I recently was blessed with two new grandsons – I now have six grandchildren, 1 girl and 5 boys. All are very lucky to live in this time period with modern conveniences and medicine. Such was not the case a hundred and fifty years ago. The life of children in the nineteenth century could be very difficult. The American frontier could be very perilous, especially when traveling on the overland trails to a new life. Children had to endure the hardships of heat, cold, lack of food, and a hostile environment. Cathy Luchetti has written a wonderful book “Children of the West: Family Life on the Frontier” which contains images of these young pioneers. Many of the boys and girls who lived during the Civil War surrendered their childhood, whether their daily life was interrupted by combat or the absence of family members to the military. “The Children’s Civil War” by James Marten is a study of childhood during our nation’s greatest crisis and how it shaped the lives of a generation of American children. These and other books on the subject are available at Guidon Books.
In August I had the opportunity to travel back to Virginia with the family. The trip included a stop at the fabulous Mariners’ Museum and Park http://www.marinersmuseum.org/ in Newport News. Because it was the anniversary of the raising of the Monitor, the water in which the turret is usually submerged had been drained, providing an unobstructed view of the salvaged turret. We also walked on top of the deck of a full-sized replica of the Monitor. The Mariners’ Museum also recreated the interior of the CSS Virginia, the Ironclad that dueled with the Monitor at the battle of Hampton Roads. This coming Tuesday, Oct. 20, John Quarstein, director of the Mariners’ Museum, will be speaking to the Scottsdale Civil War Round Table. Guidon Books will have his book “History of the Ironclads” available for purchase, and Mr. Quarstein will be available to autograph copies.
Charles Gatewood, under the command of General Nelson A. Miles near Fort Bowie, Arizona. Following the murder of Geronimo’s family by Mexicans in 1858, Geronimo led his followers in fights against the Mexican and United States governments. After his capture Geronimo was sent to live at various military posts as a prisoner of war before eventually settling in Oklahoma. He was never able to return to his home in Arizona. Several years before he died, Geronimo told his life story which was first published in 1906, but has since been reprinted. Noted historian Bob Utley wrote the most recent biography of Geronimo. Countless other books and articles has been written about the Chiricahua warrior and his people, including one by Allan Radbourne, “Geronimo’s Contraband Cattle” published by the English Westerners’ Society.
I am not sure where you might live, but in the Scottsdale area – it is HOT!! What a great way to stay cool is to be indoors, with the air conditioning on, reading a new book or an old classic. Two books recently published are becoming fast favorites with the customers. Paul Magid completed his second book on General Crook, The Gray Fox: George Crook and the Indian Wars. It covers Crook’s time in Arizona during the 1870s and 1880s while exploring his role fighting the Sioux and Cheyenne. This is a must read if you are interested in the pivotal fighting in the Southwest or the Great Plains. Donald Chaput’s Empire of Sand: The Ehrenberg Quartzsite Parker Triangle: Myths, Mistakes, Had Times and a Few Hard Cases looks at the mining frontier in Arizona, touching on such colorful characters as Wyatt Earp, Nellie Cashman, Hi Jolly and Henry Wickenburg. If you are looking for something light to read, I recently acquired a number of Double D Westerns or Walker Westerns. Stop by the store or check out our website www.guidon.com
In less than 10 days, it will be Father’s Day. It is a wonderful time to remember your Dad with a lasting gift – a book that can relax, educate or spark a new interest. The novels of Zane Grey or Louis L’Amour provide excitement while offering a chance to enjoy reading. Many fathers like to learn more about our country’s history – consider the memoirs of General / President Ulysses S. Grant or a biography of Sam Houston (which should be more factual than Texas Rising). Recently we acquired an extensive library of books on hunting and guns. They range from the very collectible such as Axis Pistols by Jan Still or the book by Roger Cox The Thompson Machine Gun which contains the names of the original purchases of the guns, to books by popular authors Jack O’Connor or Elmer Keith. Stop by the store or shop online. If you can’t figure out what to buy, a gift certificate is a great alternative
On this day in 1902, publishing giant Macmillan printed a novel about the frontier West and the cowboy that became a mythic hero. The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains is considered the first true Western ever written and is loosely based on the Wyoming Johnson County War. From a prominent Philadelphia family, Owen Wister attended Harvard, like his friend Theodore Roosevelt. Like TR, Wister went West to better his health and fell in love with the land and its people. Wister started writing fiction, placing many of his stories on the frontier. On one trip to Yellowstone, Wister met artist Frederic Remington; they remained lifelong friends (a book of their correspondence was published, My dear Wister). Finally in 1902, his most successful work was published, “The Virginian” which was reprinted 14 times in the first eight months. The book has been made into a half-dozen movies and a very successful TV series. Several books have recently been published on Owen Wister and his legacy. The Virginian is still being read with millions of copies in print.
