The Papers of Captain Robert G. Carter: Frontier Soldier

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The Southwest Collection is located on the Llano Estacado, also known as the South Plains. Folks have been visiting the region for more than a century in a half, which in those early years resulted in no small amount of conflict. One, the Battle of Blanco Canyon near the Brazos River in 1871, occurred between U.S. Soldiers and a Comanche raiding party. A survivor of that conflict, Captain Robert G. Carter, was awarded a Medal of Honor for his conduct in the fight. The Southwest Collection is fortunate to have his correspondence and related materials dating from the years after the fight, and we’re going to share some of it with you in this very blog!

The image at the top of this post is of a letter from Carter’s extensive correspondence with fellow veterans of the “Indian Wars.” Carter had served under Ranald Mackenzie both in that conflict and later along the Mexican border at the end of the 19th century. So, too, did this letter’s recipient, Col. R. P. Smyth. In this letter, Carter regales Smyth with some of the facts. Sadly, we do not have Smyth’s original or subsequent letters.

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Carter became well-known through his published memoirs, such as On the Border with Mackenzie (1935). He also sold maps of the conflict, such as the one referenced by renowned Texas historian J. Evetts Haley in the letter above. In another collection, we even have a copy of the map, which you can see below.

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History was Carter’s passion, and he promoted it not only through his publications, but also through participation in various organizations dedicated to preserving it. The 1932 newspaper clipping above (culled from a newspaper we unfortunately haven’t been able to identify) celebrating his elevation to commander of the Order of Indian Wars, an organization serving veterans of that conflict.

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And yet some of his papers are banal. Here we have a dispute with a bank over miscalculated interest. It rings as true then as it does for some of us today. In fact, Carter’s papers contain at least 14 pages of his back and forth with the Union Trust Company, full of pithy responses to their incorrect claims: “According to the mathematics taught me, two items of the same amount, one subtracted from the other, leaves 0.” Carter, telling it like it is!

The Robert G. Carter Papers comprise only a single archival box, but are packed with unique material like this, documenting Carter’s recollections of service, as well as his day-to-day life in the years following. They’re available in their entirety among our digital collections, and we’d love for any interested researchers (or the generally curious) to take a look through them.

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Native American Collections!

NAblog001Among its collections, the SWC houses several related to Native American organizations. Altogether, these records document significant portions of the 20th century history of Native Americans in West Texas, as well as parts of New Mexico and Oklahoma.

NAblog002The Mescalero Apache Cattle Raisers Records, 1960s-1990s, for example, consists of two collections, the first of which is linked above, and second of which can be found here. The records were donated by N. E. Britton, the manager of the historic Block Ranch in Lincoln County, New Mexico, from 1952 to 1964. In 1964 he became manager of the Mescalero Apache Cattle Raisers Association where he remained until 1984. The first collection includes minutes of board meetings, cattle record ledgers, sales contracts, journals, newspapers, maps, and correspondence dating from the 1960s to the 1990s. The second contains detailed cattle and livestock expense documentation and market records as well as correspondence, journals, legal material, maps, memorabilia, and newspapers.

NAblog004The West Texas Native American Association Records (WTNAA), 1992-1996, is another such collection. It consist of articles, correspondence, journals, tables, and minutes. Many programs and other documentation regarding their annual Pow Wow, an intertribal festival wherein members don traditional costumes and participate in music and dance festivities, are included. Financial materials, by-laws, a copy of their constitution, insurance information, and photographs are also present in lesser quantity. All of these materials relate to the day-to-day operations and major events of the organization. The Association, headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, encourages the preservation and education about Native American culture. Some Association members are descendants of North American tribes, while other non-Native Americans join as a result of their interest in Indian culture.NAblog003Another frequently used collection is the Chilocco Indian Boarding School Records. Located in Chilocco, Oklahoma, the school closed its doors in 1980 after 96 years of providing service in vocational education and training to Native Americans from across the U.S.  Not only did the campus provide buildings with classrooms but also dormitories for boys and girls. The collection includes the original Chilocco Indian Boarding School student rosters for the years 1968-1975, as well as a 1963 Baccalaureate and Commencement Program, news clippings concerning the history of the school, and a list of former school employees. Interested researchers should note that two agencies, the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), have the largest and most complete holdings on Chilocco Indian School.

Lastly, the Indian Schools Collection, 1929-1945 consists of correspondence, financial material, original drawings by Indian children, literary productions, maps, schedules and lists, food and clothing allotment records, and scrapbook material. This collection is based around actions begun in 1824 by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The BIA held jurisdiction over Native American trade, removal to the West, protection from exploitation, concentration on reservations, and education. Unsuccessful in preventing wars and eliminating corrupt practices, the focus of the BIA was changed by the Dawes Act of 1887, the Burke Act of 1906, and through the Meriam Report of 1928. Indian educated geared for all age levels eventually became the Bureau’s priority, resulting in the establishment of day schools to serve as community centers. Boarding schools were reformed, and saw the introduction of Indian culture into their curriculum. Materials related to these years make up the bulk of the collection, particularly from 1933-1948 when John Collier, a strong proponent of these reforms, served as commissioner of Indian Affairs.

To examine these collections, researchers may contact our Reference staff via email, phone (806-742-9070), mail (MS41041, TTU, Lubbock, TX 79409), or fax (806-742-0496).