Louis Kraft, SoCal fires, earthquakes, Sand Creek Massacre, & an Errol Flynn tidbit

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018

Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blogs


For starters Pailin and I hope that the day we celebrated Jesus Christ’s birth was a peaceful and loving one for you with your family and friends. … Also that you had a safe and uneventful New Year’s Eve. Ours was at Wat Thai (Thai Temple of Los Angeles in North Hollywood) praying and seeing some friends as we welcomed in 2018.

On 20dec2017 Mimi took this image of us at Jantana (pronounced Jan-ta-na) and Richard’s (pronounced Ri-chard’s) apartment in Northridge, California. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft and Louis Kraft 2017)


The year 2017, more than any other, has made me realize how
fragile life really is. For the record, I have a family of four—three ladies
and yours truly. I’ve survived some horrific car crashes, I’ve had guns
pointed at me, a knife at my throat, I’ve taken a motorcycle over a
a cliff, I’ve been knocked cold (I don’t know if this counts), and
I’ve survived cracking my skull open more than once as
well as surgeries that had to succeed or I would I have
been dancing with Angels long before now.

My view: I love walking on Mother Earth.

Fire, wind, more fire, & more wind … a SoCal story

Elsewhere I’ve documented the frightening Los Angeles and Ventura County fires of December 2017. It’s rough when you can watch flames billow into ever-growing puffs of brown smoke that obliterate the sky. You know that property is being destroyed and animals are dying.

This image dates to December 6, 2017, and is of a man attempting to calm a horse during the Sylmar/Creek fire. These fires in SoCal were absolutely devastating on horses and over livestock during these fires. My great friend and Apache scouts expert Layton Hooper commented numerous times about this image (as he also cares about animals). I couldn’t agree more with Layton’s views on horses and how they are innocent bystanders to man’s destruction of our world.

But often the men and women who combat these horrific Santa Ana winds that range upwards to 80 MPH and fuel the fires that ravage SoCal year-in-and-year-out fall under the radar. These people, these heroes, risk their lives on a daily basis. During the recent Sylmar/Canyon fire in the San Fernando Valley that put Pailin and I at risk (a December 6 LA government text read: Strong winds over night creating extreme fire danger. Stay alert. Listen to authorities.”), they worked 24-hour shifts to combat an enemy (wind and fire) that is a hundred times more devastating than the earthquakes that are associated with SoCal. These brave human beings deserve all our respect and thanks. Believe it or not, they aren’t alone for volunteers joined them along with fire fighters from other states as well as people serving jail time in California.

All of them are magnificent!!!

I have favorite animals. Just five: Wolves, coyotes, mountain lions (pumas), horses, and doberman pinchers, The last are dogs, and they are the most gentle animals I have ever known. The Pumas are beyond belief, and they are a major part of my life as I follow their struggle to remain free in SoCal. Today, tomorrow, and always. These photos are from an article in the 27Dec2017 issue of the Times. This young Puma was burned while attempting to flee from the Thomas fire. It has been rescued and is on its way to recovery.

… and the Thomas fire continues to burn (as of 30dec17).

Ye-ough!!! (a sound) … For California 2018 will be back to normal if what the LA Times just published is accurate, mainly that this winter would be one of the driest in California history. If true next year’s fires will again ravish the Golden State. Pailin’s and my home was at fire risk twice in 2017 (June and October).

This image of a condor and its chick was on the front page of the LA Times on 1jan2018, as it featured a story on endangered species chick no. 871, who should have left its cave and flew for the first time in December. It didn’t as the Thomas Fire ravished the Los Padres Sespe Condor Sanctuary. Scientists have recently seen its parents near the cave and hope that the chick has survived.

If fires attack Los Angeles in 2018 it is not going to be 1,000 homes destroyed, it is not going to be 2,000 homes destroyed, … it will be thousands upon thousands of homes destroyed. The homeless count in LA is currently 55,000 (how large is the city you live in?). If, and I pray God this never becomes reality, … if the 2018 fires destroy the San Fernando Valley (one of numerous valleys in the county of Los Angeles) 1.3 million people will become homeless; the threat was ominous in 2017. … Will it become reality in 2018?

Earthquakes? What are they? Fire is the numeral uno enemy to the Golden State.

Oh, I forgot to mention that global warming is little more than fiction. My view on this: Everyone who thinks global warning is little more than a left wing piece of baloney have got their fingers firmly stuffed somewhere.

The year 2017 is one for the California record books

It is official, 2017 has been the hottest year on record for California. It has also been the worst fire year on record, and the Thomas Fire that started in Ventura County (which borders Los Angeles County) and has raged north and into Santa Barbara County is the largest fire in California since they began keeping accurate records in the early 1930s. This fire began on December 4; it was still burning on December 30 (but supposedly 65 percent contained … homes are still threatened).

Something needs to be said about earthquakes

I have lived through the last two major earthquakes in SoCal: 1971 and 1994. I can’t tell you how often I have been quizzed about the horror of an earthquake when outside California. People I have met when giving talks or performances or on research trips are forever interested (some of them are terrified of experiencing one). … Let’s start this conversation with LK isn’t keen on living through a hurricane or a tornado.

I guess it’s all about perspective.

Let’s start with tornados. In 1974 I flew to Missouri to buy a 1951 Hudson Hornet, a great automobile that ruled NASCAR racing during the first half of the 1950s (I even wrote a screenplay about them cleaning up at the racetrack called Hornet; unfortunately my agent couldn’t sell it).

Time is short, and this blog is about four months late. Thus this old collage. This picture of the Hudson that came from Missouri was taken in the still-rural Northridge in the San Fernando Valley. The photo of the Camaro was taken overlooking the Pacific Ocean in northern San Diego County. … BTW, bets were out that I wouldn’t make a wedding in Tucson, Arizona, which was a little over a week after I bought the car. I covered the bets and won.

The Missourian picked me up at the airport. After checking out the Hornet and taking it for a test drive I bought the car. Tornado warnings were live on Missouri TV that morning. He and his family didn’t want me to leave. I ate his wife’s homemade ice cream and then allowed the family to show me the house where future U.S. president Harry Truman was born. I am a patient and polite cowboy. During this time I had visions of Judy Garland’s classic film The Wizard of Oz (1939) dancing around in my brain. If you don’t know the film, a tornado transports Judy’s character to the land of Oz. It was 1974 and I was picturing me and the 1951 Hudson Hornet being transported to the land of Oz.* Honestly, this was a living nightmare for me. When the seller’s family finally gave me a tearful goodbye about eight-thirty that morning I pushed the Hornet’s accelerator pad to the floor, … and hightailed it out of Kansas as quickly as I could.

From left: Hattie McDaniel, OdeH, and Vivian Leigh in Gone with the Wind. Olivia was nominated for a supporting Oscar in this film. She didn’t win. At first she was angry, but later was thrilled for Hattie’s win. I couldn’t agree more with her view. (photo in LK personal collection)

* The Wizard of Oz should have won the Oscar for best film of 1939 (I know, heresy). Gone with the Wind did. I have a large connection with Gone with the Wind due to Ms. Olivia de Havilland. Writing about her connection with this film will take up quite a number of pages in Errol & Olivia, and these words have and will flow speedily forward on the keyboard. Her story here is good stuff. No-no-no; it’s great stuff! All I want to say here is The Wizard of Oz, which took me decades to accept and like, is a great film, while Gone with the Wind, which I’ve hated since the first time I attempted to see it is not. For the record, I have never seen this film completely in one screening (and that includes seeing it in a movie theater; I walked out before falling asleep). I doubt this is a high recommendation.

Let’s get back to earthquakes. On February 8, 1971, I needed a place to sleep. My then girlfriend was living with her father. I parked my motorcycle next to her car in the apartment building’s underground parking lot and slept in it that night.

This image of LK was taken just months before the 9feb1971 earthquake. I’m sitting in my office just north of the apartment building where my then-girlfriend lived with her father. (photo © Louis Kraft 1970)

The next morning I was awake and reading the newspaper in her car when the earthquake struck. I was out of that parking structure in a flash and as far as I could be from the surrounding apartments. In front of me was a large swimming pool with tidal waves pounding the sides. The surrounding complex consisted of three-story apartments. They looked like old-time cartoons as they swayed back and forth in rhythm with the pool’s pounding waves.

The 1994 Northridge earthquake caught me asleep in bed in North Hollywood. It struck about four-thirty in the morning on January 17. Let me say one thing here. When a fairly large earthquake hits there is no guesswork. You know immediately what is happening. Get away from windows and anything that can collapse or fall on you.

Earthquakes don’t last long. One minute, two minutes, maybe three minutes and it’s over. There are after shocks that can go on for days.

Front and center in an unbelievable story

LK image choices are now being selected for Sand Creek and the Tragic
End of a Lifeway, and they will add great value to the book.

Pailin took this photo of me relaxing at home with guests on 13sept2017. This is one of the last images of me as I looked like this. A joke? I wish, but alas, no. (photo © Louis Kraft and Pailin Subanna-Kraft 2017)

I know, I know, I’ve always known (nothing new here). For the record I’m working on the Sand Creek manuscript seven days a week until I deliver a first rough draft to the great editor-in-chief of OU Press, Chuck Rankin at the end of January. He has always been my friend since we met years back. By that I mean that he has done everything possible to see that my manuscripts saw publication, … and this was long before we signed the Wynkoop contract. Folks, in case you don’t know, OU Press is the largest and best publisher of Indian wars books in the world. In the world! They are my publisher, which makes me one of the luckiest guys in the world.

At times events happen and they affect all of our hearts in different ways. …
31dec2017 was one of those days, but with life there’s always hope.
Pain over the loss of a cherished person is always private. … Life
can be fickle. One day we’re here and healthy, but there is
no guarantee for tomorrow (I’m not talking about me).

A bashed-face and worse … that’s me!!!

Ouch! … for it is worse, and I hate to say it but this is the story of my life.

Christopher Juarez at the central Los Angeles Public Library in downtown on 19nov2017. I cannot begin to tell how much this young man helped me during my two days at the library studying the Nancy Morton microfilm from the Nebraska State Historical Society. (photo © Louis Kraft 2017)

On 11nov2017 I took the subway from the North Hollywood hub (the Red line) to the main LA Public Library. My bad from the beginning, but it was worse than that for good ol’ LK got lost. What should have been three miles of total walking turned into six + miles of walking. Huh??? Take one guess. LK was clueless and got lost. If you know downtown LA there are good places and there are bad places and I got to see all of them, including a male urinating in pure daylight (I know, this is not a major selling point for Los Angeles). When I finally reached the library I was in for a shock. It was November 11—Hello cowboy! … Veteran’s Day—and the library had shut down Friday, the 10th, through Sunday, the 12th, for the Veteran’s Day weekend. What can I say other than keep your views to yourself. That’s right, I don’t want to hear them.

My day excursion, which began at nine in the morning ended at 12:25 in the afternoon with roughly two and a half hours spent as LK walked as fast as he could. Again, and by my calculations, it was over six miles. … You do not want to know what my feet felt like that afternoon, for all you’ll get from me is a bunch of XXXs and !!!s.

See below for the continuation of this story. …

The creation of history

If I chose to list all the historians who have shaped history in their image you would be shocked. I know a very good Indian wars historian who once told me that he wanted to turn history upside down. Say what? Basically this person wanted to push Indian wars history to the extreme.

That’s right, and more often than you would ever guess historians do this. Facts don’t drive what they write, sensationalization does. Most of the time they choose people who are no longer with us as you can’t be charged with defaming the dead in the USA. This is not hard to do when you write about the American Indian wars or the Golden Age of the Cinema.

LK at Tujunga House on 5mar2017. (photo © Louis Kraft 2017)

This blog, as most in the near future, features events that led to the attack by Colorado Volunteers on people who thought that they were under the protection of the U.S. military on 29nov1864.

For the record I’ve been giving talks based upon reality for thirty years, and since 1986. These are talks wherein I know my subject matter and I don’t read. At the moment I’m on self-imposed sabbatical. The reason is simple: I have a book to complete that is of major importance to me.

Believe it or not, I have been persona non-grata for more years than I’d like to count. You do not want to know about people who turn their back to me when I walk past them. What’s their problem? Hell, I don’t know. I’ll say this, they ain’t my friends.

Barbara Hershey and a film I like

What can I say about Ms. Hershey other than I’d like to know her well enough that we could share our views on the world, living, and creativity. Given decent parts in film or class TV productions she has time and again proven how good of an actress she is.

Last of the Dogmen

Barbara Hershey played an anthropologist whose expertise was the Cheyenne Indians in Last of the Dogmen (Savoy Pictures, 1995). In this film, which always makes my top 50 (now 60) film list had a great quote that Barbara said. But first she had to deal with a modern-day bounty hunter played by Tom Berenger.

As stated elsewhere some of Hershey’s performances are top-notch, and certainly  in Last of the Dogmen and Defenseless. Also she is someone that I wish I knew. This, in the Kraft world, is a high recommendation. (photo in LK collection)

Berenger had found evidence that points to Cheyenne Indians from a time long gone killing escaped criminals, and he’s trying to learn if people from the mid-nineteenth century could have survived undiscovered into the mid-1990s. Hershey finds his quest ludicrous. And it is, but it opens a door to explore race relations between people from a time dear to my heart with those living in the mid-1990s. From the get-go the film is fantasy for the simple reason that there were no Cheyenne Dog Men (whites called them Dog Soldiers) at the November 29, 1864, massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians on Sand Creek, Colorado Territory, an attack that saw children used for target practice, an unborn child cut from his dead mother’s womb and scalped, … it gets worse, much-much worse. … Before the story can take off Hershey gives Berenger a history lesson on the Cheyennes along with their struggle to retain their freedom, land, and lifeway before again making it clear that Dog Men could not and did not murder the escaped convicts as there were no “Dog Men” from the 1860s living as they had in 1864 in modern times. Lordy-lordy, you have got to love this premise as it is a good one. Barbara’s quote in the film was great, but you’re not going to read the words in this blog. See the film.

Sand Creek players have been pounded time and again …

Certainly Ned Wynkoop has been labeled a “traitor” to his race, and an Indian-lover. This pounding centers on his acting without orders (not cool when you are in the military) to save white prisoners and bring seven Cheyenne and Arapaho chiefs to Denver to discuss ending the 1864 Cheyenne war with John Evans, the second territorial governor of Colorado. One premise holds that the massacre at Sand Creek would have never happened if he had not done this.

LK as Ned Wynkoop in an one-man show seeing the sexually dismembered bodies of the Southern Cheyennes and Arapahos months after the butchery at Sand Creek on 29nov1864. (photo: Johnny D. Boggs during a dress rehearsal for performances at a Washita Battlefield National Historic Site symposium in 2008).

Really? All I’ll say here is that illogic follows and stampedes its way into the foreground.

This isn’t worth talking about, other than to say there were many participants in the events that led up to the attack on a Cheyenne and Arapaho village on Sand Creek in November 1864. It was not just one player, it was a combination of multiple players and all their actions. People make choices. You make choices; I make choices. So did Evans, Wynkoop, Colonel John Chivington, Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle, Arapaho Chief Left Hand, and on and on.

The tragedy of Sand Creek is much more than an officer (Wynkoop) acting without orders to rescue four white children and bring seven Indian leaders to Denver to discuss ending a war. If illogical thinking rules the day, why not say that the Sand Creek village was “easy prey,” like some of those hunting estates where macho men with big guns can hunt big game that can’t escape as they are trapped within the preserve?

These people had their vaginas cut out, their penises hacked off. Their children had their skulls bashed in. The term “war crime,” didn’t exist in 1864, but it does now. What happened in 1864 was a war crime regardless of what it might have been called then. Pure and simple. You do this today, and you happen to be an American soldier, you will be tried for war crimes. … I’m not certain when this came to pass but it was certainly in place at the end of World War II when Nazis were charged with heinous crimes of genocide against the Jewish people. (BTW, “genocide” became a word in 1945).

These crimes live into the twenty-first century when on March 12, 2006, an American soldier (Specialist James Barker) raped and murdered a fourteen-year-old Iraqi girl, Abeer Qassim al-Janabi. He and five soldiers with him then murdered her father, mother, and six-year-old sister in Mahmoudiya, twenty miles south of Baghdad. They burned the bodies in an attempt to cover up their crime.

… and the Cheyennes?

For starters there were a number of Southern Cheyenne bands trusting Chief Black Kettle’s efforts to remove them from the on-going war. Unfortunately their approximate location was known, making them an easy target. Chivington’s goal was never to fight Cheyenne Dog Men and Lakotas who rode the war trail farther north. Instead, he wanted a target that never expected to be attacked. Chivington would claim a lopsided victory with a huge death count that perhaps exceeded the total number of people that could have possibly been living in this Sand Creek village, and for a short time became a great Indian fighter.

From left: Leo Oliva, LK, and Fort Larned Chief Historian George Elmore. We are walking the on the parade ground, and we are heading toward the building that Wynkoop rented for his headquarters when he was a U.S. Indian agent, which was just outside the perimeter of the post. Good friends Leo and George have helped me oh-so many times over the years. Both have been instrumental in getting me to Kansas time and again to speak and perform, as well as aiding my research. … I can’t begin to tell you how much George has aided my Sand Creek research. This photo was taken on 20sept2012. Two days later Leo and I spoke on the now protected Cheyenne-Dog Man-Lakota village that Major General Winfield Hancock destroyed in April 1867. … This part of Kansas is in my blood. It is one of my homes away from home.

What can I say. My Sand Creek proposal was 37 pages long. I presented a detailed outline of what I thought the final manuscript should include. It also stated that nothing was set in stone, that my research would define the flow of the manuscript. … Boy, is this a true statement.

Actually Chivington is going to have a smaller role than planned. Such is life. This said, his impact on the story is huge.

On 24apr1999 Cheyenne Peace Chiefs Gordon Yellowman (kneeling) and Lawrence Hart (standing right-center) blessed the Pawnee Fork village site. This was the first time that I spoke at Fort Larned. That’s George Elmore in the sergeant’s uniform at the left of the image. (photo © Louis Kraft 1999)

Fort Larned plays an important role in the Sand Creek story. Black Kettle, Neva, Left Hand, Little Raven, William Bent, George Bent, John Smith, and Wynkoop all spent time there. The destruction of the Pawnee Fork village (about 35 miles west of the post) was a continuation of what began in the early 1860s.

Territorial governor John Evans has been pounded

But should he have been? I’m not so sure, and although I hate to admit this, I don’t totally agree with the University of Denver’s study of Evans, and his part in the disaster. Still, they uncovered key information regarding the governor ducking the issue while in Washington D.C., and he didn’t return to Denver until spring 1865.

As I didn’t use an image of John Evans in the Wynkoop book, and have not decided what image(s) of him that I’m going to use in Sand Creek, this color portrait of Black Kettle is good here. The chief and the governor met at Camp Weld on 28sept1864, and both walked away from that meeting with totally different views upon what had been decided. For all the chief’s efforts to avoid or end war he has been pounded as hard as the governor. (art © Louis Kraft 2015)

Let’s be up front, some of John Evans’ words and actions led to his downfall (which has been frighteningly similar to the racist backlash we have seen against the Southern states fight to remove themselves from the United States of America in the 1860s. Yikes!!!! How can the USA banish and remove one of the most important pieces of our history, the war between the states? Without a doubt slavery is heinous, and it has always been so. Owning another human being and playing god with his or her life is evil (but I’m talking from a modern POV). Times have changed in regards to racism for the better, but from what we have seen in 2017 we still have a long way to go.

Some of Evans’ proclamations are damaging. However, his attempts to avoid or end war were something he tried to do. More important, he left for the east on November 10, that was nineteen days prior to Chivington’s massacre of men, women, and children, and he didn’t learn of the battle until days afterwards. Evans wanted war and wanted the Cheyennes and Arapahos removed from the territory but he had no clue that this would happen to the people who tried to end the war.

Art of Mr. Carson dating to about 1845. (LK personal collection)

Evans’ fall from grace is similar to Kit Carson’s. … Folks, Kit was a good friend to the American Indians. He spoke seven languages: English, Spanish, and five native languages. If he were the butcher that modern times attempts to label him, why would he speak (at least partially) the words of the Navajos, Mescalero Apaches, Cheyennes, Arapahos, and Utes? Oh, I forgot to mention that he had three wives: Arapaho, Cheyenne, and a Latina of Spanish decent. One more fact, he converted to Catholicism to marry his Spanish wife. Does this sound like a racist? I think not. … Pray God I live long enough to complete two books that deal with Carson and his relationship with American Indians. … One fiction; one nonfiction.

John Evans has become an evil person. … Really? Guess what? John Evans was a human being who thought he was doing right when he did it. I’m not going to tell you that he was a good person or an evil one. If I do my job his words and actions will allow you to make your own decision of who he was.

Ditto everyone else, and this includes John Chivington. BTW, he will be the last piece of the manuscript to be completed. Oh, he has a presence now, but it is not close to being finished. Like Evans and everyone else, it is my job is to show what he said and what he did. There is nothing worse than an author (history or fiction, it matters not) who has a preconceived premise on an historical personage and will stay the course regardless of how much discovery disproves their premise. God forbid they shy away from their damnation of a human being because they see facts that shoots arrows into their task of destroying a person’s life. And especially people who are gone and cannot defend themselves. Yep, folks you can defame the dead in the USA (but be careful if you attempt to defame the living, for then you might set yourself up to join the homeless wandering the streets of LA).

Back to the reality of our times

Is it ethical to sell out truth for greater book sales? Honestly, you don’t want to know my opinion on this. Many writers have done this over the years, and it isn’t confined to the Indian wars. The most infamous—in my opinion—was Charles Higham.

In his 1980 best-selling piece of slop called Errol Flynn: The Untold Story, without proof Higham wrote that Flynn was both homosexual and a Nazi spy. Over the years real historians have debunked all of Higham’s falsehoods. Still the general public, if they remember anything about Flynn, it is that he was homosexual Nazi spy. Hell, the media still sells this as there is nothing better than trashing a star name for the simple reason that the public gobbles it up. As said above there is no punishment for defaming the dead in the USA. Not so in Canada; Higham’s book was also published in the land of our neighbors to the north. Flynn’s daughters Deidre and Rory went after Higham in Canada. To avoid going to court and potential prosecution Higham never set foot in Canada for the rest of his life. … I can’t speak about Higham’s other film biographies save one—Sisters: The Story of Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine (1984). I presented Olivia with a lot of questions about this book in letters and in person. Olivia made one reply in writing in which she dismissed Higham with three words (and none were profane). In person the only thing she said about him and his book on her and Joan was that he never contacted her, never asked her one question.

Was Higham a charlatan? Are other historians charlatans? I believe in challenging history. I also believe that it must be done ethically and not by presenting outrageous statements that are fiction-based on preconceived premises with the lone goal of destruction.

Another story

He was flesh and blood, had a deep baritone voice, was a college professor, had lived through the revolution of the 1960s, had evolved into the 1970s, and when I met him in the 1980s he had fine-tuned his persona. Oh, I forgot, he was also a writer. Charm oozed from him. He instantly became a friend (think 1989 in San Diego).

Years passed. It was now 1995 and we were at the Western Writers of America (WWA) convention in Cheyenne, Wyoming (I’m foggy on the location but think the timing was with the publication of Custer and the Cheyenne).

I’m going to pull from a major lesson I learned from Errol Flynn’s magnificent memoir, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, which was published shortly after his death in 1959. Mainly, that at times one must remain vague to protect friends, former lovers, and yours truly. I hope that what I share here is okay. Am back to the writer from the 1960s. He was working on a book wherein he claimed his subject outlived his death by decades. “Do you believe he wasn’t murdered?” He honestly replied that he did believe that this westerner was murdered. “Why are you writing this manuscript?” He again honestly answered that it would sell books.

Kudos to him for his honesty. At the same time his words now mimic the truth of today’s world. If the truth gets in the way of your preconceived premise, dismiss it. If someone confronts you on your lie, one-up them and call them “little Billy,” or “bullshitting Johnny,” or “sex stalker Alex.” The new key words here are: “Fake News.” Point your finger at them, scream, and if possible see that your hateful rants explode all over social media. …

Luckily for me the Dennis the Menace cartoons continue to live in the Los Angeles Times (this cartoon appeared in the 22nov17 edition of the paper). Although cartoonist Hank Ketcham is long gone, his wonderful creation continues to live at dennisthemeance.com and in various newspapers. The North America Synd. holds the 2017 copyright.

Good Lord, is this really today’s world? If yes, I need say no more.

The struggle to bring the Tsistsistas (Cheyennes) into their new world

Ladies and gents, separating myth and fiction from fact is an hellacious task, and one I’ve struggled with for years now. Also, unfortunately, no one is ever going to get all the facts straight. It is an impossible task.

Believe it or not the Cheyennes have been mostly painted as villains throughout most of their history. Their views and their facts have been almost totally ignored as little more than lies. There’s an adage, and it is that the conqueror writes the history books. … The vanquished are savages or worse and the winners are heroes who have saved mankind.

… and this includes some mixed-blood Cheyennes

I’ll mention two here: Julia Bent and her step brother Charles Bent. Their father was trader William Bent, who plays a fairly large role in the manuscript, but surprisingly wasn’t as I expected him to be (this statement should have a few exclamation points as the William Bent I now know is not the William Bent I thought I knew). … I can’t begin to tell how many hours I’ve spent on Julia and Charley. I know them somewhat, but I wish more. She is little more than a beautiful image that appears and disappears during the tumultuous times of the 1860s while Charles has been pounded to hell as little more than a vicious killer.

George Bent was Julia’s older brother and Charley’s older step-brother. He lived well into the twentieth century and left a wealth of information for anyone willing to dig and understand, and by that I mean cross-reference and closely check what he wrote.

If you believe just half of the recordings of supposed Cheyenne raids between 1864 and 1867, Charley Bent was named way-too-many times as a traitorous leader of perhaps thirty percent of these raids, and yet when he died he had not yet reached his twentieth year, and this is an easy fact to prove regardless of David Lavender’s fanciful words without a drop of proof in Bent’s Fort (1954) or Halaas & Masich’s tons of research citations in Halfbreed (2004), which simply muddies the water while providing little support for important text in their biography of George Bent.

I don’t have much on either Julia or Charles, but what I do have will be in the book for both were exceptional young people during a time of death and destruction. I won’t come close to sharing who they really were, but I will present them to you in an honest way while at the same time destroying some of the undocumented baloney that has been printed and reprinted about them ad nauseam.

There is Sand Creek Massacre research coming that will open some eyes

The misinformation and out-and-out fabrications of reality in the Sand Creek story is mind-boggling. These ongoing fabrications range from Laura Roper becoming Black Kettle’s sexual object to Isabelle Eubank being five when the Cheyennes gave her to Wynkoop on September 12, 1864 (a date that is improperly documented easily sixty percent of the time).

A wonderful research surprise in Downtown LA

A young wife was captured one day after the Cheyenne raid that captured Isabelle, her mother, younger brother, a relative, and Laura Roper. This young woman, like those taken with Isabelle, also plays a key if small role in the story. I had seen most if not all of the published documentation about her. Her name was Nancy Morton. She along with many other whites were, during an horrendous string of a few days mostly along the Platte River Route survived seeing their families and loved ones murdered and hacked to pieces before their eyes. Traveling settlers, ranchers, station employees were attacked, many murdered, while a small number of whites were taken prisoner. There is an old cliché, “Save the last bullet for yourself,” as death or captivity by Indians was not something anyone wanted to experience. … Nancy and a boy named Daniel Marble survived the attack on their wagon train.

I have spent a lot of good time with Marty Vestecka Miller, of the Nebraska State Historical Society, who secured the interlibrary loan of a microfilm reel on Nancy Morton for me. As the only library in the 100-library system of Los Angeles that still had microfilm readers that could also print was the central library in downtown Los Angeles I had to set up the loan there as the microfilm could not leave the library.

The west entry to the Central LA Public Library in downtown Los Angeles on 18nov2017. The library is a treasure, both inside and outside. (photo © Louis Kraft 2017)

On November 18 I got wise and looked at a map of the subway exit and the downtown library. They looked shockingly close to each other. On this day I used the Hope Street exit from the subway, looked to my left and could see the library two and a half blocks distant. On this day I worked closely with Christopher Juarez (pictured above), who not only got me set up on the microfilm machine but made me aware that I didn’t have to pay for printouts of the pages, but could scan them and email them to myself free of charge. Folks, when you are looking at over 250 images this is a pretty cool savings. Christopher worked closely with me on this day and then the next day as he ensured that I obtained every image that I needed. I have nothing but kudos to say about Christopher. The city of Los Angeles should give this young man a pay raise, and I’m not joking here. Los Angeles is lucky to employ him. Good work needs to be rewarded. Mayor Eric Garcetti, if you see this post or if you hear of this post, know one thing: Christopher Juarez is an extraordinary employee and the city is lucky to have him.

LK’s workstation at the Central Los Angeles Public Library in the History Department on 19nov2017. Cool times for LK. (photo ©  Louis Kraft 2017)

The people of Sand Creek

The major players range from the second territorial governor of Colorado Territory, the chief editor and co-partner of the most successful newspaper in Denver during the 1860s and beyond, the commanding colonel of the District of Colorado, the official U.S. interpreter for all four major treaties with the Cheyenne Indians between 1851 and 1867, a major partner of the most successful trading post who married into the Cheyenne tribe, one of his mixed-blood sons, and the one man who dared to act for he thought was for the good of mankind and has since been termed a traitor to his own race. They were ambitious, had views of success in their dreams, but like you and I had to survive in a world beyond their control.

I know. Where’s Cheyennes Black Kettle, Lean Bear, or Bull Bear; and Arapahos Left Hand, Neva, and Little Raven? Trust me, for they are a comin’ to life, … I want them to be surprises; I want them to explode off the pages. Actually Black Kettle and Little Raven will surprise you, but unfortunately I simply don’t have enough on the others to allow them to also dominate. Still Left Hand was a person I wish I could have known in life.

More important, and like most of us, they thought that what they did was right when they did it. … What I’ve learned is not what I wanted to know. I’m writing the manuscript as a biography through the eyes of (currently) nine people. I’m doing everything I can to be in their point-of-view (POV), a film term.

This is my lady, Pailin, on the bluffs to the west of the 1864 Sand Creek battlefield. Our terrific friends John and Linda Monnett took us to the isolated site in 2014. You want to read good history pick up some of John’s books that deal with the Cheyennes. … Pailin and I are totally different in all phases of our lives, and yet she supports everything that I do. I pray to my God that I am capable of supporting everything that she does. Life and love is a two-way street. You won’t believe what is in our future. (photo © Louis Kraft & Palin Subanna-Kraft 2014)

Where the hell am I? Simply, I’m treading water in the middle of pure hell. Does this sound negative? Probably, but it shouldn’t be as I’m inching closer to completing perhaps the most important manuscript of my life. If true, I must see Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway through to print. Folks, I can’t see this happening before 2019. This means I need to live another two years. Doable? I think so, … I hope so. Time will tell.

This is the OU Press dust jacket for the Wynkoop book; I’ve had some great covers over the years but this jacket is by far my favorite. It was an image that I requested, and it was an image that the art director did great work.

Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway has 37 contracted images. Three will be maps; that leaves 34 photos or art.Good times for LK to fill in the blanks. At this moment I have chosen 16 (as I don’t own the rights to all these images the process to purchase and determine the use fees is under way. Actually several have already been procured, and all that needs to happen is working out the publishing details and paying the use fees. I hate to say it but at this point in time I must become secretive. Of the 16 I’ve previously used six of them. This is more than I hoped to use, but the images that will again be used are mandatory to telling the story of the events that led up to the Sand Creek attack and its aftermath.

For the record Chuck Rankin had requested I place as many women in the manuscript as possible. My research leading to the creation of the proposal and its acceptance was less than sparkling, meaning that there were no women who would be in the manuscript. Over the last three years of research this view has changed. I mentioned a couple of young ladies above. This is, for me, great news. Hopefully they will come to life when the book is published, even if their presence is small, for they are oh-so important to the Sand Creek story.

A small repetition

My Sand Creek proposal was a very-detailed thirty-seven pages, but it also included a “get out of jail” pass. This simply means that as a writer-historian I track all the usual suspects and try to follow where the trail leads. That is, the documentable facts. Actions and words define character. My job is not to create villains and heroes; rather it is to present people to you. If I do my job correctly you will make your own decisions of who they were and what happened.

As said above, this is a seven-day-a-week job. I’m up between four and four-thirty and often don’t get to bed until nine, ten, or later. … You guessed it. Sometimes I have to crash. But even on these days I must research and/or add word count.

I love what I do.

An Errol Flynn tidbit

I want to go off course here while still tiptoeing the straight and narrow. Thank you, Mr. Flynn. I’m not being sarcastic here, for Flynn’s My Wicked, Wicked Ways is the best book that I’ve ever read. His book dealt with time and memory, it dealt with good and bad, success and failure, and protecting the innocent in more ways than one (for example: Not saying much about a person or event, changing a key fact or two, or names of people that Mr. Flynn did not want to hurt, or perhaps because he did not want to be hurt).

The Flynn photo used on the dust jacket for the first printing of My Wicked, Wicked Ways. (photo © Esquire, Inc. 1958)

For the record, a successful writer named Earl Conrad was hired by Flynn’s publisher (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) to spend time with him at his home in Jamaica in 1959. Flynn had received a good advance to write his memoir, but he was almost at the end of his time on earth, was having trouble completing the manuscript, and needed help. Flynn was self taught, literate, and well published. He always had a story to tell, forever stood firm for what he believed, and never shied away from anything in his life. Without checking, and perhaps it is in Conrad’s memoir of his time with Flynn or in Thomas McNulty’s Errol Flynn: The Life and Career (by far the best biography on Flynn), but I think Flynn shared about 200,000 words during a handful of weeks with his guest Conrad. Flynn would see and sign-off on the galleys of his memoir but then died before seeing his last book published. (I’ll deal with this in my third book on Flynn; perhaps my second if I get lucky and something I want to do happens.)

My friends, … those of you who fear that I’ll never complete the first book
on Errol Flynn (and Olivia de Havilland), relax, for that book is closer
to publication than you think. Moreover, the two other planned
books on Mr. Flynn will happen. The second or third
books—there is no order here—will blow you
away in many ways.

Closing thoughts

There are pieces of my life, and luckily they didn’t deal with life and death on a major scale or decisions that would affect hundreds and thousands of people. Luckily I’ve lived in the shadows of time. Honestly, I think that this is a better place to be … for if I lived in earlier times when I would have had a target on my back as I would not have stepped in line and said, “Yes sir!” Luckily I didn’t live in the 1860s, for if I had, I’m certain that I would have been murdered on the streets of Denver as Captain Silas Soule was.

Still things have happened and they have affected my life in more ways than I’ll ever admit. During those times I wasn’t smiling. Looking back I can’t stop chuckling.

The little angel sitting on my right shoulder just whacked me in the face. The little devil sitting on my left shoulder simply snickered and said, “You wimp, you deserved that!”

What it all comes down to is life—my life.
My view is simply that you and I have different views of
our lives. … I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sand Creek, Louis Kraft, and pushing to step out of the box

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018

Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blogs


You know me, or you don’t know me.
If I dared to publish a memoir right now and you read it you
would proclaim: “No! Absolutely not! Kraft writes fiction, for what he has
written could never have happened!” … At the same time you might fall out of your
chair as you were laughing so hard. And again you would proclaim: “No!
Absolutely not! Kraft writes fiction, for what he has written could
never have happened for it is too funny to be true!”

I’m not a clown, but at times I think I need to paint my face.

A return to John Simpson Smith

As I claw and struggle to figure out who I am, I am attempting to figure out who the leading players are in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. The research is ongoing and relentless. Hours and hours sweep by while I try to figure out what happened in a flash of time. I am about to get my paws on a letter that John Simpson Smith would deny, hate, and swear vengeance upon me if ever we meet in the hereafter if the information ends up in my manuscript. The information in that letter will see the light of day in my Sand Creek book (and it is in place now and will remain so regardless how much a copyeditor might want to delete it).

No, this lady, an actress, and please accept my humble-humble apologies for I don’t remember her name, is not John Smith. We were working out in North Hollywood Park in preparation for a series of sword-fighting one-act plays that would be performed in 1982. Actually I’m lunging with a slashing attack to her breast and she is parrying my saber. … If John Smith and I meet up in the afterlife and he isn’t happy about what I have written about him I’m certain that he’ll attack me (not with sabers; more likely Bowie knives, which I also know how to wield). … Going in another direction I need to say something. I have been accused way too often of being intimate with ladies when nothing happened. We were friends. Friends! I hate to say it, but men and women can be friends without being intimate. This lady is a great example. Don’t believe me? I can provide a long list of ladies who have been my friends over the years and nothing else. Enough said. (photo © Louis Kraft 1982)

… So if Mr. Smith and I do meet, I had better be ready to parry (that’s a sword-fighting term; see the above image) his assault on my person as it won’t be pretty.

If you have read any of my writing, heard any of my talks, or seen any of my plays about Ned Wynkoop that deal with Mr. Smith you know that they weren’t bosom buddies.

I’m not picking on John Smith here. Actually my appreciation of him has grown ten-fold in the last year. He was one-tough dude, and believe me he was lightyears ahead of his time and place. … He did some things that I view as heinous. Heck, perhaps I’ve done some things that he might consider in a less than positive light, or perhaps even laughable (and I’m not laughing here). A better word for both of us looking at each others lives might be “cringing.” What he did and what I have done will not nimbly move back and forth between two different times and place.

AND …

It is a done deal that John S. Smith will play a leading role in my Sand Creek book, for the simple reason I can’t stop researching him (my apologies for much of the text in this paragraph previously saw life elsewhere on social media). This is a mouthful, but fear not for Black Kettle will have a large roll and Left Hand will be as large as possible. The incomparable Ned Wynkoop will play his part as will John Chivington, William Byers, and John Evans. Mixed-blood Cheyenne George Bent has given us so much with his letters over the course of decades as he filled in the blanks with what he saw or with what his Cheyenne friends saw and shared with him. … Back to Mr. Smith: He performed perhaps the most heinous event I’ve ever documented and to repeat myself it is now in the manuscript. Rape, murder, sexual butchery is certainly there big time but not performed by Mr. Smith. By now I have experience dealing with the dark side, and if I didn’t the world that I immersed myself in during the writing of The Discovery finished me off, for it got dark, real dark, and perhaps too explicit. Nevertheless Mr. Smith has landed himself a place in infamy for doing something that at least to me is unthinkable.

This is a detail from the great art of the 1939 USA one-sheet for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with James Stewart and Jean Arthur. (one-sheet © Columbia Pictures Corporation 1939)

… And yes, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (this is actually the title of a 1939 James Stewart film but Jimmy S. wasn’t playing John S.). John Smith took Indians to the capital city at least three times (and maybe four). Actually there is a novel by Bruce Cutler, The Massacre at Sand Creek: Narrative Voices (OU Press, 1995) that is also poetry when dealing with the Cheyennes. Believe it or not way too often historians have quoted and cited this work of fiction as fact. I’m chuckling here for this is totally absurd. Near the end of the novel John Smith has an eight-page conversation with the Devil while returning to the frontier after his last trip to Washington, D.C. I wish that I could cite this book as it has a lot to offer on Smith and other Sand Creek players, but I can’t for the reason already stated.

Huh?

Can John Smith document Louis Kraft’s life? Can Louis Kraft document his? At the moment I’m the only one who will be called onto the carpet to produce fair and unbiased prose about Mr. Smith (for he doesn’t get his chance to talk about me until I join him sometime in the future). Ha-ha! Upper hand: Kraft!

What I’m talking about in this blog is simply that it isn’t easy to piece together mini biographies of eight or ten people (and at this moment this list is shrinking) and merge them together and tell the story of an event in November 1864 that reverberates to this day (and long beyond).

Add Left Hand to “Why John Simpson Smith?”

What has the Arapaho Chief Left Hand have to do with John Smith? Actually he had a lot to do with Smith, but much of it is in a very grey area. By that I mean that this connection raises more questions than the few answers it supposedly confirms.

I’m certain that you are wondering why I have spent so much time in these blogs dealing with Mr. Smith. The reason is simple: He was part of the Sand Creek story before there was a Sand Creek story. And better he walked on both sides of the Sand Creek story, and that includes being in the village when it was attacked.

This is Margaret Coel’s cover page on Facebook. Very nice! She is a long-time writer who has focused on fiction. Her work should be honored, and I do honor her for her fiction and for her groundbreaking work on the great Arapaho Chief Left Hand. (art © Margaret Coel 2017)

A novelist/two-time nonfiction (?) writer Margaret Coel labeled Smith as “Lyin’ John” in her biography of Arapaho chief Left Hand (Chief Left Hand, Southern Arapaho, OU Press, 1981). I have problems with her book, including her research, her citations, and information that was created without any supporting evidence. My copy of her book (and it is the only biography to my knowledge that deals with Left Hand, or Niwot, and for this reason alone it should be in every library that deals with the Arapahos, the Cheyennes, and the 1860s), which is paper, and will not survive my Sand Creek manuscript. By that I mean that it will fall apart in the not-too-distant future. This is good for it means that I am using it and trying to understand it and challenging it.

