Nesbitt Memorial Library
November 30, 2009
The Writings of Fannie Amelia Dickson Darden
compiled by Bill Stein and Jayne Easterling
originally published in Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, volume 9, number 3, September 1999
Fannie Amelia Dickson Baker Darden was a leading figure in the cultural life of Colorado County for most of the last half of the nineteenth century. The particulars of her life can be summarized in a few statements. She was born in Autauga County, Alabama, on September 13, 1829. Her father was Mosely Baker, who escaped from an Alabama jail and went to Texas to avoid prosecution for embezzling a large sum of money from a bank, and who became an officer in Sam Houston’s army during the Texas Revolution. On January 26, 1847, when she was seventeen, she married William John Darden. In 1851 her husband ran a Houston newspaper, The Beacon, which apparently failed before the end of the year. In 1852, he opened a law practice in partnership with John H. Robson in Columbus. In later years, he served as the town’s mayor, then in the army (where he was wounded) and the government of the Confederate States of America, the defeat of which left him aimless and disillusioned. She had two sons, one of whom died when he was four years old, and the other, of yellow fever, in 1873 at the age of 23. She began a career as a painter and writer before the Civil War, and was one of three Colorado County artists who lived for a time, with their families, in the large Columbus home of art-patron Robert Robson. Her husband died on May 29, 1881, after which she sold his library of more than 350 law books and pursued her career in earnest, at various times teaching art in a local school and submitting articles and poems to her hometown newspaper, the Colorado Citizen, and to other publications. She sold her undivided half interest in a 600 acre plantation southeast of Columbus (her husband had been forced by a court to forfeit the other half in 1878) on January 24, 1883 for the low price of $300. She pursued, and on April 10, 1883 received, a headright certificate to replace one secured by her father many years earlier. In early 1883, she was hired by an Austin magazine, American Sketch Book, but in less than six months, she quit and became a contributor to a magazine published in Corsicana, Texas Prairie Flower. She was extremely active in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, where memorials to her remain even today. She was devoted to the early history of Texas, and to the Confederacy, both during and after the Civil War. In November 1882 she had surgery for breast cancer, but survived another seven years. When she drew up her will on December 11, 1889, she noted that a substantial debt she had incurred at least twenty-five years earlier was still outstanding.
Jeanette Hastedt Flachmeier, in a biographical sketch of Darden, states that she died in October 1890. The New Handbook of Texas, in an article which, though considerably “improved” over his original submission, was attributed to the editor of this journal, follows Flachmeier in granting Darden, alas only on paper, another nine months of life. When she actually died, on January 4, 1890, she left a library of at least 150 books, including works by Joseph Addison, John Keats, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Milton, Plato, Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander Pope, Walter Scott, Percy Shelly, William Shakespeare, and Noah Webster. She also owned copies of Henderson Yoakum’s and Homer Thrall’s histories of Texas, Edward Gibbon’s history of Rome, lengthy biographies of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, plus Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man, and books on phrenology, hydropathy, and the witches of Salem, Massachusetts.1
This is the first known attempt to catalog Darden’s published writings. Some things which are said to exist have not been found. Samuel Houston Dixon, in his article on Darden for Poets and Poetry of Texas, states that “she has written a goodly number of noveletts [sic] and a series of stories.”2 No lengthy fiction written by Darden has been discovered. The "series of stories" are likely to have been Romances of the Texas Revolution, which Dixon singles out for praise. This series of love stories set against the events of the Texas Revolution apparently ran in Texas Prairie Flower, and included at least four installments. Because many issues of Texas Prairie Flower seemingly have been lost, only two of the stories have been found.3 Many issues of her most frequent publication outlet, her hometown newspaper, the Colorado Citizen, are also missing, including notably, most of those from the last year of her life. Some of her poems, most particularly those from between 1865 and 1874, were preserved, without proper citation, in a scrapbook of which the library obtained a xerographic copy.
In addition to simply cataloging Darden's work, we have chosen to reprint much of it. Our selections were meant to be representative; they were not necessarily selected for any merit we believed they might have. Most of the material has not been printed in more than a century, and is rightly obscure. Though contrary to our usual practice, at least in part because several pieces were printed more than once, we have thought it proper to correct some spelling and minor punctuation errors in the texts we herein present.
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1. Dillard Cooper’s Account of his Escape from Fannin’s Massacre (published in Colorado Citizen, July 30, 1874; reprinted in American Sketch Book, vol. 7, no. 2, 1882; reprinted in abridged and altered form as chapter 5 in A. J. Sowell, Rangers and Pioneers of Texas (1884), pp. 160-168)
Columbus, Texas, Aug. 18, 1870
This is to certify that the following account of the escape of myself and companions from the massacre of Fannin’s men, prepared by Mrs. Fannie A. D. Darden, is correct.
As most of my readers are acquainted with the history of Texas, and the surrender of Fannin and his men at the battle of Coleto, I will only premise my remarks by saying that the surrender took place on the 20th of March. It had previously been stipulated, and writings drawn up to that effect, that the prisoners were to be treated according to the usages of the most civilized nations, and sent over to New Orleans and released upon parole. They were then hurried off to a fort near where the present town of Goliad now stands, where they were treated in the most barbarous manner, and for their food, allowed only a small pittance of beef, without either bread or salt.
Mr. Dillard Cooper lives about three miles from Columbus, and has been a resident of Colorado county for some what over thirty-one years. He is one of the survivors of Fannin’s massacre, and was slightly wounded at the battle of Coleto. He is a fine looking man, and although somewhat advanced in years, his appearance does not indicate that “old father time” has dealt very hardly with him. He is over six feet in height, with light hair and blue eyes, and his form and proportions seem well fitted for the part he had to play in making his escape from the fiendish instruments of Santa Anna’s cruelty. He has a fine memory, and can recollect with remarkable distinctness every particular of his capture and escape. It was indeed a rich treat to hear him recount, in his earnest, feeling manner, the awful occurrences of that never-to-be-forgotten time; and I will endeavor, in this account, to give his plain, unvarnished statement; feeling, however, my utter incapacity to interest my readers as they would have been had they sat within the sound of his voice. He commenced by saying that for several years after the massacre, he could not recount it without shedding tears.
On the morning of the 27th, about daylight, we were awakened by the guard, and marched out in front of the fort, where we were counted and divided into three different detachments. We had been given to understand that we were to be marched to Copano, and from there shipped to New Orleans. The impression, however, had in some way been circulated among us that we were to be sent out that morning to hunt cattle; though I thought at the time that it could not be so, as it is but a poor way to hunt cattle on foot. Our detachment was marched out in double file, each prisoner being guarded by two soldiers, until about half a mile southwest of the fort, when at length we arrived at a brush fence built by the Mexicans. We were then placed in single file, and were half way between the guard and the fence, about eight feet each way. We were then halted, when the commanding officer came up to the head of the line and asked if there were any among us who understood Spanish. By this time there began to dawn upon the minds of most of us the truth that we were to be butchered; and that, I suppose, was the reason that none answered. He then ordered us to turn our backs to the guard. When the order was given, not a man moved, and then the officer, stepping up to the man at the head of the column, took him by the shoulders and turned him around. By this time despair had seized upon our poor boys, and several of them cried out for mercy. I remember one, a young man who had been noted for his piety and exemplary conduct, but who had afterwards become somewhat demoralized by bad company, falling upon his knees and crying aloud to God for mercy and forgiveness. Others attempted to plead with their inhuman captors, but their pleadings were in vain, and upon their faces no gleam of pity was seen for the defenceless men who stood before them. On my right hand stood Wilson Simpson, and on my left Robert Fenner. In the midst of the panic of terror which had seized our men, and while some of them were rending the air with their cries of agonized despair, Fenner called out to them saying: “Don’t take on so, boys! If we have to die, let’s die like brave men!” At that moment, I glanced over my shoulders and saw the flash of a musket. I instantly threw myself forward on the ground, resting on my hands.
Robert Fenner must have been instantly killed, for he fell with such force upon me as almost to throw me over as I attempted to rise, which detained me a few moments in my flight, so that Simpson, my companion on the right, got the start of me as we ran towards an opening in the brush fence, which was almost in front of us. Simpson got through first, and I was immediately after him. I wore at the time a small, round cloak, which fastened with a clasp at the throat. As I ran through the opening, an officer charged upon me and ran his sword through my cloak, which would have held me, but I caught the clasp with both hands, and tore it apart, and the cloak fell from me. There was an open prairie about two miles wide, through which I would have to run before I could reach the nearest timber, which was a little southwest of the place from where we started. I gained on my pursuers, but saw between me and the timber three others, who were after Simpson. As I neared the timber, I commenced walking, in order to recover my strength, before I came near them. When we first started we were all near together, but as Simpson took a direct course across the prairie, I, in order to avoid his pursuers, took a circuitous course. There were two points of timber projecting into the prairie, one of which was nearer to me than the other. I was making for the farthest point, but as soon as Simpson entered the timber, his pursuers halted, and then ran across and cut me off. I then started for the point into which Simpson had entered, but they turned and cut me off from that. I then stopped running, and commenced walking slowly between them and the other point, slightly diverging towards them. They, no doubt thinking that I was about to surrender myself, stopped, and I continued to walk until within about sixty or seventy yards of them, when I suddenly wheeled and ran into the point for which I had first started. They did not attempt to follow me, but just as I was about to enter the timber they fired, the bullets whistling over my head, causing me to draw my head down as I ran. As soon as I entered the main body of the timber, I saw Simpson, waiting and beckoning to me. I went towards him, and we ran together for about two miles, when we reached the river. We then stopped and consulted together as to the best mode of concealing ourselves. I proposed climbing a tree, but he objected, saying that, should the Mexicans discover us, we would have no way of making our escape. Before we arrived at any conclusion, we heard some one coming through the underwood, which frightened us so that I jumped into the river, which was swimming at the time while Simpson ran a short distance up it, but seeing me, he also jumped in. The noise proceeded from the bank almost immediately above the spot where Simpson was, and I could see the place very plainly, and soon discovered that two of our companions had made their escape to this place. They were Zachariah Brooks and Isaac Hamilton. Brooks was wounded in the hip, and Hamilton in the fleshy part of both thighs—one a gunshot and the other a bayonet wound.
