In 1857 James Anderson Slover rode into Indian Territory as the first Southern Baptist missionary to the Cherokee Nation. As the Civil War began to divide the Cherokees along with the rest of the nation, Slover was caught up in one of the most intense dramas of his century. As a farmer, teacher, preacher and evangelist, observer of the Mexican War and the Civil War, contemporary commentator on slavery, and California pioneer, Slover played a small role in changing the face of the nation. It was in 1907, a year after he helped build shelters for people left homeless by the great San Francisco earthquake, that he began composing a record of his eventful life. The resulting book is a wonderful gift to any reader curious about the life and culture of nineteenth-century America.
Slover tells of flatboating down rivers from Tennessee to Arkansas, "skedaddling" from the Union army in Indian Territory, and working his way up the West Coast to Oregon, preaching the gospel as he went and carving a new life for himself and his family time after time. His autobiography, encompassing eighty-three years of his life and spanning most of a century, gives us a vivid picture of a lost world and of how it was experienced by an ordinary man in extraordinary times.
Barbara Cloud is Associate Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is the author of The Business of Newspapers on the Western Frontier and has been the editor of Journalism History since 1992.
"An interesting and useful primary source, particularly for its account of his work among the Cherokees and homesteading life in the West."—Choice
"Through his many and varied travels, this 'ordinary' man provides the discerning reader with insights into the fascinating world . . . of the nineteenth century."—North Carolina Historical Review
"A fascinating recollection of the life and times of a man who, among many other activities, served as a Baptist minister to the Cherokees during the American Civil War. . . . A wonderful narrative of life in nineteenth-century America, which students of history in and out of scholarly circles will find intriguing."—James Klein, The Chronicles of Oklahoma
“This autobiography of a Southern Baptist minister provides an interesting glimpse of the lives of ordinary people in the antebellum South and in Indian Territory during the Civil War. . . . It reveals on a personal level that history is not necessarily composed only of earth-shattering events but of the humble activities of men and women who encounter failure as often (or perhaps more often) than success but remain undaunted.”—Clara Sue Kidwell, Journal of Southern History
"An excellent book. . . . Readable and informative."—Daniel Johnson, Journal of the West