No âmbito dos estudos históricos luso-americanos acaba de ser publicada uma obra que, a avaliar pela notícia de Deborah Allard-Bernardi, deixa antever tratar-se de um estudo muito interessante: Land as Far as the Eye Can See: Portuguese in the Old West, pelo Professor Donald Warrin em colaboração com Geoffrey L. Gomes.
Eis a notícia retirada de The Herald News, de 7 de Março de 2002:
"DARTMOUTH -- Who ever heard of a Portuguese cowboy?
Admittedly, there weren't any Cabrals, Silvas or Pachecos in "Bonanza" or "Gunsmoke," but there were Portuguese in the West in the 1800s.
Portuguese people in this area probably never heard of the real-life cowboy, John Phillips, who is renowned in Wyoming for his Paul Revere-type ride in 1866.
But in Wyoming, he is a legend, and is called a "frontier hero." A monument is erected there in his honor.
Phillips was born in 1832 in Lages do Pico, Azores. He went to California in search of gold and was hired as a water-hauler in Nebraska.
In 1866, a group of soldiers were ambushed by more than 2,000 members of the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes, leaving the few live soldiers without supplies in a blizzard.
Phillips, a civilian described as a "small, wiry man," volunteered to ride for help as strong winds and heavy snow pummeled him.
He rode for 190 miles in four days to Horseshoe Station, and sent a telegraph for help. Phillips then headed back out after just a short rest and traveled for another 40 miles in the blizzard to Fort Laramie, Wyo., where adequate reinforcements were sent.
There are countless others who lived and worked in the west -- and made history -- according to a new book "Land as Far as the Eye Can See: Portuguese in the Old West" by Professor Donald Warrin, in collaboration with Geoffrey L. Gomes.
Warrin presented a lecture and book signing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Wednesday as part of his book tour.
A professor emeritus at California State University, Warrin has spent most of his life teaching, and researching the history and writings of Portuguese immigrants in the western United States.
The research on Warrin's current book, spanning 10 years, took him from his California residence to Mexico, Wyoming, Arkansas, Washington and other destinations, where he searched archives, attics, county buildings and newspapers.
He said he learned early on to never write about a place he's never been to.
Warrin discovered that in 1850, the West was a "vast area" that was highly unsettled and inhospitable.
"There were very small numbers of Portuguese (in parts of the West)," Warrin said, but at times they did "astonishing things."
By 1870, there were 3,400 Portuguese in California, many of whom were mining for gold and silver. Other western states were much less populated with Portuguese: one in Arizona, 81 in Idaho, 149 in Nevada, three in Montana, nine in Washington, and similar amounts in other states.
The Portuguese and other nationalities slowly populated the west from California, Warrin said.
Many of the Portuguese who came to United States did so on whale ships, settling around ports in New Bedford and Nantucket in this area, but also in California.
As whale men, they were able to stop in remote corners of the globe as well as learn the English language.
Other Portuguese were frontier men, and got involved in fur trading, the Gold Rush and the sheep industry.
"The Portuguese have certainly contributed," Warrin said of his historical findings.
People have called the book a "novel" approach, he said, because his stories are intertwined and are not just dates and places, but tell the lives of individuals, which appeal to all nationalities.
Besides John Philips, there have been Portuguese more infamous than revered.
There's a man known as "Portuguese Joe," who appeared on a Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes box in the 1960s.
Portuguese Joe was known for his unprovoked gun shot at a group of peaceful native Americans.
That started a minor war between the Indians and the settlers. The expense and loss of life on both sides was heavy, and helped to decimate native Americans in California.
"Truth is elusive in history and legends are created," Warrin said, explaining that his book holds other stories, such as that of a cattle man called John Enos.
Enos was a bachelor most of his life, although some accounts say he was married to three Indian women, but kept it a secret.
Enos was also considered "frightening" to children, and was said to have killed men he didn't like with poisoned baked beans. Others say he was kind and generous. Some say he was a ghost.
In Spokane, Wash., after his suspicious death, an Indian woman claimed she had been married to him and had his children. She was suing his present wife -- whom he married at age 70 -- wanting to claim his large estate.
Other, more light-hearted tales are told, of the Azorean women's tradition of cooking in the basement, and of them generally being more educated than their husbands in those days.
There is also information about the Portuguese carrying their culture with them, saving money and their desire to purchase property.