Tolliver is the story of People Caught up in the violent changes of the west in the 1870’s 

Kit Tolliver, a man with a broken heart and a dark past who rode into the Starbuck Valley looking for a place to get through the winter and found himself caught in the middle of a range war and the object of the affections of two beautiful but very different women.

Cassidy Holt, the impetuous daughter of a Philadelphia matron and socialite, exiled to her Uncle’s ranch in the valley, is caught between her love for a man with hidden secrets and the new-found faith that she shares with her best friend who loves the same man. 

Nellie Slocum, a store-owner’s crippled daughter with a deep faith in God and the trust that there is good in everyone, even those with hidden secrets.

Seymour Gray, an elderly rancher trying to hold his small spread against the guns and greed of the man who controls most of the valley.

Joshua Willard, the pastor of a small congregation whose faith in God’s plan for everyone is tested against the power of a wealthy ranch owner and the guns of an outlaw gang.

Dr. James Adams, the small-town Doctor who has seen the horrors of Gettysburg and now must try to care for those who fall victim to a range war.

Jed Walker, who, like his father before him, has fought off those who would take away his holdings in the valley and who will use hired guns to keep them.

Frank Lasher, a cold-blooded killer who hires out to the highest bidder, enforces his will through the barrel of a gun, and has a special vendetta in the valley.

Will those who put their trust in God and His plan for their lives be able to find a way to elude the killers and the greed that are poised to take over the valley?

by Bob Zinnecker

For many of us, western cowboy heroes were a staple in our growing up years.  Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, The Lone Ranger, and others, all wore white hats and were the “good guys” in what were called “Oaters”.

Later on, other westerns featured heroes who didn’t always wear a white hat and weren’t your typical “good guys”.  The famous “Man with no name” westerns featured Clint Eastwood’s taciturn character dispensing a different kind of justice in movies like “Pale Rider”.  

In western literature, Jack Shaefer’s “Shane” and Louis L’Amour’s “Connagher” seemed to walk the thin line between the “Good guys” of early westerns and the darker characters of Eastwood.  “Shane” and “Connagher” were “Good Guys” with a dark past and/or with a problem.  

I’ve known some people who are good people but who have things in their past that they are not particularly proud of.  I’ve also known some people who have experienced great loss in their past and who bear the scar of it in their present.  In “Tolliver” the principal character is that type of man.  He is, basically, a good man who can be counted on, but he has experienced great loss and it has impacted his attitude towards life and, in particular, God.  He has also been forced to do some things that he is not proud of and he has wondered in search of something without being sure of what that something is.

Tolliver, like many of us, comes in contact with two types of people.  One group has a deep faith and confidence in God’s love and plan for each of us, and the goodness that lies somewhere in every person.  The other group rules by force and uses whatever means necessary to get, and hold, prosperity and power.

What will we do when we, like Tolliver, wander into contact with these two groups?  What way of life will we choose?  Will we choose to continue to wander life’s trail aimlessly in search of something without being sure of what it is we are seeking?  Will we let the heartbreaks and the bad actions of our past keep us from finding God’s plan for our lives?

When that question is poised against the westward expansion of the 1870’s and the transformation of a raw, lawless land into an orderly one, it becomes even more interesting.  I hope that my readers will identify with the characters and that reading about them will inspire us to answer the question and make the right decision.

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