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The Wm. H. Holmes


The WHA Newsletter is a semi-annual publication of the Western History Association.

“Jewel of the Sierra” - Lake Tahoe is Site of the 50th Annual WHA Conference (October 13-16, 2010) As a longtime student of western agricultural and resource history, William Rowley offers an historical overview of Lake Tahoe and the conference destination site. He is a professor of Nevada history and Environmental History at the University of Nevada, Reno, and served as the Secretary of the WHA from 1973-1990. Lake Tahoe, or the ―Jewel of the Sierra,‖ is the highest lake (6,225 feet) for its size in the United States, and lies astride the elbow-like segment of the California-Nevada state line. With both a Nevada and a California shoreline, the interstate nature of the lake presents complicated governance issues. In an 1845 Report on his western explorations John C. Frémont noted sighting the lake on February 14, 1844 in a dangerous mid-winter crossing of the Sierra. In that narrative he called it ―Mountain Lake.‖ Subsequently Frémont tried to name it Lake Bonpland after a well-known French botanist, but Californians chose to call it by the short-lived name of Lake Bigler after the state‘s third governor. Locals preferred the name given by the indigenous Washoe people, ―Da-ow-a-ga.‖ Somehow these syllables became transformed into the word Tahoe, which the California legislature accepted as the official name in 1945. The discovery of the rich gold and silver ore in what was to be known as the Comstock Lode began the 1859-60 ―Rush to Washoe‖ followed by the creation of Nevada Territory in 1861 and Nevada statehood in 1864. The new discoveries just a short distance from California‘s eastern reaches and almost directly east of Tahoe attracted immediate investment capital from San Francisco to develop deep underground quartz mining that created the Comstock towns of Virginia City, Gold Hill, and Silver City. The underground drifts and stopes required heavy bracing beams in a system called square-sets demanding huge supplies of milled lumber. Most of it came from the Tahoe Basin that also became a place of recreation for both Comstock residents and prosperous families from

Spring 2010

Nominating Committee’s Selection for PresidentElect is Albert Hurtado Albert L. Hurtado was born and raised in Sacramento, California, son of a CubanAmerican immigrant who was raised in Connecticut and a fourth generation Anglo-Californian mother. Continued on Page 2

San Francisco who summered there in rustic retreats and impressive lodges. By the end of the Comstock‘s glory days in 1880, the Tahoe Basin was virtually clear cut. While Tahoe‘s forests fell before the ax, its scenic setting continued to attract visitors via a rail line from Truckee, California that connected to the east-west transcontinental railroad line. The acclaim of Tahoe‘s spectacular scenery became so well known by 1900 that Congress briefly entertained proposals for the creation of a national park throughout the Tahoe Basin, but established property owners successfully opposed the park idea. Beyond the park proposals, some saw Tahoe as the water supply for the growing urban populations of San Francisco or for farms in Nevada. The latter was partially realized when the Newlands Reclamation Project in the Lahontan Valley east of Reno diverted waters from the Truckee River as it made its way along a 116 mile route from Tahoe to the Paiute Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. By and large Tahoe made it into the Twentieth Century without being dismantled for urban water supplies or to supply the never-ending thirst of desert agriculture. It continued to be a popular summer and even winter sport destination with the growing popularity of skiing. Year-round residences became common. On the south shore and to a lesser extent on the north shore, large resort casinos marked the skyline in the decades after Nevada legalized gambling in 1931. By the 1960s in the wake of post-World War II growth, Tahoe communities began to experience traffic congestion, sewage disposal problems, and erosion damage. All threatened air quality Continued on Page 2

Founded in 1961, the Western History Association exists to promote the study of the North American West in its varied aspects and broadest sense.

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President John Wunder University of Nebraska-Lincoln President-Elect Quintard Taylor University of Washington Executive Director Kevin J. Fernlund University of Missouri-St. Louis WHA Council Liping Zhu Eastern Washington University

Spring 2010

Lake Tahoe (cont.):

and the pristine clear nature of the Tahoe‘s waters. While environmental scientists sounded alarm about these threats to the clarity of the lake, local governments split by a state line struggled to offer remedies. Finally in 1970 after the failure of a Bi State Compact to govern the Basin, both Nevada and California agreed to contribute to the formation of a bi-state agency empowered to address the many environmental threats posed by the urbanization of Lake Tahoe. In 2010 the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) marked its thirtieth anniversary as the chief environmental governing body of this fragile alpine environment.

