Book Barn Opens Window Onto Frontier Life
The Book Barn at 410 Delaware in downtown Leavenworth, through its publishing arm, Spear's Mint Editions Publishing, has discovered and resurrected eight books from the 1800s and early 1900s that portray a fascinating view of frontier life. These nonfiction and fiction books address the issues, culture, and persons that had an impact on Leavenworth and its region. Owner and publisher Bob Spear says, "We were very lucky to find these in our historical research. We're excited to be able to create a special section in our bookstore that features reprints from this era. These books greatly affected people’s lives and thinking. Some say we are now what we were then. This series explains the 'then'—lives of both ordinary and extraordinary people living in a very different timeframe—our ancestors."
The books include:
The Prairie Traveler by US Army Captain Randolph B. Marcy, 1859 Nonfiction
The most practical handbook for safely crossing the American prairies ever written. The author, Captain Randolph B. Marcy, leaves the legacy of his 25-year military career helping pioneer settlers across the plains. He not only tells the whats and hows, but the whys of selecting and maintaining all that a family should take on their trek across the plains and mountains to their dreams. This book became the bible for overland expeditions, used by many making the challenging journey across the West. Marcy not only explains how Americans should do it, but many common overland practices in other countries as well.
Twin Hells by John Reynolds, late 1800s Nonfiction
Meet John Reynolds, a founder and president of Citizens Bank in Leavenworth and president of an Insurance company in Atchison. He is railroaded on trumped up fraud charges and finds himself serving an 18-month sentence in the Kansas Penitentiary in Lansing, working in its very dangerous coal mine. Recording all he sees and learns in shorthand, he compiles the information for the first half of this book. Later, after his release, he is hired as an investigative consultant to inspect Missouri’s Penitentiary. He finds conditions there to be just as bad. This is his eyewitness account of prison life during the mid to late 1800s.
Adventures of Buffalo Bill: From Boyhood to Manhood. Deeds of Daring, Scenes of Thrilling Peril, and Romantic Incidents in the Early Life of W.F. Cody, the Monarch of Bordermen by Colonel Prentiss Ingraham, Pulp Fiction/Nonfiction, Late 1800s
William F. Cody, known as Buffalo Bill to millions of fans, was a Leavenworth homeboy from the age of eight onward. Here are his exciting, romantically rendered tales of his early life on the frontier as rendered by his long time friend and pulp writing master, Colonel Prentiss Ingraham. Thrill to Ingraham’s descriptions of Cody’s life as a scout, a bullwhacking drover, stagecoach driver, pony express rider, a trapper, Indian fighter, and a showman. This book explains this great man’s reputation and how he became an international celebrity. Written in the language of its time, this is a can’t-put-it-down read.
The Boy Settlers: A Story of Early Times in Kansas by Noah Brooks and Illustrated by W.A. Rogers. Pulp Fiction, 1891
Join two fathers and three sons determined to leave Dixon, Illinois to travel to the Territory of Kansas in 1854 to:
• Establish homesteads
• Build a foundation for the boys’ future
• Fight to make the new Kansas a Free State
The story is told mostly through the eyes of the boys, making this of interest to modern boys from 10 to 50 years of age. Stand alongside of them as they learn essential survival skills and fair, manly values. The lessons in how to get along with all kinds of people in several cultures are interesting. Their adventures on the frontier of Bleeding Kansas are exciting. Published in 1891, this is a can’t-put-down read even today. Much of the action takes place around Leavenworth and points west.
The Price of the Prairie: A Story of Kansas by Margaret Hill McCarter with Five Illustrations by J.N. Marchand, Romance Fiction, 1910
Margaret Hill McCarter was the Daniele Steel and Nora Roberts of her day. This romance was set in the Neosho County region in Southeastern Kansas in the 1850s. Travel back in time to learn how frontier relationships and cultures were different and the same from the ones in modern times. Hear the quaint dialect of the frontier people. This is not dry history; it is a story come alive that was so popular in the 1910 to 1912 timeframe that it went through 15 printings in those two years. This was a major bestseller of its time.
The Goat-Gland Transplantation As Originated and Successfully Performed by J. R. Brinkley, M. D., of Milford, Kansas, U. S. A., in Over 600 Operations Upon Men and Women By SYDNEY B. FLOWER, Infomercial, 1921
Read this incredibly effective infomercial that convinced readers to regain their youthful vim, vigor, and sex drives by undergoing an operation by a charlatan quack who transplanted goat testicles and ovaries into men and women in his private clinic in Wakefield, Kansas. This book is a must read as an accompaniment to the recent bestseller Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam, by Pope Brock. For those who have an interest in marketing, you will find this a masterful appeal that pushes all the right hot buttons. It’s especially startling when one realizes it was published in 1921.
Buffalo Bill’s Spy Trailer or The Stranger in Camp by Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
Author of the celebrated “Buffalo Bill” stories published in the Border Stories.
Like Ned Buntline, Colonel Prentiss Ingraham made a lot of money writing pulp novels about Buffalo Bill Cody and his many friends. This is an exciting, never-let-up story that exploits the frontier setting and a commonly perceived problem of highwaymen robbing stagecoaches carrying gold from the minefields. It’s an ideal book for reluctant readers. Especially fun is the stilted writing style, which is so unrealistic given the manly settings and plot.
Wild Bill’s Last Trail by Ned Buntline, Pulp Fiction, Late 1800s
Ned Buntline is credited with getting Buffalo Bill Cody started into show business. He certainly made him famous throughout America by featuring him in his many pulp fiction novels. This is a sample of one featuring Hickok. Cody, Texas Jack, and Wild Bill Hickok agreed to portray themselves in a stage production out East. Buntline wrote the script and managed the production. From the very first, the three frontiersmen drove Buntline crazy by not sticking to the script, but the crowds loved them. This experience gave Cody the impetus and the funds to produce his own plays and then finally his national and internationally acclaimed touring extravaganza. “The Wild, Wild West.”