Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Galveston], and, to add to its unattractiveness, its sands were the
camp of armies of fleas which, during their season, allowed new-
comers no rest, either by day or by night. But the fleas were not
peculiar to Indianola, for, until mid-summer or later, they held
high carnival over all of Western Texas9 with which I was familiar.
Travelling in Texas in those early days, when a mile of railroad
was not to be found,1' was both slow and tedious, and everyone,
pretty much, had to supply his own transportation; so, to get to
San Antonio-our Ultima Thule--the Government furnished us
with an ambulance (a word quite unknown, in those days, outside
Texas) a carryall drawn by four mules-and we took our weary
way through the primitive wilds, for San Antonio, about a hundred
and forty or fifty miles distant; and on this trip, I had my first
experience with the prairie chicken, once as abundant as the leaves
that strewed the brooks in Vallambrosa, but now numbered with the
dodo and the great auk-over which, however, we need not shed
bitter tears, because the land over which they ranged is now devoted
to corn, cotton, wheat etc.-" Our road passed by the tomb--inclosed
by a neat railing-of David Crockett,12 noted, in early days, as a
Congressman from Tennessee, and killed, if not murdered, by the
Mexicans in the war for the liberation of the Lone Star State.
San Antonio had been a strategic point for many years, and there
was the Alamo, a kind of fortress where the garrison, composed of
9Blair never saw the area that is known as "West Texas" today (1962). During
the period of which Blair was writing-the 1850's-the San Antonio area was
commonly referred to as western Texas.
10Blair was probably right about there not being a mile of railroad track in
Texas in the spring of 1851. On February 11, 1850, the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos, and
Colorado Railway was chartered, but construction was not begun until 1851, from
Harrisburg. The first engine was placed on its tracks in 1852.
The Houston and Texas Central Railway Company, originally chartered as the
Galveston and Red River Railroad on March 11, 1848, commenced construction
in 1853. During the next two years it built only two miles of track, from Houston
running toward Cypress twenty-five miles away. No engine was placed on its tracks
till January 22, 1856. Hardy and Roberts, Historical Review of South-East Texas,
1tin 1915, the area between the coastal point where Indianola had been located
and San Antonio raised primarily corn and cotton and engaged in truck and fruit
farming. Texas Almanac, 1914 (Dallas and Galveston, 1914), 245, 252, 266, 279,
297, 342, 348.
12Blair did not see the tomb of David Crockett. After being killed at the Battle
of the Alamo on March 6, 1836, the body of Crockett, along with the bodies of
the other Texan defenders, was supposedly burned by the Mexican forces. Blair
may have seen an early monument to James Walker Fannin and the other Texans
massacred near Goliad on March 27, 1836. Here, as at the Alamo, the slain men
were burned. Frederick C. Chabot, The Alamo: Altar of Texas Liberty (San
Antonio, 1931), 57; Hardy and Roberts, Historical Review of South-East Texas,
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed August 29, 2014.