Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Boone Helm, killer and cannibal

Born in Kentucky in 1828 Boone Helm was the second youngest of five brothers who all died violently. It is well known that at least two of the brothers where homidical and perhaps all of them required quick separation from life as a means of protecting the rest of society. However it is doubtful that any of them where as dangerous to human kind as was Boone.
            His first victim was supposedly a friend, Littlebury Shoot who couldn’t decide fast enough, in Helm’s estimation at least, when they should leave Jefferson City Wyoming for the gold fields of California. Boone ended the discussion by plunging a knife into Shoot’s heart. The year was 1852.
            He was captured and returned to Missouri where he demonstrated his fine acting ability and convinced authorities that he was insane. Once he had established a back-ground as a model inmate he escaped and headed once again for California, killing several people in his travels. Familiarity breeds contempt it is said and such was demonstrated when Boone was careless enough to allow a witness to view him shoot a man in the back. Now he was wanted for murder in California.
            Avoiding a California lynching Helm appeared in The Dalles, Oregon where he attached himself to a group of gambling prospectors. There was gold just to the north in the British Colony of British Columbia but they also had a police force up there. The group decided to go east through the Wasatch Mountain Range to the gold strike at Camp Floyd, Utah.
            It was a poor decision for winter was closing in. In 1860 Helm made it to Salt Lake City where he had money to spend. When he left Oregon he had been broke. A great deal of evidence suggests that he survived the mountains and passes by consuming parts of at least one of those in the party that left Oregon; perhaps the very one who also supplied the money.
            After that it was a horse stealing operation where he found it more convenient to kill the two men guarding those horses. Later, in Lodi, Utah a soldier assigned to the US Quartermaster Corp recognized him in a crowded saloon. Helm solved that problem with a bullet through the soldier’s head.
            Back to California, where there were suspicions and then to Washington Territory where he had an argument with Dutch Fred a well known and popular gambler. Later, Helm won the argument by shooting Dutch in the back as he played poker.
            Dutch, as mentioned, was popular. Helm was quick and only escaped Dutch’s friends by going north across the 49th parallel into the British Colony.
            In July, 1862 three bodies floated down the Quesnel (Kwe-nell) River. They where identified as three miners well known to fellow miners in the Williams Creek area. They where known to have $32,000 in gold. After several witness statements and police work by BC Colonial officers it was shown that Boone Helm was the culprit. A posse was formed but Helm had disappeared.
            Barely off the ship and in Victoria on the Vancouver Island Colony Helm was arrested October, 16, 1862 for stealing apples and refusing to pay for drinks in several saloons.
            He tried his acting abilities again. He told Judge Pemberton that he was “a stranger in a strange land” and that “if it wasn’t for the prison cell I occupied last night I would have had to walk the streets of this fair city as I am wholly alone, penniless and afraid, having neither chick nor child, kith or kin.”
            Pemberton said later that it was an excellent presentation. However, Helm had been bragging the night before in his prison cell of how dangerous he was and how he had killed a man in Washington country. He sentenced Helm to a month in jail hoping they could get word to US authorities and have a reception committee waiting for Helm when he stepped out of Victoria’s Square Bastion stockade.
            Perhaps the letter was lost. Perhaps the person who received the letter had never heard of Dutch Fred. Perhaps they had more pressing business that month. Whatever the reason, there was no response from the US and at the end of the thirty day sentence Helm was released.
            Three days after his release, Victoria Police Chief Horace Smith received a message from the Deputy US Marshall in Florence. However, Helm was already well across Georgia Straight and somewhere up the Fraser River in the Colony of BC.
            With Victoria Police, Vancouver Island Colonial Police, British Columbia Colonial Police and US Marshalls all looking for Helm, his travel plans where bound to change.
            Boone Helm was captured near Fort Yale on the Fraser River.
            Was he headed back up country to dig up the gold from the triple murder the year before? The amount missing would be the equivalent of more than a million dollars in early twenty first century. It was in gold, a product readily identifiable as to area. Two months after the murders when he appeared in Victoria Helm was broke.
            Or did one of the so-called witnesses have the gold?
            There is no record of anyone have that kind of money or of a sudden unexplained change in fortunes.
            Since the murder of Dutch Fred preceded the others known at the time and US authorities where already on-site, Helm was extradited to Washington Territory. However, older brother “Old Tex” Helm bribed the main prosecution witness and the case fell apart. Once again Boon Helm walked and was no where to be found when Colonial authorities suggested he could now be tried for the triple murders on the Quesnel River.
            However, does anyone remember the story of Virginia City, Montana 1864? Miners where disappearing there in unknown numbers, along with their gold, until, under the strictest secrecy, a vigilante committee was formed. Henry Plummer and his band, the “Innocents” where, in most cases, caught and hung. On the morning of January 14th, 1864 more than 5000 residents watched as Jack Gallagher, Clubfoot Lane, Frank Parrish, Hayer Lyons and, yes, Boone Helm were hanged.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Need for Fiction!

I believe it was Dave White over at “Do Some Damage” who posted a piece asking if we are approaching the End of Fiction. Here is a short bit of his piece to help explain;
As many of you know, I'm a teacher, and I follow all the goings on in the educational world. Well, there's been a major shift in the expectations for an English class and what kids *should* read as they get older. You see, people want kids who are ready for business. When they graduate college, kids have to be ready for the *real world*, which-in a businessman's mind-is the business world.
Therefore by graduation students are encouraged to spend most of their time with “study” or that information text should constitute at least 90% of their reading.
If this is indeed true, and from what I see around me it certainly appears to be, this suggests a very scary future!
All of those who have been contributors in any major way to the development or growth of mankind and our societies have had knowledge outside their fields of expertise. This is true of Tesla, Einstein, Newton or anyone else you can think of. If one thinks about an acquaintance or neighbour who is a strong community supporter you will probably realize that person has a variety of interests and study areas.
Conversely, many of those who are considered the great fiction writers have studied in areas outside of the arts. For example, Lewis Carroll, David Wallace and Thomas Pynchon studied mathematics and it is reflected in their prose.
The success of all technological, scientific, sociological leaders or community leaders in general is their ability to think. Sometimes it is the result of a high degree of imaginative thinking. Sometimes it is the ability to borrow information from other fields and incorporate it within the person’s field of expertise. But it always results from an ability to think.
How did those people develop that ability to think? True, there may have been a certain inherent ability in this regard. However, in every case they developed their ability to think by exercising their brain. That exercise consisted of lifting the weights of contemplation, of repetitive, continuous action and a refusal to be distracted.
Such exercise is an inherent part of reading (and writing, for that matter) fiction. Is the story believable? Could it have happened that way? Can your imagination picture the events described? Is there another possibility that is more likely?
Those who read nothing but non-fiction don’t have the opportunity to exercise the brain. They learn to accept what they have been told by the “expert” who has written the journal … someone who may be an expert writer and know only what his research has told him of the subject matter. Someone who’s perception of the subject has perhaps been biased by something he was told by someone who knew less than he.
Of course, it is undoubtedly easier to believe what you are told. Believe what the politicians spout in their election ads. Believe what the Minister of Finance tells the “great unwashed” about the state of the countries economy. Believe what the Chiefs of Police tell you about the absence of crime and how safe they have made the world. Believe what the federal revenue agency says about the short-fall in funding being due strictly to tax-payer avoidance and fraud.
Don’t read any fiction and believe what you are told. It’s much easier. It might be expensive, but it’s easier.
Each of us, if we have the capability, has a responsibility to contribute to the development of society and the safety of our off-spring. If we don’t contribute we are helping to destroy it and reduce the chances of a safe life. We are responsible because society is US.
In short (yes, I’m aware it’s too late), read fiction.







Sunday, October 21, 2012

What is Homesteader about?

I recently had a request for information on my available novels from Spirit River and thus found an interesting site. They have the names of several Peace River area authors, information and in some cases reviews of their works and its availability.
I spent several minutes, many more than I can actually afford, reading about immigrants, pioneers, the Alberta Provincial Police, Grande Prairie … the site is chock full of items to pique the interest of anyone regardless of location or age.
I spent several moments reading about the mass murder which occurred in June of 1918 North West of Grande Prairie. The late Wallace Lloyd Tansem spent several years compiling the facts of the multiple murders and they appear in his book, “Foulest of Murder” is coverage of that information.
Check out the blog at
There is a link to Tansem’s work and to many others.
Town Spirit River also asked for information on Homesteader which I repeat here;
            What’s “Homesteader” about?
     Yes, the story “Homesteader” takes place in the Canadian West of the late 19th century. However, that isn’t what it’s about
     Yes, the story relates how a horseman from west of the Rockies and his riding partner each take land under the Homesteader Act. However, that isn’t what the novel is about.
     Sure there are Colt, Remington and Smith & Wesson revolvers mentioned, along with a few rifles including two Winchester models. But that has little to do with the story.
     There are a diverse group of characters. There is a bully who, like most bullies thinks he is smarter than most and judges people by their appearance. There are some North West Mounted Police officers, some doing their jobs and others who only want the “Force” to look after them. There are hardworking, money-less families, widows, prospectors, Blackfoot, Sioux and the business people of Calgary.
     Several action scenes are included. There are bucking horses and broken legs, a stage coach robbery and murder. Fence posts turn to slivers from the impact of a 45-70 bullet and sculls that do little better.
     Let us not forget the weather. A horrendous winter is part of the story; a winter that eventually was responsible for changing the way the country handles livestock.
    What the story is actually about is a young man finding the woman he loves. About learning that what he has been taught all his life is not necessarily true; that what may appear on the surface may not be what is underneath. About keeping a good partner and gaining another even closer one.
And, of course, recovering.
     As with “Partners” there is a link to “Homesteader” on my blog and other sites listed below. Both are available as books and in a variety of digital formats. They can also be found at the following book stores or ordered from those that don’t have it in stock.
Audrie’s Books … Edmonton
Riverside Music and Books … Peace River
Beth’s Books … Grande Prairie
Read’s Books … Dawson Creek
Bills News … Dawson Creek
Online at my blog; (click on the images to the right)


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Communication and Partners

            I was under the mistaken impression that most who read this blog or visit Facebook knew what my presently available novels are about. Apparently I have been mistaken. Therefore I will attempt to communicate that information.


Actually that is primarily what “Partners” is about; the inability of the young, physical and poorly educated to understand some one older, well educated, worldly and of a more mental inclination. Of course, there is a need for communication in the other direction as well.

Lack of communication is not a unique problem. The difficulty exists today between the young and old, educated and ignorant, men and woman. I believe that this is a problem that has existed that has existed since the dawn of time.

I also believe that we don’t do enough to overcome this lack of understanding. When we do make efforts to communicate we often make the problem worse. When we don’t make an effort to be understood this too may make the problem worse since a non-action may project a lack of concern.

Is it necessary that we do anything? Perhaps time and stable emotions on the part of both parties will solve the problem.

“Partners” explores this question and supplies a possible answer or result. The story begins in the Cyprus Hills of the North West Territories (we call it Saskatchewan these days) in 1866. Our two heroes (one young and one REALY old … well, half my age) try to stay alive as they travel west, through the Crows Nest Pass and end up in Barkerville.

Yes their most serious problem from the Prairies does catch up to them, but …. Well, things could always be better.

I try to have some actual history in my stories and novels. “Partners” and “Homesteader” are no exception. There are stories and small tidbits of information buried within the fiction, things that really happened or perhaps things that affect what we do today. Both these novels are also available for Kindle, iBook and Nook.

One can click on the cover images to the left and go to the SBP page or go to At the later site it is also possible to read a few pages before purchase by using the “Look in the book” feature.

I’ll be back soon with another post with some information about “Homesteader”.



