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INTERVIEW: HAROLD TRISLER, Author of FINDING THE LOST DALTON

Updated: Dec 27, 2023



Harold Trisler was a registered nurse along with his wife for years. When he retired, he got interested in the history around Fort Smith, Arkansas where he lived. That interest became the non-fiction history book and 2023 TAZ finalist in non-fiction, Finding the Lost Dalton. It is a well-written, non-fiction account of the research on the death of Deputy Marshall Frank Dalton, oldest brother to the Dalton Gang.


“Years ago I saw a list of Deputy Marshals killed in the line of duty that included the name Frank Dalton,” Trisler said. “This struck me as odd since in my mind the Daltons were outlaws. That sparked my long search for Deputy Marshall Dalton and his story.


“I started this, my first book, when I was seventy years old. Most of the time it doesn't even seem real that I wrote a book, no less that it was published, and that people buy it. Now THIS (TAZ) award, I have no words.”


Trisler said that the greatest resource he found in writing the book was the trial records from Judge Parker’s Court. Others also helped.


“This book was done on my nickel. I did not have any funding to travel for research. Fortunately, we have remarkable resources right here in Fort Smith. Shelley Blanton at the Pebley Center is truly gifted. Loren McLane and Cody Faber of the Fort Smith National Historic Site were always supportive.”

Asked how he prepared to write, Trisler said, “This is a more serious answer than it might at first appear. If I waited until I was prepared, I would never write.


“I do not think I have anything that you would call an outline. Art Burton told me a book is supposed to have a "beginning, middle, and an end" that is as close as I get.”


Who edited his work? He found someone good. “I found the most wonderful editor living only a few blocks away. Dave Higginbotham gave me a postgraduate course in writing.”


The front cover was done by John and Joyce Faulkner, from Red Engine Press.

“The perfect illustrations are from Brett Short, a local artist. The whole book is

Dave Higginbotham from start to finish entirely local.”


Trisler told Red Engine Press where he does his writing. “My five-year-old grandson Sam Henry calls it ’where Grampy writes his books,’ It is a table sitting in the bay window of our house. All sorts of critters scamper by but rarely contribute anything to the book.”


“I do not think I have anything that you would call an outline. Art Burton told me a book is supposed to have a ‘beginning, middle, and an end.’ That is as close as I get.”


What is Trisler working on now?

”I have a children's book about ninety percent complete. I also have started another book about local history.”

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