Legends of Tsalagee – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts
“One day I was out looking, as I did pretty regular back then. It was in November. A rainstorm had come through the night before and left it cold and damp. The woods dripped, and dark thick clouds still filled the day. Anyway, I was climbing up the side of this wooded hill. My feet kept slipping on the thick fall of wet leaves, and I had to grab saplings as I went so’s not to slide down the hill. All of a sudden, this feeling come over me that I was being watched, so I stopped and looked around. Didn’t see a thing. I then noticed how quiet it had gotten. Now in November in the woods around here you don’t hear a lot anyway, but this was beyond that. No birds, no wind, no nothing. It was down right spooky. And things just didn’t smell right. I tell ya, I’ve done a fair amount of hunting in these woods, and when a bear or a cougar or bobcat came around, I knew it; even came up on a small pack of wolves once. But this wasn’t like them times. Something in the woods was watching me that day, and I had no idea what. What I did know was that a little voice inside was yelling at me to skedaddle. So that’s what I did, and I ain’t gone back to look for that treasure since. Don’t really care about that sort of thing any longer, though. I figure I’ve got all I need right here. I wouldn’t know how to act if I’uz rich, anyway.”
In 1889, the famous outlaw Belle Starr was killed. Rumor had it that she had a rather large stock of money and gold hidden, which had been acquired through her robberies, but where? Her son Ed knew where it was stashed so after his mother was killed, he divided it between his sister and lit out before the law decided to pin the murder on him, of which he just might be guilty. Belle Starr lived – and died in Younger’s Bend on the Canadian River, near the town of Eufaula, OK. After her ‘death’ Ed decided to ride up further northeast into the Cherokee Nation where the town of Tsalagee is located. There he met Ned Starr and settled down. But in the back of his mind he still felt the law was looking for him. He decided the best thing for him to do was to not spend any of his mother’s money but to hide it somewhere instead. Thus, the legend of the Belle Starr Treasure took on its beginning.
It turns out that the Starr Treasure wasn’t the only legend floating around the area. The Choctaw and the Cherokees had a legend of their own. All the way back to 1850, the tribal stories of a large hairy man-beast roaming the woods and hills was passed on generation after generation. The Choctaw called him “Hill Man Who Yells at Night” while the Cherokee called him “He Who Lives in the Hills” with the name later being shortened simply to “The Hill Man.” They also believed that the Belle Starr treasure was cursed and protected by the Hill Man. But of course, that didn’t stop many a man from striking out with the desire to find this famous treasure, town’s people included.
Once in a while I’ll read a book that simply hits me as being Great! This is one of those books. In the beginning you have your traditional murder prompted by greed giving the book a bit of “catch me if you can” but the more I read, the more I had to remind myself that there was a murder. The characters are so down-to-earth, even the bad guys. They are comical as well as serious. Author Phil Truman has created characters that I will never forget. He even has me believing in the “Hill Man.” I couldn’t get enough of this book and really hated to have it end. It left me wanting more!
Deadly Niche Press
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