The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 42, July 1938 - April, 1939 Page: 66
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the Middle West, appealing alike to the academic world and to
the casual reader. With vigor and assurance Professor Dick paints
an artistic and glowing picture of everyday life in the Sod-House;
how the farmers planted their crops and waited fearfully for the
harvest; how the blizzards, drouths, and plagues sometimes made
them despair of life itself; how sheer loneliness drove women to
distraction; and how preeimptors fought for their lands, built
cabins, cities, and transformed a veritable wilderness into a pro-
ductive land today teeming with thousands of happy and pros-
perous people. This he did and more, and all with a masterful pen.
The author made no attempt to achieve a smooth transition
from one chapter to another, but rather presented his subject in
episodic fashion. Pioneer finance, the days of the vigilantes, war
between the cattleman and the homesteader, road ranches, Indian
depredations, schools and school teachers, court days, hunting and
trapping, the work of the churches, building of the railroads,
amusements, newspapers, the prairie doctor, politics, pioneer in-
dustries, and crude frontier customs pass in review one after the
other, finally creating a composite and vivid picture of social life
on the prairie.
The style of the book is vigorous, racy, and convincing. Wit,
humor, and anecdotes enliven the narrative from first to last, and
the resourcefulness of the frontiersman is depicted in short pithy
descriptions bristling with understanding and good humor. For
instance, in the chapter of Log-Cabin Days is found this literary
cocktail: "The calf was penned up while the mother was turned
out on the prairie to graze. The calf thus served as a decoy to
bring the cow home at night without the services of a herder.
The calf received a portion of the milk in consideration of the
services rendered. It was by no means milked and fed to him
from a bucket, however. He had to secure it in fair competition
with the milker. The milker on one side of the cow and the calf
on the other each sought to get his share."
Perhaps Dr. Dick himself would not claim that he made any
particular contribution to the interpretation of frontier history,
and he probably made no attempt to do so. It appears to me that
he accepted the Turnerian thesis and that his distinct contribu-
tion lies, not in a new or different interpretation but in the myriad
of facts and incidents which he amassed from diaries, reminis-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 42, July 1938 - April, 1939, periodical, 1939; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101107/m1/74/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.