Thursday, June 22, 2017

Conan and the OAK, Part 1 - 1933 by Bobby Derie

"Until recently—a few weeks ago in fact—I employed no agent."
—Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, Jul 1933 (CL 3.82, MF 2.605)

For the first years of his pulp career, Robert E. Howard acted as his own agent, dividing his working time between writing and revising stories and poems, and drafting letters to submit those stories to markets both new and established. The Texan’s access to market news was largely limited to what he could read on the pulps in the stands, industry scuttlebutt from his letters to Lovecraft, E. Hoffmann Price, and August Derleth, and the occasional guidance from editors. In early 1932, Howard supplemented this by joining the American Fiction Guild, a professional organization aimed at freelance writers, whose organ Author & Journalist contained advertisements for upcoming pulps and other market news. (CL 2.337) Around the same time, an unknown agency offered to represent Howard:
Hundreds of part-time authors have been dumped on the market, and that makes competition tougher. The part time writer is often more efficient than the professional; he’s had more time to study style and literature. An agency wrote me wanting to handle my stuff for a year or so. They bragged on what they’d done for Whitehead; I wrote Whitehead and he replied cryptically that he considered himself heap damn fortunate to have gotten out of their talons as soon as he did. (CL 2.368)
Otis Adelbert Kline
Howard turned them down, but the idea had merit: an agent devotes their energies to selling your material, freeing the writer to writing, allowing them to produce more; a good agent had representatives and connections in more markets than a lone pulpster might be aware of, and could handle the complicated issues of anthology reprints, overseas sales—or even radio serials and movie adaptations. Perhaps this is why in the spring of 1933, Robert E. Howard signed on with an agent: Otis Adelbert Kline.

Kline had been a writer in the pulps in his own right, today most remembered for his Edgar Rice Burroughs-esque serial novels like The Planet of Peril (1929), Jan of the Juggle (1931), The Swordsman of Mars (1933) for Argosy, but he was also an early contributor to Weird Tales, and anonymously edited the May-Jun-Jul 1924 issue. (WT50 84, IMH 175) Robert E. Howard was aware of Kline as a writer, and considered him a good one (CL 2.123, 302); Lovecraft was more critical, considering Kline’s fiction among “the pallid hack work of systematically mercenary writers[.]” (MF 2.560) Whatever his merits as a writer, Kline fell into being an agent; in his own words:
In 1923, I helped another writer, an old timer who had quit for eight years and with whom I had previously collaborated on songs and movie scenarios, and one musical comedy, to come back. He quickly told others of the help I had given him, and they told others, so presently, I had an agency, international in its scope. Soon I was selling the work of other writers as well as my own in foreign countries as well as the US. Presently, also, I was representing foreign publishers, literary agents and authors in this country, and similarly representing US publishers, authors and syndicates in foreign countries. (OAK 15.4)
The foreign angle was Kline’s United Sales Plan, as detailed by his friend and occasional client E. Hoffmann Price:
In addition to domestic marketing, Otis developed his Unified Sales Plan: every story which he accepted for handling in the States went to his foreign representatives. Although Otis did not by any means originate the foreign rights angle, he was a pioneer among his competitors in that he regarded every story as having foreign sales potential. He is not only increased his clients’ income—his approach won him new clients. (BOD 36, cf. OAK 5.9-12)
While much of the correspondence between Howard and Kline is no longer extant, the few letters that remain give an outline of their business relationship. Kline waived reading fees (a fee for reading a manuscript and trying to sell it), and worked on a straight commission: 10% of whatever the story sold for went to Kline. Kline, who was centered in Chicago, also had associates in other cities: if he couldn’t sell a story, himself, Kline would send it out to an agent. If they sold a story, they got a 5% commission, on top of Kline’s 10%. The checks generally went directly from the publisher to Kline, who subtracted his (and his associates’) commission, then cut a check to Robert E. Howard. So, for example, “Guns of the Mountain” (5,000 words) was sold to Action Stories by Kline’s associate V. I. Cooper for 1¢ per word, for a total of $50—of which Kline got $5, Cooper got $2.50, and Robert E. Howard received $42.50. (IMH 363) This practice was not always strictly followed, as magazines sometimes paid Howard directly, and he would cut a check for the commission to Kline. (IMH 372)