For the record there are no photographic images of Left Hand (a terrible shame).

With luck someday I’ll meet Ms. Coal. If so I have every intention of giving her a big hug for she chose to write about a very important person (that shockingly many historians have ignored). Why? WHY? Left Hand was a major player in the Sand Creek story. A MAJOR PLAYER! Regardless of my view of her book on Left Hand, kudos to her for writing it!!!!! Ms. Coel, I hope that someday I am lucky and that in our future we do meet.

The piss-poor art of John Smith that I used in 2016 continues to grow (and darken). He’s coming closer to reality, and I still have a lot more work in front of me (light paint strokes, more dark?, and his eyes—I need to bring his eyes to life), and there’s even more for if I choose to use this portrait of him in the Sand Creek book my color art must transfer to grayscale decently (this means the contrast of dark and light must work well together). (John Smith art © Louis Kraft 2017)

But I’m wandering from John Smith, and I shouldn’t be. Ms. Coal’s Left Hand is of major importance to Smith as it paints him in a not-so-good light. To date the two things I take away from her book is that Smith lied and that Left Hand, who spoke English, knew this. What I have just said has launched me on perhaps a wild goose chase (similar to a bitty in a major Arizona University, who, while supposedly aiding my Lt. Charles Gatewood research (for Gatewood & Geronimo, University of New Mexico Press, 2000) plotted a misdirection and wasted my time and money looking for key information in a state where it never existed).*

 * I found the information and it was roughly a two-hour drive from my home in Los Angeles.

But in the case of John Smith, and I must learn the truth about him (and this is also so for Left Hand) for much of what I currently know about him is totally illogical (and the “illogical” is also true for Left Hand). I raise my own questions and track the answers until I find them or realize that 1) There is no answer, or 2) I’m searching in the wrong place.

Yeah, I’m slow, but that’s just me.

Smith and Left Hand’s roles will be as large as possible. Smith has become a leading player; I’m worried about Left Hand’s presence in the manuscript.

“I Stand By Sand Creek!”

Supposedly Colonel John Chivington said these words sometime after the 29nov1864 attack on the joint Cheyenne-Arapaho village and the booming proclamations of “Great victory” had begun to lose its luster and “Indian massacre” tainted Chivington’s fame.

The Sand Creek manuscript flies forward, and this makes me one happy cowboy. … This blog won out over a blog that again deals with racism in my life that is also close to publication. … John Chivington, that is Colonel John Chivington, who led the attack on the peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho village on Sand Creek, Colorado Territory, on 29nov1864, plays a role in the upcoming book. I needed an image of him. This is it, and it represents him near the end of his life. Not to worry for it won’t be in the book unless I can improve it. (Chivington art © Louis Kraft 2017)

Actually Chivington’s quote, “I Stand By Sand Creek!” became the title of a book about him (“I Stand By Sand Creek”: A Defense of Colonel John M. Chivington and the Third Colorado Cavalry by Lt. Colonel William R. Dunn, The Old Army Press, 1985). I didn’t remember my impression of the book until I looked at it for Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (OU Press, 2011), wasn’t impressed, and didn’t use anything from the book. … The search is under way for finding the colonel’s quote, and I believe it was later rather than earlier. Good friend and terrific Indian wars historian John Monnett suggested that I check the Rocky Mountain News during the 1890s for the quote.

This is on my to do list.

I’ve been discussing the Sand Creek manuscript with Steve Schmidt, a knowledgeable and literate person I met in Kansas a number of years back. Steve has kindly been offering me leads to research and raising questions that are valid. One, pertaining to Mr. Chivington, is right on target. He put it in my head, and let me tell you it “ain’t a goin’ away.” My dear colonel, you and I will be walking hand-in-hand for the unforeseeable future. This said, John Chivington, I have no comments to say about you. You are who you have proven to be, a man of guts, a man who reached for his own future, a man who was totally in-tune to his own world. Mr. Chivington, you are a great challenge for me, and I must—absolutely must—walk in your boots, get into your head, and present you as you viewed your life. Anything less will be subpar and little more than crap. … However long this takes me I must do it. And, … and if, … OU Press bashes me in the head for taking too long—shame on them for I must become one with you, John Chivington.

Luckily it ties in with the Methodist angle on the Sand Creek story, which is the basis for Gary Roberts’ latest book on Chivington’s attack on the Cheyenne-Arapaho village in 1864.

Other media and this blog

Although what I share on these blogs are the real LK, I have placed a lot of background information elsewhere. This said, the “elsewhere” destination is clean cut, meaning the Walt Disney version. On the blogs I have at times pushed to cross a line that perhaps I shouldn’t cross. But still I haven’t gone any farther than an “R” rating (in other words, not appropriate for anyone below the age of 17 without their parents’ permission). Duh!! I know, I’m still doing a balancing act between goody-two-shoes and a real “R” rating (which someday may be pushed to perhaps “NC-17” in other formats).

LK in the living room at Tujunga House on 5jan2017 just before nightfall. Egotism aside, this is one of my favorite images of me. Reason: I look alive and happy. (photo © Louis Kraft 2017)

What can I provide for you here? Actually nothing, for LK censures LK.

Actually I’ve made great strides into moving into the “R” zone (and beyond, and again I have toyed with going beyond this rating in both my fiction and art). If you think that I’m joking here—I’m not. For the record I constantly attempt to push the limits of my creativity in all directions whenever I can. This is not just for creativity’s sake but for me forever trying to expand my capabilities in the various medias in which I work. Be it words or art I must be true to myself. At the same time I must observe the limits of the various media that publishes my work; meaning that at times words or art that is acceptable in one media (let’s say fiction) is not acceptable in another media (such as nonfiction). This is a juggling act for me with the center point being my blogs, but not completely, for no matter how much I push myself on the blogs there are words and art that I cannot share with you (at least not today). … I’d like to, but I’m frightened of the response.

For the record I paint portraits of human beings (including myself). I view them as art. … For a long time I have debated what I can share on the blogs. LK nude? I could share this. Will I? Don’t know, but not today, and most likely never. The ladies in my life? … Not the major ladies in my life (Anglo American, Japanese, Korean, and Thai) for they would not want this (and I am in total agreement with them). That said, others who will remain nameless shed their clothes and posed for my camera, may appear sometime in the future but only in art that I created of them.

LK at the Louvre in Paris on 1jul2004. I visited the Louvre twice (2004 and 2009). This is what I looked like on the first visit (photo © Louis Kraft 2004)

This brings me to a great piece of art that I have seen twice at Musée D’Orsay in Paris, France (2004 and 2009). It had to have been shocking when Gustave Courbet created and first displayed his “L’Origine du Monde” over a century ago. I could describe the painting, but I won’t. This said, I think that it is magnificent and deserves its permanent exhibition at Musée D’Orsay, which is by far the best museum of art in the world that I have ever been fortunate to visit. The painting is still shocking to this day. This said, it is glorious and should have not been hidden from the world for years and years. Is this painting, which I’m not describing or sharing, art? Yes! Yes, and yes without a doubt. What does this say about Courbet? What does this say about Kraft? What does this say about you?

I know what this says about Courbet and about me. I don’t know what it says about you, and honestly I don’t care. Obviously—or not obviously—I’ve been talking about sexuality and nudity in my life. I don’t know about you, but sexuality and nudity has played a large role in my life. This huge part of perhaps many of our lives has given my life the energy and the desire to survive and cherish each and every moment I have walking through our so-called “world of woe.”

Am I evil? No, I don’t think so.

The LK blogs …

The purpose of the LK blogs from the beginning in early 2013 was to push my writing capabilities beyond what they had been in the past. That goal is still front and center as you and I move forward in 2017 and beyond. Why? This is a simple question but without an answer, at least not an answer that I can provide at this time.

All I can say is that I need to be true to me, true to my vision of nonfiction, fiction, and art. I actually have a major question that is front and center every day. Mainly, Kraft, how many days do you have left? What can you complete before the end? What do you have to do? In a nutshell I must protect my beautiful wife and daughter (and my daughter’s mother), and this includes living for as long as I can to accomplish this. So you know, I work at this every day (and often this is three to four hours of my time every day). I have one other reason for living, and that is my writing. Without blinking an eye I must complete Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway and deliver the manuscript to my great friend and editor Chuck Rankin; I must also complete Errol & Olivia.

The reason for completing these two manuscripts is simple: They will be the most important books that I write in my lifetime (while my favorite has already been printed by OU Press, Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek). LK’s writing world does not end with these two manuscripts, for I will have a long life as I move forward in my writing (this includes two additional nonfiction books on Errol Flynn; two books on Kit Carson, one nonfiction and one fiction; two books on the English pirate and knight Francis Drake (again one nonfiction and one fiction). Ladies and gents, this is a mouthful. But—BUT—on the plus side it will ensure that I live a long life as I protect the women in my life.

The above is my future, and it is a good one.

Back to the Sand Creek manuscript

All I can say here is that I need to walk with the leading players in the Sand Creek manuscript as they move forward with their lives. I’m getting close to Mr. Smith, perhaps a little too close (but I’m thrilled with what is current in the manuscript). I’ve known Ned Wynkoop for decades, and even though I’ve written about Black Kettle for the same length of time I’m only now doing what I can to walk in his moccasins. This is not a small comment about BK, for he was an extraordinary man and I need to know him intimately before the Sand Creek manuscript goes to press. I need to repeat these words in another way—I need to bring Black Kettle to life, something that has still never happened in my books or any other books.

Add Left Hand to my list, but here I’m fearful that I won’t find enough primary material (or accurate information) to fill out his life.

This woodcut of the Camp Weld 28sept1864 meeting is a total joke. It is a available in numerous archives. From left to right: Black Kettle (in clothing and with a hairstyle that he never wore or had; a bearded John Smith (I have all of the known photos of Mr. Smith, including the famed 28sept1864 image with Wynkoop, Black Kettle, Bull Bear, and other key players at Camp Weld, and in all of them he is clean shaven). Finally, Wynkoop never dressed in this totally fictional uniform. Worse, none of these three players look like the artist painted them. I have toyed with using this art in the Sand Creek manuscript, but only to list all the errors in it. I have 37 contracted images for the Sand Creek book, three of which will be maps. Time will tell, but at the moment using this image is doubtful.

As the days pass numerous players cement their positions as leading players while others continue to fall by the wayside. Fear not, for John Chivington, John Evans, William Byers will all play their parts. As will George Bent. All I can say about George, other than “God bless him for what he has given us—you, me, and every other person that gives a hoot about the Cheyenne and Arapaho people while writing about their history during the 1860s owes Bent one hell of a lot. George Bent was one special human being and I pray that I do him justice.” His brother Charles was just as noteworthy but unfortunately his life was way-too-short and poorly documented (other than volumes of fiction; that is naming him leading raids and killing a lot of whites). If a white person under attack (or captured) by a war party heard a warrior speak the English language who do you think they named even though they had never seen that person before (or later) in their lives? You got it: A name they had heard once or twice or nine times before, … George or Charles Bent or Edmund Guerrier or Jack Smith. Without knowing what these young men looked like (by 1864 two were teenagers and two were in their early twenties), but still they were named for killing and raping again and again. All four were accused of many “crimes”* that most likely they never performed. …

* Crimes? A lot of these so-called “crimes” happened in retaliation for military actions that included, among other “crimes,” attacking peaceful villages and murdering Cheyenne leaders who attempted to speak to the soldiers (one of the attacks, that on Sand Creek, also included killing Arapahos, and especially Left Hand, who, like Cheyennes Lean Bear, White Antelope, and Black Kettle who also died violently, did all he could to keep the peace between the races). … Yes, the Cheyennes, Arapahos, and their allies the Sioux (Lakotas) fought to save their families and loved ones, the buffalo, their land, their religion, their language, and their freedom. CRIMES???? Let’s call it war, a war of survival with the end result never in doubt.

As this blog is hopefully giving you yet another taste of what is coming …

… Lets mention the ladies? A few will have supporting (unfortunately small supporting) roles, but they are key to the Sand Creek story. Chuck Rankin and I have discussed bringing them into the story, but there just is not enough information to make any of them full supporting players (much less leading players). This said, there will be a few surprises in the Sand Creek manuscript—good surprises (I promise).

This is artwork for the mini series Centennial (which premiered on American TV in the late 1970s). From left Richard Chamberlain, Robert Conrad, Sally Kellerman, Michael Ansara, and Barbara Carrera. I decided to use this art because there were two-mixed blood Cheyenne brothers in the early episodes of the mini series that represented George and Charles Bent. Played by Stephen McHattie (as the mixed-blood Cheyenne Jacques Pasquinel, and an actor that I thought would become a star as every performance of his that I have seen has been exceptional, including playing the acting legend James Dean) and Kario Salem as the mixed-blood Cheyenne brother Marcel Pasquinel). Their characters were totally fictional, but the two actors and the parts they played were riveting. I want to say a little more here. Richard Chamberlain was a pretty-boy TV star in Dr. Kildare in the early 1960s, but refused to be who he was and studied acting (including classical theater) and recreated himself as a very good actor and he became the king of the mini series. My favorite actress of all time is Gong Li (who is Chinese), and the reason is that she is totally in the moment—she listens, she thinks, and she responds (just like Errol Flynn). There are a lot of actresses that I like, including Barbara Hershey, Olivia de Havilland, Meryl Streep, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Barbara Carerra, among others. Carerra, who is Nicaraguan, was a model, and she is beautiful but not a good actress except in two mini series, Centennial (as the Cheyenne Clay Basket) in 1978-1979 and in Masada with Peter O’Toole (as the Jewish woman Sheva) in 1981.

And this is the same for others who play specific parts but are only fleeting in the flow of the story before they unfortunately exit the story. I have learned how to do this when I wrote The Discovery between January 2014 and April 2016. Some of these players are mixed-blood Tsistsistas (Cheyennes) Edmund Guerrier (mentioned above and an all time favorite of mine), who will soon move into the forefront with an upcoming book on him by a good friend of mine named Dee Cordry (and I do not want to share any information about his his work until he gives me the okay to do so) as will Jack Smith (John Smith’s son, and also mentioned above). Trust me, for there are others.

I’m not ignoring my Indian players, but other than Arapaho Niwot (Left Hand), who, as I said above, I am struggling to find real documentation to confirm his life (don’t ask, for you won’t like what I say), and Arapaho Little Raven. Others who I thought might be leading players are slipping through the cracks of my research. I still hope Dog Man Bull Bear plays a larger role than now anticipated, and ditto Cheyennes White Antelope and Lean Bear. My favorite Dog Man is Tall Bull, but to date I have very little of him during the 1863-1865 timeframe. … Suggestions of where to research these gentlemen are always welcome.

Silas Soule’s wedding photo in April 1865 as restored by LK per the permission of Byron Strom for publication in Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek. Hopefully Byron, who controls the Anne E. Hemphill Collection in Des Moines, Iowa, will again agree to me restoring yet another great image of Silas Soule that must see print.

One white man that I hope whose role can grow is Captain Silas Soule. The reason is twofold: Much that has been written about him to date is bogus. More important he refused to fire his weapons at the Cheyennes and Arapahos camped at Sand Creek on 29nov1864, as did Lieutenant Joseph Cramer, and those of their men who obeyed their orders not to fire on the Indians (as documented in Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek). … Cramer would survive his damning testimony and letter to Wynkoop; Soule would not for he would be murdered in the streets of Denver weeks after his marriage at the beginning of April 1865.

Colonel George Shoup of the Third Colorado Volunteers is a mystery. Can I bring him to life? My fingers are crossed. As they are to bring some of the whites to life in supporting roles who held firm with Chivington’s proclamation: “I stand by Sand Creek.”

William Bent, one of the founders of Bent’s Fort, and more importantly a leading player in the development of the Cheyenne and Arapaho domination of the central plains, their lifeway based upon the buffalo, and their trading to the south, the north, and the east, and their horse-based culture that had evolved less than a century before Sand Creek. A lot of work is coming here, for this man’s life and world is a major part of the story.

These players and the tragic events of November 1864 affected a lot of people during the 1860s, they have affected a lot of people since that tragic day of 29nov1864, and they have affected me for decades.

These people, along with Martin Luther King, Jr., African Americans, Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apaches, and believe it or not the English pirate Francis Drake have played major roles in my writing decisions and my chosen path in my writing life and future.

It is what it is

… And my life is good.

John Smith, Chief Gordon Yellowman, & the Sand Creek massacre

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018

Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blogs


 

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“Sand Creek” (above) is Southern Cheyenne Peace Chief Gordon Yellowman’s interpretation of what happened at the joint Cheyenne and Arapaho village that thought they were at peace with the U.S. military in November 1864. The results of this attack—read butchery—were horrific. For more about Chief Yellowman’s painting see below. (art © Gordon Yellowman 1996)

This is the first time that I have led a blog with artwork and then featured it later in the same blog. The reason is of extreme importance to me.

The Sand Creek tragedy has returned to my life with a vengeance; actually
for some time. Progress is good, but slow (I could give myself a few
nicknames here but won’t for I don’t want any of them to stick).*

And as in the past I have found primary source documentation
that is an eye opener.

To give you an idea of how much, … in the late 1980s I
had outlined a novel with Indian agent Ned Wynkoop
as my chief villain. I had without enough research
added Wynkoop to the list of Indian agents
who robbed their wards while lying to
their U.S. government employers.

One problem: Wynkoop didn’t do
what I originally thought.

I never wrote
that book.

OVER THE LAST 30+ YEARS I’VE LEARNED A LOT,
AND BETTER I LEARN MORE EVERY DAY.

To quote Yogi Bera, the late and great catcher of the NY Yankees
during the Golden Age of Baseball, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”


* Actually a good friend and fellow Errol Flynn biographer, Robert Florczak, has named me “Kit” Kraft, and nothing I say or do has killed this name. Luckily he didn’t choose to call me “Wild Bill” Kraft. For the reason why see: http://www.louiskraftwriter.com/2016/09/17/the-tom-eubanks-louis-kraft-ned-wynkoop-errol-flynn-connection/.

Sand Creek is a story of people

Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway is a story of people creating a future, retaining a lifeway, race relations, survival, and it is of major importance to me. Although I am working in familiar territory this manuscript is 100-fold more difficult to write than any of the previous nonfiction books that I have written.

A short detour

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(book cover art © Louis Kraft 2016)

My recent novel with partner Robert S. Goodman, The Discovery, which took place in Los Angeles over two decades (between 1951 and 1973), presented me with a lot of information that had to be accurate (medical, legal, not to mention historical facts), such as when the 101 Freeway that cuts through the north side of downtown LA, through the Cahuenga Pass and into the San Fernando Valley before continuing north and west as it skirts the Pacific Ocean. For the record it didn’t exist in 1952. CNN news didn’t exist in 1973; I had never watched it (but I do now on the internet). The Discovery had an enormous list of facts that had to be correct. Yeah, that’s right, even when you write fiction you have a responsibility to stick to reality.

When you write nonfiction it is a crime to get creative with facts and distort or change or invent them to support preconceived premises.

Sand Creek hasn’t been easy

What did I say? Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway “is 100-fold more difficult to write”? This is perhaps the truest statement that I have ever made about my writing world. Honestly, this story, and remember I don’t write lists of facts but about people, is a living-breathing nightmare. … My average day? Try five to six or eight hours of research and if I’m lucky two or three or four hours of writing. I’m not talking polishing here, simply trying to get facts that I think are accurate written.

Word-smithing comes later—much later.

I’m approaching the Sand Creek manuscript as a biography but with multiple leading players. The goal is to smoothly flow all the key players’ actions into a storyline that shows what they did without allowing it to turn into a jerked-together mess of telling. As in the past this is a work that is taking longer than anticipated. The plus for me here is that, and as in the past, I have a lot of very knowledgable friends that constantly supply information and run thoughts, questions, and ideas by me. They open my eyes to information that I hadn’t known previously existed, and believe it or not, some of this information has changed my views on key people and their actions.

Dr. Gary Roberts and the beginning of a friendship

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This is Dr. Gary Roberts latest book (Abingdon Press, 2016), and in it he presents well-thought-out insights into to both Colonel John Chivington, who commanded the Colorado Volunteers that attacked the joint Cheyenne and Arapaho village at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864; and the second territorial governor of Colorado, John Evans. His book is available on Amazon.

Lately I’ve been enjoying a round-robin discussion with Gary Roberts, which began when my question of approximately how many miles would the Reverend John Chivington have been able to cover on a normal day’s travel during his first journey to Denver was forwarded to him. Gary kindly dug into it and answered me (and more than once on what he found). This opened an ongoing question-answer-thought provoking conversation that has led to a friendship.

During the last two or so months Gary has also opened my eyes to something that Wynkoop had done that I wasn’t aware of as well as other key questions I’m tracking on Chivington and others, and this includes primary source material on trader and interpreter John Simpson Smith that to date I haven’t been able to get my hands on, and by the way he is proving to be an unexpected surprise. I’ve also been focusing on Arapaho Chief Left Hand, and the more I learn about him the more I wish I knew.

Buddying up to John Simpson Smith

Actions—peoples’ actions—drive how I explore the people in my books, for what they did tells me who they were and what drove them. I cringe when someone tells me who they were. I don’t need opinions of who they were and neither do you. Also, I need to get as close as I can to walking in their shoes, boots, or moccasins as possible. Doing this is the only way I know of to prevent my bias from tarnishing how I present them in my writing. By this I mean that I must view and document their actions as they viewed them.

But first a little of LK and my lady

If you listen to some people who claim to be my friend I’m a loser, a failure, and an evil person. They secretly spread malicious rumors about Pailin’s and my life behind our backs.* For all the things that I’ve done in my life, I’ve done them while thinking that I acted correctly at all times.

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This is my lady and me on the Skywalk above the Grand Canyon in Arizona in late September 2013. We were one then and we are one today. Anyone who says different is a liar and asshole. (photo © Louis Kraft and Pailin Subanna 2013)

* I know a handful of people with Green Cards who are only in the United States to use our country, … that’s right, “to use our country” to their advantage and then desert it. They are by far a small minority, a small headcount, but still they are taking up precious space, headcount, and preventing someone who truly wants to make the USA their home from doing so. I find their actions despicable. Moreover, one of these people has taken my comments on other social media out of context and lied about it for unknown reasons. For the record, Pailin and my life together is one of love and is on course for our ultimate goal—her U.S. citizenship.

What I have just shared about our life is true, and Pailin will obtain her citizenship in the not-too-distant future.

The principle people in my manuscript did what they thought right when they acted

I honestly believe that Black Kettle, John Chivington, Left Hand, Ned Wynkoop, John Evans, Little Raven, George Bent, William Byers, John Smith, Charley Bent, Silas Soule, Edmund Guerrier, George Shoup, Scott Anthony, Tall Bull, and Bull Bear thought that they were right when they did what they did during the 1860s.

And this is exactly what I must do when I write about them.

It will be up to you to decide if you agree with their actions or not.

Finally to Mr. Smith

Alas, some of the players that I thought would have larger roles are shrinking while others are growing. One person, John Simpson Smith, the interpreter and trader that had married into at least two tribes has become a total surprise to me in the second decade of the 21st century. Those of you who read my biography on Ned Wynkoop, have heard my talks or read my articles about him know that Smith and Ned did not get along. This began when Wynkoop, who, along with others in their land development group that had traveled to the gold region near where the city of Denver would be founded, threatened to hang Smith in 1858 if he did not leave the area or join their company.

Have you ever been knocked cold with a sucker punch?
I have, and it affected my life.

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This is a cropping of the famed Camp Weld image that was taken after Governor John Evans and Colonel John Chivington met with Cheyenne and Arapaho leaders that Major Edward (Ned) Wynkoop (kneeling left) escorted to Denver in late September 1864 after he had met with them on a tributary of the Smoky Hill River in Kansas earlier that month. This is not the image that I used in Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek, but is a cropped version of the original by an unknown person. Sitting directly behind Wynkoop is Southern Cheyenne Peace Chief Black Kettle (and who, with the Chiricahua Apache war leader Geronimo, I would gladly trade one year of my remaining life to be able to spend two weeks with these gentlemen). John Smith is standing left behind Black Kettle. The meeting on the Smoky Hill tributary was the first time that Smith and Wynkoop worked together after Wynkoop insisted that Smith translate for him at Fort Lyon at the beginning of the month (and this was their first connection since the threat of hanging Smith in 1858). Wynkoop needed an interpreter and he had only one choice—Smith. The events of September 1864 led to a four-year working relationship that neither Smith nor Wynkoop wanted. That month also began Wynkoop’s friendship with Black Kettle, a friendship that led to his turning his back on racial prejudice and accepting Cheyennes and Arapahos as human beings. … That is Captain Silas Soule kneeling next to Wynkoop. He was forced to participate in the attack on the Sand Creek village (Wynkoop wasn’t present at the attack as he was in transit to Kansas to await a potential court-martial). At Sand Creek Soule refused to fire his weapons. In 1864 he spoke out about the savage and brutal mutilation of men, women, and children and in 1865 testified about the attack. He was murdered in the streets of Denver in April 1865.

Don’t you doubt for one minute that the threat of death did not affect John Smith in the coming years. Don’t you doubt that he never forgave Wynkoop and the others that threatened his life. Almost six years later events forced Smith and Wynkoop to work together, and they would do so for another four years. Neither Smith nor Wynkoop liked or wanted this relationship, but they made the best of it. Knowing my connection with Wynkoop over the years, it’s a safe bet that my view of Mr. Smith has been less than sparkling. But times change with deeper research and understanding of people’s actions. … While struggling to understand how the people that I have chosen to propel Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway toward conclusion I’ve found Smith to be a major player. Every time I turn around there he is again.

Damn you Smith! Go away and hide!
You’re gobbling up precious word count.

Too many historians tell us how bad a person John Smith was, but alas they don’t do much showing us why they damn him to hell as an evil creature. They make no attempt to understand his actions or the actions that affected his life. This said I am in the middle of trying to find primary source material that proves beyond a doubt why the Arapahos wanted nothing to do with him. This is absolutely key and I must locate it. … ‘Course Mr. Smith, who walked between the races for decades, survived as a key U.S. interpreter for Wynkoop and even more impressive as the interpreter for all the Cheyenne-U.S. treaties. If he was the “liar” as some historians proclaim, why didn’t he end up with a knife in his guts, why weren’t his sexual organs hacked off, and why didn’t he meet a sudden end?

Let’s return to my belief that actions define a person and when documented allow readers to decide how they view the person being examined.

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LK art of a debonair John Smith in the early 1860s. If I use this image in the Sand Creek book I need to improve the final product for it needs more work. (art © Louis Kraft 2016)

The book contract allows me 37 images, and currently I’m planning to have three maps. That leaves 34 images, and at the moment at least three could feature Smith. … And this is because I am discovering a man who had a lot more to offer than his less than sparkling relations with Wynkoop. … I try not to repeat images in my books, but one will definitely be reprinted in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, and that is the Camp Weld image of Black Kettle, Bull Bear, Neva, John Smith, Silas Soule, and Ned Wynkoop that was taken shortly after Governor John Evans, Colonel John Chivington, Black Kettle, and other chiefs spoke on 28sept1864 (see the above group shot). Most likely only one of the other Smith images will make it into the final book, but whichever one makes the final cut will be of massive importance.

What I know to date is that every image that I have seen of John Smith was taken when he was in a controlled area and was dressed in dapper clothing. Ladies and gents, John Smith walked between the races and he married American Indian women. It is not a huge stretch to surmise that he did so because he loved them (and perhaps because he saw that an interracial marriage presented him with an opportunity to trade with the Cheyennes). Yes, he could have married them because he thought that by doing so would have opened a large door of trading with native people, but this is a stretch in today’s thinking and an even larger stretch during Smith’s lifetime. … John Smith ventured westward at the time of the trappers, and although marrying into one tribe might have saved his scalp with the people he chose to marry into it didn’t preserve it in the eyes of all the tribes at war with his new wife’s people. What did John Smith gain from such a marriage? Yes, when the day of trapping neared its end might have been reason for such an interracial marriage, but to date I haven’t been privy to Smith’s views on his marriages (if indeed they exist somewhere; alas, this is unlikely). Did Smith know that he would become an Indian trader? Probably yes, but also maybe no. … Like rebels of our time he didn’t fit in with his time. Before taking that huge step and marrying an American Indian woman he knew that such a relationship would immediately cast him as an outsider to his own race, and a man to be scorned. Without a doubt he came to respect the Indians he associated with, and especially the Cheyennes (again, I have seen zero proof in Smith’s words, but I do believe there is enough documentation of his actions to support this view). Add the correct woman, and Smith gladly accepted a racial marriage at a time when it was almost universally rejected. This was a brave decision by him, and one that he had to have made with his eyes wide open.

A possible dust jacket

I have at times used an image of a photo that I took of the Pawnee Fork village site in Kansas to represent Sand Creek. I did this to use a dark representation of a horrific murder of people who thought that they were under the protection of the U.S. military.

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This image was created from a photo that I had taken of a Cheyenne re-enactor village on the Pawnee Fork village site in Kansas in modern times. I had turned it into line art, darkened the image and have at times used it to represent the 1864 Sand Creek village. My friend and historian Eric Niderost has panned me for using this image more than once, and he’s right. Still I needed an image to represent the Sand Creek village. Not to worry for this image will never appear in any of my books. (art © Louis Kraft 2013)

I’m having a terrible time trying to come up with a good illustration for the cover of Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. I hate the way-over used painting by Robert Lindneux of the assault that resulted in the murder of way-too-many innocent people at Sand Creek (as I don’t think that it is accurate). … As you know, I dabble in art for my articles and books but I have absolutely nothing that could possibly represent my Sand Creek manuscript.

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LK with Southern Cheyenne Peace Chief Gordon Yellowman at the conclusion of the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site symposium on 12nov2011 (this is the correct date). (photo courtesy of the Washita Battlefield NHS)

For the record I also hate dust jackets that have a bunch of portraits (photos or art). In the case of Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway an assembly of Black Kettle, John Chivingrton, George Bent, John Evans, Little Raven, Ned Wynkoop, George Shoup, William Bent, William Byers, Bull Bear, Silas Soule but without key player Left Hand as we don’t know what he looked like, would be pure crap. These covers tell us nothing, and as far as I’m concerned they were created because the writer had no opinion and the art director at the publishing house was clueless.

What do I currently have? Nada (Nothing).

Or do I? … There is a print that I purchased, framed, and then hung in Tujunga House as soon as I returned home from my first Fort Larned National Historic Site speaking engagement in Kansas in 1999. It was at that event when I first met Southern Cheyenne Peace Chief Gordon Yellowman, who also spoke at the event. His art is a great rendering of that tragic day of the butchery of innocent people.

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This magnificent painting was created by Chief Gordon Yellowman. In my humble opinion it says everything we need to know about that tragic day of November 29, 1864, in Colorado Territory. (art © Gordon Yellowman 1996)

There’s one problem, and it is a major one, Chief Yellowman’s painting is landscape where most book cover jacket artwork is portrait. How do I deal with this? … I think I know the answer, but I can’t/won’t deal with it until Editor-in-Chief Chuck Rankin and OU Press are in line with my tardy text delivery. I was slow and took forever to deliver Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek. With luck all will be good with my Sand Creek manuscript delivery. When Chuck and I agree with my current manuscript, and not until then, my focus must be on the research and words. Until then nothing else counts, for if my words and storyline fail there is no book.

A printable manuscript is absolutely mandatory before we move into the publication process. To repeat myself, until Chuck and I agree that the manuscript is ready to go to press, and only then, it is not time for me to move forward into a world that I have at times not been welcome. … Over the years I’ve had some book covers that I like, and have played a part in a number of the covers. I designed Custer and the Cheyenne (nothing more need be said here), I created the art for Gatewood & Geronimo, it was upon my insistence to use the 1861 Wynkoop portrait and colorize or duotone it for Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek, and I created the art and designed the book cover for The Discovery.

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LK with OU Press Editor-in-Chief Chuck Rankin at the Western History Association convention in Oakland, California, on 15oct2011. OU Press created the poster for Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (seen behind us) for the event. Chuck kindly gave it to me, I had it framed, and it is displayed at Tujunga House. (photo © Louis Kraft & Chuck Rankin 2011)

I know, the above sounds egotistical. It isn’t, for I’ve played a major role in over 200 other book covers (that don’t count for they were in the software world), and that doesn’t include the five or six that I designed for Upton and Sons, Publishers, in El Segundo, California. Give me a break! I know what is good design and I know what is bad design, and that said I’ll never push for bad design for any of my freelance books. Never! And you can take that to the bank.

You can bet that once Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway moves into production, and Chuck and crew are in agreement with my view of Chief Yellowman’s art, I will approach Gordon. When we get to this point, hopefully he’ll agree that his art would make a magnificent book cover. But, and this is important, if the press’s art director insists that Gordon’s art won’t work because it is landscape I will approach Gordon to see if we could compromise. BTW, my playing with size proportions and using the Wynkoop book dimensions lead me to believe that we can use Gordon’s entire painting with small black bleeds to the left and right, a slightly larger bleed above the top, and a larger bleed below his art for the title and author credit.

I’m a firm believer in reaching for the stars. …

Finally a dark side that we cannot ignore

Our life, and ultimately our future, is based upon our past. It is on us to correctly document our history (and I’m talking about your history and my history). If we can’t honestly do this how can we move into our future? We need to know who we are and how and why we have become who we are. … We live on one earth, and we are but one people even though our colors, religions, politics, and races are different. The key here is people, one people—us. It is on us to get beyond all our greed and fears and hatreds and accept all of us as one. … For only then will we get beyond attacking and raping and murdering other people because their god is different, they have land and resources that we crave, and that we must decimate or dominate them to insure our freedom and safety.

Again, we are one people on one earth. If we fuck it up, or if they fuck it up—we all lose.

Announcing The Discovery, the Green Day Spa + hatred & racism

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018

Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blogs


The Protestant pirate Francis Drake was a Catholic priest.
Errol Flynn was the birth father of Elvis Presley.

I don’t know what to say, other than if you are going to talk about something (such as the fictitious absurdities listed above) do yourself a favor, and do some research before you open your mouth and stuff your foot in it. …

If anyone thinks that I am talking about them, guess what?—I am.

Personal attacks on LK

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Over the years my great friend Glen Williams has taken many reality and publicity shots of LK. This image was taken at Mission San Fernando Ray de España (one of the 21 missions that the Spanish established in early California). Here it represents LK walking out of the dark (here represented as light) and away from racial persecution. (photo © Glen Williams & Louis Kraft 2012)

Actually just a week or two past it got a lot worse than the above, for racial hatred spewed forth with violent and foul words and it was directed at me (for a previous post, “Gatewood & Geronimo live”). … My mother and father were not racially prejudiced (actually they had an open door to anyone). This influenced my early life (I marched for Martin Luther King Jr. locally, and lived and worked with African Americans in Oklahoma City while a member of VISTA) and later impacted me to the extent that when I decided to become a writer much of what I would write about dealt with human relations and race. This would be a career choice that wouldn’t earn a lot of money but has always been alive within me and will be so until my life on this world ends (Beyond that? Someday I’ll know.). The words, actually five separate comments attached to the Gatewood/Geronimo blog, were written in such a heinous manner that if they had been painted on Tujunga House they would been investigated by authorities as a hate crime. I saved the five comments for future use (if needed) but then turned the links into spam. Elsewhere on social media I spoke about these hateful words and received marvelous thoughts and comments from friends who are truly friends.

I have begun to believe that there is a Kraft curse: If I create something—nonfiction or fiction, a talk, a play—people take offense. How dare you deal with race relations? How dare you speak up for Cheyennes, Apaches, or other people such as Asians or African Americans? These people aren’t interested in listening to or reading anything that deals with racial or human relations that disagrees with their jaded views, views that focus on destroying anything that they reject.

One person, without reading a word of The Discovery as it hadn’t been published, attacked me on social media (she didn’t attack my partner Robert Goodman, but trust me, if she wasn’t so focused on the target that she placed on my back she would have). I hate to say it, but there are so many people on social media today that jump at the opportunity to destroy books, films, actors, singers, sports figures, and normal people, that it is unbelievable. These people are bent upon attacking. Yep, that’s right. This person and others often don’t know what the bleep they’re talking about, but they are up front and center in their desire to bad-mouth anything that catches their fancy (or should I say their sexist or racist upbringing). … I guess that this is the new American way. If yes, what a sad future our children face.

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LK pondering his world at Tujunga House, a world that at times is extremely dark, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. (photo © Louis Kraft 2014)

Are these people human beings? I’m chuckling, for this isn’t a valid question. Moreover, you don’t want to hear my answer to this question. Heck, I guess I just answered it. No, they aren’t. They are just like some of the cretins that run for election nowadays. What happened to “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”?

(I have a lot to say about the above quote, but it should have a blog all to itself.)

I have a lot of words to say about these creatures, but they aren’t worth five minutes of your time. They charge me with racism and sexism, but they are the racists and sexists. These accusations have been made without seeing one of my plays, listening to one of my talks (although some have been present at talks, probably with their ears plugged; some of these talks are available on the internet), or reading any of my articles or books. Are their comments valid? No! They are the new Americans—trash masters (if you will)—searching for prey without any understanding or knowledge of their current target because they have an agenda, and like vampires thirst for blood.

Most of these people I don’t know, but some are acquaintances or perhaps friends at one time (but, alas, they are no longer, or most likely never were). This is one of the major lessons that I have learned in life—that it consists of constant change, … and most importantly that heinous people who attack without knowledge of subject matter are not human beings. … What is to come? Don’t know, but it won’t be in this blog.

**********

I know; a strange intro to the publication of The Discovery.
I didn’t mean to write the above, but sometimes comments not based upon facts and directed at myself are so biased and hateful or worse that my head spins.

What I write about

I write about subjects that I think are important, and always I write about relationships—relationships between people. Of extreme importance are relationships between people of different races that dare to risk their lives to prevent or end violence and attempt to stop heinous crimes upon humanity.

The Discovery is not a book that deals with race relations and horrendous murder and sexual mutilation of people of different colors and religious beliefs. That said, it is a story that is just as valid for it deals with life experiences that can make or destroy lives. Although The Discovery is a period piece set in the not-too-distant past (1951-1973), it focuses on a very important subject in our lives today—the medical world, and to be more specific, malpractice.

cookCell_boggsKill_Indian_collage_july15_wsDo I dare say that many of us have strong feelings about the medical world, and in particular pharmaceuticals? You bet, for I certainly do. For the record I have already forked out over twice what I paid in 2015 for medicinal drugs (and the outflow of cash ain’t a gonna stop). Add that my all-time favorite novelist is Robin Cook, the physician turned novelist, who almost single-handedly created the medical thriller. His stories are page turners, and his best efforts scare the bejesus out of me when his leading players become entwined within a medical horror that Cook pulls from the front pages of the American press. Right there with Cook is Johnny D. Boggs. Boggs doesn’t write what I would call thrillers, but his plots are extremely well crafted, his dialogue extraordinary, and his characters are a joy to behold. His stories are also page turners. I highly recommend both of these fine writers to you.

The Discovery is actually a character study of a number of people whose lives become entangled due an event that happened in 1952. Dialogue and character are absolute musts for a novel to succeed. However, I had another challenge with The Discovery: How do I keep the story moving forward while seamlessly moving between the players and the passage of time while not losing focus to what is really happening. It took some time to figure this out. Oh, there was one thing that I knew was an absolute necessity—I needed to write the book as a thriller.

If you are like me, your free reading, that is pleasure reading (and I have little time for this), is at night after preparing for bed (about a one and a half hour task for me) when I have a half hour or so to settle down and enjoy another writer’s prose before turning off the lights. I both curse when I can’t put the book down when time’s speeding by and I’m getting up at four or five while at the same time love it for the current writer’s story has grabbed hold of my soul and it won’t let go.

Why The Discovery?

Opportunity.

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Robert S. Goodman MD, internist and cardiologist, in his Tarzana, Calif., office in 2014. (photo © Louis Kraft 2014)

A little more than a couple of years back I partnered with a physician named Robert S. Goodman to write and polish a great story idea that he had created.

Robert (Bob to me) had a firm view on how he wanted The Discovery to be published, and I agreed to his desires. This means that it is a “trade paperback” book. It was mandatory that I announce The Discovery’s publication early for personal reasons. That said, the trade paperback is available for purchase on Amazon now, as is the Kindle eBook.

At the end of 2013 I began taking Bob’s idea and rough draft and turning the characters into living and breathing players, as well as expanding the dialogue and the plot. This would place a good portion of my life and my writing world on hold (but not completely, for great strides have been made with Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway research and writing*). Although this is hard to say, everything that has happened has been for the good as I am a better writer in 2016 than I was at the end of 2013. There are two reasons: Working on The Discovery and on the LK blogs. Don’t snicker, for ’tis true.

* Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway may perhaps be the most important book that I ever write. As you know, I’m a biographer who focuses on key times in the lives of the people I write about. The Sand Creek story will be different, but not a huge step from what I usually write, for my editor at OU Press (Chuck Rankin) and I worked out a story line that was acceptable to both of us. That is, I’ll show (“SHOW” and not tell) the story from the point of view of all the major participants in the lead-up to the attack on a Cheyenne-Arapaho village at Sand Creek, Colorado Territory, in November 1864, the attack, and the aftermath. This is basically biography but on a larger scale. The key will be to smoothly transition from one participant to the next as the story moves forward.

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LK with OU Press editor-in-chief Chuck Rankin at the 2011 Western History Association convention in Oakland, Calif., where Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek was introduced to the public. The poster for the book is behind Chuck and I; he gave it to me, I framed it, and it is now displayed in my living room. The Wynkoop book is directly responsible for Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. (photo © Louis Kraft 2011)

There aren’t that many villains in our world, for most people truly believe that what they do is correct when they do it. (Everyone has their own point-of-view depending upon their life and culture and act accordingly. That doesn’t make them evil because I don’t agree with them or their actions, and conversely I’m not evil because my views and actions are in conflict with their culture, religion, or politics. That said the murder of innocent people can never be condoned regardless of the point-of-view.) … There are out-and-out villains, such as Charles Manson (who I had a connection to without realizing it at the time, due to my motorcycle riding) and Ted Bundy (the last project I worked on—film or TV—was a miniseries on Bundy called The Deliberate Stranger in the mid-1980s). … If I do my part correctly in the Sand Creek project you will be able to make your own decision about the key players in the story, based upon their actions. Again, the key is to show and not tell.

I’m back on The Discovery.

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This image of LK in the Ventura News Chronicle (actually the cover to the paper’s entertainment section) dates to April 1992 when The Final Showdown was published. “T.O.” stands for Thousand Oaks, Calif. There is a major story here (but not for this blog).

Have you ever heard Yogi Berra’s quote, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”? He was the great NY Yankee catcher from the golden age of Baseball (the 1950s), and his words certainly apply to me.

The Discovery has been a long process for me. You would faint if you knew how many hours, but all the work, that is, the process, has been worth every hour or day that it has cost me. Creative work is always about the process: That is the research, writing, rewriting, rewriting, editing, additional research, more rewriting and editing. This is an ongoing activity (which in my case always includes a multitude of people who help me during the process) until the product is printed or presented or performed. … It isn’t about awards or money (although they are nice, especially $$$, which for me is always a major reason to begin a project) but for me it is the attempt to discover what happened while not blindly restating historical errors that lazy historians who don’t do real research continue to reprint. This often includes months and even years of research, which is ongoing until a project reaches fruition.

Just about everything that I write is interconnected in one way or another. … The Discovery is the lone exception.

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As said above, I pushed the envelope in The Discovery. … Violence is harsh and deadly; love, infidelity, and sex are real; the story could happen and lives could plummet to disaster.

What The Discovery and the blogs have cost me in time, they have repaid in dividends to my future writing. Huh? That’s right—major dividends. Everything that LK writes in the future will be better multiple times over because of the recent past. That is an egotistical statement, but oh so true.

Constructive criticism is the most important thing
that writers, actors, artists can receive.

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LK with Bob Goodman at Flemings in Woodland Hills, Calif., on 26june2014. For the record, I’m kneeling on the floor. Doris & Bob Goodman and Pailin & LK had a great time that evening. (photo © Louis Kraft 2014)

Certainly Doris, Bob’s wife, and other family members, contributed to Bob’s initial story idea and made valid comments when the manuscript neared completion. Others, mainly Susan Snipes, a malpractice attorney, who provided important information regarding legal ramifications of the story’s lawsuit and the statute of limitations in California; and Joel Goldman, a Los Angeles civil attorney, who also advised and provided additional statute of limitations documentation.

Three talented and professional friends helped me fine-tune The Discovery’s 122,000 words, Veronica Von Bernath Morra (a retired nurse and journalist), Glen Williams (a senior manager of engineering departments that operated a global telecommunications network), and David DeWitt (an Errol Flynn expert, author, and website specialist). Another talented friend, Sherry Weng (an engineer), provided superb commentary on the rear cover. Writers and artists depend upon constructive criticism, and these people have improved the manuscript and cover copy immensely. I’ll always be grateful for their efforts. They have done for me what every writer and artist must desire and cherish—constructive criticism. My friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

A medical example, plus a little about Bob Goodman and myself

Over the years I have heard way-too-many people talk dirt about medicine. Medicine is an art form based upon science in which decisions must be made. Sometimes they are wrong, but often they are right on target.

For example, about three-quarters of a year before my sister died in 2006 (and if I’m off on my dating here, the following incident would have taken place a year and a quarter before the end of her life). Linda and her absolutely marvelous husband, Greg Morgon, invited a couple over for dinner. After eating Linda didn’t feel well and went to bed. After their guests left Greg checked on her. She was burning up with fever and he rushed her to emergency. From here she was transported to a hospital in the lowlands (they lived in the mountains at Lake Arrowhead, California) that could deal with what had happened to her. Actually there were a lot of doctors involved—so many that I couldn’t keep track of them. As Linda’s condition worsened, doctors and specialists couldn’t figure out what had happened, what had attacked her, or had invaded her immune system (at this time Linda was struggling with the cancer that would eventually kill her).

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Linda and Greg were to visit Tujunga House for Christmas 2005. Unfortunately I was under the weather and called it off. Reason: Linda’s immune system was at risk. Early in 2006 she called me and told me that her liver no longer functioned. “Can they fix it?” “No.” “What does this mean?” “I will die soon.” On January 15, 2006, Linda and I celebrated our last Christmas together at her home in Lake Arrowhead, Calif. This was a special day for me. She died on March 1, 2006. (photo © Louis Kraft 2006)

My beautiful sister was slender, but no longer. She puffed out and blew up as if her entire body was a balloon. And worse, all of her skin turned beet red. Shortly after this happened she dropped into a coma. After several days of this, and with the experts not able to figure out what was happening, one of the main doctors on her case, a female (I don’t remember her name), told Greg and I that there was nothing medical science could do and that we needed to prepare for the inevitable.

Days passed, but still Linda lived. One of the doctor’s on her case decided to put her on 24/7 dialysis. This went on for about a week. Then, suddenly, her skin began to return to her normal color, the ballooning of her body went away, and she woke up.

The doctors never figured out what had attacked her system.

A lot of medical bad mouthing

Ladies and gents, to repeat myself I have heard a lot of medical bad mouthing over the years. Although I have no intention of commenting on this statement I want to tell you something, and that is: If it wasn’t for my doctors I would have long ago ceased to exist.

I think that you need to know a little about my partner Bob Goodman. He has been one of my principal doctors for over 25 years. More important, if it wasn’t for him my life probably would have ended in 2003 (another physician, Malcolm D. Cosgrove, also played a major role in my continuing to enjoy life).

Bob Goodman

I’m guessing here, but I believe that I met Bob Goodman sometime around 1986, the year that my father-in-law Dr. John I. McGirr closed his practice (more below).

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LK’s father-in-law John McGirr on the golf course in Calabasas, Calif., in the mid-1970s. He loved golf, and throughout his life he was a very fit man. More important, he always treated me well. I miss him. (photo © J.L. McGirr mid-1970s)

At that time I had landed my first straight job (after talking my way into the position by guaranteeing that I could learn how to use a corporate insurance brokerage firm’s computers in two weeks, and at that time I had never touched a computer in my life). Yeah, I’m cocky.

Although I had lost all of the free medical attention that I had had during John McGirr’s practicing life (such as my daughter’s birth at the Tarzana Medical Center—now Providence Tarzana Medical Center, one of the top 100 hospitals in the United States in 2015—which was 100 percent free), I had, in Bob, a physician who cared about his patients and did all he could to ensure their well being. Me finding Bob was pure luck, for I had many PPO physicians to choose from. Luckily I chose him.

And it goes beyond Bob, for I also met, knew, and worked with his beautiful wife Doris. What a sweetheart! I love her! Just like Bob, she has always been there for me. …

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Pailin (center) with Doris and Bob Goodman at Flemings in Woodland Hills, Calif., on 26june2014. (photo © Louis Kraft 2014)

This leads us to a very important plot point as related to The Discovery, which is about a physician and his gorgeous wife (Harry and Helen Chapman). You need to know now and right up front that when I write fiction or screenplays I base my characters upon real people but then let my imagination take over. That said, Bob and Doris are not Harry and Helen. … for Harry and Helen are totally fictional people that Bob and I have created.

LK

Some people know a little about my medical background, but not many. Over the years I’ve had somewhere between 15 and 16 operations (sorry, but I’ve lost count), and the next one will be this April. Most weren’t life threatening, but a few were. After a 2003 operation that saved my life, there were immediate complications and the day after the surgery a neurologist (and I’ve had a number of them) told me that I wouldn’t walk in the near future. I told him to F— himself. It’s been a painful fight but I’m still walking.

For the record I have had six major physicians that play a key role in my life (seven, if you count my long-deceased father-in-law, John McGirr, who died in 1987 … and I do miss his intelligence, his kindness, his interest in me, our adventures together, and his golf, which he loved). These gentlemen, these practitioners, have become my friends. They answer all my questions using words that I understand. Often they go way beyond what is required of them and help me to keep my health in so many ways (and Bob Goodman and Malcolm Cosgrove are at the top of this list).

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At the time of Parks’ Then Came Bronson series Harley Davidson gave away this poster. It is huge, much larger than film one-sheets. Alas, I need a taller wall; perhaps in Santa Fe (N. Mex.) or Ecuador or Southern Spain. Time will tell.

My initial writing training was writing screenplays for an agent (who took me under his wing), followed by one of the writer/producers of Then Came Bronson, the great Michael Parks 1969-1970 TV show about a loner looking for an identity as he traveled throughout the American West on a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

These two gentlemen, Ed Menerth and Bob Sabaroff (both of whom I have no images) spent a lot of time with me and my drafts. They made the effort to markup a lot of my screenplay drafts and spent hours discussing them with me. We talked about plot and character and dialogue. This was not a short time period but somewhere between five and six years. Ed was extremely detailed and at times we met weekly and worked deep into the night. I can’t begin to tell you how many hours Ed and Bob put into marking up my drafts and spending prime time with me to verbally review my scripts. Once Ed was satisfied with a draft it went on the market. … Bob was different in that he didn’t represent my work. I met him, as I had others through interviews, acting jobs, or personal connections. He was a big, burly fellow with a petite lady. When we first met we liked each other immediately, and like Menerth, he took me under his wing. His objective was not to sell one of my screenplays but, if possible, to produce it.

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This is Jürgen Prochnow, who played the U-Boat commander in the great German film, Das Boot (1981). Unfortunately his U.S. film career did not take off. That said, he would have been perfect casting as the U-boat commander in Wonderboat. For the record, “Wonderboat” refers to a much-advanced U-Boat that German engineers were creating. In 1945 their hope was that this vessel could perhaps save Germany, which was then nose-diving toward disaster. Time ran out and the hoped-for armada of wonderboats never had the chance to perhaps change history. The LK Wonderboat script deals with racism & hope; success at sea & failure; loyalty to country & standing up to evil; love & tragedy; … and most important, it is anti-war. If ever you desire to read the Wonderboat script it is housed at the Louis Kraft Collection in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Ed and I came close to selling or optioning a number of screenplays but failed (the closest for him was to Rory Calhoun at the end of his acting career and for me to Richard Thomas (John-Boy of The Waltons TV fame), who I had a good working friendship with for several years). Bob fell in love with Wonderboat, which dealt with the destruction of Germany during WWII as seen through the eyes of a U-Boat commander who had a Jewish girlfriend. Bob asked me to move the story to WWI and remove the Nazi/Jewish portion of the story. I told him that I couldn’t do this as the entire story was based upon historic facts about WWII and the German U-boat war. More important, I told him that it was a story not only about the war but race relations and the German people (in this case a good portion of the U-Boat commanders that fought for their country but were disgusted with events that surrounded them in their Homeland). This would end my working relationship with Sabaroff, and eventually our friendship as he wasn’t pleased with me standing up to him and saying “no.”

Surprisingly the Wonderboat script would also mark the end of my relationship with Menerth in 1982 (he had been my agent since 1976).

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LK with the evil Jeff Richards during the duel that I choreographed for the 1981-1982 tour of The Prince and the Pauper. Late in the play’s run Jeff went up during the duel, but instead of returning to calling out numbers, that is blade cuts and parries, he attacked and sliced me just below my left eye. I was livid, and after the performance the other actors had to keep us apart (I’ll deal with this in the memoir). (photo © Louis Kraft 1981)

In 1981-1982 I played Miles Hendon in a 135-performance tour of The Prince and the Pauper in Northern California. The actors had Sundays off. While living on the east side of San Francisco Bay in 1982 I took BART, SF’s subway system, under the water to the city proper and saw the great German anti-war film that dealt with a single U-Boat voyage that had recently opened, Das Boot. This was about a year after I completed the final draft of Wonderboat, which Menerth loved. There was one problem, he told me that he couldn’t sell the script due to the subject matter. Das Boot became a major success in the United States. When I left the tour after 135 performances, and I did enjoy playing Hendon and performing a sword fight on stage, I fired Menerth. … There would be two additional screenplay agents but they didn’t work out.

What I write about redux …

You know what I write about; race relations during the 1860s and 1880s on the American frontier. Mostly nonfiction but some fiction and plays. As stated above, next up is Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, which will be followed by Errol & Olivia (the first of three nonfiction books on Errol Flynn; Olivia is Olivia de Havilland). Also in the mix is a nonfiction book on Kit Carson and Indians (sorry, but I need to be vague here), and a memoir (which is no secret, as I use the blogs to explore my life). Also, and this is not farfetched, there might be two books on the pirate Francis Drake in my future (like Flynn and Carson, I gobble up everything I can get my hands on in regards to Drake). Ladies and gents, that is a lot of words and a lot of time on my part. That said, I have every intention of squeezing in fiction after Errol & Olivia (the first will be a Kit Carson/Indians story, which is not related to the nonfiction book).

There you are: LK’s writing future in a nutshell.

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There are three major holidays in my life: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Christmas and Easter gave me Christianity and my religion (along with my mother’s influence and the Catholic, Lutheran, and Methodist churches). I hate to say it, but people that I know damn me to hell as I don’t cherish Jesus Christ and God exactly as they do. I do not want to say anything about these people, for their lives are theirs, … and mine is mine. I know Jesus and God and I talk to them every day. This image was taken on 27mar2016 (Easter). My mother’s mother and my grandmother (Clara Small) gave me the portrait of Jesus (in the background) when I was a little boy. I have cherished it ever since, and it has been the major image in my dinning room at Tujunga House for many-many years. One other thing: I believe that all people have the right to cherish and pray to their God and not be persecuted, raped, or murdered because their God is different from mine … or anyone else’s God. (photo © Louis Kraft 2016)

In the middle 1980s I got tired of writing screenplays for free and  began selling magazine articles that would range from travel to baseball to the American Indian wars, and then film legend Errol Flynn. This would lead to my first published novel The Final Showdown and a contracted novel that exploded in disaster when the publishing house broke our contract (this has been discussed elsewhere in the blogs). This disaster moved me quickly into nonfiction (Custer, Stone Forehead, Cheyennes; Charles Gatewood, Geronimo, Apaches—two books; Ned Wynkoop, Black Kettle, Cheyennes of which Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway is the follow-up, and luckily for me Chuck Rankin knew this and pushed for us to work out a storyline that would be acceptable to both of us).

A special part of LK’s world times two

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LK with Tomas Jaehn at the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library in Santa Fe on 15Sept2004 after my talk on “Cheyenne Agent Edward Wynkoop’s 1867 Fight to Prevent War.” Tomas and I had known each other for years, he had created the Louis Kraft Collection at the Chávez, and by this time we were good friends. (photo © Louis Kraft 2004)

Tomas Jaehn recently visited SoCal and we were able to enjoy time together as we drank Korean tea with ginseng and ate chicken cooked with Pailin’s Salsa Verde; salad with Italian dressing made from scratch with balsamic vinegar, virgin olive oil, water, and seasoning; and rolls. Believe it or not, ol’ LK is a decent cook. I showed him the printed proof of The Discovery (which he wanted to take to Santa Fe, but I said no as it was a proof and not the printed book) along with the daguerreotype of Wynkoop that I featured in Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (2011). This daguerreotype will someday be a part of the Louis Kraft Collection at the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library. I also talked about three magazines that I gave him to take to Santa Fe and add to the Collection (the recent Wild West Geronimo cover story, an Army magazine article in On Point and written by friend Col. Paul Fardink, retired, which features an LK interview turned into prose that is over half of the article; and a Johnny Boggs 2014 True West article on Sand Creek with cool LK quotes that I thought would be censored out of the final product as they were to the point and perhaps shocking). Good times for two friends and the day ended too quickly.

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Jasmine Koomroongroj, Sabrina, Pailin, and the Green Day Spa …

greenDaySpaCARD_wsLK’s days are limited. Hopefully not in life or in Los Angeles. (Huh? Nada; I didn’t say that!) I have a lot to do yet and Los Angeles is like no other city (for example: It is gold mine for anyone writing about Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland). I should add—and this is important—that there are more Thai people living in Los Angeles than in the rest of the USA (also there are more different races of people living in LA than in any other city in the USA), but more important is that Pailin loves living in the City of the Angels. She has a wonderful community of friends and plenty of massage customers who adore her, and now she is a part owner of the Green Day Spa.

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LK with Sabrina Subanna and Pailin Subanna-Kraft early on the morning of 15apr16 at Tujunga House. Good times for all of us, and certainly for LK. Pailin and Sabrina are related and in my eyes are like sisters. Certainly these are two of the three most-important people in my life (the third being my daughter). Every minute that I am lucky to spend with them is pure joy. (photo Sabrina Subanna, Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2016)

Jasmine Koomroongroj, Sabrina, and Pailin have created a wonderful Thai massage experience at the Green Day Spa. All three excel at deep tissue massages. Sabrina is perhaps the best deep massage artist in Los Angeles, and Jasmine and Pailin are right there with her. … Pailin is a happy and proud lady and I love it.

The door that The Discovery opened

Bob Goodman opened the door to my early return to fiction in 2013, and I jumped on it.

Two plus years with The Discovery (while partially writing and big-time researching the Sand Creek manuscript) … great times for LK.

But as my publishers know, I do not move quickly, and so now does Bob Goodman. I care about each and every one of my freelance projects, and I do everything possible to make the printed manuscript as good as possible (while making set deadlines).

That said, it is for the readers—you—to decide if an article, book, blog, play, or talk is decent. The Discovery has been a major piece of my life. I hope that if you read my collaboration with Bob that you enjoy the story. Comments are always welcome, especially if they are constructive.

Finally, a blurb about THE DISCOVERY

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The book proof of the front cover art and design for The Discovery. (© Louis Kraft 2016)

Harry Chapman, a physician beginning his career, delivered a young indigent woman’s child in 1952. Facts about that birth remained dormant for 20 years. But then, in 1972, an unexpected encounter set in motion a number of events that would impact Chapman’s life, and in ways he never imagined possible. By now, Harry is a successful and honored physician, and perhaps the top OB/GYN practitioner in Los Angeles. Although unknown to him, his world would begin to fall apart when Greg Weston, a young man he doesn’t know, is persuaded by girlfriend Gail Gordon to explore his past—that is, being blind at birth. Greg works for a law firm and knows how to obtain documents. What he discovers infuriates him and he presses forward and presents what he has found to his boss, Hal Winslow, a top malpractice lawyer. Winslow agrees that they have a case, and this initiates a domino effect that will affect a number of lives. Most notably Harry Chapman but also his wife Helen and their family; Harry’s best friend and lawyer, Sid Shapiro; golf pro Phil Rogers; Greg’s birth mother Laura Smith; and even Greg and Gail. … As the case moves toward trial in Los Angeles Superior Court Chapman is shocked by the accusations and what he learns. Bad turns to worse, and Harry secures the services of top malpractice defense attorney Tom Loman, but this is just the beginning of what happened in 1952 for now millions of dollars are at stake. … Add los Niños, the most feared Latino street gang in Los Angeles, to the mix, and suddenly life includes a price tag. As the situation spirals out of control lives begin to fall apart; sex and even the consideration of murder enters the picture. Everything comes down to Harry Chapman vs. Greg Weston with Judge Jason Kimberly presiding, and only one of them will emerge the victor.

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The book proof of the rear cover art and design for The Discovery. (© Louis Kraft 2016)

The Discovery is about conception, birth, a brilliant career, discovery, accusations, and shock. Moreover it is about people—good people—who face dire consequences if a court decision goes the wrong way. … It is a medical thriller in the genre of Robin Cook’s best selling books (such as Cell) with one difference. Instead of a character-driven thriller that confronts the evils of medicine or pharmaceuticals, it is about a doctor and his wife at the crossroad of their lives.

If interested in purchasing The Discovery, please see the following links:

Future releases with soon be available on iPad, iPhone, and elsewhere.

Upcoming Blogs

  • Green Card 2016 … Two lives since September 2014
    If all goes according to plan Pailin and I will have our second and final Green Card interview in September. Like our first appointment we will prepare and we will ace the interview. At the end of the first interview the interviewer asked what we had to show that would back up mostly Pailin’s answers to questions. I handed him a huge book with 8×10″ images of our life together. He turned pages and asked more questions. We knew that Immigration wanted images of us, but he refused to take any prints. I then produced a printout of a blog that I had created of our life together to that point in time and gave it to him. He was thrilled with the images in it, wanted it, and told us that we passed. There will be an immigration blog 2, and I must begin it in April so that it will be ready in August, when I post it.
  • Sand Creek updates
    Beginning when The Discovery is published Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway must dominate my writing life, and it will. I envision twelve-to-fourteen-hour days seven days a week except when I drop (Wow! It almost sounds like writing for the software industry, or working in film and TV but they paid big time for overtime.). As time permits I plan on posting numerous “short” (I know, Kraft doesn’t know what the word “short” means) posts with updates, questions, and whatever catches my fancy. Hopefully I’ll be able to offer a few teasers that won’t give away the story. There’ll probably be between three and five Sand Creek posts by the end of summer.
  • A Louis Kraft walkabout in Thailand, Cheyenne Indians, and a dark glimpse into the future
    This blog is currently being drafted, but due to the length it will probably be broken into two blogs (and hopefully not three). My blogs are always personal, but this blog will be doubly so, for it will touch upon a subject that I have hinted at for years but now must confront. Actually, I’ll also include a subject that I didn’t know about until 2016. These blogs will deal with people who have opened their hearts to me in my recent life and certainly in their long-gone past. The blog(s) will deal with life and an uncertain future.
  • Unscrupulous writer-historians and how they dupe their readers
    I’ve struggled trying to decide if I should be vague or be specific and take people to task who push their agendas at the cost of truth. They create fictions and lies and often their cited documentation is a fabrication or worse. There is a war going on and I’m in the middle of it. If I opt for the second approach all hell will break out (at least for me).
    •  It is now looking like this blog will become two blogs: 1) Indian wars, and 2) Film history. Reason: Information blasted over social media often deals with my very small world of historical research and writing. Some of the information I’m stumbling upon online and reading in printed form is shocking. Unfortunately people (I can’t call them historians; if I did I would choke) gobble up this misinformation and reprint it as if it is fact.

Geronimo preempts the Sand Creek manuscript

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018

Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog

As in the past, click on an image to expand it


I thought that I had completed my work on my “Geronimo’s Gunfighter Attitude” article for the October 2015 issue of Wild West magazine until I would proof the design layout. No! The article now requires more work. As must be expected the World History Group, which now owns the former Weider History Group’s stable of history magazines, is making major changes to the look and feel of the magazines. … This affects the entire publishing staff in Leesburg, Virginia, as well as the freelance writers that contribute to the magazines. This blog not only preempts my work on Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, it has also preempted my ongoing work on upcoming blogs.

Just for fun, a quick change of pace …

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Sudeshna Ghosh, my friend and former manager at SeeBeyond Technology Corporation and Sun Microsystems liked this image of lk. Russ Williams, a writer, screenwriter, novelist, and friend dating back to the early SeeBeyond days and beyond also liked this image, which was taken earlier this year. I actually don’t like what I look like, and this simply means that my appearance constantly changes. That said I do like this image, which has appeared on other social media. Both Sudeshna and Russ liked the long hair (and long hair is decades in my past). Still pirates and frontiersmen wore their hair long, as did the Cheyennes and Apaches. Perhaps it is time for lk to belly up to the people he writes about. Ned Wynkoop, Kit Carson, George Armstrong Custer, Black Kettle, Geronimo, Bull Bear, Roman Nose, if I want to walk with you perhaps it is time that my hair is as long as you wore your hair. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2015)

I’m okay with birthdays except for mine, which I absolutely hate. Since mine is long past I feel safe mentioning it here. Most of you probably think that I’m a motor mouth. Not true. Actually there are many things that I keep very secretive. One happens to be my birthday. This is my least favorite day of the year. Mainly because it loudly proclaims: “Kraft, the clock is ticking and now you have XXX days left.” Not my favorite thought. … All this negativity finished, and since my BD is now far in my rearview mirror, I feel safe to post an image that was taken on that dreaded day at Tujunga House. I’m wearing the cool shades that Pailin had given me (the first non-prescription sunglasses that I’ve owned in 35 years). The new lk? Maybe. For how long? That is a great question for I don’t have a clue. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, or maybe next month. Flip a coin for any date beyond the end of May.

Life moves forward & as Ernest Hemingway proclaimed the sun also rises

All of my proposed blogs haven’t gone live. Why? There’s a reason, but I hate excuses for they are BS. Sorry, but ’tis the truth. Read to the end of this blog and you’ll have at least a hint of the upcoming blogs’ status.

Music plays a large part in my writing world (although I never used it while writing software documentation). … Alan Jackson, Michael Parks, Waylon Jennings, John Lennon, Rhiannon Giddens, Rihanna, Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Tex Ritter, John Anderson, world music (especially Andean, Chinese, and Native American), but perhaps my all-time favorites are film soundtracks (classic music too, but to a much lesser extent).

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An lk rendering of the final duel in Flynn’s Adventures of Don Juan. Something needs to be explained here, and it is very important. To succeed film duels must have three pieces in place: Choreography, performance by the actors and stunt men, and a great editor. If not, the film audience yawns and mumbles “ho-hum” before they fall asleep. I hate to say it but this most often happens, and especially in modern times. Trust me on this view. I learned how to fence while as a teenager I studied under Olympic competitor and film stuntman and choreographer Ralph Faulkner, fought saber competition in college, and as a professional actor learned stage combat and choreographed and fought duels.

This week Hugo Friedhofer’s musical adaptation for the film version of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (20th Century Fox, 1957, which has a great cast including Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer, who I luckily interviewed before his death, Errol Flynn, Eddie Albert, and Juliet Greco) shares time with Blue, the obscure Manos Hadjidoakis score for the Terence Stamp Paramount Pictures western film (1968); Ernest Gold’s magnificent score for the 1960 Paul Newman film Exodus; Klaus Doldinger’s score for Das Boot (Columbia Pictures, 1981, which I saw on the day that it opened in San Francisco while playing Miles Hendon during a 135-performance tour of The Prince and the Pauper. … I accepted the role as it included me choreographing and fighting the duel, and better yet getting to say much of the dialogue that had been stolen from Flynn’s 1937 Warner’s film of the same name); and Max Steiner’s magnificently composed and conducted score of Errol Flynn’s Adventures of Don Juan (Warner Bros., 1948).

Progress on the Sand Creek manuscript

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In 1990 I moved to Thousand Oaks, California, and was soon after under contract to write The Final Showdown (Walker and Company, 1992). I had always excelled at art in school (no collage classes) and had even contracted artwork and attempted (“attempted” is the key word here) during the 1970s and 1980s to experiment. Nineteen-ninety was a key year for me as I decided to play around with pen and ink. This image of Ned Wynkoop (based upon an 1867 woodcut) was the result. It saw publication in Custer and the Cheyenne (Upton and Sons, 1995). (art © Louis Kraft 1990)

Ouch!!! I thought that perhaps I’d talk about progress writing about Colorado territorial governor John Evans, Rocky Mountain News publisher and editor William Byers and his wife Elizabeth, Episcopal Father John Kehler (the correct spelling of his last name) & Ned Wynkoop.

Nope. Not today.

Oh heck, … I don’t want to be a killjoy. At this point in time, Evans is standalone in the manuscript, but I know that he’ll have connections with Wynkoop and I’m certain with Byers. In one way or another, Byers, Elizabeth, Kehler, and Wynkoop are already connected or will be connected with each other. The question here is, what scenes of them together; especially between Byers and Wynkoop will make it into the draft and not be edited out of it by the time of the final delivery? Arrival timing in Denver for Byers, Elizabeth (different dates), and Kehler have proved problematical but I’m now good to go with them. Progress is good … and maybe even great (from my point of view).

For what it is worth, Byers, Wynkoop, Black Kettle, Little Raven, Colonel John Chivington, Evans, mixed-blood George Bent, and his father trader William Bent will most likely be the leading players in the manuscript. Hopefully others will also play leading or major supporting roles (my research is key here). At the moment Elizabeth Byers is by far my leading lady (unfortunately I just don’t have enough about her, the Cheyenne woman Mo-nahs-e-tah, or even Wynkoop’s wife Louise).

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LK & OU Press Editor-in-Chief Chuck Rankin at the Western History Association (WWA) convention in Newport Beach, Ca., on 17oct2014. (photo by Pailin Subanna-Kraft; © Louis Kraft, Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Chuck Rankin 2014)

OU Press editor-in-chief Chuck Rankin and I both want to highlight the women as much as possible. To do this, I need to find the information (if it exists). A fellow writer-historian Linda Wommack has offered to help with Elizabeth. I told her that I wanted to get what I knew about Elizabeth in place first, so that I don’t waste any of her time. Am looking forward to our upcoming (alas, long distance) time together. I have located a great image of Elizabeth that I want to use in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, but have seen it dated to both the mid-1860s and mid-1870s. Fingers are crossed that it dates to the 1860s, for if it is from the the 1870s it is out of the scope of the book and I won’t use it. Although I had purchased a low-resolution copy of the image I do not have the permission to post it. Too bad, for it is a great image.

What you see here is an invitation to speak up if you can share information about other key players in the Sand Creek story, including, but not limited to, trader and Cheyenne interpreter John Smith; Major Scott Anthony; Captain Silas Soule; Chivington’s subordinate officers in the Third Colorado (especially George Shoup); as well as other Cheyennes and Arapahos, such has Tall Bull, Bull Bear, Stone Forehead, Lean Bear, and Left Hand (BTW, a bio on Left Hand at times uses notes that are either inaccurate or don’t support the text, which makes the research questionable); Wynkoop’s subordinate Lieutenant Joseph Cramer; and Cheyenne mixed bloods Edmund Guerrier, Charley Bent, and Jack Smith. Over the years I’ve mined Anthony and Soule heavily at History Colorado and at the Western History Department at the Denver Public Library, but I’m certain that there is more on them that I haven’t seen.

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This image of Black Kettle was also an early lk attempt at illustrative art. It also was published in Custer and the Cheyenne. I placed it here just to grab your attention, as I want to bring the chief into the Sand Creek book as soon as possible and I don’t have much on his early life.

The goal is to bring the people in the manuscript to life. It is easier to do with participants that were verbal and left a lot of documentation in letters and other writing or had their actions constantly reported in the press. Guerrier was literate but didn’t leave much behind while George Bent left a goldmine of letters (all of which I have in house, either in his hand or in typescript form).

I know that I have said the following before, but it is worth repeating. I don’t write about good guys and bad guys. My opinion will not be in the book, but if I do my job properly the actions of the people I write about will allow you to form your own view of them. The following is also worth repeating: It is what a person does and not what he or she says about themselves that defines who they are or were.

Kit Carson is in LK’s future

I don’t think that Kit Carson is a supporting player in the Sand Creek story (he is minor at best), but he will be a major player in my writing future (anything you can share about Kit is of great interest to me, and at all times). As far as Kit goes, be warned for I believe that I have all of the books published about him in the 20th and 21st centuries. I also have the bio (in hardbound) based upon what he told DeWitt C. Peters in 1859, as well as a few other 19th century volumes that were accounts of a piece of time spent with Kit and not bios or dime novels. I’m especially interested in his relationship with Indians (yes, the plan is to follow how I wrote about Custer, Gatewood, and Wynkoop).

The World History Group flexes its muscles and takes a bite out of my ass

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lk art of Geronimo based upon the cover art that I created for Geronimo & Gatewood (University of New Mexico Press, 2000). This is just lk playing around with color and line. It isn’t very good and it will never be published. I view art as a learning process, and that is experimenting and trying to create an image that is decent. This is an ongoing process.

No, no, … no … NO!!! I received the World History Group contract for “Geronimo’s Gunfighter Attitude” (October 2015 issue of Wild West, and soon to go into production) on 27apr2015.

Editor Greg Lalire and I had already gone through our copyediting (which usually gets tweaked while in production) and we were good to go with the 3800-word feature. Just like in the IT software world, the times they change and to survive a writer must dodge and duck and go with the punches while standing upright. It’s called survival. Greg and I began our working relationship 20+ years ago. Over this time we have become good friends, and we help each other out when needed. Greg is doing what he can to survive the change happening with the 11 or 12 great history magazines that the World History Group now owns (I’ve been there and have done that way-too-many times in the software industry). Greg is a great editor, and he’s also a damned good writer. He will survive.

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I created this map for the “Geronimo’s Gunfighter Attitude” October 2015 Wild West article. If it is used, the contractor for Wild West, Joan Pennington, will create the final artwork (and she does good work). Back in 1999 I submitted one of the final pieces of art that was published in Gatewood & Geronimo to Wild West, it was recreated and published in the magazine with no credit (or payment to lk). I complained this time around, and if the map is published I will receive a “based upon” credit. Good, for this is the first time I have ever seen the Valenzuela ambush location and the Gatewood/Geronimo confrontation with Smith & Wood added to a map, and both are major pieces to the Geronimo story. (map © Louis Kraft 2015)

I study my contracts, and anything that is questionable, is not in line with what I want, or what has suddenly become a concern I confront immediately. The contract stated 3800 words. The “3800” was marked out in ink and replaced with “3200.” What? Did I lose 600 words and didn’t see the edit? I called Greg. My timing was perfect. He was typing an email to me that explained what had happened—and it got worse. The “3200” words is now “3000” words, and this word count would now be the maximum for a feature.

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Gregory J. Lalire’s dust jacket image for his novel: Captured: From the Frontier Diary of Infant Danny Duly (Five Star, 2014)

World History Group wants to mimic the Cowboys & Indians magazine, that is they want to obtain better advertisers. I consider the feature content in Cowboys & Indians as little more than fluff (which I can’t stand; oops, I shouldn’t have said that—disregard what you just read). Cowboys & Indians is big on color and images, and even bigger on good advertising. … That, ladies & gents is the future of Wild WestAmerican History and MHQ (three key magazines in my life) while keeping the same historical content these magazines have always had in the past.

My opinion doesn’t count here, for the publisher has every right to do what they think they need to do to stay in business. I agree with this, and as it was with the IT software companies, they need to survive to employ me.

While work is in progress Greg and I always keep good phone or email contact with each other. “Believe me,” he wrote me yesterday, “I know all about the pain of cutting, but as I found out in August, a story can still be strong at a shorter length.” (He is talking about the August 2015 issue of Wild West.)

I have 800 words to cut from a 3800-word article (that is a little over 20 percent of the word count). I will do what is required, and we’ll find out if the article still retains its impact. Hope so.

A few words on long overdue blogs …

For those of you who are wondering about upcoming blogs here’s an update. A blog dealing with what could be a major change in my writing world is ready to post (I just need reality and the future to merge in the present). …. Don’t ask, for I ain’t talkin’. The Thai walkabout blog continues to be written (and it will be an eye-opener, for you and for me), and I have finally begun to draft the unscrupulous writer-historians blog (and it will not be vague). Trust me, for when the unscrupulous blog is published, if ever, I will forever sit with my back to a wall with two Colts crossed over my chest like Wild Bill Hickok. People will be gunning for me and ifGod forbidmy life ends in violence it will be because someone is angry over what I have posted. This is not how I view my future so I hope and pray that my fearful vision never happens.

A few people that know me believe one, and only one thing, about methat I’m good at dramatics. I don’t agree, but my fear of the future is out there, for knowing my past I am aware that unsavory events can and do happen.

Upcoming Blogs

  • A Louis Kraft walkabout in Thailand, Cheyenne Indians, and a glimpse into the future
    This blog is currently being drafted, but due to the length it will probably be broken into two blogs (and hopefully not three). My blogs are always personal, but this blog will be doubly so, for it will touch upon a subject that I have hidden for years.
  • People who don’t do research but dish out opinion as if they know everything
    Ouch! Sometimes I can only stomach so much of this kind of crap.
  • Unscrupulous writer-historians and how they dupe their readers
    I’ve struggled trying to decide if I should be vague or be specific and take people to task who push their agendas at the cost of truth. They create fictions and lies and often their cited documentation is a fabrication or worse. There is a war going on and I’m in the middle of it. If I opt for the second approach all hell will break out (at least for me).
  • The song remembers when
    Music is something I’ve lived with and know (and it plays a large role in my life). This blog should be easy to write for songs often link me to a person or an event. There is a possibility that it might follow the Thailand/Cheyenne blog if my knees begin to shake too noticeably when I consider writing the other blogs before it.

Sand Creek Massacre, Kit Carson, Pailin, & good friends

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018

Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog

As in the past, click on an image to expand it


Warning: This blog is long.

This blog has preempted the “Future Blogs List” as it is based upon a 19-day research-discovery trip that Pailin and I took recently to Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. As Pailin now has her Green Card she is free to travel the United States, and as she is an explorer, this was a trip that hopefully she enjoyed. She got to see a lot of land she had never seen before, got a taste of what I do, and better yet became my assistant. I told her at the beginning of the trip that within five years I wanted her telling everyone about the lead-up to, the November 1864 attack on a peaceful Cheyenne-Arapaho village, and the aftermath of this tragic event. The trip also included Kit Carson research in Santa Fe, Taos, and the Bosque Redondo Memorial (Fort Sumner) in New Mexico. There was also a tad of Wynkoop research; hell, we were in two of his three key areas in the West during the trip. Finally Pailin got a surprise Errol Flynn physical examination of the El Rancho Hotel, a national historic site in Gallup, New Mexico, where Flynn and the Rocky Mountain (1950) film crew stayed while they shot the film’s exteriors in the area. … But this trip was also about seeing good friends, introducing Pailin to the western landscape, looking at property in Eldorado (Santa Fe, N.Mex.), and making a delivery to the LK Collection in the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library (Santa Fe).

Colorado here we come

The trip began on 28sept2014 and it was a long drive that took us from North Hollywood (a town in Los Angeles), California, to Richfield, Utah.

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Pailin took this image as we drove east from North Hollywood, California, and as the sun began to rise. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft 2014)

During the first day we did detour to The Valley of Fire, which is north of Las Vegas, Nevada, and off I-15. I had been to The Valley of Fire in 2001 after I had sold the idea of a Ned Wynkoop one-man show to Kansas.

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The image with the white hat was taken at The Valley of Fire in Nevada.

I had pitched the Wynkoop one-man show idea to Leo Oliva, who was already bringing me to Kansas to speak (and I’m certain that George Elmore, now chief historian at the Fort Larned NHS, played a key role in this important stage of my life). Leo had asked for a publicity shot.

Of course when a friend saw the publicity shot in a publication, he complained: “What the hell is this? Wynkoop didn’t dress like that!” I don’t think I calmed his anger with my reply.

valley_ofFireCollage_28sept2014_wsOnce we got out of Nevada the landscape improved. Utah is gorgeous. We turned right onto I-70 and halted for the night after about 37 miles.

The second day started out nicely in Utah, and again the landscape was beautiful to behold. But soon the easy climate began to change. It started out with showers mixed with sunshine as we cruised through the eastern side of Utah and closed on Colorado.

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After entering Colorado I got my usual welcome: Weather headed straight for the deep freeze. It is almost as if I have become a marked man in the state. If Kraft crosses our border, chill his bones until he leaves. Pailin took this photo from the window of the Vette as we cruised eastward on I-70 (she took many photos through the windshield and the right window during the trip). This image captured the beginning of the end of color for the rest of the day, and we hadn’t reached the noon hour yet. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft 2014)

At Grand Junction, Colorado, it turned cold and a downpour that lasted close to three hours struck. It was downhill from there, and looked like a repeat of the last two or three times I have visited Colorado. After we closed on the Rocky Mountains the temperature began to drop at an alarming rate. Rain clobbered us and stopped only to hit again minutes later. The temperature reached 37, 36, 35, 34, and then 33 degrees.

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Pailin’s photos remind me of James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s nocturnes. He, along with Vincent van Gogh, are my favorite artists.

Snow began to fall. Thirty-two degrees. Ouch! This was not what I wanted to see. The traffic continued at a frantic pace. Soon the three lanes shrunk into one for construction, but there were no construction workers. And soon after the traffic came to a halt. We passed a sign that proclaimed, “When lights flashing chains are required” (or something like that), with a $500.00 fine if not obeyed. I’ve never seen a chain up close in my life. And soon after the traffic came to a halt. It did not appear to be for construction; an accident? Time crept forward, perhaps 30 minutes as we inched forward. We passed another construction zone but no one was working. The snow stopped falling and the temperature zoomed up to 37 degrees, but we came to a halt again a short distance in front of the Eisenhower Tunnel (there is more to the name). I called John Monnett and left a message that we were going to be late as we were expected at his and Linda’s house (I had anticipated arriving by late afternoon). Soon after we got through the tunnel the traffic jam vanished and I-70 returned to being a speedway (I have never seen so much tailgating as I have seen in Colorado on this trip). I guess everyone wanted to get off the mountain before they shut down the road. (John informed me that they don’t shut down I-70 in the fall; rather that Colorado drivers are the worst).

A short while later a ray of sunshine stole into the mountain pass, but it only lasted for a few minutes. There was no rain and the temperature reached 39 degrees and then 40. I breathed and said a silent prayer. We’ve made it. Somewhere the road grew to three lanes, and I even felt comfortable showing what my car could do (I say this fully knowing that its body is very light and it can become airborne). At the same time my goal was getting Pailin to John and Linda’s house safely.

COLO_29sept2014_apr2013_ps-k&lkCollageAll was looking good, when the snow returned with a vengeance. Visibility dropped to about 30 feet or less, and—thank goodness—the traffic slowed. Hell, they were forced to slow. Soon the three lanes closed into one for construction, but again there were no construction workers (I’m glad that they didn’t have to work in this weather). And of course the traffic came to another complete halt. We sat there and watched the temperature drop—37, 36, 35, 34, … Oh no! We started to inch forward. The downward spiral continued. Thirty-three, … 32! I hate to admit it, but I don’t know how to drive on ice. I’ve had good conversations about this, most recently with my good friend Layton Hooper (2013) who just this year moved from Colorado to Arizona (and I think I know why). But knowing something (at least thinking you know something) and doing it are two different things. If it were just me, I’m good and know that I’ll survive (experience has backed this up many times in the past), but I’ve got Pailin with me. Caution and driving safely were the only things on my mind.

After reaching 32 degrees the temperature stayed at 32. We approached a tunnel and it was closed. A detour road swung to the right of, and around, the tunnel and when we reached the other side of the tunnel the road again opened into two lanes.

Soon after the snow stopped falling. We had downpours of rain, and I kept in the slow lane, but the temperature again grew. Within minutes it reached 40 degrees and never looked back. I-70 got out of the pass, and even though the downpour continued we made good time until we closed on Denver and then Lafayette.

ps&LadyJaneGray_lk&Wellington_collage_wsVisibility remained bad, but after a couple of missed turns we arrived at John & Linda’s house. Just as I was about to push the door bell my cell phone rang. It was John trying to find out where we were and if we were okay. Linda opened the door and Pailin and I met a lady I had been looking forward to meeting for a long time, and John and his lady met Pailin. It was early evening on September 29. I liked Linda immediately.

The night passed easily as Linda prepared a terrific meal and we hung out for a few hours. Pailin is shy, and there is a reason for it, but she was thrilled over meeting John and Linda.

Some background on John and this trip

John Monnett is one of the top Cheyenne wars historians writing today. We had met years back. Somewhere, and it was most likely at a western history event. We knew each other and liked each other. We had both spoken at an Order of the Indian Wars symposium in Centennial, Colorado, in 2010, and at a party afterwards we hung out and got to know each other. From then on our friendship grew. Previously John had provided me with a great peer review of the Wynkoop manuscript (Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek, OU Press, 2011) and later a top-notch peer review of the proposal for what will be my next Indian wars book (working title: Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, OU Press). When I told John that after Pailin had her Green Card that we would be making a trip to Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, he invited us to stay with him and Linda.

Research and hanging out with John and Linda

As most of you know my next book will deal with the people who lived through the events that led up to the attack on the Cheyenne-Arapaho village on Sand Creek in Colorado Territory in November 1864, the attack, and the aftermath. You also know that I write about people. I am now faced with a much larger task of making more people leading players and at the same time connecting them to the supporting players while maintaining a flow in the manuscript. This task is massive. Who, where, when, … while showing and not telling (a key to any writing). The goal is to transition smoothly between the players and the events. Doable? I have every intention of making this happen. If I fail my publisher—read my editor and friend Chuck Rankin—will do what he can to get me back on course. If I again fail, “Adios amigo!” I have no intention of failing. Actually this is the best challenge I have ever faced, and I love it.

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While I dawdled Pailin discovered the Wynkoop books in the museum. John suggested that I sign the museum’s books and the Boulder History Museum agreed. This was just the beginning of what John shared with Pailin and LK on this day.

On September 30 John took Pailin and I to a coffee shop he enjoys going to for breakfast and to work. Afterwards he drove us to the “Chief Niwot Legend & Legacy” exhibit at the Boulder History Museum. Niwot (or Left Hand, which is his name that is most known) was a chief of the Arapahos during the mid-1860s). All I’ll tell you about Niwot is that he will be featured as much as possible in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway and that he received wounds during the November 29, 1864, attack on the Sand Creek village and they led to his death. This man stood for peace and had done what he could to hopefully bring about an end to the 1864 Indian war in Colorado Territory (he thought he had succeeded).*

lk&ps&jMonnet_SandCreek_NiwotExhibitCollage_wsThis visit to the Boulder History Museum was Pailin’s introduction to research. Over the coming days I wore her out with what I requested she do, and she would come through admirably.

* Be careful with what you read online regarding Niwot, for some of the supposed factual information you’ll see is flat-out not true. Actually it is wise to heed this advice when researching many of the historical figures involved in the American Indian wars online.

Next up was researching a soldier who had been a member of the Third Colorado Volunteer Cavalry at the time of the Sand Creek attack and seeing the remnants of a stage station that members of Company D of the Third used to travel to Denver to join their regiment as they had not yet been assigned horses. … Pardon my vagueness here, but as books always have word counts if contracted and professionally produced, and as I don’t know what research will be included in the manuscript until I piece it together, at this time I have nothing to share.

ps&jMonnett_FtChambers_BoulderMontage_wsJohn’s next destination was the stage station in Boulder that is currently falling apart. There is hope that money can be raised to save the building for in 1864 troopers that enlisted in the Third Colorado Volunteer Cavalry Regiment in Boulder rode from this stage station to Denver as they had not yet been mounted. Unfortunately the day passed quickly, but John made it both beneficial to my Sand Creek manuscript research and fun for Pailin and I.

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On Wednesday, October 1, Pailin lived through her first day of doing archival research at the Western History Department of the Denver Public Library. Almost everything I looked at was pulled from the DPL’s vault and she served as my official photographer with her iPad as it couldn’t be photocopied. Research is two things: Finding gold and ruling out that the research spot has been mined out for what is hoped to find. When working in an archive time is precious and I don’t believe in breaks (that includes when I research locally in Los Angeles, which contains some of the best archives I have ever seen—a major reason why I should never leave LA).

The day was long, but Pailin seemed to enjoy it. I told her that this was just the beginning, and she said, “I’m good as long as I’m with you.”

Rocky Mountain National Park

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Pailin with John & Linda Monnett at Bear Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park on 2oct2014. It was chilly but we had a good time. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft, John & Linda Monnett 2014)

By Thursday, October 2, the archival and museum research work in Colorado had ended. John and Linda Monnett drove Pailin and I to the Rocky Mountain National Park, which was a short drive from their home. Beautiful vistas and landscapes, but surprisingly the area was more crowded than John expected. Luckily we landed parking spots when we needed them.

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Although John had captured me and the snowball I like Pailin’s image better as I played centerfield, 3rd base, and 1st base with my brother on winning baseball teams. We played together for 10 years. When he died in 1990 I quit and never played again. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

John had hoped to get us above the snow line but the roads were closed. There were remnants of a recent snow on the ground at Bear Lake, and as Linda, Pailin and I snapped photos John rolled a snowball for me. I wound up a la Sandy Koufax (the greatest baseball pitcher I have ever had the pleasure to watch perform in person and on TV) and went through the motion of flinging a fastball while John and Pailin snapped away. Afterwards I tossed the snowball at a tree, but alas it wasn’t a strike. My apologies to those of you who don’t know or understand the American sport of baseball and its terms.

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Linda and John Monnett in the coffee shop of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, on 2oct2014. This entire day was a joy as Pailin and I got to hang out with John and Linda. They had taken us to the Rocky Mountain National Park, which obviously both of them love. Afterwards they shared the historical Stanley Hotel with us. Linda knows I’m about to take her picture while John seems to be occupied with perhaps seeing a ghost. (photo © Louis Kraft and John & Linda Monnett 2014)

The trip also included viewing the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park that represented the hotel that Jack Nicholson and his cinematic family (Shelly Duvall and Danny Lloyd) encountered horror after recovering alcoholic Nicholson became the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film version of Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. I saw it when it first opened in theaters but was bored by the film and have never seen it since. … Don’t know if I’d like to stay in the Stanley Hotel on a solo trip but the hotel would make a great location for a western history convention.

Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

Ladies and gents, this tragic and yet now holy land is a long-long drive into the middle of nowhere Colorado. John did all the driving on our way to the bloody ground and Linda and John split the driving back to their home. An exhaustive day for them, and John later commented on social media that he was happy when Kraft left for his life would now return to normal. John and Linda did everything possible to make our visit beneficial to my Sand Creek project while making us feel at home and welcome. They were marvelous hosts and Pailin and I enjoyed every minute of our visit. J & L, thank you.

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John knew I wanted to meet Jeff Campbell, whom he had already met, and both of our fingers were crossed on 3oct2014 (at least mine were). We—I—got lucky and Jeff worked on this day (and I do believe we—I—were/was lucky for he had a very busy schedule in front of him moving forward in October and into November with all the Sand Creek Massacre 150th anniversary events at hand (and with Cheyennes and Arapahos visiting the NHS). Pailin took this image of us on the wooden platform in front of the makeshift visitor center and as you can see there was a harsh sun that day. I don’t remember what I was saying to Jeff, but trust me for we weren’t arguing. Nor were there any comments regarding the Wynkoop review I had submitted upon request to the National Park Service. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft, Louis Kraft, Jeff Campbell, & John Monnett)

The Sand Creek Massacre NHS needs a lot of money to bring it up to Washita Battlefield NHS in scope, presentation, and splendor. They have the correct people in place at the NHS, they have the knowledge and understanding of what happened, but they still need U.S. government funding to make this sacred ground a jewel in the U.S. park system. This must happen, for believe it or not this is perhaps the most important of all the Plains Indian war sites for what happened there paved the way for the conscious destruction of people and their lifeway. It created a searing wound in the Cheyennes and the Arapahos that will never heal, while at the same time made it clear that greed, prejudice, right, wrong, and conscience really have a major impact on history and that it defines the participants.

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I don’t remember what John was saying at this moment, but my guess is that he was pitching my Sand Creek manuscript. Pailin took this image on 3oct2014 just outside the Sand Creek Massacre NHS visitor center. (photo © John Monnett, Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

As said above everything is falling into place at the Sand Creek Massacre NHS (more below) as to what happened, and, as Ranger Jeff Campbell (more on Jeff below) explained on this day, those leading the way to define the presentation at this oh-so-important site are getting close with confirming their facts and gaining consensus from all the parties involved. This location—and I don’t care if it is in the middle of Neverland, USA—this sacred ground deserves a visitor center/museum that matches the one at the Washita. That said, the land is magnificent, and along the bluffs that skirt the western perimeter of the property present a marvelous view of massiveness of the ground on which the November 29, 1864, attack on a peaceful Cheyenne-Arapaho village took place. There are no well-placed signs along the trail telling the visitor what he or she is looking at to date, so one must have a good knowledge of what happened to make any sense of what is seen.

Some of what follows is repetitive, but as it is important I need to repeat it here. Jeff Campbell, who has held a wide range of jobs over his career, ranging from school teacher to a crime scene investigator, has now as a National Park Service ranger taken on the challenge of piecing together the events of that tragic day as if it were a crime scene. On Friday, October 3, John, Linda, Pailin, and I spent valuable time with him as he explained his approach to his task as well as update us on the status of the NHS. Although he wouldn’t reveal details he made it clear that his and others work was about 95 percent complete as to determining where the attack happened as well gaining a consensus from the various participants who have a major stake in the telling of this horrific attack. I’m talking about the people who had attempted to end a war in September 1864, thought that peace had returned to their lives, but then on that November 29 day were attacked and brutally murdered—the Cheyennes and the Arapahos.

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My lady on the bluffs above the Sand Creek village site on 3oct2014. (photo © Louis Kraft & Pailin Subanna-Kraft 2014)

To gain an understanding of all the parties involved in the massive project of purchasing the land, creating the NHS, and then piecing together all the historical events has been a joint project with many factions involved, read Ari Kelman’s book A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (Harvard University Press, 2013).

Although Kelman’s prose is a page-turner, especially when dealing with the events in the last 30 or 40 years as he brings the modern-day Sand Creek story together—and it was a fight for the Cheyennes, Arapahos, U.S. government, land owners, historians, would-be historians, and National Park Service to create this historic site, but be wary of his information related to the battle and the events surrounding it. Although Kelman uses, at least his notes claim he used, primary source material, there are many errors. Why? I don’t know why. Perhaps there was a poor understanding of the primary source material, not checking facts, or a rush to go to print? There is a warning here: While in modern times and dealing with the fight, and it was a fight, to create this much-needed NHS that protects this oh-so-sacred ground, Kelman’s book is a wonder. However, if writing about the participants and events of that horrific time during the 1860s be careful or you will repeat his errors.

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The four of us are at the second and final bench on the walk skirting the village site. John is checking the brochure, which has a small map and I’m asking Pailin what she is doing. “Taking a photo.” We had great temperature for exploring but the sun made for deep shadows. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft, Linda & John Monnett 2014)

As Jeff Campbell had stated at the Sand Creek Massacre NHS visitor center the attack had been a running fight. When you walk the bluffs above the grounds you easily see the immensity of the village site and the open expanse on which the fight took place. I could envision myself as Capt. Silas Soule or Lt. Joseph Cramer as they instructed their men not to fire their weapons; I could envision myself as mixed-blood Cheyenne George Bent as he scrambled to escape the surrounding soldiers only to be wounded but still able to escape under the cover of darkness.

I can also easily see myself as mixed-blood Cheyenne Edmund Guerrier as he escaped unharmed; I can imagine myself as Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle who under the cover of darkness returned to where he thought he’d find his dead wife Medicine Woman Later only to find her alive and with her escape; and finally I could picture myself as Arapaho Chief Niwot (Left Hand) as he received the wounds that would lead to his death. … I can’t visualize myself as a soldier that killed women, children, and men and then sexually hacked their bodies to pieces. By now you know I can step into Ned Wynkoop’s boots and explode when news of the slaughter reached him.

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LK standing next to the plaque at the entry to the Sand Creek Massacre NHS grounds (which is separate from the visitor center). John M. took this photo on 3oct2014 when we returned to his auto. The Indian pictured on the plaque is unidentified. (photo © John Monnett & Louis Kraft 2014)

As Johnny Boggs’ quoted me in his terrific article, “Trail of Tragedy” (True West, November 2014, page 53), “War doesn’t give soldiers the right to murder, rape, and butcher. Not yesterday, not today, and not ever.” You know where I stand, but as a writer and historian I must separate myself from the story and let the participants’ actions speak for them. I must eliminate my bias from the writing and reporting, for whatever I think and feel is not the same as the people thought and felt in 1864. If I do my job properly, the readers will make their own decisions on what happened.

At the Sand Creek NHS Administrative office in Eads, Colorado I met Shawn Gillette, Chief of Interpretation. Shawn liked the Wynkoop book, but more important he told me that he and the others who worked on the Ned Wynkoop NPS brochure had seen my review of their draft. He also told me that the NPS Regional Office had shredded their original draft and insisted upon certain items being in the two-page brochure and that he and the others did what they could to include as much as they could of what I had provided but were limited by space.

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I didn’t know what to expect when we walked into the Sand Creek Massacre NHS administration building in Eads, Colorado, that afternoon of 3oct2014, but I would not have guessed what happened. After Shawn realized who I was he greeted me like a long-lost friend. I’m still smiling over our meeting for I had felt when there was absolutely no response to the review of the Wynkoop brochure I submitted (upon request) that I had become public enemy no. 1 of the National Park Service. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft, Louis Kraft, & Shawn Gillette)

Shawn’s comments were perhaps the best thing I heard regarding the Wynkoop brochure, and perhaps on the entire trip. Honestly, I thought that my review and the follow-up blog  (National Park Service, Ned Wynkoop, & a bad taste) killed my entire relationship with the National Park Service. Perhaps I could afford saying adios to the NPS but I didn’t want to lose my great friend, the chief ranger at the Fort Larned NHS, George Elmore. George and I became friends when he gave my then young daughter Marissa and I a private tour of Fort Larned in 1990 or 1991. At this time he had answered many questions that saw print in The Final Showdown (1992). Since that time George has been there for me 100 percent of the time every time I have called upon him. If we lived near each other I am certain that we would hang out together. … Shawn eliminated any fears that I had that I had damaged my relationship with George. Thanks Shawn!

An end to the Colorado visit 

John, Linda, Pailin, and LK had an easy Saturday. We had a late breakfast at the Monnett’s favorite coffee house (John calls it his second office; at least that is what I think he calls it). Certainly he spends a lot of time there. Afterwards we hung out at and rested at John and Linda’s great house. John and I talked a little about research and we decided not to apply for the fellowship at the Braun Research Library (Southwest Museum/now part of the Autry National Center in Los Angeles). I’m not sure of John’s reason but I know mine, and mine is firm (read into this what you will).

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Dinner at The Fort. I wanted to use a photo that I took of John, Linda, and Pailin but there was a problem with the image. Linda took this photo with Pailin’s cell phone. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft)

That night we went to dinner at The Fort in Morrison, Colorado. I always enjoy going there, and I think that John and Linda do also. This was a first for Pailin. My lady and I had duck (a first for me), while Linda enjoyed quail and John, I think, had a steak. Pailin and I often share, as she is small and I don’t want to grow larger (always more than enough food for both of us). I like buffalo and would have loved to have had shared buffalo with her but she many years ago swore off eating any large animals (buffalo, venison, elk, beef, and so on). I’m good with honoring her wishes when we share, and on this night we did. Loved the chile and orange duck! We don’t eat beef at home, but Pailin also likes duck (and has since her Thailand days) and it will be added to our menu at Tujunga House.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with The Fort, it was built to represent one the trading posts that William Bent and company built in the early half of the 19th century to the east of the Rocky Mountains in the land that would become Colorado Territory.

I-25 south to that special land where I am at home

I-25 enters and then leaves Denver, Colorado, as you head south to the Land of Enchantment—New Mexico. Santa Fe grabbed me the first time I had visited in 1987 for research (and this included a side trip to Taos).

Two years later I returned to New Mexico to negotiate writing, designing, and publishing a book a month geared toward pitching New Mexico to Japan.

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This is the east-facing portion of builder Joe Cuellar’s house as it sat near the top of the mesa to the west of Albuquerque. The great room is highlighted in the lighting. It had seven windows and fully a 180-degree view of the bowl in which Albuquerque resides. At night the views were spectacular. Most of the acreage in the front of the image shows the extra acre I negotiated into the contract. I don’t live in the past, but I do learn from it and it does influence me. (photo © Louis Kraft 1989)

I had been lured to Albuquerque where I had seen several adobe-style homes on an acre that were featured in the Albuquerque Journal (I then subscribed to the Sunday edition). Before I returned to New Mexico to look at the homes, the builder and I hit it off and although I had an interview set up with a jewelry firm for a writing position builder Joe Cuellar introduced me to the vice president of the CBS TV affiliate in Albuquerque.

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I loved one of the houses (3300 square feet, one level that had steps as it climbed the hill). I negotiated an extra acre into the deal ($196,000 total), and although the jewelry position didn’t work out the CBS affiliate and my negotiations made decent progress. The VP even visited Los Angeles to continue working on the deal. My task: Obtain the information from Japan, write the text, design the publication, and get it printed each month. Alas, there was one showstopper to the possibility of bringing Japanese investors into New Mexico; I had set a bottom price that I wouldn’t go below. The VP dropped below it. Adios amigo. End of deal, … and house.

The drive was mostly straight with some curves until soon after I-25 passed Las Vegas and turned west toward Santa Fe. We cruised past Glorieta, where over three days in March 1962 Union forces, including Maj. John Chivington and Capt. Ned Wynkoop, took part in the Battle of Glorieta Pass (March 26 and March 28; the two armies didn’t fight on the 27th). A short while later we passed exit 290 (Clines Corners) where Pailin and I had an appointment with Lisa Smith on 7oct2014 to look at a couple of houses in Eldorado, a sprawling area with adobe style and adobe homes that is perhaps ten+ miles from downtown Santa Fe.

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The Lensic Theatre, which is just off the Santa Fe Plaza, in the early evening of 5oct2014. In the previous decade Tomas Jaehn (you’ll meet him below) attempted to get the Wynkoop one-man show into the Lensic but (if memory serves me) the cost was too high to rent this historic and gorgeous theater. A shame; I drooled when I saw the interior of the Lensic. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft 2014)

After unpacking at our lodging on Cerrillos Road, Pailin and I drove to the historic district and ate at the Blue Corn Café. Afterwards I led her the short distance to the Santa Fe Plaza, showed her the exterior of the Palace of the Governors, and finally the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, which for years has played a special place in my life. While walking back to the car I pointed out the Lensic Theatre to Pailin. For one night in December 1940 it played a large role in the lives of the people of Santa Fe and surrounding areas when the Errol Flynn-Olivia de Havilland film The Santa Fe Trail premiered in Santa Fe (actually in three theaters). de Havilland had become ill on the train that brought the Warner Bros. junket to the city and never took part in the premier’s festivities. Not so Flynn, and he had the time of his life.

Tomas Jaehn & the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library

My first trip to Santa Fe was a visit to the New Mexico History Museum to research Ned Wynkoop in 1987. At that time Orlando Romero was in charge. Orlando was open and helpful. He was restoring (I think?) his family adobe home in Nambé Pueblo, which is at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains about 16 miles north of Santa Fe. He was getting close to finishing his project and was excited (he told me that he would at some point in the near future retire).

I don’t remember exactly when Orlando retired, but soon after he did (or perhaps before he did), the New Mexico History Museum moved its document collections to the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library. The New Mexico History Museum didn’t cease to exist, and let me say that some of the treasures it holds are marvels. I know, for one day years back Charles Bennett, former assistant director of the Palace of the Governors, took daughter Marissa and I into the depths of this historic site and we saw them.

… Soon after Orlando’s retirement I returned to Santa Fe to continue my Wynkoop research.

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On 6oct2014 Pailin and I met Tomas Jaehn in the entry to the New Mexico History Museum. We walked to his favorite coffee shop and enjoyed the brew while we chatted. Old times for Tomas and myself as we caught up, but new times for Pailin as she got to know Tomas. Unfortunately our visit wasn’t well timed and we couldn’t socialize. (photo by Pailin and © Pailin Subanna-Kraft, Louis Kraft, and Tomas Jaehn 2014)

It was at this time that I met Tomas Jaehn, who replaced Orlando. I cannot say enough good things about Tomas. He has helped my writing and research in so many ways, that if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have completed some of the projects that I have over the years, and I’m certain that some of the articles and certainly Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek would have taken longer to complete and see print. In 2001 Tomas approached me about creating the Louis Kraft Collection. I liked the idea but it took a year for me to make a delivery and sign the contract.

Over the years Tomas and his family have become good friends.

A primary goal of visiting Santa Fe was and is (as this goal is ongoing) to introduce Pailin to this marvelous city and New Mexico. We both love Los Angeles and Pailin has a wonderful family of Thai friends living there (LA has the largest Thai population in the U.S., and better there are over 200 languages spoken in Los Angeles, also the largest in the U.S., according to the LA Times), which means that living in Los Angeles is very important to her. She is also aware that Los Angeles is a very expensive location to call home, and the prices climb continuously (I’m even taxed to be a writer using a computer in our home even though I don’t claim Tujunga House as a write off). There were two other primary goals for visiting Santa Fe: Making a delivery to the LK Collection and to continue my research at the Chávez.

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In the past I have handed a camera to people to take pictures of Tomas and I, but for some reason the photos have been out of focus. Not so on this visit to Santa Fe and Tomas. Pailin took a number of first class images, and this is my favorite. As you can see we are in Tomas’s office, and the morning sun is blasting through his window. Over the years Tomas has become my good friend; I wish we lived near to each other. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft, Louis Kraft, and Tomas Jaehn 2014)

On Monday morning, October 6, we met Tomas at the New Mexico History Museum complex, which has been recently built, and now uses an elevator as the official entry into the Chávez. We walked to his favorite coffee shop and enjoyed coffee (see above photo). Afterwards I made the delivery, which included: Ned Wynkoop material (recent articles in the December 2013 and the August 2014 issues of Wild West magazine; an article in True West magazine; a review of the NPS brochure on Wynkoop & accompanying blog; review of Leo Oliva’s Wynkoop bio for Wynkoop’s induction into the Santa Fe Trail Hall of Fame; reviews of Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek; and recent talks on Wynkoop), information about LK’s relationship with Pailin Subanna and their marriage, five DVDs (three Wynkoop talks, one Gatewood-Geronimo talk, and the 2012 Wrangler awards in Oklahoma City), and about 100 photos (including art, collages, LK’s freelance-writing life, and Pailin Subanna-Kraft).*

* Although LK and Glen Williams made a delivery to Tomas in Williams, Arizona, in September 2011, this delivery, which mainly focused on the creation of Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (and also included a photo delivery), has not yet been added to the Louis Kraft Collection. It is hoped that the 2014 delivery will be added at the same time that the 2011 delivery is added to the collection so that the information related to the Wynkoop book from both deliveries can be merged together as one addition to the collection. … Currently the LK Collection includes 18 linear feet; with the addition of the 2011 and 2014 deliveries the collection should grow to 21 linear feet.

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Currently the Louis Kraft Collection has 18 boxes that are available for researchers to view. In this 6oct2014 photo I am touching the 18th box. I can’t begin to tell you how much Tomas has done for my writing career over the years. He’s a good friend. (photo by Pailin Subanna-Kraft; © Pailin Subanna-Kraft, Louis Kraft, and Tomas Jaehn 2014)

After completing the delivery Pailin and I did research in the Chávez archives. We were looking for subjects for magazine articles as well as additional information on the Sand Creek tragedy. Tomas had brought out one of his latest acquisitions, which I have been aware of since the document had been made available to the Chávez. We discussed it, and I told Tomas that to date I hadn’t come up with any background on the author, but had yet to do a search on him in the National Archives. That will happen soon after this blog goes live.

I must add that although Pailin had done a lot of work in Colorado both in archives and in the field in Santa Fe my research demands wiped her out. There was nary a complaint as she smoothly completed each research task I asked of her, and as they related to her photographic capabilities she never had a chance to rest. Yes, I am a slave driver.

Wynkoop’s last job 

Tomas and I discussed Ned Wynkoop’s last job, which was as the warden of the New Mexico Territorial Penitentiary.

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The New Mexico Territorial Prison as it looked in 1890 during Ned Wynkoop’s tenure as warden. (art © Louis Kraft 2014)

In 1890, when Wynkoop landed the position the prison was a fair wagon ride from Santa Fe, which in Wynkoop’s later years had become his home of choice. I told Tomas that I thought that Wynkoop’s time as warden might be a possible story for New Mexico Magazine, and he replied that he didn’t think so? “Why?” I asked. He said that the magazine, which has always been tourist centric, had dropped its historical pieces. Alas, ’tis true. Tomas did tell me where he thought the territorial prison once stood and that the warden’s house still existed. Although not on this day, but before we left Santa Fe we found and photographed the residence (as well as the government building where the prison once stood). As warden Wynkoop stepped outside the box and made the prison self-sufficient. There’s an article here; the question is where to place it.

Pailin’s introduction to Santa Fe

On the sixth we finished at the Chávez at about 12:30 and said goodbye to Tomas. As stated above my lady was worn out as I had pushed her in the research. Still she was game and saw the Indian traders on the portico of the Palace of the Governors (including the interior of the building), took a closer look at the Plaza, walked through the narrow streets of Santa Fe with her camera constantly clicking. Images for her and for me.

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Pailin loves art, and Santa Fe is the third largest art market in the U.S. after New York City and Los Angeles. Santa Fe has art on the streets and in the galleries in the downtown area. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for her to explore even a portion of all the roads that are lined with galleries. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft and Louis Kraft 2014)

We ate chicken and green chile stew especially prepared for us at Tia Sophia’s as the only green chile stew they made that day had beef. Good for me; a little warm for Pailin.

Eldorado & the International Museum of Folk Art

On the seventh Lisa Smith, my long-time friend and real estate agent in Eldorado (Santa Fe County) showed us two adobe-style homes on an acre plus of land. The first was interesting with a rustic appeal but felt small. It also had a loft that other than storage was almost useless. However, the land had a nice roll to it and the enclosed entry had lots of possibilities. Lisa told us that it was overpriced (she would tell the selling agent her view later that day, and apparently other agents had also done so, for by late afternoon the price had dropped $50,000). The second home listed for $25,000 less than the first house but was magnificent.

EldoradoHouseCollage_2014_wsAfter seeing these houses, and later at my good friends Glen and Ellen Williams’ home in Denton, Texas, and Pailin asked me why we don’t have a home like these in Los Angeles. The answer is simple: Housing in Los Angeles costs more, and that for us to live in a home like these we would have to move out of LA. … This was my kind of question and I hope that it remains in Pailin’s head. Prices continually rise in Los Angeles. Currently there is a scare of an increase of gasoline tax from 15 cents to 73 per gallon to fix the roads; we’re already paying a heavy tax to fix the roads (and most haven’t been fixed in years). Don’t ask me where the money goes for the government won’t like my answer.

**********

Oh, the Los Angeles Times featured “99 WAYS TO BOOST PENSIONS. AT PUBLIC COST. Taxpayers could shoulder billions after CalPERS approved perks for new public workers” in the 23oct2014 issue of the paper. The title and subtitle says it all, but here is just a taste of being a government employee in the late great state of California: The pension fund has quadrupled in the last 10 years, from $1.9 billion to $8.1 billion. What are some of the perks? How about a bonus each month for staying in shape (they call it “Physical Fitness Pay”), or adding to one’s pension by keeping traffic moving, working with animals, a premium for dictation/shorthand/typing skills (Are you kidding me?), writing parking tickets (What? Write more tickets and you get a bonus or your retirement grows?), auditorium preparation, mentioning school children, and my favorite, a library reference desk premium for directing visitors to the correct location in the building. The list goes on ad nauseam. … Sorry, but I’m back in the real world.


Santa Fe has four Thai restaurants that I know of and another that serves Thai food once a week. That said I failed to learn the size of the Thai population in Santa Fe. It will be small, but I know that the chef and owner of Thai Vegan (a great restaurant) is Thai, so that means that at least one Thai person lives in Santa Fe (city and county). My searches on the internet turned up zero.

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Yes, Pailin fit right in with the International Museum of Folk Art. LK photo on 7oct2014. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

We said goodbye to Lisa (although we would see her again later in the day to see a third house) and headed to a destination that I had seen only once (in 1987 I think). I had been bored to tears decades ago but thought Pailin would love it.

I don’t remember the other museums on Museum Hill but they could have been there in the 1980s. Certainly the exteriors and everything now in place didn’t look like I remembered it, and this is good.

ps_Intl_Museum_ofFoldArt2_7oct14_wsPailin fell in love with the International Museum of Folk Art the moment she started to explore it. And you know what? So did I. Like good wine the folk art from around the world sparkled with life and color. “Multiple Visions: A Common Bond,” which has been on display since 1982 is a marvel of culture and art. This is the exhibit that bored me in the dark ages. All I can say now—other than what I said above—is that I must have been blind when I was younger. … Three other exhibits are also wondrous, but they unfortunately have end dates:

  • “Between Two Worlds: Folk Artists Reflect on the Immigrant Experience” (ends 24may2015)
  • “Wooden Menagerie: Made in New Mexico” (ends 15feb2015)
  • “Brasil & Arte Popular” (ends 4jan2015)

A trip to Taos to introduce Pailin to Kit Carson

Over the years I have done a lot of research on Kit Carson. Since Taos is so close to Santa Fe and as our work had ended there except for photographing the location of where the New Mexico Territorial Prison once stood, on 8oct2014 we drove to Taos. The goal was to introduce Pailin to:

  • Taos
  • Taos Pueblo
  • La Hacienda de los Martinez
  • Kit Carson House

The order of the list is deceiving, as returning to see Kit’s home for many years has always been primary on my list (for reasons that have been in place for decades). Taos was second as I wanted Pailin to see another example of a city with adobe-style buildings and an artistic aura, which, alas, survives on tourism (heck, N.Mex. survives on tourism). Third was Taos Pueblo, actually as I wanted her to experience an Indian pueblo that was occupied. I prefer Acoma (west of Albuquerque) as it is much less commercial than Taos, but hadn’t plotted our return trip from Texas, and wouldn’t until the night before we left Texas. Kraft, how many miles can you drive during a single day? … Along with what would weather conditions along I-40 in Arizona be like during our trek homeward. Last, but certainly not least, was La Hacienda de los Martinez. When Linda Monnett learned that Taos was on our visit list she recommended that we see the hacienda and I’m glad she did.

Taos

This quiet adobe town dates way back, perhaps as early as 1615 with Spanish colonization. When the Mexican-American war ended with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) Mexico ceded a large section of land to the United States and this included Taos and the area that became New Mexico Territory. Kit Carson’s presence dated to the early 1840s, and Taos has been a favorite destination of mine since 1987. It was during that time that I became hooked on the real Kit Carson (see below). The town, which is a short drive south of the Taos Ski Valley* immediately became a second destination for my daughter and I, as we have always found it peaceful, liked the food, atmosphere, that it was a short drive to other places we visited, and best for me that it was a perfect location to take a week and create a talk (I think that the first time I did this was in 1995 when I gave a Custer-Stone Forehead talk in Amarillo, Texas, a week and a half later).

* After the portion of the trip to Albuquerque to pitch a job and look at a house that interested me the plan was to spend time and explore the surrounding area. Builder Joe Cuellar told me to cancel our lodging reservations in Taos and stay in one of his condos in the Taos Ski Valley and that he and his son Justin would join us in one of the condos he kept for himself. We did for about a week and had a great time exploring with Joe.

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This is a portion of the Taos Plaza as it looked on 8oct2014. Pailin took some images of the plaza area but I can’t find any of them. Oh well, … a little more on Kit Carson, who, during the American Civil War, rescued the American flag when malcontents threatened to burn it (or so the story goes). The plaza was most-likely dirt with scattered adobe buildings surrounding it during Kit’s time. (photo © Louis Kraft 2014)

The shops enclosing the plaza (and the plaza) grabbed Pailin’s interest and she looked at some of the merchandise (but didn’t get anything as she isn’t a spontaneous buyer). She focused on the plaza, enjoying its serenity in the peaceful October 8 late morning, and listened to my telling of Carson rescuing the American flag (history that I hope makes it into a book of mine). I’m certain that at times she thinks that I’m a motor mouth.

This time of year is perfect to visit. Although there was cloud covering the entire day we didn’t encounter scattered sprinkles until we headed back to Santa Fe late in the afternoon. The temperature was perfect, ranging between 70 and 72 degrees the entire time we were in Taos. As we brought food from the previous day, and she had enjoyed Southwest food already we didn’t eat there.

Taos Pueblo 

ps&TaosPueblo_8oct2014_collage_wsI had also visited the Taos Pueblo for the first time in 1987 (it was an extended trip of I believe 16 days with the focus on research in Santa Fe). If memory serves me I thought that in the past I had to pay for parking or to enter the pueblo (think to enter the pueblo), but not on this visit—there was no cost. I don’t know if my memory is in error or has begun to fail (hopefully the former of the two if there used to be a cost).

La Hacienda de los Martinez

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Pailin leans against the archway that separates the first courtyard from the second at the Martinez Hacienda. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

A drive into the country to the southwest of Taos, and I think closer to the Río Grande Gorge but not on the road that crosses this magnificent river, a narrow street wrapped in almost a horseshoe to this cool building that the Martinez family occupied from roughly 1804 (their arrival in Taos) until the 1930s. I’m going by memory here, but I believe it was in the 1950s when two gentlemen borrowed money on their homes to ensure that the hacienda would be not only restored but would become protected and made into a museum. There weren’t enough signs and those we saw were small, and at times we wondered if we had made a wrong turn. At one point I continued straight but luckily Pailin saw that I should have turned right. … A U-turn, then a left and we were back on course.

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LK leans against the same archway that separates the first courtyard from the second at the Martinez Hacienda. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

La Hacienda de los Martinez is off the beaten path and we almost had it to ourselves. As you drive into the dirt parking lot you get the feeling that it was built as a fortress. There are no exterior windows, and only one exterior door and one large double gate for wagon and livestock entry at the front of the building (and one double gate for entry into the second courtyard). At the top of the structure, which has two courtyards is a surrounding wall with notches for defending the structure if need be from attack. Rooms are at the base of the rectangular fortress enclosure and again slicing through the middle of the structure, which creates the two courtyards. The rooms are decorated and furnished in a manner that represents how it might have looked in the hacienda’s heyday. Lighting in the rooms makes it easy to study and enjoy them.

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This is the first of the two courtyards at the Martinez Hacienda. The second is dirt, as are all the rooms, which encompass the hacienda. It was built as a fortress, and had one door and two double-gated entries into the structure. Ramparts on the roof functioned as protection for the hacienda. There were no exterior windows. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft 2014)

The Martinez family certainly predated Kit Carson’s arrival in Taos and choosing it as his home. What we saw has been restored and decorated to represent 1820 (or later, as it took time to build), but it also provides a great insight into how the Spanish families (and employees and slaves) lived before and probably up to the time that Kit’s tenure in the area began.

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This was the children’s room at the Martinez Hacienda. There were so many great rooms there, and they were decorated as they may have been in the first half of the 1800s. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft)

Pailin and I took our time as we explored every nook and cranny of the hacienda. I could picture myself living there in the early 1800s. When we entered and before we left we spent time with the lady who greeted the handful of visitors, and I learned a lot from what she told us, but alas didn’t take notes so some of the above is from my memory. Our western states could use more of this preservation as it allows those of us that want to step back in time and get the feel of what it might have been like to live as our ancestors did.

If your travels take you to Taos, and you have an interest in the western experience before the great migrations westward I highly recommend La Hacienda de los Martinez.

Kit Carson House

The Kit Carson House has changed ownership and this has affected the size of the residence (to the better) and the interior appearance (again to the better). I believe the last time I had been to his house was about a decade earlier. This was my fourth or fifth visit; the first was in 1987. The film Kit Carson (1940) with Jon Hall playing Kit hooked me on the one man who did it all on the frontier when I was young. And Kit has been with me ever since.

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By now you know that Pailin is my sole mate and lady. She is like no one I have ever known in the past. I’m lucky. She’s an adventurer and open to anything; my kind of person. Boy, did I overwhelm her on this trip, and she didn’t miss a beat. I took this close-up is of her sitting at the front of the Kit Carson House on 8oct2014. Although the building has been re-stuccoed and is no longer an adobe structure, the look and feel is close to what Kit and his family lived in 150 years ago. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Although I haven’t published anything about him it is a quirk of fate, at least in the 1990s after The Final Showdown (1992) was published, and this “quirk” (read: disaster at the time) changed my entire freelance writing path. Although I had been selling magazine articles and speaking about the Cheyenne wars since the mid-1980s I thought I would be a novelist. Unfortunately—or fortunately—the publisher decided to end its western fiction line and a contracted novel died. When I threatened to sue, my-then agent (a relationship also fated to end) almost had a heart attack when I told her my intention. The novel that had been vanished into oblivion dealt with Kit Carson and his relationship with Indians. Dick Upton, of Upton and Sons, Publishers (El Segundo, Calif.) had been pushing me to write a nonfiction book about George Armstrong Custer (to this point in time most of my nonfiction articles and talks had dealt with Mr. Custer). With a dead novel in hand and no book prospects I called Dick and pitched a book. He liked the idea, and I became a nonfiction book writer.

