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Emerson Hough - Western Writer

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Emerson Hough (1857-1923)  - The author of some 34 books and countless magazine articles, Emerson Hough wrote both factual accounts and historical novels of life in the American West.

 

Hough hailed from Newton, Iowa, where he was born on June 28, 1857 to Joseph B. and Elizabeth Hough who had moved from their native Virginia some five years earlier. He attended public schools in Newton and after graduating high school in 1875, worked as a teacher in a rural school for a time before entering the University of Iowa. He graduated with a degree in philosophy in 1880 and then began to study law with a firm in Newton.

 

Emerson Hough

Emerson Hough early 1900's.

 

 

 

After completing his studies, Emerson moved west to  White Oaks, New Mexico where he practiced law for a time as well as working as a reporter for the local newspaper, The Golden Era. He returned to the Midwest in 1886, where he focused on writing, working at several newspapers in Kansas, Iowa, and Ohio as well as writing freelance articles for several magazines. Having a love of the outdoors including hunting and fishing, he spent much of his time camping and writing articles. In 1889, he was hired by the Forest and Stream magazine and later, worked for Field & Stream and wrote and "outdoor" column for the Saturday Evening Post.

 

After spending time in Yellowstone in 1893 and seeing hundreds of buffalo killed, Emerson wrote a number of articles promoting conservation, which influenced the U.S. Congress to protect the buffalo in Yellowstone National Park. In 1897, he published The Story of the Cowboy and followed up with more than 20 works on the frontier life in the American West, gaining him a reputation as a "western" author.

In 1897, he married Charlotte Chesebro of
Chicago and the pair made Chicago their home. When World War I broke out, he served in the Army Intelligence Division, reaching the rank of captain. During this time, he became involved in regular correspondence with President Theodore Roosevelt, a fellow conservationist and outdoorsman.

 

Two of his novels, The Covered Wagon and North of Thirty-Six, were turned into screenplays and later became  popular silent films, making him one of the first Western authors to enter into the motion picture industry.

 

Emerson Hough, western author

Emerson Hough standing at the rear of a covered wagon circa 1917.

 

Other notable works included the books The Mississippi Bubble, The Way of the West, Singing Mouse Stories, The Passing of the Frontier, The Story of the Outlaw, and several others.

 

Hough died on April 30, 1923 from heart failure following an operation. He is buried in Evanston, Illinois.
 

Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated June, 2014.

 

Articles from Emerson Hough:

 

We have excerpted several of Hough's stories from his many books. However, the text as it appears on Legends of America is not verbatim, as it has been edited for spelling, grammar, clarity, and ease of the modern reader.

 

The Story of the Outlaw - A Study of the Western Desperado - By Emerson Hough, entire book, 1905, 1907.

The Cattle Kings - By Emerson Hough, book excerpt, The Passing of the Frontier, A Chronicle of the Old West, 1918.

The Cattle Trails - By Emerson Hough, book excerpt, The Passing of the Frontier, A Chronicle of the Old West, 1918.

Cowboys on the American Frontier - By Emerson Hough, book excerpt, The Passing of the Frontier, A Chronicle of the Old West, 1918.

The Frontier In History - By Emerson Hough, book excerpt, The Passing of the Frontier, A Chronicle of the Old West, 1918.

The Indian Wars - By Emerson Hough, book excerpt, The Passing of the Frontier, A Chronicle of the Old West, 1918.

Mines of Idaho & Montana - By Emerson Hough, book excerpt, The Passing of the Frontier, A Chronicle of the Old West, 1918.

Pathways To the West - By Emerson Hough, book excerpt, The Passing of the Frontier, A Chronicle of the Old West, 1918.

The Range of the American West - By Emerson Hough, book excerpt, The Passing of the Frontier, A Chronicle of the Old West, 1918.

 

Emerson Hough, 1909

Emerson Hough, 1909.

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