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Letters From Readers - April 2008 - Wild West

Originally published by Wild West magazine. Published Online: January 29, 2008 
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KNOWING NOSES

In the December 2007 issue of Wild West Magazine, the article "Quanah Parker Man of Two Worlds," by Richard Selcer, has a quote on the top of age 31 to wit: "He had the high cheekbones of his father's people and the blue eyes of his mother's, but his face was all Comanche, with a jutting brow and prominent Roman nose [italics mine]." From the accompanying pictures, I don't think by any stretch of the imagination that Quanah Parker was endowed with a "Roman nose."

Richard Klodt
Via e-mail

The editor responds: The quote came from "a contemporary observer" of the Comanche chief. I'm no nose expert, but you make a good point. Perhaps Quanah had his mother's nose, his mother being the white woman Cynthia Ann Parker (see photo below). I don't think anyone knows much about the nose of Quanah's father, Peta Nacona. I am told by so-called experts in the field that the great Lakota Chief Sitting Bull had a Roman nose. We offer you Quanah's nose and Sitting Bull's nose merely for the sake of comparison.

 

QUANAH QUEST

Great to see Quanah on the cover of your magazine and a good read about the man in Richard Selcer's article. Thought your readers should know that I, along with director Allison Anders, am developing a television series based on the life of Quanah Parker for a cable network. Importantly, the network is very supportive and seeks a high quality Western drama with a cinematic look and feel. As I write this, there's a writer's strike underway, but once the strike is over we'll be able to openly discuss the project and write the script. Once that is polished and given the green light, we'll be shooting the pilot, hopefully this spring. After that we'll have to bite our fingernails and hope advertisers like it enough to back it for a full 12-episode series. It's a bunch of hurdles, but we're all very dedicated to this story (as is the network) and expect to take it all the way.

A little background: I was born Terry Parker, in Dallas , and was always told I was a descendant of Quanah Parker. Of course, being a restless young person and a little on the rebellious side, I didn't really care until college at University of North Texas, where I did some research on Quanah and, though I didn't find any family connections, discovered and incredible story instead. We approached this story with no intention of it becoming a dose of medicine to ease guilt or a postcard full of cigar-store Indians. I insisted on an honest account of the life and death struggle of a variety of people who, at the time and place, collided head on. No soapboxes, just a good, authentic story with great characters like Quanah, Peta Nacona, Cynthia Ann, John Baylor, Robert Neighbors, Ranald Mackenzie and on and on. And some great locations, like the Flat, near Fort Griffin ; Deadwood couldn't hold a candle to the Flat. So that and some beautiful scenery (we're probably going to shoot the pilot in Oklahoma , near Fort sill) and what more could someone want in a Western? Well, I suppose a gunfight and a nervous sheriff, but we'll find a way to stick them in there, too.

I think the Quanah Parker story is a great American story. He embodied, literally and figuratively, the independent spirit of a country undergoing massive social, political and economic change. We don't have an ax to grind, but maybe honoring that independent spirit, among all the participants—white, red, black and brown—is the best message we could present to viewers. That and some non-stop action, eh? No idea what the name of the show will be, haven't come to that bridge yet. Right now I just call it Quanah. I'm sure the network will have something to say about that. We hope we can do justice to Quanah. Stay tuned.

Terry Graham
Via e-mail

The editor responds: Thanks for the information. The Quanah story does seem like a natural for the screen. I'm sure many Wild West readers will guess which cable network is involved, and many of them will stay tuned.

MOUNTAIN MEADOWS

I am writing to let you know I enjoy your magazine; my subscription goes to 2010. I read the October 2007 article "Big Trouble: The Legacy of Mountain Meadows," by Will Bagley, with interest as I am a Mormon (I teach Sunday school and have been a member of the LDS Church for 28 years) and, until now, I had never heard or read anything about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Makes me wonder. I also did not know that Brigham Young had 27 wives and a bodyguard (good with a gun) named Porter Rockwell until a church friend (a writer/filmmaker) told me. Could you print more articles on such subjects? One last item: I know who Eric Weider is—the son of Ben Weider and nephew of Joe Weider, Brothers of Iron. I began purchasing their bodybuilding magazines beginning in 1959. Now, I really enjoy Eric Weider's Wild West .

Mario Torrez
Elon , N.C.

