Fort Smith, Arkansas sat on the border of Indian Territory in 1875. It was a rowdy place filled with brothels, saloons, and outlaws. It was said that there was ‘no law west of Arkansas’ and not much in Fort Smith. That changed when Judge Isaac Parker was appointed to the bench. Known as ‘the hanging judge’, Judge Parker was stern and unbending in his application of the law… his court often referred to as the ‘court of the damned’. The jail at Fort Smith where outlaws were held awaiting trial wasn’t a pleasant place to be and was considered to be ‘hell on the border’.
When Judge Parker issued a warrant for a man, it was up to the U. S. Marshalls to bring him in to stand trial. It was a dangerous job and required the toughest of men. Among these men was Matthew Kelso, a former bounty hunter who Judge Parker convinced to become a Deputy U. S. Marshall. Judge Parker wanted outlaws brought back alive for trial so their misdeeds and punishment would provide an example for others. Bringing outlaws back alive was something Deputy Kelso often had difficulty in doing.
On a return from a failed assignment where he had to kill two outlaws, Deputy Kelso has a chance meeting with Calib Bixby when he stops at his small ranch to water his horse. Calib lives alone in Indian Territory… over 70,000 square miles of hostile terrain and has a close relationship with the Osage Chief, Yellow Dog. Calib relates a story of an unwelcome visitor to his ranch and gives Matt a gold watch that belonged to a friend of his. The watch and story of how it came into Calib’s possession leads Matt to an investigation of a murder, a corrupt Sheriff, a power-hungry landowner, and the lynching of an innocent man… the lynching at Stone Creek.
The Kansas/Missouri border was a dangerous place during the Civil War and in the years that followed. Kansas entered the Union as an anti-slavery State only months before the war started and was bordered by the Pro-slavery State of Missouri. ‘Border Ruffians’ like William Quantrill fought for the Confederacy while ‘Free Staters’ and ‘Jayhawkers’ fought for the Union. They were all guerrilla fighters led by men of often questionable morality. There was only some measure of legitimacy given to them by the Confederate and Union governments respectively because they claimed they were fighting for the same cause. The results on both sides was the same… people killed while towns were sacked and burned.
The Ranger is the prequel to the novel Texas Jack!
This brand new adventure follows the story of a young man named Britt Logan who is a member of a wagon train on the way to Oregon in 1852. He and his parents are among just a few non-Mormons in a Mormon wagon train heading to the Salt Lake Valley. Their plan was to leave the train at the South Pass and head to Oregon with another train, but when Britt’s parents are killed by an influential member of the church, Britt finds himself on the run.
The fast-paced, action-packed third Western adventure in the new “Texas Jack Western” series from Mark Marchetti!
Phineas Todd was a strange little man. He arrived in Filo, Texas many years before the Civil War and was a familiar fixture in Filo since he was the president of the only bank in town. Even when he was young, for some reason he just seemed to be older than his years. He was known in town simply as ‘Old Finny’ and was loved by the townspeople, in spite of his quirky ways.
For many of the town’s people and ranchers in the area, it was ‘Old Finny’ who had helped them navigate the hard times during the war and after. He was the wealthiest man in town yet lived like a pauper, his only interest being the welfare of the town. Receiving the love and respect of the town’s people was the only thing he believed was of value. Unknown to the town’s people was the secret of his past in the days before he came to Filo.
When four bank robbers arrive in town, led by the notorious gunman Russell Blye, the world of ‘Old Finny’ and the town gets turned upside down. The former Sheriff, Tommy Vee, comes out of retirement and recruits ‘Texas Jack’ McKenna to track down the robbers and bring them to justice.
As a longtime friend of ‘Old Finny’, Jack knows his secret… and doesn’t want it revealed. As they set out to hunt down the outlaws, Jack and Sheriff Vee discover they each have a different vision of how justice should be served… the legal way and the ‘Texas Jack’ way.
The fast-paced, action-packed fourth Western adventure in the new “Texas Jack Western” series from Mark Marchetti!
The old Gillman ranch had been vacant for several years and Michael McGiven wanted the property. He planned to buy it in auction when the taxes weren’t paid, but mysteriously, the taxes on the ranch were paid every year, preventing him from acquiring it. McGiven was a shrewd, self-absorbed little man who saw himself becoming a Texas cattle baron and making his ‘Bar X’ brand one of the biggest in Texas. The Gillman ranch was located between his and the ‘Circle J’ ranch, owned by Jack and Josie McKenna. McGiven had stolen several smaller ranches in the area by driving owners out… stealing their cattle or burning their crops. He was careful, always keeping his hands clean… hiring others to do his dirty work. McGiven firmly believed ‘Texas Jack’ McKenna was the person standing in his way of obtaining the Gillman ranch.
