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Kansas History - Spring 2002

(Vol. 25, No. 1)

Kansas History, Spring 2002

Rebecca Edwards. "Marsh Murdock and the Wily Women of Wichita: Domesticity Disputed in the Gilded Age."

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Politically, women enjoyed a measure of success in late nineteenth-century Kansas, but progress in this area and other efforts to redefine the role of women in society did not go unchallenged. As Rebecca Edwards, assistant professor of history at Vassar College, demonstrates, a "grassroots women's movement" emerged in Wichita "amid controversy and stubborn opposition[,] . . . led and goaded by the editor of the Wichita Eagle," Marsh Murdock. His able opponents in the late 1880s included Mary Elizabeth Lease and a number of other "Wily Women" of Wichita's WCTU. The debate in which they engaged, according to Dr. Edwards, illustrates just how complex was the reigning philosophy regarding the proper public and private spheres of women. Both sides "believed passionately in women's moral superiority to men, . . . but these shared beliefs resulted in few points of agreement. Domestic ideology could inform the belief that women had no political rights, and it could equally inform the belief that they did."

Kerry E. Irish. "Hometown Support in the Midst of War: Dwight Eisenhower's Wartime Correspondence With Abilene Friends."

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To say that Abilene's native son, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a busy man during World War II is to state the obvious, of course. Nevertheless, as Dr. Kerry E. Irish of George Fox University, Newberg, Oregon, demonstrates in this interesting article, the general made time for and drew strength from the correspondence he carried on with friends back home. Dr. Irish quotes extensively from the Eisenhower letters to illustrate their significance and concludes that he "seems to have genuinely welcomed this exchange with hometown friends." Throughout the long and difficult conflict, Ike's Abilene friends "played a significant role in helping the general cope with his staggering responsibilities. The letters reveal a man who identified warmly with his small Midwestern hometown and its people, who cared about the lives and travails of its citizens."

Fred E. Woods and Melvin L. Bashore. "On the Outskirts of Atchison: The Imprint of Latter-day Saint Transmigration at Mormon Grove."

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In recent years, a great deal has been written about the great Mormon migration, and some attention has even been paid to their presence and influence in Kansas, most recently Professor Gary Entz's fine article, "Zion Valley: The Mormon Origins of St. John, Kansas," in our Summer 2001 issue. Professors Woods and Bashore, Department of Church History, Brigham Young University, add to that literature with this look at the short-live Mormon Grove settlement near Atchison, K.T. Drawing on letters, diaries, and reminiscences in the Church Archives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, the authors offer us an interesting "story grounded in [territorial] Kansas of several thousand people who settled in Utah-who for a brief time found a hospitable home on the Kansas side of the Missouri River. In the main, it is the story of indulgence, of giving and receiving between two very different communities of frontier people-and their wonder at being able to get along with each other."

James E. Sherow, "Review Essay Series: The Art of Water and the Art of Living"

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The dearth of water on the Plains is a constant theme in American history, and for Walter Prescott Webb and other historians of his generation, water was "the crux of the whole problem of conquering the Great Plains." In more recent years, however, new Western and environmental historians such as James E. Sherow have demonstrated that the state's water "problems" go far beyond shortage. This essay, the third in our still new review essay series, critically examines the historiography of water in the region and offers some provocative observations for the present and future. A native Kansans and professor of history at Kansas State University, Sherow suggests that our past "domination of water" may contain "hidden consequences for the future." With regard to Kansans' relationship to water, he observes that we "have mastered the art of making a living as opposed to mastering the art of living. . . . people have given more heed to the economic development of water than they have to the health and beauty of aquifers, creeks, rivers and wetlands." Sherow challenges today's scholars to ask new questions and tackle some of the tough issues that will help us better understand the history of water in the region, and thus put us in a position to more effectively deal with the vital issues of today and tomorrow.

Robert W. Richmond, "In Memoriam: Arthur Stanley and Paul Wilson"


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

Ten Years With Custer: A 7th Cavalryman's Memoirs
Edited by Sandy Barnard
xviii + 343 pages, maps, photographs, illustrations, notes, biographical sketches, index.
Terre Haute, Ind.: AST Press, 2001, paper $19.95.
Reviewed by R. Eli Paul, independent researcher, Overland Park.

The Black Regulars, 1866-1898
By William A. Dobak and Thomas D. Phillips
xviii + 360 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001, cloth, $34.95.
Reviewed by Roger D. Cunningham, retired army officer and historian, Alexandria, Virginia.

Golden Age, Great Depression, and Dust Bowl
By Ellen May Stanley
xiv + 376 pages, introduction, illustrations, photographs, endnotes, bibliography, index.
Newton, Kans.: Mennonite Press, 2001, cloth, $45.00.
Reviewed by Homer E. Socolofsky, professor emeritus, Kansas State University.

Seeing and Being Seen: Tourism and the American West
Edited by David M. Wrobel and Patrick T. Long.
xv + 336 pages, notes, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001, cloth $45.00, paper, $19.95.
Reviewed by Keith A. Sculle, head of research and education, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Springfield.