We all four swam the river, traveling up it a short distance until we arrived at a bluff bank, in front of which was a thick screen of bushes, where we concealed ourselves. The place was about five miles above the fort. We did not dare to proceed farther that day, as the Mexicans, we did not doubt, were still searching for us, and Hamilton’s wounds had become so painful as to prevent his walking, which obliged us to carry him. We remained there until about 10 o’clock that night, when we started forth, Simpson and myself carrying Hamilton. Brooks, though severely wounded, was yet able to travel. We had to proceed very cautiously, and necessarily rather slowly. Fort LaBahia being south-east of us, and a point we were making for which is about where Goliad now stands, we proceeded in a circuitous route, in a north-easterly direction, which, after a while, placed the fort directly south of us. We approached within a short distance of the fort, and could not, at first, account for the numerous fires we saw blazing around; but we were not long in doubt, for the sickening smell that was borne towards us by the south wind proclaimed that they were burning the bodies of our companions; and here I will state what Mrs Cash (who was kept a prisoner) stated afterwards: that some were thrown into the flames, and burned alive! We passed the fort safely, and reached a spring, where we rested from our journey, and from whence we again proceeded on our travels. But the night was foggy, and becoming bewildered, it was not long before we found ourselves at the spring from which we started. We again started out, and again found ourselves at the same place, but we had too much at stake to sink into despondency, so we once more took up our wounded companion, thinking that we could not miss the right direction this time; but at last, when day began to break, to our great consternation, we found that we had been traveling, like four will o’ the wisps, around the same spot, and were for the third time back at the identical spring from which we had at first set forth. It was now impossible to proceed further that day, as we dared not travel during the day, knowing we should be discovered by the Mexicans. We therefore concealed ourselves by the side of slight elevation, amidst a thick undergrowth of bushes. By this time we began to grow very hungry, and I remember an elm bush that grew at the entrance of the timber where we were concealed, which formed an excellent commissary for us, and from the branches of which we partook until every limb was entirely stripped. About nine that morning we heard the heavy tramp of the Mexican army on the march, and they not long after passed within a stone’s throw of our place of concealment.
It does, indeed, seem that we were guided by an overruling Providence in not being able to proceed farther that night, for as we were not expecting the Mexican army to move so soon, we would probably have been overtaken and discovered by them, perhaps in some prairie where we could not have escaped. We remained in our hiding place the rest of the day, and resumed our journey after dark, still carrying our wounded man. Whenever they passed us, we had of course to conceal ourselves, and we laid several days in ponds of mud and water with nothing but our heads exposed to view. When in the vicinity of Lavaca, we again got ahead of the Mexicans and, after traveling all night, we discovered, very early on the morning of the ninth day, a house within a few hundred yards of the river. We approached it, and found that the inhabitants had fled. When we entered the house we discovered a quantity of corn, some chickens and a good many eggs lying about in different places. Our stomachs were weak, and revolted at the idea of eating them raw, so we looked about for some means of striking a fire, first searching for a rock, but failing to find one, we took an old chisel and ground it on a grindstone about two hours, but we never could succeed in getting the sparks to catch. We then concluded to go back and try the eggs raw. We had taken one, and Simpson was putting on his shoes, which he had taken off to rest his feet, which were raw and bleeding, and had just got one on when he remarked, “Boys, we would be in a tight place if the Mexicans were to come upon us now.” So saying, he walked to the window, when, to his horror, there was the whole Mexican army not more than half a mile off, and fifteen or twenty horsemen coming at full speed within a hundred yards of us. We took up our wounded man and ran to the timber—which was not far off—Simpson leaving his shoe behind him. We got into the timber and concealed ourselves between the logs of two trees, the tops of which, having fallen together, and being very thickly covered with leaves and moss formed an almost impenetrable screen above and around us. We had scarcely hidden ourselves from view when the Mexicans came swarming around us, shouting and halloing through the woods, but did not find us. We heard them from time to time all throughout the day, and next night. The next morning just before day the noise of the Mexicans ceased, and we concluded they had all left. Simpson then asked me to go with him to get his shoe, as it would be difficult for him to travel without it, and I consented to do so. We went out to the edge of the timber and stopped some time to take observations before proceeding further. Seeing nothing of the Mexicans, we proceeded to the house, found the shoe, and possessing ourselves of a couple of ears of corn and a bottle which we filled with water, we returned to our companions. We had no doubt now that the Mexicans had gone, so we sat down and drank the water and eat an ear of corn, when Brooks asked Simpson to go with him to the house, saying he would get a chicken and we could eat it raw. They started, and had hardly got to the edge of the timber when I heard the sound of horses feet, and directly afterwards the Mexicans halloing in every direction. I was sure that they had captured Simpson and Brooks. Soon I heard something in the brush near us, but could not imagine whether it was the boys or Mexicans, but they turned out to be Simpson and Brooks, who crept under cover, and in a few minutes four Mexicans came riding by, passing within a few feet of where we were lying with our faces to the ground. After going into the woods a short distance, they returned and passed out again, but it was not long after when six of them came, riding quite close, three on each side of us, and leaning down and peering into our hiding place. It seemed to me that they could have heard us by the beating of our hearts, if they had paused and listened, for my own heart seemed to raise me almost from the ground by its throbbings. I felt more frightened than I ever had before; for, at the time of the massacre, everything had come on me so suddenly that my nerves had no time to become unstrung, as they now were.
The Mexicans passed and re passed us occasionally through the day so that we dared not move from our hiding place. A guard was placed around us the following night, the main body having no doubt gone on, and left a detachment to search for us, I think they must have had some idea of our being Fannin’s boys or they would scarcely have gone to that trouble.
About ten o’clock that night we held a consultation, and I told my companions that it would not do to remain there any longer, as the Mexicans were pretty well aware of our place of concealment, and would surely discover us the next day. We all decided then to leave, and they requested me to lead the way out. I told them we would have to crawl through the timber, and a short piece of the prairie, until we crossed the road near which the Mexicans were posted; that they must be careful to remove every leaf and stick in their path and to hold their feet well up, only crawling on their hands and knees, as the least noise would betray us to the enemy. I was somewhat acquainted with the locality, for we were now not far from Texana, and I had sometimes hunted along in those very woods; so I led the way, they following. Hamilton’s wounds were so painful that we could progress but slowly, and we must have been two hours crawling about two hundred yards. When we at length passed the timber and reached the road, I stopped to make a careful survey of the situation. I could see the Mexicans placed along the road about a hundred yards on each side of us. The moon was shining, but had sunk towards the West, which threw the shadow of a point of timber across the road and concealed us from view. It would have been hard to discover us from the color of our clothes as the earthly element with which they were mixed had entirely hidden the original fabric. We continued to crawl until we got a sufficient distance not to be discovered, when we rose up and walked. Although Hamilton had, with a great deal of pain, managed to crawl, yet it was impossible for him to walk at all; and his wounds had by this time become so much irritated and inflamed that he could scarcely bear to be carried.
We traveled that night only a short distance, and hid ourselves in a thicket near a pond of water. Brooks had been trying to persuade me to leave Hamilton; but, although our progress was greatly impeded by having to carry him, I could not entertain the idea for a moment of abandoning him to his fate. I indignantly refused, but notwithstanding that, he would seize every opportunity of urging it upon me. He represented that it would be utterly impossible for us to escape, burdened as we were with Hamilton. I could not but acknowledge the truth of this, for it was a desperate case with us. The foe were around us in every direction, the main body being encamped at Texana, some two or three miles distant. Brooks, finding that I was not to be persuaded, then attempted to influence Simpson. On the tenth day out, they took the bottle and went to the pond near by for water. As they were returning (I suppose Brooks did not know he was so near the place he left us), both Hamilton and myself heard Brooks urging Simpson to leave him. He told him that, if we remained with Hamilton, we would most assuredly lose our lives; but that there was some slight chance of escaping, if we left him; that Hamilton’s wounds had become so much worse that he was bound to die, unless he could have rest, and that, as we were doing him no good, and ourselves a great deal of injury by carrying him, it was our duty to leave him. Now, Brooks never had carried him a step. Simpson and myself having always done it, and yet Brooks was the first who had ever proposed leaving him; and, although there was a great deal of truth in what he was saying, yet I felt quite angry with him as I heard him trying to persuade Simpson. Hamilton did not say a word to them when they came in, but sat with his face buried in his hands a long time. At length he looked up and said: “Boys, Brooks has told you the truth: I cannot travel any further, and if you stay with me, all will be killed. Go and leave me, boys: you may stand some chance for your lives, and perhaps if I have rest, I may recover. And if I ever should get off safe, you shall hear from me again.” He spoke so reasonably, and we were so thoroughly convinced of the truth of what he said, that after a brief consultation, we decided to depart without him. Hamilton had known Brooks in Alabama. He called him to him, and gave him a gold watch and a hundred and forty dollars in gold, telling him to give it to his mother. The watch contained in the inside of the lid a small painted likeness of himself. We then bade Hamilton farewell, all of us shedding tears as we parted, but when we turned to go, my resolution failed me, and I could not find it in my heart to leave him. I said, “Boys, don’t let’s leave him!” But Simpson and Brooks said we could do neither him or ourselves any good by remaining, and that they were determined to go. I then told them that I would remain with Hamilton and do the best I could do for him. So they started off without me; but Hamilton insisted so much that I should leave him, that I again bid him farewell, and followed, and soon overtook the others. The reason of our striking off in the day was that it was raining quite hard that morning, and we thought there would not be much danger in traveling; but we had not gone more than half way through the next prairie—which was quite a large one—when the weather cleared up, and we saw the whole Mexican army encamped at Texana, about two miles off. But they did not discover us, and we succeeded in reaching the timber on the Navidad, which was in front of us. In the evening, before starting again, we walked out to a slight eminence which overlooked the prairie, to reconnoitre. While gazing across the prairie I could see (though the others could not) three men on horseback, but so indistinct were they that I could not at first tell whether they were Americans or Mexicans. As they approached we hid in the under growth, and as they passed we saw that they were Mexican couriers returning to the command. At eight we again started forth, and coming out on the edge of the prairie, we discovered a road which we concluded had been made by the refugees in their retreat from the enemy.
