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Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas ebook

John Henry Brown

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The book leads the reader through the past to the present and here leaves him amid active and progressive men who are advancing, along with him, toward the future. Including, as it does, lives of men now living, it constitutes a connecting link between what has gone before and what is to come after. It is therefore fitting that it should be dedicated to a prominent man of our day in preference to one of former times. The matter presented, in the nature of things, is largely biographical. There can be no foundation for history without biography. History is a generalization of particulars. It presents wide extended views. To use a paradox, history gives us but a part of history. That other part which it does not give us, the part which introduces us to the thoughts, aspirations and daily life of a people, is supplied by biography. The men whose deeds are recorded in this book were or are deeply identified with Texas, and the preservation in this volume in enduring form of some remembrance of them—their names, who and what they were—has been a pleasant task to one who feels a deep interest and pride in Texas—its past history, its heroes and future destiny.

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Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas

 

JOHN HENRY BROWN

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas. J. H. Brown

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9

Deutschland

 

ISBN: 9783849652128

 

www.jazzybee-verlag.de

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEDICATORY PREFACE.

 

The reader of this volume is introduced to a series of advancing scenes in a drama that had its beginning in the first feeble attempts that were made at the settlement of the country, and to a succession of actors from the solitary explorer of seventy years ago to the men of to-day.

To one of the most useful, honored and capable of the latter, our esteemed friend—

MR. GEORGE SEALY,

 

of Galveston,

 

this work is respectfully dedicated.

The book leads the reader through the past to the present and here leaves him amid active and progressive men who are advancing, along with him, toward the future.

Including, as it does, lives of men now living, it constitutes a connecting link between what has gone before and what is to come after. It is therefore fitting that it should be dedicated to a prominent man of our day in preference to one of former times. The matter presented, in the nature of things, is largely biographical.

There can be no foundation for history without biography. History is a generalization of particulars. It presents wide extended views. To use a paradox, history gives us but a part of history. That other part which it does not give us, the part which introduces us to the thoughts, aspirations and daily life of a people, is supplied by biography.

When a good action is performed we feel that it should be remembered forever. When a good man dies, there is nothing sadder than the reflection that he will be forgotten. No record has been preserved of the greater number of noble actions. The names of some of the men who have done most to make history have found no place upon its pages.

As Thomas-a-Kempis hath truly said: “To-day the man is here; to-morrow he hath disappeared. And when he is out of sight, quickly also is he out of mind.

“Tell me now, where are all those doctors and masters, with whom thou wast well acquainted, while they lived and flourished in learning? Now others possess their livings and perhaps do scarce ever think of them. In their lifetime they seemed something, but now they are not spoken of.”

The men whose deeds are recorded in this book were or are deeply identified with Texas, and the preservation in this volume in enduring form of some remembrance of them—their names, who and what they were—has been a pleasant task to one who feels a deep interest and pride in Texas—its past history, its heroes and future destiny. The book is presented to the reader with the hope that he will find both pleasure and profit in its perusal.

 

 

 INTRODUCTORY TO THE Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas.

 

The first contest on the soil of Texas between Americans and Indians antedates the visit of Moses Austin to the country in 1820; but the combatants were not colonists; they were a part of the second expedition of Capt. James Long in aid of the patriots in the Mexican revolution. His first expedition, entering East Texas by land, had been defeated in detail and driven from the country by the troops of Spain, sent from San Antonio. This second expedition came by water to Bolivar Point, opposite the east end of Galveston Island, and fortified that place. Some of the expedition, under Don Felix Trespalacios, and among whom was the subsequently distinguished martyr of Bexar in 1835, Col. Benjamin R. Milam, sailed down the coast and landed near Tampico. Fifty-two men remained with Long, among whom were John Austin (commander at Velasco in 1832), John McHenry, deceased in Jackson County in 1885, and a number of educated and daring Americans from different States of the Union. In December, 1853, in De Bow's New Orleans Review, the author of this work, after repeated interviews with Capt. McHenry, long his neighbor, gave this account of that first strictly American-Indian fight in Texas, late in the autumn of 1819. Its verity has never been questioned:—

While Long was at Bolivar, a French sloop freighted with wines and Mexican supplies, bound to Cassano, stranded on Galveston Island near the present city. The Carancahua Indians, to the number of 200 warriors, were then encamped in the immediate vicinity, and at once attacked and butchered all on board the sloop, plundered the craft, and entered upon a general jollification and war-dance. Long (discovering these facts) determined to chastise them for their baseness. Accordingly after nightfall, at the head of thirty men (including McHenry), he passed over in small boats to the island, and made an unexpected assault upon the guilty wretches, who were then greatly heated by the wines.

The Carancahuas, however, though surprised, instantly seized their weapons, and yelling furiously, met their assailants with determined courage. With such superior numbers, they were a full match for Long. The combatants soon came to a hand-to-hand fight of doubtful issue; but Long directed his men in a masterly manner and effected a retreat to his boats, leaving thirty-two Indians killed, three of his own men dead, and two badly besides several slightly wounded. George Early was severely wounded. Long's party took two Indian boys prisoners, and retained them, one of whom was accidentally killed some time afterwards. This is doubtless the first engagement known between the war-like Carancahuas and the Americans.

 

THE FIRST CONTEST WITH THE COLONISTS.

 

The first two schooner loads of immigrants to Texas, under the auspices of Stephen F. Austin, landed on the west bank, three miles above the mouth of the Colorado, late in March, 1822, having left New Orleans on the 7th of February. The first of the two vessels to arrive was the schooner Only Son, owned by Kincheloe and Anderson, two of the immigrants, and commanded by Capt. Benjamin Ellison, who made many subsequent trips to our coast and died at his home in Groton, Connecticut, July 17, 1880. [The writer met him at his own home in 1869 and 1870, and found him to be a refined and elegant old Christian gentleman, with kind recollections of the early pioneers on our coast, and yet retaining a warm interest in the welfare of Texas.] Among those arriving on the Only Son were Abram M. Clare, from Kentucky, who, till his death about forty years later, was a worthy citizen; Maj. George Helm, of Kentucky, who died on the eve of leaving to bring out his family, one of whose sons, John L. Helm, was afterwards Governor of Kentucky, while another is the venerable Rev. Dr. Samuel Larne Helm, of the Baptist Church, still of that State; Charles Whitson and family, James Morgan and family; Greenup Hayes, a grandson of Daniel Boone, who did not remain in the country; Mr. Bray, who settled at the mouth of Bray's bayou, now Harrisburg, and his son-in-law. While in Galveston Bay a number of the colonists died of yellow fever, before reaching Matagorda Bay. Among those who arrived by the other vessel were Samuel M. Williams, afterwards so long Secretary of Austin's Colony, and Jonathan C. Peyton and wife, Angelina B., a sister of Bailie Peyton of Tennessee, afterwards the wife of Jacob Eberly, by which name she was widely known and esteemed throughout Texas, till her death about 1860. These personal facts are mentioned in justice to those who were the first of our countrymen to cross the gulf and seek homes in the wilderness of Texas—the first, in that mode, to vindicate the grand conception of the already deceased Moses Austin, at the very moment that his son and successor, Stephen F. Austin, was encountering in San Antonio de Bexar the first of a long series of obstacles to the prosecution of the enterprise—an enterprise in the fruition of which, as time has already shown, was directly involved the welfare of two and a half millions of people now on the soil of Texas, besides indirectly affecting other vast multitudes now resident in California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. The politico-economical aspect of this question would fill a volume in following the march of our race from Jamestown, Plymouth and Beaufort to the present time, both interesting and edifying to the highest order of political philosophers; but its discussion does not fall within the scope of this work.

