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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The endnotes tend toward superficiality, falling short in eludication of the
text. For example, Santander (p. 93, 204 n) could not refer to the town "fifteen
leagues from the Gulf Coast," which was not founded until the middle of the
next century. It should be noted that the reported smallpox epidemic among La
Salle's colonists (p. 137) was refuted in later testimony.
Even so, this is an interesting book not undeserving of attention. But it could
have been better.
Bonham, Texas ROBERT S. WEDDLE
The Explorer's Texas, Vol II: The Animals They Found. By Del Weniger (Austin:
Eakin Press, 1997. Pp. vi+200. Introduction, maps, illustrations, notes, bibli-
ography, index. ISBN 1-57168-loo-0, $27.95, cloth).
Del Weniger, professor emeritus of biology at Our Lady of the Lake
University, San Antonio, has spent almost a half century researching the
fauna of Texas. It is apparent from this book that it has been a labor of love
as well as scholarship. The scholarship is impressive. Weniger has excerpted
literally thousands of accounts of early Texas wildlife made by 290 different
explorers prior to 186o. He does these early explorers the courtesy of
accepting their observations verbatim, noting that "I choose to judge the
people by their accounts instead of presuming to accept, reject, or even
rank the reports by my opinion of their authors" (p. 4). No observations
made after 186o are included. Weniger maintains that the environment had
been so altered by that time that the original animal communities were no
longer intact.
Seemingly, every mammal ever referenced in an early journal can be found
in this volume, from the great buffalo to the house mouse. No creature is too
insignificant to escape attention, other than birds. The birds of Texas will be
given their own volume, the next in the series. Weniger accords the large
mammals their own chapters, while the smaller mammals are grouped in func-
tional rather than biological groups, i.e., More Than Critters (ch. 11) and They
Rushed Around the Texas Brush (ch. 13). Weniger uses early accounts of buffalo
(ch. 1 ) to provide a geographical distribution over time and to document the
beginning of the demise of the great herds that once virtually covered Texas.
Although Weniger is a scientist, this work is primarily a history and is unique
in the scope of its bibliography and the time perspective employed. It is also a
joy to read.
This second volume of The Explorer's Texas series seems destined for the same
acclaim accorded to Weniger's first volume, The Explorer's Texas, Volume I: The
Land and Waters (Eakin Press, 1984), which the Texas Historical Commission
named "The Best Historical Publication of 1984." The dust jacket promises that
the last two volumes of the series, Her Birds and Birders and The Tree Cover, will be
published in the near future.

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January

Austin

STEVE COMER

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed December 25, 2014.