ISAAC BEARD & SONS
Isaac Beard. . .a giant who works hard and honestly for every small blessing, including his frail but loving wife. Now comes another spring in the bustling riverfront town of St. Louis where Isaac stands behind a merchant's counter wearing an apron and suffering the insults of his father-in-law. Isaac dreams of the high mountains where a man can make his fortune trapping beaver in a single season. He means to buy Mr. Wilke's mercantile store for his family's future.
Jim Savage. . .he offers Isaac a chance to learn to trap beaver in the Shining Mountains. But Savage is filled with demons—enough to get Isaac and himself scalped.
Nathan Beard. . .he grew up hearing of his father's legends as the best of the mountain men—but blames Isaac for the death of his mother. Nathan tracks Isaac to the Rocky Mountains intending to kill him.
Matthew Beard. . .the youngest and fiercest of the Beard men, he is determined to make his fortune buying ships to supply the Forty-Niners. A gambler, fearless fighter and rogue, Matthew will discover peace on the high seas and on the great Colorado River paddlewheel steamers. And one day he will find his brother and finally learn the truths about his famed mountain man father.
Although Isaac, Nathan, and Matthew Beard are fictional characters, much of this novel is based upon actual historical events. For example, I learned the Ute legend of Spirit Lake while visiting Grand Lake, headwaters of the Colorado River.
The exploration of the Colorado did begin with the assembly of the little steamboat Explorer at the Gulf of Mexico and its arduous upriver journey is accurately seen through Matt's eyes. At this point in history there was friction between the Mormons and the U.S. Army, which prompted this expedition. Also, Lt. Ives's overland trek to Fort Defiance was remarkable; the expedition was saved by the Hopi at their mesa city of Oraibi. The Hopi did conduct their early morning prayers as described and Ives went on to help design and construct the Washington Monument.
Mayor John Wesley Powell was also an extraordinary man whose daring exploration of the upper Colorado is well documented. Anyone who has ever visited the Grand Canyon cannot fail to imagine how courageous Major Powell and his men must have been to make that great river journey, always wondering if a giant waterfall might swallow them up around the next bend. Bill Dunn and the Howland Brothers did finally lose their nerve and desert the expedition. They were never seen alive again.
And finally, old Chief Cairnook of the Mojave was killed for helping his captured tribesmen escape into the Colorado River at Fort Yuma.