Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B=Bushwhackers Border Wars & Bloody Kansas

In keeping with the theme of Promote 52, I'm doing A-Z promotions. This is a tribute to book bloggers, so mostly I'll be promoting bloggers. But I'll take the occasional diversion to promote an author I love, or give a shout-out to someone. Of course, A-Z is hosted by Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out.

Today I'm featuring an author. Mike Hays is here to talk about bloody Kansas. Take it away Mike:

Bushwhackers, Border Wars, and Bloody Kansas

With The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, Congress attempted to solve a problem
that The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and The Great Compromise of 1851 could
not. The problem? They were trying to find a solution to the growing political issue
of slavery and what to do about determining the free/slave status of new states
admitted to the Union.

On the issue of admittance into the Union as a slave or free state, The Kansas-
Nebraska Act of 1854 included this thing called, Popular Sovereignty. It meant
the free/slave status of Kansas would be decided by the vote of the settlers. Sounds
pretty mild mannered and academic, right? It was a disaster. Pro-slavery folks from
Missouri flooded across the border, most only to vote pro-slavery and then head
back home. Free Staters from the East, many associated with the Abolitionist’s New
England Emigrant Aid Society, came in hordes to the Kansas territory. Water and oil
that did not mix well at all.

Truth be told, very few of these folks on either side were upstanding citizens, think
John Brown, William C. Quantrill, “Bloody” Bill Anderson, and Beecher Bibles (yes,
Sharp’s rifles shipped in boxes of Bibles). When these factors converged on the wild,
western boundary of this young nation, trouble began to brew between Kansas and
Missouri, between free state and slave state, and the Border War for “Bloody” Kansas

Soon, a fight would start on one side of the border, followed by retaliation on
the opposite side. Someone would steal a horse here, and then a horse would be
stolen there. Back and forth, always escalating. Groups of local bands of irregular
militias, guerrillas, organized with the blessing of the Confederate and Union armies,
formed and the real trouble began. These Kansas bands were called Jayhawkers and
Missouri groups were called Bushwhackers.

Homes were burned to the ground, money stolen, people kidnapped, and killed,
atrocities occurred from every corner of the region. It was ugly. The wounds and hate
ran deep. Even years after the Civil War, these evil deeds carried out in the Border
War for Bloody Kansas were not forgotten. Hate and revenge still ruled the hearts of
some, while others wished only to forget and disappear.

My upper middle grade historical fiction book, THE YOUNGER DAYS, is set on a
secluded southwest Missouri farm where a former member of Quantrill’s Bushwhackers
and his wife have escaped their past deeds and built a new life...or so they think.


The tension in post Civil War Missouri builds to a boiling point between 11-
year old Boy Smyth and his mild mannered, devout father over the father's
embarrassing lack of support for Boy’s Border War heroes, the outlaw Cole
Younger and the notorious Border War phantom William "The Butcher" Bryant.

The family farm is visited by Cole Younger and his injured brother, Jim, of the
infamous James-Younger gang, on the run after a train robbery in Iowa. Much
to his surprise, Boy discovers the Younger brothers are childhood friends of his
Ma and Pa. Cole has come to their farm searching for the aid of Boy’s mother to
nurse Jim’s gunshot wound. As the Youngers rest and heal, Boy learns about his
family’s past and begins to understand why Pa is the way he is.

After the Youngers leave for their Texas hideout, a new band of visitors arrive
at the farm intent on violent revenge. Everything the family built becomes
threatened by the strangers, forcing Pa to make the decision to unleash a long
hidden identity in order to save his family.

Now, here’s a GIVEAWAY (No, it’s not free tickets to live studio taping of Let’s Make
a Deal). I’m giving away an eBook copy of THE YOUNGER DAYS to a commenter
who answers the question below.
I am not a good salesman. Never have been. I hated going house to house hawking
fund-raisers as a kid. As a 13-year old, I refused to sell candy bars for the summer
baseball program. Wouldn’t do it. My coach told me I HAD to sell candy bars or sit
the bench.
I refused.
I sat the bench.
I was a pretty good player, but I wouldn’t budge on my position.
I sat the bench.
I am not a good salesman.

Giveaway Question: What was the worst, most hated, most despised thing you
ever had to sell as a kid?

A winner will be randomly selected from the comments after I drag myself out of bed
at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning, 4-6-13.

You can find THE YOUNGER DAYS at these places:
MuseItUp Publishing Bookstore
Amazon Bookstore
iBooks Store

Thanks, Beth, for having me as your guest today. You are awesome!

Mike Hays is a husband, father, and microbiologist from Kansas. Besides writing,
he has been a high school strength and conditioning coach, a football coach and a
baseball coach. He writes from a boy point of view and hopes to spread his particular
style of stupid-funny inspiration through his books, blogs and social media.

His debut upper middle grade historical fiction novel, THE YOUNGER
DAYS, was released by the MuseItYoung imprint of MuseItUp Publishing in
March of 2012 and was the recipient of a 2012 Catholic Writer’s Guild Seal of
Approval Award. He can be found stuck in the web at: www.coachhays.com,
www.mikehaysbooks.wordpress.com, @coachhays64 on Twitter, and


  1. bravo to you Mike for writing about a tough subject and making it relatable for young people.

    1. Thanks Jessie. It was an ugly period in our history, for sure. But, it also lends itself to a fantastic backdrop to place a story.

  2. This definitely sounds like a powerful story.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kelly. With all the emotional and dramatic events which surrounded the Border War, I think one could find a powerful story to tell lurking around every corner.

  3. Your book is on my TBR list, Mike. History is one of my favorite subjects.

    As for your question: I can't remember ever having to sell anything when I was a child. Maybe in the "olden days" we didn't do things like that. I don't know.

    1. Beveryly, history is awesome! I love reading and studying historical non-fiction. Thank you for the spot on your TBR list.
      We had to sell fundraising items ALL THE TIME. It was a nightmare for a stocky, introverted boy.

  4. Wow, Mike this is a touch subject as Jessie already said and I thank you for writing it.

    1. Thanks, EW. It was so much fun to write this book. The research about events which occurred a stone's throw from where I grew up and even including a family legend as the foundation of the story. The outlaws, Cole and Jim Younger reportedly spent a night at a relatives farm after a robbery in the 1870's.

  5. Yay for Mike and his book. Love this period of our history and I know reading a novel about those days will capture the interest of young readers. What a great way to soak up some history.

  6. That's an interesting setting for your book! It sounds like a really good story.

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