SALERATUS & SAGEBRUSH: PEOPLE AND PLACES ON THE ROAD WEST By Robert L.
Munkres. Published by New Concord Press, P.O.Box 8016, Zanesville, Ohio.
43702-8016 (Tel: U.S.A. 800-659-9442) (Tel: U.K. 001-659-9442). 336pp.
Preface, Introduction, Illustrations, Bibliography. ISBN 1 887932 90 9.
Paperback $19.95 + p & p.
Dr. Munkres is well known to members of the English Westerners'
Society as he has contributed a notable series of articles about people and
places on the road west to both the Brand Book and the Tally Sheet. A
native of Nebraska, Bob Munkres studied at Nebraska Wesleyan University and
the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and taught political science and
history before retiring as professor from Muskingum College, New Concord,
Ohio in 1999. Besides his teaching career, he was, for three summers a
seasonal Ranger-Historian at Fort Laramie Historic Site. He is thus an
acknowledged authority on both the places and people who braved the high
plains in order to reach Oregon and California in the 19th century.
His new book, (a revision of the volume first published in 1974) is divided
into two main sections. The first entitled 'Sites On the Road West' covers
such places as Ash Hollow, Fort Bridger, Fort Laramie, Independence Rock,
Devil's Gate and Soda Springs. The second 'Scenes & Emigrant Experiences on
the Road West' can, perhaps, be described as more wide ranging as it covers
such topics as Women's Life on the Road West, The Threat from Plains
Indians on the Oregon Trail Before 1860, Crime on the Trail and Wagon Train
All of the articles in this volume have appeared in other
publications including our own Tally Sheet, the Chicago Westerners Brand
Book, The National Tombstone Epitaph, The Wyoming State Historical Society
Annals of Wyoming, and The Oregon-California Trails Association. As it
would be very difficult to collect all of these publications it is good to
have these articles gathered together in this excellently produced and very
reasonably priced volume.
The two articles dealing with the impact of the Plains Indians on
the emigrants are particularly interesting. The author points out that the
image of the Indian, as far as the emigrants were concerned, was both
simplistic and superficial. Many of the tales that the travellers heard
were just false, and the majority of the wagon trains 'encountered no overt
threat of attack while passing through present day Nebraska and Wyoming'.
Bob Munkres is both a fine writer and a thorough researcher and as
a result his articles are a joy to read. Unlike general histories of the
great 19th century western migration, the author, by dealing with a
selection of topics is able to bring the reader into direct contact with
those who undertook the sometimes perilous journey across the continent, so
that those who appear in several of the chapters soon become 'old friends'
and we are able to follow their journeys with added interest as they pass
the various land marks on the trail.
This book is a notable achievement and should be read and studied
by all westerners interested in the exploration and development of the
Tom Wanless, Editor
THE TALLY SHEET
English Westerners Society
Reprinted from the Tombstone Epitaph • Box 1880 • Tombstone, AZ 85638 • 520-457-2211