The Story of a West Texas Family
John R. Erickson
Book published by University of North Texas Press
Prairie Gothic is rich in Texas history. It is the story of Erickson's family, ordinary people who, through strength of character, found dignity in the challenges presented by nature and human nature. It is also the story of the place instrumental in shaping their lives the flatland prairie of northwestern Texas that has gone by various names (High Plains, South Plains, Staked Plains, and Llano Estacado), as well as the rugged country on its eastern boundary, often referred to as the caprock canyonlands.
One branch of Ericksonís family arrived in Texas in 1858, settling in Parker County, west of Weatherford. Another helped establish the first community on the South Plains, the Quaker colony of Estacado. They crossed paths with numerous prominent people in Texas history: Sam Houston, Sul Ross, Charles Goodnight, Cynthia Ann and Quanah Parker, Jim Loving, and a famous outlaw, Tom Ross.
Ericksonís research took him into the homes of well-known Texas authors, such as J. Evetts Haley and John Graves. Graves had written about the death of Erickson's great-great grandmother, Martha Sherman. The theme that runs throughout the book is that of family, of four generationsí efforts to nurture the values of civilized people: reverence of the written word, honesty, godliness, thrift, and personal relationship. It is the story of pioneer women and their struggles to keep their families together; it is the story of cowboys, outlaws, and Indian raids, told against the background of a harsh environment of droughts, blizzards, and rattlesnakes; and it is universal. Erickson has created a fascinating blend of family and regional history.
John R. Erickson is a fifth generation Texan, born and raised in the Texas Panhandle. In 1982 Erickson launched the Hank the Cowdog series, now published by Penguin Putnam. He and his wife run their own ranch and commercial beef cattle operation. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters, Erickson has been profiled in Southern Living, American Cowboy Magazine, and on CBSís Evening News with Dan Rather. He is the author of seven books in UNT Pressí Western Life Series.
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