Copyright 2000- by Dorothy Sloan-Rare Books Inc. for all materials on this site. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
1515. DILS, Lenore. Horny Toad Man. [El
Paso]: Boots and Saddle Press, .  190 pp., photographic plates, endpaper
maps. 8vo, original maroon cloth decorated in gilt. Very fine, with two versions
of d.j., one of which bears the author’s printed label. Presentation
copy to Carl Hertzog, signed by author. Hertzog bookplate on front pastedown.
Occasional manuscript corrections by author.
First edition. Guns 595: “There is mention of such gunmen and outlaws as Pat Garrett, Bat Masterson, George Scarborough, Dallas Stoudenmire, Jeff Milton, J. B. Gillett, Billy the Kid, Bass Outlaw, and John Wesley Hardin.” The Horny Toad Division of the Santa Fe Railway (established 1881) ran from Albuquerque to El Paso, with branch lines to Deming, Silver City, Santa Rita, and other points west. The line was christened the Horny Toad Division because of the large number of now-endangered horned lizards that covered the tracks.
The Horny Toad line assisted ranchers and cattlemen in the transition from trail driving to shipping by rail. Weeks were saved, and cattle did not lose weight as they did on long trail drives. Burt Mossman and others rounded up wild horses, broke them at Engle, shipped them on the Horny Toad line, and sold them for a dollar a head. Engle, the half-way point on the line, became a stomping ground for cattlemen and cowboys. The chapter on Engle includes material on Eugene Manlove Rhodes, Burt Mossman, Bo Harkness, and many other ranchers and cowboys.
This book is filled with a great deal of local history and unusual material not found elsewhere. For instance, we learn that Western showman and poet-scout Captain Jack Crawford (see items 1214-1219 in Part I of this Catalogue) lived on a ranch at Fort Craig near the Horny Toad line and that his wife never approved of his fancy fringed buckskin suit, long flowing locks, and extravagant facial hair. When Captain Jack would emerge from his room all decked out, he would ask his wife how he looked. Invariably she would reply, “Silly.” $300.00
The Code of the West
1516. DIMSDALE, Tho[ma]s J[osiah]. Vigilantes of Montana;
or, Popular Justice in the Rocky Mountains: Being a Correct and Impartial
Narrative of the Chase, Trial, Capture, and Execution of Henry Plummer’s
Notorious Road Agent Band, Together with Accounts of the Lives and Crimes
of Many of the Robbers and Desperadoes, the Whole Being Interspersed with
Sketches of Life in the Mining Camps of the “Far West.” Virginia
City, Montana: D. W. Tilton, 1882. 241 pp. 12mo, original grey printed upper
wrapper (neatly rebacked, spine and lower wrap supplied in sympathetic grey
paper). Fragile upper wrapper lightly chipped and stained. Tear on upper
wrap and title neatly reinforced with tape on inside wrap and title verso
(no losses). Interior fine, overall a very good, presentable copy.
Second edition (the first edition, printed at Virginia City, Montana, in 1866, is exceedingly rare). Adams, One-Fifty 48n: “All editions [were] issued by different publishers except the second.... The original edition is said to be the first book produced by a printing press in Montana. Perhaps no book excels Dimsdale’s in presenting the lawless condition that characterized the mining camps of the Rocky Mountain country. The author was editor of the Virginia City Montana Post and a participant in the extraordinary campaign against lawlessness.” Guns 596n. Graff 1088n. Howes D345: “Textually the most important book ever printed in Montana.” Smith 2458. Streeter, Americana Beginnings 72n (citing first edition): “One of the best accounts of the action of the Vigilance Committee, the institution that brought justice to the western frontier.”
Dimsdale’s classic book is a cornerstone in the literature of the Code of the West, setting out the cardinal principles of extra-legal justice as a means to justify an end. With great verve, Oxford-educated Englishman Dimsdale chronicles one of the most successful lynch-law campaigns in American history. The events described in the book took place in the Montana cattle country in 1863 and 1864, with many of the pivotal events of the tragic drama played out on area ranches. The turning point for Plummer’s gang, who called themselves the Innocents, occurred at Dempsey’s Cottonwood Ranche, when quasi-Innocent George W. Brown spilled the beans to the Vigilantes. Once the veil of secrecy of the Innocents had been pierced by Brown, captured gang member Erastus “Red” Yager got the coup de grace rolling by disclosing inside information on the gang—its members, hierarchy, secret codes, passwords, and nefarious methods. After that, the Innocent game was up, except for the “hempen neckties” (Dimsdale’s euphemistic term for hanging).
The Innocents and their ruthless crimes exercised a profound and baleful effect on the area ranchers, as Dimsdale points out: “The owner [of Cottonwood Ranche] knew the character of the robbers, but had no connection with them; in those days a man’s life would not have been worth fifteen minutes purchase, if the possessor had been foolish enough even to hint at his knowledge of their doings.... All along the route, the ranchmen knew the road agents, but the certainty of instant death in case they revealed what they knew enforced their silence, even when they were really desirous of giving information or warning.”
Often a book is fascinating for what it says, but occasionally a book intrigues by what the author does not say. Dimsdale’s Vigilantes fits both categories. We find it interesting that assiduous chronicler Dimsdale does not mention Granville Stuart, an active member of the Vigilance Committee that ended the reign of Plummer and his Innocents. Stuart’s vigilante activities are considered by some historians to be the most notorious in American history. Stuart was in western Montana by the 1860s and is often credited with starting the Montana gold rush when he discovered gold at Deer Lodge Valley. He began as a road rancher in Montana, eventually becoming a legendary cattle baron. Recent scholarship has challenged Dimsdale’s account as one of the most successful cases of spin-doctoring in history. $1,000.00
1517. DIMSDALE, Tho[ma]s J[osiah]. Vigilantes of Montana.... Butte:
W. F. Bartlett, 1915. 276 pp. 12mo, original grey printed wrappers, stapled
(as issued). Blank right lower corner of upper wrap missing, otherwise fine.
