The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994

Book Reviews

Victorian West: Class and Culture in Kansas Cattle Towns. By C. Robert Haywood.
(Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1991. Pp. xiv+325. Preface, black-
and-white photographs, illustrations, tables, afterword, notes, bibliography,
index. $29.95.)
The period when cattle and cowboying dominated the West was relatively
brief, for by the late 187os railway cattle cars were transporting the herds that
would have been driven along the Chisholm and other trails. C. Robert Hay-
wood's book describes the first dislodging of that cattle-dominated West of song
and story (and certainly of Western movie) as the change occurred in three west-
ern Kansas towns: Wichita, Dodge City, and Caldwell.
The very success of these erstwhile cattle towns led ambitious settlers to long
for civilization, meaning the trappings of Victorian culture that indicated conspic-
uous affluence. Gingerbread trimming on large lumber-built houses; bustles and
brocades and constant alterations to keep women's and men's clothing in fash-
ion; the construction of opera houses, park cemeteries, and cultural refine-
ments-all represented untiring efforts to domesticate the wild and woolly West,
and make the new towns of western Kansas as much like the Victorian urban cen-
ters from which these outposts, one had supposed, were intended to be escapes.
Civilization, Haywood points out, meant in part that people who were produc-
ing major wealth no longer were primarily engaged in physical labor, nor living
in the largely all-male communities required by the cattle industry. Land specu-
lation, business and commerce, law, medicine, teaching-these represented
sedentary, indoor occupations, and allowed for building the ever-expanding
towns, and they made possible and necessary the presence of women and chil-
dren. Civilization also meant subduing if not displacing those undesirables who
persisted in frequenting bars and keeping company with prostitutes; it meant
the beginnings of charity toward the deserving poor while running the other
sort out of town; and it also apparently meant noting almost nothing about an
African American population or members of numerous Native American
groups, except as these might enter the servant class.
Victorian West emphasizes the uniformity of Victorian culture, and shows how it
was in turn erased by modern styles, just as it had overlaid the cattle culture. The
book makes one wonder whether after such transformations there is anything
actually "Western" about the West. One feels there is, for when the prairie be-
gins to roll a little, you can still think one must be approaching the distinctive re-
gion of the imagined West. Anyone curious about one of its historic
transformations will find much descriptive information in Victorian West.
University of North Dakota ELIZABETH HAMPSTEN
History of the Cattlemen of Texas. Introduction by Harwood P. Hinton. (Austin:
Texas State Historical Association, 1991. Pp. xix+350. Introduction, black-
and-white photographs, index. $39.95.)
This reprint of a 1914 Cattle Raisers Association of Texas-authorized book
makes available information which had long been out of print. Originally pub-

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed February 11, 2016.