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Kansas History - Autumn 2003

(Vol. 26, No. 3)

Kansas History, Autumn 2003

Jeff R. Bremer, "'A Species of Town-Building Madness': Quindaro and Kansas Territory, 1856-1862."

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Founded in January 1857 on the banks of the Missouri a few short miles north of confluence of the Kansas River, Quindaro was to be a free-state portal to Kansas Territory. But, as historian Jeff R. Bremer illustrates, it also was a "boom" town founded by speculators looking for a good financial investment that failed to really survive the "bust" that came just months after Quindaro's birth. Although some African Americans no doubt did find their way to freedom from enslavement through this little river city, "Quindaro was neither as crucial to the success of the free-state cause nor as important to the history of the underground railroad as many have claimed." Nevertheless, "free African Americans built a thriving community near its ruins during the late nineteenth century," and thus, Bremer argues, the failed free-state boomtown "laid the foundation for the creation and survival of African American institutions that nourished a marginalized and persecuted minority and helped them to prosper during the long, twilight struggle for racial equality."

Gary L. Cheatham, "Confederate Government Interest in the Quapaw, Osage and Cherokee Tribal Lands of Kansas."

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By January 29, 1861, when Kansas became the thirty-fourth state to enter the Union, four Southern states had seceded and soon the process of forming the Confederate States of America had begun, followed by a long and bloody war between the states. Most Kansans were thrilled with their newly acquired statehood status and firmly in the Union camp when war broke out. But the loyalties of many Indians on the southern Kansas border were not so clear. Thus, as historian Gary L. Cheatham demonstrates, Confederate officials saw an opportunity to secure their western border "by attaching the area and its tribes to the newly formed Southern nation. . . . Since much of southern Kansas was owned or inhabited by tribes with close ties to Indian Territory, southern Kansas was . . . drawn into the Confederacy's evolving Indian policy. This policy led to one Kansas and two Indian Territory-Kansas tribes signing treaties with the Confederacy, and resulted in several [ill-fated] Southern attempts to essentially append portions of Indian Kansas of Confederate Indian Territory."

James R. Shortridge, "The Missing Railroad Cities Along the Union Pacific and Santa Fe Lines in Kansas."

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Much has been written about the age of the steam railroad and its impact on the development of the United States. No where was this more important than on the Great Plains, where railroads were built in advance of Euro-American settlement. Nevertheless, in Kansas, unlike anywhere else on the Plains, the major railroads companies had far less influence on town development than is generally believed. In an article that first appeared earlier this year in the Society's symposium publication Tallgrass Essays, James R. Shortridge, a highly respected cultural geographer at the University of Kansas, demonstrates that "The reality for central and western Kansas . . . was and is something quite different from the standard model. Union Pacific [Kansas Pacific] people established only four towns along their entire three-hundred-mile pathway across that portion of the state," and the more active Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe founded "none of the larger cities on their route . . .not Dodge City, not Garden City, not Hutchinson. . . . This article, a look at the overall strategies of these two companies as they built west, is an attempt to explain this Kansas anomaly."

H. Roger Grant, "Kansas Transportation: Review Essay."

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In his contribution to our on-going review essay series, railroad and transportation historian H. Roger Grant, a professor of history at Clemson University, examines America's continual effort to "conquer space" with new, improved, and especially faster modes of transportation. This is an issue, of course, that has been especially important to Americans living in the West, and although historians have covered some issues having to do with travel in Kansas and throughout the Plains thoroughly, we have neglected others. Most notably, perhaps, is the social history of travel. We know a great deal about the technological and industrial development of the railroad and the automobile, for example, but we know far less about "the human element." Professor Grant challenges us to more seriously consider the "common people" and examine more closely the social and economic consequences of the various transportation "revolutions" that impacted all Americans in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


(The following books and collections are reviewed in full in our print version.)

