Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Two Legendary Cherokee Outlaws

When I wrote Dashing Irish, Texas Devlins Book Three, I incorporated cowboys from a variety of ethnic backgrounds because, as you may know, not all cowboys were white in the old days anymore than they are now. I gave Tye Devlin a black ranch hand friend who plays a part in the big trail drive to Kansas. There’s also a Mexican wrangler who teaches Tye how to break a wild bronc and a half-breed cowboy who makes Tye jealous by flirting with Lil, the heroine.

New Cover redo 2013

That character, Choctaw Jack, caught my attention from the first moment he popped into my head. I soon knew he would be the hero of the next Texas Devlins book, Dearest Irish. But how did he come to life? Where did I get the idea for his name and later for his sideline profession as a blacksmith?

Revised cover lg.

The answers lie in the research I did for Dashing Irish. There were trips south to Bosque County, Texas, home of the Devlins, and trips north to Oklahoma (the Indian Territory) through which the Chisholm Trail passed. And there were the books about cattle drives, ranching and the Indian Nations.

In one of those books I read about a notorious mixed-blood outlaw nicknamed Cherokee Bill who killed seven men and, with his cohorts, terrorized the Indian Territory for over two years. He was eventually caught and sentenced to death by U.S. District Judge Isaac Parker, the “Hanging Judge.”

Cherokee Bill

That story gave me the idea for Choctaw Jack’s name, although he wasn’t going to be an outlaw. (He does hide an unsavory past. Shh, don’t tell.)

I also learned about another legendary Cherokee named Ned Christie (NeDe WaDe in Cherokee.) He was on the executive council in the Cherokee Nation senate and served as one of three advisers to Chief Bushyhead. Ned’s parents were survivors of the Trail of Tears ordeal and belonged to the Keetowah band, most traditional among the Cherokee.

Ned Christie

Ned Christie was a large, powerful man at 6’4”. Perhaps that explains why he became a blacksmith and gunsmith. Now you know what gave me the idea for Jack to be a blacksmith as well as a cowboy.

Unfortunately, in May 1887, Ned was wrongly accused of shooting and killing U.S. Marshal Daniel Maples in the Cherokee Nation. Fearing he would not receive justice from a white jury, Ned hid out and appealed to the U.S. Court of the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith (also in charge of the Ind. Terr.) for bail to allow time to prove his innocence. Judge Parker turned down his request.

Labeled an outlaw, Ned Christie held off U.S. marshals in fortified locations for the next five years, fighting what has been called “Ned Christie’s War.” He was shot and killed in his final battle against the lawmen in 1892. His body was put on display in different locations so the lawmen and others could have their picture taken next to the notorious “outlaw.”

Twenty-six years later, a man named Dick Humphreys told authorities he had witnessed Marshall Maples’ killing. He said it was not Ned Christie who shot him, but a man named Bud Trainer. Christie’s name was finally cleared. Some researchers believe his opposition to railroad development in the Indian Territory may have led to him being falsely accused of Maples’ murder.

Dashing Irish:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1xzqpT9

Barnes & Noble: http://tinyurl.com/lk8w55d

Dearest Irish:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1pFwM39

Barnes & Noble:  http://bit.ly/VO3N5l


  1. Great post today. I love me a good outlaw...especially if he gets redeemed.

    And I so remember Ned Christie. Mostly because my daughter Christi dated a Ned for a long time. We got such a kick out of that.

    Best wishes with the books!

  2. Fascinating, Lyn, and you did a great job of researching. My paternal grandfather was born in Bosque County. How he got to Palo Pinto County, I don't know.
    Don't you love how one story leads to another, often through the characters. To me, it makes a wonderful series, whether the connection is through family or through some circumstance.
    6'4"--that would have made him incredibly tall for that time in history. A grown man in the nineteenth century had an average height of not much more than 5'5"--about as tall as I am. I see why he was a man to reckon with--or stay out of his path. He must have been able to put the fear of God into many men.
    Me, too..I love to redeem a flawed hero.
    Thanks for the explanation of how your found your heroes. Well done.

  3. Great research, Lyn. I can't get over how barbaric humans can be--to put a dead body on display is so disgusting and horrific. And to think, it wasn't even the man who killed the sheriff.
    Isn't it wonderful when you can apply real history to a story, even if no one knows the connection but you.
    Enjoyed your blog, Lyn. I wish you the best with the Devlin story.

  4. Thanks, Tanya! Glad you liked the post. That's quite a coincidence, your daughter dating a guy named Ned.

  5. Celia, those old pioneers often moved from one county or state to another, maybe looking for greener pastures.

    Yes, I love connecting books in a series through characters. The heroine for Dashing Irish first appeared in the previous book, Darlin' Irish. The poor girl was carrying a lot of emotional baggage. I just had to help her unload it and find happiness.

    I was surprised to learn how tall Ned Christie was. He must have stood out in a crowd back then. He would even today. My brother-in-law is 6'4''and he towers over most people.

  6. Hi Sarah, so nice to see you! Yes, humans are to often barbaric toward one another. It was quite common for dead outlaws to be displayed that way. After they got through displaying Ned's body, his family was at least allowed to take him home and bury him. If I remember correctly, he's buried in the Cherokee National Cemetery in Oklahoma.

  7. Interesting post, Lyn. That's what makes a book real to readers.

  8. Great post, Lyn and a great series. Your attention to research and detail are what makes your stories so readable and interesting. I love this series!!

  9. Hi Linda. Thanks for stopping by. Yup, I think fiction based on fact are more convincing. Glad you think so too.

  10. Carra, my friend, you watched the Texas Devlins books take shape, often giving valuable advice, especially for Dearest Irish. Remember our brainstorming session at your house? I deeply appreciate your friendship and help over the years.


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