“Third printing” (same text as first and second edition, but with added introduction by John F. Davies, Librarian, Butte Free Public Library; Davies refers to the 1882 printing as a second impression and states that 10,000 copies sold). Smith 2460. WLA, Literary History of the American West, pp. 830-31: “Long before the end of the frontier era, the Rocky Mountains had generated a considerable historical literature of an informal and polemic nature. A notable specimen is Thomas J. Dimsdale’s The Vigilantes of Montana.... Dimsdale served as Montana Territory’s first superintendent of public instruction and edited Virginia City’s Montana Post. Dimsdale’s book narrates the effective but controversial vigilante campaign against Henry Plummer, who had doubled as elected sheriff and leader of road agents preying upon travelers between Montana’s isolated mining camps.... Dimsdale argues that frontier vigilante justice was a necessary step toward a civilized state of law and order.” $150.00
1518. DIMSDALE, Tho[ma]s J[osiah]. Vigilantes of Montana.... Helena:
State Publishing Co., . 290 pp., frontispiece portrait of Dimsdale, photographic
plates (mostly portraits and early views of Montana). 8vo, original green pictorial
cloth stamped and lettered in white. Light shelf wear, hinges loose, back free
endpaper not present, overall very good and bright. Autographed by editor A.
Third edition (with additional material on Southern Montana). Howes refers to this edition as the best. Adams, One-Fifty 48n: “The third edition in 1915 was issued by Al Noyes with footnotes and illustrations and with an appended history of Southern Montana.” Graff 1089. Smith 2459. The additional 90 pages following Dimsdale’s book contain excellent documentary history and firsthand accounts by pioneer ranchers, miners, settlers, and legislators in southern Montana. This appendix is filled with fugitive information, such as mining laws of various districts; Jack Slade—his two ranches, his fabulous wife, probate of his estate; the first beer brewed with hops in Montana by Charles Beehrer (as a youth Beehrer almost joined a large gang led by Texans, who were later arrested, to “procure” cattle); buffalo currency; the Flour Riot; good material on women (list of women residing in Bannack in 1862; first woman miner, Annette Stanley, who bought a claim on Geary’s Bar for $20 in 1862; etc.). $125.00
1519. DIMSDALE, Tho[ma]s J[osiah]. Vigilantes of Montana.... Helena:
State Publishing Co., [ca. 1915 or after]. 290 pp., frontispiece photographic
view of Virginia City, plates. 8vo, original olive pictorial cloth gilt. Minor
shelf wear, lower hinge loose, occasional pencil notations to blank margins,
overall very good to fine, a bright copy.
“Fourth edition” (another edition of preceding, with slight rearrangement of material). Dimsdale, who spices his brilliant and bloody account with quotations from Cato, Byron, Shakespeare, Milton, et al., states: “It is not pleasant to write of blasphemous and indecent language, or to record foul and horrible crimes; but, as the anatomist must not shrink from the corpse, which taints the air as he investigates the symptoms and examines the results of disease, so, the historian must either tell the truth for the instruction of mankind, or sink to the level of a mercenary banterer, who writes, not to inform the people, but to enrich himself.” $125.00
1520. DIMSDALE, Tho[ma]s J[osiah]. Vigilantes of Montana.... Butte:
McKee Printing Co., 1929. 269 pp., photographic plates. 12mo, original white
pictorial wrappers colored in red and black, upper cover with headline: A
Vivid and Truthful Tale of the Old West, and printed statement: From
the P.O. News Stand, 25 W. Park St., Butte, Mont. Wholesale and Retail Booksellers,
Newsdealers and Stationers. Fragile wrappers with light wear and last gathering
browned, otherwise fine.
“Seventh printing” (reprint of the first edition). Smith 2463. The appeal of this book is perennial, as evidenced by this and the following popular reprint editions. WLA, Literary History of the American West, pp. 69-70: “Literary works of the middle ground provide strong evidence of the value to the literary historian of studying western works that might not be classified as belles-lettres. Even so early a western book as Mark Twain’s Roughing It (1872) relies on even earlier books such as The Vigilantes of Montana (1866) by Thomas Dimsdale.” $75.00
1521. DIMSDALE, Tho[ma]s J[osiah]. Vigilantes of Montana.... Butte:
McKee Printing Co., 1945. 269 pp., photographic plates. 12mo, original maroon
“Tenth printing” (reprint of the first edition). “Charles Dickens is reported to have said: ‘This is the most interesting book I ever read in my life’” (The Collector’s Journal, 3:6, April-June 1933, p. 367). $35.00
1522. DIMSDALE, Tho[ma]s J[osiah]. Vigilantes of Montana.... Butte:
McKee Printing Co., 1949. 269 pp., photographic plates. 12mo, original beige
pictorial wrappers colored in red and black, upper cover with headline: A
Truthful and Colorful Record of the Triumph of Law and Order in Montana. Fine.
“Eleventh printing” (reprint of the first edition). $35.00
1523. DIMSDALE, Tho[ma]s J[osiah]. Vigilantes of Montana.... Butte: McKee Printing Co., 1949. Another copy of preceding, variant binding. 12mo, original green and black faux marbled cloth. Fine. $35.00
The Battle of Adobe Walls
1524. DIXON, [William] “Billy” [& Olive Dixon]. Life
and Adventures of “Billy” Dixon of Adobe Walls, Texas Panhandle:
A Narrative in Which Is Described Many Things Relating to the Early Southwest,
with an Account of the Fight between Indians and Buffalo Hunters at Adobe
Walls, and the Desperate Engagement at Buffalo Wallow.... Compiled by Frederick
Barde. Guthrie: [Co-operative Publishing, 1914]. 320 pp., frontispiece
(reproduction of Gwynfred Jones’s painting of “The Fight at Adobe
Walls”), text illustrations (photographic, some full-page, including
Quanah Parker). 8vo, original gilt-lettered slate blue cloth. Light wear
and staining to binding, but a bright, tight copy, interior very fine. Very
scarce (book lore maintains that many copies of the first edition were burned
in a fire).
