Chicago: [Western Book Manufacturing Co. for] Filley & Ballard, 1867. Second edition. 8vo. 110 pp. (of 112, lacking final leaf which is the end of a poem and also has a small woodcut) including 8 (of 8) plates on pale yellow paper. Stiched, original illustrated front wrapper present, paper along spine and back wrapper perished (this had an illustration of the search party); lower blank portion of p. iv/v (Dedication / Preface) torn away. Edges worn and curled (SEE IMAGES), foxing and staining throughout as commonly. With stated condition problems, and priced accordingly. NOT ex-library! Good. Item #3709
CONTROVERSIAL INDIAN CAPTIVITY NARRATIVE. Is J.Z. Ballard's account of the 1837 disappearance of William Filley "real" or "fake"? Certainly its authenticity has not been universally accepted, and numerous critics and historians have disparaged it, e.g. D.G. Brinton who immediately pronounced: "The work is fraudulent" and is an "impudent attempt at imposition by an illiterate vendor of nostrum" (Historical magazine, 2d ser., v. 2, 1867, p. 180). Brinton noted that Filley's songs, reputed in Ballard's book to be Comanche, were actually Ojberay-Algonkin and copied from "Schoolcraft's Indian Tribes." In fact, the Comanche customs and manners described herein appeared to be randomly picked from popular books on Indian traits. Ballard's narrative was further disputed in 1894: William Lewis Manley was in the original search party for the lost five year old boy. In "Death Valley in '49," Manley recalls a visit to Jackson, Michigan in 1870 -- fully thirty-three years after Filley's disappearance -- and being told by the Filley family that "no trace of the lost boy had ever been discovered." (SOURCE: Donald G. Southerton, The Filleys: 350 Years of American Entrepreneurial Spirit).
By contrast, Filley's "Life and Adventures" continues to be accepted as genuine by some scholars. See for instance Emily Parrow's long discussion of the narrative in "The Friendly and Flowing Savage" (2020):
"Filley, while living in Michigan with his parents, was kidnapped at age five and sold or traded to seventeen tribes over the course of his twenty-nine year captivity. By the time of his return to white civilization in 1866, he could speak eleven different native dialects in addition to English and Spanish. His narrative, compiled by family members, and friends, and interspersed with Filley's own words, is a curious mix of describing cultural differences and butchery and clear admiration for his captors. [...] Filley’s praise for the natives sometimes startled his contemporaries. One of the book's publishers, J.Z. Ballard, commented, '[H]is friendship for them is of that enduring kind which time, even, cannot change or efface. The slightest insinuation against their honesty or friendship, is resented by him as a personal insult. In fact, his long residence among them, HAS MADE HIM AN INDIAN.' During his captivity, Filley eventually rose to the ranks of medicine man and, later, second chief. In his book, he aligns himself with his Native American captors. He refers to the group as 'we,' not 'they,' intoning closeness, not separateness or foreignness, though he makes the distinction between 'civilized' and 'savage' tribes." (SOURCE: Bound Away: The Liberty Journal of History, 2020, Volume 3, Issue 2).
Early title-page inscription in pencil: "Warren C. Webster." This same individual has written "William Filley" on p. 53 in pencil.
Graff 1322. Howes F-128. Streeter 24328. Field 535. Ayer 98. Chicago Ante-Fire 1189.