In a letter dated 11 May 1933 mentions four stories: “The Yellow Cobra”, “The Turkish Menace”, “The Jade Monkey”, and “Cultured Cauliflowers,” and asks how often Howard can pump them out. (IMH 18, OAK 10.11) These were boxing stories, part of a series starring Sailor Steve Costigan, who had featured regularly in Fight Stories until that pulp suspended publication in May 1932; “Cultured Cauliflowers” had even been written at the suggestion of editor Jack Byrne. (CL 2.196-197) Kline dutifully began circulating the tales, starting with “Turkish Menace” at Argosy, where it was rejected. (FI 3.317)

Magic Carpet Magazine
January 1934
Howard then sent Kline a new Costigan story, “Alleys of Darkness,” which was accepted by Farnsworth Wright for the Magic Carpet Magazine (the successor to Oriental Tales), and eventually appeared in the January 1934 issue—as by “Patrick Ervin” (since Howard already had another story in that issue, “The Shadow of the Vulture,” under his own name) and starring Sailor Dennis Dorgan instead of Steve Costigan. Wright bought “The Yellow Cobra”, “The Turkish Menace”, and “The Jade Monkey” as “Dorgan” tales, though Magic Carpet folded before they saw print. (FI 3.318) In May 1933, Howard sent Kline another Costigan tale: “Sailor Costigan and the Destiny Gorilla”; according to the manuscript list, Kline sent this out to multiple markets, but it failed to sell. (IMH 358, cf. FI 3.318-319).

In June of the same year, Howard sent Kline three westerns: “The Devil’s Joker,” “Knife, Bullet & Noose”, and “Law-Shooters of Cow Town” all of which featured similar results. In a letter dated 16 June 1933, Kline returned as unsuitable Howard’s story “Wild Water” (IMH 19, 359), and opined on the other stories:
The other Westerns you sent me are short, and can get by with light plots in all probability, but I believe that if you are going to write in this length or longer you should develop more complicated plots, with intrigues, counter plots, and two or more principal characters, each with some definite purpose to accomplish, the purposes forming the basis for the plot conflict. The best lengths to aim at in the Western field are around 5,000 words for shorts and 10,000 to 12,000 for novelettes. Personally, I would like to see you try a novelette or two. I have an idea that they are just as easy for you to write as the shorts, and they bring in more money. You are doing some splendid novelettes for Weird Tales, and with your knowledge of the West, there is no reasons why you shouldn’t do equally good ones in that field. (IMH 19)
Mar-Apr 1934
Action Stories
Whether or not Howard took this advice to heart, in July he sent Kline “Mountain Man,” the first Breckinridge Elkins yarn, which sold in October, and would appear the following year in Action Stories (Mar-Apr 1934). (IMH 360) Howard wrote to August Derleth that “I hope to work out a series, as I used to in the past with Steve Costigan, the fighting sailor.” (CL 3.148) If Howard was following his own head in regard to Westerns, he was following Kline’s advice in at least one respect: trying to crack the detective pulps:
Lately I’ve been trying to write detective yarns, something entirely new for me, and haven’t had much success — in fact none, so far, except for a short yarn, “Talons in the Dark”, written in San Antonio last spring, and which Kline, as my agent, sold to a magazine called Strange Detective Stories. Kline has been a big help in teaching me the technique of detective story writing; whether I am able to profit by his teaching remains to be seen. (Kline marketed another yarn for me since I wrote the above.) (CL 3.108, MF 2.634)
“Talons in the Dark” was submitted to Kline in July 1933, and after being rejected by Real Detective received some rewrites and was accepted by Strange Detective Stories, where it would appear under the title “Black Talons” in December 1933.

