Indian wars and pioneers of Texas Page: 810 of 894
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INDIAN WARS .LND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.
pressure at least equal to that used in the construction
of the Travis County Courthouse." The
Travis County Courthouse is limestone, and none
other had hitherto been deemed " accessible."
The repoit contained the following on this subject:
'Tere are reasons to cause us to doubt the propriety
of adopting any ordinary material for an
extraordinary structure. It will be time to confront
the difficult problem of constructing a firstclass
house with second-class material when all
hope of procuring the best shall have been abandoned."
It was argued that the limestone used in
the Travis County Courthouse was the standard
created by law and, therefore, its use in the capitol
by the Commissioners was an imperative duty.
This view was irreconcilable with the spirit of the
law, which demanded that the " best accessible"
material should be used, and in a later paper, July
18th, they reported an extended examination, including
several counties, and presented eighteen
different samples of stone. Among them was red
granite from Burnet County. Some of these
samples, marble and limestone, as well as granite,
on being subjected to mechanical and chemical
tests at the Smithsonian Institute, were
indorsed as suitable. Such indorsement was
deemed sufficient and the contract was let,
the contractors taking tlhe risk of a supply of
the standard shown in the Travis County Courthouse.
The quarries at Oatmanville were selected
by them as sufficient for all demands, and indeed
there could be no doubt of its fitness for foundation
and other unexposed work. Its character had
been established by mechanical tests at the Rock
Jsland arsenal and chemical analysis by Prof. Mallett,
of the Texas University. The Commissioners,
however, said as follows: " Experience, acquired
through means of extensive labor and observation,
shows a marked lack of uniformity in most, if not
all, the deposits of stratified rocks in this country,
and the quarry at Oatmanville is no exception to
the general rule. These variations include color,
texture and quality. The texture usually differs
with each separate stratum, while the color often
changes in the same stratum when no variation of
texture or quality is perceptible." They reported
the impracticability of literal compliance with the
clause in the contract stipulating that the stone
should in " no respect differ from the sample." The
board declined to consider the matter except in its
relation to the foundation and basement wall. For
this purpose only the Commissioners were authorized
to accept such dimension stone as, after satisfactory
test, should prove ' not inferior in quality
to the sample." The delicacy of the situation was
apparent. The contractors, evidently believing
their quarry capable of meeting all the varied requirements
of the contract, had, at much expense,
built a railway connection thereto, while the representatives
of the State could not see their way clear
except through a substantial compliance with the
contract, which required uniformity of quality, texture,
color, etc. The work was completed to the
grade line above which covers the five-feet beltcourse,
or water table, prescribed in the plans by
the architect and already covered by the contract.
This stone was furnished free of charge to the contractors
by Messrs. Westfall, Lacy and Norton,
who had previously purchased the Granite Mountain
property in Burnet County. The basement
story thus completed was pronounced by the Commissioners
"entirely sufficient," and lasting for
any kind of material that may be used above.
What that material should be was unsettled and
the same old embarrassing conditions still existed.
Nothing meeting all the requirements or proving
satisfactory to all concerned had been found.
There was an evident indisposition on the part of
the board to be unjust to the contractors or force
them to unreasonable costs, but quite a strong
purpose to secure the " best accessible" material.
Work was temporarily suspended, but interest in
and discussion of the situation continued. The
contract was, as has been shown, on a limestonebasis.
The contractors expressed a willingness, even an anxiety,
to use the best of that class and asked only to be
shown such as would be satisfactory. At this
juncture the second biennial report of the Commissioners
was submitted, which had the effect of practically
eliminating native limestone from further
consideration and convinced all parties that granite
was the only Texas material fit for the great structure.
The following is taken from this report: "In
this connection the offer made before the
inception of this work is renewed as follows:"
AUSTIN, TEXAS, November 6, 1884.
"We, the undersigned, owners of Survey No.
18, in Burnet County, Texas, and known as the
William Slaughter east half-league, upon which is
the granite deposit whence the material for the
water-table of the new State capitol was recently
taken, hereby tender to the people of the State of
Texas, free of all or any charge, all the granite
stone required to complete the entire superstructure
of the building.
"JOHN HANCOCK, G. W. LACEY,
"0. M. RoBEROTS, W. H. WESTFALL,
"N. L. NORTON.
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Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas, book, 1880~; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/m1/810/: accessed March 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .