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.
Phinn’s walk to work was from one room to another. Actually it was an added lean-to behind the storefront where the Union office and printing press was. Excitement had dwindled since the Pinkerton news, and the bear before it. Local news was exactly what one would suspect of a small town in north-eastern Montana.
He had been up for a while, had fixed himself a simple breakfast of toast and his last egg with the coffee he brewed. Now it was sitting at his desk, looking out at the rain which rattle on the tin overhang as he dealt himself a hand of solitaire to ward off the boredom.
There just wasn’t a great deal of news to be had, oh there were rumors, of course, but he prided himself on facts. There was nothing of real interest, oh Leah Steelgrave was in town, and yes she had been see at dinner with Doctor Danforth at the Belle-St. Regis Hotel, but that was far from earthshaking. Then there was the rumor of something going on to the north, and the Steelgrave name had been mentioned.
He wanted more on the cattle drive, but that, along with news of the Army moving into the territory, wold have to wait. That too seemed to be just rumors. The only real news was the rain, and his inability to play the red four he held. Perhaps a walk to the café, it was only a few steps away, and he had seen the Marshal headed in that direction.
McVay busily scribbled his notes as Asher spoke, looking up time to time and finally saying, “I’ll be sure to note that about poor choices. So she has not killed anyone, so far as you or the law knows I take it.”Rest assured Agent Asher, this will be front page, and will certainly mention your concerns about Miss Parsons. It’s not often that we have a story such as this, so I am in your debt for this.”
Though Phinn had no love for Pinkerton agents, but in this instance old feelings from the War of Northern Aggression would be put aside to concentrate on the present time and events. “It will appear in this week’s Union, sir.”
Phinn looked up, mentally composing his next line when he saw Marshal Guyer with a stranger. Of course, that instantly peaked his interest. It was clear to him Speed wasn’t showing this stranger around casually, perhaps a new deputy?
What would that mean for Hannah Cory? Had she quit? Had Guyer let her go? Had she moved on to something else? Or, was this something else entirely?
Phinias G. McVay was a newspaperman, and he could smell a story a mile off, in a dust storm. This was a story, and he wanted it for the next edition so he leapt to his feet grabbed is coat, his note pad and pencil in the breast pocket, hat already on his head as he bolted from the doorway, pulling the door closed behind him.
He dashed across the street, nearly getting run over by a wagon and dodging two different horses, as he reached the boardwalk just shy of Doc Danforth's office, tipping his hat to two ladies as he pushed past a man.
“Gentlemen. If I might have a word.” he blurted out.
Speed half turned. Hello Phinn.” He greeted with a sigh. “This is Pinkerton Agent Jack Asher. Looking for a particular woman. Jack, Phinias McVay publisher of the Kalispell Union.”
She paused sipping her tea, looking at McVay over the rim of her tea cup. She set the cup on the table and suddenly smiled. “You’re damned right I did!” She exclaimed. “Darby O’Malley tried to rape me and I drove my hat pin in his eye, took his derringer from his vest pocket, and put a bullet in his brain!” She paused, looking around the all but empty café two men and the waitress stared at her, disbelief at what they had heard on their faces. “Of course, my big brother Ben, who was skulking about near by rushed onto the scene and took credit for it, but he knows. He’s said nothing, and now it’s out. Again sir, you may do what you wish with whatever I’ve said, except, to miss quote me.”
When the pencil was laid on the table, Phinn looked up at her. “No ma’am, if you wish, we’ll bury this. I’ll not publish something which could destroy a life.”
“You are very kind Mister McVay, but it was years ago, I was just eighteen when that happened and after all that’s been said about me, behind my back, in snickers and whispers with no knowledge of the facts, well, you print what you like, sir, and I’ll attest under oath to every word if necessary.
Phinn summoned the waitress, “another tea for the lady, and another coffee for myself. And miss, I count or your discretion in this matter.
“Of course, sir.” Before she scurried off she gave a knowing look to Leah, who smiled back, as Phinn rose and went to the two men engaged in their meal.
He returned with a grin from ear to ear, “Headed to Oregon, just stopped for a fresh cooked meal. One last question, if I may.”
“Your interest in Mister Pike?
“My father was afraid he was employed by the Thorntons as a gunman. Father sent me here to kill him, for the family, were that the case.” Was her straight forward reply.
But they underestimate me, sir. I am not in need of their protection, even though it is forced on me before I have a chance to handle the situation myself, in my own way and in my own time. I want it to be said that I believe in strong women, and I believe I am one.
That’s all rather tempestuous conversation, but you may include it, and I will sign my permissions for you. Women have a difficult time of it in the world, no matter where, but, if they are of wealth, influence, prominence, well, let’s say we enjoy some of the freedoms other women do not. Yet, for al the finery, I am still at the mercy of the men of the Steelgrave family. I am given a key to hose, subject to my father taking it back. I am allowed an allowance, and credit here in town, subject to his wishes, and the suite hotel? Only by his permission. So you see, for all of the fashions I may have, I am really no better off than any other woman in town.”
Phinn finished jotting down her words and looked to her with a different perspective. Oh, all of the slights aside, what he was seeing was a young realist in so far as a woman’s lot was concerned. Words he had not expected from her, well, actually no woman, except perhaps Addy Chapple, who could be as forthright as any man he’d ever met.
