Selected Items from Go West, Young Man (or Woman)

The Juvenile Gem

New York: Huestis & Cozans, [1850-1852]

Huestis & Cozans were New York publishers who specialized in children’s books from about 1845 to 1860. The Juvenile Gem consists of seven stories, each with a separate title page, including “The Pretty Primer,” “Old Mother Mitten and Her Funny Kitten,” “Story of the Little Drummer,” “The Picture Book,” “The Funny Book,” and “The Two Sisters.” But our favorite is “The Adventures of Mr. Tom Plump,” a comic overland narrative, told in pictures. Tom, our hero, runs away from home, dreaming of gold and riches in California. As a result of his journey and adventures in the West he loses weight as well as his newly-found fortune. He returns to his home in the East, marries, and gains back all his lost pounds. He then dies by falling off a bridge and drowning. We are not aware of the moral of the tale!

H. de Chavannes de la Giraudière

Les Petits Voyageurs en Californie

Tours: A. Mame et Cie, 1853

This children’s story centers on a Frenchman, transfixed by the Gold Rush, who travels from Le Havre to search for gold in California. He has two boys with him; they go to San Francisco in 1848 via New York, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Panama Canal. The book describes their adventures, their labors in the mines, and their accounts of mining life. The eight fine plates depict scenes of mining life as well as a view of San Francisco.

Cowan, p. 837. 35 Decker 683. Jones 1298.

Dr. Dietrich

The German Emigrants: or, Frederick Wohlgemuth’s Voyage to California by Dr. Dietrich. Translated by Leopold Wray

Guben: Printed by F. Fechner, [1852?]

German literary travel account of a Prussian boy, Fred Wolgemuth, his family, and their emigration to California during the Gold Rush era, illustrated with eight hand-colored lithographs. The episodes recounted in the text include a gruesome wreckage of a Portuguese slave ship and an unsuccessful attempt to free a group of blacks in Havana. Arriving in San Francisco, Fred and the ship’s captain join the hordes searching for gold in the mountains. Overcoming encounters with robbers, they finally strike it rich at the book’s happy ending. References to Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, at the height of its popularity in 1852, as well as to the San Francisco fire of 1851, strongly suggest a publication date of ca. 1852. “Leopold Wray” is a pseudonym for Clara de Chatelain (1807-1876), the translator.

Gumuchian I, 2204. R.E. Cowan and R.G. Cowan, A Bibliography of the History of California 1510-1930, 169

Alice Bradley Haven, 1827-1863

"All’s Not Gold That Glitters.” Or, The Young Californian. By Cousin Alice

New-York: D. Appleton & Co., 1865

Part of the “Home Books” series by “Cousin Alice” and first published in 1853.

Sam Gilman accompanies his father to California gold fields where Mr. Gilman dreams of finding instant wealth to support his family. Alice Bradley Haven was born in Hudson, New York in 1827. She was a prolific author of juvenile fiction, often "fusing domesticity and Christian virtue" [see Blain et al. Feminist Companion to Literature in English, p. 499].

Sophie May, 1833-1906.

Dotty Dimple Out West

Boston: Lee and Shepard; New York: Lee, Shepard and Dillingham, 1869

“Sophie May” was the pseudonym of Rebecca Sophia Clarke. Born in Norridgewock, Maine, she grew up there and was educated at the Norridgewock Female Academy. At 18, she moved to Evansville, Indiana, and taught school for 10 years. She developed hearing problems, however, and returned to Norridgewock in 1861, living the rest of her life there with her sister. She was a prolific author (over 45 books for children), many of which are still in print. She drew her characters not as paragons of goodness but with realism and humor. There were six books in the Dotty Dimple series. “Out West” in this case means Indiana.

