The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956 Page: 37
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A Trip to Texas in 1855
which frequently were bound at the top with cross branches and
rawhide. Some fences were made by planting posts four or five feet
apart and wattling them with mesquite brush woven between
The first day in San Antonio was warm and pleasant. Ladies,
with only thin veils on their heads, were out driving in their
carriages. The next day a stiff north wind prevailed. On the
streets, everywhere, persons wrapped blankets tightly about them-
selves to repel the cold.
On Sunday morning, John and Abby attended services in the
Catholic church next door. Within the thick-walled and vaulted
sanctuary there was an imposing, "finely decorated" altar. "Just
a few women were gathered in the church, next the seats were
filled with men, and at the second Bell the priest entered," John
wrote in his diary. "The music was good," he added.
On Sunday afternoon, the Jameses hired a carriage for three
dollars and looked over the town. Americans had built some fine
spacious homes in the suburbs, but most of the dwellings in town
were small. There were some good gardens. Old barrel staves were
used extensively for garden fences. Outhouses, also, were boarded
up and down with barrel staves. John and Abby visited the Alamo,
and twice crossed the beautiful San Antonio River. The attractive-
ness of San Antonio as a place to live was marred by the preva-
lence of fever and ague. Disease was especially prevalent along the
On Sunday night John and Abby left by coach for the Gulf.
For instance, they spoke of a "cavayard" of horses, a word that originated from
cavallado, then shortened to "cavalyard," and then corrupted to "cavayard."
Mesquite was the common fuel in San Antonio. It was also common fencing
material. It was much preyed on by worms, otherwise it was a durable wood
capable of making excellent furniture. The tree was generally scrubby but some-
times grew to a diameter of two or three feet.
The common cart which the Mexican used to haul his mesquite wood into
San Antonio was made entirely of wood, the wheels made of segments framed
together and bound with cross facings-the whole massive and solid and about
four feet high. The body of the cart was often a mere wooden crate with rawhide
sideboards within to retain the load of wood.
In Austin Colonel John S. Ford told John that the gum of the mesquite tree had
been used in the Texan army as a substitute for gum arabic in 1836. Now Dr.
Shumard was pointing it out as a good substitute for gum arabic. Ibid.
See Wayne Gard, "Reclaiming Lost Lands of Texas," in Think, February, 1954,
pp. 14-15, 33, for an interesting story of the mesquite. Mesquite seems to have
been used for everything from firewood to funeral decorations. The beans possessed
fattening properties for livestock.
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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/m1/49/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.