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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

day. He was captured by Union soldiers and charged with spying due to certain
innocent statements in the diary. Many at the time felt that the trial and death
sentence were a great injustice. Nevertheless, Dodd did hang, one of only fifteen
Confederate prisoners executed by Federal authorities for espionage. His diary
was preserved through the years and finally published in 1914 after its acquisi-
tion by the Texas State Archives. Appended to Dodd's diary is Robert F.
Bunting's description of the circumstances of Dodd's execution, which were
published in the Houston Daily Telegraph in 1864.
State House Press is to be commended for continuing to provide such impor-
tant works at reasonable prices. The quality of the publication is peerless.
Thomas W. Cutrer's thumbnail history of the Rangers is an informative review
for the general reader.
Richland Crossing: A Portrait of Texas Pioneers. By Walter Clay Dixson. (Fort Worth:
Peppermill Publishing Company, 1996. Pp. 386. Illustrations, acknowledg-
ments, foreword, preface, epilogue, selected bibliography, index. ISBN o-
96499-360-0o. $25.00, paper.)
This book is a hybrid; part history, part fiction, and part genealogy. The work
succeeds best as family history. Dixson wrote that "this book . .. is aimed primari-
ly at interested descendants who have heard bits and pieces of the story of their
ancestors" (p. 17). Dixson, in constructing his narrative around the life of John
Wesley Hardin, has detailed the stories of the Dixson, Anderson, and Barekman
families of Navarro County, as related to Hardin and his family. Hardin's mother
was a Dixson, as were the wives of Anderson and Barekman. Dixson, compared
to recent Hardin biographers (Richard C. Marohn, The Last Gunfighter [1995],
and Leon Metz, John Wesley Hardin: Dark Angel of Texas [1996]), is more objec-
tive, more sympathetic, and much less speculative in his treatment of Hardin.
Also, Dixson, by showing that Hardin's close relatives were quick to kill when
family and honor were involved, shows that future Hardin biographers must not
only consider Reconstruction Texas as a sociological influence on Hardin's life
but also examine the Anglo-Celtic values of his extended family.
The book however, fails as a solid history because of its format. Dixson's inser-
tion of "historical notes" in brackets within the narrative is especially irritating.
Seldom does the information in the "note" have anything to do with the narra-
tive. These notes appear to be a historical framing device to show what was hap-
pening on a national or state level, instead of showing what was happening with-
in the families. That flaw is compounded by Dixson's failure to use footnotes or
endnotes to identify his sources. This method is not compatible with the writing
of accurate history.
Likewise, the use of fictional dialogue and the quoting of complete docu-
ments are problems. In a fictional work, good dialogue is used to drive the plot
and develop characters. Because the book has no plot or characters, Dixson's
use of dialogue is expository in nature. The historical figures simply "spit out"



Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 4, 2016.

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