The Heart's Frontier - By Lori Copeland

A Note from Lori and Ginny

When we set out to write The Heart’s Frontier, neither of us considered ourselves experts on cattle drives or the Amish lifestyle. We devoured a lot of books on the cattle drives of the 1880s, and we spoke with many people who helped us understand the Amish approach to a simple life.

We’re so glad we did! What a fun period of America’s history, and what an incredibly interesting lifestyle we were privileged to learn about. We’re grateful to those who helped us tell our story with authenticity.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our agent, Wendy Lawton, who introduced us and made this coauthor arrangement possible. We’re also deeply grateful to the good folks at Harvest House who have worked alongside us to bring this story to you. Thanks to Bob Hawkins, Kim Moore, Terry Glaspey, Shane White, Barb Sherrill, LaRae Weikert, and all the others who believed in this book.

We’re each thankful for our supportive families, and especially to our Lord, without whom we could produce no book worth reading.

God bless,

Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith


El Paso, Texas

May 1881

Hot diggety!” Shep Carson whipped off his hat and flung it in the air. “I knew I’d make a man outta you yet!”

Grinning, Luke watched his father make a fool of himself in front of the other wranglers. El Paso teemed with cattle this morning as the cowhands loaded the herd into pens. He’d expected as much, but watching Pa grinning like a possum eatin’ a yellow jacket wasn’t easy. “I don’t know why you find my decision surprising. Haven’t I spent the last few years riding herd over your drives?”

Pa’s gaze softened. “You have, and I’m not surprised but a little baffled. It took you long enough to make up your mind.”

The older man sat tall in the saddle. The years had been kind to the cowboy who had spent most of his life driving cattle to market. Until he was old enough to ride with him, Luke barely knew the man, but over the years he’d developed a deep bond with his father, and the proud look shining in his pa’s eyes made him feel good.

“So. Who signed you on?” Cattle jostled the men’s horses while they worked. Sharp whistles and wranglers’ shouts pierced the air as the milling beef bumped flesh.

Luke cut his chestnut to the left and called back, “Simon Hancock.”

“That a fact? What trail?”


Pa’s grin lengthened. “Got yourself a fine trail and a decent boss. It says a whole lot that a man like Hancock would hire you on for your first drive.”

It was Luke’s first drive in the sense that he would be foreman. He had close to twenty drives under his belt but always as point rider. Every cowhand in Texas knew Hancock’s reputation—a quiet man who managed his herds from a nearby hotel—but most wranglers would give an arm and a leg to take Hancock’s beef to market. His stock was the finest around.

“You didn’t happen to have anything to do with his decision, did you?” Luke headed off another stray.

Pa was waiting for the steer. With one nudge to the horse, the bull slid through the shoot. “Not me. I haven’t worked Hancock’s herd in years. He made me mad as a peeled rattler once, and I refused to work for him again.”

The news didn’t surprise Luke. He’d ridden with Pa since he was fourteen, and he couldn’t recall seeing a Triple Bar brand in the herd, but he’d never thought to ask why. Didn’t matter. Luke was sure he could take whatever Hancock dished up. He must have gotten wind that Shep Carson’s boy was looking for his first foreman job and decided to contact him. Hancock and Pa might have crossed swords in the past, but the cattle baron gave Luke’s father the highest compliment. When the young man hired on with a handshake and a thanks, Hancock grunted and merely said, “I don’t have any concerns about Shep Carson’s boy.”

And he was right about that. Luke might have taken his time to decide what he wanted to do with his life—punch cattle or buy land and settle down—but when he obligated himself to a cause he stuck to it. Now that he was in charge of this ride, he’d see there wasn’t a single hitch. There wasn’t much he didn’t know about cattle. Over the years he’d eaten enough dust and survived enough dry drives to make him one of the best in the business, but