The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956 Page: 31
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A Trip to Texas in 1855
Late that night, they reached a place called Chappell Hill.
Having eaten no dinner, Abby was eager for a cup of tea. When
a lukewarm concoction was brought, she could not drink it.
John asked for hot water for Abby's tea. The landlady flounced
out of the room in a "great huff." After a very long time, the water
was brought, but it was not hot. Weary and disgruntled, Abby and
John went to bed. Such was the service rendered for two dollars
a night.5 According to Ham White, high prices always accom-
panied poor fare in Texas--the innkeepers were too often broken-
down adventurers who were out to fleece all who came their way.
At Brenham John and Abby changes coaches.6 From that point
get milk in Texas. Cows went dry, for no effort was made to feed cows for milk
Texans learned to do without milk and butter and vegetables, for there were
few producers. It was said that an "old Texian" would cut up his raw beef into
thin slices, dry it on a rawhide, and boil it without vegetables. This boiled beef,
with corn bread, made his dinner, which he washed down with plenty of coffee
"as black as ink and strong as whiskey." He took his coffee without sugar.
Though he had hundreds of cows he had no milk. In fact, he said he did not
like milk. When he sat down to a table supplied with it, however, he drank
eight or ten glasses of it.
Dr. Ashbel Smith told James that he knew a cattle raiser who refused $g,ooo
for his calves of one season. Except at branding times in spring and fall, the
cattle were cared for by an overseer and one negro boy. Casual flesh wounds
sustained by the cattle were treated by putting calomel in the open wound and
covering it up with tar.
Cattle were in demand for the home market, for shipping to New Orleans, and
for driving to California. Texas cattlemen, in the early 1850's, began to drive
their cattle to Illinois where they stopped for a year, and then some drove their
herds on to New York. Ibid.
sFood prices at this time were: chickens, 25 cents each; eggs 15 cents to 25 cents
a dozen; pork io cents a pound, mutton to cents, and beef 5 cents. Few potatoes
were grown in Texas; they did not keep well. A Kentucky colony in the Mission
Valley in Gonzales County solved this problem by leaving the potatoes in the
There was little game for sale. The buck rabbit was esteemed as an article of
food, but even more for coursing. Horsemen and hounds chased him, generally
catching him at the end of a three-mile run. Several ladies of Travis County
were very skillful in the buck-rabbit chase. There were plenty of wild turkeys
and deer, but few purveyors. Ham White said that he had not been without
venison two days at a time for years. He hunted deer with an old ox or an
unsaddled horse, driving the animal before him with a line and keeping to its
offside. In this way he could get within fifty yards of the deer before shooting. Ibid.
John was much pleased with the excellent coach horses. The drivers were all
good-"civil and decent." Fine coach horses were bred in Texas, some of them
selling at $2oo or more. The trip from Houston to Austin was made in three days,
from Austin to Powder Horn in eighteen hours, beginning at midnight and
stopping nowhere for sleep. Over the sandy parts of Texas, coaches were drawn
by six horses. Ibid.
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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/m1/43/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.