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Kansas History - Summer 2010

(Vol. 33, No. 2)

Kansas History, Summer 2010

Loren Pennington, editor. "Forty Years at the Emporia Gazette: A Conversation with Everett Ray Call."

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Interview transcripts

In one of the many interviews he has conducted as project director of the Flint Hills Oral History Project, professor emeriti at Emporia State University Loren Pennington documented the recollections of former newspaperman Everett Ray Call in 2007. "Forty Years at the Emporia Gazette" is an abridged and edited version of the material Professor Pennington collected during his three conversations with Mr. Call, which details the operations at one of Kansas's most well-known newspapers. As he worked his way up from photographer to executive editor, Call was mentored in the business by William Lindsay White, son of the paper's most famous editor, William Allen White. In this series of interviews he discusses, amongst other topics, the publication philosophies of William Allen White and William Lindsey White; the paper's role in state and national politics, particularly during the years of the Nixon administration; the paper's coverage of famous local stories such as the Bird-Anderson murder cases; the Gazette's relationships with Emporia city government, the Chamber of Commerce, and Emporia State University; changes in the paper's format and coverage from the days of William Allen White; and the paper's future prospects.

Christopher C. Lovett. "A Public Burning: Race, Sex, and the Lynching of Fred Alexander."

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In "A Public Burning," professor of history at Emporia State University Christopher C. Lovett details the gruesome events that unfolded in Leavenworth on a winter evening in 1901, when, on suspicion of rape and murder, Fred Alexander was lynched by a mob on a city street. The details of his murder remain a mystery, clouded in myth and urban legend, a tangle of injustice, politics, race relations, and sex. What happened in Leavenworth that evening could have happened elsewhere in Kansas, at a time when the press played upon racial fears and politicians failed to honor their political and ethical responsibilities. Alexander's lynching mobilized Leavenworth's black community and led African Americans elsewhere to use all available means to end the vigilante justice that intimidated the state's black citizenry. Petitions had failed to convince state authorities of the legitimacy of black grievances. After the Alexander atrocity, black men were willing to place their hopes in Winchesters and marksmanship. Only then did ropes and faggots cease to be viable forms of racial coercion in Kansas.

Emory Lindquist. "Kansas: A Centennial Portrait, Part One."

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Kansas History plans to offer its readers a special "Kansas at 150" issue next spring. In the meantime, as we look forward to our state's rapidly approaching sesquicentennial year, we thought it might be interesting to look back fifty years. What were Kansans saying about their state as they reflected on the first one hundred years of statehood? In "Kansas: A Centennial Portrait," first published in the Kansas Historical Quarterly's spring 1961 issue, Kansas historian and university administrator Emory Lindquist offers an assessment of the state. Understandably, due to the passage of time, a few of Professor Lindquist's comments are dated, but for better, and occasionally worse, most remain remarkably prescient, giving us not only a portrait of where Kansas was in 1960, but also where it is in 2010. Part one of Lindquist's learned observations appears in the summer issue; part two will appear in the journal's autumn issue.


African Americans on the Great Plains: An Anthology
edited by Bruce A. Glasrud and Charles A. Braithwaite
viii + 395 pages, notes, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009, paper $35.00.
Reviewed by Nupur Chaudhuri, assistant professor, Department of History, Geography, and Economics, Texas Southern University, Houston.

Jayhawkers: The Civil War Brigade of James Henry Lane
by Bryce Benedict
xiv + 343 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009, cloth $32.95.
Reviewed by Diane Mutti Burke, assistant professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Slavery and the Supreme Court, 1825-1861
by Earl M. Maltz
xxii + 362 pages, notes, bibliography, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by Lex Renda, associate professor of history, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Missouri's War: The Civil War in Documents
edited by Silvana R. Siddali
xxii + 274 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Athens: Ohio University Press, Civil War in the Great Interior Series, 2009, paper $18.65.
Reviewed by Christopher M. Paine, instructor of history, Lake Michigan College, Benton Harbor, Michigan.

The Environmental Legacy of Harry S. Truman
edited by Karl Boyd Brooks
xxxvi + 145 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, appendixes, index.
Kirksville, Mo.: Truman State University Press, 2009, paper $28.95.
Reviewed by Virgil W. Dean, editor, Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas.

My Grandfather's Prison: A Story of Death and Deceit in 1940s Kansas City
by Richard A. Serrano
154 pages, illustrations.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009, paper $24.95.
Reviewed by William S. Worley, instructor in history, Metropolitan Community College-Blue River, and adjunct in history, University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Kansas Politics and Government: The Clash of Cultures
by H. Edward Flentje and Joseph A. Aistrup
272 pages, notes, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010, cloth $70.00, paper $30.00.
Reviewed by Michael A. Smith, associate professor of political science, Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas.

Book Notes

Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Missouri in the Civil War. By William Garrett Piston and Thomas P. Sweeney. (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2009, xii + 348 pages, cloth $65.00.)

Appropriately enough, this fine, attractive photographic history begins with a chapter on "Photography in Missouri during the Civil War," before turning its attention to "The Long Road to War," with text and portraits that highlight the Bleeding Kansas years and the Civil War itself. A chapter on "The Guerrilla War" will be of special interest to the readers of Kansas History, but the two bordering states' mid-nineteenth-century history is so intertwined that the volume should fit comfortably on both Sunflower and Show Me state bookshelves.

