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Kansas History - Summer 2001

(Vol. 24, No. 2)

Kansas History, Summer 2001

Bonnie Lynn-Sherow and Susannah Bruce. "'How Cola' from Camp Funston: American Indians and the Great War."

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The authors of this interesting article examine the Lakota Sioux experience at Camp Funston, Fort Riley, Kansas, and conclude it "supports earlier historians' contentions that there was no characteristic response to service in the Great War." Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, government policy regarding the recruitment and assignment of American Indians here and elsewhere was driven by 'persistent stereotypes' and the desire to foster great assimilation into American society.  "What is commonly overlooked is that Indian soldiers used their military experiences to satisfy their own cultural goals and made good use of their training after the war for the advancement of their communities.

Gary R. Entz."Zion Valley: The Mormon Origins of St. John, Kansas."

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The story of Brigham Young and the Mormon migration to the Great Salt Lake is a familiar one to most readers of Kansas History, as is, most likely, the history of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, headquartered in Independence, Missouri. McPherson College historian Gary Entz, however, opens an as yet "fertile-field for historical research" by examining one of the "smaller restoration churches that remained apart from the two large church organizations," specifically one led by William Bickerton, a Pennsylvania coal miner who "saw a potential Zion in Kansas." The church he and his followers established in the 1870s became "the heart of the new town of St. John," the county seat of Stafford County.

Suzanne Hasselle-Newcombe. "Cementing His Political Views: S.P. Dinsmoor and the Garden of Eden."

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Although many Kansans are familiar with the "bizarre oddity" created by Samuel P. Dinsmoor at Lucas, Kansas, few perhaps know the real story behind it and the symbolism incorporated in this "unique sculptural environment made from cement." Ms. Hasselle-Newcombe's examination of Dinsmoor's "Garden of Eden" is, we believe, the most thorough to date and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the man, his times, and his creation. "True to Populism even after death, Dinsmoor, through his sculpture, addresses his message not to the annals of philosophic or political theories, but to anyone with a bit of free time and a car."

"The Cinematic Presence of Kansas and the West: Film Reviews," edited and introduced by Thomas Prasch

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With the introduction of this new section, which we hope to include in these pages every year or two, Kansas History follows a broad trend in the historical discipline to take film "B" even fictional films 'B' seriously as a form in which knowledge of history is promulgated. Thus, "Kansas in the Movies," introduced and edited by Washburn history professor Tom Prasch, examines a wide variety of classic and contemporary films, popular movies and documentaries. Nine different Kansas scholars contribute to this intriguing look at more than a dozen films, from the most recent depiction of the border wars, "Ride with the Devil," to that tragic Kansas classic from the 1960s, "In Cold Blood."


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

Buffalo Bill Cody: The Man Behind the Legend
by Robert A. Carter
xv + 496 pages, photos, source notes, bibliography, index.
New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2000, paper $30.00.
Reviewed by Juti A. Winchester, associate environmental planner, Central California Heritage Resources Branch, Caltrans District 6, Fresno, California.

Religion in the Modern American West
by Ferenc Morton Szasz
xviii + 249 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2000, cloth $35.00.
Reviewed by Timothy Walch, director, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, West Branch, Iowa.

Dust Bowl, USA: Depression America and the Ecological Imagination, 1929-1941
by Brad D. Lookingbill
x + 190 pages, map, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Athens: Ohio University Press, 2001, paper $16.95.
Reviewed by Craig Miner, distinguished professor of history, Wichita State University.

Water Resources in Kansas: Use and Control, 1541-1977
by Keith S. Krause
xii + 218 pages, map, tables, bibliography, index.
Manhattan, Kans.: Sunflower University Press, 2001, paper $27.95.
Reviewed by Rex Buchanan, associate director for public outreach, Kansas Geological Survey,University of Kansas.

Tent Show: Arthur Names and His "Famous" Players
by Donald W. Whisenhunt
xiii + 224 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2000, cloth, $29.95.
Reviewed by Loren E. Pennington, professor emeritus of history, Emporia State University.

Sowing the American Dream: How Consumer Culture Took Root in the Rural Midwest
by David Blanke
xiii + 282 pages, tables, notes, appendices, index.
Athens: Ohio University Press, 2000, cloth $59.95, paper $21.95.<
Reviewed by Thomas D. Isern, professor of history, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota.

General William S. Harney: Prince of Dragoons
by George Rollie Adams
xix + 389 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001, cloth $50.00.
Reviewed by Michael L. Tate, professor of history, University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Baseball History from Outside the Lines
edited by John E. Dreifort
xvii + 363 pages, tables, photographs, bibliographical essay, sources, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000, paper $24.95.
Reviewed by Donald J. Mrozek, professor of history, Kansas State University.


