Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Century of Conflict: 1821-1913; Incidents in the Lives of William
Neale and William Alfred Neale, Early Settlers in South
Texas. Edited by John C. Rayburn and Virginia Kemp Ray-
burn. With the assistance of Ethel Neale Fry. Waco (Texian
Press), 1966. Pp. xv+17o. Illustrations, notes, bibliography,
maps, index. $5.95.
The title is an apt one for the book covers the period of four
wars, piracy, political intrigue, revolution, Indian raids, smug-
gling, filibustering, banditry, and cattle thievery. The sub-title
reveals that material from the legendary "Neale diaries" is at last
available to those interested in the early history of the Lower
Rio Grande country. The incidents or subjects selected by the
editors form seventeen of the eighteen chapters, the last being
a brief miscellaneous collection. All are arranged with regard to
chronology. As published, however, the incidents are not written
in diary form. The editors have written an introduction for each
account, have footnoted obvious mistakes in the text, and have
added explanations and documentation to each chapter. This
excellent research adds greatly to the value of the Neale papers.
In the Introduction Rayburn gives a brief background of Wil-
liam Neale, said to be the first Anglo to live in the Brownsville
area, who arrived in Mexico in 1821 as a seaman from England.
After several years in Mexico Neale returned to England, married,
and with his bride came to the United States and thence .to Mata-
moros, Mexico, in 1834. He lived on both the Mexican and Texas
sides of the river until his death in 1897. During these years he
started a diary of his adventures and observations but it was lost
in a bandit raid which destroyed his home on Baston Ranch,
shown on some old maps as Nealville. He reared his grandson,
William Alfred Neale, whose father, William Peter Neale, was
killed in the Cortina affair on September 28, 1859, and to whom
the writings of his grandfather became of increasing importance.
The younger man copied his grandfather's writings, .sometimes
adding notes of his observations and experiences and later con-
tinued the record beyond his father's death. As the editors state,
together the Neale men knew every person of importance in the
border area from 1834 to 1943; both spoke fluent border Spanish
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/. Accessed May 24, 2013.