Heritage, 2008, Volume 2 Page: 19
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torical figure in Texas, it behooved A&M to acquire the collection
Augmenting this personal correspondence collection are newspaper
and journal clippings related to Goodnight, Christmas cards
from Corinne Goodnight, (Charles's second wife, who cared for
him when he was ill, after his first wife had died) to Martin S. Garretson,
and a photograph of Charles Goodnight.
Among some of the collection's highlights include a letter to Garretson
in which Goodnight tells of an effort by the State of Texas to
take over one of his ranches, home to a private domesticated herd of
buffalo, to serve as an "experimental station" to preserve the species.
This was an act, which Goodnight correctly predicted, that would
fall flat. In a letter to Edmund Seymour, another influential member
of the American Bison Society, Goodnight gives a brief chronicle
of his fierce life-one spent battling blue northers, drought, and
Comanche Indians. Another piece of correspondence that is more
lighthearted tells of Goodnight's intentions to crossbreed a sheep
with a hog; considering that Goodnight had already bred the "cattalo,"
it's an idea that was probably not that far-fetched for someone
with the vision and drive that Goodnight possessed.
The archive's web site sums it up best: "Texas would not have
become Texas without men like Goodnight."
The Old 300 Collection
Their names are Brotherington and Callihan and Elder and Falensah
Kuykendall and McNair and Sojourner and Varner. Along with
more than 200 others, these people make up what has become
known as Stephen Fuller Austin's "Old 300." They were among the
first Anglo settlers to the northern Mexican province ofTejas during
the period of 1824-1828.
In total, 297 titles were granted by Austin and located in an area
where no Spanish or Mexican settlements had existed; the lands selected
by the colonists were along the rich bottomlands of the Brazos,
Colorado, and San Bernard rivers, extending from present-day
Brenham, Navasota, and La Grange to the Gulf of Mexico. It was
collectively known as the San Felipe de Austin colony.
The vast majority of the new colonists were from the Trans-Appalachian
South; the largest number were from Louisiana, followed by
Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri. Largely, they were independently
wealthy, as seen by the significant number of slaveholders
among the group. Most were of British descent, and only four of
the grantees were known to be illiterate. Following his father Moses
Austin's lead, Stephen F Austin wanted to avoid "problems" with his
colonists and was very selective in his granting.
At its height, San Felipe was second only behind San Antonio as a
commercial center in Texas. By 1835, its population reached upwards
of 600. The town was evacuated and burned to the ground in 1836 to
prevent it from falling into the hands of the vengeful Mexican Army
during the Texas Revolution. Town inhabitants hastily gathered up a
few belongings before fleeing eastward, an event now known as the
Runaway Scrape. Many families never returned; the town foundered
for many years, and as of the 2000 census, its current population was
less than 1,000.
Opposite: Photograph and signature of Colonel Goodnight from the Charles Goodnight
Collection at Texas A&M University. This page, correspondence from Corinne Goodnight,
Charles Goodnight's second wife. Also from the Goodnight Collection at TAMU.
This amazing collection of history would probably be lost to time
if not for the efforts of Sam Houston State University's Old 300 Collection.
The archive consists primarily of 30 original, preserved documents,
each signed by 30 different members of the Old 300. The
earliest piece in the collection pertains to Abraham Alley, who settled
in Texas in 1822.
"Most of the documents are writs of petition, estate documents,
summons, collection fees, or guardian bonds," explains Paul Culp,
special collections librarian for Sam Houston State University. "These
documents have been digitized through a grant in order to make documents
relating to Texas history accessible to students."
The web site, named "Texas Tides" is free and available to the public
via the SHSU's main Internet site, www.shsu.edu. [Editor's Note:
the Texas Tides program is reviewed on page 24 of this magazine.]
"The Old 300 Collection was assembled by a rare books dealer
for [Texas businessman and philanthropist] James L. Britton
III," explains Culp. "[Britton] donated them to SHSU in the
HERITA GE - Volume 2 2008
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2008, Volume 2, periodical, 2008; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45358/m1/19/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.