Ol’ Max Evans: The First Thousand Years

Max Evans Film Poster 20190308

On April 4, 2019, the Texas Tech Museum will host a screening of Ol’ Max Evans: The First Thousand Years, a documentary highlighting the life of acclaimed western writer Max Evans directed by Paul Barnes and Lorene Mills. The film’s directors drew upon the Max Evans Papers housed at the Southwest Collection in making the documentary. The papers contain a number of drafts, short stories, screenplays, and other ephemera.

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Born in Ropes, Texas, in 1925, Max Evans later moved to northern New Mexico, which would serve as the setting for many of his works.

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The Max Evans Papers document Evans’ career as a writer from his first published short story in the Denver Post to his more recent works.

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They also provide insight into Evan’s creative process by showing the trajectory of the author’s thoughts, oftentimes beginning with scribbled notes on napkins and scratch paper. The collection also contains noteworthy correspondence between Evans and other creative figures such as Rudolfo Anaya and Martin Scorsese.

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The Hi-Lo Country is arguably Evan’s most popular work and was later made into a feature film starring Woody Harrelson and Patricia Arquette. The screenplay for the film went through several iterations including an early draft by Sam Peckinpah (the screenwriter of the popular film The Wild Bunch).

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While many of Evan’s works focus heavily on cowboy culture in northeastern New Mexico, Evans also wrote a work about Mildred Clark, a prostitute and entrepreneur in Silver City, New Mexico. Drawing upon several hours of interviews with Clark, Madam Millie: Bordellos from Silver City to Ketchikan tells Clark’s story from her humble beginnings as an orphan to her eventual success running a brothel in Silver City, New Mexico.

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The Max Evans Papers contain several reels of interviews between Millie Clark and Max Evans, as well as several other items including original call girl credit cards, above.

If you’re interested in learning more about Max Evans, his various projects, and his career as a writer, come browse his papers at the Southwest Collection!

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The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad – Through Architecture!

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For decades, the SWC has been home to dozens—nay hundreds!—of architectural renderings of structures along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. And now many of these have been digitized and placed online for your viewing and/or researching pleasure. Take for example the plans, above, for a hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico, drafted in 1953.

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A little background: chartered in 1859 as the Atchison and Topeka Railroad Company by Cyrus K. Holliday, the organization’s rail lines eventually extended to Los Angeles, California, by 1887, after breaking ground in Texas in 1881. The Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railway was added in 1886 to obtain a connection to the Gulf of Mexico. Construction of new buildings along the line proceeded well into the 20th century, such as the Dodge City car icing house, above, constructed in 1929.

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By 1888 the Texas Panhandle was well-integrated in the railroad’s service lines. The historic Round House in Slaton, Texas (above) is a Lubbock-area testament to its influence. The organization was renamed the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad (ATSF) Company in 1893 when its lines became part of the Santa Fe Railroad system. The company remained active in land colonization, town-site development, and transportation throughout its history.

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Our ATSF records don’t just consist of plans for dormitories on the rim of the Grand Canyon, such as the one above. They also contain early 20th century correspondence between local businesses and various local, state, and regional divisions of the ATSF, most prominently those in Abilene, Lubbock, and San Angelo, Texas. Other correspondence and financial documents cover various subjects and hail from small, scattered towns throughout the ATSF’s area. And, as with any railroad collection, we have reams of timetables, train order slips, annual reports, and other such goodies.

So if you’re interested in seeing more ATSF materials, head over to our digitized plans or look over the collections’ finding aids. Then give us a call, and we’ll get them into your hands!

Cattle Rustling in the Archives

Portions of brands found in Spence Brothers Herd

At the Southwest Collection, we acquire more materials than we can describe in a thousand of these blogs. Some collections span nearly 1,000 linear feet, some a mere wallet-sized box. The Charles M. and James E. Cree Papers are one of the latter. Ranging in type from correspondence to cattle brand identification and stock counts to financial statements, the collection might at first glance inspire little interest. A closer examination, however, reveals over a decade of cattle-rustling and vandalism on a New Mexico ranch at the end of the 19th century.

