Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2013 Issue

Texas and the West from Kenston Rare Books

Kenstonsu2013

Kenston and Josey (he doesn't look much like Clint Eastwood).

Kenston Rare Books has issued their catalogue for Summer 2013. Fine Books on Texas and the American West. Most of the material relates to Texas, appropriate for a state so large, but there are many items pertaining to states from Montana to New Mexico also to be found. Subjects are generally those you might expect to be important in the West – ranching and farming, gun fighting... hm... did they do anything else in the Old West? Well, let's take a look inside and see.

The cover of this catalogue quite resembles the cover of item 44 within: The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales. The story is fictional, though loosely based on events in Missouri at the end of the Civil War. The book would become famous when turned into a film with Clint Eastwood in the title role. It differed from most in that the hero Wales hooks up with former supporters of the Confederacy against aggressive pro-Union men from Kansas. This is not surprising considering author Forrest Carter's past. A rabid racist, KKK member, radio personality and political candidate, his views were extreme even for the South of the 1950s and 1960s. His views were so extreme that he finished last in his political runs, though he did manage to hook on as an unnamed speech writer for segregationist Governor George Wallace of Alabama (some attribute Wallace's famous “segregation forever” line to Carter). Several instances of extreme violence have also been attributed to Carter. Late in his life, Carter moved to Texas, changed his first name, and began writing novels with a much more tolerant theme, denying he was even the same person family and friends from Alabama recognized. He took on a cowboy persona and avoided his past, though never apologizing for it nor indicating he no longer held such repugnant views. He died under mysterious circumstances after a fight with his son. Offered is the 1973 true first edition, a private press work believed to have been printed in only 25-75 copies. A much larger run was later printed by a regular publisher, followed by the Eastwood movie. Priced at $2,500.

Here is a book about three other men who moved to Texas, though under different circumstances: G. T. T. Gone to Texas: Letters from Our Boys. Thomas Hughes' three sons went to Texas from England to take up ranching. They bought an 800 acre ranch near Bourne (a little west of San Antonio) and operated a successful cattle, sheep and horse ranch. They were good sons and wrote back to their father regularly, so dad compiled their letters and some from other family members and published them in this book in 1884. The letters cover the years 1878-1883. Item 151. $250.

There are lots of executions still taking place in Texas, occasionally women, but only one woman was ever hanged in the state. That honor goes to Chipita Rodriguez. She ran a small stop in South Texas where travelers could get a meal and a cot for the night. One such traveler was killed one night, his body and gold found down the river. She denied being involved to the end, and there is much doubt to this day. In 1985, the Texas Legislature passed a resolution saying she did not get a fair trial. That didn't matter in 1863. She was taken from her jail cell in San Patricio and hanged from a mesquite tree (there aren't any serious trees in South Texas to hang people from). Item 268 is A Noose for Chipita, by Vernon Smylie, published in 1970. It tells not only about the event, but the legends that arose from it. Supposedly, her ghost haunts the area, particularly when a woman is executed. $25.

Item 63 is a collection of six pamphlets published by Industrial Dallas circa 1927. They promote the city as a place to live and locate a business. Its economy, laws, climate, residential areas, educational facilities and recreation are explained to the would-be new resident. In case people are concerned about undesirables, it is pointed out that “Dallas is made up largely of native Americans, with a negligible foreign element.” Lest you think this means there were a lot of Indians living in Dallas in 1927, “native Americans” meant born-in-America Anglos in those days. $250.

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