Southwestern Historical Quarterly
print of a volume which has long been a highly desirable (and
expensive) item of Texana. ROGER N. CONGER
Gideon Lincecum 1793-1874: A Biography. By Lois Wood Burk-
halter. Austin (University of Texas Press), 1965. Pp. xiv+
Recurring in Samuel Wood Geiser's Naturalists of the Frontier
is the theme of the isolation of men of keen mind and ambition
from the scholars, libraries and museums "Back East" and in
Europe. The scarcity of books and collections and especially the
lack of the stimulus of educated companionship deadens all but
the most zealous, and the reader is invited to speculate on what
might have been the fame and achievement of the hero under
better circumstances. One by one the Berlandiers and the Lind-
heimers drop out of view forgotten by or even deliberately alien-
ated by their erstwhile sponsors, the professors at the centers of
power and influence.
Consummately stiff-necked, hard-nosed, physically invincible
and mentally indefatigable was Gideon Lincecum. As pioneer,
free-thinker, physician, and universal naturalist, he passes (jumps,
rather) through his own biography with a difference. Berlandier
and Lindheimer were formally educated. Gideon educated him-
self. The hurt and bitterness one finds in a Berlandier toward
the old friend and maestro in Geneva has no counterpart here.
Gideon feels merely anger and contempt for the professors who
knew his creatures only from prepared specimens and who had
the stupidity to question his reports. A Berlandier wanes; Gideon
waxes. Perhaps like Geiser we can regret such capable men did
not enjoy optimum conditions for advancement of knowledge.
But we must rejoice that there were characters on the frontier
with the strength of Gideon, who recorded their observations and
took specimens during the early stages of the destruction of many
plants and animals.
This book, like Geiser's sketches, is to be read primarily as a
character reconstruction and historical short-subject and not just
for information. It is perhaps to be regretted that the author di-
vided the book by subjects ("Gideon and the Indians," "Gideon
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/. Accessed January 29, 2015.