Literature.Whether the first writers in Kansas, writing of Kansas, can be called makers of literature, is a question that involves the technique of higher criticism. However that may be, the young journalists who arrived in the first immigrant train, armed with pencils and ink, and filled with literary aspirations, are deserving of notice. Some of these men came to edit newspapers in the cause of freedom. Others as correspondents for the eastern press. All contributed toward the recording of state history, and these descriptions of early pioneer life reveal the atmosphere and spirit of the time more picturesquely than later narratives. A nearly complete collection of these compositions can be found in the scrap books of T. H. Webb, now in possession of the State Historical Society. Among these who became editors were R. G. Elliott, G. W. Brown, John A. Martin, John Speer, D. W. Wilder, T. D. Thacher, Sol. Miller, G. W. Martin, D. R. Anthony, M. M. Mitrock and Jacob Stotler. The foremost names among the journalists are: Richard J. Hinton, James Redpath, W. A. Phillips, A. D. Richardson, J. H. Kaga, Nicholas Smith, T. H. Gladstone, Douglas Brewerton and T. H. Higginson.
Another newspaper correspondent, and one who achieved much distinction through his proficient verse making, was Richard Realf, said to have been a relative of Lord Byron. In 1889 Richard J. Hinton published a collection of Realf's poems. The interest of eastern editors, literary men and song bards, promoted in Kansas further literary growth. Dr. William Herbert Carruth, in his bibliography of Kansas books, shows twenty-three numbers between 1854 and 1860. During these years a number of books were published under the auspices of the New England Emigrant Aid society. These books were descriptive of the territory and its advantages. One was "Kansas, Its Exterior and Interior Life," written by Mrs. Sara T. D. Robinson of Lawrence. The simplicity and directness of style characterize the book, making it the most notable of the period.
Between 1860 and 1870 the output of books decreased, there being issued ten less than in the preceding decade. The years of war and recuperation therefrom were not conducive to imaginative or poetical composition. However, one volume, both poetical and imaginative, "Osso, the Spectre 'Chieftain,'" an epic in eight cantos, was published by Evender C. Kennedy of Leavenworth in 1867. It is distinguished by being the first imaginative work produced in the state.
The flood of immigration during the years between the close of the Civil war and 1874, the "Grasshopper year," increased the development of towns, railroads and schools. The buoyancy and hopefulness of the people are expressed in the foundation of the Kansas Magazine in 1872, a literary journal of high merit. It is said to have used the Atlantic Monthly as its model, and to have fallen only a little short of its excellency. The first editor was Henry King, who possessed rare taste and the power to exercise it. His successor was James W. Steele. The shortage of suitable material made Mr. Steele's duties more difficult than those of Mr. King had been. He was often obliged to fill more than the space allotted to editorials, and this he did by stories written under the name of Deane Monahan, or some sketch written under his own name. The dearth of worthy composition brought an end to the Kansas Magazine, at the close of its second year. Among those who were introduced to the public through the columns of the Kansas Magazine are Rev. Charles Reynolds, Rev. James H. Defouri, Annie F. Burbank, D. L. Wyman, J. M. Roberts, M. H. Smallwood. Eurique Parmer, R. S. Eliot, Edward Schiller, Charles Robinson, Noble Prentis, M. W. Reynolds, Richard J. Hinton, John J. Ingalls and D. W. Wilder. Occasional contributions were received from well known writers outside the state, such as Walt Whitman and W. E. Channing. Those who wrote with highest literary merit were Mr. ingalls and Mr. Steele. Mr. Ingalls gave up literature for politics, but his mastery of language made many regret that he did not devote his life to a literary career. His power of invective, his conception of beauty, his highly developed sense of humor and keen insight of character gave his orations picturesqueness, originality and magnificence. An appreciation of the beautiful and a skill with words necessarily made him a poet. After his death Mrs. ingalls published his essays, addresses and orations, dedicating them to the people of Kansas. Mr. Steele, another Kansan of ability, wrote some very good stories, among them "The Sons of the Border," "Cuban Sketches," "Frontier Army Sketches," "To Mexico by Palace Car" and "Old California Days."
