American West and Biography

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The Life of Yellowstone Kelly

Jerry Keenan

In the first full-length biography of Luther Sage “Yellowstone” Kelly (1849–1928), Jerry Keenan provides a comprehensive look at this extraordinary man of the American West. After joining the army at the close of the Civil War and spending three years at outposts in Minnesota and Dakota, Kelly headed west to begin life as a frontiersman, explorer, and army scout and came to know the Upper Missouri and Yellowstone River valleys. In midlife, he explored Alaska, fought in the Philippines, and served as agent at the San Carlos Apache reservation in Arizona. Later, he prospected in Nevada before finally retiring to the quiet life of a California orchardist.

Based on Kelly’s memoirs and personal correspondence, this book offers insight into many of the prominent figures he knew, including George Bird Grinnell, Col. Nelson A. Miles, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, and President Theodore Roosevelt.


Jerry Keenan is an independent writer/historian and the author of numerous articles and books, including The Great Sioux Uprising: Rebellion on the Plains, August–September, 1862, The Wagon Box Fight: An Episode of Red Cloud’s War, Encyclopedia of American Indian Wars, 1492–1890, and The Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars. He resides in Longmont, Colorado.


"A thoroughly complete, readable, and more importantly, an enjoyable book. . . . A must read for anyone interested in the West."


Mexia Daily News, TX

"With this comprehensive and commendable biography, Jerry Keenan has disposed of any lingering dime-novel distortions about Luther Sage 'Yellowstone' Kelly and restored the real man."


Santa Fe New Mexican

"Jerry Keenan has written a fascinating book."


Journal of Arizona History

"Keenan has done an excellent job of getting the life story of Kelly into focus."


Alaska History

"A book that should interest all lovers of the Old West and the Black Hills and its myriad characters in particular. Heartily recommended."


Wild West History Association Journal

“Keenan draws upon a rich trove of memoirs, letters, and newspaper accounts to chronicle the life of this colorful Western character.”


Military History

"Keenan writes a colorful, engaging biography of the life of the prominent, though not well-known, scout whose life and adventures coincide with the opening of the Great Plains after the Civil War and the waning of the Old West."


Midwest Book Review

6 x 9.25 in. 400 pages 41 halftones, 5 maps