The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959 Page: 563
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severe crises inevitable to all frontier experience and shared the
heartbreaks and miseries and triumphs of a growing community.
For one who has interest in the complete story of the American
colonization of towns in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the finest
book yet to appear is Gringo Builders by J. L. Allhands (1931).
The "snowdiggers," for so they were called, came to Lyford on
land seekers' trains made up in Des Moines, Kansas City, and
St. Louis. They came from the farms and towns of Nebraska, the
Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, and other Middle Western
states, and were pre-eminently a rough and ready breed of men.
In 19o6 Lyford was merely a tent town with a steel ribbon
running through its center and its life revolving about a well, a
water tank, and the drab brown depot of the railroad. At this
point pioneer initiative began. Lyford was the child of Dr. D. L.
Leitch, Reuben and Ed Deyo, O. G. Schlecht, Mr. and Mrs.
Russell McChesney, and H. H. Keene, among others, and one
suspects the modest author played a substantial role in its growth
too. Lyford had no big colonizers or "landsmen" of the stature
of John Closner, John Conway, Lon Hill, or John Shary, but it
had a colonizer with some of the qualities of all these men and
some unique characteristics of his own. This was Dr. D. L. Leitch,
who saved many a pioneer life (among others, those of two boys
who had been bitten by rattlesnakes) yet found time to serve as
the town's telegrapher, depot agent, and hotel manager. The
doctor was a dreamer and, like Mark Twain's Colonel Sellers, was
forever planning something-he promoted a sanitorium, a Harvey
Eating House, a pleasure resort on the Gulf, and published a
monthly magazine, the Cackler, which was "pondered over and
discussed by its readers because of its clever and wise sayings."
The reader in perusing this little volume will feel a pang of dis-
appointment that such characters as Dr. Leitch, Reuben and Ed
Deyo, O. G. Schlecht, and H. H. Keene were not more fully
developed, for here if ever are the purest types of Anglo-Saxon
This volume is at its best when describing the lives of the
Lyford pioneers. When it departs from the theme of the pioneer,
it assumes some of the character of a Chamber of Commerce
yearbook, taking up unrelated bits of information about other
Valley towns and community clubs of various sorts, with a liberal
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959, periodical, 1959; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/m1/664/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.