Southwestern Historical Quarterly
From the High Plains is a well written book with fine detail. Perhaps
this is because of the author's many years as editor-in-chief of Harper's
Magazine. His account of the region is laced with the sort of personal,
realistic view which gives an honest picture of the way things were.
Fischer's deep affection for the High Plains comes through in countless
ways. The book is a reminiscence which adds color, flavor, and a very
human dimension to a region. It is folk history, full of stories which
would otherwise be lost. As such it will provide good reading to anyone
interested in the area and in the West in general. It should also be an
excellent supplement to courses in state and local history.
Arizona Historical Society LEE SCOTT THEISEN
O. P. McMains and the Maxwell Land Grant Conflict. By Morris F.
Taylor. (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1979- Pp. 365. Fore-
word, chronology, illustrations, maps, bibliography, index. $16.50.)
Most biographies tell of men who dedicated themselves to national
causes or issues and who triumphed. This is a different tale. O. P. Mc-
Mains threw his energy and talents against the large land grant owners
in New Mexico and Colorado. And although he appeared in Washing-
ton fifteen times and won support from senators, cabinet officers, and
other national figures, he suffered ignominious defeat. Nevertheless,
McMains's religious determination to seek "justice" for the Maxwell
settlers and his role in the history of this small area of the country merits
the story Taylor has written.
In 1874, after three years of service as a controversial Methodist min-
ister in Colorado, McMains headed south into New Mexico to serve as
assistant to the Reverend Franklin J. Tolby, who rode the circuit be-
tween Cimarron and Elizabethtown. The murder of Reverend Tolby
on September 14, 1875, changed McMains's life. His "sense of personal
loss and impelling desire for justice" (p. 38) prompted McMains to
investigate the murder of his friend. An attempt to intimidate a witness
into incriminating himself and others ended in a mob lynching. Mc-
Mains stood trial for his part in the episode.
The turbulence created by the Tolby murder and its aftermath
merged into the controversy over the Maxwell Land Grant. While
preaching in Colorado, McMains had occasionally written newspaper
articles against alleged land grabs. Now he joined with the settlers in
attacking the surveys that they believed expanded the Maxwell Grant
from less than 1oo,ooo acres to nearly 2,000,000 acres. They did not
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101207/. Accessed March 5, 2015.