-ar~~ (First entry, Tp. 25)
1. HIS TORICAL SKETCH
De. W'itt) County, with Cuero the county se'-, is almost centrally located
on the coastal plain of Texas. Hence, the land is general low
and rolling. lMost of tle county is now divided into small farms, and
many of the beautifully wooded sections which thrilled them e rlcy settlers
have been cleared away. However, pecan, live oak, post oak, and cypress
trees still grow along the ridges of the lowJ hills; and the course of the
Guadalupe River is well marked by a heavy growth of brush. The Guadalupe,
which flows southw-lard through these fertile lowrlands, has for ages inspired
the staidest visitors to raDhsodize over its crystal green beauty;
and the countryside itself ins-ired Ja:lmes KIerr, a surveyor from Kientucky,
to say: "No place on earth can ex-ceed this for beauty. The Elisian
fields of the Miehometan Paradise never vras so delightsome as these prairies.
Before the era of the Angfl o-American empresario, these "Elisian
fields" were known only to the nomadic, cannibalistic Karanrkaaa Indians
of the coast region.'2 The panlish and ilexican governments had heard of
the country through the reports of three cxeiDeditio-is which passed that
way. Hardly an expedition in tholmsolvos, though they wore the remains of
one, Cabeza do Vaca, Alonzo Castillo, Andres Dorantos, and Estovanico the
Mioor were perhaps the first Europeans to see t~h ric.,ion now called Doe Bitt
County. These four, survivors of a shipwreck on -the Texas coast in 1528,
wandered through Texas from the coast to thae 3l-alcones .Escarpment, and
then down to CaliL,:nn, M4exico.5 In 1689, over a century after this first
accidental expeditioni across Texas, Alonso cde Leoi, Jr,, l-ead an expedition
through the region under consider-ation to Lavaca Bay in search of La Salle
and his companions.4 Twenty,-nine years late, in.1 171.8, M.artin de Alarcon
made an exploratory trip to Lavaca Bay, and en route passed through what
is now De Witt County.5 Colonel Pedro de Rivera, on his inspection tour
of Spanish settlements in 1727, also passed throu-h this region.6 But
none of these expeditions had a real or lasting effect on the territory-no
settlements were established, and no real knowledge of the country was
gained. WIhen the Anglo-iAmericans began to enter the coastal plain of
1. Et hel Zively Rather, ";Deitt s Colony, in Southw'Testern Historical
Quarterly (Austin, 1897--), VIII (1904-5), 105, cited heretater as
Rather, "DeW.itt. 1'
2. Albert 3. Gatschet, The Karanlawa Indians, the Coast People of Texas
(Cambridge, Mass., 1891) , 45-46; I'iary iAustiiT. iHolley, Letteirs of an
Early American Traveller (Dallas, 1933), 149, cited hereafter 'as
Holley, Letters; Fralnk T. Johnson and Eugene C. Bar-ker, A History of
Texas and Texans, 5 vols. (Chicago, 1914), I, 154, c itcd horcafter as
Johnson, Hist ory.
5. Carlos :E. Castaneda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, 5 vols, (Austin,
1956, 1938), I, 70-753
4. Ibid., 33551-5536.
5. Ibido, II, 91-102.
6. Ibid., 212, 222, 223.
Historical Records Survey. Texas. Inventory of the county archives of Texas : De Witt County, no. 62. San Antonio, Tex.. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth25252/. Accessed September 21, 2014.