by Mike Watson
Three retired US Army Master Sergeants with a down-time apprentice use their up-time experience as Deputy Sheriffs to become the first Marshals of the newly created District Court system of the State of Thuringia-Franconia.
by Mike Watson
Three retired US Army Master Sergeants with a down-time apprentice use their up-time experience as Deputy Sheriffs to become the first Marshals of the newly created District Court system of the State of Thuringia-Franconia.
The New United States is about to join the United States of Europe, becoming the State of Thuringia and Franconia. The Thirty Years’ War is still being waged. Armies cross and re-cross the German states. With war comes lawlessness, and with lawlessness comes the need for law and order.
Who can fill this enforcement niche better than three retired old soldiers, known to down-timers as the Die Drei Alten Soldaten? Archie Mitchell, Harley Thomas, Max Huffman, retired US Army Master Sergeants who, with their apprentice, Dieter Issler, use their up-time experience as Deputy Sheriffs, to become the first Marshals of the newly created District Court system of the SoTF.
The Marshals are little known until Thomas Bloem and his sister, Maria D’Angelo, brother and sister journalists, arrive to interview them. They record the formation of the Marshal’s Service and the three Marshals, from their first case as Marion County Deputy Sheriffs, until they leave Grantville to provide law and order throughout the State of Thuringia and Franconia.
The First Interview
Suhl, June 6, 1636
Archie Mitchell, his wife, Marjorie, and Harley Thomas, were eating lunch in the shade of the Suhl District Courthouse. Court employees had built a small sheltered area, with some tables and benches, next to the courthouse, where they could gather for lunch and hold impromptu meetings. The area had started as a few wooden tables and benches. Over time, the employees added a roof, railings, and a raised wooden floor to cover the dirt surface. Archie’s planned contribution was a brick BBQ grill to improve der Garten, as the area had become known.
Marjorie and Marta, the young daughter of Dieter and Greta Issler, brought lunch to Archie and Dieter. Today, the two had brought enough for Marshal Harley Thomas. Marjorie’s brought her latest experiment—corned beef with cheese on a small bread loaf. Usually she had more than enough for Archie and Dieter, and a few others gathered in der Garten.
“What brings you to Suhl, Harley?” Marjorie asked.
“Just passing through. I had some documents to drop off to Judge Fross, and tomorrow, we’re off to Erfurt.”
“No, I’ve my deputy, Karl, and two constabulary troopers.”
Marjorie looked puzzled. “Four of you? What—”
“Marj—” Archie said, shaking his head. Why Harley and the others were going to Erfurt wasn’t their business.
“Where’s your deputy?” Archie asked. Harley had mentioned him, but he’s not come to the courthouse with Harley.
“Checking the horses at the constabulary stables. He said one horse cast a shoe.”
“Be sure to bring him in to the office when he gets here. I’d like to meet him.”
With lunch over, Dieter and Marta played a game in the courtyard’s shade involving a soft, patched ball and feet. From the edge of his vision, Archie noticed a young man approaching. He shifted his seat on the bench, giving his total attention to the approaching stranger.
The man was not a local, Archie guessed from the small card inserted in his hatband that said Press. He elbowed Harley, then Marjorie, and nodded toward the approaching man—reporter, Archie guessed. Marjorie looked, and with a roll of her eyes, grinned back at him. Harley just shook his head and looked away.
“Guten Tag, Herr Marshal Mitchell, Frau Mitchell, und—Herr Marshal Thomas,” the young man said. “I am Thomas Bloem of the Thuringia Times. Would you have time for an interview?”
Archie glanced at his watch. Lunch hour was over; it gave him an excuse to say no. He was about to refuse when Bloem continued.
“I’m interviewing up-timers. I want their impressions of life in this time; how did you come here, and how living in Suhl, away from Grantville, has affected you and other up-timers?”
The statement stirred Archie’s curiosity. Usually, interviewers asked about life up-time, how that knowledge and perspective could be used in the here and now. However, that did not seem to be what Thomas Bloem wanted . . . or so he said.
“I’m sorry. I don’t have time now. Lunch is over and we,” Archie said, nodding toward Harley, “have work waiting for us.”
