The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985 Page: 104
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
young lawyer who arrived from Indiana in 1870 to practice law with
Writing home each week to his parents, McCoy describes forth-
rightly the negative, as well as positive, aspects of his boisterous new
home. He particularly frets about the drinking, prostitution, and
gambling problems. Yet he is definitely a sincere and outspoken ad-
vocate of the community, anxious to proclaim its economic potential
and the civilized virtues of its intelligent, church-going citizenry.
His descriptions of the physical appearance of the town are charming:
the new courthouse, the iron bridge across the Trinity River, the
small homes along cedar-forested Commerce Street, and the profusion
of flowers on the nearby prairies.
Interesting, too, are the accounts of his professional activities as an
attorney for the newly arrived railroads and his business trips to other
Texas cities. His letters criticize the political machinations of Recon-
struction governor Edmund J. Davis and the "beasts of prey" (p. 71)
who claimed to be representative of northern public opinion. Despite
personal hardships during the depression of the 187os, McCoy always
recognized the promise of the local economy as a commercial and
merchandising center. He ultimately became the first city attorney
These letters also serve as an interesting review of the social atti-
tudes and customs of the Victorian era. As a widower, McCoy, like
his contemporaries, observed an extended period of mourning and
for many years wrote with great sentimentality of his deceased wife.
His very formal correspondence with Mary Alice Peele, who became
his second wife, gives a more complete understanding of courtship
The editor, Elizabeth York Enstam, is to be commended for the
carefully researched and well-written commentaries that accompany
the letters and enlighten readers on topics ranging from nineteenth-
century mourning customs to the women's rights question to the great
railroad strike of 1877. The contribution of compiler Millicent Hume
McCoy, who located and transcribed the 22o letters, also should be
acknowledged. In essence this is a readable and enjoyable volume
that provides a revealing glimpse into the lives of ordinary people
who played such an important part in the establishment of the urban
frontier in Texas.
Texas Woman's University
DOROTHY D. DEMOSS
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985, periodical, 1984/1985; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/m1/126/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.