that Ken finds odd. Coming across the trail that he had lost the day before Ken sees the same Mexican man who had been following him around the evening before. Then Ken arrives at a mining operation in the hills that is run by Bluell. This operation is cutting an awful lot of trees and Ken wonders at how legal this operation is. Dick Leslie seems to have changed quite a bit. All of these things together and Ken is getting a bit worried.

According to one old (real life) ranger:

The only serious opposition I recall was from contractors undertaking to supply timber needed by the larger mining companies for fuel and mine timbers. They had been accustomed to cut large quantities where they pleased, without payment. When the forest reserves were created, the contractors didn’t even attempt to get permits or purchase the timber from the Government, but would help themselves. That kept my father and the rest of us busy. (Richard H. Hanna)

It just so happens that Bluell represents one such contractor and that they aren’t all that concerned about permits or payments. Illegal logging isn’t something people only did back in the old days when they supposedly did not know better. We are really good at it today as well.

Ward overhears Bluell revealing his thoughts about Ken. It isn’t pretty.

Fire fighters going to the front;   Lassen National Forest, California, 1927 (FHS5536);  Credit: U.S. Forest Service History

Fire fighters going to the front;
Lassen National Forest, California, 1927 (FHS5536);
Credit: U.S. Forest Service History

“His name’s Ward. Tall, well-set lad. I put Greaser after him the other night, hopin’ to scare him back East. But nix!”

“Well, he’s here now—to study forestry! Ha! ha!” said the other.

“You’re sure the boy you mean is the one I mean?”

“Greaser told me so. And this boy is Leslie’s friend.”

“That’s the worst of it,” replied Buell, impatiently. “I’ve got Leslie fixed as far as this lumber deal is concerned, but he won’t stand for any more. He was harder to fix than the other rangers, an’ I’m afraid of him.” he’s grouchy now.

“You shouldn’t have let the boy get here.”

“Stockton, I tried to prevent it. I put Greaser with Bud an’ Bill on his trail. They didn’t find him, an’ now here he turns up.”

“Maybe he can be fixed.”

“Not if I know my business, he can’t; take that from me. This kid is straight. He’ll queer my deal in a minute if he gets wise. Mind you, I’m gettin’ leary of Washington. We’ve seen about the last of these lumber deals. If I can pull this one off I’ll quit; all I want is a little more time. Then I’ll fire the slash, an’ that’ll cover tracks.”

“Buell, I wouldn’t want to be near Penetier when you light that fire. This forest will burn like tinder.”

“It’s a whole lot I care then. Let her burn. Let the Government put out the fire. Now, what’s to be done about this boy?”

Understandably, Ken worries where this is going to end. And so he should.


The Young Forester (Ken Ward book for boys) available on Gutenberg







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Posted by on 2014-07-07 in Books


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The Young Lion Hunter (Ken Ward II) (1911)


Mountain lion being hunted by hounds (hunting dogs)Credit: Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection

Harper & Brothers, New York, 1911

The Young Lion Hunter is set to the summer after The Young Forester. Ken Ward has spent a year in college and wishes to work another summer as a Forest Service Ranger. Supervisor Birch allows it and Kenneth off for Utah.

At Holston he is met by his old friends, Dick Leslie and Jim Williams. At first they do not recognize him. Ken has changed quite a bit during his year at college.

To me Ken Ward had changed, and I studied him with curious interest. The added year sat well upon him, for there was now no suggestion of callowness. The old frank, boyish look was the same, yet somewhat different. Ken had worked, studied, suffered. But as to his build, it was easy to see the change. That promise of magnificent strength and agility, which I had seen in him since he was a mere boy, had reached its fulfilment. Lithe and straight as an Indian, almost tall, wide across the shoulders, small-waisted and small-hipped, and with muscles rippling at his every move, he certainly was the most splendid specimen of young manhood I had ever seen.

As a surprise, Ken has brought his younger brother Hal along. Their father had indicated his strong wish for this to happen. Freckles and red hair were Hal’s distinguishing marks along with an attitude that needed trimming. The 14-year old and his brother fit the mold that Zane Grey cast his sibling characters in. Hal is the intense, live in the moment type. Ken is more of the thoughtful and forward-thinking personality.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon;  Credit: Visit Southern Utah

North Rim of the Grand Canyon;
Credit: Visit Southern Utah

Dick Leslie explains that Ken will be his helper. Hiram Bent, game-warden, wishes for the rangers to hunt cougars. They are “thick as hops” and Bent wishes them gone. The area they will be hunting in is the north rim of the Cañon–Grand Cañon in Coconina.

Hal proves that he will not be bullied about his looks or about his riding-abilities. Choosing the finest looking mustang also brings him to the ground a few times before he learns that these mustangs “need” spurring to be ridden. Sounds pretty awful to me and maybe it is. That was the way it was done back then and Hal eventually learned how to handle his choosy pinto.

Pinto Mustangs Credit:

Pinto Mustangs

Let’s face it. People are racists / ethnicists / culturalists /classists / genderists etc. We all are to one degree or another depending on the kind of propaganda we grew up with. Although Zane Grey could be considered one of the authors with a pro-Native American view, he was still a product of the propaganda he had grown up with. So you will to see some stereotyping here with regard to the Navajo guide the foursome have hired for their wildlife management job.

Hal is exposed to the camp-life of the rangers, the wildness of the Grand Canyons and a type of people he was not used to back East. Like Ken did the previous year, Hal loses many of his blinders during the trip and the four end up very definitely having an adventure.