Peter Blodgett Huntington Library Maria Montoya New York University

Emblem on Nevada State Flag. Courtesy of Google Images

Virginia Scharff University of New Mexico Katherine Morrissey University of Arizona David Gutierrez University of California, San Diego Sherry Smith Southern Methodist University Dan Flores University of Montana Karen Merrill Williams College

Nominating Committee William Bauer, Jr. University of Nevada, Las Vegas Barbara O. Reyes University of New Mexico B. Byron Price University of Oklahoma Emily Greenwald Historical Research Associates, Inc Marsha Weisiger New Mexico State University Map of Lake Tahoe. Courtesy of Google Images

Hurtado (cont.) Part of his mother‘s family lived in a nineteenthcentury carriage factory in Nevada City while others operated a hop ranch on the outskirts of Sacramento. The carriage factory was a frequent weekend retreat where Hurtado was free to rummage through the rambling structure and to read the stash of Frank Leslie‘s Illustrated and Harper‘s Weekly newspapers. As a teenager his interest in horses evolved into a serious determination to become a horse trainer in the California tradition. Old men who had worked on the Miller and Lux outfit taught him how. He learned about the bosal and spade bit, the mecate and the fiador knot. The future seemed to hold more and better horses. In 1949 the family sold the hop ranch to the state for the Sacramento State College campus where the aspiring horse trainer completed a bachelor‘s degree in history, an educational exercise that was meant to provide him with employment insurance if some contrary colt crippled him. His senior year changed his life. The required senior thesis sent him looking into his family‘s old papers where he found a ledger with the promising title, ―Secret Minutes of the Nevada City Law and Order League, 1908.‖ The League turned out to be a bunch of temperance advocates rather than the bloody-minded vigilantes that he was hoping to find, but the process of investigation and discovery completely captivated him. Graduate school rather than a round corral defined his future. Continued on Page 3


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Hurtado (cont.) After a stint in the U.S. Army that included tours in Central Texas and South Korea, Hurtado enrolled in the Masters‘ program in California State University, Sacramento, where he studied Native American and Western history with Kenneth N. Owens. Owens did the best he could with him and then sent him on to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he became the burden of Wilbur R. Jacobs. In the fullness of time Hurtado completed a doctoral dissertation and the degree was conferred. Hurtado began his career as a public historian writing National Register nominations in the California State Office of Historic Preservation. Among his unheralded accomplishments was the successful nomination of a nineteenth-century Sacramento bordello, a feat that few other WHA members have matched. He worked for several years as a contractor in cultural resources management while holding adjunct appointments at Sierra College and the University of Maryland. In 1983 he landed an assistant professorship at IUPUI and moved to Arizona State University three years later. In 1998 he accepted the Travis Chair in Modern American History at the University of Oklahoma. He resides in Norman with his wife Jean and four unruly small dogs. Hurtado‘s books include Indian Survival on the California Frontier (1988), Intimate Frontiers: Sex, Gender and Culture in Old California (1999), and John Sutter: A Life on the North American Frontier (2006) as well as two edited books, MajorProblems in American Indian History (with Peter Iverson, 1994, 2 ed., 2000), and Reflections on American Indian History: Honoring the Past, Building the Future (2008). Herbert E. Bolton and the Challenge of American History

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News Release: Mormon Migration Website Dr. Fred E. Woods, professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, has recently reported that the Mormon Migration website has been officially launched at: This website is hosted by the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU. To summarize its contents, this website comprises much of his research on Mormon emigration, immigration, and migration over the past fifteen years. This first stage of development includes all of the material from the Mormon Immigration Index on compact disc (CD-ROM), namely, 543 voyages with about 90,000 Mormon passengers, and over 1,000 first person Latterday Saint immigrant accounts for the years from 1840 to 1890, as well as additional information to interpret the story of the Mormons immigrating to America during the nineteenth century. In the next phase, Dr. Woods will add the digital scans of the original passenger lists from 1849 to 1932 from European Emigration Records consisting of passengers lists of foreign converts from the British Isles and Scandinavia, with specific records of Latter-day Saints from the Netherlands and Sweden. In addition, the project will provide the extraction material for over 2,000 additional voyages as well as the passenger lists and many additional first person accounts for the entire period of 1840 to 1932. For further information, contact: Dr. Fred E. Woods Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding Brigham Young University 365 E JSB Provo, UT 84602 801-422-3366

