Kansas History - Winter 2007/2008
(Vol. 30, No. 4)
John N. Mack, "'United We Stand': Law and Order on the Southeastern Kansas Frontier, 1866-1870."
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In the years immediately following the Civil War, thousands of settlers poured into southeast Kansas seeking new opportunities for economic success that had, perhaps, eluded them back east. But from their perspective, this was still a raw frontier land, and facing political and legal uncertainty, they looked to each other for sustenance, support, and strength. Acutely conscious of their vulnerability, settlers created extra-legal cooperative clubs and committees by which they defended their nascent communities against those intent on circumventing the law. In "'United We Stand': Law and Order on the Southeastern Kansas Frontier, 1866-1870," John N. Mack, a professor of history at Labette Community College, examines the formation of these extra-legal committees by explicating the cultural values that supported their attempts to establish ordered communities on the southeastern Kansas frontier. "From the vantage point of twenty-first-century social norms," concludes Professor Mack, "these settlers were taking the law into their own hands. . . . [but] they viewed their actions differently." If the legally constituted authorities could not insure "social order," the settlers would do so themselves. "Any assault on their property or their families was a direct attack on the social order they were seeking to establish and neither would nor could be tolerated."
Bob Beatty, editor. "'For the Benefit of the People': A Conversation with Former Governor John Anderson, Jr."
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The first in a series of articles based on the oral histories captured on video by Washburn University political scientist Bob Beatty, "'For the Benefit of the People': A Conversation with Former Governor John Anderson, Jr." captures the essence of the administration that launched the state into its second century. The interview is biographical-John Anderson, Jr. was born on a dairy farm in Johnson County and served as county attorney, state senator, and attorney general before his 1960 election as governor of the state of Kansas-but focuses on Anderson's years as governor, from 1961 to 1965. "I enjoyed my years of public service and my four years as governor," recalls the ninety-year-old Anderson. "It's far behind me now," but "it's history, and I was part of it." Anderson discusses many issues from education and highway construction to civil rights and Republican Party politics in the late 1950s and 1960s, but many readers will be especially interested in the former governor's comments on capital punishment in Kansas. "The death penalty was not the main reason I won governor," Anderson explains, "but it played a part. Governor George Docking just did not believe in the death penalty. . . . When I'd tell people about Docking and his stand on the death penalty they were all on my side. Every speech I'd make I'd mention it and get a good reaction."
William C. Pratt, "Historians and the Lost World of Kansas Radicalism. Review Essay."
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In this final installment in the journal's review essay series, which was launched in the autumn of 2001, William C. Pratt, professor of history at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, explores a critical theme in Kansas history that might surprise early twenty-first-century readers: political radicalism. Despite the modern day perception, held by many, of the state as a bastion of conservatism, "Kansas was probably the most radical state in the Union in the 1890s, and leftwing efforts there continued for several decades," explains Pratt. "In no other state were the Populists as successful at the ballot box, electing a number of congressmen, two U.S. senators, and two governors. . . . Prior to World War I, Kansas Socialists held picnics, turned out to hear party notables such as Eugene Debs and Kate Richards O'Hare, and, perhaps most important for their cause, published the Appeal to Reason, the single most successful leftwing newspaper in American history." Pratt examines the relevant literature on these topics and more, while suggesting neglected sources, new question, and areas of future scholarly research, writing, and publication.
The Populist Vision
by Charles Postel
xiv + 397 pages, illustrations, bibliography, index.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, cloth $35.00.
Reviewed by O. Gene Clanton, professor of history, emeritus, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington.
The Rise of the Centennial State: Colorado Territory, 1861-76
by Eugene H. Berwanger
xii + 209 pages, maps, illustrations, bibliography, index.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007, cloth $40.00.
Reviewed by Dr. Michael L. Olsen, professor emeritus, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Marching with the First Nebraska: A Civil War Diary
by August Scherneckau, edited by James E. Potter and Edith Robbins, and translated by Edith Robbins
xxxii + 335 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by Ben Wynne, assistant professor of history, Gainesville State College, Gainesville, Georgia.
Diaspora in the Countryside: Two Mennonite Communities in Mid-Twentieth-Century North America
by Royden Loewen
384 pages, notes, bibliography, index, illustrations.
Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2006, cloth $75.00, paper $25.00.
Reviewed by Kurt E. Leichtle, Department of History, University of Wisconsin, River Falls.
The Enchanted Years of the Stage: Kansas City at the Crossroads of American Theater, 1870-1930
by Felecia Hardison Londré
xx + 327 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2007, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by Roland Miriani, professor of history, emeritus, Park University, Parkville, Missouri.
America's Deadliest Battle: Meuse-Argonne, 1918
by Robert H. Ferrell
xii + 195 pages, photographs, maps, notes, bibliography, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Hillary Gleason, PhD. candidate.
Searching for Sacred Ground: The Journey of Chief Lawrence Hart, Mennonite
by Raylene Hinz-Penner, with forward by Donald L. Fixico
205 pages, series preface, photographs, chronology, notes, bibliography, index.
Telford, Penn.: Cascadia Publishing House, 2007, paper $19.95.
Reviewed by Mary Jane Warde, historian, Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Jim Lane: Scoundrel, Statesman, Kansan
by Robert Collins
320 pages, illustrations, bibliography, index.
Gretna, La.: Pelican Pub., 2007, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Brian Dirck, associate professor of history, Anderson University, Anderson, Indiana.
Cowboy Girl: The Life of Caroline Lockhart
by John Clayton
xii + 321 pages, photographs, map, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007, paper $21.95.
Reviewed by Mary Madden, Director, Education and Outreach Division, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.