“I would be happy to buy dinner—for all of you, tonight. I understand the Boar’s Head Inn has a private dining room and an outstanding reputation for their kitchen. Would you join me tonight?”
Archie glanced at Marjorie and Harley. Shall we go? was his unspoken question. She returned his glance, tilted her head a moment, and then nodded, as did Harley Thomas.
“Very well,” Archie said to the reporter, “We’ll meet you there at seven.”
“Add one more,” Harley said, “I’m bringing my deputy.”
The proprietors of the Boar’s Head Inn were very familiar with the Mitchells. Archie and Dieter had lived in an apartment in the Inn’s rear when he and his deputy first arrived in Suhl. They didn’t stay in the inn long, only until they bought an old bakery large enough to house both families.
Innkeeper Otto Hersch met them at the door. “Follow me, Herr Mitchell, Frau Mitchell. Herr Bloem has reserved the Red Room. Herr Marshal Thomas and Herr Deputy Marshal Mohn are already there.”
“Danke, Herr Hersch, lead the way.”
Thomas Bloem was sitting facing the doorway when the Mitchells entered the private dining room. A woman was with him, sitting at the table. She was dressed in a riding skirt, a small jacket, and a white blouse that seemed to match Bloem’s shirt. The two were dressed similarly, with dark pressed trousers and matching jacket. Harley Thomas sat next to Bloem. Harley’s deputy, Karl Mohn, Archie assumed, sat at the end of the table next to the woman.
Karl was big for a down-timer, at least six feet tall, and Archie guessed, well over two hundred pounds, none of it fat. Unlike Archie’s deputies, Mohn was black—black hair, black eyes, black clothes, boots, coat, and a wide, brimmed black hat sitting on the table next to him. Completing his appearance were two .45 caliber SI-1 revolvers holstered on a black gunbelt.
Harley was laughing, enjoying a conversation with Thomas Bloem, when the Mitchells entered the room. Seeing them enter, he stood, and brought his deputy forward to meet Archie and his wife.. “Smile, Karl,” he whispered. “These are friends.” Karl did so, but his smile, bared teeth, was more like a grimace than a smile. That made everyone who had seen the smile laugh.
“Karl is new to the service,” Harley explained after he’d greeted Archie and Marjorie Mitchell. “He’s not a conversationalist,” Harley said after introducing his deputy. “This trip is as much OJT training for him as it is to see the country and others in the service. He knows Max, and, when I was told they needed a courier for some special documents, I volunteered and brought him along.”
Archie wished Dieter was here. He could take Karl in hand. Dieter, with badge number four, was the service’s senior deputy. The next Marshal position would be his. . . if he wanted it.
“Tell me a little about yourself, Karl. What’s your badge number?”
“Twelve, Herr Marshal Mitchell. I joined three months ago.”
“Just call me Archie.” Mohn didn’t speak, but nodded. “Now, tell me about yourself.”
“I’m originally from Ulm. Life there . . . became difficult. I’d heard that the USE, the State of Thuringia and Franconia, was much better. I joined a trade convoy to Bamberg as a guard. When we arrived there, one thing led to another, and I was offered a position as a court bailiff. Herr Marshal Huffman saw me and changed the offer to join the marshals’ service. Herr Thomas was kind enough to take me on as his deputy.”
With a nod to Harley and Archie, Mohn returned to the table, sitting at a vacant seat next to the woman. While Harley and the Mitchells watched, he turned to her and began a conversation.
“Not a conversationist, is he?” Archie observed as he, Marjorie, and Harley walked to the long dining table and took seats.
“Oh, he can when the situation warrants,” Harley said, grinning.
Harley Thomas returned to his seat next to Thomas Bloem. Bloem took a small notebook from inside his jacket and listened to the two marshals’ conversation.
“Now, tell me about Max,” Archie said. “What’s he up to?”
“Max has set up a boot camp for prospective marshals and deputies. Karl finished a month ago and has been with me since,” Harley said.
“I’ve two deputies besides Dieter,” Archie replied. “One, Kurt Moesch, is doing well. The other, not so much. He needs more training.”
Harley started counting on his fingers. “Ya know, I’ve never thought about it, but three marshals and nine deputies aren’t enough for what we’re supposed to do.”
