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“An Authoritative and Trustworthy Account of the Era” (Streeter)

236. WRIGHT, Robert M. Dodge City the Cowboy Capital and the Great Southwest in the Days of the Wild Indian, the Buffalo, the Cowboy, Dance Halls, Gambling Halls and Bad Men. [on back of frontispiece: Wichita: Wichita Eagle Press, 1913]. 344 pp., 41 plates (including frontispiece, which is in color). 8vo, original green pictorial cloth decorated and stamped in red and black, spine lettered in gilt and with gilt vignette of tomahawk. Minor shelf wear, otherwise a superb copy, bright, and tight. Lengthy signed and dated presentation inscription in unidentified hand at back:  “To E. L. Sabin with Compliments R. M. Wright March 18, 1921, LaJolla, California” stating in part, “I knew ‘Bob’ Wright well-He was one of the best of the old plainsmen-I knew most of the characters he names & of many of the ‘movies’ they were stars in-Bob lived the life of those days and has plainly written it as he saw it.”  There is a lengthy pencil note in the same hand on p. 82 elucidating an incident, plus a few other marginal pencil marks. Whoever wrote these notes lived in the area and clearly knew the author and many other personalities of the time.

     First edition, first issue of one of the first books written about Dodge City, the northern terminus of the great cattle drives up from Texas. Adams, Burs I:421. Adams, Guns 2456: “Rare.” Adams, Herd 2564. Adams, One-Fifty 149: “It is said that most of this edition was destroyed by the printer; hence its rarity.... The first edition may be identified by the colored frontispiece with copyright date on recto.... Reveals intimate knowledge of the gunmen of that wild cowtown.” Campbell, p. 197: “Vivid and veracious account of Dodge City, Kansas, by her most prominent citizen, who lived there from its founding until his death. Our best book of memoirs on this subject.” Campbell, My Favorite 101 Books about the Cattle Industry 99. Dobie, p. 125. Dykes, Collecting Range Life Literature, p. 13. Graff 4756: “There was no ghost writer. This book has the real savor of Western Frontier Days.” Holliday 1219. Howes W706. Littell 1132. Merrill, Aristocrats of the Cow Country, p. 27. One Hundred Head Cut Out of the Jeff Dykes Herd 65. Reese, Six Score 118: “Much on Dodge City as a cowtown, and on ranching in the area, as well as the trail driving phase.” Streeter Sale 2395:  “Wright’s is an authoritative and trustworthy account of the era.”

     Chapter 3, “Ranching in the Early Days,” tells of the author’s struggles to establish himself amidst depredations and constant threats from hostile Native Americans.  Often overlooked are Wright’s comments and observations on Blacks who lived and died in early Dodge City.  Among his observations is this interesting factoid:  “The first man killed in Dodge City was a big, tall, black Negro by the name of Tex, and who, though a little fresh, was inoffensive.  He was killed by a gambler named Denver” (p. 169).  Wright (1840-1915) came to the West as a teenager and for years worked as a contractor hauling grain, hay, and wood back and forth across the plains.  In 1867 he moved to Fort Dodge and later to Dodge City, where he became a prominent citizen and merchant, representing Dodge County four times in the legislature.  Despite his success, he died poor. See C. Robert Haywood, The Merchant Prince of Dodge City: The Life and Times of Robert M. Wright (University of Oklahoma Press, 1998).  ($300-600) 

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