Mixed-race warrior Malcolm Erskine, a hero of the 1850s Kansas-Missouri Border War, keeps coming back.
As of May, 2013, The Jayhawker is an e-book and a second-edition paperback.
Originally a series of 114 episodes, this story first appeared in Norm’s and Marsha’s country weekly newspaper, The Blue Valley Gazette, in the early 1980s over a period of three years. In 2006 Norm yielded to requests and brought out the frontier adventure/romance in book form. Copies sold out, so now it’s in everlasting availability in two-part electronic format as well as in single-volume form as a 710-page paperback.
Norm’s original tackling of the complicated Border War reflected a determination to show how a courageous political decision resolved several years’ intense violence—although that decision also led directly to the Civil War.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 had stuck a fuse in a powder keg, with Missourians invading the next-door territory unlawfully to skew elections in support of proslavery candidates. Would Kansas come into the union as a slave state or a free state?
High stakes with national implications were in balance during one skirmish after another. A sidekick to John Brown, former Massachusetts dock drifter Malcolm Erskine used superior intelligence and savage fighting skills to overcome slavery-supporting Missourians. Women of various racial backgrounds threw themselves at this handsome adventurer, including one who may have been his long-lost half-sister.
The political hero whom Erskine supported was the reluctant but fair-minded Territorial Governor Robert J. Walker. The outcome of Walker’s dealing with the infamous “Oxford Fraud” in the election of 1857 launched Kansas toward statehood free of slavery.
Actual people, places, and events characterize the telling of this sometimes-brutal, sometimes-uplifting tale—Governor Walker, the fiery old John Brown, “Wild Bill” Hickok, General Jim Lane, Shawnee Chief Black Bob, and the Reverend Thomas Johnson, all circulating in northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri locales that the book’s helpful map identifies.