The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969 Page: 486
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
and novelists of the Southwest. James Fenimore Cooper's The Prairie,
for example, records "endless waves of prairie" and "the trackless
field of ocean."' In a pamphlet Stephen F. Austin wrote for circula-
tion in Europe, his colony is a landscape of "small prairies or natural
lawns," an "undulating region.""' One of the most poetic accounts of
prairie land is William Kennedy's book on the Republic of Texas,
reflecting the romantic vein of old travel narratives and guide books:
If the prairie be small, its great beauty consists of the surrounding margin
of woodland, which resembles the shores of a lake, indented with deep
vistas, like bays and inlets, and throwing out long points, like capes and
headlands. . .
Francis Parkman found "green, ocean-like expanse of prairie" in the
plains between the Mississippi and the Rockies.'
Looking back now, I see the prairie as a watercolor by John
Constable rather than an inland sea; for (to borrow phrases from
Kennedy) our varied landscape comprised the "immense expanse,"
"wilderness of grass and flowers," and "solitary tree.""' Yet a closer
look at our sixty-acre farm parallels many observations of H. F. Mc-
Danield, who, in 1876, made a two-thousand mile trip in Texas on
horseback. He saw snake prairie and hog-wallow prairie. On the snake
prairie, an immense tableland with wiry grass and an "occasional mot
of oak," the loneliness was depressing; even the perpetual wind passed
over it in silence, "as if with averted face." Hog-wallow prairie, in
"mesquite chaparral," contained "saucer-like depressions, from the
size of a wash-bowl to many feet in diameter." He found black, sticky
soil on each type of prairie, hog-wallow being "tractable" but difficult
to cultivate when wet."
The far corner of our mesquite pasture was a treeless hillside with
tufts of wiry grass, and a "buffalo wallow" (as my father called it)
blighted several acres of one of the fields. Level land, with flint rocks
and occasional arrowheads, made up only two or three plots of the
4James Fenimore Cooper, The Prairie, A Tale (New York, 1946), 2o.
5Eugene C. Barker, "Descriptions of Texas by Stephen F. Austin," Southwestern His-
torical Quarterly, XXX (October, 1924), 108-109.
6William Kennedy, Texas: The Rise, Progress, and Prospects of the Republic of Texas
(2 vols.; London, 1841), I, 104.
7Francis Parkman, The Oregon Trail (New York, 1931), 11. Parkman also mentions
"the pale blue prairie .. . like a serene and tranquil ocean." Ibid., a27o.
8Kennedy, Texas, I, log.
'H. F. McDanield and N. A. Taylor, The Coming Empire or, Two Thousand Miles in
Texas on Horseback (New York, 1877), 74, 85-86.
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969, periodical, 1969; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117146/m1/440/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.