Cover image for American character : the curious life of Charles Fletcher Lummis and the rediscovery of the Southwest
American character : the curious life of Charles Fletcher Lummis and the rediscovery of the Southwest
Thompson, Mark, 1956-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Arcade Pub. : Distributed by Time Warner Trade Pub., [2001]

Physical Description:
372 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm
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PS3523.U49 Z89 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Charles Fletcher Lummis began his spectacular career in 1884 by walking from Ohio to start a new job at the three-year old Los Angeles Times. By the time of his death in 1928, the 3,500 mile "tramp across the continent" was just a footnote in his astonishingly varied career: crusading journalist, author of nearly two dozen books, editor of the influential political and literary magazine Out West, Los Angeles city librarian, preserver of Spanish missions, and Indian rights gadfly. Lummis both embodied and defined our vision of the West, and of America itself.

Author Notes

Mark Thompson is a journalist.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Thompson, whose work has appeared in several eminent publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Atlantic Monthly and the New Republic, paints an honest, vivid portrait of a man whose life was nothing short of cinematic. Charles Lummis (1859-1928) author, journalist, editor, photographer, adventurer and fervent champion of Indian rights did more than capture the spirit of the Southwest at the turn of the century; he preserved its dignity and Native American tradition, even while his own dignity was called into question as the result of personal scandals and financial woes. It all began in 1885, when Lummis walked from Cincinnati to Los Angeles 3,507 miles to begin his writing career with the Los Angeles Times. He would go on to edit the highly popular magazine Out West, write poetry and books, teach himself photography and guitar, undertake an archeological expedition to Peru, become head librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library, keep a consistent diary and pen tens of thousands of letters not even allowing partial paralysis and blindness to hinder his productivity. A human dynamo who worked and socialized to excess, Lummis dedicated his writing and his enthusiasm to fighting racial violence, intolerance and discrimination. Thanks to his fond affiliation with Theodore Roosevelt, Lummis became a force in reshaping national Indian policy. Scholars have been quick to discredit his achievements because of his often inflated ego, obsession with sex, eccentric dress and demeanor, and lapses in common sense at crucial strategic moments but Thompson exalts Lummis's vital accomplishments without covering up any of his flaws. The result is a compulsively engaging and spirited biography detailing the rise and fall of a man as colorful as he was influential. (Mar.) Forecast: This is a natural sell in the Southwest, including southern California where the author will make publicity appearances and among readers of western history and Native American affairs wherever they reside. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A century ago, almost everyone recognized the name Charles Fletcher Lummis journalist, poet, author, photographer, editor of Out West magazine, and advocate of Indian rights. Today he has been largely forgotten. In a well-written biography that draws on Lummis's personal papers and many books and articles, as well as other archival sources, Thompson rescues Lummis from undeserved obscurity and places him in the context of his era. Thompson shows how a flair for publicity and journalism in college led Lummis to undertake a walk across the country in 1884-85, resulting in his settling in Los Angeles and becoming a tireless promoter of the Southwest. This led to a period of residence in the Isleta Pueblo and his espousal of Indian rights and a friendship with Theodore Roosevelt. An important work; recommended for libraries with an interest in the Southwest, journalism, and Native Americans. Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One The Restless Yankee * * * By the end of the first week of his final semester at Harvard, it was apparent that nothing less than a miracle would get Charles Fletcher Lummis to the finish line. He was unquestionably smart enough to graduate and with honors, if he had set his mind to that goal. After all, he had qualified for admission to Harvard two years before he was old enough to enroll. And despite his own spotty college record, Lummis was in demand as a tutor for other college students in subjects ranging from French, Latin, and Greek to rhetoric and moral philosophy. But judging from his behavior at Harvard, it seemed that his chief goal in college was to get kicked out.     To begin with, he was an incorrigible prankster. His partner in many of the escapades, as recounted in the memoir he was writing when he died, was Boies Penrose, a future senator from Pennsylvania. In one of their more harmless stunts, they posed as "professional vagabonds" and made a 127-mile trek to Manchester, New Hampshire, and back over Thanksgiving weekend of 1879, begging along the way. Some of their pranks around campus were considerably riskier to their status as students in good standing. Lummis claimed they garishly painted college buildings in the middle of the night, scrawled "Death to the Faculty" on walls in paint so black that the words could still be made out a year later, and retaliated against obnoxious residence hall proctors by screwing the proctors' doors shut and nailing trip wires at ankle level across entrances to their quarters. They also stole signs from storefronts around town and stored them in a vacant dorm room.     