First edition. Anderson Sale 1642:156: “Privately issued by the widow, after Dixon’s death, from the manuscript narrative of his adventures dictated to her by Gen. Miles’ noted scout. Exceedingly rare.” Braislin 606. Campbell, p. 62. Dobie, p. 159. Eberstadt, Texas 162:53: “An important narrative of early days in the Southwest, taken chiefly from Dixon’s own statements. The preface includes a letter from Bat Masterson, recalling his services with Dixon at Adobe Walls in June 1875.” Graff 183. Herd 204: “Scarce.” Howes B135. Tate, Indians of Texas 3112.
This book, a classic of the buffalo hunter as a type, contains much on early ranching in the Panhandle (Charles Goodnight, XIT, JA, Hansford, etc.). “After the Indians had been swept from the South Plains, and when the buffalo herds existed only in men’s minds, Billy Dixon settled down to relive his past on paper, and these reminiscences, collected and edited by his wife [Olive Dixon] shortly after his death were published in 1914” (McLoughlin, Wild & Woolly, pp. 110-11). “Dixon, scout and buffalo hunter (1850-1913)...was one of the first hunters to work south of the Canadian in Comanche country and by 1874 was in the Panhandle.... In 1883 Dixon quitted the army payroll and, since the buffalo were gone from the South Plains, ranched, homesteaded, built a residence at the site of Adobe Walls” (Thrapp I, pp. 406-07). Dixon comments on his buffalo hunting (pp. 183-84): “No mercy was shown the buffaloes.... I killed as many as my three men could handle, working them as hard as they were willing to work. This was a deadly business, without sentiment; it was dollars against tender-heartedness, and dollars won.”
For women’s history, it should be noted that a lone woman (Mrs. William Olds) was among the twenty-eight persons under siege during the second Battle of Adobe Walls (1874), an attack of approximately a thousand Comanche, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, and Kiowa warriors, led by Quanah Parker. Only four of the Adobe Walls men were killed (including Mrs. Olds’ husband). Dixon’s comments on the presence of Mrs. Olds at the Battle of Adobe Walls reveal gender attitudes on the frontier: “The anxiety of [our men] was increased by the presence of a woman.... If the latter fact should be learned by the Indians, there was no telling what they might attempt, and a determined attack by the Indians would have meant death for everybody...for none would have suffered themselves to be taken alive nor permitted Mrs. Olds to be captured.... Mrs. Olds was as brave as the bravest. She knew only too well how horrible her fate would be if she should fall into the hands of the Indians, and under such circumstances it would have caused no surprise had she gone into the wildest hysterics.... When the hand of death seemed to be reaching from every direction, this pioneer woman was cool and composed and lent a helping hand in every emergency.”
For perspective, it should be noted that the Adobe Walls stockade where Dixon and his companions were setting up their village was in territory previously guaranteed by treaty to Native Americans. $750.00
1525. DIXON, [William] “Billy” [& Olive Dixon]. Life and Adventures of “Billy” Dixon.... Guthrie: [Co-operative Publishing, 1914]. Another copy, variant binding. 8vo, original gilt-lettered green cloth. Binding worn, stained, and frayed, spine defective (split at lower front joint, small piece of cloth missing from upper spine affecting gilt rule and few letters of title) and hinges cracked. In marked contrast to the outside, the text is clean and bright. $500.00
1526. DIXON, [William] “Billy” [& Olive Dixon]. Life and Adventures of “Billy” Dixon.... Guthrie: [Co-operative Publishing, 1914]. Another copy. 8vo, rebound in later black cloth, marbled endpapers. Fine, exceptionally clean and fresh text. $400.00
1527. DIXON, [William] “Billy” & Olive Dixon. Life
of “Billy” Dixon, Plainsman, Scout and Pioneer.... Dallas:
P. L. Turner, . xviii, 251 pp., frontispiece portrait (photograph of
Dixon in his prime), plates (photographic). 8vo, original dark green cloth.
Fine in the scarce pictorial d.j. (fine with only slight wear). Bookplate
of William MacLeod Raine, noted English writer on Western subjects (see Thrapp
III, pp. 1188-89).
Second edition, revised. Tate, Indians of Texas 3123: “Although written as a work of praise by a loving wife for her celebrated husband, this book remains very valuable to researchers interested in an insider’s view of the buffalo hide trade of the Texas Panhandle and the Red River War. Dixon’s legendary exploits at Adobe Walls and the Buffalo Wallow Fight are fully detailed in this account, as are the facts of the gradual surrender of various Comanche, Kiowa, and Southern Cheyenne bands during 1874 and 1875.” $300.00
1528. DIXON, [William] “Billy” & Olive Dixon. Life of “Billy” Dixon.... Dallas: P. L. Turner, . Another copy. Long diagonal strip of pp. 33-34 missing, with loss of about a third of text (Xerox copy supplied), occasional mild foxing, generally very good in the rare d.j. (lightly soiled, spine darkened). $75.00
1529. DIXON, Sam Houston. The Men Who Made Texas Free:
The Signers of the Declaration of Independence—Sketches
of Their Lives and Patriotic Services to the Republic and State with a Facsimile
of the Declaration of Independence. Houston: Texas Historical
Publishing Company, . 345 pp., text illustrations (facsimiles and full-page
portraits of signers). 8vo, original gilt-lettered brown cloth. Light shelf
wear, front hinge cracked, back hinge separated, otherwise very good, interior
clean and bright.
First edition. Compiled biographical work, including details on signers engaged in stock raising: Samuel Augustus Maverick (linguistic source of the term “maverick” for an unbranded cow), John W. Bunton (originator of the famous “Turkey Foot” brand and credited for the bill that established the Texas Rangers), Francisco Ruiz, et al. $50.00
1530. DIXON, William H. White Conquest. London: Chatto
and Windus, 1876. viii, 356 [32, ads] + vi, 373  pp. 2 vols., 8vo, original
blindstamped green cloth. Very worn ex-library copy, titles with ink stamp
of Young Folks’ Library, La Junta, Colorado, old paper spine labels with
ink call numbers, library slips removed (some damage to endpapers), lower corner
of free endpaper in vol. 1 torn away, hinges broken (some signatures loose).