Monday, September 17, 2012

Dinner Concert wioth Matt Pattershuk

I'm looking forward to a concert we're about to have here at Diamond Willow Retreat. Matt Pattershuk is coming up to present some of the great material he has written and I'm sure he will also cover a few numbers that the audiance will recognize.
I'm very much looking forward to it.
Barbara Munro will open the evening's entertainment with a few songs, again, some of them will be her own.
And the singing will be hers, even if she's singing someone else's song.
Just so you know.
Of course I've heard Barb many times and always have and always will enjoy her work.
Matt, on the other hand, I've only heard once. However I was very greatly impressed during that one short evening and am looking forward with a great deal of pleasure to his appearance here.
Promisses to be a great evening with Karen's meal served at 6:00 and the entertainment to start at 7:00

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Partners" and "Homesteader" at Audrie's


Now didn’t I do a marvellous thing?
Well, perhaps not quite up to snuff, old boy!
The other night when I posted that I would be at Audrie’s Books I neglected one small little detail.
A time would help, perhaps?
I will be there on Wednesday, September 5 between noon and 1:30.
A little time like time and date does sometimes make a difference.
That’s, Audrie’s Books, 10702 Jasper Ave.,

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Another trip to Edmonton

I`ll be taking another little road trip and during the course of it I`ll be signing a book or two at
Audreys Books Ltd., 10702 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, AB 780-423-3487.
I’ll have copies of “Partners” and “Homesteader” on hand and we will also have a draw for one of the few original copies of my first novel, “The Great Liquor War”. Since “Homesteader” is a sequel and “Liquor War” is no longer available, there is a possibility to have the whole yarn.
I’m actually going down to have the last surgery on my eye. However, since the medical profession’s scheduling is up to its usual standards, I’ll be down there for two days (and most of two day travelling) to have an hour’s work done.
I hope to see some of those folks I talk to on the internet.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Paying attention and staying alive.

Over at "terribleminds" they have asked for a flash fiction using four of eight random words. The words from which one may sellect are Saw, Milkshake, Bath, Flowerpot, Wheelchair, Bully, Zoo, and Heretic.
Here is my effort.

          I picked up the chain saw, checked the fuel and chain oil, set the choke and pulled the rip cord. It was an old machine without the dampening found on the new machines, but it would still cut, fall a tree and make firewood.

          It certainly wasn’t a pleasure to run, however.

          “Don’t know how people made a living with these old boat anchors,” I said allowed. It was a good thing I was only talking to myself for no one else could have heard me over the roar.

          The vibrations ran up both arms jerking on elbows, shoulders and every muscle.

          “She’d be a fine old girl for mixing a milkshake,” I said as I completed the wedge cut.

          As I stepped around the tree to make the final cut I noticed the chain oil reservoir had a hole and was spraying more oil on me than was lubricating the chain.

          “Damn,” I said. “Drop one tree and I’ll need a bath and all my clothes washed. Boots will be well oiled.”

          With my attention on the oil leak I didn’t realize that the centre of the tree I was cutting was rotten and the wedge cut had weakened a tree that was about to fall without my help. It was falling opposite to the direction I had intended and right toward me.

