The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956 Page: 9
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The Texas Norther
as Matilda Houstoun called them.37 Solms-Braunfels described the
average Texas dwelling as being "a poorly built log house through
which the wind blows freely."3s Indeed many of the houses were
unchinked. Olmsted was able to put his hands between the logs
of one house where he stayed, and, to make matters worse, the
door of the cabin sagged so badly it could not be closed; no wonder
that the occupants sat before the fire with their hats and overcoats
on.9 In such houses not even the fire was sufficient to keep one
warm-at least all over; Lyman Brightman Russell says that as a
result of these conditions, northers were frequently called "shin-
burners and back-freezers."40
J. M. Franks recollects one humorous incident which he says
"really happened" in one of these chinkless cabins during a
We will call their names Smith and Brown [said Franks]. Mr. Smith
lived on a ranch some six or eight miles from Brown. Mr. Smith had
several girls and Mr. Brown would go courting over there quite often,
and would sometimes stay all night. Mr. Smith owned a good many
cattle, and in those days cattle were bad to chew things-saddle blankets
and everything they could get hold of; it was for the want of salt I
think. So one night Mr. Brown went courting to Mr. Smith's and
it got late before he hardly knew it, and he decided to stay all night.
He was put in one of the little cabins to sleep. Along in the night it
blew up what used to be called a blue norther. This little cabin had
most all of the chinking out of it and the cracks between the logs were
all open, and the wind was just whistling through the cracks, so Mr.
Brown thought he would keep out the wind with his pants; so he
stuffed them in the crack and went to sleep. One of Smith's cows
came along and licked out the pants and chewed them up. So next
morning when breakfast was ready Mr. Brown had not shown up and
the family all sat down to breakfast and in looking out they saw Mr.
Brown going north. Well, he was running and the wind was blowing
about 40 miles an hour. . Young Smith said he could have played
cards on his shirt as he ran off.41
With such inadequate housing for protection against the chill
a7Matilda Houstoun, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico or Yachting in the New World
(2 vols.; London, 1844), II, 173.
3aSolms-Braunfels, Texas, 1844-1845, 39.
39Olmsted, Journey through Texas, loo.
4OLyman Brightman Russell, Grandad's Autobiography (Comanche, Texas,
41J. M. Franks, Seventy Years in Texas (Gatesville, Texas, 1924), 18.
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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/m1/21/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.