The town of Hope started out as two ramshackle sheds in the middle of the prairie, offering dry goods, livery and somewhere for the mail coach to stop when it needed to – which wasn’t often.
Out west, in the mid-1800s, nothing stood still for long. The area around Hope had good grazing and a river that ran for most of the year. Homesteaders with a handful of cattle had started arriving, staking their claims on small parcels of land. The dry goods store and livery were joined by a bar offering gut-rot whiskey, beer and lodgings out back in a barn for the itinerant ranch hands looking for work.
The town of Hope grew into her name – she became prosperous, a place where dreams come true.
Homesteaders were followed by cattle men with money; big families who swallowed up hundreds of acres of land for their cattle. Big ranches with grand names filled the landscape. Some things didn’t change - people still looked out for each other because this was frontier country. You couldn’t survive on your own. But unlike the early days when Hope was just two ram-shackled sheds, factions started developing. The little town with the name full of promise became political. Money talked. People chose sides.
A jail was built on the main street.
The first sheriff was the youngest brother of one of the big-money cattle men. For the right amount of money he’d lock people up in the jail. When he’d suffered a heart attack six months later, while sharing a bed with someone who wasn’t his wife, no one had been sad.
The second sheriff was a young man fresh in from New York and looking for a living. He’d studied law and he was handsome as hell. The townspeople – male and female alike – fell in love with him instantly.
Two weeks later he was dead, shot in an argument with a ranch hand about a bottle of whiskey.
The people of Hope mourned.
Sadness quickly morphed to panic; without the rule of law everything they’d worked for was threatened. The powerful ranch owners stepped up against the homesteaders. The town of Hope teetered on the edge of chaos.
Salvation came from an unexpected quarter. A ranch owner stepped forward with a name of someone he thought would make a good sheriff. This ranch owner was quieter than the rest, a hard-working man who paid his ranch hands what they were due. He attended church every Sunday and made sure every child in the township had food in their belly. The softness in his voice was deceptive, as was his short-stature. He fought battles with his brain, not with his fists (most of the time) and the people of the township respected him.
His name was Robert Williams, owner of the Double L ranch.
The third sheriff of Hope is his eldest son, Daniel.