Author Gene Turney made a stop at the Depot in Sonora Saturday, July 18, for a book signing and visit with family and friends.

Turney, who grew up in West Texas and Sonora, said he writes westerns to “keep the history of the west alive.” The Turney family is tightly woven into the fabric of Sonora’s history.

Recalling when his family left Sonora and moved further south, Turney said he didn’t want to go. He said he would have never left Sonora on his own. He was “kidnapped” by his parents, he insisted.

Now living in Brownwood, about 125 miles to the northeast, Turney said he still considers Sonora his home.

“I love Sonora. It just never left my soul,” he said.

Like most early settlers, Turney’s family did not begin in Texas. In 1870, “An immigrant from England steps off the ship in Boston.” The rest is history.

Turney said he spent his life surrounded by cowboys and ranchers. He has also experienced the spirit and hard work it takes to survive in West Texas. That makes it easy to narrate his books, he said.

His latest book, The Long Trail to Sonora, recounts the early days of his family and their journey from England to the rural west Texas settlement of Sonora.

Turney gave a quick overview of his books displayed on a table alongside a collection of photos, postcards dating back to the early 1900s and family artifacts. In addition to his latest novel, Turney has published the titles The Little Texas Ranch, Revenge in Live Oak Springs, Texas, Steamboat Johnny Dollar and Texas Ranger Travis Henry Gold Star.

Each book gives readers a look into the life of a variety of characters, some relatives, others just folks they knew. When asked what prompted the tales in his books, he said most of them just “fell out of the sky”.

Turney said although he spent 30 years in broadcast journalism, working for KGKL in San Angelo, writing has always been his passion.

At one point during the afternoon, Turney ventured across the street and took shade under a huge pecan tree between the old jail and courthouse, continuing his cadence of stories about bygone days in Sonora.

Pointing out over the courthouse lawn, he said, “These are the best pecans in the world. You won’t find a better pecan anywhere in the world. That’s because the trees are fed with the sweetest water right under the ground here…”

That led to a story about the time when his grandmother hid under the porch of one of the houses behind the courthouse while she watched a gun fight.

His presentation included stories about the water well that gained Sonora the title of county seat.

Turney’s sixth novel is soon to be released. He didn’t give away too much about its contents – just that the cover would be slightly different then his other five books.

When asked if he plans to return for another book signing, he said, “As long as they don’t tell me my passport to Sonora is expired – I’ll be back.”