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Western Short Stories Bio. of Bob Fincham
Born, raised, and educated on the East Coast, Bob was a science teacher for thirty-nine years. He started his career as a science teacher in 1967 in Pennsylvania. In 1979 his passion led to the start of a part time, mail order nursery business named Coenosium Gardens, which sold conifers around the world until 2015, when it was closed.
In 1986 Bob and his wife Dianne along with 10,000 plants moved from Pennsylvania to the Northwest where he made the nursery business his full-time job. In 1993 he reentered education in the state of Washington.
Dianne passed away in 2013 and Bob remarried in 2017 to Thecla Siqueira. They presently reside together in Puyallup, Washington where he has a conifer garden on a half-acre lot.
Coenosium Gardens was permanently closed in 2015, but he is still very active in the conifer world.
Always the educator, Bob and has self-published five books on cultivated conifers. He has also written for American Nurseryman, the NARGS Quarterly, Fine Gardening, and the American Conifer Society Bulletin, has produced three videos on conifers and propagation methods. Presently, he is working on an autobiographical book about his years as a high school science teacher.
Jedediah Strong and the Gypsy: August 1867
Two months of the hot summer sun without a drop of rain spelled nothing but trouble for Jedediah’s Missouri farm. The corn was struggling to survive and was barely waist-high.
Jedediah was hard at work cultivating the soil between his rows of stunted corn and sweating large volumes of water. If he kept the topsoil loose, it could better retain the scant moisture left beneath the surface. At least, that is what he told himself as he raised a cloud of dust from the powder-dry ground. Read the full story HERE>>
The Yaqui Renegade: July 1861
The hot summer sun was high in the Sonoran sky, and two men were bathed in its radiation. One was naked and lay spread-eagled upon the ground, his hands and feet tied to stakes driven into the hard surface. The other man was standing at his side with crossed arms.
It was time for the lone survivor of a Mexican Army patrol to die. This was his third day tied to the stakes, and an occasional gurgling sound was the only indication that he was still alive. Read the full story HERE>>
Sammy Conner and Retribution: Summer, 1867
The soft glow on the eastern horizon presaged the approach of the morning sun. It caught the attention of an old rooster on his perch near a henhouse. He puffed up his breast and crowed his welcome to the coming dawn.
Inside the nearby farmhouse, Sammy Conner was jolted out of his fitful sleep. He had a restless night and had just managed to get to sleep when he was awakened by a live alarm clock.
Sammy had an appointment in town that he had to keep. It involved a lousy situation with Tom Davenport, their neighbor. He owned the biggest ranch in the territory, and he wanted to add their property to it. Read the full story HERE>>
Aaron Talbot and the Indian Agent (March 1868)
Tucson, Arizona, was not a very friendly place for any Indian, regardless of his tribe. The locals lumped all Indians together into hostile savages and could not tell the difference between the different tribes. When Aaron Talbot and his friend, Red Hawk, a Tonkawa brave from Texas, rode along Tucson’s main street, they were the objects of many unfriendly stares. Read the full story HERE>>
Aaron Talbot and the Chiricahua Apaches (September 1867)
Aaron Talbot wondered why he ever came to Camp Grant in Arizona and signed on as a civilian scout for the Yankee army. He had been a Lieutenant in an Arkansas regiment during the war and spent the last six months of that war in a Yankee prison. Now his family was gone, and he lived in the middle of a desert inhabited by deadly enemies. Read the full story HERE>>
Aaron Talbot and the Comanche Captive (April 1867)
The nine Comanche warriors were returning to their territory in West Texas after spending a week raiding in the Mescalero Apache territory of southern New Mexico. They were supposed to meet with another group of warriors from their village who were aiding a group of Comancheros riding up from Mexico. Then they would all return to Texas and do some trading. Read the full story HERE>>
Aaron Talbot And The Old Apache (March 1867)
An old Mescalero Apache warrior sat cross-legged on the ground while staring into the darkness. He sang a song of prayer to the Spirits. He had spent the previous three days and nights alone while sitting in a cave. It was his sacred place, discovered during his youth. He had come here many winters past as a boy wanting to become a man among his people. Read the full story HERE>>
The Dog Soldier and The Army Scout (May 1874)
Bloody Knife moved silently through the forest, carefully avoiding anything lying on the ground that might make a sound. He had left his army issue boots with his horse. He wore moccasins, both for their comfort and adaptation for silent movement. He still wore his government-issued blue jacket and trousers with their brass buttons and yellow stripes and emblems.