These immigrants, leaving a small guard with their effects, somewhat aided by a few persons who had settled on and near the Colorado, within the present bounds of the counties of Colorado and Fayette, moved up in that portion of the wilderness. James Cummins, Jesse Burnham, and a few others constituted the infant settlements referred to at that time.

Before leaving their supplies under guard those savages of the coast, the Carancahuas,* had visited the immigrants, professed friendship, and entered into a verbal treaty of good will. But, in keeping with their instincts, as soon as the families and main strength of the party had been gone sufficiently long, they clandestinely assailed the camp—the guard escaping more or less wounded—and seized its contents. On learning this a party marched down and chastised a small encampment of the Indians, giving them a foretaste of what they realized, when too late, that they must either in good faith be at peace with the Americans or suffer annihilation. Thirty years later their once powerful tribe—long the scourge of wrecked vessels and their crews—was practically, if not absolutely, extinct. This was the first blood shed between the settlers and the Indians.

The Carancahuas were both treacherous and troublesome, often stealing from the settlers and often firing upon them from ambush. The earlier colonists living in proximity to the coast were greatly annoyed by them. But there is no reliable account of many of their earlier depredations. About 1851 a small volume was published, purporting to consist of letters by an early settler in the section mentioned to a friend in Kentucky, giving current accounts of events from 1822 to about 1845, when in fact they were written by another, and a stranger in the country, from the verbal recitals from memory of the assumed author. The gross inaccuracies in regard to events occurring much later, especially in 1832 and 1840, necessarily weaken confidence in his statements in regard to earlier occurrences. We must, therefore, be content with more or less imperfect summaries of the conflicts with the Carancahuas for the first few years of the colony.

Among the first of which any account has been preserved was an attack from ambush by these savages upon three young men in a canoe in the Colorado river, in the spring of 1823. The locality is now in Colorado County. Loy and Alley (the latter one of several brothers) were killed. Clark, their companion, escaped to the opposite bank, severely but not mortally wounded. On the same day another young man named Robert Brotherton was fired upon and wounded by them, but escaped on horseback to convey the news to the settlers above, these two attacks being near the mouth of Skull creek.

This was Robert Brotherton from St. Louis County, Missouri, of which his two brothers, James and Marshall, were successively sheriff, from 1834 to 1842. Robert died unmarried at Columbus, Texas, about 1857, leaving his estate to his nephew, Joseph W. McClurg, who, after a short residence in Texas, returned to Missouri, to become later a congressman and Governor of the State.

A party of the settlers, numbering fourteen or fifteen, by a cautious night march arrived at the Indian camp in time to attack it at dawn on the following morning. Completely surprised, the Indians fled into the brush, leaving several dead. This was on Skull creek, a few miles from Columbus.

The depredations of the Carancahuas continued with such frequency that Austin determined to chastise and if possible force them into pacific behavior. [Having left San Antonio very unexpectedly for the city of Mexico in March, 1822, to secure a ratification of his colonization scheme by the newly formed government of Iturbide, the original concession of 1821 to Moses Austin having been made by the expiring authorities under Spain, Austin was now, in the summer of 1824, at his new home on the Brazos, clothed temporarily with authority to administer the civil and judicial affairs of the colony, and to command the militia with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.] Capt. Randall Jones, in command of twenty-three men, in the month of September, moved down the Brazos in canoes. On the lower river he was visited by some of the Indians who, on seeing his strength, manifested friendship. But learning that about thirty warriors of the tribe were encamped on a tributary of the Bernard, about seven miles distant, and also that about a dozen others had gone to Bailey's, further up the river, to buy ammunition, Capt. Jones sent two messengers up the river for help. These two found a small number already collected to watch the party at Bailey's. Becoming assured of their hostile intent, the settlers attacked them, killed several and the others fled.

Without waiting for reinforcements, Capt. Jones determined to attack the party on the creek. Crossing to its west side he moved down in the night abreast the Indian camp, which was on the margin of a marshy expansion of the creek, covered with high grass, reeds, etc. At daylight the whites fired, charging into the camp. In a moment the Indians were secreted in the rank vegetation, hurling arrows with dangerous precision into their exposed assailants. In another moment one or two of the whites fell dead, and several were wounded. To maintain their position was suicidal; to charge upon the hidden foe was madness; to retire as best they could was the dictate of common sense. This they did, pursued up the creek to where they recrossed it. They had three men killed, bearing the names of Spencer, Singer, and Bailey, and several wounded. It was claimed that fifteen Indians were killed, but of this there was no assurance when we remember the arms then in use. Be that as it may, it was a clear repulse of the whites, whose leader, Capt. Jones, was an experienced soldier of approved courage. Such a result was lamentable at that period in the colony's infancy. It was this affair which caused the name of “Jones” to be bestowed on that creek.

Soon after this the Carancahuas, a little above the mouth of the Colorado, captured an American named White and two Mexicans, in a canoe, who had gone from the San Antonio to buy corn. They let White go under a promise that he would bring down corn from the settlement and divide it with them—the canoe and Mexicans remaining as hostages. When White reported the affair to the people above, Capt. Jesse Burnham, with about thirty men, hastened to the spot agreed upon, and very soon ambushed a canoe containing seven or eight Indians, nearly all of whom were slain at the first fire, and it was not certain that a single one escaped.

