Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography Page: xi
This book is part of the collection entitled: Rescuing Texas History, 2010 and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries .
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underlying it all was freedom of the spirit, a seeking quality little
appreciated today, and, I sometimes think, in danger of dis-
appearing altogether. Yet there was a time, I can attest, when the
Texas spirit drew men like a magnet because I was one of them.
It is common knowledge that Texas was settled by men such
as I who were born elsewhere. Travis came from South Carolina,
Crockett and Bowie from Kentucky, tall Sam Houston hailed
from Tennessee. Tens of thousands followed in their train, from
other parts of the country and other lands. San Antonio, for
example, has many old families of German origin such as the
Klebergs of the King Ranch, and the Nimitzes, one of whose
sons became the famous admiral.
Typical, too, was my grandfather's youngest brother, John
Atkinson. He came to Texas in 1877. Like myself, John Atkin-
son stemmed from the Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada.
In western Texas John Atkinson came across the Guadalupe
Salt Lakes, great flats of coarse salt laid down in mountain valleys
by prehistoric seas. Here, he thought, was a chance to make a
fortune by selling the salt. He interested others in the venture,
went to El Paso, and there got himself a huge grant of land that
included the salt lakes.
But now John Atkinson made a fatal mistake. He did not
follow the example of Samuel Maverick of the San Antonio clan
who, eleven years earlier, in 1866, had located a first claim on
similar salt flats west of Atkinson's. Maverick left his salt pan
unfenced but Atkinson put a fence around his, and hung signs
on it warning that anyone who trespassed would be severely
dealt with. This flouted Mexican tradition. For centuries the
Mexicans of the El Paso region had gone to the pans for salt as
they wished, their right of access having come down from remote
The outraged Mexicans determined to oust Atkinson, the in-
truder. They laid siege to him and his partners in their adobe
hut. Atkinson came out to parley with them in Spanish, for he
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Atkinson, Donald Taylor. Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography, book, 1958; New York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143566/m1/11/: accessed August 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.