The Wellsprings of a Populist: Dr. C. W. Macune
CHARLES W. MACUNE, JR.*
June 17th [1852, Platte River. My Dear wife,] We are
still on the Platt[.] passed eleven new graves this four-
noon[.] none this afternoon[.] I have not felt well
since Monday morning[.] rather inclined to loosness
though I hope nothing serious[.] Oh I promised to
tell you about the boys hunting buffalo[.] they have
now killed 2 deer 2 antelopes 2 buffalo 3 oter and
wolves with out Me. so I will lose [sic] up my letter and
may the protecting arm of God continue to incircul us
is the prayer of your William[.]
S O WROTE THIRTY-FOUR-YEAR-OLD WILLIAM MACUNE MIDWAY THROUGH
his wagon-train trek from Monroe, Wisconsin, to the California
gold fields. It was his last letter. At four o'clock the following afternoon
he lost his bout with the dreaded cholera. By sunset he was buried, his
lonely grave marked by a large cottonwood tree on the banks of the
Platte, ten miles from Fort Laramie in the middle of the unorganized
Indian country of Wyoming. His saddened brother-in-law, Angus
Dudley McAfee, and other members of Simon P. Condee's wagon train
inventoried William Macune's worldly possessions, sold them to various
individuals in the company, and remitted the list, cash returns, his still-
*Charles W. Macune, Jr., received a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1970,
and is professor of history at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of The
Building of the Atlantic Railroad of Costa Rica, 182 - 891 (San Jose, Costa Rica, 1964), El estado de
Mexico y la federaci6n mexicana, 1823-i836 (Mexico City, 1978), and articles on nineteenth-
century Mexican history and the Latin American novel. He is the great-grandson of Dr.
Charles W. Macune, the subject of this essay, through Rev. Dennis (1885-1973) and Lena
Macune, grandparents, and Charles W., Sr. (1912-1981) and Evelyn June Macune, parents.
The author is indebted to Robert A. Calvert, Texas A&M University, Robert C. McMath, Jr.,
Georgia Institute of Technology, Worth Robert Miller, University of Oklahoma, and Ben Proc-
ter, Texas Christian University, for their helpful comments.
'William Macune to Almira McAfee Macune,June 17, 1852, Papers of C. W. Macune (1851-
1940) (hereafter cited as Papers), in possession of the author. The quotation is a postscript to a
letter addressed to "My Dear Wife" and dated June 7, 1852.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/. Accessed January 28, 2015.