The Redlander. By Sigman Byrd.
New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1939. Pp. 339.
Tradition, anecdote, history, and imagination are used in
about equal part by Sigman Byrd in his novel, The Redlander.
Against this almost limitless background are presented two
stories: the story of the rise to fame and fortune, in Horatio
Alger fashion, of John David Huntsman; and the equally inter-
esting picture of the fictitious town of Cherokee. Woven into
these two stories is at least a mild expression of the love of a
redlander for the redlands, the pines, and the Neches.
John David Huntsman is a remarkable character-in many
ways too good to be true. He is introduced as a twelve-year-old
orphan who had lost both parents, and a hound-pup named
Bulger, to the Nacodochi River-a trifling stream that is dan-
gerous only in flood, but a stream which David greatly feared.
In Cherokee he was adopted by a patriotic society, proved him-
self to be an excellent student, and won a scholarship. From
Cherokee he went to Austin to attend the University Law
School, and began his academic career in somewhat unorthodox
fashion by dashing a bucket of water onto the president. His
victories over political and social opponents, the river, and his
own pride make up the rest of his story.
The story of Cherokee is more real and more interesting. The
social life of the town is largely in the hands of the Daughters
of the Fraternian Republic-a group who trace their ancestry
to the men who set up and fought for the Republic of Fraternia.
David spent many years wishing to be a Fraternian, only to
learn that he was descended from the man branded by the
Fraternians as the chief villain in all history. In the end he
learns that his ancestor was the true hero of the episode, and
that the whole Fraternian legend is based on lies and false in-
terpretation. By this time, however, he has learned to stand
on his own feet and face the future rather than the past. The
evidence, won at great cost, is dropped into the river, and the
ladies of Cherokee are undisturbed in their Fraternian dreams.
Byrd has given an authentic and interesting picture of the
redlands. The descriptions are good, and the language is real.
The farm homes, the river in flood, and the Lamb of God Church
are so authentic that even casual visitors to the Neches country
will recognize them. Cherokee reminds one of Nacogdoches and
neighboring towns, for "the tangled streets of Cherokee were
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146052/. Accessed April 18, 2015.