Chronicles of Oklahoma

Skip Navigation

Electronic Publishing Center
Oklahoma Historical Society
Chronicles Homepage
Search all Volumes
Copyright 2001
Purchase an Issue

Table of Contents Index Volume List Search All Volumes Home

Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 15, No. 3
September, 1937

Page 344

OKLAHOMA IMPRINTS, 1835-1907: A History of Printing in Oklahoma before Statehood. By Carolyn Thomas Foreman. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1936. XXIV + 499 pp. Bibliography and illustrations. $5.00.)

No brief review can convey an adequate idea of the contents of this book. Within its 500 pages, which include a very comprehensive index, Mrs. Foreman tells the story of the pioneer printers in Indian territory, beginning with the Rev. Samuel Austin Worcester who set up the first press in 1835, and portrays, in detail, the development of printing and publishing in both Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory down to 1907. On reading it one marvels at the amount of patient research through mouldy newspaper files, faded documents and other original sources, required for assembling the material for this book. And one's wonder grows as he notes the manner in which it is woven together in a manner that makes it absorbingly interesting. In the hands of a less skilled writer it might have been merely a compendium of dry-as-dust information, but Mrs. Foreman has made it a lively narrative, in which traces of her delicate sense of humor crop out.

It is almost unbelievable how much of the history of every newspaper published in the two territories during the period covered is compressed in this volume. Grouped by Nations in the Indian country and by counties in Oklahoma Territory, there is a thumbnail sketch of every paper, including date of first issue, owners, editors, changes in management and, frequently, excerpts from editorials and news articles which shed sidelights on the times. This book should be in every newspaper office in Oklahoma. It is equally valuable to public libraries and to the private reader. That it contains so much of vital interest in a compara-

Page 345

tively small compass, is made possible by its unique arrangement and the author's marked talent in the art of condensation.

Mrs. Foreman's book is a most important and praiseworthy contribution to the history of Oklahoma in a field that is not covered by any other writer. In it we get illuminative glimpses of the personalities, many of them picturesque enough, back of books, pamphlets and newspapers that poured from our presses through the period in which Oklahoma was in the formative stage. Authentic and thoroughly readable, it will appeal to both the student and the general reader.

—George H. Evans.

Chickasha, Oklahoma

THE 101 RANCH. By Ellsworth Collings and Alma Miller England. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1937. XIV + 249 pp. $3.00.)

To the average person there is something about a ranch that has a great appeal—pasture, ranch house, cattle, horses, men—all activity. The owner or manager draws inspiration from all this; it is inspiration. The cowboy rides daringly, hard, and in all kinds of weather. The visitor sees the romance, freedom, action, and feudal barons. The 101 ranch had in it everything that appeals to the layman and to the rancher. Doubtless there has never been any ranch in the world that had such varied activities; nor has any ranch better represented the transition, in Oklahoma, from the wild prairie to the highly mechanized farm. The authors have told the story of a great ranch, of a remarkable family, and most important to the student of history, the story of a period—an age or epoch.

Colonel George W. Miller, father of the Miller Brothers—Joe C., the farmer, Zack T., the cowman, and George L., the financier, and of Alma, the only daughter, who married William Henry England, was the founder of the 101 Ranch. Honesty and

Page 346

integrity were his assets in the beginning; his fair dealings with the Ponca Indians enabled him first to help them select rich pasture lands along the Salt Fork in the Cherokee Outlet. This area became the ranch and farm that made the 101 brand and name known to millions of people both in America and in Europe. The decade of the seventies afforded an opportunity to buy cattle in Texas and to drive them north to fatten and be prepared for market. From a modest beginning the ranch grew to more than one hundred thousand acres—but this fact did not give origin to the 101 brand. That is another story.

Finally as the sons grew to manhood and maturity they aided their father and upon his death became responsible for the management of the ranch. Necessity of a diversified income led Joe to develop some of the best land into productive farms on which everything native to this area was raised. The best agricultural methods and machinery were employed to make a model farm.

When oil was discovered on the ranch lands more money poured into the common treasury until it looked as if all nature were at their service. They made money for themselves and were able and glad to share it with their friends and acquaintances in a generous hospitality which had its background in their Kentucky blood and in the proverbial ranch life. Visitors were always at the White House, the headquarters of the ranch. They came from all parts of the United States and foreign countries to see a great enterprise; they returned to their homes praising and admiring the hosts.