Lummis usually succeeded in covering his tracks, but not always, and he was called in by administrators more than once to defend his behavior. On one occasion, an irate father complained about Lummis to college president Charles W. Eliot after finding some highly suggestive letters that his daughter had written but never mailed to Lummis. When Eliot called him in and demanded that he explain the "shocking, horrible letters," Lummis looked the distinguished president straight in the eye and told him the "cold facts," vowing that he hadn't touched the girl but admitting that he wished he had.     "I should play poker with that man!" Lummis marveled. "His face never changed in the whole hour." Lummis didn't hear anything more about the girl. "Since I was neither expelled nor suspended, I knew that he had believed me," Lummis said.     Lummis was suspended once. It's not clear why. In an autobiographical essay he wrote a year after the fact, he stated without further comment: "I was absent during the first half of my junior year, at Watertown," where his father was living at the time. "Cause--special vote of the faculty."     As reckless as he had been, when the final semester of his senior year got under way, Lummis was still enrolled at Harvard and intent on finishing. The diary that he had recently begun keeping recounts his losing effort to stay focused. Classes started on Monday, January 3, 1881. Lummis's diary entry for that day commences "The grind begun. Don't like it for a cent" and ends "Dull day."     On Tuesday, Lummis focused enough to turn in an assignment that impressed a professor, but he spent the entire afternoon walking the railroad tracks on the edge of town with his pistol looking for rabbits to shoot. He couldn't even find a pigeon, but when he saw several men trying to snag eels with a spear through a hole in the ice on a pond, he decided to give that a try, borrowing the spear and quickly bagging three of the slimy creatures. "Great fun. Must invest in a spear & try it myself," he noted in his diary. He spent the next two days collecting a debt to raise funds for a spear, buying the implement, catching thirty of the creatures, hauling them home, and skinning them. It wasn't until well after nightfall on Thursday that he turned to schoolwork. "Grind like the deuce for about 8 hours," his diary entry for that day ends.     The frenetic bursts of effort, however, weren't enough to make up for all the classes he was missing. Just six weeks into the semester, Lummis casually noted, "Went up to visit the Dean, agreeably to his invitation. He said that it will be expedient to attend all recitations for the rest of the year." The next day he "went to English VI today for the first time, and found it tolerably interesting."     But it was no use. For Charles Lummis, graduating from Harvard just wasn't meant to be. He made it through the rest of that semester without any major run-ins with the administration, but in order to graduate, he had to pass a series of exams. He passed all of them except those in trigonometry and analytical geometry. He could have gotten tutoring and retaken the exams, but Lummis apparently didn't even consider doing that. A few steps short of the finish line, he dropped out. His seditious behavior in college was as close as Lummis ever got to rebelling against his father. The Reverend Henry Lummis was a Methodist clergyman and educator revered by generations of students in the succession of preparatory schools and colleges across New England and the upper Midwest where he served as an administrator and teacher.     Charlie loved his father. And he clearly appreciated the advantages that the caring but strict discipline at home gave him later in life. His father was "a marvelous man," Lummis wrote in a tribute to his father at his death in 1905. He was "one of the most beloved men I have ever known.... Father gave me my foundation." But perhaps Lummis wouldn't have been so insubordinate in college if he had enjoyed a little more freedom earlier in life. He suggested as much in his memoir. At Harvard, he wrote, "I found that for the restrained, encircled 18-year-old son of a Methodist minister, circumscribed by the atmosphere of the congregation, there were many other things to study than lessons.... From my cloistered life I had come to the Tree of Forbidden Fruit. I climbed that tree to the top."     