Sarah Schoonmaker Baker, 1824-1906

The Children on the Plains. A Story of Travel and Adventure in the Great Prairies of North America

London, Edinburgh, New York, T. Nelson and Sons, 1873

“The circumstances wrought into the following story, are true incidents of a real journey across the ‘Plains.’ It may therefore be relied on as a fair picture of such a journey, some ten years ago.” Adventures overland from Ohio to California, first published in 1865. In the 1953 edition of Wagner-Camp, it is noted that this may be written from true incidents of overland travel but “with the usual mawkishness of children’s books of that period.”

Wagner-Camp, 425

Mrs. Newman

The Golden Dawn and Other Stories by May Wentworth

New York & San Francisco: A. Roman, 1870

Bret Hart reviewed this book and two other titles by California writers, Clara Dolliver’s The Candy Elephant and Other Stories for Children and “Aunt Florida’s” Phebe Travers in the Overland Review (Dec. 1869). He was not impressed by Wentworth’s work: “The Golden Dawn is a collection of stories with a Spanish nomenclature and a conventional New England sentiment, and a singular absence of the Spanish California local color. But there are faires, shrines, senoritas, and what not—and a great deal of that popular sentiment which passes for poetry, as well as that popular poetry which passes for sentiment ….”

Joseph Edward Badger, 1848-1909

Jack Rabbit, the Prairie Sport, or, The Wolf Children of the Llano Estacado by Joseph E. Badger, Jr.

New York: Beadle & Adams, Publishers, 1876.

Badger began contributing Dime Novels to journals like the New York Weekly and other Beadle & Adams publications from as early as 1870, mostly under his own name or as “Harry Hazard.” He was astonishingly prolific, writing over 350 juveniles, such as Night-hawk Kit: or, The daughter of the ranch (1871); Old Bull's-Eye, the lightning shot of the plains (1876); The prairie ranch: or, The young cattle herders (1882), and Mustang Sam: or, The mad rider of the plains. A romance of Apache land (1874).

The dime novels were a commodity like any other in the Gilded Age, meant for mass distribution and consumption, and they were extremely influential in creating the mythic west, leading in due course in the 20th century to western movies, radio programs, and TV shows.

Noah Brooks, 1830-1903

The Boy Emigrants

New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1876

Brooks was a journalist and editor who worked for newspapers in Sacramento, San Francisco, Newark, and New York, and authored a major biography of Abraham Lincoln based on close personal observation. Born in Castine, Maine, he moved to Dixon, Illinois, in 1856, where he became involved in the first Republican campaign for President (John Frémont). During the campaign, he became friends with Lincoln. Brooks moved to Kansas in 1857 as a "free state" settler, but returned to Illinois about a year later, then moved to California in 1859. After the death of his wife in 1862, Brooks moved to Washington, D.C. to cover the Lincoln administration for the Sacramento Daily Union. He was accepted into the Lincoln household as an old friend. In addition to western stories, Brooks also wrote early baseball novels for boys.

Alice Kingsbury, d. 1910

Ho! for Elf-Land! By Alice Kingsbury

San Francisco: A.L. Bancroft and Company, 1877

According to her obituary, “Mrs. Cooley was a native of Bristol, England, but came to America with her parents when a child, the family settling in Cincinnati. She was married in that city to Horace Kingsbury. She made her stage debut in the early 60's, winning considerable fame in San Francisco. She played throughout the country in various roles, winning distinction in Shakespeare's plays. Mrs. Cooley was also a well known writer of prose and verse and had several volumes of her writings published. She was the mother of eight children and the stepmother of three others.”

Arthur Morecamp, d. 1882

Live Boys: or, Charley and Nasho in Texas. A Narrative Relating to Two Boys of Fourteen, One a Texan, the other a Mexican. Showing Their Life on the Great Texas Cattle Trail, and Their Adventures in the Indian Territory, Kansas, and Northern Texas. Embracing Many Thrilling Adventures Taken Down From Charley’s Narrative by Arthur Morecamp

Boston: Lee and Shepard; New York: C. T. Dillingham, 1878

The title says it all! “Arthur Morecamp” is a pseudonym for Thomas Pilgrim, who was an attorney in Austin.