50th Anniversary of the WHA (1961 to 2011) As the WHA approaches its fiftieth anniversary, John Wunder, Sherry Smith and Quintard Taylor suggested that a committee of eight consider how the Association might best approach our next fifty years, looking broadly at how we might build on our strengths and address areas needing attention. Howard Lamar, Janet Fireman, David Edmunds, Benjamin Johnson, Katherine Benton-Cohen, Anne Butler and Maria Montoya agreed to serve on the committee, and I agreed to chair it. Thus far we have focused on the following: possible revision of the WHA mission statement; expanding our membership and attracting the next generation drawn to western history; working with constituencies, such as other organizations, outside the WHA; insuring the financial health and stability to sustain and expand our activities; identifying trouble spots in the Association‘s basic structure. Our hope is to draft a report in time to submit it to the council a few weeks prior to our meeting at Lake Tahoe. The council then would decide how to proceed, or not, in considering our report. Any suggestions especially regarding broad areas to address, other than those mentioned above, are most welcome. Please write me:

Formation of the Committee on Race in the American West At their October 2009 Council meeting, the Council honored the request of a group of scholars to form the Committee on Race in the American West (CRAW). The Committee includes Maria E. Montoya, Chair, Karen Leong, Katie Benton-Cohen, Karl Jacoby, Ernie Chavez, Pablo Mitchell, Modupe Labode, and Barbara Reyes. The Committee on Race in the American West (CRAW) shall have as its function: To keep the Council and the WHA membership informed about the issues facing scholars of color in the field. To promote excellence in the study of race and racial formations in the American West. To advocate for increased inclusion and awareness within the WHA of issues relating to racial diversity both in the history of the American West and in the association itself. CRAW has plans to develop initiatives that include: collaborating with Program Committee members and WHA members to organize panels to submit to each year‘s Program Committee for consideration; creating a survey of current western historians to assess and address any noticeable pipeline issues; working with the Western Historical Quarterly to highlight new scholarship by scholars of color or concerning race in the American West; and working with the Council to develop an award for the best article published in the area of Race in the American West. Anyone interested in working with CRAW and/or meeting at the annual meeting in Reno this year should contact Maria Montoya at ( 3

The WHA Newsletter

Spring 2010

2010 Candidate Information Enclosed with this newsletter is the ballot for the 2010 council and nominating committee election. Ballots should be mailed to the WHA office. All current members (exclusive of sponsoring members) will receive a ballot. Joint members should receive two ballots. Only ballots received by September 29, 2010 will be counted. Please mark only one candidate for each position on the enclosed postcard ballot and return it to the WHA office. The following biographical statements have been provided by the nominees.

Council Position A Louis Warren is W. Turrentine Jackson Professor of Western U.S. History at the University of California, Davis, where he teaches environmental history, the history of the American West, California history, and U.S. history. He is author of The Hunter‘s Game: Poachers and Conservationists in Twentieth-Century America (Yale, 1997) and Buffalo Bill‘s America: William Cody and the Wild West Show (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005). He is also editor of a popular classroom text, American Environmental History (Blackwell, 2003), and co-editor of the new peer-reviewed, magazine-format quarterly called Boom: A Journal of California. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the Albert Beveridge Prize of the American Historical Association, the Caughey Western History Association Prize, the Western Writer‘s of America Spur Award, the Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize, and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Wrangler Award for Best NonFiction Book. Mark Fiege: I have been a member of the Western History Association since 1992. I received a Ph.D. in history from the University of Utah in 1994, the year that I began teaching western American history at Colorado State University, Fort Collins. I am author of Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the American West (University of Washington Press, 1999). My article ―The Weedy West‖ appeared in the Western Historical Quarterly in 1995 and won several prizes, including the WHA‘s Oscar O. Winther Award. I have published several book reviews in the WHQ and refereed article manuscripts for its editors. In addition, I have served on various WHA committees, and I regularly attend and participate in the annual conference. My first WHA conference was 1992 in New Haven, Connecticut, when I was still a graduate student. The organization and its members welcomed me then and have treated me exceptionally well ever since, enabling me to improve my scholarship and cultivate my interests in a lively intellectual community. I am excited about the WHA‘s 50th anniversary, and I look forward to working with other members to maintain an organization that attracts a diversity of people from academic and public history fields who have a common interest in the western American past.