          Well, that’s how I wound up in this wheelchair.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Went shopping in Edmonton
on Friday and bought a lens …
Actually, my optometrist looked into my left eye on Thursday
and said, “I think you have a serious problem. You should have surgery RIGHT NOW.”
So I jumped in the pickup, drove to Edmonton, the surgeon
looked at my eye at about 10:30 Friday morning and they rolled me into the
operating room at about 4:30 that afternoon. Used their mini light sabre to
re-attach my retina, put in some gel and an air bubble and, yes, installed the
aforementioned new lens.
Kept me in over night, checked their work Saturday morning
and sent me back to the hotel. Checked their work again Sunday morning and
announced that they did a marvellous job and everything looks “just peachy-keen”.
I should be able to see out of that eye in a week and be
back to work in about two.
The work was done at the Royal
Alexandria Hospital
by Dr. Hinz and his staff of Alberta Retina Consultants; Very nice,
professional people.
I feel compelled to thank Phil Folz and Rudy Judge of Peace
Lodge 126, A.F.A.O.M. for driving down to Edmonton
on Sunday and driving my pickup (and me) back to my home. A long day for them
and the efforts of my Brethren is very much appreciated.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It appears all the Provincial Governments and Canada’s Federal Government are intent on cutting funding to arts programs. Theatres are closing all over the country due to lack of funding, including a couple that have been the starting points for internationally known writers, directors and actors.
Apparently those in government do not understand how significant arts production is for the country. Or perhaps they realize that the monetary value of Canadian artistic production, though an insignificant piece of its total value, far exceeds anything produced in a monetary sense by government. As a result they are in fear that the citizenry will become aware of the true value of government.
There still seems to be a strong consensuses that once students have been taught Reading,
Righting and Rithmatic that’s all they need to know. In reality all the ‘three Rs’ do is supply a foundation for the beginning of an education. True education doesn’t even start without some
understanding of the arts.
Perhaps those creating legislation don’t want the public educated and thinking for themselves. Those legislators may realize that if the ‘unwashed masses’ truly understood what
they are doing (or not doing) they may be treated with the contempt they
It has been said that people only fear what they do not understand. Perhaps that explains why elected officials don’t want the populace thinking; they fear what they don’t understand.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Murder of a Policeman

When he arrived on Vancouver
Island in 1858 he was known as Charlie Brown. Due to his
proclivity for so called easy money he soon came to the attention of the newly
formed British Columbia Colonial Police and Victoria Municipal Police. However,
with a gold rush breaking out in some area of the colony almost every year, law
enforcement was hard pressed due to the constant influx of gold seekers. Due to
the lack of manpower and time as well as the insipidness of his name, little is
known about Charlie’s earlier history except that he may have been in California
and Oregon Territory.
Once in the British colony,
however, it was obvious Charlie’s search for gold would not include digging or
washing for it. He was caught on several occasions selling grain alcohol to
Indians. Following one of those occasions, while awaiting trial, he was
attacked by another arrestee, a Haida Indian to whom he had sold a barrel of
sea water as whiskey.
Mr. Brown’s last extended stay in
Victoria’s Bastion Street Jail began some time in 1875 with a one year sentence
for, once again, selling alcohol without a permit and selling alcohol to
Indians. He refused to work and was placed in solitary on bread and water.
One afternoon another Charlie,
jailer Charles B. Wright came to move Brown to a new cell. Mr. Brown threatened
to kill Wright if he tried. During the ensuing struggle Brown managed to put
Wright in a headlock. The jailer (they were armed in those days) drew his
revolver and put it up to Mr. Brown threatening to “blow his head off.” When
Brown increased the pressure, Wright pulled the trigger.
Charles Wright did not manage to
blow Charlie Brown’s head off as he had predicted. He did manage to blow his
ear off, however, thus creating “One Eared Charlie Brown” who, though he lost
an ear, gained another year to his sentence.
It has been stated, with great
justification, that “One Ear” Charlie Brown, “Hospital” Hall, and “Sebastopol”
Jones and their distribution of alcohol were the greatest reason for the
disappearance of the Songhees Indians.
Having served a good portion of
his sentence One Ear Charlie became “ill” and was transferred to hospital. He
suddenly improved dramatically, escaped and left the colony. Victory lawmen
didn’t look too hard for, as one said, “If he has left the island its good
riddance.” One Ear Charlie became a problem for US lawmen. However, he would
return to the colony in the spring of 1867 for a short time. After that short
stay he would return very briefly to the US
and then be a problem for no one.

