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My interview on Cowboy Up Podcast

The owner of the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, Russell True, interviewed me on his “Cowboy Up” podcast on February 19, 2021.  We talked about the historic characters in my novels, our family’s Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch where I grew up, using grass-fed cattle to improve the landscape, the Big Thompson River floods, and my teen-age trauma with Baronet Bars, our breeding-compromised quarter horse stallion.  You can tune into it here.

I love this photo for the back cover of my new historical novel, “Mariano’s Woman”

This photo was taken by L. A. Huffman in 1878 at Fort Keogh, Montana, of Pretty Nose, a Cheyenne Woman, courtesy of Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives.

Although the image is not of a Flathead woman, it evoked in me the spirit of Takánsy as I imagine her: strong, proud, yet troubled and unsure about her future.

Takánsy was a real person whose story has always fascinated me.  She was born into the Flathead tribe along the Bitterroot River in Montana sometime in the early 1800s, then left her people to marry a French fur trader named Louis Papín.  After she was traded to Mariano Medina in 1844 for the substantial price of six horses and six blankets, they set up a successful trading post and stage stop on the Big Thompson River near Loveland, Colorado, known as Mariano’s Crossing.

When her daughter died in 1872, Takánsy was heartbroken.  According to historian Zethyl Gates, she would beat her chest and wail, ‘Me sickee, me go to Lena!’ That got me to wondering, which afterlife?  Takánsy was both Catholic and Native American. Would she and her daughter be able to connect in the spirit world?

Exploring the great mystery of what happens to our spirits after we die became a theme of the book, along with imagining the events in Takánsy’s girlhood that might have led her to leave her people. That took me on an eye-opening journey through nineteenth-century clashes between Jesuit “blackrobes,” mountain men and Montana Indian tribes.

Mariano’s Woman completes a trilogy that includes Mariano’s Crossing and Mariano’s Choice, all published by Pronghorn Press.  The books may be ordered from local bookstores or purchased online on Amazon.  Autographed copies are available on my website.

 

Just published: my new historical novel, “Mariano’s Woman”

Readers of my first two historical novels often ask why Takánsy, the Indian wife of Mariano Medina, inflicted scars on her arm for some mysterious reason. Now, with the publication of my third historical novel, Mariano’s Woman, they’ll have an answer.

This new book picks up Takánsy’s story where Mariano’s Crossing ends. Torn by grief over the death of her fifteen-year-old daughter Lena, Takánsy desperately tries to connect with her daughter’s spirit-being. But before she can join Lena in the Great Beyond, Takánsy must re-live the horror of her early life by telling a story she has never told anyone else—her “great sin” as a young woman.

Takánsy was a real person whose story has always fascinated me. She was born into the Flathead tribe along the Bitterroot River in Montana sometime in the early 1800s, then left her people to marry a French fur trader named Louis Papín. After she was traded to Mariano Medina in 1844 for the substantial price of six horses and six blankets, they set up a successful trading post and stage stop on the Big Thompson River near Loveland, Colorado, known as Mariano’s Crossing.

When her daughter died in 1872, Takánsy was heartbroken. According to historian Zethyl Gates, she would beat her chest and wail, ‘Me sickee, me go to Lena!’ That got me to wondering, which afterlife? Takánsy was both Catholic and Native American. Would she and her daughter be able to connect in the spirit world?

Exploring the great mystery of what happens to our spirits after we die became a theme of the book, along with imagining the events in Takánsy’s girlhood that might have led her to leave her people. That took me on an eye-opening journey through nineteenth-century clashes between Jesuit “blackrobes,” mountain men and Montana Indian tribes.

Writing the book was a challenge. Trying to walk in the moccasins of an Indian woman who lived a hundred and eighty years ago leaves one open to accusations of “cultural appropriation.” My desire to connect with people from a different culture, time and place kept me going, along with encouragement from Gray Wolf, a Cheyenne elder, healer and friend.

