Love Finds You in Deadwood, South DakotaBy: Tracey Cross
For Jesus, who makes all things new.
It bears repeating that no book is accomplished by the efforts of one person. It takes a village, or in my case, a small continent to take it from basic idea to finished product.
Stephanie Grace Whitson—for a wealth of information and places to look. I fell in love with your books when I read Walks the Fire many years ago and have been a fan ever since. Thank you!
Frances D.—my mom for helping flesh out the tough spots during a crazy deadline.
Chris and Angie—for reading the book and at least telling me you loved it.
Carlton, Jason, Rachel, and Ramona, my Summerside team—you guys are the best!
Kids—Cat, Mickey, Stevan, and Will, for doing extra chores without complaining too much, for cooking suppers (especially you, Cat), and working out many of your own issues. You continually amaze me with your love and dedication to God and to me. I love you so much.
Rusty—my soldier husband. Come home soon; we miss you.
DEADWOOD. THE NAME CONJURES UP COLORFUL VISIONS OF THE Wild West. Hollywood has produced exciting musicals and TV series based on this town—but do they portray Deadwood as it really was? The year was 1876 when a miner name John B. Pearson struck gold. He might have run up and down that canyon, waving his hat and yelling in excitement. Or maybe he glanced around furtively, in fear of thieves. The one thing we know for sure is that the canyon walls were lined with dead trees, which gave the site the name Deadwood Gulch.
Prospectors soon converged on the area with dreams of striking it rich. But after a few initial mining successes, the gold was mostly gone. All that was left was a town filled with the rough and the lawless—folks like gambler and gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok, who was shot dead in 1876 during a poker game in Deadwood’s Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon. Decent folk shied away from the town, and the few who tried to brave it often regretted their decision. This era of Deadwood came to an end in 1879 when a raging fire swept through the business district. The election of a new sheriff and the rebuilding of the city brought law and order to Deadwood. In 1890 the railroad came, and the community changed forever.
Today the town of Deadwood, population just over 1,300, is the seat of Lawrence County. Overlooked by the famous Mount Moriah cemetery, the resting place of both Wild Bill and Calamity Jane, it boasts museums, tours, more than sixty casinos, and tales of the past.
Early April, 1879
It had simply never occurred to Jane Albright that Tom might be dead. Gracious, if she feared for his life each time he failed to arrive home in a reasonable amount of time, she’d spend every waking minute in an absolute state. After all, the trip to Deadwood took a month, and that was only one way. With weather upsets, the swollen North Platte, and breakdowns, she never expected to see him within three months of each departure.
So, although he was two weeks overdue, she’d hardly given his absence a thought until late last night when Hank Barnes came rolling in on the freight wagon with Tom in the back, covered from head to toe with his bedroll.
Standing next to her husband’s grave, Jane barely found the grace to speak a psalm over him. Even as she said a closing prayer, she found the words automatic and insincere. Were it not for her son, Danny, standing next to her, fidgeting like only a five-year-old could, she might have foregone the funeral altogether and just told Hank to bury him without paying final respects. But she couldn’t have her son remembering that she hadn’t given his pa a proper burial.
Hank, Tom’s partner, stood respectfully by the grave he’d tended to himself, his battered hat clutched in calloused hands that had worked much too hard for it to all end this way.
Jane’s amen brought his head up, and, as one, they turned away from the gravesite of the man who had caused such upheaval for them both, leaving them to salvage what they could of the ruins.
“How long before the lender calls in the note?” Jane stared at the grizzled bullwhacker, trying to wrap her head around the fact that her husband had left them with nothing. Less than nothing, in fact. He’d left them in debt, which was the worst thing he could have done.