Bookend Chronicles Reviews Yankee Gold

Yankee Gold by Elizabeth Rogers

This is an impressive novel by Elizabeth Rogers, which takes place within the backdrop of the worst war on American soil. It is a historically accurate narrative that achieves forward motion in its intriguing plot line. Rogers successfully exhibits a difficult conflict within a gradually remorseful climate.

"Fire and smoke concealed the movement of people in the street. It was unclear whether the moving bodies were civilians, enemy, or allies. Occasionally, there would be a clearing."

Steve Elkins begins to blur the lines of societal acceptance. He is an abolitionist attorney in a less than tolerant territory. Though he is brave enough to stand up for his beliefs and politics, it also causes a major hindrance in his personal life.

"'Or they steal from the public coffers'... 'Or take bribes'..."

"He must prove fraud, forgery, bribery, and perjury. Additionally, it appeared he must take on the chief judge of the Supreme Court to force a resignation."

There is a definitive coyness when delving into the incredibly intricate story line. It prevents the reader from understanding the true focus of the ultimate ending. Yet, gradually, as the characters play into the metaphorically sanctioned subplot, Steve Elkins must decide where his loyalties lie.

An interesting character that snagged my attention was Editor Sullivan. As Steve says in a most succinct way: "...he professes in his columns, that he is against peonage, but antagonistic to Radicals. Of course, that's a contradiction in itself." Sullivan plays a thin line and personifies an image of what I would call a troubling epidemic, symbolic in this day and age.

Rogers vividly conveys an empowered and credible narrative. Though Yankee Gold had a slow beginning for this reader, including heavily laden moments of minutiae, the ultimate story is moving and intriguing. It is a unique story that gives every reader an idea of the old politics that our forefathers ventured and braved in a frighteningly new world.

Elizabeth Wall Rogers has been published in the New Mexico Historical Review. She is a member of the Virginia Historical Society and is active in several Virginia writers' clubs.


Yankee Gold


Rogers’ debut historical novel delivers a highly detailed account of nation-building in New Mexico after the Civil War through the eyes of spy, lawyer and politician Steve Elkins.

Elkins, like other major characters in the book, was a real person, and the author presents him as a clever observer and manipulator of the baffling, violent political scene west of the Mississippi during Reconstruction. Elkins flees wartime Missouri, with rebel bandits at his heels, to New Mexico, where he rises from a laborer and land surveyor to a lawyer and elected official. He takes charge of two different murder trials, and took part in efforts to draft a state constitution, woo the railroad and eradicate “peonage,” a form of feudal slavery unique to the region. But although Rogers includes all the raw materials for a riveting tale (war, espionage, slavery, bank robberies, gold mines and murder among them), the book reads more like a dry biography of Elkins than a novel. The author takes considerable care to tell the story with accuracy and detail; as a result, however, the prose is almost exclusively expository. Much of the book consists of fact-laden, wooden dialogue, with minimal, awkward efforts to convey the characters’ internal lives (“ ‘Chaves’ arrogance at having set off the cannon that killed Slough, and his insisting on keeping the unrepentant Heath, is more than I can stand,’ Steve said”). At times, the book reads somewhat like a legal brief, with the characters conveying the emotionless delivery of police officers on a witness stand. There are some moments when this reportorial style engagingly supports the storyline—the murder scenes, for example, or during courtroom set pieces when Steve’s scheming intelligence earns readers’ admiration—but these moments are few in an otherwise dense, dispassionate narrative.

A dry but exhaustively researched novel that will most interest aficionados of New Mexico’s history.

Books: Virginia Book Notes

One of Richmond’s many nicknames is “The City of Monuments” — and deservedly so. Although first thoughts might go to those along lovely Monument Avenue, the city abounds in others that merit attention.

And that’s what Glen Allen writer Robert C. Layton and Henrico County photographer Phil Riggan showcase in “Discovering Richmond Monuments: A History of River City Landmarks Beyond the Avenue” (190 pages, The History Press, $19.99).

You’ve probably seen Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and tennis great Arthur Ashe on Monument Avenue, but how about entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, or civil rights icon Oliver Hill, or the miniature Statue of Liberty, or Sunday the dog, or former Virginia Commonwealth University President Eugene P. Trani, all in other locations?