In His Brother's Shadow: The Life of Thomas Ward Custer
by Roy Bird
200 pages, notes, bibliography, index.
Paducah, Ky.: Turner Publishers, 2002, cloth $21.95.
Reviewed by Michael E. Long, instructor of history and political science, Pasco-Hernando Community College, Dade City, Florida.

The Civil War Story of Bloody Bill Anderson
by Mil Penner
by Larry Wood
xii + 171 pages, notes, bibliography, index.
Austin: Eakin Press, 2003, paper $22.95.
Reviewed by Christopher M. Paine, instructor of history, Lake Michigan College, Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Letters from the Dust Bowl
by Caroline Henderson, edited by Alvin O. Turner
xv + 278 pages, endnotes, bibliography, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003, Red River edition, paper $14.95.
Reviewed by Marilyn Irvin Holt, independent researcher, Abilene.

Americanizing the West: Race, Immigrants, and Citizenship, 1890-1930
by Frank Van Nuys
xv + 294 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002, cloth $35.00.
Reviewed by John R. Wunder, professor of history, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Wild Bill Hickok, Gunfighter: An Account of Hickok's Gunfights
by Joseph G. Rosa
216 pages, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002, paper $17.95.
Reviewed by Mark van de Logt, American Indian Studies Research Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington.


A Century of Dishonor: The Classic Exposé of the Plight of the Native Americans. By Helen Hunt Jackson. (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 2003. 342 pages, paper $11.95.)

Originally published in 1881, Jackson's was a surprisingly harsh critique of the federal government's policy toward and cruel treatment of American Indian peoples from the Revolutionary Era to the 1870s written as a call for justice and policy reform. Jackson focused on the Delawares, Cheyennes, Nez Perces, Sioux, Poncas, Winnebagoes, and Cherokees but concluded that it made "little difference . . . where one open[ed] the record of the history of the Indians; every page and every year has its dark stain. The story of one tribe is the story of all, varied only by difference of time and place; but neither time nor place make any difference in the main facts."

Fred Harris: His Journey From Liberalism to Populism. By Richard Lowitt. (Lanham, Md.: Rowan and Littlefield Publishers, 2002. xv + 285 pages, cloth $39.95.)

Elected to the U.S. Senate from Oklahoma in 1964, Senator Fred Harris was an energetic Democrat who aspired to be a national voice for American Indians and the rural poor as he developed and championed a "New Populism." His political career faltered and came to an end in the 1970s, and "only a dedicated and small number of people accepted his approach." But this, writes noted historian and author Richard Lowitt of the University of Oklahoma, "does not negate the fact that a careful examination of his political career can provide insight into one individual's search for answers to the diverse and challenging issues that confronted America."

State Capitols: Temples of Sovereignty. Written, photographed, and produced by Francis Pio Ruggiero. (Milford, Pa.: Excelsior Worldwide, 2002. 669 pages, paper $79.95.)

Although the historical essay on Kansas, and perhaps the other forty-nine states, is not especially satisfying or completely accurate, the state capitol photographs are spectacular, and it is in this realm that photographer Francis Pio Ruggiero's State Capitols: Temples of Sovereignty makes a uniquely significant contribution. The book comprises 824 exterior and interior shots of statuary, murals, and legislative chambers that dramatically convey the grandeur of these state "temples" and the uniqueness of the American nation which was a union of "sovereign" states, each with its own seat of government-its state capitol.

A Great Plains Reader. Edited by Diane D. Quantic and P. Jane Hafen. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003. xxii + 730 pages, paper $35.00.)

Quantic and Hafen, associate professors of English at Wichita State University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, respectively, have assembled here a collection of works by a diverse group of writers ranging from Willa Cather, Langston Hughes, and William Stafford to William Least Heat-Moon, Wes Jackson, and Denise Low. Through their Reader's historical and contemporary stories, essays, excerpts, and poems, the editors seek to "confirm or illuminate" our "own observations and experiences" and to "reflect the intricate and complex relationships of land and people in the Great Plains."