“That’s Max’s primary job now, Harley. I think his boot camp idea is what we need. We can’t just bring anyone in off the street. They need training with an emphasis on process and procedure. We don’t want some yahoo, drunk on non-existent power, in the service.
“I’m impressed with Karl. He was the only one to finish out of his class of eight. The rest were unsuitable. Max cashiered two for soliciting bribes while doing rounds with the Bamberg watch.”
“Glad that job’s for Max,” Archie said. “I like it here in Suhl.”
The woman who had accompanied Thomas Bloem interrupted her conversation with Karl Mohn and scooted her chair closer to the marshals and Marjorie Mitchell. “I’m Maria D’Angelo,” she introduced herself, extending her hand to shake theirs. Her move startled the Mitchells. Down-timer women weren’t so open or socially aggressive, nor did they usually shake hands.
Mohn blinked as she did so and, following her lead, scooted his chair closer as well.
“I’m Marjory Mitchell and this is my husband, Archie,” Marjorie said before Archie could respond. She caught his eye as he nodded. They’d been in unusual social situations before and this could develop into another. “And this,” she nodded at, “is Marshal Harley Thomas. You’ve already met Deputy Marshal Karl Mohn.”
“I believe Herr Hersch has something special for us,” Thomas Bloem said before the conversation went further.
“The Boar’s Head Inn is known for its kitchen and Herr Hersch is justifiably proud of it,” Marjory said. When she took over the conversation, Archie surveyed the room and their hosts. His occupation-acquired paranoia had prevented trouble more than once. Harley Thomas and his deputy did the same. The two marshals sat facing the entrance. Mohn was sitting where he could watch the side door to the kitchen, and the rest of the room. Marjorie sat next to Archie, appearing to be deep in conversation with Maria D’Angelo. Unseen from everyone, she had a .45 caliber revolver on her lap, hidden inside her bag.
“Please, I can see you’re surprised by Maria’s presence,” Bloem said to the men. “She’s my partner—and my sister. We’ve started a . . . newspaper? A monthly journal of events, issues, and notable people.”
Marjorie, hearing this, looked at the young woman, who sat opposite her at the table. “You’re a widow, I presume?”
“Ja. How did you know?”
“Different names. Not usual for brother and sister, and your jacket seems to have been cut from a man’s. A widow may do so in remembrance.”
“Very observant,” Maria replied, but didn’t expand on her widowhood.
“And that brings us to why I’ve asked you here,” Bloem said, returning to the purpose of the meeting. “Everyone wants to know about up-timers and up-time life. Your culture, your achievements, your dreams. What we want to know is how coming here has affected you. How did you come to live in Suhl?” he asked Archie. “And how did you become one of the city’s leading civic citizens, Herr Mitchell?”
“Uh, I don’t . . . I’ve not thought of us as being civic leaders,” Archie replied.
Marjorie looked at him. “Archie, when the Bürgermeister has a problem, who does he come to? If Pastor Weber needs help, who does he send for? If there is trouble in Suhl, a fight or drunken mercenaries, who does Wachtmeister Frey call for help?”
“And who is also on the board of directors for Suhl, Incorporated?” Bloem asked.
“Both of you,” Maria D’Angelo affirmed, looking at Marjorie.
One of the innkeeper’s serving maids entered the room and prepared the table, interrupting the discussion. After covering the table with a cloth, laying out dinnerware, filling pewter mugs with the inn’s famous brew, and leaving warm loaves of bread and crocks of butter, she left, leaving the occupants alone.
“Herr Mitchell, how did you become a marshal?” Maria D’Angelo asked.
Archie chuckled, adding some levity to the room. The atmosphere, until this point, had been growing uncomfortable. The Mitchells didn’t know Thomas Bloem’s and Maria D’Angelo’s intentions. Were they as they seemed and claimed to be, or not? Was there a hidden agenda? Archie’s suspicions had been quelled—to an extent. He looked at Harley and Marjorie for a hint of their observations. The three had discussed the invitation earlier in the day. Karl Mohn, not present for those earlier discussions, seemed to have overcome his shyness and was taking an interest in Maria D’Angelo.
Marjorie nodded. She was more comfortable than she’d been earlier. “Go ahead, Archie. I don’t think I know it all, myself.”