To complicate matters, one day the new owners, Claire and Robert LaClief, move into the old Gillman ranch. Claire LaClief… formerly, Claire Gillman, the daughter of Clayton Gillman, is well aware that ‘Texas Jack’ was responsible for the killing of her father and brothers. As the only living heir to Clayton Gillman, she and her husband arrive in Filo to take possession of the ranch.
If his quest to become a Texas cattle baron is to move forward, Michael McGiven will have to come up with a new plan to remove both the LaClief’s and ‘Texas Jack’ from his path. With his resident outlaw thugs and hired gunman, Luke Madsen, he just might succeed… but he’ll have to cross ‘Texas Jack’ in the process.
The residents of Filo, Texas know a showdown is coming between Michael McGiven, Luke Madsen and ‘Texas Jack’ McKenna. They’re all waiting to see what happens… because, ‘Texas Jack’ is coming to town!
Texas Jack rides again… and again… and one more time! Texas Jack, was originally released under Lizard Key books but last year I signed a contract with Outlaws Publishing to do five books under the Texas Jack story line. I’m sad to report that Outlaws has unexpectedly closed their operation. The closure came quickly and left not just myself, but several other authors without a publisher. No explanation was given but as of that time I was released from my contract. At the time, Texas Jack and Scalp Hunters, had been released in both paperback and Kindle versions. The week they closed down, The Bank Robbers, kindle version had been released.
The good news is, within a week of my contract release, I was signed by a division of ONCO Corporation, DUSTY SADDLE PUBLISHING. They have taken all three of the books, done new covers, and released the first two immediately. The Bank Robbers, the third book of the series has now also been released. So, as of now, all my western books will be released through AMAZON and DUSTY SADDLE PUBLISHING.
In addition, a boxed set of the first three books has now been released AND… the fourth book in the Texas Jack story line… ‘The Robber Baron’ is to be released very soon. Buy your box set now: Texas Jack Three-Book Series
COVID-19 has kept most of us indoors and close to home. It’s provided me with more time to read and write books… less time for fishing, hunting and golf, but things are slowly starting to open up and we’ve recently made a few fishing trips. We’re beginning to get outdoors a little more now although some restrictions and common sense apply… we hope things get better before hunting season!
We’re also updating the website to make it easier to access photos, prior newspaper stories, drink recipes, camping, fishing, diving and travels.
The fast-paced, action-packed second Western adventure in the new “Texas Jack Western” series from Mark Marchetti!
The Texas-Mexican border was a dangerous place in 1875. Outlaws and Indians crossed the border with ease keeping the law… what little of it there was, at bay. Of all the outlaws and bandits, the one known as ‘El Diablo’ was the worst. He made his living robbing, killing, stealing cattle, taking hostages and scalp hunting. He was a psychopath in every sense of the word and a man to be feared.
Ten years after the Civil War ended, Jack McKenna returned home. He had been a famous hero in the war, known as ‘Texas Jack’. Mystery surrounded him in the years before he returned home to Filo, Texas, a small border town. It was rumored he had been a train robber, a gunman, a hired killer… and while some of that might have been true, the fact was most believed he was dead.
When he does return and tries to settle back into the peaceful life of a rancher, trouble comes calling in the form of ‘El Diablo’. When ‘El Diablo’ takes his former commander and father-in-law, Colonel Clayborn hostage, the U. S. Calvary and the Texas Rangers can’t cross the border to rescue him. It’s up to ‘Texas Jack’ and his friends to come to his aid.
In the process, Jack relies on his friendship with the Apaches and a convicted horse thief for help. He also learns the secret of who ‘El Diablo’ really is, why Colonel Clayborn was the target and who is paying him to collect scalps.
I have been asked by people about the characters in the book… who they are based on? Is it about ‘Texas Jack’ Vermillion, ‘Texas Jack’ Reed, or ‘Texas Jack’ Omohundro? The truth is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. There is possibly a little of each character in the ‘Texas Jack’ of the novel but the story is not based on the life of any one historical character. The Texas Jack of my novel is a composite of many cowboys, outlaws, and soldiers of the era. There were many cowboys and outlaws who had nicknames associated with where they were from or believed to have been from. Some were simply an alias, while some were given to them by accident or just a moniker they attached to themselves allowing them to stand out from the crowd. There were several outlaws with the ‘Texas’ moniker.
‘Texas’ Jack Vermillion 1849-1893. When asked why he was called ‘Texas Jack’ he replied, “Because I’m from Virginia.” The fact is that he was from Virginia, not Texas. The moniker was from a wanted poster and it stuck. He was a friend of Doc Holiday, a fellow Southerner, and rode with Wyatt Earp and Holiday on the famous vendetta ride. He was later given the name of ‘shoot your eye out Jack’ after he killed a card cheat by shooting him in the eye.
