Friday, October 3, 2014

The Great Lecompton Shootout

Western author John D. McCall will soon have a new release titled South of Rising Sun with US Marshal Alistair Taggart paying a visit to Lecompton, Kansas Territory.
Lecompton, Kansas Territory (Kansas Historical Society Image)
When using a historical setting as the backdrop for a novel, a certain amount of accuracy is important to the believability of the story. Unless you're already an expert on the location and time you've chosen, some thorough research can keep you from looking foolish to your readers, some of whom are bound to catch your mistakes.  One of the fun things which can happen when you put in your due diligence is learning an interesting tidbit of information about your setting you were previously unaware of. This has happened to me many times over when researching the location of my new western novel, set in Kansas. Being a Kansas native for fifty-eight years, one would think I had already learned everything there is to know historically about the state I live in. But once I started researching the setting for my tale, I found out how completely lacking my Kansas history education had been in elementary and secondary school. 

Even if they are not into westerns, nearly everyone over the age of forty has heard of the Gunfight at the OK Corral. They might even know of the Hickock-Tutt Gunfight in Springfield, Missouri or the Hyde Park Gunfight in Newton, Kansas. But few people have heard of one of the largest gunfights ever to take place in the West, a politically motivated shootout in the now tiny city of Lecompton in Douglas County, Kansas. Lecompton was the first official territorial capital in Kansas’s long and often bloody struggle to determine whether it would enter the Union as a free state or a slave state in the latter half of the 1850s. This thriving city of almost five-thousand was the seat of the pro-slavery (at that time) territorial government and was expected to become the capital once statehood was conferred upon the Kansas territory.
John W. Geary
In 1857, John W. Geary had the dubious honor of being the governor of territorial Kansas, one of six men to hold the title during its seven year history of existence.  During Geary’s tenure, the self-appointed sheriff of Douglas County, Samuel J. Jones, resigned his post, and the Douglas County board of commissioners appointed one William T. Sherrard as the new sheriff under somewhat questionable legal authority. Governor Geary was to have signed papers granting Sherrard his commission but stalled, apparently feeling Sherrard’s pro-slavery leanings would conflict with his own free-state inclinations, despite Sherrard’s declaration he would “see that the laws were faithfully executed.” Geary continued to stall, then eventually refused outright, claiming several acquaintances had reported Sherrard was of dubious character and had been involved in several drunken altercations. 

Constitution Hall as it now stands. Kansas Historical Society
For over a month, Sherrard went to great lengths to secure his commission by legal means, but each avenue led to disappointment. Thwarted in all his efforts, he apparently had enough, and an armed Sherrard confronted Geary in Constitution Hall as he left a legislative meeting. The exact words exchanged are not agreed upon by historians, but the story goes that Sherrard chastised Geary for assailing his character and then spat on him, hoping to provoke the governor into an altercation so he would have reason to shoot Geary. Geary wisely refused to take the bait, but his supporters did not let the matter drop. They introduced resolutions in the house legislature condemning Sherrard's actions and nine days, later held a town meeting on the matter.

At one point during the meeting, Sherrard was given the floor to rebut the resolutions and declared that "Any man who imputes anything dishonorable to me in that affair, is a liar and a coward, and I stand ready at all times to back up my words." After Sherrard left the podium, he returned to his place among the crowd and was immediately bombarded with hostile questions and comments. One member of the gathering, Joseph Sheppard, may have remarked that the resolutions were just and moved toward Sherrard. Sherrard responded to the alleged statement by yelling, "You are a G**—damned liar, a coward and a scoundrel," after which he drew his pistol and began firing. Sheppard pulled his own pistol and fired back, but not before being wounded. When Sheppard's three rounds missed, he tried to club Sherrard with the butt of his pistol before the mayor and ex-sheriff Jones separated the two. By then, many in the crowd had drawn their own weapons and commenced shooting, with upwards of fifty shots being fired. Casualties from the melee might have been great had not several in the crowd retained the presence of mind to use their canes to whack the gun hands of many of the combatants when they attempted to shoot.