And That's the Way It Was . . . Growing Up in Abilene
by Paul H. Engle.
143 pages. Paper $10.00
Grosse Ile, Mich.: Sarah Engle Lawrence, 2001

The author, who spent much of his adult life in Michigan practicing medicine, was born into an Abilene River Brethren family in 1903. His short stories or brief one- and two-page sketches, as told to his favorite ghost writer (and spouse) Ruth Beecher Engle, are collected here under eight topical headings and cover subjects such as floods, animals, hunting, swimming holes, home and family, and the Plain Clothes People. In the latter Dr. Engle comments on the Eisenhower family and Mother Ida Eisenhower's prophecy-seeking (Jehovah's Witness) friends, among whom was a cousin, Naomi Engle, who cared for the general's mother during the early 1940s.

Encyclopedia of Local History
edited by Carol Kammen and Norma Prendergast
xvi + 539 pages. Cloth $79.95
Walnut Creek, Calif.: Alta Mira Press, 2000

As lead author Carol Kammen indicates, the Encyclopedia of Local History is not about any particular place, but rather it is a companion to aid local and regional historians, and many others interested in the history of place, to think about and research that history. It is a book of sources and concepts designed to help amateur and professional historians do better local history, covering topics from account books, bird's-eye views, and boosterism to the Freedom of Information Act, regionalism, Sanborn fire insurance maps, and websites for local historians. Appendixes on ethnic and religious groups, state historical organizations, and National Archives and Records Administration facilities round out this exceptionally useful and usable reference tool.

Nixon and the Environment by J. Brooks Flippen
ix + 308 pages. Cloth $24.95
Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000

Although not especially focused on Kansas issues, Nixon and the Environment deals with a subject of concern to all of us and a public figure who many are surprised to learn was really something of an environmental president. Richard Nixon was no nature lover at heart, but he was an astute politician who capitalized on the increasingly popular environmental movement and compiled an unprecedented environmental record during the early years of his administration.

Nearby History: Exploring the Past Around You
2d. ed. by David E. Kyvig and Myron A. Marty
xvi + 285 pages. Paper $24.95
Walnut Creek, Calif.: Alta Mira Press, 2000

As Fred R. Pfister, editor, The Ozark Mountaineer, writes in the foreword to this little volume, the people of the Ozark border region for the most part just wanted to be left alone, but they were caught squarely in the middle of an especially bitter and cruel conflict. The Civil War on the Lower Kansas-Missouri Border, which may be of interest to the general reader, focuses on these people and this small, narrow geographic area and in the process describes some obscure and some better-known incidents (e.g., the Osceola raid and the burning of Humbolt, the Baxter Springs massacre, and the Battle of Mine Creek) in an effort to make the big picture clearer.

Prairie Birds: Fragile Splendor in the Great Plains<
by Paul A. Johnsgard
xvii + 331 pages. Cloth $29.95
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000

Johnsgard, a noted ornithologist, professor of biology at the University of Nebraska, and author of forty books, here focuses on the history and prospects for thirty-three grassland birds, from Swainson's and ferruginous hawks to Cassins and Brewers sparrows. Billed a compelling portrait of the native grasslands of the Great Plains and an essential book for readers everywhere who love birds and are concerned about their future, Prairie Birds contains many drawings, tables, and maps, as well as an extensive glossary and useful appendixes, one of which provides information on the major grassland preserves of the Great Plains complete with web addresses.

Lincoln and Kansas: Partnership for Freedom
by Carol Dark Ayres
presented by Mark H. Bettis.
xi + 236 pages. Paper $13.95
Manhattan, Kans.: Sunflower University Press, 2001

When Abraham Lincoln made his one and only Kansas sojourn during the first week of December 1859, he must have seemed like just another politician, aspiring to the nation's highest office. His senatorial debates with Stephen A. Douglas the previous year had gained Lincoln a national reputation and a modest following, but most Kansas Republicans favored his better-known rival for the young party's 1860 presidential nomination, William H. Seward. Thus, Lincoln's brief trip from Elwood to Leavenworth, K.T., and six speeches received relatively slight press coverage. Nevertheless, Carol Dark Ayres, special collections librarian at Saint Mary College in Leavenworth, has marshaled the available primary and secondary sources (including memoirs and recollections) to chronicle that story in detail in two of her six chapters; the others, covering a variety of topics pertaining to Kansas in the 1850s and 1860s, are offered for historical context.

The Plains Indian Photographs of Edward S. Curtis
186 pages. Cloth, $50.00
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001

A useful introduction by Martha H. Kennedy and fine interpretive essays by Martha A. Sandweiss, Mick Gidley, and Duane Niatum place Curtis (1868-1952) and his American Indian photographs, made during the first three decades of the twentieth century, in historical context and help the reader appreciate the diversity among North America's indigenous peoples and the rich variety of Plains Indians themselves. The ninety-one nicely reproduced black-and-white illustrations that follow depict individuals and lifestyles of Osages, Ogalahas, Arikaras, Cheyennes, Comanches, Piegans, and Wichitas, among others, and are