“I’m sure you know that it has been said that you killed a man, Darby O’Malley.” Phinn figured if she was going to be honest about what was said of her, then his statement would not be rebuffed.
Mature Content: Somewhat.
With: Phinn McVay & Leah Steelgrave Location: Cafe When: September 1875 Time of Day: Mid-Morning.
Pronto could overhear what was said, and found that to be really interesting. Not much of a womanizer, he could not deny her beauty or appeal, but he'd dallied about long enough, his breakfast long gone and his coffee cold, it was time to be moving on. He dug out four bits and laid the two quarters on the table, rose from his seat and nodded to the lady, touching the brim of his hat and walking out of the cafe.
She looked back to Phinn, "In trade for a bit of information." She said wit a smile. "Have a seat sir."
Phinn nodded and smiled, “Of course. Anything I can do to help.”
“The man that just left, do you know him?” She asked pleasantly enough. Of course all the newspaper man would do was confirm what she already supposed.
“No ma’am, I don’t know him personally. His name is Pike, word is he’s from Texas.” Phinn explained. “So far as I know he’s taken no work here as yet. Former Texas Ranger and known gun hand, all of this public knowledge. And, Mister Pike is part owner of a very lucrative mining operation in Nevada. Anything else?”
“So, no connection to the Thornton’s then?” She asked somewhat surprised by what Phinn had revealed. Granted, all of it was there to be found if one was looking, and at least he was not a hired gun for Shade Thornton, so, why was he shot?
“None,” was the brief response. “Anything else?”
“No, no you’ve been most helpful.” She said quickly, “now, what was it you wanted of me?”
Phinn enjoyed his moments of sitting looking out on the main thoroughfare of Kalispell, watching the comings an goings, wondering what was really going on in the lives of the people he saw passing by. That was the newsman in him, knowing at any moment there could be a story.
He sighed and stared out of his chair to set type for the next edition when he saw a lady pass by, but not just any lady, Leah Steelgrave. Oh he'd heard the rumors about her, the suspicions and the quires, and what he considered the outright slander. He was not a man however that would be blinded by beauty, far from it. He could decipher the truth from the false, and the probable from the improbable. She was guilty of enough of what was said of her, and innocent of much of the maligning often heard about town. But for sure, she was beautiful and poised.
He set his cup aside and went to don his coat and hat. She was a story on foot. Maybe only about fashion or some such nonsense, but anything he might be fortunate enough to glean from her, if she would consider talking to him at all. Out the door he went and watched her move along the boardwalk to the small cafe, which seemed odd, what with the Belle Saint Regis having a fine restaurant more in keeping with her position.
He was quick to note the two men across the street shadowing her, perhaps riders from the Evergreen Ranch acting as body guards. Looking back quickly Miss Steelgrave had entered the establishment, and when checking the two men had taken up positions to watch. He picked up his pace.
He sipped the black liquid and set the cup aside as he picked up the letter from Texas and tore it open and extracted the folded sheet of paper inside. Unfolding the sheet to it’s full size he recognized the hand writing immediately, a reminder of times past.
Dear friend it was good to hear from you and of course the information you asked for is readily available as I am sure there is good reason.
Your subject, one Barnabas Pike is well known in these parts as a former Ranger Minuteman and as a Ranger. His record is below, but what I have uncovered about Mister Pike is not well known, dare I say almost unknown except by a few. As you will read later on, he was an exemplary Ranger, both with the 8th Texas Cavalry, and in his civilian capacity after the war.
His history has him in In Virginia City, Nevada during the boom there. He is well to do with a one third share in a mining interest there. Also not widely known is that he was a deputy there and had a serious romance, only to be foiled by pneumonia.
Of interest is his questioning of a shooting in which one Case Steelgrave was involved. That request, which is new, was telegraphed to Ranger headquarters. It would seem this Case Steelgrave is in your neck of the woods.
The letter went on with some Military information and excerpts of his Ranger history. Phinn set the letter aside as it’s meaning sank in. Was Pike here after Steelgrave? Was it simply a matter accident both were in this part of Montana?
He sipped the coffee again, looking out the window at the street.
Phinn moved to the stove and poured himself a cup of coffee. It was black as printers ink, just the way he liked it. Cup in hand, he glanced out at the street seeing nothing in particular, just the steady flow of traffic in the street and on the boardwalks. He liked it in Kalispel, big enough to be busy, small enough to be comfortable.
He ambled back to his desk and dropped into his swivel chair that protested loudly as he turned in it to face the desk-top. He fanned out the rest of the mail, the one from Gregory in Texas, another from the War Department in Washington which he had not actually expected so soon, that one could not wait another second as he tore it open;
In response to your request for information regarding Captain Henry S. Guyer, 13th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, D Company. He was mustered out June 6, 1865, Washington DC. Honorably discharged. His complete war record is unavailable at this time.
“Typical!” Phinn said out loud. But really, what was there to learn that was more important than how the man was mustered out, and it was honorable. ‘Perhaps,’ he thought, ‘I can get his record at some point and use it for an article.’ but then wasn’t that the point of all his requests, for articles.
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.
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