Below are articles about the actual legends or people who inspired my novels. Scroll down to read all the exiting details behind Copper Creek, the Pink Ladies and A Tent in the Wind.
Click on any of the book covers under an article heading to find out more about an individual novel.
Though Copper Creek, Missouri is a fictional town, the mysterious rumors of a lost copper mine which sparked George Mason’s greedy plots have some basis in fact. During the mid-nineteenth century, a miner named Joseph Slater lived in a cabin near the Current River in Jacks Fork, Missouri. Over a span of three to four years, he sold raft-loads of high grade copper ore in New Orleans amounting to a sum of more than $50,000.
Speculation over the location of his copper source made Slater fear the secret of his mine would fall into unfriendly hands. In an attempt to protect his interests, Slater filed a false mining claim on a tract of land two miles away from the actual mine shaft. Believing the subterfuge would distract claim jumpers, he continued to work his mine until a government survey revealed the claim he had filed was on another man’s property. Afraid an attempt to purchase the land would tip his hand, Slater and his daughter sealed up the mine, carefully hiding any signs of working the land and left the area, planning to head east.
Slater expected an absence of two or three years would give people time to forget about the copper and then he could return and offer to buy the land for “farming”. However, he and his daughter only made it as far as St. Louis where Slater died. His daughter eventually married and moved west without ever returning to reclaim her father’s discovery.
For decades, locals in Shannon County, Missouri retold the legend of the Slater diggings. As late as 1926, the Kansas City Star newspaper still purported the lost copper mind would be found and “revolutionize the Ozark region of Missouri.” And although many have searched for Slater’s lost copper mine, to this day, it has never been found.
On the morning of August 23, 1856, a slender, brown-haired, widow stepped into Allan Pinkerton’s office and changed the course of history. Kate Warne had come to the famed detective, not seeking secretarial work, but in response to an ad for detectives to join his Agency. Pinkerton balked at her request, but with determined eloquence, Warne argued her point and won a chance to become a “Pink”.
She’d asserted that women could be “most useful in worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective.” And throughout her twelve year career, Kate Warne proved her point. Donning countless disguises and numerous aliases, she ingratiated herself with embezzlers, southern secessionists, assassins and desperate characters of every description. She befriended the wives or sisters of suspects to gather information. She would flirt unabashedly, in the guise of a southern belle, to lure gentlemen into confessing more than they really should. And once, she even posed as a fortune teller to extract information from a suspected murder’s confidants. But perhaps her most notable achievement occurred in February of 1861, during the Baltimore Plot, when she orchestrated the overthrow of an attempt to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln.
Mrs. Warne was part of a team of agents sent to Maryland to investigate secessionist activity against the Agency’s client, the Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. Not only did she help to confirm a plot against the railroad, but she also uncovered evidence to suggest a real threat against the life of Abraham Lincoln. The assassins’ plan was to attack Lincoln en route from his home in Springfield, Illinois to the capitol in Washington, D.C. During his final stop over in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Lincoln would be required to disembark and transfer from the northbound station to the southbound station (a distance of about one mile by carriage), where a train would take him on to Baltimore. Men were hired to start a disturbance to draw the attention of the policemen at the depot, thereby leaving Lincoln unprotected. Once Lincoln was alone, the killers would shoot him, before fleeing to a small steamer ship they’d chartered to wait for them in one of the streams running into Chesapeake Bay.
Though the plot seemed far-fetched, Pinkerton managed to piece together a compelling case, thanks in large part to Kate’s evidence. Eventually, Lincoln was persuaded to believe he was in real danger and permitted Pinkerton to organize counter-measures to stop the assassin’s plans. Pinkerton’s chosen assistant to carry out those preparations was Kate Warne.
Serving as Pinkerton’s courier and scout, she secured four berths under the pretext that they were for her sick brother and family members. She obtained the proper clothes for Lincoln to disguise himself as an invalid during the trek to the station and acted out the part of Lincoln’s sister to perfection. Then during the long overnight journey, Warne did not sleep a wink, but kept watch over Lincoln until the next morning when the train arrived safely in Baltimore. Her vigilance that night is said to have given Pinkerton the notion for his agency’s’ slogan “we never sleep”.
Two months later, in April of 1861, Kate was called upon again to serve President Lincoln, when she joined Pinkerton and two of his other most trusted agents to launch a military intelligence service for the Union Army under General George B. McClellan’s command. With headquarters in Cincinnati, Kate and fellow agents Timothy Webster and George Bangs worked undercover during the Civil War to root out Confederate secrets. Often posing as Webster’s wife, Kate frequently assumed the role of a southern woman garnering valuable information from the female relations of Confederate officers and politicians.
During the years of the Civil War, Kate Warne also had a hand in the capture of several murderers and the recovery of over $130,000 in stolen funds, while simultaneously overseeing the operation of all of Pinkerton’s other female detectives as Head of the Pinkerton Agency’s Female Detective Bureau. She was one of Pinkerton’s five best agents, one of only two he personally thanked in his memoirs and the only one Allan Pinkerton considered as his “right arm.”
