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20ogBook Reviews445 Colonial Natchitoches: A Creole Community on the Louisiana-Texas Frontier. By H. Sophie Burton & F. Todd Smith. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2008. Pp. 232. Tables, maps, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN: 9781603440189, $39.95.) H. Sophie Burton and F. Todd Smith boldly go where no Texas historians have gone before: across the Sabine River to Natchitoches, Louisiana. Other than the printed primary sources of Herbert Eugene Bolton's two-volume Athanese de Mézières and the Texas-Louisiana Frontier, 1J68-1780 and Charles Wilson Hackett's four-volume Pichardo's Treatise on the Limits of Louisiana and Texas, has any other scholar devoted a book-lengdi study of this town's colonial history in a region that gready influenced the political, economic, and cultural boundaries of Texas and the United States? Burton and Smith challenge prevailing notions about Natchitoches, which they discovered was anything but "backward , chaotic, [or] undeveloped" (p. xii) prior to the Louisiana Purchase. The authors utilize solid quantitative methodology created from original and printed primary sources. They group these findings into databases labeled Free, Slave, Manumission, and Trader, with copies of each graciously deposited at the University of Louisiana, Natchitoches. After an opening chronological chapter, the book flows from the databases into six chapters focusing upon the French and African Creole communities, followed by discussion of the plantation and ranching economies. Their statistical analysis led the authors to argue that Natchitoches settlers formed a "hegemonic French creóle society" that exerted "economic control" (pp. 53-54) throughout the region, even after die transfer of Louisiana in 1762 from French to Spanish sovereignty. Among the book's greatest strengths in addition to the databases are die voices of both elites and common folk. For instance, there is the example of the indomitable Marie Thérèze, or the morena Coincoin, who obtained her freedom in 1778 from her French lover, and dien purchased and freed her children and grandchildren through third-party manumissions. The tragedy and triumph of this former slave of Saint Denis, founder of the Natchitoches post in 1714, became the focus for Texas-born, Mississippi Delta-raised historian Gary B. Mills in his work The Forgotten People (1977) about the mixed African, French, Spanish, and Indian creóle community of Cane River at Natchitoches, which Burton and Smith state had difficulty "establishing a sense of community" (p. 104) between white and black, especially in such small numbers. The authors skillfully weave statistical and individual personalities widi discussion of the economic transition from the French to Spanish eras in the late eighteenth century, which transformed Natchitoches into a hierarchical, plantation-based society with less of the egalitarianism and Indian trade of the previous French period. Despite these strengths, some scholars may take exception to the authors' emphasis upon French creóle "hegemony" in a frontier that was still dominated by the Caddo Indians and inhabited also by Gulf Coast Indians, Spaniards, and Africans. The authors, meanwhile, de-emphasize the role of Franciscan friars from the Spanish colonial missions in East Texas despite dieir lengthy presence in the region. What may appear as weaknesses, however, may actually prove the 446Southwestern Historical QuarterlyApril audiors' point diat Natchitoches remained a predominandy French and African creóle community where the few outsiders allowed inside became culturally "Gallic" in a slave society that resembled the Eastern Seaboard, if not the Caribbean, more than the backcountry at the turn of the nineteenth century. OurLady ofthe Lake UniversityFrancis X. Galan They Slept upon Their Rifles. By Marshall E. Kuykendall. (Austin: Nortex Press, 2005. Pp. 416. Illustrations, notes, index. ISBN 9781571689931, $50.00 clotii.) Marshall Kuykendall, a self-described amateur writer and historian, offers a well-documented look at the trek of his ancestors across the North American continent that began in 1645. In addition to his own research, the author has compiled an impressive amount of data from genealogists and family historians around die nation. He begins with a discussion of the family surname, which researchers have concluded was manufactured by an American ancestor around 1 700 and has no provable Old World ties. He then provides a broad overview of the various paths taken by different ancestors. Next, he explores...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9560
Print ISSN
0038-478X
Pages
pp. 445-446
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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