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W. W. Withenbury was a famous river boat captain during the mid-1800s. In retirement, he wrote a series of letters for the Cincinnati Commercial, under the title "Red River Reminiscences." Jacques Bagur has selected and annotated 39 letters describing three steamboat voyages on the upper Red River from 1838 to 1842. Withenbury was a master of character and incident, and his profiles of persons, including three signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, reflect years of acquaintance. The beauty of his writing ranks this among the best of the reminiscences that were written as the steamboat era was declining.
Indians, Methodists, and Oklahomans, 1844-1939
The Texas Folklore Society is one of the oldest and most prestigious organizations in the state. Its secret for longevity lies in those things that make it unique, such as its annual meeting that seems more like a social event or family reunion than a formal academic gathering. This book examines the Society’s members and their substantial contributions to the field of folklore over the last century. Some articles focus on the research that was done in the past, while others offer studies that continue today. For example, L. Patrick Hughes explores historical folk music, while Meredith Abarca focuses on Mexican American folk healers and the potential direction of research on them today. Other articles are more personal reflections about why our members have been drawn to the TFS for fellowship and fun. This book does more than present a history of the Texas Folklore Society: it explains why the TFS has lasted so long, and why it will continue.
Power and Privilege in Territorial New Mexico
Anyone who has even a casual acquaintance with the history of New Mexico in the nineteenth century has heard of the Santa Fe Ring—seekers of power and wealth in the post–Civil War period famous for public corruption and for dispossessing land holders. Surprisingly, however, scholars have alluded to the Ring but never really described this shadowy entity, which to this day remains a kind of black hole in New Mexico’s territorial history. David Caffey looks beyond myth and symbol to explore its history. Who were its supposed members, and what did they do to deserve their unsavory reputation? Were their actions illegal or unethical? What were the roles of leading figures like Stephen B. Elkins and Thomas B. Catron? What was their influence on New Mexico’s struggle for statehood?
Caffey’s book tells the story of the rise and fall of this remarkably durable alliance.
Jews on the Frontiers of Texas
Texas has one of the largest Jewish populations in the South and West, comprising an often-overlooked vestige of the Diaspora. The Chosen Folks brings this rich aspect of the past to light, going beyond single biographies and photographic histories to explore the full evolution of the Jewish experience in Texas. Drawing on previously unpublished archival materials and synthesizing earlier research, Bryan Edward Stone begins with the crypto-Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition in the late sixteenth century and then discusses the unique Texas-Jewish communities that flourished far from the acknowledged centers of Jewish history and culture. The effects of this peripheral identity are explored in depth, from the days when geographic distance created physical divides to the redefinitions of “frontier” that marked the twentieth century. The rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the creation of Israel in the wake of the Holocaust, and the civil rights movement are covered as well, raising provocative questions about the attributes that enabled Texas Jews to forge a distinctive identity on the national and world stage. Brimming with memorable narratives, The Chosen Folks brings to life a cast of vibrant pioneers. Jewish History, Life, and Culture Michael Neiditch, Series Editor
Leader of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry and the 8th U.S. Cavalry
The military career of General James Monroe Williams spanned both the Civil War and the Indian Wars in the West, yet no biography has been published to date on his important accomplishments, until now. From his birth on the northern frontier, westward movement in the Great Migration, rush into the violence of antebellum Kansas Territory, Civil War commands in the Trans-Mississippi, and as a cavalry officer in the Indian Wars, Williams was involved in key moments of American history. Like many who make a difference, Williams was a leader of strong convictions, sometimes impatient with heavy-handed and sluggish authority. Building upon his political opinions and experience as a Jayhawker, Williams raised and commanded the ground-breaking 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1862. His new regiment of black soldiers was the first such organization to engage Confederate troops, and the first to win. He enjoyed victories in Missouri, Indian Territory (Oklahoma), and Arkansas, but also fought in the abortive Red River Campaign and endured defeat and the massacre of his captured black troops at Poison Spring. In 1865, as a brigadier general, Williams led his troops in consolidating control of northern Arkansas. Williams played a key role in taking Indian Territory from Confederate forces, which denied routes of advance into Kansas and east into Arkansas. His 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment helped turn the tide of Southern successes in the Trans-Mississippi, establishing credibility of black soldiers in the heat of battle. Following the Civil War, Williams secured a commission in the Regular Army’s 8th Cavalry Regiment, serving in Arizona and New Mexico. His victories over Indians in Arizona won accolades for having “settled the Indian question in that part of Arizona.” He finally left the military in 1873, debilitated from five wounds received at the hands of Confederates and hostile Indians.