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James E. Cree was a Scotsman who owned of a distillery in Edinburgh, Scotland (his son, Charles, whose name the collection also bears, was born years after this tale.) He founded the Angus VV Ranch in the 1880’s on Little Creek near Angus in Lincoln County, New Mexico. Cree and his partner Brandon Kirby are credited with introducing the Angus breed of cattle to New Mexico. Pat Garrett, former sheriff and noted slayer of Billy the Kid, at one point served as ranch manager on the VV ranch. (Although in this context, that is just some fun trivia.) The numbers of calves on the VV and other ranches are noted in the document above, as is the certification of the VV brand, below.

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Report of Agent of South Eastern New Mexico Stock Growers Association 1894-1

Why do those administrative cow counts matter? Well, according to the report above as well as several related documents, someone in the Lincoln County area had been cattle rustlin’, specifically “Slick” Miller, Allen Hightower, and the Spence Brothers. From secluded spot to secluded spot, Miller and Hightower had driven the cattle stealthily until the Spences bought them at $4-5 a head. This tale was summarized by an unnamed Agent of the South Eastern New Mexico Stock Growers Association, the report of whom can be seen above, after extensive investigation and testimony.

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Louis Herrera, a ranch employee, provided at least four separate statements at least four separate statement to investigators, a portion of which can be seen above. In other instances, only a portion of the testimony survives. The statement of J. F. Allison, below, is one such. He was involved in the arrest of “old man Eaker,” another rustler who plundered the VV.

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The conclusion of these investigations is not immediately apparent. Some rustlers were certainly arrested; others appear only once or twice in the documents. It is also possible that because these records span over a decade, other instances of cattle rustling are being document here. Perhaps some intrepid researcher could piece the entire story together using the Charles and James Cree Papers along with other SWC collections, or even collections from other archives. So take a look through the papers for yourself, and feel free to get ahold of our Reference Staff. They’re here to herd you through the process if needs be.

Odis “Pop” Echols – An Exhibit at the Southwest Collection

Odis Echols and his Melody Ranch Boys KWKH Car

This April the Crossroads Music Archive at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library is excited to debut their exhibit, “Odis ‘Pop’ Echols.” It highlights the life of the titular Echols, whose influence on music in the United States was tremendous.

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Odis Echols, known as “Pop,” was born May 7, 1903 in Enloe, Texas. In 1922 he moved near Clovis, New Mexico, with his bride Grace Traweek. There he taught shape-note singing, formed the Echols Brothers Trio, and joined The Plateau Quartet. In 1926 he won a spot with Frank Stamps’ original Stamps Quartet, which traveled the South singing gospel and popular music of the day (while selling Stamps-Baxter songbooks…) Echols often got standing ovations for his baritone rendition of “ol’ Man River.” In 1927 the group recorded for Ralph Peer of Victor Records and their “Give the World a Smile” became the first gospel record to sell one million copies! Echols formed his own quartet and opened a songbook store in Lubbock, Texas, organizing singing schools at churches across West Texas all the while.

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Soon Echols had moved his Stamps Melody Boys to CBS affiliate WHAS in Louisville, Kentucky, where he convinced Mutual Radio Network to broadcast the first coast-to-coast gospel music show. In the meantime he built Hartford Publishing into the second-largest gospel publisher, sold his interest in the company, and moved to Shreveport, Texas, where his Melody Boys sang on KWKH’s Red River Valley Roundup, the forerunner of the Louisiana Hayride.

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He moved back to Lubbock, where he worked as a radio announcer at KSEL and mentored entertainers including saxophonist Bobby Keys and vocalist Charlene Hancock. Never one to stop pushing forward, Pop then purchased station KCLV in Clovis in 1953, and settled there.

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In 1957 Pop appeared on national television’s This is Your Life at the request of teen idol Tommy Sands, who credited Pop with starting him in show business. But his biggest success came a year later when he met Charlie Phillips and collaborated on the song “Sugartime.” You know the song: “sugar in the mornin’ / sugar in the evenin’ / sugar at suppertime.” (Enjoy the earworm!) Released with McGuire Sisters’ vocals, in 1958 “Sugartime” went gold and reached Number One on the pop charts. Pop Echols continued to work in the music business until his death on March 23, 1974.

While the exhibit is only up from early April until the early fall, Echols’ Papers are forever available for research at the Crossroads Music Archive here at the SWC! Contact our ever-helpful Reference Staff if you’d like to take a peek at them.

– Curtis Peoples, Associate Archivist, Crossroads Music Archive

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).