Reminiscences of reconstruction in Texas ; and, Reminiscences of Texas and Texans fifty years ago Page: 53 of 58
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TEXAS AND TEXANS FIFTY YEARS AGO. 53
Major Durst was an important figure in the early affairs of Texas,
and in the settlement and development of Leon county.
* * *
On the 14th day of November, 1851, I arrived in Centreville,
the county seat of Leon. The town was then one year old,
the county seat having been removed from Leona the year before.
At the time of my arrival there were in the county, perhaps, some
200 or 250 voters. The country was new, and game was abundant.
The uplands were covered with sage and other grasses from two
to four feet high. The glades and bottom lands were set with a
luxuriant growth of gramma grass so high that when a deer entered
it his course could be followed by the opening of the grass, and
occasionally his head and ears could be seen as he leaped along.
The creek and river bottoms were filled with a dense growth of
cane, from ten to fifteen feet high. The range was fine for cattle,
horses and hogs, winter and summer. Hogs fed on the acorns of
the post oak, overcup oak, red oak, water oak and black-jack and
the various native grapes, and needed no attention, except now and
then feeding them a little corn to keep them gentle. Cattle and
horses kept fat winter and summer on the range. In the fall, the
first norther would send the cattle to the bottoms among the cane
brakes, where, feeding on the switch cane, they would come out in
the spring fat and sleek. Pork in the fall was worth a cent and a
half per pound, and beef was to be had at the buyer's own price.
A feeling of. social and neighborly kindness pervaded the entire
community. The advent of a newcomer was the signal of universal
rejoicing in the neighborhood. All of the neighbors vied with each
other in their acts of kindness and hospitality towards him. If he
needed beef, he was informed by each old settler as to his mark
and brand, and told to go amongst his cattle and make his own
selection free of charge. The old settler's corn crib was open to
the wants of the newly arrived. Everybody seemed to enjoy life.
There were no social distinctions, other than those which were
based on integrity and merit. All honest, industrious people met
on a common plane. Merit and worth was received and welcomed
everywhere. Locks and keys were not needed. All kept open
house. The visitor, whether stranger or neighbor, on his arrival
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Wood, William D. Reminiscences of reconstruction in Texas ; and, Reminiscences of Texas and Texans fifty years ago, book, 1902; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth14387/m1/53/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .