The Glorious U.S. Marshal & His Hunting Dog by Lisa Prysock

Did you know the U.S. Marshal did far more than protect the Wild West from outlaws? These courageous men—in addition to wrangling criminals to justice—also delivered writs, subpoenas, served warrants, made other arrests, and transferred prisoners. Sometimes they were given special missions, too.

They paid attorneys, clerks, jurors, and witnesses if fees were due. They were known to go into the street and recruit jurors. I can hear some farmer about town, eyeing the marshal as he held a firm hand on his holster, sporting a shiny badge. The farmer might nod real slow as he considered his options and say, “Uh, yes indeed, Marshal Everett, I reckon purchasing a new hat for the Missus can wait until after we decide on a hangin’ or not.”

1880’s U.S. Marshal badge,
photo courtesy of the U.S. Marshal website.

 Marshals also hired bailiffs, janitors, and usually their own deputies. Sometimes they’d fill the water pitchers in the courtroom to allow attorneys and judges to concentrate on the cases. They traversed rural areas gathering census information, as well. One account I read involved a U.S. Marshal chasing a drunk through town and on for miles, and finally, over a fence out in the countryside. Sometimes presidents even needed marshals to become involved in acts of espionage.

Much of the west was governed by circuit judges holding court perhaps twice or thrice a year, often in a town some distance from the jail. Marshals were responsible for prisoners until the court date. It could be a mighty long wait for both the marshals and prisoners.

Although the marshal hero in Lydia’s Lot is busy capturing outlaws and winning over a bride once forbidden to pursue, my research beckoned me to consider the time these lawmen spent in other capacities. My active imagination led me to decide U.S. Marshal Heath Everett might have a companion dog to assist with holding down the field office and aiding in the capture of gun-slinging outlaws—which naturally made me think Heath would want a glorious hunting friend, such as the red Irish setter.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Loyal, friendly, and intelligent, did you know the Irish setter is a fine hunting and companion dog? They were ideal for the prairie with their long, wiry, and bony frames. When trained properly, they will point out grouse, pheasant, turkey, or other wild game to their masters (possibly outlaws, too)—and all with the wave of a hand, and little or no verbal command required.

They will hunch down quietly on all fours, front paws stretched out ahead while the master aims the shotgun and fires directly over their heads at prey. The master will then reward him with a generous portion of the quail, fish, or hunting game this amazing breed helps to secure.  However, don’t take a harsh tone with this breed. The setter will never forget it.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

When did the Irish setter arrive on the western frontier? This is debatable, but we know they became wildly popular in America. According to the first pure-bred dog registry in the U.S., “Elcho” became the first Irish setter imported by Charles Turner in 1870. He sired 197 puppies! Several presidents had famous setters, including Truman’s setter, Mike; Reagan’s setter, Peggy; and Nixon’s setter, King Timahoe.

Readers inspired the name Fitzgerald Murphy (nicknamed Fitz) for the Irish setter in Lydia’s Lot. Fitz plays a significant role alongside Heath. You’ll also find some entertaining outlaws and a sub-plot in the novel.

To win a paperback copy of Lydia’s Lot, comment with what kind of mayhem an unrefined mail-order bride matched to a young preacher might be up to in my next historical western. I’d love to hear from you. 

Forbidden to marry Heath, the one man she truly loves, Lydia Catherine Hayden, an American heiress from Boston, boards a train and heads west to become a mail-order bride when matchmaker, Milly Crenshaw, introduces her to Wyatt from Iowa. Five years have gone by, and she isn’t interested in any of the society gentlemen of whom her father would approve. Her love for Heath has turned to a mild hate since hearing he married someone else.

When the Wild Whitman Gang involved in an Iowa train robbery use orphans traveling west as human shields to make their escape, they converge on Lydia’s marriage ceremony to Wyatt, killing him and abducting the heiress in the process. Things don’t seem to be going well for the architect’s daughter and she’s in a heap of trouble.

When Heath, now a widowed U.S. Marshal in Des Moines, returns home to Boston to visit family, he decides to sign up for Milly Crenshaw’s mail-order bride agency services in hopes of settling down and becoming a farmer. After Milly learns Lydia is now widowed and being held captive somewhere in Iowa with seven orphans from New York City, she pulls Heath into the case, urging him to find her, and marry her if possible. But first, he has to track down one of the most notorious, dangerous, gun-slinging gangs the Wild West has ever known. Then, he has to win Lydia’s heart all over again, if he isn’t shot and killed first in the process.

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46 thoughts on “The Glorious U.S. Marshal & His Hunting Dog by Lisa Prysock”

  1. Welcome Lisa- your book sounds great. I love when animals, especially dogs are a part of the story.

    I would imagine an unrefined bride showing up for a young preacher would be a chaotic pair. She probably has no filter on her vocabulary and is prone to sticking her foot in her mouth every time she speaks. Not afraid to tell it like it is… especially to the older ladies of the church who act holier than thou. She has a lack of dress code. Britches and boots and riding astride are more her style than the Petticoats and side-saddle most ladies Adhere. too.
    I bet she’s not afraid to use a gun, loves to hunt, and can hold her own in a poker game with the guys, which would drive her groom to be, a preacher no less, crazy.
    That was a fun question, I could go on and on, I do love the idea of this plot for your next book. How fun!!
    Thank you for visiting, Come again!

    • I’m delighted by your feedback on my next mail-order bride story. I love your ideas. I’m sure I’ll be trying to incorporate many of these into the story. Thank you so much for stopping by today.

  2. Very interesting. I think a fun mail order bride for a preacher would be totally opposite than what he expects. Maybe she something bad (or wrongly accused) and is on the run looking for a safe haven to hide. He will have his job cut out for him trying to protect her and save her reputation once he finds out the truth.

  3. Good morning! Thanks for stopping by P&P! Oh, I love Irish Setters and I haven’t thought of them in a long time! They’re such beautiful dogs and I don’t think there is another breed that can rival their beauty! I love when animals are main characters in a book! Animals just add a whole other dimension to a story.

    Oh my, an unrefined Mail-order-bride and a preacher… I would first say that she has a tendency to use a curse word here and there as well as her overall use of the English language tends to be lacking schooling which is much to the preachers dismay. The preacher also keeps finding her dipping snuff which just won’t do. The preacher also keeps catching her visibility eyeing other men in town with an admiring look in her eyes which isn’t only noticed by himself. Then he keeps having to choke down the most awful food he’s ever eaten in his life and try to keep a smile on his face. Oh I could go on and on but I won’t. Stay safe in these uncertain times!

    • These are really fun suggestions! I also agree that this breed is one of the most beautiful. I loved including Fitz in this story. Thank you so much for your comment.

  4. The preacher’s mail order bride is strong in character, not timid. She likes to wear pants, hunt for game, raise chickens, has no fear of snakes, hides her beautiful long red hair in a tight bun at the nap of her neck, doesn’t like church socials, can’t dance worth a darn, refuses to gussy up for church, is more tomboy than girl, refuses gossipy women who criticize her uniqueness, and eats too many peppermint sticks. Underneath all that promiscuity, lies a confident woman ready to be tenderized in the loving arms of preacher man. Her eyes sparkle and heart soars at the touch of his hand, smile on his face, and his faith in God. All sensations new to her heart begin to stir up an emotional pitter-patter of love and she falls for preacher. However, she does not become a saint in the eyes of the gossipy women in town. No, they learn to love her just the way she is. And so does preacher.

  5. I didn’t know that about lawmen in the west. This book of your sounds so interesting. Im looking forward to reading it. I love animals in books. They have so much personality.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. I loved Lydia’s Lot. Just the type of western I like. To keep your unrefined bride of the preacher from being predictable I’d have her know about as much about the Bible as he does.