They — and more than 100 others — are featured in prose and photos in Layton and Riggan’s book, as well as a glossary of art terms, a chronology of the monuments’ placements and even suggestions for future tributes. You’ll find history you likely didn’t know — and a useful guide for a walking/driving tour.

Virginia is for enthusiasts of all kinds — of history, of nature, and yes, dogs.

In “Fido’s Virginia: Virginia Is for Dog Lovers” (239 pages, The Countryman Press, $18.95), Ginger Warder, who grew up in Northern Virginia, offers a plethora of places travelers can visit with their canine pals, including historic sites, wineries, bed and breakfasts, malls and bodies of water.
A member of the Society of American Travel Writers, Warder specializes in journeys with pets and luxury trips. As she writes, “For the most part, canines are considered to be family in Virginia — except, unfortunately, by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Health Department, which strictly prohibits all but service dogs from the premises of restaurants, including patios and decks.”
But not to worry — “Fido’s Virginia” gives readers a multitude of options for excursions with their best buds.

Given Richmond’s reputation as a city of churches — St. John’s Episcopal on Church Hill and St. Paul’s Episcopal near Capitol Square are particularly noteworthy — it’s not unusual for houses of worship to revel not only in their message but also their history.

Last year, First Presbyterian Church celebrated its bicentennial and this year marked the occasion with “Footprints of the Saints: A Narrative History of First Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Virginia, 1812-2012” (348 pages, First Presbyterian Church/The Dietz Press, $40), by former pastor R. Jackson Sadler in collaboration with longtime member F. Claiborne Johnston Jr.

Richly detailed and lavishly illustrated, the book recounts the history of the church and its congregation, its leaders and its mission work, among many other topics. It’s available at the church office at 4602 Cary Street Road. For details, call 358-2383.

Kevin Powers, whose debut novel, “The Yellow Birds,” vividly depicts the war in Iraq, has been awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize for First Novel by the Cleveland Foundation.

Powers, who attended James River High School in Chesterfield County, joined the Army when he was 17 and served as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar in 2004 and 2005. After being honorably discharged, he enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University and graduated in 2008. He recently received a master’s degree in fine arts as a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin.


• Former Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist and current Boomer magazine editor Ray McAllister adds to his canon about coastal North Carolina with “Ocracoke: The Pearl of the Outer Banks” (242 pages, Beach Glass Books, $19.95), which follows his previous appreciations of Topsail Island, Wrightsville Beach and Hatteras Island. This time out, in addition to exploring the history, charm and residents of the site, he also presents a proposal from Stephen Leatherman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, that Ocracoke become basically car-free. “The proposal is worth serious consideration,” McAllister writes. “Ocracoke could become a smaller Ocracoke again. A quieter Ocracoke. A less crowded Ocracoke. A better Ocracoke.”

Sarah Kennedy, a professor of English at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, focuses her novel
“The Altarpiece” (224 pages, Knox Robinson Publishing, $27.99), on Catherine Havens, the adopted daughter of the prioress of the Priory of Mount Grace in an English village during King Henry VIII’s attack on the Roman Catholic Church and its properties.

• Henrico County resident Elizabeth Wall Rogers’ historical novel “Yankee Gold” (312 pages, Story Merchant Books, $15.99), is set in New Mexico during the Civil War.

• Two Chihuahuas play detective — and join forces with mutt Jog, mockingbird Moc and loggerhead turtle Big Mama — to foil turtle-egg snatchers on Bald Head Island, N.C., in Falls Church resident Rhoda Canter’s children’s book, “The Adventures of Starfoot and Brown” (119 pages, CreateSpace, $16.50).

Katie D. Anderson, a Richmond native and a 1989 graduate of Collegiate Schools, has written her first book, “Kiss and Make Up” (320 pages, Skyscape, $16.99), a young-adult novel.

• Retired Times-Dispatch science writer Beverly Orndorff has published an e-book, “George Gamow: The Whimsical Mind Behind the Big Bang” ($6.99), about the Russian-born American physicist.