Then came a day when the ranch life of many areas began to disappear. The Miller Brothers organized—after experiments—the 101 show, with all the color of the West, which had no equal in its great days. The depression with its dark aspects and remorseless conquerings triumphed and the show came to an end.

Like so many financial structures deprived of financial support, the ranch and all its multiplied activities began to totter.

Page 347

Death struck heavily and two of the Miller Brothers were removed from the management within a short time. The cowman Zack was left to carry the burden during the depression years; it was more than he could bear. The summer of 1936 witnessed the sad spectacle of the sale of the last belonging of the family after the assets of the ranch had failed. Thus passed Oklahoma's great show place, the Southwest's pride of a day long gone.

The book, The 101 Ranch, does credit to a student of ranch life, a lover of the open spaces, and a critical writer—Ellsworth Collings. He was ably assisted by Mrs. England. The records of the ranch were at their disposal; cowboys gave their contributions by letters and interviews; and, everyone permitted to do so, even the Indians who loved the ranch, added his bit to make a great book. It is the most adequate portrayal of the transition from a great cattle country to the modern small farm that has been written for Oklahoma—or, for that matter, the whole Southwest. The press of the University of Oklahoma has been fortunate in publishing such a book well illustrated and documented. Every Oklahoman and all others acquainted with the name 101 ranch should read it.

—M. L. Wardell

University of Oklahoma

PRATT: THE RED MAN'S MOSES. By Elaine Goodale Eastman. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1937. 285 pp. Bibliography and illustrations. $3.00.)

Elaine Goodale Eastman in her Pratt: The Red Man's Moses has presented the story of a life that remained a sustaining force in the epic period of westward expansion and achievement of the American Nation. The book is the eleventh in the Civilization of the American Indian series published by the University of Oklahoma Press. Mrs. Eastman has written not only of a great character, General Richard Henry Pratt, whose influence left a deep impression on the historical background of Western Oklahoma,

Page 348

but she has also given glimpses of life at the military posts of that region during the last Indian wars. For these reasons alone, Mrs. Eastman has made a valuable contribution to Oklahoma history. However, her volume goes farther, reviewing the whole subject of Indian education and accomplishments in that field, particularly among the Plains' tribes and the reservation Indians of other states. She has also discussed present day aims and methods in Indian education. Her own comments revealing her personal views on the subject are by no means the least valuable part of her book.

Mrs. Eastman's experience has specially fitted her with first hand knowledge of her subject. In 1883, she began teaching in the Indian service at Hampton Institute, Virginia; in 1891, she was married to Dr. Charles A. Eastman, the noted Sioux physician and author. From the beginning of her teaching career, she remained a close friend of General Pratt and his family, deeply interested and enthusiastic in his educational efforts. Summing up the life of her subject, she wrote (p. 263): "The long, full life of Richard Henry Pratt divides into four periods of approximately equal length. From 1840 to 1860 the sturdy boy, early left fatherless, was growing up against a frontier background. The next twenty years embraced his active service in the Federal army, from private to captain, facing southern troops at first; later, both white outlaws and hostile red men. There followed a notable quarter of a century as founder and head of a unique school, planned to build and confirm a lasting peace. The final score of years succeeding his forced retirement form a significant afterpiece, rounding out his message to posterity."

In 1875, Captain Pratt was under orders of the War Department to conduct seventy Indian prisoners of war (Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne and Arapaho) from the Indian Territory to Fort Marion, at St. Augustine, Florida. Dirty, ragged, morose, in chains, despairing the life of their people a lost cause, the prisoners epi-

Page 343

tomized the lowest ebb in the life of their tribes. Arriving at Fort Marion, that ancient Spanish stronghold the very appearance of which denotes cruelty, the seventy began their three year term of imprisonment. Captain Pratt remained in charge. Although every inch the soldier under orders of his superiors in the service yet his compassion and good sense, together with his devotion to Christian ideals, turned the period of dark incarceration for the "savage warriors" to one of light.