His mother had an equally profound influence on Lummis, though in tragically different fashion. She died on April 24, 1861, leaving Rev. Lummis to care for two-year-old Charlie and his two-month-old sister, Louise Elma. Known as Hattie, the twenty-two-year-old mother was probably afflicted with tuberculosis even before Charles arrived on March 1, 1859. In her diary, she chronicled moments of elation about the baby she called Charlie Bird, interspersed with "moments of great sadness" when she sensed that the "months were hurrying me to life's close." Indeed they were. Her second pregnancy, not much more than a year after Charlie's birth, sapped what little strength she had left. So she moved with Charlie to her parents' home in Bristol, New Hampshire a few months before her second child was due, and there she died. For the rest of his life, Charlie Lummis would always be in no small part a motherless child. Not that he lacked attention from loving and supportive adults. Members of his close-knit extended family tried to fill the void left by his mother's death. Since his busy father couldn't possibly care for two babies, Charlie and his newborn sister remained with their grandparents for the next four years.     Louisa and Oscar Fowler were faultless surrogate parents. And Bristol was an idyllic place to grow up. A picture-postcard New England village of perhaps four hundred people, it had a large open commons in the middle of town where Charlie and his grandfather once watched a company of newly enlisted soldiers marching off to the Civil War. The crystal clear Newfound River rushed past the village, over a dam beside a mill, and down a three-hundred-foot cascade.     Charlie's grandmother made unforgettable pies and doughnuts, and his grandfather, the village saddle and harness maker and part-time probate judge, introduced him to the avocation that Charlie would always rank as life's single greatest pleasure: fishing for trout. Judge Oscar Fowler also taught Charlie that even if he was smaller than most, he didn't have to yield to anyone on account of his size. Grandpa Fowler was just five feet six inches in height, which was as tall as Charlie ever got. But he was "as tough as nails," tipping the scales at 230 pounds "without an ounce of fat," Charlie somewhat improbably claimed. He went on to assert that at the age of sixty, his grandfather beat a dozen eighteen-year-olds in a footrace across the Bristol commons.     Those four years with his grandparents were perhaps the closest he ever got to living in what he considered a complete home. But it didn't last. In the fall between his fifth and sixth birthdays, at an age when formal schooling could begin, he moved to his father's house. At the time, Rev. Lummis was principal of the New Haven Female College in Tilton, New Hampshire. Just nineteen miles from Bristol, it was a dramatically different setting--particularly the school filled with tittering girls where his father wanted Charlie to start classes. The trauma of moving to a strange new home no doubt magnified the usual first-day jitters. But his reaction to school was more severe than that. He spent his first day, as he told it in his memoir, hiding under a table, refusing to emerge until his father arrived and coaxed him out. "I told father I couldn't learn that way and asked him to teach me himself," Lummis wrote. And he "did exactly that for the next ten years."     Within a few years of his return to his father's house, Charlie's little sister, Louise Elma, had rejoined the household, and a stepmother had entered the picture. She would eventually have five children of her own, giving Charlie one half brother named Harry and four half sisters, Harriet, Katherine, Laura, and Gertrude. So it was far from a lonely childhood. But his father's new wife, Jennie Brewster, happened to be the same teacher he had recoiled from on his first day in school. Jennie was probably the one whose job it was to see that Charlie completed the daunting lessons that his father assigned, which couldn't have helped them establish a warm rapport. "We were greatly unsuited for the relationship by temperament but our mutual love for my father went a long way," he stated in his memoirs, only hinting at the tensions that must have arisen. "While she caused me a great deal of unhappiness in my young years, it was not all her fault. She was a noble woman as well as a brainy one and a model wife to my father."     Over the next twelve years, the family made six moves to towns in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Charlie took a few courses in the schools where his father taught. But most of his schooling took place at home under the direction of his father. It was an old-fashioned education even for those days. He was "well drilled in the 'common branches'," with a special emphasis on classical languages, starting with Latin at the age of seven, then Hebrew at eight and Greek at ten. He honed his skills in these tongues by translating verses of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament over dinner each night.     As for his father, Lummis never made public any hint of criticism. "I am grateful for each of the seven lickings he gave me--and they all left their marks," Lummis wrote. One licking was especially memorable, the only time in his life that he was "laid on his back" by another man, Lummis claimed. He had reacted to something his father said in a manner that the older Lummis interpreted as a sign of disrespect. "I am sure he was mistaken about it, for I never in my life felt a moment's resentment against him," Lummis wrote years later, even then excusing his father for what ensued. "But the next thing I knew I was on my back, four points down, ten feet back into the next room, with father astride of me and saying very softly, 'Charlie, don't you ever look at me that way again'."     