The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 231
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Early Texas Inns: A Study in Social Relationships
moment there was little more to mark the new capital than the
scene of the previous summer, described by Dilue Harris as "a
dugout canoe, a bottle gourd of whiskey, and a surveyor's chain
and compass" used by "four men with an ordinary camping
outfit."4" Nevertheless, the town grew up almost overnight. John
Hunter Herndon, who visited there in 1837 and 1838, describes
the place as having a population of two thousand although it was
only nine months old, and as being "the greatest sink of dissipa-
tion and vice that modern times have known."46 Before Herndon
left he thought he saw evidences of reform, especially after the
delivery of three sermons in one day by one of the Allen brothers,
one of the two initial city founders.47 As to the physical aspect of
Houston, although there were a few unfinished frame houses and
a few brick ones in the town, most of the dwellings, as else-
where, were built of logs. And when it rained, the streets-even
as they are currently in the unpaved sections-were a sea of mud,
for the town was laid out in marshy land that was difficult to
The atmosphere of Houston, even during the evidences of
reform, must have been a perfect backdrop for the rugged char-
acter of Mrs. Pamelia Mann. Herndon's diary abounds in such
phrases as "a man drank liquor out of a skull that still had the
brains it it";4* "there were several rows in town" and "one man
was killed"; "a man was indicted for passing 'counterfeit money'
and fined only $125"; some "criminals were whipped at the post";
"I took a walk to the duelling ground"; "Stuart came to my room
to say he'd lost his pocketbook with $750 Kentucky money";49
there was an "affray in town with Bowie knives and pistols."50
These accounts are interspersed with such notations as "I was
invited to a candy pulling" today and I saw "thirteen ladies at
one time on the street, more than I supposed were in town," and
later "I met the Misses Smith at church and escorted them into
45Harris, "Reminiscences," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association,
4sJohn Hunter Herndon, Diary (MS., Archives, University of Texas Library), 17.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957, periodical, 1957; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/m1/256/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.