Jay Strafford

Civil War Photos 1861 - 1865

The quality of some of these photos are just amazing when you consider that they were taken 150 years ago…

Civil War Photos 1861 - 1865 

Journey To Publication Reviews Yankee Gold

4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational

My book review today is on the historical book Yankee Gold by Beth Rogers. This book takes place in the civil war and the years following it.It is easy to see that Beth has done massive amounts of research on this time in history. Unfortunately I found the historical facts and statistics to be a hindrance to the actual story, it was so full of facts and details it was hard to stay on the story line. It is a great accomplishment for Beth. If you are a history buff I know you will want to read this book

This story was about a man's struggle to stay true to his principals in a world of corruption, slavery, and changing times. Steve Elkins is a young attorney who had served as a spy through the war, he has now moved to the southwestern part of the country. He is sent to the area to write contracts for several mines. The army was being paid to protect the mines and although they aren't doing much with the mines there is resentment towards Steve. He is in office when a family emergency sends him home, while there he marries and brings part of his family back with him. Steve strives for statehood for New Mexico. Though the politicians want the benefits from statehood there is much resistance to his efforts. He faces great personal and political difficulties with from his efforts.

This man's struggle with his faith and his principals is an inspiration to us all. I hope you enjoy the book you may find it on amazon. God Bless you all. Have a really good weekend.  


Steve Elkins
Tom  Catron

Yankee Gold unlocks the secret of the “Santa Fe Ring”, one of the great mysteries of western lore. The Santa Fe Ring was a creation of Congressman Chaves and his surrogate, A. P. Sullivan, editor of the Santa Fe Post. They conceived the idea of a New Mexico power ring at the same time the Tweed Ring was notorious for stealing public monies in New York City. Giving a similar name to the associates of Steve Elkins would throw evil aspersions on their political enemy who was a member of their own party, a fellow Republican. At the same time, Chaves could have the power of appointments to office which he used liberally.

The Republicans appointed to New Mexico offices in the Lincoln administration were almost entirely abolitionists. However, Lincoln was persuaded by an old friendship with John Watts, another former Illinois attorney, to make James Carleton the general in charge of martial law in the territory after Confederates attacked in 1861. Carleton was a Democrat and would support McClellan in the 1864 presidential election. During this period only about 1500 easterners lived as settlers in New Mexico and around 50,000 Spanish speaking former Mexicans lived there.

Frank Chaves’ family owned a half million acre land grant based in the central district of New Mexico and on the Rio Grande River. The family was dependent on the labor of peons, several hundred Indian “debt slaves” for their farming income. These enormous land grants supplied the Army during the war with food and provisions. Chaves’ father had sent him east for an education with the admonition, “The heretics are going to over-run all this country. Go and learn their language and come back prepared to defend your people.”

Chaves’ primary concern was to protect his and other land grant owners’ rights to their huge properties granted under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, a hastily conceived treaty which served the purposes of early eastern and Missouri traders with Mexican commercial interests. The ownership of these estates was not established by the usual requirements of land ownership in the United States: valid surveys. Furthermore, these estates were so vast that only slavery could make them economically feasible. Chaves’ secondary concern was a private prejudice against former Confederate officers whom he held were not entitled to hold offices in the territory. Following the Civil War, a significant political faction held this view. Chaves made possible the creation of the second Republican newspaper, the Santa Fe Post, to take positions which would make Steve Elkins and his programs appear subversive.

Steve Elkins entered New Mexico as a teamster, escaping death from Quantrill’s Raiders in Missouri. The Raiders were an outlaw band which supported the Confederates since the Confederate army was prohibited from operation in Missouri. Steve had been a spy for the Union and, as such, functioned in opposition to his friends and family. He ferociously guarded this secret his whole life. While in New Mexico he never wavered from the position that he had served neither side in the Civil War. 

One of the reasons Steve maintained his position as a non-combatant was that in 1861-1862 he had taught a number of Quantrill’s youngest outlaws. Among them was the son of his own family’s close friends, the family of Cole Younger. The Younger family was seriously abused by a Union officer and the men of the 5th Missouri Militia. The latter company crashed a wedding party and was insulted by the refusal of a Younger daughter to dance with the outfit’s captain, a married man. The wedding party was primarily of southern sympathies. The grudge was carried to extremes, the Younger father was killed and the family home was destroyed. Steve felt a terrible responsibility for the later deaths of several women, wives, sisters, and sweethearts of these young men whom he had taught. These women were imprisoned for abetting their husbands, brothers, and fiancés. 

