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Lawyer, Historian

Clyde W. Toland, received a BA in history from the University of Kansas, a MA in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a JD from the University of Kansas. He is a semi-retired lawyer in Iola, Kansas.

As a grade school student, he became fascinated by his local Allen County, Kansas history and by Frederick Funston’s early adventurous life in Death Valley, Alaska, the British Northwest Territory, and Cuba. For more than thirty-five years, he has been a student of Funston’s life. As president of the Allen County Historical Society, Inc., in Iola, Kansas, he was the driving force in the successful move in 1994 of Frederick Funston’s rural childhood home to the Iola town square and in its subsequent restoration and opening as a museum in 1995.

Mr. Toland founded the Buster Keaton Celebration, a nationally known humanities event held annually in Iola from 1993 through 2017.

At age fifteen he became a Life Member of both the Allen County Historical Society, Inc., and the Kansas State Historical Society. Mr. Toland and United States Senator, Nancy Kassebaum Baker, were the two first recipients of the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Kansas.

2023 SPUR AWARD from

Western Writers of America for Best First Nonfiction Book

Will Rogers Silver Medallion Award Winner 2023

Western Biographies/Memoirs Category

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American Hero, Kansas Heritage Frederick Funston’s Early Years 1865-1890 Volume One of the Becoming Frederick Funston Trilogy. . .a tale of “cool courage, iron endurance, and gallant daring”

“An engrossing, engaging, and superbly written account of ‘Fearless Fred’ Funston’s formative years in rural Kansas, which molded the individual who would go on to command forces in the Philippines, earn a Medal of Honor, and ultimately command in 1917 the largest US Army since the Civil War. Clyde Toland’s narrative clearly reflects Toland’s life-long interest in Frederick Funston and Allen County, his impressive capabilities as a researcher, and his incisive analytical skills as a lawyer. The product of his work is a truly delightful read!”

—General David Petraeus, US Army (Ret.), former Commander of the Surge in Iraq, US Central Command, and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, and former Director of the CIA

“Many are familiar with the Funston name due to Frederick Funston’s famed military career, but his early life and adventures were just as noteworthy. Indeed, this part of his life was sometimes more exciting, if that is possible, and it was critical to his later success. Clyde is, hands down, the leading Funston scholar, with decades of research and curation experience with the subject. In this volume, Clyde does not merely rely on the same repeated stories, but on a wide array of extensive research, which he critically examined for accuracy. His meticulous research and polished writing style create an indispensable book. I savored reading this book, including reading the detailed notes. Clyde’s work on Funston is certain to become the seminal study on the subject.”

—Jarrett Robinson, BA History, MS International Relations, student of Frederick Funston’s life for thirty years

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“Clyde Toland has brought to life a hometown Kansas hero from a century ago who plunged into the wilds of this incredible land and shaped the military genius he would become. With the Bible, Kipling, and a dictionary in his backpack, Fred Funston survived near-starvation, killing heat in Death Valley, and snows up to six feet in the Yukon while collecting botanical species and writing about it for publications ranging from his hometown paper to The New York Times. I enjoyed immensely reading Heat and Ice.”“

—Shirley Christian, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and author

“It’s easy to get distracted by the accomplishments of Fred Funston that warranted a personal letter from President Woodrow Wilson upon his death. But his journey to get there is the real story. It’s been meticulously documented in Clyde Toland’s magnificent Volume Two of Funston’s life. Rising from the Kansas prairies, his exploring spirit took him where few dared, from the intense heat of Death Valley to the Chilkoot Pass in Alaska. And that’s just the beginning. Mr. Toland has brought to life an old-fashioned hero from Kansas to take his place among the greatest Americans. I can’t wait for Volume Three.”

—Bill Kurtis, BS University of Kansas, JD Washburn University School of Law, JD (1966). In 1988 he founded Kurtis Productions to produce documentaries such as Investigative Reports and Cold Case Files for A&E Networks, 500 in all. Currently he produces American Greed for CNBC.

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“With ‘Yankee Hero,’ Clyde Toland brings to a close his Becoming Frederick Funston Trilogy about the early adventurous life of the future national hero, U. S. Army Major General Frederick Funston. Set in Cuba during its 1895-1898 war of independence from Spain, ‘Yankee Hero’ follows volunteer Funston as he fights for Cuban independence in multiple roles as a member of the artillery, infantry, and cavalry.

Clyde Toland has traced a short in stature, rambunctious, adventuresome Allen County, Kansas, farm boy into a war-weary hero. Fred Funston became dedicated to freedom for Cuba in the war against Spain. Interest continues for a reader as Clyde Toland has maintained an understanding of the Funston family and how important letters were—back and forth to family and friends—even from the battlefield in Cuba to Allen County. Hats off to Clyde Toland for ‘Yankee Hero’ and a greater understanding of a small but greatly important part of our history.”

—Nancy Kassebaum Baker, United States Senator from Kansas, 1979-1997

“Such notable historical publications as this biography of Major General Frederick Funston, U.S. Army, 1865-1917, rest on two essential cornerstones: thorough research and lucid presentation. Clyde Toland has carefully and successfully incorporated both in his latest study of this courageous, colorful—and sometimes controversial—Kansan. Toland’s work is an important and long-overdue contribution to United States historiography.”

—Thomas W. Crouch, University of Texas at Austin, PhD in history, retired civilian historian for the United States Air Force, and author of the ground-breaking works, A Yankee Guerrillero: Frederick Funston and the Cuban Insurrection, 1896-1897 (1975) and A Leader of Volunteers: Frederick Funston and the 20th Kansas in the Philippines, 1898-1899 (1984)

*This book is made possible by the Washburn University Center for Kansas Studies and the Thomas Fox Averill 

Kansas Studies Collection, Mabee Library, Washburn University.

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