The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945 Page: 34
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
naturalist who has been a major interest with me over many
years, I present it to readers of the Quarterly.
Regarding David G. Burnet's early life, a great deal is known;
and I shall here make no attempt to cover the ground of his
life. It will be recalled that Burnet came to Texas from Cin-
cinnati, where his older brother, Jacob Burnet (1770-1853),
was one of the leading men of the city, interested in educational
and cultural movements. David G. Burnet's father, William
Burnet, was a surgeon-general in the Revolutionary Army, and
the boy certainly had the advantages of a cultured home. He
early came to Natchitoches, Louisiana, to engage in trade with
the Indians but, developing tuberculosis, went (in the fall of
1817) to live with the Comanche Indians on the upper reaches of
the Colorado River in Texas. He lived with the Indians for
(?)eighteen months, and recovered his health completely. Out
of his Indian experiences," he wrote a series of letters to Colo-
nel John Jamison, Indian Agent for the United States Govern-
ment at Natchitoches. The first of these is dated from Nacog-
doches, in August, 1818. Four letters only, as far as I know, were
written, for Colonel Jamison appears to have died in October of
the next year.
In 1824 there was established at Cincinnati the short-lived
Cincinnati Literary Gazette, to which Rafinesque, world-
renowned naturalist (then a professor at Transylvania Uni-
versity) made contributions.' Rafinesque wrote a great number
and variety of papers, some of them showing the highest and
rarest genius, and some of exceedingly slender merit. "His
extraordinary genius, his encyclopaedic knowledge, and his
mind thinking thoughts forty years ahead of his time, won re-
spect for Rafinesque's scholarship; but his habit of parading
his professional connections brought him into ridicule. On
the title-pages of his many pamphlets he would set forth with
a pompous pedantry, common enough in his day, the list of the
'Cf. S. W. Geiser, American Midland Naturalist, II (1911), 150-152.
2J. W. Abert, in his journal (Oct. 18, 1845) tells of how an old Creek
chief at Tuck-a-bach-ee entertained him well, and asked him many ques-
tions in reference to his Great Father, and spoke of a visit he had made
in the company with his interpreter, "Davy Barnett." Is it possible that
this was David G. Burnet?
3For an account of the Rafinesque Centennial Celebration (Oct. 30, 1940)
at Transylvania College, see Transylvania College Bulletin, XV (1942), 7.
A brief documented account of Rafinesque at Transylvania University is
given in Geiser, Southwest Review, XVIII, 67-69. The quotation below
is from that paper.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945, periodical, 1945; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146055/m1/38/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.