Stands 5'11", medium of build with brown hair, p blue eyes. One hundred sixty pounds. Generally wears a sack suit with shirt & tye. Has a slight worn dark gray low top hat. When on the move, he wears the oldest of his clothes.
Traits & Characteristics
Fair and honest publishing. (+)
Tough when trouble comes. (-/+)
True to his given word or handshake. (+)
When forced he'll stand his ground. (-)
Phinn is a likable cuss unless a printed story sheds a poor light on you. He is, for the most part, friendly and outgoing. Generally likes people and considers everyone a friend until proven otherwise.
None at this time
Top writer and typesetter with the Grand Island Independent, Grand Island Nebraska 1869-1874
None at this time, but, it's early yet. You know how newspaper men can be.
1843 ~ 1850
Worked as a printers devil and lived at home. His schooling was working the type cases, counting sheets a paper to be printed. His mother took care of his writing, spelling and the like.
1850 ~ 1858
Ran away from home at 17. Pressman~Omaha World-Herald 1850
Columnist~Omaha World-Herald 1858~1861
Talk of secession was spreading throughout the country and being southern born and bred, Phin headed south to join up just as the war broke out. he was assigned to the Tennessee Mounted Rifles and met then privet Nathan Forrest.
1861 ~ 1865
He is a fair shot with either rifle or pistol from his time in the War Between The States. He served with Nathan Bedford Forrest onward in the 3rd Virginia Cavalry and through his commands to the Forrest's Cavalry Corps. He discharged at wars end as a First Sergeant.
1865 ~ 1869
Fairly disillusioned, Phinn sort of drifted one meaningless job to the next until he found himself back in Omaha in where he did odd jobs until he saw an ad for a columnist in Grand Island.
1869 ~ 1874
Not only did he win the job, but he also agreed to take on typesetting job for which he was well trained. Phinn emersed himself in the community where he met, courted and married Elizabeth "Beth" Howell if a middle-class family For the next three years they were the happiest couple in Grand Island. However, the winter of '74 was harsher than normal, Beth took a fall and contracted pneumonia. She could never regain enough strength to fight it and succumbed.
Once the funeral was completed, Phinn sold the hose and everything of value. Bought a wagon, two mules, a saddle horse, an old press and type cases along with paper and inks and headed west.
Possibly the 8th or 9th grade Languages Spoken:
Animals: A pair of grey mules to pull his wagon and black saddle horse
Every town needs a newspaper, Phinn fills the bill and then some.
"Not my favorite subject, but I can talk about it. I met Beth in the early spring of '71, courted her proper I did. We married before the end of summer. Sort of what they call a whirlwind affair. Fast for some folks, too long for us." He related, "Now we were not kids by any means, I was twenty-eight, she, but seventeen. Her folks weren't happy about her choice, but then too, they were happy to pass on her support to me."
"We married and settled into a small place that I bought for us, and we were happy as a couple could be. Oh we tried for a child, we did, but to no avail. Just wasn't in the cards for us I suppose. But we had one another, and that was enough. Without a child to raise, we were free to do as we pleased, so we attended socials, dances, concerts in the park. Had friends in, as well as visiting them at their homes." He paused.
"The winter of '74 Beth took a serious fall while I was at work. By the time I got home her leg was swollen, the house was like ice, and I was in a panic." He paused again. "I got her to the doctor who had her admitted to the hospital where they tended to her leg, but within days pneumonia set in. Not having the necessary strength to fight it, she succumbed." He fained a smile, but his now red rimmed eyes were forming tears. "And, here I am."
Phinn couldn't help but laugh at the raised hand and the question, "Of course I am saddened at a number of things. Richard Orr's death, for one. My late wife's passing, actually a great many things. The passing of the hospital project has me saddened for the length of time it has taken and the property was not discussed at all." He smiled as he shook his head.
"Sadness, young lady, is a part of living. Things happen or don't happen that affect people, allowing them to feel sadness. We would all like to feel joyous, happy all of the time, but I'm afraid that's just not possible in the grand scheme of things. Life has too many ups and downs for that to be even remotely possible."
