John Mix Stanley, 1846, in W. H. Emory, Notes of a Military Reconnoissance, from Fort Leavenworth, in Missouri, to San Diego, in California, including parts of the Arkansas, Del Norte, and Gila Rivers (Washington: Wendell and Van Benthuysen, Printers, 1848), following page 58.

If you’re missing a narrative, you’re not alone. Kevin Starr noticed our lack of explanation in 1975, in a monograph on early voyages he kindly reviewed. Many of its arcane sources — like Hakluyt’s Voyages, once closely circulated in special collections — now float freely in the electronic ether. We scroll the diaries of piratical explorers online in our kitchen. As much as we appreciate Kevin’s remarkable body of work and its informed tradition, we’re glad we kept collating first-person accounts of the Far West. Primary data are a window to events, and can be confirmed or tempered by other sound witnesses and records.

Nicholson Baker describes how historic data are photographed, access to the new microforms or facsimile files is maintained, and sources are conserved in Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper (New York: Random House, 2000). Some libraries ‘de-accession’ historic volumes after photographing them, or anytime they have unneeded copies. (‘De-accession’, like its equally inbred cousin ‘deselect’, is library school doublethink, Newspeak for ‘discard’.) Many libraries offer their discards to other libraries, non-profit organizations, and private parties before sending them to pulp mills for recycling. But brokers rescue some volumes and list them in digital stores through portals like We recently found a handsomely rebound surplus set of Bartlett (1854) from the Boston Public Library, through such an independent bookseller. The more source materials in circulation — whether privately-held hard copies or public electronic facsimiles — the easier it is to reconstruct events and test explanations.

Recently, the New York Times published a proudly racist essay on history — which most college professors would have returned to a sophomore for lack of rigor and extreme bias. Our idea of history gets hijacked fairly routinely by popular media. By the time racialist revision’s author was rewarded with a university teaching appointment, the Gray Lady had moved on to edify readers regarding fashionable attire for protests and hipster cannibalism. Poor beleaguered history is simply a sequence of events; the search for safety and welfare, and a family’s response to circumstances beyond its control, are found in the details.

Simple empirical analysis exposed Red Scare self-abuse seventy years ago, and it works just fine on ‘progressive’ exhibitionism: critical thinking still sorts evidence from agitprop and scholarship from propaganda. The firehose of nonsense propelled through electronic media by postmodern narcissism — and then amplified into brainwashing by pop culture — is incessant. But when the clowns exploding from the Volkswagen finally trickle to a stop, our descendants will likely demand tangible, qualified evidence of what the hell happened at the beginning of the twenty-first century. If we completely made this shit up, nobody would believe it.

ceremonial shirt, in John G. Bourke, “The Medicine-Men of the Apache,” in the Ninth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution for the years 1887-1888 (Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1892), f590.
ceremonial shirt, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, f588.
ceremonial shirt, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, f592.
An Apache medicine sash, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, 593.
Tzi-daltai amulet, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, 589.
ceremonial bonnets, in Morris Edward Opler, An Apache Life-Way (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1941), f310.
ceremonial pouch for cattail pollen, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, 500.
scratch stick and drinking reed, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, 494.
Apache war bonnet, Bourke, Medicine Men, 581.
Apache weaponry, Opler, An Apache Life-Way, 390.
Tzi-daltai amulet, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, 588.
medicine cord, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, 553.
Opler, Life-Way, f410b.
late nineteenth-century ceremonial headdress for the Ghost Dance, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, f586.
medicine cord, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, 554.
ceremonial objects for an Apache puberty ritual, in Keith H. Basso, The Gift of Changing Woman, Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 196, Anthropological Papers, No. 76, f144.
kan, Apache deities, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, 586.
medicine cord, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, 551.
Round Dance, in Opler, Life-Way, f112b.
medicine cord, in Bourke, Medicine-Men, 552.
tools and saddlebag, in Opler, Life-Way, f390.

The energetic special agent to Oregon Country John Ross Browne left quite a graphic record of the 1864 Gadsden Purchase frontier in Adventures in the Apache Country: A Tour Through Arizona and Sonora, with Notes on the Silver Regions of Nevada (New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1869):

Silver mines in the Santa Rita Mountains, Browne, 18.
Pimo Indian girls, Browne, 68.
Pimo village, Browne, 108.
Casas Grandes, Browne, 115.
Tucson, Browne, 132.
San Xavier del Bac, Browne, 143.
Bill Rhodes’s Ranch, Browne, 145.
Tubac, Browne, 148.
Imuriz, Browne, 165.
The Prefect of Magdalena, Browne, 170.
Santa Cruz, Browne, 190.
Hacienda of the Mowry Mine, Browne, 204.
The Mowry Mine, Browne, 206.
Hacienda of the Santa Rita Mining Company, Browne, 227.
The Salero Mine, Browne, 232.
Caballero and Señorita, Browne, 242.

The Sonora Exploring and Mining Company’s 1857 promotional brochure clearly overstated its resources and promise. Finding shareholders during a year of economic panic was difficult enough, but effectively mining the area at any time would have required extraordinary improvements in tangible infrastructure, and large, agile regiments of cavalry and attendant livestock for defense. Several field administrators for the mines would no doubt have preferred the usual risks of bankruptcy or prison in failure, over having their lives taken.

We wish we had a response to the pamphlet from the 140 or so migrant barreteros and tenateros, who were paid through credits at the overpriced company stores — when they were paid — and had to fight American filibusters and Pinal, Gileño, and Chiricahua raiders both in Arizona’s mines and at home across the Sonora line. Herman Ehrenberg’s 1858 Map of the Gadsden Purchase locates many of their familiar towns. And the campaign to find investors did provide work for illustrators.