Chains were ordered removed. Wholesome food and clean, cool sleeping quarters were provided. Periods of exercise in the open and of definite work each day were assigned the prisoners. Personal cleanliness and neatness of their army uniforms, both appealing to the innate pride of the Indians in their appearance. Mrs. Eastman continued the story: "The little band of defeated patriots had endured impassively enough the black looks and derisive yells that punctuated every stop on their dolorous journey [by rail to Florida]. Now all was changed. Their neat and soldierly appearance, willing industry and general good spirit called out the friendly and admiring response that Pratt had confidently anticipated. He wisely encouraged the visitors, giving them full opportunity not merely to observe but to meet and talk individually with the prisoners, to the end that each might see in the other a man like himself."

Mrs. Pratt and other qualified persons volunteered to teach the prisoners, some of whom were sixty years old, how to read and speak English. Harriet Beecher Stowe, the famous author, who visited one of these classes afterward wrote, "There were among those pupils seated, docile and eager, book in hand, men who had been foremost in battle and bloodshed... The bright smile on the swart face showed the joy of a new idea. There was not a listless face, not a wandering eye, in the whole class."

Pratt himself is quoted further: "I lived much with the prisoners. My office in one of the casements of the old fort was al-

Page 350

ways open and they were welcome. Some, especially the older men, were invited and frequently visited in my home, where we talked more freely. I found among them admirable principles of life and service."

Possessing the mind, character and sympathy to prove his own faith and convictions in Indian education, General Pratt's success with his charges at Fort Marion resulted in the founding of the famous Indian school at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1879, the forerunner of such well known educational institutions for Indians as Haskell, in Kansas, and Chilocco, in Oklahoma.

It is a fact, admitted by few, that the red man as a race has been the pioneer—a human laboratory, as it were—in the fields of governmental and educational experiment. All who hold dear the welfare and progress of their country should read Mrs. Eastman's book if for no other reason than to retain confidence and hope in the ultimate victory of humanitarian efforts among its citizens.

—Muriel H. Wright

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

State Control of Local Finance in Oklahoma. By Robert K. Carr. (Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1937. XIV + 280 pp. $3.00)

This book could bear no other title and be the same, but if it might be known as the Handbook for Public Officials Concerned with Financial Affairs, there would doubtless be more readers. The chapter headings are sufficient in title to determine the points discussed. Any official or layman can select his own and read profitably.

The historical background of the State of Oklahoma is a complex one. Composed of two wholly distinct parts, varied in climate and resources, and probably over-populated, the state presents a social-political study which few of its citizens understand.

Page 351

These facts might well be given attention by officials such as those of the county and state who have charge of public funds. Surely this is not expecting too much of public servants who assess millions and millions of dollars for the state's income; those who are responsible for spending it should be thoroughly acquainted with conditions set forth in this book.

The lack of information on the part of local officials concerned with finances, as proved by the author, is astonishing. It is little wonder that local problems in finance are not better solved. Those officials have but little conception of the state program by way of aid and service that may be rendered as well as the requirements made of them.

The chapter on "The Assessment of Property" should be read by every property owner in the state. If democracy is what it is thought to be, every individual paying taxes should know how assessments are made, not only of their own property but that of corporations within the county and state. Doubtless many persons have considered the assessment problem from their own viewpoint, but have given little or no attention beyond that. Moreover the author has compiled statistics to show that "Beyond the doubtful merit of long political activity, the great majority of assessors seemed to possess no significant qualifications for the office they were filling." (page 64) Yet the state's income is based upon the assessment made by such individuals whose technical training is certainly limited or wholly lacking.

The County Excise Board has undergone a change within the past few years, but evidently not many citizens know this and probably fewer know what it does anyway. Oklahoma has a Court of Tax Review. Its membership is composed of three distinct judges whose work is to consider budgets, protests, and work of the county excise board. The chapters dealing with these points are elucidating.

Page 352

The general operation of local finance from its beginnings to the supervision and approval by state officials is the theme of the book. It is fact-finding and complete. Every county official who is concerned with county finances should read the book for information on the technical points of his position-and they are many. Every property owner would do well to acquaint himself with the workings of his state's local financial machinery. Mr. Carr has filled the pages with pointed remarks well documented. Whether the state profits by such a study will depend upon the use of the book. While the meetings of various state and county boards are held during the year some officials should recommend its being used as a text for adult education. The author is to be congratulated upon writing a technical book so the layman can understand it.

