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The NY Times wrote an article on Charley Parkhurst, mentions “The Whip”

Overlooked No More:
Charley Parkhurst, Gold Rush Legend With a Hidden Identity

By Tim Arango

A swashbuckling, one-eyed stagecoach driver lived her life disguised as a man. After her death, the revelation that she was a woman provoked widespread astonishment.

An illustration of Charley Parkhurst. She earned the nickname “One-Eyed Charley” after she was kicked in the eye by a horse, which was perhaps startled by a rattlesnake. Credit: Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people whose deaths went unreported in The Times.

Charley Parkhurst was a legendary driver of six-horse stagecoaches during California’s Gold Rush — the “best whip in California,” by one account.

The job was treacherous and not for the faint of heart — pulling cargos of gold over tight mountain passes and open desert, at constant peril from rattlesnakes and desperadoes — but Parkhurst had the makeup for it: “short and stocky,” a whiskey drinker, cigar smoker and tobacco chewer who wore a black eyepatch after being kicked in the left eye by a horse.

Karen Kondazian and Louis L’Amour: A Review

 

reading-the-truth

When the Going Gets Tough

by

Katherine Hauswirth

 

Besides meeting kindred spirits, one of the nicest things about this column is the access to books of all kinds from publishers and publicists. These perks include genres that don’t usually draw me, and I surprised myself when I signed on to read the novel The Whip. Normally reading “a piece of the “Old West” in a cover blurb would have me passing on the book. But this one had a hook.

 Charley Parkhurst, when she was alive, was known far and wide as a brave and highly skilled stagecoach driver. Women didn’t drive stagecoaches, you say? Well, she lived most of her life as a man; it was only after her death that Charley’s gender was discovered, to the incredulous surprise of the “tough guys” who (thought they) knew “him.”

 Author Karen Kondazian found a gem when she found Charley’s story, and she’s done a good job polishing and embellishing it. There isn’t a lot of verifiable information about Charley’s life, and Kondazian discloses up front that she’s made up some historical details. It is a novel, after all. But the draw of the story, for me, was that it was based on someone who must have had one heck of an adventure, whether or not the novel gets the particulars exactly right.

Newest Book Review for The Whip

 

08-31-12: Karen Kondazian Cracks ‘The Whip’

Stages of Identity

There’s always some true story out there that’s stranger than fiction. The question facing a writer is whether or not to tell the story as fiction, or simply write a work of non-fiction. If you choose the latter, you can be limited by what we know of the subject; if that adds up to “not much,” then your book is going to end up being mostly conjecture. But if you choose to fictionalize a real-life “stranger than fiction” story, you run the risk of writing a novel less interesting than reality.

It’s a matter of balance with this sort of material and Karen Kondazian gets the balance right with ‘The Whip,’ a slim, smart western based on the story of Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst. Here’s the backstory; Charley Parkhurst, brought up as an orphan, was a renowned stagecoach driver in California for Wells Fargo (called a “whip,” thus the title) who had runs from Watsonville to Santa Cruz and from San Francisco to Sacramento. When he died in 1879, it was revealed that he had been a woman living as a man for the last 30 years; moreover, evidence showed that Charlotte had at one time borne a child. A small dress was tucked away in a chest. That’s pretty much what we know.

Wells Fargo Stagecoach Company: The Rules of The Road

Stagecoach Rules

Charley Parkhurst began driving stagecoaches for the Birch Stagecoach Company upon her arrival in Sacramento in 1849. By 1850, the Birch Company merged with Wells Fargo to create the Wells Fargo & Company Overland Stage, and Charley was put in charge of a brand new Concord Stagecoach, longer runs and more treacherous routes than ever.

Along with more responsibilities, came the following stipulations for a pleasant ride aboard the new Wells Fargo coaches that all drivers were expected to provide to the passengers:

Wells Fargo Stagecoach Rules of the Road

Adherence to the Following Rules will Insure a Pleasant Trip for All

 

Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and un-neighborly.

  Abstain entirely in cold weather – you’ll freeze twice as fast under the influence.

  If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forgo smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of the same is repugnant to the Gentle Sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit with the wind, not against it.

 Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.

Listen In: Karen Kondazian on “Arts Express”

Howdy, Whip fans!

This past week Karen was invited for a chat with Prairie Miller on WBAI’s “Arts Express”. If you’re in New York, you can catch the live interview tomorrow, Monday 30, so tune in to 99.5 FM @ 10pm ET.

But if you’re not in the East, don’t despair! We have the full interview right here for you. Aren’t we thoughtful?

 

Click below, kick back, and enjoy!