The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966

Book Reviews

Gard has done what he set out to do as stated above. It is a
handsome volume. The format, the type, the binding, the color
scheme, all done with taste and technical skill, prove it. The au-
thor, the University of Oklahoma Press, and the Dallas Museum
of Fine Arts are to be congratulated on the cover design. This
is an example of what can be done by using the collections of an
art museum. The jacket with Tom Lea's fierce, vibrant longhorn
steers, alert and on the hook, suggest the title. Incidentally, the
title is a good one, indicative of the era depicted in Texas. The
book is an eye catcher in the display window of any dealer.
Texas Technological College
The Wire That Fenced the West. By Henry D. and Frances T.
McCallum. Norman (University of Oklahoma Press), 1965.
Pp. xv+85. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $5-95-
On the Great Plains of ninety years ago, the then new invention
of barbed wire was both a promise and a threat. It promised to
speed the settlement of the plains by both stockmen and farmers.
It also threatened to end, and soon did, the system of open range,
with free grass for all. It brought in its place fenced ranches and
farms that made for economic stability and encouraged the rise
of towns and cities.
Most of the plains country had neither wood nor stone for
fencing. Hedges of bois d'arc and other plants were tried, but
these were slow to grow and laborious to trim. Fences of smooth
wire tended to sag and did not hold back livestock as readily as
they might. The answer to this need for fencing came in barbed
wire, most of it with two twisted strands armed with sharp points.
Fences of this wire protected farm crops and kept cattle and
other stock at home.
But, as these authors show, the new invention did not find
quick acceptance in all quarters. Many ranchmen had to be
shown that the wire would hold ferocious Longhorns, as was
proved in a public square in San Antonio in 1876. Others feared
that their stock would be injured, a danger that was lessened only
after the wire was made more obvious, its barbs shortened, and
the cattle made more accustomed to the fences.
Years ago Henry D. McCallum of Tyler, Texas, began collect-


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 29, 2015.