Sunny of the Old Southwest a five volume series by Robert F. Jackson, Jr.
Two people, from opposing sides of conflict, use their strong moral upbringing; their parents' guidance and teaching; their open minds & sacrificial courage; & their love for each other to defeat the prejudices of their day . . . the evils of their moment in time.
The Five Novels are listed here in the correct reading order for best enjoyment. They can be read independently but are better together.
BLOOD OF CHRIST
As Israel had said to them, when the two young men left those many months ago, young people matured fast on the American frontier. It had been true since the first European stepped off of a wooden ship into the West Atlantic surf and true for Native American youth ages before that. A hard, rugged, beautiful land that molded and honed you or killed you, America made men and women out of children in a heartbeat.
Aaron wasn’t brilliant; he was just growing up fast and, having a good brain, he was understanding better than some did the things that he saw. Across the spread of food from him that Autumn evening sat Jóhonaá, a similar youth from the native side of things who was every bit his equal. They both had just a bit more insight and farsightedness than most of their peers.
Sunlight of the early morning lay gently across the veranda of the ranch house. Facing southward, the rustically noble structure’s wide porch caught the yellow morning rays from the left. The woman sat there rocking gently in a well-made old chair. From afar she was just a ranch woman: a wife or daughter looking out across the prairie, moving as the chair was designed to do, yet almost imperceptibly.
On close inspection, any astute observer, walking up and knowledgeable of the American West, would have seen more. The long skirt was normal for the time, but the red and blue decorative design along the hem was Native American. The same could be said for the pretty red and blue decorations on the light cotton blouse. Walking up closer, a visitor would have noticed the dusky tan on her face and arms, and a few steps farther would have revealed that she was not white. On closer inspection, were they not already distracted by a greeting, someone educated on the West might have noted that the embroidered designs were geographically out of place.
Yes, she was an “Injun,” a Native American, perhaps visually misplaced rocking casually on a ranch house porch. She was out of her territory as well in an anthropological sense, for Sunny was Diné, Navajo. Her home was miles away in the red deserts and blue skies of Arizona. Her people, The People, inhabited Canyon de Chelly and Monument Valley. The austere beauty of the far Southwest was her heritage. What was she doing comfortably rocking on a porch in Texas?
A ceramic mug of coffee steamed on the table that was positioned beside the rocker, and next to it sat a pair of old military binoculars. Jovial, rowdy voices emanated from the corral just to her left and a few dozen yards in front of her perch. These loud conversational sounds were occasionally punctuated with commands and instructions. Straining for a moment to see the action from her seat, the woman then took a deep breath and leaned back in the rocker. Sunny, Jóhonaá Jefferson, closed her eyes and remembered, mulling over the absurdity of it all.
In Canyon de Chelly*, among the magnificent red rock formations and under the blue skies of Arizona, three little girls played in the desert sand. All three were a bit small, but they were hard workers. Trading more and more of the play of youth for the work of adulthood, they grew into capable young women. They were sisters, and not, because two were and the third was a cousin. But they were like sisters. The real sisters were two years apart, and the cousin called Jóhonaá sat in the middle. Later her true love from another culture would interpret that name as ‘Sunny’.
All were born in the middle of the nineteenth century, between 1845 and 1847, a turbulent time. The United States and Mexico fought a short, hard, controversial war at that time, and land that The People, the young girls’ people, thought was theirs went from Mexican control to American control.
These desert maidens of the Diné might have lived out their lives in the beautifully austere land of their birth had the Navajo not made war on the invading U.S. government and others. But there would have been trouble anyway as whites encroached upon Diné lands, treating The People as if they weren’t good enough to own land.
And so life, in the guise of history, kicked them in the gut with defeat, internment, and long marches of either surrender or escape, depending on the fate of each particular girl. They lost loved ones and each other, becoming like scattered pieces of a puzzle. Finding themselves within the society of their enemy, each woman sought to put their small three piece part of the broader puzzle together again, sought to find each other and to find solace in their own tormented lives. Finding the good in life where it lay, even among the invading conquerors, these daughters of the Old Southwest dealt with what life and the Creator handed them, whether meager or bountiful.
The fourth novel opens as Aaron Jefferson and his Navajo wife, Sunny, who have settled in North Central Texas along the Brazos River, must deal with the risks faced by their friends on the frontier during the Red River War, the last violent gasp of the Comanche nation. It was a time that created widows, orphans, widowers, slaves, and other victims. It was a time of broken lives and broken people, and Aaron and Sunny seek to protect exposed settlers who have received land from the Double H Ranch to which Sunny is now the heir. Her now well known healing and comforting skills for victims of violence and lives broken and ruined by the harsh life of the frontier are brought into play once more.
In the second part of the novel, Aaron returns home to the Shenandoah Valley for a visit and to introduce his Native American wife to his family. As always perhaps, going home is melancholic at best and emotionally traumatic at worst. It can be cathartic, therapeutic, and sometimes devastating.
In the third part of the book, one of the three Navajo women returns to Dinétah, the Navajo homeland, bringing her husband and children along. It is, of course, a somewhat traumatic visit because her Diné ('The People') who had been incarcerated unfairly for four years are still (nineteen years after returning home) rebuilding the homeland that had been scourged by the forces of the U.S. Government. The journey involves a secret mission, as she and her husband knowingly encounter a business/legal problem that they had believed they were prepared for. Finally understanding the great risks involved, they further realize it may have been a mistake to have traveled with their children.
from one review: As true to all of the Robert Jackson Books you will be entertained with adventure, intrigue, and romance. All of the books so far have been a joy to read, As the reader you get caught up in the story and can't wait to see where their adventure take's you. Each book hit's on the historical relevance of the local, and the harshness that was true to the setting's time.
The year is 1902, and America has ventured into overseas imperialism during the War with Spain in 1898 and the Philippine American War that followed. Now, as the latter conflict winds to an end, the forces of history, an adventurous son, and noble deeds draw two ordinary yet unique Westerners into danger once again. Having long ago bravely ventured into a deeply loving marriage that was daring for their times and having been heroes to each other and to those around them, Sunny and Aaron Jefferson bring their unique abilities and courage to a different, beautifully exotic, and sometimes dangerous land. Through the mission of two American adventurers, this novel introduces the reader to the early moments of the complicated relationship between the people of the picturesque and sometimes troubled Philippine Islands and both official America and her people. It is a relationship that remains an enigma even now, 117 years later. Like the experience of the American conquest, endured in her small part of it by the Navajo woman, Jóhonaá (Sunny), it is a story of missed opportunities. But what of Aaron and Sunny Jefferson's voyage to America's new tropical colony? Their goal is always to do the right thing, and they do not miss opportunities.
from one review: I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy history, adventure, romance and suspense.
In 1907, when her parents, brother, and Filipino sister-in-law return to the latter's homeland Philippines to take care of land and inheritance issues, 31 year old Sunny Kathleen Jefferson Rodriguez, a half Navajo widow of a Spanish American War veteran tags along. Lacking an anchor except for the family ranch her husband, who died in the fight for San Juan Heights in Cuba, would have been a part of had he lived, she follows them to the far Pacific islands. The marriage had been brief, the friendship since childhood, and he was the man she could not forget, not even in the ensuing eight years. Her only interests are the study of native peoples, her mother's Navajo culture, and her parents' frontier history. Saved from emotional oblivion perhaps only by family bonds and her deep Catholic faith, stunningly pretty, financially stable, but emotionally lost, she figures, "Why not the Philippines? I've nothing else to do and nowhere else to go."