Mariano’s Woman completes a trilogy that includes Mariano’s Crossing and Mariano’s Choice, all published by Pronghorn Press. The books may be ordered from local bookstores or purchased online on Amazon. Autographed copies are available on my website.

Breakfast and Tour with Mariano Medina

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

8:30 to 11:00 AM

Sylvan Dale Ranch ~ Loveland, Colorado

Learn How Angel Vigil Becomes Mariano Medina

The Big Thompson’s first settler, Mariano Medina, died over 150 years ago.  But he’s “re-visiting” Loveland in the form of historical reenactor Angel Vigil. Angel is an accomplished author, performer, theatre director, and educator. He is the author of six award-winning books on Hispanic and Western arts and culture.

Join us at Sylvan Dale Ranch on Saturday May 25th for a behind-the-scene encounter with Mariano Medina in the person of Angel Vigil.  Find out how Mr. Vigil prepared for his role, chose his clothing and props, and developed his Medina character.

After breakfast at Sylvan Dale, we’ll accompany Angel to Mariano’s Crossing, the area on which Medina built his toll bridge, fort and trading post in the 1860s.  Discover how he incorporates a “feeling of place” into his Mariano persona while walking with him and members of the Loveland Historical Society near the land that Medina called home and the cemetery where he was buried. We’ll also be joined by David Jessup, author of a series of historic novels inspired by Mariano’s life and adventures in the foothills west of Loveland.

The morning program is co-sponsored by

Heart-J Center for Experiential Learning at Sylvan Dale Ranch
and the Loveland Historical Society.

Breakfast, Presentation by Angel Vigil,

Tour with Angel Vigil, David Jessup, and Loveland Historical Society

 

 Cost  – $35.00

REGISTER HERE

 

Continue the Adventure….​At 1:30, Angel Vigil will bring Mariano Medina to life in the Foote Gallery at the Loveland Museum.   No charge.  No Registration Necessary.

The breakfast talk will be different than the presentation at the museum,

so folks should actually see both to get the full experience of Mariano.

Holiday Gift Offer

I was so gratified by the latest five-star Amazon customer reviews of my second historical novel, Mariano’s Choice, that in a moment of madness I decided to offer a holiday gift sale: 10% off on each book, or 15% off if you buy both books. You have to order from my website, davidmjessup.com/books, for this discount. For once, my site is cheaper than Amazon!

Here’s one quote from an anonymous reviewer: “I finished reading your latest novel (a Christmas present from my daughter) and loved it! It was so intriguing I couldn’t put it down, finishing it in two days. I found myself reading late into the night, completely engrossed; burning the midnight oil, but at the same time not wanting the story to end.”

Music to an author’s ears.

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Mariano’s Choice Reviewed in True West Magazine

The June issue of True West Magazine contains a nice review of Mariano’s Choice, my second historical novel.  Here’s a quote:

Is courageMariano's Choice something learned or is it in our DNA? Can we control it? Based on a true story, Mariano’s Choice (Pronghorn Press, $19.95) follows Mariano Medina’s quest for courage and respect—growing from a cowardly teenager to a mountain man who, at long last, learns to stand up for those he loves. Not your stereotypical Western “hero,” Mariano changes with the challenges life throws at him. At first blush it’s hard to like Mariano. But within a matter of pages, he blossoms into someone you truly care about. Set in the mountain West, northern New Mexico and up to Wyoming’s South Pass and Fort Bridger, author David Jessup’s fluid and compelling prose of early 1800s fur trappers pulls the reader into a time and place rarely written about. The attention to detail and obvious research Jessup has done brings an unparalleled richness to the story.

Melody Groves, author of She Was Sheriff

 

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Medina Cemetery Mystery

Historian Ken Jessen just wrote two excellent pieces about the history of Mariano Medina’s Cemetery. A third article in the series is on its way. Here is the link to the first article.  The second article is here:  After the cemetery was destroyed by the county in early 1960, as Jessen notes, “the remains were put in “suitable containers” and transported the short distance to Namaqua Park where they were buried and covered with a single concrete slab combined with an elongated tombstone-like feature. On the slab are the names of those thought to have been removed.”

