Beacon on the Plains: by Sister Mary Paul Fitzgerald, S. C. L., Ph. D. pp. 304 (Leavenworth, 1939.)
While the intriguing title of this book refers to the Osage Mission established in Neosho County Kansas in 1847, the contents have peculiar interest for the student of Oklahoma history. This Catholic mission exerted a deep influence for good on the Osage Indians and their neighbors who were to become citizens of this state. And after they removed here many of them continued to profit by sending their children to school at the Osage Mission.
This establishment was a compound of mission, farm, and manual labor school; an entrepot for supplies, a harbor for the ill and destitute, a haven in time of civic distress, not only for the Indians but also for the white settlers in that part of Kansas.
These pages are alive with incidents that tell of the dynamic missionary energy of the Jesuits and Sisters of Loretto and their labors, both among the Indians and the pioneer white settlers. The missionaries were not only engaged in saving souls but, as cultural and civilizing agents of the first rank, made their field of activity a better place in which to live and improved the future citizens of Oklahoma.
Sister Mary has done a prodigious amount of work in the preparation of this book and her scholarship is much in evidence. From the many sources consulted by her, she has compiled a priceless bibliography relating to her subject. There is also a map and a good index.
Springplace, Moravian Mission, and the Ward Family of the Cherokee Nation: by Muriel H. Wright (Guthrie, 1940.)
The mention of Spring Place brings to mind early Cherokee history and the labors of the Society of United Brethren commonly called Moravian Brethren, to interest the Cherokees in education and religion. The mission was located two miles east of the Connesauga River near the public road leading from Georgia to Tennessee. This, the first mission school started among the Cherokees, continued in operation for many years, and here boys and girls were taught reading, writing, arithmetic, and some of them grammar and geography. The girls were taught spinning, sewing and knitting, and the boys agricultural accomplishments, and even to make their own clothing.
Miss Wright's book contains a condensed history of the Moravian Church at Spring Place. She also includes a brief account
of the mission at New Spring Place, Indian Territory, where the Moravians renewed their labors for the Cherokee people near the present village of Oaks. Here, a half mile from the thriving Danish Lutheran school, one can see the remains of substantial stone structures that housed the springs from which the mission obtained its water supply. Near by is the Moravian cemetery where one can see the stone tablets flat on the ground, according to Moravian custom.
The author describes in her book the missionary work and the training received here by the youth of the Cherokee Nation. This publication, sponsored by Miss Clara A. Ward of the Cherokee Nation, as a, memorial to her parents, is also a genealogical adventure into the celebrated family of Wards of the Cherokee Nation. It contains also brief biographies of Sequoyah and Chief George Lowrey. In the introduction of this book Miss Wright, whose knowledge of Indian history is sound and dependable, has made a real contribution to Oklahoma history. The book will be a necessary item on the shelf of collectors and librarians who pretend to cover Oklahoma history.
The Earth Speaks, by Princess Atalie; pp. 223 (New York, 1939.)
Readers of The Chronicles of Oklahoma, who are not aware that the author of this book is an Oklahoman, are advised the name "Princess Atalie" is that assumed for professional purposes by Miss Iva J. Rider, daughter of Thomas L. Rider, a former member of the Oklahoma legislature and one of a large and interesting Cherokee family.
Indian history and romance have invoked literary contributions in many forms. The author of this book, though not now a resident of Oklahoma, apparently cherishing her Cherokee blood and the traditions of her tribe, has undertaken to incorporate them in this volume under the intriguing title she has chosen. She does not present it as a historical contribution. Rather, it is a poetical treatment of tradition, story and fancy, with which she invests the people of her nation. Making full use of a poet's license, she has invoked the flow of fancy unrestricted by the limitations of historical exactions, and has produced a book that is entertaining and graceful.
The gifted author has not only written a charming book, but has adorned it with her own sketches and illustrations.
Border Captives:. The Traffic in Prisoners by Southern Plains Indians, 1835-1875. By Carl Coke Rister. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1940. x X 220 pp. Bibliography, illustrations, maps, index, $2.00.)
During the forty year period from 1835 to 1875 the southern plains area was the stage for a terrific struggle between the resident Indian tribes and white intruders.
This rivalry between red men and white was for the possession of a region of more than 300,000 square miles extending from the North Platte River to the Rio Grande and from the Cross Timbers west to the Rocky Mountains. In this far-flung territory four powerful nomadic tribes—the Comanches, Kiowas, Cheyennes and Arapahoes—had their homes and fought the intrusion of steady streams of border settlers. Cruelty, terrorism, theft, and plunder were the resulting evils of this sanguinary conflict, in which helpless men, women and children suffered and died. During this period the southern border settlers were subjected to countless harrowing attacks which resulted in the capture of hundreds of women and children. The seeds of Indian grievances lay in misdeeds of the whites, in the slaughter of the buffalo, and the settler-occupation of favorite hunting grounds. The readiness of relatives and friends to pay liberal rewards for the return of captives and the trade and tribal value of stolen horses and mules created an ever-present incentive for raids. In this traffic the Comancheros and Anglo-American traders often lent encouragement, and to some extent shared in it. The white outlaw, who had openly traded guns and ammunition for stolen horses and mules, did not neglect this lucrative opportunity. Other considerations existed. The warrior losses in protracted wars were so considerable that the capture of Mexican women and children, and their subsequent adoption, went far toward replenishing the tribes. The Indianizing of Anglo-American women and children, though far more difficult, nevertheless resulted in a considerable number of the offspring of border women who yet reside within the Indian country.
It was impossible, and not essential, to follow the fortunes of each of the hundreds of captives. Separate captive sketches, in the pattern of those narratives of Indian captivity of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the region east of the Alleghanies, have been written in considerable numbers and were frequently used by the author. Here is the broad movement, interspersed at points by episode and incident with brief captive sketches as types and examples. The composite picture is a gripping—yet at times often appalling—story of pathos, of tragedy, and even humor. This is not a story of the southern plains Indians, nor of the border wars. Dependable studies in these fields have already been made available by Paul I. Wellman, R. N. Richardson, W. S. Nye, by the author of this study, and others. This, however, is a story of the captive traffic as a background of the broader view of Indian-settler re-
lations. Doctor Rister's careful researches in the preparation of this book have led him into the archives of the federal and state governments, and into many rare book collections.
This excellent piece of scholarship has been attractively printed and bound, and contains numerous maps and other appropriate illustrations. It will have a great appeal to the people of the southern plains.
The National Archives
Captain Lee Hall of Texas—By Dora Neill Raymond. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1940. XIII + 350 pp. $2.75.)
One of the most refreshing things in the literary world to a reviewer is to find a popular biography that is not weighted down in the scholarly sense yet is at the same time artistic as a classic and warmly human and informal as the Texan's drawl of "Howdy Stranger." Such a book is Captain Lee Hall of Texas by Dora Neill Raymond.
This is the biography of a colorful Texas Ranger who was persuasive in voice, possessed with a trigger itching finger and a daring courage that fitted well in a period of Texas' history when law forces were meager and the demand great.
When a reader opens a book and begins a story in which the background is Texas, the imagination is given a sudden lift. Right away there is anticipation of romance, danger, courage and high faith in the pages just ahead. Each chapter in this book sweeps the reader forward in dramatic cresendo causing the fingers to keep turning the pages unconsciously. In Texas, traditions continue to build on in an unbroken stream about courageous men and women, each decade furnishing its quota.
To the reading world in general the term Texas Rangers symbolizes the west as it was in the great days of the old west, the years immediately following the Civil War and the exciting seventies.
Captain Lee Hall is a striking figure of the seventies when the Rangers were the one man army of the state trying to keep order while settlements were rapidly enlarging. The Texas Rangers guarded the border along the Rio Grande River from Mexicans who molested the cattle raisers and pushed back the Indians along the north border to their own reservations making effort to keep them away from the settlements.
Lee Hall was not a Texan. Frankly he was an adventurer who left North Carolina seeking adventure and excitement away from the quiet surroundings of his birth. He had heard of Texas.
He and the first Railroad to come into the state from the north got there about the same time. The railroad stopped at Denison for awhile and so did Lee Hall. There was plenty of excitement for the youthful Hall in Denison and he plunged into the thick of it. He was unknown to leaders of the wide open town and was in a fair way to remain unknown to the present generation if Dora Neill Raymond had not discovered his colorful life in the papers, documents and other evidence in possession of his daughter.
Until this book came from the press few Texans had heard of Lee Hall. Other rangers have appeared in song and story but this one, along with many others less colorful seems to have been overlooked. There was a striking similarity in the experiences of Texas Rangers, circumstances once in a while gave some of them a little edge on the number of killers captured. Lee Hall was one jump ahead of most of them in the number of bad men captured.
From 1869 when he headed Texas way until the close of the Spanish-American War, Lee Hall touched most of the settled portions of Texas always searching out some bad men and trying to bring order and law enforcement to settlements widely scattered. Once he tried cow ranching but his itching traveling feet loosed him from this restraint. He preferred to hunt men rather than cattle.
It was during this period in his life when he came to know Sydney Porter, later 0'Henry. 0'Henry was a youngster from Lee's home state, a tenderfoot on the ranch with a lung infection which kept him from most of the more strenuous activities. His caustic criticism of the cowboys in general did not increase his popularity with the ranch hands. His utter lack of understanding of animals and men made his wisecracks sting like the prick of hate. Later years his seasoned pen showed a different understanding and his fine description of action and estimates of character pleased the most critical.
The many parts of the entire narrative of Captain Lee Hall of Texas are neatly bound together by high expectation of achievements which in their development leap at you from every chapter.
The source material cited is too numerous for counting. Practically a complete library on the Southwest has been quoted from, searched, consulted and compared. All classes of readers may not agree with some of the points taken by the author concerning the cow men versus the Indians. There are those yet living who remember the bitter experiences of going broke in the cattle business because of the haste in which the herds of cattle had to be moved from grass to pastures south of Red River that were bare from drouth. The cattle men were honest men too. They get scant sympathy in this story.
This is a splendid book, all through there is the bright flame of courage in the character of Lee Hall and the fumbling of the crook and felon. Captain Lee Hall was not a superman in abilities yet he had an abundance of courage and nowhere in the story does he show more of it than when dealing with the Indians when the agency was at Anadarko and he their agent.
After civilization had advanced somewhat beyond the stage of growing pains in Texas and life there began to show promise of orderly existence Lee Hall started looking for some place where excitement had not spent itself completely. He came to Indian Territory. Here he began to feel the old thrill of being on the alert for danger. His troubles as Indian agent were entirely of a different nature from those of the life of a Ranger.
The author, Dora Neill Raymond was born near El Paso, Texas, the daughter of Judge Henry Hart Neill, late of the San Antonio Criminal Court of Appeals.
Mrs. Raymond attended the University of Texas, taught in Smith College, is now head of the History and Government department in Sweet Briar College, Virginia. She has received numerous fellowships, is a member of the American Historical Association, Academy of Political Science, Texas Folk Lore Society and other learned societies.
Dora Neill Raymond brings to this biography of Captain Lee Hall the work of an artist that shows the substantial scholarship of a trained mind.
Oklahoma Library Commission
They Carried the Torch. By Mrs. Tom B. Ferguson (Kansas City, Missouri: Burton Publishing Co., 1937. 132 pp. Illustrations. $2.00.)
One of the striking angles of the settlement of the West is that which often discovers the earliest years of a community to be its richest in episode. I am impressed again with the fact in reading a book by Mrs. Tom B. Ferguson of Watonga, Oklahoma, a dear book, bearing the title They Carried the Torch published recently by the Burton Publishing Company of Kansas City. The book is written around the personalities of pioneer Oklahoma newspaper people, and is invaluable in recalling as in flesh-and-blood folks once so familiar, now gathered to their fathers. The book is dear because Mrs. Ferguson has succeeded in recapturing the atmosphere of early Oklahoma. It is masterful art to do that. And in doing it Mrs. Ferguson, who furnished Edna Ferber much of her source material for Cimarron and the model for the heroine of that novel and the play, here in her writing has added a wealth of little touches of life in a new country—the little touches which make a frontier picture come alive.
To me there is in such an intimate record more revelation of a past place and time than in the majestic swing of an epic or in the step from suspense to suspense in the breathless drama. For life in any pioneer time is largely made up of many little things, none the less important, because they are little. For in the aggregate, the whole of them looms large and essential to the true tone Mrs. Ferguson has here given her canvas.
Now what I believe to be peculiar to a new country is the occasional appearance among day-by-day intimacies of a major incident an episode, some local happening of an unusual nature, a happening which only a new community could produce, which an old community could not even contrive imaginatively to invent.
Mingled with Mrs. Ferguson's memories of her editor-husband, the late Governor Ferguson, and of her boys who grew to distinction in Oklahoma before their death, are charming recollections of her impressions of the new country when she entered it in her young womanhood. Here is a perfect picture of her arrival at her new home:
"A light wagon with bedding and camp equipment was driven by myself. I held a young baby on my lap and a small boy rode by my side. After nightfall we drove into the little new town of Watonga through a muddy street. The town was brilliantly lighted from the open doors of many saloons. Drunken revelry from these places made me shudder and I looked at the sleeping baby on my lap and at the small boy on the seat by my side, resolving that I would not rear my boys in such a wild place and that I would start back to Kansas the next morning. So much for resolutions. My family are all gone now and I am still here."
Looking back on the old times today Mrs. Ferguson finds that she loves it all. For she says: "I feel sorry for any one who has never known the fascination of pioneering and starting at the beginning of things. I feel sorry for any one who has never traveled in a covered wagon, stopping along the winding streams to make a camp in God's beautiful out-doors. I feel sorry for any one who has never made a campfire between two stones on which to fry bacon and boil coffee. I feel sorry for any one who has not had a part in helping build our grand state from the day of its birth." There can be no doubt of this. The pioneer past does pay rich dividends.