Council Position B Sandra Schackel has been a committed WHA member since her graduate school days at the University of New Mexico in the 1980s. She received her PhD in 1988 in American history with special fields in the American West and Women's history. For twenty-one years, she has taught many variations on these topics at Boise State University. She is currently teaching her final class at BSU and this summer will return to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to take up the southwestern lifestyle she left behind twenty plus years ago. She has presented papers, moderated and commented on panels, and organized CWWH events many times at WHA conferences. She has served on the Program Committee twice (once as co-chair), the Nominating Committee, the Oscar O. Winther Prize committee and the Jensen/Miller Prize committee. An early member of the Coalition of Western Women Historians, she has served in several capacities in this organization, including four years as Chair of the Steering Committee. She has always been and continues to be an active and engaged member of WHA, an organization that has in turn been of great support and inspiration to her throughout her academic career. Considering retirement a transition in one's life journey, Sandy expects to stay involved and engaged with history while living in the Southwest. In this next part of her life, she looks forward to serving as a member of the WHA Council. As a recovering academic, she will continue to research and (hopefully) publish on topics yet to be explored, including the elusive Elvis essay on teenagers and their developing sexual identity. To her Idahoactivities of hiking, rafting, skiing, and camping, she will add the welcome task of grandmothering in Santa Fe. Life is good. Joseph E. Taylor III is an Associate Professor in the History and Geography Departments at Simon Fraser University. He has been a WHA member since 1992 and served previously on the Walter Rundell Award Committee. Jay‘s research focuses on environmental relations in the rural West. He has written Making Salmon: An Environmental History of the Northwest Salmon Crisis (Seattle 1999) and Pilgrims of the Vertical: Yosemite Rock Climbers and Nature at Risk (Cambridge 2010), as well as essays in the WHQ, Environmental History, Pacific Historical Review, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Oregon Historical Quarterly, Journal of Historical Geography, and Journal of the History of Biology. He has also contributed to public history projects in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, and has served as an expert witness in a tribal treaty case. Jay‘s central aim is the continued vitality of the WHA, especially increasing interest in the organization among undergraduate and graduate students.

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Spring 2010

2010 Candidate Information Council Position C George Miles is curator of Western Americana at Yale‘s Beinecke Library. Since 1981, he has built the library‘s collection, provided reference service to patrons from around the world, and promoted use of the collection through teaching, exhibitions and publications. He is co-editor with William Cronon and Jay Gitlin of Under and Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past (1992), author of James Swan: Cha-tic of the Northwest Coast (2003), and coauthor with William Reese of Creating America (1992) and America Pictured to the Life (2002). A member of the WHA since 1981, he has served as chair of local arrangements for the 1992 meeting, on the nominating committee (1997-1998), on two program committees (1983 & 2002), and two terms on the Dwight L. Smith-ABCCLIO Prize committee. He is presently a member of the Caughey Western History Prize Committee. At the 1992 meeting, he organized a meeting of librarians and archivists from around the country to discuss issues and opportunities facing the field. The meeting has become an annual tradition. Miles taught multiple classes for the Rare Books School at Columbia University and at the University of Virginia. He has consulted with the American Antiquarian Society, the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming and the Western History Department of the Denver Public Library. He served on the advisory committee for ―Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition‖ and is a member of the executive committee of the Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders at Yale. Theresa Salazar: Since July 1999, she has been the Curator of The Bancroft Collection, Western Americana, overseeing one of the largest collections in the country related to the American West. In 2005, she took on the responsibility for the Latin Americana collections of the Bancroft Library. She has worked on the selection and narrative for numerous collaborative digital projects, including The Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive (JARDA); The Chinese in California; California Cultures; and The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. Along with her other responsibilities she provides instruction for classes on the UC Berkeley campus and beyond, and is interested in how students uses primary resources, both onsite at a repository or remotely. She has organized numerous exhibitions at the Bancroft and contributed articles to books and journals including: The Chinese in California Through Western Eyes, 2008 (Bancroft Keepsake 53); ―The Bancroft Collection of Western Americana: Reflections on the Past; Planning for the Future,‖ in Journal of the West, Winter 2008; and ―Western Americana,‖ in Exploring The Bancroft Library, 2006. A member of WHA since 1999, she is currently on the following WHA committees: the WHA Dwight L. Smith (ABC-CLIO) Award Committee and the 2011 WHA Program Committee. From June 1989 till June 1999, she was Special Collection Librarian, University of Arizona Library, Tucson, AZ, which included materials on the American southwest and the US/Mexico borderlands. She has also worked in The Prints and Photographs Division of The New

York Public Library and The Manuscript Division of The Library of Congress.

