D. C. Oakes: Family, Friends & Foe | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library http://coloradowest.staging.auraria.edu/book-review/d-c-oakes-family-friends-foe[12/8/2015 12:42:46 PM] Home D. C. Oakes: Family, Friends & FoeD. C. Oakes: Family, Friends & FoeSubmitted by jainlayconley on 8-7-2010 07:38 PMAuthor: LaVonne J. Perkins Publishing: Stony Ridge Press, 2009. Photos, drawings, maps, bibliography, index. 351 pages. 8-1/2 x 11. $29.95 paperback. Reviewer: Clark Secrest Daniel Chessman Oakes was among Colorados foremost pioneers:explorer, prospector, vigilante, lumberman, Indian agent, land surveyor, postmaster, legislator, and indefatigable booster. Oddly, until now, nobody has attempted his full biography. D.C Oakes, as he came to be known, was born in Maine in 1825 but spent his early years in Iowa. In 1858, he embarked upon the first of his many treks to the goldfields of what would become Colorado. Because of his growing familiarity with the Platte River route, he helped prepare a guidebook for goldseekers, explaining perils of travel across the plains and suggesting that riches awaited at the terminus. Initially, the booklet brought Oakes considerable renown among the westward adventurers, but quickly this acclaim turned to scorn from those who, not finding gold nuggets lying scattered about, deemed the whole book a gross exaggeration. Soon Oakes discovered himself being buried in effigy along the Platte trail, with the epithet, Here lies the bones of D. C. Oakes, author of the Pikes Peak Hoax. Indeed, Oakess reputation became so tarnished among the disillusioned and angry prospectors that he began avoiding them on the trail, fearing for his life. Among the mysteries of this book is why the subtitle reads & Foe, rather than & Foes. Nonetheless, Oakes persevered, becoming one of Denvers and Colorados foremost citizens, until his death in 1887. LaVonne J. Perkins has conducted an impressive amount of primary-source research in this biography. The author states (12) that she read every issue of the Rocky Mountain News from 1859a big claim, but one that just might be true, judging from the abundance of minutiae tucked in among the solid history in this book. Would that the author had winnowed out the chaff and concentrated on the wheat. The text repeatedly meanders so far off-topic that the continuity of Oakess story becomes muddled. Other complications conspire to make this a challenging read: The sometimes ungrammatical text is punctuationchallenged and misunderstands the functions of possessive apostrophes and certain plurals. Whoever advised the author that material within quote marks should be set in italics did this project a great disservice, as this typographical quirk is distracting throughout. The project stumbles out of the gate by misspelling, in the acknowledgments, the name of the late and much-beloved Eleanor Gehres, head of the Denver Public Librarys Western History Department. The blunder is certain to attract the attention of the Colorado history community. Is there a worse place to misspell a name than in a tribute? The misspellings continue. Wild Bills last name was Hickok, not Hickcock (9); mountain man Jim Beckwourths surname is not spelled Beckworth (95 and 343); and a certain early Colorado history EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanThe Ute people have lived in Colorado longer than anyone else.
D. C. Oakes: Family, Friends & Foe | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library http://coloradowest.staging.auraria.edu/book-review/d-c-oakes-family-friends-foe[12/8/2015 12:42:46 PM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us journal was titled The Trail not The Tail (64). Poncho Pass (284 and 348) is actually Poncha Pass. Denver lawman Tom Pollocks name is spelled two different ways on page 101 and the patriotic song Hail Columbia is presented as Hail Colombia on page 199. To assert that the Nebraska State Archives are in Lincoln, Colorado (338) is outright sloppiness. And so forth. The books notes conform to no established (or consistent) style and sometimes lack the required data. The index is remarkable for its omissions, and the bibliography is a woefully imprecise hodgepodge. Illustrations are poorly placed and first names too often are missing. And how a biography of an important Denver pioneer could have been prepared without consulting the ultimate Denver history, Jerome Smileys History of Denver is more than I can figure out. The project would have benefited from the attention of an editor or proofreader experienced in presenting Denver and Colorado local histories. The books salvation is the depth of its research and the fresh material it presents. The author has mined many resources not hitherto examined. In particular, students of Colorado Indian history will find much of interest in these pages, notably in the last half of the book. In the final analysis, D. C. Oakes: Family, Friends & Foe is a frustrating yet worthy addition to Colorado history, although future researchers may opt to use the book advisedly. Reviewer Info: A longtime staffer at The Denver Post (1962), Clark Secrest enjoyed a second career as editor of Colorado Heritage, the flagship magazine of the Colorado Historical Society. He authored Hells Belles: Denvers Brides of the Multitudes > (Aurora: Hindsight Historical Publications, 1996), subsequently revised and reissued as Hells Belles: Prostitution, Vice, and Crimein Early Denver (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2002). He coauthored (with Ariana Harner) Children of the Storm: The True Story of the Pleasant Hill School BusTragedy (Golden: Fulcrum Publishing, 2001). Add new comment