“A New Game for Costigan” was sent to the Kline agency in August 1933, but like the “Sailor Costigan and the Destiny Gorilla,” it failed to place. (IMH 360) Howard at this point had about a dozen stories in circulation by Kline, but only a couple sales to show for it. He acknowledged that Kline had cracked him into a new market, but admitted he didn’t “know how it’ll pan out.” (CL 3.132) Lovecraft was more positive:
Glad you have begun to place detective tales—Kline seems to be a great teacher of formula, judging from the help he has given Price. He is also a marvellous aid in marketing. (MF 2.655)
Feb. 1934
Strange Detective Stories
Strange Detective Stories accepted Howard’s next submission through Kline, the novelette “Lord of the Dead,” as well as “The Teeth of Doom” (published under the byline “Patrick Ervin” and the title “The Tomb’s Secret” in the Sep 1933 issue), and “The People of the Serpent” (published as “Fangs of Gold” in Feb 1934); however, in the March 1934 issue of Strange Detective never came, and “The Lord of the Dead” was returned, unpublished and unpaid for. All of these tales featured a new series character, weird detective Steve Harrison—but Harrison himself wasn’t enough of a draw; Howard sent Kline “The Black Moon”, “The Voice of Death”, and “The House of Suspicion” in the same line, all of which were rejected. (IMH 361-364)

Howard next sent Kline the adventure novelette “Hawks Over Egypt” and the Steve Costigan boxing short “A Two-Fisted Santa Claus,” neither of which sold, though Kline marketed them broadly. (IMH 362-363) Breckenridge Elkins did sell, however: “Guns of the Mountains” would appear in Action Stories (May-Jun 1934). The end of the year would see similar results, with Howard submitting “The Ghost With the Silk Hat,” “Swords of the Hills,” and “The Gold from Tatary”, with only the latter selling (to Thrilling Adventures, where it appeared as “The Treasures of Tartary” in Jan 1935).

So in the first year of their business, Howard had submitted about two dozen stories and Kline had sold eight—although “Lord of the Dead” would ultimately fizzle and “Alleys of Darkness” and “The People of the Serpent” paid in 1934, so Howard was only paid for five in 1933. “Mountain Man” ($46.75), “Talons in the Dark” ($55.25), “The Teeth of Doom” ($72.25), “Guns of the Mountains” ($42.50), and “Gold from Tatary” ($42.50) accounted for a total of $259.25 after the Kline agency’s commissions. (IMH 358-364) This was in addition to what Howard was selling to Weird Tales on his own, and unpaid material in The Fantasy Fan.

___________________

Works Cited
BOD    Book of the Dead: Friends of Yesteryear: Fictioneers & Others
CL      Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard (3 vols. + Index & Addenda)
CS       The Conan Swordbook
FI        Fists of Iron (4 vols.)
IMH    The Collected Letters of Dr. Isaac M. Howard
MF      A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E.                                  Howard (2 vols)
OAK    OAK Leaves: The Official Journal of Otis Adelbert Kline (16 issues)
WT50   WT50: A Tribute to Weird Tales



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Heroic’s Aside (The Writers Journey) by David J. West

“If I was wealthy I'd never do anything but poke around in ruined cities all over the world - and probably get snake-bit.” — Robert E. Howard letter to H.P. Lovecraft

I relate to that statement quite a lot. I’ve always been fascinated with history and it informs everything I do. It is likely enough that most of this post is just me projecting, so I’d appreciate if you just bear with me.
     There is just about no one I’d rather be able to sit down with for a spell and pick their brain than Robert E. Howard. His appreciation for art, poetry, history, adventure and sheer story-telling genius bowls me over.
     As big a fan as I am for Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn and the rest, I’ve got a very soft spot for the Horror Stories of REH. I reread the newer Del Rey collection often and even have the audio book on my phone for listening to favorite shorts on quick car trips. With that in mind, I’m also fascinated with the mysterious occult that is alluded to within stories like “The Black Stone,” “Dig Me No Grave,” and “The Dwellers Under the Tomb.”
     Enter John Kirowan, John Conrad, and John O’Donnell. Having three Johns must be a nod to reality being stranger than fiction because for three friends to have the same given name is just the right kind of Charles Fortianesque coincidence perfect for their stories.
     Used interchangeably to relate supernatural mysteries on everything from vampires to the lost race, we get to follow along with these members of the Wanderer’s Club and share in their wonder and grim discoveries.
     Now, I’ve heard/read people talk about Conan and Kull being a mirror image of Howard for this or that reason, Breckenridge Elkins too, and I can see merit in all those comparisons for various reasons. However, none of them were quite in the exact self-same era as Howard himself. However, Kirowan, Conrad, and O’Donnell are and I can’t help but wonder how much of their mystic travels and research are things Howard would have liked himself—to have been able to do himself—if the means and change in familial circumstances enabled him.
     We know he loved to read and visit historic places. Because of this, in different circumstances, he might have been a member of the Wanderer’s Club. Life being what it is, we all have family duties and financial woes, so where is a dreamer to turn? To the written page in order to escape, travel, and create that wondrous ‘What if.’ And some dreams being made up of nightmare, we, of course, get terror with some of those travels. (I borrowed that from KEW)
     What book reader wouldn’t appreciate, nay want, the very same collection of strange tomes and curious relics described in Conrad’s library? I’ve done what I can to recreate that myself, though I have had no luck in procuring any copy of Von Juntz’s works. Perhaps if I could get a hold of Tussmann’s?
     Rereading the fragment of Kirowan and Conrad, “The House,” and relaying the history of Justin Geoffrey, I could not help but wonder how much what Howard thought played with his own otherworldly nuances, making him so much different than others in Cross Plains. Every line by Howard about the poet as touched or mad is a reflection, to me anyway, of Howard’s own view of himself; an in-joke perhaps more for himself than any reader. It is here that I may simply be projecting, because as a writer myself that is what I see when I read those lines.
     If I could converse with the master himself, these are the questions I’d ask him. I’d also let him know that I owe him a great debt, and say, “Thank You,” for allowing me to accompany you on these journeys into heroic mystery and wonder. I’m eternally grateful.
__________________________
About the Author:

David J. West is the author of Scavengers: A Porter Rockwell Adventure (Dark Trails Saga Vol. 1)Heroes of the Fallen, Weird Tales of Horror, and The Mad Song. He has an affinity for history, action-adventure, fantasy, westerns and pulp fiction horror blended with a sharp knife and served in a dirty glass.

Before becoming an award-winning poet, novelist, and songwriter he was vagabonding all over North America sampling native fauna for brunch. When he isn’t writing he enjoys traveling and visiting ancient ruins with intent on finding their lost secrets or at the very least getting snake bit. He collects swords, fine art and has a library of some seven thousand books. He currently lives in Utah with his wife and children.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Friend of a Friend: Robert E. Howard and Frank Belknap Long, Part Two by Bobby Derie

Belknap & Lovecraft 1931
Frank Belknap Long was also dragged into one of Howard and Lovecraft’s long-ranging arguments on mental vs. physical, civilization vs. barbarism. Lovecraft, though arguing for the superiority of mental exertion over physical, was not unsympathetic to Howard’s view on the general agree ability of physical ability; the Rhode Islander wrote to the Texan:
In recognizing this condition, I am quite on your side—as against utter despisers of physical stamina and combat like Frank B. Long and others of the younger generation. (MF1.421)
In a subsequent letter, Lovecraft clarified:
So I stand half-way betwixt Long and yourself—insisting on the one hand that the glorification of the physical ought to be subordinated to the glorification of the mental, but on the other and insisting that the loss of a certain standard of physical prowess and combative interest means effeminacy and decadence. [...] Some years ago Long and I attempted to explore the Fulton Fish Market section of New York—which is full of quaint scenes and buildings. Ordinarily I have about 50 times the vigour and endurance of young Belknap—but for once he had grandpa at a disadvantage. (MF2.524-525)
Howard responded:
You mention my position as being at the other extreme from—I believe it was Long you mentioned. [...] Putting Long at one end of the rope, and me at the other, of course, you know Long, but in justice to myself, I must assure you that you are wrong about my position at the other extremity. (CL3.19, 27, MF2.535, 541)
This dispute, like others, was broken up at intervals by other, friendlier subjects such as Lovecraft relaying his Christmas 1932 visit with the Longs and his old New York literary circle (MF2.256), which Howard evinced polite interest in (CL3.30, MF2.544). Yet they did return to it once again, Lovecraft clarifying:
In contrasting you and Long I meant only to convey that your respective positions represent extremes within the very narrow circle of my active correspondents. Of course, I realize very keenly that extremes exist in both directions, which far transcend our position on the one hand and Long's on the other. [...] and nobody I know of (except Long, who thought it just a bit juvenile for a man of his high development in superior lines) ever criticised him for that satisfaction. (MF2.553, 555)
One wonders if Lovecraft showed Long these particular letters, or considered the impression that the Rhode Islander was building of his New Yorker friend when he wrote things like:
And our fellow-weirdest Frank Belknap Long Jr. is forced to leave the table in haste when blood or slaughter is too vividly brought into the conversation. [...] As to the varying degrees of sensitiveness at the sight or mention of blood—of course, actual fainting represents a pathological extreme .... as does also, perhaps, Long's acute nausea. (MF2.726, 790)
 In a letter dated 24 July 1933, Lovecraft wrote to Howard:
Speaking of literary insincerity and repulsive hack work—Long has just sold a wretched "confession" tale to the equally wretched Macfadden outfit for $100.00. He isn't signing his own name, though the company insist on his giving them his full name and address for filing. It gives him a nauseated feeling to reflect that his name is even secretly connected with such a piece of abysmal tripe—but he wants the cash badly! (MF2.630)
Otis Adelbert Kline



