Franklin Sinclair, wealthy Chicago mine investor, has had enough. It’s time for his vain and spoiled daughter, Priscilla, to grow up. After refusing every suitable man who might have her as a bride, he declares that if she wants to see a penny of her inheritance, she must go to Oklahoma to stake a claim on his behalf in the upcoming land run. Otherwise, he’ll marry her off to the first old man who expresses an interest in her before he retires to San Francisco. Priscilla, horrified but determined to get what she wants, agrees to the deal. However, what happens when she discovers that poor and pesky – yet annoyingly handsome – Ladd Mabry, also plans to head out west to participate in the land run?
Ladd Mabry works in a dirty Chicago factory after his father was killed in an explosion while mining for silver in California. He blames the mine’s owner, Franklin Sinclair, for not ensuring safe working conditions at the mine. Since he can’t get close enough to the man to demand restitution – or at least an apology - he’ll settle for his pampered (albeit gorgeous) daughter, Priscilla. Irritated after she blows him off, Ladd decides to leave Chicago altogether and start over out west. But who should he then discover on the very same train bound for Oklahoma?
“Oh, Father, you can’t really mean that,” Priscilla said. “You are the one who raised me, after all, ever since my mother died in childbirth.”
“Catherine’s untimely death was very unfortunate for us both.” Franklin ran a hand through his graying hair and sighed. “I regret not having a woman in the house to train you up properly. I’m afraid you have grown much too proud and headstrong than is becoming for your sex.”
“Actually, Priscilla, I have another idea,” Franklin said, eyeing her steadily.
“Oh?” she sat up a little straighter in the chair. Was he going to suggest they take a trip to New York instead?
“Look,” he said, picking up his newspaper and thumbing through the pages. She frowned. What could be in there that would be of any interest to her? The Society section was only published on Saturdays.
Finally, Franklin found the page he’d been looking for and turned it so she could see. He tapped his index finger on the headline as she leaned forward to get a closer look.
“President Benjamin Harrison’s Plan to Populate the Unassigned Lands,” she read aloud. “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand.”
“Oklahoma, Priscilla. The Oklahoma Territory.” Franklin sat back in his brown leather captain’s chair as a smile slowly began to take shape over his face.
“What about it?” She asked, perplexed. “Isn’t that part of Indian Territory?”
“Yes,” he answered. “But it won’t be for long. President Harrison just signed a bill into law that will open up the land for settlement next month – on April 22nd, to be exact. A friend of mine from the gentleman’s club – Hugh Caldecott - is interested in going into cattle ranching. I’m considering going into business with him.”
“Cattle?” Priscilla laughed. “You mean, like cows?” The vision of her prim and proper father, always immaculately attired and fussing about order and neatness, wearing a cowboy hat and riding around on a horse trying to lasso a wayward cow was almost too much to bear. Tears formed in her eyes and her side began to hurt she was laughing so hard.
“Priscilla Catherine!” Franklin fairly yelled. “I’ll have you know that cattle ranching is the new mining. Instead of silver, we’re mining beef. There is a lot of money to be had in investing in America’s resources – especially when it comes to food and land. Cattle ranching promises to be a very lucrative investment, mark my words.”
“If you say so, Father,” said Priscilla, standing up and brushing a speck of lint off her skirt. She yawned, her energy spent from her hearty laugh. “Although I can’t imagine the dust and dirt to be worth it. Anyway, I’m going to go ask Cook what’s for supper tonight. My stomach is beginning to rumble.”
“Fine, child. I’ll see you in the dining room in a quarter-hour.” Franklin slowly began to fold the newspaper back up, taking care with the creases.
After Priscilla shut the office door behind her, he narrowed his eyes and added softly, “I haven’t figured out what I shall do with you – yet. But God help whoever the poor lad is who takes your hand in marriage.”
Professionally, Annee works as a disability counselor where she helps her clients navigate through complex medical and legal systems while rediscovering their wholeness in Spirit.
Annee also enjoys freelance writing for Publishers Weekly and multiple publishing companies.
Oklahoma’s Land Runs began on April 22, 1889. There would be five land runs with the last one taking place on May 23, 1895. Each book in the series is set around one of these land runs.