After the war Steve aided his best childhood friend and his former college roommate as well as his own family by providing them with positions which would support them in New Mexico. His roommate, Tom Catron, became a Republican and his law partner in Santa Fe. His childhood friend, a Democrat, would become another law partner and by 1876, New Mexico’s Supreme Court Chief Justice. The theme of Steve’s life after the war became redemption. His need to become a hero, to win statehood and a railroad for the territory, were attempts to fulfill his need for redemption.


American West Photographer Timothy O'Sullivan

Famous photographer Timothy O'Sullivan whose childhood and background are the subject of debate among photographic scholar was of Irish ancestry. It is known that as a teenager he worked in the studio of the legendary 19th century photographer Mathew Brady, who is seen as the father of photo-journalism. A veteran of the American Civil War in its first year, O'Sullivan turned his hand to photographing the horrors of war in during the final three years of the conflict before setting out on his cross-continental expeditions.

Timothy O'Sullivan, who used a box camera, worked with the Government teams as they explored the land. He had earlier covered the U.S. Civil War and was one of the most famous photographers of the 19th century.

He also took pictures of the Native American population for the first time as a team of artists, photographers, scientists and soldiers explored the land in the 1860s and 1870s.

The images of the landscape were remarkable - because the majority of people at the time would not have known they were there or have ever had a chance to see it for themselves.

O'Sullivan died from tuberculosis at the age of 42 in 1882 - just years after the project had finished .

He carted a dark room wagon around the Wild West on horseback so that he could develop his images. He spent seven years exploring the landscape and thousands of pictures have survived from his travels.

Gayle Pace of Book Review, Etc. Gives Yankee Gold Four Stars!

The author wrote a historical learning book about a territory that strove to become a state. It tells how some of the people in New Mexico resisted statehood. They did want all the good things that went with it though. During this time the Civil War made the mining of  precious ores difficult. 

When the character Steve Elkins came into the picture, martial law was in effect. The Army was being paid to protect private mining and was doing a little mining themselves. Elkins came to New Mexico to write contracts for several mines where the Army had agreements with investors. 

The author is telling a story that no one else has tried to tell. Ms Rogers put in twenty years of research for the book. To me, this is the desire to write a factual book, a desire to do the best you can at what you do. This is dedication. She wrote from a male point of view which must have been difficult to begin with. You would have to get the feel of how a man saw things, which most often is very different from a woman's view.I recommend this book to History lovers or anyone  who is interested in Mexico, the Civil War or just a darn good read.

At the end of the novel, the author puts in an article which gives evidence that Steve Elkins was a  Civil War Spy.

I give this book 4 Stars


Passion, power, politics--intrigue on the frontier.

A young attorney with a secret leaves the Missouri Civil War for the southwestern territories and is threatened by a bitter rivalry. At stake are the fortunes of land grant settlement and the destiny of New Mexico.

An abolitionist in a slave state, Steve Elkins’ principle puts him at odds with local authority and general practice. Steve’s vision of what a territory must be to attain statehood sets a pattern for his personal goals. Patience, diplomacy, and skillful use of his legal expertise guide him. As the war ends, party identities re-form and tensions increase. Steve faces vicious attacks in his aggressive moves against slavery, robbery, assassination, murder, and cattle rustling. When he's faced with a personal crisis and a crucial election at once, can he strike a bargain with his wife, Sallie and his best friend, Tom? He struggles for a private life while the exertions of his public role erode his quest to achieve a business environment for New Mexico.

Can Steve Elkins survive the clash between his allies for a railroad; and the traditional fears, loyalties, and envy of native Mexicans?

Timothy O'Sullivan's Pictures Show the Landscape As It Was Charted for the Very First Time

These remarkable 19th century sepia-tinted pictures show the American West as you have never seen it before - as it was charted for the first time.

The photos, by Timothy O'Sullivan, are the first ever taken of the rocky and barren landscape.

At the time federal government officials were travelling across Arizona, Nevada, Utah and the rest of the west as they sought to uncover the land's untapped natural resources.

19th century housing: Members of Clarence King's Fortieth Parallel Survey team explore the land near Oreana, Nevada, in 1867
19th century housing: Members of Clarence King's Fortieth Parallel Survey team explore the land near Oreana, Nevada, in 1867. Clarence King was a 25-year-old Yale graduate, who hired Irish tough guy O'Sullivan for his Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel. Funded by the War Department, the plan was to survey the unexplored territory that lay between the California Sierras and the Rockies, with a view toward finding a good place to lay railroad tracks while also looking for mining possibilities and assessing the level of Indian hostility in the area.

