Leaving the Lava Lodge at 6:30 AM, we were amazed at the amount of snow on the mountain passes. The Grand Tetons loomed majestically on the horizon as the sun rose in the bright morning sky. It was truly magical!
We arrived in Jackson Hole for breakfast. The town is notorious for its beautiful scenery, shopping and restaurants. I highly recommend the area to visitors, and wished I could have spent more time enjoying it myself, but we had to get going. There are simply too many interesting things to see and do in the town, but since I love history, I opted to visit the John Pierce Cunningham home. Built in 1885 by the man himself, it is now an historic site. The design is similar to homes that were being built in Virginia during this period. The front elevation has a double-pen or “dog trot” with a room located on either side of the breezeway. The home is set in a glorious meadow with the Grand Tetons as a back drop.
Cunningham began hunting and trapping, mostly to sustain himself, but he probably sold the excess pelts to supplement his income for buying supplies.
Over the years he added other buildings and fortified them. All are gone now, the only evidence are the foundations. In any case, they give us an insight to the actual size of the development. At the time, it must have been a formidable settlement as Cunningham buttressed his home against the Native (Bannack) Indians.
The Cunningham household also saw some violent acts. In 1895, the home was the scene of a vicious shootout between a posse and two horse thieves. Both thieves were shot and killed near the cabin and therefore did not hang for their crime.
Cunningham was a dutiful and interesting man who served as the original county commissioner when Teton County was first organized in 1923. He also served as the postmaster, game warden and justice of the peace over the years.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve published eight books on travel, local history and historical fiction. Several years ago, after speaking with family members in England, a name popped up that I hadn’t heard in ages. It was the dreaded name of Sawney Bean, a wicked and despicable Scottish folklore character from the 1600s. After researching Sawney and his clan, (the BBC did a documentary and tried to locate his cave) the inklings of a story began forming. The first book of what has become a trilogy, Forbidden describes Catherine MacDonald, who becomes a nun after being left by her mother at a priory. After an unusual encounter with a young woman she undertakes a journey to Scotland where she discovers what really happened to her mother, and the horrifying life she endured just to stay alive.
In the second book, Damaged, Catherine tries valiantly to restore her respectability but is thwarted at every turn. Tainted by her mother’s legacy, she is shunned by the church, and by many of her friends. Unhappy and disillusioned with her life, she decides to embark on a journey to the New World.
The final book, Expectations, will be published in the fall of 2014.