Tag Archives: dime novel

QUAINT #18 Assowaum from “The Regulators of Arkansas” by Friedrich Gerstäcker

Image from the Gerstäcker Magazine from the Gerstäcker Museum, featuring his illustrated Westerns. Click for source (in German).

Assowaum was created by Friedrich Gerstäcker and appeared in Die Regulatoren in Arkansas (“The Regulators of Arkansas, 1845”). Gerstäcker (1816-1872) was a German who went to America in 1837. For six years he lived a checkered life in America, working as a schoolteacher, chocolate maker, silversmith, fireman, woodcutter, hotel manager, and, for the majority of his time, a hunter in the Arkansas wilderness. He returned to Germany in 1843 and began writing novels for children and novels for adults set in the American frontier and in the South Seas. The Regulators of Arkansas remains his best known novel. It was first published in English as “Alapaha the Squaw,” “The Border Bandits,” and “Assowaum the Avenger,” in American Tales 67-69 (23 July-16 September 1870).

The Regulators of Arkansas is set in Arkansas in the early years of statehood, in the 1830s, when murder was common and bad men more so. Opposing them were local vigilante groups, the “Regulators.” The main characters of The Regulators are searching for a particularly violent gang of thieves who are involved with Rawson, a sociopathic Methodist minister who marries and then kills women. Rawson is engaged to Marion Harper, a sweet woman who only knows him as a devout Methodist. Rawson and his gang steal a band of horses, and when the Regulators pursue them, aided by Assowaum, a native warrior, Rawson murders Alapaha, Assowaum’s wife. The Regulators pursue Rawson and the horse thieves and corner them in a farmhouse, where they are holding hostages, including Marion. Assowaum helps the Regulators break into the farmhouse, and the gang is captured. All of the thieves are hanged with the exception of Rawson, who is burned alive by Assowaum. Marion marries Brown, one of the Regulators, and they live happily ever after.

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QUAINT #13 Hagar of the Pawnshop, The Gypsy Detective by Fergus Hume

Image courtesy of Phountains. Click for source.

Hagar Stanley was created by Fergus Hume and appeared in Hagar of the Pawnshop, The Gypsy Detective (1898). Hume (1859-1932) was born in England but grew up in New Zealand and moved to Australia to practice law. In 1886 he published The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, which became the best-selling detective novel of the 19th century. But Hume did not retain the rights to Hansom Cab and did not become rich by it, and his later attempts to duplicate the success of Hansom Cab were not successful.

Hagar Stanley is a Romany (Gypsy). She is the niece of the miserly pawn shop owner Jacob Dix. While young Jacob had taken a Romany wife and brought her to London. They had a son, Jimmy, but his wife could not stand the air of London and died, and Jimmy grew up to be a brutal man and a scoundrel who left his father and took up with the Romany. Hagar was of the same Romany tribe as Dix’s wife, and was happy in the New Forest, but then Goliath appeared:

“He is half a Gorgio and half Romany—a red-haired villain, who chose to fall in love with me. I hated him. I hate him still!”—the woman’s bosom rose and fell in short, hurried pantings—“and he would have forced me to be his wife. Pharaoh—our king, you know—would have forced me also to be this man’s rani, so I had no one to protect me, and I was miserable. Then I recalled what the chal had told me about you who wed with one of us; so I fled hither for your protection, and to be your servant.”

Dix is an awful person to be around, but he values her servitude and keeps her at his shop. In a short time Hagar became as clever as Jacob himself, and he was never afraid to trust her with the task of making bargains, or with the care of the shop. She acquired a knowledge of pictures, gems, silverware, china—in fact, all the information about such things necessary to an expert. Without knowing it, the untaught gypsy girl became a connoisseur.
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QUAINT #12 Lady Jaguar, the Robber Queen by William H. Manning

Vintage print of a Mexican cowgirl

Lady Jaguar was created by William H. Manning and appeared in “Lady Jaguar, the Robber Queen. A Romance of the Black Chaparral” (Beadle’s New York Dime Library v14 n176, 8 March 1882). Manning (1852-1929) was a Bostonian author of frontier stories and dime novels.

Doña Luisa Villena, a Mexican noblewoman, is drugged and forced to marry Don Manuel, the leader of a local group of bandits. The marriage is a fraud and the “priest” is one of the Don Manuel’s bandits dressed up in ministerial garb, but Doña Luisa does not know that, and she flees in shame and anger when she recovers from the drugs. (The marriage is never consummated, but just the idea of the marriage is bad enough). She goes for help to her beloved uncle, Juan Villena. Juan already bears a grudge against Don Manuel, because through his schemes Juan’s brother Leon, Doña Luisa’s father, was killed. So Doña Luisa and Juan become “Lady Jaguar” and “El Alacran” (“the scorpion”), the leaders of a gang of bandits whose headquarters is the tall, thick, unbroken mesquite that makes up the “black chaparral” of northern Mexico. Together they prey on travelers while searching for the means by which they can avenge themselves on Don Manuel. Juan maintains his alternate identity as a wealthy Mexican landowner, and a local crazy woman, Barbara, moves herself into Juan’s villa and claims to be Doña Luisa. Juan tolerates her presence there because it helps support the alibi of the real Doña Luisa.
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QUAINT #2 Buena Rejon from “The Mexican Ranchero” by Charles E. Averill

Rejon the Ranchero from The Mexican Ranchero. Image from "American Sensations." Click for link.

Buena Rejon was created by Charles E. Averill and appeared in The Mexican Ranchero; or, The Maid of the Chapparal (1847). Averill (?-?) was a popular dime novelist. He is best known for his Kit Carson, Prince of the Gold Hunters (1849).

The Mexican Ranchero is set in Mexico in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War, after the American troops have occupied Mexico City. The truce between the Mexicans and the Americans is broken when Raphael Rejon attacks a squad of American soldiers. Raphael Rejon is the “Lion of Mexico,” the “mortal foe” of Americans. The American soldiers burned his home, his parents died in the fire, and he and his sister were left both orphaned and homeless. Since that time Raphael and his sister, Buena Rejon, the “Maid of the Chaparral,” waged a guerrilla war against the occupiers; “hundreds of Americans…have become the victims of her unerring lasso.”

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