Back in 1876, it’s alleged that Deadwood had little to no cats. 

“One of my favorite stories from my classes and lectures has been the true tale of Phatty Thompson’s cat,” said author Randy Christensen. “It is well documented on page one of the June 8, 1876, Deadwood Pioneer Times.” 

According to Christensen, who has acted as a resident historian at Saloon No. 10 and has taught history classes, not many cats were brought into the gold camp. 

“Due to the lack of cats, the mice in Deadwood truly enjoyed a low-stress, practically cat-free lifestyle,” he said. “It was a mousy Old West paradise. But, the good citizens soon got tired of the overpopulation of mice, which were gobbling up their grain, chewing holes in their canvas tents and roofs, plus, angering the clientele of the local businesses.” 

“I was an actor and director of Deadwood Alive, writing scripts and performing as a ‘Living Historian.'”

That’s when Christensen said the citizens of Deadwood sent a “muleskinner” named Phatty (Plateaus) Thompson to Cheyenne, Wyo. to collect stray cats and transport them back. 

“The more I thought about this quirky tale, the more I thought that this would make a great basis for a children’s story,” said Christensen. 

Cue Charlie Klinker the Lil’ Stinker: A Tale of a Pioneer Mouse. 605 caught up with the artist, who is also a director, musician, poet, and counselor.


+ Berg Jewelry & Gifts
+ Deadwood Dick’s
+ Deadwood History (Adams & /76 Museums)
+ First Deadwood Souvenirs
+ Miss Kitty’s Mercantile
+ Old Style Saloon #10

Journey Museum and Learning Center

+ Deadwood/Lead Arts Council

+ Prairie Pages Bookseller

+ Child’s Play Toys
+ Zandbroz Variety

PEOPLE MIGHT KNOW ME FROM… the early ‘70s, while playing bass for a rhythm and blues band called the Fabulous Flippers. I was known as “Niner.” Based out of Lawrence, Kas., we toured the central United States, from Texas to Canada and Illinois to the Rockies without getting arrested. I would not trade those incredible, wacky, questionable years for anything. 

I WROTE A CHILDREN’S BOOK BECAUSE… I wrote a historical children’s book because… it’s sad to say, but history has taken second or third fiddle in today’s schools. We need to reinforce a child’s understanding of the incredible country we love. Children need to appreciate and comprehend the lessons we have learned from our past. 

MY FAVORITE PERSON TO READ TO IS… an incredible, insightful, hilarious 6-year-old named Wyatt James Anderson. His imagination has yet to be stunted by the adults and world around him. His creativity is endless, pure, and a true wonder. He brightens my eyes, quickens my steps, darkens my hair, and brings warmth and joy to my life. My grandson is truly golden. 

WHAT I HOPE CHILDREN TAKE AWAY FROM MY BOOK IS… don’t judge a book (or each other) by its cover. If we can appreciate and respect each other’s differences with trust and common kindness, the world would truly be a brighter, warmer, and safer place. 

I AM INSPIRED TO WRITE WHEN… I can put myself in the time period in which I am writing. This includes being in each scene, observing the characters and their surroundings, and using all my senses. It includes smelling the scene, feeling the air, feeling the warmth and the cold, hearing all sounds, and tasting the food, etc. 

WHEN I’M NOT WRITING, I ENJOY… playing mandolin and electric bass, hiking in the mountains, exploring the beautiful and dazzling Black Hills forest lands, movies, chili dogs, and most of all, spending time with my grandson. 

ASIDE FROM CHARLIE KLINKER, ONE OF MY FAVORITE WRITTEN PIECES IS… anything by Joseph Rosa, the premiere historical author on Wild Bill Hickok

MY GO-TO PLACE TO EAT IN DEADWOOD IS… without a doubt, the Deadwood Social Club above Saloon #10. The menu is uniquely wonderful, the food scrumptious, and the wine/martini list the best in town. 

WHEN PEOPLE COME TO THE BLACK HILLS, I RECOMMEND… to just go to one of the National Forest offices and get a detailed forestry map. They’re incredible and help to open a side of the Black Hills you’ve never seen. The Black Hills are covered with hundreds of county and forestry roads which lead you to mountains to climb, trails to follow, beautiful pristine streams, abandoned “old-timey” cabins, old gold mines, ghost towns, and much, much more! 

ONE OF MY FAVORITE MEMORIES FROM ACTING IS… when I was standing out in front of Saloon #10 dressed in authentic period Old West clothing and winding my manual pocket watch. A child came up to me and asked what I was doing. As I showed him the stem and how to wind it, I told him that this made the watch run every day and you don’t even need batteries. Then he said, “You gotta be kidding me. What will they think of next?” 

A HOBBY I ENJOY IS… collecting and reading non-fiction and fiction books focusing on the early Black Hills, Dakota Territory, the gold rush days of Deadwood, Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and the plethora of fascinating characters of the period. My home library is filled with hundreds of wonderful, historical books and I continue to find many more each year to satisfy my hunger for the excitement of the Old West. 

ANOTHER PROJECT I’M WORKING ON IS… I just finished writing the second and third book in the “Klinker” series. They are entitled, Charlie Klinker the Lil’ Stinker: The Revenge of Phatty’s Cats and Charlie Klinker the Lil’ Stinker: A Pinch of Deadwood Christmas. I will be spending the winter months working with the illustrator, then hopefully getting them published. 

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