Picketwire Vaquero

Written by James D. Crownover
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

The story of an early ranching family of Arkansas continues in this third installment of the Five Trails West series. Jesse and Sarah Meeker raise their brood of five children while trading horses and mules between the 1840s and 1860s. Once the family is beset by a marauding gang, they escape to village life, quietly biding their time and plotting revenge, with the help of their youngest boys, Jake and Zeneas. Adventures abound, with travel on the Cherokee and Santa Fe Trails, the murder of a grandson of President William Harrison, and a stay at Bent’s Fort, where Zeneas learns how to handle wild cattle. Full of tall tales and male camaraderie, Picketwire Vaquero is long on adventure and description, but short on character development of its upstanding clan, their friends and adversaries. Although the Meekers marry into Cherokee clan lines, not much is made of their mixed heritage or traditions, except to make them objects of ridicule by hoodlums.