The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000

Book Reviews

Cantrell's failure to provide a balanced account stems from inadequate
research in Mexican sources. In contrast to the virtually exhaustive investigation
of Anglo sources, the author relies primarily on six Anglophone works, one of
them a college textbook, for the Mexican side. He justifies his few sources on
Mexico on the grounds that the period has been little studied, ignoring the sig-
nificant work that has been done during the last two decades. Cantrell has nei-
ther explored the extensive journal literature nor the monographs published in
Spanish. That is unfortunate because, as Josefina Vazquez observed recently, the
U.S. historiography has not examined the Texas question with objectivity.
Despite these flaws, Gregg Cantrell's biography of Stephen F. Austin is an out-
standing work that provides a superb portrait of that contradictory and complex
individual.
University of California, Irvine JAIME E. RODRGUEZ O.
Austin's Old Three Hundred: The First Anglo Colony in Texas. By Descendants of
Austin's Old Three Hundred. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1999. Pp. vii+178.
Foreword, preface, acknowledgments, biographies, references, glossary,
timeline, descendants of the Old Three Hundred, Old Three Hundred list,
index. ISBN 1-57168-291-0. $21.95, cloth.)
The preface states that the premise of this book is to provide "glimpses of
those who made up Stephen F. Austin's first colony as conveyed in the words of
their direct descendants" (p. xi). This is done with many interesting vignettes.
Understandably not all of the contributors are writers. A few could have benefit-
ed from the help of a professional editor to draw out more human interest sto-
ries, particularly of the women, and to add basic vital statistics.
The settlers of Austin's colony were lured to Texas by cheap land in pursuit of
economic self-interest. Besides farmers and stock raisers there were brick
masons, hotel keepers, sugarcane planters, and operators of ferry boats,
sawmills, taverns, and freight lines. Austin wrote, "had it not been for the toils of
the first [settlers] the others would have never come" (p. vii).
All came as loyal citizens of Mexico. However, the colonists described in Galen
Greaser's foreword as "a diverse group of enterprising, persevering individuals,
both men and women" (p. x) would soon be involved in the struggle for Texas
independence. Various biographies list participation in the Gutierrez-Magee and
Anahuac expeditions, the siege of Bexar, the Grass Fight, the Texas Rangers,
many conventions and consultations, the Gonzales conflict, battles at the Alamo
and San Jacinto, and the Runaway Scrape. Some would continue serving Texas
in the 1842 invasion and the Mexican War.
Some, such as Dr. Horace Alsbury, Jesse Burnam, Jared Groce, Nathaniel
Lynch, and Peggy McCormick, are in history books. But all have stories of early
life in Texas that should be told. Richard Andrews was probably the first casualty
of the Texas revolution. Britt Bailey, according to his request, was buried stand-
ing up, his rifle by his side, and there have been numerous sightings of his ghost
reported. Elizabeth Varner's biscuits were so hard that her small son used them
for wheels on a toy cart. Dr. James Phelps showed compassion to the imprisoned
Santa Anna that resulted in saving the life of Phelps' son during the black bean

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/. Accessed July 29, 2014.