McFaddin descendant releases 3rd historical fiction novel (Video)

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Jan. 7, 2013 at 7:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 7, 2013 at 7:08 p.m.

A puff of cigar smoke mushrooms from beneath Kerry McCan's white mustache. The scent travels throughout the office - its thick, musty sweetness sinking into the Texas history books stacked alongside his old office desk.

The 82-year-old's office sits high above South Main Street. On this particular day, a misty rain drizzles down outside, and the wind chill is below 40 degrees, perhaps the perfect day to begin writing a fourth book - or perhaps not.

McCan's latest novel, the historical fiction piece "The Republic of the Sierra," published in December. It hypothetically chronicles life in Texas had the then-Republic not been annexed in 1845.

His two prior novels also focus on his affinity for Texas history.

McCan, a Texan through and through, is part of the history he has long had a passion writing about.

Being part of history

"I was raised in McFaddin," McCan said between gritted teeth holding steady to the last half of his cigar - a Rocky Patel, one of his favorites.

A descendant of the McFaddin family, McCan has worked the ranch most of his life. His father, Claude McCan; and great-grandfather James McFaddin, his mother's grandfather; were pioneer ranchers and cattle breeders who have a long-standing history in the Crossroads.

McFaddin joined the Refugio Guards in 1863 and, in 1878, bought the land that is now known as McFaddin Ranch.

McCan has fond memories of growing up on nearly 35,000 acres of pasture. While he went to school in Victoria, his childhood days were spent on the ranch, riding horseback.

"It was great," McCan said about life on the ranch. "I used to get up in the morning and walk down to the ranch headquarters."

Eventually, McCan went to Yale University, received his degree in history and joined the service. At 25, when he left the service, he went back to the ranch and continued his work with the cattle.

Every week, he would load cows and ship them for slaughter.

Soon after, he met his wife, Mary, and moved to Victoria. Those days, he said, were hard.

"It took a good toll on my sleep time," McCan said laughing. "We had to get out there a little after 6 a.m."

These days, McCan finds himself at the office for McFaddin Enterprises in downtown Victoria, taking a back seat somewhat because of his advanced age.

All around him are the memories of that history he was born into - the walls bear framed black-and-white and sepia-toned photographs of that history.

Still, McCan finds himself living it.

"I still go out there three times a week," he said, leaning back, preparing to finish off his cigar.

More than just books

While McCan's books have nothing to do with the McFaddin history per se, it is the life he's lived these 82 years that has cultivated his intense interest in the state's past.

"The Republic of the Sierra" has not taken off as fast as McCan would have liked, but he's still happy. His favorite, he said, is his second book, "Gringo Verde," a fictional story about the son of a trail driver who becomes a large rancher in Texas.

That book is very connected with McCan's upbringing raising cattle.

His first novel, "Brindy Polaris," is about the trail driver's trek delivering 5,000 cattle to Montana.

The third novel took the longest because it is more about the politics and took more research.

"I had been working on that book for several years," he said.

McCan has already held a book signing and may hold more soon, but he's unsure.

Whether McCan has another book in him, well, he's unsure of that, too.

"I'm 82. I don't know if I have too much more writing in my life," McCan said, tweaking his signature mustache. "I enjoy writing. Especially something like this, which is pure imagination."



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