Marcy & the Gold Seekers. The Journal of Captain R. B. Marcy, with an Account of the Gold Rush over the Southern Route. By Grant Foreman. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1939. XIV+ 433 pp. $3.00.)
Here is an excellent book upon a somewhat neglected field. The volume is devoted to the '49ers who went to California over the Southern route by way of the Canadian and Gila rivers. While most of the emigrants who took this route were from the South, there were others from New York, Pennsylvania, and from practically all northern states. The difficulties they encountered were quite similar to those met with on other roads and trails. Scores of tragic incidents are related.
The diary of Captain Marcy is used as the core of the narrative, but it is a comparatively small part of the contemporary data presented. The numerous accounts written by other persons and gleaned from dozens of contemporary newspapers from all parts of the country are, in the opinion of the present reviewer, even more interesting and important. Extracts and material from manuscript and published diaries and from other documents are also included.
Mr. Foreman is to be commended for the extensive and thorough search he has made for primary records. The result is a remarkable assemblage of lively, interesting and important contemporary writings. Heretofore most of the available California gold rush material has dealt with travelers over the Oregon and California trail. The author's research serves to supplement previous writing and thus to permit a more fairly balanced picture of the spectacular rush of 1849.
With data gathered from numerous contemporary descriptions, Mr. Foreman has written a good composite account of the bustle of preparation at the outfitting towns, of the moving caravans and of camp life. The first two chapters tell of the assembling of emigrant parties at Fort Smith and vicinity, of the preparations for the journey and of the setting out. Chapter three follows the Cherokee goldseekers of 1849 who followed the Arkansas River route into Colorado and thence turned north to the Oregon Trail. Chapter four is devoted to the gold seekers of 1850 who followed that same "Cherokee Trail." This is the one chapter that is beyond the 1849 year. Most of the remainder of the volume is concerned with the '49ers and their military escort while traveling along the Canadian River to New Mexico and on the Gila route to California.
Capt. Marcy's report begins with chapter seven. His journal is frequently interrupted to insert other accounts pertinent to the particular section. Marcy was the leader of a military escort of
seventy-nine soldiers that accompanied the largest emigrating party as far as Santa Fe. From this point most of the emigrants that continued on had to shift for themselves. However, James Collier, newly-appointed Collector of the Port of San Francisco, arrived in Santa Fe in July and with a military escort accompanied some of the later emigrants to California. From New Mexico Capt. Marcy turned back and explored a route from Donna Anna, near El Paso, to Fort Smith. The journal of this expedition is reproduced. Marcy reported this line to be the most acceptable one to California. It was used nine years later by the Butterfield Overland Mail.
The names of numerous gold seekers, gathered from available lists of particular companies, are all assembled in the index, which thus becomes an important reference on California '49ers. Marcy's map, some photographs and drawings provide the illustrations.
State Historical Society of Colorado.
Cherokee Cavaliers. By Edward Everett Dale and Gaston Litton. (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1939. xxiii+ 319 pp. Illustrations $3.00.)
The body of this book is made up of some two hundred letters taken from the personal correspondence of members of the Ridge-Watie-Boudinot faction of the Cherokee Nation. These two hundred letters have been selected from two thousand such letters which were discovered in three old trunks in a farm house near the old home of General Stand Watie.
The Editors have performed a skillful and artistic task in weaving these letters together into a connected story. The volume is characterized by copious explanatory notes. The thoroughness of the work and the satisfying completeness of the effect attest to the painstaking and scholarly work of the Editors.
To anyone interested in the drama of Indian history the contents of this volume will be found not merely thrilling but, to a high degree enthralling from the first page to the last. To take this mass of disjointed correspondence from its long forgotten resting place and breathe the breath of life into it by weaving its parts into a symmetrical story is an outstanding accomplishment through which the annals of Oklahoma history are greatly enriched.
And what letters they are! What an outpouring of desires and hopes; what an untrammeled expression of plans, purposes and ambitious; what eagerness; what energy and restlessness; what aspirations for education and improvement; what superb resignation in the face of disaster; what sublime reliance on faith and devotion and religion!
Covering a historic period of forty years, from 1832 to 1872, these letters, written by lawyers, doctors, preachers, generals, statesmen, private soldiers, cow hands, editors and washerwomen, display in a revealing manner a cross section of Cherokee life. The story covers the time of their greatest tribulations. It opens with the period of division and factionalism that later led to feuds and bloodshed. It covers the removal of the Cherokees from their long established homes in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, and their death-marked journey over the "Trail of Tears" to their new homes in Arkansas and Oklahoma. It includes the destructive period of the Civil War and the crushing era of Reconstruction that followed.
Throughout this entire period of 40 years the Cherokee people were plagued by uncertainty, by bitter privation, bloody strife, poverty, disease and needless death. Never did any nation suffer more from the ravages of the "Four Horsemen." And this is all vividly pictured in this day to day correspondence of the rank and file of the Cherokee people.
