A Swallow Press Book
“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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“The discovery of Goldfield, Nevada, in 1902, along with the earlier discovery of Tonopah in 1900, marked the revival of mining in Nevada. Mining production, which had escalated after the discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859, dropped to almost nothing with the decline of the Comstock in the 1870s. Without continued mining production, the state entered what proved to be a twenty-year depression period that ultimately led some observers to suggest that Nevada be deprived of its statehood.
This is the story of the men who sought for gold, from California to the eastern rim of the Rocky Mountains. Wolle writes colorfully of the unbelievable privations the men endured in penetrating the fastnesses of the high Sierra and the Rockies and in crossing the desert wastes of Arizona, Utah and Nevada; of the mines first discovered in New Mexico by Coronado and his men four centuries ago; and the first great rush that hit California in 1849.
The Denver African Expedition of 1925 sought “the cradle of Humanity.” The explorers returned claiming to have found the “Missing Link” in the Heikum bushmen of the Kalahari—and they proceeded to market this image. As Robert J. Gordon shows in Picturing Bushmen, the impact of the expedition lay not simply in its slick merchandising of bushmen images but also in the fact that the pictures were exotic and aesthetically pleasing.