Col. Austin, near this time, raised about a hundred volunteers and marched from the Brazos southwesterly in search of the Carancahuas. Some accounts say that he went to meet them, at their request, to make a treaty. Others assert that he started forth to chastise them, and that after crossing the Guadalupe at Victoria he met messengers from the Indians, sent through the priests of Goliad, proposing to meet and enter into a treaty with him. This is undoubtedly the true version. Austin started prepared and determined to punish the Indians for their repeated outrages, or force them to leave the limits of his colony. Had he only gone in response to their invitation, he would not have taken with him over a dozen men. He met them on the Menahuilla creek, a few miles east of La Bahia, and, being much persuaded thereto by the clergy and Alcalde of that town, made a treaty with them, in which they pledged themselves never again to come east of the San Antonio river. More than one writer has been led to assert that the Carancahuas kept that pledge, which is notoriously untrue, as they committed occasional depredations east of that river at intervals for twenty-one years, and at other intervals lived at peace with settlements, hunting and sometimes picking cotton for the people. In 1842 they were living on the margins of Matagorda Bay, often seen by the author of this work, while during the succeeding December, with the Somervell expedition, he saw perhaps a dozen of the tribe on the banks of the Rio Grande. The last American blood shed by them was that of Capt. John F. Kempen, in Victoria County, whom they murdered in November, 1845. [Vide Victor M. Rose's History of Victoria County, page 21.]

Austin's movement was a wise one. It convinced those unfaithful creatures that the Americans had become strong enough to hold the country and punish their overt acts. They had formerly been partially under the influence of the missionaries, and still had their children baptized by the priests who stood somewhat as sponsors for them in the treaty, probably a stroke of policy mutually understood by them and Col. Austin, as sure to have no evil effect, and with the hope that it might exert a salutary influence, as it doubtless did. We must not forget that those were the days of infancy and small things in Texas.

As to the number of Indians in Texas in its first American settlement, we have no reliable statistics. The following semi-official statement, published in the Nashville (Tenn.) Banner of August 1, 1836, is deemed authentic as far as it goes; but it does not include those tribes or portions of tribes—as for instance the Comanches—pertaining to Texas, or south of the Arkansas river and west of the 100th degree of longitude west of Greenwich:—

MR. EDITOR—As the public mind has been and still is somewhat excited with regard to the situation of our western frontier, and the State being now under a requisition of Gen. Gaines for a regiment of mounted gun men to maintain its defense, I have thought it would not be uninteresting to the public to know the names and numbers of Indian tribes on that frontier. The statement is taken from an estimate accompanying a map of survey showing the geographical and relative positions of the different tribes, which was prepared at the topographical bureau during the present year, which I have not yet seen published.

The names and numbers of the Indians who have emigrated to the west of the Mississippi:—

 Choctaws 15,003 Apalachicoles 265 Cherokees 5,000 Creeks 2,459 Senecas and Shawnees 211 Senecas (from Sandusky) 231 Potowatomies 141 Peorias and Kaskaskias 132 Pienkeshaws 162 Wees 222 Ottoways 200 Kickapoos 470 Shawnees 1,250 Delawares 826The names and numbers of the Indian tribes resident west of the Mississippi:—

 Iowas 1,200 Sacs, of the Missouri 500 Omahas 1,400 Ottoes and Missourians 1,600 Pawnees 10,000 Comanches 7,000 Mandons 15,000 Mineterees 15,000 Assinaboins 800 Crees 3,000 Crosventres 3,000 Crows 45,000 Sioux 27,500 Quapaws 450 Caddos 800 Poncas 800 Osages 5,120 Konsas 1,471 Sacs 4,800 Arickaras 8,000 Chazenes 2,000 Blackfeet 30,000 Foxes 1,600 Areehpas and Keawas 1,400There is yet remaining east of the river in the Southern States a considerable number: the five principal tribes are the Seminoles, Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws and Chickasaws.

 Seminoles, yet remaining east 2,420 Choctaws, yet remaining east 3,500 Chickasaws, yet remaining east 5,420 Cherokees, yet remaining east 10,000 Creeks, yet remaining east 22,668Those stated as western tribes extend along the whole western frontier. And taking as true the opinions of the department, that the average number of an Indian family is four, it may be seen what number of warriors, by possibility, might be brought into the field, and what number on the other hand might be required to keep them in check.

By publishing the foregoing statement, you will oblige your humble servant,

THOMAS J. PORTER.

 

 

CHIEF AT HOME.

 

At that time there were in East Texas the Cherokees and their twelve associate bands of United States Indians, embracing portions of the Delawares, Shawnees, Kickapoos, Alabamas, Cooshattes, Caddos, Pawnees, and others.

There were also remnants of ancient Texas Indians—some almost extinct—such as the Achaes, Jaranenies, Anaquas, Bedwias—still formidable bodies of Carancahuas, Taxahuas, Lipans, Tahnacarnoes, Wacos, Wichitas, Keechies, Ionies, Towdashes, and others, besides the still principal tribes of the Comanches, Kiowas and to their west the Apaches, Navajoes, and others more strictly pertaining to New Mexico, but often depredating in Texas, as did the Mescalaros and other tribes from beyond the Rio Grande hailing from Coahuila and Chihuahua.

Our work is hereafter confined to events after the American settlements began. It covers the period from 1822 to 1874, fifty-two years, and much is untold, but the early struggles in every part of this State are given as illustrations of what the pioneers of Texas suffered.

 

Mrs. Jane Long at Bolivar Point—1820.

 

Bolivar Point lies, green and inviting, a high point of land in sight of Galveston. It seems to say to pleasure-seekers, “Come and visit me. I have shady groves, fresh breezes, and in the season fine melons and fruits to offer, but there are events of historic and romantic interest connected with me, which add tenfold to my attractiveness.” Yes, truly, seventy-six years ago Bolivar was the scene of events now known to comparatively few, except perhaps members of old Texas families, who have heard them related by the remarkable woman who there displayed a heroic devotion and courage rarely equaled in modern times.

First we see her, in the year 1815, at Natchez, Miss., with sun-bonnet hiding her clustering curls, and school satchel on arm, as she wends her way to the academy. The same day she meets, for the first time, Dr. Long, who has just distinguished himself in the battle of New Orleans, where he won from Gen. Jackson the sobriquet of “The Young Lion.” The stream which separates simple acquaintance from passionate love was soon crossed, and the boy surgeon of twenty and Jane Wilkinson, the school girl of fifteen, became husband and wife. A few years of quiet domestic life, and the adventurous spirit and manly ambition of the soldier assumed full sway over a mind which could not be content with the peaceful pursuits of the farmer, nor yet with the humdrum traffic of the merchant, which Long successively engaged in after his marriage.

