Monday, May 2, 2016

A Best Kept Secret (and sweet deal) in Historic Abilene, Kansas

A baffling question that has perplexed historians for years is, with all the big money and publicity around Abilene, Kansas, (1867-73) why the little town never experienced a major holdup or robbery during its hey day period.

Jesse James

I have some light to shed on the subject!  Without firing a shot, Jesse James and his notorious gang of outlaws once “captured” Abilene to serve them as a secret hideout!  It was one of the oldest “protection deals” ever recorded in the rip-roaring early west, when cattle were king and guns were the law.

What made their daring escapade even more sensational was that they concocted the scheme  and pulled it off with the cooperation of Wild Bill Hickok, who was Marshal of Abilene at the time.  This deal remained one of the best kept secrets of the wild west cattle drive days.

The James gang would ride into the wide open Longhorn capital for rest, fun, frolic and supplies before going out to stage their next  run on banks, stagecoaches and trains.  They came and went unmolested.

In fairness to Hickok, it should be clarified that according to all records, he carried out his part of the bargain – unwillingly and without any monetary reward.  In return for protection James made a pact with Hickok to “lay off” the rich cattle business, banks, payrolls and other inviting booty.
Verification of this information comes from copies of original documents from people who were involved.  Most of them were obtained from handwritten diaries of J.B. Edwards, an Abilene merchant-historian and the last man alive who was a personal acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok.

Jesse’s Heartbreak

Jesse and Ginny Mason’s world is shattered when Amanda Hill comes to Abilene, Kansas to try and take three-year old Sarah away from them.  Little Sarah’s father died before she was born and his family wants the girl to come to Pennsylvania and live with them, and they have the all the money and expertise they need to make that happen!  

The Hill’s can offer the little girl prominence and station in life, while all Jesse and Ginny have to give is their complete devotion.  Which will the Judge choose – money or love?
Jesse’s Heartbreak is a sweet Christian romance that will make you smile and shed a few tears!


“Mrs. Mason.”  Ginny turned to see Amanda Hill standing next to the wagon.  Ginny shot back around, face forward and back ramrod straight!  “Please hear me out for just a few minutes.”  Ginny still didn’t turn her way.  “If Judge Horn grants me custody,” Ginny sucked in her breath, “or even partial custody, do you want Sarah having to leave with a woman she doesn’t even know?  I’m a stranger to her.  She never knew her father, so even though I’m an aunt, that will mean nothing to her.  Only that a strange woman is taking her away.  If I come out for a few days we can at least get to know each other.  If he decides in your favor, I have at least gotten to know my niece for a few days.”

Ginny put her hands in her face and her shoulders shook with sobs. Jesse rounded the wagon, furious.  Amanda gasped and took a step back.  “You listen to me.  I don’t…”

“Jesse,” Ginny said, stopping him.  “She’s right in what she is saying. I can’t have Sarah being taken by some strange lady she has never met.  That would destroy me.”  Ginny wiped her eyes.  “We have a new bunkhouse and the men won’t be moving in for a month or so.  You can sleep there.”

Ginny watched as Jesse’s whole demeanor deflated.  He got back up on the wagon seat.  Ginny gave the woman one last look.  “You can come out in a few days.”

Jesse put his arm around Ginny as they started down the road.  Neither heard the whispered “I’m sorry” or saw the sympathy in her eyes.

I’d love to draw one commenter’s name for a free copy of Jesse’s Heartbreak.  Be sure to leave your email address!

A Bit About Me….

I write for all ages, from the early reader to adults.  My books range from pictures books for the little ones, to fantasy, time-travel adventures for ages 9 to 13. I also write adult stories, including a family drama and contemporary, paranormal and historical westerns romances, under P. A. Estelle.

I was a school secretary for 21 years.  My husband and I moved to our retirement home in Kingman, AZ, on very rural 54 acres, living on solar and wind only. 
More about my books can be found in the following links:


  1. Wow! What an eye-opener. I have an unpublished manuscript set in Abilene, KS during that time period, but nothing in my research indicated that was going on. The only thing my research shows is that ol' Wild Bill spent all his time in the saloons playing cards and drinking rather than patrolling the streets or doing usual marshaling duties. This explains it.

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  3. Loved this post. These are the tidbits that pop up, making history even more fun.
    Also, love the excerpt. What a story this sounds to me. Doris/Angela

    1. Thanks Doris. I found the greatest book while in Abilene, KS, with tons of good stuff!

  4. Sadly I can't enter your contest since I already own the book (and LOVEEEEEEE it!!) as I do all of your books. See what happens when a book goes live before a contest? Some of us can't wait to read them! I love anything history related, especially the mid to late 1800's. I so admire all of our ancestors and the strength they had to travel in those days. Until I joined Pioneer Hearts, and a few other groups, I had so much trouble finding books about WOMEN living and traveling in those ages. I read The Little House on the Prairie series to my girls while we were stationed in Cuba and we had the Oregon Trail route mapped out for us when we moved to Portland, OR. I was blessed enough to work in an office that had an actual historian working there. He was also a professor at Portland State. Talk about learning!!! Also, living so close to Fort Vancouver and Oregon City, we are able to attend so many activities and re-enactments. My husband also loves history, and shhhhhhhhhhh, DON'T TELL; but, I have him reading some of my books! ROFL

    1. Thank you for that Nancy.....Fact is, I hated any kind of history until I started writing - Now I love it. I usually make our vaca plans around learning new things! And to this day I still watch Little House - LOL!

  5. What a wonderful post. I'd love to win a copy of Jessie's Heartbreak because the excerpt got to me. PS If I don't win, I'm going to buy it. Thanks for posting.

    1. thanks for stopping Agnes - I need an email address!!!

  6. Penny, western historical romance is my favorite sub-genre. I downloaded your freebie and am excited to start it.
    Aloha, Michele

  7. Since Chele is the only one who left an email address, I'm sending her an ebook of Jesse's Heartbreak! Thanks to eveyrbody who stopped by.