Incredible: Tents can be seen (bottom, centre) at a point known as Camp Beauty close to canyon walls in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. Photographed in 1873
Incredible: Tents can be seen (bottom, centre) at a point known as Camp Beauty close to canyon walls in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. Photographed in 1873 and situated in northeastern Arizona, the area is one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes in North American and holds preserved ruins of early indigenous people's such as The Anasazi and Navajo.

On this rock I build a church: Old Mission Church, Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico pictured in 1873
On this rock I build a church: Old Mission Church, Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico pictured in 1873 where the Zuni people of North have lived for millennia. O'Sullivan was famous for not trying to romanticise the native American plight or way of life in his photographs and instead of asking them to wear tribal dress was happy to photograph them wearing denim jeans.

Land rising from the water: The Pyramid and Domes, a line of dome-shaped tufa rocks in Pyramid Lake, Nevada, seen on camera for the first time ever in 1867
Land rising from the water: The Pyramid and Domes, a line of dome-shaped tufa rocks in Pyramid Lake, Nevada photographed in 1867. Taken as part of Clarence King's Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, O'Sullivan's mesmerising pictures of the other-wordly rock formations at Pyramid Lake committed the sacred native American Indian site to camera for the first time

Sangre De Christo

Rich in history, religion, culture, and bio-diversity, the area preserves a special place in our nation's history where the villages and lifestyles of some of America's earliest Spanish settlements still exist alongside newer railroad communities.

Sangre De Christo [sic] Range from Bull Hill

Carlos Beaubien
When the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant was awarded in 1843, the vast tract extended along the flanks of the Sangre de Cristo Range, from an area north of contemporary Questa, New Mexico into the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. Encompassing Ute Territory the grant included mountains, watersheds, and an array of wildlife. Like the Quebecois manorial class from which he descended, Carlos Beaubien (the subrosa owner of the grant) controlled all aspects of development on his inland estate. After an unauthorized colony attempted to inhabit the land grant the group was forcefully evicted by Beaubien's men. Preferring to lay claim to this vast landscape on his terms, Beaubien recruited pobladores (settlers) from the Taos Valley, handpicked leaders, and authorized French and German merchants to establish trading posts.

Just after the onset of the American Period, Taosenos moved in two surges into lateral watersheds on the grant; first at the Rio Costilla late in the 1840s and on the Rio Culebra in 1853. Initially plazas in the Rio Costilla and Rio Culebra were similar despite being situated eighteen miles apart. Though separated by distance los primeros pobladores (first settlers) in both communities were interrelated by kinship, culture, and religion. In 1861, the grant was severed when Congress appropriated part of New Mexico to create the Territory of Colorado. Two years after annexation, Beaubien authored a covenant granting an easement to pobladores to use the surrounding uplands to graze and gather wood, designated a community commons near villages, and deeded varas, or long lots, extending from rivers to foothills. 

Subsequent to Beaubien's death, his heirs sold the grant to William Gilpin, the first Territorial Governor of Colorado. In accordance with Beaubien's wishes the sale required Gilpin to acknowledge the pobladores' private property and communal rights. Disingenuous from the onset, Gilpin circumvented the terms of the agreement.

Author's Journal: Drafting Your Story

Exactly when you decide to venture a draft of your story no one can predict. Some people start at the end and work backwards. Others take the more traditional path and determine a beginning. It’s best to know your ending before you start. I knew my story was a ten year account of my character’s early career as an attorney. My story was about how such a young attorney became a congressman in such a short time.  It took a while for me to see how he made his living and acquired wealth. Almost immediately after arriving in NM he became the territory’s most successful lawyer. He had an engaging personality, was better and more recently educated. He learned the Spanish language so quickly most people were amazed. His most important asset, aside from these, was his mentors, men whose advice he sought and followed judiciously. He made friends easily and helped others who cooperated with him, partnering with several on various projects.

I wrote many drafts of my story. I can only laugh at the early attempts now. I had very little to follow since most stories of the West of this period are of the Indian wars and personal accounts of “gunslingers” and outlaws.

