Sunday, December 13, 2020

Cadwallader, Chapter 1

By T.K. Hugh, WMD Author

Editor's Note: Greetings, all you big burly Cowpokes and lovely Cowgirls! The following is a fictional, yet realistic story of the Old West, one that most of you should relate to. Dust in your boots, the cyclic motion of the horse beneath you, the smell of tonight's campfire, and the heat of the sun in a hot New Mexico desert. This will be a weekly, long-running story in a special department within the magazine. We welcome all comments regarding this new endeavor in our weekly lineup!  --Carrie Aulenbacher, WMD Managing Editor  

As the relentless New Mexico sun beat down on my hatless head for the second straight day
, all I could think was that if I ever got a hold of the woman who had put me there, I wasn’t to be held accountable for what I might say or do!

No Cadwallader had ever gotten himself into a mess like this, I told myself. And the name Llewellyn Mabyn Cadwallader was not going to dry up and blow away in these badlands like a forsaken tumbleweed never to be heard from again. No, sir, I was going to make it out and back to civilization and set everything straight.

My guns were missing, as was my horse and the rest of my kit. I was left with only my pants, boots and, for some reason, my knife. Although I had tried to rest in the day and travel after dark, this time of the month there wasn’t much of a moon and I was afraid that I might fall into one of the crevices or sinkholes that seemed to be everywhere. I really wanted to stay out of the sun, but my trail sense told me that walking at night would bring me nothing but grief. So I stayed in what small shadows the constant rock outcroppings gave; I was avoiding sunstroke, but the heat was sapping my strength.

As one step blended into the next my mind began to wander; wander back past how I’d gotten into this predicament and to my childhood in Alabama. The heat took me back into the rough mining area that I hadn’t called home in a great many years, through other rough patches I’d survived and even to the story of how my father came to this country…


My father, Aneurin, was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1810. His storekeeper father worked hard and his mother also occasionally helped in the shop. Her efforts to support her husband was the subject of no small amount of gossip by the town’s women, even though Cardiff was the biggest and most modern city west of London at the time. Women, after all, shouldn’t be sashaying around in public wearing their aprons for everyone to see.

From the time Aneurin was old enough to compare his fathers work to that of the rough, loud miners who frequented the store, he knew that he wouldn’t be following in his fathers footsteps. His heart simply wasn’t going to be content within the four walls watching the rest of the world go by.

He grew tall and wide, more like his mother than his father, and easily found jobs as a sluicer, driller or any other job that needed to be done in the mines that required strength and recklessness. It was these qualities that made him sign on as a deck hand on the Sea Goddess, a long, sleek, three masted schooner when he was seventeen. Aneurin’s goal was to eventually cross the great ocean to America. Although there were rumblings by the gentry to retake the former colonies for the crown back in those days, in Wales such talk landed on deaf ears. One of the things that the rocky country had in common with the Irish was a dislike for authority and privilege. Also, like so many others, he had heard all the stories about how riches waited around every corner in the new world. Aneurin discounted these stories as drunken accounts, but it was the talk about enormous tracks of unclaimed land that caught his interest. Land was there for the taking. That is, it was if you were tough enough and strong enough to keep it; for he had also heard the stories of the savages that inhabited these lands.

So with the small purse containing silver Druid Pennies he had exchanged for the Banc Y Llong notes that he had saved over the years, Aneurin Cadwallader boarded the Sea Goddess, young and full of determination and set off for the unknown.


What my father had not anticipated was the boredom and sameness of life at sea. As the youngest on board he had his duties and these were important to life at sea but not particularly exciting. Sweeping, mopping, bilge cleaning and such were his lot during the day, but there was a way they must be done, and he had to learn. It was the nights, though, when Aneurin paid particular attention, for then he learned the lessons that could save his life.

