The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958 Page: 556
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
increasing rarity, never had the opportunity to profit from its
fund of firsthand information of the Texas frontier of the 1840's
In 1957 the University of Oklahoma Press has rendered a great
service to lovers of Americana by publishing a new edition of
Lee's book, enriched by an introduction written by Walter
Prescott Webb, who speaks with authority and, more importantly,
with a rare gift of human understanding, of the men whose
exploits are the framework of Texas frontier history.
Nelson Lee was born in Brownsville, Jefferson County, New
York, in 1807 and, himself, describes his early life as having little
"remarkable" in it. He uses only the first chapter of his book to
outline his career before his arrival in Texas in 1840, but in this
limited space he mentions an interlude of rafting on the St.
Lawrence, a trip down the Mississippi, service on a United States
sloop of war in pursuit of pirates off the coast of Brazil, exciting
service off the coast of New Foundland, and a narrow escape from
death by shipwreck in a storm off the Florida coast. Considering
these events of his early life "commonplace," Lee explains that
he decided to go to Texas because, as he expresses it: "To me a
life of inactivity was irksome, and casting about for some sort of
activity congenial to my tastes, the rumors of troublous times in
Texas at length arrested my attention."
Arriving in Texas in 1840, he lost no time in enlisting in a
company of Texas Rangers engaged in scouting activities against
Indians and Mexican raiders. In the introduction to the new
edition, Dr. Webb epitomizes Lee as a man who " .. hunted
out the places of excitement and put himself in the midst of it
repeatedly." The final fourteen chapters of the book bear out this
The account of Lee's activities after 1840 falls naturally into
two divisions. Chapters II through VIII relate events between
1840 and 1855, during which time he served in various Ranger
companies under such captains as Ewen Cameron, Ben McCulloch,
Jack Hays, and Samuel H. Walker. He claims to have participated
in the battle at Plum Creek, following the Comanche raid on
Linnville in 1840, and was later a member of the Mier Expedi-
tion. When the Texans surrendered to General Pedro Ampudia,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958, periodical, 1958; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/m1/664/: accessed May 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.