Unusual Books on the West from Gene W. Baade
Here is an autobiography of a man who didn't have a problem with self-image: James Andrew Wilson. Life Travels and Adventures. The Greatest Fighter Living in Texas. Written by Himself. The subtitle is, The Bravest Man Who Ever Lived in Texas. If this is true, it must have escaped the notice of most other Texans. I never heard of him before. If you haven't either, here is your chance. Baade tells us Wilson's greatest adventures took place in the late 19th century, but actually occurred in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. Perhaps he felt "the Greatest Fighter Living in Alabama" wouldn't sound as impressive so he used Texas instead. Ernest Wessen, in his Midland Notes, describes Wilson as the greatest gunfighter "by his own admission." Item 182. $67.50.
Here is the rare item not about the West, though it is connected by being published in Austin, Texas. It is a complete run of Bookways A Quarterly for the Book Arts. This was a short-lived periodical dedicated to fine printing, and its quality matched its subject matter. Sixteen issues were published between 1991 and 1995. Item 18. $400.
Item 14 is Butch Cassidy, My Brother, by Lula Parker Betenson, a second printing from 1975. Mrs. Betenson was indeed the sister of Robert LeRoy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy, though this book was written over half a century after when most believe he died. The prevailing view is that Cassidy died in a shoot out in South America in 1908, but as with other icons such as Jesse James, some believe he survived and went on to live for many more years underground. Mrs. Betenson was one of them, at least she professed to be. She claimed to have witnessed a return by Butch to the family homestead in 1925. He supposedly went back in hiding until he died in 1937, to be buried in a grave kept secret by the family. It is not clear whether Mrs. Betenson believed her story or made it up for publicity and money. To hear her side, you need only read the book. Baade's copy is special as it is autographed by Lula Parker Betenson. $75.
Gene W. Baade may be reached at 425-271-6481 or firstname.lastname@example.org.