The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987 Page: 140
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
sealed last letter, and death notice to his widow in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The total value of his estate, including the fifty cents in coin found in
his pocket, amounted to $41.24.2
It was not much of an estate to bequeath his dependent thirty-three-
year-old widow, Almira McAfee Macune. But then, it was precisely all
those preceding years of financial struggle that had prompted William
to gamble all on the California mother lode. Now he left a widow, a
six-year-old daughter, Kate, and a thirteen-month-old son, Charles
William, to carry on without him. But carry on they did. Almira estab-
lished herself in Freeport, Illinois, where she reared her two children
and where she resided until her death in 1877.
Like his father, Charles grew up to try his hand at many ventures. He
would become, successively and often simultaneously, farmhand, phar-
macy clerk, circus hand, cowboy, house painter, newspaper editor,
hotel proprietor, physician, lawyer, Methodist minister, and medical
missionary in Mexico. And in his middle years, in the late 188os and
early 18gos, Charles would achieve success as "the outstanding leader
of the farmers' political and economic movements in the South." As
Dr. Charles W. Macune in far-off Texas in 1887, he would help to
organize and become the first president of the National Farmers' Al-
liance. It was, observes Robert C. McMath, Jr., "until the mushrooming
of the American Farm Bureau Federation [after 192o], the largest and
most influential farmers' organization in the history of the United
States." And, though initially a nonpartisan product of the agrarian re-
volt of the last third of the nineteenth century, the National Farmers'
Alliance also provided the organizational base for the formation of
the radical Populist or People's party in 1891. Macune himself played
an important role in the 1892 Populist party presidential campaign,
and would long be remembered by some, rightly or not, as a populist
leader. As late as 1925, for example, the Associated Press identified Dr.
Macune "as organizer of the Populist Party in America."4
2Angus Dudley McAfee to Almira McAfee Macune, June 18, 1852, ibid.; "Inventory and
Appraisement of the Goods and Personal Effects of Wm. Macune, Deceased, on the 18th Day
of June A.D. 1852 [Prepared by] I. R. Moulton & George W. Durgin," ibid.
5Catharine Sophia Macune was born November 26, 1845, at Davenport, Iowa. Edna Kil-
bourne Steele, "Kilbourne Family History" (typescript, 1941), ibid. Charles William Macune
was born May 2o, 1851, at Kenosha, Wisconsin. Family Bible of Charles William Macune, ibid.
See also records of Henry H. McAfee, administrator of estate of Almira Brown for County
Court of Stephenson County, Illinois, 1877-1878, ibid.
4Dictionary of American Biography, s.v. "Macune, Charles William"; Fred A. Shannon, "C. W.
Macune and the Farmers' Alliance," Current History, XXVIII (June, 1955), 331 (1st quotation);
Robert C. McMath, Jr., Populist Vanguard: A History of the Southern Farmers' Alliance (Chapel Hill,
N.C., 1975), 128, 130-131, 140-141, 151 (2nd quotation); Lawrence Goodwyn, Democratic
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987, periodical, 1986/1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/m1/178/: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.