During all this time we had had nothing to eat but leaves and herbs, and the two ears of corn that we got at the house on the Lavaca river. On the 12th day we reached the Colorado at Mercer’s crossing. The river was very high, being full from bank to bank. As we were very tired, we sat down on the bank to rest a little before attempting to swim over. While sitting there a dog on the opposite side of the river began to bark. When we heard that well known sound, our very souls thrilled with the joy, and that was the first time since the awful day of the massacre that a smile had ever illuminated our faces. We looked at each other, and then burst into A Great Big Laugh! We were all excellent swimmers, but I sometimes took the cramp while swimming, so we concluded to cross on a log. We procured a dead mulberry pole, and hanging on to it one on each end, and one in the middle, we crossed over. We went up to Mercer’s sugar house, which was not far off, where we found a number of hogsheads of sugar and molasses. As soon as we discovered the sugar, we commenced eating it, but in a minute or two we were taken very sick, and threw it up. We tried it again, with like success; so we concluded that sugar was not the thing for starving men, and started for the house, which was about a mile distant. Not a soul was to be seen about the place. We entered the house and saw everything just as the inhabitants had left—the furniture in its place, and the table neatly set for two persons. To our great surprise, there was a fire burning in the fire place, and as we approached, we saw an oven and skillet sitting on the hearth. I lifted the lid off the oven, and saw there three loaves of bread. I looked into the skillet, and beheld a chicken nicely prepared and still warm. It looked like the magic of some fairy tale. We did not stop to ask questions, but proceeded to help ourselves. But neither the chicken or the bread agreed with us any better than the sugar, though we only eat a very small portion of them. I then boiled some eggs about half done, and as we only eat a half a one apiece, we succeeded in retaining it. While we were eating our eggs we saw approaching us a man and woman on horseback, and as they drew near, we perceived them to be a mulatto man and one of the most beautiful white women I ever saw. He informed me that they had been there and prepared the meal of which we had partaken, and had rode off to look for his wagon, which had been lost in the river. The woman had nothing to say, but looked very much cowed. The negro watched her very closely when in our presence. But at length he had to go and attend to his horses, so that she was left alone with us. We expected then that she would speak, and perhaps appeal to us for protection, and we had agreed that if she did, we would afford it; but she said nothing to us, and we did not like to question her. That night before we retired to rest, we agreed that one of us should stay awake and watch while the others slept. We had not slept long when the watcher woke us, saying the negro had left the house. We immediately arose, and following him, demanded of him the cause of his leaving. He said he had forgotten to water the horses, and had started out for that purpose; but we knew he had watered them, and therefore ordered him to return, threatening to kill him if he refused. We ought to have killed him then, for we afterwards learned that he had stolen the poor girl, as she was flying with her family from the Mexicans, and she said afterwards that she wished to appeal to us for protection, but feared that we would refuse it, and he would murder her, as he had threatened to do. He afterwards joined Santa Anna and was killed at the battle of San Jacinto. We traveled the succeeding day and night, resting but little, and reached the bank of the Brazos on the morning of the fourteenth day; and on the west side of the river we met three white men carrying dispatches to Houston’s army. One of them having lamed his horse, turned and went down the country with us to within about twelve miles of Columbia to a house where we feasted like princes. As I have had nothing but hard fare to regale my readers with, I cannot refrain from giving our bill of fare on this occasion. It consisted of chickens, eggs, bacon, corn and flour bread, brandy and whisky, and cheese for desert. After recruiting a little, we procured horses, with the intention of joining Houston’s army; but before we reached there the battle of San Jacinto had been fought and won.
It was more than a year before I ever heard anything of Hamilton. He remained in the same place where we left him nine days, sometimes lying in the pond of water, which assuaged the pain of his wounds. At the end of that time he was so much improved that he essayed to walk to Texana, which the Mexicans had evacuated, and succeeded in doing so. When he reached there, all was still and deserted. While standing near a warehouse, he saw two Mexican soldiers approaching, and being too weak for flight, he slipped into a warehouse and got behind a dry good’s box, which not being a very large one, left his head and shoulders exposed to view. The Mexicans soon came up, and while sitting on their horses, looked in and fixed their eyes directly on him. He sat perfectly motionless, not moving a muscle, and the Mexicans, after looking at him awhile, burst into a loud laugh, and rode off. He left there that evening and spent the night under a live-oak, thinking that he would try and make his way through the country; but the next morning changed his intention, and taking a skiff made his way down to Dimmit’s landing. He said the best eating he ever had in his life was when he first entered Texana, and eat the meat from the rawhides the Mexicans had left. He had scarcely reached Dimmit’s landing, when he was perceived and taken prisoner by a Mexican soldier. Not long after other soldiers came in, and tying Hamilton on a mule, started for camp. He suffered so much from his wounds that he fainted several times on the way. Whenever this occurred, they would untie him, lay him on the ground, and throw water in his face until he revived, when they would again mount him on the mule, and proceed on their way. When they arrived at camp, he found two other Texians who had been captured. Hamilton remained in their hands for some time, and gradually grew well of his wounds. There was a Mexican who waited upon him, who seemed to grow much attached to him, and Hamilton was led to place confidence in him. One evening this Mexican told him that if he wished to live another day, he must attempt to make his escape that night, as he had learned that he and the other prisoner were to be shot before morning; but at night the Mexican came to him again, and informed him that news had been received from the army which postponed the execution. In a day or two he came again with the information that they were to be shot very soon. Hamilton then arranged a plan for escape for himself and two companions. The next evening, as had been agreed on, Hamilton walked towards the timber a short distance off and commenced gathering moss from the trees—one of his companions following him about fifty yards off, and the other fifty yards behind him, but by some means the last man disappeared, and Hamilton never knew what had become of him. The two commenced gathering moss, and when they had procured a load apiece, they began very slowly to return. It was now nearly dark, and when they had returned a short distance, they threw down the moss and ran; and as they did so, they looked back and saw some Mexicans soldiers pursuing them. There were some Mexicans in front of them driving a caballado of horses. Hamilton and his companion ran into this drove, causing them to stampede. One gentle horse stood still. They both mounted him and urging him along with their feet, and guiding his course by striking him with their hands on the side of the head, they soon outstripped their pursuers, who were on foot. They continued to ride until the horse fell beneath them. The next day they were fortunate enough to secure another, and after manufacturing a grape-vine bridle and moss saddle, continued their journey, alternately walking and riding, and in this way finally succeeded in escaping.
Thus ends my account, though I design, at some future time, giving to the world other particulars relating to that eventful period, and the subsequent adventures of my companions and myself.
2. Sutherland Springs (dated August 23, 1877, published in Colorado Citizen, August 30, 1877)
In response to your invitation to write an account of Sutherland Springs, I will attempt to describe them to you as seen them through my own glass of vision. You will therefore infer that you will not receive either a learned article or a scientific analysis of the waters. My companion, Mrs. West, and myself arrived at this place about three weeks ago, having traveled in an ambulance from San Antonio, which is about thirty miles distant. The beautiful and constantly changing panorama of hill and valley clothed in every shade of green, and the almost mountainous ridge of deepest blue which outlined the horizon, and seemed to flee from us as we approached, gave such unceasing delight and interest to the journey as to render it not at all monotonous or fatiguing. The town which bears the name of “Sutherland Springs” is very prettily situated on a hilly promontory, projecting into the valley of the cibolo, (or sewilla as it is pronounced,) and from which elevation you can see the surrounding country for quite a number of miles on the North, East and West, with the river in the midst, the great artery of this part of the country, giving life and verdure to the lands through which it flows. The Western Chronicle is published in this place, and edited by Capt. E. R. Tarver, formerly of Seguin. The Sulphur Springs lie in a peninsula formed by a sudden bend of the river. The white and black sulphur are the principal springs and burst from the ground with such force and strength as to render the water perfectly buoyant, and we have fully realized the fact of which we had been told, that it is impossible to sink in it, or rather to remain sunk, for upon going down into it you are immediately thrown to the surface by the force from beneath. The water of the white sulphur is perfectly limpid so that you can see the grains of sand at the bottom, and is strongly impregnated with sulphur. The black is of a darker color, (an almost blackish hue) much stronger and much deeper, and is reserved entirely for gentlemen. It is said there is an opening in the bottom of this spring which has never been fathomed, because it is impossible to sink anything in it deep enough to sound its depth. Each of these springs pour out an immense volume of water, estimated at about five hundred gallons a minute. Quite a number of visitors from the surrounding country are seeking the healing virtues of these springs, while Galveston, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Seguin and Columbus have their representatives here. The Columbustians, as old brother Coleby used to call us, have been most decidedly benefited, and one of them with appetite so much improved thinks there is no sound half so sweet as the dinner-bell, or after our exhilarating bath in the evening, no sight so cheering as that of a well provided supper table.