Tubac, Head Quarters ‘Sonora Exploring & Mining Co.’, Herman Ehrenberg, 1856. Frederick Brunckow, Sonora Exploring & Mining Co. Report, 1859, f47.
Tubac & the Santa Rita Mtns., From the S. E. Side; Carl Schuchard, 1854, Sonora Exploring & Mining Co., Report, 1857, frontispiece.
Aribaca, from the north west spurs of the Arizona mountains; Carl Schuchard, 1854, Sonora Exploring & Mining Co., Report, 1857, following 6.
Heintzelman Mine (near Aribac), from the south side; Carl Schuchard, 1854, Sonora Exploring & Mining Co., Report, 1857, f10.
sharpening mining tools in the mountains, likely by Horace Chapman Grosvenor, fated Superintendent of the Santa Rita Mining Company, Sonora Exploring & Mining Co., Report, 1857, f12.
ordinary Mexican mill for crushing ores. This etching also appears to have Grosvenor’s name on it; Sonora Exploring & Mining Co., Report, 1857, f13.
(porters in a well), C. D., 1854, Sonora Exploring & Mining Co., Report, 1857, f20.

Samuel Woodworth Cozzens, author of boys’ frontier novels, affordable attorney, and pal to fugitives like Ned McGown, is a lively witness in Explorations & Adventures in Arizona & New Mexico . . . (1873; facsimile reprint, Secaucus: Castle, 1988). His homespun anthropology gets a bit ambitious, and his engravings often seem caricatures — yet both provide useful information.

the Apaches’ home. Cozzens, 108.

Cozzens presents this village, for example, as a permanent encampment of Mangas Coloradas.

meeting of Mangus Colorado, Cochise, and the author. Cozzens, 118.
group of Apaches. Cozzens, 513.
group of Apaches, Henry Cheever Pratt, 1851, in Bartlett I, 326.

We thought this romantic tableau was familiar when we found it in Cozzens, but we could have been recalling Bartlett, where we found the same horseman reaching for his quiver and other similar figures positioned differently. Who borrowed it from whom, or are they both derived from a common source?

San Xavier del Bac. Cozzens, 156.
Captain Ewell’s pursuit of the Apaches. Cozzens, 209.
Santa Rita Valley, in Raphael Pumpelly, Across America and Asia: Notes of a Five Years’ Journey Around the World and of Residence in Arizona, Japan and China, 5th ed. (New York: Leypoldt & Holt, 1871), following 11.

The distinct lines of this sketch display the use of a camera lucida. In recounting his search for the site of the Seth Eastman watercolor ‘Great Canyon Rio Gila’, cartographer Tom Jonas describes the technology surveyors used to produce precise field drawings, from which lithographs like ‘Great Canyon’ were later rendered:

In transforming cartoons into watercolors, artists applied rich tones like these:

Great Canyon Rio Gila, ca. 1853, Seth Eastman, after a technical field sketch, likely by surveyor Frank Wheaton. Rhode Island School of Design Museum (

Rhode Island School of Design Museum curates an impressive collection of Eastman’s watercolors, which brought texture to field drawings of the Gadsden Purchase.

Canyon Leading to the Copper Mines, Santa Rita del Cobra, ca. 1853.
Santa Rita del Cobra (Copper Mines), Rocky Mts., N.M., ca. 1853.
Bufa del Cobra, Rocky Mountains, New Mexico, ca. 1853.
Camping in a Storm on the Mexican Plateau, ca. 1853.
Pass at the Pitoncillo, Chiricahui Mountains in the Distance, ca. 1853.
View from Camp Near the Boundary Line, ca. 1853.
Canon to Magdalena, ca. 1853.
Santa Cruz Valley, ca. 1853.

some further reading:

Sanity, Or, Mental Wellness — Musonius Rufus, the Roman Socrates: Lectures and Fragments (trans. Cora E. Lutz, New Haven: Yale Univ. Pr., 1947). Musonius’s temperate Stoicism haunts our heathen electronic ether, refreshed in the public domain by scholar Lutz, Yale, and an intrepid archivist;

Strunk & White & cognition — D. Q. McInerny, Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking (New York: Random House, 2004); Robert J. Gula, Nonsense: A Handbook of Logical Fallacies (Mount Jackson, Va.: Axios Pr., 2002);

Chronology — Megan Kate Nelson, The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West (New York: Scribner Book Co., 2020);

Historiography — Keith Windschuttle, The Killing of History (New York: The Free Press, 1996); Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob, “Postmodernism and the Crisis of Modernity” in Telling the Truth About History (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1994); Jason Steinhauer, History, Disrupted (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2022); and

Literacy v ideology — Vibeke Lehmann, ed., Library Trends 59, no. 3 (winter 2011). Lehmann presents case studies of some libraries in marginalized and at-risk communities around the world. Many patrons in these social justice systems prefer the fertile worlds of George R. R. Martin, J. K. Rowling, Dan Brown, or Ursula K. Le Guin to the wokery, genderism, and other casual vulgarities of television. Frequent readers notice as the 89% of funding ‘equity’ they’re missing is squandered by many public and academic libraries on the promotion of pop ideologies. Inclusive libraries best serve diverse populations when they deliver patrons’ requests. Indoctrination is for the government and salesmen.

Willcox, Arizona Territory, 1880s. Courtesy Kathy Quinn and Gretchen Sherman, descendants of Bonita J. P. Miles Wood.