Why are pirates and outlaws an intriguing subject in stories? What grabs everyone’s attention about these people? Whether the person is a pirate upon the sea or a river pirate roaming the Mississippi River… whether he’s an outlaw robbing a bank or a highwayman robbing a stagecoach, he is robbing and plundering. I have a question. What if a civic leader, a respected man in the community, decided to become an outlaw or river pirate? Would he have the same appeal? Or is this different? Very interesting question to think about!
I love adding true events that are part of history to historical fiction. Not only does it make the setting feel real, but it’s also fun to learn historical facts. I have a few more questions to ask.
Can an outlaw, highwayman, or pirate change his lifestyle and become an upright citizen? Do you believe a person can change, repent from his lawless ways and make amends? Matt Warner was an infamous outlaw who joined Butch Cassidy’s gang. He was a bank robber, cattle rustler, and bootlegger. But as time passed, Warner decided to change his life and settle down. He was elected deputy sheriff and later on as a county judge. In fact, knowing he was a former outlaw helped him gain votes. He was noted for being a great lawman because he knew the mindset of the outlaws. I wonder what happened in his life to make him change and become a law-abiding citizen in the community?
Is it possible that an upright citizen can secretly be a pirate, outlaw, or highwayman? Why would a distinguished and upstanding citizen want to rob others? Was it because of the adventure or the money? Or both? What was his motivation? If he were caught, the community would be shocked. I actually found that some civic leaders and merchants led a double life as a River Pirate, which their family knew nothing about. There was a justice of the peace in Kentucky who was a Highwayman and River Pirate. He and his fellow pirates would hijack a flatboat full of valuable cargo along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and meet at the Cave-In-Rock hideout along the Mississippi River to distribute the goods. (Taken from Angel’s Serenade: A Willow Valley Historical Romance)
Civic leaders weren’t the only people who chose to be outlaws. I learned that a governor and a president of the United States acted like outlaws, even though they weren’t considered as one. They stole people’s property without any remorse.
Did you know thousands of people were forced off their land by the government in 1839? Have you heard of The Trail of Tears? I wept as I learned what had happened to the Native Americans. The Indian Removal Act signed by Andrew Jackson gave the government the right to remove the Native Americans from their own land because it just happened to be in the “Cotton Kingdom.” When Van Buren became president, he put the Removal Act into effect. It was heartbreaking to learn what he had done to the Cherokee Nation. Even though Van Buren paid them five million dollars for their property and agreed to relocate them, the Cherokee didn’t want to leave their homeland. During the freezing winter, they were forced to leave. Sadly, young children and the elderly became very ill and died from exposure along the trek. It ended March of 1839.
Did you know another group of people were forced off their land because of their views about slavery? Jackson and Van Buren weren’t the only ones who pushed thousands of people off their land in 1839. Governor Boggs did the same thing.
The members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints did not believe in slavery and let their views be known. The slave owners were afraid of an uprising from their servants and saw the members as a threat to their way of life. So Governor Boggs gave the order to kick them out of Missouri or be exterminated. He sent the militia to drive them off their land and imprison their church leaders.
During February and March of 1839, these Christians made their way across the prairie to Illinois as refugees through knee-deep snow. Many only had the clothes on their backs because the militia had stolen their belongings. Some wrapped rags around their feet to keep them warm. When they arrived in Illinois, the kind citizens allowed the refugees to live in their homes and barns until they could get back on their feet.
Outlaws come in different forms. I wonder if Van Buren, Andrew Jackson, and Governor Boggs ever got their “comeuppance?” (Taken from A Pleasant Rivalry: A Willow Valley Historical Romance)
What came out of this research? Angel’s Serenade is a historical mystery romance. By adding some true facts to this story, you will discover the leader of the River Pirates who has been eluding the law for several years. You may be surprised! But that’s not all. What secret is the man running for Mayor hiding? Lucas and Emmeline are intrigued by their neighbor’s mysterious behavior. Is he friend or foe? Should they stop him from winning the votes or encourage him?
In A Pleasant Rivalry, Angelica Davis is a journalist and writes controversial articles for the Chronicle. When she writes about the removal of the Native Americans from their land, Angelica is appalled by Van Buren’s decision. To her, he is a cruel man. But that’s not all she writes about. When she discovers what Governor Boggs did to the Christians in Missouri, Angelica tells the public what is going on, getting her information first hand from someone who was kicked off her land. Her sister! Thank goodness the kind Illinois citizens took pity on the refugees and helped them find places to live. But that’s not all she writes about. Who is the notorious jewel thief and who is the arsonist wreaking havoc in Willow Valley?