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Kansas History - Summer 2006

(Vol. 29, No. 2)

Kansas History, Summer 2006

Rebecca Conard, "'Tough as the hills': The Making of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve"

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First published in 2003 by the Kansas Historical Society in Tallgrass Essays, "Tough as the Hills" is an important examination of the creation of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Strong City, Kansas, in the context of the twentieth-century history of grassland preservation. It was a long and difficult trail for interested Kansans on both sides of this issue, but the bill providing for the park and preserve, which includes the historic Spring Hill Ranch, was finally signed into law by President Bill Clinton on November 12, 1996. Conard, professor of history and director of the public history program in the Department of History, Middle Tennessee State University, concludes, with "everyone who was involved in the legislative effort," that Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum was "the key to success. The result was a public-private partnership unlike anything the NPS [National Park Service] had attempted before. It placed land management responsibility in the collective hands of interests that held, and still hold, fundamentally different views on the nature of land stewardship, yet, at the same time, have made a commitment to work through these differences to create a place that protects an important grassland ecosystem and that interprets the complex history of land use in the Flint Hills, including the history of ranching."

Kenneth J. Peak and Jason W. Peak, "Liquor Wars and the Law: Decisions of the Kansas Supreme, 1861-1920."

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"Although for many years prohibition succeeded in much of the state, common notions of Kansas as a 'dry' state are contradicted by the facts," write the authors of this fresh and fascinating look at Kansas's "noble experiment." "No issue divided Kansas longer and more fiercely than its attempts at prohibition," and the courts were often in the middle of the fray. The role of the Kansas Supreme Court in the state's protracted wet-dry conflict in particular is the focus of "Jurists Vis-a-vis Saloonists and Drys." The authors analyze the history of temperance reform in Kansas to the advent of national prohibition in 1920, with passage of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. They examine the court's "role in shaping the state's liquor laws and their enforcement, from the fundamental task of defining what constituted intoxicating liquors to addressing far more complex legal issues. These were daunting tasks, as many wets sought to use a variety of loopholes and other means of evading prosecution under the law."

M. H. Hoeflich and Virgil W. Dean, editors, "'Went at night to hear Hon. Abe Lincoln make a Speech.' Daniel Mulford Valentine's 1859 Diary."

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Read the complete Valentine diary

D.M. Valentine, a twenty-eight-year-old surveyor and lawyer, who removed from Fontanelle, Iowa, to Leavenworth, Kansas Territory, in July 1859, became an eminent Kansas jurist-his career culminated with twenty-four years of service on the state supreme court. Although certainly not well know in the territory during that first year, Valentine's pocket diary is a remarkable historical document that records the everyday life of a lawyer in mid-nineteenth-century Kansas. Many of the daily entries are brief and mundane, but the selections published here provide insight into an especially interesting six months in Leavenworth. The bloodiest days of the Kansas conflict had passed, but battles remained to be fought-mostly at the polls between Republicans and Democrats. The Valentine diary documents several important Kansas elections and much local politicking, and it offers some unique details of an event of national significance--Abraham Lincoln's 1859 "campaign" swing through northeast Kansas.

Karl B. Brooks, "Environmental History as Kansas History. Review Essay."

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Kansas History's review essay series continues with an important look at the history of the state from the perspective of an environmental historian, Karl Brooks, assistant professor, Environmental Studies and History at the University of Kansas. He argues that "Environmental history opens new perspectives about how nature and human culture, operating in tandem, have perpetually re-made Kansas," and demonstrates how in recent years "historians have better understood nature's sovereign contributions to creating Kansas. . . . Environmental history clarifies what was once murky by spotlighting nature's interplay with culture. It offers deeper understanding of change on the Central Plains." The best of this kind history offers "valuable new perspective on Kansas' past" and suggests the need for much new analysis. "Looking closely at the byplay between people and animate but non-literate forces paints a richer picture of how Kansas was made. History done this way," concludes Professor Brooks, "better appreciates how then became now."

In Memoriam

Professor Jim Hoy of Emporia State University offers a fine tribute to his former colleague, Dr. William H. "Bill" Seiler (1918-2006), a long-time ESU professor of history and mentor to many, including the grateful editor of Kansas History. Dr. Seiler was president of the Kansas Historical Society in 1971.


Voices of the American West, Volume 1: The Indian Interviews of Eli S. Ricker, 1903-1919
edited by Richard E. Jensen
xxxii + 496 pages, map, photographs, appendices, notes, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005, cloth $55.00.

Voices of the American West, Volume 2: The Settler and Soldier Interviews of Eli S. Ricker, 1903-1919 edited by Richard E. Jensen
xvi + 470 pages, map, photographs, appendices, notes, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005, cloth $55.00.
Reviewed by James N. Leiker, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park.

Fort Randall on the Missouri, 1856-1892 by Jerome A. Greene
x + 264 pages, maps, photographs, appendices, notes, bibliography, index.
Pierre: South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 2005, cloth $24.95.
Reviewed by Leo E. Oliva, editor, Wagon Tracks, Woodston.

The Southwestern Journals of Zebulon Pike, 1806-1807 edited by Stephen Harding Hart and Archer Butler Hulbert; new introduction by Mark L. Gardner
v + 280 pages, notes, index.
Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006, cloth $27.95.
Reviewed by Michael L. Olsen, Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The Union on Trial: The Political Journals of Judge William Barclay Napton, 1829-1883 edited by Christopher Phillips and Jason L. Pendleton
xx + 631 pages, appendices, notes, bibliography, index.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2005, cloth $49.95.
Reviewed by John M. Sacher, assistant professor of history, University of Central Florida, Orlando.

