Journal of an Expedition to the Grand Prairies of the Missouri, 1840

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Author: Fairholme, William (1819-1868)

Year: 1996

Publisher: Arthur H Clark Co

Place: Spokane


149pp with 14 drawings, bibliography and index. Edited by Jack B Tykal. Royal octavo (9 1/2" x 6 1/2") issued in brown cloth with dark brown lettering to spine and covers. 1st edition.

Lieutenant William Fairholme's journal of one of the first pleasure trips over the Santa Fe Trail, provides a keen observer's engaging look at western America in 1840. Fairholme and six fellow British officers left Montreal in late summer for a buffalo-hunting adventure that took them as far as present-day Larned, Kansas, on the Arkansas River. Their guide was renowned mountain man Etienne Provost and one of the hired men was Mark Head. Fairholme knew that Head was the man who had brought back the scalp of a horse thief to Sir William Drummond Stewart in 1834. Fairholme observed about Head, "We had all been prejudiced against him, as being an American.... However, with us nothing could be more satisfactory than his conduct". The Britisher's occasional criticisms of Americans were well taken, and he was lavish in his praise of the many hospitalities proffered. The United States Army officers in St. Louis "seemed very pleasant well informed men, great sportsmen, and with little or no Yankeeism about them".Among the great pleasures of this book are Fairholme's fourteen accomplished sketches that constitute one of the better extant pictorial records of the Santa Fe Trail, which received scant attention from other early artists. Equally adept are Fairholme's word pictures, which include one of the most vivid accounts of a prairie fire ever penned. The various hunting episodes also provide a thorough inventory of the types of game animals and birds found along the trail. The party met only a few Indians, who luckily were friendly. A sober footnote is that Fairholme's malaria was treated in Jefferson City with poisonous "mercury in quantities that would have astonished an English M.D.". Later another officer became desperately ill; "We had not much medicine with us, but fortunately were provided with some Mercury pills, which were the best thing he could take and of which we gave him several". The British and many Missourians did not know that frontier physician John Sappington had successfully used quinine since 1823, and his effective Anti-Fever Pills had been available wholesale since 1832.


Fine issued without jacket.

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