The West and More Americana from Arthur H. Clark
Catalogue 924 from the Arthur H. Clark Company.
By Michael Stillman
We just received the latest offering from The Arthur H. Clark Company of Spokane, Washington. Clark specializes in Americana and the West, and catalogue 924 presents 340 more such items for your consideration. It is a mix of older material, that is, 19th century printings when the West was young, with more recent histories of that era and reprints of hard to find old works. Researchers and collectors alike will be impressed. Some of these titles are obscure and will fill holes in collections you might not even know exist. Here are a few samples.
The Nez Perce War was one of the later attempts by an American Indian nation to hold onto its land. During the days of westward expansion, Nez Perce Chief Joseph was one who believed the native tribes and white men could coexist on the land. However, as the settlers and the Army pushed them farther and farther back, he finally concluded that resistance was the only way. In 1877, they made their stand. The Nez Perce fought gallantly to save their land, but were no match for the powerful American Army. Pushed back nearly 2,000 miles by the pursuing army, they were forced to surrender. Item 109 is sort of the final chapter to this sad story. It is Yellow Wolf: His Own Story, by Lucullus Virgil McWhorter, published in 1940. McWhorter was a rancher who developed a deep interest in and friendship with the Indians of Washington State. In particular, he chronicled the history of the Nez Perce and Yakama tribes, being adopted as a member of the latter. A chance meeting with Yellow Wolf of the Nez Perce led to this book. Yellow Wolf was one of the last Indian survivors of the Nez Perce War, and it provides a perspective different from those of soldiers who fought on the other side. Priced at $75.
For a look at Oregon at the dawn of the influx of immigrants from the east, there is The Oregon Territory: a geographical and physical account of that country and its inhabitants with outlines of its history and discovery, by Rev. C.G. Nicolay. This book was published in London in 1846, the year in which the British ceded their claims to the territory to the U.S., and just as the large migration was about to begin. It describes early settlement of Oregon and the fur trade which brought the first Europeans and Americans to the territory. Item 294. $235.
Here is a look at early California, and this time we mean very early California. The book is Rancho La Brea: A Record of Pleistocene Life in California, by Chester Stock. The Plesitocene Epoch began around 1.8 million years ago, and ended about 11,000 years past, or roughly 10,850 years before the California Gold Rush. Its end probably coincides with the earliest human settlement in the Americas. The La Brea Tar Pits yielded an amazing collection of animals that roamed North America in the late Pleistocene, roughly 8,000-40,000 years ago. Among the species found that are now extinct, or found only in zoos on this continent, are mammoths, mastodons, native horses, camels, longhorn bison, and perhaps the most famous of these extinct animals, the saber-toothed tiger. The cause of their disappearance is uncertain, but the appearance of humans at this time is not likely a total coincidence. Item 1962. Published in 1930. $18.50.
The West and More Americana from Arthur H. Clark
Henry Clay Barnabee was a famous, now forgotten, actor.
Here are some more recent, but also extinct Californians. It is Journeys to the Homes of Famous Californians, written by Herbert Warren and published by the San Francisco Examiner. It includes descriptions of the homes of the rich and famous, and a map to help you locate and gawk at them. But, we suspect most of these celebrities are extinct, as it was published in 1927. $17.50.
Some great celebrities end up virtually totally forgotten. Henry Clay Barnabee came along just a little too soon. He was an actor and producer of the second half of the 19th century and early 20th. He was known as the "Dean of Light (or "Comic") Opera." He encouraged the writing of such plays in America, and appeared in light operas written by American composers, including John Philip Sousa. Barnabee and his troop were centered in Boston, but they traveled all across the country, playing in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and many smaller locales from Butte to Kansas City. Unfortunately, his career came to a close just as movies were beginning to appear. His performances went unrecorded. There is not much left to retell his career, except his biography, Reminiscences of Henry Clay Barnabee: Being an Attempt to Account for His Life, with Some Excuses for His Professional Career. He was, to the end, a comedian. His personal papers are stored in his hometown Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Public Library, apparently receiving few visitors. Item 96 is a copy of his biography, signed by Barnabee, and is available for just $19.50.
Item 168 is a history of an important expedition across Canada in 1872. It was undertaken by Sandford Fleming, a surveyor and engineer of railroads. Fleming crossed the country from Halifax to the Pacific mapping a route for the Canadian Pacific Railroad. However, Fleming created something even more significant than any railroad. The problem of scheduling trains led him to the idea which gave him the moniker "Father of Standard Time." In 1872, time was computed locally based on the sun being straight up at high noon. The result is that time from one community to another might be 6 or 12 or 24 minutes apart. Under such a system, creating rational railroad time schedules was practically impossible. Fleming came up with the idea of 24 worldwide time zones, each separated by exactly one hour. A new hour would start everywhere at precisely the same time, and by locating a community within its time zone, you could instantly tell what time it was anywhere in the world. Amazingly, Fleming met much resistance from traditionalists, some of whom objected to 12:00 not occurring at precisely high noon. Practicality carried the day, and Fleming's time zones were accepted internationally in 1885. Rev. George Grant's 1879 book is titled Ocean to Ocean: Sandford Fleming's Expedition through Canada in 1872. $42.50.
The Arthur H. Clark Company may be found online at www.ahclark.com or reached by phone at 800-842-9286.