J. H. (John Hanson) Beadle.

Western wilds and the men who redeem them : an authentic narrative embracing an account of seven years travel and adventure in the far West ... online

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Online LibraryJ. H. (John Hanson) BeadleWestern wilds and the men who redeem them : an authentic narrative embracing an account of seven years travel and adventure in the far West ... → online text (page 41 of 62)
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islatures. The regular proceeding was to pass a law, send it to the
Governor, get it back with a veto message, and then spend a week
bringing over enough Republican Senators to pass it over his veto.

I was taking notes from Hon. C. B. Sabin, representative from
Brazoria and Matagorda counties, when Hon. "Shack" Roberts, of
Harrison County, an immense black man, rose to speak. His address
was replete with humor and sarcasm, causing great laughter and ap-
plause. He is a Methodist preacher, very black, and uses the broad-
est "plantation-darkey" English. The six colored members of the
House and two in the Senate added a pleasing variety. The members
generally would compare quite favorably with those of Indiana or
Ohio. (After that comparison, further description would be " risky.")

I was introduced to the Honorable " Shack," and after giving his
testimony to the improved condition of affairs generally, he added :
"The Methodists have done wonders for our people in edication, and
we're a doin' more. Our church at home the A. M. E. has just
'stablished the Wiley University at Marshall, Texas named after
Bishop Wiley. We bought two hundred acres in a mile an' a half of


the court-house, afore the town started up so with the railroad, an'
now we're sellin' it off fast in buildin' lots at from fifty to two hun-
dred dollars a lot, savin' just twenty acres in the middle for the uni-
versity. We'll soon have it runnin', and it will be free to both sexes,
'thout regard to color or previous condition."

Texas is the most tolerant and liberal of all the reconstructed States.
While under Republican rule, very stringent laws had been adopted to
repress disorder; for the condition of the State just after the war was
deplorable. Before the war, it had not been as bad as reported,
though quite bad enough. For instance, in 1860, with a population
of 650,000, Texas had a total of 121 homicides; while New York,
with 3,000,000 people, had but 37. There was a steady and rapid in-
crease of crime until 1869, the first year of the new regime, for which
there are full returns, when the State had no less than 1200 homicides!
In this state of facts, the leading Republicans brought forward
what are sometimes called the " Five Administration Measures : " The
militia law, the State police law, the concealed weapon law, and the
school and immigration laws. The first authorized the Governor to
suspend the habeas corpus at his discretion, to order the militia from
any part of the State to another part, and to arm any portion of the
population in any disturbed neighborhood. The police law organized
a small body of mounted men, to be continually under pay of the
State, and ready to go to any section. They never numbered more
than three hundred.

Many brave Confederate soldiers joined this militia and aided in
putting down disorder. The moral effect was tremendous. Eight
hundred robbers and desperadoes fled the State in a body. There was
a hanging in every county, till in the State, except in the extreme
west, life and property were as secure as in New England. Then, un-
fortunately, these extraordinary powers were perverted. It was the
old story over again: a condition of strife and social disorder leads to
the placing of immense power in one man's hands; but when the dis-
order is passed, the ruler has grown too fond of his power to part with
it without a struggle, and employs it to crush opposition. The people
seek refuge from anarchy in a sort of legal despotism, and are driven
by despotism into anarchy. In 1872 the State police were used to
break up Democratic and Liberal-Republican meetings. But in an-
other year the revolution was complete, Governor Davis yielded, in
an awkward hurry, to a Democratic Governor, and now Texas is the
most solid outpost of the "Solid South."



ROBERT CAVALIER, Sieur tie la Salle, led the first European im-
migrants to Texas, landing near the entrance to Matagorda Bay, on
the 18th of February, 1685. William Penn had founded Philadelphia
three years before; the French were stretching their settlements from
Canada 'down the western rivers, and the Spaniards were advancing
slowly northward into New Mexico. A hundred and fifty years before,
some survivors of the Pamphilo de Narvaez expedition had traversed
Texas as captives among the Indians, but no title to the country could
result therefrom.