His long, straight, black hair extended from beneath his slouch hat down past his shoulders. That, plus his breechcloth and brass tacks decorating his rifle stock, showed him to be an army scout, not just another trooper. Read the full story HERE>>
Washington and Bloody Knife in the Black Hills (August 1873)
An assortment of rusty tools and several burnt wagons surrounded by many recently gnawed bones marked the site of a prospector’s camp in the Black Hills of Dakota Territory.
Bloody Knife, Custer’s favorite scout, was moving among the debris, kneeling from time to time to carefully examine something on the ground. Occasionally he would find a bit of yellow metal that he put into a small pouch hanging from his belt. Read the full story HERE>>
Snow Woman: The Wolfpack (February 1872)
The old bull elk forced his way through yet another snowdrift. He had been on the run for over an hour, and this drift was particularly challenging to push through. He was tired, and the snow had drifted deep enough to make him shove his way through with his broad chest. Bright red blood from the many wounds in his hindquarters stained the path he was making. Read the full story HERE>>
SNOW WOMAN: Nightshade’s Last Journey (June 1871)
Snow Woman had awakened before the sun peeked above the eastern horizon. She was restless and could not sleep any longer. Her two children, Laughing Waters and Standing Tall, were both sound asleep, curled up next to Nightwalker. A fierce guardian, the two-year-old wolf, was like a little puppy with the girls. Read the full story HERE>>
Snow Woman: Rabies (August 1869)
It was a hot summer in the foothills of the Absaroka Mountains. A forest of pine trees with its green canopy and soft carpet of dried pine needles surrounded the Crow village, home to Snow Woman and her family. A nearby stream was running low but steady, with small fish hiding beneath fallen trees or among the rocks in pools scattered along its course. Read the full story HERE>>
SNOW WOMAN: The Wolf (May 1869)
Some years spring comes very late to the Bighorn Mountains, and this was one of those years. The snow was still clogging the passes and lingered in broad patches on the slopes. The game was scarce, and the Crow village was running out of food. May had come, but it felt like March in the mountains. Read the full story HERE>>
Buffalo Hunters Saga ends and a new one starts with one of the main characters: SNOW WOMAN
Snow Woman: The Marriage (March 1868)
Eighteen winters ago, the young Crow female named Snow Girl was renamed Snow Woman when she survived three nights alone in the forest during a mighty blizzard that ended many lives in her village. She had learned survival skills from her father, Wolf Killer, who had wanted a son and raised her like one. Read the full story HERE>>
The Buffalo Hunters: (September 1867) The White Buffalo
The new freight wagon moved quickly along the nearly empty street in the heart of Independence, Missouri. Fully loaded with an assortment of supplies, the team of six mules pulled it past the saloons and shops that were opening for business on this mild September day. The driver, John Carter, felt exposed sitting in his seat, especially since he was the only one moving along the street. Read the full story HERE>>
Buffalo Hunters: The Wagon Box Fight (August 2, 1867)
John Carter, formerly a soldier serving in a Texas regiment during the recent War Between the States and James Washington, a former Master Sergeant in the 13th Colored Regiment during the same war, were both up before sunrise. They had been awake very late the night before, celebrating the sale of their wagons to the United States Army, and now had to deal with extreme hangovers. Read the full story HERE>>
Buffalo Hunters: On the Upper Bozeman Trail (July 1867)
James Washington and John Carter were freight haulers who worked along various parts of the Oregon Trail and the Bozeman Trail. Baptist Jim was a recent member of their company and was working a third wagon for the summer. He was an ordained minister who was also actively hunting outlaws for their bounties. In the fall, Jim planned to move on into California while Washington and Carter would resume hunting buffalo for their hides and meat. Read the full story HERE>>
AARON TALBOT: The Dispatch Rider (May 1874)
I got called to Colonel Custer’s office just three days ago for a particular assignment. When I walked into his office, he was affixing his official seal to a folded document. He ignored my presence while he placed the report into a dispatch bag. He closed the strap on the bag and stood, acknowledging my presence with a stare. I quickly saluted, and he returned my salute with a wave of his hand across his forehead. Read the full story HERE>>
Buffalo Hunters: On the Lower Bozeman Trail (July 1867)
James Washington had served in the 13th United States Colored Troops during the recent Civil War, so he was comfortable sitting at a table in a saloon filled with United States soldiers.
John Carter, his partner and best friend, had served in the Confederate Army as a volunteer in a Texas regiment. He was a bit uncomfortable being around the men in blue but did not show it. Read the full story HERE>>
Jedediah Strong: The Payroll (April 1874)
I sat comfortably upon my horse while staring at smoke rising in the distance. I was a civilian scout for the 7th Cavalry under Custer. I thought my army days ended after the war. But when my wife and children died of cholera, I came west and eventually ended up here.
I often wondered what the hell I was doing here in the middle of nowhere scouting for the 7th Cavalry and not looking for gold in California. Read the full story HERE>>
BUFFALO HUNTERS: John Carter, Pony Express Rider and the Paiute War (January 1860)
James Washington, Baptist Jim, and John Carter were sitting around the campfire one night in July of 1867. They were camped outside of Fort Laramie waiting for the army to load their wagons. They were contracted to deliver assorted supplies to the forts on the Bozeman Trail. Washington was a former First Sergeant in the 13th United States Colored Troops during the recent war. Carter had served in a Texas regiment, and Baptist Jim had served from a pulpit.
Washington and Carter were partners who hunted buffalo during the winter and used their wagons for hauling freight in the summer. Read the full story HERE>>
BUFFALO HUNTERS: The Gun Runners (June 1867)
The wooden crates were stacked next to an empty freight wagon with a shattered wheel. There were ten long ones marked ‘Farm Tools’ while labels on five short ones said ‘Bibles’. The stenciling showed evidence of wear, and the crates themselves showed signs of splintering as if they had come from some distant location and been tossed around on the way. Read the full story HERE>>
BUFFALO HUNTERS: BAPTIST JIM: First Bounty (May 1865)
Fort Kearny was more of a trading post than a military fort. Since it was on the Oregon Trail, all sorts of people passed through, especially during the summer. Fur traders had largely disappeared. Hide hunters had replaced them. They hunted for buffalo skins and let the meat to rot where it lay. Immigrant trains were a common sight from spring into the early fall. Drifters, soldiers, gamblers, and preachers were all easy to find. Read the full story HERE>>
BUFFALO HUNTERS: The Freighters (May 1867)
James Washington and John Carter were in the freight business. They had sold their buffalo hides from the past winter to a buyer at Fort Kearny and used a part of the proceeds to buy a wagon with a team of horses to pull it.
The wagon was available because the owners, a young married couple, had died of typhoid on the Oregon Trail between Independence and Fort Kearny. The other members of their wagon train had burned their belongings but kept the wagon and its team of horses for the use of the train. Read the full story HERE>>
BUFFALO HUNTERS: The Hunt (November 1866)
I was scouting ahead of my partner, John Carter, in search of buffalo. We had been traveling along the border between Nebraska Territory and the Dakota Territory for almost a month without spotting a lone bull, let alone any sort of a herd.
Each day I scouted and marked a trail, which Carter followed with our freight wagon. We had a team of four mules, and we were in no big hurry. Making a lot of dust as we traveled could be a big problem because we were in Sioux Territory. Read the full story HERE>>
BUFFALO HUNTERS: The Dog Soldier (July 1866)
John Carter and I had been searching the eastern Nebraska Territory for buffalo without any luck for more than a month. Our luck was bad, and it was time for a change. Carter was preparing breakfast while I was sitting on Nightshade, my black stallion, a short distance away from camp. I was on top of a knoll scanning the horizon and thinking about our next move. Read the full story HERE>>
BUFFALO HUNTERS: The Meeting (April 1866)
He felt like he had been sitting in his saddle forever. James Washington was bone-tired from a nonstop journey across much of the southeastern United States. Most of the time he was traveling through mud while being pelted by persistent rain storms. Even now, here in Independence, Missouri he still needed his waterproof poncho to shed the rainfall and protect his gear from damage.
Normally, a Negro who was riding a magnificent black stallion would draw unwanted attention... Read the full story HERE>>