JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 180
The names of the American Western hero in the first half of the 19th century were, largely, more common, even a little reserved, underlying their more careful, thoughtful nature: David, Leatherstocking, Natty, Jack, Hicks, Kit, and even Nate (later “Bloody Nate” ), all from come, famously, from the 1830’s-1860’s. They were replaced in the late 1860’s through the end of the century with folks whose names told much more of their story without the reader having to open the book: Deadshot Dave, Deadwood Dick, Daring Dick the Apache Killer, Roaring Ralph Rockwood the Reckless Ranger, Calamity Jane, Edna the Girl Brigand and Hurricane Nell all appeared in the endless pages of the Dime-Novel, cranked out at furious rates for 40 years, changing the literary landscape of the West forever. The House of Beadle and Adams were that major force that produced this new variety of Western Hero, stripping away, for the most part, the philosophical reticence and even careful adventure of the earlier prototypes, leaving mostly bloody escapism and thrills. I wonder if this had anything to do with the familiarity of the event, or the ending of the Civil War, or the
ending of the last Native American resistance, or the more common nature of the westward expansion history, or even the possible thirst for more adventure once the frontier had been declared official closed by Frederick Jackson Turner in 1892.
A Very Short Look at American Western Literature:
1833. David Crockett, Sketches and Eccentricities of Colonel David Crockett. There were several books about Crockett’s adventures published in the early 1830’s; after his death at the Alamo in 1836 Crockett was lionized, and became the stuff of truth, lore and legend for 150 years.
1837. Nathan Slaughter, “Bloody Nate”, the hero of Robert Montgomery Bird’s Nick of the Woods, a hugely popular work enjoyed a large print run encompassing at least 24 American editions.
1841. First appearance of James Fenimore Cooper’s Natty Bumpo in The Deerslayer.
1848+ Charles Webber, Texas ranger and passed minister, wrote (with difficulty) a number of westerns praised as authentic, including Jack Long, or a Shot in the Eye (1846) and Old Hicks the Guide (1848).
1850’s. Emerson Bennett, League of the Miamis, and The Prairie Flower
1850’s. Capt Mayne Reid busily wrote 90 books, including 12 Westerns from The Scalp Hunter (1851) to the Free Lances (1884) with 10 more Westerns in between.
1850’s. Kit Caron, real-life soldier and adventurer and mass murderer whose exploits were explored and exploded by Dr. DeWitt Peters (for one) in such works as The Life and Adventures of Kit Carson, Nestor of the Rocky Mountains (1858). (Yes Carson was important and yes he did great stuff with Kearny and Stinky Fremont, but it all gets covered over liked boiled glue with his so-called "campaign" against the Navajo Indians and their forced death march to Bosque Redondo. I think he died a miserable, stupid death with a Sam Houston hole in his belly on the floor of an army barracks. Good riddance.)
1870. Bret Harte’s Luck of the Roaring Camp.
1871. Mark Twain Roughing It.
1885. T. Roosevelt Hunting Trips of a Ranchman TR was among the earliest of cowboys and among the top percentage of teh top percent of the most privileged cowboys. Still in all he was a good writer, and one can't fault him for having money.
1887. Colonel Prentiss Ingraham, Buck Taylor, King of the Cowboys; or, Raiders and Rangers. Ingraham may well have written over 600 novels (including200 Buffalo Bill stories) under his own name and under the pseudonyms of Dr. Noel Dunbar, Dangerfield Burr, Major Henry B. Stoddard, Colonel Leon Lafitte, Frank Powell, Harry Dennies Perry, Midshipman Tom W. Hall, and Lieut. Preston Graham. This was a busy man.
1897. Alfred Henry Lewis The Old Cattleman
1907. O’Henry Heart of the West