The one thing about these letters that stands out most noticeably is their restraint and moderation. Though the larger number were written by uneducated people whose spelling, capitalization, and punctuation would not pass any kind of scholastic test, and though the letters of the better educated were usually written under the stress of trying circumstances, they all, without exception, expressed their ideas with the greatest clarity and force. They seemed to live entirely for the future. Optimism was the keynote of their existence.
Humor, pathos, danger, hardship, devotion, and death pass in such rapid review that a reading of this volume leaves one with a vivid impression that he has sat through a moving picture depicting the 40 years of struggle of the Cherokee people.
Annie R. Cubage
Confederate Memorial Hall
Pueblo Indian Religion: By Elsie Clews Parsons. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939, two volumes XIV and 1275 pages. Introduction, bibliographical notes, bibliography, appendix, index, twenty-six plates, three text figures, and two maps. $7.00).
Notwithstanding the excellent researches of both ethnologists and archaeologists who have worked in the Southwest, no one has previously presented as good an interpretation of Pueblo life as Parsons has done in this study. She has succeeded where others have failed, chiefly because she has realized that primitive society, though complex is also a coordinated phenomenon. Since religion acts as the cohesive factor in Pueblo social structure, Parsons has not confined
her observations to ritual and belief. Spectacular ceremonials have not been over emphasized, and the more subtle religious manifestations neglected. The manners of a child when in the presence of an elder have interested the author as well as the rites of the Antelope Society.
Parsons maintains an objective viewpoint throughout the book, and thereby avoids the pitfall which too frequently ensnares the student of culture. In the preface she expresses an anthropological maxim which might be profitable to others: "To describe even a part of a culture is a dangerous enterprise, so interwoven is one part with another that the fabric tears when we begin to separate, leaving meaningless shreds in our hands."
After a somewhat lengthy introduction in which aboriginal psychology and customs are discussed, the writer attacks her problem from several standpoints: the ceremonial organization; beliefs concerning spirits and the cosmos; ritual; the calendar; and ceremonies. Then follows a chapter in which the data have been segregated according to Pueblo towns. This was necessary, as she readily admits, in order that the great detail of her previous discussions would not destroy the reader's general conception of Pueblo religion. Although this practice may be praiseworthy, I wonder if a somewhat different organization of the material would not have eliminated the necessity for a review. One would be inclined to think that a reader, who is not an ethnologist, might prefer to study this chapter and neglect the foregoing ones.
The concluding chapters, "Variation and Borrowing" and "Other Processes of Change," are by far the most interesting. The comparisons with other religions, both Indian and Catholic, establish a perspective for her study of Pueblo spiritual expression. By making these discussions more compact, Parsons has achieved greater unity than was shown in Mitla: Town of Souls.
The volumes are copiously documented. In addition to having footnotes, the context is interspersed with references to source materials listed in bibliographical notes which are arranged according to chapters at the back of the second volume. Unfortunately, this method is somewhat inconvenient for a reader who may be concerned with the source from which a statement in the first volume was taken. Had the references been presented at the conclusion of each chapter, as Wissler did in The American Indian, the reader would have no difficulty. Of course, Pueblo Indian Religion was written primarily for anthropologists, who should be willing to devote some little time to checking references; but a layman's or a student's interest in the material might be stimulated by bibliographical notes conveniently arranged. The bibliography, itself, is thorough.
This book is by no means an example of clinical writing, as the footnotes and detailed descriptions would lead one to believe at first
glance. Fortunately, the author has balanced her major data with minor incidents of Indian life, which not only strengthen her thesis, but also create secondary interest. For example, she illustrates the feeling of town solidarity by reference to the egotism of the Hopi, who use the word "kahopi" or "not Hopi" for "bad." Inadvertently Parsons has supplied several jokes at the expense of one of her predecessors in the Pueblo field, Mrs. Stevenson.
Pueblo Indian Religion is a comprehensive explanation of the Taos man's explanation that "religion is Life."
Samuel Dorris Dickinson
University of Arkansas
Jesse Chisholm. By T. U. Taylor (Bandera, Texas: Frontier Times, 1939. XIX+ 217 pp.)
Characterized by Historian J. B. Thoburn as the Daniel Boone of Kentucky, Jesse Chisholm, whose name has been perpetuated in history, cowboy lore and songs of the cattle trail by the famous trail which he located from the Red River station on the Red River to Caldwell, Kansas, has received another tribute in the form of a book entitled Jesse Chisholm.
A copy of the volume has been received by The American from the author, Dean T.U. Taylor of the civil engineering school at the University of Texas, Austin.
Since Canadian County was traversed by the famed Chisholm Trail and millions of cattle plodded this trail on their journey from the overstocked herds of Texas to the nearest railroad market at Caldwell, this historical account of the ancestry, the family life and the many exploits of the famed half-breed explorer, trader, guide and advisor of the Indians, deserves much praise for the amount of research it involved in preparation.
