By Robert Graysmith
The first biography of the little-known real-life Tom Sawyer (a pal of Mark Twain in the course of his short tenure as a California newspaper reporter), informed via a harrowing account of Sawyer's involvement searching for a serial arsonist who terrorized mid-nineteenth century San Francisco.
When 28-year-old San Francisco Daily Morning name reporter Mark Twain met Tom Sawyer at a neighborhood bathhouse in 1863, he was once looking a subject matter for his first novel. As Twain steamed, performed playing cards, and drank beer with Sawyer (a volunteer firefighter, customs inspector, and native hero chargeable for having stored 90 lives at sea), he had moment options approximately Shirley Tempest, his proposed ebook a couple of neighborhood lady firefighter, and commenced to check a singular of wider scope. Twain realized dozen years prior the then eighteen-year-old New York-born Sawyer were a “Torch Boy,” one of many youths who raced prior to the volunteer firemen’s hand-drawn engines at evening sporting torches to gentle the best way, continuously conscious unmarried spark may lessen the all-wood urban of San Francisco to ashes in an instant. at the moment a mysterious serial arsonist recognized by means of a few as “The Lightkeeper” used to be within the technique of burning San Francisco to the floor six instances in eighteen months – the main disastrous and dear sequence of fires ever skilled by means of any American metropolis.
Black Fire is the main thorough and exact account of Sawyer’s courting with Mark Twain and of the six devastating incendiary fires that baptized one of many glossy world’s favourite cities. Set amid a scorched panorama of burning roads, melting iron warehouses, exploding structures, and lethal gangs who extorted and governed by way of worry, it contains the never-before-told tales of Sawyer’s heroism in the course of the sinking of the steamship Independence and the an important position Sawyer and the Torch Boys performed in fixing the secret of the Lightkeeper.
Drawing on archival resources comparable to genuine San Francisco newspaper interviews with Sawyer and the handwritten police depositions of the arrest of the Lightkeeper, bestselling writer Robert Graysmith vividly portrays the gritty, corrupt, and violent global of Gold Rush-era San Francisco, overrun with gunfighters, hooligans, hordes of gold prospectors, crooked politicians, and vigilantes. via chronicling how Sawyer took it upon himself to enquire, reveal, and forestall the arsonist, Black Fire info – for the 1st time – Sawyer’s amazing lifestyles and illustrates why Twain may later think forced to call his iconic personality after his San Francisco blood brother while he wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
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Additional info for Black Fire: The True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer--and of the Mysterious Fires That Baptized Gold Rush-Era San Francisco
Two suspicious fires in July—both at the jail, one minor and the other destroying the horse stable—fanned fears, and the mayor successfully beseeched former territorial governor and present secretary of war Lewis Cass to dispatch troops to Detroit as peacekeepers. ) Many blacks converted their possessions to cash and left Detroit; others simply kept their heads down waiting for the backlash to pass. The incident revealed racial fault lines that have never gone away. Five years later, efforts to free another escaped slave named Henry failed when, after a crowd of rock-throwing protesters descended on the caravan escorting the prisoner from court to jail, Henry refused to escape, preferring to return to his master.
Indd 42 1/8/14 1:24 PM the civil War anD racial flaShPointS 43 Other activists, mainly people who believed black people would never be free in the United States, supported emigration to Africa. Most of these activities were conducted out in the open, and several published newspapers argued their causes. But other plans were discussed more privately. In 1858, John Brown convened a meeting in Chatham, Ontario, that became a founding convention for the free-black state that Brown, fresh from the Bloody Kansas fights, wanted to create.
By then, Blackburn and some of his protectors had commandeered a horse-cart and were headed northeast along the Fort Gratiot Road, which eventually followed the Saint Clair River north to Lake Huron. A posse quickly formed and took off after the cart and caught up with it about a mile from Detroit. But Blackburn wasn’t in it—he had been let off shortly after the cart entered the wilderness outside Detroit. Once the posse figured out they had been duped, they split up and ranged through the forests and along the riverbank, arresting some thirty blacks they accused of complicity in the daring rescue.