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4/3/2009

Author to appear at book-signing, dinner By Clara Kilbourn - The Hutchinson News -

 Author to appear at book-signing, dinner By Clara Kilbourn - The Hutchinson News - MEDORA - Kansas history buffs, and folks hankering for a cowboy meal of beef stew and biscuits, are invited to attend a book-signing with Ellsworth cowboy Jim Gray.  
 
The 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. book-signing honors Gray's book, "Desperate Seed," and is hosted by retired Reno County District Judge Steve Becker at Becker's Bunkhouse on K-61 in Medora.  
 
The century-old bunkhouse was originally built as a hotel for trail and train travelers, but now houses Becker's museum display of cowboy lore, boots, saddles and a vast collection of early day Western paraphernalia.  
 
"I love the book, I really do," Becker said, recounting his first read of "Desperate Seed" - a volume that centers on Ellsworth's cow-town days but also covers politics, Indian raids and cattle drives, along with all the cattle towns of Kansas.  
 
"The coffee pot will be on, and for a nominal charge, we'll be serving up a cowboy dinner, beef stew, biscuits and a dessert," Becker said.  
 
In his explanation of how the book came to be, Gray, dressed in the kerchief, vest and boots of the Old West, admitted that he may have been born "right on the edge of too late." 
 
"I don't know how I would have done in those days," he said. "It was pretty rough." 
 
But that's the history he likes and has always liked. Gray's dad was one of those people who liked hanging out with older people, and as a tagalong kid, he was introduced to the cattle-driving days.  
 
He knows the pasture north of Geneseo that overlooks the site of one of the first settlements in Ellsworth County. Sometimes he goes there, stands on a hill and imagines how the Cheyenne Indians ran the cowboys out of that country.  
 
Gray's family ties to the cowboys of the Old West go back to his great-grandmother Euphemia Cody Gray, a cousin to Buffalo Bill Cody.  
 
"We had that in our family lore," Gray said.  
 
As a child, Gray watched Roy Rogers and Gene Autry on Saturday mornings, wishing he could have been there at a cow camp during the trail-drive era.  
 
Set in the town of Ellsworth from its founding in 1866 through 1875, the "Desperate Seed" preamble covers a little more of the West's history, up to the 1880s.  
 
"I wrote the book because I wanted people to know what went on before," Gray said.  
 
"Desperate Seed" is available in both soft and hard cover. It is also available on the Web site www.droversmercantile.com and at Hastings Books Music and Videos, 416 E. 30th Ave. in Hutchinson. 
 
If you go 
 
A book-signing for "Desperate Seed" by Jim Gray is 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Becker's Bunkhouse, on K-61 at Medora between Hutchinson and McPherson. 
 
(Photo by Sandra J. Milburn/The Hutchinson News)

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