Shelfari edited the description of The First Ward (Volume 1) Sunday, August 28, 2011.
A historical novel of the Irish-American grab for power in Buffalo NY in the 19th Century and the personalities involved: newspaper editors, politicians, thugs and innocents. Newlywed Sam Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, was gifted with a spledid home with servants, as well as a part ownership of the Buffalo Express newspaper by his generous father-in-law, yet the Great American Storyteller would find neither happiness nor success in this unruly city. When First Ward dock-walloper Fingy Conners’ family members all died mysteriously within a single year, he inherited everything, including his father’s saloon. Using his saloon as the key, he set out to control labor contracting on Buffalo’s docks. So overwhelming was his iron-handed saloon-boss system that within a few years he controlled the entirety of shipping on the Great Lakes, ascending to enormous wealth and power in less than a decade, defrauding voters, installing his own puppet politicians, and dominating the entire Buffalo Police Department. By hiring, paying, feeding, watering and boarding laborers out of his saloons, Conners enslaved thousands of families in Buffalo and all around the Great Lakes in misery and hunger for two decades. After the Sullivan Brothers were placed in an orphanage by their destitute mother following the death of their Union soldier father in the Civil War, poverty, insecurity and violence infected their lives. John P. Sullivan, the city’s powerful First Ward alderman, was installed in that office by Fingy Conners and held it for a quarter century. The brothers grew up with Conners and maintained their troubled alliance with the saloon-boss throughout their lives. Brother James’ fortuitous encounter with Mark Twain as a boy, soon after the famous author moved to Buffalo to edit the Buffalo Express newspaper, and the friendship it initiated, would have a remarkable inﬂuence on James for the rest of his life. As Detective Sergeant James E. Sullivan of the Buffalo Police Department, Jim lacked his brother’s blind ambition, and found himself caught up amid forces he could not surmount. He was compelled to follow the orders of his Sheehan-Conners controlled superiors and to rescue his brother from the endless messes the Alderman created for himself. Jack White, secret murderer and Boston politician, was Buffalo’s most powerful alderman, ever. Posing as a Republican, White helped pave the way for the rise of Democrats Sheehan, Sullivan and Conners. But once he’d served his purpose, his former allies swiftly did away with him. In the middle of this maelstrom are the Sullivan wives; the Alderman's Annie, who is blinded to what's transpiring around her by the perks she enjoys due to her husband's status, and the Detective's Hannah, who is rewarded with little more an endless stream of grief and frustration for standing by her spouse.