The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984

Book Reviews

neighbors, shared favorite recipes with other women, sought gentility
for herself and daughter Pearl, and wandered off happily with books
and a pillow for a day of reading. But she was a convicted horse thief
whose home for years served as a hideout for fugitives such as Jesse
James; she often flogged her adolescent son with a riding quirt; ruth-
lessly she arranged to have her daughter's illegitimate baby adopted
without Pearl's knowledge; and her taste for desperadoes linked her
romantically with thieves and killers like Jim Reed and Sam Starr. "It
seems as if I have more trouble than any person," lamented Belle in an
1876 letter (p. 130). Most of the trouble she brought on herself, which
renders her all the more fascinating to twentieth-century readers.
Panola Junior College BILL O'NEAL
Reflections of Southern Jewry: The Letters of Charles Wessolowsky,
1878-1879. Edited by Louis Schmier. (Macon, Ga.: Mercer Uni-
versity Press, 1982. Pp. vii+ 184. Acknowledgments, appendices,
index. $12.95.)
In 1878-1879 Charles Wessolowsky, associate editor of The Jewish
South, toured the region as a representative of his newspaper and of
B'nai B'rith, a Jewish fraternal order. In a series of twenty-four letters,
which were in effect his "reports," he related to his senior editor in At-
lanta, Robbie Edward B. M. Browne, the conditions of southern Jewry,
Nine of the letters and more than one-quarter of the book cover the ex-
periences of Jews in Texas.
Wessolowsky concerned himself with relatively few questions. In
each town that he visited he noted the physical growth (always admir-
ingly), estimated the numbers of Jews and named the most prominent
among them, and commented upon their economic activities (Jews
were almost always engaged in mercantile endeavors; some were in ag-
riculture, others were professionals), their charitable and fraternal in-
stitutions, the state of religious devotion and the instruction of chil-
dren in traditional ways, the nature of the local hospitality, and how
Gentiles regarded Jews. The emphasis on the latter point is striking. In
Selma, Alabama, Jews "are highly respected by our Gentile friends" (p.
39); in Farmersville, Mississippi, "Our Israelitish brethren are very
much respected" (p. 51); and in Montgomery, Alabama, coreligionists
were "held in high estimation by their Christian brethren" (pp. 71-
72). The same or similar comments about Gentile respect for Jews in
other southern communities appears on pages 83, 89, 101, 116, and 129.
Obviously the subject was of some concern to the writer.

233

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/. Accessed August 23, 2014.