The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981

364 Southwestern Historical Quarterly
oilpatch. Technical explanations are usually adequately clear, but
sometimes, as in the definitions of "anticlines" and "faults," they are
opaque. The index is inadequate, and the lack of a map is un-
University of Maryland WALTER RUNDELL, JR.
Old Texas Trails: Texas Trails, 1716-1886. By J. W. Williams. Com-
piled and edited by Kenneth F. Neighbours. (Burnet, Texas:
Eakin Press, 1979. Pp. xii+447. Foreword, illustrations, maps,
bibliography, index. $18.95.)
One of the Southwest's most meticulous historians, the late J. W.
Williams of Wichita Falls, spent much of his spare time following early
Texas trails and trying to determine their exact routes. Afoot, on
horseback, and by motor car, he traced the wanderings of Alvar N'Ifiez
Cabeza de Vaca across Texas, the expedition of Francisco Visquez de
Coronado, and routes of many later travelers, including the Butterfield
Mail and Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie's sweeps, chasing hostile Co-
manches. Some of the conquistadors and other early travelers made
Williams's task difficult by leaving only vague travel notes to plague
historians and give rise to controversy.
Williams used geography and biology to help map the trails. When
Cabeza de Vaca told of eating the prickly pear, Williams could spot
him roughly on the Texas map because he knew where the prickly
pear was abundant and when it was in season. The same was true of
the nut of the pinion tree, and elsewhere of the pecan. One big help
to Williams was the part of the 91o Census that gave the number of
pecan trees in each Texas county.
An area where pecans were plentiful also helped Williams to make
at least an educated guess about the easternmost point of Coronado's
penetration of Texas (probably the North Concho River in Sterling
County). On one of the several early trails between San Antonio and
Nacogdoches, Williams was able to pinpoint a crossing of Little Elk-
heart Creek by finding a growth of chinquapins, which the Spanish
travelers called small chestnuts. Not far from Little Elkheart Creek he
located a crossing of the Trinity River by finding where the stream
could be forded on a firm rock bottom.
The many other trails examined by Williams include that used by
Luis de Moscosco de Alvarado in 1542, that used by Juan Dominguez

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 30, 2016.

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