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Raht, Carlysle Graham (1880–1972)

Bobbie Jean Klepper Biography Entry

Carlysle Graham Raht, author and publisher, son of Adolphus Washington and Ell May (Smartt) Raht, was born on September 13, 1880, probably in Gainesville, Texas, and grew up on the old Block Bar Ranch near Henrietta. He attended the Henrietta school, Fort Worth University, Polytechnic College, and the University of Texas, where he majored in Southwest history. Raht spent much of his youth wandering the Southwest, taking whatever work was available. In 1900 he headed west with a pistol on his hip and took his first job working with the El Prod Ranch in Arizona. Later he drifted into Mexico and worked in mines. His checkered career included working as a court reporter, a cowboy, a newspaperman, a mining engineer, a rancher, a piano player, a melon harvester, a prospector, a gambler's shill, and a railroad man. Raht enlisted as an underage soldier during the Spanish-American War in 1898, but his parents promptly had him discharged. He was a scout for the Eighth Cavalry under Gen. John J. Pershing and saw limited action against Francisco (Pancho) Villa. At the age of sixty he again volunteered his services in World War II and served with the Atomic Energy Commission throughout the war; he received a citation for work in scientific research and development of the atomic bomb.

Raht was the author of six books, mostly about Texas and his life as a youth, and numerous short stories. In 1919 he wrote his first book, The Romance of the Davis Mountains and Big Bend Country, which was privately published by his Rahtbooks Company in El Paso. It contained the history and lore of the Trans-Pecos area and soon became a collector's item. He felt for many years that the book was a failure until 1963, when history buffs convinced him it should be reprinted. To do so, he reestablished his Rahtbooks Company. Encouraged by the success of this reprint, he again began putting his tales on paper. His other books, largely autobiographical, also deal with early days in the Southwest; they include Old Buck and I (1964), Confessions of a Fiddlefoot (1967), which carried illustrations by Curtis Wingate, Reveries of a Fiddlefoot (1970), and High Dawn (1971).

Raht was one of the founders of the Texas Permian Historical Society (now the Permian Historical Society), which made him an honorary life member. His wife, Euarda (Talbot), whom he married on December 24, 1915, in Matagorda, was also a writer. They had two children. After the death of his wife, Raht married a widow with two children. He fell and broke his hip at his home on June 22, 1972, and died on July 26 at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. He was buried in Sunset Memorial Gardens. Afterward, a resolution honoring him for his many outstanding achievements and contributions was introduced by state senator W. E. "Pete" Snelson and passed by the Texas Senate on October 10, 1972. Collections of Raht's writings are maintained at the Texas State Archives, the Tennessee State Archives, the Arizona State Archives, and the University of California at Los Angeles.

Odessa American, July 27, 1972. San Angelo Standard Times, October 22, 1967, July 28, 1972. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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

Bobbie Jean Klepper, “Raht, Carlysle Graham,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 25, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.