Yes, there was a great deal of sadness in the community over a great number of things. Some large, some small, but saddening just the same, yet folks didn't go around with long faces all day. Far from it. Setbacks were just a part of everyday life, so the majority of time, people found happiness in a great many things, from the sight of a friend, to the sun rise or sun set. To a new foal, or calf, or crops maturing in the field. Yes life had it's hard parts, but the good far out weighed to bad. A rather deep question from the young lady, he thought.
"Actually, that would have been filler articles. I was relegated to filler articles for quite a while before I was able to actually take information and write an article on it. I believe it was an extensive article about Veterans of the late war how they were getting on, conventions and the like. Interesting stuff. I was even afforded the opportunity to attend a convention in Omaha."
Those had been the days, when he wanted to cover important stories, get out with the people that he was writing about, or the situations he was seeing and reporting on. But he was no reporter, he was a columnist. Often he was to take provided information and write a column about it. But then too, he was married to Beth, and life was good, until it ended just two years ago with her passing.
"I departed Grand Island Nebraska in late '74 with a wagon loaded with my press, ink and paper, and, here I am. Editor of the Kalispell Union, for better or worse."
"Well, Jeff." Arabella answered seriously, helping herself to a spare chair in his office and making herself at home "... it's like this. My friend Mr. Pettigrew at the dress shop, well, he's more of a 'Mentor' really, he told me that I talk too much about myself and I should spend more time getting to know other people properly." she explained, before folding her arms and staring at McVay intently, as if trying to see into his very soul.
'Pettigrrew? Doddering old fool. Mentor indeed!' He thought, wondering just what the now seated Miss Mudd was going to do now.
"So, tell me, are you from Georgia? People tell me you're from Georgia. And did you always want to be a newspaper man, or did you kinda drift into it, like sorta by accident?" It was time for the grizzled journalist to be interviewed for a change.
"I thought you were sent to pick up the flyers and handbills by Mister Crabbe?" He asked, "But yes, Albany to be exact." He exhaled, 'So here we go.' He thought. "Yes, I've worked in the printing business the last 33 years, well, except for the war years. Actually, twenty-three years, not counting the war, and a period afterward." He smiled not because of the questioning, but because of the memories. "Rode with Nathan Bedford Forrest, known as 'the wizard of the saddle.' But yes, then to answer your question, I've been in printing one way or another my whole life."
Arabella's leather lunged voice hit the veteran newspaperman's eardrums like a rock thrown at a mistrel's tambourine.
"Oh, hello Arabella, and how can I help you?" He actually was unsure of what to ask, fearing another demand for whatever she might feel wronged by.
"Lorenzo, er, Mr. Crabbe sent me over about these here... oooh! Is this 'em?!!" The Virginia girl picked up one of the handbills and scanned it eagerly.
"Yes, that would be them, Miss Mudd." Came the response, and a silent sigh of relief.
"Oh, Mr. McVay, these are BEAUTIFUL!" she cooed, clearly impressed. "Look how you got that picture in the back, how do you DO that?!" she said, amazed. "Lorenzo Crabbe presents Boxing!..." she insisted on reading out the whole thing from start to finish in an awed voice, finally ending with a feeling ".... Ringside... Five Dollars."
Eventually, she managed to drag her eyes away from the entrancing little sheets of paper.
"Thank you Arabella. I appreciate that." He said, actually smiling at the compliment. "
"Say, Mr. McVay... how come you never printed nothing yet about Mr. Simons theater what he's buildin'?" she queried. "Did you know that he's already auditioned me? I was about the first actress to get the call!" she informed him, remembering her ambush of the unfortunate entrepreneur in the Lick Skillet Diner.
"Because my dear girl, he has yet to begin construction. When he does, I will be sure to print a story all about it." McVay replied, he was actually waiting for Simmons to begin construction then he would certainly devote more than one issue to its raising.
