The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 144

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

monumental addition to Texas folklore and history. Both volumes were pro-
duced under the editorship of Francis "Ab" Abernethy, who follows J. Frank
Dobie, Mody Boatright, and Wilson Hudson as a long-lasting secretary-editor
of the society. None of Abernethy's distinguished predecessors ever produced
an annual volume as good as The Bounty of Texas, partly because of the fascinat-
ing pictures included here.
East Texas State Unzverszty JAMES W. BYRD
Bear Meat 'N' Honey: An Oral History of the Sabznal Canyon. By Greg Walton. (Aus-
tin: Acorn Press, 1990. Pp. v+20o3. Foreword, black-and-white photo-
graphs, index, map. $14.95.)
The Sabinal River Canyon region is in Southwest Texas and runs through
both Uvalde and Bandera counties. The region was first populated by Native
Americans, explored by the Spanish, and then settled by Anglos-mainly Ger-
man immigrants-in the 185os. As is true with most of Texas, its history is com-
plex and was created by both the clashing and synthesis of the different cul-
tures that have peopled the area. Greg Walton's volume of oral history is
important because it documents the history and folklore of the Sabinal Canyon
through the eyes of witnesses. Most of his interviewees were born in the
1890o-1905 period, thus their memories reach to the beginning of the century.
And where their memories end, they pass down the stories and lore of their
parents and grandparents, who were the first settlers. Totsy Harper Arnim,
one of Walton's witnesses, explains the importance of oral history, as eloquently
as any expert in the field: "But the knowledge and the wisdom was passed on to
us, and still dwells in us, and I guess we pass it on in turn. Unless we let 'em,
those times will never be gone" (p. 109).
In their stories, Walton's witnesses talk about their lives in the "old days."
They talk about the knee-high grass that used to grow in the canyon before
cattle and goats were brought in as stock, about camp meetings, swimming
holes, local caves, and Indian stories. They tell about the building of the com-
munity: the first schools; the first piano; the establishment of a Lutheran
church with services in German; and, incredibly, the building of irrigation ca-
nals in the rocky limestone soil. Those with a German heritage remember the
discrimination they faced from local residents during World Wars I and II.
And the origins of the small towns that grew up in the canyon-Utopia, Uvalde,
Vanderpool-are recounted.
Walton has done an excellent job of collecting, transcribing, and editing
these stories. It is, in fact, a monumental task. The work is important as a re-
source for social historians, scholars, and students interested in Texas history,
German Texas history, and those interested in the Sabinal Canyon region. It is
important to know that Walton lets the witnesses tell their own stories in their
own words. This is not an analytical or academic study of a people or region,
and there is no thesis-building by Walton. He is not the book's author, but its
editor. However, Walton might have included life histories from Native Ameri-


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. ( accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.