Western Americana from Arthur H. Clark
The latest from the Old West offered by Arthur Clark.
By Michael Stillman
Just arrived is catalogue number 926 from The Arthur H. Clark Company. Clark offers catalogues in Americana with a focus on the American West. Material runs from contemporary reports of events and explorations of the Old West to more recent historical reviews. These catalogues present material for the collector and the historian, as well as those looking to learn about the past or find some interesting reading. Whatever your reason, if your interest is the American West, you should be subscribing to these catalogues. Now for a few examples:
Item 155 should be the final book in a collection of Kit Carson. Carson was a trapper and trader with the Indians of the Southwest in the 1840s who became a legend when he helped guide General Fremont's expedition to the Pacific. He was serving as a Federal Indian Agent in New Mexico when the Civil War broke out. New Mexico sided with the Union, but in 1862, was invaded by Confederate forces from Texas, seeking to reach the gold fields of Colorado. Carson joined the military and formed a band of volunteers to help repel the attack. Carson and the New Mexicans had little success, but ultimately, the Confederate aims were thwarted by Colorado volunteers. He was then called on to fight the Navajos, and led a brutal campaign destroying their crops and livestock until they were forced to surrender and undertake a 300-mile "Long Walk" to confinement and eventual resettlement on a much reduced reservation. After the Civil War, Carson moved to Colorado to go into ranching, but he died only a few years later in 1868. Item 155, as we noted, is an appropriate finale for a Carson collection, as it recounts The Last Days of Kit Carson. The book was written by H.R. Tilton, a U.S. Assistant Surgeon General who attended Carson in his final illness and was present when he died. This is a limited edition (250 copies) published in Grand Forks in 1939. Priced at $72.50.
Here is another Kit Carson item, and a technical question. The book is Kit Carson's Own Story of His Life: as dictated to Col. and Mrs. D.C. Peters about 1856-57, and never before published. However, this is a 1955 reprint of a 1926 book. Can you use the original title with the phrase "never before published" in a reprint? This book is a dictated autobiography by Carson, which Peters used to base his own biography of the western legend. Item 57. $38.50.
Sarah Cummins was a young bride when she was among one of the earlier parties to travel the Oregon Trail. She set out in 1845, traveled with Fremont part of the way, and all in all had a most unpleasant trip. By the time they traversed the Barlow Road of Oregon near the end of the trail, she was down to 80 pounds and half starved. Interestingly, she describes being saved by Indians along the way. Most of what was written about Indians in those days involved attacks and captivities, but in the early days of Oregon journeys, before the huge volume of travelers posed a threat to their way of life, most Indians were helpful and friendly to the trekkers. Mrs. Cummins book is Autobiography and Reminiscences, published in 1914. Item 236. $70.
Western Americana from Arthur H. Clark
Alaska had been a U.S. possession barely a decade when Lieutenant P.H. Ray led his expedition to the northern most reaches of this frozen land. Ray's expedition lasted from 1881-1883, and he reported back to Congress in 1885 in this Report of the International Polar Expedition to Point Barrow, Alaska... This is a detailed report on the natural history, natives, weather, magnetism, auroras, and more of the far north. Item 1. $240.
For even earlier information about Alaska, item 2 is a 1967 reprint of Lieutenant Zagoskin's Travels in Russian America, 1842-1844. The First Ethnographic and geographic investigations in the Yukon and Kuskokwim Valleys of Alaska. This was one of the earliest detailed accounts of natural conditions in Alaska, and lives of the natives when they were still Russians. $62.50.
Here's one for California/Indian collectors. The book is To The American Indian, published in Eureka, California, in 1916. The author, Mrs. Lucy Thompson, was the first full-blooded California Indian woman to have her work published. This book is a memoir and history of her people, the Yurok Indians. Item 199 is a first edition signed by the author. $230.
What is a book titled A Short History of Munich...doing in a western catalogue? The answer is: when the remainder of the title is ...Western Cavalier County, North Dakota. This Munich is a bit smaller than the one in Germany, recent population of just 251. Munich is only a stone's throw from Dresden (much closer than is its German counterpart), and if none of this makes sense, just remember that the capital of North Dakota is not Washington or Lincoln, but Bismarck. The author, Usher Burdick, helped to survey the town, sold its lots, and put up the first building. He wrote this historical pamphlet from memory. If you are one of those 251 people, item 233 is a must for your collection. $37.50.
Item 6 recounts a tragic event most people over 50 recall only too well, one that is tied to the West because it occurred in Dallas. It is The Torch is Passed...The Associated Press Story of The Death of a President. Profusely illustrated with photographs, it recounts the assassination of President Kennedy and the days thereafter, from November 22-25, 1963. It was the day the world stood still, and some would say it has not spun quite right ever since. $25.
Clark not only sells older books, but is a noted publisher of western material. Usually, they have a few new titles in their catalogues as well. This month, they are issuing a book entitled History May Be Searched in Vain, by Sherman Fleek. In this day of government support of "faith based" organizations, it's a good time to recall the only faith based military unit in American history. This is the story of the Mormon Battalion, recruited in 1846, and used to help occupy what would soon become the American Southwest during the Mexican War. Perhaps it is little remembered because the Mormon Battalion never saw combat, though it participated in some grueling marches through the desolate Southwest in its year of existence. The battalion was disbanded in California in 1847. This is a limited edition (750 copies), priced at $37.50, or $125 for the collector's edition (50 copies), signed and bound in leather. You might want to put one of these away for your children.
The Arthur H. Clark Company can be contacted online at www.ahclark.com or by phone at 800-842-9286.