Southwestern Historical Quarterly
BOOK REVIEWS AND NOTICES
Bois d'Arc to Barb'd Wire: Ken Gary, Southwestern Pioneer, 1850-
1890. By James K. Greer. (Dallas: Dealey and Lowe, 1936.
Pages 428, with maps and illustrations.)
This is Professor Greer's third book on the same area and period
of Texas history. The first, published in 1932, was A Texas
Banger and Frontiersman, the Days of Buck Barry in Texas,
1845-1906. The second, published in 1935, is entitled Grand
Prairie. This, the third, is just off the press. Taken together, the
three books do for the central Texas frontier of seventy-five years
ago much the same service that the books of Hamlin Garland and
Herbert Quick did for the middle western frontier farther north.
They paint a stirring and colorful picture of life on the farther
edge of settlement just east of the hundredth meridian-the life
of the well-to-do ranchman, the cowboy, the frontier sheriff and
the turbulent characters whom he held in check, the Indian fighter,
the trail driver, the buffalo hunter, and the scout.
Professor Greer possesses the ability, not common among his-
torical writers of being able to put himself in the place of the
characters and conditions that he describes. In this instance he
transforms himself into Ken Cary and reenacts history as it un-
folded before the eyes of that semi-imaginary youth and capable
frontier citizen. Ken Cary is, of course, a composite character.
One suspects that he is made up partly of the contemporaries of
Colonel Buck Barry, partly of Professor Greer's father, partly of
Professor Greer himself-who spent his boyhood and youth in the
same region and in much the same environment as Ken Cary,-
and finally of all that Professor Greer has read on the subject
during a good many years of industrious investigation. It is no
challenge to the authenticity of the historical picture to say that
probably no frontier figure ever embodied quite all of the experi-
ences and observations here ascribed to Ken Cary. The important
fact is that, essentially, they all fell to somebody. The speaker,
telling the story in the first person, may be fictitious, but the tale
that he tells is true-and extraordinarily vivid.
At the age of six, Ken Cary's family moved from the village
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 40, July 1936 - April, 1937. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101099/. Accessed July 12, 2014.