Texas and Outlaws from Maggie Lambeth Rare Books
Texas and Some Outlaws from Maggie Lambeth.
By Michael Stillman
Maggie Lambeth Rare Books has issued a new and extensive catalogue of Texas and Some Outlaws. There is also a bit of New Mexico in here, but perhaps they are unreconstructed Texans who still believe in those old boundaries which placed most of New Mexico within the borders of the Lone Star state. Offered are 425 items, few very expensive, and yet many fairly obscure and providing information that will be hard to find elsewhere. For example, there are numerous county histories available. Texas has a lot of counties, and you will not find information about them all that easy to obtain. County histories tend to be short-run printings with limited distribution, but Maggie Lambeth manages to come up with several that will appeal to those focused upon a particular region in this large state. Here are a few of the items from this latest catalogue, which provide samples though hardly an overall view of the varied subjects these books cover.
John Lomax was the premier preservationist of America's folk music. Along with his son Alan, he traveled the American South during the 1930s, using relatively new portable recording equipment to record rural folk musicians. He especially focused on prisons, where he found many black folk and blues singers whose art was still mostly uninfluenced by jazz and more modern musical trends. His recordings, gathered for the Library of Congress, preserved countless examples of traditional American music that otherwise would have been lost. However, long before he packed up his car with recording equipment and hit the road, John Lomax was already preserving traditional music, especially from his home state of Texas. One of these contributions is the 1919 book Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp. This is a moo-ving tribute to the music of the real cowboys, before they were co-opted by the Hollywood singing "cowboys." Item 239. Priced at $125.
Here is the story of one of those outlaws: Rube Burrow; King of the Train Robbers. Burrow was an Alabama native, an apparently law abiding son of a respectable family who set off for Texas as a young man to become a cowboy. Somewhere along the way of his cow-poking career, Burrow decided to go for the bigger and easier money afforded by train robbing. His first heist came in 1886 when he robbed $300 from a train in Bellevue, Texas. This was followed by a more successful $4,000 haul, which in turn led to a long string of robberies. His modus operandi was to sneak into the cabin at a stop, and force the engineer to halt the train somewhere out of town. Burrow developed something of a reputation as a Robin Hood as he only stole from the rich. Well…duh. He apparently did help out some people in need, particularly family when he returned to Alabama. On a less pleasant note, he is believed to have killed a postmaster and perhaps a few others. In 1890 he was captured, escaped, but shot and killed by one of the men who had captured him. Carl Breihan's 1981 book about Burrow is item 67. $100.
For those with an interest in cookbooks, here is an unusual title: Mrs. Rasmussen's Book of One-Arm Cookery. The book was written by Mary Lasswell in 1946 and carries her inscription. Ms. Lasswell believed a cook should be able to prepare a meal in one pot over an open fire. The book and its strange title were named for a lady who supposedly cooked with only one arm so that her other hand would be free to hold a beer. This really sounds more like a cookbook for men. Item 122. $60.
Texas and Outlaws from Maggie Lambeth Rare Books
Item 381 is a 1971 reprint of an 1853 book, but for those looking for as complete as possible a collection of Indian Captivities, this may have to do. There is only one known copy of the original, and that is held by the Huntington Library. The title is A Thrilling Narrative of the Sufferings of Mrs. Jane Adeline Wilson During Her Captivity Among the Comanche Indians. Mrs. Wilson and her family were traveling to California when some Indians relieved them of their cattle near El Paso. Well, one thing leads to another, and her husband and father-in-law did the same to some Indians, only to be pursued and shot dead for their efforts. The Indians returned Mrs. Wilson to El Paso, but she was captured by the Comanche as she retreated back to the east. She spent a month enduring unpleasantries among her captors before escaping, hiding out for several weeks, and finally being found by some New Mexico traders who delivered her to the army. Mrs. Wilson would later remarry and raise four children in relative peace, but she is best remembered for a very difficult time while she was still a 15-year-old bride. $50.
Item 141 ties together two remarkable men from another era in Texas. The book is Frank Dobie: Man and Friend, by Ralph Yarborough. Dobie was one of Texas' greatest writers about its heritage and rural life. Ralph Yarborough was a reformer and senator during the 1960s, when this book was published. Both had lived through the Depression and were dedicated to helping those who lacked money and power. They were as far removed from Texas politics of today as day is from night, but there was a day when liberal politicians actually won occasional statewide elections. It was an attempt to heal this split in the Texas Democratic Party, left represented by Yarborough, right by Governor John Connolly, that brought President John Kennedy to Dallas that fateful day in 1963. Connolly rode in the motorcade in Kennedy's car, Yarborough with LBJ. It cost JFK his life, but did not resolve the split. Yarborough's remembrances of Dobie is priced at $30.
Maggie Lambeth Rare Books may be found online at www.texanbooks.com, telephone 830-833-5252.