Plants of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. By H. Wayne Phillips. (Missoula, Mont.: Mountain Press Publishing Co., 2003. vii + 278 pages, paper $20.00.)

With its ninety-nine contemporary color photographs, individual plant descriptions, extensive journal excerpts, and a helpful appendix entitled "The Plant Collections," Plants of the Lewis and Clark Expedition appears to be an important contribution to the rapidly expanding literature on the exploits and accomplishments of the Corps of Discovery and a significant source for students of native flora from the tallgrass prairie to the Pacific forests of the Northwest. Botanical exploration was one of President Jefferson's primary objectives for the 1804 expedition, and Lewis and Clark collected and/or mentioned, according to forestry ecologist H. Wayne Phillips, more than 250 specimens; Phillips "chose to feature photographs and descriptions of 225 plant species . . . and photographs of 6 others: 15 trees, 61 scrubs, 131 herbaceous wildflowers, 12 grasses, 3 vines, 2 ferns, 2 algae, 2 liverworts, and 1 horsetail, moss, and cactus."

Telling Stories the Kiowa Way. By Gus Palmer Jr. (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2003. xxx + 145 pages, paper $17.95.)

Members of the Kiowa tribe today live and practice aspects of their traditional culture throughout the Central and Southern Plains. One of these individuals is Gus Palmer Jr., a professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, who was raised in a traditional Kiowa family and thus offers here "an inside view of the lively tradition of storytelling in Kiowa culture." Telling Stories the Kiowa Way "is more or less," according to the author, "a discourse on how Kiowas tell stories," stories that are truly important contributions to American literature and must be recognized as such.

A Meeting with Shannon: Lewis & Clark Remembered. A Story of the Corps of Discovery seen through the eyes of its youngest member, Pvt. George Shannon. By Loren L. Taylor. (Kansas City, Kans.: Kansa North Star Publishing, 2003. 377 pages, paper $29.95.)

A member of the Kansas Historical Society's board of directors and the author of several books on local history, Loren L. Taylor here offers a partially fictionalized story "written from two distinct perspectives; one . . . through the eyes of" an eighteen-year-old Corps of Discovery private, "and the second as remembrances in the mind of a strong, politically-minded older lawyer Shannon." With the exception of four "special" notes on chapter two, the volume contains no source citations and only a brief list of suggested readings; but the author does include twelve "appendixes and afterthoughts . . . to assist the reader with forming a basic foundation for understanding our story."

Buxton: A Black Utopia in the Heartland. An Expanded Edition. By Dorothy Schwieder, Joseph Hraba, and Elmer Schwieder. (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2003. xx + 256 pages, paper $19.95.)

Originally published by Iowa State University Press in 1987, Buxton: A Black Utopia in the Heartland combines the talents and expertise of an American historian with those of a family sociologist and a race relations sociologist. The result was an award-winning story of a predominantly black, southeastern Iowa coal-mining town that "still produces a sense of awe that a racially integrated community could have existed in Iowa in the early twentieth century. For the people who lived there, particularly African Americans," write the authors in the introduction for the new edition, "Buxton seemed a virtual oasis in the midst of an otherwise hostile world."

Kappler Revisited: An Index and Bibliographic Guide to American Indian Treaties. By Charles D. Bernholz. (Buffalo, N.Y: Epoch Books, 2003. xi + 121 pages, cloth $45.95.)

Among the many important documents one finds in Charles J. Kappler's classic, two-volume reference work Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1904), are the texts of treaties assigning land to Kansas's various immigrant Indian tribes and those that later lead to their removal from the state. "Kappler Revisited integrates the 375 treaties recognized by the Department of State with nine other important American Indian resources," explains author Charles J. Benholz. "It is also an effort to expand the accessibility by tribe name to those treaties to which a tribe was a signatory, to cross-reference that tribe to the array of reference materials, and to provide a link to its historical and social data."