The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972

Book Reviews

The Journal of Jacob Fowler. Edited, with notes, by Elliott Coues.
Preface and additional notes by Raymond W. and Mary Lund
Settle and Harry R. Stevens. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska
Press, 1970. Pp. ix+152. Bibligraphy, index. $7.95.)
Jacob Fowler was second in command of a small company of fur
trappers who in 1821-1822 traveled from Arkansas through the In-
dian Territory, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. Not
an official company journal, the account is nevertheless remarkably
precise in its topographical observations and full of interesting detail.
Like most overland diaries, of course, this one is often mainly con-
cerned with such routine matters as miles traveled, caring for pack
animals, and selecting camp sites. As a record of one of the early
American expeditions into the area even such details can be important.
But often the reader is given tantalizing glimpses of personal re-
lations within the company, the availability of game, the unreliability
of firearms, and the organization of trapping during the winter months.
The relations with Indian tribes are of particular interest. It was
important for Fowler and his party to stay on good terms with the
Comanche, Kiowa, Arapaho, and other tribes if they possibly could.
By and large they succeeded.
On one occasion, having broken one lens in his eye glasses, Fowler
was trying them on when an Indian snatched them and ran off.
In a Short time I Heard great Shouting and laffing and looking to See
What Was the Caus I discovered the Indean that Head taken my Specks
Leading an other With the Specks on His face the felow Was Led up
to me and I was shoon that He Head but on Eye-and that the Specks
Would Sute Him better [than] me as the Head but one glass Heare
Ended the Joack the Returned the Specks in much good Humor amongst
all the Ware present.
This example of Fowler's writing indicates the special flavor of
the journal. Since his handwriting consisted of hieroglyphics that
could be translated only with the greatest difficulty, it is a pity that
the publisher omitted the sample of handwriting included in the
earlier published version. It is also regrettable that a map was not
The work as now reprinted has had the benefit of at least five
editors working on Fowler's manuscript. For its earlier publication, in
1898, Mrs. Mary B. Anderson carefully typed the work and prepared
an index. It was then re-examined by Elliott Coues, well known editor


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed February 12, 2016.