Monday, September 23, 2013

Andrew Garcia

One of Montana’s most colorful characters was Andrew Garcia whose book, Tough Trip Through Paradise, is considered a premier historical adventure story tracing his youthful travels in the late 1870s. Andrew was just twelve in 1868 when he first came to Montana from Texas. He tagged along with his uncle Albino Ortez and some cowboys driving three hundred working mules to Gallatin City. Garcia’s uncle had begged the youngster’s parents to let him accompany the men. They never really gave permission, and Garcia later claimed that he was practically kidnapped. They did not return to Texas for two years. In 1876, twenty-year-old Garcia returned to Montana.

Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives, 942-340
Tough Trip Through Paradise traces Garcia’s adventures from 1878 to 1879. During this short period, he met, married, and buried his first wife, In-who-lise, a Nez Perce woman who was killed by the Blackfeet. Years later in 1899, Garcia married Barbara Voll. They raised four sons on their remote Mineral County ranch. Barbara didn’t want to hear of his earlier life, so Garcia wrote at night, after working hard all day, and hid the papers.  In 1931 he wrote that Hell would be popping in the Garcia family when In-who-lise appeared in print. His children and later, grandchildren, sometimes snuck the manuscript and read some of it. They would suffer beatings if they got caught because the language was very coarse and the subject matter unsuitable for children. Garcia died in 1943 at age eighty-seven, but his writings lay hidden until 1960 when a disapproving daughter-in-law, offended by the story, pushed for its sale. Ben Stein took on the project and published Tough Trip Through Paradise in 1967.


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  2. Garcia's book was a source of countless daydreams for me after I read it in High School. I remember planning a trip to the Big Hole to find In-who-lise father's grave. It never happened of course, but what a great book.

    Have you read this article by David Stein, Ben Steins son, who calls into question much of what Garcia wrote as well as what Ben Stein omitted? It's fascinating, and well researched, and may give those who have read "Tough Trip Through Paradise", a different perspective of Andrew Garcia.

    1. Yes, Stein's article is great. I highly recommend it! Thanks for your comment.