sepia toned drawing of a desert scene

Vanished Arizona: Recollections of My Army Life

by Martha Summerhayes

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Born on October 21, 1844, Martha Summerhayes was raised in Nantucket, Massachusetts. She enjoyed two years abroad in Germany where she studied literature. She returned to the United States, and ultimately married a Civil War veteran, John Wyer Summerhayes, who was still actively serving in the US Army. Vanished Arizona is a work of her recollected memories of traveling with him and his regiment, across the desert, while pregnant, during the ‘Apache Wars.’ Summerhayes gives birth while on this journey and describes the difficulties of childbirth and aftercare in an unforgiving desert, with no real information available.

Summerhayes’ writing is reflective of her white, upper class attitudes, which some readers find reliable, while others find mired in prejudice. Either way, Summerhayes offers a very unique perspective of military life, and paints a very vivid portrayal of the complexities of travel, toilet, food, and medical care during the 1870s. This autobiographical account was published originally in 1908 to many accolades from both civilians and veterans. Summerhayes died on May 12, 1926, and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery with her husband, John.

The Pacific Typographical Society and the California Gold Rush of 1849

by Douglas C. McMurtrie

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The California Gold Rush really was a bonanza for more than miners. Between 1849 and 1855 more than $400 million dollars was gathered by the miners; once adjusted, it is a sum today reaching into the trillions. But those who provided for the miners shared and in some cases did better than the gold seekers. It was a social phenomenon marked by the carnivalesque. In Mark Twain’s Roughing It (1872), the protagonist remarks as his brother heads West,

“Pretty soon he would be hundreds and hundreds of miles away on the great plains and deserts, and among the mountains of the Far West, and would see buffaloes and Indians, and prairie dogs, an antelopes, and have all kinds of adventures, and may be get hanged or scalped, and have ever such a fine time, and write home and tell us all about it, and be a hero…And by and by he would become very rich, and return home by sea, and be able to talk as calmly about San Francisco and ocean, and ‘the isthmus’ as if it was nothing of any consequence to have seen those marvels face to face.”

Go they did to the Land of Golden Dreams, in the largest internal migration in American history, and the adventures and tragedies have created a large and memorable literature, of which this volume is an unusual example.

 

Narrative of Samuel Hancock: Adventure, Escape, and Massacre During the California Gold Rush

by Samuel Hancock, Introduction by Arthur D. Howden Smith

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This work is an unusual autobiography, chronicling the experiences of Samuel Hancock between 1845-60. It details his journey to Oregon, his frustrating attempts to mine for gold in California, and his dramatic time as a captive under Native Americans. Hancock would go on to become a trader with the Native Americans, having used his time while under captivity to study the ceremonial rituals, building styles, medical practices, and other facets of Native American culture. Perhaps somewhat sensational, it offers interesting insights on the mindset of colonizers like Hancock.

 

A Frenchman in the Gold Rush: The Journal of Ernest De Massey, Argonaut of 1849

by Ernest De Massey, Translated by Marguerite Eyer Wilbur

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Ernest De Massey arrived in the United States in 1849. He went to San Francisco, and became a retailer, since he had the capital and came from some wealth. However, the lure of the Gold Rush was too much for him, so he decided to close his shop and follow many of his customers into the mountains in hopes of striking it rich. He tried prospecting in multiple areas, including Klamath River. Like many, he left with empty pockets and dashed dreams, though he was very fortunate to have kept his health. Prospecting was very arduous, and frequently dangerous. De Massey only lasted five months before giving up, after falling seriously ill. He decided to return to San Francisco and the somewhat more stable life of an entrepreneur. But in 1857 he returned to Europe. De Massey’s fascinating first hand account illustrates how the Gold Rush mesmerized so many.