“Hounds runnin’ wild,” yelled Hiram.

The onslaught of the hunter and his charger stirred a fear in me that checked admiration. I saw the green of a low cedar-tree shake and split to let in the huge, gaunt horse with rider doubled over the saddle. Then came the crash of breaking brush and pounding of hoofs from the direction the hounds had taken. We strung out in the lane Hiram left and hung low over the pommels; and though we had his trail and followed it at only half his speed, yet the tearing and whipping we got from the cedar spikes were hard enough indeed.

A hundred rods within the forest we unexpectedly came upon Hiram, dismounted, searching the ground. Mux and Curley were with him, apparently at fault. Suddenly Mux left the little glade and, with a sullen, quick bark, disappeared under the trees. Curley sat on his haunches and yelped.

“Shore somethin’s wrong,” said Jim, tumbling out of his saddle. “Hiram, I see a lion track.”

“Here, fellows, I see one, and it’s not where you’re looking,” I added.

“Now what do you think I’m lookin’ fer if it ain’t tracks?” queried Hiram. “Hyar’s one cougar track, an’ thar’s another. Jump off, youngsters, an’ git a good look at ’em. Hyar’s the trail we were on, an’ thar’s the other, crossin’ at right angles. Both are fresh, one ain’t many minnits old. Prince an’ Queen hey split one way, an’ Mux another. Curley, wise old hound, hung fire an’ waited fer me. Whar on earth is Ringer? It ain’t like him to be lost when thar’s doin’s like this.”


The Young Lion Hunter on Gutenberg


Reviews: Charles Wheeler



  • 1952: Ken der Pumajaeger (German)



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Posted by on 2014-07-06 in Books


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Sunset Pass (1928)

Sunset Pass - American Magazine

American Magazine, April – October 1928
Grosset and Dunlap, 1931

W. H. D. Koerner is one of the illustrators of Zane Grey novels. He illustrated all seven episodes of the American Magazine publication of the Sunset Pass story published in 1928 from April to October.

Trueman Rock returns to a town he has not seen for six years.

“At the end of the flagstone walk Rock hesitated and halted, as if surprised, even startled. Across the wide street stood a block of frame and brick buildings, with high weatherbeaten signs. It was a lazy scene. A group of cowboys occupied the corner; saddled horses were hitched to a rail; buckboards and wagons showed farther down the street; Mexicans in colourful garb sat in front of a saloon.

Memory stirred to the sight of the familiar corner. He had been in several bad gun fights in this town. The scene of one of them lay before him and a subtle change began to affect his pleasure in returning to Wagontongue. He left the station.

But he had not walked half a block before he came to another saloon, the familiar look of which and the barely decipherable name–Happy Days–acted like a blow in his face. He quickened his step, then, reacting to his characteristic spirit, he deliberately turned back to enter the saloon. The same place, the same bar, and the faded paintings; the same pool tables. Except for a barkeeper, the room was deserted. Rock asked for a drink.”

Trueman walks the halls of memory with the people of today discovering what he is made of, who his true love is and what needs to be done to protect those he cares for. A walk down memory lane with the faces of today in front of you will often challenge previous assumptions. So too with Trueman. Some of those I called my dearest friends have now become as strangers to me because our paths through life have become too dissimilar. Sadly, our changes have not been compatible.

Illustration from American Magazine by WDH Koerner

Illustration from American Magazine by WDH Koerner

Trueman Rock becomes enchanted with Thiry Preston and decides to ask for a job with Gage Preston. Gage Preston seems to be the money of the Wagontongue-Winslow area. His son Ash is considered a bad apple. Every one of Trueman’s old friends warn him against taking up work with the Prestons due to Ash’s reputation and beginning suspicions about the wealth of the family. Rock is struck with his love for Thiry and ignores the advice but keeps his eyes open for potential trouble.

Sunset Pass is based on a real life incident – like many of Zane Grey’s other stories. In real life we meet the Marley family of the Flagstaff-Winslow, Arizona area.

The Marley family had moved into the area from Texas. They had brought some cattle with them and these were let loose on the range (although the other ranchers there did not welcome them). Babbitt’s, Hart’s and Gibbon’s outfits ranged with theirs. Marley’s branched out into the slaughtering business and built a slaughterhouse just outside of Winslow. The Marley’s made one gigantic mistake. The amount of cattle slaughtered and shipped out was way out of their league. Rube Neill started investigating.

“February 1911, Rube Neill, Sheriff Joe Wood of Navajo County and Les Hart, learning that the Marleys were out gathering cattle, went down to Jack’s Canyon and concealed themselves among the rocks where they would have a good view of the corral and slaughterhouse.

It was nearly sundown when they saw Marley and his sons drive a herd of cattle into the corral of the slaughterhouse. They waited until they heard the sound of the kill, and went down.”

The Marley’s were caught red-handed. (PEC, 1966)

Trueman Rock worries about the implication of Thiry not telling anyone about what her family is doing. He fears that she will be thought guilty by association. With him being as besotted with Thiry as he is, Trueman does not want this to happen. When he discovers that others seem interested in what is going on at the Preston ranch, Rock knows that it is only a matter of time before all is revealed.


Sunset Pass on Gutenberg








Navajo county history

Prescott Evening Courier – Nov 1, 1966

The Coconino Sun from Flagstaff, Arizona,  November 1, 1912: Pages 7 and 11

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Posted by on 2014-07-05 in Books


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