Kansas History - Winter 2004/2005
(Vol. 27, No. 4)
I. E. Quastler, "'Emphatically a Rock Island Town': Horton and Its Railroad Shops, 1887-1946."
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Horton, according to Imre Quastler, retired professor of geography at San Diego State University, "was a classic American railroad town," founded by men associated with the "Rock Island" line in 1886. Horton boasted the second largest railroad shops within the system for a short time around 1900, and not surprisingly, economic and social disaster struck when railroad jobs began to disappear in the 1930s. Although the town survived, it did so "at great cost, and it is a touchy subject to some residents to this day." Of course, "Horton's experience was both typical of and different from the economic fate of relatively small railroad towns" throughout the country, concludes Professor Quastler. "It was typical in that railroad jobs disappeared, leading to economic turmoil for the community. For most towns, such job losses can be traced to . . . increasing mechanization and to the shift of passenger and freight traffic to other modes," but "in Horton's case, the main problem was the town's increasingly peripheral location within the system."
Frederick D. Seaton, "The Long Road Toward 'The Right Thing to Do': The Troubled History of Winfield State Hospital."
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The Winfield State Hospital story is one of an institution at odds with the state's political leadership almost from its conception. "Early on the institution drifted from its original mission," explains Dave Seaton, editor and publisher of the Winfield Daily Courier, "and it eventually found itself at odds with its own community." Typical of most institutions dedicated to the treatment of mental illness, the Winfield hospital was battered by waves of conflicting ideas about treatment during its one hundred and seven year history, and "partisan politics, which determined its governance for over sixty years. Its population peaked following World War II when downsizing began, leaving a core population of the most severely mentally and physically disabled in Kansas' care. In the end, individuals committed to the civil rights of the mentally handicapped persuaded policymakers to open the doors of the institution and, in a uniquely 'Winfield way,' return the residents to the community."
William D. Young, "The Military and Kansas History. Review Essay."
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Although most would recognized the long tradition of military history and admit to the vital role of the frontier army on Kansas and the West, "many people view military history as either an enigma or an anachronism." This fact is hardly surprising, according to Bill Young, professor of history at Maple Woods Community College, as "Traditional 'boots and saddles' history was little more than myopic, ethnocentric accounts of battles and military leaders." Whether self-glorifying memoir, local tourism "history," or pulp novel, most was of bad quality and of little consequence to the historical profession. In his thorough and effective contribution to Kansas History's review essay series, Professor Young surveys that traditional literature, analyzes the more recent, and suggests many areas in need of study. The ascendancy of the so-called "New Western History" has positively impacted military history scholarship in recent years, but many challenges remain for the Kansas historian. "Only when we finish painting the picture of Kansas and the military will we succeed in making our history comprehensive and inclusive, closer to the reality of our human existence."
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"Exoduster" Sally Board: An American Heritage: From Kentucky Slavery to a Kansas Homestead, 1805-1892.
By Ray O. Pleasant and Jon P. Neill.
(Chaska, Minn.: Ray O. Pleasant, 2004. 154 pages, paper $35.00.)
Focusing on Sally Board, the daughter of a white Kentuckian and an African slave, Ray O. Pleasant and Jon P. Neill present here a volume of biographical and genealogical information on the Boards and the family of Eliza Bradshaw, the subject of a summer 2003 Kansas History article. The volume contains short biographical sketches, Kentucky and Kansas census data, correspondence, official government documents, photographs, and many other items of potential interest to the genealogist and possibly to the historian seeking information about individual exodusters such as Sally Board.
God, Country and Self-Interest: A Social History of the World War II Rank and File.
By Toby Terrar.
(Silver Spring, Md.: CW Press, 2004. xxxvii + 382 pages, paper $9.95.)
Based in large part on a rather immense collection of family letters and photographs from the 1940s, God, Country and Self-Interest tells the story of the "rank and file" through the lives of the author's parents, Hazel Hogan and Edward Terrar Jr., who met and married while serving in the U.S. Navy. Ed Terrar, a CVE carrier pilot who fought in the South Pacific, hailed from Coffeyville, Kansas; the future Hazel Terrar came from Sumter, South Carolina. In addition to their respective and joint wartime experiences, the volume covers their "preparation" for service and offers some insight into the "home front," both in Kansas and South Carolina.
Peter S. Petersen's Memoirs.
By Peter S. Peterson, edited by John W. Nielsen with Karsten jer Michaelsen.
(Blair, Neb.: Lur Publications, Danish Immigrant Archives, 2003. xii + 248 pages, paper $27.50.)
As with their other publications on "Danes in America," such as Danes in America: Kansas and Nebraska, the Danish Immigrant Archives, John W. Nielsen, and several other collaborators have made yet another useful contribution to Plains immigrant literature with the publication of Peter S. Petersen's Memoirs, which mainly covers the years 1872 to 1895. Petersen (1861-1953), who penned the original 641-page manuscript in the 1930s, emigrated to the U.S. as a boy in 1872 and settled with his family on a farm near Danneborg, Howard County, Nebraska, but also lived and worked for a time in Wyoming, where he was involved in railroading and ranching.
