The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956 Page: 27
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A Trip to Texas in 1855
which, by adding soil and fertilizers, had been raised two feet to
avoid the blight of salt water. John saw a stout orange tree that
had been rooted out, because its roots had been killed by salt
John thought the dwelling-houses in Galveston were "very
comfortable-even elegant-with fine yards well planted." But
Abby disliked the town. It was "over shoe tops in sand," and it
was "very fetid" there; it was said that yellow fever was more
fatal in Galveston than in New Orleans.
On the afternoon of February 6, Abby and John embarked for
Houston. They expected to reach that place by eleven o'clock
that night, but a dense fog caused the boat to be grounded a
number of times, and at last they found themselves stuck fast on
a bad bar at the mouth of the San Jacinto River. There they
remained till ten o'clock the next morning, when they shoved off
to enter the Buffalo Bayou. Abby thought the bayou "the most
serpentine affair that ever was seen." She was told that never had
immigration to Texas been so great. She did not consider the
immigrants very desirable, if all were of the class she met on the
boats. The Jameses met a few "pleasant people," but only a few.
Reaching Houston, they lodged in "a most miserable hotel with
a dirty uncarpeted floor and nothing fit to eat, at 2 dollars a day."
It seemed to Abby that Texas was for farmers and cattle raisers,
not for cultivated society. She thought Houston "a considerable
place," but it had "that rambling slovenly look so peculiar to all
Southern towns." Negroes big and little thronged the place.
Mosquitoes proved quite troublesome. Ladies had little mosquito
net houses built in their parlors, in which they sat to sew.
John wrote in his diary that Houston was better than he had
2In a small leather-bound notebook John H. James recorded that little fruit
was grown in Texas. He saw no pear trees, though he saw a few small apple
trees. He heard of fine orchards, but never saw them. At San Antonio he heard
of the El Paso pear which grew to an enormous size, like a forest tree, the
fruit of fine quality. This pear was considered indigenous to Texas. It had
probably been brought there by the early Catholic priests. One of the great
difficulties in raising fruit trees was the swarms of ants that could strip a tree
of leaves in a very short time. The fig tree was the only widely diffused fruit
tree that James saw in Texas; the peach was frequently seen, but it was a poor
thing. Raspberries and strawberries thrived, but the red currant seldom bore
fruit. Wild grapes were abundant in the woods, but in Galveston they had to
be protected from salt water. John H. James, Notes on Texas (manuscript note-
book, Miami University Library, Oxford, Ohio).
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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/m1/39/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.