Twenty-Five Years among the Indians and Buffalo
A Frontier Memoir
William D. Street; Warren R. Street, ed.
A Kansas Notable Book
Nearing 60, William D. Street (1851–1911) sat down to write his memoir of frontier life. Street's early years on the plains of western Kansas were both ordinary and extraordinary; ordinary in what they reveal about the everyday life of so many who went out to the western frontier, extraordinary in their breadth and depth of historical event and impact. His tales of life as a teamster, cavalryman, town developer, trapper, buffalo hunter, military scout, and cowboy put us squarely in the middle of such storied events as Sheridan's 1868–1869 winter campaign on the southern Plains and the Cheyenne Exodus of 1878. They take us trapping beaver and hunting buffalo for hides and meat, and driving cattle on the Great Western Cattle Trail. They give us insight into his evolving understanding of his multi-decade relationship with the Lakota. And they give us a front-row seat at the founding and development of Jewell and Gaylord, Kansas, and a firsthand look at the formation of Jewell's "Buffalo Militia."
“An exciting narrative of frontier Kansas.”
“A very interesting, highly readable memoir. Seasoned American historians would find this piece to be quite valuable, and this is a fantastic and engaging read for the general public as well.”
—The Chronicles of OklahomaSee all reviews...
“Rich in everyday Kansas life on the farm, a covered wagon train experience, the military, and the last Indian raid in Kansas.”
—Valley Falls Vindicator
“William D. Street’s memoir of life on the central and northern Great Plains as a teamster, soldier, homesteader, trapper, buffalo hunter, scout and cowboy is about as exciting as it gets for a vivid, page-turning reminiscence of the Old West. This is an important and highly recommended memoir.”
—John Monnett, author of Tell Them We Are Going Home:The Odyssey of the Northern Cheyennes
“Twenty-Five Years among the Indians and Buffalo offers an interesting, highly readable, and informative personal narrative covering events and experiences of real significance for early, post–Civil War settlement of Kansas and the Great Plains. The narrator, Bill Street, who goes on to become a Kansan of some notoriety in the latter part of the nineteenth century, recounts in great detail his experiences as a teenage muleskinner in the 1860s, a trooper in the Nineteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry involved in the famous Winter Campaign of 1868-69, a homesteader and town builder in Jewell and Decatur counties, a High Plains hunter and trapper, a cowboy, and more. This is a significant contribution to the literature in the tradition of many other ‘eyewitness’ accounts from the nineteenth century.”
—Virgil Dean, editor of John Brown to Bob Dole: Movers and Shakers in Kansas History
“Twenty-five Years among the Indians and Buffalo, the memoir of William Street’s exciting decade on the Central Plains during the 1870s, is a treasure house for those interested in the history both of Kansas and of the American West. During this seminal decade of westward expansion, Street was an Indian fighter, a soldier, a buffalo hunter, a trapper, a homesteader, a town founder, and a cowboy. (Like Jack Crabb in Thomas Berger’s great novel, Little Big Man, Street seems to have been an active participant in nearly every occupation of the Old West.) Recorded in the early twentieth century, after Street had become a newspaper editor (which perhaps explains the clarity of his engaging prose), we gain new ground-level insights into activities, since mythologized, that were quotidian events for Street and his contemporaries.”
—Jim Hoy, author of Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales from the Tallgrass PrairieSee fewer reviews...
In later life Street rose to prominence as a newspaper publisher, state legislator, and regent of the Kansas State Agricultural College. At the time of his death—noted in the New York Times—he was still at work on his memoir. Handed down through his family over the past century and faithfully transcribed here, Street's story of frontier life is as rich in history as it is in character, giving us a sense of what it was to be not just a witness to, but a player in, the drama of the plains as it unfolded in the late nineteenth century. Edited by Street's great-grandson, with an introduction by Richard Etulain, a leading scholar of the West, this memoir is history as it was lived, recalled in sharp detail and recounted in engaging prose, for the ages.