An Ostrich-Plumed Hat, and Yes, She Shot Him Dead

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat

There were presumably numerous perks to plunging into an affair with one of the wealthiest men in San Antonio. Having to stand trial for his murder is not one of them.

A true story is the basis for a “truthful” novel – An Ostrich-Plumed Hat, and Yes, She Shot Him Dead, released today via Amazon Kindle.

In November 1914, Hedda Burgemeister shot Otto Koehler dead in her bungalow on the southside of San Antonio—a cottage that was a gift to her from the victim. A self-made man, the German-born millionaire was president of San Antonio Brewing Association, as in Pearl Beer, and was prominent in civic and social circles. A trained nurse, Hedda was a more recent immigrant from Germany.

Was it murder or self-defense? How could Hedda possibly expect to receive a fair trial when the corpse in her bedroom owned the town—when the shooting was so sensational, it made headlines in newspapers throughout the country? Haunted by nightmares about a recent public hanging, the frightened young woman opts to run. It will be another four years before she voluntarily returns to stand trial.

San Antonio Brewing Association/Pearl Beer

How does anyone sit in judgment when one only knows slivers of who they are? The sincerity of Hedda and Otto’s relationship is called into question by his prior affair with Hedda’s best friend and housemate. And what of the large denomination notes Otto gave Hedda? Did they indicate Hedda was only in it for the money, or was Otto truly the love of her life?

Did Otto plan to kill her to extricate himself from the entanglement to pursue his next dalliance, or did Hedda plot to murder him? To his secretary, Otto might have been a role model; but how did Otto’s invalid wife regard her husband? Otto’s friends and business associates took the stand to vouch for him, but, to former Governor Thomas Mitchell Campbell, Otto was a dark force illegally interfering in statewide elections—possibly the motive for attorney Campbell to defend the woman who shot Koehler.

Though we know what’s coming from the title, we’re continually surprised along the way.

Paula Allen, San Antonio Express-News, January 3, 2021
Home of Otto and Emma Koehler

No light-hearted bedroom romp, this is a portrait of life in the 19-teens, with San Antonio itself as a central character. The cast is based on actual people, with their reactions to events around them fleshing out their personalities—from Fiesta to the great roundhouse explosion. Sweeping themes woven throughout include prohibition politics, racial prejudice, women’s suffrage, labor issues, the Mexican revolution, the approach of American involvement in World War I and even Alamo politics (amazingly similar to current disagreements about the Alamo Plan).

A story with broad appeal for Texans particularly, but a must-read for all San Antonians.

Now available via Amazon Kindle.

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