 

Illustrated Sketches of Death Valley: and Other Borax Deserts of the Pacific Coast

by John R. Spears

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John R. Spears was born in 1850 in Van Wert, Ohio. Though an inveterate traveler, particularly out west, he ended up residing in Little Falls, New York. He wrote a great deal, particularly for the
New York Sun, and his books include The Port of Missing Ships and Other Stories of the Sea (1896), The Story of Nee England Whalers (1908), and The Story of the American Merchant Marine (1910). A great deal had been written about life in gold and silver mining camps, as well as the terrain surrounding them. However, Spears felt less attention had been paid to the desert, and wanted to depict the life in Death Valley, which he described as, “a gruesome story of a rugged  country…a story, too, of apparent paradoxes and of wonders.” Spears’ photographs offer a useful historical record of Death Valley, its people and animals, as they were in the 1890s.

 

 

The Old Spanish Missions of California: A Historical and Descriptive Sketch

by Paul Elder

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There were twenty one Spanish missions in California, established between 1769 and 1833 by Catholic priests to spread Christianity. Paul Elder collected various snippets of California history and compiled it in this work with quotes from various primary sources and photographs of numerous missions across the state, which presents a romanticized view of their founding. This work only portrays a partial and sanitized tale of the Spanish missions in California and their impact. The missions relied on agriculture to fund themselves, and sought to convert and colonize the Native people and their land. Multiple rebellions against the missions occurred since the missionaries sought to destroy native culture, and in the process, they transmitted communicable diseases which killed thousands. Missions did not just exist in California, but also Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Florida.

 

Frontier Law: A Story of Vigilante Days

by William J. Connell

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Gold and blood, Indians and pioneers, criminals and vigilantes! These are terms that have captivated the imagination of America for generations. Nevertheless, authentic, first-hand accounts of the vigilantes have been few indeed. The reason is plain: no one who helped to dispense the rough and salutary justice of the frontier thought it discreet to tell what they knew. But after the passing of the years, when time healed many wounds, William J. McConnell, once Governor of Idaho and also United States Senator, came forth with a story that makes the blood leap. In matter-of-fact fashion, and as vividly as if he were relating events of the day before yesterday, he tells of the overland journey to the Coast, of placer mining in California shortly after the wild days of ‘49, of homesteading in Oregon, and of farming and prospecting in Idaho. Most unusual and interesting of all, he relates the inside story of the secret Vigilantes, who restored control of territorial affairs for the people of Idaho when criminals and their satellites in office had made a mockery of the processes of justice and government.   This edition is dedicated to John Cooper, bibliophile and ever curious scholar-enthusiast for American history and the story of Westward Movement.

Old Chinatown: Turn of the Century Photographs of San Francisco’s Chinatown

by Arnold Genthe and Will Irwin

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This volume is one of a number of Westphalia titles significant in the story of the not always happy and often controversial Chinese contact with Western society. In the American case, despite appreciation by scholars for Chinese civilization, cries against Chinese immigration began in response to the development of the transcontinental railroad that saw the arrival of immigrants exploited as cheap labor. The first restrictive Act passed on May 6, 1882, and was the start of a series of increasingly more restrictive laws against Chinese, such as the Act to Prohibit the Coming of Chinese Persons into the United States, known more popularly as the Geary Act of May 1892. It wasn’t until the Immigration Act of October 1965 when the exclusionary practices were lifted, despite President Truman’s signing of the Act to Repeal the Chinese Exclusion Acts, to Establish Quotas and for Other Purposes in December of 1943.

Songs of a Sourdough

by Robert W. Service

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Robert Service was born in 1874 and grew up in Scotland as the oldest of 10 siblings. Even as a child he craved excitement, but his energy was channeled into the quiet life of a bank clerk. He did enroll in the English Language and Literature program at the University of Glasgow, leaving after challenging a lecturer to a fistfight when the lecturer questioned Service’s ability despite his top grades. Bored, he departed for Canada. His family bought him a Buffalo Bill type outfit from an auction for the trip; not entirely practical but thoughtful! Once in Canada, Service traveled all the way across the country to Vancouver Island and ironically found himself working for the Canadian Bank of Commerce. The job allowed him to live his dreams of frontier life but without the hardships. It was in 1906 that he became a famous and well-paid poet with Songs of a Sourdough. Later, Service would write The Trail of Ninety-Eight, A Northland Romance, which would be produced as a movie in 1928 by MGM. He continued to write his whole life, penning Rhymes of a Red Cross Man (1912), Poisoned Paradise (1922), Why Not Grow Young? (1928) and Lyrics of a Lowbrow (1951). He died at his villa in France in 1958, the famous scribe of a frontier life that he profited enormously in describing but whose privations he avoided.