The sulphur water leaves a glow after bathing similar to a mustard bath, and is so penetrating that it seems impossible for rheumatic or neuralgic sufferers not to be benefited. It is said that in the space of about two miles there are at least fifty springs, many of them containing different properties, conspicuous among which are the black and white sulphur, chalybeate, seltzer, magnesia, alum, sour, and a number of others. The sulphur, chalybeate and sour being not important. I was struck with the similarity of timber and soil, together with the marked coolness of the atmosphere which surrounds Sour Springs to that of Sour Lake, although the water of this spring is much more pleasant to drink than that of either Sour Lake or Burditt’s Wells. However there is very strong sour water for those needing it. These waters are considered an almost certain cure for dyspeptics, and there can be no doubt of their virtues, as their good effects are being constantly witnessed upon invalids who resort to it. For the information of persons desiring to visit the springs, I will state that there are two excellent places for boarding, one kept by Dr. Messenger, on the edge of town, and the other by Mrs. Polly, an old resident, about four miles off. Both houses are well provided with conveyances for sending visitors to the springs.
The residents of this part of the country, both far and near, seem to have great faith in the healing virtues of these waters, and say that no one ever visits them without being benefited. Several families are camped around Sour Springs, and we were informed by an old lady encamped there that the water had saved her daughter’s life. The springs have, however, not been fitted up with sufficient accommodations for bathing, such as bath houses, etc., and the spring itself with its immense volume of water which might fill a basin of water of an acre, is so small that a dozen persons cannot conveniently bathe in it at a time. Nevertheless the water is free to all, and all these disadvantages are fully compensated for when once you are in the spring which is so buoyant, exhilarating and refreshing that one is tempted to remain in longer than might be beneficial. We are pleasantly ensconced at the Messenger house, the neatest hotel at the springs, which is about half a mile away, with the river intervening. We (the borders) ride to the sulphur every evening, take our bath and a drink from an adjoining spring, then pursue our ride a mile further to the sour spring to refresh ourselves with its cool and crystal water, or sometimes to the chalybeate, half a mile away, sometimes called pic-nic spring, on account of the beautiful grove near it, where the young people of the neighborhood are accustomed to have their pic-nics. The drives are delightful, and the woods to me have a peculiar and weird appearance, the trees with their straight and slender trunks being densely massed together, and the foliage so light and quivering, flecked with occasional gleams of sunshine or vanishing away in the deep shadows of the evening, while the mysterious silence which reigns in their midst, give the impression that they are only habitable by ethereal and gossamer spirits, though the illusion is frequently dispelled by the real live specimens of humanity which we often meet with in our times. There are some beautiful views on the river which I would like to give you some idea of, were I not afraid of making this article too lengthy. Large boulders of rock piled by nature in picturesque groups, brighten the landscape with their warm colors of russet brown, and are covered with the most exquisite lichens of delicate shades, which never fail to elicit exclamations of admiration from the beholder. Cactus, in great variety, are to be found all around the springs. Some extensive vineyards are cultivated in the neighborhood, and our table has been abundantly supplied with grapes and peaches ever since our arrival.
3. Legend of Eagle Lake, Texas (published in American Sketch Book, vol. 7, no. 2, 1882; reprinted in Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, vol. 4, no. 3, September 1994)
4. Only a Trip to Houston (published in Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 2, August 1883 (part 1), and Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 3, September 1883 (part 2); part 1 accompanied by an article reading: “Our new contributor, Mrs. Fannie Darden of Columbus, Texas, is well known in literary circles. Her husband, now dead, was a lawyer, and a member of Hood’s Brigade. She has severed her connection with the Sketch Book, at Austin, and transferred 35 names to our record book. We mention this at her request, as there has been some misunderstanding with regard to her business arrangements. She will furnish us articles of early days in Texas.”)
Leaving our beautiful city of live oaks, on the 19th of April, our train sped swiftly along past river and prairie towards the city of Houston. It was 6 o’clock when we started, and the sun gradually declining, shed his golden smile upon the scene, and imprinting his parting kiss upon the blushing trees and shrubs, left us to the calming influences of the night, with her deep’ning shadows and the pensive thoughts incident to the hour. As we sped across the prairie, far to the south of us, there seemed to be a line of cars, a phantom train, stationary, and sending forth bright flashes of fire along its line. It seemed to be waiting the signal to move, with its supernatural freight of shadowy forms to the land of the mythical unknown. It was the prairie on fire, but the illusion was complete, though weird and wild. At Rosenburg Junction, we saw a train of more tangible form advancing towards us, brilliantly lighted and pouring forth its dark pillar of smoke athwart the sky. It was the Santa Fe line. The train on the New York, Texas and Mexican line had just arrived, and we soon had an accession to our numbers consisting of Texas veterans en route to the annual reunion to be held this year at Belton, on the twenty-first, the anniversary of the battle of San Jacinto. There were quite a number of them accompanied by their wives from
southwestern Texas, and they were in a happy and jovial mood. Being a descendant of one of the heroes of San Jacinto, I extended the “right hand of fellowship,” and was immediately received into the ranks. On leaving, they expressed the wish that I would be with them at the next reunion. I answered, “Yes; I hope to be, if they were still living.” “Yes,” was the answer, “if we are living. But we are dropping off very fast.” As they filed out, one by one, some of them bent with age, and all of them with whitened locks and visage furrowed by the rolling years, I felt inconceivably sad with the thought that many of them would probably pass from mortal vision before another reunion. I was also feeling very young, recalling the days of my childhood, part of which had been passed in the republic among the early veterans, when a voice behind me caused me to look around. “Excuse me, madam,” said the lady, “but can you tell me where these veterans are going. I explained, adding that the gentleman, Col. Menefee, who was talking to me last, had belonged to my father’s company at the battle of San Jacinto. This led to a mutual recognition, and we found that we had once been schoolmates and afterwards passing acquaintances of society. “Why is it you did not recognize me,” I asked, “Is it because I have changed so much?” “Yes,” she replied, “you look a hundred years older than when I saw you last.” Imagine how a cabbage head feels and wilts when it is plunged in boiling water, and analyze my feelings!
The route from Columbus to Houston runs mostly across extensive prairies, now bright with emerald green and gaily blooming flowers. We cross the Colorado, East and West Bernard and Brazos rivers. Like all Texas streams they are small. The Bernard is scarcely worthy of the name. It seems a pity that the beautiful and expressive Mexican names for these streams should be abbreviated. For instance, El Brazos del Dios (which means the arms of God), is simply called the Brazos. San Bernardo (named for a Saint of the Romist calendar) is now only the Bernard. It is said that the Brazos and Colorado, in some unexplained manner, have changed names, which seems quite plausible, as the waters of the Brazos are always red, which is the meaning of Colorado. The bottom land of these rivers is unexcelled, and it seems almost incredible to learn of the depth which the alluvial soil attains. As the car passes swiftly through these strips of land, that on the Brazos being some six miles in width, they are encompassed in a growth of semi-tropical luxuriance, gigantic trees, a dense undergrowth of great variety, mingled with a tangled mass of mustang grape and trumpet vine, which makes it in places impenetrable to the eye. The extensive and highly cultivated fields sweep in level plains for miles in extent, and are now holding forth the promise of abundant yield in the excellent stand of sugar cane, cotton and corn which they display.
Herds of cattle cover the prairies, and look in the distance like various colored agates strung together.
Arrived at Houston, and not wishing to disturb my friends at that late hour, I went to the Capitol hotel for the night. This is a magnificent stone building, built by Col. Groesbeck, and the imposing and highly finished structure would be an ornament to any city. It is built on the site once owned by the Old Capitol of the Republic of Texas, when Houston was the seat of government. One seems to be in enchanted land while wandering down its long corridors, treading its marbled floors, gazing upon its frescoed walls, or being transported to upper regions in the elevator.
Its elegant adornments and handsomely furnished apartments are unexcelled, and, verily, one falls to wondering if the magicians lamp has been brought into requisition to have transformed the old building into the new.
Yet tender are the memories of the former capitol. As a child, how often have I visited it. There may be seen in real and every day life the forms of the Fathers of the Republic; men whose names are coincident with that of Texas. How often have its walls resounded to the eloquence of Thos. J. Rusk, John C. Wharton, Patrick and Wm. N. Jack, Mosely Baker, Robert C. Williamson, Grayson, Henderson, Wharton, Lamar and many others, whose names are household words in Texas. It is to the wisdom of these early patriots that we are now enjoying the blessings and freedom of this most beautiful land, o’er which the Lone Star keeps her unceasing vigil of love.
In the old capitol building was held all the religious services for the first year or two. Well ordered and attentive congregations, composed of all classes, with a large majority of the dignitaries of the land, filled the House of Representatives each Sunday, and well do I remember sitting with disciplined attention as the Rev. Mr. McCullough, first pastor of the Presbyterian church, delivered his discourse through all the divisions of firstly and secondly, down to the closing clauses of ninthly and tenthly, while the lady opposite in the blue dress and knitted reticule became so mixed up with the discourse that I am afraid the impression she made was the more lasting of the two.
In the old capitol the grand balls of the seasons were held. Although the capitol of a miniature republic, Houston held within it all the dignitaries of office, consisting of a president, vice-president, cabinet officers, members of Congress, army officers, ministers from foreign courts, with their attaches, and at that early day it could boast of a cultivated and brilliant society. Most new countries have the reputation of ruffianism. This could not be said of Houston, our capitol, where were centered the refined and elegant, the wise and noble of the land, and one would be amazed to hear of the splendid entertainments given, and handsome dresses worn in those days. Thinking of these things, carries me back with deeper retrospection to my first arrival at Houston, a child of seven years old. It was a year after the battle of San Jacinto, and a wilderness city it might have been called, the habitations being all tents and shanties, with the exception of a double log cabin, one room being occupied by Gen. Sam Houston, who very kindly vacated in behalf of my mother, and betook himself to a tent. This was my first acquaintance with this splendid man, which was destined never to be broken in life.
