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.

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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  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,; 970-481-8342

Jenifer Cousino, Loveland Museum, 970.962.2413

Mike Perry, Loveland Historical Society, (970) 667-3104,


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Author David Jessup Interviewed in Reporter-Herald

Just prior to the successful launch of Mariano’s Choice, my second historical novel, an interview was published in the Loveland Reporter-Herald September 25, 2016.  Excerpts below.  The original can be viewed here.

‘Mariano’s Choice’ looks at Mariano Medina’s early life

By Michelle Vendegna

Medina Mexican 84dpiDavid Jessup is following up his first novel, “Mariano’s Crossing,” with a prequel, “Mariano’s Choice.”

…”This (new book) goes back to [Mariano Medina’s] early life starting in Taos, N.M., when he was a 15-year-old boy and proceeding up to when it joins the first book in 1860,” he said of the new book. Jessup writes historical fiction.

Based on historical events, Jessup fills in the blanks with fiction. Most of the characters he features in the story were real people in the real locations.

“As with much of history, we know often what happened but we often don’t know why it happened or what the motivation and personality of the characters were,” he said, “That’s the fun of writing fiction.”

Jessup will be having a book launch at 8 a.m. Oct. 1 at Sylvan Dale Ranch, 2939 N. County Road 31D, Loveland, which he co-owns.

…”I became fascinated with this man and his family for two reasons,” he said.

The first was that Medina became quite successful in a time that many had ill feeling toward Mexicans following the Mexican-American War, Jessup said.

“I always wondered what it would have been like for him and the other European settlers in the valley to have this Mexican fellow be top dog,” he said.

The second reason …There was an oral history that following the death of Medina’s 15-year-old daughter, his wife Takansy (some historians spell her name Tacancy) took the girl’s body up the mountains for a secret burial. It intrigued Jessup that a couple that had been together for 28 years and had their own cemetery would have this conflict.

The new book focuses on how Medina became the man that he was. Jessup said in historical accounts he was described by others as a tough.

“How did he get that way? Was he born tough and resourceful or, in my imagination, I wondered, it would be interesting if he was timid as a young man and cowardly and how might he overcome that cowardice or timidness to become the man he became,” Jessup said.

He wanted to explore Medina’s relationship with Takansy as well.

“Mariano purchased her from her first husband for, what was then, a very high price and so I wondered, wow, he must have felt quite passionately about her,” he said. Medina traded six horses and six blankets in 1844 to Takansy’s husband, a French fur trapper.

“The facts of history raise questions in my mind,” he said.

As Jessup wrote the book he found a central theme emerge.

“You don’t always know the central theme of the book when you start writing it. For me, what became the theme of the book was overcoming fear and cowardice,” he said. How did a young man grow into the fierce mountain man that history knows today.

“To me, it was just a matter of: Was he going to be brave and tough from the get go? That didn’t sound very interesting,” he said.

Jessup said, as the name of the book implies, Medina will face [a] few dilemmas along the way.



Successful Book Launch for Mariano’s Choice

mt_alexander_web_1500x573October first, 2016, was one of those magically beautiful Colorado autumn days that blessed the thirty participants in our sold-out historic sites tour for the launch of my new historical novel, Mariano’s Choice.  On our first stop, we visited the ruins of the old Weldon school in Sylvan Dale Ranch’s Big Valley.  Then our vehicle caravan ascended the old quarry road on Red Ridge, the fictional site of Lena Medina’s secret grave, to peer over the edge of the towering cliff where a golden eagle soared over the valley below.  Next we drove to Namaqua Park, site of Mariano’s original trading post and stagecoach stop, then on to the restored Medina cemetery, where tour members got a chance to heft a replica of Medina’s Hawken rifle and learn more about Mariano Medina from Loveland Historical Society members Bill Meirath and Sharon Danhauer.  After returning to Sylvan Dale for Lunch, I presented my slide show introduction of Mariano’s Choice and read an excerpt from the new book.

I also described the theme of the book–overcoming cowardice–by sharing a quote from NY Times columnist David Brooks, as follows:

“The people we admire for being resilient are not hard; they are ardent. They have a fervent commitment to some cause, some ideal or some relationship. That higher yearning enables them to withstand setbacks, pain and betrayal.  …grit, resilience and toughness are not traits that people possess intrinsically. They are means inspired by an end.  …As Nietzsche put it, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”  David Brooks, NY Times, Aug. 30, 2016

For me, that quote sums up the fictional journey traveled by my main character, Mariano Medina, one of the West’s legendary mountain men.