California Chinese Chatter

by Albert Dressler

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by Albert DresslerCalifornia Chinese Chatter contains telegrams sent in 1874 between Chinese citizens living in Downieville, California, and a court transcript of the murder trial of Ah Jake. It offers a unique view of the difficulties that Chinese immigrants had in the United SBookCoverImagetates, particularly in the midst of so much racism that eventually led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The California Gold Rush caused a spike in Chinese immigration, which was continued by the development of the first transcontinental railroad.

The California Gold Rush really was a bonanza. Between 1849 and 1855 the miners gathered more than $400 million dollars; once adjusted, it is a sum today reaching into the trillions. It was a social phenomenon marked by the carnivalesque. In his work Roughing It (1872) Mark Twain’s protagonist remarks as his brother heads West, “Pretty soon he would be hundreds and hundreds of miles away on the great plains and deserts, and among the mountains of the Far West, and would see buffaloes and Indians, and prairie dogs, an antelopes, and have all kinds of adventures, and may be get hanged or scalped, and have ever such a fine time, and write home and tell us all about it, and be a hero…And by and by he would become very rich, and return home by sea, and be able to talk as calmly about San Francisco and ocean, and ‘the isthmus’ as if it was nothing of any consequence to have seen those marvels face to face.”

Go they did to the Land of Golden Dreams, in the largest internal migration in American history, and the adventures and tragedies have created a large and memorable literature.

 

History of the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1851

by Mary Floyd Williams Ph.D.

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BookCoverImage-9Mary Floyd Williams gives a detailed account of the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance formed in 1851 (it was later reincarnated in 1856. Although the Committee, formed by a group of vigilantes, lasted only about three months, they were responsible for the hanging of at least eight accused and forced others to leave California. The offenses were not always grave—one person was hung by the Committee for stealing a safe from an office. The Committee circumvented due process by bringing suspects to their own offices instead of the police. Dr. Williams details the initial development of the organization and explains how rampant crime in San Francisco led to the formation of vigilante justice, and the societal repercussions.

W.T. Sherman, the militia commander at the time, subsequently a Civil War hero, wrote:

As [the vigilantes] controlled the press, they wrote their own history, and the world generally gives them the credit of having purged San Francisco of rowdies and roughs; but their success has given great stimulus to a dangerous principle, that would at any time justify the mob in seizing all the power of government; and who is to say that the Vigilance Committee may not be composed of the worst, instead of the best, elements of a community? Indeed, in San Francisco, as soon as it was demonstrated that the real power had passed from the City Hall to the committee room, the same set of bailiffs, constables, and rowdies that had infested the City Hall were found in the employment of the “Vigilantes.”

Gold Days: California During the Eventful Days of ’49

by Owen Cochran Coy

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The California Gold Rush really was a bonanza. Between 1849 and 1855 more than $400BookCoverImage-2 million dollars was gathered by the miners; once adjusted, it is a sum today reaching into the trillions. It was a social phenomenon marked by the carnivalesque. In Mark Twain’s Roughing It (1872), the protagonist remarks as his brother heads West, “Pretty soon he would be hundreds and hundreds of miles away on the great plains and deserts, and among the mountains of the Far West, and would see buffaloes and Indians, and prairie dogs, an antelopes, and have all kinds of adventures, and may be get hanged or scalped, and have ever such a fine time, and write home and tell us all about it, and be a hero…And by and by he would become very rich, and return home by sea, and be able to talk as calmly about San Francisco and ocean, and ‘the isthmus’ as if it was nothing of any consequence to have seen those marvels face to face.”