The outward appearance of the set is fairly wretched, but the text is clean.
First edition. Clark, New South I:61. Cowan, p. 176. Cowan & Dunlap, Bibliography of the Chinese Question 174: “`Our yellow Brothers,’ `Mongol Migration,’ `Chinese labor,’ and other articles.” Flake 2849. Guns 598. Norris 975. Raines, p. 68.
Dixon, historian, traveller, and former editor of the London Athenaeum, wrote an entertaining and thoughtful account, with an emphasis on race relations. The four chapters on desperado Tiburcio Vásquez include information on his rustling activities. Dixon devotes several chapters to Oklahoma and Texas, with good observations on ranching and the cattle trade: “From Denison to Hearne, from Hearne to Galveston, the plains of Texan are dotted with cattle.... A Texan builds no cattle-sheds. Once he has turned his herds into the grazing lands, he lets them run wild, and stay out all the year.”
Dixon obtained a unique firsthand perspective on the history and plight of formerly missionized Native Americans in California when he encountered at Carmel 125-year-old Native American “Captain Carlos.” This wizened patriarch claimed to Dixon he witnessed the arrival of Father Serra and Don José Rivera in Monterey in 1770 and personally experienced the transition from tribal ways to mission life to dismemberment of the missions to the shift of sovereignty from Spain to Mexico and from Mexico to the U.S. Dixon met a similar patriarch at Santa Clara, Marcella, who was a child when the cloister at Santa Clara was constructed, and who over the decades saw himself reduced from prince to pauper.
Dixon’s descriptions of California ranch life are lively and articulate. Dixon attended a cascarón ball at the rancho of Mariano Vallejo. At Salinas, Dixon noted that the British had effectively taken the region from “the drovers and herdsmen...of the Bedouin type, half-naked savages, tawny of skin and black of eye, with curly beards and golden earrings; nomads as wild and reckless as the bulls they chased and slew.”
Dixon’s chapter on Salt Lake City (“Red Mormonism”) compares the belief systems of Mormons and Native Americans and discusses polygamy. $200.00
1531. DOBIE, Bertha M. The Pleasure Frank Dobie Took in Grass. [College
Station: Friends of the Texas A&M University Library, 1972].  pp.,
text illustrations of range grasses by Thomas Rowell. 4to, original beige pictorial
wrappers. Fine. From the library of Carl Hertzog, with his bookplate.
First edition, limited edition (500 copies). Keepsake 2. “A Talk given by Mrs. J. Frank Dobie on the presentation of ‘My Dobie Collection’ by Jeff Dykes and Martha Dykes Goldsmith to the University Library, Texas A&M University.” Introduction by Dykes, who describes the restoration of the range on the 17,000-acre Flat Top Ranch (Bosque County, Texas), where his father ran some cows in the 1880s. In this little keepsake, Dykes acknowledges Bertha McKee Dobie’s excellent contributions to and influence on J. Frank Dobie’s writings. $45.00
1532. DOBIE, Bertha M., et al. Growing Up in Texas,
Recollections of Childhood.... Austin: Encino Press, 1972.  153 pp.,
woodcut illustrations by Barbara Whitehead. 8vo, original red pictorial cloth.
Very fine in fine d.j.
First edition. Whaley, Wittliff 89. This pleasantly designed and printed book includes nostalgic recollections by Bertha McKee Dobie, Joe B. Frantz, John Graves, A. C. Greene, and others. Bertha describes the scene of driving her cow home in the evenings: “The Velasco prairie...was unfenced grazing ground well into the twentieth century, long after most open range was a thing of the past. During my childhood and girlhood herds of beef cattle as well as the townspeople’s milch cows fed there. They watered from ditches and from the River, in which it was not uncommon for an animal to bog.... Mosquitoes were a scourge to cattle and people alike.”
Some of the other memoirs contain ranching material, and a personal favorite of ours is John Graves’ contribution about growing up in cow-town Fort Worth and summers as a greenhorn kid on a South Texas stock farm trying to keep up with “gnarled Mexicans” speedily digging postholes. $40.00
1533. DOBIE, Bertha M., et al. Growing Up in Texas. Austin: Encino Press, 1972. Another copy. Very fine, d.j. not present. From the library of Carl Hertzog, with his bookplate. $20.00
1534. DOBIE, Dudley R. A Brief History of Hays County and San
Marcos Texas. San Marcos: Privately printed, 1948.
71 pp. 8vo, original beige wrappers. Fine.
First edition. CBC 2362. Includes interviews with and accounts of old-timers who went up the cattle trail. $40.00
1535. [DOBIE, DUDLEY R.]. LOWMAN, Al. Remembering Dudley Dobie:
The First Bookseller to Enrich My Life and Empty My Pockets. Austin:
[Designed by William R. Holman and printed by David Holman at Wind River
for] Dorothy Sloan–Books, 1993.  33  pp., including photographic
frontispiece of Dudley R. Dobie. 8vo, original brown cloth over beige boards
with woodcut illustration by Barbara Whitehead. Very fine, in plain white
First edition, limited edition (50 copies). Al Lowman’s warm personal memoir of Dudley, with some good book lore relating to cowmen Jack Thorp, James F. Hinkle, “Colonel” Jack Potter, and others. $50.00
J. Frank Dobie
Note: The following essay is quoted with permission from Henry L. Alsmeyer, Jr. “J. F. Dobie” in A Literary History of the American West (Fort Worth: TCU, 1987, pp. 535-543).
The writings of J. Frank Dobie appeal strongly to readers who appreciate good tales, students of the southwestern land, and all who value freedom and the natural order. Known to a generation of admirers as "Mr. Texas," Pancho Dobie inhabited a world that was never limited by the borders of his native region. The man who knows all there is to know about longhorns, to paraphrase the Latin citation accompanying an honorary degree conferred during his year of teaching at Cambridge University, became a man whose works were increasingly concerned with exploring the universal principle of freedom and the relationships of humans and the physical world around them. Like Robert Frost, Dobie became a realmist rather than a regionalist.
