The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978

Notes and Documents
Westward I Go Free: The Memoirs of
William E. Cureton, Texas Frontiersman
Edited by WILLIAM C. POOL
N AN ESSAY ON WALKING, WRITTEN IN 1862, -HENRY DAVID THOREAU
caught the symbolic spirit of the westward movement by comment-
ing, "When I go out of the house for a walk, . . . I decide, for a thou-
sandth time, that I will walk into the southwest or west. Eastward I go
only by force, but westward I go free."' During the mid-decades of the
nineteenth century tens of thousands of restless, talented, and adventur-
ous Americans agreed with Thoreau as they left their old homes in
the more settled and more civilized regions of the eastern woodlands
in search of the precious freedoms afforded on the hither edge of free
land. Inevitably their journey toward the setting sun carried them
beyond the timber line, and into the semi-arid vastness of the American
West and Southwest. The family of Jack Cureton is typical of this
particular breed of men.
J. J. (Jack) Cureton was born in the Arkansas Territory in 1826.
As a young man, he enlisted in Company H of Colonel Archibald
Yell's Arkansas Volunteers for service in the Mexican War of i846--
1847. After his release from the army at San Antonio, Texas, late in
1846, Cureton returned to Arkansas and married Eliza Price. The
young couple were living at Ozark, Arkansas, when their first child,
William E. Cureton, was born on July 20o, 1848. William (Billy) Cure-
ton was seven years of age when his father moved his family to Palo
Pinto County, Texas, in 1855. Crossing into Texas at Preston Bend
on the Red River, the Curetons passed by way of Dallas on their jour-
ney to the extreme edge of the Western Cross Timbers. On Keechi
Creek, in present Palo Pinto County (north of present Mineral Wells)
the Curetons found their first home in Texas; here young William
*William C. Pool, professor of history at Southwest Texas State University, is the
author of Eugene C. Barker, Historian; Bosque Territory: A History of an Agrarian
Community; and many other publications.
1C. Merton Babcock, The American Frontier. A Social and Literary Record (New York,
1965), 23-24.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101205/. Accessed July 25, 2014.