Sixteen-year-old Billy Mayfair, kicked out of his home in Illinois by his father, sets out to pan for gold in a remote mining camp in the Civil War-era novel by author T. Gerald Delaney, “Where Have You Gone, Billy Mayfair?: A Novel of the Vigilante West” (published by iUniverse).
“Where Have You Gone, Billy Mayfair?” is a story of adventure and self-discovery set in the time of the American Civil War and vigilante violence. Billy travels across the country with dreams of making it rich in gold mining. When he reaches St. Louis, he loses his money and virginity, gets in a fight, and lands himself in jail.
Upon his release, he works at a Union hospital and saves up enough money to book passage on a steamer headed for Montana. There he pans for gold in the wild, hard-drinking town of Bannack, where he befriends a sheriff bound to become the most notorious outlaw in Montana’s history. What Billy doesn’t know is the nation’s worst anti-vigilante campaign is close at hand and he is in the thick of it – 21 men are hanged in less than a month’s time.
“I was moved to write the book because I saw both a false historical record which lionized the vigilantes and I recognized an opportunity to show how the official record was distorted,” Delaney says. “It was a clear example of how the victors twisted history to their advantage.”