With Marjorie’s assurance, Harley was being quiet, sitting with a grin on his face and taking an occasional glance at Karl. He, too, noticed his deputy’s interest in the widow.
“How much do you know about up-timers?” Archie asked the two down-timers, “Our arrival, and the aftermath of the Ring of Fire?”
“Not much,” Bloem said. “No one seems to know how you came here.”
“We don’t either. There was a flash and here we were. Some say it was God’s intervention. Others say it was diabolical.” Archie shrugged and took a sip from his mug. “Before the Ring of Fire, Harley Thomas, here, Max Huffman, and I were semi-retired. All of us were army retirees and needed something to do.”
He turned aside to Harley. “Who was the sheriff when we moved back to Grantville?”
Harley pondered the question. “That’d be in 1990?”
“Bill Collins, then.”
“That’s who I thought, but I couldn’t remember his name.” Archie took a sip from his mug before turning back to the two down-timers. “Anyway, we, the three of us, went to Bill Collins, our local sheriff, with a proposition. We’d heard he’d been hit with a bunch of new state and federal training requirements, and the county hadn’t increased his budget to comply with them. From what we’d heard, the training requirements were the same as we conducted with our troops while in the army.”
“Archie transferred to the Military Police after fifteen years in the infantry,” Marjorie said.
“I retired as a sergeant major. Harley was a master sergeant, and Max Huffman had been a sergeant major. A REMF, he claimed,” Archie said with a chuckle.
“REMF? I don’t know the term,” Bloem said.
“It means rear echelon—” Harley started to say.
“Harley!” Marjorie cut him short.
“—a desk jockey, a paper pusher, an administrator.”
Marjorie reached over and patted his hand. “Good boy.”
“Back to the point,” Archie continued, “we’d each had at least a decade of training soldiers or military police. We submitted a proposal to the Sheriff to act as consultants to train his deputies—take the bureaucratic load off his shoulders. We were able—”
“—after a time,” Harley added.
“—to convince him of the idea. We’d charge him less than hiring a professional trainer and we’d be local, always available to help.” Archie took another sip.
“He agreed,” Harley said, picking up Archie’s story. “His only requirement was that we meet West Virginia’s requirements for law enforcement officers. We did, and he hired us, swearing us in as auxiliary deputy sheriffs.”
The serving maid entered carrying a large platter. “Let’s eat and continue later,” Bloem said.
An hour later, after they’d finished eating, and were sitting, nibbling the remnants of a cake baked by Otto Hersch’s wife. Karl Mohn and Maria D’Angelo were sitting at a corner of the table, having a private conversation. Archie cleared his throat, took a sip of ale, and resumed his narrative. “When the Ring of Fire happened, Harley, Max, and I were on horseback—crowd control after Rita Stearn’s and Tom Simpson’s wedding. Rita was Mike Stearn’s sister, and that drew almost every UMWA member around Grantville to the wedding.”
“UMWA? What is that?” Bloem asked.
“It stands for United Mine Workers of America, a trade union.”
“You still use horses up-time?” Maria asked from the corner, interrupting her conversation with Karl Mohn..
She must have been multi-tasking. Talking with Karl and listening to us at the same time. “Not for transportation,” Archie said. “But they’re useful for some events—like managing the wedding crowd. We still have—had a lot of horses up-time, especially outside the cities. I had three with saddles. Enough for the three of us.”
“One was mine,” Marjorie said.
Hersch’s serving girl entered again, cleared the table, brought two fresh pitchers of ale, one for Karl Mohn, and another for the rest at the table. She brought a bottle of red wine for Marjorie and Maria after the ale. “Danke,” Bloem said to the girl, and slipped some coins into her hand as she was leaving.
When the girl was gone, Maria asked, “How does your agreement with the sheriff lead to the creation of the Marshals and the Constabulary?”
“Ah . . . that is a story, but it’s not mine, it’s Harley’s,” Archie said.
Karl Mohn looked up. “I’d like to hear that, too. Herr Huffman never said how that happened.”
Harley looked back to Archie, who’d put him in this spot, and shook his head. “It’s not like most think. They sent the three of us out on a simple job and we screwed it up.”