Sunday, April 23, 2017

Friend of a Friend: Robert E. Howard and Frank Belknap Long, Part One by Bobby Derie

Frank Belknap Long
Robert E. Howard and Frank Belknap Long, Jr. never met, nor did they correspond directly. Yet they shared an interest in poetry; a profession, in pulp writing; markets in common, especially Weird Tales; a common agent, in Otis Adelbert Kline; a collaboration, in the form of the round-robin “The Challenge From Beyond”; and of course they shared a friend: H. P. Lovecraft.

It was mostly through Lovecraft’s chain of correspondence that the two men came to know something of each other, though Howard had relatively little chance to remark on it during his lifetime, and Long had several productive decades to cast back his memories to the image of the Texan transmitted through Lovecraft’s letters, and Howard’s own fiction. Reflecting on the period, Long wrote:
I’ve never ceased to regret that I missed an opportunity to correspond at length with Howard in the far-off days of my still stubbornly recurrent youth. HPL urged me to do so, many times, and sent me virtually all of “Two-gun Bob’s” early letters to read at my leisure and eventually, of course, return to him. And most remarkable letters they were, some running to forty or fifty single-spaced typewritten pages. [...] But I consoled myself with the thought that Howard had revealed so much about himself in his letters to HPL that I felt as if I had met and talked with him at great length and had become—yes, the most esteemed of friends. (RSF 5)
Robert E. Howard
There is evidence to support the idea that Lovecraft “lent out” several of Howard’s letters to him. Annotations to some of Howard’s letters are attributed to Lovecraft and bear out his lending, e.g. “Return this to Grandpa or incur the direst consequences!” (CL2.489, MF1.511) and “Fra Bernardus to Francis, Lord Belknap. Comrade Belnapovitch to Grandpa—or incur the direst consequences!!” (CL3.18, MF2.535) Long went on to say:
This feeling of close friendship was reinforced by my knowledge that HPL had relayed to him my praise of his stories and that he had read a great many of my stories and poems and had been most generous in his praise of them. [...] He was an extraordinary writer, and even if he had never created Conan, or Solomon Kane, and a half dozen other imperishable mighty men of legendary renown, his letters to HPL alone would have established him as extraordinary. (RSF 5-6)
Lovecraft’s first mention of Long to Howard was in an early letter, dated 20 July 1930, and includes Long’s praise:
Young Frank B. Long (a friend of mine whose Weird Tales work you have probably noticed) & I argue interminably on this point, he being a Smith-adherent. [...] In closing, let me add that my friends Long & Clark Ashton Smith (whose work you must know) have repeatedly praised your tales, Long being especially enthusiastic about "Skull Face". He also likes your verses exceedingly. (MF1.30-31)
Robert E. Howard’s “Skull-Face” was serialized in Weird Tales Oct-Nov-Dec 1929; the Texan had also published several poems in the Unique Magazine, including “Dead Man’s Hate” (Jan 1930), “A Song Out of Midian” (Apr 1930), and “Shadows On the Road” (May 1930). Howard felt obliged to comment on this warm reception to his friend Tevis Clyde Smith:
He says his young friend Frank Belknap Long, and Clark Ashton Smith have often praised my junk. Well, I’m very glad of it, naturally. (CL2.58)