Nominating Position A Alessandra Jacobi Tamulevich is Acquisitions Editor for American Indian, Latin American, and Classical Studies for the University of Oklahoma Press and has been with the Press since 2003. Alessandra works directly with authors on scholarly monographs and general-audience books as well as with series editors for the New Directions in Native American Studies Series, the Civilization of the American Indian Series, the American Indian Law and Policy Series, the American Indian Literature and Critical Studies Series, and the Oklahoma Series in Classical Culture. Her goal is to build on the OU Press‘s long tradition of publishing pathbreaking works on American Indian history and disseminating unique scholarship. It is especially important for her to promote Native perspectives and agency. Alessandra has served on the WHA‘s Indian Student Scholarship Committee to help promising Native students attend the conference. Alessandra was raised in Germany and earned her M.A. from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. A full scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) enabled her to study at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she pursued her interest in American Indian studies. Before joining the University of Oklahoma Press, Alessandra gained publishing experience at the University of Nebraska Press and held positions at the library for the Center of North American Studies, J. W. Goethe University and at the Santa Barbara Independent in Santa Barbara, California. Andy Kirk: I received my Ph.D. in history with an emphasis on the American West and Environmental history from the University of New Mexico, 1998. I also studied western history at the University of Colorado Denver where I received my B.A. & M.A. I‘ve been a member of the WHA for 19 years and attended all but one annual meeting during that time. I consider the WHA my home association and am always happy to have the opportunity to serve this most unique academic organization. My research and teaching focus on the intersections of cultural and environmental history in the modern American West most recently resulting in, Counterculture Green: The Whole Earth Catalog and American Environmentalism (University Press of Kansas, 2007). I also work extensively in public history. In 1999 I founded UNLV‘s public history program. Multidisciplinary interests and a desire to create a dynamic program of engaged scholarship grounded in place shaped the design and activities of our program and my own public history research. We‘ve specialized in innovative cooperative federal and regional research partnerships. Projects include research on the historic and cultural resources of Western National Parks, The Nevada Test Site Oral history

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Spring 2010

2010 Candidate Information Project, and Preserve Nevada a statewide cultural research and preservation group dedicated to linking research in western cultural preservation and environmental sustainability. If elected to the nominating committee I will bring my enthusiasm for engaged multidisciplinary research and teaching to my work in shaping the future direction of the WHA.

Nominating Position B Jeff Shepherd received his Ph.D. from Arizona State University in 2002 and is interested in the histories of Indigenous people, especially in the American Southwest and northern Mexico. His book, We are an Indian Nation: A History of the Hualapai People (University of Arizona Press, 2010) draws upon archival research, participant observation, and oral histories to investigate the relationships between Indigenous nation building and American colonialism. He has received grants from the American Philosophical Society, the Max Millett Research Fund, the Ft. McDowell Indian Nation, and Texas Tech University. He has also been a research fellow at the D‘Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian Culture at the Newberry Library; and with the National Endowment for the Humanities to study environmental and borderlands history. He received a grant and contract from the National Park Service to write an environmental history of the Guadalupe Mountains in west Texas and southern New Mexico, which he plans to publish by 2013. He is beginning a history of Indigenous peoples along the Mexico -US-Canada borders, tentatively titled ―Creating Homelands, Contesting Borders: Race, Space, and Belonging among the Tohono O‘odham and Blackfeet Peoples;‖ and he is co-editor with Myla Vicenti Carpio of the series, Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies, with the University of Arizona Press. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Indigenous, Western, Border, and Public History, and he is Managing Editor of H-Borderlands. Durwood Ball is an Associate Professor of History and editor of the New Mexico Historical Review at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He is the author of Army Regulars on the Western Frontier, 1848-1861 (2001) and co-editor with Paul Hutton of Soldiers West: Biographies from the Military Frontier, 2nd edition (2009). He is currently researching a biography of frontier dragoon/cavalry officer Edwin Vose Sumner.

