In January of 1888 a fierce and deadly storm that would come to be known at the Children’s Blizzard charged in from the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, engulfing a number of states south to Colorado, and as far east as New York.
The tragic story is at the heart of local author Reg Quist’s new book called Hamilton Robb.
The book is loosely based on that historical event, it offers insight into the lives of pioneer farmers and ranchers, and it’s topped off with a healthy dose of romance.
Quist said the storm caught his attention and his imagination.
“It killed a whole lot of people and thousands of cattle—about 235 people died depending on whose doing the counting and about 180 of them were children—those children were sent home from school to try and beat the storm, well of course they didn’t make it.”
Besides the devastating toll on lives, the storm also changed the cattle industry, Quist said, as farmers were trying to get by without hay crops at the time, and instead of letting their cattle graze throughout the year, the storm put an end to that.
The main character in the book, which falls in the Family Western category, is Hamilton Robb.
Robb is a deputy sheriff in Arizona who tires of packing a gun and living in the desert. He packs up and heads to the foothills of Colorado to become a rancher. After five years he finds himself in the middle of the storm, and then things start to heat up.
“The second storm that hit him was the beautiful daughter of a Texas rancher that moved into the country—and all the ins and out of romance.”
Quist said that while the traditional “shoot ‘em up” Western novels portrays the gun fighter winning the West, that isn’t historically true.
The truth is the hard working pioneer farmers and ranchers won the West, both in Canada and the United States, he said.
Quist lived in the foothills of Alberta for years and both sets of his grandparents were pioneer ranchers and farmers, he said, so he can closely relate to the ranching side of the story.
Hamilton Robb is self-published under Quist’s label, Jinglepot Books. People can order his new book or his previous novel, Mac’s Way on his website www.regquist.com.
Another book Quist wrote called Mister Lister Comes Home is also available on the website, which is a series of short vignettes about life when Quist was a child growing up in the ‘40s.