The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941 Page: 3
The Lost Journals of a Southwestern Frontiersman 3
our man goes on to describe the scarcity of water, and then to
a word as to the quality of the society he found, which he
estimates according to the natural code of his time. He is out-
spoken, and why not? For after all this is a diary, never
written for publication, and if a man can't speak out to him-
self, to whom can he? So he says:
As to society, it is rather bad yet. There are a few
planters of some wealth, but the proportion is very
small, and although most of the poor are honest citi-
zens, yet most of these, being of backwoods raising,
they live in the plainest and coarsest style.
He notes the lawlessness that breeds in poor circumstances,
and the lynchings executed by outraged citizens; and like many
a thoughtful man before and since, is bothered by the necessity
for the action, and the "terrible license" it entails.
His journey into Texas included a few business ventures.
With his brother, he gathered and drove a herd of 104 mules,
which they intended to sell. They would divide the stock and
drive off in different directions, meeting days later to report
their sales. Finally, he had 14 mules left, and for these, and
$200 in cash, he bought 640 acres of land from a man named
John Tucker, near Natchitoches. Some of the animals were
from the Santa Fe trip. The Texas mule sale, with its travels,
took several months.
In November, on the 3rd, he stopped at Sabine Town, on the
west bank of the Sabine River. "This village," he says, "was
laid out 4 years ago, and is improving cleverly, having two or
three stores in it."
He has a bright eye for trees, especially. Pages are filled with
the description of woods and forests through which he passed.
He recites the very names of trees as if they were evocations of
the land itself. He reaches quickly for a figure to set down the
character of a tree, and in one place, uses a description of an
unfamiliar kind of tree which nobody could fail to grasp. "I
saw no trees of it, larger than one's leg." It was "a kind of
sassafras bay (called here sweet bay), the twigs of which look
much like sassafras, and leaves, roots, etc., have [a] good deal
the same smell and flavor." Do you suppose he dug up a root to
find out? I wouldn't be surprised. Somehow, I am delighted
to know it.
Now following the travel of his eye and his mind, reading
Here’s what’s next.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941, periodical, 1941; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146052/m1/7/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.