Mexico was struggling to be free from Spain, and in 1819 Gen. Long became the leader of a gallant band of men raised in Natchez for the purpose of wresting that portion of Mexico called Texas from the Spanish yoke. Through the many exciting scenes incident to a soldier's life in this almost unknown country, Mrs. Long followed her husband, content if she could but be near him. In 1820 she found a resting place in a rude fort at Bolivar Point, fortified and provisioned by Gen. Long before his departure for La Bahia, or Goliad. Here the adoring wife long awaited a return, of whose impossibility her boundless faith would not allow her to conceive. As time wore on, and no news of the General's fate arrived, Bolivar was deserted by the two men who constituted the guard. Although several vessels touched at the point for the purpose of conveying Mrs. Long to New Orleans, she, with her little daughter and negro servant girl, Kian, determined, at all hazards, to await her husband's return.

When we look upon the Galveston Island of today, with its city rising from the sea, its market gardens and dairy farms, its beach gay with costly equipages, and surf noisy with the shouts of bathers, it is difficult to recognize in it the Galveston Island of seventy-six years ago. At that time, deserted even by the pirate Lafitte, the red house and the three trees the only objects that rose above the water's edge, the cry of seagulls and pelicans, mingled with the doleful sighing of breaking waves, the only sounds to reach the ear of the brave woman who kept her lonely watch at Bolivar, as we view the incoming ships, laden with freight from every quarter of the globe, and the sailing yachts bearing pleasure parties perhaps to the very spot whence Mrs. Long often strained her eyes to descry a distant sail which might bring good tidings, it is almost impossible to form a true conception of the extreme desolateness of her situation.

In the midst of a region little known by whites, the only human beings she could expect to see were the savage Carancahua Indians, who might be tempted to return to their old haunts on the island, now that Lafitte had deserted the place, or other Indians who might approach from the Trinity. Whenever they came near enough to cause her to dread an attack, she had presence of mind to fire off the cannon, and give other indications that the fort was occupied by a formidable force. There were times when, not daring to go out by day, Kian would visit the beach at night, in order to get oysters, which were often their only article of food. Great was the rejoicing when, during that severe winter of 1820–21, which converted the bay into a sheet of ice, Kian found numbers of benumbed or frozen fish beneath the icy surface, and, with Mrs. Long's assistance, a hole was cut, and a good supply obtained and packed in the brine of mackerel barrels. The cold was at this time so intense that the ice was strong enough to bear the weight of a bear which calmly pursued its way across the bay, unmolested save by the barking of Mrs. Long's dog, “Galveston.”

At length the period of lonely waiting drew to a close. One day there came a Mexican from San Antonio, sent by Gen. Palacios, bearing a message; but how different were the tidings from those for which the devoted wife had fondly hoped!

The tragic manner of Gen. Long's death in the city of Mexico is well known to readers of Texas history, but none can ever know the shock which his young wife experienced at this rude awakening from her long dream of a happy reunion. Some weeks later a second messenger came, provided with mules to convey her and her little family, consisting of two girls (an infant having been born during her sojourn at Bolivar) and the faithful servant, to San Antonio. Here she was treated with marked distinction by the Mexican government, as the widow of a patriot and a hero.

Her long life of widowhood, intimately bound up with the history of Texas, came to a close, at the age of eighty-two, on the 30th of December, 1880, at Richmond, Texas, where her son-in-law, Judge Sullivan, and granddaughter still reside. Her Spartan qualities became the legacy of Texians, for historians have concurred in bestowing upon her the worthy title, “The Mother of Texas.”

 

The Cherokee Indians and Their Twelve Associate Bands—Fights with the Wacos and Tehuacanos—1820 to 1829.

 

A little before 1820, dissatisfied portions of the great Cherokee tribe of Indians, who had, from the earliest knowledge we have of them, occupied a large, romantic and fertile district of country, now embraced in East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and the upper portions of South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, began emigrating west of the Mississippi. Before the close of that year a portion of them reached and halted temporarily on Red river, in the northeast corner of Texas. The larger portion located in the valley of the Arkansas, between Little Rock and Fort Smith, and there with annually increasing numbers, remained a number of years, until the main body yet remaining in the loved land of their fathers, under treaty stipulations with the United States, began their final removal to the magnificent territory now belonging to them; a migration occupying a number of years, and not completed until 1837. In that time those along the Arkansas joined them. Those coming down to Red river also received accessions, for a number of years, from the different migrating bodies, including small colonies from twelve other partially civilized tribes.

Very soon, perhaps before the close of 1820, and certainly in 1821, they explored the country south of them and began locating in East Texas, in what, from that time till their expulsion in 1839, was known as “the Cherokee country,” now embracing the county of Cherokee and adjoining territory, where they and their twelve associate bands, gradually established homes, building cabins, opening farms and raising domestic animals. Some joined them as late as 1830 and ’31. In 1822 when Stephen F. Austin and Green De Witt of Missouri, Haden Edwards of Mississippi, and Robert Leftwich of Nashville, Tennessee (the original grantee in what subsequently became Robertson's Colony), were in the city of Mexico, seeking colonial privileges in Texas, three Cherokee chiefs, Bowles, Fields and Nicollet, were also there, seeking a grant, or some sort of concession, to the district in which they were locating, not a contract for colonization, as desired by the gentleman named, but a specific grant to their people in tribal capacity. But they did not succeed, receiving only polite promises of something when Mexican affairs should be more settled.

In 1826 Fields and John Dunn Hunter (both of mixed blood, Hunter possibly altogether white, but of this there is no positive knowledge, and both of good education) visited the Mexican capital on a similar mission for the Cherokees, but they also failed and returned to their people in an ill humor, just in time to sympathize with Haden Edwards and his colonists in their outrageous treatment by the Mexican Governor of the State of Coahuila and Texas, in declaring, without trial or investigation, the annulment of his contract and ordering the expulsion of himself and brother from the country. Fields and Hunter, smarting under what they considered the bad faith of Mexico, induced their people to treat with and sustain the Edwards party in what received the name of the Fredonian war. But this had a brief existence. Bean, as agent of Mexico, seduced the Indians from their agreement and secured their support of the Mexican troops then advancing, which caused the Fredonians to yield the hopeless contest and leave the country. Not only this, but the Cherokees turned upon their two most enlightened and zealous champions. They basely assassinated both Fields and Hunter. This ended that embroglio. The Cherokees claimed a promise from Bean that Mexico, in reward for their course, would grant them the lands desired. Whether so promised or not, the grant was never made.

A band of Cherokees, en route to their people in Texas, halted on Red river, in order to raise a crop of corn, in the winter of 1828–9. An account of what followed was written and published in 1855, and is here reproduced. * * * They had not been at this place very long before their villages were discovered by a party of Wacos, on a robbing expedition from the Brazos; and these freebooters, true to their instincts from time immemorial, lay concealed till the silent midnight hour, and then, stealthily entering the herds of the sleeping Cherokees, stampeded their horses, driving off a large number. To follow them was labor in vain—but to quietly forget the deed was not the maxim among the red sons of Tennessee.

A council was held and the matter discussed. After the opinions of the warriors had been given, the principal war-chief rose, and in substance said: “My brothers! the wild men of the far-off Brazos have come into our camp while the Cherokee slept! They have stolen our most useful property. Without horses we are poor, and cannot make corn. The Cherokees will hasten to plant their corn for this spring, and while that is springing from the ground and growing under the smiles of the Great Spirit, and shall be waving around our women and children, we will leave some old men and women to watch it, and the Cherokee braves will spring upon the cunning Wacos of the Brazos, as they have sprung upon us.”

The corn was planted, and in the month of May, 1829, a war party of fifty-five, well armed, left the Red river villages on foot in search of the Wacos. At this time the principal village of the Wacos was on the bluff where the beautiful town of Waco now greets the eye on the west bank of the Brazos. One band of the Tehuacano (Ta-wak-a-no) Indians, who have always been more or less connected with the Wacos, were living on the east bank of the river, three miles below. Both bands had erected rude fortifications, by scooping up the earth in various places and throwing up a circular embankment three or four feet high, the remains of which still are to be seen. The principal work of this kind at the Waco village occupied a natural sink in the surface.

The Cherokees struck the Brazos above the village some forty miles, and traveled downward until they discovered signs of its proximity, and then secreted themselves in the cedar brake till night. The greater portion of the night was spent in examining the position, through experienced scouts. Having made the necessary observations, the scouts reported near daylight, when the war-chief admonished them of what they had come for—revenge! Waco scalps!! horses!!!—and led them forth from their hiding-place, under the bank of the river, to a point about four hundred yards from the wigwams of the slumbering Wacos. Here they halted till rays of light, on that lovely May morning, began to gild the eastern horizon. The time for action had come. Moving with the noiseless, elastic step peculiar to the sons of the forest, the Cherokees approached the camp. But a solitary Waco had aroused and was collecting the remains of his fire of the previous night, preparatory to his morning repast. His Indian ear caught the sound of footsteps on the brush—a glance of his lynx-eye revealed the approaching foe. A single shrill yell from him, which echoed far and near through the Brazos forest, brought every Waco to his feet. The terrible Cherokee war-whoop was their morning greeting, accompanied by a shower of leaden rain. But, though surprised, the Wacos outnumbered their assailants many times—their women and children must be protected or sacrificed—their ancient home, where the bones of their fathers had been buried for ages, was assailed by unknown intruders. Their chief rallied the warriors and made a stand—the fight became general, and as the sun rose majestically over the towering trees of the east, he beheld the red men of Tennessee and the red men of Texas in deadly strife. But the bows and arrows of the Waco could not compete with the merciless rifle of the Cherokee. The Wacos were falling rapidly, while the Cherokees were unharmed.

After half an hour's strife, amid yells and mutual imprecations, the Wacos signaled a retreat, and they fell back in confusion, taking refuge in the fortified sink-hole. Here, though hemmed in, they were quite secure, having a great advantage. Indeed, they could kill every Cherokee who might peradventure risk his person too near the brink.

The Cherokees had already killed many, and now held a council, to consider what they should do. It was proposed by one brave that they should strip to a state of nature, march into the sink-hole in a body, fire their pieces, then drop them, and with tomahawks alone endeavor to kill every man, woman and child among the Wacos. A half-breed named Smith, who was in favor of this desperate measure, as an incentive to his comrades, stripped himself, fastened half a dozen horse-bells (which he had picked up in the camp) round his waist, and commenced galloping and yelling around the sink-hole, now and then jumping on the embankment and then back, cursing the Wacos most lustily. Arrows were hurled at him by scores, but he fell not.

Just as the Cherokee council was coming to a close, at about an hour after sunrise, they heard a noise like distant thunder on the opposite side of the river and delayed a few moments to discover its cause. Very soon they discovered a large body of mounted Indians rising the river bank a little below them. What could it mean? they murmured one to another. The story is soon told. A messenger had rushed from the Wacos in the outset, for the Tehuacano village, begging help, and now two hundred Tehuacano warriors, mounted and ready for the fray, were at hand. The whole aspect of the day was changed in a moment. To conquer this combined force was impossible—to escape themselves would require prudence. The Tehuacanos, in coming up, cut off a Cherokee boy, twelve years old, killed and scalped him, and placing his scalp on a lance, held it up defiantly to the view of the Cherokees. The boy was an only child, and his father beheld this scene. The brave man's eye glared with fury. Without a word he threw from his body every piece of his apparel, seized a knife in one hand, a tomahawk in the other. “What will you?” demanded the chief. “Die with my brave boy. Die slaying the wild men who have plucked the last rose from my bosom!” The chief interceded, and told him it was madness; but the Cherokee listened not; with rapid strides he rushed among the Tehuacanos, upon certain death; but ere death had seized its victim, he had killed several and died shouting defiance in their midst.

The Tehuacanos occupied the post oaks just below the Cherokees, and kept up a lusty shouting, but ventured not within rifle-shot. The latter, seeing that on an open field they could not resist such numbers—having taken fifty-five Waco scalps (equal to their own number)—having lost two men and the boy—now fell back into the cedar brake and remained there till night. They were convinced that their safety depended upon a cautious retreat, as, if surrounded on the prairies, they would be annihilated. When night came on, they crossed the river, traveled down the sand bank a mile or two, as if they were going down the country, thence, turning into the stream, waded up the edge of the water some six or seven miles (the river being low and remarkably even), and thus eluded pursuit. In due time, they reached their Red river villages, without the thousand horses they anticipated, but with fifty-five Waco scalps—glory enough in their estimation. The tribe was speedily called together for a grand war-dance. For miles around the American settlers were surprised to see such a commotion and gathering among the Indians. A gentleman, my informant, was there visiting a widowed sister. He rode up to the Cherokee encampment, inquired into the cause of the movement, was invited to alight and spend the day. He did so, and witnessed one of the grandest wardances he ever saw, and he was an old Indian fighter. A very intelligent man, a half-breed, named Chisholm, one of the fifty-five, gave him a full history of the whole transaction. He noted it carefully, and from him I received it in 1855.