The author's decades of writing yielded varied and voluminous publications. These works reflect Dobie's skills as a storyteller, chronicler, folklorist, and historian of sorts. They also reflect his deep love for the land and its people, combined with an equally deep affection for classic literature in the English language. Love for literature, particularly English literature, and for the natural world began to grow in Dobie almost from the time of his birth in 1888 on a ranch in Live Oak County, deep in South Texas. However, he was in his forties before his first major work, A Vaquero of the Brush Country, appeared in 1929. Publication of Coronado's Children shortly thereafter brought national attention. Dobie's desire to chronicle the life of his region never waned, although his interests eventually transported him far beyond the bounds of the cattle kingdom of his birth. In 1952, in The Mustangs, Pancho Dobie noted proudly that searching out the stories for that book had carried him out of the confines of his native region, across centuries and geographical boundaries.
The roots of any writer's growth are complex. Dobie's early years included ample time for riding and working on his father's ranch; there was also time for considerable reading and attending a country school. The first crucial turn in the author's life came while he was enrolled at Southwestern University, a Methodist college in Georgetown, Texas: it was there that thoughts of studying for the bar changed to a desire to teach literature. Dobie indeed became a teacher, principally at the University of Texas at Austin, until he and the school's administrators parted company in 1947 in a widely publicized dispute. On the surface the matter concerned Dobie's request for an extension of a leave of absence; the request was denied, and Dobie subsequently declined to report for classes as he had been ordered to do. The grounds for the conflict were actually highly political. Dobie had made no bones about being dissatisfied with what he perceived as a "fascist" mentality dominating the university's board of regents.
Dobie's years at Southwestern University, in any case, engendered in him a love of literature and an early commitment to teaching. They were also the time when he met Bertha McKee, an undergraduate at Southwestern and a student of language, literature, and the Southwest in her own right. Frank and Bertha Dobie were married in 1916 after a six-year "courtship." The author's life for more than a decade after he left Southwestern in 1910 was a series of comings and goings. He taught and served as highschool principal in the Big Bend country of West Texas, and there met John Young, whose story became the subject of his first book. He was briefly on the staffs of several Texas newspapers and thought, fleetingly, of becoming a fulltime reporter. In 1912 he returned to Southwestern University as a special assistant and teacher of English. Enrollment as a graduate student at Columbia University in 1913 led to a deeper commitment to English literature and also expanded Dobie's world in other ways. That academic year marked his first extended visit to a major city, New York, where he learned to appreciate the theatre and the pleasures of out-of-the-way bookshops. The antipodal pulls of city and ranch country were to remain a strong internal conflict in Dobie throughout his life.
Completing the Master of Arts degree in mid-1914, Dobie in the fall joined the English faculty of the University of Texas. Among the most important of the author's early friendships was a lasting one with the great folklorist Stith Thompson. At Thompson's urging, Dobie became a member of the Texas Folklore Society, an organization Dobie was to rejuvenate in the 1920s. With America's entry into World War I, Dobie volunteered for military service, even though he was by then married, and was awarded a commission as lieutenant in the field artillery. He served overseas with a battery of horse-drawn field pieces, but saw no combat. He became acquainted with France during the war, but was not to visit the England he loved through its literature until he went to Cambridge University in the midst of World War II. His army service and his stint at Cambridge are joined in a sense for, as Dobie wrote in the 1940s, the interval spent learning how to fire artillery and his stay at Cambridge studying and teaching American history were the times he had "gained more brain power" than he had in any other periods of his life.
Dobie returned to Texas in 1919. For the next year he managed his Uncle Jim Dobie's ranch on the Nueces River south of San Antonio. It was on his uncle's ranch that Dobie befriended a vaquero named Santos Cortez, and as a result finally established a goal for his life. He listened with fascination as Santos spun stories through the long South Texas nights. As Dobie wrote in his newspaper column of November 17, 1957:
While Santos talked, while Uncle Jim and other cow men talked or stayed silent, while the coyotes sang their songs, and the sandhill cranes honked their lonely music I seemed to be seeing a great painting of something I'd known all my life. I seemed to be listening to a great epic of something that had been commonplace in my youth but now took on meanings. I was familiar with John A. Lomax's Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads. Indeed, I knew John Lomax himself very well. One day it came to me that I would collect and tell the legendary tales of Texas as Lomax had collected the old-time songs and ballads of Texas and the frontier.
While this passage is perhaps filtered through the well-known Dobie romanticism, the decision to collect and to tell the folk stories of his native region was firm, and the vision recounted in the passage remained with the author throughout his life. In the early 1920s disastrous financial conditions for cowmen, including Jim Dobie, hastened Pancho's return to the University of Texas, where he remained, except for a brief period spent as head of the English Department at what is now Oklahoma State University, until 1947.
In the 1920s and 1930s Dobie's life was increasingly active with teaching, public appearances, and writing. Establishing himself in the 1920s as a well-paid author of magazine articles for national publications, he also became a steady contributor to the Southwest Review, an excellent regional journal. Opening another channel of communication as the decade closed, he developed his "Life and Literature of the Southwest" course at the University of Texas; the class, one of the most popular offered at the University during the 1930s, demonstrated Dobie's knowledge of the land, people, and literature of the Southwest, as well as his great vitality as a teacher. A brief mimeographed reading list prepared as the course was organized in 1929 evolved into the renowned Guide to Life and Literature of the Southwest (1942; revised edition, 1952). As late as 1979, James K. Folsom, writing in The Western: A Collection of Critical Essays, adjudged the Guide "the most useful single bibliography of Western Americana."
In the 1920s Dobie commenced interviewing scores of trail drivers, cowmen, treasure hunters, and other oldtimers likely to have good tales to tell. He traveled countless miles to secure these interviews, placing the tales in his growing files for use and reuse; it is not an exaggeration to say that Dobie practiced oral history of a sort long before tape recorders were invented. He loved the open road, and he enjoyed getting away from campus to refresh his mind and spirits in the countryside. Still his primary responsibilities were academic and urban in setting.