As it was, Sherrard, having exhausted the rounds in one pistol, drew another and moved in the direction of Geary's secretary, John A. W. Jones, who drew his own pistol in true Western fashion and plugged Sherrard squarely between the eyes. He collapsed and died two days later. Remarkably, Sherrard was the single fatality to result from the shootout, and Sheppard and a merchant from Lawrence, Kansas were the only other two known to have sustained wounds, barring the few sore wrists on some unlucky shooters. 

It has been suggested that the whole affair was orchestrated so that Geary could prove the existence of a pro-slavery conspiracy to do him violence, and that he purposefully failed to use available military personnel to ensure altercations did not take place during the meeting. Any violence which did erupt was to have been proof of such a conspiracy. Unfortunately for Geary, his reputation was irreparably harmed by the circumstances surrounding Sherrard's death, and President Buchanan fired him on March 12th of that year, making him the final casualty of the "Great Shootout at Lecompton."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Books on Sale


October  Fest  2014
presented by

*** 10 Novels/Novellas for the special price of 99 cents each ***
Sale dates: October 1 – 31, 2014

Legends of Winatuke: Boxed Set by Sarah J. McNeal
Crazy Jack by Gerald Costlow
Texas Dreamer by Celia Yeary
Maid of the Midlands by Linda Swift
Eli: Fallen Angels by Karen Michelle Nutt
Irish Inheritance by Paula Martin
Familiar Shadows by Bert Goolsby
Rachel's Retribution by Margaret Mayo
Flyer by Judith McAllister
Following Destiny by Rebecca J. Vickery

Price good for ebook versions at most online book retailers.
[Dates may vary at some retailers.] * * * *

Please watch for our November Sale

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Releases from Publishing by Rebecca J Vickery

Please join us in welcoming some new faces to our publishing family and celebrate the release of several new works. 

Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 73,350  Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Family

In the quaint seaside town of Blue Harbor, Frankie stumbles upon a friendly American Eskimo dog that leads him to a new family. But will Frankie stay or are his Mafia roots so deep they lead him back to Chicago? Frankie is a deeply moving and sometimes funny story of love, tragedy, and secrets. Molly's 1st Blue Harbor Novel is titled Margo and is also available from PbRJV.

Abby's Bodyguard
Formerly titled Abby's Reluctant Bodyguard, this is a revised re-release for Ms. Mayo.
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 44,130  Category: Fiction » Romance » Suspense

When Abby flies to Paris for a trade fair she is met at the airport by a man calling himself Temple Townsend, a friend of her brother. When he stops her from delivering a parcel for her brother on the grounds of her own personal safety, and whisks her away, she is furious and refuses to believe she is in any danger. Until she's traced to Nantes. Suddenly she's grateful for Temple's protection. Margaret's 1st publication with us, Rachel's Retribution, is also available in ebook and print.

The Homecoming
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 8,720  Category: Fiction » Romance » Western

Rory Saunders has experienced a crushing divorce. After sixteen years of marriage, her life is in disarray. Moving to a house in the country, she seeks to recapture the happiness of her childhood. The last thing she wants is another broken heart. Then Devlin Culhane strolls into her life. He reminds her of the handsome hero on the cover of a western romance. But even a hero can have secrets... 

Loving Luc
This is Vicki's first novel with us and we hope to publish many more.
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 93,430  Category: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal

When Maggie’s husband dies a few months after their wedding, guilt quickly overshadows her grief. She wanted out of her disastrous marriage, but not like this. Then an intriguing stranger shows up, forcing Maggie to question what she believes. Her powerful attraction to Luc pulls her deep into a web of lies and deceit, but the truth will change her life in ways she never could have imagined. 

Texas Blue
This is a revised re-release of one of Ms. Yeary's previous novels. 
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 76,860  Category: Fiction » Romance » Western

Should Buck Cameron disobey orders and rescue Marilee and her child from isolation? He would, because there wasn’t enough money in the world to exchange for a child. All he had to do was convince Marilee of his good intentions—she and her daughter would be safe with him in Nacogdoches. 
For more quality reads at an affordable price, please visit our website at: