New book by ACU author
For Immediate Release
Sept. 27, 1999
Sadie Smith took the time to write the letter "R" on all
the bindings of books with articles published by her
deceased husband, Ralph Smith.
When describing her husband's work, she ran her fingers
slowly across the bindings of a countless number of books,
across the hours of hard work, across tedious amounts of
historical research, across countless number of R's and
across a major part of her husband's life: history, not only
of others, but his own as well.
On July 4,1998, Ralph Smith, professor emeritus of
history at ACU, died from a brain tumor. Three days later,
his wife, Sadie Smith, received the much-awaited news that
she and her husband had been waiting on for over a year:
Ralph Smith's book, "Borderlanders," would finally be
"Borderlanders," is a biography about James Kirker, an
Indian bounty hunter. According to the "Borderlanders" book
synopsis, Kirker became known throughout the west for his
effective and inexpensive methods of killing Indians.
Ralph Smith spent forty years researching and gathering
information about Kirker.
"I knew it ["Borderlanders"] would be the most
exhaustive piece of southwestern Borderlands research that
has ever been written," said Steve Wilson, publisher of The
Great South Plains Journal, in which Smith had several
He sometimes went through strenuous measures to get what
he needed. For example, Ralph Smith spent months translating
a book from Old Spanish to English to accumulate more
information about Kirker.
"He had the patience of Job," Sadie Smith said. "He
stayed with a thing until he was satisfied and had it
Kirker immigrated from Ireland to New York in 1810. He
was known for his effectiveness and experience in killing
In the past, Kirker has been presented as inhumane. But
Ralph Smith depicts Kirker as hero and shows that the people
of Kirker's day looked to him as a brave and valuable
Sadie Smith stresses the fact that, in everything, her
husband wanted to be as accurate as possible. He was very
meticulous about his work, Smith said.
"He wanted everything in absolute fact," she said. Sadie
Smith said they both anticipated the publishing of his book.
She grieves over the fact that he did not live to see his
"I think that he would be pleased with the result of his
work," Wilson said.
Sadie Smith and her daughter are currently working on
finishing and publishing a second book Ralph Smith was
writing. The book is about pioneers who lived in dugouts,
which were the first homes built in the ground.
Ralph Smith taught for a combination of 46 years. Thirty
of those years were at ACU.
Dr. Dwayne Hale, a former student of Smith and history
teacher at Cisco Jr. College, wrote an autobiographical
article about Smith. In this article he refers to him as a
"Gentleman, Educator and Scholar."
Ralph and Sadie Smith were married 58 years. "I wish he
could have lived to see our 60th wedding anniversary," Smith
"Borderlanders" can be purchased from University of
Oklahoma Press by calling (800) 627-7377.
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