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Mr. Williams delivers it all. I have never read a book that gave me a stronger sense that the author knew everything available to be known about his subject. The trouble is, he tells it. Mr. Williams is preeminently an accumulator of facts, and less eminently a writer. He will serve up troop movements as if they were a delicacy: “On April 9, 1868, Company K, Ninth Cavalry, left Stockton for Fort Davis, but new troops soon arrived, including Company D, Ninth Cavalry, on April 17, Company G, Forty-First Infantry, on April 21. . . ” And so on, for half a page. Facts, however minor or however dull, take precedence over landscape, atmosphere, setting, personality, interpretation, and irony. Nevertheless the latter do creep in, and help a lot. Also many of the facts are interesting. Building those up-tight frontier forts wasn’t easy. The foundation stones, the logs, the lime for mortar, had to be brought long distances from different places. The wagon drivers who supplied the forts from San Antonio operated what amounted to mulepowered freight trains. They might have thirty wagons, each drawn by fourteen or eighteen mules and carrying 14,000 pounds of freight. The rate was $1.52 to haul a hundred pounds a hundred miles. Flour cost little in the 1870’s, but getting a hundred-pound bag of it to Fort Stockton cost $5.48. Fortunately much food was grown, or shot, locally. Fort Stockton’s irrigated vegetable garden often produced more than the soldiers could eat. The surplus was sold to travelers. If you read this book, I suggest you keep a tally of the murders. Not the killings in Indian skirmishes and Civil War incidents; I mean the murders of one private citizen by another over water rights, brands, business deals, and barroom arguments. The men of Fort Stockton cherished the right to keep and bear arms, and they killed each other with them at a great rate. At an important trial, Judge 0. W. Williams, the author’s father, was asked by a Texas Ranger, “Shall we disarm the prisoner?” Judge Williams replied, “I guess not, for if we did, he would probably be the only unarmed man in my court.” The 1880 census for Pecos County showed 1,689 citizens. I suspect that in many of the following fifteen years the murder rate per thousand of population surpassed anything Houston has yet achieved. But there were also amenities and decencies. One of the 35 photographs shows couples dancing on a board floor under shade trees. The women wear bustles and floor-length dresses, and one of the musicians plays a harp: it’s a Trans-Pecos Renoir. Mr. Williams gives a brief, appealing portrait of the goodhearted merchant and saloonkeeper Herman Koehler, who loaned money in a spirit of helpfulness and nearly always got it back. Mr. Koehler marked the prices clearly on his goods, and never lowered them. “By God don’t take it” he said to people who thought something was priced too high. In his saloon ” . . he spread quilts and blankets on the floor for the men, sometimes as many as twenty or thirty, who wanted to spend the night or were too inebriated to leave.” Fort Stockton had one rentable bedroom, but only a sick man or a district judge was allowed to occupy it. There are some astonishing sentences. As Mr. Williams narrates the murder of one Fort Stockton citizen by another, he twelve years of age, was seated in a privy when she heard the shot.” A man named Shipton Parkes, he says, “died from a malignancy of the right eyelid, and his mourning friends had an impressive funeral ceremony for him.” Is there comedy in the story of two men who killed each other with pistols in a barroom argument and were buried companionably in the same grave? Surely there is in the confusion of a band of Indians who came upon a brand-new railroad embankment, straight as a ruler from horizon to horizon, and took it for earthworks with a mighty army on the other side. And fascination, at least, in the climactic event of the book, the murder of Pecos County’s villainous sheriff by a public-spirited citizen who remains unidentified to this day. These and a few other items are the plums, as far as I am concerned, in a pie that is otherwise none too tasty. I don’t quite know what to make of this book. Should we commend Mr. Williams for thoroughness, accuracy, and dedication beyond the call of what a reader can bear, or reprehend him for giving so little attention to selection and arrangement? Is this really a history of Fort Stockton and the Trans-Pecos, or chiefly \(as the Index Pecos County? Should the Texas A&M University Press be rebuked for bringing out a twenty-dollar book whose very syntactical shambles? It’s hard to say who will like it and who will not, once you’ve got past the genealogists and the hardshell devotees of military history and of Texas history. If you’re not in either of those categories, you must decide whether you want to dig a lively and colorful 200-page story out of Mr. Williams’ 457-page conglomerate. Fine Food and Drink located behind the historic Tarpon Inn, Port Aransas. The $10 Program We invite organizations and individuals to sell new one-year Observer subscriptions. For each subscription the selling organization or individual will receive $10 commission. Like most publications, the Observer spends almost that obtaining a new subscription by mail. We prefer, however, that the money go to hard-working groups or individuals instead of to the post office and paper companies. Organizations and individuals authorized to sell subscriptions under the program will be provided with forms and sample copies. The only requirement is that individuals who wish to try this must have their own subscription paid up at the regular $20 rate. Commissions on subscriptions to be billed will be paid on receipt of the bill payment. 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