Sunday, April 9, 2017

A New Discovery: Herbert Klatt's Personal Photo Album by Todd B. Vick

A few months ago, I received a message from a reader of this blog regarding Robert E. Howard and a friend of his named Herbert Klatt. Of course, I’ve written about Herbert Klatt here at On An Underwood No. 5 since he was not only a friend of Robert E. Howard’s but also of Tevis Clyde Smith's, Truett Vinson's, and Harold Preece's. It turns out the person who contacted me, Christopher Oldham, is a relative of Herbert Klatt’s. Christopher contacted me because he had recently come into possession through his great aunt Oleta Klatt (a sister of Herbert’s), Herbert Klatt’s personal photo album.

When Christopher mentioned the photo album, the only thought in my mind was that there might be a potential picture of Robert E. Howard no one had seen. Through correspondence, Christopher began to tell me some of the names of the photos that were labeled in the book. I recognized several of these names, especially Truett Vinson. I asked Christopher if any of the pictures were labeled Tevis Clyde Smith or Harold Preece. “No,” he said, “but there are a few photos that are not labeled.” So, there was hope. Out of sheer kindness and a tremendous amount of trust, Christopher offered to mail the photo album to me so I could scan the pictures. This, of course, made me a little nervous. What if the pictures were lost in the mail? A question that was in the forefront of my mind. We arranged a plan: send the pictures first class priority with delivery confirmation, then I’ll scan them and return them the same way. That way we could track the package as it was in transit between the two of us, both ways. The plan worked without a hitch. I received the package, scan the pictures, and sent them back. No issues.

What was the result? Several new pictures that have never surfaced have been discovered. Unfortunately, none of the pictures were of Robert E. Howard. Even so, two new pictures of Truett Vinson were present, and a possible picture of Tevis Clyde Smith. These will be revealed in my upcoming biography about Robert E. Howard. Moreover, several pictures of Lone Scouts who were also participants in The Junto—an "amateur press association created by his [Howard's] friends Harold Preece and Booth Mooney, both ex-Lone Scouts, which they had cooked up after a meeting in San Antonio."—surfaced. For the picture that is potentially Tevis Clyde Smith, I got Howard historian and scholar, Rob Roehm involved. After comparing the photos Roehm had on file of Smith, he agreed that the picture was likely Smith. Unfortunately, the picture of Smith is not labeled, but it was placed on the same page with one of Truett Vinson’s photos (the only two on that page), and the fact that it is in Herbert Klatt’s personal photo album gives it strong provenance.

Now that everything is said and done, I asked Christopher if he’d be willing to participate in a small interview about his family and the photo album. He graciously agreed and what follows is our discussion about Herbert Klatt and the photo album. (U5 - On an Underwood No. 5 & CO - Christopher Oldham)

U5: How are you related to Herbert Klatt?
CO: He was my Grandfather’s brother which makes him my Great Uncle.
U5: How did you end up with the photo album?
CO: It belonged to my Great Aunt, Herbert’s sister, Oleta Klatt.
U5: When did you realize that your great uncle, Herbert Klatt, was a friend of Robert E. Howard's?
CO: When I read Lone Scout of Letters – Herbert C Klatt by Rob Roehm
U5: How did you discover Robert E. Howard?
CO: I discovered Howard when I read Rob Roehm’s book, which piqued my curiosity and caused me to read works by and about Robert E. Howard.
U5: Oh, so you did not know about Robert E. Howard before reading Rob’s book?
CO: No, I was not familiar with him like I am now. Rob Roehm contacted my family but the other branch. He contacted my mother’s cousins and they gave him some information. My mother mentioned it to me but her information may not have been consistent and I thought she might be mistaken. So, at first I was a little skeptical. But, that’s how I found out about Lone Scout of Letters – Herbert C Klatt.
U5: What made you want to get in touch with me regarding the photo album?
CO: I found the album in my aunt’s things last year and thought someone might be interested in the pictures and of his fellow Lone Scouts and friends he corresponded with.  I reached out to you via your website. I believe we have a responsibility when we discover these things to do what we can to share them with those that are interested.
U5: Can you recall and share any family stories about Herbert Klatt?
CO: Unfortunately, I cannot remember any. My great aunt spoke of him, but my memory fails me. She wished she had his creative writing ability. I believe his illness and untimely death inspired her to follow a career path which lead her into Cancer Research at MD Anderson in Houston Texas.  I would say that was highly unusual for a woman born in 1914. My great aunt and grandfather seemed to be profoundly affected by the loss of their older brother. They were 7 to 8 years younger, so I imagine that would have fostered a different relationship than if they were closer in age, less completion and perhaps more mentoring?  I knew Herbert planned to be a lawyer, and my grandfather wanted to study law as well.  Sadly, my grandfather was not able to finish high school, because Herbert passed, and his father became too ill to farm and tend livestock, so my grandfather had to work on the farm to support the family.
U5: Do you have anything else you would like to add?
CO: My aunt passed in 2006. It’s hard to believe it’s been was 11 years since then. Time passes faster and faster. She would have delighted in speaking to you about her brother.

