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Altsheler, Joseph Alexander (1862–1919)

Ida Jo Marshall Biography Entry

Joseph Alexander Altsheler, reporter and western writer, son of Joseph and Louise (Snoddy) Altsheler, was born at Three Springs, Kentucky, on April 29, 1862. He attended Liberty College in Glasgow, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt University. In 1885 he worked as a reporter and in various editorial positions at the Louisville Courier-Journal. In 1892 he worked for the New York World and in 1898 served as that paper's correspondent in Honolulu. Working as a reporter, feature writer, and editor, he became a storywriter almost by chance when he was unable to secure a desirable serial for boys and decided to write one himself. This began a long list of juvenile stories, grouped in six main series: the French and Indian War, Great West, Young Trailers, Civil War, World War, and Texas. Altsheler was interested in American history and took care to ensure authentic historical facts in his books. On May 30, 1888, he married Sarah Boles; they had one son, Sidney. The Altshelers were caught in Germany when World War I broke out in 1914, and the hardships they endured in returning to America broke Altsheler's health. He was a semi-invalid until his death, in New York on June 5, 1919. His principal works on Texas were The Border Watch (1912), The Texan Star (1912), The Texan Triumph (1913), and The Texan Scouts (1913).

Dictionary of American Biography. Stanley Kunitz, ed., Twentieth Century Authors (New York: Wilson, 1942; Supplement, 1955).


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Historians
  • Nonfiction
  • Dramatists and Novelists
  • Fiction

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Ida Jo Marshall, “Altsheler, Joseph Alexander,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 27, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.