Nominating Position C Ari Kelman is an associate professor in the Department of History at UC Davis. His first book, A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans, won the 2004 Abbott Lowell 6

Cummings Prize. Professor Kelman‘s articles and review essays have appeared in a number of scholarly and popular publications, including The Journal of American History, Journal of Urban History, Reviews in American History, Technology and Culture, The Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, Slate, The Times Literary Supplement, and many others. He is currently writing a book about the struggle to memorialize the Sand Creek Massacre.

Thomas Andrews: I specialize in the social and environmental history of the Rocky Mountain West. Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, I received my B.A. in history and international studies from Yale and my M.A. and Ph.D. from Wisconsin-Madison. My first book, Killing for Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War (Harvard University Press, 2008), won the Bancroft Prize, the George Perkins Marsh Prize, the Caroline Bancroft Award, the Clark Spence Prize, the Vincent DeSantis Prize, and the Colorado Book Award. I have also authored prize-winning articles on assimilation and native resistance in federal day schools for Native American children; intercultural conflict and cooperation between Hispanos and Native Americans on a southern Colorado frontier; and the erasure of labor from Colorado's leisure landscapes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. My current projects include a book-length report for the National Park Service on the environmental history of the Colorado River headwaters region of Rocky Mountain National Park and An Animals' History of the United States, under contract with Harvard. I have received grants from the EPA, the Huntington Library, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Charles Redd Center, and other organizations. I am passionate about working with current and future K -12 history teachers, and have participated in a range of Teaching American History programs, as well as workshops organized by the National Center for History Education, the National Center for History in the Schools, and Gilder-Lehrman. Hurtado (cont.) will be published in 2011.He has published many articles on Native American, California, borderlands, gender, and public history. Hurtado‘s publications have won the Billington Prize, Caughey Prize, Bolton Award, Palladin Award, Neurerberg Award, Koontz Award, and Westerners International Award. Hurtado‘s service to the WHA includes program committee chair (1991), nominating committee (1991-1992, chair 1992), Executive Council (1995-97), Walter Rundell Award Committee (1998-2000, chair 2000), WHQ Board of Editors (2003-2005), MartinRidge Award Committee (2006-2008), Co-chair Local Arrangements Committee (2007), and chair of the Bolton-Cutter Award Endowment Fund Committee (2007-2008).

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Spring 2010

In Memoriam

Twain on Tahoe

Born Janet Estelle Shaw in Philadelphia on May 22, 1923, the historian and friend known to all in WHA as Janet Lecompte died on February 28, 2010 at the Newton-Wellesley Alzheimer‘s Center in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Best remembered for her book, Pueblo, Hardscrabble, Greenhorn: The Upper Arkansas, 18321856, this now-classic monograph was chosen by both Westerners International and Western Writers of America as the best work in non-fiction for 1978. Lecompte reached out to both scholars and lay readers with a writing style that captivated and informed her readers. The culmination of over 30 years of research, the book brought together the major themes of Lecompte‘s lifetime of work on the expansion of the fur trade out of St. Louis into the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest, as well as the socio-economic fabric of life in remote parts of a multi-cultural borderlands frontier. Janet spent her early years in Denver and finished high school at Ogontz School, a private academy in Pennsylvania. An English major at Wellesley, she graduated in 1944 and married Oliver P. Lecompte, a recent graduate of Yale. Back in Colorado, Janet and Oliver continued family traditions of success in business and parenthood, raising six children (five to adulthood), and contributing to the cultural and economic life of Denver and Colorado Springs. Although not drawn to history at an early age and determined to become a successful writer of fiction, summers at home from college found Janet working with her mother typing transcriptions of notes compiled by Francis W. Cragin, a professor at Colorado College who interviewed dozens of early Colorado settlers and their descendants prior to his death in 1937. Deposited at the Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs, the ―Cragin Papers‖ contained valuable biographical information on Colorado and New Mexico‘s earliest fur trade-era families, archival data that Janet mined throughout her life. Recognized by LeRoy Hafen, State Historian of Colorado, as a gifted researcher and writer, Janet‘s first major publication appeared in The Colorado Magazine in 1950 as ―Huerfano Butte,‖ co -written with her mother, Dorothy Price Shaw. Four years later, she was on the trail of the places and characters that would become central in her study of Arkansas River settlements twenty-five years later with ―The Hardscrabble Settlement, 1844-1848.‖ During the 1960s, Janet worked closely with Hafen to produce 34 of the 292 biographies in his multi-volume Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West through the A. H. Clark Company. In the course of that research, Janet‘s ability to read and translate both Spanish and French served her well as she combed archives in St. Louis, Santa Fe, the Newberry and Huntington libraries, and the national archives of the US and Mexico. By the end of the project, no one knew the fur trade of southern Colorado or the leading fur trade families of St. Louis better than Janet Lecompte. Furthermore, she was one of only ten women historians among the 102 contributors to the series. Her sketches of Creole and FrenchCanadian fur traders opened doors for subsequent studies of lesser known mountain men and their families. Ethnohistorians in Canada and the U.S. recognized the value of these biographies and invited her to present at meetings. Eventually she filled a void by publishing her fourth and final book through A. H. Clark as French Fur Traders and Voyageurs in the American West (1995), twenty-two reprints of the Hafen-series biographies (five of her own), with a new look at the French contribution to the history of the American West. –Bill Swagerty, University of the Pacific