In his dedication, Dean Taylor pays the following tribute: "Dedicated to the memory of Jesse Chisholm, forty years a Good Samaritan in the Indian nation, friend of all men—red, white or black, first in the hearts of the Indians, foe of dishonesty, greed and graft, founder of the Chisholm Trail, finder of unknown paths, father of the poor orphans, feeder of the hungry, faithful to the best blood of the Scots and of the Cherokees—Pioneer, patriot, peacemaker, pathfinder, prophet, protector."
Dean Taylor has for 30 years been collecting material about Chisholm. He lived by one of the old cattle trails in Johnson and Parker counties in Texas and as a boy saw hundred of the herds of cattle being driven up them to the Chisholm Trail and thence to Kansas. In his research he traced the Chisholm family back to forebears who settled in Tennessee during Revolutionary war times.
Jesse Chisholm was the son of Martha Rogers, a Cherokee, and Ignatius Chisholm. He was born in 1805 or 1806 in eastern Tennessee, and later settled at Fort Gibson. A sister of Jesse's mother, Talahina Rogers, was the Indian wife of Sam Houston during his sojourn in Oklahoma and before he went to Texas to begin his famous career.
Chisholm grew to manhood in Tennessee and reached Fort Gibson about 1825. He became prominent as a trader among the Indians. He was known for his square dealings and his kind heart, and frequently went out of his way to serve as a peacemaker between the Indians and the whites. He established trading stores near Asher, Council Grove, Purcell and Little River. Council Grove is now known as Council and is located in Oklahoma County near the Tenth street bridge.
In his 40 years among the Indians, Chisholm humbly contributed possibly more than any one other Oklahoma citizen to the chartering of the rivers and other geographical features of the state, and also to the bringing of amity between the Indians and whites.
Chisholm's death at the Grant Lefthand spring just over the line from Canadian County near Greenfield is recounted by Taylor. The latter visited the site in 1930 with Dr. Thoburn and last spring brought a granite monument and erected it on the site of the grave. The monument reads: "Jesse Chisholm, born 1805, died March 4, 1868. No one left his home cold or hungry."
Taylor's book is an excellent work of reference and adds much authoritative material to the several works heretofore published regarding Chisholm and the Chisholm Trail.
—H. M. Woods
City Beginnings in Oklahoma Territory. By John Alley. (Norman, Oklahoma: The University of Oklahoma Press, 1939. 127 pp. Bibliography. $1.50).
The settlement of the American West followed, for the most part, a broad and familiar pattern. The young man on horseback, or with his wife and meager home-making tools in a light wagon, bade farewell to the western fringe of settlements and plunged into the hunting grounds of the Indians. Others followed, singly or in groups. The timber was cleared; virgin sod was broken; crops were planted; the "country grew up." The general store was built at the crossroads; eventually a post office was established, and the settlement became a village. A railroad was laid and soon the village became a town. Wholesale establishments were added; a bank
or two appeared; and the town emerged as a city. Territorial governments were finally organized, which soon were transformed into states.
The settlement of Oklahoma, however, followed another pattern. The Forty-sixth State, which was admitted to the Union in 1907, was formed by the joining of two distinct sections known at that time as the Indian Territory and the Oklahoma Territory. These areas, which were about equal in size, were populated by the removal thereto of numerous Indian tribes—a process which was begun in the Thirties during Jackson's administration.
The central portion of the state, which comprises the present counties of Logan, Oklahoma, Cleveland, Canadian, Kingfisher and Payne, was by the late 1880's in the category of unassigned lands. There developed on the part of the Anglo-Americans an organized demand that this two million-acre tract be opened for general settlement. The Cleveland administration fought valiantly to combat this onslaught, but victory of the homeseekers was finally secured in 1889. Following the signal shots which started the run of April 22, 1889—recently popularized the world over by the novel and the movie—tens of thousands rushed in and made their selections. It is the settlement of this area to which Major Alley devotes the principal part of the present study. His thesis, and he develops it with clarity and conviction, is that the interest of these settlers was centered in urban development rather than in farm lands. The Congressional Act which had opened these lands for settlement was noteworthy for its lack of vision, in that it failed to provide any kind of government. The settlers were a law unto themselves for more than a year and all their attempts at self-government were actually extra-legal. Of the score or more urban communities which sprang into being immediately, six cities commanded major importance—Guthrie, Oklahoma City, Kingfisher, El Reno, Norman and Stillwater. In delineating the development of these city beginnings Professor Alley presents a new interpretation of the state's formation. There was never any "growing up" process in the settlement of this portion of Oklahoma. It was populated overnight. And it was largely by the activities of the settlers of this area that a new commonwealth was so soon carved out of the former Indian domain.
This little monograph belongs in the class with those studies by Dr. Edward Everett Dale, Mr. Charles N. Gould, Dr. Dora Ann Stewart, Dean Roy Gittinger, and others, which deal in part or in the main with the Anglo-American aspects of Oklahoma history. This volume, illustrated and complete with an index and bibliography, is an attractive product of the University of Oklahoma Press. It is a definite addition to the Oklahoma bookshelf.
—Gaston L. Litton
The National Archives