He never defied his father again, except indirectly in college. He heeded his father's wishes at least to the extent that he enrolled, even though he had "no violent ambition for college. I went because Father had gone and because he had trained me with years of personal concentration. It was the cultural convention of New England." From the start, however, he proved to be a very unconventional student. The rigorous training he had received at home left Lummis exceedingly well prepared for Harvard. He had already read nearly everything that was on the reading lists for the Latin and Greek courses at the university. Though he was indifferent about attending class and balked at assignments that didn't catch his fancy, he didn't shy away from academic challenges. Quite the contrary. To enter Harvard at that time under the newly adopted elective system, students were required to pass an exam in either French or German. With his solid grounding in Latin, Lummis figured French would be too easy. So he chose to enter in German, picked up a 3,600-word German dictionary, "swallowed it whole," and waltzed through the test. But academics never got more than part of his attention. His priorities in college, as he later put it, were poker, poetry, and athletics--a list to which he could have added pretty girls and pranks.     Within days of his arrival on campus, he made a name for himself as a pugnacious free spirit, according to a tale that he would repeat often in later years. The tradition at Harvard when he entered in 1877 was that freshmen had to cut their hair short. But Lummis, apparently alone among his classmates, refused to knuckle under. The sophomores weren't about to let that challenge go unanswered. The enforcers of the upper class posted an ultimatum on a campus bulletin board: "NOTICE: If Freshman Lummis doesn't get his hair cut, '80 will cut it for him."     Lummis, whose thick, curly hair fell below his ears, promptly posted a response: "Lummis '81 will be glad to meet all tonsorially inclined of the Class of '80 individually or collectively, at 16 Holyoke any time."     Lummis's favorite part of this story was the compliment that his audacity elicited from one particular sophomore, "an odd looking chap" who was "flat-chested, hatchet-faced, lantern jawed, with funny side whiskers." His name was Theodore Roosevelt. Ordinarily he would have had nothing to do with Lummis, being from an entirely different social stratum. He was "a patrician who chummed with the Minots and Cabots and Lowells" and was known as an unusually diligent student to boot, proud to rank nineteenth in his class of 230. Lummis, in contrast, was a self-described "callow pauper" prone to ditching classes. Yet Roosevelt, who had been a sickly child and had tried to overcome his physical deficiencies in many of the same ways that Lummis compensated for his height, admired the freshman's brashness. He "grinned at me across the Unfathomable Abyss," Lummis recalled. In that memorable booming voice of his, Roosevelt called out, "Bully! It's your hair--keep it if you want to. Don't let them haze you."     Both Lummis and Roosevelt would become famous for maintaining a crushing workload, a habit that for both became ingrained in college. Lummis also began "night hawking" in those days, getting some of his most productive work done in the hours well past midnight. He stayed up late practically every night to play poker for as long as others lasted. Then he would turn his energies to translating the works of obscure Greek, Latin, and German poets.     Lummis devoted most of his time at Harvard to athletics. He spent hours in the gym. Some of the feats he took credit for in the memoir written many decades later are improbable, to say the least. For example, he claimed to have run the hundred-yard dash in ten seconds flat, which would have been a world record at the time. But there was no doubt that he whipped himself into perfect shape in his college days, judging from a photograph of him wearing nothing but shorts. He is suspending himself in the air on a set of parallel bars, showing off his muscular arms, powerful thighs, and a taut torso entirely free of fat. For at least the next decade, published descriptions of Lummis routinely mentioned that he was a "trained athlete." That was no exaggeration.     Lummis's preferred methods of physical and mental conditioning were wrestling and boxing, sports that he enjoyed both as a spectator and as a participant. Prizefighting was just barely respectable in the Puritan culture in which he was born and raised, but the pangs of guilt he felt the first time he paid money to see a prizefight quickly passed. "When the door opened my scruples fell off me like snowflakes in the sun," he wrote. He loved nothing better than to step into the ring himself, preferably with a larger opponent. It was great fun, he wrote with the bravado that would characterize some of his published work, "to stand up and have my face pounded off me by a man forty pounds heavier and with six inches more reach--if every once in a while I could jump around his kidney, or get him in the turn of the jaw, and cool off while they brought him to."     One of Lummis's problems was that he didn't seem able to confine his pugilistic interests to the boxing ring. He owned up to this character flaw in the autobiographical essay that he wrote at the start of his senior year of college. "I have always had the ill-luck to fall into fights and get maimed therein," he matter-of-factly wrote. "In a sophomore quarrel I was shot in the left side, the ball glancing a couple of inches from the heart. I have also been stabbed several times, thanks to an exuberant spirit which never allows me to keep out of any row I chance to see going on."     