We had heard a world of talk about the marvellous beauty of Lake Tahoe, and finally curiosity drove us thither to see it. Three or four members of the Brigade had been there and located some timber lands on its shores and stored up a quantity of provisions in their camp. We strapped a couple of blankets on our shoulders and took an axe apiece and started--for we intended to take up a wood ranch or so ourselves and become wealthy. We were on foot. The reader will find it advantageous to go horseback….We plodded on, two or three hours longer, and at last the Lake burst upon us--a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still! It was a vast oval, and one would have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling around it. As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords. We never moved a muscle all night, but waked at early dawn in the original positions, and got up at once, thoroughly refreshed, free from soreness, and brim full of friskiness. There is no end of wholesome medicine in such an experience. That morning we could have whipped ten such people as we were the day before-- Mark Twain. Courtesy of Google Images. sick ones at any rate. But the world is slow, and people will go to "water cures" and "movement cures" and to foreign lands for health. Three months of camp life on Lake Tahoe would restore an Egyptian mummy to his pristine vigor, and give him an appetite like an alligator. I do not mean the oldest and driest mummies, of course, but the fresher ones. The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn't it be?--it is the same the angels breathe. I think that hardly any amount of fatigue can be gathered together that a man cannot sleep off in one night on the sand by its side. Not under a roof, but under the sky; it seldom or never rains there in the summer time. I know a man who went there to die. But he made a failure of it. He was a skeleton when he came, and could barely stand. He had no appetite, and did nothing but read tracts and reflect on the future. Three months later he was sleeping out of doors regularly, eating all he could hold, three times a day, and chasing game over mountains three thousand feet high for recreation. And he was a skeleton no longer, but weighed part of a ton. This is no fancy sketch, but the truth. His disease was consumption. I confidently commend his experience to other skeletons. —-From Mark Twain‘s Roughing It (1872) 7

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Spring 2010

Fromthe Director From the Director Dear Members,

There are a number of ways to test the strength of an association. Certainly one such test is whether an association is able to fill a major hotel in a bad economy. Well, in October 2009, at the WHA‘s 49th Annual Conference, we not only met our room block (1,000 room nights) at the Grand Hyatt Denver, we exceeded it. And we not only met our food and beverage minimum, $35,000, we exceeded it. In fact, over eight hundred and one attendees registered for the conference. Simply put, the Denver meeting was a financial success. Our membership recruitment efforts were also successful last year, with membership topping 1,300. Over half of the new members were graduate students, which speaks well of our association‘s future. Between the revenues we generate at our meetings (and thank you for staying at the conference hotel!) and the dues we collect for membership, we ended last year in the black. For those of you who have moved up a membership category, e.g., from Regular to Sustaining, a special thank you. This extra contribution makes a very big difference to the WHA. Also, the value of our investments, the return on which is used to fund our awards program, has largely recovered from the Crisis of ‗08, even if many universities and colleges, including my own, continue to struggle with the economic fallout. Indeed, I am very happy to report that thanks to your continued support the WHA‘s finances remain solid.

