Excerpts from my book, Forgotten Heroes and Villains of Sand Creek (June 11, 2010).
Aside from his good friend Kit Carson, William Bent was easily the most famous man in frontier Colorado. From 1833 to 1849, William, his brother Charles, and Ceran St. Vrain ran the only privately-held trading post on the Santa Fe trail. Bent’s Fort was the one oasis of “civilization” between the United States and Santa Fe. Everyone who came west during those years found refuge at Bent’s Fort.
…At the time of the attack on Sand Creek, three of William’s five children were in the camp: George, Charley, and Julia. In an ironic twist, John Chivington had forced Robert Bent to serve as guide for the soldiers, which understandably caused a deep rift among the Bent children. This rift was so deep that Charley reportedly tried to murder his father.
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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.