  7. Welcome to P&P, Lisa. We’re so happy to have you and hope you enjoy your visit. I think the U.S. Marshals in the old west had such a hard job. For one thing there were so few lawmen they were stretched very thin. I’m just finishing a mail order bride series and have really enjoyed writing about the courage it took to leave everything and travel to the unknown. She didn’t know what kind of man she’d be marrying so it had to be really scary. Can’t imagine the guts it would’ve taken.

    Wishing you tons of success with your book. The cover is so beautiful.

    • Thank you so much, Linda. It’s a joy to be here on this great blog. I agree. It took a ton of courage to become a mail-order bride in those days. So much of the unknown…

  8. Lydia’s Lot sounds very interesting. It incorporates several plot lines I enjoy. I am curious why Heath didn’t try a bit harder to marry Lydia. I have my suspicions.

    As for what a preacher’s unrefined mail-order-bride might do, the first thing that came to mind was soiled doves. I could see her associating with them, sympathizing with their situation and trying to solve some of their problems. Her spending time in their company would not look good to the gossipy women in town. She could be concerned and trying to solve their issues with trying to get out of the business, demanding the sheriff and saloon owners do something about abuse of the working girls, and child care they need if any of them had children they needed taken care of while they work. She would see it as trying to help, not as spending time with the “dregs” of society.

    Thank you for your interesting post on both the Marshall service and the Irish Setter. They are beautiful dogs I have always admired. I never really thought about how long they have been in the country. Stay safe and healthy.

    • Hi Patricia! I love these ideas. Excellent suggestions. I love the part about looking after their children, too. That could certainly lead to more mischief and mayhem. I’m so glad you enjoyed the blog post and hope you love the story, too. Thank you so much for stopping by today.

  9. Oh but this book looks like it would be fabulous. I see her as unconventional. She knows how to survive in the wild. She can shoot and cook what she shoots. She is not real good in the kitchen or with household stuff. Embroidery? what is that? She has no time for women who are gossips. She really tries to have her preacher husband love her, but she keeps doing things that make him upset. I love this about the Irish Setter. We had one growing up on the farm. They really are loyal companions They will stick by their family no matter what, especially the children. They are very friendly to those that the family/person knows. They are extremely intelligent. And sometimes Sheree knew what we were going to do before we did it. And yes they have very long memories. They can be very sensitive. So yelling at them puts you on their wary side. Fantastic family dogs as long as they have lots of room to run. For they do a lot of running Sheree would walk/run with us to the school bus and then go home. She would meet us at the bus stop after school and walk/run home with us.
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    • Hi Lori! I love your ideas and I like everything you mention about Irish setters. It goes along with the setter in my story so well. I would love to have one someday, perhaps.

  10. Your book sounds like a Great read, and I love the book cover! I think she is very close to her pup and the pup sleeps with her. She probably isn’t a very good house keeper and she would rather be having fun with the kiddos instead of doing housework . She does love the children, so that is a big plus. Have a great weekend and stay safe. God Bless you and your family.

    • Thank you so much for commenting, and I hope you enjoy “Lydia’s Lot.” Looking forward to writing the next mail-order bride story. Readers seem to love them as much as I do.

  11. She seems to have no idea of the “proper” way for a pastor’s wife to act although her actions are very Christlike. She rushes in to help when it doesn’t seem prudent to do so. Her husband and his church learn from her.

  12. Hi, Lisa!!!! I love the Irish Setter!!!! Reading all the suggestions for your preacher & wayward bride story is such fun! I can just see all the gossips in town having a consniption fit about how inappropiate she is! She needs one lady to be her champion and put the rest in their place…preferably the one lady that has that status & money to enforce her views. Looking forward to reading this when it comes out.

    • Hi Jennifer! I love the idea of having a patron champion for the heroine. I am really looking forward to writing this next story with all of these wonderful suggestions. Thank you so much for stopping by.

  13. She probably is not the greatest housekeeper and cook and speaks her own mind about things. Beautiful cover. It sounds like a very interesting book. Thank you for sharing.

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