Indian Orphanages
by Marilyn Irvin Holt
x + 326 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 2001, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by Martha K. Robinson, Ph.D. student, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Army Regulars on the Western Frontier, 1848-1861
by Durwood Ball
xxxi + 208 pages, maps, photographs, illustrations, endnotes, bibliography, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001, cloth, $34.95.
Reviewed by William D. Young, professor of history, Maple Woods Community College, Kansas City, Missouri.

Dissent in Wichita: The Civil Rights Movement in the Midwest, 1954-72
by Gretchen Cassel Eick
xiv + 312 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2001, cloth $39.95.

Reviewed by Robert F. Burk, professor of history, Muskingum College, New Concord, Ohio.

Letters from the Dust Bowl
by Caroline Henderson, ed. by Alvin O. Turner
xv + 278, bibliography, index, photos.
Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by Janet Allured, associate professor of history, McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Embattled Lawrence: Conflict and Community
edited by Dennis Domer and Barbara Watkins
xxv + 441 pages, bibliography, index.
Lawrence University of Kansas Continuing Education, 2001, paper $00.00.
Reviewed by William O. Wagnon, professor of history, Washburn University.


Sign Language Among North American Indians. By Garrick Mallery. (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 2001. 288 pages. Paper $14.95.)

Originally published by the Bureau of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution in 1881, Sign Language Among North American Indians is a significant document in the history of American anthropology." The volume contains numerous, helpful illustrations, and, although some of Mallery's interpretations are understandably dated, his data is still of considerable value and interest to today's historians and anthropologists.

History of Bourbon County, Kansas. To the Close of 1865. By T. F. Robley. (Fort Scott, Kans.: the author, 1894; reprint, Hogginson Book Co., Salem, Mass.: 2001. x + 210 pages. Cloth $29.95.)

This substantial, if fairly typical, late nineteenth-century county history, covers the 1837 founding and early years for Fort Scott, as well as the turbulent territorial and Civil War years. Unfortunately, this edition, which is strictly a facsimile of the original, contains no index, a very useful addition to the 1975 reprint.

Rush County Kansas . . . 125 Years in Story & Pictures. By Judith Reynolds. (LaCrosse, Kans.: The Rush County News and Creative Printing, 2001. viii + 227 pages. Cloth $40.00.)

A brief chapter on the regions "Early History," introduces the reader to this generously illustrated volume that focuses on the county's history since its organization in 1874. More than half the volume is devoted to the histories of a dozen towns, including Alexander, LaCrosse, Rush Center, and Timken.

Amelia Earhart's Shoes: Is the Mystery Solved? By Thomas F. King, Randall S. Jacobson, Karen Ramey Burns, and Kenton Spading. (Walnut Creek, Calif.: Alta Mira Press, 2001. viii + 376 pages. Cloth $24.95.)

No doubt the fans of "Unsolved Mysteries" and anything about the famous aviatrix's final flight will be intrigued by Amelia Earhart's Shoes: Is the Mystery Solved? Although the authors do not answer their title question definitively and continue their own search, they tell a good story about their adventures, as well as those of Earhart and Noonan, and they suggest that the duo landed on the island of Nikumaroro in the South Pacific, "lived on the island for a while, and died."

The Chickasaw Rancher, Rev. Ed. By Neil R. Johnson, edited by C. Neil Kingsley. (Boulder, Colo.: University Press of Colorado, 2001. xix + 317 pages. Paper $19.95.

First published in 1960, The Chickasaw Rancher is the story of Montford T. Johnson, the author's grandfather, who established his first ranch in present day Oklahoma in 1868. It "is a multidimensional story," writes historian Arrell M. Gibson in the foreword to this edition, but "With all its frontier lore, The Chickasaw Rancher is primarily a book about ranching, and though Montford's interests were varied, he was first and foremost a stock raiser."

The Prairie Was On Fire: Eyewitness Accounts of the Civil War in the Indian Territory. By Whit Edwards. (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Oklahoma Historical Society, 2001. xviii + 180 pages. Cloth $24.95.)

"Guerrilla warfare dominated the action in the Indian Territory throughout the war," writes Whit Edwards, director of the Education and Programs Division of the Oklahoma Historical Society, and this collection of "Eyewitness Accounts" is especially reflective of the nature of that type of warfare. The volume contains numerous reports or observations from Kansas soldiers involved in the territory from the "First Federal Invasion" in June 1862 through the "End of Hostilities" with the surrender of Brigadier General Stand Watie in June 1865.

Santa Fe Heritage: The Railroad's Self Portrait. Volume One. By Stephen and Cinthia Priest. (Kansas City, Mo.: Paired Rail RR Publications, Ltd., 2001. 192 pages. Cloth $59.95.)

Beautifully reproduced historic and contemporary photographs grace the pages of both these volumes and present a portrait of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe from Chicago to Santa Fe to San Francisco. Volume one focuses on locomotives and rolling stock, while two tends to concentrate on places served and contains photographs of the Santa Fe Fire Department in Topeka, Syracuses's Sequoyah Hotel, the depots at Burlingame, Arkansas City, and Hutchinson, numerous scenes made at the rail yards of Argentine, and much, much more.