That gentleman was Capt. Thomas H. Barron, formerly of Washington County, then residing near Waco. When he first visited Waco in 1834, he at once recognized the battle-ground and sink-hole as described by Chisholm. The Cherokees did not forget the Tehuacanos, but held them to a strict account.

 

Cherokee and Tehuacano Fight in 1830.

 

After the Cherokees returned to their temporary home on Red river, from the attack on the Wacos, in 1829, they determined to take vengeance on the Tehuacanos for their interference in that engagement on behalf of the Wacos. It seems that early in the summer of 1830, they fitted out a war party for this purpose, numbering about one hundred and twenty fighting men.

The Tehuacanos, like the Wacos, had several principal villages, favorite places of resort, from some peculiarity, as fine springs of water, abundance of buffalo, etc. One of them, and perhaps their most esteemed locality, was at the southern point of the hills of the same name, now in the upper edge of Limestone County, and the present site of Tehuacano University. Around these springs there is a large amount of loose limestone on the surface, as well as in the hills, and the whole surrounding country is one of rare beauty and loveliness.

The Tehuacanos had erected several small inclosures of these loose stones, about three feet high, leaving occasional spaces some two feet square resembling the mouths of furnaces. Over the tops they threw poles and spread buffalo-hides, and when attacked, their women, old men, and children would retreat into these cells while the warriors would oppose the attacking party from without, until too closely pressed, when they, too, would seek refuge in the same, and lying flat on the ground, would send their arrows and bullets through these apertures whenever an enemy came within range. From the attacks of small arms such a protection, however primitive, was generally quite effective.

This party of Cherokees, having been informed of the locality of this place, and the value set upon it by the Tehuacanos, and knowing that it was a considerable distance from the Wacos, determined to seek it out and there wreak vengeance upon those who had by their own act called forth feelings of hostility. Guided by an Indian who had explored the country as a trapper, they reached the place in due season. When discovered, the Tehuacanos were engaged at a play of balls around the little forts. The Cherokees stripped for action at once, while the ball-players, promptly ceasing that amusement, rushed their women and children into their retreats, and prepared for defense. They had quite a large village, and outnumbered the Cherokees in fighting-men.

A random fight commenced, the Cherokees using the surrounding trees as protection and taking the matter as a business transaction, made their advances from tree to tree with prudence. Their aim, with the “rest” against the trees, told with effect, and one by one, notwithstanding their hideous yells and capering, to and fro, the Tehuacanos were biting the dust.

The moment one was wounded, unless a very brave fellow, he would crawl into the hiding-place among their women and children, unless, perchance, on his way, a Cherokee ball brought him to the ground.

The fight continued this way an hour or more, when, upon a signal, the whole body retired within their breastworks. At this time, the Cherokees, elated by what they supposed to be a victory, charged upon the openholes, ringing their victorious war-whoop most furiously. But they were soon convinced that though concealed, the besieged were not powerless, for here they received a shower of arrows and balls from the hidden enemy which tumbled several of their braves alongside of those they killed on the other side. Yet, excited as they had become, they were not easily convinced that prudence in that case was the better part of valor. On the contrary, they maintained the unequal contest for some time, until one of their old men advised a talk.

They withdrew a short distance, and held a consultation. Their leaders said they had come there for revenge and they would not relinquish their design so long as a Cherokee brave was left to fight—that to go back to their people and report a defeat would disgrace them—they would die on the field rather than bear such tidings! “Where there's a will there's a way,” is a trite old adage, and at this juncture of affairs it was verified by the Cherokees. The old man who had advised the “talk” now made a suggestion, which was seconded by all. He proposed that a party should be sent off a short distance to cut dry grass and bring a lot; that men, loaded with this combustible material, should cautiously approach each hole in the breast-works, from the sides, using the grass as a shield on the way; that the door-holes should be stopped up with it (with new supplies constantly arriving), and set on fire, by which very simple process the inmates would be suffocated or compelled to throw off the hides and leap out, breathless and more or less blinded through the smoke, while the Cherokees, stationed round in circles, would have an easy time in butchering their astounded red brethren. This was a rich idea, and, delighted with the anticipated fun on their part, and misery among their enemies, the Cherokees speedily made all their arrangements and disposed of their fighting-men to the best advantage. The grass was placed in the required position, and at the same moment, set on fire. For a moment or two no response was heard from within; but very soon the smoke was seen escaping through the rocks and from under the skins, proving that each little refuge was full of the strangulating exhalation. To endure such a torture long was beyond human power; and in a little while a doleful howl issued forth, followed by a significant upheaving of the buffalo-skin roofs, and a rush of the gasping victims, blinded by smoke, leaping over the walls, they knew not where. To render the picture more appalling, the exulting Cherokees set up a terrible yelling, and dealt death to the doomed creatures with their guns, tomahawks, and scalping knives until all were slain or had made their escape from the dreadful sacrifice by headlong flight. Quite a number of squaws and children, and perhaps a few men, had been unable to rise, and died from suffocation inside the works.

And thus ended this tragic scene in the course of our Indian warfare. Comparatively few of the Tehuacanos escaped. The surviving women and children were preserved prisoners, and a considerable number of horses, blankets, skins, and indeed the entire camp equipage, fell into the hands of the victors, who returned to their people on Red river in triumph, displaying not only their available booty but a large number of the greatest of all Indian symbols of glory, scalps.

These facts I obtained in 1842 from an old Spaniard, who composed one of the party, and I have little doubt but they were furnished by him with fidelity.

This old Spaniard, whose name was Vasquez, was a native of New Madrid, Missouri, and had passed much of his life with different Indian tribes. About 1840 he appeared at Gonzales, Texas, where I formed his acquaintance. He fought with the Texians at Salado, in September, and at Mier in December, 1842. Escaping from the latter place he returned to Gonzales, his home being with Capt. Henry E. McCulloch, to suffer a cruel death soon after. In 1843 he was captured by Mexican banditti, west of the San Antonio, who, knowing his fidelity to Texas, suspended him to a tree by the heels, in which position he died and was a few days subsequently found.

 

First Settlement of Gonzales in 1825—Attack by the Indians in 1826—Murder of French Traders in 1835 at Castleman's Cabin—Battle of San Marcos—1825 to 1835.

