Gleanings From Western Prairies

Willie Woodhouse is a well-traveled Englishman who has journeyed all the way to Kansas to taste the frontier life of a ranching friend near the Osage Catholic Mission in the southeastern corner of the new state. Although resolved to give the experience an honest try, he is still somewhat taken aback at the unaccustomed roughness around him:

“Are these my neighbours and friends?” soliloquised Woodhouse. “What can I do for them in these months to come?”

Woodhouse spends time learning about pioneer life, frontier justice, and the Osage Mission before an epidemic strikes and he finds the way in which he can be useful.

The characters and storyline of Gleanings from Western Prairies by the Reverend W. E. Youngman are engaging, if the denouement is rather weak. However, the book has primarily been included here for its faithful account of early settlement in Kansas. Readers will learn as much as Woodhouse did about Indians and ranchers, and will see how the Osage Mission made the transition from serving the natives to educating the white settlers.

If you are looking for a time capsule of early southeastern Kansas, you may find Gleanings from Western Prairies to be an interesting presentation of the hardships that the settlers faced. And it is available free online!