Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Museums are Great Places to Find Ideas for Mysteries

Mary Coley has written a suspenseful book that harks back to a frightening time in the lives of the Osage Indians. In 1906 the Osage Allotment Act decreed that "all persons enrolled as Osage before January 1,1906, and all born between then and July 1, 1907," would share in the division of the land and resources, including the abundant petroleum. When the roll was closed in 1907, 1,119 names were listed. These people became enormously wealthy when the oil boom struck in 1920. They became targets for greedy white men who killed many of them for their headrights. These killings, most never solved, throw a shadow over Pawhuska, Oklahoma, to this very day. Mary Coley invites you into that world of mystery and intrigue in Cobwebs—A Suspense Novel, now available at online book sellers. Enjoy the thrills, and remember—this cold case is still open. Learn more about Mary Coley at www.marymcintyrecoley.com.

Kate Gallison

Want a good idea for a mystery? Try watching the travel TV series “Mysteries in the Museum”. Talk about great ideas! I found the idea for my book, Cobwebs—A Suspense Novel, in the Osage County Historical Museum in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Few people have ever heard of Pawhuska, the tribal capital of the Osage Nation. The Osage people were relocated to the wild, rugged forests and prairies of northern Oklahoma in the 1850s. Savvy tribal negotiators who signed the treaties with the U.S. Government for the reservation demanded the tribe be given all rights to their reservation, both above and below the surface. Then, in the early 1900s, when incredibly rich oil and gas fields were discovered in Osage County by oil speculators (including the founders of Phillips 66 Petroleum) the wealth of the Osage Nation was guaranteed.

But this wealth resulted in tragedy; more than a dozen Osage were murdered. Many others disappeared. The tribe pleaded with the government to investigate and a new federal agency was created. Eventually this agency was named the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigation resulted in two convictions. Decades later the Oklahoma governor pardoned and released one of them. The deaths and disappearances of numerous tribal members were never resolved. Most people in Osage County agree—justice was not served.

Books have been written about the events of that tumultuous time known as the Reign of Terror. Many families never knew the fate of their relatives. A question cried out to the mystery lover in me, what if MY ancestors were Osages, and lived in Osage county at that time? What if MY relative had disappeared, or died under mysterious circumstances never associated with this Reign of Terror?

The idea intrigued me. I haunted the Osage County museums, staring at sepia-tone photographs of Tribal members and gazing at display cases full of colorful Native American dress. The story crept into my mind.

As I learned about this bit of Oklahoma history and discovered I carried Native American blood in my veins, the story embedded itself in my psyche and cried out to be told.

The book, Cobwebs—A Suspense Novel, became reality.

But the questions evoked by my visits to those museums still linger. What really happened to those missing Osage people? How did they die, and who killed them? These 90-year old cases may never be solved.

So—looking for ideas? You may have to look no farther than your local history museum.

Mary Coley

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