Interesting discoveries when doing research for historical novels

John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Rockefellers Sr. and Jr.
John D. Rockefeller Sr. and Jr.

When you hear the name Rockefeller, it is often associated with words like ‘philanthropy’ and ‘charity’ and ‘Christianity.’ But in doing research for my upcoming novel set in the early 1910’s, there is every indication that those words were nothing but artistic license to cover over greed and avarice by a man and a company that brooked no disquiet in their ranks, and took swift and immediate action against anyone who dared to question the deplorable conditions under which their miners were forced to perform.

Junior, as he was called, was the principle stockholder of Colorado Fuel and Iron. When workmen complained about long hours and poor living conditions, their company-provided homes were destroyed. When they complained because they were being paid in script, and their wages were only good at the company controlled stores in the company controlled towns, the National Guard was brought in to ‘control’ the dissenters. And when tents were provided by union organizers to help workers fight to have shorter days and standard wages, the tent villages were burned to teach them a lesson in not getting ‘above’ themselves.

The Ludlow Massacre of 1914 became a turning point in Junior’s life, but before the resulting events of that fateful debacle were over, almost 200 men, women, and children would be dead. It was a terrible blight on the Rockefeller image, and he ended up hiring a Public Relations firm to help restore the family’s good name.

It has been a vivid journey for me to weave such rich history into the upcoming storyline of Willow Stratton and Charles Fleming. I’m excited to be working on Willow’s Secret to have it ready for publication by January 2015. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy the other stories in the Thunder on the Mountain series, including my latest release about Willow’s parents, Edward and Jordan Stratton, in Jordan’s Gift.