 

The settlement of Gonzales and De Witt's colony, of which it was the capital, is replete with matters of unusual interest in the pioneer history of Texas and its Indian wars. At its birth it was baptized in blood, and for twenty years a succession of bloody episodes attended its march towards peaceful civilization.

As soon as Green De Witt, then of Ralls County, Missouri, entered into contract with the Mexican authorities for colonizing that beautiful district of country, now embracing all of Gonzales, Caldwell, Guadalupe and De Witt counties and portions of Lavaca, Wilson and Karnes, he left for Missouri to bring out his family. At the same time, Maj. James Kerr was appointed surveyor of the colony, with authority to lay out the capital town and subdivide the dedicated four leagues of land upon which it was to be located into small farm lots to be allotted to the settlers of the town. In fulfillment of his duties, Maj. Kerr, with his negro servants and six single men, arrived on the present site of Gonzales in July, 1825, he thereby becoming the first American settler, as the head of a family, west of the Colorado river in Texas.

The six single men who accompanied him to Gonzales, and for a time remained in his service as chainmen, rodmen or hunters, were the afterwards famous Deaf Smith, Bazil Durbin, John Wightman,——Strickland, James Musick and Gerron Hinds.

His chief servants were Shade and Anise, the parents and grandparents of numerous offspring, who became widely known to the future settlers of the country and greatly esteemed for their fidelity to every trust and their patriotism in every conflict.

Soon after Maj. Kerr's settlement, Francis Berry, with a family of children and two stepchildren, John and Betsy Oliver, arrived and settled half a mile below him. Cabins were erected and their new life auspiciously begun.

The little settlement remained in peace for a year, receiving occasional calls from passing parties of Indians, professing friendship, and occasional visits from Americans exploring the country. Among these were Elijah Stapp, from Palmyra, and Edwin Moorehouse, from Clarksville, Mo., both of whom settled in Texas five or six years later.

Capt. Henry S. Brown, brother-in-law of Maj. Kerr, having arrived on the lower Brazos as a Mexican trader in December, 1824, made his first trip into Mexico in 1825, and halted his caravan for rest at the new settlement on both his outward and return trip.

In the meantime, Maj. Kerr prosecuted his labors in the survey of lands, his people subsisting on wild meat and coffee. Each household opened a field and planted crops in the spring of 1826. In June, Maj. Kerr was absent on the Brazos. There was to be a primitive barbecue on the Colorado at Beson's, seven miles below the present Columbus. It was agreed among the pilgrims that they must be represented, notwithstanding the distance was about seventy miles. Bazil Durbin, John and Betsy Oliver and Jack, son of Shade and Anise, were selected as the delegates. On the afternoon of Sunday, July 2d, this party left on horseback for Beson's. At that time Deaf Smith and Hinds were out buffalo hunting; Musick, Strickland and the colored people were spending the afternoon at Berry's, and John Wightman was left alone in charge of the premises, consisting of a double log house, with passage between and two or three cabins in the yard. No danger was apprehended as no indications of hostility by the Indians had been observed.

Durbin and party traveled fourteen miles, encamped on Thorn's branch and all slept soundly, but about midnight they were aroused by the war-whoop and firing of guns. Springing to their feet they discovered that their assailants were very near and in ambush. Durbin fell, but was assisted into an adjoining thicket where all found safety. The Indians seized and bore away their horses and all their effects. Durbin had a musket ball driven into his shoulder so deep that it remained there till his death in Jackson County in 1858, thirty-two years later. He suffered excruciating pain, from which, with the loss of blood, he several times fainted. Daylight came and they retraced their steps to headquarters; but on arriving were appalled to find the house deserted and robbed of its contents, including Maj. Kerr's papers and three surveying compasses, and Wightman dead, scalped and his mutilated body lying in the open hallway. Hastening down to Berry's house they found it closed, and written on the door with charcoal (for Smith and Hinds) the words: “Gone to Burnam's, on the Colorado.” It was developed later that when Musick, Strickland and the colored people returned home late in the evening they found this condition of affairs, returned to Berry's and all of both houses left for the Colorado. As written by the writer more than forty years ago, in the presence of the sufferer: “Durbin's wound had already rendered him very weak, but he had now no alternative but to seek the same place on foot, or perish on the way. Three days were occupied in the trip, the weather was very warm and there was great danger of mortification, to prevent which mud poultices, renewed at every watering-place, proved to be effectual.”

And thus was the first American settlement west of the Colorado baptized in blood.

Maj. Kerr then settled on the Lavaca and made a crop there in 1827. His place temporarily served as a rallying point for De Witt and others, till the spring of 1828, when the settlement at Gonzales was renewed. Maj. Kerr remained permanently on the Lavaca, but continued for some years as surveyor of De Witt's colony. The temporary settlement on the west of the Lavaca was subsequently known as the “Old Station,” while Maj. Kerr's headright league and home were on the east side.

In the autumn of 1833, John Castleman, a bold and sagacious backwoodsman, from the borders of Missouri, with his wife and four children and his wife's mother, settled fifteen miles west of Gonzales, on the San Antonio road and on Sandy creek. He was a bold hunter, much in the forest, and had four ferocious dogs, which served as sentinels at night, and on one occasion had a terrible fight with a number of Indians in the yard endeavoring to steal the horses tied around the house. They evidently inflicted severe punishment on the savages, who left abundant blood marks on the ground and were glad to escape without the horses, though in doing so, in sheer self-defense, they killed each dog. Castleman, in his meanderings, was ever watchful for indications of Indians, and thus served as a vidette to the people of Gonzales and persons traveling on that exposed road. Many were the persons who slumbered under his roof rather than camp out at that noted watering-place.

In the spring of 1835, a party of thirteen French and Mexican traders, with pack mules and dry goods from Natchitoches, Louisiana, en route to Mexico, stopped under some trees a hundred yards in front of the cabin. It was in the forenoon, and before they had unpacked Castleman advised them that he had that morning discovered “Indian signs” near by and urged them to camp in his yard and use his house as a fort if necessary. They laughed at him. He shrugged his shoulders and assured them they were in danger, but they still laughed. He walked back to his cabin, but before he entered about a hundred mounted savages dashed among them, yelling and cutting out every animal of the party. These were guarded by a few in full view of the camp, while the main body continued the fight. The traders improvised breastworks of their saddles, packs and bales of goods and fought with desperation. The engagement lasted four hours, the Indians charging in a circle, firing and falling back. Finally, as none of their number fell, the besieged being armed only with Mexican escopetas (smooth-bored cavalry guns) they maneuvered till all the traders fired at the same time, then rushed upon and killed all who had not previously fallen. Castleman could, many times, have killed an Indian with his trusty rifle from his cabin window, but was restrained by his wife, who regarded the destruction of the strangers as certain and contended that if her husband took part, vengeance would be wreaked upon the family—a hundred savages against one man. He desisted, but, as his wife said, “frothed at the mouth” to be thus compelled to non-action on such an occasion. Had he possessed a modern Winchester, he could have repelled the whole array, saving both the traders and their goods.