The diary he kept for a few months in the final semester of his senior year offers further proof that he was a pugnacious character indeed. In just one two-week stretch in January of 1881, he described how he sent one of a group of "muckers" sprawling with three quick punches to the nose after they tickled him with a straw while he dozed on a train, reported that he "slugged a fellow in a cigar store" for an unknown reason ten days later, and had "quite an encounter with two bogus cops" two days after that. Lummis spent all four summers in his college years working at a resort called the Profile House in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Situated on the shore of Profile Lake, it was named after the massive rock formation, called the Old Man of the Mountain, that loomed over the water with a distinct chin, nose, and brow.     Lummis burnished his reputation for daring athletic feats--and revealed a pronounced romantic streak--during those summers. He claimed to have set records for speedy ascents and descents of nearby mountain peaks, and once climbed as far as the forehead of the Old Man of the Mountain without ropes, extricating himself from that treacherous perch by traversing a six-inch ledge to safety. He added to his reputation for marching to his own rather peculiar drummer by, among other things, spending most nights in good weather sleeping in a birch bark canoe anchored just offshore.     He had a dream job as in-house printshop manager with responsibility for producing hotel menus, programs, and announcements. Lummis had been fascinated with the printing process ever since his grandparents had given him a miniature but fully functioning press for his twelfth birthday. He had displayed enough skill with it to get the plum job at the resort. He got his work done there efficiently enough that he had both the time and the leeway with management to use the hotel's printing equipment in a remarkably ingenious and audacious publishing venture of his own.     He had been a serious would-be poet for several years, a passion that blossomed on the shores of Profile Lake. He admitted that they weren't the best bits of verse, but he figured that if they were packaged attractively enough, they just might sell. So he decided to print a dozen of the ones with New England mountain themes on birch bark. Through a great deal of trial and error, he learned how to peel sheets of the papery bark into the thinnest layers possible, how to flatten and cut them into perfect two-by-three-inch sheets, and, hardest of all, how to thin ink to just the right consistency to stick to the bark. He printed the title on the cover, Birch Bark Poems by Charles F. Lummis. Then he bound up the booklets with thread and in the summer of 1879 offered them for sale in the Profile House gift shop for twenty-five cents each. By the end of the next summer, he had sold more than 3,500 of the booklets.     Displaying an early flair for publicity that would serve him well later in life, Lummis sent copies of the remarkable little volume to dozens of the leading writers and poets of the day, including Walt Whitman, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Charles Dudley Warner, and Captain Mayne Reid, as well as to all of the leading literary journals. Charmed by the booklet, a number of famous writers responded with personal words of encouragement, and the book got impressive reviews in a number of publications. Life magazine reviewed the book, noting that the poems weren't quite as original as the binding but that some of the better ones might endure. In a thank-you note to Lummis, Longfellow wrote, "It is very quaint and pretty in design; and I have read with much pleasure the poems it contains."     The most successful of the dozen poems in the book actually became a minor hit and was reprinted so widely that Lummis took care to have it registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Called "My Cigarette," it combined two themes that would become favorites of his down through the years, in poetry and in life: tobacco and doting women. My Cigarette! Can I forget How Kate and I, in sunny weather, Sat in the shade the elm-tree made, And rolled the fragrant weed together? I, at her side, beatified To hold and guide her fingers willing: She, rolling slow the paper's snow, Putting my heart in with the filling!     The proceeds from the sale of Birch Bark Poems largely paid Lummis's way through Harvard. At the same time, the modest commercial success of the venture gave him all the less reason to stay in college. His growing reputation as a freelance writer increased the pressure that was welling up inside him to quit. By his senior year, he had sold stories, poems, and epigrams to more than three dozen publications as far away as the Louisville Courier-Journal and the San Francisco Post , as parochial as the White Mountain Echo and Cottage Hearth , and as famous as Harper's and Life . Harvard had nothing more to offer that might help him down that career path.     