The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956 Page: 2
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
expedition of Pinfilo Narviez and Cabeza de Vaca which was
attempting to sail from Florida to Mexico in a fleet of horsehide
boats in 1528 was shipwrecked on the Texas coast during a No-
vember norther, all boats save one being destroyed, and this last
boat with Narviez aboard was blown out to sea and to oblivion
in a second norther some days later. The shipwrecked survivors
suffered extremely from the northerly gales that swept across Texas,
then as now, once or twice a week all winter long, and by spring
only Cabeza de Vaca and a few of his comrades were left alive.
Eight years later De Vaca reached Mexico and recited one of the
most amazing stories of all time-and related the first recorded
account of a Texas norther.8
Three hundred years later, the first important American effort
to settle Texas was strikingly affected by the norther. Moses Austin
suffered so badly from the effects of the cold northers during his
visit to Texas in 182o-1821 that he died a short time after his
return, and the mantle of leadership fell upon the shoulders of
his able son, Stephen. It is not detracting from Stephen F. Austin's
remarkable leadership to say that had Moses Austin not been
struck down by the norther the history of Texas probably would
have been significantly different. Fifteen years later the norther
reaped the son as it had the father, for Stephen F. Austin died of
pneumonia in December, 1836, when, weakened by overwork, he
was unable to withstand the chilling blasts of the northers which
swept through his flimsy office building at Columbia.4
In tracking down the literature of the norther the writer encoun-
tered only two significant failures to comment on these amazing
windstorms, and, strangely, the only two prominent Texans who
failed to mention the northers in their published writings were
Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston. Rugged Sam may have taken
the northers in his stride, but Stephen F. seems to have avoided the
subject for fear it would discourage immigrants to his "promised
3Fanny Bandelier (trans.), The Journey of Alvar Ndilez Cabeza de Vaca ...
1528-1536 (New York, 1905), 46-49, 53-56, 84.
4For Moses Austin and the norther see Eugene C. Barker, The Life of Stephen
F. Austin: Founder of Texas, 1793-1836 (Austin, 1949), 26-27; see also Moses Austin
to J. E. B. Austin, March 28, 1821, in Eugene C. Barker (ed.), The Austin Papers
(Vols. I and II, Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Years
1919 and 1922, Washington, 1924, 1928; Vol. III, University of Texas Press, Austin,
1926), I, 384. For Stephen Austin and the norther see Carleton Beals, Stephen F.
Austin-Father of Texas (New York, 1953), 251-252.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956, periodical, 1956; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101162/m1/14/: accessed May 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.