 

The editor responds: Eric Weider is not only the president and CEO of Weider History Group, Inc., but also the co-author of our cover article about Wyatt Earp in this issue.

We ran a feature story about Brigham Young back in our June 1997 issue. A descendant of Porter Rockwell wrote an article about him in our August 2006 issue. On our Web site, HistoryNet.com, you can find the article "Martin Company: Mormon Pioneers Used Hand Carts to Trek to Salt Lake City."

While I enjoyed Will Bagley's article "Big Trouble: The Legacy of Mountain Meadows," it could hardly be viewed as " America's first act of religious terrorism" as he reports, given the history of the Mormon's forced flight from Ohio , Missouri and Illinois . The real "terrorism" occurred much earlier in this history.

Gary Fredericksen
San Dimas, Calif.

Will Bagley's article in your October issue was a bit overblown, particularly his statement on P. 52 "…and some [who?] view as America's first act of religious terrorism." I would have thought that the first act of religious terrorism was more likely to be the assassination of Joseph Smith and his brother on June 27, 1844. State officials were involved plus "painted faces" among the lynch mob.

Ed Baker (non-Mormon)
Norfolk, United Kingdom

I think that the Mountain Meadows Massacre was carried out for the very reason spelled out by the Los Angeles Times in October 1857: It was "promoted by Mormon leaders, [and] that opposition to the Federal Government is the cause of it." By definition, it was a despicable act of terrorism on innocent American citizens by religious zealots whose aim was to strike out at the United States of America . Their actions were no less offensive than those who exploded airliners, killing innocent Americans, on a not so different September 11. The church's continuing denial of events and slander toward the victims makes me wonder if the goals of today's LDS leaders have changed for the better.

Bret Franklin
Oakland , CA

I thought the article "Big Trouble: The Legacy of Mountain Meadow" was a fascinating historical story. I would urge the magazine to do a follow-up story on what happened at the September 11, 2007 event at Mountain Meadows. Also, I find it curious that the movie about the massacre, September Dawn, has suddenly disappeared from the radar screen. I read a review of the film, but I never saw any announcement of it being run at any kind of theater.

The editor responds: Please see the news item "Mormon Regrets" in the "Roundup" department of the February 2008 Wild West for a report on the September 11, 2007 event. As for the movie September Dawn , it did not appear everywhere, generally got less than favorable reviews, and came and went quicker than you can say "Brigham Young Knew Nothing About Mountain Meadows." But, this is America , and it is now available on DVD.

BABY DOE

II enjoyed reading the article "the Silver King of Leadville and Baby Doe" in the August 2007 issue of Wild West. Author Bill Harris is to be commended for writing such a great article. It was fascinating—a great example of a "rags-to-riches-to-rags" story. I love the magazine and those types of articles. Thanks for listening and keep up the good work.

Jack Hart
Normal, Il

The editor responds: Glad you liked the article. If you would like to learn more about that intriguing subject, a book has come out about Baby Doe (see "Reviews" in this issue).

NOT WILD ENOUGH

Usually I devour each issue of Wild West as soon as it arrives at my door—almost in one sitting and I'm crying for more. I even got a gift subscription for my Dad for Father's Day, and I am very proud of that. I have to say, however, that the August issue was kind of a lame duck. The story about Geronimo and Chatto was interesting, and the story about the Montana rustler round up was interesting, but I went page after pager after page with a lack of Wild West adventure or action. There was way too much non-essential content that was neither wild nor Western adventure. Now I'm having dreams of women dressmakers, wives of silver barons and pages of book reviews. My daughters and I thoroughly enjoy the Little House series and I've taken them on tours at Laura Ingalls' homes, but that's not what I'm looking for in Wild West Magazine. Please give me the thrill of adventure…more action, more adventure please! Still, the best magazine on the planet!

Keith Boe
Everett, Wash.

The editor responds: In this issue we have an article called "How Railroads Took the Wild' Out of the West," but it is not our intention to take the "Wild" out of Wild West Magazine. At the same time, we recognize that not every frontier story had a bloody shootout or massacre associated with it. Of course after reading this issue, you might have dreams about a Cheyenne woman attacking your skull with a hatchet.

 

Send letters to Wild West Editor, Weider History Group, 741 Miller Dr. SE , Suite D-2, Leesburg , VA 20175 , or e-mail to WildWest@weiderhistorygroup.com



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