The Second Interview
Suhl, June 6, 1636
After dinner at the Boar’s Head Inn, the Mitchells agreed to another interview. “Come for dinner with us tomorrow,” Marjorie asked the brother and sister. “You can meet the rest of our little family.”
“Danke, Frau Mitchell,” Bloem said. “We’ll be there. We plan to interview other up-timer residents while we’re here.”
“Good luck with that,” Archie said. “Most of them are busier than we are.”
Harley Thomas, Karl Mohn, and the two constabulary troopers left early the following morning, but not before Karl got an address for Maria D’Angelo. He asked permission from her and her brother if he’d allowed to write to Maria. Maria gave him permission. She didn’t grant her brother the option of saying no. For Archie and Dieter, the day would be a court day, and both would be busy.
Maria D’Angelo and Thomas Bloem met Archie and Dieter at the courthouse the following evening and walked home with them. Suhl was not flat, like some parts of Thuringia. The route to the Mitchell-Issler home was uphill most of the way. Bloem and Maria D’Angelo were puffing when they arrived at Greta’s bakery.
Greta opened the door for them as they approached and waved them inside. “I heard you on the porch. I can always tell when Archie gets home. Clump . . . clump . . . clump,” she said, laughing.
Three customers remained in the bakery. Greta had a successful sales policy. Day-old bread was half-price. She limited the sale of the older bread to those greater in need. She knew who could afford full price and who could not.
Greta made her last sale. “How can you do that?” Maria D’Angelo asked, “Discount your day-old bread?” as the last customer left the bakery. “Your cost isn’t less. You lose money.”
“It’s no secret,” Greta replied. “It’s what Marjorie calls customer service. That we do brings more walk-in customers. Most of our sales are to inns and larger residences in Suhl, regular customers who buy on a fixed schedule and amount. The continuing orders include pastries and other special items that are more profitable. Then there’s market day. I never come home with anything on market day.”
Marjorie appeared from the rear of the bakery. “Welcome! Archie, lock the door and we’ll all go back to the dining room.” She turned aside to ask Maria D’Angelo, “Do you like Italian food? I’ve made lasagna with garlic bread for dinner.”
The down-time woman looked confused. “Ah, I’ve never been to Italy, but it sounds delicious. Garlic on bread?” she asked, following Marjorie down the hall.
“I’ll check on Marta,” Dieter said, and followed the women.
“After you,” Archie said to Thomas Bloem. “Everyone will be here shortly.”
Archie, Dieter, Maria D’Angelo, and Thomas Bloem sat around the large dining table while Greta took little Marta, who had nodded off at the table in the middle of dinner, upstairs to bed. Marjorie, in the meantime, cleared the table. The diners finished the lasagna and the garlic bread.
Marjorie gave Maria her recipe. “It’s wonderful! I would have never thought to add garlic to toasted, buttered bread.”
Dieter came up from their cooler in the cellar, bringing a small keg of ale. “I’ve a friend, an innkeeper, brews the best ale in Suhl. I buy a half-barrel from him every month,” Dieter said.
“And the innkeeper advertises his brew as Dieter’s Favorite, a new brand,” Archie added.
Thomas Bloem looked surprised. “Do you all have that much influence here? I’d think up-timers would have less the farther they are from Grantville.”
Greta and Marjorie returned to the table and sat. With everyone seated, Thomas Bloem asked his first question. “If I’ve calculated correctly, an entire year passed from the fight with the outlaws near Rudolstadt, until the creation of the Marshals Service.”
Archie scratched his chin, taking his time forming a response. “Yes, that’s about right.”
“Why so long?”
“That fight had a bigger physical impact on us—Max, Harley, and myself—than we’d thought. We all spent at least a month under Doc Nichols’ care; when he was available. Max has arrhythmia, irregular heart rhythm. It had been under control with medication. He’d had surgery for it several years ago, before the Ring of Fire, but he still needed medication occasionally. He’d had an episode during the gunfight, but Doc Nichols got it running again as it should. Harley messed up his knee and spent a couple of months under PT—”
“PT?” Maria asked.
“Physical therapy. Special exercises to strengthen the muscles around his knee. Up-time, he’d have had surgery, but not here.”
“And you?” she asked.