—M. L. Wardell

University of Oklahoma

History of Methodism in Oklahoma: Story of the Indian Mission Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Volume I. By Sidney Henry Babcock and John Young Bryce. (Oklahoma City: Times Journal Publishing Company, 1937. 440 pp. $2.50.)

This interesting volume is a real contribution to the literature dealing with the religious history of Oklahoma. The authors have painstakingly traced the development of Methodist missionary endeavor among the Five Civilized Tribes from the early beginnings east of the Mississippi River down to 1906. Although a few errors have crept into the narrative, a worthwhile study has been made.

After the division of Methodism the authors devote their attention primarily to the work of the Southern Church as the Indian Annual Mission Conference which was formed in 1844 became affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. An interesting feature of this volume is a detailed list of appointments to Missions, Churches and Schools from 1844 to 1906.

Page 353

New light is thrown upon the careers of outstanding Methodists in the persons of Chief Samuel Checote of the Creeks, Chief John Ross of the Cherokees, John Harrell, John H. Carr, Willis Folsom, W. A. Duncan, and J. J. Methvin. The Christianizing and civilizing influence of Bloomfield Academy, Asbury Manual Labor School, Fort Coffee Academy, New Hope Female Seminary, Colbert Institute, Chickasaw Academy, and other mission schools is described. The varying vicissitudes of the church papers such as Our Brother in Red, Indian—Oklahoma Methodist, Western Christian Advocate, Western Methodist, Oklahoma Methodist, and Southwestern Christian Advocate are traced.

The effectiveness of the volume would be increased with the addition of a comprehensive index. However, there is a good bibliography and the illustrations are carefully chosen. This study should have an appeal to students of social history. It should also hold the interest of the casual reader of religious history. Herein is depicted the achievements of a great denomination among a splendid people in a new State.

—James W. Moffitt.

Oklahoma Historical Society.

Tepee Trails: Putting the Indian's Feet in the Jesus Road. By G. Lee Phelps. (Atlanta: Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1937. 126 pp. $.35).

Beginning with a succinct account of his birth during the War Between the States and going through to a discussion of his work now as Secretary of Indian Missions for the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, this little book gives the very interesting story of the life and contacts of G. Lee Phelps, who has given thirty-five years of his life to "putting the Indian's feet in the Jesus Road." It has not been necessary for Mr. Phelps to rely on his memory for the incidents which he writes, because many years ago he formed the habit of keeping,

Page 354

each year, diary with daily entries. In many places in the book he quotes from these diaries; in others he remarks that he has the material for his incident in one of them.

Such historic places as Fort Reno, the government agency at Darlington, and the old Creek Council House at Okmulgee are mentioned. Such well-known Indians as Bunnie, John, and Rolley McIntosh, William McCombs, Robert Carr, and many others crossed paths with Mr. Phelps in his thirty-five years' work with their people. Such other white missionary workers with the Indians as Isaac McCoy, H. F. Buckner, J. B. Rounds, Miss Mary P. Jayne, Robert Hamilton, and F. L. King are mentioned.

Tepee Trails has a great deal of information on the marriage, burial, and worship customs of the Indians, both the civilized tribes and the plains tribes, all of which, however, is given with the idea of showing the influence of Christianity in meeting heathenism. Although incomplete, a list of the native Baptist preachers of the various tribes should be helpful to any one wanting to do further study.

Tepee Trails was written primarily as a text for the missionary education of the young people in the Baptist churches. Nevertheless, it abounds in thrilling and interestingly-told stories which teen-age boys and girls and even adults will enjoy. It was never intended to be a scholarly study of Indian missionary activities; therefore it has no footnotes, bibliography, or index. Despite the lack of these items, there are many things in the book which will prove helpful to anyone making a serious study of this field of the development of our state. To even the casual reader it is a pleasure to travel with Mr. Phelps on his Tepee Trails, live with him under the open sky, suffer with him the many hardships, and rejoice with him as he sees some fruitage coming from his labors of thirty-five years.

—C. O. M.

Return to top

Electronic Publishing Center | OSU Home | Search this Site