One of the best known Texas Jacks was John Baker ‘Texas Jack’ Omohundro 1846-1880. He was born in Virginia and at seventeen years old enlisted in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia (much like the character in the novel). He served in Major General J.E.B. Stuart’s 5th Cavalry Corps. After the war he went to Texas where during a cattle drive he acquired the ‘Texas Jack’ addition to his name. He met Buffalo Bill Cody and they became lifelong friends. Both were scouts for the U. S. Cavalry. At about that time he also became friends with Wild Bill Hickok who at that time was the Acting Sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas. He later went into show business with Buffalo Bill in a production of “Scouts of the Prairie”. A year later Wild Bill Hickok joined the production and they changed the name to “Scouts of the Plains”. Texas Jack and Buffalo Bill were also the guides for Grand Duke Alexis of Russia on a buffalo hunt under the command of Lt. Colonel Custer. Texas Jack died at just thirty four years of age from pneumonia while escorting his beautiful actress/ballerina wife, Josephine Morlacchi, on a stage show tour. He was elected posthumously to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City where he was honored for his skills as a working cowboy and stage actor.
Nathaniel ‘Texas Jack’ Reed 1862-1950. This ‘Texas Jack’ was a stagecoach and train robber who started his life of crime at twenty one years old. He made $6000 on his first train robbery and that started a decade long criminal career. He was best known for the botched Blackstone Train Robbery in Oklahoma. He was shot while escaping but made it to Missouri where he healed up. He vowed to go straight after that and tried to cut a deal with Judge Isaac Parker to testify against his partners in exchange for probation. His partners were found and killed in a gunfight and the Judge went back on the deal and gave him five years in prison. He got religion while in jail and was paroled after a year. He then became an evangelist preacher.
There was also a ‘Texas Tom’. Michael ‘Texas Tom’ Mills 1866-1888 however I was unable to find any specifics about him.
Other outlaws had the ‘Jack’ part of the moniker, like Thomas ‘Black Jack’ Ketchum 1863-1901. He was born in Texas and robbed trains with the Hole in the Wall Gang.
Jack ‘Red Jack’ Almer 18??-1883 was a stage robber and the legend says he buried $8000 in gold coins somewhere near Prescott, Arizona… the gold has never been found.
William ‘Tulsa Jack’ Blake 1859-1895 rode with the Wild Bunch Gang robbing trains and banks. He was from the Oklahoma territory.
Some of the old west characters adapted names to give themselves a background. William ‘Russian Bill’ Tattenbaum 1853-1881 claimed to be the son of the wealthy Russian aristocrat, Countess Telfrin. He claimed he served in the Russian Army but fled while facing a court martial. Most believed he just was telling tall tales or an outright liar. He made his way to Tombstone Arizona and was an associate of the Clantons and ‘Curley Bill’ Brocious. ‘Russian Bill’ ended up being hung in a town near Tombstone for cattle rustling. Two years after his death a representative of Countess Telfrin arrived in Tombstone looking for the Countess’ son.
Charles ‘Colorado Charlie’ Utter was Wild Bill Hickok’s best friend and born in New York. He migrated to Colorado and added that to his name before his time in Deadwood, South Dakota.
And then there are the outlaws who just completely reinvented themselves. Roy Daugherty known as ‘Arkansas Tom Jones’ 1870-1924 was born in Missouri and moved to Oklahoma, but claimed he was from Arkansas. He rode with the Wild Bunch Gang and killed a deputy marshal during a shootout. He was captured by James Masterson (Bat’s brother) and got sentenced to fifty years in jail. He was paroled in 1910 and went to Hollywood to get into the movies but when that failed he went back to robbing banks. He was finally shot and killed during a bank robbery.
The American West created a myth, culture, and excitement unique in history. It was an untamed, uncivilized wildness where disputes were often settled with violence. The time period just before the Civil War and the years that followed provide an interesting dichotomy in views. On one hand you have a nation divided against itself over, in large part, the issue of slavery… men going to war, fighting and dying to free an enslaved race but only giving them partial freedom after winning. As soon as that war was over, those same men launched a campaign to either enslave on reservations or eradicate the Native Americans.
Unless we study history we are doomed to make the mistakes of past generations. We are no better than those who came before us. We may have more technology but we are as human as our forefathers and prone to the same passions, prejudices, good, or evil. We can’t change the past but we can learn and be entertained by it.
Writing historical fiction allows me to create a fictional character based on historical facts and place him in a historical timeline. I can use characteristics of the many colorful characters of the time and infuse actual historical facts into the story. In addition, I also base many of the characters in my writing on people I know or have meet through my travels.