The exultant barbarians, after scalping their victims, packed all their booty on the captured mules and moved off up the country. When night came, Castleman hastened to Gonzales with the tidings, and was home again before dawn.

In a few hours a band of volunteers, under Dr. James H. C. Miller, were on the trail and followed it across the Guadalupe and up the San Marcos, and finally into a cedar brake in a valley surrounded by high hills, presumably on the Rio Blanco. This was on the second or third day after the massacre. Finding they were very near the enemy, Miller halted, placing his men in ambush on the edge of a small opening or glade. He sent forward Matthew Caldwell, Daniel McCoy and Ezekiel Williams to reconnoitre. Following the newly made path of the Indians through the brake, in about three hundred yards, they suddenly came upon them dismounted and eating. They speedily retired, but were discovered and, being only three in number, the whole crowd of Indians furiously pursued them with such yells as, resounding from bluff to bluff, caused some of the men in ambush to flee from the apparent wrath to come; but of the whole number of twenty-nine or thirty, sixteen maintained their position and their senses. Daniel McCoy, the hindmost of the three scouts in single file, wore a long tail coat. This was seized and tightly held by an Indian, but “Old Dan,” as he was called, threw his arms backward and slipped from the garment without stopping, exclaiming, “Take it, d—n you!” Caldwell sprang first into the glade, wheeled, fired and killed the first Indian to enter. Others, unable to see through the brush till exposed to view, rushed into the trap till nine warriors lay in a heap. Realizing this fact, after such unexpected fatality, the pursuers raised that dismal howl which means death and defeat, and fell back to their camp. The panic among some of our men prevented pursuit. It is a fact that among those thus seized with the “buck ague,” were men then wholly inexperienced, who subsequently became distinguished for coolness and gallantry.

Among others, besides those already named, who were in this engagement were Wm. S. Fisher, commander at Mier seven years later; Bartlett D. McClure, died in 1841; David Hanna, Landon Webster and Jonathan Scott.

Dr. James H. C. Miller, who commanded, soon after left Texas and settled in Michigan. His name has sometimes been confounded with that of Dr. James B. Miller, of Fort Bend, long distinguished in public life under the province and republic of Texas.

 

HEAD OF MILITARY PARADE, MAIN STREET, HOUSTON, TEXAS, MAY 21, 1895.

 

On occasion of the United Confederate Reunion, at which time 25,000 people visited Houston.

 

An Adventure in 1826.

 

In the year 1826 a party of fourteen men of the Red river settlements, of which Eli Hopkins was quasi-leader, made a trip to the west, hunting and trading with Indians. Besides Hopkins I have been able to gather the names of Henry Stout, Jamas Clark, Charles Birkham, Charles Humphreys,——Ford,——Tyler, and——Wallace—eight of the fourteen—though the only published allusion to the matter I have ever seen (in the Clarksville Times about 1874), only names Messrs. Hopkins and Clark and states the whole number at twenty men—nor does it give the year of the occurrence. I obtained the date, the number of men and the additional six names from Henry Stout, some years later.

It seems that on their return trip homewards, these fourteen men were surrounded and beset by a large party of Indians, some of whom had been trading in their camp before. Instead of opening fire, the Indians demanded the surrender of Humphreys to them, describing him by the absence of a front tooth (a loss they had discovered in their previous visit and now pretended to have known before), alleging that on some former occasion Humphreys had depredated upon them. This was known to be false and a ruse to gain some advantage. So, when the chief and a few others (who had retired to let the party consult), returned for an answer, they were told that Humphreys was a good man, had done them no wrong and they would die rather than surrender him. Wallace was the interpreter and had been up to that time suspected of cowardice by some of the party. But in this crisis they quickly discovered their error, for Wallace, with cool and quiet determination, became the hero, telling them that he would die right there rather than give up an innocent man to such murderous wretches. His spirit was infectious. Every man leveled his gun at some one of the Indians, Hopkins holding a deadly aim on the chief, till they all agreed to leave the ground and not again molest them.

They at once retired, evidently unwilling to hazard an attack on such men. Intrepid coolness saved them while timidity would have brought their destruction. As it was they reached home in safety.

 

The Early Days of Harris County—1824 to 1838.

 

The first political subdivision of the large district of which the present large county of Harris, containing a little over eighteen hundred square miles, formed but a part, was erected into the municipality of Harrisburg not long before the revolution began, in 1835. It is, at this day, interesting to note the first settlement of that now old, historic and wealthy district, embracing the noble city of Houston, in which the whole State feels justifiable pride. For a short while also the island of Galveston formed a part of Harrisburg “county”—so called under the Republic, after independence in March, 1836.

The first Americans to cultivate the earth in that region were Mr. Knight and Walter C. White, who, at the time of Long's expedition in 1820, burnt off a canebrake and raised a crop of corn on the San Jacinto, near its mouth; but they did not remain there, becoming subsequently well-known citizens of Brazoria. For an account of the first actual settlers of the district during the first ten or twelve years, I am indebted to the fine memory and facile pen of Mrs. Mary J. Briscoe, of Houston, whose evidence dates from childhood days, her father, John R. Harris, the founder of Harrisburg, having settled there in 1824, and laid out the town in 1826. He built the first steam saw mill in Texas, for which he received as a bounty two leagues of land. He became also a merchant, established a tannery and owned the schooner “Rights of Man,” which plied between Harrisburg and New Orleans. In 1828 his brother David came; in 1830 William P. Harris came, accompanied by “Honest” Bob Wilson, and in 1832 came Samuel M. Harris, a fourth brother, all of whom came from Cayuga County, New York, and were valuable men. Mary J., daughter of the first immigrant, John R. Harris, subsequently married Capt. Andrew Briscoe, who, as the colleague of the grand Mexican patriot, Don Lorenzo de Zavala, from that municipality, signed the declaration of independence, and fifty days later commanded one of the largest companies at San Jacinto. He was also the first Chief Justice of Harrisburg County and so remained for many years. The well-known De Witt C. Harris, who died in 1860, was a brother of Mrs. Briscoe, as is also Lewis B. Harris, of San Francisco, who was my fellow-soldier on the Rio Grande in 1842.