La Salle, as American history calls him, had discovered the mouth
of the Mississippi, April 7th, 1682, and soon after took possession of
all that region by proclamation and proces verbal, in the name of
Louis XIV. He was on his return with four ships to make a settle-
ment, when an error in his calculations brought him on the Texan
coast. All his people were in ecstasies over the beauty and richness
of the country, and a settlement was agreed upon at once. Soon after
they moved over on a stream they called Les Vaches, which the
Spaniards afterwards translated into La Vaca, both meaning " the cow-s."
Hard work and imprudence in such a climate produced sickness ; care-
lessness led to murders by the Indians; Beaujeu, commander of the
fleet, sailed away with two of the vessels ; one of the other two was
soon after wrecked, and the little colony got badly discouraged. By
the law of nations this country, thinly occupied by wild Indians, now
belonged to France; but in due time Spain took a different view of it,
relying on previous Spanish explorations, never proved however, to
the satisfaction of diplomats. Near the close of the sixteenth century
Philip II., the gloomy tyrant of Spain, issued a royal order forbid-
ding all foreigners to enter this territory under penalty of extermina-
tion. Thus began a " border question," which, passing down suc-
cessively from Spaniard to Mexican, and from French to English and
American, lasted two centuries and a half, till settled by the treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo, on the 2d of February, 1848. In this contro-


versy, reader, find the key to the whole history of Texas as connected
with other governments.

Its settlement cost the lives of many thousand good men. The
Comanches were then, as now, a race of nomadic thieves ; the Lipans and
Carankawaes dominated the country between the Rio Grande and Col-
orado. Other tribes were the Caddoes, Cenis and Nassonites. Texas
had neither boundaries nor a name. The origin of the latter nobody
knows, but it is supposed to be from an Indian word meaning "good
hunting-ground," and was long spelled indifferently Tehas, Tejas,
Tekas or Texas, which differ very little in Spanish pronunciation.
Even now the residents are known as Tejanos (pro. Teh-hah-noes) by
the Mexicans.

La Salle started northward with a considerable company, to open
communication with Canada ; and was murdered by two of his men.
The survivors quarreled among themselves; the murderers were
in turn assassinated; others were drowned or captured, and of all
that colony onlv five lived to see France again. Those left on the

/ /

Lavaca were surprised by the Indians, part killed, and the rest carried
into captivity, whence in old age they were reclaimed by the mission-
aries. Thus ended the first settlement in Texas.

Soon after the Spaniards planted missions and military posts in the
south-west, but drought and hostile Indians drove them out, and for
twenty years the country had not one white inhabitant. In 1712
Louis XIV granted to Anthony Crozat all Louisiana, as far west as
the Rio Grande, and sent out an embassy, which was captured by the
Spaniards. "The year of Missions" in Texas was 1715, when the
Spaniards began again to plant them in the country. Thereafter it
was permanently occupied by Spain, and its various sections known as
the New Philippines and New Estremadura. For some fifty years
now we have the Mission Period, as in all Spanish American countries.
Those in Texas were controlled by zealous Franciscan priests, who
spent a life-time in toil to convert the savage natives. At each mis-
sion was a presidio, or commandant's head-quarters, with officers
enough for two hundred and fifty men, though the latter rarely num-
bered so many. The first move was to capture by force or stratagem
a hundred or more Indians. On these kindness and persuasion were
exhausted, and they were taught all the ceremonies of an exceedingly
ceremonial religion. When sufficiently trusty they were sent out to
persuade others in ; abundance of food was insured them, agriculture
was taught, all the feasts and fasts were scrupulously observed, and at
some missions the daily exercises in prayer and other services occupied


five hours! Those whom this system converted it in due time wore
out; those who resisted it were made wilder than ever. Then the
fathers began with the women and children, with far better success;
and in due time there grew up about each mission a considerable pop-
ulation of domesticated Indians, who cultivated the soil, were pain-
fully pious and as docile as sheep. The fathers called themselves


gente de razon, or people of reason, in contradistinction to the
heathen; but in due time arose a better nomenclature. The wild
Indians were known as Indios bravos, the converted as Indios reducidos.
And badly " reduced " they were. Little by little the reducidos were
merged, largely by intermarriage with discharged soldiers. Hence the
mestizoes, nearly the same as regular Mexicans of the present day.


Meanwhile great things had happened in Europe, which changed
the political map of America. William of Orange, the Champion of
Protestantism if he had not been that, we should have thought
him a sullen Dutchman had fairly worn out Louis XIV, and made
peace with him. But soon after, the lunatic King of Spain died, and
all the other lunatics fell to cutting each other's throats about the
"balance of power/' that mysterious abstraction which has caused
more wholesale murder in modern Europe than all other causes com-
bined. The English, Dutch and Germans would not allow the crown
of Spain to be bestowed on Philip of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV,
as provided by Philip of Spain, in his so-called will. Hence another
bloody war, and a general rearrangement at the treaty of Ryswick.
But this left open certain questions between France and Spain ; so they
went to war in 1718.

The Louisiana French attacked and drove out the Spaniards as far
west as Bexar. But the latter soon recovered the country. After a
deal of reconnoitering, some sharp fighting, and many brave actions
and romantic incidents in Texas, a sort of peace was patched up be-
tween France and Spain, and the latter determined to colonize Texas
regularly. Soon after, the French handed over Louisiana to the
Mississippi Company, then controlled by the notorious John Law, the
original " greenbacker " and great " soft money " advocate. Other
schemes now occupied the two nations, and their respective colonists
had time to attend to legitimate business. In 1728, Spain sent to
Texas several families from the Canary Isles, then peopled by a race
knoAvn above all Spaniards for rigid adherence to the Catholic Church,
domestic purity, and respect for women. Another colony came, com-
posed of the original Tlascalans, whom Cortez could not conquer ;
they assisted grea'tly in capturing Indios bravos for conversion. But
the country was in bad shape. Many dissolute soldiers had been dis-
charged there. It invited wanderers and adventurers; and had a bad
name as early as 1750. Apache and Comanche raids were frequent,
and pirates began to hover along the coast. So in 1745, Texas con-
tained no more than 1,500 whites less than in 1722. Mestizoes and
"converted Indians" were more numerous.

Thence to 1758 there was a dead calm. That year the Indians cap-
tured San Saba Mission, and killed every one there. Thenceforward
the missions declined. Meanwhile England and France got to fight-
ing again ; there was, therefore, a general rectification of boundaries in
America, and a new deal all around the board in Europe. France
was so weakened by this contest, that in 1762 she ceded Louisiana to


Spain, to keep England from getting it. Bear in mind that Louisiana
then meant all the country drained by the Mississippi, except where
the English had obtained prior rights on its eastern affluents. Next
year peace was made, by which England got Canada and all the
French country east of the Mississippi and above the present Louisi-
ana. One clause in that treaty was afterwards of immense importance
to the United States, viz. : " The navigation of the Mississippi to be
free to the subjects of both England and France."

This state of affairs continued forty years, and was of immense ad-
vantage to Texas ; the missions died out, and regular colonists began
to take their place. Meanwhile the American Revolution occurred,
and there was no end of fighting between England on one side and
France and Spain on the other. Spain refused the free navigation of
the Mississippi, and the people of the western States swore they would
take it by force. Then the French Revolution took place, and for
awhile France had to fight all the rest of Europe. By secret treaty in
1800, Louisiana was transferred back from Spain to France, though the
United States did not know it till two years after. All this time the
boundaries of Texas and Louisiana had remained unsettled ; the
French had often claimed as far west as the Rio Grande, the Span-
iards always as far east as the Sabine. This condition invited revolu-
tionists and adventurous spirits, and there were numerous incursions,
battles, skirmishes, and massacres which have no connection with the
general history. Meanwhile the French Revolution progressed ; Bon-
aparte got control of that country, and found himself engaged in a
life and death struggle with England. He could not hold Louisiana,
and needed money ; the United States was on hand with the cash, the
sale was made, and the transfer completed by imposing ceremonies in
New Orleans, in December, 1803.