Go they did to the Land of Golden Dreams, in the largest internal migration in American history, and the adventures and tragedies have created a large and memorable literature.

Seventy Five Years in California: A History of Events and Life in California During the 1800s

by William Heath Davis

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Seventy-Five Years in California spans the 19th century, offering William Heath Davis’ view of California’s Pastoral Period. He gives readers a unique look at the disintegration of missions, the rise of the rancheros, the American Invasion, the Gold Rush and the adoption of the territory as a state. Davis himself had an interesting personal history, having been born in Hawaii in 1822, raised in Boston, traveled a great deal by sea, and became one of the most prominent mercBookCoverImage-2hants in San Francisco by 1845.
The California Gold Rush really was a bonanza. Between 1849 and 1855 the miners gathered more than $400 million dollars; once adjusted, it is a sum today reaching into the trillions. It was a social phenomenon marked by the carnivalesque. In his work Roughing It (1872) Mark Twain’s protagonist remarks as his brother heads West, “Pretty soon he would be hundreds and hundreds of miles away on the great plains and deserts, and among the mountains of the Far West, and would see buffaloes and Indians, and prairie dogs, an antelopes, and have all kinds of adventures, and may be get hanged or scalped, and have ever such a fine time, and write home and tell us all about it, and be a hero…And by and by he would become very rich, and return home by sea, and be able to talk as calmly about San Francisco and ocean, and ‘the isthmus’ as if it was nothing of any consequence to have seen those marvels face to face.”
Go they did to the Land of Golden Dreams, in the largest internal migration in American history, and the adventures and tragedies have created a large and memorable literature.

Vigilante Days and Ways: The Pioneers of the Rockies

by Nathaniel Pitt Langford

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Vigilante Days and Ways examines the difficulty of living in the region that would become Montana and Idaho during the mid-1800s. The work highlights the bloody history of the area by focusing on robbers and other criminals who would lie in wait along the craggy landscape of canyons, gulches and mountain passes. Stagecoaches, pack trains, express messengers and miners were all targeted by robbers. N. P. Langford also looks at the equally bloody means of enacting justice when the criminals were captured, either by law or by vigilantes.

The California Gold Rush really was a bonanza. Between 1849 and 1855 the miners gathered more than $400 million dollars; once adjusted, it is a sum today reaching into the trillions. It was a social phenomenon marked by the carnivalesque. In his work Roughing It (1872) Mark Twain’s protagonist remarks as his brother heads West, “Pretty soon he would be hundreds and hundreds of miles away on the great plains and deserts, and among the mountains of the Far West, and would see buffaloes and Indians, and prairie dogs, an antelopes, and have all kinds of adventures, and may be get hanged or scalped, and have ever such a fine time, and write home and tell us all about it, and be a hero…”

Go they did to the Land of Golden Dreams, in the largest internal migration in American history, and the adventures and tragedies have created a large and memorable literature.

The First Forty-Niner and the Story of the Golden Tea-Caddy

by James A. B. Scherer

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Samuel Brannan lived across the span of the nineteenth century in the United States. He is believed to have been the first millionaire created by the Gold Rush. Among other things, Brannan is also noted for founding the California Star newspaper, relocating with other Mormons from New York toThe First Forty-Niner and the Story of the Golden Tea-Caddy California, and running a store capitalizing on gold fever. The First Forty-Niner is centered around his life and offers one unique story about the impact of The Gold Rush.

The California Gold Rush really was a bonanza. Between 1849 and 1855 more than $400 million dollars was gathered by the miners; once adjusted, it is a sum today reaching into the trillions. It was a social phenomenon marked by the carnivalesque. In his work Roughing It (1872) Mark Twain’s protagonist remarks as his brother heads West, “Pretty soon he would be hundreds and hundreds of miles away on the great plains and deserts, and among the mountains of the Far West, and would see buffaloes and Indians, and prairie dogs, an antelopes, and have all kinds of adventures, and may be get hanged or scalped, and have ever such a fine time, and write home and tell us all about it, and be a hero…And by and by he would become very rich, and return home by sea, and be able to talk as calmly about San Francisco and ocean, and ‘the isthmus’ as if it was nothing of any consequence to have seen those marvels face to face.”

