Oct. 13, 2011
Eccles Center, Snow College, Ephraim
In partnership with Snow College Convocation,
Corbett is the Utah Humanities Book Festival’s
Charles Redd Center for Western Studies 2011 Guest Author
Journalist Christopher Corbett will discuss his book Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express. Book sale and signing follows.
One of the most celebrated and enduring chapters in the history of the U.S., the Pony Express is a story of the all-American traits of bravery, bravado, and entrepreneurial risk that are part of the very fabric of the Old West. But it’s also one of the least understood. Orphans Preferred : The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express is both a revisionist history of this magnificent and ill-fated adventure and an entertaining look at the often larger-than life individuals who created and perpetuated the myth of “the Pony,” as it is known along the Pony Express trail that runs from St. Joseph, Missouri, through Utah (including Fairfield where Corbett will be hosted in the historic schoolhouse there) and onto Sacramento, California.
Corbett will also present on his Pony Express book at Camp Floyd State Park and Stagecoach Inn, Fairfield., Oct. 13, 2011, 12:30 pm (Event will take place at the Fairfield District Schoolhouse, near the original Pony Express trail.)
Corbett will also present on his book The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the West at the Salt Lake City Main Library Auditorium, 210 E. 400 S. Oct. 14, 7:00 pm. Book sale and signing follow.
In The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West, Corbett retraces the story of the Chinese men and women who journeyed to the American West—and of one remarkable woman whose story has become a legend. During the gold rush, a labyrinthine “Chinatown” in San Francisco soon sprang up, a clamorous city within a city full of exotic foods and strange smells. Aside from California, many miners also went to the hills of Idaho in search of gold. At this time Polly, a young Chinese concubine, was brought by her owner—a wealthy Chinese merchant—by steamboat and pack train to a remote mining camp in the highlands of Idaho named Warrens. There, Polly’s owner would lose her in a poker game, having wagered his last ounce of gold dust. Her new owner was Charlie Bemis, a Connecticut Yankee who preferred gambling, reading, and playing his violin to working the mines. Polly soon found her way with her new owner to an isolated ranch on the banks of the Salmon River in central Idaho.
Left behind by the receding Chinese population, she would make headlines when she emerged as an old woman from the Idaho hills nearly half a century later to visit a modern city and tell her astounding story. Peppered with characters such as Mark Twain and the legendary newswoman Cissy Patterson, The Poker Bride vividly reconstructs a lost period of history when the first Chinese sojourners flooded into the country, leaving traces of their presence scattered across the American West.