Twenty-Five Years Among the Indians and Buffalo: A Frontier Memoir, by William D. Street (edited by Warren R. Street), University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, 2015, $29.95
In the early 20th century William D. Street (1851–1911) decided to write a memoir of his years as an early settler in northwestern Kansas. It took more than a century, and the efforts of a dedicated great-grandson, to finally get his stories published.
You might understand the reluctance of an early 20th-century publisher to accept such a manuscript. Even though Street had been a newspaper editor, his prose could wax a mite purple, he had a tendency to “overshare” and, well, he wasn’t exactly a household name. Thankfully, Warren Street, a professor emeritus at Central Washington University, and the University Press of Kansas have seen to it that Twenty-Five Years Among the Indians and Buffalo is available for anyone interested in frontier Kansas.
While Street could have used a solid editor, his memoir is certainly worth reading for its vivid details about hunting buffalo, fighting lice, trapping beaver, killing rattlesnakes in the winter, poisoning wolves, herding cattle and removing a foreign substance from one’s eye with horsehair. And there’s a wild and woolly description of that “hilarious outpost of Western civilization,” Hays City. Street provides a lengthy but often fascinating account of 1861–78 western Kansas.
—Johnny D. Boggs