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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Pete Whetstone of Devil's Fork: Letters to the Spirit of the Times.
By Charles F. M. Noland. Edited by Ted R. Worley and
Eugene A. Nolte. Van Buren, Arkansas (The Press-Argus),
1957- Pp. xxxvi 131. $3.75.
Collectors of the literature of Arkansas and those interested
in the humor of the Old Southwest will welcome this collection
of letters. They were written under the pen name of Pete Whet-
stone from the Devil's Fork of Little Red River, Arkansas, to the
New York Spirit of the Times, a sporting journal. These letters,
fifty-three in number, appear with varying degrees of regularity
during the period 1837 to 1856 and are from the pen of Charles
F. M. Noland. Noland adopted the pen name Pete Whetstone
from a semilegendary figure who lived in Independence County,
Arkansas, until about 1824. The historic Pete Whetstone seems
to have had a local reputation as a hunter, fighter, and story teller,
thus providing a prototype for the literary Whetstone as developed
by Noland. No more is heard of Whetstone in Arkansas after
1824, but it appears that he moved to Texas and is there known
as the founder of Marshall, Texas.
Charles F. M. Noland, a native of Virginia, settled at Bates-
ville, Arkansas, in 1826. He made his living primarily as a land
speculator and farmer. It was his avocations rather than his voca-
tions, however, which provided Noland with much of the ma-
terial for his literary efforts. Bear hunting, horse racing, and
politicing occupied a large part of his time. In turn, the Whet-
stone letters reflect to a considerable degree Noland's own ex-
perience on the hunt, at the race, or on the stump. For the most
part, these letters are written in the dialect of the unlettered
frontiersman and they provide the social historian an excellent
commentary on the mores and activities of rural Arkansans of
the time.
William T. Porter, the editor of the Spirit of the Times, dis-
couraged the inclusion of politics in the letters from his corre-
spondent. Whetstone, however, manages to make comments on
local political events or to indicate his Whig views on such polit-
ical matters as Locofocoism, the Independent Treasury Bill, his
anti-Van Buren bias, and his utter dismay at the defeat of Henry
Clay for the Presidency in 1844.


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 4, 2016.

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