The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996 Page: 128
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
thirty minutes touch on Spanish Dam (in the McCamey area), Camp Melvin
(near Iraan), Fort Stockton, Fort Lancaster, Howard's Wells, Seminole Canyon
pictographs, and finally the Langtry area, including Judge Roy Bean.
Graveyard of the West provides an interesting commentary on the Pecos of the
past. Early travelers described the river as wild, turbulent, salty, and difficult to
cross; today, irrigation projects have choked it to a small, sluggish stream bloated
with quicksand and rimmed by salt cedar and brush. Markers on the riverbank
have been defaced by gunfire. Times have changed, but myths persist. In the
spring of 1955 this reviewer visited Horsehead with Cliff Newland, an aged cow-
boy living near Crane. While I tramped around, the old man cut a tree branch,
fashioned a Y, attached a small metal object, and began "witching" along the
river. His quest? Buried treasure.
The film combines beautiful photography with careful editing. Maps flash by a
mite fast; river shots from a helicopter would have enhanced perspective. Forest
Glen TV Productions has made a number of Texas documentaries, and this is
one of the best. Graveyard of the West provides a memorable visit to a river which
has left an indelible mark on the history of the state.
Austin HARWOOD P. HINTON
John Hittson: Cattle King on the Texas and Colorado Frontier. By Vernon R. Maddux.
(Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1994. Pp. xii+214. Illustrations, maps,
preface, introduction, bibliography, index. ISBN o-870081-353-6. $27.50.)
In 1872 Texan John Hittson (1831-1880) conducted a large-scale raid on
ranches and corrals in eastern New Mexico in search of livestock stolen from the
West Texas plains by Indian marauders. His men reportedly rounded up some
ten thousand head of cattle wearing Texas brands, and Hittson momentarily
became a Western hero. In this book, Vernon R. Maddux, a retired Marine offi-
cer and doctoral student at the University of Oklahoma, draws on the earlier
work of Charles Kenner, contemporary newspapers, oral interviews, and numer-
ous secondary sources to construct a biography of the cattleman. The result is a
eulogistic, life-and-times story that promises much but falls short of its goal.
Maddux divides his book into sixteen chapters. The first eight touch on
Hittson's roots in Mississippi, life in Palo Pinto County, Texas, tenure as sheriff,
and Civil War years, and the opening of cattle markets in New Mexico and
Colorado. In these chapters Hittson is a shadowy figure embedded in a litany of
twice-told tales and rarely appears on center stage. The last half of the book
describes Hittson's trail driving, move to Deer Trail, Colorado, celebrated 1872
raid, quality beef production, drunkenness, and death.
The biography suffers from inadequate research and inaccuracies. Hittson
information abounds in fourteen small volumes entitled "Cattle Record" in the
Palo Pinto County Courthouse; in the First National Bank Collection at the
University of New Mexico; and in the Hittson Indian depredation claims in the
National Archives. The John Chisum references are often garbled (Chisum
drove his first herds to West Texas in the fall of 1863, not 1861; the Dallas
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996, periodical, 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/m1/156/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.