Memorial Day started as a remembrance to those who perished during the America Civil War and evolved as a holiday to honor all who died while in the military. Many members of my family, including my husband and sons, served their country from the American Civil War to the war in Iraq. They wore the uniforms of the U.S. Marine Corps, Army, Navy and Air Force. I am grateful they all lived through their military service, but this day I remember those who died for our country
I love learning – whether it is about Arizona, Custer or the Civil War. This past Tuesday at the Scottsdale Civil War Round Table meeting, noted historian Frank O’Reilly gave a presentation on the 1864 Overland Campaign (sorry Westerners, this is not about crossing the American frontier but the fighting between the North and the South to reach Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy). It was the first series of engagements when Ulysses S. Grant went up against Robert E. Lee and according to O’Reilly, the two men learned a lot about each other that spring. I think it had a profound impact when the two met later at Appomattox. During the Q&A, O’Reilly mentioned Grant’s comment on having met Lee during the Mexican War, which he thought was trying to put them on a closer footing. Frank O’Reilly is the author of The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock, which he graciously signed for the audience. Limited copies of his signed book are available. John Bamberl, president of the SCWRT, said it was the best book on the subject and it really helped when he visited the Fredericksburg battlefield. With the sesquicentennial of the Civil War over, O’Reilly will be working on his next book about Malvern Hill. Next week at the Civil War Discussion Group meeting held on May 28 at Guidon Book @6:30 pm, we will further discussion the Overland Campaign. The public is invited.
I just returned from a great time at the New Mexico Historical Society’s Conference in Albuquerque. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new people. While there I talked with John Ramsey who is doing research when Arizona and New Mexico were one territory and much of southern Arizona was part of Dona Ana County. I have not found much yet, but let me know if you have any leads. It is coincidental that today in 1846 Congress approved President James K. Polk’s request to declare war on Mexico. After two years of fighting, the United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on Feb. 2, 1848. A large part of northern Mexico, including northern Arizona and New Mexico, was ceded to the U.S. In 1854, the U.S. acquired the southern portion of this territory with the Gadsden Purchase. To learn more about the 1846-48 War with Mexico, you might want to read Amy Greenberg’s A Wicked War: Polk, Clayk, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico or the classic history by K. Jack Bauer, The Mexican War 1846-1848.
When people think of Arizona, the first things that come to mind are the Grand Canyon, the hot, dry desert, and Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral fight. I know when my daughter-in-law came to Arizona for the first time, she had to see the Grand Canyon and then we drove down to Tombstone. Her greatest thrill was having her photo taken with Wyatt Earp. There is really much more to our State, but sometimes you have to find that historian or scholar willing to follow an interesting lead. On Friday, April 24, attendees at the Arizona History Convention can learn more about Wyatt Earp and Buffalo Bill Cody – did you know that both men were involved in mining ventures in Arizona and that Earp only spent a short period of time in Arizona, but went on to California? Garner Palenske (author of Wyatt Earp in San Diego) will discuss Earp’s Harqua Hala adventure while Bob Boze Bell, noted for his books on Earp, Holliday and other notorious characters, will talk about Earp in Hollywood. Both authors will be signing their books at the Convention.