Oklahoma, Courtney Riley Cooper; Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1926. $2.00.
The novel, Oklahoma, deals with the conflict of the incoming settlers with the cattlemen, the efforts of the boomers to force the opening of the vast territory known as the Oklahoma lands to white settlement. Generally speaking, the account of events is historically correct. The character delineations are pleasing and interesting, and although it is primarily a book for the leisure hour, it also gives a good account of the facts of Oklahoma history. It pictures the passing of the old order and the coming of the new, and gives insight into the lives of the pioneers whether they appear as friends or enemies, as hunters or outlaws. There is tragedy, pathos, excitement, happiness, expectation, and a frontier faith in the future.
Pawnee Bill, friend of the Pawnees, westerner and showman, and his friend Mort Sturdevant, both men penniless and out of work, are the outstanding characters of the book. Under a verbal contract with his father, a multi-millionaire of the East, Mort agrees not to lay claim to his inheritance provided he receives a satisfactory amount during his father’s life to do with it as he wishes. He and Pawnee Bill come West, spend several months at Pore Folk’s Haven, a cold and hunger stricken settlement on the outskirts of Wichita, where they find many types of people. There is a picture of prospective settlers moving across the Cherokee Strip under the guardianship of troops to take their places along the Oklahoma line upon that famous day, April 22, 1889, to make the race for homes. There is an account of the celebration the night before the run, the hardships, privations, and difficulties that they were forced to endure.
The interest in the romance between Mort Sturdevant and Mary Bryant reaches its height as the mystery of her family is revealed. The story ends happily and in quite conventional fashion. On the whole the book is of absorbing interest and a valuable addition to the growing mass of literature that has Oklahoma as its background.
Black Jack Davy, John M. Oskison; D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1926. $2.00.
Although "Black Jack Davy" is the conventional western story, it is presented attractively and is constantly interesting. The experiences of the characters are typical of Oklahoma pioneers, and even though the setting may be true of other frontier communities as well as of Oklahoma, the author gives vivid impressions of pioneer life which I believe are authentic. The plot is a probable one, is well developed, and illustrates life on the frontier during those days of unorganized government. Conversation, too, is characteristic, not only of early settlers, but even of many people to-day who come into eastern Oklahoma from Arkansas. The Indian vernacular is especially good. The matter-of-fact attitude of the characters, the repressed love-making which is so noticeable throughout the story, are typical of early days. Even Mirabelle, the cripple, possesses the philosophy of life, crude yet sound, the optimism and vision so necessary to those who face the hardships and lawless conditions of such a community.
Davy Dawes, with his foster parents, Jim and Mirabello Dawes, come from Arkansas to settle in eastern Oklahoma on Horsepen Creek. The story centers around Jerry Boyd, a grasping settler who tries to force the removal of Ned Warrior, half-breed Indian, from the Horsepen. Also he plans to make life so uncomfortable for other settlers that they will be willing to sell, so that the coveted half of the rich triangle of ranch land between the river and the creek will fall into his grasp. The story of how Black Jack Davy schemes to prevent such lawlessness, of how in a frightful battle the settlers fight off the outlaws and protect themselves and families is vivid. The author offers surprises, too. He leads the hero to St. Louis to make the acquaintance of his own mother who has sacrificed him when a child, to her position. Their strange relationships, the story of his attempts at learning, and his realization of the unfitness of his presence there, lend relaxation in comparison to the more vigorous chapters.