Mexican Americans in Victoria, Texas
Claiming Citizenship spotlights a community where Mexican Americans, regardless of social class, embraced a common ideology and worked for access to the full rights of citizenship without confrontation or radicalization. Victoria, Texas, is a small city with a sizable Mexican-descent population dating to the period before the U.S. annexation of the state. There, a complex and nuanced story of ethnic politics unfolded in the middle of the twentieth century. Focusing on grassroots, author Anthony Quiroz shows how the experience of the Mexican American citizens of Victoria, who worked within the system, challenges common assumptions about the power of class to inform ideology and demonstrates that embracing ethnic identity does not always mean rejecting Americanism. Quiroz identifies Victoria as a community in which Mexican Americans did not engage in overt resistance, labor organization, demonstrations, or the rejection of capitalism, democracy, or Anglo culture and society. Victoria's Mexican Americans struggled for equal citizenship as the "loyal opposition," opposing exclusionary practices while embracing many of the values and practices of the dominant society. Various individuals and groups worked, beginning in the 1940s, to bring about integrated schools, better political representation, and a professional class of Mexican Americans whose respectability would help advance the cause of Mexican equality. Their quest for public legitimacy was undertaken within a framework of a bicultural identity that was adaptable to the private, Mexican world of home, church, neighborhood, and family, as well as to the public world of school, work, and politics. Coexistence with Anglo American society and sharing the American dream constituted the desired ideal. Quiroz's study makes a major contribution to our understanding of the Mexican American experience by focusing on groups who chose a more subtle, less confrontational path toward equality. Perhaps, indeed, he describes the more common experience of this ethnic population in twentieth-century America.
Mexican Workers and Job Politics during World War II
In Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas, Emilio Zamora traces the experiences of Mexican workers on the American home front during World War II as they moved from rural to urban areas and sought better-paying jobs in rapidly expanding industries. Contending that discrimination undermined job opportunities, Zamora investigates the intervention by Mexico in the treatment of workers, the U.S. State Department's response, and Texas' emergence as a key site for negotiating the application of the Good Neighbor Policy. He examines the role of women workers, the evolving political struggle, the rise of the liberal-urban coalition, and the conservative tradition in Texas. Zamora also looks closely at civil and labor rights–related efforts, implemented by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Fair Employment Practice Committee.
Race, Nation, and the Politics of Landownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1929
Chang brings the histories of Creek Indians, African Americans, and whites in Oklahoma together into one story that explores the way races and nations were made and remade in conflicts over who would own land, who would farm it, and who would rule it. He argues that in struggles over land, wealth, and power, Oklahomans actively defined and redefined what it meant to be Native American, African American, or white.
The Life and Times of Major General Henry C. Merriam, 1862-1901
During his thirty-eight-year career as a military officer, Henry Clay Merriam received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Civil War, rose to prominence in the Western army, and exerted significant influence on the American West by establishing military posts, protecting rail lines, and maintaining an uneasy peace between settlers and Indians. Historian Jack Stokes Ballard’s new study of Merriam’s life and career sheds light on the experience of the western fort builders, whose impact on the US westward expansion, though less dramatic, was just as lasting as that of Indian fighters such as Custer and Sheridan. Further, Merriam’s lengthy period in command of black troops offers a study in leadership and important understandings about the conditions under which African Americans served on the Western frontier. During the course of his service, Merriam crisscrossed the country, from Brownsville, Texas, to the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver Barracks, serving in eastern Washington, California, and Denver. Drawing extensively on the many letters and records associated with Merriam’s long army career, Ballard presents his service in a wide range of settings, many of which have become the stuff of Western history: from conflict with Mexican revolutionaries on the Rio Grande to the miners’ riots in Coeur d’Alene. Ballard’s careful research provides a vivid picture of the military’s role in the westward expansion.