Years later he could look back on his time at Harvard and say, "I was glad then to be there; I am glad now that I went." But the three most important skills he claimed to have picked up there--boxing, wrestling, and running--showed that his gratitude had little to do with academic life at the university. He especially appreciated the opportunity that his college years gave him to socialize with a large group of his peers, "an experience of deep value to a boy who had been as alone as I had been," he said. "But so far as the Learning that really Works in Life--that is, Education, as opposed to mere Instruction--I learned more almost every year for the five after I left Harvard than for the entire four years I was there. My chief thankfulness about the whole matter is that four years of Harvard didn't make a fool of me."     By the start of his senior year, Charlie Lummis knew exactly what he wanted to do after he put college behind him. "I plan to visit Europe next fall, to see the country and the common people closely; and shall make the tour largely a pedestrian one as it is in this way only that I can study peasant life as accurately as I wish," he declared in the personal essay he wrote in the fall of 1880. "It is my plan to work as a newspaper correspondent during my stay abroad and on my return I shall probably plunge at once into journalism." Lummis, of course, didn't graduate. Nor did he make it to Europe later that year. The plan to vagabond around Europe was sidetracked by a small matter that he acted as if he would like to forget: he had a wife. In fact, he had been married since the spring of his junior year, though only a handful of people knew it.     In April of 1880, Lummis had quietly--and apparently in a bit of a rush--married a Boston University medical student named Mary Dorothea Rhodes, Thea or Dolly for short. He had been tutoring her in French. It was never entirely clear why they kept their marriage secret, though gossips sowed theories about it for years after. Letters they wrote to each other in the early years of their marriage suggested that they had been caught in a compromising situation by someone who would have spread sordid rumors if they hadn't gotten married. Another possibility is that he was at risk of being forced into marrying another woman, and married Dolly to escape that threat. Even though they didn't live openly as man and wife after that, they seemed to be genuinely in love at least some of the time.     Over Christmas of 1880, they spent a lovely week together in Plymouth, Massachusetts, at the home of his aunt Susie, who may have been in on the secret. Every morning, Lummis stole away for one of his favorite pastimes: sharing a smoke with the local folk. On his first visit to the local general store, he enjoyed a "long smoke" and "astonished the countrymen" not only with the quantity and variety of pipes and smoking paraphernalia that he was carrying with him in various pockets but with his skill at blowing rings and then sucking the smoke back in. Two days later, he returned to the store for another smoke and this time "showed the countrymen some athletic performances."     Back at Aunt Susie's house one evening, he astonished the family with another daring move. On an impulse, he shaved off the full beard that was de rigueur for men in those days. When he showed his face in the parlor where the family had gathered, he "greatly shocked the crowd at my antiquated appearance." Except on several occasions when he didn't want to bother with shaving, he went whiskerless for the rest of his life, even when doing so was out of fashion.     By the summer of 1881, with college at last in the past, whatever mysterious reason they had for keeping the marriage secret had vanished. Probably sometime toward the end of that year, they made it official. Charlie and Dolly Lummis were husband and wife.     It wouldn't be long before Lummis developed a view of marriage that was as off-kilter as his attitudes toward college and other hallowed institutions. But he had enough sense to know that he would have to change his behavior in some respects. To begin with, he would have to get a respectable job. He had continued to pick up tutoring jobs around Boston and to hammer away at his freelance writing. But neither of those pursuits constituted a career. So when Dorothea's father offered Lummis a responsible job, he accepted it apparently without any protest, even though it was a far cry from the European adventure he had planned to make. The job was managing the Rhodeses' six-hundred-acre farm in Chillicothe, Ohio.     Undoubtedly he was planning his move off the farm even before he started. He continued to push ahead in his career in journalism by submitting poems and articles to the best magazines in the country--and, when they were rejected, rewriting them and sending them out again. He also continued to take orders for copies of his Birch Bark Poems . On trips back to New England to visit Dolly, he would load up on more bark to take back to Ohio with him. The most he would ever say of his stint as a farmer is that he "taught the bull to carry me on his back as though it were a privilege" and the Jersey cows to follow him everywhere. But the biggest thrill was finding Indian artifacts in the newly plowed furrows, particularly after a rain. Those discoveries sparked his lifelong fascination with archaeology.     