Adams, Herd 1572; Dobie, p. 113. Graff 3294. Howes M790

Theodora Robinson Jenness, 1847-

Two Young Homesteaders

Boston: D. Lothrop & Co., 1880

Jenness was born and educated in Maine. She married her husband, Major George Jenness in Ottawa, Kansas, in 1872, where she was engaged in mission work among the Indians in the west. She wrote an article on “The Indian Territory” in 1879 for The Atlantic Monthly, based on her experiences. From 1894 on, she worked with the Cheyenne Sioux in South Dakota, publishing Piokee and Her People (1894); Above the Range, A Story for Girls (1896); and Big and Little Sisters: The Story of an Indian Mission School (1909).

Hendrik Conscience, 1812-1883

The Boys of the Sierras, or, The Young Gold Hunters: A Story of California in ‘49

Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1883

Conscience, a Belgian, wrote over 100 novels for children and adults, most set in Europe but a few, like The Boys of the Sierras, set in the New World. It was published first, in Dutch, in 1862: Het Goudland: lotgevallen van dry Vlamingen die naer Californië vaerden om goud te zoeken and has remained in print, in Dutch, ever since. The English translation appeared in 1883 and was reprinted several times in the 19th century.

Samuel L. Clemens, 1835-1910

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer’s Comrade). Scene, the Mississippi Valley. Time, Forty to Fifty Years Ago. By Mark Twain.

New York: Charles L. Webster and Co., 1885

While today we think of Huckleberry Finn as a great work of literature (which it is) it is also important to remember that when the first edition was published, Huckleberry Finn was first known as a popular “boy’s book” (directly linked to its predecessor, Tom Sawyer) and it was placed firmly within the conventions of American children’s books of the 1880s: with a decorative cloth binding and “with one hundred and seventy-four illustrations.” The geographic location allowed Mark Twain to explore as well many of the myths, motifs, and literary techniques of the Old Southwest.

BAL 3415

Margaret Sidney, 1844-1924

The Golden West As Seen by the Ridgway Club, by Margaret Sidney

Boston: D. Lothrop and Company [1886]

“Margaret Sidney” was the pen-name of Harriett Mulford Stone Lothrop. A native of New Haven, Connecticut, she was the author of over thirty children’s books and is perhaps best-known for the wildly successful Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, which was first published in 1881 and has never gone out of print. After her husband, Daniel Lothrop, died in 1892, Harriett took over the management of his publishing firm, D. Lothrop.

Frances Courtenay Baylor, 1848-1920

Juan and Juanita

Boston and New York, Houghton, Mifflin, 1887

"This story of two unfortunate fortunates … is true in its essential facts. That is, two Mexican children were really captured some years since on the other side of the Rio Grande by the Indians, and carried off to the Llanos Estacados. After four years spent in captivity they made their escape, and safely accomplished the almost impossible and truly incredible feat of walking three hundred miles and more through virgin wilds …” Baylor was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas (her father was an Army officer), and the author of at least seven other novels. She lived most of her later life in Winchester, Virginia.

Barbara Hofland, 1770-1844

The Stolen Boy: A Story, Founded on Facts. By Mrs. Hofland.

New York: Hurst, [1880s?]

This fairly conventional children’s novel recounts the story of Manuel’s three years in Comanche captivity after his kidnapping from his parent’s home near San Antonio, Texas. It ends when Manuel escapes to Natchitoches and is finally reunited with his parents in Savannah, Georgia, on his twelfth birthday. This story was first published in abbreviated form in the Juvenile Souvenir (1828) and in book form in London (1829). The work was republished in English many times and translated into French, Spanish, and German.

Albert W. Aiken

Injun Paul; or, The Prairie Cat. An Arizona Romance. A Strange Story of Strange Adventure in a Strange Country

New York: G. Munro, 1892

First printed in 1874; reprinted in 1892 as No. 8 in the Boys’ Dashaway series.

The publisher George Munro rivaled Beadle and Adams as a purveyor of popular fiction.

