J. V. Brower

It is necessary to notice here the work of one J. V. Brower, who some years ago came into Kansas and pretended to fix beyond question the exact spots visited by Coronado. He published three books on the transactions of Coronado. He made maps of Quivira and the adjacent country of Harahey. On these maps he pretended to define the bounds of those countries exactly—there was no conjecture, no possibility of error admitted. In instances without number the lines of Quivira bend around the heads of ravines as though a careful survey had been made. The north line is carried along the south bank of the Smoky Hill, falling sometimes within a mile or less of that stream, but never permitted to touch it. The line between France and Germany was never more closely adjusted than he made that between two tribes of brutish Indians belonging to a common linguistic family. He pretended to rediscover the principal villages and camps of Quivira and Harahey. He caused to be erected granite monuments to mark the sites of these supposed rediscoveries. And these shafts always bore inscriptions telling how the sites they marked had been rediscovered by J. V. Brower.

Mr. Brower pretended to define these countries of Quivira and Harahey by the extent of certain chart beds and the forms of certain flint implements he found about the forks of the Kansas River. He claims to have traced the inhabitants of Quivira and Harahey from the Ozark Mountains to the locations he assigns them. He did this by means of the forms of the flint arrowheads, knives, axes, and hammers made by them. He even assures us that they lived on deer and wild turkeys in the Ozarks, but became raw-meat eaters and blood-drinkers on the Kansas plains where they could get buffaloes for food. This seems strange when we remember that there were as many buffaloes on the plains skirting the Ozarks as there were on the Kansas River, and as many deer and turkeys on the Kansas streams as there were in the Ozarks. And even on the Ozark ranges there were buffaloes in untold numbers. For the Ozark Mountains were treeless and grass-covered until the expulsion of the Indians. The timber appeared on them after the white man came and stopped the Indian practice of burning the country over annually.

The methods of Mr. Brower cannot be approved. The shafts which he caused to be erected may by mere accident be in proper locations. Most probably they are not. He did not know. No one knows. No one ever will know. The data to determine these matters does not now exist. So far as is now known, this evidence had not been in existence for the past three hundred years.

With Quivira Kansas made her first manifestation. She broke on the world with a radiant flash as a recompense to Coronado for Cibola and the pueblos of the Rio Grande—the mummy villages of the dead deserts. While she was not appreciated and was left to her “brutish people” and her rolling herds of wild oxen for some centuries, it is a source of satisfaction to know that the Kansas plains were ridden over by mailed knights generations before Jamestown and Plymouth Rock were planted on our eastern shores. Vague Old Quivira plants the feet of lusty young Kansas in the dim and misty fastnesses of the past to give dignity and beget pride in the history of a state. Hazy and distant Quivira is hoary with antiquity, but in young and buxom Kansas she becomes the beacon of modern energy to light up the ways of the world. Touched with the magic fire of Kansas, Old Quivira had become a flame that burns across the heavens—an inspiration, an ideal far superior in value to the crops or herds or mines embraced in all her borders. For ideals are more precious to mankind than material things.

So, Quivira takes its place as one of those romantic incidents peculiar to Kansas history. It was all but forgotten for two hundred years. Connected with any other state, Quivira would have passed from the memory of man. Or, perhaps, a few dry lines would have appeared in the misty annals of the Southwest to tell of a fruitless trip to a desert land. But associated with Kansas it became an indefinite mystery vital as the pilgrimages to find the Holy Grail. Romances will have their seat in it. Quivira is not only coequal with Kansas—it is Kansas. It matters not now about exact metes and bounds, and never more will matter, for they are not essential to Quivira. It assumes a larger part—takes form as our earliest absorbing tradition. It is our remotest background in which take refuge the mystic tragedies incident to the evolution of the Great Plains. As a field for the fanciful it holds an expanding value to the coming generations of Kansas. Intangible as the luminous haze of a plains-horizon, Quivira will become the swelling fountain of romance for all who shall seek to connect their times with that mystic life which is to remain the strongest support of civilization as long as the world shall stand.

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