"Oh just think, Mr. McVay!" she said, clutching the handbill and doing a little twirl on the spot "When I'm a big star actress in New York and them reporters all ask me how I started off, and I say 'Oh, I first trod the boards in a little ol' theater in Kalispell, Montana, and I always got such rave reviews from my good friend Mr. Phinias G. McVay of the Kalispell Union'!" she fantasized, before fixing him with frown.
Phinn seemed somewhat perplexed and it showed in his face wondering just how this became all about Arabella Mudd? But of course, everything eventually became all about Arabella Mudd, whether it actually concerned her or not.
"Say, what's the G. stand for?"
"Why, it stands for Goeffry dear girl. Why do you ask?" He asked, then realized that could be a mistake.
Mature Content: None
With: Phinn Location: Kalispell Union When: August 1875 Time of Day: Morning
The Posters and the handbills for the boxing match were done and dried. Now the question was, could he tempt young Weddy and his friend Wyatt to deliver the posters and hand out the handbills. Or perhaps the young ladies might be receptive to earning a quarter dollar each to do the job. He knew he could count on his boy, printers devil, Tommy Lane to round up who ever might help.
He took down the poster and a handbill to have a look at the finished product, and smiled. He like them. But he was a shade prejudice, of course.
Yes, they were exactly what Crabbe had ;liked, and his donation would cover his ticket to the event. More than one way to skin a cat. Cost, well, a dollar thirty cents for the paper and ink, plus whatever he had to pay for delivery. That should more than cover his ringside place at the match. He would be able to see every moment and insure he had all the facts for the Special Edition. Better than the demise of Frank Grimes had been.
@any, or not.
"Very well gentlemen, two orders of beef steak, medium, and eggs plus coffee. I will get right on that, pick a table when you've finished your conversation," Clara replied then headed back into the kitchen to get right on those beefsteaks.
Both men smiled at Clara nodding as she turned and walked toward the kitchen. Pinn looked back to Crabbe and added, "I can, rather I will, do up a poster and perhaps a hand bill that you can look over, and if you like them we can talk price. There will be free advertisement in the Union. We'll talk."
Speed nodded to the two men then spotted a vacant table. "Gentlemen," He said then turned and walked to the table and took a seat as he considered what this fight might produce insofar as problems were concerned, and enjoying the fact that Phin was actually attempting to provide printed materials for the event. It could be quite the draw locally. Possibly beyond, he suddenly wished Pike was there, Charlie was new, inexperienced, and with the possibility of a large crowd on hand, most anything could happen.
"I got them thinking about posters and handbills, Speed." Phin said, still smiling as he sat down. "Take an afternoon to put 'em together. Simple enough. So, maybe we move forward from the Orr tragedy. I kind of like the idea of a theater in town, probably won't be an opera house, but it will be a place that puts on shows, and just might make a good deal of money for Simons."
"Sounds like it. The fight, well, that should do okay, but a theater, even if it's in a tent for a while, well, that would be just what this town needs, and I believe with very little Town Council conflicts." Speed agreed, grinning.
"Of course, there will be free entrance to the gentlemen of the Press who will no doubt wish to report 'pon the proceedings!" he added as a sweetener to a, hopefully, favourable piece on the event. A pretty cheap sweetener, too, as Phin was about the only 'gentleman of the press' in town.
"Well, not everyday there's a prize fight in town, I will of course wish to be ringside to report on the event." Phinn replied to the most generous offer, one he had not expected but was pleased to accept, and threw in a ringside request.
"Good morning, gentlemen. Pick a table and have a seat," she addressed them but for the moment the newspaperman was conversing with Mr. Simons and Mr. Crabbe so she would wait until they were sitting to take their order.