Lummis lasted only a single season on the farm. At the end of the summer of 1882 an opportunity came along for a paying job in journalism, and he eagerly seized it. On September 29 he started work, at forty dollars per month, as the one-man news staff of a four-page weekly, the Scioto Gazette , said to be the oldest newspaper west of the Allegheny Mountains.     The stories he wrote for the Gazette ran the gamut from reflections on his summers in the White Mountains to literary criticism to hard-hitting coverage of Ohio politics. He didn't confine his apparently newfound interest in politics to his work on the paper. Within a year of settling down in Chillicothe, he became president of the Young Men's Republican Club, a position in which he had the privilege of introducing a future president, William McKinley, to his first Chillicothe audience.     In March of 1884 Lummis came close to throwing himself bodily into a political conflict. One hundred miles down the road in Cincinnati, a string of murders had crystallized simmering public discontent with the criminal justice system. The county jail at the time housed nearly three dozen murderers--a group that many local citizens believed should have been strung up as soon as they were convicted. When the perpetrator of one of the most recent murders was sentenced to twenty years in prison instead of the gallows, a substantial number of local citizens had had enough. More than 8,000 angry protesters headed for the jail, intent on getting the job done themselves. They were met by a brave sheriff, a Civil War veteran named Morton Lytle Hawkins, and 150 deputies who succeeded in holding back the mob that night.     Lummis was sympathetic with complaints about the criminal justice system. He believed that corruption might have been behind some otherwise inexplicable verdicts. But he had no tolerance for the mob violence that had begun to take over the city of Cincinnati by the second day of unrest. Turned away from the jail, the protestors stormed and burned down the massive Cincinnati courthouse.     By the third day of rioting, Lummis was prepared to join a militia to reinforce Sheriff Hawkins. But the National Guard, armed with a Gatling gun, got there first and put down the insurrection. More than fifty rioters died. Lummis was denied a taste of battle, which he most assuredly would have relished, but his editorializing on the turmoil gave him some feisty clippings for his files. Those editorials would turn out to be Lummis's ticket out of Chillicothe. His plan to leave developed over a period of months. It began with newspapers mailed to his father-in-law by a lifelong friend, Albert McFarland, who had moved to California a year or two earlier. McFarland would eventually become treasurer of the fledgling newspaper that he was sending to Chillicothe. Called the Los Angeles Daily Times , it was published and edited by another former Ohioan, a decorated veteran of the Civil War, Colonel Harrison Gray Otis.     Lummis was impressed with the paper. "I was struck by the personality, the upstanding courage and breeziness of that far western sheet," he reminisced years later. And so he began to correspond with Otis, sending him copies of his own paper. Knowing that Otis was a Grand Old Party warhorse, Lummis talked up his own Republican Party credentials and boasted about his willingness to come to the defense of the Civil War hero Hawkins. After a while he presented Otis with a bold proposition. He asked Otis for a job with the Los Angeles Times ---and, dusting off the plans for his scuttled European tramp, added that he would make his way to the West Coast on foot, writing dispatches about his experiences along the way.     Ten days later Lummis had Otis's response. The colonel liked the combative spirit Lummis displayed in his writing. He was impressed that Lummis had been willing to take up arms in a good cause. He needed people like that on his staff. Though by some accounts Otis offered to send Lummis a train ticket so that he could get to Los Angeles without delay, he admired the gumption behind Lummis's plan to walk all the way, so he didn't try too hard to talk him out of that.     Lummis surely didn't need any other excuses to pack up his belongings and head west. But that August, he received another kick in the pants that pushed him toward California. He had an attack of malarial fever, endemic in the humid bottomlands of the Ohio River basin. So he quickly wrapped up planning for the trek west.     His employer at the Scioto Gazette apparently didn't react favorably to the prospect of being abruptly abandoned, which may explain why Lummis cut a deal with M. J. Carrigan, editor and publisher of the Gazette's rival weekly, the Chillicothe Leader , that would help pay for the trip and boost his profile as a writer in the process. Carrigan agreed to buy a letter a week for five dollars each. Copyright (c) 2001 Mark Thompson. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
1. The Restless Yankeep. 5
2. Tramp Across the Continentp. 19
3. On the Beat in El Pueblo de Los Angelesp. 49
4. Defending the General Pursuing Geronimop. 60
5. Boom and Bustp. 82
6. A New Mexico Convalescencep. 92
7. Refuge in Isletap. 116
8. Taking On the Albuquerque Indian Schoolp. 141
9. The Lion of Out Westp. 172
10. Showdown at Warner's Ranchp. 213
11. The Tyrant of Keams Canyonp. 244
12. Tumult in the Last Home of Old Californiap. 263
13. Last Stand Against the Indian Bureaup. 301
Epiloguep. 333
Notesp. 337
Bibliographyp. 353
Indexp. 359