Major Leonard Mitchell was born in 1945, the last of eight children in the family of Clarence Madison and Zula Alberta Mitchell. His home for the first eleven years of his life was Brawley, California, a small farming and cattle community situated in the Imperial Valley. It was here, amid the annual Cattle Call, rodeo and old west festivals, where he would soon discover a love for cowboys and all things western. It was not unusual for the young boy to meet a working cowboy in boots and spurs during their daily activities. Respect for native American culture was learned from his mother, who was one quarter Cherokee.

The Mitchell household had a modest collection of books, mostly poetry and a collection of Zane Grey novels their father loved to read. Major spent countless hours listening as two of his sisters, Dallas Rebecca and Nora Ethel, read poetry aloud. It didn't take long until he was reading the Zane Grey collection, which developed his own passion for books. It was a short walk to the local library, where a whole world of adventure began developing with books like Treasure Island and Shane, and of course, Louis L'Amour novels.

Major now lives in Northern California with his wife, Judy, and dog, Molly.