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Kansas History - Winter 2013-2014

Kansas History, Winter 2013-2014(Vol. 36, No. 4)

Tai S. Edwards, “Disruption and Disease: The Osage Struggle to Survive in the Nineteenth-Century Trans-Missouri West.”

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The common misconception is that the western hemisphere’s indigenous peoples presented “virgin” populations that—after the arrival of Europeans—faced immediate, inevitable, and massive population decline from Old World diseases to which the natives were immunologically defenseless. In reality, it was the disruptions caused by colonization that determined the timing and impact of disease, especially in terms of facilitating epidemic death rates. The Osage experience in the trans-Missouri West demonstrates this reality. The Osages had been in contact with French traders since at least the 1680s, but they were not plagued by epidemics until the 1820s, indicating the mere presence of Old World diseases and even their European carriers did not result in Osage depopulation. Instead, it was United States Indian Removal policy and settler expansion that provided the necessary disruption that enabled epidemic diseases to decimate the Osage people.

Bill Sroufe and Gary R. Entz, “Thy Brother’s Blood: William Walthall, Commodore True, and a Thanksgiving Tragedy in Hiawatha.”

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In the early morning hours of November 29, 1892, people living in the city of Hiawatha awoke to the noise of a lynch mob breaking down the door of the county jail. Many subsequently gathered to witness a “spectacle lynching” that was carried out in the central courthouse square. Commodore True, a young African American man, was lynched in retaliation for the Thanksgiving Day murder of William Walthall, an African American man and a deacon of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Newspaper reports from the time period, along with later retellings of the incident, claimed that the lynching was carried out by an African American lynch mob that was led by a black man from Atchison. Under scrutiny, however, this tale seems unlikely. A closer analysis reveals that this was not a straightforward case of black-on-black crime as per the traditional narrative. Rather, when examined carefully, it becomes apparent that there was more involved than retaliation for a murder. There is evidence that issues of racial caste control and social class conflict may have played a role, and many white residents of Hiawatha were equally responsible for what may have been an integrated lynching.

Eric Dudley, "Remembering and Forgetting: The Memorialization of General James Birdseye McPherson in McPherson, Kansas."

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“Remembering and Forgetting” examines the early twentieth-century construction and unveiling of an equestrian statue to General James Birdseye McPherson in the town of McPherson, Kansas. Despite his distinguished Civil War service and the fact that he was the highest ranking Union general killed during that war, General McPherson has become a largely forgotten individual. One location where the general is remembered is the town of McPherson, where an equestrian statue was unveiled on July 4, 1917.  This article examines the motives behind the monument's construction, as well as the evolving meaning of the memorial. A combination of factors gave the memorial a greater significance than simply honoring a Civil War general. These included civic pride, an attempt to increase local boosterism, a considerable degree of patriotism caused by the United States mobilization for World War I, and an attempt to honor all Civil War veterans. Over time, the statue's meaning would continue to evolve and eventually memorialize the service of all U.S. veterans. Author Eric Dudley explains why this was the case and explores several important issues involved in memorialization and history and memory.

Book Reviews

On Behalf of the Family Farm: Iowa Farm Women’s Activism since 1945
by Jenny Barker Devine
xi + 188 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2013, paper $19.95.
Reviewed by Ginette Aley, Carey Fellow, Department of History, Kansas State University, Manhattan.

Crooked Paths to Allotment: The Fight over Federal Indian Policy after the Civil War
by C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa
xi + 228 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012, cloth $39.95.
Reviewed by William S. Kiser, PhD candidate, Arizona State University, Tempe.

Civil War General and Indian Fighter James M. Williams: Leader of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry and the 8th U.S. Cavalry
by Robert W. Lull
ix + 289 pages, illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index.
Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2013, cloth $24.95.
Reviewed by Roger D. Cunningham, retired U.S. Army officer, Fairfax County, Virginia.

Pen and Ink Witchcraft: Treaties and Treaty Making in American Indian History
by Colin G. Calloway
xii + 377 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by Matthew Dennis, professor of history, University of Oregon, Eugene.

Indians, Alcohol, and the Roads to Taos and Santa Fe
by William E. Unrau
xi + 193 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, maps, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2013, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Seth Isaacson, independent scholar, Moline, Illinois.

Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America
by Richard White
xxxix + 660 pages, illustrations, maps, notes, index.
New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2011, cloth $35.00.
Reviewed by Kurt E. Kinbacher, assistant professor of history, Chadron State College, Chadron, Nebraska.

Came Men on Horses: The Conquistador Expeditions of Francisco Vasquez Coronado and Don Juan de Oñate
by Stan Hoig
xi + 34 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2013, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by Tom Arne Midtrød, assistant professor of history, University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Sight Unseen: How Frémont’s First Expedition Changed the American Landscape
by Andrew Menard
xxix + 249 pages, illustrations, notes, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Jared Orsi, associate professor of history, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland: Changing Social Landscapes in Middle America
edited by Linda Allegro and Andrew Grant Wood
xv + 319 pages, notes, index. 
Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2013, cloth $65.00.
Reviewed by Donald D. Stull, professor of anthropology, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Book Notes