“What I Saw in Texas”—Texas & Pacific RR Promo with Engravings of Texas
192. FORNEY, John W. What I Saw in Texas by John W. Forney. Ringwalt & Brown, Prs., Press Building, Philadelphia  [wrapper title with imprint]. [3-5] 6-92 pp., wood-engraved vignettes and text illustrations, either unattributed or signed in print by Crosscup & West or F.B. Schell, 5 full-page engravings including upper wrapper and untitled map (Texas, parts of surrounding states, and Mexico, showing railroad routes), neat line to neat line: 12.5 x 20.6 cm. 8vo (24 x 16 cm), original lilac pictorial wrappers (montage of Texas scenes), original stitching. Wrapper chipped with slight losses at head and foot of spine, loss of upper right blank corner of upper wrapper; overall light soiling to wrappers, two small stains on lower wrapper. Interior very fine. Upper wrapper with ink signature of journalist G.B.P. Ringwalt.
First edition. Adams, Herd 822: “Rare.” Howes F264. Kelsey, Engraved Prints of Texas, p. 164 (listing seven Texas engravings). Raines, p. 85. Clark, Travels in the New South I:77: “Forney, a well-known journalist, left Philadelphia on June 12, 1872, and made his way to Texas…. His tour of Texas included Marshall, Jefferson, Dallas, Fort Worth, Corsicana, Austin, Houston, Galveston, and San Antonio. He was a keen observer and noted the progress being made in various parts of the South, but pointed out the need of schools, churches, free press, skilled labor, and capital. His chief interest, however, was railroads, their builders, and statistics for Texas and the Southwest. An excellent work.”
John W. Forney (1817-1888), also known as John Wein, John Wien, and John Weiss, was a Philadelphia journalist who became heavily involved in politics, serving at various times as a surveyor of the port of Philadelphia, Clerk of the House, and Secretary of the Senate. He was also important as a newspaper publisher, although he switched political sides several times. The present pamphlet resulted from Forney’s interest in and friendship with various railroad entrepreneurs. Here he describes his journey with Thomas A. Scott, who gained control of the Texas and Pacific Railroad and sought a route for the line. Forney’s account was published to spur a subsidy by Congress to the Texas and Pacific Railroad. In it, he describes the features and productions of Texas, including stock raising with a little essay, “What Poor Men Have Done Raising Stock in Texas” (pp. 85-86). Mifflin Kennedy and his vast cattle operation are mentioned in the section on “West Texas—or the Country between the Colorado and Rio Grande.”
Among the illustrations is a full-page view of Fort Worth before the railroad arrived, the foreground occupied by a log cabin, cattle, and two horsemen, and the town sitting on a prominence in the far distance. Other illustrations include steam ship scenes and various vignettes, on such themes as ranch life, railroad car interiors, and industry. Artist F.B. Schell, sometimes confused with Francis (or Frank) H. Schell, was a Philadelphia illustrator who was working by 1870, but about whom little else is known (see Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers, Vol. II, p. 132).
DSRB Home | e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright Dorothy Sloan 2009