“Almost died,” Marjorie answered. “The wound in his leg got infected from the water in the well that he used to clean the wound after the shootout.”
“I don’t remember everything Doc Nichols did on me for the first month,” Archie said.
“He was feverish and delirious,” Marjorie continued, “and had several surgeries to drain the infection. Doctor Nichols even used some of the reserved antibiotics to kill the infection.”
“I didn’t know that!” Archie said.
“The Powers that Be approved it.”
“Huh. I remember him debriding the wound, removing scar tissue.”
“That was later, Archie, but he couldn’t get it all.”
“And,” Archie said, turning back to Bloem, “that’s why I have a big knot in my leg from the bullet. Smarts at times.”
Maria and Thomas sat quietly, taking notes while Archie and Marjorie talked. When the couple took a breath, Thomas asked, “Is that why you use a walking stick?”
“Yes, when I first came to Suhl with Dieter. Not so much now, but it came in handy after arrival.”
“Really handy,” Dieter said, speaking for the first time. “When we came here to Suhl, just Archie and me, we weren’t exactly welcomed.”
“No one knew why, nor for what reason, we were there. We weren’t all that sure ourselves,” Archie said. “It started with the badges . . . “
The Third Interview
Suhl, June 9, 1636
Two days after Maria D’Angelo and Thomas Bloem interviewed the Mitchells and the Isslers in their home, Judge Fross, the Presiding Judge, declared a half-day for the Court. Normally, he held court from Monday through noon Friday. That didn’t mean the court employees had the rest of the day off. But, occasionally, like today, they had finished their usual tasks and paperwork, too, allowing the employees to take advantage of a half-day of freedom.
Der Garten was an outdoor lunch and meeting area nestled along one side of the Court’s courtyard. The long-term plan for the der Garten was to transform it into a park. Judge Fross found some unbudgeted funds to help with expenses, with the understanding that the park would be open to the public. When Bloem asked for another interview session, Archie thought of der Garten.
“Welcome,” Archie said when the two down-timers approached. Archie and Dieter had secured one of the covered tables for the meeting. Marjorie and Greta were present and unloading two baskets with lunch. Marta played with the children of other court families.
While Marjorie and Greta prepared lunch, Maria began the interview. “What happened to Achen, Feld, and Buch?”
“Feld and Buch were fined and given three years of community service,” Archie said.
“The SoTF doesn’t have prisons . . . at least not yet. There is a jail in the basement of Suhl’s Rathaus, but the city isn’t equipped, or funded, to keep prisoners for a long period—neither is the Constabulary. Feld and Buch sleep at home, and during the day, work for the city . . . picking up nightsoil for the nitrate beds.”
Bloem had been listening and laughed. “I think that would be fitting. But, what about Achen?”
“They hung him a week after his trial,” Dieter said. “Judge Fross sent the trial transcript to Judge Riddle for review—”
“Although he didn’t have to,” Archie said.
“—since it was the first capital crime tried in Suhl.”
“Bamberg did not comment, and the sentence went forward.”
Greta and Marjorie joined the four. Maria had been watching Marta play with the other children. She blinked and wiped her eyes.
“Are you all right?” Greta asked, sitting next to Maria.
“I lost my husband and daughter to Tilly’s murderers. She would have been Marta’s age.” After a pause, she looked at Greta and added, “You’re so blessed.”
“Yes, we are. We lost our first daughter fleeing Tilly. She got a fever when we fled Magdeburg.”
Maria was watching Marta again. Greta laid her hand on Maria’s and squeezed lightly. “Dieter’s family had a glass factorage in Magdeburg,” Greta said, continuing her tale. “When the city refused to surrender, we ran. We knew what would happen.”
“We stayed,” Maria said. “Our mistake.”
“I’ve thought whether we should have stayed,” Greta said. “They robbed us of everything we had when we left Magdeburg. Then B . . . B—”
“It’s still hard for Greta to say Bella’s name,” Marjorie explained.
Maria looked again at Marta. “I don’t understand, Marta is—”
“Too old? Yes. She joined us last . . . almost two years ago.”
“That sounds like a story,” Bloem said. He had been listening to the women talk.
“It is,” Archie said. “I sent Dieter on a—you tell it, Dieter. It’s your story.”