Indians and the West from George S. MacManus Co.
By Michael Stillman
The George S. MacManus Company has issued Catalogue 399, the latest installment in its series Indians and the West. The first edition covered, alphabetically, A to the mid C's. This one runs from C to H. It looks like there could be many more catalogues to come in this series. Despite the limited number of letters, there is no shortage of material. This catalogue contains 470 items of primarily western or frontier Americana, as early as the 17th, as recent as the 20th century, but most either 18th or 19th. There is much here on the conquering of the west, and the natives who found their land conquered from beneath their feet. Here are a few of the books of Americana in some way associated with the letters C through H.
It was all going to be Utopia. Author Mrs. Miriam Davis Colt, her husband and family were vegetarians, responding to circulars from the Vegetarian Company for a new settlement in Kansas. So, in 1856, they sold their farm in cold, upstate New York, to join the community in lush Kansas. It didn't quite work out that way. The community was not as developed as they thought, and the border ruffians of Bleeding Kansas turned life into a struggle just to stay alive. The community failed, people went hungry, and various diseases set in. Within a few years, Mrs. Colt returned to New York, but her husband, son, and other relatives died along the way. Life was incomprehensibly tough in those days. Her book is Went to Kansas; Being a Thrilling Account of an Ill-Fated Expedition to the Fairy Land, and Its Sad Results... Item 18. $750.
Father Pierre De Smet was neither an ordinary missionary nor explorer. He devoted his life to helping the western Indians. In 1840, he headed west at the behest of the Flathead Indians, who were seeking a missionary to teach them. Father De Smet not only taught them his faith, but techniques of farming, a necessity in a world where declining open spaces were putting an end to traditional nomadic life. De Smet proved to be an inspiration not only to the Indians, but to other missionaries he was able to recruit to assist the natives. There weren't all that many white men the Indians came to trust, but Father De Smet was the exception. As late as 1868, he was still able to convince Sitting Bull to agree to a treaty. Item 103 is a book by De Smet recounting his early travels deep into the west: Letters and Sketches: With a Narrative of a Year's Residence Among the Indian Tribes of the Rocky Mountains, published in 1843. $2,000.
Item 144 is an important account of a voyage to the Pacific coast of North America: A Voyage Round the World; But more Particularly to the Northwest Coast of America: Performed in 1785...1788...by George Dixon. Dixon had participated in Cook's third voyage, which surveyed the Pacific Northwest. Dixon's aim was to provide a more accurate mapping of this coast than was possible for Cook. Along with mapping, Dixon brought back much information on the natural history of the area and its inhabitants. The book also includes charts from Hawaii. His book was published in London in 1789. $6,500.