Much of Dobie's scholarly work in the 1920s was associated with the Texas Folklore Society, which he was largely responsible for reorganizing in the early part of the decade. Dobie edited the Society's annual publication from 1922 to 1943. His literary reputation was finally and firmly established with the publication of A Vaquero of the Brush Country ( 1929) and Coronado's Children (1930), the latter title chosen as a Literary Guild selection. These works reflect the methods of assembling materials and of writing that Dobie was to employ for the remainder of his career. He gathered the tales, wrote short articles for the Texas Folklore Society annual or for magazines, then rewrote the shorter pieces for book publication. The books themselves are a blend of narrative, short lyrical passages, history, folklore, and natural history. In Vaquero, Dobie used autobiographical materials provided by John Young, an old cowman who had once trailed cattle from Texas northward toward Canada before fences ended the trail-driving epoch. Dobie was later to claim, in a list he made of outstanding range country books, that A Vaquero of the Brush Country, along with The Longhorns (1941), supplies "a fairly full and accurate account of the beginnings and early development of ranching in Texas."
If Vaquero is a story of the open range, Coronado's Children takes as its theme the quest for lost treasure. "These tales are not creations of mine," Dobie writes in introducing Coronado's Children. "They belong to the soil and to the people of the soil." He then says the book is a collection of "just tales." The reader familiar with Dobie's work will note characteristic touches here. The author often pointedly identifies himself with the soil and its people. He also often injects a disclaimer, such as the "just tales" phrase, to avoid being labeled a folklorist or historian or scientist of any kind. As Vaquero was followed some years later by The Longhorns, so the treasure tales published in 1930 were followed in 1939 by Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver. The latter was the first of many of his works to be brought out by Little, Brown and Company; the author dealt with five publishers during the 1930s before establishing a permanent relationship with the Boston company.
Dobie had grown up among Spanish-speaking people and was always interested in their folk culture. During the early 1930s he traveled extensively in Mexico, adventures funded in part by a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation. The literary result of his travels was Tongues of the Monte (1935), reprinted as The Mexico I Like (1942). Francis E. Abernethy, in his excellent pamphlet J. Frank Dobie (1967), notes that this book on Mexico, while never a big seller, has become for many readers their favorite Dobie volume. Cast as a picaresque novel, Tongues of the Monte features Don Federico as its central character; the extent to which Don Federico is also Frank Dobie remains vague. The protagonist, in any event, rides through five separate episodes in northwestern Mexico. The geography of the narrative is never clearly mapped out, but it seems to be set in the dry brush country east of the Sierra Madre and south of the Texas Big Bend and New Mexico. A highlight of the work is the tale of Juan Oso, son of a bear and of a woman (a variant, of course, of the Bear's Son Tale, an archetypal story that appears in the folklore of many cultures). Tongues of the Monte does not go very far in developing the character of Don Federico, and is therefore not a good novel; the book is successful, however, in vividly showing "the life of the Mexican earth" and its people.
The Longhorns, published in 1941, represents Dobie at the peak of his powers. The author begins the book with a statement that the longhorns belong to history, "a past so remote and irrevocable that sometimes it seems as if it might never have been." He advises readers "who object to facts" to begin with chapter four "and then merely to skim all the others." The work is a rewarding mixture of fact, lore, and history. Entertaining tales, such as that of Sancho, the steer who returned, on instinct, to his native Texas range after being trailed to Wyoming, enliven the text. "Sundown," the twelfth and final chapter of The Longhorns, carries a double meaning, one imposed by history, for as this work appeared World War II was about to become a global conflict with Americans involved directly. Dobie closes the book with praise for the longhorns for their great strength, vitality, endurance, and nobility.
Within three years of finishing The Longhorns, the writer would be admiring the English people for some of these same qualities. Dobie went to England during the war to serve as a visiting professor at Cambridge University. It was there that he became "contemporary with myself," as he expressed it, a transformation that can best be seen by following the Sunday newspaper column he began in September, 1939 and produced without fail until his death. "My Texas" was the original title of the column which was published in several newspapers, notably the Houston Post and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In An American Original: The Life of J. Frank Dobie (1978), Lon Tinkle cites a note found in one of Dobie's "Autobiographical" files, a note in which the author wrote of becoming unconsciously contemporary with the world at "about the time World War II arrived." He could not, he said, be aware of the "Nazis bombing English civilization out of existence and...go on tall-taling about Texas as if all were right with the world." He concluded by speaking of "the Fascist spirit asserting itself at home."
Dobie's responsibility at Cambridge was to lecture on American history from 1774 to the 1940s, a responsibility that set him to cramming like a college freshman before an exam. The Dobie who long had loved English literature, especially Shakespeare and the Romantics, found in England a civility and civilized freedom, a serenity and a sense of harmony that moved him deeply. He had not planned to write of his experiences in England, but an article about Cambridge for the Saturday Evening Post and notes jotted down for the Sunday column became, with rewriting, a book unique to his long list of publications, A Texan in England (1944). In a notable chapter, "The Lark at Heaven's Gate," he writes as a Wordsworthian Romantic preparing to go out onto Grantchester Meadows to hear the skylarks of which such poets as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Shelley had written; but in the same chapter he poignantly and realistically describes the longing for liberty that he had seen in two golden eagles in the London zoo, creatures that remind him of a caged eagle observed years earlier on an Oklahoma ranch. "What England Did to Me," the final chapter, reveals a man very different from the creator of The Longhorns, a book written just a few years previously. As Tinkle noted in An American Original (p. 185): "The year at Cambridge crystallized many points of view for Dobie, ideas that had invigorated and enlarged him in the past but that had never dominated his thought." Among the ideas were the relationship of the universal and the provincial, a growing attachment to the metaphor of "the earth," and increased respect for imagination as contrasted with illusion. Notable also is the strengthening of Dobie's affection for England.
