The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980 Page: 318
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
less than remarkable. He exerted heroic effort to straighten out the rec-
ord about outlaws and peace officers-whose mythification had begun
early, with the dime novelists.
Ever willing and eager to share his knowledge with any serious stu-
dent, Adams gathered the first fruit of his research into Burs Under the
Saddle (1964), in which he pointed out errors in over four hundred
books and pamphlets. As Wayne Gard notes in the introduction to the
present volume: "Some of those authors still living must have winced,
but they deserved to have their errors brought to light and corrected.
This work made it easier for later historians to avoid making the same
mistakes Yet some went on with their careless habits" (p. viii). To judge
from Adams's two surveys, the errant authors included some of the best
known names in western history and others not so well known, whose
excesses are minutely examined and thoroughly condemned.
For example Jay R. Nash's Bloodletters and Badmen (1973) rates a
6 page (double column) critique in which Adams finds no redeeming
feature. Faring worse is Del Schrader's Jesse James Was One of His
Names (1975) which is skewered for 12l/ pages! After mauling the
literary corpse, Adams pronounces final judgment: "This absurd bur-
lesque on history is indeed the last straw, and let us hope that no other
writer burdens us again with such a piece of claptrap" (p. 141). One
may be perfectly certain that Adams or his shade is going to be dis-
In his introduction Adams makes it clear that his focus is on gunman
lore. Therefore, his discussion of E. E. Dale's Frontier Ways and Harold
McCracken's The American Cowboy seems out of place. The former is
included for no other reason than to get in a corrective word or two
about C. M. Russell's famous picture "Waiting for a Chinook." The
latter affords the excuse to clean up McCracken's misstatements about
A more serious criticism is that in his zeal to correct the errors of
others, Adams is led into mistakes of his own. In discussing Around
Western Campfires, he faults author Joseph M. Axford for saying that
nothing was ever found of Albert J. Fountain and his son except the
buckboard and horses. Adams says, "but they were not found either"
(p. 7). Adams is wrong, not Axford. The buckboard and at least one of
the team were in fact found. Throughout the book he consistently mis-
spells Elzy Lay's given name as "Elza."
Elsewhere he jumps Leon C. Metz for saying that Bowie County,
Texas, is "snuggled tightly against the Louisiana border." Adams in-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980, periodical, 1979/1980; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101207/m1/362/: accessed March 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.