Mariano Medina

One of the names on the new marker is that if Marcelina (Lena) Medina, Mariano’s young daughter who tragically died shortly after her 15th birthday.  Whether her real bones rest there is a mystery.  According to one early pioneer recollection, Lena’s body was stolen from their house on the Big Thompson River and spirited off by her mother for a secret burial on a ridge to the west.  That incident became the initial scene in my historical novel, Mariano’s Crossing, published by Pronghorn Press in 2012.

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My Nov. 17 Book Talk at Loveland Museum

Here’s the Press release that just went out on my upcoming presentation of Mariano’s Choice at the Loveland Museum at 5:30 PM on Thursday, Nov. 17.  If you’re in the neighborhood, drop in and say hi!  Also, the Loveland Library is having a local author’s day tomorrow, Nov. 12, from 1-4 PM.  You’ll see my smiling face there too.

Author David Jessup Blends Colorado History, Fiction in November 17 Talk.

Mariano's ChoiceAuthor David Jessup brings Colorado history to life in his latest novel about Mariano Medina, Loveland’s first settler.  His presentation at the Loveland Museum on November 17 features photos of the real characters who lived on the frontier during the lead up to America’s 1846 war with Mexico.

According to New York Times bestselling author Sandra Dallas, the book “adds flesh and blood to the bones of one of the West’s legendary mountain men.”

“Mariano’s Choice is one of those rare, wonderful books that sticks in the mind and heart long after you’ve read the last page,” according to Anne Hillerman, New York Times best-selling author.  “Masterfully paced, it offers an intriguing snapshot of the West through the eyes of characters largely ignored by mainstream fiction.”

Mariano Medina is most well-known for having saved a U.S. Army brigade that attempted to cross the Colorado mountains during the Mormon War in 1857. While history does make some account of Medina’s adult life, little is known about the childhood of a man known for his grit, tough nature and courage. That’s where Jessup’s story begins in Mariano’s Choice.

“I mused about his motivations and personality. I felt the urge to fill that information in,” Jessup said. “I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting if he wasn’t always this brave tough guy, but as a youth was cowardly and afraid,” Jessup said. “And how might that transformation have come about?”

In Jessup’s fictional version, young Mariano Medina witnesses a vicious attack on a girl he adores and flees in inexplicable terror.  Fifteen years later, as a grown man training horses along the Oregon Trail, he has a chance to redeem himself if he can overcome his cowardly urge to flee. His choice will lead Medina back to the land of his childhood, where he must confront his darkest fears and uncover the hidden source of his panic in the ghostly stare that haunts his dreams.

Jessup’s talk and book reading is scheduled for 5:30 PM on Thursday, November 17th, 2016, at the Loveland Museum, 503 North Lincoln Avenue.  There is no charge, and no registration is necessary.  Proceeds from book sales will support the Loveland Museum and the Loveland Historical Society, which will also accept donations at the event.

For more information about the book, visit www.davidmjessup.com.  The book can be purchased in advance at the Museum and at the event itself, or ordered from local and online book stores.

Images of the book cover and an author bio are attached.

For Further Information, contact:

Author David M. Jessup, davidj@sylvandale.com; 970-481-8342

Jenifer Cousino, Loveland Museum, 970.962.2413   Jennifer.Cousino@cityofloveland.org

Mike Perry, Loveland Historical Society, (970) 667-3104, Mperry1000@aol.com

 

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Colorado Author’s Day Presentation on Nov. 5

Author David Jessup brings Colorado history to life in his latest novel about Mariano Medina, an important Front Range pioneer. His presentation at Colorado Authors’ Day on November 5, sponsored by the Colorado Springs chapter of the American Association of University Women, features photos of the real characters who lived on the frontier during the lead up to America’s 1846 war with Mexico.

According to New York Times bestselling author Sandra Dallas, the book “adds flesh and blood to the bones of one of the West’s legendary mountain men.”

