In his powerful bestsellers, William W. Johnstone captures the passion and fury of the untamed west. Now, inspired by one of America’s most legendary lawmen, he makes history come alive—with a vengeance…
They Called Him Sixkiller
He was born in the Going Snake District of the Cherokee Nation—and forged a destiny as bold as his name. John Henry Sixkiller was as fearless as they come. He fought in the 2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles, his father’s regiment during the Civil War. Served with the Longhorse Police in Indian territory upholding the law among five tribes in a time of violence and change. But now, Sixkiller faces his greatest challenge yet. As a U.S. marshal, he must take on the most notorious outlaws the west has ever seen. Horse thieves who kill without conscience. Train robbers who terrorize the railways. And one ruthless enemy whose bloody reign of fear would bring Sixkiller to the ultimate showdown.
His name means justice. His story is America’s.
About the Author
Being the all-around assistant, typist, researcher, and fact checker to one of the most popular western authors of all time, J.A. Johnstone learned from the master, Uncle William W. Johnstone.
He began tutoring J.A. at an early age. After-school hours were often spent retyping manuscripts or researching his massive American Western history library as well as the more modern wars and conflicts. J.A. worked hard—and learned.
"Every day with Bill was an adventure story in itself. Bill taught me all he could about the art of storytelling. ‘Keep the historical facts accurate,’ he would say. ‘Remember the readers, and as your grandfather once told me, I am telling you now: be the best J.A. Johnstone you can be.’"
Read an Excerpt
Sixkiller, U.S. Marshal
By William W. Johnstone, J. A. Johnstone
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2012 William W. Johnstone
All rights reserved.
Northeast Alabama, 1838
James Sixkiller was clearing a field with his father, Redbird, and three of the men who worked for them, when he saw smoke coming from the direction of his house.
"Edodah! Look! There is smoke!" James said, speaking to his father.
"What is that, Redbird?" one of the other men asked, pointing toward the smoke.
"I think it is our house," Redbird answered in alarm.
Throwing down their tools, James, his father, and the three others, ran toward the smoke. When they got there, James's mother, Wilma, and his two young sisters were standing under a live oak tree as the house was being consumed by flames. There were at least twenty other men present as well, all wearing military uniforms. The soldiers were standing around, watching the house burn.
"Why are you standing here?" Redbird demanded angrily. "Why aren't you fighting the fire?"
"Fighting the fire? Why you fool, we started the fire," a captain, who was in charge of the soldiers, said.
"Can you read? And by that, I mean can you read white man's words?" the soldier asked.
"My son, James, can read."
"Then read this," the captain said, showing James a piece of paper.
Indian Removal Act
Whereas no state can achieve proper culture, civilization, and progress as long as Indians remain in its boundaries, and whereas true philanthropy reconciles the mind to the extinction of one race for another, therefore the Indian Removal Act has been proposed and acted upon by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in congress assembled.
Hereinafter it shall and may be lawful for the President of the United States to cause so much of any territory belonging to the United States west of the River Mississippi, not included in any state or organized territory, and to which Indian title has been extinguished, as he may judge necessary, to be divided in suitable numbers of districts for the reception of such tribes or nations of Indians to exchange the lands where they now live, and remove them there.
"What is this? Other than two long and incredibly convoluted sentences?" James asked.
"It is the Indian Removal Act, signed into law by President Andy Buck Jackson," the captain said.
"But surely that law does not apply to those of us who own our own private property?" James replied. "We have lived in peace with the white man for many years. We are neighbors, we sell our crops to the white man, we buy his goods."
"The law applies to all five tribes in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. You are to be forcibly removed from these states and relocated into an area of land that has been set aside as Indian Territory."
"It doesn't say anything here about burning our house," James said, angrily.
"Why does it matter to you whether this house is burned or not?" the captain asked. "From the moment the president signed this bill into law, it was no longer your house. We can do anything with it that we want."
"Do you expect us to just go peaceably?" James demanded.
"Port arms!" the captain shouted, and at his command, all the soldiers raised their rifles.
"Redbird!" Wilma shouted in fear.
"We expect you to go, whether it is peaceful or not," the army captain said.
As a result of the Indian Removal Act, 20,000 Creek, 17,000 Choctaw, and 16,000 Cherokee were forcibly relocated. It was approaching winter when the Cherokee left, and though Chief John Ross applied to let them remain until spring so that travel would be easier, his request was denied.
James's group of approximately one thousand, under Chief John Bushyhead, trekked through Tennessee where a hospital gave them blankets to be used against the cold. At first, the Cherokee were thankful; then they started dying in great numbers. A white doctor in one of the towns diagnosed the illness as smallpox, caught from the infected blankets.
The hospital blankets were burned, but the word went ahead that the traveling band of Indians were spreading smallpox, so that they had to avoid every community they passed by in Kentucky, and then in Southern Illinois. The towns of Golconda, Vienna, Anna, and Ware refused even to sell them provisions.
Finally, their number reduced by over two hundred, they reached the Mississippi River on the Illinois side just opposite Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
"Ayii, I've never seen a river so large," Redbird said. "How are we going to cross it?"
