While in my travels of searching for western authors to assist me in celebrating the National Day of the Cowboy, I stumbled onto a gentleman that surely knows his way around a western, not only in writing them, but starring in them as well. I would like to give a good warm welcome to Ken Farmer, or “Deputy Kyle” as in the 1983 film Silverado. Welcome Ken.
The Cowboy is just as important to our nation’s heritage as the pilgrims, the revolution and the civil war. In fact, in many parts of the world, the Old West Cowboy IS the symbol of America. Having been born in the early ‘40s, I grew up with westerns. First the Saturday double feature matinee where we waited for the Durango Kid, Red Ryder, Hoppy serials or The Three Mesquiteers, Tim Holt, Johnny Mack Brown, Gene and Roy movies. Then later on in the ‘50s, there was that little box we called the TV. Yep, grew up with the Cowboy. Didn’t realize at the time, that those movies and TV shows were actually Hollywood’s glamorized version of the Old West.
It wasn’t until I started doing research for writing screenplays that I learned about the “real” Old West—that there weren’t tied-down gun rigs or shoot-outs in the street at high noon. Oh, sure there were gunfighters, bounty hunters mostly who would just as soon shoot you in the back as not or guns for hire. Most gunfights took place at a distance. The dime novels had a great deal to do with the Old West myths, like Wyatt Earp, who, according to actual records and newspaper accounts (excluding his own versions), never killed anyone. Did a lot of pistol-whipping, though. Carried his gun in a leather-lined pocket in his coat, not in a holster. Again, so much for Hollowood.
Deputy US Marshall James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok got a lot of dime novel play that spiced up his reputation, but there was a Deputy US Marshall in the late 1800s that far out-shown Hickok as a lawman. He killed twice as many men in the line of duty as “Wild Bill”, served over 3,000 felony warrants, was never wounded even though he had his hat shot off, his reins shot in two, his gun belt shot off and a button shot off the front of his vest. He served over 32 years as a Deputy US Marshal and is still considered to this day to be the best Deputy US Marshal in the long and storied history of the Marshal’s Service. The reason he didn’t have the notoriety at the time was…he was black. He was a former slave and the first black Deputy US Marshal appointed west of the Mississippi. His name was Bass Reeves.
My writing partner, Buck Stienke and I decided that Bass would be the focus of our first deviation from our modern-day military action series novels about the Black Eagle Force we had been writing. After three Black Eagle Force novels, we decided to do an accurate historical fiction western adapted from a screen play I had written back in the ‘80s called the Tumbleweed Wagon. We elected to title the novel, The Nations.
The synopsis is as follows:
THE NATIONS also known as “Indian Territory”, “Robber’s Roost” and “No-Man’s Land”, was regarded in the latter part
of the 19th century as the bloodiest and most dangerous place in the world. It was a refuge for outlaws men from all over the North American continent. There were only 200 Deputy US Marshals made up of whites, blacks and Indian to police the vast area of 74,000 square miles under Federal Judge Issac C. Parker, known as the hanging judge. The Nations is based on actual cases and is crammed full of excitement, suspense and the everyday humor that develops between men as they live and fight and sometimes die together. From the action and dialogue, the guns, wardrobe and historical authenticity, The Nations paints a story of the Old West as it really was.
It is the year 1885. A notorious band of outlaws, known as the “Larson Gang”, has been terrorizing Arkansas, Missouri and the Nations for years. When they kill five Deputy Marshals while rescuing Ben Larson, the vicious younger brother of the leader Wes Larson—it is too much for Judge Parker. He orders an all-out concerted effort to capture the Larson Gang and bring them to justice. “If they will not respect the law; then by God we will make them fear it.”
Black Marshal Bass Reeves, the first black marshal west of the Mississippi, and white Marshals Jack McGann, Tobe Bassett and John L. Patrick recapture the youngest member of the gang, Ben Larson, a true sociopath. Along with two Indian Police, known as Lighthorse, the lawmen begin the treacherous journey to Fort Smith with their prisoners—Preacher Budlow, a gospel quoting, whiskey running and somewhat demented old scalawag, Jed Neal, a tough, but honorable black man mistakenly accused of killing a cowboy on the trail, and Ben—shackled to the bed of the Tumbleweed Wagon.
In the small town of Checotah, the Marshals encounter the Larson gang unexpectedly. A wild gun battle ensues and when the smoke clears, all of the outlaws are dead, except Ben, who does indeed get to Fort Smith to stand trial under Judge Parker.
“It is not the severity of the punishment that is the deterrent… but the certainty of it.” – Judge Issac C. Parker.
The Nations will be released 20 July, look for it. You can order signed copies from Ken & Buck for $14.95 at
http://blackeagleforce.com/buy_now/Do we believe there should be a National Day of the Cowboy? Absolutely! Nothing is more “American” than the Cowboy. ‘Nuff said.
Short Bios of Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke.
Ken Farmer, served in the Marine Corps and graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University. Ken has been a professional actor/director/writer for over forty years with memorable roles in Silverado, Friday Night Lights and The Newton Boys, wrote and directed Rockabilly Baby. He was also the OC an VO spokesman for Wolf Brand Chili for over eight years and participated in the Ben Johnson Pro-Celebrity Rodeos until Ben’s death in ‘96.
Buck Stienke is a former fighter pilot and retired captain from Delta Airlines. A graduate of the Air Force Academy, he was also executive producer for the award-winning film Rockabilly Baby and co-author of five novels with Ken Farmer.