Excerpts from my book,Forgotten Heroes and Villains of Sand Creek (June 11, 2010).
Samuel Forster Tappan was an intriguing mixture of adventurer and literary intellectual. Though his formal education was unremarkable, he read voraciously throughout his life. He wrote quotes in his diary from Homer, Shakespeare, Tennyson, de Tocqueville, Thomas Moore, William Blackstone, Macaulay, and Emerich de Vattel. He also abandoned the comforts of home and family in New England, heading west to face a volatile and dangerous frontier in Kansas and Colorado. Amid these rough societies, Tappan repeatedly made decisions that demonstrated a mature and progressive nature that was rare for that time and place.
Tappan was an early target of John Chivington, who considered him a rival and wanted to discredit him. Ironically, Tappan would end up leading the first investigation into the massacre.
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Her first week on the job, and Marshal Beth Mayo is hit with a sex assault case. It’s a nasty shock for the bucolic mountain town of Sugarloaf and for Mayo, who is still recovering from her husband’s death. Her initial skepticism grows into disbelief over the victim’s zany story, and she dismisses the case as a false report. Unfortunately, the same woman is soon discovered in the ruins of a ghost town, most definitely murdered.
Mayo unravels the complex case through a parade of colorful suspects and misfit family members, all the while following a common thread from 150 years earlier — Colorado history’s most notorious event, the Sand Creek Massacre.