The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 3, July 1899 - April, 1900 Page: 56
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Texas Historical Association Quarterly.
In de Vaca's accounts he relates that the tribes of Indians with
whom he and the other Spaniards lived just prior to their escape
to the West were in the habit of migrating at a certain season of
the year to a part of the country where they lived on the fruit of
the prickly pear cactus for a term of three months each year. On
this, the article referred to reasons about as follows, substantially:
The prickly pear is found over the Southern States and as far north
as Illinois; but in order to satisfy the requirements of de Vaca's
narrative a country must be found where the prickly pear ripens in
great abundance, and endures so as to furnish food for Indians
during three months of the year. This is not true of any country
north of a line drawn, say, from Galveston to Eagle Pass, and is
true of a large part of Texas lying south. of that line. This reason-
ing gives us a northern limit to the location of de Vaca when his
party started westward.
This conjecture seems to me to be reasonable. The only objec-
tion which I can imagine to be properly urged against the legiti-
mate carrying out of this line of conjecture would be the conten-
tion that there may have been a change in the natural conditions
of the country during the three hundred and fifty years which have
elapsed since de Vaca passed through it. This objection as urged
against the defining of the cactus country would also apply to some
points to, which I wish to call attention, and I shall consider its
value in advance.
There are three ways in which I can imagine a considerable
change in the natural productions of this country to have been
brought about. There are probably others, but none, I think, so
likely to work in this country as those which I will mention.
First to be considered is the probability of a change brought
about by an increase or decrease in the rainfall or the humidity of
the climate. As to this, I am not aware of anything of record to
show that there has been any material change in Texas during the
past three hundred and fifty years. Certainly there is no evidence
to show that a climatic change has occurred great enough to drive
out any plant or animal, or to materially alter the habitat of any
such. Irrigation was necessary in parts of the State when first set-
tled by the Spaniards, just as it is necessary at this day. True, in
Southwest Texas farming without irrigation is now practiced in
places where in the earliest settlements it was carried on by irriga-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 3, July 1899 - April, 1900, periodical, 1900; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101015/m1/64/: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.