Go they did to the Land of Golden Dreams, in the largest internal migration in American history, and the adventures and tragedies have created a large and memorable literature.

Captain Bayley’s Heir: A Tale of the Gold Fields of California

by G. A. Henty

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George Alfred Henty (1832-1902) was born at Trumpington near Cambridge and attended Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge University. He became a war correspondent and covered the Austro-Italian War, the 1868 British invasion of Ethiopia, the Franco-Prussian War, the Ashanti Wars, the Turco-Serbian War and rebellions in Spain. When he turned to writing fiction, his young CaptainBayleyHeirFRONTCOVERprotagonists became known as “Henty heroes” because they exemplified the cool, calm, intelligent qualities that he identified with the public school-in the British sense of private boarding school-lads who served the Empire. He authored more than 122 novels.

Henty has been accused of jingoism and racism, but defenders can find examples that contradict that image. For example, in With Clive in India, a sympathetically described Indian servant marries a white woman, and in Freedom’s Cause the hero bitterly attacks the English and the English monarchy. Yet those are exceptions. Quite simply, as a man of his times, in ideology he was an imperialist who believed in the values of the British Empire. Importantly, he was also a great storyteller, which is why his books have survived. The Henty Society in England holds meetings at places central to his life and maintains a lively web site at hentysociety.org

Indian and Scout: A Tale of the Gold Rush to California

By F. S. Brereton, Illustrated by Cyrus Cuneo

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Frederick Sadleir Brereton (1852-1957) was a prolific author of children’s books, writing over forty tales of heroism. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War I. Brereton wrote a variety of stories, such as With Rifle and Bayonet: A Story of the Boer War (1900) and Under tIndianandScoutFRONTCOVERhe Star-Spangled Banner: A Tale of the Spanish-American War (1905), most of which focused on conflicts around the world. Indian and Scout is his imagining of the California Gold Rush.

The California Gold Rush really was a bonanza. Between 1849 and 1855 the miners gathered more than $400 million dollars; once adjusted, it is a sum today reaching into the trillions. It was a social phenomenon marked by the carnivalesque. In his work Roughing It (1872) Mark Twain’s protagonist remarks as his brother heads West, “Pretty soon he would be hundreds and hundreds of miles away on the great plains and deserts, and among the mountains of the Far West, and would see buffaloes and Indians, and prairie dogs, an antelopes, and have all kinds of adventures, and may be get hanged or scalped, and have ever such a fine time, and write home and tell us all about it, and be a hero…And by and by he would become very rich, and return home by sea, and be able to talk as calmly about San Francisco and ocean, and ‘the isthmus’ as if it was nothing of any consequence to have seen those marvels face to face.”

Go they did to the Land of Golden Dreams, in the largest internal migration in American history, and the adventures and tragedies have created a large and memorable literature.

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The Log of a Forty-Niner

by Carolyn Hale Russ

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Carolyn Hale Russ uses the diary and personal accounts of her father, Richard L. Hale, to discuss California exploration by settlers from 1849 to 1854. Russ highlights the land and ship excursions her father undertook in order to find adventure and gold. The Log of a Forty-Niner offers rich accounts and interesting illustrations to immerse a reader in the experiences of a fortune-seeker encountering the natural beauty of the West Coast.
LogofaFortyNinerFRONTCOVER
The California Gold Rush really was a bonanza. Between 1849 and 1855 the miners gathered more than $400 million dollars of gold; once adjusted, it is a sum today reaching into the trillions. It was a social phenomenon marked by the carnivalesque. In his work Roughing It (1872) Mark Twain’s protagonist remarks as his brother heads West, “Pretty soon he would be hundreds and hundreds of miles away on the great plains and deserts, and among the mountains of the Far West, and would see buffaloes and Indians, and prairie dogs, an antelopes, and have all kinds of adventures, and may be get hanged or scalped, and have ever such a fine time, and write home and tell us all about it, and be a hero…And by and by he would become very rich, and return home by sea, and be able to talk as calmly about San Francisco and ocean, and ‘the isthmus’ as if it was nothing of any consequence to have seen those marvels face to face.”

