The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962 Page: 476
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
in the peripheral South," and declared that the letters were all
written from various cities in the United States.8
Close scrutiny of Scenes de L'Amerique du Nord en 1849 reveals
major errors of fact and proves that whoever penned the letters
was a not-too-accomplished plagiarist. Elsie Waerenskjold, a Nor-
wegian living in Van Zandt County, Texas, in 1852, sensed the
spuriousness inherent in the letters. She rejected Tolmer's nar-
rative as a "silly story" and wrote, "I wonder if the people in
Norway were not simply confused if they took Tolmer's account
as anything but a piece of fiction." Other Texans expressed skep-
ticism.4 But they were wrong if by "fiction" they meant an account
woven entirely from the brain of the author-an imaginative work.
They were correct if they believed the letters to be fictional in
the sense they were false, fictitious, or a forgery.
Major factual errors, which are numerous, may be demon-
strated by a few examples: mining and mineral production in the
immediate vicinity of Cleveland during the 1840's was extremely
limited in scope; no William Briscombe escaped from Sing Sing
during the first half of the nineteenth century; Galveston was not
the capital of Texas; there was no hotel called The Red Eagle in
"Nocagdoches;" the Congress of the United States was not in
session during the period Tolmer alleges he was in this country.5
Tolmer's plagiarism falls into two categories: material that he
lifted in toto and almost verbatim from other travelers, and yarns
and events stolen from other travel accounts and altered and/or
rewritten so as to lend the air of verisimilitude. His entire book
-all the letters-is composed of one or the other or a combination
of these techniques. The author of the letters, whoever he was
and wherever he resided, cribbed practically all his information
from Haliburton, Sharp, Marryat, and Mackay." Only a few pas-
sThomas D. Clark (ed.), Travels in the Old South (Norman, 1959), III, 326,
a section prepared by Robert G. Lunde; Frank Monaghan, "French Travellers in
the United States," New York Public Library Bulletin, XXXVI (1932), 698; see
also, Wilhelm Heinsius (comp.), Allegeneines Biicher-Lexicon, x847-I85x (Leipzig,
1855), Vol. 1, Pt. 2, p. 363.
4Clausen, Lady With the Pen, 31, 33, 38n; Anderson, First Chapter, 383.
5Tolmer, Schnes, 8, 23, 25, 31, 126-132; Warden Wilfred L. Denno to Michael L.
Lyons, signed statement, November 15, 196o; Lyons to P. D. J., signed statement,
November 21, 1960 (MS. in possession of writer).
eThomas C. Haliburton, The Old Judge; or, Life in a Colony (2 vols.; London,
1849). It is possible that, instead of this edition, Tolmer might have used the same
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962, periodical, 1962; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/m1/534/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.