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Kansas History - Winter 2001/2002

(Volume 24, No. 4)

Kansas History, Winter 2001/2002

Sterling Evans. "From Kanasin to Kansas: Mexican Sisal, Binder Twine, and the State Prison Twine Factory, 1890-1940."

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Sterling Evans, a University of Kansas Ph.D., who now teaches Latin American and U.S. and environmental history at Humboldt State University in northern Colorado, explores an interesting and important link between Kansas farmers and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. During the era of the grain binder, twine became an increasingly important and vital element in the successful operation of Plains wheat farms, and the demand for Mexican sisal, the fiber from which binder twine was produce, tied the two regions tightly together. Evans analyzes "the importance of sisal twine to Kansas farmers," and looks closely at "the creation of a twine manufacturing plant at the Kansas State Penitentiary, and the state's involvement with an international sisal crisis that occurred in 1915 in the midst of the Mexican Revolution."

Sam Dicks, editor. "'A Sower Went Forth': Lyman Beecher Kellogg and Kansas State Normal."

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Written on the occasion of the Kansas State Normal school's fiftieth anniversary in 1915, the "Recollections" of Lyman B. Kellogg (1841-1918), the teachers college's first president, are a fascinating memoir of mid-nineteenth-century education and life in Kansas. Kellogg, Professor Dicks informs us, was only twenty-three years old in 1865 when he made the arduous journey from Normal, Illinois, to Emporia, Kansas, to assume the duties of "Principal and teacher in the Emporia Normal School." A good portion of the Kellogg recollections excerpted for this piece cover his journey to Kansas in January 1865, and his impressions of numerous leading Kansans of the day, including Grosvenor Morse, Peter McVicar, Samuel A. Kingman, and Henry B. Norton--the latter joined Kellogg for the second term in September 1865, thus doubling the Normal School staff.

Jay M. Price. "Cowboy Boosterism."

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Wichita, Kansas, was one of the state's great nineteenth century cattle towns, situated on the Chisholm Trail and, just as importantly, on a spur line of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. But even before the old trail's dust had settled in the town for the last time, according to Wichita State University professor Jay M. Price, "Wichita's leaders eagerly looked for a different image." Like their twentieth-century counterparts, they aspired for more, and "the city has experimented with a variety of images." The creation of Old Cowtown Museum in the 1940s marked a resurgence of public interest in "reclaiming that exciting part of the community's history," and ever since, Cowtown has had an "awkward relationship" with Wichita, reflecting "a larger debate over the city's character. . . . Old Cowtown is more than a museum. It is a symbol of a city still coming to terms with its identity."

Gunja SenGupta. "Bleeding Kansas: A Review Essay."

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In this outstanding contribution, the first regular feature of Kansas History's review essay series, Professor Gunja SenGupta, Department of History, City University of New York, reviews the extensive territorial Kansas literature and suggests directions for future research. Her own very important and widely respected work in this area includes an autumn 1993 article in Kansas History and For God and Mammon: Evangelicals and Entrepreneurs, Masters and Slaves in Territorial Kansas, 1854-1860 (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1996). As SenGupta demonstrates, Bleeding Kansas has "legitimate claims to a place in the histories of the West as well as the Civil War," but "a review of the literature on the Kansas conflict for the past century suggests that it was sectional conflict that provided the frame of reference for much of the scholarship on the Kansas crisis overtime." Kansas historiography nevertheless has been influenced more and more in recent years by the emergence of the "new" social and Western history, and this essay challenges scholars to continue recent efforts to reconcile the "dynamic interplay between" these two "seemingly disparate realms."


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The Story of Cole Younger by Himself, Being an Autobiography of the Missouri Guerilla Captain and Outlaw, His Capture and Prison Life, and the Only Authentic Account of the Northfield Raid Ever Published
By Cole Younger; introduction by Marley Brant
xviii + 126 pages, photographs, illustrations.
St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2000, paper $12.95.

Reviewed by Steven Jansen, historian, Watkins Community Museum of History, Douglas County Historical Society, Lawrence.

The American Midwest: Essays on Regional History
Edited by Andrew R. L. Cayton and Susan E. Gray
vii + 251 pages, map, notes, index.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001, cloth $35.00.

Reviewed by James R. Shortridge, professor of geography, University of Kansas.

Indian Treaty-Making Policy in the United States and Canada, 1867-1877
By Jill St. Germain
xxii + 243 pages, illustrations, maps, appendixes, tables, notes, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001, cloth $45.00.

Reviewed by Stephen Warren, assistant professor of history, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond.

Contrary Neighbors: Southern Plains and Removed Indians in Indian Territory
By David La Vere
xvi + 154 pages, photographs, maps, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000, cloth $29.95.

Reviewed by Ron McCoy, professor of history, Emporia State University.

A Green and Permanent Land: Ecology and Agriculture in the Twentieth Century
By Randal S. Beeman and James A. Pritchard
ix + 219 pages, notes, bibliography, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001, cloth, $29.95.

Reviewed by T. Jason Soderstrum, graduate student in rural and agricultural history, Iowa State University, Ames.

Carry A. Nation: Retelling the Life
By Fran Grace
xiv + 374 pages, maps, photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001, cloth, $35.00.

Reviewed by Ann D. Gordon, research professor of history, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Tell Them We Are Going Home: The Odyssey of the Northern Cheyennes
By John H. Monnett
xxix + 252 pages, maps, tables, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001, cloth $27.95.

