The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992

Southwestern Hzstorzcal Quarterly

Ron Tyler, an erudite Texas historian, has superbly edited Stillman's letters
and written a comprehensive introduction. Interspersed in the work are con-
temporary illustrations that are helpful to the reader in developing a visual
perception of that part of the state traversed by Stllman and a foldout of J. H.
Colton's Colton's New Map of the State of Texas. The book is clearly a worthy addi-
tion to the list of" nineteenth-century Texas travel narratives.
Vzctorta College CHARLES D. SPURLIN
Texan Ranch Life: With Three Months through Mexico in a "Pratrie Schooner." By
Mary J. Jaques. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1989.
Pp. 363. Illustrations. $19.95.)
Oftentimes foreign travelers are the most perceptive observers of the lives
and customs of people. One such visitor to the American West and Mexico was
Mary J. Jaques, an adventurous Enghlishwoman, who in 1889 launched a two-
year sojourn to the southwestern Texas ranch country near the Kimble County
town of Junction City. This facsimile edition of the 1894 publication of the ac-
count of her experiences provides a lively, incisive, and frequently humorous
glimpse of Texas frontier life.
Having become intrigued with the American West through friends in Colo-
rado, Mary J. Jaques made an arrangement with a retired English naval officer
who owned and operated the Lechuza Ranch near Junction City to allow her to
experience ranch life firsthand. From the moment of' her arrival this energetic
lady set out to learn all that she could about the cattle, sheep, and goat opera-
tion. During sheep shearing time, she watched the Mexican crews skillfully re-
move the fleeces, which freighters transported to San Antonio. An accom-
plished horsewoman, she followed the cowboys as they performed their daily
chores. Though she admired their work she did not hide her distaste for cattle
and horse branding as well as the techniques used for breaking broncos.
Social historians will appreciate the author's descriptions of frontier condi-
tions and customs. Besides her experiences on the ranch she also reported on
how other people lived. Her visit to a neighboring squatter's log house nearly
ended in disaster when a skunk released his scent while the hostess was prepar-
ing a squirrel for lunch. On another occasion when a flooded stream prevented
her reaching her home one evening she spent a sleepless night with a family in
their one-room shack along with their chickens and dogs. For entertainment
she enjoyed attending dances where she concluded shortly after her arrival
that the cowboys with their high-heeled boots were usually not light-footed. Oc-
casionally the generosity of her acquaintances overwhelmed her, such as the
time when a hostess offered chewing gum directly from her mouth as a hospit-
able gesture. Although Miss Jaques enjoyed most of those whom she met in the
region, the discrimination against Mexicans that she encountered disturbed her.
The diversity of topics included in this volume adds to it value. Readers in-
terested in natural phenomena will enjoy Miss Jaques's description of hail-
storms and northers as well as her encounters with rattlesnakes. She also writes

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/. Accessed October 24, 2014.