This state of primitive living did not continue. Houston sprang up like a mushroom, and a year after beheld the capitol built, and the people living in comfortable houses.
The Allen family form an integral part of the early history of Houston. The tract of land on which this city is built was originally owned, and the city laid out by A. C. and Jno. K. Allen. These two brothers were among the first who espoused and adhered to the war party of Texas against Mexican oppression, giving material aid in money and arms, until its victory was achieved at San Jacinto. Three other brothers settled there in its incipiency, George, Sam and Henry opening the first store. Harvey Allen, the youngest of the brothers, was by an especial act of Congress, granted the right to practice law at the age of twenty years. He was afterwards chief justice of Harris county. A number of the Allens are still living there, among whom is Mrs. A. C. Allen, the honored representative of the family. During this year, Gen. Sam Houston formed his famous treaty with the Indians, and large delegations of both men and women from all the various tribes met at Houston and entertained the citizens with their various dances and athletic sports, and delighted my childish eyes with their gay adornments of feathers, beads and ribbons, with which they were literally loaded. Houston being named after him, a few anecdotes of the general as a dancer will not be out of place. He was at that time some forty-three years of age, “six feet high, of fine proportions, with a manly and courteous bearing, and undoubtedly one of the finest-looking men of the age.” A participant in the gayeties of the season, his handsome figure was ever most conspicuous amid the brilliant throng of pleasure-seekers. I shall ever take a pardonable pride in my first escort to a ball. This was Gen. Houston, and the ball the first ever given in Houston, on the anniversary of the battle of San Jacinto. Taking me by the hand, we proceeded to the ball room in company with my parents, and Mr. (afterwards Gov.) and Mrs. Frank Lubbock. The ladies were handsomely attired in satins and laces, while Gen. Houston wore a magnificent suit of black silk velvet, and a black beaver hat surmounted by long black plumes of ostrich feathers. I was elated at his appearance, and in my childish delight cried out, “I’ve got the finest dressed man in the crowd.” The ball room was unfinished but well lighted, and all seemed to enter with zest into the gayeties of the hour. Gen. Houston and my mother opened the ball in a reel. I, being so very young, stood at the foot, having been invited by a young gentleman who could find no other partner. I had before this been taught to dance by my sable companions, Rhody and Betsy, and awaited with impatience the time when I should do credit to their instructions. At last the happy moment arrived, and having been led up and down the requisite number of times, I danced with all the energy of my being, excited by the inspiration of the music, and the admiration of the beholders. Oh, how proud and happy Rhody and Betsy would have been of their pupil could they have seen me! I looked around on the company, and found them in convulsions of laughter. Receiving this as an approval of my efforts, I danced with renewed zeal, and surely, among the incidents of the night, there was nothing that added more to the merriment of the company.
The debut of Miss Fuller in Texas was also made with this brilliant man. She was afterwards well known to the literati of the state as Mrs. M. J. Young. Soon after her arrival in the republic, a grand naval and military ball was given in Galveston, at which she was present. All who knew her acknowledged her queenly grace of figure, and beautiful countenance, heightened by the light of intellectuality. She had accepted an invitation to the first dance from a handsome young naval officer, when it was announced that Gen. Houston had entered the hall. All eyes were bent upon his commanding figure. He walked the length of the room, and, stopping in front of Miss Fuller, presented her a rose, saying, “Lady, I have brought this rose to present to the most beautiful lady in the room. May I have the pleasure of dancing the first set with you.” The young officer gracefully waived his claim, and Miss Fuller, appreciative of the honor conferred, gladly opened the ball with the hero of San Jacinto.
One more anecdote of the general will close my reminiscences of him, and his career as a dancer. After his marriage with Miss Lee, who was a member of the Baptist church, he attended a ball given in Houston on some public occasion, and approaching Mrs. A. C. Allen, well known in social circles as a leader of society (and noted for her strength of character and benevolence of heart), said to her, “Mrs. Allen, I have promised my wife to give up dancing. You and I have had many a dance together; let us make a bargain. Dance with me one more set, and let this be the last time that either of us shall ever dance.” Mrs. Allen consenting, they danced a quadrille together, which proved to be the last dance that either of them ever indulged in.
As I have mentioned my three first instructors in dancing, I feel it due to them to tell who they were, and I hope I will be pardoned this digression as it represents a phase of life now entirely passed away, of which the coming generation has no conception.
An Autobiography of Childhood—Me and Rhody and Betsy
“Me and Rhody and Betsy” were raised together. I was born in what they called the big house, and they first saw the light in a negro cabin. My home was a large house, in the midst of a cotton plantation, and surrounded by one of the largest and most beautiful flower gardens in Alabama. Theirs was a comfortable log cabin, surrounded by a beautiful grove of oaks, also on the same plantation. My mother was a young, refined and accomplished lady. Their mothers were black and shiny; one was the cook, and the other the washwoman, but there was one thing in which Betsy and I were equal—we both took in our sustenance from the same maternal fountain. Betsy’s mother was my foster-mother, or, to use her language, “she suckled me.” I, lying at her bosom in my white muslins and laces, knew no distinction between myself and Betsy, with her blue check frock and red apron. As we grew older, the distinction dawned so slowly upon us, and our respective situations were assumed so naturally that we never knew anything about it, or cared. After a while Betsy and Rhody were promoted to play with me in the big house, and, as they grew older, “to wait on de white folks.” Their duties consisted in the winter time in lighting grandpa’s pipe, and winding balls of yarn to knit, and in the summer in “toting water” from the spring, and handing it around in dippers, in threading grandma’s needles, and running up and down stairs on errands. Most of the time they played with me, running up and down the garden walks, which were very long with avenues of cedar and wild peach, with occasionally clusters of trees, and now and then a large, old-fashioned arbor, where we would sit and tell tales.
Oh! what wonderful tales Rhody and Betsy could tell about Mr. Fox, Mr. Hare, Mr. Rabbit, and the old wolf that “shigeles-hogeled” the piggy’s house down. The dramatic earnestness and pathos of the story-tellers were only equalled by the wide-eyed wonder and perfect faith of the listener. Then we would dance (in summer) under the grove of cedars, which stood eight in a circle, where the robins built their nests, and the young birds would peep over to look at us. How we would dance! We needed no music save that of the feathered songsters, and our own little piping notes. Rhody and Betsy taught me how to dance. I had never seen any one dance, but they had. They had gone down to the quarters on Saturday nights, and they would come home full of enthusiasm about “how de folks did dance, and Uncle Sambo played de fiddle, and how Kizzy outstood all de rest.” And how did Kizzy dance? “Stan’ out dar; we’ll show you.” So I took my first lessons in dancing, with Kizzy as a model, the principal steps being to jump up as high as possible, crossing my feet, and occasionally whirling around. Oh, the dear old days with Rhody and Betsy! Were they really perfect days? or does the long lapse of years throw a golden veil of enchantment over the past? Yea; they were perfect days, and a true history of childhood life on a prosperous Southern plantation, from the happy hours spent in paddling in the branch, over which hung crimson canopies of the long-drooping fusia-like flowers, which Rhody and Betsy called lady’s ear-drops, to playing the piano in the parlor, where I delighted my listeners, and particularly my dark-skinned attendants, with songs of “Jocko, the Fifer’s Son,” “Hush, Miss Mary,” and many others of a like character. Frequently some of the family went riding in the old-fashioned round-topped carriage, which swung like a great ball above the wheels. Perched high on his airy seat sat the driver, filled with the dignity and importance of his position. Then when he would flourish his whip, and the horses start gaily off, how delighted I would be to see Rhody and Betsy clinging to the seat behind, their black legs keeping pace with the horses, and they evidently more delighted with the ride than the occupants within.
To return to my trip to Houston: On noting the wonderful changes that have taken place in Houston during the last forty-six years, it is almost impossible for one to realize that the old and new city is identical, yet there are many landmarks that are recognizable. Houston, with her large population, being a railroad centre, with her public enterprise and cultured society, ought to be a just source of pride to the people of the state. She has among her modern acquisitions extensive water works, a well organized fire department, and the electric light, whose scintillating brightness charms the eye, and gives brilliancy to the city.
During my trip to Houston I visited the residence of Col. Nathan Fuller, which had been the home of Mrs. M. J. Young for forty years of her life. This lady, well known throughout Texas, was the daughter of Col. Fuller. This was my first visit there since her beautiful spirit had taken its flight from the scene which she had once brightened and hallowed by her presence. She had been the companion of my girlhood, and the cherished friend of my afterlife. Sad and tender were my thoughts, as I approached the well-known mansion, surrounded by its beautiful garden, now glowing with its profusion of flowers, amidst which a fountain threw up its diamond-like spray, and sprinkled the grateful shrubs with refreshing showers. I stood for a while by the garden-fence, watched the goldfish, as they floated upon the surface of the aquarium, and sought the favorite flowers of her who had so carefully tended them. All things seemed to speak of her, and I almost expected to see her white-robed figure moving along the garden walk. To Houstonians this must be ever a cherished spot, made sacred by the memory of her whose life, spent in their midst, was given to noble works—a blessing to all who came within her influence.
Mrs. M. J. Young
“Mrs. Young, being so truly a daughter of the South, it need scarcely be added that she was true to the traditions of her race in the late struggle. During the war her pen, guided by the thrilling impulse of her soul, dropped words of comfort and songs of fire that soothed the soul and inspired the hearts of her countrymen from the “Potomac to the Rio Grande.” The 5th Regiment of “Hood’s Texas Brigade” sent their worn and bloody flag home to her, after it had been covered with glory on a hundred battle fields. She was enshrined in thousands of stern, true hearts, under the title of “Confederate Lady,” and “The Soldier’s Friend.”
