I have found that I am not the kind of person that juggles too many things at the same time. I guess I could have written something new for the Cowboy Commentary during the last few months but I really didn t want to just throw something at it AND I was working extra hard to make one of my dreams a reality.
That dream was to produce a book on the early frontier years of Ellsworth, Kansas. Ellsworth was not just any frontier town. The history of the town goes beyond normal to legendary. Yet writers have overlooked Ellsworth for Abilene, Dodge City, Tombstone, and Deadwood, to name a few.
I think that in part the negligence has to do with not having any dramatic turn of events that involved a Wild Bill or a Wyatt Earp of the like. Yes, Wild Bill Hickok was in Ellsworth but he didn t shoot anyone down across the plaza from a great distance or drop two or three bad guys in a wild saloon shootout in Ellsworth. Wyatt Earp claimed he was here but evidence is thin and most writers stay away from the story as evidenced in both the famous Wyatt Earp movies in the early 1990 s.
Ellsworth actually was larger than either one of those men and dozens of other western names. Hickok ran for Ellsworth County Sheriff and was defeated mostly because he was just another frontiersman in the crowd.
The name of the book is Desperate Seed, Ellsworth, Kansas on the Violent Frontier. The name is unusual for a reason. From its founding, the story of Ellsworth, Kansas, was destined to be unusual. City fathers soon discovered that simply surveying the ground and filing the proper papers would not be enough to build a town on the disputed banks of the Smoky Hill River. Flood, Cholera and Indian attacks all but killed the venture, but blood and guts held on to a dream to plant this desperate seed in an unforgiving soil and fashion a peaceful home out of a precarious conception.
Adventurers were drawn to Ellsworth like a magnet. The annals of the Old West are filled with towns of frontier heritage but none, no not one, could match the Desperate Seed. Scoundrels of every kind walked its streets. Men kept their hands on their pistols while women bartered virtue for life.
A man for breakfast was the morning s oath and by dinner was often satisfied. Custer, Hickok and Cody were merely peers to the forgotten company of desperadoes and heroes that populated this frontier town that became a legend while just a baby on the banks of the Smoky.
If you only read one book about the Old West, Desperate Seed will take you there like no other. The history of Ellsworth, Kansas, is not a typical history. As Rod Beemer, author of The Deadliest Woman in the West puts it, this book is truly the rest of the story about the Old West s railheads, outlaws, lawmen, and tough towns.
I haven t as yet created a web page for ordering Desperate Seed. I need to get to that! But until I do, you can still order the book. The Hard copy edition retails for $34.95 in stores. I am selling it for $29 if you order directly from me. The soft cover retails for $21.95. Order from Drovers for $20. Add $3.00 shipping.
For now we will take orders by phone or mail. Leave a message if we do not answer and we will get back to you. 785-472-4703 or mail to: Kansas Cowboy, P. O. Box 62, Ellsworth, KS 67439.