The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995

Book Reviews

1995

A Long Ride in Texas: The Explorations of John Leonard Riddell. By James O. Bree-
den. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1994. Pp.xviii+l15.
Preface, introduction, index. ISBN o-89o96-582-X. $24.50.)
The ninety-four-page diary kept by physician, geologist, and botanist John
Leonard Riddell of his travels to the Texas Hill Country in 1839 serves as the ba-
sis for this book. Riddell and his colleagues were searching for the lost San Saba
silver mine. In this search, Riddell visited and recorded his observations of the
geology and botany of the Edwards Plateau. The editor, James O. Breeden, also
includes a reprint of Riddell's paper from the American Journal of Science and Arts
(1839) as well as an introductory essay concerning the impact of Riddell in the
exploration of Texas by naturalists in the late 183os. Riddell's previously un-
known diary provides an earlier look at the Hill Country than that of Dr. Ferdi-
nand Roemer, who visited this locale in 1847.
Breeden's thirty-three-page essay introduces the reader to Riddell the scien-
tist, academician, physician, inventor, and civic leader. We discover that Riddell,
in 1830, began collecting botanical specimens and developing his herbarium.
Riddell pursued his broad interests in field research, botany, and geology
throughout his lifetime and had nearly eighty publications.
In 1839, Riddell's travels took him from New Orleans to Houston, on to San
Antonio, and then north by northeast to the Colorado River. He described the
wonders of the flora and also commented on the geology as his group of explor-
ers searched in vain. The diary ends abruptly on November 12, and one is left
wondering if there are more entries that have not been found or if Riddell sim-
ply stopped recording his observations.
The entries describe the day-to-day trials of surviving in the natural world, the
flora, hog wallow prairies, hunting of game, social conditions in San Antonio,
medical problems (fevers, gunshots), and geologic conditions. The notes are in-
formative and enhance the diary; it is unfortunate that they are not indexed.
Riddell's account increases our understanding of the natural state of the
Texas Hill Country in the late 183os and allows a comparison between his obser-
vations and Roemer's. However, it is surprising and unfortunate that in Bree-
den's use of Lois Wood Burkhalter's Gideon Lincecum, I793-1874: A Biography
(1965), he did not recognize or acknowledge the fact that Lincecum also trav-
eled in the same territory in 1835 and wrote extensively about it.
Austin College PEGGY A. REDSHAW
Fighting the Good Fight: The Life and Works of Benajah Harvey Carroll. By Alan J.
Lefever. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1994. Pp. xiv+18o. Foreword, preface, intro-
duction, appendices, endnotes, index. ISBN 0-89015-943-2. $19.95.)
Parson Henry Renfro: Free Thinking on the Texas Frontier. By William Clark Griggs.
(Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994. Pp. xiii+257. Preface, notes, bibli-
ography, index. ISBN o-29272-762-3. $27.95.)

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/. Accessed December 28, 2014.