The writer of this sketch is reluctant to leave her pleasant task without making some mention of the sweet atmosphere of sympathy and feeling which emanated from and surrounded Mrs. Young in her social and private life, and of the brilliant light which her genius shed upon those who came in immediate contact with her. Not only were her conversational powers incomparable and her manners perfect, but she had that silent tact and ready understanding, which brought forth the best that was in those about her, and made them feel, after leaving her, that they have themselves shone in truer and sweeter colors than their every day guise. She was enveloped in incense from grateful hearts day by day; she was the “Comforter,” the “Christian,” to those who came within her orbit. In her town and in the country surrounding no bride was pleased with the adjustment of her orange blossoms, unless Mrs. Young’s fingers had helped to arrange them; no school boy satisfied with his prize unless she had smiled upon it. Grief came to be folded to her heart, and happiness begged for her smile. She had drank herself, most deeply, at the cup of sorrow; she had been scorched by the flames of affliction; but she had risen refreshed and strong from the bitter draught; she had come out brightened and purified “even as refined gold” from the heat of the furnace.
While in Houston I visited Glenwood, in company with the mother and sister of Mrs. Young. This beautiful resting place for the dead is about a mile from the city. Entering the enclosure, we proceeded down a wide walk, cut through the dense wood, and bordered with a hedge of California privet, now in full bloom. A deep gorge, spanned by a bridge, intersected our walk, and looking down through the almost impenetrable foliage, we could see the streamlet, with its overhanging ferns and flowers that sought the trembling shadows, winding its silent way into the bayou beyond.
On crossing the bridge, we entered the cemetery proper, a lovely garden extending through many acres, adorned with hedges of arbor vitea, cape jessamines, pettis porum and wild peach, all of which were kept trimmed down to the regulation height of some two and a half or three feet. Here and there solitary cedars and junipers and pines, with wide-spread branches, like candelabras, holding aloft their tapering candles, reared their tall forms amidst the white marbled city of the dead. The very air was redolent with the perfume of roses and jessamine. Naught but the ecstatic song of the mocking-bird woke the silence. I reached the grave of my friend, now green with the grassy turf planted over it, around which flourished a luxuriant border of ivy. At its head was a queenly rose in full bloom, a fit emblem of her who rested there.
Though tempered with sadness, it is an exquisite pleasure to wander in this beautiful spot, so handsomely adorned and carefully tended, and as I strolled along its shaded walks, where light and shadow alternately played, or wandered among its more newly opened paths, bright with its profusion of flowers, I felt that this was a meet place for the reassembling of the spirits of those whose bodies were planted here, and that, perchance, their presence might now be nigh to lend their hallowed influence to the scene. Many names, engraved in marble, recalled the early denizens of Houston, among them the Allens, Gray, Van Alstin, Burke, Cushing, House and Baker. At every turn I seemed to meet with some almost forgotten acquaintance of the past. And as I looked upon the little spot of earth, all that was allotted to the mortal remains of those who had once been the talented, brave, gay and lovely of earth, my heart echoed the words of Mrs. Hemans:
“Alas! for love, if this be all,
And nought beyond, oh, earth!”
Many of the marbles are handsome, and some of them imposing. One at the grave of the late Mrs. J. W. Johnson, daughter of the distinguished Texian, Gail Borden, is highly artistic in design and execution. This piece of work was executed in Italy, and afterwards exhibited at our Centennial. Under an elegantly wrought marble canopy stands the Angel of the Resurrection. In her right hand, she holds the dread trumpet, inverted and silent, while in her left are the immortal flowers of asphodel and amaranth. The figure is beautifully poised, and its attitude graceful and expectant.
What adds much to the attractions of Glenwood is the custom of decorating the graves on Saturday, that they may be fresh and bright on the ensuing Sunday, at which time it is visited by numbers of persons from the city. It is hard to leave this lovely place where a person can scarcely realize that they are in Texas, so completely have its artistic plans been carried out. But my article has already grown too long. One other tomb I hope I will be forgiven for mentioning. It is that of my parents. Not in Glenwood; but in the secluded and shaded Episcopal cemetery, where, with filial hands, I placed my offering of flowers. Under the silent cedars may be read, engraved on the marble slab, this inscription:
In memory of
Our Father and Our Mother,
Mosely Baker and Eliza W. Baker,
Who rest here.
I started on my return trip on San Jacinto day. The morning was just what an April morn should have been—at one moment bright with sunshine, and the next dimmed with the misty tears of a passing shower. As our train entered the long stretch of prairie, which led towards the battle ground, I looked to see if I could discern the line of timber which marked the locality, but a misty veil shut it from sight. No sound of strife awoke the still calmness of morn, but far away the veterans were holding their glad reunion; and now where the setting sun gilds the swift waters of the Rio Grande, Texas stretches her right hand to clasp with fraternal greeting that of her former foe, Mexico.
5. Over the Sunset Route (published in Texas Siftings, October 20, 1883; reprinted in Colorado Citizen, December 13, 1883)
The cars are speeding through an undulating country devoid of trees. My first impression was that I was at sea, the dim light revealing billowy-looking hills which rose far back into the horizon. We are beginning to pass through deep cuts among the hills, and now a scene of surpassing beauty opens upon us. We are on the bank of the Rio Grande, a mountain of rock above us, a bluff of from two to three hundred feet below. Our car is traversing a narrow ledge barely wide enough for the railroad—not wide enough for the telegraph poles to be placed alongside of it—and we look down on them many feet below, where they are planted on the rocky bluff. This ledge is equidistant from base to summit, of a perpendicular wall of rock. Looking upward, we see only rock towering two or three hundred feet, and interspersed with numerous caves and great boulders, which seem, in some places, suspended above us. Looking down, we behold the Rio Grande, swift and strong, making its way through the deep canyon, while on its opposite bank a wall of pictured rock rises grandly to a height of from five to six hundred feet. Words can not express the wonderful beauty of this magnificent scene. For fifteen miles the cars rapidly traverse the seemingly perilous pathway overlooking an awful precipice; but to the traveler all thoughts of fear are lost in the overwhelming emotions of wonder and admiration. And this is the Rio Grande!—the river of historic memories—the line which separates two nations. The Rio Grande traversed by a railroad! that river which to us of the past seemed so far away, hidden among its mountains, the visionary, the unattainable; the river which our heroes of the frontier had sought with longing eyes and wearied hearts, and which, when after painful journeyings they had found, refreshed them with its cooling waters, and, in the exceeding loveliness of its scenery, compensated them for all the privations they had undergone.
It would be a vain task to attempt to describe this magnificent journey along the mountain side, overlooking this deep canyon. To attempt to do so, would be only to detract from its glory. The mountain ledge traversed by the railroad is, in several places, intersected by deep canyons, now dry, but bearing evidence of the flood of mighty waters and cataracts which, in past ages, cut great fissures through these mountains of rock. Iron bridges span them, and far below these we look down on the tops of tall trees that grow beneath.
The Rio Grande runs close to the opposite wall of the canyon. This wall of dark-gray rock forms a continuous panorama of beauty and changing forms. Old time has painted the rocks with a ground-work of every shade, from black, dark and light gray to white, which throws out the warm colors of red, yellow and green, in bright relief. Nature has lent her hand to this work of decoration, and brightened with her graceful foliage the never-to-be-forgotten scene of grandeur and beauty. Our train passes through two long tunnels which shut the world of light from view. How dark—how intensely dark—does it seem in these tunnels, buried as we are in the very womb of the earth! When we first entered them the wide arch of the opening gave a dim light into the interior; but now all is pitch dark save where we pass openings cut in the sides to admit air and a little occasional light. What wonderful engineering skill it must have taken to have projected the road along that difficult path! Now we emerge from the tunnel, and again bursts upon us (we can only use superlatives in this country of grandeur) the sublime, the inexpressibly lovely and magnificent scene. The crowning beauty of this point is where the swift and strong Pecos comes rushing through its deep canyon to join the Rio Grande. At this junction the walls of the canyon reach their highest altitude. There is a quiet majesty mingled with the grandeur and ruggedness of the scene. Crossing the iron bridge which spans the stupendous canyon, we look with awe to the mountain of rock on either side and down the Pecos river, seemingly dwindled to a small stream, from the great height from which we survey it. As we pass, two fisherman in a boat are rowing upon its surface. They are perfectly defined, but the boat seems only a foot in length, and the men mere toys within it. How often, through the centuries, have the words spontaneously burst from other lips which at this moment spring from mine, “Muy grande! muy bonita!” Surely there can be nothing more worthy of the artist’s brush or the photographer’s skill than is to be found in this meeting of the waters, this marriage which mingles two important streams into one, a meeting where nature has consummated her grandest work to celebrate this union of majesty and beauty.
We stop a few moments at Painted Cave, an immense cavern far above us in the mountain side, in the interior of which the Seminole Indians had painted in various colors the forms of animals, serpents and weapons. A widened part of the ledge affords room here for an encampment of Chinese, who elicited a good deal of interest from the passengers. As they are all small of stature, and wear long, loose saques, have their hair tucked up, and carry fans, I thought they were women, and inquired where were the men, but was reprovingly told that these were all men, and that the women were never brought here.
