The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986 Page: 424
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
some of the trends and developments from that era of settlement that
carried into and had impact on twentieth-century Texas, but we will ex-
clude from our examination the environmental impact of the industrial
development, the burgeoning population, and the scientific achieve-
ments that have marked the middle years of this century.
Early Texan settlers created, developed, and expanded agricultural
landscapes and instituted a system of land ownership that allowed them
to barter or sell plants, animals, and other resources from the land.
They attacked plants and animals that interfered with their activities,
and introduced alien species, changing the composition of preexisting
biological associations and drastically altering the natural environment.
Briefly, this essay examines what these early Texans saw in the land-
scape, what they thought about resources, and how they acted in re-
spect to existing natural objects.
Both native and foreign-born travelers noted that good soils, lush
vegetation, and wild animals abounded in early Texas. Sources from
the Spanish period onward describe the province as an incredibly fe-
cund place. Soils which proved to be most fertile were well distributed
throughout the countryside. The variety and populations of useful
plants and animals also impressed many observers, especially Euro-
peans, from whose Spanish, English, French, or Germanic homelands
such vast forests and extensive wildlife had long since vanished. The
overriding advantages of a good climate and a relatively flat physiogra-
phy (to at least the 980 W longitude) made it possible to pursue outdoor
activities all year. Admiration for this wealth of resources focused on
certain items in the three distinct zones or regions into which such
popular authors as Mary Austin Holley and William Kennedy com-
monly divided Texas.'
The first region was the coastal lowland, a lens-shaped expanse of
marshes, estuaries, and prairies in which a dozen or so long and mid-
'Frenchman Pierre Marie Frangois Pages was most impressed by the vegetation and wildlife,
mostly deer, in 1767; see "A Journey through Texas in 1767," El Campanario, Texas Old Mis-
sions and Forts Restoration Association, XVI (Jan., 1985), 1-28, especially pages 9, 15. Admi-
ration for natural resources in the 1840s comes from Britishers William Kennedy, Texas: The
Rise, Progress and Prospects of the Republic of Texas (2nd ed., 1841; reprint, Fort Worth, 1925);
Arthur Ikin, Texas: Its History, Topography, Agriculture, Commerce, and General Activities . .. (Waco,
Tex., 1964), and W. Eugene Hollon and Ruth Lapham Butler (eds.), William Bollaert's Texas
(Norman, 1956). American literature was just as hortatory. See Mary Austin Holley, Texas (Aus-
tin, 1935); Andrew Forest Muir (ed.), Texas in I837: An Anonymous, Contemporary Narrative (Aus-
tin, 1958); and [A. B. Lawrence], Texas in 184o; or, The Emigrant's Guide to the New Republic ...
(1840; reprint, New York, 1973). An overview of these and other sources is provided by Robin
W. Doughty, Wildlife and Man in Texas: Environmental Change and Conservation (College Station,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986, periodical, 1985/1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117151/m1/494/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.