This brought up the old border question in a new shape. While the
diplomats of Spain and the United States used up two years in at-
tempts at a treaty, the provinces were a dozen times on the point of
actual war. Governor Claiborne, of Louisiana, called out the militia,
and forbade the Spaniards to cross the Sabine. At length it was set-
tled that the strip between the Sabine and Arroyo Hondo should be
neutral ground for the present. This was a beautiful arrangement.
Of course the neutral strip was soon infested by desperadoes, and
countless robberies and outrages were perpetrated. In one instance
two desperadoes were captured, and to make them betray their com-
panions were severely whipped. Then live coals were passed over
their raw and bleeding backs. But they were gritty rascals, and re-


fused to the last. To this stage of Texan history belong the establish-
ments on the coast by pirates and smugglers, such as that of La Fitte at

Early in 1812, Lieutenant A. W. Magee, left his post in the United
States territory, and with a mixed force of adventurers from the
States, volunteers from the neutral ground, and natives of Texas of
Spanish blood, marched westward to redeem that region from the rule
of Spain. There had been a sort of civil war in Mexico between the
popular party and the aristocrats ; the Anglo-Texans had taken the
popular side, and Magee came in to assist them. It would have been
money in his pocket and in theirs had he stayed away. He was
steadily victorious till he reached La Bahia, west of the Guadaloupe.
There he was confronted by a large force under Salado, and agreed to
retire. This his men refused to accede to, and at once attacked the
Spaniards, and gained a bloody victory. Overcome with shame, Magee
died by his own hand. After various successes this army fell into an
ambuscade, and were nearly all killed or captured. The prisoners
were brutally murdered by the Spaniards.

Bonaparte's wars were now stirring up devilment and wholesale <
murder in every corner of the civilized world. He had invaded Spain,
deposed the feeble king, banished the royal family, then at war with
itself, and put his brother Joseph on the throne. Two Spanish parties
at once arose : for accepting Joseph and for opposing him. Blood
flowed on all sides. The divisions extended to all Spanish America.
In Mexico the ruling classes favored Joseph Bonaparte ; the common
people supported the juntas, or revolutionary bodies which resisted
him. On all sides the standard of revolt was raised. The Indians
burned to avenge the wrongs of three centuries ; the common Mex-
icans were greedy for spoil ; the Church labored for aggrandizement.
There were murders and riots in every section ; towns were sacked and
prisoners massacred by thousands, and Mexico entered upon that ca-
reer of bloody anarchy which has continued with only occasional in-
termissions to this day. When this condition was at its worst, war
broke out between England and the United States. La Fitte and other
pirates and smugglers received a general pardon for serving under
General Jackson at the battle of New Orleans, and after the peace re-
turned and took possession of Galveston Island. There they set up
an independent government the most ridiculous little sovereignty that
ever existed which flourished greatly until broken up by the Amer-
ican authorities.

Mexico obtained her independence, and established the celebrated


Constitution of 1824, about which there has been so much fighting
since. We have seen how the division in Spain excited revolution in
Mexico ; in exactly the same way civil war in Mexico brought on re-
volt, and finally independence, in Texas. No sooner was the Constitu-
tion of 1824 adopted, than the ruling classes insisted on a strong
central government, the reduction of the States to departments, and a
president with greater powers. These were called Centralists ; their
opponents Federalists a name meaning the exact opposite of what it
does in the United States. Santa Anna, by intrigue, treachery, and
the support of the Church, obtained control as a Centralist; his great
rival Bustamente stirred up numerous revolutions among the Federal-
ists. At first Texas appeared equally divided, but in no long time the
Federalists got control, as it was obviously for her interests that there
should be separate State governments. Embassies and petitions were
sent to Mexico City ; the petitions were disregarded, the envoys often
imprisoned. Thus, little by little the war spirit was excited in Texas.
Meanwhile Moses Austin had obtained his large grant of land in
Texas from the Mexican government, and dying, left its settlement to
his son Stephen. Having completed this work, Stephen Austin took
an active part in political affairs, and went to Mexico as an envoy
from Texas. There he was thrown into prison, where he remained
two years and a half. All this time the Mexicans went on pulling
down one and setting up another ; and, as the result of half a dozen
revolutions, Bustamente and the Federalists came into power. But
their rule was as bad for Texas as that of the Centralists. They con-
cluded that the Territory contained too many Americans, and forbade
the immigration of any more ! They passed about all the vexatious
laws against free trade they could think of. Whenever it was certified
to them that the Anglo-Texans were making money on any article,
they straightway proceeded to restrict its sale or production. Among
other bright laws, was one that no planter in Texas should sow more
than one bushel of tobacco seed ! Tobacco growers will see the
point. The largest planter in Ohio does not use a gill.

To further aggravate the Texans, their province was attached to
Coahuila. The Mexicans of that State furnished two-thirds of the
legislature ; and the inhabited part of Texas was nearly a thousand
miles from the State capital. The Texans agitated and interceded for
a separate government ; the Mexican authorities responded by a more
oppressive tariff law, and by introducing garrisons into the country to
overawe the " rebels." Meanwhile there was another revolution in
Mexico. Bustamente retired, Santa Anna took the reins, and estab-



lished the firmest government Mexico ever enjoyed. As soon as he
had tranquillized the other States, hanged and shot a few dozen of
his opponents, and banished the rest, he collected a large army and
marched on Texas, to settle things, as he said, effectually. He did it;
but not exactly as he had intended.

The white population of Texas did not exceed 50,000. They had

been divided, but the approach
of the army united them ; and
they resolved on independence.
Their army easily drove out the
feeble garrisons in South-western
Texas, but in no long time was
overwhelmed by disaster. Early
in 1836, Santa Anna entered the
Territory with an army of 8,000
men, sending word to the Tex-
ans that he intended to " sweep
away every thing save the rec-
ollection that they once existed."
The brave William Barret Travis
commanded the Alamo Fort with
only a hundred and thirty men.
He sent off, with all speed, for
reinforcements ; announced that

TEXAS AND COAHTTILA IN 1830. J^ ^^ ho ] d ^ place m ^

rest of the country could be put in posture for defense, and con-
cluded with the words: " God and Texas! Liberty or Death!"
Of that hundred and thirty men, only Moses Rose escaped ; and
he, ashamed of having abandoned his companions, and slipped out
through the Mexicans at the last hour, never gave account of the
siege till on his death-bed. For two weeks the Mexicans kept it up,
making daily assaults, and being picked off by the Texan rifles. The
last evening the enemy withdrew to prepare for a final assault. Travis
ranged his few surviving followers, and thus addressed them :

" Men, we must die ! Our speedy massacre is a fixed fact. Let us
choose that mode which can best serve our country. If we surrender,
we shall be shot; if we try to cut our way out, we shall be butchered
before we can kill twenty of the enemy. We could but lose our lives
without benefiting our friends our fathers and mothers, our brothers
and sisters, our wives and little ones. Let us, then, vow to die to-
gether. Let us kill as many as possible. Kill them as they scale the


wall! Kill them as they leap in! Kill them as they raise their
weapons; and continue to kill them as long as one of us shall remain
alive. And, be assured, our memory will be gratefully cherished till
all history shall be erased and noble deeds be forgotten among men.
God and Texas! Liberty or Death!"

He then traced a line with his sword, requesting all who would die
with him to step over it. Every one complied but Rose. He, dis-
guised as a Mexican, and speaking the language fluently, crawled out
down a ravine and escaped. Long before daylight the Mexicans ad-
vanced, with discharges of musketry and cannon. The cavalry formed
a ring around the infantry, for the double purpose of urging them on
and preventing the escape of any of the garrison. Pressed on by those
behind, the foremost assailants tumbled inside the walls by hun-
dreds. Every Texan died fighting. Travis was shot, and a Mexican
officer rushed forward to dispatch him ; he rallied all his strength,
pierced his assailant with his sword, and both expired together. Major
Evans was shot in the act of attempting to fire the magazine. Bowie,
then disabled, was butchered in his bed. When only seven were
left they asked for quarter. It was refused; and, drawing their
bowie-knives, they rushed to a final assault, and died on the bayo-
nets of their foes. Their remains were savagely mutilated and re-
fused burial.

Among the slain was one, with bowie-knife clinched in his stiffened
hand, and surrounded by a heap of the fallen enemy, whose counte-
nance bore even in death the impress of that nobleness which had an-
imated it in life, conjoined with the healthful freshness of the hunter's
aspect. It was Colonel David Crockett, of Tennessee a man whose
real life was a romance more thrilling than novelist ever portrayed.
He was a product of nature in her most bounteous clime, of active life
and free institutions. In childhood the axe and the rifle were his
playthings ; in early manhood he fought for his country against the
British, and in peace his personal qualities earned promotion from his

Online LibraryJ. H. (John Hanson) BeadleWestern wilds and the men who redeem them : an authentic narrative embracing an account of seven years travel and adventure in the far West ... → online text (page 41 of 62)