The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

phenomena, the "rock-boy" of Comanche gained conditional admittance to
Cornell University, excelled in his studies, and in 1885 took a job with
John Wesley Powell's U.S. Geological Survey. Returning to Texas, Hill
began a remarkable career in geology. He identified and mapped the Texas
Cretaceous system of rocks, using fossil remains as a key to the stratigraphy.
He named many of the physiographic features of the state. He led the first
scientific expedition down the Rio Grande through the Big Bend country,
an area infested with desperados. He taught the first geology courses at
the University of Texas. He investigated artesian waters, urging Dallas to
drill its great underground reserve, the Trinity Sands; and he helped to
establish a state geological survey. His geological reports became a valuable
source of practical information to pioneers in the petroleum industry and
his expert testimony in a boundary dispute with Oklahoma in 1921-1922
helped to win for Texas the rich oil field near Burkburnett.
Though a brilliant scientist, Hill was a cantankerous individual. Ready
to do battle at the slightest provocation, he feuded with his colleagues and
lashed out at his critics, real and imagined. The author notes that this
irascibility, which frequently interfered with his work, occurred during
periods of overwork and fatigue. Two unhappy marriages, his small size,
and a supersensitivity about his southern origins seem to have contributed
to Hill's sour disposition. Curiously, while failing to communicate with his
peers, Hill enjoyed success in his final years as a journalist, writing a weekly
column on Texas geology and history for the Dallas Morning News.
Through extensive research in the private and public papers of Robert
T. Hill, Alexander has produced a first-rate biography of an important
and difficult figure in American science. Her explanation of issues is lucid,
her analysis of Hill's scholarship is expert, and her interpretation of the
man is balanced. Considering the battles and scars of his professional life,
Hill might have been surprised.
Texas Tech University JOSEPH E. KING
Chicano Revolt in a Texas Town. By John Staples Shockley. (Notre Dame,
Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, I974. Pp. xii+ 304. Illus-
trations, notes, appendices, bibliography, index. $9.95.)
In a tightly knit narrative, John Staples Shockley has presented an in-
formative study of an event of great social and political import. He has
carefully analyzed the efforts of the long-subjugated Chicano majority at
Crystal City, Texas, during the I96os to assert political power against the
Anglo establishment and achieve some measure of control over their own


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 29, 2016.

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