Monday, October 24, 2011

"Perhaps one of the most thorough studies of frontier dens of sin ever compiled"

Ross McSwain, book reviewer for the San Angelo Times-Standard, praises James Pylant and Sherri Knight's book, The Oldest Profession in Texas. "The 380-page book on hookers, madams and pimps is perhaps one of the most thorough studies of frontier dens of sin ever compiled," says McSwain. To read the complete review, visit The San Angelo Times-Standard.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jacobus Books Authors at Hill Country Book Festival

Sherri Knight and James Pylant will autograph copies of their latest book, The Oldest Profession in Texas, at the 2011 Hill Country Book Festival on Saturday, August 20, from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Visit the Hill Country Book Festival website for more information.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Worthy of your most-wanted reading list"

In the Austin Statesman (July 31, 2011) book reviewer Mike Cox says The Oldest Profession in Texas, with "highly chapters," is worthy of "your most-wanted reading list." To read an online version of the review, visit the Austin Statesman.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"The Oldest Profession" makes headline in Waco

In the Waco Tribune-Herald (July 27, 2011), J. B. Smith wrote: "If you were looking for sin in downtown Waco a century ago, you didn't have far to go. Cross Washington Avenue on Second Street and you arrived in a shadowy world where anything went—for a price." In Smith's two-page feature, "When Paying for Sin was Legal in Waco," he interviewed James Pylant and Sherri Knight, authors of The Oldest Profession in Texas: Waco's Legal Red Light District. To read an online version of the interview, visit

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Associated Press covers 'The Oldest Profession in Texas'

Jacobus Books authors James Pylant and Sherri Knight were interviewed for an Associated Press feature, "Waco Madam's Life Recalled," written by Paul A. Romer. The article focuses on Cora McMahan, a colorful character discussed in Pylant and Knight's book, The Oldest Profession in Texas. "Before her life came to a violent end somewhere between Temple and Belton in August 1890," writes Romer, "Cora McMahan had developed a salacious reputation everywhere she lived." Romer's article is posted online:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Oldest Profession in Texas: Waco's Legal Red Light District

By James Pylant and Sherri Knight. Softbound (2011), 380 pp., indexed, illustrated.

They Painted the Town Scarlet Red!

From 1869 to 1918 more than 1,200 women lived as prostitutes in Waco, Texas—once known as "Six-Shooter Junction." When the city legalized its red light district, floozies flocked to Waco, where saloons and bordellos flourished.

The Oldest Profession in Texas: Waco's Legal Red Light District examines the city's complex stance on prostitution, debunks myths, and unveils—for the first time—the true identities of several early madams.

Authors James Pylant and Sherri Knight tell shocking true stories about several of these colorful characters, including:

  • Matilda W. Davis, the first fully licensed madam
  • Cora McMahan, who shot her mouth off until someone shot off her mouth.
  • John and Mary Doud, a pimp and madam who trained their fourteen-year-old niece to run a brothel
  • Mollie Adams, Waco's most successful madam
  • Josie Tumlin, a boisterous harlot who had stints in both prison and an insane asylum
  • Jessie Williams, the infamous "Chicken Ranch" madam

The Oldest Profession in Texas also tells the story of preacher J. T. Upchurch's crusade to reform prostitutes and abolish their profession.

Order online from:

Also available from these Texas bookstores:

  • Book People, Austin
  • Hastings, Brownwood
  • Comanche Chief, Comanche
  • The Three Sisters, Dublin
  • Hastings, Killeen
  • The Book Satchell, Mineral Wells
  • Hastings, Stephenville
  • Stephenville Museum, Stephenville
  • Hastings, Waco
  • Texas Ranger Museum Gift Shop, Waco
  • University Book Store at Baylor, Waco
  • Waco Visitors' Center, Waco

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tom P's Fiddle, A True Texas Tale

Tom P’s Fiddle, A True Texas Tale By Sherri Knight. Softbound (2008), 266 pp., illus.

In the rough and dusty pages of Tom P’s Fiddle, you’ll find murder, betrayal, revenge, and love, proving that the best tales are the true ones...

Unearthed from museum archives, prison records, newspapers, state archives, and university collections throughout the Southwest comes this true, frontier tale of a man from Hill County, Texas.

Strong-willed, handsome, and an accomplished musician, Tom P Varnell is the son of Francis La Docia and Isaac Varnell, a determined, hardworking ranch family. Isaac’s murder in 1876 leaves Docia, Tom, and his sisters to make their own way, and young Tom P to forge his own code of honor. One evening in 1883, Tom and a friend attend a party hosted by the daughters of Jonah Land. Tom’s wiles woo Ella away from the party, and he soon finds himself with a gun in his hand and Mr. Land dying at his feet. Charged with rape and murder, Tom, labeled a notorious desperado, flees as a wanted man.

The ensuing events take Tom across Texas to the New Mexico Territory and back. Love, betrayal, revenge, trials, escapes, and family loyalties fill the pages and reads like an old time, Wild West tale. Tom P’s Fiddle is an entertaining blend of historical authenticity and Sherri Knight’s descriptive narrative. Through the context of real events occurring over a century ago, she sheds light on a media-influenced story bent on imposing moral standards and the impact that can have on a jury verdict and the ultimate outcome of a man’s life. The surprising finale caps the convergence of factors that illustrates life’s unexpected twists and turns.

”Late 19th century ‘Texas justice’ inside the courtroom appeared in Tom P’s Fiddle. Telling a true story with the use of added narrative…a very effective tool to grab and retain the interest and attention of the reader!” —Judge Don Jones, 266th Judicial District, Texas

“Knight’s writing style is punchy and well-paced from the first sentence all the way to the work’s haunting final page…readers and researchers alike will appreciate this book.”
—S. J. Cannady, The Literary Lion

$16.95, plus shipping and handling.