Kansas History - Summer 2009
Summer 2009 (Vol. 32, No. 2)
William E. Foley. "Murder on the Santa Fe Trail: The United States v See See Sah Mah and Escotah."
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President Millard Fillmore's decision to commute the death sentence of See See Sah Mah, a Sac Indian convicted of murdering trader Norris Colburn on the Santa Fe Trail in 1847 is rooted in the larger story of Indian-white relations and the U.S. government's attempts to subject native people to the dictates of an American legal system that differed markedly from the customary ways of Indian law. St. Louis attorneys B. Gratz Brown and Francis Preston Blair, Jr., represented See See Sah Mah and his co-defendant Escotah in an 1851 trial where greed, bribery, perjury, language barriers, anti-Indian prejudice, and an unsympathetic judge weighed in to tip the balance of justice against their clients. The influential lawyers succeeded in having Escotah's conviction overturned and persuaded the American president to intervene on behalf of the mentally impaired See See Sah Mah. But notwithstanding those extraordinary actions, the Sac Indian's tragic life ended in a Missouri prison, and the identity of Colburn's killer remained in doubt.
Alan F. Bearman and Jennifer L. Mills, "Charles M. Sheldon and Charles F. Parham: Adapting Christianity to the Challenges of the American West."
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Two of America's most important contributions to the history of Christianity-the Social Gospel and Pentecostalism-have significant early ties to Topeka through the work of two of its early residents, Charles Monroe Sheldon and Charles Fox Parham. Yet, as demonstrated in this study by Washburn professor Alan Bearman and his student Jennifer Mills, the Kansas roots of these manifestations of Christianity remain largely unknown. Specialists in American religious history know that the minister of Topeka's Central Congregational Church published In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? (1897) ten years before Walter Rauschenbusch penned his influential Christianity and the Social Crisis (1907), and, likewise, they know that Pentecostalism began at Stone's Mansion or Stone's Folly in Topeka, Kansas, on New Year's Day 1901. So, although we know a good bit about the two principles and the movements they influenced, insufficient research exists regarding the way place, particularly Topeka, shaped these expressions of Christianity. This essay seeks to begin to fill this void as it reintroduces Topeka as an important element in the history of both the Social Gospel and Pentecostalism.
Tom Prasch, editor, "Insurgents and Guerillas, Cowboys and Indians, Lions and Tigers and Bears: Film and History in Kansas and the Great Plains."
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Kansas History's fifth biennial set of film reviews-compiled, edited, and introduced by Tom Prasch, professor of history at Washburn University-features a diverse selection and begins as we have always begun with a look back at a film classic connected to Kansas/plains history. It is done this year with a twist: fifty years after Delmer Daves directed 3:10 to Yuma (1957), the film has been remade by James Mangold, and to begin this piece we offer a comparative perspective on both films. This opening critique is followed by reviews of two more western features, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Appaloosa, and an HBO film adaptation of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Next are several notable documentaries: Lost Nation: The Ioway; Kansas vs. Darwin and Fall from Grace; and Brian Schodorf's film examination of the rebuilding of a "green" Greensburg, Kansas. Since no film review section concerning Kansas would seem complete without a nod to Oz, this year's section includes the SciFi channel miniseries Tin Man, a sort of punk/futurist reimagining of the classic. Finally, we end with two more futuristic projections that employ the Kansas-as-center metaphor, where Kansas serves as the convenient site on which to map apocalyptic tomorrows. The survivors of apocalypse are placed in rural, small-town Kansas in two recent works, the now canceled television series Jericho and Kevin Willmott's film The Battle for Bunker Hill.
Man of Douglas, Man of Lincoln: The Political Odyssey of James Henry Lane
by Ian Michael Spurgeon
xii + 291 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008, cloth $42.50.
Reviewed by Jonathan Earle, associate professor of history, University of Kansas, Lawrence.
Seeding Civil War: Kansas in the National News, 1854-1858
by Craig Miner
xvi + 305 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by John Mack, professor of history, Labette Community College, Parsons, Kansas.
To The Stars Over Rough Roads: The Life of Andrew Atchison, Teacher and Missionary
by Donald Frederick Nelson
xiv + 418 pages, illustrations, notes.
Cambridge, Mass.: TidePool Press, 2008, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Sandra Reddish, doctoral candidate, Kansas State University, Manhattan.
Oklahoma: A History
by W. David Baird and Danney Goble
xiv + 342 pages, illustrations, recommended readings, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Steven Kite, assistant professor of history, Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas.
Race and Education, 1954-2007
by Raymond Wolters
xiv + 313 pages, notes, index.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009, cloth $44.95.
Reviewed by Gretchen Cassel Eick, professor of history, Friends University, Wichita, Kansas.
Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane: Authorship, Place, Time, and Culture
by John E. Miller
xii + 263 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008, cloth $39.95.
Reviewed by J. Karen Ray, professor of English, Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas.
The Political Culture of the New West
edited by Jeff Roche
xiv + 384 pages, illustrations, notes, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008, cloth $40.00, paper $24.95.