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Pailin took this image on 8oct2014. It is in the improved courtyard of what was the “old” Kit Carson House Museum. What you are looking at are the two rooms that were added after Kit no longer lived in Taos. The leftmost and smallest is now the video room of the new Carson Museum while the longer portion with the lower windows once served as a stable. The Carson Museum and its former associate/partner have severed association with each other. I hope that this makes sense. If you moved to the north of this image (that is on the right side of the image), you would enter the old Kit Carson Museum. This portion of the connected building never was part of Carson’s home, and it is now a separate entity. Life moves forward. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft 2014)

But Kit never left me. I have first editions (or in the case of Kit Carson Days by Edwin Sabin, the 1935 second edition, in which many of the earlier errors had been fixed and additional material added) of all the key books written about Kit up to the most current. I have primary source documentation and am constantly on the hunt for additional material. Yes, Mr. Carson has been with me for a long time. After Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway is published, Kit will take center stage in my nonfiction Indian wars writing world. I have already begun a slow, very slow, conversation with Chuck Rankin regarding making my next nonfiction book about Kit.

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This is the middle of the three rooms that Kit and family lived in during the 20+ years he and they lived here. While walking these three rooms I tried to focus on the size of the rooms and their layout. Reason: I think a lot of what is in these rooms now are not current to the Carson family tenure (certainly there are Carson portraits that date to after his moving away; they should be in the small museum section of the building). This room served as the kitchen and eating room for the Carsons, and for their guests, which included numerous Indians from a handful of Indian tribes that considered Carson their friend. (photo © Louis Kraft 2014)

Back to the Kit Carson House; if you’ve visited you know that the front three rooms are the rooms in which Kit, his wife, Josefa, and their children lived in during the time that they called this house home. Two rooms were added later (as described above), with the larger of the two being added in the early 20th century (it is the gift shop and now entrance to the Kit Carson House, and when it was added it served as a stable).

As my time with Kit nears, this visit became mandatory (for the reasons stated above). Pailin had plenty of work in Kit’s house.

(Soon after we returned home Lisa Smith sent me the following: “Conde Nast Traveler has named their Top 25 Cities in the World and Santa Fe is #10. Cool, as Santa Fe is my favorite city.)

Gone to Texas to see Glen & Ellen Williams & meet Linda 

Over the years I’ve worked in Texas in various ways. I have had great experiences and I’ve seen things that I’ll never forget, some of which I should keep silent about as I do hope to return to the Lone Star state again and I don’t want to be tarred and feathered. Nor do I want to put the Vette to a test to see if I can outrun a posse of angry Texans to the friendly lands of New Mexico or Oklahoma. I’m playing with thoughts here, but I have seen things that someday will see print in the memoir. What I had observed has remained with me, and it has influenced the direction of my life.

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This is how I looked in a generation-gap comedy at the Hayloft Dinner Theatre, Lubbock, Texas (summer 1976), called What Did We Do Wrong?, wherein a straight-laced father and his rebel son exchange places. We did seven performances a week, and had Mondays off. The lead actors came from LA while the theater hired the rest of the cast locally. During the last week of the run the next production was rehearsed during the day, making for long days (and no Monday off). This photo was taken during a rehearsal for the next play, Eat Your Heart Out, which was about an actor who waited tables while looking for acting work (my hair was trimmed and the beard became a mustache). Great play, but I saw things that I would never forget, things that affected my life. This summer led to me becoming a writer. (photo © Louis Kraft 1976)

I’ve performed a lot of jobs over the years while I attempted to figure out who I was and which direction was best for me. Many of the trails I have followed have had dead ends or just drifted off into oblivion. The visits to Texas have almost all been because of what I considered work (although some of you may not think so). My training was in theater: Acting and directing, and although I never thought about it the studies included a lot of historical reading and writing (the different eras of theater, the playwrights, and of course the actors). By the way I never considered writing for any kind of career until I acted in Texas.

I’ll touch on this a little below. Right now I want to introduce you to Glen and Ellen Williams. I met Glen shortly after I joined Infonet in El Segundo, California, in 1990. I landed the job on my freelance writing, design, and publishing experience. The first thing I said to my boss was: “Can I get some technical writing classes?” “No. I hired you as a technical writer. You’re on your own.” My coworkers were an editor that liked to party and not work and a writer who waited for engineers to feed him information. It took me just a day or two to realize that this wasn’t how one wrote accurate technical material that people could read and understand. I began hanging out with the engineers that created the software that I would write about. Before the first week ended I told my boss that I wanted the software that I would write about on my computer. My request surprised him. Nevertheless he quickly got me what I requested and before I knew it I was up and running.

Early on I did some writing for Glen’s team at Infonet. We hit it off and quickly realized that the Indian world and the frontier experience was something that both of us had a great interest.

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After Glen’s and my relationship cemented and we spent time together exploring and having good times. After Glen and I made a LK Collection delivery to Tomas Jaehn in Williams, Arizona, I took this image on 5sept2011 while Glen and I tracked historic Route 66 back to Los Angeles. Here we are east of Oatman, Arizona. I think we drove a little less than 1000 miles during the three-day trip. We had plenty of time to hang out and talk. Too bad we didn’t have a tape recorder going—some of the subjects were lively (read colorful). Something I needed. (photo © Louis Kraft & Glen Williams 2011)

Our working relationship grew to a working friendship (even though I don’t think we worked together again). By 1995 my life had changed drastically and it was about this time that Glen and I got together outside the workplace. It was also about this time that I met his beautiful wife, Ellen (and she’s still beautiful as her photos prove). She’s always been a joy to be around. Let me tell you that I was sad when Ellen and Glen decided to move from Torrance, California, to the land of Glen’s birth (he was born and raised in Wichita Falls, Tex.) in 2012 even though I knew and totally understood their reasons.

A long overdue detour to the Bosque Redondo

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Carson art in LK’s personal collection that pictures him in the mid-1840s.

Glen had given good directions on how to travel from Santa Fe to Denton, saving about 100 miles off the route that I had originally plotted. On Thursday, 9oct2014, we finished the New Mexico Territorial Prison photos, quickly shot north (actually east) on I-25, got off at Clines Corners (where we had previously to view the homes at Eldorado) and moved south to I-40. It was on I-40 when my memory shot back to 1995 and Marissa and I driving to Amarillo for the Custer and Cheyenne Keeper of the Sacred Arrows Stone Forehead talk after preparing in Taos. The Bosque Redondo … Fort Sumner … we had been close but had a convention to reach. On this day we were again headed toward Amarillo. Where was the Bosque Redondo? How close would we come to it? Do I dare detour? … Indecision. Ouch! I vacillated, as it would take a lot of time (but not add many miles to the day’s drive). Time passed, way too quickly. Make a decision, damn it! Now! And I didn’t.

We had a pit stop and I yanked out the map. More time passed, and way too quickly. … I continued to vacillate, but not for long. Make a decision, damn it! Now! And I did. The town of Fort Sumner was about 42 miles south of I-40. Once we reached the aged town we turned left onto route 60 to the intersection where we would head south a few miles to the Bosque Redondo Memorial at the Fort Sumner ruins.

AmFlags_GraceRoybal_9oct14CollageFIX_wsFor those of you who don’t know what the Bosque Redondo was, Gen. James Carleton, who in 1852 saw the land and thought it would be good for farming, decided to turn it in an Indian reservation in the 1860s. Fort Sumner was constructed and beginning with the 1863 Mescalero Apache campaign and then the 1863-64 Navajo campaign it would now provide the perfect location to incarcerate the defeated Indians.

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This is a detail from one of the placards at the Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner. It deals with Carson accepting the Mescalero Apache campaign (with Carleton). The artwork at this memorial is exceptional.

One of his commanders, Col. Kit Carson had quickly forced the Mescaleros onto Carleton’s reservation. They lived south of the Pecos River. After Carson forced the mighty Navajos to capitulate by waging a burnt-earth campaign with very few deaths (with any other commander the death count could have easily grown into the hundreds or more) he didn’t participate in the Long Walk of the Diné, as the Navajos call themselves, to the land that would become hell on earth. Actually he didn’t want anything to do with the Bosque Redondo. Carleton refused to listen to him and ordered him to command the reservation that was anything but a garden place. Winds blew, nothing grew, the Mescaleros and Navajos didn’t get along, Comanches raided, and people died in large numbers from disease and hunger. Carleton provided nothing Carson requested and, frustrated, Carson resigned his military commission. Carleton refused to honor it. The third time Cason submitted his resignation Carleton still refused to accept it but he did transfer his unhappy subordinate.

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In February 1971 Navajos carried rocks from their reservation to the Bosque Redondo to commemorate the Diné that had been exiled from their land and died while incarcerated between 1863 and 1868. (photo © Louis Kraft 2014)

I didn’t know what to expect, but a wonderful visitor center/museum has been built (replacing the smaller and earlier structure next to the remnants of Fort Sumner). The museum isn’t complete, but judging by what the Bosque Redondo Memorial currently has in place it is going to be impressive. There is a lot of land to walk and the center has a recording that can be borrowed (I think there are 90 locations* with commentary as one walks the grounds) but Pailin and I didn’t have time to spend a day or longer at this important piece of Mescalero and Diné memory.

* There is a marker at the spot where Sheriff Pat Garrett shot and killed William H. Bonney, born William Henry McCarty, Jr., and of course known as Billy the Kid (this is a classy historical destination and I’m assuming they are accurate with the placement of the marker, which is close to what remains of Fort Sumner). He was shot in the Maxwell House, which had been the commanding officer’s quarters until the fort was abandoned on 31aug1869. Lucian Maxwell purchased the fort in October 1870, and would die in this building in 1875. All that said, we walked west from the remnants of the fort to view the “Kid’s” marker. The map pictured in the brochure clearly marks where the fort stood. However, it also clearly places the Maxwell House south of Fort Sumner. If true, the marker is misplaced.

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Pailin took this image of us (right) while we were at Navajo Treaty Rock, which has a Diné prayer attached to it. The Navajo Treaty (signed on 1jun1868) is a short distance southeast from the Rock (if the map is correct). The treaty freed the Diné  and allowed them to return to their homeland. Oh yes, there was a harsh sun on that 9oct2014 day. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

There is also a nature trail with plush vegetation (natural to the area?) that obscures and skirts the Pecos River. This area is as perhaps Carleton envisioned it, as the Bosque Redondo and the surrounding area looks to be good farmland today. Alas, for the Diné and the Mescaleros it was just a land of death and desolation. During their deadly occupation of their forced time there their crops mostly died from insects, drought, and perhaps bad luck, which included bad water and a failure of the U.S. government to supply them adequate supplies. Sound familiar? A resounding yes! “Shameful” is a word that accurately sums up what happened during the 1860s and throughout the American conquest of the Indian people.

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This is my daughter Marissa Kraft on one of her many research trips to the American West. She sits above Navajo Fortress Rock on August 7, 2012. The Fortress Rock is in Canyon del Muerto (Canyon of the Dead), one of the three canyons of Canyon de Chelly (the only national monument not on U.S. government land; it is on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona). Fortress Rock is one of the major set pieces of Navajo Blood, my upcoming Carson/Navajo novel for it is here that the fictional Diné Pedro Hueros must make a decision that will impact his life for all time. If you don’t know how I write about the Indian wars-—fiction or nonfiction—I must walk the land. I must feel the sun, the wind, and I must experience how hard it is to walk. (photo © Louis Kraft 2012)

I have a novel about Carson and the Navajos underway, but am currently waiting for the completion of the Sand Creek manuscript and the medical malpractice novel—as is Errol & Olivia—but actually the fictional story doesn’t deal with the Bosque Redondo unless I decide to continue with the fictional Navajo lead player and again mix his life with historical Diné leaders during the tragic incarceration. Additional research is needed before I even consider a follow-up book on the Navajos’ exile from their homeland. … At this time I have nothing to share about the nonfiction book idea that I hope interests Chuck, as there is still a lot of primary source research to complete before I have any chance of writing a nonfiction book about Kit Carson. As in my nonfiction past I will focus on a specific piece of Carson’s life. The hunt is on, and it is no longer lackadaisical.

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Pailin in the former and small visitor center of the Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner. Photo by LK on 9oct2014. It is now furnished to represent soldier barracks. Pailin, like myself, avoids the sun. On this day the sun blazed and the wind whistled (although not as much as I’ve encountered in this portion of the U.S. in the past). At times she looks like a Bedouin mounted on a camel roaming the sandy deserts of the Mideast in times long past (at least as seen in countless films). This is to protect her face. I call her my “Bedouin.” I also call her “Chiquita.” (photo © Louis Kraft & Pailin Subanna-Kraft 2014)

By this point of the trip Pailin knew exactly what I wanted from her and at the Bosque Redondo and at the remnants of Fort Sumner she split away from me to capture what hopefully will provide a good basis for understanding what this land—so barren when the Mescaleros and Navajos were imprisoned here—looked like … minus the vegetation that now thrives. My lady is in her element and it’s a joy to watch her work.

Back to Glen, Ellen, and Linda

It has been great to see Ellen and Glen again and to just hang out with them. It was also nice to meet Glen’s sister Linda and Ellen’s mother Judy. And I had the added bonus that Glen, Ellen, and Linda welcomed Pailin with open arms. They talked with her, hugged her, and she immediately responded and became a welcome a member of their household. Better yet she joked and laughed and felt a little more comfortable in joining the conversations.

Glen was home and working in his garage on 10oct2014, but Ellen and Linda were on an errand in Fort Worth and we wouldn’t see them until the late afternoon. After giving us a quick tour of his and Ellen’s home we went out for lunch at the Wildhorse Grill in Robson Ranch. Nice place and good food. Afterwards we returned to their house. This was the fifth house Pailin had been in on the trip. The first was John & Linda Monnett’s marvelous house, then three houses in Eldorado that Lisa Smith showed us of which the middle one was to both of our liking, and finally Glen & Ellen’s home, which is open and perfect for entertaining (we stayed in a casita that was part of their property). That day Pailin said to me, “Why?” “Why?” I replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “Why all these big beautiful houses and ours is small.” I explained to her that the cost of homes in Los Angeles is high and that if we moved away from LA we could buy a larger house for less money (and with or without acreage; I prefer acreage).*

* Sorry to repeat myself, but the trip goals were Sand Creek Massacre and Kit Carson research, a delivery to the Chávez History Library, introduce Pailin to some of my good friends (while I met two ladies named Linda in person), and finally to give Pailin a taste of the land and some of the areas I love. 

sophie&Chewy_psImages_montage_oct2014_wsShortly after Ellen and Linda returned from Fort Worth, and Pailin and I met them, and Chewy, short for Chewbacca, Han Solo’s sidekick in the Star Wars films (Ellen & Glen’s dog), and Sophie (Linda’s dog), both of whom are friendly, we returned to the Wildhorse for dinner. Pailin had been slow to open up to John and Linda, but felt more relaxed by the time we got together with Tomas, and now she had opened up and although she still didn’t say a lot she spoke up whenever she wanted. Pailin works on the English language every day and let me tell you she is progressing with leaps and bounds. This includes her pronunciation, her sentence structure, and her comprehension of words (spelling and meaning). While driving she constantly reads the words off signs, buildings, trucks, and when the words aren’t names she asks for the meanings of them.

The next day Glen drove Ellen and her mother, Judy, to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. Judy lives with Ellen and Glen half of each year and with her other daughter in Hawaii the rest of the year. They always meet in Las Vegas, where they can have a short family gathering before Judy returns to her other home. Pailin rested, I did some work, and then before Glen returned Linda and I had a nice talk in the living room, which is like a great room in an adobe-style house in the Southwest. The day and evening was easy as we enjoyed each other’s company. Glen and I never run out of subjects to talk about.

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You’ve already seen me say, “Who says they don’t raise cowgirls in Thailand?” Glen had taken us to Justin’s  (one of three stores in Justin I think). Pailin and Linda looked at clothing while Glen and I looked at hats. I told him that Barron Hats in Burbank, Calif., which makes many of the hats currently seen in film, makes mine for me. However, later Pailin wanted to see the hats. As I led her through the aisles she liked this one and tried on her size. “Do you want it?” “Yes.” “Let me snap a picture.” More proof that Thailand cowgirls exist. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

On Sunday (12oct14) Linda, Pailin, Glen, and I went out for breakfast.

Afterwards we visited one of the Justin Boot Stores (boots, hats, clothing, and so on) in Justin, Texas. Pailin likes hats and has more than I (actually she wears two cowboy hats that I gave her; one from the famed Nudie Cohn’s country and western superstore in Van Nuys, Calif., now long gone (as is unfortunately Nudie, who was a classic), and an Australian hat that Glen had given me. She liked a black one and I bought it for her.

Lunchtime arrived, and the four of us went to Mom’s in Justin. This was a funky place with cool and long-gone stuff on the the walls, including Elvis.

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From left: Glen Williams, LK, Pailin, and Linda Williams at Mom’s in Justin, Texas, on 12oct2014.

Good times. Yeah, this is social time with my longtime bud, his sweet sister, and my lady, and let me tell you it is as important as the Sand Creek and Kit Carson research, and the LK Collection delivery. Tomas Jaehn is also a long-time business associate and friend. John M is a great Indian wars friend, and now Pailin and I consider his wonderful wife Linda a friend. People are what our world is all about. People are our lives. Some are forever (some aren’t), but without people we have no lives. No matter what I think about my research and writing and no matter how much importance I place upon it, without Pailin, Glen, Ellen, Linda W., Tomas, Linda M., and John my life is empty—nothing. They, and others (such as Robert & Annette Florczak and Marissa K.) are key to my life, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

We returned to Glen and Ellen’s home in Robson Ranch.

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Glen took this great candid of LK and Pailin in front of the entry to the courtyard of his and Ellen’s home in Denton, Texas. It is 12oct2014, and Pailin is wearing the hat she found and liked at the Justin Boot Store. My good friend Glen Williams has taken many great photos for me, but this is one of my favorites. For the record, Pailin and I have a good time laughing together. (photo © Louis Kraft & Pailin Subanna-Kraft and Glen Williams 2014)

Glen and Linda relaxed (Linda also prepared to return home) while I worked on this blog and Pailin relaxed and dealt with her family and friends in Thailand on social media.

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The lady in the light blouse is Linda Williams, Glen’s sister. We have been friends on social media, but I didn’t meet her until Pailin and I visited Denton, Texas. Pailin is holding Sophie, Linda’s sweet and loving dog. My lady has made great strides in her command of the English language, but still she holds back (except with me) as she is conscious of her pronunciation of the words and of her sentence structure (both of which she becomes better at by the day). That said, she gets along with animals fabulously (perhaps as there isn’t a language barrier). That’s Glen w/Linda & Pailin in the left image. These images were taken just before Linda returned to her home on 12oct14. Left image is by LK and the right image is by Glen. (photos © Glen & Linda Williams and Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Linda drove home.

Soon after the three of us drove to the grocery store for supplies, including celery, parsley, carrots, and lemons to make juice. Like the previous day, we enjoyed each other’s company, rested, and got some work done until we went to the Blue Ginger, a Japanese restaurant in Denton. Good food.

ellen&glenWilliams1_14oct14tight_wsMonday was more of the same until Glen picked up Ellen at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

Ellen & Glen Williams (left) have been my great friends since the 1990s. As you can see Ellen is petite. She is bright, funny, open, and kind. She is also gorgeous. It was terrific seeing her again, and it was also good to see her effort to befriend Pailin, which gave my lady the confidence to open up some. (photo by Pailin Subanna-Kraft and © Ellen & Glen Williams and Pailin Subanna-Kraft, 2014)

Good times with Ellen and I’m glad she returned in time to be with us. After dinner, Ellen, who was beat, went to bed early, and so did Pailin.

drum&breastplate_gWilliamsGift_13oct14_wsThis allowed Glen and I to talk deep into the night. He made certain that I had a drum made for him by Devereaux Old Elk*, who grew up near Garryowen on the Crow Reservation in Montana, and a breastplate, which, according to Glen’s provenance, came from a Crow trader but was created by a Northern Cheyenne (based upon the bead colors). The breastplate dates to the early 1950s and shows considerable use as it was worn for years in powwows. Glen had carefully packed it. These had been his possessions for a long time and he wanted me to enjoy them. I had tried to talk him out of the gifts, but he wouldn’t listen. They are marvelous, and I will enjoy them. Thank you, Glen.

* The Crow scout Curley, who survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn, was Devereaux’s great grandfather.

The image to the right shows the two items that Glen graciously gave me (photo © Louis Kraft 2014).

Ladies and gents, my friend blew me away, and I told him that he needed to keep and enjoy them. He refused to listen, and you are now seeing two of my most prized possessions in Tujunga House. I wasn’t sure how I should share the images and cut them from a larger photo that I took. Most of our money goes toward paying bills, which means that most of my prized possessions were purchased in the past. We talked about the Cheyennes, Kiowas, Crows, among other subjects, and I went to bed blown away by Glen’s friendship and kindness.

Glen, my friend, you have been a highlight in my life. Your gift has floored me and I’m still struggling to accept it. Thank you, my friend, from the bottom of my heart.

A sad goodbye to Texas

On 14oct2014 we said goodbye to Ellen and Glen, but do hope to return again.

Ellen&Glen_wChewy_earlyAM_14oct14_wsEllen & Glen Williams, and Chewy (pictured at left) on the morning of 14oct2014, a morning in which Pailin and I hit the road early on our trip back to LA. I usually prefer to move forward in linear time, and did some juggling to make this happen here. This morning was both happy and sad for me. Sad in that we said goodbye to two friends I love, and a lifestyle that perhaps we’ll never know (and yet hope always burns eternal). (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft, and Ellen & Glen Williams 2014)

Our boring drive ended in Tucumcari, New Mexico (room was decent but the food pitiful; I won’t bother to mention the restaurant). On the fifteenth we cruised along I-40. West of Albuquerque is the Acoma Pueblo. I believe it is the longest inhabited town in the United States. It sits on top of a 600-foot mesa and is my favorite pueblo but as Pailin had already seen Taos Pueblo we bypassed it. One of the reasons was the long walk during the tour, which is the only way visitors can experience it and the people that live there today. The sun also was a deterrent.

Gallup, New Mexico, and Pailin’s research introduction to Mr. Flynn

lk&ps_EF&elRanchoHotelCollage_15oct14_wsI’ve been passing through and sometimes staying in Gallup for a week or longer while using it as a base for research. This is not my favorite town and I’m not crazy over the food served in the restaurants. Love the red rocks, and at the same time this gorgeous area always makes me sad. Errol Flynn’s last western film, Rocky Mountain (Warner Bros., 1950) was basically a location shoot (not entirely, but close) and a good part of it was shot in the area surrounding Gallup. Flynn, the other actors, and the film crew stayed at the El Rancho Hotel, which is now a national historic site. So why am I sad? The film was shot in black and white. With the red rocks the centerpiece to the film, and they are something to behold, the film should have been shot in color. Warner Bros. was cutting back on film budgets as it continued to end its relationship with its major stars, Flynn included. Too bad, as Rocky Mountain is a decent film.

psEFphoto_signatureFAKE_elRanchoHotel_15oct14_ws

Unfortunately you can’t read the EF signature on the Flynn photo at the El Rancho Hotel. It is not only a fraud, but the person who signed Flynn’s name had no clue of the spelling of his name. Flynn’s Name is “Errol Flynn” and the forger signed it “Earl” Flynn. This crap is all over the place when dealing with signatures. If you buy signatures be careful. BTW, this Flynn image dates from the early- to the mid-1940s. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

In the past I’ve explored the El Rancho Hotel’s expansive entry and upper floor that is open to the main floor as well as photograph the exterior. On 15oct2014 this would change as I felt it would be time to expand the physical research, which in turn would be right up Pailin’s alley. It was and she gleefully took requested photos along with ones that she wanted. After exploring we shared a salad in the hotel’s restaurant (it was decent) but afterwards we weren’t able to see the bar, as it didn’t open until 5:00 PM. I told them I was a writer doing research on a book (No ladies and gents: Although there will be a lot of western fact and fiction in Errol & Olivia as three of their eight films were westerns, Rocky Mountain won’t make it into that book), that I didn’t want a drink and just wanted to see the bar. This opened conversations about Flynn’s time in Gallup but it didn’t open the bar, which was locked—Some other time.

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LK leaning against the Vette just before we hit the road. Many more miles to cover, and LK needed to stay awake. The research for this trip had ended, and it was now time to get home safely. Pailin took this image, which shows the exterior to the El Rancho Hotel. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Gallup was our last point of interest stop as we still had roughly half of the 1400+ miles that I needed to drive since saying goodbye to Ellen and Glen. And each day felt longer than the previous. By the time we said goodbye to I-40 (in California) and drove south on I-15 I was bleary-eyed. Adding to the misery we had to deal with major roadwork with narrow pieces of road and idiots darting in and out of the two lanes. The trip would come in at 60 miles shy of 4,000. And as a bonus, the Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) reduced my insurance by $1,300.00; the bill was waiting for me when we returned home. And why not? Kraft is a good ol’ boy and hasn’t killed any cars lately and since he now works at home his driving mileage has shrunk big time. … Of course, if the ACSC had known how many miles the Vette had just covered they would have cried foul!

One final thing

I’m a biographer who focuses on race relations. That is I deal with people who turn their back on racial prejudice, and often attempt to bring an end to war as opposed to butchering people just because they are different. This was difficult to do in 1864 and it is still difficult in our day and age. A lot of people have problems with this. It’s their problem and not mine. Our world consists of many types of people—different races, religions, lifeways, and beliefs. If our world is to survive all of us must figure out how to peacefully coexist. If not … BOOM!!! … No more world as we know it and goodbye to the human race.

Today is a good day to be alive. …

Upcoming blogs

  • Newport Beach, editors, and friends
  • A surprise blog that comes out of left field
  • People who don’t do research but dish out opinion as if they know everything
  • Unscrupulous writer-historians and how they dupe their readers
  • The song remembers when

National Park Service, Ned Wynkoop, & a bad taste

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018

Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog

As in the past, click on an image to expand it


Warning: This blog is different than previous blogs

Although I get along with people I’m not the biggest joiner. Actually I’m a loner. I’m good all by myself, and I never get bored. Ask anyone who knows me in Los Angeles or anyone I know in the Indian wars world: Writer/historian/speakers, editors, the people that live these tumultuous times today working in museums and at national historic sites (NHS) or are what might be considered re-enactors.

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lk reciting a poem per the organizer’s request at the beginning of a symposium in El Segundo, Ca., on 24mar2001. A so-called Little Bighorn battle expert had contacted in the mid-1990s and read a part of his review of my Custer/Stone Forehead book. It was good and he duped me big time. I answered his questions. If a reviewer ever again contacts me with questions I will hang up or delete the email. This man was full of deceit; a hard lesson to learn. This blowhard would speak with me at this symposium. I told the man who organized it to keep him quiet or i would attack him with words. There was no confrontation. This was the beginning of me realizing that what I wrote about would sometimes garner a hostile response. Oh, I spoke about the Custer-Stone Forehead confrontation in March 1869. (photo © Louis Kraft 2001)

Let’s not forget the multitude of fabulous organizations that deal with this time period. They range from professional organizations such as Western Writers of America and the Western History Association to smaller groups that are more focused on specifics of the Indian wars such as the Fort Larned Old Guard, Order of the Indian Wars, and the Little Big Horn Associates (I’ve named a few; there are many-many more similar organizations).

I often help friends and people I don’t know when I can. That is, when I have knowledge  of something, or access to someone, that might help research and writing. See, I’m not a total mercenary. That said, I need to earn money. The reason is simple: My earning power is now about 25 percent of what it once was. Besides I like to eat once in awhile, and my car loves to gulp gasoline.

For those of you that don’t know how I choose my freelance writing subjects, it’s quite simple. Race relations is the joining thread. Certainly with my Indian wars writing (although Errol Flynn seems a strange choice to be one of my subjects, he was the most un-racial person I have ever written and spoken about—no one comes close to him, no one). In case you don’t know, I basically write biographies while moving easily into other writing formats when I feel like it.


iHankla_1may04_4_lkARTsig_ws

This is Ivan Hankla. He is a Southern Cheyenne who opened his lodge and heart to me in 2004 when I spoke at a two- or three-day event at Fort Larned NHS, Kans. Other than time required for my participation in the event I spent all my time with Ivan and James Coverdale, a Kiowa. This cemented a lasting relationship with Ivan (who, unfortunately, died a few years back). His tepee was a fully functional lodge as it would have been in the 1860s. He allowed me to photograph it and him over these days. My talk was on the last day and it dealt with George Armstrong Custer riding into the still warring Cheyenne village on Sweetwater Creek in the Texas panhandle in March 1869. More specifically it dealt with Custer’s meeting with Stone Forehead, the Southern Cheyenne chief, mystic, and keeper of the Cheyenne medicine (or sacred) arrows. Custer had an adjutant with him. At any time the Cheyennes could have killed him (and perhaps they might have died for doing it, but I don’t think so for the soldiers’ horses were as jaded as the Southern People’s mounts). I invited Ivan and James to the talk. Ivan told me that they weren’t paid participants of the event. I told him not to worry, that he and James were my guests. If they weren’t admitted to the talks and I couldn’t fix the problem that I wouldn’t speak (oh boy, there’s black mark against the Kraft name). There were no problems and they attended in full regalia. A good day for lk to be alive. (art © Louis Kraft 2014)

I think I should mention the images in this blog. There will be three types:

  • Cheyennes and Indian wars people: Friends, acquaintances, but with one ongoing link and that is our connection started with and/or continues because of what I write about the 1860s Cheyenne wars.
  • Collages that hopefully present background that I know a fair amount about Ned Wynkoop, Cheyennes, and the 1860s and the Wynkoop and the Cheyenne connection.
  • Publicity for my writing (sorry).

The goal of these images is simply to show with as little words as possible who I am and my connection to Wynkoop and the Cheyenne people.

Before moving forward I want to make the following clear.
Two national historic sites have been good to me over the years:
The Washita Battlefield NHS (Okla.) and the Fort Larned NHS (Kans.). What
follows has nothing to do with them. I’m proud to have spent hours walking
their grounds and hanging out with their staffs (some of whom have
become good friends). They have been responsible for bringing me
to Oklahoma and Kansas over and over again.
Good times; some of the best in my life.

Early April 2014 and a request

A friend sent me a draft of a National Park Service (NPS) two-page Ned Wynkoop brochure and asked if I’d review it. Wow, what a great idea: a Wynkoop brochure specifically created for the Sand Creek Massacre NHS and the Fort Larned NHS. I jumped at the chance with the hope that I could offer assistance to help the brochure shine.

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Dr. Henrietta Mann is the founding president of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College in Weatherford, Okla. Her resume is amazing and it covers the entire spectrum of education, including lecturing throughout the United States and the world. In 1991 the magazine Rolling Stone named her one of the top 10 professors in the U.S. She has served as technical consultant on numerous documentaries and a film I like: Last of the Dogmen (1995), which had the premise of Cheyenne Dog Men surviving the Sand Creek Massacre and living as they had in 1864 undiscovered into the 20th century. On 6dec2008, Henri listened to a talk I gave on Wynkoop and his relationship with the Cheyennes. She told me that I was her hero (let me tell you that after I heard her talk that night about the Cheyennes she became my heroine). Anyway, after I spoke on that December 6 morning we spent a lot of time together (and it cemented a friendship that continues to this day). We posed for this image right after we finished our lunch. I had met Henri the previous day (5dec2008) when she saw a performance of the Wynkoop one-man show at the three-day Washita Battlefield NHS symposium. (Photo © Leroy Livesay 2008)

Boy, was that ever a lofty ambition. Poof! Gone, long-time gone in a matter of minutes.

After reading only a handful of sentences I realized that the people who wrote the Wynkoop brochure didn’t do any real research (although I heard that the person who drafted the “Final Years” section did research Mr. Wynkoop). My guess is that the other writer(s) got most of their information off the internet (Oh nooooooo ….). Put kindly the two pages were little more than error-riddled prose that would be lucky to receive a passing grade in a high school English class. And those leading the project put it out for review! What were they thinking? … Oh, and if I didn’t mention it, I assume that the purpose of the brochure was and is to introduce Wynkoop and his relationship with Cheyennes and Arapahos to the general public. If yes, this brochure has failed terribly. Other than needing facts that are accurate, it needs focus. From my point of view (POV) the writers, the editor (was there an editor?), and those leading the effort didn’t put much time into the project. The draft sent to me showed little interest in the subject. Did the people assigned the project care? From my POV … No!

Let me tell you a little secret about earning a living
as a writer in the software industry: You had better deliver
accurate and readable prose on deadline. If you don’t
you are in deep “caca.” Let me say that another way:
Hell hath no fury like program and product management
with upper management serving as executioner.

I worked on the Wynkoop brochure for three solid weeks. I had 30 pages but they were not to my satisfaction. Even though I think I had been given a June deadline, that didn’t matter for I had run out of my time. Ready or not I submitted my last draft on May 1.

At this late date I can only assume that my 30-page review went directly to the circular file. There was no response. Nada. Not even, “We read it and we disagree with everything you wrote.” … So much for working for free. Yes, there is a bad taste in my mouth.

A change of focus

I accepted the assignment to review the Wynkoop brochure sight unseen. Once I had read it I wanted to improve the less-than-sparkling prose and the alarming number of errors presented on the two pages.

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The Wynkoop talk focused on his relationship with the Cheyennes. For the first time I used descriptive words in a talk to describe how the Cheyenne and Arapaho women, children, and men were sexually hacked to pieces at Sand Creek. I had previously used descriptive words in Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (OU Press, 2011). When talks have value and I like the subject matter they change and grow as they see life in my future. This was one of those talks.

Those of you that know my writing, know that I live with my projects for what might seem like forever and that over the years the people and projects I write about grow and expand as time passes. I prefer to know a lot about a little (by that I mean a lot about only a few people and the events in their lives) as opposed to a little about a lot. My delivery to the NPS included:

lk_GordonYellowman_7dec11

lk w/Principle Cheyenne Chief Gordon Yellowman (he is one of four principle chiefs). We met in 1999, when he and I spoke at a convention at Fort Larned NHS, and he and Cheyenne Chief Lawrence Hart blessed the Cheyenne-Lakota village site on the Pawnee Fork west of the fort. Since then we have talked at least twice at other events. This photo was taken at the end of a Washita Battlefield NHS two-day symposium on 12dec2011. Gordon, like Dr. Mann, has an impressive resume, which includes teaching art as an adjunct professor at the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College, and as the language director for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes’ Department of Education. It is always good times when I am in the presence of this gentleman. I have a poster based upon artwork he created prior to our meeting in 1999 that represents the Sand Creek village before and after that fatal 29nov1864 attack upon people that thought that they were at peace. I framed his art and I treasure it. I hope to use it in the Sand Creek book. If I can make it work on the dust jacket, then there, … if not on one of the pages of the printed book. It will depend upon Chief Yellowman, Chuck Rankin (editor-in-chief at OU Press) and his art director. (photo © Washita Battlefield NPS 2011)

  • Kraft qualifications: This was probably overkill, but I have been writing articles, talks, plays, and books about Ned Wynkoop and the Cheyenne Indians (and that includes when they weren’t in the same article, talk, or book) since the mid-1980s. Reason: I figured that those working on the Wynkoop brochure had no idea who I am.
  • Reading suggestions:
    Totally distraught at the less than pristine research, I suggested a number of places to learn about Wynkoop and his relationship with the Cheyennes and Arapahos.
  • Review of the two-page Wynkoop brochure:
    I’m certain that teeth clamped tightly (and perhaps tore flesh inside their mouths) and curses directed at me flowed loudly in a blue-tainted color when my documented words were read.
  • A suggested brochure rewrite:
    At first I began offering rewriting suggestions in the various sections. It didn’t take me long to realize that these suggestions would be ignored, not read, or discarded (probably all). I rewrote the entire two-page draft and submitted it with the review (probably a major mistake).
  • Suggested brochure images:
    I also had a big problem with the images in the brochure draft sent me. Again, the NPS is selling Ned Wynkoop in two pages, but the park service drifts so far away from Wynkoop in most of their images that I almost fell asleep when looking at them. I placed my suggestions in the brochure rewrite section, and the images include the reasons why I suggested them over the images in the draft I reviewed.

Unfortunately my optimism blinded me from governmental reality (which I don’t know much about, but what little I do know dips alarmingly close to the dark side).

lk_jackieJohnson_FinalShowdownCollage_ws

Most of the characters in the novel lived, including Ned Wynkoop, Black Kettle, Stone Forehead, Bull Bear, and on and on. At this point in time (1992) it looked as if I would be a novelist (even though I had nonfiction articles published since the mid-1980s and I had been talking about my subjects at events in the western U.S.A. since that time. My next contracted novel dealt with Kit Carson and the Navajos. But—damn do I hate that word “but”—but the publisher decided to drop their “Western” line. I had an agent and she almost had a heart attack when I stated that I’d sue. She talked me out of it by insisting that I would be blacklisted (I know all about the blacklisting in the film industry). She was probably right, but I know that her main concern was her literary agency. Still I bought into what she said, but we soon parted company. Believe it or not, this opened the door for me to work out a deal with Dick Upton (Upton and Sons, Publishers) and begin writing nonfiction books. Bottom line: LK was one lucky frontiersman.

Those in power had plenty of time to read and digest the Wynkoop brochure review I submitted.

That’s it. End of story. As I said above I heard nothing. I still haven’t heard anything, and at this late date (and approaching September 2014) I don’t expect to hear anything …

… until I make an appearance on a National Historic Site and am recognized. If the review didn’t end my relationship with the National Park Service, this blog will. I’m certain that I’ll be escorted off the property by armed guards and told never to return (John Monnett, do you realize what’s in your future?).

In June a friend who was aware of my Wynkoop brochure review, and who offered suggestions, asked what had happened to the review. Heck, folks, The X-Files still lives (BTW, it, and Michael Parks’ Then Came Bronson, are the only TV shows I have ever liked), for I am certain that the review I submitted now resides in Neverland.

Regardless what people think of me and my writing, and there are people that have actually turned their back to me at conventions and symposiums after I have spoken about Ned Wynkoop and/or the Cheyennes. I guess they consider Wynkoop a traitor to his race and hell, man, the Cheyennes are Indians. You know, the villains of the American story of conquest. I must be a cretin—an un-American—that refuses to go away and die. Regardless of this anger by me directed at a backlash propagated by people that walk through life wearing blinders, my plays, articles, talks, and books that deal with Wynkoop and/or the Cheyennes speak for themselves.

There are two sides to every story

  • A fellow and gal fall in love, marry, and later divorce.
  • Two westerners packing revolvers draw on each other and one has his head blown off.
  • An army invades a foreign land and the people that call this land home fight back.

Another story

A few years back I appeared as the lone guest on one of the many LA talk radio shows. This station actually has two shows airing concurrently. I arrived early and while chatting with the radio host that would interview me I met the other radio host (a talkative fellow). After the hour interview ended (the interview focused on Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland) the host who interviewed me asked if I’d join him to eat a late dinner at a restaurant (it was now 10:00 PM). I agreed.

Before we got out the door the other radio host caught up to us and asked if he could join us. At the restaurant the radio host sat across from me while the other host sat next to him. The other host (vagueness is important here) never shut up while we ate. The host that interviewed me remained mostly quiet. This meant that I had to respond to an ongoing diatribe against the Germans during WWII. How the hell did this subject come up?

aaf_argintine_29x43inchPoster_ws

Against All Flags (Universal, 1952). The publicity for the film looked great, especially the American posters, but alas, the film didn’t. This is an Argentina one sheet.

Of course it moved to the genocide of the Jewish people (this genocide happened and it was heinous, but I didn’t want to talk about it). Was this fellow trying to bait me (you know, the false allegations against Errol Flynn). I’ll never know for I didn’t bite. Without warning the other host moved to the actress Maureen O’Hara. I’m not a fan of her films; actually I’ve never seen one of them that I liked (realize that there are many that I haven’t seen). I will say this, the pirate film she did with Flynn (Against All Flags, 1952) is the only swashbuckler of the nine he made that I have nothing positive to say. That said, I read her autobiography, which is a whitewash of her life and a waste of time. Why do people write this cliché crap that means nothing, and if they didn’t write it why do they allow their name to appear below the title?

That said, I know a fair amount about Ms. O’Hara as I have done a fair amount of study of John Wayne and John Ford and she pops up often.

