The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970 Page: 426
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
It was during the half-century from 18oo to 1850 that the American
approach to the El Paso area "changed the whole pattern of life at the
Pass," as the small, isolated community "was transformed into a well
known stopping place for the Santa Fe traders, Forty-Niners, and the
United States Army." Sonnichsen points out that Zebulon M. Pike
was "the first American to tell what he saw in the El Paso Valley."
Pike was followed by the likes of James Baird, Josiah Gregg, James J.
Webb, Hugh Stephenson, James Wylie Magoffin, George Wilkins Ken-
dall, George F. Ruxton, and Juan Ponce de Le6n, who, in 1827,
established his El Rancho de Ponce on the site of present downtown
El Paso. In giving the account of the decades that followed, the author
records the activities (and impressions) of such worthies as John Cof-
fee Hays, Samuel Highsmith, Robert S. Neighbors, John S. Ford,
W. H. C. Whiting, W. F. Smith, Joseph E. Johnston, and the hundreds
of average frontiersmen who invaded the region as gold seekers, sol-
diers, Boundary Commission employees, and "vagabonds of all descrip-
The last half of this splendid book is devoted to El Paso's history
since the Civil War under the headings of the boom, sun city, sin city,
six-shooter junction, the cleanup, and the events across the river during
the early months of the Mexican revolution of 1911. In tracing the
growth of the city, Professor Sonnichsen calls attention to the events
leading to the Salt War of 1877 and points to the civic contribution
of such citizens as Father Ram6n Ortiz, Simeon Hart, Hugh and Juana
Stephenson, Albert J. Fountain, Jos6 Maria Flores, Ynocente Ochoa,
and others. He also surveys the El Paso bawdy houses, calls attention
to the five most prominent madams, and relates the humorous story
of "Tillie Howard's Cat House."
It is no easy task to record four centuries of local history and main-
tain a balanced narrative, but, in this regard, Professor Sonnichsen
has succeeded admirably. His extensive bibliography, listing sources
and secondary accounts, stands as impressive evidence to the research
task accomplished prior to publication. Illustrated (a map and chap-
ter initials) by Jose Cisneros, containing pictures from the Aultman
Collection, the Pioneer Society of El Paso, and other sources, and
designed by Carl Hertzog, Pass of the North is a significant contribu-
tion to Texas and Western American history.
Southwest Texas State University
WILLIAM C. POOL
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970, periodical, 1970; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/m1/462/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.