Go they did to the Land of Golden Dreams, in the largest internal migration in American history, and the adventures and tragedies have created a large and memorable literature.

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The Young Vigilantes: A Story of California Life in the 1850s

by Samuel Adams Drake

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The California Gold Rush really was a bonanza. Between 1849 and 1855 more than $400 million dollars was gathered by the miners; once adjusted, it is a sum today reaching into the trillions. It was a social phenomenon marked by the carnivalesque.

In his work Roughing It (1872) Mark Twain’s protagonist remarks as his brother heads YoungVigilantesFRONTCOVERWest, “Pretty soon he would be hundreds and hundreds of miles away on the great plains and deserts, and among the mountains of the Far West, and would see buffaloes and Indians, and prairie dogs, an antelopes, and have all kinds of adventures, and may be get hanged or scalped, and have ever such a fine time, and write home and tell us all about it, and be a hero…And by and by he would become very rich, and return home by sea, and be able to talk as calmly about San Francisco and ocean, and ‘the isthmus’ as if it was nothing of any consequence to have seen those marvels face to face.”
Go they did to the Land of Golden Dreams, in the largest internal migration in American history, and the adventures and tragedies have created a large and memorable literature. The Young Vigilantes tells a story of life on ship and land, centered around California during the Gold Rush.

Bohemian San Francisco: Its Restaurants and Their Most Famous Recipes

by Clarence E. Edwords

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Clarence E. Edwords’ book is both a culinary history that remains a reference and a reminder of just how different San Francisco has always been, despite how we think it just recently became the capital of the unconventional. Anthony Ashbolt quotes the familiar view of its contemporary Bohemianism as expressed by Jerry Kamstra in The Frisco Kid:

“San Francisco is not American; it’s what’s left of America. It’s the Great Wall of China of America’s forgotten promises! Here in San Francisco have gathered all of society’s children, space-age dropouts from the American dream, Horatio Algers in reverse, descending from riches to rags and gathering now on the corners of Grant and Green in their beads and spangles and marijuana smoke to watch the entire structure crumble.”

But on reading Edwords’ book one concludes that there has always been something very different and Bohemian about the place—food included.

Death Valley in ’49

by William Lewis Manly

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The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mills in California in 1848 caused thousands to give up their homes in Death Valley in '49 COVER FRONT ONLYthe eastern states and head West. To avoid the Sierra Mountains, which in winter could be deadly, a party led by William Lewis Manly (1820-1903) attempted to follow a trail that took them through Death Valley. Manly’s efforts to save the group are just part of his remarkable story, starting as a boy in New England and then Michigan and Wisconsin, having encounters with the Mormons, and being part of the expansion of America and the saga of California pioneer life with the demands of the mills and mines and the risks of illness and death.

Lariats and Lassos: Bernard S. Mason’s How to Spin a Rope

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By Bernard S. Mason

No self-respecting cowboy would refer to a lasso.  A rope was a rope. Roping was the activity and rope was the instrument.

However, the magic that could be worked fascinated Americans, and the Wild West Show for a time rivaled the circus as exciting entertainment in the nineteenth century. Fascinated, youngsters practiced Lariats and Lassos COVER FRONT ONLYat being Wild Bill Hickoks.  In a later era, Will Rogers entranced audiences with his rope tricks accompanying his famous monologues.

This short introduction to the basics of the lasso was almost a bible to generations of backyard enthusiasts. Certainly it is a reminder of a time when having fun did not require a flat screen.

Original How to Spin a Rope cover