The greatest difficulty I had in writing my book was in merging all of the information I’d gathered. I finally hung chronologies of my central character’s personal life, the progress of the Maxwell Grant, progress of the Sangre de Cristo, the major political events of the Republican Party, the advance of the Maxwell Grant’s survey, the conflict between my character and each of his adversaries (Chaves’ surrogates), and a chain of events related to NM’s land grants on the wall. I then used cards to form a storyboard of scenes. Through these I established a draft that provided a reasonable continuum until I could begin to reduce the mass to the pattern of fiction. You may start with an outline, most writers do. My goal was perhaps too ambitious and thereby too complex, but it represents what I wanted to know.

Blackmore Collection

Studio portrait of a Native North American sitting on a chair, wearing ear ornaments, a peace medal(?), a cloth tunic, an embroidered sash, a blanket around his waist, and holding a hat.

Henry Connelly Governor of the New Mexico Territory

Henry Connelly (1800–1866) was Governor of the New Mexico Territory during the American Civil War. He was appointed by President Lincoln and served from September 4, 1861 until July 6, 1866. During his term, the territory broke into two, and then three parts due to the Civil War and administrative problems.

Early years

Connelly was born in Spencer County, Kentucky. In 1828, he received a medical degree from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. He practiced medicine and ran a store in Liberty, Missouri from 1820 until 1824, when he traveled the Santa Fe Trail from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico with other merchants. During and following these years of travel and trading, he no longer practiced medicine, except in the case of an emergency. In 1828 he moved to Chihuahua, Mexico where he lived until 1848, continuing to make business journeys to Missouri and New Orleans. He married a Mexican woman there in 1838, with whom he had three children. Sometime in the 1840s he moved to Peralta about 17 miles south of the town of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Connelly participated in negotiations between governor Manuel Armijo and James W. Magoffin in Santa Fe, prior to Kearny's 1846 bloodless Capture of Santa Fe during the Mexican-American War.

New Mexico military rule

In 1849, after the death of his first wife, Connelly married Delores Perea. Perea was the widow of Don Mariano Chaves, one of the governors of New Mexico while it was under the rule of Mexico. She was also the mother of Don Mariano's son, José Francisco Chaves,who served three terms in the United States House of Representatives as Delegate from the New Mexico Territory, 1865 to 1871.

By 1850, although there were strongly opposed political factions in New Mexico, most were united in opposing the military government. The governor, Col. John Munroe, convened a constitutional assembly in May, which ratified a state constitution by 6,771 votes to 39.The constitution was adopted on 20 June 1850, and state officers were elected.[4] Henry Connelly, who was absent from the territory at the time, was elected Governor and Manuel Alvarez Lieutenant-governor. However, Colonel Munroe forbade the assumption of civil power by the elected officials. On 9 September 1850 the U.S. Senate passed a compromise bill that included an act to organize a government for New Mexico as a territory, and this overrode the state legislature.

New Mexico state

Connelly was an associate in the incorporation of the New Mexican Railway Company in support for construction of a transcontinental railroad via the southern route through New Mexico in 1860. He was a main force behind the repeal of the New Mexico Slave Act in 1861. He was governor of New Mexico during the Civil War and General Sibley's New Mexico Campaign. During the Battle of Valverde, he was at Fort Craig, then moved the territorial capital from Santa Fe to Las Vegas, New Mexico prior to the Confederate occupation of Santa Fe.Connelly was in ill health during a large part of his administration. He was absent from office due to illness for about a half year between the fall 1862 and the spring of 1863, during which Secretary William F.M. Arny acted as Governor. He died of an opium overdose on Aug 12, 1866 in Santa Fe after leaving office, July 16, 1866


Author's Journal: Organizing Your Research

I recommend a three or four pronged attack on research organization. Yours may vary from mine somewhat because I save none of my research on the computer. You will need to keep many files: chronology files, character files, setting files, procedure files, cultural practices files, and many others. I have four filing drawers in two cabinets beside my desk. The rest of my files are in crates – four of them, in fact. Those eight file “drawers” represent one story. Two of those drawers are devoted to the operation of my computers and my printer, my professional contacts, and my writers’ organizations. I also keep some files on my submissions in these.

I also have two sets of book shelves and I use sticky notes to indicate pages containing important information – which I label. My books fall into two primary categories: books related to my story and those on technique.

