The Dime Novels of the nineteenth century are the foundation for the whole genre of western writing. They depicted the adventure and romance of the expanding and wild American West in ways that captured the imaginations of people from all back grounds and walks of life. There were then, as there are now, no social, economic, or ethnic divisions for fans of the western.
The Almost Unbelievable Exploits of Racehorse McGee is written in this form. Each chapter could nearly stand on its own, but when taken together, they tell the story of Wilberforce Bartholomew, who, by circumstance and happenstance, becomes one of the iconic heroes of the American West.
The Third Dime Novel
It is possible, perhaps even probable, that you know of a certain man named Wilberforce Manningham Bartholomew, although it is even more possible and probable that you are not aware that you do. The story that is before you is about this man, and is told from both first person observations and verifiable reports from others, without either exaggeration or hyperbole.
There are many things in life which seem impossible, or at least so close to impossible that there is little reason to expect accurate depictions and descriptions of such. You will find many such exploits which would seem, on the surface, to fall into this category, but which, when examined with an extremely critical eye toward what is possible instead of what seems not to be possible, such exploits most markedly fall into the category of truth. Simply because someone else is more intelligent and skilled than the reader at something should not, nay, cannot be the basis for determination of veracity in an event or series of events.
It is the author’s explicit experience that people tend to, or more accurately, attempt to, discredit Mr. Bartholomew’s accomplishments merely because he is so talented in so many areas that it is the range of skills masteries which seems unbelievable rather than the events themselves. Were all of the exploits accomplished by a few dozen different people, no reader, including the current one, would have even the slightest second thought about accepting truthful and accurate depictions of events.
The author began this discourse with a name most likely not familiar to the reader— that of Wilberforce Manningham Bartholomew. The reader need not trouble himself or herself with attempts at finding such a name in their memory, for if it is there, it is certainly a case of coincidence. The reason is this: Wilberforce Manningham Bartholomew lived the bulk of his adult life as none other than Racehorse McGee, a name with which even the least informed and illiterate person is familiar. Why Mr. Bartholomew chose to live with an alias is a story in itself, but also one which the author promised upon his Mother’s honor that he would speak about only passingly, as Mr. Bartholomew thought it to be unimportant in the overall story of his life. Suffice it to say that there is a reason both for the alias, (and for this particular alias which is so compelling that the reader would surely have done the same if presented with the same events,) and that the reader would also have seen fit to choose this particular alias among all of the other names possible.
The writer will do his best to separate fact from fiction, but can make no guarantees beyond his existing reputation for fair and honest reporting, completely unbiased in both its approach and conclusions. (He has been called “uncommonly and extraordinarily fair and honest” by the Laramie Herald, and “one of the best at bringing the West to life” by the Chattahoochee Monthly.) Where further explanation or clarification is necessary beyond the certain narrative, the writer has taken it upon himself to add parenthetical clarifications for the sake of the reader’s full understanding and enjoyment. Among other things, he has interviewed Mr. McGee on numerous occasions, along with several hundred eyewitnesses for the events reported. Although it is inevitable that so many different people will remember events with slight variations, the crux of the events remains the same in all of the stories. For people whose memories of events were so far from the consensus of others, either to the credit or detriment of Mr. McGee’s legacy, the author had no choice but to disavow them as far too exaggerated to be accurate.
Racehorse McGee has the scars to prove these events are true, or at least most of them, the most visible being the missing tip of his right little finger, which the reader will find out about in the pertinent chapter. The author implored the subject dozens of times over our interactions, to the point of wearing the subject down until he acceded to the author’s request to show the marks which his life had left upon his body. Mr. McGee took off his shirt, with neither embarrassment nor pride, and exposed his still muscular trunk to the author, who made note of at least seventeen scars of at least two inches, some more subtle and clean, and some still displaying the ragged and red edges of battle wounds. (As a side note, the author found that Mr. McGee was able to recall in great detail how and when he received each wound, oftentimes with the raw emotions of the events which led to the wounds.)
Lastly, many of Mr. McGee's exploits have, over time, been attributed to others, some subtly and some with outright plagiarism of word and deed. It is a travesty that some men, particularly those who crave the spotlight but whose skills and courage dictate that they can never accomplish the largest stages on their own, should feel compelled to “steal” the accomplishments of another man for the sake of their own reputation, which, ironically, would be tarnished into unfathomable embarrassment should the truth come out about them. The author pleaded with Mr. McGee vociferously to let him identify the exact details of the plagiarized events, and the lowly vermin who claimed them as their own, but to Mr. McGee’s credit, he objected vehemently to such revelations, saying that people who are misled by untruths are misled by something greater than reason, and that to point out to them that their beliefs are based upon the deceptions of others is something which is not heartily accepted by the majority of men and women living today.
And so it is, as it has always been since the first man put ink to paper, (or chisel to rock), that the actor acts, the writer writes, and the reader reads. In those times where the actor accomplishes what few men before, and fewer after will ever accomplish, and the writer captures the actions in ways which expose to the reader more than the facts themselves, and the reader reads with the intensity and interest of an insatiable curiosity, then the magic begins to happen, where the reader is transported to another time and place, to experience things in their minds which cannot be experienced in their bodies, and, in the course of it all, it passes on the true and honest memories of worthy people and events. It is the author’s fervent wish that such is the case with the stories of Racehorse McGee.
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