I just finished–well, before the Christmas break I finished–Dance on the Wind by Terry C. Johnson. This is the first book in the nine book series following Titus “Scratch” Bass as he leaves home, heads west, and becomes a mountain man.
Dance begins with Bass at home working on the family farm. He’s got a girlfriend who he “courtin’.” But he is unsettled and yearns for more. His thoughts often turn to his grandpa who came to Kentucky when it was still the frontier. One day, after a shootin’ match, he meets a man headed out west. With freedom calling, Bass runs away from home one evening when he’s 16. He then meets up with a group of riverboatmen who take him to the other side of the “falls.” After they get through them, Bass asks to stay on and go to New Orleans with them. This first book gets him to New Orleans and started back on the Nachez Trace. Near St. Louis, he decides to go there.
In St. Louis, Bass gets a job as a blacksmith. Towards the end of the book, he meets up with a real life mountain man. After wasting all of Bass’ savings, the mountain man dies. Bass mopes until he finally decides to head west. This book ends with him setting out to the mountains.
Yes, this book is fiction. I doubt Bass was a real person. However, Johnston’s research of the time, area, and the “mountain man era” make “the Scratch books” a favorite with my family. if you are at all interested in that time or the mountain men, start reading this series.
[Update 2013-02-02 15:18:01] Earlier this week, I started reading Buffalo Palace: The Plainsman / Scratch book 2. Once I’m done, I’ll post my review of it.
[Update 2013-02-06 08:26:04] I’ve finished Buffalo Palace. My review is here.