Page images







Compiled by M. WHILLDIN.



[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

In preparing this work, recourse luns been freely had to the labor's of all who have written on Texas. The authorities chiefly consulted and used were Yokum’s, kennedy's, Foote's and Biker's IIistories, the various numbers of the Texas Almanac, the publications of the Smithsonian Institute, Kingsbury's Description of Western Texas, landford's State Register, Mrs. Holly's Texas, The Texus Scrapbook, publications made by various Counties, The Texas New-Yorker, The Great Southwest, the publications of the State Commissioner of Immigration, General Robertson, and the Parish Registers of the Mission Churches at Sun Antonio.


VARIOUS causes have combined to make Western Texas a terra incognita—an unknown land to large numbers of otherwise wellinformed persons. Hitherto the bottom lands of the most acccessible rivers have been the property of planters, who cultivated large areas, from which they derived princely incomes. They had no occasion to advertise its advantages, since they had no desire for any increase of its population. The uplands were mostly occupied as a range, where a few persons pastured vast herds of cattle. The nature of this industry was averse to immigration, and so it has happened that comparatively few have any clear idea of the geography, soil, and other natural advantages of Western Texas. Through the centre of this territory the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railroad is being constructed—the work being so far advanced that the whole enterprise is almost complete. It matters not that a land is rich; if it is not thickly settled a railroad can not be operated in it profitably.

To make known the inducements which this territory offers to immigrants, and to promote its speedy settlement, are the objects of

these pages.

In their preparation, the author was directed to make no statement that could not be verified. The solemnity with which a thinking man changes his home is fully recognized. When a thoughtful father is compelled to gather his family and his household goods together, and take his departure for a home in a new country, his responsibility is one of no small magnitude, and he wh

deceive him in his choice by Ise representations, or rose-colored pictures, is deserving of reproach and condemnation.

For the statements which follow, there will be given on almost every page the names of men who can and will substantiate them. The reader is neither asked nor desired to receive the description of this country, and its social condition, without testimony. If he is a Mason, an Odd Fellow, or a Patron of Husbandry, he will find the names and addresses of the officers of these fraternities, to whom he can apply, and from whom he can ascertain

whether that which is said, is or is not substantial truth. Should he be a church member, it will be easy for him to address the pastor of that church to which he belongs, or he can readily apply to the officials of the proper county, and thus ascertain beyond doubt whether or not the truth has been told him. THE GALVESTON, HARRISBURG AND SAN ANTONIO

RAILWAY has for its terminal points Harrisburg on the east, and San Antonio on the west. Between these cities, which are two hundred miles distant one from the other, this road, it is being constructed.

HARRISBURG is a town of about two thousand inhabitants, and is situated upon Buffalo Bayou, a navigable stream, which empties into Galveston Bay. The Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad runs through it, and connects it with the cities of IIouston and Galveston. Houston is the great railroad centre of Texas, from which roads radiate to all parts of the nation. It is five miles distant. Galveston, which is forty-five miles distant from Harrisburg, is the great commercial city of Texas, at whose wharves may be found large numbers of sail and steam vessels from European and American ports.

At Harrisburg, the Galveston, Houston and San Antonio Railway has established its machine shops, which are furnished with the most improved and costly machinery for the execution of every kind of railroad work.

These shops employ a large number of workmen, and add greatly to the wealth and prosperity of the place.

HARRIS COUNTY. About one-sixth of Harris county, in which Harrisburg is located, is covered with timber—the rest is prairie. The soil is not considered so good as the average in other counties west, but it produces sugar, cane, cotton, and all other products of the country except cereals, very well, to which its convenience to market gives great additional value. Farming and gardening are considered more profitable in Harris than in some more distant counties, where the land is more productive. There are some twenty or more saw-mills on Buffalo Bayou and San Jacinto river, employed in cutting pine and cypress timber. These streams, ånd numerous small creeks, furnish an abundance of fire wood, the cutting of which, and the carrying of it to Galveston and Houston on small sloops, is a very profitable employment.

No tourist ever visits this section without being struck with the amazing beauty of the magnolia trees which abound in the woodland. The mignolia grandiflora, which here reaches its greatest perfection, is the most beautiful of trees. Its flowers, of which each tree will produce hundreds, are, when fully open, quite as large as a large-sized breakfast plate, and so fragrant that the whole air is redolent with their perfume.

The half-opened magnolia bud, which is large as a cocoa nut, has no superior, if indeed it has an equal among flowers.

The woods are alive with mocking birds, whose melodious song and perplexing imitations greatly enhance the pleasures of a residence in this delightful county.

The bottom lands of Buffalo Bayou are like those of all Texas streams-heavily timbered on both sides. In the immediate vicinity of Harrisburg there is much beautiful woodland, while there are an abundance of graceful ferns and a great variety of wild flowers.

Leaving Harrisburg by the G. H. & S. A. road, the country for the first twenty-five miles is prairie. And here it may be well to premise that the prairies of Texas differ materially from those of the Northwestern States. There are no such vast extents of land without visible timber as in Illinois and in other Northern localities. Along the coast, as in the country immediately west of Harrisburg, there are stretches of prairie of from ten to twenty miles before reaching the timbered bottom lands; but, generally, there are small motes or groves of timber within that distance. So that even the largest prairies are diversified, while in the interior the timber and prairie lands generally alternate, so that there is nearly always an abundance of wood within easy hauling distance.

Mrs. Mary Holly, an accomplished Kentucky lady, who visited and wrote of Texas in 1837, when it was almost a wilderness, thus describes a Texas prairie:

“It is impossible to imagine the beauty of a Texas prairie when in the vernal season, its rich luxuriant herbage, adorned with many thousand flowers, of every size and hue, seems to realize the vision of a terrestrial paradise. The delicate, gay and gaudy are intermingled in delightful confusion, and these fanciful boquets of fairy nature form tenfold charms when associated with the verdant carpet of grass which modestly mantles around.

One feels that Omnipotence has been consecrated in the bosom of nature and under Heaven's wide canopy, a glorious temple in which to receive the praise and adoration of the grateful beholder, and cold indeed must be the soul from which no homage could here be elicited. Methinks the veriest infidel would have been constrained to bow and worship.”.

Texas prairies have contributed the Verbena to the store of floral beauties which adorn the gardens of the world. Here is its natural home.

« PreviousContinue »