The Making of a Southerner: William Barclay Napton's Private Civil War. By Christopher Phillips. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008, xii + 163 pages, paper $19.95.)

New Jerseyite William Barclay Napton moved to Missouri in 1832 to find fortune as a lawyer. Within seven years he was serving on the state supreme court, a position he held (non-consecutively) for over twenty-five years. By the start of the Civil War, Napton had become a slaveowner and he used his role on the bench to argue for slavery's constitutionality. Napton's journals, which author Christopher Phillips uses as primary research, offer "us more than a simple rendition of the state's Confederate odyssey. Most interesting perhaps, Napton's life and words offer a window into the complex process by which the Lost Cause played the central role in constructing his and others' southern identity, one that transcended . . . the Confederate identity that drove the failed nation's war effort" (p. 4).

The Delectable Burg: An Irreverent History of Dodge City, 1872 to 1886. By Fredric R. Young. (Dodge City: Kansas Heritage Center, 2009, x + 374 pages, paper $19.95.)

In this carefully researched history of his hometown-a place William B. "Bat" Masterson called "the Delectable Burg"-"amateur historian" Fred Young offers a remarkably detailed, anecdotal account of the city's frontier and cow town years. Young's story, based in large part on a seemingly exhaustive reading of period newspapers, begins with Dodge City's birth as a dusty buffalo hunter camp-actually called Buffalo City-and ends at the close of the cattle town era; its twelve chapters include "Bibulous Babylon," "Our Girls," and "Slugology." A fitting 1910 postscript (actually, the final chapter) by then New York sportswriter Bat Masterson laments the days when Dodge was "the liveliest town in the great Southwest"-"the Delectable Burg" had become "quiet and lamblike," "a thriving country village" (pp. 307, 310).

Spooner Hall: University of Kansas. Compiled by Carol Shankel and Barbara Watkins. (Lawrence, Kans.: Historic Mount Oread Friends, 2009, 72 pages, cloth $24.95.)

The magnificent University of Kansas building originally know as the Spooner Library was designed by noted Kansas City architect Henry Van Brunt and dedicated in October 1894. With its "multiple cast-iron columns and the large windows and the beautiful proportioned space," observed professor of architecture Barry Newton, the building still evokes "feelings of amazement and joy" (p. 3). This handsome little volume, composed of numerous illustrations and historic quotations, is a fitting chronicle of the iconic university building's history and a fine addition to the Historic Mount Oread's series, which also includes Old Fraser (1984) and Dyche Hall (2003).

Jewels From My Casket. By Anna J. Winslow. (Osborne, Kans.: Ad Astra Publishing, Hall of Fame Series, 2009, xviii + 202 pages, paper $24.50.)

In her autobiography, Anna J. (Frazer) Winslow recounts moving in 1873, along with her growing family, from her native Indiana to Osborne County, Kansas. There she and her husband farmed, though she also spent more and more time working as an itinerant Quaker minister, traveling through Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Oklahoma, and California. She recalled this pastoral work made her a "curiosity" to some who had never before encountered a female preacher. Her family, however, fully supported her ministry, taking over family chores in preparation for her many departures and helping to support her financially as best they could.

Driving Across Missouri: A Guide to I-70. By Ted T. Cable and LuAnn M. Cadden. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2010, xviii + 162 pages, paper $15.95.)

Authors LuAnn Cadden and Ted Cable, the latter a professor of park management and conservation at Kansas State University, admit that there is an "entire genre of books on the backroads and byroads across America. . . . But why should travelers who take the slower-paced backroads have all the fun? What about the commuters who must travel the same speedy interstate every day on their way to work or the vacationers who find the interstate a more direct route for their family trip?" (p. ix). This book for the overlooked traveler includes notes on roadside flora and fauna, unexpected town names, and lore such as the origin of the phrase "man's best friend."

People of the Wind River: The Eastern Shoshones, 1825-1900. By Henry E. Stamm IV. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010, xv + 320 pages, paper $19.95.)

In this first book-length study of the Eastern Shoshone tribe, Henry Stamm aims "to tell the story of the peopling of the Wind River" (p. xii) in what would become Utah Territory. There the tribe lived peaceably alongside Bannock Indians and white settlers until after 1885, by which time the buffalo had been all but exterminated and the area's Indians "began a long period of poverty and population decline. . . . [as] white residents increased in both number and financial status" (pp. x-xi). Through research in primary documents and interviews with Shoshone descendants, Stamm narrates the tribe's history from its settlement in the Wind River Basin to its resettlement on the Wind River Reservation.

To the Stars: Kansas Poets of the Ad Astra Poetry Project. Edited by Denise Low. (Lawrence: Mammoth Publications for the Center for Kansas Studies of Washburn University, 2009, 110 pages, paper $12.00.)

This collection gathers together the Ad Astra broadsides, originally published as online "flyers," produced by former Kansas Poet Laureate Denise Low to document the accomplishments of poets with "a substantial connection to the state" (p. 4). Each entry offers a poem, a brief commentary on the poem, and a short biography of the poet, and the collection ends with a set of study questions. Although Low intended to alternate between historic and contemporary poets in her original bi-weekly broadsides, she found the latter in such abundance that she chose to focus on more recent contributors of verse. Included are Langston Hughes, Gordon Parks, William Stafford, William Kloefkorn, Jonathan Holden, and over forty others.