Left for the old Tobucksy County Courthouse ten minutes away from the hotel.
Arrived at the old Tobucksy County Courthouse.
Okay, we got a little lost! But we made it with no minutes to spare, breathing heavy with hauling books from the parking area to the side of the historic Choctaw courthouse.
Michael Cathey of Indianola (member of the Indian Territory and Oklahoma Statehood Settlement organization and president of Choctaw Country Tourism, Inc) invited us up for the re-opening of a significant site during the 1880s and '90s in the old Choctaw Nation. I was the featured speaker and quite grateful Mike took a few minutes introducing the site before introducing me.
I spent that time looking around the room that was much smaller than I’d envisioned when writing book three of the Choctaw Tribune series. This was a golden opportunity to step back in history and draw from the building my ancestors stood in over a hundred years ago...
1890s Indian Territory
The coal mining industry was booming. Only one in four people in the Choctaw Nation were actually Choctaw. Politics were heated and deadly.
This hotbed time period sets the stage for the first two books in my series, The Executions and Traitors, and for the upcoming third book which still needs serious revisions as I research more of the McAlester area.
As I stood in that courthouse, I imagined Matthew Teller darting about. He’s one of the main characters in the first two books (is he your favorite like he is my mama’s?) and he takes the lead in book 3. It’s not an easy journey for him, far from home and on a mission he won’t turn loose of, not even if it kills him. Not that there’s any danger of that (wink, wink).
I love Matthew’s tenacity, but he’s in for heartache with this story. And his sister Ruth Ann has her hands full back home, keeping their newspaper, the Choctaw Tribune, running in his absence.
You’ll read about both their journeys in book 3 that takes you deep into the coal mines of Indian Territory, the most dangerous job at that time in the country.
After the short program inside the Tobucksy County Courthouse, we spent a fun day talking with people about books, history, and the Choctaw people. Francine Locke Bray and her husband Michael were there with their joyous spirits, sharing brownies and the story of the Choctaw horses. We made new friends with re-enactors Leslee and Oscar Quesada. And sweet Ms. Caroline took me on a walking tour of old downtown McAlester with the Old West Festival in full swing. She pointed out buildings and told stories of the way things were when she was growing up. We also got a good look at the refurbished McAlester mansion where she shared a humorous tidbit I’ll work into the novel if I can.
Yakoke, thank you again to Mike Cathey, not only for having us for that special day, but also the work he and his team have done to preserve Choctaw history and culture.