Whew!!! This SOB other host tore into Ms. O’Hara as a heinous Nazi supporter.

mk&lk_lbh_25jun2011_lineArt_ws

This image of my daughter Marissa and I was taken on 25jun2011 after a Custer Battlefield Historical and Museum Association symposium in Hardin, Mont., where I talked about Errol Flynn’s Custer and the real Custer (not my best talk on the subject). After the event ended Marissa and I traveled to the LBH Battlefield National Monument with good friends Bob Williams and Linda Andreu Wald. Rain had pounded Montana before our arrival and the Yellowstone River had overflowed. But everything was green. A great time with Marissa, who has traveled extensively with me and knows my view on racism. This image is out of focus and has never had enough bytes for me to fix it, …. thus this line art quick fix (which is still lacking). That’s life; so be it.

Let me tell you racism has played a big part in most of my life. Give me five minutes with a person and I can tell you without batting an eye if they’re a racist or not. What he said about Maureen O’Hara I had never read or heard.

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On September 22, 2012, I spoke about Wynkoop’s efforts to prevent Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock from destroying the Cheyenne-Dog Man-Lakota village on the Pawnee Fork, about 35 miles (40 by auto) west of the Fort Larned NHS. Leo Oliva, who spoke on the village site with me on that day, had asked me to represent Wynkoop when he was inducted into the Santa Fe Trail Association Hall of Fame. The induction of Wynkoop and others took place during a huge dinner on the 21st. My friend George Elmore, chief ranger at Fort Larned, loaned me the buckskin coat for the three-day rendezvous jointly hosted by the Santa Fe Trail Association, Fort Larned NHS, and the Santa Fe Trail Center. He also took this image of me leaning against Wynkoop’s home and Indian agency at Fort Larned on the 22nd. My film was black & white and I colorized the image. (photo © Louis Kraft 2012 & 2014)

I smiled. The other host continued, eventually asking me to comment.

“I know a fair amount about this lady and I have never seen anything close to what you say.”

He refused to shut up, even though my eyes relaxed into my coolest Clint Eastwood glare. … The other host rattled onward.

My smile grew.

“What’s your problem?” he almost screamed.

Violence is violence and it should never happen. I have learned a lot over the years. One is of major importance: If you are going to be in a fight, you have two choices—win or run like hell. This man was a blowhard; actually a bully with words. This man was short and it didn’t look like he exercised. I said nothing. He stood and repeated the question.

I turned on my charm. “You. You’re a racist.”

“I’m not a racist!” My smile grew bigger yet. It unnerved him and he sat down. … After we paid the bill at the table he leaped up but kept his distance from me as he ran for the exit.

I was never invited back to this radio station, even though the host claimed over and over again that he would do a follow-up interview on Wynkoop, Cheyennes, and race relations.

No comment.

A July 25 email and the response

One of my best friends for many-many years is someone I met in the technical world in 1990. We’ve done a lot together and there is a bond between us that is special. He is half Cheyenne, although that has had nothing to do with our relationship. I trust him and often he offers me more than support and friendship for he gives me opinion, review, and advice. Alas, a couple of years back he left SoCal to return to his homeland.

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Although not stated in the collage, Stone Forehead plays a leading role in Custer and the Cheyenne: George Armstrong Custer’s Winter Campaign on the Southern Plains (Upton and Sons, Publishers, 1995). As noted above, he played a role in The Final Showdown. He had a smaller role in the Wynkoop book, but he will have as large a role as possible in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway (contracted with OU Press).

On July 25, 2014, I sent a long email to a business associate who has become my friend over the years.

One of the paragraphs read: “In the spring I reviewed a proposed two-page brochure on Wynkoop for the National Park Service. The two pages were a joke. Often a sentence contained one or more errors and I don’t think any of the paragraphs were error free. It took three weeks to submit a 30-page document that pointed out the errors with citations that backed up the commentary along with documented facts and suggested rewrites. The response: Zero. Not even a ‘we received it.’ Recently a friend asked what happened, and I told him nothing. ‘Hell, if they trashed what you sent, some of what you submitted would make good copy for one or more blogs.’ (He was privy to what I submitted.) Good idea, and I’m considering it.”

The friend’s response: “Yes, why not post your neglected response to the NPS?

What to do?

lk_computer_2014Ahhh, for there’s the rub. Obviously this blog will make me public enemy No. 1 to the NPS. Just like the racist radio host, I’ve gotten to that age in life where I’m not going to be a good boy and “Yes sir” people to death with views to which I don’t agree. The reason: I don’t care what they think of me, I don’t care if they hire me again, but more important I need to be true to me.

lk the thinker (left). Yeah, I hate to say it, but this is the real me and it is totally focused on my writing projects. I don’t want to say 24/7 but it’s close.

“What to do?’ … yeah I sometimes vacillate

What I can’t or won’t do: Give you my background, post the NPS two-page Wynkoop brochure, and I’m not going to give you the cited documentation to my critique. That leaves me two choices: Drag my rewrite of the two-page brochure into this blog or mimic their draft with my words and image suggestions in place. The second idea is easily doable but it will cost me many hours to duplicate the NPS design. Why waste my time for an organization—the NPS—that doesn’t give a bleep in the first place? I will provide my rewrite of the NPS draft along with a discussion of some the NPS statements, omissions, and errors that bothered me. I’m going to include my image suggestions to the NPS document in the section of the blog that contains my suggested rewrite to the NPS embarrassment.

NPS Wynkoop brochure errors & omissions

Errors are errors and the blatant ones directly related to Wynkoop shouldn’t be repeated ad nauseam in print. They should be pointed out. Also, the NPS also lost focus of their topic and because of this (or perhaps because the writers had no clue what Wynkoop did and/or way-too often omitted what Wynkoop did). Some of these omissions are as large and glaring as the errors. Fear not, for I have no intention of pointing out poor English or spelling errors in this blog (at least I hope not). The brochure headings are listed as in the original NPS Wynkoop brochure draft supplied me.

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LK with Leo Oliva (left) and George Elmore at Fort Larned NHS in April 2012. These two fellows over many years have been responsible for bringing me back to Kansas time and again. A good relationship that has led to friendship.

Early Years (1836-1861)

LK note: I had a lot of problems with this section, but most of them dealt with writing and focus.

  • I asked that the statement that Wynkoop was good with a Bowie knife be removed. Reason: There is only one quote that I have seen that stated he carried a Bowie knife. This does not mean that he was “good” with this weapon. There are images of Wynkoop with firearms but none with a Bowie knife. There is documentation that backs the premise that Wynkoop was “good” firing guns, but other than that one sentence that says he carried a Bowie knife, there is nothing.

ERROR: Wynkoop didn’t move to the “small mining settlement of Denver” for the simple reason that it didn’t exist yet.

He had no duties to perform as sheriff as there was no town or city, no laws, and no jail. Wynkoop’s title of “sheriff” meant nothing; it consisted of words on a piece of paper that the men in the area refused to accept. Of interest: Wynkoop might have named the proposed city that would someday occupy the land that he and other members of the Denver City Town Company, including William Larimer, claim-jumped from the St. Charles Town Company in November 1858: “Denver.”

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I met Deb Goodrich Bisel in 2008 when she invited me to give a couple of Wynkoop-Cheyenne talks in Kansas in May of that year. During the week that I stayed with her and her family, which also included her interviewing me on her radio show in Topeka, we became friends. Good friends. Whenever I see this talented person it is just like the last time was the previous week. She is a bright, funny, and caring writer-historian. This image was taken by Frank Bodden at the Centennial, Co., Order of the Indian Wars symposium hotel on the evening after I talked about Wynkoop lashing in to the U.S. government for what he considered the murder of innocent people in April 2013 (sorry Frank, but I didn’t have enough bytes and played around with the image). I call this my snow trip as I spent eleven days in Colorado and on at least six or seven of them I was snowbound and grounded.

ERROR: Wynkoop didn’t perform any “duties” as sheriff until after he returned to Denver City in late1859.

At that time the budding Denver City still had no jail, he reported to no one, and actually his position dealt with criminal events that happened outside the city limits. No real law existed in Denver or the surroundings and most of the rough and tumble crowd that then occupied the area ignored Wynkoop’s assignment as “sheriff,” which only paid upon arrest and conviction by a “people’s” court (that’s right, no judicial system existed in 1859-1860). This meant that Wynkoop went hungry more often than he feasted. It also meant that he had a lot of free time to figure out other ways to earn money.

Wynkoop did sell some property (mostly within Denver City limits) that he owned as he had been one of the founding members of the Denver City Town Company. He earned extra and much-needed money tending bar in Charlie Harrison’s Criterion Saloon in Denver beginning in1860.

ERROR: Wynkoop never earned money as an actor.

Almost all (if not all) professional actors arrived in Denver as members of acting troupes. Usually there might only be one, two, or three professional actors performing in a play. The rest of the actors that performed on the Denver stage at this time were “amateurs” and they acted without pay. Beginning in late 1859 and extending through 1860 and into pre-Civil War 1861 most of the acting was performed in drinking and gambling houses. During the winter months often many of the men had nothing to do as harsh weather prevented mining. I believe that Wynkoop went on the stage simply as he wanted to meet and woo Louise Matilda Brown Wakely.

LK comment: Actually I think you should totally drop all references to Wynkoop’s acting career to create additional room for Wynkoop’s relationship and interactions with the Cheyennes.

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ERROR: Major misspelling of Wynkoop’s future wife’s first name plus an erroneous middle initial.

Currently her name is listed as LOUIS B. WAKELY. “Louis” is a man’s name; her name was “Louise” with an “e.” Also, using a “B” as her middle initial is WRONG. If you want to use a middle initial, use “M” for “Matilda” as that was her middle name. “B” stands for “Brown,” which was the name of her mother’s first husband and her father.

LK suggestion: List Louise as “Louise Wakely” (my preference) or as “Louise M. Wakely.” BTW, “Wakely,” the name that Louise used at the time she met Wynkoop was her stepfather’s last name.

ERROR: Louise Wynkoop was not a singer and didn’t sing on stage. This comment should be deleted.

LK comment: I have seen nothing that states that Louise sang on the stage. However, since one of her sisters sang on the stage (yes, there were three sisters) and she constantly was recognized as a singer while there were no mentions of Louise singing, this seems like a no-brainer. Check the index in Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (OU Press, 2011) for Flora Wakely, Louise’s youngest sister, or do your own research.

Civil War Years (1861-1865)

Although this section is listed as “Civil War Years (1861-1865)” it is totally mislabeled for Wynkoop’s involvement with the Civil War basically ended in fall 1862 when he returned to Colorado Territory, and perhaps you can extend it to 1863 (as the Colorado military continued to watch for another invasion). When this section moves to 1864 (and even though the Civil War was still in progress, the focus has moved to the Cheyennes and Arapahos. More importantly it has moved to the lead-up to the tragic attack on the Sand Creek village in November 1864. As currently labeled the Sand Creek section should be part of this section and as currently listed the “Sand Creek” heading should be removed and the text from that section should be moved into this section.

I totally disagree with what I said above. The Sand Creek section (as you originally created it) needs to remain standalone. That said, portions of this section should move into the Sand Creek section and this section should be re-dated.

Charge this section to: “Civil War Years (1861-1862)” or perhaps “(1861-1863),” for this can be justified as Wynkoop remained on the alert for a second Confederate invasion (but I don’t think this should be discussed as it would take up precious space in your document).

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Glen Williams & lk at Mission San Xavier del Bac on 15jan2012, which is west of Tucson, Ariz. I needed this trip with my good friend (really a brother whom I met shortly after my brother died in 1990). Our relationship grew slowly but over the years he has become a great friend who is an adventurer with a great interest in the world we live in and in our Indian wars past. If you have paid close attention to some my experiences in the blogs you are aware that at times I am capable of getting myself into trouble. Oftentimes Glen is a calming influence as we explore the present and our American heritage. (art © Louis Kraft 2014)

We will obviously miss Wynkoop’s 1863 Ute Indian campaign (thus a gap in your heading dates, unless you use the second dating, which is my choice in the previous paragraph). You have two pages (front and back of one piece of paper) to state what is important and the focus must remain true to what you want to sell: Wynkoop’s relationship with Cheyennes (and to a lesser degree his relationship with Arapahos). This has got to be the focus, and I don’t think you should deviate from it.

The above is editorial opinion, and I sincerely hope you are not offended by it but agree with it.

ERROR: Wynkoop became a 2nd lieutenant on July 31, 1861, and not in August.

ERROR: “The Coloradans joined New Mexico’s Union forces and defeated the Confederates at the Battle of Glorieta Pass…” No. There were no New Mexican forces at this battle. However, there were troops from the 1st and 3rd U.S. Cavalries present.

ERROR: As currently written, the regiment returned to Colorado and then Chivington and Wynkoop were promoted and the regiment became a cavalry regiment. NO! The Glorieta victory didn’t stop the Confederate threat and the invasion hadn’t ended. This didn’t happen until the Battle of Peralta near Los Lunas, New Mexico Territory, in April 1862. Also, that April, and while still in New Mexico Territory Chivington became colonel of the regiment, which then had a “name change” and not a reorganization (that came probably in November). The 1st Regiment of Colorado Infantry became the 1st Regiment of Colorado Cavalry (I’ve also seen 1st Colorado Cavalry Volunteer Regiment), perhaps as early as April but certainly by November 1862 (as you state). Wynkoop received his promotion to major on April 14, 1862. The next day, April 15, the Battle of Peralta ended the Confederate invasion as the Rebels now hustled to get out of New Mexico Territory. There were New Mexican Union soldiers at this battle.

LK comment: I have seen many names for the newly named 1st Colorado Cavalry, and I’m probably good with whichever name you decide upon.

LK comment: Move the third and fourth paragraphs to the “Sand Creek Massacre (1864-1865) section.

Sand Creek Massacre

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I like this image of my daughter Marissa. It hangs on a wall at Tujunga House. Using it here is mainly a reminder to me that I have a lot of research images on 35mm slides but no projector and need to get the slides digitized. We had been tracking Custer when Jerry Russell’s Order of the Indian Wars 1987 tour would end at the supposed Sand Creek Massacre site on private property. I called Jerry and asked if we could join the trip to Sand Creek and following banquet. He graciously said yes. This actually turned into an article on modern-day historians for True West (1990). While the tour assembled on the bluffs, Marissa and I explored the land below. (photo © Louis & Marissa Kraft 1987)

LK comment: This section has no dates. I suggest adding “(1864-1865)” to the title of the section to retain consistency with the rest of the document: “Sand Creek Massacre (1864-1865).”

LK comment: I moved paragraphs three and four from the Civil War section to this section and these paragraphs are now paragraphs one and two in this section (see the suggested LK draft, below). BTW, I had problems with both paragraphs and commented upon the NPS text within the paragraphs (this you won’t see in the blog).

LK question: Was Left Hand’s band part of Little Raven’s band? If not, I believe that you should feature Left Hand as he and a small number of Arapahos were at Sand Creek and Little Raven wasn’t at the time of the November 29 attack.

LK request: I’ve recently heard (without seeing documentation) that Left Hand is being removed from the Sand Creek Massacre NHS. If so, why? If Left Hand wasn’t at Sand Creek and didn’t receive wounds that ended his life there I would like to see proof. This is a major request from me for if true it needs to be in the Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway manuscript that I’m currently writing.

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After the speakers and music completed at the Washita Battlefield NHS overlook on 11nov2011 I captured this image of Moses Starr of the Red Moon Signers & Drum Group (left) and W. Richard (Rick) West. I met Rick for the first time before the event began and then spent a lot of time with him on the 12th, when we lunched together. We had plenty of time to talk. Rick is a Cheyenne peace chief. He is also the founding director and director emeritus of the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Recently he became president and CEO of the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, Calif. (I believe in December 2012). (photo © Louis Kraft 2011)

LK comment: You have repeated Black Kettle’s quote, “This white man is not here to laugh at us…but, on the contrary, unlike the rest of his race, he comes with a confidence in the pledges given by the red man,” which is in the subtitle of the brochure, and quoting it a second time is redundant. To save space I suggest cutting it here.

BTW, the George Bent quote in the subtitle is not redundant at the end of the document as he sums up what Wynkoop meant to the Cheyennes and Arapahos.

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As you know I take photos and create art. The reason is twofold: 1) Often there are not enough historical images to tell a story (and publishers rightly don’t like to keep printing the same images over and over again), and 2) They can bring in much-needed money. I created this portrait of Wynkoop in 2007. Since then it has appeared in two anthologies and two magazines. (art © Louis Kraft 2007)

ERROR: You called John Evans a “new” territorial governor, which implies that he was a novice and didn’t know what his duties were. By late summer/early fall 1864, Evans, who was the second territorial governor of Colorado Territory, had served as governor longer than William Gilpin had during his entire tenure as the first territorial governor.

ERROR: You state that the Cheyennes and Arapahos that moved to the Big Sandy and were involved in the Sand Creek Massacre made the move in mid-October 1864.

The Cheyennes and Arapahos that were attacked at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864, didn’t make the move until after Anthony replaced Wynkoop as commander of Fort Lyon in November (at least Black Kettle, Little Raven, and Left Hand didn’t; for Left Hand and Little Raven met with Anthony and Wynkoop in November, and later Left Hand and Black Kettle met with Anthony and Wynkoop. Anthony reached Fort Lyon on November 2 but didn’t inform Wynkoop that he was replacing him as commander until November 5 (see below for the reason why Anthony replaced Wynkoop). After being replaced by Anthony, Wynkoop and Anthony met with Little Raven and Left Hand (their village, which was about a mile from the post consisted of 113 lodges and 652 people.). At this meeting, Left Hand said that he “was willing to submit to anything; that the whites might place him in irons, or kill him, but that he would not fight them.” A short while later, Anthony, Wynkoop, Capt. Silas Soule, Lt. Joseph Cramer, and Lt. William Minton (Minton was a member of the First New Mexico Volunteers) met with Black Kettle and Left Hand at the commissary on the hill above Fort Lyon (this was the former Bent’s New Fort, which William Bent had sold to the military). It was at this meeting that Anthony told the Indians that if they moved to Sand Creek that they would be under the protection of the military. And, AND they didn’t move away from the post until Anthony insisted that they move away. According to Anthony, Black Kettle and his band reached Sand Creek on about November 17, as he placed it 12 days before Chivington attacked the Sand Creek village on November 29.

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Wynkoop’s home & Indian agency was located just outside the perimeter of Fort Larned, and southwest of officer’s row on the western side of the post and just south of the bend in the Pawnee Fork (this view is from the east/slightly northeast). The southern wall of the Wynkoop agency/residence (photo left, and not seen in this image) had two wooden walls with stones between the walls to protect against ride-by shootings. When Cheyennes (such as Black Kettle, Tall Bull, Stone Forehead, and Roman Nose) visited Wynkoop at the agency they and the people that then traveled with them camped to the south and west of the building. (photo © Louis Kraft 2012)

MISSTATEMENT, and as Stated, an ERROR: Wynkoop set out for Kansas to assume command of Fort Riley (although he would command it for a few days in December 1864).

Wynkoop had been removed from command at Fort Lyon for being absent from his post in time of war and had disobeyed orders, risked his command, and met with warring Indians in September 1864, and it looked as if he would face a court-martial. Anthony informed Wynkoop that his orders were to investigate officers (meaning Wynkoop) that fed hostile Indians in violation of orders. The military wanted to get rid of Wynkoop, and as quickly as possible as it viewed him as little more than an embarrassment. Hell, a war was going on; you don’t try to make peace and end it and that is exactly what Wynkoop attempted to do.

ERROR: You state that Col. John Chivington and his combined First and Third Volunteer Cavalries departed Fort Lyon on November 29. Actually Chivington’s command left Fort Lyon on the evening of November 28 at 8:00 PM.

MAJOR ERROR: Wynkoop didn’t visit the Sand Creek village site before he wrote his January 15, 1864, Sand Creek report on the massacre. Although he might have traveled to the site before June 1865 when he took Joint Special Committee members Senators James Rood Doolittle, Lafayette S. Foster, Edmund G. Ross, and Gen. A. McDowell McCook to see the bloody ground, this isn’t confirmed. We know that Wynkoop visited the site with Doolittle in June 1865. FYI: They saw the skeletal heads of small children with bullet holes through the top of their sculls showing how they might have died.

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Leo Oliva speaking about the events that led up to the April 1867 destruction of the Cheyenne-Dog Man-Lakota village on the Pawnee Fork by Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock on 22sept2012. This three-day rendezvous co-sponsored by the Fort Larned NHS, Santa Fe Trail Center, and Santa Fe Trail Association was a marvelous affair. It included talks, re-enactors, book signings, and historic personages being inducted into the Santa Fe Trail Association Hall of Fame. Leo gave his talk from the east side of the Cheyenne village site. As you can see, I was to his left and slightly behind him. The crowd also circled to his right, with some behind and above him where the main portion of the village had been located. Leo and I were the only two speakers at the village site on that day. (photo © Louis Kraft 2012)

Timeline for Wynkoop’s Sand Creek report: Wynkoop arrived at Fort Lyon on the evening of January 14, 1865, assumed command the next day, interviewed participants and non-participants of the attack, and on that same January 15th day submitted his Sand Creek report.

LK comment: The investigations into the attack on the Sand Creek village were exploratory for information on the tragic event; they never were investigations that would lead to a trial as Chivington had mustered out of the military before the investigations began, which placed the colonel beyond military court-martial.

Indian Agent (1866-1868)

ERROR: Wynkoop was not an Indian agent at the Little Arkansas River peace council in fall 1865. He commanded the military escort for the peace commissioners.

pawneeFork_Hart&YellowmanBlessing_24apr1999_tight_ws

The day is April 24, 1999, and it was a special day, for on this day Cheyenne chiefs Lawrence Hart and Gordon Yellowman blessed the Cheyenne-Lakota village site that Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock destroyed in April 1867. Cheyenne Chief Lawrence Hart stands just right of center with his hands folded. Cheyenne Chief Gordon Yellowman is praying at the right of the image. About four people to the left of Chief Hart (as we look at the image) is Connie Yellowman with the robe wrapped around her, Gordon’s wife. I met her early on the first day of the Fort Larned Old Guard event when both of us went to the office of our lodging to get coffee. She had read Custer and the Cheyenne, knew I’d be present, and brought her copy of the book for me to sign. Ladies and gents, in case you don’t know it I have written extensively about the Southern Cheyennes and have always been true to my view that people are people and that there are always two sides to a story. Connie loved what I had written about the Cheyennes. The sergeant at the far left of the image is George Elmore. At this time he was chief historian at Fort Larned NHS (he is now chief ranger at my favorite destination, which always includes the Pawnee Fork village site). I met George in 1990 or 1991 when I researched the novel The Final Showdown. He gave my daughter Marissa and I a private tour of the fort. I have photos, but unfortunately they are slides and were never printed and now reside in boxes and long unseen—I need to do something about this, and soon, as I have many images dealing with my research that are on slides. Sorry about duplicating what I said above in the image of my daughter but this task is a must. (photo © Louis Kraft 1999)

OMISSION: Wynkoop renegotiated the 1865 treaty agreement in spring 1866 with Cheyennes, Dog Men, and Arapahos that had mostly avoided the peace council. Wynkoop was on detached duty from the military at the time. Wynkoop arrived at the Bluff Creek, Kans., camp on February 25. Black Kettle was present, as was Stone Forehead, Keeper of the Sacred Arrows (a coup for Wynkoop). The next morning Dog Men waited for Wynkoop outside his tent, and they weren’t friendly. On February 28 Wynkoop held an initial meeting with Cheyenne and Dog Men leaders. That night he learned that Dog Man Porcupine Bear threatened to kill him if any Cheyennes or Dog Men touched the treaty paper. Nevertheless a nervous Wynkoop held his main council with the Cheyennes and Dog Men on March 1. Bull Bear and Black Kettle helped Wynkoop, who kept calm and got most of the Indians to agree to the changed treaty. However, Dog Men threatened Black Kettle if he touched the updated treaty paper and the chief didn’t make his mark on the paper. And there’s more. Wynkoop spoke with Little Raven’s Arapahos on March 2, and later yet had a second meeting with other Dog Men. Wynkoop also received a young woman whose freedom had been purchased while he was still at the first council site.

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This is one of my favorite photos of all time (so much so that it is the header for my website/blog). I took this image on 23apr1999 when Leo & Bonita Oliva and George Elmore took me (and my then girlfriend) on a private tour to the Pawnee Fork village site and then an exploration of the site. Some of the Cheyenne re-enactors had set up their lodges on the Cheyenne portion of the village site. One of them invited us to spend time in his lodge. During our visit with him and other Cheyenne re-enactors he boiled buffalo tongue over the open flame at the center of the tepee. For me this was a very cool experience. (photo © Louis Kraft 1999)

OMISSION: In 1867 you attempt to deal with Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock’s destruction of the Cheyenne-Dog Man-Lakota village on the Pawnee Fork but you have totally missed Wynkoop’s participation in the events that led up to the destruction of a peaceful village, which started yet another Indian war as Wynkoop warned.

OMISSION: What happened at the meeting at Fort Larned, with Cheyenne leaders including Dog Man Chief Tall Bull? Wynkoop was present and mixed-blood Cheyenne Edmund Guerrier interpreted when Hancock threatened the Indians with war. What about Tall Bull asking Wynkoop to stop Hancock from moving toward the Cheyenne-Dog Man-Lakota village as the Indians feared another Sand Creek? I’m afraid you are missing a major point here.

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I had created this montage before I began to piece together this blog. In Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek I used the word “Sioux” to represent the people I was writing about, mainly because the primary source quotes called these people Sioux. Words that represent people have changed as language usage has changed. In the blog I chose to call these people “Lakotas.” I don’t know which word I’ll use in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. However, I know that the primary source quotes will still say “Sioux.” This is a problem that I’ll think about right up until I deliver my polished manuscript. That said, I should say something else here. I use Cheyenne words in my writing whenever possible, and believe me the spelling of these words has matured and changed quite a bit since the 1980s. That said, this is an ongoing quest for me for I want to know the Tsistsistas’ words, I want to know how to pronounce them. and believe me I use the spoken words in talks and plays. It is a living language, and it must never die. I’m sorry, “Tsistsistas” means “Cheyennes” (a white word); it means “The People.” There is much more to the Tsistsistas’ name, much more. Simply, it represents the Northern and the Southern Cheyennes, and the Dog Men military society (remember, “Dog Soldiers” is a white man word) that for all intensive purposes functioned as a third segment of the tribe by the 1850s. There is much more I can say here. I have said a lot in past books and in some articles, and will say more in the Sand Creek book.

OMISSION: The fear of another Sand Creek attack was already in place long before Hancock reached the village (and as pointed out above, Tall Bull told Wynkoop of this fear after the meeting with Hancock). … You’ve missed another dramatic situation. Why not highlight the Indian battle line that confronted Hancock’s army miles before it reached the Pawnee Fork village? Wynkoop rode between the lines and prevented a battle that day. This is well documented.

ERROR: The Pawnee Fork village was occupied when Hancock’s army set up camp near it. This is well documented.

OMISSION: What about Wynkoop’s massive efforts to save the village from destruction after the Indians fled their village in fear of their lives? You’re writing about Wynkoop and yet you ignore this. Unbelievable.

LK suggestion: Read the chapter on “Hancock’s War” in Kraft, Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (OU Press, 2011), 178-201, and William Y. Chalfant, Hancock’s War: Conflict on the Southern Plains (Norman, Oklahoma: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 2010) for information on what happened at the Pawnee Fork in April 1867.

LK comment: Obviously I have major problems with the Hancock 1867 expedition to confront the Cheyennes and Wynkoop’s participation in the events. You miss what happened, you miss the dramatics of what happened, and you exclude Wynkoop from the events, even though you are supposedly featuring him in this brochure.

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Principle Cheyenne Chief Gordon Yellowman (left) and traditional Cheyenne Peace Chief Harvey Pratt (who I met for the first time) on 11nov2011 at a Washita Battlefield NHS two-day symposium. On this day Gordon blessed the Washita village site and Harvey spoke about Cheyenne warriors of the past and today. Unfortunately Harvey had to leave right after he spoke. On the 12th Gordon talked about what it is like to be a Cheyenne chief. Hopefully both will review my upcoming Sand Creek manuscript. (photo © Louis Kraft 2011)

LK comment: The NPS allowed three paragraphs for this section, and here is the final paragraph: “In September 1868, after a series of Cheyenne raids in Kansas, Major General William T. Sherman declared war on the Southern Cheyenne. Sherman’s winter campaign punished all Indians, both friendly and hostile. When Wynkoop realized that he could no longer protect the peaceful Indians, he resigned as Indian Agent in protest. He wanted no part in the murdering of innocent Indians.”

LK comment: Yikes!!! The above paragraph is true. But you have missed Wynkoop’s attempt to end the war, and worse Custer’s destruction of Black Kettle’s Cheyenne village on the Washita River on November 27, 1868, is ignored. In case you didn’t know it Wynkoop spoke before a standing room only audience at the Cooper Union in New York City damning what he considered the murder of innocent people. This is a very short paragraph and room must be made to rewrite and increase the word count.

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Craig Moore leads a group of people on a tour of the upper Washita Battlefield NHS trail. Moore is a ranger at the Sand Creek Massacre NHS and helped out on this last day of the three-day event (December 4-6, 2008); I gave two performances as Wynkoop on the first two days and on the third spoke about his relationship with the Cheyennes. When Moore passed Custer Hill, the location from which Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer observed the battle of the Washita (27nov1868), a tragic day for on it Cheyenne Council Chief Black Kettle, his wife Medicine Woman Later (Voh-is-ta), Cheyenne Council Chief Little Rock, and others who did everything possible to remain at peace with the United States died. It was here that Custer learned that soldiers shot at women and children. He rushed to stop the outrage. Ben Clarke (yes, that is correct for I have seen over 500 pages in Clarke’s handwriting including signed letters and he always signed his last name with an “e”), Custer’s chief of scouts confirmed this, and Clarke was no friend of Custer. Three years later Moore spoke of Cheyenne lineage as related to the Sand Creek Massacre in November 2011. I spoke on Wynkoop’s outrage on that day, but he wanted nothing to do with me. Perhaps because I inserted a running commentary during his 2008 tour of the upper Washita, including comments about Stone Forehead. He allowed me to do it, but I don’t think he was pleased. (photo © Leroy Livesay 2008)

LK comment: Wynkoop will forever be remembered for his attempt to end the 1864 Cheyenne war, but the Wynkoop that should forever be remembered is the Wynkoop that did everything he could to prevent innocent people from being killed for the actions of the guilty in 1868. Although this won’t be in the brochure, it should be a highlight in the brochure.

Later Life (1869-1891)

LK note: The below paragraph is in response to this final section in the NPS brochure.

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Ivan Hankla had set up his tepee at the Washita Battlefield NHS three-day symposium in December 2008. Ivan is at the left in his lodge. The fellow on the right is his nephew, Jake, who helped him at the event. The day was 6dec2008, and it was the last time I saw my friend on this earth. (photo © Leroy Livesay 2008)

LK comment: This paragraph discusses information in detail that drifts far from Wynkoop’s Indian years, and although nicely written doesn’t add value to the brochure. John Chivington didn’t become Wynkoop’s “nemesis,” for Wynkoop simply ignored the man after Sand Creek. Chivington had become a symbol to Wynkoop, the man responsible for the butchery of people that had been guaranteed safety. For the rest of his life Wynkoop refused to acknowledge Chivington other than in relation to the attack at Sand Creek, which he considered a criminal act. Yes, Chivington played a key role in getting Louise Wynkoop Ned’s pension after his death, and he said kind words about Ned.

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LK sitting near the bay window in the living room of Tujunga House (8may2004). Ivan Hankla made and gave me the parfleche above my head that April. It is a treasured gift. (photo © Louis Kraft 2004)

There’s always a damned “but.” … But your words have redeemed Chivington at the end of the brochure and leaves the reader with a positive final view of him. It’s good that Wynkoop was “honest and always a gentleman,” but I think here if you are going to use a quote by far the best choice is to repeat George Bent’s quote about Wynkoop. Reason: Not many white men tried to help American Indians. Wynkoop was one of the few whites that truly worked for American Indians, and Bent’s handful of words recognize this. I firmly believe that you should eliminate all reference to Chivington in the final section and go with Bent’s quote.

LK suggested rewrite of NPS Wynkoop brochure

The following is the suggested lk rewrite of the NPS Wynkoop brochure

This brochure is about Wynkoop. Often—way too often—the focus ignores this. If you want to bring his name to the fore of the Cheyenne Indian wars and point out what he did to walk between the races and work for Cheyennes and Arapahos you must maintain focus throughout the entire brochure. This can be done.

What follows isn’t egotistical. Rather it is an attempt to help you create a brochure that is not only true to who Ned Wynkoop was but will give the public that read the brochure a solid vision of who this man was and what he meant to the Cheyennes and Arapahos. … I am submitting a rewrite for this brochure (below). I hope you look at the words and decide if they present to the public who Ned Wynkoop was and why he was important to our Indian wars past.

LK note: I listed both my word count and the NPS brochure draft word count below each paragraph.

Wynkoop brochure heading

Edward W. (Ned) Wynkoop

Wynkoop brochure subheadings

“Best friend [the] Cheyennes and Arapahos ever had.”
Mixed-blood Cheyenne George Bent

“This white man is not here to laugh at us…but on the contrary, unlike the rest of his race, he comes with a confidence in the pledges given by the red man.”
Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle

Early Years (1836-1860)

While growing up in Philadelphia Edward “Ned” Wynkoop (born June 19, 1836) acquired a strong sense of duty, loyalty to country, and racial tolerance from his mother and older siblings. Intelligent, Wynkoop excelled at school and possessed a sound understanding of politics and diplomacy.
(LK paragraph word count, 44; NPS paragraph word count, 45)

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The NPS chose the 1861 standing portrait of Wynkoop by his father-in-law that was created shortly after he became a captain in the 1st Colorado Volunteer Regiment as their leading image in the brochure. Wonderful choice! My editor at OU Press, Chuck Rankin, wanted to use the great image of Wynkoop, Capt. Silas Soule, Black Kettle, Bull Bear, John Smith, and others that was taken after the September 28, 1864, Camp Weld conference ended. I spent days trying to crop the image and make it work on a dust jacket and failed. I told Chuck that I wanted the 1861 portrait on the Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek dust jacket. I also said that I wanted it colorized. The art director made it clear that OU Press didn’t colorize, but they did do duotones. This fellow, who doesn’t think much of me, created this great cover for the Wynkoop book. I couldn’t have been happier (even though the art director might have a different opinion). I’m certain that when I finally deliver the Sand Creek manuscript that he will begin to have heart palpitations, and cry out: “Oh Lord, no more Kraft!” That’s right, I have a sparkling reputation with production teams.

In 1856 Wynkoop followed his sister Emily and her husband to Lecompton, Kansas Territory, to seek his fortune. At this time violence predominated as Free-Staters and pro-slavery Border Ruffians battled for supremacy. To survive Wynkoop became skilled with weapons.
(LK paragraph word count, 39; NPS paragraph word count, 50)

LK note: This shortened paragraph may allow the Wynkoop portrait to move up slightly on the page.

Two years later Wynkoop migrated to the gold region to the east of the Rocky Mountains that would eventually become the city of Denver. At this time there was no town, law, or government. Although Denver began to thrive by spring 1860, Wynkoop, like many, struggled to survive as he worked as miner, land speculator, sheriff (which paid only upon conviction), and bartender. On the wild side, Wynkoop hung out with a rough crowd and became known as a “bad man from Kansas.” A professional actress named Louise Wakely caught his eye and he wooed her.
(LK paragraph word count, 96; NPS paragraph word count, 97)

Civil War Years (1861-1863)

An Act of Congress created Colorado Territory on February 28, 1861. Less than two months later the Civil War began. Rumors swirled of a Confederate invasion of the Southwest. With the gold region threatened, in June the first territorial governor. William Gilpin. created the 1st Regiment of Colorado Volunteers even though he had no War Department authorization and no funds. Although Wynkoop still fluctuated between law and lawlessness Louise had calmed him down. He enlisted, and on July 31 received a commission as second lieutenant of Company A. On August 21 Wynkoop married Louise, and before month’s end a promotion made him captain and reporting to Major John M. Chivington.
(LK paragraph word count, 109; NPS paragraph word count, 110)

In January 1862 a Confederate brigade entered New Mexico Territory and defeated Union forces at the Battle of Valverde. Orders sent Wynkoop and the 1st Regiment south to confront the invasion. The Coloradans defeated the Confederates at what has since been known as the Battle of Glorieta Pass (March 26-28). When the regiment’s commanding officer resigned in April promotions made Chivington colonel and Wynkoop major. On April 15 Chivington, Wynkoop, and the Coloradans, along with New Mexico Volunteers, defeated Rebel forces at the Battle of Peralta, near Las Lunas, and ended the Southern invasion. By November 1862 the regiment became the 1st Regiment of Colorado Cavalry. (LK paragraph word count, 106; NPS paragraph word count, 101)

Sand Creek Massacre (1864-1865)

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The second NPS image in the brochure is the done-to-death line art of Black Kettle by John Metcalf (without giving the artist credit). I think it is a poor choice as dramatic events confronted Wynkoop at this time, including facing the Cheyenne and Arapaho battle line on September 10, 1864 (this image represents Wynkoop seeing the battle line). He not only kept his cool but he maneuvered through potential death without violence that day. I created this art specifically for Wild West (it appeared in the August 2014 issue of the magazine) and I will use it in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. I offered this art free of charge to the National Park Service to use in the Wynkoop brochure for the Fort Larned and Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Sites with the stipulation that it uses this credit: (art © Louis Kraft 2013)

Wynkoop assumed command of Fort Lyon on the Santa Fe Trail in early May 1864. On September 3 he saw two letters from Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle, who wanted to end the war that raged all summer. Wynkoop led 127 officers and men toward a large Cheyenne-Arapaho encampment on the Smoky Hill in Kansas to discuss peace. On the morning of September 10 Wynkoop faced a massive Indian battle line. He thought he and his command would die, but instead Black Kettle prevented violence, and he met Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal leaders in council. Although threatened with violence by Dog Man Chief Bull Bear Wynkoop remained calm (Dog Soldiers is a white-man term). Wynkoop received four white children and seven chiefs accompanied him to Camp Weld, below Denver, to discuss peace with second Territorial Governor John Evans. During the council Wynkoop and the chiefs thought that war had ended pending the decision of the U.S. government.
(LK paragraph word count, 156; NPS paragraph word count, 155)

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The NPS’s third image is on page 2 in the Indian Agent section. It is an “Image of a typical Cheyenne village in the 1860s.” I might as well say this here: This is a brochure on Wynkoop. It has four images and only one is of Wynkoop, and it was taken long before Wynkoop met or worked with Cheyennes and Arapahos. Hello???? I don’t think I need to say anything else about the poor choice of images. This image appeared on page 124 of Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (OU Press, 2011). As it has many of the leading participants in the events that led up to Sand Creek, the attack, and the aftermath it is a major image and belongs in Wynkoop’s brochure. Partial caption from the Wynkoop book: “Kneeling in the foreground are Maj. Edward Wynkoop (left) and Capt. Silas Soule. Sitting (from left) are White Antelope (Southern Cheyenne), Bull Bear (Dog Soldier), Black Kettle (Southern Cheyenne), Neva (Arapaho), and No-ta-nee (Arapaho). Standing (from left) are unidentified, Trader Dexter Colley, Trader/Interpreter John Smith, Heap of Buffalo (Arapaho), Bosse (Arapaho), Secretary of Colorado Territory Samuel Elbert, unidentified soldier. Note that Neva has sometimes been identified as One-Eye (Southern Cheyenne), Heap of Buffalo has sometimes been identified as White Wolf (Kiowa), and that Bull Bear has sometimes been identified as the fourth sitting from the left, which is incorrect as a close examination of the many images of him in later life conclusively prove.” Courtesy: History Colorado (Scan #10025492)

On November 5, 1864, Maj. Scott Anthony relieved Wynkoop of command at Fort Lyon for acting without authority and feeding warring Indians. Wynkoop set up meetings and introduced Anthony to Black Kettle and Arapaho Chief Left Hand. Anthony demanded that they move away from the fort but promised military protection. By November 17 Black Kettle’s Cheyenne village camped on a bend of the Big Sandy. A small band of Left Hand’s people also camped there. Expecting to be court-martialed Wynkoop set out for Kansas on November 26.
(LK paragraph word count, 87; NPS paragraph word count, 88)

On the morning of November 29, 1864, Chivington and approximately 675 soldiers of mostly the 1st and 3rd Colorado Volunteer Cavalries attacked the Cheyenne and Arapaho village on Big Sandy Creek. The soldiers showed no mercy and killed women, children, and old people. Many horribly. Almost all the bodies were scalped and mutilated. Somewhere between 160 and 200 Cheyennes and Arapahos died in what has become known as the Sand Creek Massacre.
(LK paragraph word count, 72; NPS paragraph word count, 80)

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This is a detail of a woodcut that shows the chiefs that traveled to Denver and Camp Weld with Wynkoop in September 1864. It was created in the 19th century and is part of my collection. I colorized this image and offered it to the NPS as an alternate to the Camp Weld photo (the Camp Weld photo belongs in the Wynkoop brochure much more than the 1861 Wynkoop portrait). This image shows Bull Bear (left) and Black Kettle, both of whom played large roles in Wynkoop’s relationship with the Cheyennes. (Colorization © Louis Kraft 2013)

When Wynkoop learned of the attack his shock gave way to rage. He demanded an interview with Maj. Gen. Samuel Curtis, who commanded the Department of Kansas. Curtis listened to Wynkoop, who damned Chivington for the murder innocent people. Exonerated for his actions, in late December Wynkoop received orders to resume command of Fort Lyon and report upon the attack. He interviewed participants and leaned that “three-fourths of [the dead] were women and children, among whom many were infants.” Wynkoop’s report along with other reports of the massacre resulted in two Congressional investigations and launched a U.S. Army Commission investigation. Chivington’s attack was officially condemned, but as he had previously resigned his military commission he was never court-martialed.
(LK paragraph word count, 118; NPS paragraph word count, 118)

The Sand Creek Massacre resulted in an Indian war of revenge that began in January 1865. Hoping to end the war peace commissioners met with tribal leaders on the Little Arkansas River in Kansas in fall 1865. Wynkoop commanded the military escort. Instead an arrow in the back as Wynkoop expected, Cheyenne and Arapaho leaders asked he be named their agent.
(LK paragraph word count, 61; NPS paragraph word count, 58)

Indian Agent (1866-1868)

While on detached duty from the military in 1866 Wynkoop met Cheyenne and Dog Men leaders in council at Bluff Creek, Kansas (February 28-March 1) to get them to agree to railroad tracks crossing prime buffalo hunting grounds. Although threatened if Cheyennes touched the changed-1865 treaty paper Wynkoop, with Black Kettle and Bull Bear’s help, obtained needed signatures. In June Wynkoop, who now considered Indians human beings, resigned his military commission and applied to become an Indian agent. As a special agent Wynkoop fed hungry Cheyennes before President Andrew Johnson appointed him U.S. Indian agent in September 1866.
(LK paragraph word count, 97; NPS paragraph word count, 100)

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The fourth and final NPS image is a long-distance image of Fort Larned, Ks. Who cares! The Fort Larned NHS brochure features a magnificent color artistic rendering of the fort. What value does a long shot of the fort provide to the Wynkoop brochure? Nothing, absolutely nothing. This image shows U.S. Indian agent Ned Wynkoop (left) with interpreter Dick Curtis, one of the interpreters accompanying Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock’s massive army as it approached the Cheyenne-Dog Man-Lakota village on the Pawnee Fork (about 35 miles due west of Fort Larned, Ks., in mid-April 1867). Wynkoop, with mixed-blood Cheyenne Edmund Guerrier, whom Wynkoop often used as an interpreter, rode between the lines and prevented violence between perhaps 400 Tsistsistas, Dog Men, and Lakotas and about 1400 soldiers under the command of Hancock. Later, after Hancock’s army camped close to the Indian village, the Indians deserted it in fear that they were about to be butchered. Wynkoop fought with Hancock for days to protect the deserted village as these people had done nothing wrong, other than fleeing in fear that they would be sexually murdered and desecrated as the Cheyennes and Arapahos had been at Sand Creek. Theodore R. Davis artwork (author’s collection)

Wynkoop established his agency near traditional Cheyenne hunting lands at Fort Larned in southwestern Kansas. The fort’s isolated location afforded an opportunity to protect his wards that desired peace. In spring 1867 Maj. Gen. Winfield Hancock, with 1400 soldiers, threatened perhaps 12 leaders of the “Dog band,” as Wynkoop called the Dog Men, during a night meeting at Fort Larned on April 12. After the council Dog Man Chief Tall Bull told Wynkoop he feared another Sand Creek. Late that night Wynkoop tried but couldn’t stop Hancock from marching toward a Cheyenne-Dog Man-Lakota village on the Pawnee Fork on the next day. When an Indian battle line confronted Hancock’s army Wynkoop rode between the lines and prevented violence. Soon after Hancock’s arrival at the village the Indians fled in fear of their lives. Wynkoop fought to save the Indians’ lodges and property, but Hancock refused to listen to him, destroyed the village, and as Wynkoop predicted started what has been called “Hancock’s War.”
(LK paragraph word count, 162; NPS paragraph word count, 163)

In August 1868 a Cheyenne-led war party killed settlers in central Kansas and started another war. Wynkoop could not stop it and resigned his commission in protest. After his friend Black Kettle (whom he called “Make-tava-tah”) died in a dawn attack on November 27, Wynkoop lashed out at U.S. government policy for what he considered wanton murder of innocent people in New York City on December 23.1
(LK paragraph word count, 67; NPS paragraph word count, 61)

1 See Kraft, Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (OU Press, 2011), for variations of Black Kettle’s name including what Wynkoop called him, 111.

