In the process of researching the history of my hometown (New Auburn, Wisconsin) (now Population: 562) (urban sprawl!) for the book Population 485, I discovered that the town’s founder David Cartwright had written a bestselling book in 1875. I tracked down an actual copy of the book, but it took some doing. This morning a reader sent me a Tweet with a link showing me that along with everything else in the world the book has now been scanned into Google and you can read it here.
Here’s a portion of how I described the book in Population 485:
I have never seen any photographs of Cartwright, but the title page of Western Wild Animals is faced by an engraving tagged with the caption, “David’s Return to Camp.” He wears a white beard and a flat cap, and he is striding down a wooded trail, a rifle in his right hand and a dead deer balanced over his left shoulder. In short, he looks like a forbidding version of the Quaker Oats man. A selection from the preface seems a continuation of the furrow in his brow:
He is…not a professional book maker, and he knows that it is only by practice that there comes any great degree of perfection in any art or trade. What he gives you, he puts upon the basis of an experience of forty years, and gives it with that assurance that he believes should come of practical knowledge, as opposed to any hypothetical and visionary trash.
No dancing ‘round the campfire with patchouli and rain sticks, then. All well and good. But here’s where my ears really pricked:
Since the author of this book claims for himself an incompetency to the task of putting it into shape, and the more exact wording of its pages, and has placed that part of the work into the hands of another, it is due to him to say that…
Just a cotton-pickin’ minute. Back to the title page. Western Wild Animals, etc, and etc. By David W. Cartwright. In much smaller print: Written by Mary F. Bailey. Turns out David W. had a ghostwriter.
Thanks to nanaze for the note.