Edward Sylvester Ellis, 1840-1916

The Great Cattle Trail

Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, [1894]

Ellis wrote at least 150 novels, the most famous of which was probably Seth Jones, for Beadle & Adams, 1861. This story begins: “Avon Burnet, at the age of eighteen, was one of the finest horsemen that ever scurried over the plains of Western Texas, on his matchless mustang Thunderbolt.”

Harry Castlemon, 1842-1915

Frank in the Mountains

Philadelphia: Henry T. Coates & Co., [1896]

“Harry Castlemon” was the nom de plume of Charles Austin Fosdick, one of the most prolific writers of adventure stories for boys. He published at least 60 books, most of which were continuously reprinted, including the adventures of the eponymous “Frank,” who appears in Frank on a Gun-boat (1864); Frank Before Vicksburg (1864); Frank on the Lower Mississippi (1867); Frank, the Young Naturalist (1864); Frank on the Prairie (1869); Frank in the Mountains (1864); Frank in the Woods (1865); Frank Among the Rancheros (1865); Frank at Don Carlos' Rancho (1868). Frank solves most problems with Yankee ingenuity and superior firepower. Fosdick once remarked: “Boys don't like fine literature. What they want is adventure, and the more of it you can get in two-hundred-fifty pages of manuscript, the better fellow you are.”

Kirk Munroe, 1850-1930

With Crockett and Bowie, or, Fighting for the Lone-Star Flag. A Tale of Texas

New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1898

Munroe led an interesting life. Born in Wisconsin, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts as a young boy. He became a reporter for the New York Sun and was the first editor of Harper’s Young People, 1879-1881. He wrote over 30 novels for young readers and spent much of his time traveling, yachting, and playing tennis in New York and Florida.

Henry Inman, 1837-1899

The Delahoydes: Boy Life on the Old Santa Fé Trail by Colonel Henry Inman

Topeka, Kan.: Crane & company, 1899

Inman was an Army officer and writer. He enlisted in 1857, serving in Oregon and California. He was transferred east in 1861 with the 17th Infantry and came out of the Civil War a captain. After the war, he had difficulties squaring his accounts as a quartermaster and was eventually dismissed from the service. He entered journalism in 1878 and wrote western stories both for adults and children. He died in Topeka.

Genevra Sisson Snedden, 1873-

Docas, the Indian Boy of Santa Clara

Boston: D.C. Heath & Co., 1904

First printed in 1899. Snedden was a student at Stanford, studying education in the class of 1898. In the preface, she writes: What sort of people do you like best to read about—white people or Indians? I think you will say Indians, because all the children of whom I have ever asked this question have said that they liked best to read about Indians. Indians do everything so differently from the way we do that they are always interesting. This book which we are now going to read is about Indians, the Indians who lived near the Pacific Ocean before our grandfathers were born, and before we Americans came west and settled the country. Do you like best to read about grown-up people or about children? I think I can hear you say, What a question! Children, of course! Yes, children can have such fun, running and playing and finding out about all kinds of things for which grown people never have time, that it is much pleasanter to read about them.”

Margaret Vandercook, 1876-1958

The Ranch Girls at Home Again

Philadelphia: The John C. Winston Company, 1915

Part of the successful Ranch Girls series. Vandercook was also the author of books in the Camp Fire Girls series, the Girl Scouts series, and the Red Cross Girls series.

May Hollis Barton

Nell Grayson’s Ranching Days, or, A City Girl in the Great West

New York: Cupples & Leon, 1926

The Barton Books for Girls series consisted of 15 titles produced and marketed by the Stratemeyer Syndicate under the "May Hollis Barton" house name. The series was published by Cupples & Leon between 1926 and 1932. According to the publisher, “Showing how Nell, when she had a ranch girl visit her in Boston, thought her chum very green, but when Nell visited the ranch in the great West she found herself confronting many conditions of which she was totally ignorant. A stirring outdoor story.”  This particular theme goes back at least to Aesop’s fable of the city mouse and country mouse.

Go West, Young Man (or Woman)