Later Life (1869-1891)

In 1869 Wynkoop applied to become Superintendent of Indian Affairs, but because he spoke out against government policy and dared to suggest that Indians become U.S. citizens his application was denied. Wynkoop lived another 22 years and more than once attempted to again work with Indians but the U.S. government refused each request. During these years Wynkoop performed numerous jobs as he provided for his family. He died in Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory, on September 11, 1891. George Bent, who as a Cheyenne mixed-blood, lived through the violent 1860s and beyond, called Wynkoop “the best friend [the] Cheyennes and Arapahos ever had.”
(LK paragraph word count, 103; NPS paragraph word count, 103)

LK note: Wynkoop suggested making Indians U.S. citizens at the Cooper Union in New York City on December 23, 1868. See “Indian Affairs,” New York Times (December 24, 1868), 1. When Johnny Boggs reviewed Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek, he wrote (in reference to Indians becoming citizens), “No wonder Wynkoop wore a gun.”

**********

Obviously when lk next appears at a national historic site
he will be escorted off the premises by an armed guard.
Hell, that’s not so bad for he’ll soon have another life
experience that will be a first. The future is out there
and I can’t wait to walk into it.

Upcoming blogs

  • People who don’t do research but dish out opinion as if they know everything
  • Unscrupulous writer-historians and how they dupe their readers
  • The song remembers when

Cheyenne High-back Wolf, Errol Flynn, Pailin, The Discovery + a Greg Lalire bonus

 Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018
Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog
As in the past, click on an image to expand it


Cheyennes have been coming to life every morning for over a week.

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Greg Lalire has been a good friend of mine since the dawn of time. He’s charming, understanding, and a good fellow to know (not to mention that he is a great editor). Jennifer Berry of the Weider History staff took this photo. I like that Greg chose to display the Wild West cover with Red Cloud. (photo © Greg Lalire 2014)

I don’t have writers’ block. I never have writers block; it’s just a matter of finding the time and regulating it accordingly.

I’m certain good pal and great editor at Wild West Greg Lalire might have a few words to say about this (but I’m not going ask him to share). Probably something like, “Hey Kraft, get the lead out and do some real work, work that’s actually usable in a Weider History Group publication.” Everything I promise Greg (well almost everything) is a dollar short and I hate to say it but sometimes years late. At best I’m the little boy who cried “wolf” one time too many.

My great friend Glen Williams, upon seeing Greg’s (I assume) dust jacket portrait for Captured: From the Frontier Diary of Infant Danny Duly, said he looks like a gentleman. Greg does and is. He is a class act over and over again and I count myself lucky to know him.

For more on Mr. Lalire and his immediate future see below.

“Better late than never”

As Don Juan de Maraña once said (actually this is what Errol Flynn as Don Juan once said in Adventures of Don Juan, 1948): “You know what they say, ‘Better late then never.'” Of course Mr. Flynn’s Juan had just been caught again. But this time he was innocent and tried to protect the offending lady and avoid a duel.

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Errol Flynn as Juan de Maraña in the final duel (Adventures of Don Juan, 1948).

Sorry, but I couldn’t help myself. If you haven’t seen Flynn’s Don Juan, do yourself a favor and see it. I guarantee that it will be a very enjoyable two+ hours of your life.

Errol Flynn? Look at the above Don Juan image—that’s Flynn. Who was Flynn? He was a combination of a graceful athlete and a natural actor. He lived his characters long before Monty Clift, Jimmy Dean, and Marlon Brando claimed the limelight in the 1950s. Of course Flynn got pounded for this.

Again, look at the Flynn Don Juan image above. We’re talking sword fighting ladies and gents, and it isn’t easy to do. It’s strenuous. Sword fighting for the stage or screen is done without protective gear (other than perhaps knee or elbow pads). One slip, one misplay, one loss of concentration can mean the loss of an eye.

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This is a late-1940s German one-sheet for The Sea Hawk.

Sword fighting for screen or stage is by the numbers just like dance. You know what your partner is doing and they know what you are doing. If you mess up and don’t back off (or your partner messes up and doesn’t back off) someone is going to get hurt and blood—real blood—will flow. I’ve been there and done this and I guarantee that the blood is red and afterwards sparks will fly.

Stage combat for the screen or theater is different than competition dueling, which is boring to watch. I had front row seats at the 1984 Olympics in LA and was bored to death. Slash, thrust, parry, lunge, point. Ten seconds. Ready. Fight. Nine seconds and another point is scored. This is not dramatic.

To create a dramatic duel on film is a multi-talented grouping of people: a director, duel choreographer, director of photography, actors, stunt men, and most important an editor to piece the filmed cuts together. Without this combination you have nothing. And with it, you have the makings for an exciting duel. This doesn’t happen often. When you see a good duel, give credit to where credit is due.

A Flynn film list

A good pal of mine, Robert Florczak, is also writing about EF. Robert is big on lists. I’m not, but here’s a short list that I can live with. Not the end of the world, but let’s say this: “Kraft, pick five Errol Flynn films; everything else will be destroyed.” I can do this. In no order the five films are:

  • Adventures of Don Juan
  • They Died With Their Boots On
  • Gentleman Jim
  • The Sea Hawk
  • Uncertain Glory

All five films were released in the 1940s. You want to see Flynn, see these films. I can name a top 10 film list and neither  Captain Blood nor The Adventures of Robin Hood make the list. I don’t buy into the cliché, Flynn, Indian wars, or anything else, and never have. For this blog I had originally drafted, “Email me if you want to know my five films that round out my top 10 Flynn films.” That’s a cheat and I don’t cheat (here or in my life). My bottom half on my top ten follow (and they never make it to the top five):

  • Virginia City
  • Dodge City
  • Objective Burma
  • Four’s a Crowd
  • The Dawn Patrol

Two are westerns, one a comedy, and two war films. Three date to the 1930s and two to the 1940s. All five are great films and again they demonstrate Flynn’s acting ability. If you want to enjoy Errol Flynn’s performances on camera see these films. You will not be disappointed.

A typical day

Let’s just call this day or any day a typical day. Actually all my days are typical except for Thursdays for that is when my lady is off (our days together are different, but, alas, do include writing). I hate to say it but sometimes it feels like I write 15 hours per day seven days a week (on average). Typically I’m up between 4:00 and 5:00 AM and writing within 15 minutes. I have three hours and sometimes four hours before Pailin gets up.

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Although this image was taken on 15feb2014, which wasn’t a typical day, it certainly represents Pailin’s mornings. She is full of energy and constantly doing something. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Depending upon when she leaves for work, we have three hours and sometimes a little more together. She makes breakfast (everything from soup that is to die for to fish to fried rice w/veggies, tofu, and perhaps chicken or fish and it isn’t fried). We enjoy each other’s company and discuss the future. I do the dishes and make the day’s juice. We then do some chores (from yard work and the place is an overgrown jungle to cleaning before she prepares to leave. The time is easy, fun, special. The parting is tender and sometimes sad for way-too-many hours pass before I see her again.

The minute she’s out the door (and sometimes before) I’m back at the computer pounding keys (some of this is business and not manuscript related). Believe it or not I plot my days and know exactly what I’ll write on any given day. My work load is set: Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, Errol & Olivia, The Discovery, the lk blog, and magazine articles (yep Greg, I do think of you and the Weider History Group). I finish the morning with that day’s manuscript. Early afternoon is on the second project (let’s say E&O if Sand Creek had been first), the current blog, and then in late afternoon-early evening medical malpractice (believe it or not I have put in 10 straight hours on the novel more than once).

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The hours that Pailin and I spend together in the mornings are special. … A decade or so ago, I relaxed on a hotel bed and switched channels on the TV until I stumbled upon former president Bill Clinton preparing a sack lunch for wife Hillary. By the time he had the lunch ready and packed she had rushed outside to start the car. He grabbed the sack lunch and darted out the front door. His timing perfect he gave her the bagged food as she backed out of the driveway and sped off to work. He waved at the vanishing car. All in fun this short film is hilarious. I wish I knew the title so that I could see it a second time. … Off the top, this is close to how I view Pailin’s exits to work. I make sure she has what she needs for the day, help her carry everything outside, and wave as she drives off. Am I the spitting image of Bill Clinton in the long-lost short as my lady heads off to work? I doubt it. But if yes, I’m good with it. (photos © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

The Sand Creek manuscript has come to life; research (and there is still a ton to do!), constant thoughts, and actual writing. BTW, just because something is on paper it doesn’t mean that it won’t be changed, corrected, or perhaps deleted in the future. As the great NY Yankees baseball catcher Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” (BTW, I’ve seen this quote many times and it changes; I’m not sure if this is the correct Berra quote.) Translation: “The writing ain’t done until it’s published (and it could still need more work).” I hate to say this, but my editors and their publishing teams cringe as my projects move into production for they don’t know what’s going to come out of my mouth, and honestly don’t want to hear it. I firmly believe that the writer should take part in every step—EVERY STEP—of the creative and production cycle.

I once knew a Custer expert who now walks with angels (at least he claimed to be a Custer expert, and I’m guessing that he now walks with angels). His ego was 10 feet wide, and he came off as a blowhard. I never read his books (a short one was perhaps 250,000 words), most of which were privately printed (and you can guess why). One day I asked him if he felt his books could be improved if he edited and wrote them a second time. “Why?” he responded. “There’re perfect.”

Really? If given the chance I would rewrite everything I’ve written for none of it is perfect.

 Walking with Tsistsistas

I walk with the Sand Creek story on a daily basis. This doesn’t mean that I write every day. That said, research and thinking are constant. The main problem that I’ve had is how to make the early chapters flow forward in an active voice. Complicating the problem is that in early Cheyenne history the people are nameless. The reason is simple: Early contact with whites often had no one present capable of translating the Tsistsistas’ (Cheyenne) language to English and back. The encounters happened and whites had a hint of who the Indians were but had no idea of individual names or the people who traded with them.

ivanHankla_30apr2004_inHisTipi

This is Ivan Hankla, a Tsistsista (Southern Cheyenne) that I met for the first time on April 30, 2004, at Fort Larned, Ks. We hit it off immediately and I spent a good part of the Fort Larned Old Guard two or three-day convention hanging out with him and James Coverdale (Kiowa) in Ivan’s tipi or on the boardwalk or parade ground at the post. You are looking at the interior of Ivan’s tipi, which is a good view of how Cheyennes decorated their lodges. He (and James) kindly allowed me to take a number of photos of them on May 1, 2004. On the first I talked about Custer, Stone Forehead, and the Sweetwater village that Custer boldly rode into (March 1869). I asked Ivan and James if they were going to go to the talk, and they told me that they weren’t registered with the convention. I told them to forget that, that they were my guests. I invited them to my talk and they attended it in full native regalia. Ivan would be perfect to assist my Sand Creek manuscript but unfortunately he died a few years back. Our relationship, although mostly long distance, was always like yesterday when we were together. I miss him. (Photo © Louis Kraft 2004)

As Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway is dependent upon people actions (mainly Cheyenne and white) the early chapters have presented a problem to me as I’ve chosen to begin the manuscript with early Cheyenne life, development, and migration. Certainly I’ve been writing long enough that I should be capable of composing active prose. This isn’t the problem. In the past my books have all been people driven. Sand Creek will also be people driven, but this won’t begin until chapter 3, and a lot has happened to the Cheyennes by then. Let me put this another way, they had created a tribal structure and lifeway long before the white man entered their lives and began recording encounters.

Actually, the Cheyennes are a merging of two tribes: Tsistsistas (which is the word for Cheyennes) and the Suhtai. Their merging gave “The People,” which “Tsistsistas” means, two sacred objects that have played  major roles in their religion, lifeway, and future. The sacred arrows (“Maahótse,” but often written as “Mahuts,” which is a phonetic spelling of how the word is pronounced) and the buffalo hat (Is’siwun).

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Kiowa James Coverdale w/lk at the Washita Battlefield NHS on 6dec2008 (photo © Leroy Livesay 2008)

Sweet Medicine, the Tsistsista culture hero who spent time with Maheo, the Cheyennes’ one God, and received Maahótse, while Red Tassel, the Suhtai culture hero, received Is’siwun. There is no room here to discuss and explain Maahótse and Is’siwun but they play (and played) significant roles in Tsistsista lives (past and present). I must understand and present what Maahótse and Is’siwun mean to the Tsistsistas for Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway to live.

I walk with this on a daily basis. Once I have a draft that is readable dealing with this portion of Cheyenne history I hope that Cheyennes Chief Gordon Yellowman, Dr. Henrietta Mann, and Minoma Littlehawk might be open to reviewing the subject matter, along with my pal the great Indian wars and Cheyenne historian John Monnett.

Let me raise a red flag here. How often have you been confronted by a zealot who tells you that you are stumbling around in darkness if you don’t see God as they do? I’m talking about myself, Catholicism, and Christianity here. Why? What makes one person’s beliefs absolute truth when another person’s beliefs, which they may also totally believe, false? Why can’t people accept religious beliefs and other religions that differ from theirs as also valid? Why do people hate and kill in the name of religion? And worse, why do the victors in war do everything possible to destroy a conquered people’s lifeway, language, religion, and family? Are their lives and beliefs that much of a threat?

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Cheyennes Chief Gordon Yellowman (left) and Harvey Pratt at the Washita Battlefield NHS event on 11nov2011 at the overlook to precious land, sacred land. Upon my arrival before the event began Harvey made a point of meeting me, and we hit it off. On this day Harvey spoke about what it was like to be a Cheyenne warrior during the 1860s and today on foreign battlefields. I met Gordon when he and Cheyenne chief Lawrence Hart blessed the Pawnee Fork Tsistsista-Dog Man-Lakota village in Kansas in 1999. Since then we have spoken at several programs together. Upon seeing me he said, “Your name is all over the place.” The Wynkoop book had just been published. Sounded like he was sick of this, and I didn’t ask what he meant. Gordon is one of the four principle chiefs of the Cheyennes. He blessed the land this day, and delivered a moving talk on what it was like to be a Cheyenne chief at the symposium the next day. (photo © Louis Kraft 2011)

Racism dominated the 19th century and American expansion. It’s cliché now, but many Americans (during the conquest of land from sea to shining sea and right on through a good portion of the 20th century) view and viewed people of different races, colors, and cultures as less than human. Reason: The foreign cultures hadn’t developed at the pace or in the same manner as white cultures and thus were inferior. Unfortunately that view still lives, and I for one have faced it and have been accused of being a traitor to my race.

What bullshit!!!

The Cheyennes created an extraordinary culture. They had everything in place, and it was based upon strong religious and moral beliefs and laws. Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway isn’t going to be this type of book, so I’ll only be able to hint at the above. That said, by the late 1820s when Cheyennes no longer existed as faceless people, the manuscript becomes people based. People actions (Indian, white, and mixed-blood) will dominate the flow of the manuscript.

High-back Wolf is first to walk out of the mists of obscurity

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George Catlin painted High-back Wolf about 1832. The little I know about High-backed Wolf has grabbed my interest, and as he is, at the moment, the first major Cheyenne in the Sand Creek book I want to make him as prominent as possible.

Simply put, High-back Wolf (and he had numerous names including Né-hee-ó-ee-wóo-tis, Wolf on the Hill, and High-backed Wolf) stepped out of the dark mist of obscurity and became the first Cheyenne chief to register big time with whites. Until the 1820s the handful of Cheyenne-white contact had no one present that could translate words. This changed when he not only met with whites, but impressed them. More important, translators matched his actions with his name. Not many years later artist George Catlin painted portraits of him and his wife. Sadly High-back Wolf exited the big picture soon after Catlin captured his image for all time. Enter a second High-backed Wolf, but he, too, died early. Was he related to the first High-back Wolf? His brother? I don’t know, but I will find out.

High-back Wolf had a wife, and someone actually took the time to learn it. George Catlin also painted her in 1832. At the moment I don’t know the ages of High-back Wolf or She Who Bathes Her Knees in 1832 but they don’t look old. I wonder if I’ll be able to learn anything about her other than she was his wife. Fingers are crossed.

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George Catlin painted She Who Bathes Her Knees portrait in 1832.

Something else has caught my interest. One reference to High-back Wolf questioned if he sired Black Kettle. Whoa! I don’t know, but at the moment I doubt it. Reason: We’re cutting it too close on what I consider the range of Black Kettle’s birth years. Need to dig in my Grinnell notes, for I certainly searched for Black Kettle when researching Wynkoop Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek. However, High-back Wolf’s name doesn’t ring a bell, although I believe that I had seen a father for Make-tava-tah (as Wynkoop called Black Kettle) listed but didn’t use it in the Wynkoop book. If not, hopefully my upcoming visit to the Braun History Library of the Southwest Museum (Autry National Center) will provide an answer. The archive houses a wealth of information that I have not yet seen. High-back Wolf has become a priority. Need to check, but think I’ve got somewhere between 9 and 11 days of appointments set.

Good times are coming for I’ll be back in my element doing research. There is nothing better than mining primary documentation and then trying to figure out what happened and who did what. Francis Drake, John Ward (an Englishman who became a Tunisian pirate), High-back Wolf, Kit Carson, Black Kettle, Tall Bull, Geronimo, Ned Wynkoop, George Bent, Charles Gatewood, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, lk. I’ve listed people whose lives have reached across over five centuries. And these lives are linked, at least in my brain.

My hope is that I can learn enough about High-back Wolf and write enough about him to justify using the magnificent Catlin portrait of him in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. Time will tell.

The Discovery

I have 175 pages in this medical malpractice novel and progress on The Discovery has been decent. But sometimes I’m ripping out my hair and banging my head against a wall. I’ve partnered on the novel. This includes edit, fix, rewrite (read totally rewrite), fix some more, edit more, research and fix (that’s right, it’s a period piece and the 101 freeway in LA didn’t exist in 1952, and on and on and or with technical errors), write-write-write, and get the book published. It will happen.

These are harsh words and they aren’t meant to be, for
Dr. Robert Goodman has done a masterful job of bringing
a unique form of medical malpractice to life. He’s not a trained writer
and so he falls into a swamp 
of pitfalls that exist to trap writers.

You should see my markups on my drafts and the verbal
and written abuse I sling at my words.

Luckily my initial training in writing had been writing dialogue, and there is so much you can do with dialogue to move a plot forward. Let me say this in another way. Telling is not good in fiction or nonfiction. Writers must constantly strive to move their plots forward in an active manner. Dialogue, if used properly, it is a great way to move a plot forward (it is also a great way to develop and show character).

For me writing began a lifetime ago on that flatland that surrounds the Texas college town of Lubbock. I spent a summer working there in 1976. After work (let’s say 11:00 PM or thereabouts) I, other actors, and sometimes waitresses, waiters, and college theater groupies went out to restaurants, dance clubs, and clubs with entertainment. Lubbock thrived. One night a country singer told his audience: “Lubbock is the only place on earth where you can be up to your ass in mud and still get sand in your eye.” A true statement. Later that evening an enraged boyfriend stepped onto the stage and physically threatened the singer as his eyes had lingered on his girlfriend once too often. Luckily nothing happened. … Have you ever performed on stage? Do you know what the lights do to your eyes? You can’t see anything other than perhaps the first row or two, and then only if it is an intimate venue.

Lubbock, Texas, turned me into a writer

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Texas offered leading roles in class productions. It also offered an introduction to life that I hadn’t realized existed. Texas proved to be a good learning experience over the years. (photo © Louis Kraft 1976)

It goes something like this (and this is the short version).

Hell hath no fury like a woman [fill in the blank(s)], and this was certainly true during that 1976 summer I spent in Texas. She was a petite blonde actress in the Theater Department of Texas Tech in Lubbock and she had her eyes on me (I have no images of this lady). Parties at the Hayloft Dinner Theater and elsewhere and I was a fish waiting to be hooked. One problem, this lady wasn’t for me. Racial prejudice that made the racial prejudice I had seen in Texas and Oklahoma in 1970 look like child’s play, a major drug bust that I viewed, in-college theater war, other nasty events, and of course the lady ignored made TV soap operas of the day seem lightweight.

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The play was Eat Your Heart Out, and it was the 2nd play of my visit to Texas that summer. It dealt with an actor struggling to survive in LA. Talk about type casting. Certainly sex entered the picture and the director did everything he could to remove my clothes, and that included swinging imaginary swords. The actress in this scene is Robin LaValley. (photo © Louis Kraft 1976)

Nevertheless I had become a marked man. Bottom line: I was lucky to get out of Texas with my scalp in place. After returning home to LA I wrote a screenplay about what I had seen. My then theatrical agency had a literary branch and I submitted the script. Agent Ed Menerth called and said, “This is terrible, but let’s talk.” We did and for the next seven years he represented my screenplays. Race became one of the key themes throughout the dozen or more scripts I wrote including a Persian woman surviving in Los Angeles at the time of the fall of the Shah of Iran, the Englishman turned Barbary pirate John Ward in Tunis, a German U-boat commander’s love for a Jewish woman during WWII, and so on). Menerth reviewed and marked the copy up and I rewrote and rewrote until the scripts became sellable. Bob Sabaroff, one of the key players in the Michael Parks’ Then Came Bronson TV series of 1969-70, also liked the scripts and he, too, reviewed and marked up and I again and again rewrote. It was a great training ground and I learned. This led to selling magazine articles, talks, books, and writing for the software industry. Hell I even sold biographical sketches to an encyclopedia.

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lk in Eat Your Heart Out. I actually played this character twice (the second in LA in 1977). I liked playing Charley. The director who came from LA (as did the leading four actors in each play) focused on the sexual image and pushed it as far as he could. Looking back I have no problem with his view of the play. (photo © Louis Kraft 1976)

Over the years I have traveled a long way from the unforgettable racism that I had witnessed up close and center in Texas twice and elsewhere including SoCal. It had been seared into my very being. I realized that, even though I had seen racism from the white POV while in school and had backed off from it without making a stand, that now this was not and could never again be acceptable in my life. Some of this you have perhaps seen in earlier blogs, and for this I apologize. However, it is important to me. I have time and again been called a racist as some of the women in my life have not been white. Yes, believe it or not, some whites don’t like this and have let me know. Again, forgive me for repeating myself, but this hurts for these accusations have come from people I’ve considered friends and from people I love or have loved. This accusation is asinine and makes me ill. Enough said about racism for this blog.

Sorry about the lengthy sidetrack, but for me the timing hit the mark.

Introducing Robert Goodman, MD

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Bob Goodman at home. Bob has a great house, and he is in a room that is a handful of steps below the entry to his house. This room opens to his swimming pool and has a very livable bar. Bob is sitting at a table that we use when we talk business. When I pulled out my camera he asked: “What are you doing?” “I’m going to take a picture of you.” He agreed, while making it clear he wanted me to shoot a good portrait of him at his office. I agreed, and this will happen soon. … I can’t say enough good things about Bob, other than say I wish you also knew him. (photo © Louis Kraft 2014)

Bob has played a major part in my life for some 25 years as my heart specialist, internist, and GP. Actually if it weren’t for him over a decade ago I’d be long dancing with angels. We’ve enjoyed knowing each other over the years, and a few years back I provided him with editorial help on his writing (various projects).

One, a medical malpractice novel had an exceptional story line. In November 2013 Bob asked me to partner with him. I have. Bob’s subject matter is extraordinary, and because of this we have agreed not to share it until pre-publication publicity begins. My apologies, but this is just how it is. That said, I will be able to talk about manuscript progression and I will.

All I can say at this point in time is that the story is character driven and although The Discovery is fictional the facts are based upon reality. If Bob and I complete our work properly we will deliver a story that captures our readers’ interest and will not let go until the last page.

A tall order but we’re working hard to make this happen.

Greg Lalire and Captured

I’ve hinted that Greg Lalire and I are friends. We are. Over what seems like a lifetime he has done everything possible to get my words in print, and has done everything to publicize a writer named lk. I’m forever grateful. But this section isn’t based upon Greg’s kindness to me, it’s based upon me knowing him, a special person even though our relationship is mostly long distance.

capturedFront_wsFive Star Publishing releases Greg’s novel, Captured: From the Frontier Diary of Infant Danny Duly, in July 2014. The June 2014 Wild West magazine features a full-page ad next to the table of contents. A perfect placement and appealing layout by the Weider History Group design staff. To scan the ad would have required mangling the magazine or pulling it apart and I didn’t want to do that. Captured features historical characters Chief Red Cloud, Col. Henry Carrington, and Capt. William Fetterman. The ad’s blurb (I assume from the dust jacket flap) states:

“Libbie Duly, pregnant and with her husband confined to the local insane asylum, leaves Chicago in 1866 for booming Virginia City, Montana Territory. On the Oregon Trail she gives birth to the remarkable Danny Duly, who already began narrating this emigrant tale from the womb. Danny has the rare ability to see with his mind’s eye and record events he hopes to later put down on paper. Along the dangerous Bozeman Trail, Libbie and son fall into the hands of Sioux warrior Wolf Who Don’t Dance, and the emigrant story becomes a captivating captivity narrative.”

Captured will be published on July 16, 2014. It is currently available for pre-order on amazon.com with a price guarantee.

Am looking forward to reading it Greg, and so is my good pal Glen Williams (to whom I shared your Captured publicity).


Weider History Group is a class company, and Eric W. has done an extraordinary job of obtaining and retaining class editorial and design staff. This is an understatement. Eric, you and everyone you designate to make hiring decisions know what you are doing. Your staff from A to Z with “Lalire” being first in the list is extraordinary. My hope is that your entire selection of historical publications expand and grow in ways that guarantee their continued existence throughout my, Greg’s, and your lifetimes. You and your entire staff produce product that needs to live forever.

I’m honored to play a small role in Weider History Group’s product line.

Classy lady Patrice Wymore Flynn dies + a Sand Creek “thank you”

 Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018
Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog
As in the past, click on an image to expand it


Other than a Sand Creek “thank you,” this blog isn’t as originally drafted. Everything else found its way to the cutting room floor (but hopefully some of it will appear in a future blog).

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Patrice Wymore and Errol Flynn met when they worked on Rocky Mountain, which was shot on location in New Mexico. This color image is a publicity photo that had nothing to do with the plot of the film. (lk collection)

The changes weren’t planned, but good friend and Flynn expert David DeWitt contacted me early Sunday morning, March 23. The previous afternoon (March 22) Patrice Wymore Flynn, a classy lady, died at her home outside of Port Antonio, the capital of Portland Parish, one of the 14 parishes of the Caribbean country of Jamaica.

I tend to remain quiet around death as I don’t deal with it well.

I have twice spoken from the heart about people that played huge roles in my life. Although a wreck inside I had found what it took to channel the inward anger and pain into joyful capsules of how I perceived their lives. No matter how distraught I had been behind closed doors I had the capability to push a button and for a flash in time share the essence of my love for them. The day or two or five allotted to prepare physically drained me. At the same time it allowed me to search within myself and walk with my father and then my sister in ways I had never done during their lifetimes.

I had the pleasure of meeting Pat Flynn once and I have good memories of that evening (see below).

A Sand Creek thank you + lk ramble

In January last I advertised that I needed information about mixed blood Cheyenne Charley Bent on this blog and on the Order of the Indian Wars (OIW) Facebook page. The response wasn’t great, but then I had made clear what information I already had in-house as I didn’t want anyone searching for something that I already had. Of course, as I stated in the last blog in February, Charley sporadically drifted in and out of the spotlight, and as he died way-too-young at 19 the pickings are slim.

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Upon my request Dee Cordry sent me his portrait for the blog. Dee kindly shared important information about Charley Bent. He has been researching and writing a biography the mixed-blood Cheyenne Edmund Guerrier, a person who played an important role in Cheyenne-white relations during the 1860s and for many years afterwards. (photo © Dee Cordry)

Dee Cordry saw the request for information on Charley that I had posted on the OIW FB page and responded with information (along with bonus information) that I didn’t know. Actually I had no idea it even existed and would have never searched for it. Everything Dee supplied me is first class and will appear in Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway.

Dee’s contributions are already in the manuscript. Thanks Dee! I didn’t know Dee until he took the time to contact me. Regardless if you know or don’t know Dee, you need to know one thing. He is working on a biography of the mixed-blood Cheyenne Edmund Guerrier. For some reason, Mr. Guerrier walked between the races without much to do about his actions. I’m not sure why, for he certainly lived an exciting life (and from what little I know about him he led a good life). Perhaps he has for the most part been ignored because he had mixed blood and didn’t publicize his contributions to the Cheyennes and the whites. I know one thing; Ned Wynkoop thought the world of him and employed him. I’m thrilled that Dee is writing about Mr. Guerrier, for we need to know more about people who dared to move between two worlds during a time of extreme prejudice.

Edmund Guerrier played a key role during the 1860s and long afterward. I don’t know what Dee has research wise, but if you know of information that could benefit him in his effort, I hope you’ll consider contacting him. When Dee’s book is published, I’ll be first in line to buy a copy for Guerrier is a man worth knowing.

Another person, actually a good friend who constantly strives to help my writing projects, Glen Williams also contributed to my Charley Bent research. And like Dee, he also sent additional Sand Creek information that proved of great value to me. Thank you my friend. Glen not only finds information, he questions what I write and offers suggestions that always improve the work.

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Glen Williams and lk at Mission San Xavier del Bac (west of Tucson, Arizona) on February 12, 2012. This was one of Glen’s and my road trips. Unlike Dee, Glen has been a friend I’ve known for years. We met back in the dark ages when we both worked at Infonet (now British Telecom Infonet), and we hit it off. We became friends, and it didn’t hurt that Glen has Cheyenne blood and has a lot of interest in the Indian wars. As the years have passed our friendship has grown. He’s there for me at all times; health, research, writing, older brother, and everything else that matters to me. Glen’s input to my George Bent question and the Sand Creek manuscript has been massive, and for this alone I’ll forever be grateful. (art © Louis Kraft 2012)

Others contacted me and I’m grateful for your time and what you shared. Thank you.

I will in the future again raise a question about a person or two that I hope to learn more about for Sand Creek and Tragic End of a Lifeway. Nothing else is forthcoming until I decide whom I need more information about.


When I write about someone I don’t reject or ignore information that might show a dark side. Actually I want to see this, for this is what brings the person to life. No one is all good or all bad (although there are exceptions on the bad side). I have known people closely who thought that everything they did was good. If ever I write about them they may be shocked, or if they are no longer with us they might turn over in their graves for some of their actions register well below the godly bar of excellence.

I don’t like thieves (I actually caught one at Tujunga House once), and rapists and cold-blooded murderers deserve the harshest punishment possible.

Terrible things happen in war, and it is a combustion of many things from fright to fear to hate (often religious or racial) to simply survival. Certainly there is a bloodlust that grabs hold but this can be attached to survival. … It’s him or me. Rape isn’t acceptable in life, and it isn’t acceptable in war. Many of us living in the U.S. are horrified over how people are treated while held captive by a foreign enemy, and this includes their executions (from my POV this has at times been little more than murder). Different cultures are just as horrified by what happens to their people captured by the U.S. It’s a two-way street of horror. At times innocent people (children, women, and men) that are often non-combatants suffer inhuman indignities to their lives and bodies.

Ungodly things happen in daily life and in war. Carrying these thoughts to the Sand Creek manuscript, how do I show what happened in a readable and page-turning manner that is true to what happened while getting my editors to accept the prose? What happened during the lead-up to the attack at Sand Creek, the attack at Sand Creek, and the aftermath is compelling, and at no time should it put you to sleep. For this to happen, the people must become real flesh and blood.

If you know me and my writing, you know that I’m a firm believer that action and not words define people. It is what they do and not what they say that defines them.

Patrice Wymore Flynn dies

Patrice Wymore Flynn died at her home in Jamaica on March 22, 2014, never recovering from a fall in 2013. That’s it. I don’t write obituaries. …

I do want to say a few things. First, life is precious and it is fleeting. Our lives change all the time. People enter it and people exit it. Some, good friends, remain constant regardless if we saw them yesterday or two years ago. It is always like last week no matter how much time has passed. Some partings hurt worse than hell and it takes forever to get beyond what once was never to be again. Sometimes this loss never fades away but is there forever on a daily basis. What can one do? I’ve been told, more than once, to let it go that it will naturally heal itself or it won’t. That’s a harsh verdict.

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Publicity photo of Errol Flynn and Patrice Wymore from the 1950 film Rocky Mountain (lk collection)

When Errol Flynn died, he and Pat had been long separated but not divorced. Flynn … By the way you shouldn’t quote this paragraph. It is hastily written. If there are errors or omissions they aren’t intentional. Again nothing should be quoted as fact (even though Nora’s and Pat’s comments appeared as newspaper copy; that’s right, I don’t trust the press.) other than Deidre Flynn’s quote about her father. … Flynn prepared a second will, but it wasn’t signed or filed properly. I believe the first will was dated1954 and it dictated the division of property. Flynn’s girlfriend (Beverly Addland) wasn’t mentioned in the 1954 will (but how could she be; he hadn’t met her yet), and Deidre and Rory (Flynn’s daughters by second wife Nora Eddington, who remained his friend until the end of his life) received $10,000.00 each and Sean (his son by Lili Damita) received $5,000.00. Pat received the bulk of the estate that was estimated between $20,000.00 to well over $100,000.00 (but less than $1,000,000.00).

EastJamaicaMap_lk_2014_wsThis included extensive property holdings in Jamaica, including a 2,000-acre cattle ranch and coconut plantation near the city of Port Antonio (purchased during their marriage; if true, was it community property?), the Titchfield Hotel in Port Antonio, and Navy Island (just off the coast of Port Antonio; it is no longer a Flynn property). And we can’t forget Flynn’s beloved Zaca (which has been fully restored and I believe sails throughout the Mediterranean Sea during summer months). The press quoted Nora the week after Errol’s death as saying: “He said he was leaving everything to be divided equally among his four children and that the property in Jamaica was to be left to Deidre and Rory.” (Errol had a third daughter with Pat, Arnella Roma Flynn, born Christmas day 1953.) If true, Nora’s statement underlines what might be considered corruptness and a total disregard for a person’s final wishes within the U.S. court system (but then again, it may not). After Errol Flynn’s death lawyers used legalese and a technicality (albeit a major one) to screw Deidre and Rory and reject Errol’s final will. And what about Beverly? That same October 1959 the press quoted Pat as saying: “I intend to see that the will is executed according to Errol’s wishes.” And why not? He had left her, and now his official will left the estate to her. Apparently the 1954 will held up. I’m certain that this wasn’t Mr. Flynn’s intention. He loved his children and at the time of his death he loved Beverly. Deidre has said on camera: “Life at home with my father was like anybody else’s life at home. … He was very down to earth and he was very much a parent. … He was right there, and—and nobody ever writes about that.” Believe me, from everything that I have seen, Errol Flynn was a good father and he loved his kids.

It is not my job to judge. Anyone. My sister, my ex-wife, my daughter, or anyone I write about.

No judging but I am going to talk about Pat

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DVD cover for Robert Kennedy and His Times.

I don’t know anything personally about Errol’s four children even though I worked with Deidre for three or four months back in the early 1980s on a miniseries called Robert Kennedy and His Times, which had an exceptional cast including Brad Davis (RFK), Veronica Cartwright (Ethel Kennedy), G.D. Spradlin (Lyndon Johnson), Cliff de Young (JFK), and on and on. When we did night shooting on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Ca., her younger sister, Rory, who was then a photographer on I think a TV show (can’t remember the title) visited the set once or twice and I met her. At this time another production company was shooting the travesty supposedly based upon Flynn’s great autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, and they had approached Deidre to be a technical adviser. She apparently had seen the script and was outraged. Even though she had a tee-shirt the production company gave her she turned them down. Deidre never knew I had an interest in her father as I felt she needed her privacy and I had no intention of invading it.

Back to Pat. I’d like to repeat a portion of what Gareth Davis wrote about her in an article that The Gleaner, a Jamaican publication, published on March 24th:

Pat “took up residence in Jamaica following the death of her husband [Flynn] and was an active community member. She was inspirational in paving the way for the Boston Jerk Festival* to return to the community of Boston [Jamaica], which is renowned internationally for it authentic jerked pork. …

* lk comment: I believe the writer is talking about the Portland Jerk Festival, which takes place in the parish of Portland, Jamaica, where Pat spent most of her life. Last year the event happened on July 7, 2013. See the event’s Facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/originsofjerk.