Defining Memory: Local Museums and the Construction of History in America's Changing Communities
edited by Amy K. Levin, foreword by David E. Kyvig
vii + 289 pages, selected bibliography, index, notes on contributors.
AltaMira Press and American Association for State and Local History, 2007, cloth $75.00, paper $27.95.
Reviewed by Rebecca Conard, professor of history, Middle Tennessee State University, Mufreesboro.
Adventures in the West: Stories for Young Readers. Edited by Susanne George Bloomfield and Eric Melvin Reed. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007, xxii + 282 pages, paper $19.95.)
The twenty-six stories collected here-taken from the weekly and monthly readers The Youth's Companion and St. Nicholas, between the years 1890 and 1915-tell of pioneers, immigrants, cowboys, Indians, miners, teachers, and children coming of age in the American West. The editors introduce each story, providing historical and cultural context for the often complex events and relationships narrated in the tales, as well as biographical information on their (sometimes quite notable) authors. After years of collecting and researching the stories, the editors conclude that they "not only reveal what Americans wanted their children to learn, believe, and remember but also reflect society's interests and beliefs at the time" (p. xiii). What is more, they are enjoyable to read and their collection in this volume allows today's families access to the tales that enthralled their great-, great-great, and even great-great-great grandparents.
A Great Bend Youth: The Diaries of O.V. Dodge 1876-1878. By Anna Morddel. (N.p.: the author, 2007, vii + 188 pages, paper $12.04.)
Orion Virgil Dodge (1859-1921), the son of one of Kansas's first state senators, William Henry Dodge, was raised in Holton, Kansas, and at sixteen moved to Great Bend. There, in 1876, he bought his first dairy to celebrate and record the nation's centennial. For the next three years he wrote, sometimes sporadically, of his life in northeastern Kansas. Anna Morddel, in her introduction to the diaries, notes that Dodge "was no diarist," and entries like the one from April 1, 1876-"Today is another busy day and that is all" (p. 24)-confirm it. Morddel suggests, however, that the value of the dairies lies in what they tell us about, amongst other things, "the activities of an early farmers' supply store, . . . small town social life, visiting lecturers and theatricals, and . . . the daily weather changes of the region" from 1876 to 1879 (p. v).
Meade's Army: The Private Notebooks of Lt. Col. Theodore Lyman. Edited by David W. Lowe, with a forward by John Y. Simon. (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2007, xviii + 518 pages, cloth $45.00.)
Lt. Col. Theodore Lyman served as aide-de-camp to Gen. George Gordon Meade from September 1863 until the end of the Civil War. During this time, the Harvard-trained naturalist meticulously recorded his day-to-day experiences as a staff officer. Lyman's private notebook entries come "as close to real-time reporting as possible," based as they were on the notations he made during battle. Lyman detailed the exact times when Meade issued orders and when units were deployed and provided sketches and hand-drawn maps of the army's location after each of its movements. These careful observations enhance the narrative of the war given in Lyman's letters home to his wife, published in 1922 by George R. Agassiz as Meade's Headquarters: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox. Eighty-five years after this Civil War classic was compiled, editor David W. Lowe offers this richly annotated and helpfully indexed edition of Lyman's journals.
Charles Goodnight: Father of the Texas Panhandle. By William T. Hagan. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007, The Oklahoma Western Biographies series, xiv + 168 pages, cloth $26.95.)
At age nine Charles Goodnight (1836-1929) rode bareback eight hundred miles from Illinois to Texas with his family and helped establish their farm in the new state. By the end of his long life Goodnight would become a very successful (and then a struggling) rancher, getting his start at a time when "most of north-central Texas was free range, open to occupancy by the first cattlemen brave enough to stake out his claim" (p. 5). In this volume William T. Hagan considers the role of ranching in the development of the Texas Panhandle through a reevaluation of its first rancher, an opinionated but well-liked man known for his keen scouting abilities, his heavy use of profanity, and, in his later life, for his generous contributions to local schools and students and his efforts at cross-breeding his livestock (including buffalo with cattle, resulting in the cattalo).
Petra's Legacy: The South Texas Ranching Empire of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy. By Jane Clements Monday and Frances Brannen Vick. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, Perspectives on South Texas series, 2007, xii + 448 pages, cloth $35.00.)
Born to landholders in Mier, Mexico, in 1823, Petra Vela de Vidal Kenedy became the powerful matriarch of a family that was "an integral part of the changes that occurred along the borderlands between Texas and Mexico during the second half of the nineteenth century" (p. 7). She witnessed the Mexican-American and Civil Wars and the Anglo settlement of South Texas from the perspective of someone who called both Mexico and Texas home. The authors drew upon previously unpublished letters, journals, and photographs to recount the life of a woman with savvy business sense and deep religious convictions, and their detailed notes and bibliography situate Petra's life within the larger historical context of the region. Petra died in 1885, leaving behind a large family that worked to establish two Catholic charitable organizations with assets between $500 million and $1 billion.
A Journey-From Germany in 1853 to Alamota, Kansas in 1904. By Ellen May Stanley. (Newton, Kans.: the author, 2007, x + 147 pages, cloth.)
Ellen May Stanley, a past president of the Kansas State Historical Society and author of numerous books and articles on Kansas history (in particular that of Lane County), notes early in her newest book that the 1990 Census indicated that 39.1 percent of Kansans were of German descent (p. vii). Stanley's ancestors are amongst this group, and in this volume she traces the history of seven generations of the Duerr/Durr family, from their immigration to America in 1853 to the present. With many photographs, and the help of her mother's collection of wedding announcements, obituaries, and newspaper stories, Stanley narrates one family's journey through the twentieth century, including their involvement in the Civil and both World Wars, homesteading and farming, and various businesses and charitable organizations.