Redbird's question was repeated by nearly all of the 800 men, women, and children who were still alive from the original 1,000 of their particular traveling party.
"Maybe we can buy boats from the whites who live here," Bushyhead suggested.
"Better to hire boats than to buy them," James said. "For if we buy them, what will we do with them once we are on the other side?"
James's suggestion was accepted, but they ran into immediate difficulty, because so many ice floes were coming downriver that none of the boat owners would risk a crossing. There was nothing left to do but wait until the river was clear of the ice. In the meantime, with only their few remaining blankets for shelter, the Cherokee made an encampment on the east bank of the Mississippi River.
For weeks they camped alongside the frozen river. Literally hundreds got sick, dying of exposure and pneumonia, including James's mother and father.
Of the one thousand who started the journey, a little less than seven hundred were left to cross the river into Missouri. There, weakened by their ordeal, and with several still sick, they decided to camp while their sick recovered enough to go on.
The citizens of Cape Girardeau were divided as to whether to allow the Indians to stay while they were recovering, or force them to leave.
"If we let them stay, we'll all die," one of the protesters said. "They've all got smallpox, I tell you. They'll kill us all."
"The ones with smallpox have already died. Now they need food, water, and someplace to stay warm and rest for a while before continuing on. These are human beings after all; men, women, and children who have been forced from their homes," John Henry Woodward said. "Have you met any of them? Spoken with any of them? They aren't savages, they are civilized, and in many cases, educated people. We can't turn our backs on them!"
Woodward's impassioned plea won the day, and through spring and into early summer, he, and the other citizens of Cape Girardeau, nursed the sick, even as many of the most ill among them continued to die, including Otahki, the daughter of Chief Bushyhead.
One of those most active was John Henry Woodward's daughter, Elizabeth. Elizabeth had become aware of a letter that one of the Indians had written to the president of the United States, copies of which had circulated around Cape Girardeau.
Dear Mr. President Jackson,
It is with some hesitancy that I address this letter to your eminence, aware as I am of my incompetency; and certain that you would not be well entertained by the address of a Cherokee. But having been ordered to emigrate west of the Mississippi river, and this move to be made in the dead of winter, I believe it proper to make a few remarks to express my views and make known my feelings as to living under the degrading influence of laws which are passed without one Indian voice considered.
For all these many years we have been good neighbors. We have not made war against you, we have not raided your farms and communities, we have lived in peace with you, and traded with you, and taken your names and many of your ways. And yet you have come with soldiers to say that we must remove ourselves to a land that we do not know.
It can only be hoped that the relocation of our nations, what you call the "civilized tribes," (though our civilization thrived upon this continent long before the arrival of the white man) will result in a final peace for our people, and once settled there, we will never again be forced to undertake a trail which results in the death of so many.
Respectfully yours, James Sixkiller A Cherokee
So intrigued was Elizabeth by the letter, that she made it a point to look up James Sixkiller. When first she saw him, she was struck by his appearance. There was nothing about his clothing that would suggest he was an Indian, and she believed he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. He was, as Elizabeth knew from his letter, an educated and well-spoken man. James was also a natural leader among his people and worked with the citizens of the town to coordinate their efforts in helping the beleaguered Indians.
"Both my parents died on the other side of the river," James told her. "And now, my sisters are very ill, and I am worried about them."
"I will do what I can to help you with them," Elizabeth promised, and over the next three months, Elizabeth and James spent a lot of time working together. Then, even as his two sisters and the others recovered and there was less need for them to be working together, they continued to spend time together.
One evening, as the finishing repairs were being made on the wagons and carts that would be needed to continue their westward move, James and Elizabeth walked down to the river's edge. They stood there in silence for a moment, listening to the sound of the river, and looking at the gleaming reflection of the moon in the water.
"Elizabeth, you have shown yourself to be a woman of unusual strength, compassion, honor, and courage. I wonder if you have enough courage?"
"To come with me, when we leave."
"James," Elizabeth said in a quiet, almost choked voice. "Are you asking me to marry you?"
"I know it is asking a great deal of you. I am Indian, you are —"
"I am the one who is going to marry you," Elizabeth said, interrupting James in mid-sentence.
"Will your father be all right with this?"
"I am twenty-one-years old," Elizabeth said. "I will make up my own mind."
"Elizabeth, no, please," John Henry Woodward said. "You have no idea what you will be getting yourself into. You'll be ostracized by your friends, he will, too. Indians and whites don't marry."
"Papa, you said yourself that they are human beings. They are civilized. Before this — this abominable Indian Removal Act, James and his family were wealthy farmers. If he owned a farm here in Cape Girardeau County, you would think him quite the catch."
"But that's just it, child. He doesn't own a farm in Cape Girardeau County. If he did, even though he is Indian, I would give you my blessings. But, Elizabeth, you will be hundreds of miles from here, that is if — if you survive the trip. Look at how many of them have died, and they are only halfway there. Your mother and I may never see you again."
"I love him, Papa," Elizabeth said. "I want your blessings, but, I am going to marry him, and I am going to go with him."