From Eagle’s Nest, consisting of a house with one room only, the cars rapidly advance into a rugged country, the hills rising like great cones far in the distance. For many miles the road seems to traverse the line of a once mighty but now extinct river, with its waterline distinctly marked on the strata of rocks along its banks. The hills are barren of trees, but here in this desolate region is the true home of the cactus. The rocks abound with numerous varieties of cacti family. That which grows in greatest profusion has its base formed like a pine-apple, from which spring tufts of serrated leaves, while from the center rise tall stems from two to four feet in height, bearing the flower and fruitage of the plant. Another very abundant variety throws outward and upward great arms of succulent branches, which, at first glance, give the impression that the whole land is infested with hydra-headed serpents. This wild, mountainous and barren region seems devoid of all animal life. Not even a bird is to be seen; naught but the hills of rock, the cacti and the trough of the dead river, whose very name is forgotten, but through which poured the waters which once rested over the land, the ocean flood, which has left its mute witness in shells upon the hill-tops, and in the great basin of the Rio Grande. This dead waste, so vast in extent, makes one fall to peopling it with mythological beings. There might have been the play-ground of the Titans, and these great boulders of rock the balls which they threw and caught in their mighty hands. The road, not only here, but all the way to El Paso, is remarkable for the tortuous course among the hills and valleys, making many perfect horse-shoe curves.
Our route winds nearly all the way to El Paso through a natural highway between the mountains that rise in continuous chains on either hand, and which, projected ages ago, was traversed by Indians, the pioneer engineers of the route before it was utilized by the stage companies which, in their turn, have disappeared at the shrill cry of the locomotive.
The round hills which form the foot of the Chinati mountains are growing higher. Some of them, grim wardens of the land, clothed in their armor of rock, and towering high above the rest, look afar to the blue mountains of Mexico. Beautiful are soft, blue outlines of mountains which hover along the bank of the Rio Grande, and once this morning we have been blessed with a sight of the river, rising a bright mirage upon the distant horizon. Solemn and grand are the mountains near us, on which we trace, in their “basso relievos” of various colored rock, towers, castles and cottages, fortressed cities, and caverns which penetrate deep in their stern and rugged sides; stern and beautiful, even in their desolation. The trees and shrubs, which gradually become more stunted, have now disappeared.
Leaving Sanderson, the wonderful panorama of mountain scenery increases in grandeur and sublimity. The long, high range of the Chinati mountains lift their tall peaks through the pure atmosphere towards the sky of cerulean blue. Light clouds of silvery whiteness float above them; their white rocks, which have won for them the title of Las Sierras Blancas, reflecting the brilliant sunbeams, and making it difficult to gaze upon them continuously.
From Naxon’s Springs, the country grows more verdant with trees, and shrubs reach far up the mountain side; the valleys are carpeted with richest green; herds of antelopes, fat cattle, and droves of horses are seen, and the cacti have not wholly disappeared, but mingled with other and more luxuriant growth. The mountains of white rock have given place to more lofty ones, and the immense rocks which cover their sides and crown their majestic heads are of russet red. Going down into the valley of San Francisco we watch the receding mountains. I have learned a few of their names: this is Santa Rosa, and that is the Bishop’s Mitre; those three tall peaks are El Trinidad, while the one near us is Santa Cruz—names which show the religious cast of thought of the former inhabitants of the land. On this last mountain a well-defined cross is observed near the summit, and our hearts swell with emotion when we behold how nature’s own hand planted in the ages long passed away this emblem of the Christian’s faith. As I said before, we have been a whole day viewing a continuous panorama of what seemed to be sculptured forms in the rocks. One which particularly attracted attention is a train of cars seemingly winding around the mountain side. So perfect is the illusion that one could scarcely believe that the whole was only rock, which, however, is proven when the train, making one of its wonderful curves, changes its position, and the optical illusion is changed into its original form of immense boulders projecting from the mountain side. But had the Indian seers who once inhabited this land, translated this prophetic page of hieroglyphics, they could have foretold the coming of civilization, and the wonderful revolution now being made in the building up of the country by the extension of the Sunset route. Looking at the verdant growth thro’ which we are now passing, reminds me that even in the most arid portions of the way, the moral kingdom is not without representatives, suiting its growth to the character of the soil and climate. Among the rocks and sterile soil it placed the cactus and Spanish dagger; now, when some little moisture is held in low places, the floweret raises its lowly head and brightens the solitude; and now, as a streamlet winds along the valley, you can plainly mark its course by the rushes of emerald green and fields of rose-colored flowers that grow, profusely along its way.
The valleys continue to grow more verdant, and the mountains higher, while in the distance, as the sun gradually declines, the shadows creeping up their sloping sides assume deepest blue, and we look forward in the far distance to those dark blue peaks which speak of more perfect beauty, as we look into the future with longing hearts for the realization of some happiness which we have never been able to grasp in the present; and when attained, would not the halo with which our own romance invested it be dispelled, and we left with a harsh and repelling realism in our embrace?
In this instance of scenery, however, one is not doomed to disappointment. We are now at the foot of the long and high range of mountains that were seen so many miles away, with their blue peaks lifted up in the pure ether of cerulean loveliness. Most impenetrable, almost insurmountable, seem those massive hills which shut out the vision from the confines of Mexico. These mountains are now magnificent in proportion to their size, and contain green and fertile valleys. Through the vista of one is seen Fort Davis, a mere speck on the side of its blue and distant hill.
We have now reached the crowning point of the road, the Pass Anna, the highest elevation between New Orleans and San Francisco, being slightly over five thousand feet above the level of the sea. Winding through this picturesque canyon, the gloriously beautiful mountains loom up on each side, extending far away into the vista, those near us clothed with delicate tints of green, dotted with trees of deeper hue, and crowned with reddish-colored rocks, which time—nature’s enchanting artist—has adorned with colors of emerald, gray and crimson, and which, with the hand of a sculptor, she has arranged in statuesque groupings of every fantastic and imaginable form. The road winds completely around the highest and sharpest peak along the route, and, in many tortuous curves, traverses a luxuriant valley, through which courses a stream along whose banks herds of cattle are grazing. Now the country becomes more level, while to the right and left one sees only occasional mountains in the far distance. Farewell to Pass Anna, the beautiful valley, with its pure mountain air!
The evening shades are fast sifting down upon us, while from under the great boulder of cloud which hangs low over the horizon, the sum gleams out with unusual brightness, throwing up great bars of golden light, and as it sinks, leaving the scene to the amaranthine tints of evening. Purple shadows drift across mountain and prairie, leaving the world peaceful and serene, and the mind at rest from all the tumult of joy and admiration it had unceasingly experienced from the early dawn, when we behold the wonderful vision of the Rio Grande, to this hour of quiet repose in the lovely evening of summer-land in Texas.
6. El Paso, and El Paso del Norte (published in Texas Siftings, October 27, 1883)
7. Autobiography of Childhood: The Journey to Texas (prose, with three verse insertions (see item number 57, “Cedar Grove” in the poetry section of this catalog), published in Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 5, November 1883, with an editor’s note: “All the poetry in this is original.” The Mrs. Winkler to whom the piece refers was Mrs. Clinton McKamy (Angelina V.) Winkler, the editor of Texas Prairie Flower. A note in Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 7, January 1884, states: “Our contributor, Mrs. Fannie A. D. Darden, of Columbus, Texas, whose writings are so pleasingly familiar to Texas people, has been deterred, by severe physical suffering, from continuing her “Reminiscences of Early Days in Texas.” As soon as she recovers her health again, she will entertain our readers in her graceful, happy style.”)
It is with some delicacy that I undertake to relate my early personal experiences in Texas, as it seems to savor of egotism, but at Mrs. Winkler’s request I have consented to recall some of the youthful passages of my life. They contain, I am sorry to say, little of interest to the public, save only so far as to give an idea of the state of the society at that time. A slight account of my journey to Texas brings in strong contrast the mode of traveling in 1837 and the present era. I was seven years old, that bleak wintry morning, when with my mother I took my departure from that happy home, which I have described in my sketch of “Rhody and Betsy.” That home which was my birthplace, was called Cedar Grove.
Under the cedars a babe was born,
Just at the break of a Sunday morn,
Out of the struggling dark and gloom,
The light, and the babe to the world had come,
Under the waving cedars.
Under the cedars the infant grew,
Waked with the morn, and slept with the dew,
Grew with the flowers in the trembling light
That streamed through boughs from skies ever bright,
Gleaming through the shadowy cedars.
But a dark day came when the years had sped,
When the summer bright with the South wind fled,
And the wintry winds through the branches wild.
Bitterly swept ‘round the weeping child,
Weeping beneath the cedars.
’Twas the hour of parting, the hour of tears,
Typing the unborn, sorrowing years
That came to her in a distant land,
Where the ocean swept ‘round a sunny strand
Afar from the waving cedars.
Under the cedars we parted. I must not tell of the bitter tears that were shed at that parting. I was too young to realize the deep gravity of that hour or the momentous step then taken. I shed my childish tears in sympathy with the anguished tears of my mother, and my grandparents, wondering at this unwonted display of grief. Texas was then an almost unknown country, a far away, foreign land. The stars and stripes did not wave there, but a strange insignia, an isolated star twinkled in feeble light above it. When I was folded for the last time to the tender heart of my gentle grand-mother, when Betsy and Rhody had screamed their last goodbye, when we were driven to the landing on the Alabama river, and the boat puffing out her long column of smoke bore us away, inexorably away from my grand-father, so loved, so honored, who stood to gaze after us upon the bluff, his silver hair tossed by the wintry wind, I became an alien. Years intervened ere I returned to the beautiful home of my childhood. When we left New Orleans where we had waited for two weeks for a vessel to sail, we embarked on the brig Eldorado, which was towed to the Balize by a tug, and left to float at her own good pleasure on the tossing deep. One brig contained a small, close cabin with curtained berths, a dining table in the center of it, which our gallant and burly captain hospitably presided, waited on by a shock-headed cabin boy, whose bristling locks were an index to the combative spirit which animated his small physique. An immense bandbox swinging like a pendulum from the top of the cabin, varying its monotonous motion with an occasional jerk and lunge. Never can that bandbox be erased from my memory. It has long since, I know, resolved itself into its original elements, but it is indelibly photographed on my mental vision. I was blessed with a minute’s view of its contents, as the gentleman who was taking it to his sister, took it out carefully, to show it to the lady passengers. It was an immense, blue silk bonnet with wide flaring brim, and high crown, trimmed with a profusion of ribbons, white lace, and pink roses. To me it seemed to be the very perfection of color, and artistic structure. When we were on the gulf, it was only the memory of that bonnet which made the sickening swinging of that bandbox endurable, this coupled with the knowledge that at some future time it would delight the heart of that sister who was to be its happy possessor.