Reviewed by Paul L. Hedren, National Park Service superintendent, Niobrara National Scenic River and Missouri National Recreational River, O'Neill, Nebraska.

Book Notes

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The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Volume II. Against an Aristocracy of Sex, 1866 to 1873.
Edited by Ann D. Gordon.
(New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2000. xliv + 682 pages. Cloth, $60.00.)

As Professor Nancy Garner wrote regarding volume one, In the School of Anti-Slavery, 1840-1866, in a spring 1998 review for Kansas History, The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony "serves as a valuable accessible source of primary material, particularly relating to the relationship between Stanton and Anthony," and volume two should prove of even greater value and interest to Kansas readers. The latter contains considerable correspondence pertaining to the two women's involvement in the Sunflower State's ill-fated 1867 suffrage campaign, demonstrating clearly the central place Kansas held in these early struggles for equal rights. In addition to the wonderfully telling letters themselves, with correspondents such as Charles Robinson and Samuel N. Wood, editor Ann Gordon, an associate research professor at Rutgers University, again follows each document with remarkably enlightening and useful footnotes. Gordon and the university press are to be commended for a highly successful second volume in their six-volume series.

The Nature of Nebraska: Ecology and Biodiversity
By Paul A. Johnsgard
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001. xxiii + 402 pages. Cloth $29.95.)

According to National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore, The Nature of Nebraska is "the new reference book on Nebraska natural history. You'll need no other." And he may be correct. Foundation professor of biology at the University of Nebraska, Paul A. Johnsgard here offers us a rich celebration of his state's ecological and biological diversity that includes fourteen maps, fifty-two illustrations, a "Checklist of Nebraska's Flora and Fauna," and "A Guide to Nebraska's Natural Areas and Preserves."

The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Volume 13. Comprehensive Index
Edited by Gary E. Moulton
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999. xviii + 174 pages. Cloth, $75.00.)

Gary E. Moulton, professor of history at the University of Nebraska, puts the finishing touch on his monumental series with the publication of this Comprehensive Index, which naturally enhances the value of this remarkable project that began in the mid-1980s. Moulton's will be a hard act for forthcoming bicentennial events to follow, and his scholarly contribution will be long used and admired.

Cavalier in Buckskin: George Armstrong Custer and the Western Military Frontier. Revised Edition.
By Robert M. Utley
(Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001. xvii + 226 pages. Paper $17.95.)

Volume one in the Oklahoma Western Biographies series was first published in 1988; this revised paperback edition, by one of America's best-known historians on things military in the American West, does not offer a new portrait of George A. Custer; rather, it "provides the opportunity to recast the story of the Little Bighorn in light of . . . more recent scholarship." Cavalier in Buckskin remains a superb little biography of one of America's most written-about icons, deserving of our continued attention.

Ham, Eggs, and Corn Cake: A Nebraska Territory Diary
By Erastus F. Beadle, with an introduction by Ronald C. Naugle
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000. xxiv + 130 pages. Paper $12.95.)

New Yorkborn Erastus F. Beadle was thirty-six years old when he moved to Nebraska Territory three years after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Although he failed to make his fortune and returned to New York after one year, he succeeded in leaving us "a picture of the reality of one small piece of the nineteenth-century American West," according to Ronald C. Naugle, professor of history at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Beadle's is "the diary of a man lured by the myth of the West as a place of adventure, a new start, a chance to get rich. . . . The diary is one man's brief account of life in Nebraska Territory in 1857, and it provides snapshots of a human drama as it plays out in business, culture, and politics."

The Four Seasons of Kansas. Revised Edition.
Photographs by Daniel D. Dancer with introduction by William Least Heat-Moon
(Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001. 128 pages, photographs. Cloth $24.95.)

If Daniel Dancer's spectacular photographs fail to "help people to look with a renewed respect at this state," certainly nothing could succeed. The beautifully reproduced images in this volume cover Kansas's marvelously diverse seasons and span the state geographically, from "Bald eagles along the Kaw River," a "Sunrise over White Cloud," a "Storm over Beaumont, Butler County," and black-eyed Susans in Jefferson County to a "Sunrise at Cheyenne Bottoms," a custom wheat cutter in Greeley County, a mule deer in Logan County, and the moon over Monument Rocks, Gove County. This revised volume also features new seasonal essays and eleven new photographs.

Adeline & Julia: Growing Up in Michigan and on the Kansas Frontier: Diaries from 19th Century America
Edited by Janet L. Coryell and Robert C. Myers
(East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2000. 265 pages. Paper, $24.95.)

Adeline and Julia Graham were sisters who grew up in the western Michigan community of Berrien Springs during the 1870s and 1880s. Although both proved to be fine diarists, of most interest to readers of Kansas History will be part two, "Julia Graham's Kansas Adventures," which covers the period September 11, 1885, to August 3, 1886, when Graham and four other young women took up residence on a homestead claim in Greeley County. Julia Graham's adventure was not a unique one, as many single women took advantage of the Homestead Act's equal treatment provision, but it was unusual, and her motivation "is not clear. . . . Most likely," write the editors, "Julia thought 'roughing it' in the West would be a lark, and despite many privations [not the least of which would no doubt be the great blizzard of 1886], her diary shows.

Volume 24 Index