There were still pirates roaming the seas in those days, especially in the warm waters of the Caribbean. So each night the Chief at Arms held lessons in sword, pistol and hand to hand fighting. Father was a quick study and after a few months at sea he was named the first mate at arms over men much older and more experienced than he was. This was a mixed blessing at first, since there was always someone who wanted to challenge him for the honor (as well as the extra pay and rations) given to a mate. But the regular fights only improved his skills and after some time the challenges stopped and the older sailors grudgingly accepted him as the best hand to hand fighter on the ship.

Over the next two years, he made voyages with the Sea Goddess from the West Indies back to Liverpool and encountered enough piracy to make him happy for the harsh lessons learned on deck. His remaining life was proof enough that he was as proficient with the pistol and cutlass as he was with his hands. When he found that the next trip would take him to New York harbor, he made plans to leave the crew.


Four months after landing in New York, he found himself working as a driller deep within the No. 6 coal mine just outside of Delta, Pennsylvania. This was old, familiar work to him and his large back and strong arms made his hammer sing in a way that meant profit to the mine owners. In less than two years he was made Supervisor and another year found him on his way to Alabama to spearhead operations for the Aldrich Mining Company. Georgia had deeded most of what they now called Alabama to the United States in 1802. It took more than 25 years to finally make peace with Natives who called the land their own. The Cherokees earned their name, “the peaceful tribe” by quickly coming to terms with the government officials and early settlers in the area. The Choctaws and Creeks were a different story, however. Battles had been fought, blood was spilled and finally a tense peace was in place.

There were vast areas of wilderness on his trip from New York harbor to Pennsylvania, but nothing had prepared him for the seemingly endless miles of trees he had seen since leaving the transport wagons in Kentucky and boarding the River Horse ferry for his trip down the Tennessee River.

Occasionally, a member of one of the Indian tribes along the route would come to the rivers edge to catch a glimpse of the large raft; covered in tents, steered by a long tiller, which was a combination rudder, oar and sandbar pole. Aneurin couldn’t help but take notice of the fact that in skin and hair color, they weren’t that different from him. He had the naturally brown skin of the Welsh “uplander”, very unlike the Irish and Scotts who had migrated to Wales in the past few centuries. This combined with black hair that by now was almost down to his shoulders had caused him to be mistaken for a native on more than one occasion during his trip southward.


It was a typically warm November in 1840 when Aneurin and my mother, Mary, became parents. Mary wasn’t her real name. The fact was that he couldn’t pronounce her Cherokee name.

It was the summer of 1838, the start of the “long walk” that was later to be known as the “Trail of Tears”. The order was given by Andrew Jackson that all of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek and Chippewa tribes that could easily be rounded up were to be forcibly marched to the newly declared “Indian Nations” in Oklahoma territory. The woman who would become my mother had taken ill with fever and would have no doubt died has she been forced to leave her lodge. This made my father angry, and the way he told it was that he just up and told the young Lieutenant in charge that he and the girl were betrothed. It was probably the only lie I ever knew my father to tell. It was an obvious lie since everyone who knew him realized that he had never seen the girl before that day.

It saved her life, and over the months I guess they really did begin to love one another. They were eventually married anyway. Being a practical man, and not a little stubborn, he insisted on calling her Mary. At first she attempted to teach him Cherokee, but she soon gave up and her attempts at Welsh were also fruitless. Since both spoke English, that became the only language they spoke until she died, or so I heard. Almost nine months later to the day, Llewellyn Mabyn Cadwallader (as I was christened by the only Catholic Priest within 200 miles) came into the world.

It seemed I was born to cause trouble from the start. I wasn’t more than a couple of minutes old when the towns midwife left the small cabin I was born in and gave my father the news that his wife was dead.

Cadwallader Menu

Stay tune for Chapter 2, next week! --Carrie Aulenbacher

About the Author

T.K is a US Navy veteran and an engineer with over 30 years experience. 
He is a weapons enthusiast, and a student of the Old West. A man out of his time, he feels as if he should have been born a hundred years earlier. 

Both sides of his family arrived in America several generations before the Revolution. 

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