The year is 1888 in East Texas when twenty year old Jesse McCann arrives from West Texas looking for the father he never knew. The region is abuzz with the circular saws of lumber mills and the labor base to go with them. Jesse had been told for years that his father was last seen in the town of Morgan's Bluff, and that an investigator had reported his father had died and was buried in North Carolina. But Jesse was never satisfied with that explanation and set out to find the truth when he was a grown man. Riding Belle, a mare which had belonged to his mother, he went in search of his father and his destiny.
East Texas writer Jeanie Freeman Harper has written and published this work of fiction in the novella "Jesse McCann," built around this story. The book is set in the East Texas of 1888, when the region was emerging as one with many timber mill operations. The logging and milling plants built in the region were centers of economic activity and living for many people. The timber industry had moved into the void left by post Civil War changes to the previously dominant cotton culture of the area.
Jesse McCann is a striking young man of Irish and German ancestry. His mother is a right proper lady who married his father and became pregnant shortly after the marriage. Before he was born, his father disappeared. Word was he had gone to East Texas, where the trail disappeared. His mother sent an investigator, and years after the man disappeared, the investigator returned to report McCann's father, Clinton McCann, had died in the fictional East Texas town of Morgan's Bluff.
Like many such towns, Morgan's Bluff was named after the timber tycoon who had built it - Reese Morgan. He was the town's patriarch, literally and figuratively, as his blood lines extended through his legitimate heirs born to him and his wife. His blood lines also extended into the native American community with the son he had with a local Indian woman. The book explores this common occurrence for late 19th century East Texas - the interbreeding of whites and Indians. Many families, including mine, evidence the introduction of Indian blood lines into previously European based blood lines.
There are many colorful characters in the book, which keep the story interesting and help develop the plot. There is an old Indian woman with mystical influences. There is a lone she-wolf connected to the old woman and to a much younger woman. There are locals involved in the businesses of the town. There is a preacher, a lawyer, a bartender, and more. There are dubious heirs in the legitimate lines and admirable heirs in the illegitimate lines.
This blend of romance and fictionalized history of the region, wrapped around a story of financial intrigue and human failings, does a good job of keeping the reader engaged from beginning to end. The book is available through Amazon, and it can be read through Kindle, if you are a Kindle aficionado. Give it a look. It is enjoyable reading and entertaining as well.