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Monday, February 18, 2008

Behind the Scenes

This is an ongoing post about how the book "Buckskin Bessie - Her Lost Letters" came about. It is posted every Monday and the original was posted in Jan. 2008
No part of this information may be reproduced in anyway.

We had to fly into Okla. city and rent a car and drive to Ponca City. It is a small town with a very old section and a newer section with newer hotels and etc. Looking at some of the old buildings down town I knew they had to be there when Bessie lived there...strange feeling. We went into a little restuarant in the old section and the people started chatting with us. We told them about the letters and the 101 Wild West Show and they didn't seem to have a clue as to what we were talking about! I thought that was so wierd because this is were it all originated from and was to have been famous.
We had talked with Jack Keathly on the phone and had made arrangements to meet him at his home. I was excited but nervous. A small man with gray hair and bushy eyebrows greeted us and welcomed us into his home. We sat in his dinning room and I showed him the letters and pictures and etc. He began to show us the things he had of Bessie but they were scattered all over the house. First in one of the spare bedrooms he had a mannequin with a gold corduroy dress, high top boots and a strange shaped black felt hat. I had seen enough pictures of Bessie to know that was not her hat but the dress may have been. Tiny waist! Then he lead us down to the basement where there were things scattered everywhere. A very large framed photo of Bessie, a huge rifle type gun and many other things but they were just there...not displayed or anything. We went back up to the dining room and he brought out some letters he had that was to have been written to Bessie from Joe Miller. We neither had enough time to really read the letters we each had but he pointed out one of the documents that was a copy of a deed of land that was owned by Joe Miller and Bessie Herberg. That seemed pretty important because there seemed to only be speculation of the hidden romance between the two.

He also began to show us a multitude of other kinds of things he collected. Many, many things.

He made it very clear that he would indeed like to have the letters but that he didn't have much money to buy them. Meantime, I was struggling with this see I believed there was a reason these letters fell into my lap and I just couldn't believe that sitting in someones basement was the answer to that. I wanted other people to have the opportunity to read them, just like I had. My husband said "Well, we have to let him have something so maybe we could let him have the route cards". I agreed to that and we offered them to him with this stipulation "We do not know the value of these route cards but we will let you set the price and you write out a check to Teen Challenge for the amount you think is fair". I will not tell you the amount of the check but I will tell you that after attending one of the collectors shows it was maybe the value of ONE card. It's okay....I don't have to sleep with it.

He told me that he knew a young woman who wanted to write a book about Bessie and that he had allowed her to make copies of the documents he had, her name was Melissa Regan (the lady that posted on the 101 site for info about Bessie).

We told him that we wanted to go to her gravesite and he tried to explain where it was located in the cemetery. We drove there and looked and looked; The ground was wet and there were bugs flying everywhere and we couldn't find it. We called back on the cell phone for more instuction and finally we found it. Bessie Blackwell 1896-1943. The other name on the stone was, Marshall Blackwell.


sheoflittlebrain said...

This is a great chapter in the story of your ongoing relationship with Bessie! I'm so glad you kept your letters so that you could write your book:)

Granny Annie said...

We are hoping to go to Ponca on Wednesday, depending on the weather. We'll go to Marland Museum if it's open. I'll let you know.