Farmers vs. Wage Earners: Organized Labor in Kansas, 1860-1960 by R. Alton Lee
xiv + 340 pages, photographs, map, table, notes, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005, cloth $55.00.
Reviewed by Ralph Scharnau, history instructor, Northeast Iowa Community College, Peosta.

John Brown to Bob Dole: Movers and Shakers in Kansas History edited by Virgil W. Dean
xii + 408 pages, photographs, notes, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by John R. Wunder, professor of history, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Linoleum, Better Babies, and the Modern Farm Woman, 1890-1930. By Marilyn Irvin Holt.
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005. 250 pages, paper $24.95.)

Kansas History readers should be pleased to know that Marilyn Holt's fine study of Progressive Era reformers and farm families (first published in 1995 by the University of New Mexico Press) is now available for the first time in paper from Bison Books. "Holt's study is an important addition to our understanding of how national events and movements can become localized and how educational efforts can affect rural populations," wrote Professor Angel Kwolek-Folland in her summer 1996 Kansas History review. "The book speaks generally to the history of women and agricultural history, and it also contains a great deal of information on the rural reform movements of early twentieth-century Kansas."

Two Men Before the Storm: Arba Crane's Recollection of Dred Scott and the Supreme Court Case That Started the Civil War.
By Gregory J. Wallance.
(Austin, Tex.: Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2005. vii + 344 pages, paper $14.95.)

With Two Men Before the Storm, New York City attorney and author Gregory J. Wallance offers "a work of historical fiction" that seeks to illuminate for a popular audience one of the nation's seminal U.S. Supreme Court cases, Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857). "This book, imagined" as the recollection of Arba Crane, the young St. Louis lawyer who first befriended and then defended Dred Scott, a slave working as a janitor, may appeal to readers of Kansas History wishing to learn more about the landmark decision with significant implications for Kansas Territory, and who might, on occasion at least, prefer the novel to the scholarly history-most notable of the latter is Don E. Fehrenbacher's classic The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978).

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman Behind the Legend.
By John E. Miller.
(Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006. xii + 306 pages, paper $19.95.)

Laura Ingalls Wilder's writings have fascinated Americans for years, but scholars only relatively recently have turned their attention to this author and her contribution to the literature of the prairie and the plains. John E. Miller, a professor of history at South Dakota State University who in 1994 published Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little Town: Where History and Literature Meet, was one of the first. In Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder, first published in cloth in 1998, Miller concentrates on Wilder's adult life, most of which was spent in Mansfield, Missouri. Miller's objective "is to confront the question of how 'Laura,' the girl depicted in the 'Little House' books, became 'Laurie Ingalls Wilder,' the author of these classics of children's literature."

Wilderness Journey: The Life of William Clark.
By William E. Foley.
(Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2005. xiv + 326 pages, paper $17.95.)

In his Kansas History review (spring 2005) of the cloth edition of Wilderness Journey, historian Eli Paul "heartily recommended this book" that he called "an essential part of the literature." Foley's focus is the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition, but, as the reviewer pointed out, readers of Kansas History should find the three chapters on "Clark's career after the Lewis partnership . . . extremely interesting and valuable. . . . Although the early experiences serve as an insightful prelude to his career as territorial governor of Missouri and influential superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis, the later years were far from a thirty-year anticlimax to the Corps of Discovery."

British Buckeyes: The English, Scots, & Welsh in Ohio, 1700-1900.
By William E. Van Vugt.
(Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2006. xiii + 295 pages, cloth $55.00).

Although it has no direct connection to Kansas history, British Buckeyes is worthy of note here as an outstanding model and perhaps inspiration for the historian in search of a significant Kansas project. After all, like the Buckeye State, the British (including the Irish and those from British America) were the Sunflower State's dominate immigrant group until the end of the nineteenth century, and with the exception of a few fine but narrowly focused and brief articles, and some good work on remittance men, the English, Scots, and Welsh in Kansas have receive less serious attention than one might expect. This, despite the fact, one might "safely" assume, that here too "the British were the most influential in terms of shaping the state's" various institutions-political, social, and economic.

Thomas Moran's West: Chromolithography, High Art, and Popular Taste.
By Joni L. Kinsey.
(Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006. xi + 260 pages, cloth $45.00.)

All students of the American West and nineteenth-century "picture-making" will be captivated by Thomas Moran's West, a beautiful volume built around fifty full-color illustrations (plus more than one hundred black and white images) of the artist's work, highlighting the images first reproduced in his 1876 Yellowstone National Park portfolio. "His art," writes author Joni Kinsey, associate professor of art history at the University of Iowa, "contributed significantly to defining the image of the West for many Americans in the 1870s and after, especially in the era of chromolithography's heyday."

A Travel Guide to the Plains Indian Wars.
By Stan Hoig.
(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006. xiii + 217 pages, paper $21.95.)

As the summer driving season rolls on, auto travelers on and through the Great Plains should take note of Professor Stan Hoig's lastest volume, A Travel Guide to the Plains Indian Wars, which "provides a general overview of the Plains Indian wars" and "is particularly helpful for anyone planning a visit to the military posts and sites of battles." The author, a professor emeritus of journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma, has written many books and articles on a variety of topics dealing with the post-Civil War Indian frontier, and one would be hard pressed to find a more qualified scholar to undertake this project. With Hoig's travel guide in hand and a set of the Society's eight-volume Kansas Forts Series in the car, the reader could easily spend a week visiting the relevant Kansas sites alone.