The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 31, July 1927 - April, 1928 Page: 10
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10 Southwestern Historical Quarterly
EARLY TEXAS HISTORY
No one subject has inspired so many different local authors
as "The Wanderings in Texas of Cabeza de Vaca"; nothing in
history is so gripping, so arouses the curiosity, and appeals to
the imagination of the reader and investigator, as this almost
miraculous "Story of the First White Man to Cross Over the Con-
tinent" told by himself, nearly a hundred years before the landing
of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock. The first report, and details
of the disaster to the ambitious "Adventures of Governor Pam-
philo de Narviez," published in Spanish in 1542, must necessarily
have awakened intense interest in Spain. Its importance, how-
ever, seems not to have been fully appreciated by historians until
translated by Buckingham Smith (Washington, 1851; and by
Bandelier, (New York, 1907); and treated briefly by II. H. Ban-
croft, "North Mexican States and Texas." The routes as indi-
cated to Smith and Bandelier from the narratives do not coincide
and each of these writers is far from correct. As the most inter-
esting part of the narrative must necessarily describe Texas and its
aboriginal inhabitants, it became a subject of serious and detailed
study by Texas historians, beginning with the first volume of
The footprints naturally became dim after an interval of three
hundred and fifty years, during more than two hundred and fifty
of which Texas had remained unoccupied and its rivers, bays,
mountains, and other geographical points, nameless.
Brownie Ponton and Bates McFarland, in January, 1898, both
then undergraduates of the University of Texas, first relate the
story taken from these translations in a most interesting way, and
then essay the task of following the footsteps of Cabeza de Vaca
through Texas. They boldly take issue with Buckingham Smith
and Bandelier, and conclude Galveston Island is Mal-Hado in the
narrative. Journeying thence down the coast in the direction of
Panuco, their destination, the Spaniards would cross Oyster Creek,
the Brazos, the San Bernard, and Caney Creek, which in distance
from each other, conform to the narrative and seem conclusively
established; as there are no rivers so situated as to each other on
any other part of the coast. It is concluded that Cabeza met his
friends after their long separation near the mouth of the Colo-
rado; from which point they made their departure. The next fixed
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 31, July 1927 - April, 1928, periodical, 1928; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101088/m1/16/: accessed June 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.