Aside from all this, I have two large boxes which contain copies of old newspapers of my period and place. I use sticky notes on these as well since my story is a political and business story which progresses chronologically. I label these by topic and date and fasten them together in six month periods. They represent the 10 years of my story. They all come from microfilm I’ve had to copy. I can thank these papers for knowing the comings and goings of nearly all of the primary characters of my story.

Raven Reviews Interviews Beth Rogers Regarding YANKEE GOLD

Elizabeth Rogers wrote the book, Yankee Gold, a historical fiction novel focusing on the Civil War.  I became infatuated with the Civil War somewhere between Harriet Tubman and Gone With the Wind.  This book has such a different perspective on the Civil War, I had to stop Beth Rogers and talk to her about it. The interview below captures some key questions I thought you might also be interested in:

1. How did you choose the title?
The fact that the Union mined for gold and silver during the Civil War and for at least two years afterward is the motivation for my protagonist to go to New Mexico.

2. A novel doesn’t usually reveal the true names of characters. Why have you identified your protagonist and named him a Civil War spy?
Because Steve Elkins never admitted he served either side in the Civil War. The story begins in New Mexico a little over a year before the war ended. Little has been told of this important era in New Mexico. Around four thousand Texas Confederates invaded New Mexico in 1861. They were met by four thousand New Mexican and Colorado Volunteers in the winter of 1861-1862. The Confederates were defeated and forced out of New Mexico by the summer of 1862. The fight was for the southwestern gold fields. Once Elkins arrived in New Mexico at the end of 1863 he became the leading attorney in the territory. He was so controversial that someone had to tackle why his story has been avoided. His personal history as a spy, the Union’s role in gold mining with private investors, and the government’s tolerance of Indian debt slavery were all issues the government preferred the public wouldn’t know.

3. How much of the story is true?
The events of the story are true. I placed them on time lines and eventually merged the time lines. My character, Elkins, served in the official capacities portrayed. I had to jump to several conclusions in the story, but the facts which followed made those conclusions reasonable. Naturally, when dialogue can’t be verified, the story must be labeled a novel. I can’t know that closely what these people thought or their entire motivations.

4. How did you get interested in this story?
My family came to West Virginia where Steve Elkins made his home in his later years. We were complete strangers and we settled in the town named for him. My father was born in Cuba of American parents and Cuba was his home until he left college. He was curious about Elkins’ mysterious New Mexico past and encouraged my research of it.

5. How long did it take for you to write Yankee Gold?
The research took twenty years. I taught myself to write at the same time I chased down the story. It went through countless drafts. In the beginning I wrote one other book, a murder mystery, which took nine months. I also wrote a monograph for the New Mexico Historical Review on Elkins as president of New Mexico’s first bank early in my research.

6. What did you find most interesting in your character?
Steve Elkins was first and foremost an abolitionist. He was a Republican, but clearly had the backbone to act independently and follow his own conscience. It was interesting to see how this worked out in the story.

7. Was it difficult to write from a male point of view?
At first it was. That’s why I wrote another book in nine months from a female POV first. However, when I saw how the events of Yankee Gold reflected such a male-oriented society, the story became far easier to portray.

8. When did you decide to become an author?
It was when I was somewhere between eight and ten years old. My father and I speculated on this story often, given the few facts we could obtain. Almost immediately solving the questions which arose became an obsession for me.

9. How did you research the novel?
I first looked for every possible bit of evidence of what Elkins did during the Civil War in Missouri. I traveled to New Mexico and stayed with a relative.  I arranged to meet with several experts on this period of New Mexico’s history. I followed their advice and branched out into the various issues of Elkins’ career in this decade. I copied microfilm on the Bosque Redondo and the official records of the War of the Rebellion. I copied the records of Elkins’ service as
U. S. Attorney. I finally copied the Santa Fe newspapers for the entire decade. I bought all the books possible on the period and compared the material against the newspaper accounts. I found the first scene in a diary account of the daughter of the man who was Elkins’ mentor. That wasn’t until 2003. Information available from the internet grew enormously during the period I researched the story. The research was intensive and bore a lot of fruit.  

Beth Rogers was born in New York City and lived in West Virginia for over twenty years. Her career includes writing at Living magazine in New York, teaching in Virginia and West Virginia, selling and brokering real estate in North Carolina, and as a federal clerk and courtroom deputy in Richmond, Virginia. She has been published in the New Mexico Historical Review. She is a member of the Virginia Historical Society and is active in several Virginia writers’ clubs.

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