The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 26, July 1922 - April, 1923

Memoirs of Major George Bernard Erath

MEMOIRS OF MAJOR GEORGE BERNARD ERATH1
LUCY A. ERATH
I
1. YOUTH IN AUSTRIA AND WURTEMBERG, 1813-1832
I was born on the first day of January, 1813, in Vienna, Aus-
tria. My father was German, from the Black Forest district in
Wiirtemberg; my mother was of Greek origin, though a native
of Vienna, which is a conglomerate of many races. My father's
people had been tanners for generations; a kind of class system
prevailed there-the sons being brought up to the vocation of
their father. I do not know how long my own family had been
tanners, but my father's brothers carried on the ancestral busi-
ness in their native place of Rottenburg on the Neckar River, an
ancient town of perhaps five thousand inhabitants, twenty miles
from Stuttgart and seventy-five miles from Strassburg. My father,
having gone to Vienna, there owned his own tan-yard. He may
or may not have intended me for a tanner; he took particular
pains with my education, beginning it with private tutors in the
home before I was six years old. At six I was sent to school, and
at nine I entered Santa Anna college, where I gained a little
knowledge of Latin preparatory to entering a university. I studied
diligently all foreign languages, particularly.English and Spanish,
1As surveyor and Indian fighter-the former by choice the latter by
necessity-Major Erath gained an "extensive knowledge of the lines and
corners of the old surveys in Milam land district." "Having an extraordi-
nary memory and being a close observer," he was continually appealed to
by parties interested in those surveys to straighten out tangles of all
sorts. (De Cordova, Texas: Her Resources and Her Public Men, 128-130.)
His life on the frontier and his numerous encounters with Indians fur-
nished him with a fund of information that has greatly appealed to
newspaper correspondents and local historians. (Sleeper and Hutchins,
Waco and McLennan County, Texas; Wilbarger, Indian Depredations in
Texas; Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas; A memorial and
biographical history of McLennan, Falls, Bell and Coryell Counties, Texas;
De Shields, Border Wars of Texas.) Yielding to the importunities of
these writers, Major Erath, in 1886, dictated his recollections to his
daughter, Miss Lucy A. Erath. "At the time these pages were written,"
writes Miss Erath, "my father was seventy-three years of age, in very
poor health and blind. Mentally, his vigor was the same as it had always
been, and as it continued up to the day of his death, May 13, 1891."
Miss Erath put the manuscript in shape for publication in 1916. Only
slight changes have been made in the manuscript in its publication-E. W.
WINKLER.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 26, July 1922 - April, 1923. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101084/. Accessed August 28, 2014.