away. This said, it will take no longer to get from the Reno airport to the conference hotel than it did to get from the Denver airport to the Grand Hyatt. Most of you will probably fly into Reno and shuttle from there to the hotel. The WHA has an agreement with North Lake Tahoe Express (NLTE), a local shuttle company. Because there is relatively limited ground transportation, I would advise that you make your reservation with NLTE ahead of time, to avoid any delays at the airport. You may find our link to NLTE on the WHA‘s website ( On a different note, I would like to urge you to study the candidate information provided inside and vote. You should find an attached ballot. I mention this because voter turnout, which is never very high, was somewhat down last year. So please take a moment to reinvigorate the democracy of our intellectual association by exercising your franchise. Kevin Fernlund

Our Teaching Western History Committee, co-chaired by Brian Collier and Lindsey Passenger, has some big news. The WHA has received another $15,000 grant from the U.S. Library of Congress. This is our second LOC grant. We received one in 2009, too. The LOC grant will allow the WHA to host a workshop--"A Teaching with Primary Sources and Active Learning Workshop"—concurrent with the WHA's next annual meeting. The WHA will put up $5,000. So between this grant and the grant in 2009, the WHA will spend $40,000 building ties to the K-12 community. We are now busy preparing for our 50th Annual Meeting, which will be held on October, 13-16, 2010, along the northeast shore of Lake Tahoe. John Wunder, the WHA President, and I conducted a site visit of the conference hotel in January. We both came away very excited about the location, the facilities and amenities, and the spectacular outdoor setting. If you have never been to Lake Tahoe, this is a meeting you will not want to miss. Unlike our other meetings, the conference hotel is not located in a downtown location. The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe is a resort located in a village. The room rate at the hotel is $139.00 per night—which includes a $10.00 resort fee, although the two charges will appear separately on your bill. If visiting an urban center is a must, the city of Reno, Nevada, is about 45 minutes The First WHA Program Cover, 1961. 8

AWARDS AND ENDOWMENTS: Your support of the WHA enables us to continue to lead the field of Western History and to recognize excellence in that field with our annual and biannual awards. Please consider making a monetary contribution to our Awards and Endowments fund.

Wm. H. Holmes

Name Mailing Address


State or Province


Country Affiliation (if applicable) Phone E-Mail

(email and phone for WHA office use only) DWIGHT L. SMITH_____________________


ROBERT M. UTLEY____________________

RAY ALLEN BILLINGTON_________________

SARA JACKSON_______________________



ARRELL M. GIBSON____________________

STUDENT AWARD_____________________

MICHAEL P. MALONE___________________


OSCAR O. WINTHER___________________


ROBERT G. ATHEARN__________________


JOHN C. EWERS_______________________


W. TURRENTINE JACKSON______________ JOAN PATERSON KERR_________________

WHA ENDOWMENT FUND_______________ GRADUATE STUDENT MEAL FUND__________________

HAL K. ROTHMAN______________________ TOTAL________________


Acceptable payment methods: check or money order in U.S. dollars, or credit card (below) The Western History Association is a not-for-profit organization, EIN# 54-6044435. MASTERCARD VISA DISCOVER (CHECK ONE) **no debit cards Name on Card (print)

Authorized Amount $

Card Number

Exp. Date /


Please submit this completed form with payment to:

WESTERN HISTORY ASSOCIATION University of Missouri-St. Louis 152C University Center One University Blvd. St. Louis, Missouri 63121 Fax: 314-516-7272

University of Missouri-St. Louis 152C University Center One University Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63121

Western History Association

Estate Planning A family‘s financial future may be secured through estate planning. Often estate planning includes the opportunity for you to make a significant contribution to a charity or charities of your choosing. WHA Members who care for and love this association may help to ensure its long-term future by bestowing their assistance through their estate planning. Please consider adding the Western History Association to your estate plans by completing this form. We‘ll contact you soon.

The Western History Association Legacy I have already included the Western History Association in my long-term plans. Please send me more information about remembering the Western History Association in my giving plans. Name______________________________ Address ____________________________________________ ______________________ Email ______________________________ Phone______________________________ Please clip and mail this form to: Western History Association University of Missouri-St. Louis 152C University Center One University Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63121

WHA 2010 Spring Newsletter  

The WHA Newsletter is a semi-annual publication of the Western History Association.

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