The break with the University of Texas in 1947, the involved details of which need not be of concern here, freed Dobie to devote his entire time and energy to writing. The files of materials he had collected, earlier publications in magazines and newspapers, and memories stored over the years formed the basis for several important works published in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The Voice of the Coyote (1949), like his other animal books, blends folklore with natural and cultural history. How humans perceive the coyote is at least as important in the book as factual information and description. The author is forceful in his opposition to the frontier tradition of killing for the sake of killing. A hunter from boyhood, Dobie in The Voice of the Coyote expresses anger at those who slaughter coyotes for no good reason.
As opposed to the traditional Anglo attitude, Dobie was attracted to the Indian view of nature, a view which stresses living in harmony with one's natural environment. The author seemed to see such a view reflected in the career of the old hunter Ben Lilly, who had begun on the eastern fringes of the Southwest and eventually moved across Texas into the mountains of northern Mexico, New Mexico, and Arizona. Lilly was in his seventies when Dobie first met him in New Mexico in 1928, and the file of materials on Lilly gathered over the years finally evolved into The Ben Lilly Legend (1950). Lilly was a paradoxical man, impossible in human relationships because of his devotion to hunting and moving on. Dobie was fascinated with Lilly's primitive knowledge of forest and mountain range, with his energy, vitality, strength, and love of freedom. Old Ben Lilly was a son of the natural world that Dobie adored, but it is interesting that the writer gives only a few words in his Guide to Life and Literature of the Southwest to the Lilly book, fewer words in fact than to any of his other works.
The Mustangs, published in 1952, may well prove to be the most enduring of Dobie's books. The English Romantic, the lover of the open range, and the critic of contemporary society merge into the marvelously elegiac opening lines of the volume: "Like the wild West Wind that Shelley yearned to be, the mustangs, the best ones at least, were `tameless, and swift, and proud.' " The author says that he has chosen to write about the mustangs "at a time when so many proclaimers of liberty are strangling it." The reference is to the McCarthyism of the early 1950s, an "ism" that Dobie deplored because of the fears and the tightening of freedoms that it engendered. Pancho Dobie was often more direct in his political commentary, such as in the newspaper column in which he compared a prominent Texas politician unfavorably with a rattlesnake, but in The Mustangs he wrote obliquely of the spiritual truth of freedom, a value he believed the wild horses and their world embodied. Such a principle, of course, had been defined by Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the few American writers to significantly influence Dobie. The tales and facts collected in the book, however, have a vital tang of actual experience that transcends the abstract message.
Years of collecting notes and of reading about the horses of the West preceded the writing of The Mustangs. Prior to composing the book the author also did concentrated research under a grant from the Huntington Library in California; Dobie later said the research conducted at the Huntington was equal to that required for the writing of a doctoral dissertation. Pride in the resulting work is apparent in the lengthy annotation found in Guide to Life and Literature of the Southwest (revised edition). Dobie explains in the annotation that the volume "incorporates" an earlier, briefer work, as well as "a large part" of the Texas Folklore Society annual of 1940. The first third of The Mustangs traces the Arabian progenitors of the Spanish horse, the horses brought to the New World by Spaniards, and the horse strains developed by the western Indians. Later there is room for legends and tales of Anglo mustangers. "Probably a million range horses," Dobie notes, left Texas during the time of the longhorn drives, and by the end of the nineteenth century the last herds of mustangs had been reduced to scrub stock. In The Mustangs Dobie largely avoids sentiment, something he was not always able to do in previous works. The concluding prose hymn to the mustangs, once free upon a vast range and now "free of all confines of time and flesh," seems noble and fitting rather than sentimental. Tales of Old-Time Texas (1955) continued to mine the familiar lode, as did I'll Tell You a Tale (1960), a selection of some of the best of Dobie's previously published stories. The tales in the latter volume were chosen by Isabel Gaddis, herself from the range country and a former student of Dobie's. The stories are gathered under such headings as "The Longhorn Breed" and "Characters and Happenings of Long Ago," and they represent Dobie at his best in doing what he did with artistry–telling a tale. An advance copy of Cow People was in Dobie's hands only days before his peaceful death in September, 1964. The book summarizes and distils all the vast knowledge of cattlemen that Dobie had acquired over a lifetime of personal experiences and reading. Lon Tinkle claims that Dobie became a better, more realistic writer during his final years. Cow People bears out that judgment. The portraits of cattlemen in Cow People are expertly drawn, sometimes with humor, always with canny understanding.
Following Dobie's death several posthumous volumes–most notably Rattlesnakes (1965), Some Part of Myself (1967), Out of the Old Rock (1972), and Prefaces (1975)–were sewn together and published. The lengthy bibliography compiled in 1968 by Mary Louise McVicker shows, through its more than 700 entries (excluding newspaper columns), how voluminously Dobie wrote. Tinkle's "A Bibliographical Note" at the close of An American Original nicely supplements McVicker's essential bibliography and summarizes well the significant body of writings by and about Dobie as of the late 1970s. That Dobie was a literary son of the cattle kingdom is known widely; less well known are the extent and variety of his writings. As McVicker's bibliography demonstrates, he not only wrote extensively for periodicals, but also contributed 134 items to books by varied hands.
Pancho Dobie could ride the range and treat cattle infected with screwworms, but he was also a literate writer firmly grounded in the best standards of English literature. At times late in his life Dobie worried that he was perceived by the public only as a colorful yarn-spinner. Tinkle ponders the question of whether or not Dobie became "trapped" in the image he so carefully cultivated early in his career. In the final chapter of An American Original, "A Joy to Him and a Joy to Hear," Tinkle concludes that indeed Dobie found himself entrapped "within his loyalties and his public role," but that Dobie the man "never stopped growing." Pancho Dobie was in general a beloved figure in his native Texas and Southwest, and his long life spanned a period of remarkable transitions within the region. His life, if not his works, reflects many of those transitions.