Only a few volumes were published in the late '70s, the most important of which is the "Annals of Kansas," an invaluable chronicle of Kansas events by D. W. Wilder of Hiawatha. In 1878 Noble L. Prentis, who bears the reputation of humorist, produced "A Kansan Abroad," the first of his entertaining volumes. His later books are "Southern Letters," "Southwestern Letters," "History of Kansas" and "Kansas Miscellanies." The year 1885 witnessed the publication of Edgar W. Howe's "The Story of a Country Town," Eugene F. Ware's "Rhymes of Ironquill," Leverett W. Spring's "History of Kansas," and several other volumes of lesser value. "The Story of a Country Town," by Mr. Howe, as a realistic novel possesses more than local interest, and, while gloomy, has true literary merit. The effect of this book is attained by a direct truthfulness with which he portrays the conditions of a country town, and through his powerful descriptions and keen delineation of character. Mr. Howe (q. v.) was editor of the Atchison Globe from the date of its foundation to Jan., 1911. His pointed paragraphs, called "Globesights," were widely read and copied.
The poems of Mr. Ware are mostly lyrical in nature and often express an exuberant fancy, a quick sight for social and professional shams, a whimsical sympathy for the dumb patience of toil and a vigorous enthusiasm for the "strenuous life." "The Washerwoman's Song" is well known throughout the land. Mr. Spring's "Kansas: The Prelude to the War for the Union," in the American Commonwealth Series, is the first unprejudiced history of the state. It is a scholarly, dignified narrative from an unbiased point of view. Another book of this same year is "Annabel and Other Poems" by Ellen P. Allerton. Her "Walls of Corn" is the best known of the collection.
The period from 1885 to 1895 is a very prolific one in Kansas books, showing an accelerated interest in literary activity. Among the books are the first one from the pen of Col. Henry Inman "In The Van of Empire," Osmond's "Sulamith," Sheldon's "Robert Bruce," Cole's "The Auroraphone," Blackmar's "Spanish Institutions of the Southwest," Chittendon's "The Pleroma," Florence Kelly's "Francis," Mill's "The Sod House in Heaven," Woodward's "Old Wine in New Bottles," Nina Morgan's "A Slumber Song," "Letters" by Charles F. Scott, George R. Peck's "The Nation and the Soldier, and other addresses," W. Peffer's "The Farmer's Side," Moody's "The Song of Kansas," and Cree's "Direct Legislation."
In 1891 "The Agora," a Kansas Magazine, appeared under the auspices of certain men of Salina and Abilene, chief among whom were Messrs. Dewey, Phillips, Chittenden and Bishop, with T. E. Dewey as editor. It had as contributors the best writers of the state, but financially was unsuccessful. Though a creditable magazine "The Agora" did not achieve at any time during its five years of publication the excellent standard of the first Kansas Magazine. Albert Bigelow Paine of Fort Scott made frequent contributions to its columns. In 1893, with Mr. White, he published a volume of verse, entitled "Poems by Two Friends." He achieved later success by writing nonsense rhymes for children. His works are: "Garbiel," a poem; "The Mystery of Evelin Delorme; A Hypnotic Story," "The Dumpies," "The Hollow Tree" and "The Arkansaw Bear." Miss Florence Snow of Neosho Falls may be mentioned in connection with "The Agora." She issued a volume of sonnets, "The Lamp of Gold," in 1896.
It was not until many years later that another Kansas magazine was started. In 1908, however, a Kansas Magazine company was formed with Thomas Blodgett as president; William Allen White, vice-president, and F. M. Cole, secretary. The first number of this publication came out in Jan., 1909.
The period from 1895 to 1910 produced the most brilliant work of native writers. Nearly every field of literature was invaded by Kansas men. In 1896 William Allen White of Emporia, in his paper, the Emporia Gazette, wrote an editorial entitled "What is the matter with Kansas." The week following he was famous and has remained so since through compositions of a more serious nature. "The Real Issue," a book of Kansas stories, was published that same year. "The Court of Boyville" came out in 1899 and met with immediate success. The people of whom he writes are Emporia people, Kansas people, humanity at large. His provincial friends are cosmopolitan. His greatest work is a novel entitled "A Certain Rich Man," published in 1909. The theme is a modern one in that it treats of a poor boy who reaches the pinnacles of wealth by a continued sacrifice of honor and friends. The moral note is held throughout the book, good conquering evil in the end. During the first eighteen months of publication 75,000 copies were sold.
Col. Henry Inman (q. v.) is best known as the author of "The Old Santa Fe Trail," which was published in 1897. The story is a thrilling narrative of that famous highway reaching from Independence, Mo., to Santa Fe, New Mex., which was a scene of frequent conflict between traders and Indians. Mr. Inman is said to have spent forty years on the plains and in the Rocky mountains, and was familiar with all the famous men, both white and red, whose lives have made the story of the trail. He has written a great deal about the adventures of the early days in the west. His tales are historically invaluable because they depict the customs of a highly colored life just past.
