The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

anecdotes about hailstorms, St. Elmo's fire, lightning, and blizzards. Though the
accuracy of this folklore may be doubted by many readers, for the old-time cow-
boys, they are absolute truths. Dearen has gathered the Pecos cowboys' memo-
ries, anecdotes, and stories into an enjoyable manuscript.
Texas Christian University WATSON C. ARNOLD
The History of Smith County, Texas, Born zn Dixie: Smzth County Ongzns to 1875,
Volume 1. By James Smallwood. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1999. Pp. xi+363.
Preface, acknowledgments, introduction, appendices, notes. ISBN 1-57168-
127-2, vols. 1 and 2. $79.95, cloth.)
The History of Smzth County, Texas, Born in Dixie: Smith County from I875 to Its
Centennial Year, Volume 2. By James Smallwood. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1999.
Pp. xi+363. Preface, acknowledgments, introduction, appendices, notes.
ISBN 1-57168-127-2, vols. 1 and 2. $79.95, cloth.)
Some history students have enjoyed the good fortune of having an instructor
who could breeze into the classroom, ask someone on the front row where we
left off last time and then launch into a lecture with scholarship, wit, and a good
sense of storytelling. James Smallwood's two-volume set of Smith County history
reads as if it could be a transcript from such a classroom. His treatment,
although lengthy, succeeds well on a number of levels.
Foremost is his skill of fitting local incidents and personalities into their con-
text with statewide, regional, and national issues. By turn, chapters focus on
social, governmental, educational, religious, military, agricultural, and economic
threads of skein of events in Smith County, weaving that yarn into a wide cloth
that drapes the bones of mere facts with a well-rounded garment, complete from
head to foot.
Volume I provides two especially interesting segments because my previous
historical meandering had never before led into these tributaries. First is the
story of the immigrant tribes-particularly the Cherokees-who followed the
trails and traces into Smith Country around 182o0 just as the native tribes were
decimated by disease. Much of the action that ultimately resulted in the expul-
sion of the Cherokees under the Republic of Texas took place in the area in and
immediately adjacent to Smith County. The telling of the series of events is well
laid out, complete with the personalities involved, alliances evolved, uprisings
fomented, the political climate, and massacres (on both sides).
The other is a study of the effects and results of Reconstruction on Smith coun-
tians-and by general application, the entire former Confederacy. Smallwood
chronicles a period that was at least as lengthy as the war had been and was
assuredly a time of hardship and even occasional terror for residents. He intro-
duced me to the ex-Confederate "redeemers" who began to prevail in elections
after 1870 and who, from the title of the final chapter of Volume I, finally "(w)in
the War." The so-called "War of Reconstruction" and the post-Reconstruction peri-
od was a time when certain Smith County residents were in the forefront of policy-
making in number and quality quite out of proportion to the county's population.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed April 17, 2014.