How will Dobie's reputation fare in the future? Students of literature know that judging a writer's accomplishments is usually a lengthy process; reputations must be sifted. A single doctoral dissertation devoted solely to Dobie and a few worthwhile undergraduate papers cited by Tinkle suggest that there has not been an excessive amount of scholarly interest in the author. Larry McMurtry, the Texas novelist, offers strong, generally negative criticism of Dobie (and of the writer's friends, historian Walter Prescott Webb and naturalist Roy Bedichek) in a piece included in In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas (1968). Dobie and his colleagues, McMurtry writes, "revered Nature," but were never able to resolve their ambivalent passions: love for the range and love for "the library." McMurtry asserts that Dobie is at his best in Tongues of the Monte and in the "terse opinionated annotations" of the Guide. Only time will test the validity of McMurtry's belief that Dobie's audience "will probably not outlive him much more than a generation." Another Texas writer, Larry Goodwyn, concludes in his essay "The Frontier Myth and Southwestern Literature" that Dobie was "the most significant...of the interpreters of the oral tradition," but while he "described a way of life," he never found a way "to describe its meaning."
Perhaps the best judgment of Dobie now possible is suggested by the opening sentences of Francis Abernethy's pamphlet J. Frank Dobie. Abernethy begins with a story Dobie relates in A Vaquero of the Brush Country. A thirsty, bored cowboy rides into Dogtown, and after a visit to the saloon mounts his horse, spurs it, and whoops for a while to "express the buoyancy of his unconquerable spirit." Dobie, Abernethy says, "decided to whoop us into consciousness of what we had and what we have, and of the tremendous life and vitality of things of which we are a part." Chronicler of the cattle kingdom and teller of tales, folklorist, historian, bibliographer, man of letters, teacher, lover of freedom and of nature and of life, and a well-loved figure–Dobie was all of these. Future generations of readers will no doubt confirm that he wrote at least a handful of enduring books about his native region and its animals and people. At times, in addition, he did a lot of whooping and stirring the dust.
Joe Frantz remarked that Dobie was “Texas’ first liberated mind to achieve a wide audience and the first truly professional writer produced by the state” (Third Coast, 1983). Many Texas writers have credited Dobie with inspiring them not only to be a writer but to feel comfortable using their home state as a subject. Billy Lee Brammer admitted, “It never occurred to me—ever—until I read Frank Dobie, that I could be a writer. There simply were no writers in Texas” (Texas Observer 21). Fred Gipson confided that he had never realized it was possible to live in Texas and be a writer until Dobie set the example (Austin American Statesman B5). Publisher and screenwriter Bill Wittliff acknowledged that “Dobie was the prime moving force of my life.”
Note: Please contact our firm if you desire other titles by or about J. Frank Dobie not present in this catalogue.
Tom Lea’s Presentation Copy to Carl Hertzog
1536. DOBIE, J. Frank. Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver. Boston:
Little, Brown, and Co., 1939. xvii  366 pp., color frontispiece, color plates,
and text illustrations by Tom Lea. 8vo, original half brown cloth over beige
boards, silver paper spine label. Light shelf wear and slightly faded, front
hinge cracked (but strong), otherwise very fine in publisher’s black
slipcase with pink printed label; additional envelope of plates of Lea’s
paintings for the book included (as issued, but often lacking). Publisher’s
plain glassine d.j. not present. Wonderful presentation copy—with artist
Tom Lea’s signed note to “Carl Hertzog, whose imprint would have
improved this work, Tom, March 1939.”
First edition, Sierra Madre edition (#259 of 265 copies signed by Dobie and Lea). Basic Texas Books 45n. Cook 29. Dobie, p. 40. Dykes, Fifty Great Western Illustrators (Lea 126); Kid 266; My Dobie Collection, p. 8 (#6 on his rarities list); Western High Spots, p. 52 (“High Spots of Western Illustrating” #59). Guns 599. Hinshaw & Lovelace, Lea 30F. McVicker A7a(1). One Hundred Head Cut Out of the Jeff Dykes Herd 6. Paher, Nevada 482. Powell, Heart of the Southwest 29: “Illuminated by the alchemical magic of Dobie’s feeling for places and people of the Southwest.” Saunders 4030. Sloan, Auction 9 (quoting Pingenot): “A sequel to Coronado’s Children, focusing on New Mexico, Arizona, and Sonora.... It is the handsomest collaboration between the two men and one of Dobie’s most enjoyable books.”
Unusual nuggets of ranching history may be mined from this unlikely source: “Not the Will of God” (related by Tomás, pastor for a border rancher in Chihuahua); “The Man Who Was Not Dead” (cowboy-trapper-prospector Ammon Tenney’s account of John Brewer’s 1888 search for lost treasure on Windmill Ranch in Arizona); “Hound Hunters” (“Numerous otherwise level-headed forest rangers, cowmen, barkeeps and sheepherders...become loco with the Adams Diggings and leave their firesides, campfires, cattle, coin counters, sheep and families to take up the search”); “Can You Read Shadder Writing?” (search for Tayopa treasure by John Williams, range foreman of William Randolph Hearst’s hacienda, La Babícora: “He was on the Babícora when it was unfenced and maverick bulls and cows of the longhorn breed would run for thirty miles, once they got a good scare from men”); and more. $1,000.00
1537. DOBIE, J. Frank. Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1939. Another copy. A few minor chips to paper spine label, otherwise a very fine copy in publisher’s slipcase, and with the additional envelope of Lea’s paintings for the book included, as issued. Limited edition (#259 of 265 copies). $750.00
1538. DOBIE, J. Frank. Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver. Boston:
Little, Brown, and Co., 1943. xvii  366 pp., color frontispiece, color plates,
and text illustrations by Tom Lea. 8vo, original brown cloth. Fine in moderately
worn d.j. (price-clipped). Signed by author.
First edition, third printing. $25.00
1539. DOBIE, J. Frank. Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver. Boston:
Little, Brown, and Co., 1945. xvii  366 pp., text illustrations (some full-page)
by Tom Lea. 8vo, original terracotta cloth. Fore-edges foxed, else fine in
d.j. Signed by author.
World War II edition (reprinted from original plates in slightly reduced format, thinner paper, color plates omitted, d.j. illustration altered, back d.j. text with JFD’s plea to Americans to buy war bonds). McVicker A7a(3). $25.00
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