"Good morning Clara, ah Missus Lutz. We'll get to that here in a moment, rest assured." Speed greeted. It already seemed odd that Emeline was not there. "A bit of business to discuss I'm afraid." He couldn't help but notice the blind sister of Frank Grimes. 'Pity,' He thought, 'saddled with a brother like Frank Grimes.' A man destined to come to a bad end if he continued along the path he was on. He brought to mind Caleb Barnes, who fancied himself a gunfighter. Too many dime novels! He waited on Ben Simmons to elaborate on this proposed stage production which was bound to be a success in Kalispell.
Phinn ran his hand through his graying hair and exhaled, "Yesterday." The word came out heavy and simply hung there a long moment. "Yes, there was a fire and a man perished, but that's not what you want to hear now is it Marshal?"
"Speed, Phin. Let's just keep this simple. Man to man." Guyer said. Then he unpinned his badge, removed it from his vest and put it in one of its pockets. Then he looked to the newspaperman.
"Not the best day of my life, that's certain. Oh, I've seen me die, horribly, we both have, but this, this was different. So, my cigar started it, then anything that could go wrong did go wrong. He pulled out what were plans for the hospital, not Leah Steelgraves Hospital you understand, but his hospital. The Richard Compton Orr Memorial Family Hospital. Never forget that. He had some scheme in mind to steal it from her, God knows how. I, well, it got the best of me, and in a moment of anger I dropped my cigar on those plans and they caught fire. I never intended to have what happened happen, but it was like he, I dunno, he, well, he made mistake after mistake, the whiskey instead of the water on the fire. That really got it going. The man was berserk! Flailing around like a man possessed. I couldn't get to him until the bookcase fell on him. I got that off and dragged him outside where I realized, he was beyond help."
He made no mention of the sheaf of papers he rescued, at least not for the moment. "That's what happened, oh there were words beforehand, may words, some harsher than others. The man had plans, some that made no sense, like he and I starting a second newspaper in a town that can barely support one. He actually planned that he and I go in on it together, but it was to be the polar opposite of the Union. Crackpot stuff. I mean, that was doomed to fail, and likely take both papers down." He shook his head. "You know, if it had been the water rather than the whiskey..."
"And then there was Lorenzo Crabbe and that no account Grimes leaving as I arrived." That peaked Speeds interest.
Morning dawned brightly over the town of Kalispell, nestled in the Flathead Valley, named for the indigenous people. Already there men were up and about in town some opening businesses, some for supplies, some to eat at the places offering breakfast, such as the Lickskillet Cafe. The day was off to a good, if not, everyday start.
In the office of the Kalispell Union the window coverings were down. Phinias G. McVay had just come down from his residence above the office and press room. It had that look, well used. Paper almost everywhere, type cases open, drawers waiting for his 'printers devil' Tommy Lane who would be in after school, as usual. A good boy, Tommy, hard worker, fast learner and a real help around the place.
On this morning however, Phinn made his way from the wood stove that he got going to reheat his coffee, to his desk and the ominous pile of papers from Richard Orr's office. It sat staring at him like it would burn him if he touched it. There were already just a few things that the first sheet had laid out a plan, not all of it, not even a part of it, just the beginnings of a thought the man had had. It would be today that he would take the time to look at the papers in the stack, perhaps thirty or thirty-five, and do what he could to understand what the plot, or would it be plots, that the man had yet to hatch. He knew that whatever Orr had in mind, it would enrich him, and ruin others.
There came a knock on the shuttered door, yet, rather than ignore it, he rose and went to see who would be on his stoop so early. Unlatching the door, he pulled it open, there stood Marshal Guyer.
"Marshal?" Phinn greeted in question.
"McVay. I believe we need to talk, you and I. Not in an official capacity." The Marshal said stepping inside.
"Sure Marshal, if i can help." Phinn said, totally unprepared for the man and what he had said. He closed the door and followed the Marshal to his desk, where Guyer sat down, pushing his hat back, as Phinn went around and took his seat. "So, how can I help?" Regretting the question the instant it left his lips.
"You can tell me what happened. What really happened yesterday." Guyer said earnestly.
Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.
Connect With Us On
If you would like to join the Sagas' Discord server or are already a member, click the image to open the Discord web application.