I’m so thankful Christopher contacted me regarding the photo album. His eagerness to share helps us add new information to our studies of Robert E. Howard. Thank you Christopher.

Below are photographs (not scans) of a few of the pictures from Herbert Klatt's photo album. More of these pictures will be revealed in my upcoming biography about Robert E. Howard. Several of the pictures are people Howard knew either personally or through The Junto.

J. Leland Gault, two poses
Roy W. McDonald (a Lone Scout &
a member of The Junto)

Various Lone Scouts
(each marked except the upper right picture)


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Travels with Robert . . . Clarksville, Texas by Todd B. Vick

On April 30, 1913, Dr. Isaac M. Howard registered his medical license at the Red River County Courthouse in Clarksville, Texas. It was around this time that the Howards relocated to Bagwell, Texas for a spell. However, Clarksville, Texas and Red River County had a hundred-year history before the Howards ever step foot in the area.

On my recent road trip to Clarksville, I discovered a few things about my home state’s history that I did not know.

First, five men who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence are from Red River County. These men include, Richard Ellis (1781-1846), moved to Texas from Virginia, owned a plantation on the Red River, and served as a Texas senator. Robert Hamilton (1783-1843), immigrated from Scotland, to North Carolina, moved to Texas in 1834 and eventually became Chief Justice of Red River County.  Albert Hamilton Latimir (1800-1877), settled near Pecan Point in 1833 and served two terms as a representative for Red River County, became the State comptroller, and was an associate justice of the Texas Supreme court. Samuel Price Carson (1798-1838), served as a State and U.S. Representative in North Carolina before moving to Texas, was elected Secretary of State of Texas ad interim government. Collin McKinney (1766-1861), was born in New Jersey, moved to Texas and served three terms as a Texas State Representative, and Collin County and the city of McKinney are named for him.

Second, traveling back home from Clarksville, about 10 miles almost due south of Bagwell, I visited a relatively recent discovered abandoned cemetery in the area. Because of the historical significance of who is buried in this cemetery, the State spent funds to clean up the area, gate the tiny cemetery in and strategically place several historical markers around the cemetery.

This cemetery is the William Becknell/Robbinsville cemetery. William Becknell, known as the “Father of the Santa Fe Trail,” was an American Frontier soldier, trader, farmer, rancher, and politician. Born in Virginia around 1787, he joined Daniel Morgan Boone’s company of U.S. Mounted Rangers and fought under the command of Major Zachary Taylor in the Battle of Credit Island, Iowa in 1814.

After the War, and the death of his wife, Becknell gathered a trading party to accompany him across the Great Plains to Mexico in 1821. He was the first U.S. Trader to arrive in Santa Fe after Mexico won its independence from Spain. He was the first to “open” (or begin) legal international trade in Santa Fe. In 1835, he moved with his new wife and family to Red River County in Texas where he spent the remainder of his life. Shortly after he arrived in Texas, he commanded a militia unit known as the Red River Blues to protect settlers from raiding Native Americans.




Sunday, January 22, 2017

He's Eleventy-One Years Today!

Happy birthday, Robert E. Howard!

Born January 22nd, 1906 in Peaster, Texas. 

REH with Patch

Robert E. Howard is 111 years old today! 

The general tradition in Howard fandom is to read a story by Howard and while doing so, imbibe your favorite beverage!

So . . . Here's to the first of all dog brothers . . . Cheers!