In 1866 there was another gold
rush in the Kootenay Country, centred on a town called Wild Horse Creek.
Following some serious turbulent times the town and the Kootenay area were
being policed by four BC Colonial Constables, William Young, James Normensall,
John Carrington and a rookie, Jack Lawson. The young rookie was very popular
with the Kootenay miners.
In the spring of 1867 One Ear
Charlie Brown showed up in Oregon Territory
at Kootenay Trading Post. He stole two horses and rode north into the BC
The brothers who owned the
horses, Dutch homesteaders, rode north after their property and, having
determined the proper trail, rode on to Wild Horse Creek in search of a lawman.
Upon arrival they found that all officers were out on patrol except for the
rookie, Jack Lawson.
The Constable and the two horse
owners rode south, eventually approaching One Ear on the trail. Jack had the
brothers wait while he closed on the horse thief.
Having identified himself, Jack
inquired as to the ownership of the horses where upon One Ear made a move with
one hand toward the inside of his shirt. Jack drew his Colt and demanded One
Ear freeze but then made the mistake of diverting his attention to the brothers
behind him on the trail.
Perhaps he was concerned for the
brother’s safety or intended to call them forward to identify the horses. Maybe
it was a young man’s belief of invincibility or a disbelief in old men’s
stories of gunfights. Whatever the reason for Constable Lawson’s distracted
attention it allowed One Ear the opportunity to draw his revolver and shoot
Jack in the head.
The brothers fled back to Wild
Horse Creek for more help.
Jack Lawson fell dead from his
One Ear dismounted, dropped his
Manhattan Revolver (probably a .36 or “Navy Model” but it could have been a .31
pocket model) on the ground and picked up Jack’s relatively new Colt. (The 1860
Model Army was issued to BC officers.)
On their arrival in Wild Horse
Creek the two horse ranchers discovered the other three policemen still hadn’t
returned. They told their story to the citizens who were all upset about the
murder of Constable Jack Lawson. Four local miners were so upset they took out
on One Ear’s trail.
They followed the trail for
several days. Eventually they deduced One Ear’s intention and by taking another
trail managed to get ahead of him and lay an ambush. They confronted him on the
Walla Walla Trail 43 miles south of the BC Colonies border, not far from
Bonner’s Ferry.
According to accounts, three
shotgun blasts blew One Ear Charlie Brown from the saddle. They buried his
riddled body beside the trail.
Why three shotguns and not four?
Who knows? I suggest a possible explanation in my fictional account of the
event in the novel “Partners”.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Safety for Joe Public

I've done articles on this subject several times. Now here is another one from a police officer that supports my earlier work.
Looks like the facts are coming out in Gun Control and the NRA wins on this one!!
Australian Gun Law Update
Here's a thought to warm some of your hearts from:
Ed Chenel, A police
officer in Australia
Hi Yanks and Canadians, I thought you all would like to see the real figures
from Down Under.
It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by a new law to surrender
640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by our own government, a program
costing Australia taxpayers more than $500 million dollars.
The first year results are now in:
Australia-wide, homicides are up 6.2 percent,
Australia-wide, assaults are up 9.6 percent;
Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent
(yes, 44 percent)!
In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent.
(Note that while
the law-abiding citizens turned them in, the
criminals did not and criminals still possess their guns!)
While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady decrease in armed
robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically upward in the past 12
months, since the criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed.
There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults of the
elderly, while the resident is at home.
Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public safety has
decreased, after such monumental effort and expense was expended in
'successfully ridding Australian society of guns....'
You won't see this on the American or Canadian evening news. You won’t hear a
Premier, Prime Minister, MP, governor or member of a State Assembly
disseminating this information.
The Australian experience speaks for itself. Guns in the hands
of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes,
gun-control laws affect only the law-abiding citizens.
Take note, before it's too late!
In localized
instances this has been proven for decades, but now it has been proven by an
entire nation.
Will you be one of the sheep to turn yours in?
WHY? You will need

"Fire arms
stand next in importance to the Constitution
itself. They are the American
people's liberty teeth and
keystone under independence...from the hour
the Pilgrims
landed to the present day, events,
occurrence and tendencies
prove that to ensure peace, security and
happiness, the
rifle and pistol are equally
indispensable...the very atmosphere
of firearms anywhere restrains evil
interference---they deserve
a place of honor with all that is good."
(George Washington)