Boone - the Early Years
CopyrightÂ© 2016 by Ernest Bywater
This story is a bit different to what I usually write. It’s written in US English spelling because all of the characters, and thus the narrator too, are US born characters. It’s set in the mid 1800s, but I’m not going to use the slang and speech style of the period, mainly due to the story covering a number of dialect areas where I’ve not the knowledge or the experience to get them all correct. I think it’s better to just write it using today’s English, and to warn you all about it first, than it is to get it wrong.
There is one chapter I expect some people will be upset about what I have to say in it. Part of it is from the information in original source documents of the time, and part of it is from the analysis of the source records by later historians. Some parts are a rephrasing of the opinions of people from that time, or later, as stated in the documents written by them. There are a few straight forward facts, and they’re presented as facts in some of the story dialogue of those discussing the events of the time. Over the years these facts have been interpreted in many ways by a lot of different people, usually their interpretation is biased toward their personal belief. The way I present them is my opinion of how they should be interpreted, and it is as valid as any other interpretation. So, please, if you disagree with some of the points made about the old politics in the story don’t send me an email claiming I’m wrong. Just accept it’s my opinion and you disagree with it.
The reason for including the political discussion is to provide a solid background for how some of the characters think, and act, in a way different to how some people would expect them to. It’s there to tell you why some act one way, and some act another, due to the depth of their feelings about the differences of their opinions on those matters. It’s also there because the politics shaped the way events happened at that time.
The story starts in Lexington, Virginia, USA, and it stays there until they move to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, while on the way to go west. Then the story moves west. I’ve made a point to include the states when I mention most towns, because one of my editors had some confusion as to what states the characters were in due to towns of similar names in a number of different states, so the state is in the narrative with the town.
Cowboys and Guns
There’s a lot of authenticated information about how people lived and worked in what most people call the ‘Old West’ and the ‘Wild West,’ the names for the states and territories between the USA Rocky Mountain and Appalachian Mountain ranges during the nineteenth century. But most people only know what’s in the books and films about the era.
The majority of what you see in the Hollywood shows and films on Cowboys and the Wild West relates to a couple of episodes in limited areas and small time-frames of the nineteenth century USA. There were some hired guns and fast guns, but not many. Violence did occur from time to time, usually with robbers attacking travelers, stagecoaches, and the local small town banks (not the government recognized banks in cities). In the towns and cities few people wore guns, and outside of them most people had guns handy. People were armed with knives, shotguns, or rifles for use against dangerous animals and bandits. A lot of the people who spent most of their time on horseback did carry handguns, usually it was in a holster on the saddle in the same way a rifle is carried. Thus the rider was able to quickly draw the handgun to shoot something nearby while on horseback when attacked by wildlife, the main reason for having the gun. Usually it’s an older pistol, because older guns were much cheaper than new ones, and all guns were expensive. A rifle for hunting was where the people spent the most money on new guns. Some towns had local laws against people wearing handguns within the town limits, and most of the people obeyed the laws. Thus the shootouts we see in books and films were rare in real life, while roadside robberies were much more common events. A lot of law officers of the era carried shotguns to intimidate people, which they did. The few people who wore a handgun in a belt holster were most often criminals, or lawmen, or hired guards, because few honest men had a reason to carry a handgun on them all of the time. A few people did go armed for their own protection, many such men had previously worked as hired guards or lawmen, but not all of them. Most people of wealth also went armed, but they usually carried a smaller caliber concealed handgun or a knife.
This story unfolds against this background, and not the Hollywood version of the era. Here most armed crime happened outside of towns.