An author of wholly different type is the Rev. Charles M. Sheldon of Topeka, whose sermon stories are read throughout the world. A few years ago Mr. Sheldon adopted the method of giving his evening sermon in the form of fiction. These sermons later were put in book form and published, carrying a lesson of right living to those beyond his church doors. The value of his books is more ethical than literary. Among the books written are: "The Twentieth Door," "Robert Hardy's Seven Days," "Malcom Kirk," "One of the Two," "The Miracle of Markham," "His Brother's Keeper," "John King's Question Class," "The Redemption of Freetown" and "In His Steps," which is the one of largest circulation.
In "The Journey of a Jayhawker" is found an interesting collection of letters published by William Yost Morgan in 1905: These were written by Mr. Morgan for the Hutchinson Daily News, of which paper he is editor, during his sojourn in Europe. They are written in a happy humor and are more than the impressions of an ordinary tourist.
Dr. William Herbert Carruth of Lawrence has published a little volume of poems of unusual grace and merit. His "Each in his Own Tongue" is one of the best poems lately written. Mr. Carruth has an insight of beauty and a keenness of expression that marks all his poetical work. He does not follow literature as a profession, being the head of the German department in the University of Kansas, and the time not given to teaching has been employed in compiling textbooks, making translations, and writing gems of literature.
Esther Clarke's poem, "The Call of Kansas," has received favorable comment from critics. She has published a volume entitled "Verses by a Commonplace Person." Margaret Hill McCarter, in her "Price of the Prairie," published in 1910, depicts the conflict of Indians and whites in early days of Kansas. It is a mild love story built up with good description of the plains before civilization. Mrs. McCarter also wrote "The Cottonwood's Story," "The Cuddy Baby," "The Peace of Solomon Valley," biography, text-books and miscellanies.
There are a number of Kansas men who have written books that can scarcely be classed as literature, yet are deserving of notice. A group of these books that are of interest to Kansans are those published by William Elsey Connelley of Topeka. His principal works are "The Life of John Brown," "Quantrill and his Border Wars," "Fifty Years in Kansas: a brief sketch of George Martin," "The Provisional Government of Nebraska Territory," "The Journals of William Walker," "Overland Stage to California" and the "Memoirs of John J. Ingalls." Another group are those by Dr. Frank Wilson Blackmar on sociology, economics, and history. In his last book Mr. Blackmar departed from his usual subjects and wrote a biography, "The Life of Charles Robinson," the first state governor of Kansas. It is a splendid portrait of Mr. Robinson and is written with the fine literary spirit that is shown in all his works. Among his other books are "Elements of Sociology," "Economics," "The Story of Human Progress" and "Spanish Colonization in the Southwest."
Among those men who have compiled text-books are Edgar H. S. Bailey,, who wrote "A Laboratory Guide to the Study of Qualitative Analyses," and a text-book of "Sanitary and Applied Chemistry."
Herbert Spencer Carruth, previously mentioned, wrote "Woman's Suffrage in Kansas," made translations of Ekkehard by J. V. von Scheffel, William Tell by Schiller, and the Legends of Genesis by Hermann Gunkel. He also edited Auswahl aus Luther's Deutschen Schriften, and Wallenstein.
Mr. Ephraim Miller has "A Treatise on Plane and Spherical Trigonometry," published in 1891. Prof. Frank H. Hodder is author of "The Government of the People of the State of Kansas," and has a History of Oregon in press. Another Kansas work is L. L. Dyche's "Campfires of a Naturalist; the story of fourteen expeditions after North American Mammals," edited by Clarence F. Edwards. Samuel John Hunter is author of "Coccidae of Kansas." Lucius Elmer Sayre wrote "A Manual of Organic Materia Medica and Pharmacognosy," An introduction to the Study of the Vegetable Kingdom and the Vegetable and Animal Drugs. Dr. Arthur Tappan Walker is the author of Latin text-books entitled "Bellum Helveticum" and "Caesar."
A book of agricultural industry is Foster Dwight Coburn's "The book of Alfalfa, its history, cultivation and merit," and Walter Mason of Emporia published a volume of prose poems in 1912. Prof. Boodin of the University of Kansas published a book on "Truth and Reality," which was published in 1911.Pages 171-176 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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