Reviewed by Donald J. Pisani, Meeick Chair of Western American History, University of Oklahoma, Norman.
Kansas Paper Money: An Illustrated History, 1854-1935. By Steve Whitfield, edited by Fred Reed. (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2009, x + 258 pages, cloth $49.95.)
The mysterious world of early-nineteenth-century paper money is made considerably less so by Steve Whitfield's useful, heavily illustrated volume that concentrates on the period of "obsolete currency"-ending in 1866 when "the federal government took over" this function-but also includes "miscellaneous scrip" and National Bank notes from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century to the 1930s. Whitfield, who provides a clear, concise narrative about a complex and naturally confusing topic, previously authored numerous articles on paper money and bank notes as well as the Society of Paper Money Collectors' state volume on Kansas in 1980.
Old Time Grain Elevators: Stories & Photography of a Vanishing Way of Life. Photographs by Bruce Selyem, text by Barbara Krupp Selyem. (viii + 172 pages, Bozeman, Mont.: Headhouse Books, 2007, cloth $100.00; see www.grainelevatorphotos.com/photogallery.html.)
With scores of beautiful color photographs and a carefully crafted narrative, Old Time Grain Elevators offers a fascinating look at a vanishing rural icon throughout the Great Plains of the United States and Canada, with a few western and midwestern states included for good measure. In the opening essay "The Legacy of the Country Grain Elevators," first published in Kansas History's special wheat issue almost a decade ago, the writer described these now lonely structures as "a majestic symbol of the bounteous fruits of our labors. . . . trophies to the pioneer's rise over seemingly insurmountable obstacles in his quest to feed his family and, ultimately, the world" (p. 2).
Unbridled Cowboy. By Joseph B. Fussell, edited by E. R. Fussell. (Kirksville, Mo.: Truman State University Press, 2008, xviii + 278 pages, paper $19.95.)
"Joe Fussell was an ordinary man," editor E. R. Fussell writes in the introduction to his grandfather's memoirs, "but he was consumed by an overpowering adventuresome spirit. And because of the unique circumstances existing when and where he lived, he led an extraordinary life" (p. xi). Just how extraordinary remains an unanswered question for the editor, who is not certain what to make of some of his grandfather's more gritty confessions-for example that he single-handedly dispatched revenge on nine Mexican vaqueros. Not in question is the appeal of Fussell's well-written memoir, packed as it is with tales of a wild and wooly life in late-1800s Texas.
Washita Memories: Eyewitness Views of Custer's Attack on Black Kettle's Village. By Richard G. Hardorff. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008, xvii + 474 pages, paper $26.95.)
On the morning of November 27, 1868, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his men attacked a peaceful group of Cheyenne camped on the Washita River in present-day Oklahoma. Missing from the strike was the Kansas Nineteenth, a regiment of volunteers led by former Kansas governor Samuel Crawford that was prevented by harsh weather from meeting Custer. Richard Hardoff's new study collects first-hand accounts of the assault from Indians, military personnel, white captives, and interpreters in an effort to retell the events of that day from the perspective of the Cheyenne, many of whom lost their families, and in turn their identities, in the attack. Love in an Envelope: A Courtship in the American West. Edited by Daniel Tyler, with Betty Henshaw. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2008, xxxiii + 210 pages, cloth $34.95.)
The letters written between 1870 and 1872 by Leroy Carpenter, newly relocated to Colorado, and Martha Bennett, living in Iowa, are filled with routine but revealing descriptions of the lives of "middle-class Americans, about whom little is known" (p. xv). The fifty-four letters collected in this volume, which chronicle a courtship that led to fifty-five-year marriage, "also provide a glimpse of the extent to which social reforms of the era had entered the thinking of Midwestern farmers . . . [and offer] a measure of balance to the many studies of class and gender that have focused on the eastern, urban, and industrialized part of the country" (p. xv).
In the Mind's Eye: Essays across the Animate World. By Elizabeth Dodd. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008, xi + 348 pages, cloth $26.95.)
"For days, I've been thinking about the footprints that fleck the rock art of the American Southwest. Full sized, miniature. Single traces or a series, left, right, left, indicating the route, the path, the journey-maybe even time," Elizabeth Dodd, professor of English at Kansas State University in Manhattan, writes in her latest collection of essays (p. 4). In it she explores moments of human creativity preserved in the natural world, asking how we belong to the places we inhabit and how they belong to us. Part essay, memoir, historical reflection, and scientific examination, In the Mind's Eye concludes with a diverse selected bibliography.
Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life. By Kingsley M. Bray. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008, xviii + 510 pages, paper $24.95.)
First published in 2006, Kingsley Bray's Crazy Horse was picked as the "Best Book" of that year by the Custer Battlefield Historian and Museum Association and the Western Writers of America honored it with the organization's 2007 Spur Award for Best Western Biography. The Western Historical Quarterly's reviewer characterized it as "a scholarly, deeply researched biography" of an American Indian "who epitomized Indian resistance to whites." The reviewer found some deficiencies, of course, but concluded "specialists and general readers all will profit from this highly recommended work" (WHQ, 38:520).