Despite the fact that Pinkerton adored her, his brother, Robert did not. Her mounting expenses as Supervisor of Women agents galled him and suspicions that Kate was really Allan Pinkerton’s mistress became a sore spot that tainted the Women’s Bureau throughout its existence. While Robert Pinkerton tried everything he could to see it shut down, Allan Pinkerton ignored his brother’s arguments and sustained the Bureau, refusing to address the rumors about his relationship to Kate.
Whatever the truth, there was no denying the bond between them. After her death on New Year’s Day of 1868, Allan Pinkerton was devastated. She’d suffered from a long and painful illness, possibly pneumonia, before slipping away with Allan Pinkerton at her side. She was only in her thirties when she passed away, yet she’d managed to make a place for women in the male dominated profession of crime prevention.
Though women were not admitted to any police force until 1891 or widely accepted as detectives until 1903, Kate Warne blazed a trail for women everywhere.
Long ago, when the Romany lived on the banks of the Ganges, a love even greater than any before shook the earth and rent us from the heavens. It was in those days our chief was a powerful man, whose voice was heard all over the land and whose judgments were final. He had but one son whose name was Tchen.
Nearby, in the land of the Hind, there ruled a powerful king whose beloved wife had given him an only child, a daughter, whom he named Gan. One night, not long after these children were born, a sorcerer, robed in raven and cobalt silk, gazed upon the shimmering firmament with his milky eyes and witnessed a horrible vision.
Well known and trusted for the truth of his fortune telling, this magician appeared before the king of the Hind and was warmly welcomed. But the happy face of the king at the magicians arrival, soon turned grim as the sorcerer warned him of a coming invader determined to destroy the country and make himself master over the people of Hind.
Angered, the king was prepared to do battle with this foe, but the sorcerer told him this invader was invincible on the battlefield. Leaning in closer to the king, the sorcerer curled the end of his long, pointed beard around his withered finger and decreed, “The invader bears an enchanted stone in the breast plate of his armor that shields him from any harm. He shall ride untouched, like a phantom, through the land and lay waste to the royal family, conquer the arm, and take the throne.”
Fearful for his precious infant daughter, the king pleaded with the sorcerer to offer him some solace. “Tell me wise one, is there nothing that can be done to hinder this coming villain?”“The invader has but one weakness,’ the old man confided. ‘It is written that he shall perish if he raises his hand in violence against a gypsy.”
The next night, out of fear for his treasured daughter’s life, the king called on the chief of the gypsies, who was also his friend, and asked that he take the princess and raise her as his own. After hearing of the sorcerer’s warning, Tchen’s father agreed that the king’s daughter should come to his tent and be raised as his own child.
Three days later, Tchen’s father announced to his people that his wife had born him a daughter and so it was that Tchen and Gan came to grow up in the same tent. As the years passed, Tchen became bewitched by the princess’s beauty and fell desperately in love. When the time came for Tchen to choose a bride, all the most desirable daughters of the tribe were asked to dance for their future chief and capture his fancy. But no matter how they tried to tempt him, he would have none of them.
His father begged him to choose a wife soon, but he wanted no one but Gan. Finally, he threatened to kill himself for loving his own sister. Fearing for her son’s sanity, his mother told him the truth about Gan. Relieved to learn that Gan was the daughter of the king, Tchen was free to love her and soon after, he took her for his bride. But their union divided the people into two factions–one who rejoiced in the love of the couple and believed everything Tchen did must be right and the other who saw only shame and sin in a brother marrying his sister.
It was not long after their wedding that the invader the old sorcerer had foretold swept through the land. Ashes and dust were made of the Hind’s country. The king and all his wives were killed and the invader took his place as ruler.
Among ourselves, civil war had broken out. The people could not agree that what Tchen had done was right and, for fear of the invader, no one could be told the truth about Gan’s real family. Hoping to end the division caused by Tchen’s marriage, a gypsy lad decided to seek the judgment of the new king on the matter of a man marrying his sister.
Offended by the beggar’s trivial request, the invader-king answered with a fatal blow across the boy’s head. Having defied the enchantment that protected him, the invader crumpled like a clay bowl shattered against a mountain and the wind blew his dust into the desert; thereby leaving the Hind without a king and the gypsies without an end to their dissention.
In one last attempt to mend the chasm between his people, Tchen sought the council of another sorcerer, who offered him no advice and only cursed the young chief saying, “You will forever wander over the face of the earth, never sleep twice in the same place, never drink water twice from the same well.”
And so it has been for the Romany for centuries. The love between Tchen and Gan left the people broken and scattered. And ever since then, we have wandered over the face of the earth suffering the curse the sorcerer placed on Tchen; awaiting the day when we could return to the stars.
The Gypsy “Bird Legend” recounted by Javorka in the novel and the story of Tchen and Gan were adapted from accounts in the following texts:
Bercovici, Konrad Gypsies Their Life, Lore and Legends, Greenwich House, New York, 1983. (p. 23-25)
Tromašević, Nebossa Bato & Djurić, Rajko Gypsies of the World A Journey Into the Hidden World of Gypsy Life and Culture, Henry Holt and Company, New York,1988. (p.13)
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