The Potato Thief
The Potato Thief
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Also Cochinchina, Cuba, Philadelphia, Florida

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1881 and eighteen-year-old Irishman George Graham steals a bag of potatoes to feed his starving family. This simple act of desperation sets him on an epic journey to lands he never knew existed.


The Potato Thief- A prequel to the Mercy Row Series of Novels

It's 1881 and eighteen-year-old Irishman George Graham steals a bag of potatoes to feed his starving family. This simple act of desperation sets him on an epic journey to lands he never knew existed. Under British rule, the Irish, especially poor Irish, are subjected to cruel and unfair punishment for minor infractions. Farmers are still living under the conditions that caused the Great Potato Famine in 1849. Subsequent potato famines have devastated much of the land, and in parts of Ireland, the poor die like flies.
Nineteen-year-old Graham is sentenced to one year of hard labor, with limited food and deplorable conditions. Catholics were not allowed to practice their religion and were forced to attend Protestant services. Since Graham’s father had passed when he was 14, He was the head of the family, and with him gone live for his family became even harder. After experiencing the death of a younger brother, and his sister infant child, Graham fell into a deep depression.
George lived in a cell with twenty other prisoners and only left the rat-ridden, human waste strewn cell to work 12 hours a day breaking rocks or to be sent to church services. One Sunday, after being incarcerated for over three months a particularly evil and venomous guard, came to unlock the door and escort the prisoners to church. The guard always looking for an opportunity to beat a prisoner sees Graham sitting by himself and oblivious to everything around him. The guard hits Graham with his Shillelagh. Graham jumped up in a rage, grabbed the guard by the neck and choked him to death.
With the door open a cellmate named Billy suggested George run to escape or face the gallows. George and Billy both escape and head for Dublin where they hope to find a passage to America. Along the way, they meet a young farmhand named Danny, and the three continue to the city that was once a Viking stronghold.
Pursued by the authorities, the three young men struggle along the way and eventually, through deception, find themselves lost, broke and alone. In desperation, they join the Irish Brigade of the French Foreign Legion. They are sent to France to train, then shipped to Indochina as part of the occupying force in the country we now call Vietnam. While in Saigon, they meet an Irishman running from the law for crimes in Philadelphia named John. The four men formed a small gang and steal from rich visitors to the city of Saigon. Most of the money is sent back to their families, with some going to a bank in Philadelphia.
After numerous battles and encounters with native rebels, they are sent to Tonkin (North Vietnam) where they became disenchanted with the way the French treat the natives. The similarities to the way the British treated the Irish were too much to bear, so they decided to desert.
They find an American ship dropping off supplies to the French army in Tonkin harbor and using the money they have stolen they get passage on the ship. Off the coast of Africa, the ship is attacked by pirates, and the captain enlists the four men to help fight them off. After several stops in exotic ports, they finally arrive off the coast of New Jersey near the town of Cape May. They row into the Delaware Bay as the ship continues on to Boston. The four come to an accord with the Captain of the ship to smuggle Opium and eventually guns.
The foursome makes there a way to Philadelphia where John has family and contacts, and they obtain false papers that allow them to stay in the country. Things are tough in the city of brotherly love as Irish are subjected to the same prejudices as they were in Ireland. Catholics and Immigrants are not welcome by the hierarchy. Having little opportunities to prosper the four decides to run weapons to Ireland and Cuban rebels.
The gang flourishes and John works to get into some legitimate businesses one being a construction company. After a few years, they meet a rambunctious teenager named Charlie Byrne, and he becomes a prime member of the Gang. Eventually, after fighting off other gunrunners and the death of John, Charlie becomes the boss. He takes over the construction business and gets contracts to build the iconic row homes so prevalent in Philly, while at the same time continuing the gunrunning operation.
Several years before the Spanish-American War, the US Government approaches Byrne and insists he steps up the gunrunning to Cuba. They seek to undermine the Spanish government’s hold on Cuba. A short time before the war starts the government agent insists that Charlie, George, and Billy go to Cuba and solidify the USA’s relationship with the Cuban rebels. Two other members are added to the team. Harry Hird and ex-calvary soldier and sergeant Jefferson Waddell lot of the Buffalo soldiers. Waddell was the government liaison with the rebels.
After several battles, including the battle of San Juan Hill, the men, return to the USA, and Sergeant Waddel is sent to the Philippines. Charlie meets the niece of Harry Hird, Mercy Hird, falls in love, marries her, and in 1903 Jacob Bryne is born. Jacob is the main character in the first book under the title Mercy Row.

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Cast Wish-List
  • George Graham
    Male 18-35 Years old
  • Billy Flannigan
    18-35 Years old
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