"I can't give you my blessings," Woodward said. He lowered his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. "But neither will I make any effort to stop you. Marry him if you must."
"Thank you, Papa. Oh, thank you!"
One week later they were married in the Old McKendree Methodist Church. Elizabeth saw what her father meant when he told her that she would be ostracized by many of her friends. Only one of her friends came to the church to see her married. The attendance for James wasn't much better. His two sisters, Emma and Millie came. So did John Bushyhead.
"I confess that it had been my hope that you would marry Otahki," Bushyhead said. "But I respect Elizabeth for everything she did for our people, how she tried to save Otahki, and how she did save your sisters. Some may hold bitterness for the whites, for what they have done to us. But I do not. Your father is dead, so in his place, I give you my blessings."
When the Cherokee left Cape Girardeau, Elizabeth Woodward, now married to James Sixkiller, went with them.CHAPTER 2
James and Elizabeth Sixkiller, with now just under 600 of the original 1,000 who had left with their particular group remaining, crossed Missouri, then went through a corner of Arkansas, before entering Indian Territory. They were a confused and weary people when they finally came to the end of their trail in March 1839. The journey of a thousand miles had taken six months, in the hardest part of the year. Over 4,000 of the 16,000 Cherokee who started the journey died along the trail, to be buried in unmarked graves in strange and alien soil, thus giving birth to the name "Trail of Tears."
Once settled in the new territory though, the Five Civilized Tribes who were ultimately involved in the removal showed the tenacity, ingenuity, and work ethic that had served them well back East. They started farms, ranches, and towns. One such town was Sequoyah, started by James Sixkiller and the men and women who had come with him.
In 1842, Elizabeth bore James a son, whom she named John Henry, after her father. John Henry was her third child, but the first to survive past infancy. As the boy increased in years, he was taller, stronger, and faster than his contemporaries. He made friends easily, but there was one who was jealous of him and because of that, there was often friction between the two.
The two should have been friends; they shared a heritage which ought to have brought them together. Just as John Henry Sixkiller was half white, so too was Willie Buck. In Willie Buck's case it was his father who was white, a trader who had married a Cherokee woman in order to receive head rights.
Growing up, there had been a few fights between them, but the worst one occurred because of Sasha Quiet Stream. Sasha was no longer a child, but not yet a woman. She was fourteen years old, and already showing what a beautiful woman she would grow into. John Henry heard her calling for help one day, and responding to the call found Willie Buck trying to tear off Sasha's clothes. He pulled him off her.
"Come on, John Henry, I was just having a little fun," Willie Buck said. "Wouldn't you like to see what she looks like under that dress? Why, I bet she's tittied up just real good."
"Stay away from her, Willie Buck. If I see you bothering her again, you'll be sorry."
"Ha! Big hero," Willie Buck said, but he left without challenging John Henry.
Sasha was crying, and trying to cover that part of her body that had been exposed by Willie Buck's brutal assault.
"Here," John Henry said, removing his shirt and handing it to her. "You can put this on."
"He might come back," Sasha said.
"No, he won't. And if he does, I'll be here for you. Come on, I'll walk you home."
They walked together for a few minutes without speaking, the silence between them interrupted only by Sasha's smothered sobs. Finally, they reached the small house where Sasha lived. She started to take his shirt off and give it back to him.
"You don't need to give it to me now," John Henry said. "You can give it to me later."
"Thank you," Sasha said, then she smiled, the first smile since the incident.
"He's right, you know," she said.
"Willie Buck said you are a hero. He was right. You are a hero. You are my hero."
John Henry laughed. "Nothing heroic about it. Anyone else would have done the same thing."
"But nobody else did. Only you."
"Well, I'm glad I was there at the right time."
"He was right about the other thing, too."
"What other thing?"
Sasha blushed. "Never mind," she said. She turned to go into the house. "I'll wash the shirt before I give it back to you."
John Henry returned to his own house to get another shirt and it wasn't until then that he realized what Sasha meant when she said he was right about the "other" thing. And he knew why she blushed.
"Wouldn't you like to see what she looks like under that dress? Why, I bet she's tittied up just real good."
When John Henry was fully grown, he had a muscular build and stood six feet tall, weighing in at 175 pounds. He had his father's dark hair, and his mother's blue eyes, so that it often surprised people when they learned that he was half Indian.
Like his father, John Henry got an education, first in the schools that were established in the Indian Territory. Then, with his enrollment arranged by his maternal grandfather, John Henry attended Washington University in St. Louis.
He left college without graduating in 1861 when the War Between the States started. The Cherokee allied themselves with the Confederacy and Stand Watie, a Cherokee, became a brigadier general in command of the American Indian Cavalry. James Sixkiller was appointed to the rank of colonel in command of the Second Cherokee Mounted Rifles, and John Henry was a lieutenant in his father's regiment.
Excerpted from Sixkiller, U.S. Marshal by William W. Johnstone, J. A. Johnstone. Copyright © 2012 William W. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Dont waste your money. Plot jumps all over the place, and I only got through a few chapters and quit reading it. Will not finish it.