“Paul ‘Bigga’ Young, chairman of the festival committee, in bemoaning the loss of Flynn, described her as a warm and friendly person who, despite her age [Pat was 87 at the time of her death], was full of energy and fire.

“‘She was someone that could easily be approached for just about anything,’* commented Young. ‘What I particularly liked about her is [was?] that she doesn’t [sic? “didn’t”?] beat around the bush. …'”

*lk comment: Other than appearing on the terrific 2005 documentary, The Adventures of Errol Flynn, and sharing some of her time with Flynn, I think she for the most part cut off most writers and other people that wanted to know about her life with Errol.

patriceWymoreFlynn_recent_b&w_border_wsYes, after the Jamaican property became hers, Mrs. Errol Flynn chose to remain in the country Errol fell in love with in 1946 when he, his crew, and his 118 foot schooner, Zaca, survived a Caribbean hurricane and limped into Kingston harbor, Jamaica. Flynn met Pat and fell in love with her while they filmed Rocky Mountain in New Mexico in 1950. Why Warners didn’t spend the money to shoot this film in color is beyond me, for the red rock locations are glorious. Flynn found himself drawn to her, wooed her, and won her hand in marriage (they married in Nice, France, on October 23, 1950).

In June 2006 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Olivia de Havilland. At the time of the announcement I was recovering from sinus cancer surgery in Arcadia, Ca., and had no computer access. People came out of the woodwork demanding that I get them invitations. One fellow actually sounded like a woman scorned. When I finally saw email piled upon email tearing into me for not replying I was floored. When I replied that I wouldn’t ask OdeH for them as I had no intention of asking for myself and wouldn’t share her address as I had promised her I wouldn’t the attacks (and one in particular) became lethal. I may forgive but I’ll never forget. I doubt that this story in full will ever see print (and it is long).

The punch line: Olivia invited me to her shindig.

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lk & Patrice Wymore Flynn at OdeH’s event in Beverly Hills, Ca., on the evening of June 15, 2006. She sipped wine and nibbled at the buffet. I watched her for a minute or so. When I realized that she was alone I joined her. I’d have to dig out my notes of the evening to provide details of where our conversation headed. We didn’t discuss Errol Flynn. I had heard that she usually refused to open up to her life and time with Mr. Flynn and had no intention of ending our time together quickly. Actually I had hoped to open the door to eventually visiting her in Jamaica. (photo © Louis Kraft 2006)

The Academy knows how to throw an event/party. The food was scrumptious and the booze flowed. I really had little interest in the guests, other than Olivia who made her appearance after everyone mingled and ate and enjoyed each other’s company. …

Pat held a glass of wine as she tasted food. I had already eaten, as had my then girlfriend, who mingled and shot photos. I watched Pat. At this moment in time she was alone, as was I.

I’m shy (those of you who know me probably don’t believe this, but ’tis true). I walked up to Pat and began talking. Chit-chat about the event. We got along. As Mr. Young stated in The Gleaner, Pat was open and friendly. The conversation was easy and I enjoyed myself. Actually, I teased her for I didn’t let on that I knew anything about Errol Flynn or that I knew who she was. After some 10 or 15 minutes Pat said: “You don’t know who I am.”

I smiled. “Yes I do, Mrs. Flynn.”

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lk (left), Lincoln Hurst, and Patrice Wymore Flynn at OdeH’s event at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Ca., on June 15, 2006. I had known Lincoln long distance for years. He had been preparing a book on Flynn that he supposedly had completed years back but now supposedly polished the manuscript. Unfortunately he died almost two and a half years later on November 11, 2008, and had never delivered an acceptable manuscript to his publisher. At this late date it doesn’t appear as if his manuscript will ever see print. Why? Some people talk the talk without walking the walk. (photo © Louis Kraft 2006)

She liked that I knew who she was and the conversation expanded. Lincoln Hurst, a theological professor from the University of California, Davis, joined us. He had become a friend of Deidre’s and had visited Jamaica with her in the hope of spending time with Pat. From what I’ve heard Pat kept him at a distance and didn’t allow him to visit her on her property. True? I don’t know. The conversation with Pat continued with Lincoln making us a threesome, and it remained easy.

Olivia appeared and I moved off. Later, inside the room where OdeH’s invitees spent time with her I again had the pleasure to chat and joke with Pat Wymore Flynn. She had become an unanticipated pleasure, if only for a short amount of time. Pat easily became the highlight of the evening for me.

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Patrice Wymore Flynn, Deidre Flynn (center), and lk in the room with OdeH while she spent time with her guests. There’s a story here regarding me getting into the room (but it’s for another place, probably Errol & Olivia). Pat was charming and fun to be around. Deidre was as I remembered her when we worked together in the 1980s; curt and standoffish, but that’s her (at least around me) and I’m good with her being her. (photo © Louis Kraft 2006)

I had hoped that our short time together might lead to a visit to Jamaica (trust me; I tried). It didn’t and I never saw her again. A shame, and you can forget Mr. Flynn and what I had hoped to learn, for I had met a classy lady who oozed charm and fun. I would have been satisfied to just hang out with her and enjoy her company. Alas, it never happened and now, never will.

Life is precious. It doesn’t matter if we know someone for a few hours or a lifetime. They can be here today and gone tomorrow.

Errol Flynn, Sand Creek, lk background + Pailin & Louis Kraft marry

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2018
Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog
As in the past, click on an image to expand it


Ladies and gents this blog has been a long time coming. My apologies. As often, I am going to focus on subjects that are important to me. Hopefully the text moves forward at a good clip and doesn’t put you to sleep. And as always, I’ve arranged this blog to my liking; meaning that I’ve saved the most important—and all the sections are important to me—for last.

If you want to see an image enlarged click on it. To return to the blog click the left arrow (on Macs; not sure about PCs).

The pirate Francis Drake, the soldier George Armstrong Custer, and guess who?

The pirate Francis Drake and the soldier George Armstrong Custer entered my life near the beginning. By the 5th grade I had discovered the English pirate the Spaniards called “El Draque,” the dragon.

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El Draque times 2

Drake’s derring-do in his private war against the Spanish empire terrorized not only coastal Spain but all of King Philip II’s cities in the New World. But, unlike pirates before and after him, he wasn’t a blood-thirsty murderer. Instead of butchering captives during a time of extreme religious prejudice he never harbored a bloodlust and acted with compassion. At times he even wined and dined prisoners on plates of crystal while musicians performed. Drake’s genius was twofold: He boldly plotted strikes against Spain’s empire that were implausible. and he could improvise as needed. While still in elementary school I saw Errol Flynn’s The Sea Hawk (1940) for the first time, and even though a youngster I realized that Flynn played a fictitious Drake (BTW the term “privateer” wouldn’t come into existence until a century after Drake’s initial voyages to the Caribbean). Soon after seeing Flynn’s Captain Geoffrey Thorpe in The Sea Hawk I saw him play George Armstrong Custer in They Died With Their Boots On (1941), which introduced me to the Civil War hero who would eventually become the superstar of the Indian wars on the American Plains.

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The quintessential Custer times 2

Like Drake, Custer was a warrior who also improvised. And also like Drake he wasn’t a butcher, and certainly not of Cheyennes, Arapahos, or Sioux. Unlike many Civil War heroes his fame didn’t vanish, perhaps because of his writing for he didn’t engage American Indians in combat often. He came alive when negotiating with Indian leaders. Flynn’s portrayal of Custer led me to read Custer’s My Life on the Plains, which initiated a quest that is alive to this day.

Two Errol Flynn films, both of which were fiction based upon fact that had been disguised. At the moment I don’t know why Drake’s name was dropped. Perhaps it was because Warner Bros. owned the rights to Rafael Sabatini’s great novel, The Sea Hawk, which dealt with an Englishman sold into slavery but who became a Barbary pirate, or because this film was created around Flynn’s screen persona—which I buy into. Regardless, they only retained the title, or in Custer’s case the production changed real historic personages and events into fiction to prevent lawsuit. After seeing these two films (and over the years many times), my future had been ordained even though I wouldn’t realize this until decades later. These two Flynn films have influenced my entire life. Swords, acting, race relations, and eventually my writing. Whew. What can I say, other than I’ve enjoyed many years that mean something to me.

Catching up with Errol Flynn & Olivia de Havilland

Much of late has dealt with Sand Creek, hints of a medical malpractice novel (a positive report will soon follow), and the ongoing spectacle of my life (yawn). I’m certain that many of you feel that I’ve deserted Mr. Flynn and Ms de Havilland. If you think this, you don’t know lk.

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You are looking at the magazine cover for American Classic Screen (January-February 1979),  a now long dead publication. Pretty cool artwork of Mr. Flynn & Ms. de Havilland from their classic film Captain Blood (1935). Of all the periodicals I’ve written for, the Weider History Group, which publishes MHQ (Military History Quarterly), American History, and Wild West, among many other class magazines, is the only company I give a hoot about. Eric Weider’s publications are first class. Period! The best writers write for the Weider History Group, and he hires the best editors, designers, and so on to ensure that his magazines are cutting edge and the best (by far) on the market. Eric and I have never met. You might call us long-distance friends even though we probably live within 25 miles of each other. Will we meet? I would hope so. In reality, probably not. One of his editors, Greg Lalire (Wild West) is a good friend. A few years back I had pitched Eric (who I’m linked with on FB) on publishing a film history magazine. He had the kindness to personally respond why this wasn’t possible (and believe me, his reason hit the mark dead center). Mr. Weider’s organization is the only company I’ll consider working for in the future. Will I someday? Don’t hold your breath.

I never desert my major writing projects. EF & OdeH are a major portion of my past, present, and future writing life. They’ll be front and center until I die. All I can say about my writing projects is “patience.” I have enough information to get my book on EF and OdeH published but this isn’t good enough. My book on Errol & Olivia is going to be different. For this to happen has and will continue to take time. My good-good friend Tom McNulty, author of the best Flynn bio, Errol Flynn: The Life and Career, is helping me with research I’ve not seen. He will eventually be one of my key reviewers of the manuscript. With luck Tom and his beautiful wife Jan will someday be Pailin and my guests. Good-good friend Robert Florczak, who with pretty wife Annette, lives minutes from Tujunga House. Robert is working on an extraordinary book on Flynn. Our relative closeness and friendship allows us to have fun while also sharing and learning from each other’s knowledge and interpretations. There is a third person who is also a wonderland of knowledge and great understanding of Mr. Flynn, good friend David DeWitt. Unfortunately David lives next to the other ocean that touches the U.S. in South Carolina.

deWitt_floczak_mcNulty_feb2014For the record Errol & Olivia research is ongoing, as is the quest to understand what the facts provide. Sometimes this is difficult for at times facts can be misleading. That said, when something pops out of nowhere but is invaluable to the manuscript it gets inserted immediately. I have learned from the past that a golden nugget can be forgotten (for outlines don’t leave room for treasures discovered during the quest for knowledge as often one didn’t know they existed until found).

I’ve already talked about how some of Errol & Olivia will be handled in earlier blogs, and without going into detail here you should know that the goal is to dig behind the realities of Errol’s and Livvie’s eight films. Of the eight films seven have a rich history that slowly developed from historical fact, fiction based upon historical fact, and in one case a major Broadway play. I’ve seen hints that the eighth film also saw birth from another historical figure, but alas, to date I haven’t been able to track this person down and confirm that he did indeed do what has been implied.

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This is the cover for the February 2008 issue of American History. At the time, it was the magazine’s best selling issue (I have no idea if this is still true). This issue included my cover story: “Custer: The Truth Behind the Silver Screen Myth.” Although about Custer, the leading player in the story was Errol Flynn (it was the third of four articles that have been published about Flynn’s portrayal of Custer by lk). In my humble opinion, this is the best article I have had published to date. Certainly it is important to me (for multiple reasons).

In the near future I must ramp up my search for this shadowy figure. … Warners had a knack for jettisoning a good portion of initial research. And as Flynn’s career soared, some of this (along with what I said above) is directly related to his film persona. EF’s onscreen presence had taken the film-adoring public by storm in December 1935, and Warners realized this immediately. After the massive success of The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), a film that is still thought of his greatest role (although I disagree with this totally), almost every film that came after until the aftermath of the farce of a rape trial and even greater farce of Flynn avoiding serving his adopted country during WWII, his roles and films were constructed to give the public what it wanted and expected when the lights dimmed in the cinema houses. A notable exception at the end of this timeframe was Flynn’s Uncertain Glory (1944)*, which gave him a dark side (although still heroic and charming) and one of his best performances.

* Robert Florczak, already mentioned above, likes lists. I’m not too big on them although I recently agreed to create several lists for the August 2014 issue of Wild West magazine. Robert has coaxed me into a list on Elvis Presley songs and wants three more (a task I haven’t completed yet as I take lists seriously). Of course he asked me to list my top 10 Flynn films. Although tough, this list has always been in place regardless if sometimes the 9th and 10th films sometimes are replaced. Uncertain Glory is always on my list.

In contrast to Flynn’s meteoric rise to super stardom, Olivia’s rise to stardom followed a different path than his.

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lk with Olivia de Havilland in her garden in Paris, France, on July 3, 2009. This lady is so vibrant and alive, so funny and yet political and serious. All I can say is that I’ve been lucky that she has allowed me to enter her life, if only briefly, over the years. (photo © Louis Kraft 2009)

And like EF (who knew his value to Warner Bros., and who took an active part in forming the roles he played) she also had a firm grasp of what she wanted in her career. If you talk with her, you’ll easily realize how much she craved good roles, but for her—as her box office appeal couldn’t match Mr. Flynn’s—she didn’t have the ear of Jack Warner, nor the courage to confront Jack when unhappy. Where Flynn’s massive popularity guaranteed that Warner and executive producer Hal Wallis had to listen to him, Olivia’s main thrust to garner better roles (and this included not playing EF’s lady in waiting—although years after EF’s death she realized how great the films they did together were) was to reject a role and go on suspension or have massive fits). That said, she did have guts. When Jack Warner refused to allow her to try out for Gone With The Wind, she went behind his back to land the role of Melanie (for which she won her first Oscar nomination). Playing a leading role and being recognized for her performance didn’t win her kudos with Jack W.; instead she was punished. By the time Olivia’s seven year contract ended and she said goodbye, she was told that it hadn’t as she still owed Warner’s time for when she was on suspension (that is time without pay). What followed took 100 times more guts than it took to sneak behind Warner’s back and lobby for the part of Melanie.

And Sand Creek also creeps forward …

Regarding the ongoing struggle to understand the events that led up to the tragedy at Sand Creek, the battle, and the aftermath, my key person is John Monnett, a good friend and a great writer and Indian wars historian.

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I took this photo of John Monnett at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites, Denver Tech Center, Greenwood Village, Co., after we had both spoken at the Order of the Indian Wars Denver Symposium at the National Guard Base in Centennial on 20apr2013. As I was in Colorado for 11 days we were able to spend time together (thanks to our mutual friend Layton Hooper, who functioned as my personal driver in snow-blanketed Colorado).

John has always helped me, and has opened his home to Pailin and myself as he aids my quest to understand the people and events that resulted in the tragic event on November 29, 1864. This year we’ll visit him and Colorado (fingers are crossed, and if not then in 2015 if John’s invite remains open), track what I still need to see (including some John Chivington in Boulder), and lk will again take a close look at a land that I’ve always loved but have shied away from due to temperatures that send shivers up my spine. My guess is that Pailin will fall in love with Colorado.

BTW John has recently asked me not to turn my back on nonfiction (something that is possible if I no longer have access to Indian wars or golden age of cinema research). His request was heartfelt and hit the mark. Back in the Dark Ages I thought I’d write novels, but that changed to nonfiction (a decision I’ve never questioned or shied from). I love nonfiction writing, I love the challenge to make it page-turning, and I love the search for the reality of what happened. If I walk away, a good part of me will die. That said, I must hustle enough money to stay the course (and continue to enjoy 70+ degree weather right here in the USA, and preferably in Los Angeles).

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I created this dark image from a photo I took in 1999 to represent the Sand Creek village (this photo wasn’t taken at Sand Creek, so what you see here is fiction as related to 1864). That said, the attack on the Cheyenne-Arapaho villages at Sand Creek is a dark time in history, a time that should never be forgotten. I’ve used this image in other social media and a great friend of mine, Eric Niderost (a prolific historian) objected. Think others might have also objected. Not to worry for this image will never see the light of day with lk words that see print (a true statement at the moment, and hopefully always). That said, at times, I must keep dark images in my head as I move forward. For only then can I (hopefully) create text that is light and moves. What good is a book, or any writing, if it puts people to sleep? The goal is to grab people’s interest, their soul, their guts, and keep them reading. (photo & art © Louis Kraft 1999 & 2013)

Regardless of the progress on Sand Creek, the research is ongoing, and my mind constantly swirls as I try to figure out how to mix and match people (major, minor, and bit players) as they enter the story, advance the story, and drift off to perhaps return or not). The key is the flow. It has to be smooth and yet natural, and it cannot bounce all over the place in time. I’m a firm believer that action is character. We are what we do and not what we say. Anyone can tell a good tale, but if he doesn’t live his tale it isn’t anything but fantasy, fiction, or lies. When a person says one thing but does the opposite, it is the doing that is his history. Just read all the slop that is stuffed down our throats on a daily basis. Publicity, regardless if a press agent leaks it or I spout it is what it is. And that is nothing unless the publicist’s client did what was released or I did what I said I would. If not, and 100 years (more or less) from today it finds its way into a book it is an error only to be perpetrated again and again by lazy historians who don’t do their research but instead create (or repeat history that never happened) as they pull from a handful of secondary sources while blindly printing what they have read without knowing it was indeed based upon fact.

For example and regarding Ned Wynkoop: How many times have you read that Wynkoop attended Silas Soule’s funeral in Denver in 1865?

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This image of Ned Wynkoop has been published four times, the last being in summer 2013. I’m not a great artist. If you talk with real artists, they’ll tell you my attempts suck. Still I continue. Why? Sometimes I get lucky and I earn a few bucks that in turn puts food on the table. I need say no more. Actually I do, for my writing is little better than my art. Talk to real writers and historians and they’ll enlighten you. Why? ‘Tis simple. I do what I want, and I learn as I go. More important, I care about my subjects … and this is what drives me. (Wynkoop art © Louis Kraft 2007)

Fact: Wynkoop didn’t attend Soule’s funeral in Denver, but was at Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory. I’m certain that this error will continue to be repeated. Or how about this quote about George Bent: “George Bent remembered as a child in the 1830s seeing Indian herds grazing for fifty miles along the river [the Arkansas] near Bent’s Fort.” This quote is on page 87 of Elliott West’s award-winning Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado (University Press of Kansas, 1998). The note cites page 37 in George E. Hyde’s Life of George Bent: Written From His Letters (OU Press, 1968). So far, so good.

Dust jacket for the Wynkoop book.

However, the sentence referenced in Hyde’s work states: “When I was a boy I saw the Kiowas, Comanches, and Apaches camped on the Arkansas near my father’s fort, and their pony herds were grazing along the river for fifty miles.” Still so far, so good. But—there’s always that damned “but”—BUT George B. was born on July 7, 1843. How many “so-called” historians will repeat this error ad nauseam as undisputed fact?

Writer/historians make errors and sometimes they aren’t caught until unfortunately in print.* It happens. Although my publishers have said they’d fix errors to date they haven’t. I have corrected my errors in magazine and book form when dealing with the same subject in subsequent books and will continue to do so whenever possible.

* Other errors can enter the text when in copyediting. For example, on page 182 (chapter 12, “Hancock’s War”) in Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek (OU Press, 2011), while accompanying Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock’s 1867 expedition in force to meet or engage the Cheyennes (and other tribes) reporter Henry Stanley wrote the following about Wynkoop: “The Colonel is an Indian agent par excellence, of whom a slight description will not suffice to convey any just idea. He is a Plains man, and the best handler of Indians that has been on the Arkansas. The Indians have every confidence in his integrity, and respect him for the ‘heap fight’ that he is known to be capable of making.” In the copyedit the editor changed this quote from representing Wynkoop to George Armstrong Custer. When I complained loudly, she said, “Didn’t Custer put up a ‘heap fight.'” (the quote is a paraphrase). “No!!! We’re talking about Wynkoop and not Custer!” I’m not picking on this lady or copyeditors. Errors are made, and they aren’t on purpose. This copyeditor and all of my copyeditors have been absolutely first class (except one; no comments) and I have been damned lucky to have had them work on my words.

An lk attempt to improve research

The last blog dealt with Charley Bent and my quest to learn more about him for Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway. …

The attempt to gain unknown information has been less than successful.* That said, I did learn key information about Charley that I didn’t know. I do intend to again attempt presenting another person on the lk Blog and OIW FB page in the hope that it will generate response. Most likely George Shoup (but not guaranteed at the moment), a lieutenant in the First Colorado Cavalry who would become colonel and commanding officer of the Third Colorado Cavalry. I’m good with his military record, but I’m hoping that people can fill me in with his personal life. I want to know the man. Fingers are crossed. This will happen in the not-too-distant future. … and if not Shoup next, someone else I want to know more about. Perhaps Dog Men leaders Bull Bear and Tall Bull.

* Less than successful is not the best way to describe my attempt to learn more about Charley, for the simple reason that he is shrouded in mystery and only surfaces here and there during his all-too-brief life.

Who I am

The subtitle of the lk website/blog is “Follow the winding trail of a writer as he walks a solitary road …” I chose those words carefully as they have a lot of meaning for me. I’m not looking for sympathy. Actually I’ve had a great life, it’s just been lonely at times. My choice.

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lk as Ned Wynkoop in 2012, when I represented him when he was inducted into the Santa Fe Trail Hall of Fame. In this image I’m leaning against the recently reconstructed building that Wynkoop rented while U.S. Indian agent at Fort Larned, Ks. I don’t know how well I’d do in a gunfight. That said, if confronted by a swordsman, I’d walk away untouched with blood on my blade. (photo by friend George Elmore; image © Louis Kraft 2012)

I chose the path I’d follow, and I’ve refused to compromise. That said, I’ve had no problem with changing my course whenever it was good for me. Again, I made the decisions and have flat out refused to back off from my goals. This has cost me. I can’t give you, or won’t give you, what ruined an early marriage, but I have had two long term relationships that I had hoped would be forever. They weren’t. This can’t be placed on the two lady’s shoulders for it is a two way street. It didn’t matter for two outside forces did everything possible to doom those relationships.The first lady didn’t try but the second did, only to give up. The outside forces gave no mercy and did everything possible to destroy these relationships.

After the last relationship had ended in 2011 I decided that nothing and no one would again interfere. This is my fucking life and no one else’s.

The year 2011 had two endings to one relationship. Looking back both are hysterical. And I’m dying to tell the stories. The words are going to jump off the page when I tell those stories. But alas, you’ll have to wait for the Memoir, and then only if I have the guts to tell the truth. Yeah, lk wants to keep on walking this earth in one piece. Read between the lines.

I’m good with the lonely trail, and let me tell you I’m perfectly fine when I’m all alone. I’m at peace with the world and with my brain totally alive.

The good die young 

They say that the good die young. My brother, my sister, my mother, Dale Schuler (my dad’s partner, best friend, and a father and good friend to me) died young.

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This is my father, Louis J. Kraft Sr., at my former Thousand Oaks, California, home on August 17, 1991. The house was a half block walk into the Santa Monica Mountains. If you click on the image to enlarge it you’ll partially see the pool in his sunglasses. When young, and after my parents purchased their first and only California home, they ensured I had swimming lessons and had a pool created for me. Throughout the years swimming has been a major portion of my life (and is by far my favorite physical activity). From my mother’s death forward we were forever good in each other’s presence. However, beginning before my mother’s early death, he had become the key player in my life (even though I didn’t know it) and this dated back to my college years. (photo © Louis J. Kraft, Jr. 1991)

There have been others. …

For the first 33 years of my life my father and I hated each other while loving each other. I should have been a man, as my father wanted, but I refused to walk that road. We were at constant odds. He knocked me out once. A year or two later, a fat woman ran me and my motorcycle over while running. She knocked me cold and left me hanging from a wire fence. My father was right there for me.

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The TD6 is a powerful machine and doesn’t take prisoners.

Later yet, while working for my father’s construction company I kicked down the framework for a swimming pool that I had just set when he was digging the hole too quickly with an International Harvester TD6 tractor and making it difficult to drive in the stakes accurately. But the next day it was as if it never happened. That was our life. I couldn’t be what he wanted and I had every intention of stuffing down his throat that I’d do what I damned well pleased. We didn’t connect until his wife/my mother went into the hospital for the last time on December 26, 1979. She died 10 days later. During those 10 days we spent every waking minute together and those 10 days gave us a relationship that would last for the last 19 years of his life.

Oh, we still fought, but the next day it was always as if nothing had happened. This man gave me my life, for he instilled in me the courage to do as my life called and to hell with everything else. This has been with me while he lived, it was certainly present when he died, and it is with me ’til this day.

 A day I’ll never forget

February 14, 1999, was one long day of hell.

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Christmas 1988 at the lk Encino, Ca., home. Kneeling from left: lk, Louis Sr.; standing from left: Linda Kraft (my sister), Robin Fried (my brother’s longtime girlfriend), and brother Lee Kraft. Good Times, and although my father and I didn’t know it at the time, my brother Lee had a little over a year to live. By this time my father was long retired and had nothing to do with his former company, BKS Excavating. (photo © Louis Kraft 1988)

I had been taking care of my father for years, and during this time I had seen our relationship blossom. Oh we continued to argue and fight, but we had become close-knit buddies. I spent between three, four, and sometimes five days/evenings (after writing for Infonet in El Segundo beginning at 6:00 AM) with him every week. We ate together (either before or after I did whatever tasks he needed completed; I hated the grocery shopping for that was usually three or four stores and easily cost two+ hours).

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Marissa Kraft and her grandfather at Tujunga House on Father’s Day 1995. Good times for both Marissa and her grandfather as she stayed with him before school and after school until I could pick her up. During summers she spent the entire day with him. (photo Louis Kraft Jr. 1995)

But they were good times as we relaxed and ate (most often food he cooked, but sometimes takeout) and enjoyed each other’s company. As the days and years passed he became weaker and weaker. His time walking the earth neared an end. About two weeks before his death, when he became too weak to move about, he entered a convalescent home, and here his health declined quickly. I saw him daily and our talks continued. At this time he told me: “If I had known that I would live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” A day before his death he said to me: “I love you” as I left. This was the first time he had ever said this to me.

The above words were the last words my father said to me, for the next day (a Sunday and Valentine’s Day) when my Japanese lady (Cindy Tengan) and I arrived to see him he was no longer in his room.

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Cindy Tengan, a product manager at Infonet (now British Telecom Infonet) in El Segundo, Ca., on Cinco de Mayo 1995. We had met in 1994 when I still wrote for Infonet. Although she had made no attempt to befriend my daughter, she was a good person. My father liked her, and I’m lucky to have known her.

Instead he was half on and half off a bed in a room with other people on beds. Worse, he had pulled a cord that fed him air (the first time he had one) from his nose and it dangled from his bed. I went to the desk and asked for a nurse. After she got him back on the bed with the air in place I demanded to see someone in authority. “Keep my father alive!” The cold answer was “Show us proof you can demand this.” Cindy and I raced to my father’s house and tore it apart. We couldn’t find his living trust. Did he give me a copy? I didn’t think so. We raced to my house and tore it apart. No trust. During this time I had placed 10-15 calls to my sister’s home and cell phones and left messages with no return calls.

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This image was taken at my sister’s house in Long Beach, Ca. (April 1995). Although our relationship ended, Cindy Tengan was always there for me, … and without her I would have died 11 years ago. (photo © Louis Kraft 1995)

Cindy and I sped back to the convalescent home. My father wasn’t in the room. “Where is he?” “He’s been moved to the Northridge Hospital” (this is where my brother had been helicoptered after dying on a bank below the 101 freeway in March 1990). My daughter and her mother arrived at the home and in two cars we drove to the hospital. They took us to a room (memories of my brother Lee, for in 1990 the first thing out of my mouth after being taken to a room with my father was, “Is my brother alive?”) I asked the fatal question: “Is my father alive?” “Yes.” “Keep him alive.” “Do you have authority?” “Yes.” I didn’t have the trust that gave me authority, but they didn’t ask to see proof.

We sat in the room and waited for updates. About an hour passed; we were told that my father had died. After my daughter and I spent time with my father/her grandfather for the last time Cindy and I returned to my house. At the midnight hour, and after over 30 phone calls and messages to my sister before she returned the call (as it turned out, she had taken the trust without telling me). I had told her two days before, on Friday, that our father probably wouldn’t live through the weekend. She said: “I didn’t believe you.”

A June 2013 day

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Nam Maradei and Pailin Subanna at Tujunga House on June 15, 2013. This image, by lk, doesn’t do Nam justice as she is knock-out gorgeous (due to me kneeling and shooting up at her). Pailin is looking at me and her eyes captured my soul. (photo © Louis Kraft 2013).

I”m not going to repeat here what has been previously published on this blog other than restating that on June 15, 2013, a lady agreed to attend a dinner party at Tujunga House. On that day she walked into my world and touched me as no other person has ever done before.

I haven’t just written about culture and race, I have lived it. I love people the world over—past and present. This has been the theme in my writing, over and over again, along with that key word, “peace.” The writing focus has been on the American Indian wars. To repeat myself, this came about simply: Errol Flynn’s portrayal as George Armstrong Custer in They Died With Their Boots On and George Armstrong Custer’s My Life on the Plains (1874) introduced me to the 1860s Indian wars. Digging brought me to race relations, which has been important to me my entire adult life. And I have walked the life I talk, and because of this have been accused of being prejudiced against white women. This accusation is laughable. A pretty woman is a pretty woman and I don’t give a bleep what her race is.

When Pailin Subanna appeared at my door on that June 15 day holding orchards I sucked in air and damned myself for not having a camera in my hand. A coworker of hers (Nam) invited and then brought her to a dinner party at Tujunga House. As it was to be a dinner party for five, two couples and me, she had insisted upon bringing a guest for me. Neither she nor I, nor the lady (Pailin) could have guessed where this chance afternoon and evening would lead. Not in a 1000 years.

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This lady named Pailin was for me, and I asked her out (a first for me since 2011). On June 20, 2013, I picked her up and we drove to Santa Monica, Ca., and walked along the cliffs above the beach. We later descended the stairs to the beach, walked along the Pacific, enjoyed the pier, and each other at a Thai restaurant in the Santa Monica open mall. She was fragile but full of life. She later told me she had been told that she needed to open her heart. Although unsaid, so did I. This sunny June day was perhaps one of the most important days in my life, for it directly led to my future, a future of two people who dared to open their hearts. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2013)

Pailin was quiet and yet composed and firm while dealing with things that perhaps should not have been said but were (not by me). I liked her beauty, but more I liked her poise and strength of character. Before she left that night I knew I wanted to see her again; I wanted her to enter my life.

Pailin had been hurt, and much worse than me. And she has also walked a lonely road. She was frail, vulnerable, and yet alive as no one I’ve ever encountered. She opened her heart and this led to us becoming friends, best friends, and falling in love.

We wanted to marry, and I thought it would be in May 2014. Pailin wanted February 14. I told her about my father’s death on that day in 1999 while adding that I was good with Valentine’s Day, as it could be a special day in my father’s life and ours. We looked into February 14, and lo and behold it would become an important day in my life for the second time in 2014, for on this oh-so important day in my life Pailin became my wife.

THE Day 2014

I hadn’t slept in two nights (and neither had Pailin). Some health reasons, but also our nervousness over the coming day (and there are things here I cannot say—not now and perhaps never for if I do it will unleash a maelstrom of evil; don’t ask for this is something that I can’t talk about).

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We struggled to maneuver through LA traffic. Luckily there was a parking spot on La Brea north of Wilshire and I took it, which probably saved another 10 minutes of drive time as we didn’t need to look for parking once we looped around the Albertson Chapel. We had time after Pailin dressed and before the ceremony, and while friends snapped photos I chatted away in Pailin’s ear. (Photo by Robert Florzcak; image © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

The day arrived and we were up; a glorious sunny day and already warm. Although tired, we were happy. Nervous but happy and longing for our new lives together. She cooked soup for breakfast. “Alloy mark!” “Delicious!” I’m a good cook, but when compared to her I’m not. Pailin’s soups are to die for. If I don’t have my soup to start the day … GRRRR!!!

We still had a lot to do to prepare for the day, and we crammed. We were due at the chapel at 12:30 and although we hoped to leave at 11:45 we didn’t leave until 12:10 PM. We had made the drive to Wilshire Blvd. on the Miracle Mile in 20 minutes, and I had later made the trip in 30 minutes. On this day it took 50 minutes. I don’t get nervous, but on this drive I was a wreck. I totally forgot about taking the 170 freeway to the 101. Surface streets, including me making wrong choices on the streets added time to the trek. The Vette flew on the 101 freeway when we reached it, but from there on it was bumper-to-bumper no-move traffic. Highland Ave. to Franklin to La Brea to Wilshire Blvd. in LA should have been a cup of tea. Fat chance. Try 25 minutes for a few miles (and often taking two lights to get through an intersection). During the drive, Sabrina, Pailin’s niece, called a number of times asking where we were. It’s too bad that Pailin wasn’t driving, for I would have said, “We’ve called it off.” Yep, I do have a sick sense of humor (for this certainly wasn’t what I wanted).

When we finally arrived at the Albertson Chapel 20 minutes late, almost everyone was there and wondering if indeed we had called it off.

No way! That said, I was having trouble walking. Surrounded by friends and knowing that my future was less than an hour away, I relaxed and began to enjoy this precious time. We were allowed 20 guests. Most were Pailin’s, and most I knew and liked (unfortunately some couldn’t come) … Sabrina (Pailin’s niece), Montanee, and Kobie are three ladies I’ve enjoyed knowing since meeting them. I invited seven people and they were all able to come.

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This image is based upon a photo taken with Pete Senoff’s camera at Lum Ka Naad in Northridge, California, on 25jul13. From left to right: lk, Pailin, Nina & Pete Senoff. I had reunited with Pete, who went to high school with me, in 2012, and shortly after met his bride Nina, who immediately became my friend. On this day, Pailin and Nina met for the first time and became instant friends (Pete & I were amazed at how well they hit it off).

Pete Senoff, who as editor of the Grover Cleveland High School newspaper, made my final year in high school a pure joy by keeping my image and words in print, which in turn allowed me to win office as Boys’ League President. Pete and I had reconnected a couple of years back, just prior to his marriage to Nina, and, along with Pailin, has made us a close foursome. Marjorie Chan, a film and TV costumer I had the pleasure to work with in the early 1980s (TV show Tucker’s Witch and TV movie Johnny Belinda with Richard Thomas). Thirty+ years, many caring talks and time together, and we’re still good friends (no matter how long the gaps between us seeing each other).

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The other four I met in 2008 (I think) at an Errol Flynn event. Robert and Annette Florczak and Greg and Nam Maradei. Greg is a Flynn aficionado and Robert (an artist and musician) is also writing a book about Flynn (a book that will be “must read” when published). Their wives are terrific and also good friends. Annette is perhaps one of my most caring and supportive friends. She is always there for me, asking about my welfare and offering right-on suggestions when I need them. Nam is a totally alive person and is a joy to know. Like Nina, her humor is vibrant and spontaneous.

I think everyone mingled and got along, but I don’t know for I was too high and focused on the fragile woman that had entered and changed my life.

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This is my favorite image from ps & lk wedding, and it is the only image that has been published elsewhere. (photo by Annette Florczak)

Everything moved at lightening speed. The Reverend Fernando Rossi Howard officiated, and although he had trouble pronouncing Pailin’s name, and suffered through me correcting him and other lk ad-libs*, the ceremony and wording couldn’t have been better. What was best about the ceremony was that Pailin and I didn’t know what would be said before hand, even though the three of us had discussed it with examples that we brought to our initial meeting, examples Pailin and I liked or didn’t like.

“Ad-libs” are when actors don’t say their lines as printed in film or play scripts, which are supposed to be holy. From my POV as both actor and writer, this is little more than BS for the simple reason that oftentimes ad-libs are better than the scripted words. … Back in 2009 while rehearsing Cheyenne Blood, a play I had written, as Ned Wynkoop I said lines that weren’t in the script. The director, my great friend Tom Eubanks, stopped the rehearsal and said that I didn’t say the correct words. “I ad-libbed” I stated. “Say the correct lines.” “I just did!” “No you didn’t!” “Yes, I did. Write what I just said in the script and we’re ready to continue.” He didn’t, and those words were lost to eternity. lk is one writer who doesn’t buy into the theory that the written word is holier than hell (or however that statement goes).

Both Pailin and I were totally attentive to Fernando’s words and in tune with each other, especially during our vows which concluded with placing the rings on our fingers.

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This was our 1940s-style kiss; don’t want to give too much away. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

When we reached the point where Fernando asked if I took Pailin to be my wife … “I said, “Kub-pom.” This garnered me a nice laugh from the Thai people present; I suppose as they were surprised that I used their word for “yes.” I hadn’t expected their reaction and waited until the laughter ended before saying, “Yes, I do.” In stark contrast to my tightness at our late arrival at the chapel I was totally loose and enjoying every minute of the ceremony. Pailin took the ceremony a little more seriously than I did. Where I allowed my emotions drive how I said words, she was quieter than I. At no point do I mean that I took our marriage lightly. This was a very happy day for me, and once entering the chapel the tension of being late disappeared quickly as I was among the seven good friends I invited.

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Just after the wedding ended and we’ve stepped downstairs. This is not a full group shot (don’t think any were taken; certainly I don’t have any images). From left: Annette Florczak, Robert Florczak, Nina Senoff, Pete Senoff, Praphuntri (Kobie) Poopan, Nam Maradei, lk, Greg Maradei, Pailin, Marjorie Chan, and Mam Siwan. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Add that I am good friends with a number of Pailin’s friends even though I haven’t seen them that often; Montanee Sothtitham, Praphuntri (Kobie) Poopan, and Pailin’s niece Pakgirapa (Sabrina) Subanna for certain. Others I met for the first time, including Caterine Jensin, Jackie Vinai, Annie Aunroun and Jenny Atchara (whom I actually met briefly at the Thai Temple on December 31, 2013) were open and I felt good when in their company. Like my friends, Pailin’s friends are close to her.

Pete, Robert, and Annette shot pictures for me, and along with those taken by the chapel, I have a good selection to pull from (and believe me, their images although not shot with expensive cameras, often are much better than the official images … many of which are useless).

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A done deal, and 1000 times more important than signing a book contract. lk is one lucky pirate/frontiersman. (Photo by Robert Florzcak; image © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

If you’ve followed the blogs since I met Pailin, you are very aware of what type of person she is and know why I fell head over heels for her. On February 14 she was as always; that is full of life and enjoying every minute of it. I couldn’t have asked for a better wedding. It was a special day for me for now I am linked with a special person for all time, a special person that took me a lifetime to find.

We had a small reception at Tujunga House but we spent the time with our guests and perhaps only one image was taken.

February 14, 2014, was step 2 in our lives together (step 1 was June 15, 2013, when we met). Hopefully we’ll complete step 3, which has already begun, by year’s end. Doable? Don’t know. We’ll find out.

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On February 20 Pailin and lk met with a lawyer to discuss our future. Afterwards we shopped in Thai Town, and then returned to the Albertson Chapel in Los Angeles to see Rev. Fernando Howard. I hadn’t mentioned it, but he is an Apache. His marrying us was alive and had grabbed both of us (I had to struggle to prevent tears from flowing). Fernando is alive, bright, and a good person. I like him. During all of our meetings (and including February 20th there have been four) the talk has also included the Apaches and especially Geronimo. Geronimo, the Apaches, and Charles Gatewood have reentered my life, and although in the past I tried to parry all attempts to get me to return to the Apache wars, I no longer do. The key player in this recent reconsideration by me has been Lt. Col. Paul Fardink (U.S. Army, retired), who has become a good friend. I wanted to give Fernando a copy of Gatewood & Geronimo that both Pailin and I had signed. He was thrilled. Am certain that Pailin and I will see him in the future. (photo © Pailin Subanna-Kraft & Louis Kraft 2014)

Oh the writing continues. It will continue until the day I die, but my life has changed for all time. I’ve found that special person to walk through the world with me. Our lives have been challenges, but now joined it has become one challenge. It is a challenge that both of us are capable of dealing with and we’ll do this together. Our life is one we both want and will work at together to create.

Los Angeles is our home (it is certainly key for my Flynn and de Havilland research). We hope that this will remain our home for all time as we love it in LA. However, if this isn’t possible we’ll look to relocate in a few states in the USA (all are key to Indian wars research, and alas, several have too much snow for this ol’ boy’s liking). That said, they are definitely on our radar. Other choices exist, but aren’t for this blog.

Bottom line: I’m the luckiest fellow in the world.