I got a hot tip about an Idaho author I wasn’t aware of. He was the guy who wrote the book, A Man Called Paladin, on which the television series, Have Gun Will Travel was based. That series, which starred Richard Boone as Paladin, ran from 1957 to 1963. I remember the chess piece knight and the business card, which appeared in almost every episode. Those were impressionable years for me, so I turned to gunfighting as an adult.
Well, no, that’s not true. Nor is the TV series based on the book. Grab the children out of the way, I’m still backing into this thing.
Have Gun Will Travel holds a couple of distinctions. It was one of only a handful of TV series that generated a radio series of the same name. The reverse—still in reverse here—was more often the case. Twenty-five of the episodes in the Western were written by Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek.
Just about to the loading dock, now.
A Man Called Paladin was written in 1964, the year after the TV series went off the air. It was written by a prolific author with solid Idaho roots, Frank Chester Robertson.
Okay, we’re parked now and ready to unload.
Frank Robertson was born in Moscow, Idaho in 1890, the year of Idaho’s statehood. At some point in his early childhood, Frank’s father became a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), and moved the family to Chesterfield, Idaho, which was founded by Mormon settlers in 1881.
Young Frank helped support the family by herding sheep while his father was away on LDS missions. In 1914 Robertson proved up on a 320-acre homestead east of Chesterfield and began raising a family. They would eventually move to Utah where he would write most of the 150 novels he is famous for.
Robertson’s first book, though, was written at his Chesterfield home. Called The Foreman of the Forty Bar, it first appeared in a national magazine, and then as a syndicated feature in several newspapers before being published in 1924. His most popular book memorialized his family’s experience at Chesterfield. It was written in 1950 and called A Ram in the Thicket: The Story of a Roaming Homesteader Family on the Mormon Frontier.
Frank Robertson passed away in 1969. Chesterfield is on the National Register of Historic Places, getting that distinction in 1980. Sadly, Robertson’s childhood cabin was dismantled and removed in 1978.