The True Life Wild West Memoir of a Bush-Popping Cow Waddy.
By Charley Hester, ed. by Kirby Ross.
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004. xix + 141 pages, paper $13.95.)
Edited by his great-great-grandson Kirby Ross, himself a Kansas resident, Charley Hester's story of cowboy life and adventure on the Plains in the 1870s, as told to a local Nebraska historian, makes up the core of this interesting little volume. After spending much of the 1870s trailing cattle from Texas and making the acquaintance of some legendary western characters, Hester (1853-1940) returned to his native Illinois, married, and eventual moved back to western Kansas (Phillips County) and then to Nebraska.
Americano: My Journey to the Dream.
By Thomas Rodriguez.
(Topeka: Amigos Publishing Co., 2004. xx + 420 pages, cloth $20.00.)
Thomas Rodriguez, an author and educator who now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, where his grandparents emigrated and settled in the 1910s. An interesting and important memoir for anyone desirous of a better understanding of cultural diversity in Topeka and the Midwest, Americano contains an insightful chapter on Chicano activism in Topeka during the 1970s and early 1980s. "In retrospect," writes Rodriguez, himself a young activist leader, "what we accomplished during the 1970s was downright amazing considering the immigrant backgrounds of our parents and grandparents" and "the pervasive and stifling ethnic and economic discrimination that existed in the City of Topeka and in the State of Kansas during our formative years."
To the Pike's Peak Gold Fields, 1859.
Edited by Leroy R. Hafen.
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004. xii + 320 pages, paper $17.95.)
Originally published as Overland Routes to the Gold Fields, 1859 by Arthur H. Clark in 1942, Bison Books To the Pike's Peak Gold Fields, 1859 contains diaries, journals, and letters by travelers on the Arkansas River, Platte River, the Smoky Hill Trail, and the Leavenworth and Pike's Peak Express routes, as well as diary entries covering trips from St. Joseph to Fort Kearny and Texas to Pike's Peak. Since, as Appendix A ("The Great Central Route to the Gold Mines of Western Kansas-Notes of Travel") reminds us, the Pike's Peak region was part of Kansas Territory, many readers of Kansas History will find much of interest in these first-person accounts.
Our Padre: The Inspiring Life and Stories of Fr. Kilian Dreiling, C.PP.S WWII Army Chaplain.
By Joseph S. Smith. (Indianapolis: Printing Partners, 2004. v + 220 pages, paper $18.00.)
In Our Padre, author Joseph S. Smith tells the story of a personal "hero," a man of the cloth he admired for many years, in the hope "that in some small way, Fr. Kilian's life and his beautiful stories may touch your heart, as they touched mine." Born on a farm near Victoria, Kansas, to Volga German parents, Father Kilian Dreiling (1906-1996) served as an army chaplain in Europe, before and after the war, taught in seminaries in Indiana and Ohio, and spoke out against "the evils of communism" during the 1950s, becoming, according to Smith, "one of the fiercest warriors of the Cold War."
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A History of Missouri: Volume VI, 1953-2003
by Lawrence H. Larsen
ix + 212 pages, tables, essay on sources, index.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2004, paper $24.95.
Reviewed by Craig Miner, professor of history, Wichita State University.
Cities on the Plains: The Evolution of Urban Kansas
by James R. Shortridge
xiv + 380 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, cloth $45.95.
Reviewed by John C. Hudson, professor of geography, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
If We Could Only Come to America . . . A Story of Swedish Immigrants in the Midwest
by Robert J. Nelson
xiv + 166 pages, photographs, illustrations, bibliography, index. Manhattan, Kans.: Sunflower University Press, 2004, paper, $23.95.
Reviewed by Eleanor L. Turk, professor of history emerita, Indiana University East.
Not Just Any Land: A Personal and Literary Journey into the American Grasslands
by John Price
xi + 225 pages, notes, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004, cloth $20.00.
Reviewed by Susan S. Novak, associate editor, Kansas History.
The Eden Peace Witness: A Collection of Personal Accounts
edited by Jeffery W. Koller
vi + 302 pages, photographs, appendixes, index.
Wichita, Kans.: Jebeko Publishing, 2004, paper $16.75.
Reviewed by Sara J. Keckeisen, librarian, Kansas Historical Society.
A Dancing People: Powwow Culture on the Southern Plains
by Clyde Elli
viii + 232 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, associate professor of history, Kansas State University, Manhattan.
Dog Soldier Justice: The Ordeal of Susanna Alderdice in the Kansas Indian War
by Jeff Broom
xxii + 314 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Lincoln, Kans.: Lincoln County Historical Society, 2003, paper $19.95.
Reviewed by William McKale, director, Museum Division, Fort Riley.