Earl rcras Its:
A Study in Social Relatiofskips
HE typical Texan of the early days is often pictured as a
lawless character with a special facility for shooting from
the hip. Nevertheless, a composite diary of events which
formed the day-to-day life of the first settlers would cover, not so
much a multitude of sins, as of heroic and pathetic happenings.
No such diary exists, of course, but the characters of many of the
actors do live again in striking episodes strung throughout the
journals and letters of the times.
As a framework for the scene, those years between the granting
of a contract to Stephen F. Austin in 1828 to settle three hundred
additional families in his colony and the annexation of Texas to
the United States half a generation later stand out in challenging
delineation. And the focus of the picture? No institution serves
better than the boarding house or inn, existing, as it did, as a
kind of prism of the early life, reflecting the different facets of
its character-rough, resourceful, generous, reckless to the extreme.
The transition from the lonely settler's cabin-nearly always
open to a passing traveler for the night-to the house large enough
to take in boarders as a business, and then to the inn set up
especially for that purpose was, one finds, a rapid and an over-
lapping one. The problems involved were both the general strug-
gles of any American frontier and the well known, particular
dilemmas of Texas with its early inclusion in a Mexico whose
government, while enlightened enough to contain provisions
against slavery, was often in a state of revolutionary flux, and
whose officials spoke not only a different language but practiced
a Catholicism for the most part alien to the settler from the
Americans, nevertheless, were anxious to come to Texas. They
came in much greater numbers than the Mexicans, who often had
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/. Accessed December 28, 2014.