“Mariano’s Choice is one of those rare, wonderful books that sticks in the mind and heart long after you’ve read the last page,” according to Anne Hillerman, New York Times best-selling author. “Masterfully paced, it offers an intriguing snapshot of the West through the eyes of characters largely ignored by mainstream fiction.”

Mariano Medina is most well-known for having saved a U.S. Army brigade that attempted to cross the Colorado mountains during the Mormon War in 1857. While history does make some account of Medina’s adult life, little is known about the childhood of a man known for his grit, tough nature and courage. That’s where Jessup’s story begins in Mariano’s Choice.

“I mused about his motivations and personality. I felt the urge to fill that information in,” Jessup said. “I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting if he wasn’t always this brave tough guy, but as a youth was cowardly and afraid,” Jessup said. “And how might that transformation have come about?”
In Jessup’s fictional version, young Mariano Medina witnesses a vicious attack on a girl he adores and flees in inexplicable terror. Fifteen years later, as a grown man training horses along the Oregon Trail, he has a chance to redeem himself if he can overcome his cowardly urge to flee. His choice will lead Medina back to the land of his childhood, where he must confront his darkest fears and uncover the hidden source of his panic in the ghostly stare that haunts his dreams.

Four additional Colorado authors will make presentations starting a 9:00 AM on Saturday, November 5th, 2016, at the Doubletree Inn by Hilton, 1775 E. Cheyenne Mt. Blvd. in Colorado Springs. Tickets are $60, including lunch, and can be obtained at http://coloradosprings-co.aauw.net. The session lasts from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Proceeds from book sales will support AAUW scholarships.

Jessup’s talk and book reading is scheduled for 1:45 PM. For more information about the book, visit www.davidmjessup.com. The book can be purchased in advance at the event, or ordered from local and online book stores.

Taos News Reviews Mariano’s Choice

My new historical novel, Mariano’s Choice, got a nice write up in the Oct. 7 Taos News, reviewed by Joan Livingston.  I quote from it below, and the original can be found here:

Mariano’s Choice, by Joan Livingston

Ah, the choices we make. In Mariano Medina’s case, his was to “Run! Get away!” when he witnesses an attack on a girl, the daughter of his patrón. But then he was only 15 and outnumbered by the ruthless men who hunt him down.

Still his inability to stop the attack haunts Mariano into his adulthood.

Author David M. Jessup sets his novel in the first half of the 1800s in the very Wild West. He uses real people for a few of his characters — such as Mariano, who rescued an Army brigade trying to cross Colorado during the winter of 1857 — and then has his way with them.

The novel begins in Taos, where Mariano is a stable boy for a wealthy patrón. During the 15 years following the aforementioned attack, Mariano wanders the frontier, working with trappers and traders. He is skilled at training horses and mules although not as natural as Takánsy, the Indian woman he hires to help him ready a herd for a group of Oregon travelers.

“Charlie Autobees had taught him well during the ten years he hauled whiskey for the man. Had taught him English, too. Given him a tent and blanket. Made him feel part of El Pueblo, that rough little settlement of Americano traders and their Mexican women hunkered on the north bank of the Arkansas, out of reach of Mexican hacienda owners and their sons.”

Mariano encounters good guys, like his buddy, Tim Goodale, and the savvy French trader, Papín, and bad guys, such as the son of his former patrón.

His courage is tested when he risks his life to save Takánsy from a band of Utes. Then there is his return to the Taos area, where he must finally face his past.

It’s been a while since I picked up historical fiction by choice. But Jessup makes his novel work handsomely with a good tempo and an authority that is convincing. He takes readers on a very satisfying ride into the past.

Jessup, a rancher in Colorado, also wrote Mariano’s Crossing. This novel is its prequel.

“Mariano’s Choice,” at 249 pages, is available from Pronghorn Press (pronghornpress.org) for $19.95 in paperback.

Note:  Mariano’s Choice may also be ordered from regular and online bookstores, and from my website, www.davidmjessup.com