A Swallow Press Book

George Montague Wheeler
The Man and the Myth

By Doris O. Dawdy

“Dawdy’s book is an important contribution. Anyone pursuing details of Wheeler's career cannot rely upon his official government reports of his expeditions; they must consult Dawdy’s illuminating research.”

Robert C. Euler, The Journal of Arizona History

Until Dawdy's “The Wyant Diary” appeared in Arizona and the West in 1980, it was virtually unknown that Lt. Wheeler was the leader of the government exploring party from which artist A. H. Wyant returned with a paralyzed arm. So little used were government reports prior to the mid-twentieth century that not one of the writers and compilers of information about this prominent artist, known to have been with a military expedition, had looked at the most likely report, that of Lt. Wheeler.

Government reports can be extremely misleading. Fault can be found with Wheeler’s in particular. Not only was the Wyant incident disguised in the 1873 report, but earlier reports concealed a hidden agenda that was not exposed until the 1960s when Wheeler’s mining operations were disclosed.

Dawdy’s research was done mainly at the National Archives during the years she lived in the Washington area. All War Department papers relating to Wheeler's explorations from 1869 to 1879 were examined and many of them copied. They tell a far different story from that told by Wheeler in his early reports and his final report which appeared in 1889. Likewise so do the field notes of G. K. Gilbert, Wheeler’s chief geologist, and a recent Indian rights case filed by the Hualapai Tribe of Arizona claiming compensation for minerals extracted by mining entrepreneurs, including some in Wheeler’s Maynard District that were located by Wheeler and various members of his expedition in 1871.

At last there is an explanation of the powers of attorney Wheeler extracted from members of his expedition in 1871 when the government was accused by a California newspaper of sending out a party of prospectors. Mineral locations found by those prospectors became the property of Lyons and Wheeler Mining Company, a California corporation, in 1872.

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Related Subjects

History · American History · Literary Studies · Biography · Western Americana



Retail price: $24.95, S.
Release date: Oct. 1993
136 pages
Rights: World