Many years ago, when I was growing up, my mother would often talk about the events and highlights of her childhood in the small, eastern Washington wheat town of Ritzville.  These events included happenings around town, at her grandfather’s business; Kanzler Bros Wood Yard, family gatherings, the annual Pioneer Picnic, Ritzville Round-Up, and others.  It is these stories that have been the basis for this book.

Older readers, who are familiar with Ritzville history, may recognize many of the characters in this book.  The reason being that most characters were real people who really lived during that time.  The only exceptions are Fritz Lang, his gang, and Agent Ochs.

Most of the events actually happened during the years of 1909-1910, and are reasonably accurate to the newspaper stories of their day.  In addition, most of the illustrations are adapted from photographs of the people or places depicted.

It should also be noted that I developed my writing style from stories written by noted children’s author Stephen W. Meader.   Mr. Meader’s books were  mostly historical novels aimed at young boys from 10 to 15 years of age.  My introduction to Mr. Meader was by a junior high librarian.  Books such as Fish Hawks Nest, The Long Trains Roll, Red Horse Hill, The Buckboard Stranger, and T-Model Tommy were among my favorites.

There can be little doubt that these books sparked my life-long interest in history and writing.  But the influence goes beyond that of history and writing.  So much so that it is difficult to calculate the total effect Mr. Meader’s books have had on me.

Space does not permit me to list all that comes to mind, but a good example might be my early interest in old cars and trucks.  In fact, my first car was a 1929 Model A Ford sedan.  An automobile that is still parked in my garage nearly 55 years after I bought it in 1961.  A short time after purchasing my Model A, I bought a 1 1/2 ton Model AA truck, with which I used to do general hauling for a few years.

It would also be true that my working career was influenced by T-Model Tommy, Bulldozer, and Blueberry Mountain.  These stories resulted in my strong entrepreneurial spirit and prompted me to be self-employed for most of my 50 working years.

Lastly and perhaps the most enjoyable influence Mr. Meader had on me is my love for writing.  I was about 12 years of age when I wrote my first novel.  A work that was long ago lost or discarded.  It would take another 30 years before I would write another book.  However, during the last 15 years, I have written over 15 additional books, several published magazine and newspaper articles, and I have also penned several newsletters.

Therefore, it is without reservation, that I nominate Mr. Meader as having had a positive and long-lasting influence on my life through his writing.  Because of my admiration for Stephen Meader, I offer Mystery at Kanzler Bros. Woodyard as a heartfelt thank you.

Harland Eastwood

January 7, 2015

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The events of 1909-1910 were ones that Dan Kanzler would never forget, even if he wanted to. It all started when the train he and his father were riding to Spokane, was held up by a gang of desperado’s, followed by two strangers who rode into town one morning on a westbound train. Wondering where they were headed, Dan followed them down an alley to the back door the Germania, one of Ritzville’s toughest saloons.

These strange goings-on’s  finally came to an unexpected conclusion when Dan and his cousin solved the mystery that filled the summer of 1909/1910 at the Kanzler Bros. Wood Yard.

The characters are actual people that lived at that time except the saloon keeper, Fritz Lang. While Fritz’s name has been changed, the name of the saloon, Germania, has not.   The central character, Dan Kanzler, was the author’s great uncle, and Elmer Miller was actually Dan’s cousin. George and Maria Kanzler were the author’s great grandparents, and Pete and Lydia Koch were the author’s grandparents. Incidents such as the dance pavilion, at the Pioneer Picnic grounds, actually did burn down under mysterious circumstances in 1910. Ritzville finally got their long awaited new brick depot in 1910 and the Adams County Fair made its debut in that same year. George and John Kanzler actually opened their new wood yard, also in 1910. A quick search of Ritzville history will reveal that Klaus Clodius was the president of the German American State Bank. In short, this work is loaded from cover to cover with actual events, places, and people of that day.

Below is a partial list of historical places and events of that day.

  • Pioneer Picnic
  • Ritzville Trading Company
  • Ritzville, Washington history
  • Adams County Fair
  • Kanzler Bros. Wood Yard
  • Ritzville horse racing
  • Adams County history

This historical novel is a fast-paced adventure that is based on actual events of that day. Mystery At Kanzler Bros. Wood Yard, with 257 pages, is available in both soft cover and hard cover. A nostalgic read for those interested in Ritzville and Adams County history.


Additional information


Hardcover, Softcover