As our brig floated down the Mississippi, towed by the steaming and panting, black tug, we passed far-stretching plantations, elegant villas and orange groves, and once we stopped to take in a supply of the golden fruit. As I stood leaning against the bulwarks I was approached by a fellow passenger, a little girl about my own age, who told me that she inhabited the hold of the vessel. I opened my eyes in wonder at her account of that delightful quarterage, where she told me her mother did her own cooking, but it seemed awfully black and dismal, looking down through the square hole into its cavern of Plutonian darkness. We afterwards entered into an animated discussion of the respective merits of tea and coffee, and the great advantage of sugar and milk therein, and agreed on this one point, that the more sugar it contained the more palatable the beverage. She introduced me to her three brothers, Shadrac, Meshec, and Abednigo. I had heard of these wonderful characters before, and recognized in them immediately the veritable personages of the fiery furnace, as related in Scripture. I was delighted to see them, and studied them with attention. Shadrac, the oldest of the three, had yellow tawny locks, Meshec’s were white, while Abednigo’s hair was flaming red. This last set me to meditating, and as I was unable to elucidate the matter to myself I asked the possessor of the fiery locks: “Bedingo, did your hair get scorched when you went through the fiery furnace?” Instead of giving me the information for which I was seeking, he looked mortally offended and walked off to the hold. When evening came on we entered the Balize and as I leaned over to look at the waves, for the tide was now in, the wind took off my silken hood and placed it on the head of a crested billow, which bore it away with pride to the waiting ocean. When night drifted upon us, our ship was ploughing the briny waves, a fiery pathway streamed far behind us, the land had vanished, and we were launched on the heaving gulf. We were ten days at sea after leaving the Balize, ere we arrived at Galveston. During all this time I was very sick. Our kind hearted captain would take me in his arms and carrying me up the gangway would place me on the little cot which was prepared for me on deck, where I would lie and look at the great billows rolling incessantly, one after the other, an eternal rolling without intermission, and the ship keeping motion with the waves, kept alive that sickening nausea which with me could not be checked. During all that time I ate nothing. One afternoon the man at the masthead announced that a strange ship was approaching us. As Mexico had not recognized the independence of Texas, there was danger to be apprehended from that quarter. Our ship was mounted with cannon and all hands prepared for action. The stranger which turned out to be a French vessel, approached very near, so near that I plainly saw the figurehead at her bow. The captains of the respective ships saluted through speaking trumpets, and each sailed quietly on its course.
Another time my mother called my attention to the waves. The captain had said that a storm was coming. I looked to starboard and saw afar a mountain of water, apparently approaching our ship, its immense bulk illumined with a yellowish light from the declining sun, as it came rolling in majestic grandeur towards us. The passengers were ordered below, the hatchways were closed down upon us, and ere we could realize the full sense of our danger, the wind came in one fierce tornado, and the huge wave poured its mountain of water over our ship which was struggling for life in the boiling cauldron of howling winds, and roaring waters. She was but a plaything for the giant waves that tossed her now in the trough of the sea, now on the crest of the billow. Dark was the night, so dark that it was painful in its blackness. In the cabin there were pale faces, and anxious hearts, where but an hour ago was laughter and careless merriment. During the whole of that night the storm raged, and among the passengers silence reigned supreme, broken only by one question and answer. A lady cried out to her brother, “what shall we do, brother N?” “Trust in the Lord, little sister,” was the answer. I lay that night in the berth with a young lady whose lips moved continually in prayer. The trust reposed in that mighty and faithful power was not in vain, and as day began to break, the morning star in fresh and smiling beauty, looked brightly down upon our rescued ship. We were driven out of our course to a point near Matagorda bay. We were in two storms during our voyage, but the Eldorado was a good ship, and on the morning of the eleventh day I was carried on deck to look at Galveston. Yes, there it lay, long, and low, an emerald gem on the far sweeping ocean. There was only one house upon it, which was on the east end, and which was used as a fort. About a hundred tents and huts situated further back, contained the Mexican prisoners who were guarded there. The island was occupied by a hundred Texian troops, who garrisoned the place. Our brig did not cross the bar, but was anchored outside and she lay rolling in the waves while hundreds of porpoises floated around her. At last the wished-for order to land was given, the passengers were assisted down the side of the vessel by our faithful and hardy sailors, and placed in a yawl in which we were safely conveyed to the island. As we neared the shore the water became so shallow that our boat could not reach the strand, so the ladies were taken up by the sailors and carried ashore. Some of the officers who inhabited the fort had waded out to meet the boat, and Col. Morehead, acting commandant, dressed in handsome naval uniform, picked me up and carried me ashore. I was very much alarmed as he had about a hundred yards to wade through the shallow water, and asked him if we would not be “drownded.” He very quietly and encouragingly quieted my fears and told me that he would take care of me. The passengers were cordially received and welcomed by the Texian soldiers. We rested here for some hours, waiting for a boat to convey us to the mainland. The fort being on the extreme east end of the island was encircled in front by the beach, which was at that time literally covered with shells. I was permitted to go on the beach, but seeing some Mexican prisoners standing around I was afraid to venture, but Col. Morehead tried to encourage me by saying that they had no arms. I looked at them in order to verify this assertion, but I was not to be deceived. I had seen the woman who had no arms, and who could cut such wonderful things in paper with her toes. So I assured him that he must be mistaken as I saw them very plainly myself. So he led me past them, and I found myself in magic land. That wonderful beach! A belt of shining sand covered with shells! Never had I seen any thing like this. I had owned a few shells, treasures carefully kept, but to gather them in my arms, to fill my hat to overflowing with them, to throw away some that I might pick up prettier ones, was like a fairy tale, and the shells, more valuable to me, than diamonds, and pearls which would have been revealed by the Fairy’s magic wand. Then the waves rolling and dashing at my feet, leaving the white wreathes of foam on the shore, their grand and deep voice chanting forever in solemn songs of praise! The years have passed, but still that glorious voice, its tuneful anthem sings, but many hands have culled the shells, and now only a few are found where once they were thickly strewn, or piled in snowy heaps along the wave-swept shore. Galveston island had been successively under the control of Mexicans and freebooters from the year 1816, Lafitte having abandoned it in 1821, but there was no vestige of any habitation left upon it by its former occupants. Save the fort and the tents of prisoners, it presented a long, low, and desolate stretch of land, and yet in one year from that time it was almost a city.
That afternoon we took a small sail boat and resumed our journey. I was again very sick as our little boat danced and rolled on the bay, but after we had crossed Red Fish Bar, we sailed smoothly on, and on. Reaching the mainland the passengers were regaled with some fresh milk, which they all declared was a feast for royalty itself. Many years have passed but when I recall that time I can still taste that milk, and have never seen any since that compared with it. At night we reached Spillman’s island which is at the junction of San Jacinto and Galveston bays, where we passed the night in a house consisting of one room, curtained off into apartments, and early the next morning after a breakfast taken under the boughs of a spreading tree, our sails were again spread and we resumed our journey. The bay here is very beautiful, being thickly interspersed with small islands all of which are crowned with cedar and margined with beaches of shells of snowy whiteness. This lovely scene in tranquil beauty lies:
Beneath the glowing sun, where shadows thrown,
From many tinted clouds a picture fair
Hath limned, within lands gaily decked in green,
And bright hued flowers, with a cincture rare
Of snowy shells, from whose bright banks between
The waters play, then sweeping swiftly on,
They rush with loud complaining to the shore.
The mainland spread out in prairies of richest green, dotted with motts of trees, and in a short time we entered the San Jacinto river which empties into the bay. When the morning sun had fully started on his daily round we were at the memorable battle fields of San Jacinto. Here the passengers landed and soon we stood on that historic spot and gazed upon the seven graves of those patriots who were slain in the battle. It was scarcely a year since the sanguinary conflict had taken place in which the small band of Texians with trailed rifles marched in silence but with hearts resolved to meet Santa Anna with his choice legions of Tampico and Zacatecas. But theirs was but the “silence which preceded the tornado” for when from Houston came, in a voice ringing over the plain, “fire!” with deafening shouts of “charge! charge! for your country: Remember the Alamo!” they rushed upon the foe, renting and scattering them in utter and dire confusion. Texas was saved. On this morning when our party of travelers stood there, all was peaceful and serene. Spring had covered over every mark of conflict with verdant grass and blooming flowers. The air was fresh and balmy. This spring just passed I commemorated this little episode of my childhood in the following verses:
On the prairies’s green vest, broidery of gold,
Gleams forth and entrances me quite,
For the past sweeps aside its curtain’s deep fold,
And a scene rises fair to the sight.
A scene on the bank of a river, where sweeps
San Jacinto’s broad plain, and where waves
The bright golden lupine, the flower which keeps
Its watch o’er the slain soldier’s graves.
They were seven in number, the graves which the sun,
In the early morn burnished with gold
One year from the battle its circle had run,
And I, only seven years old.
There I gathered one flower which grew o’er the breast
Of a hero, and placed it on mine.
And I still hold it there in the place of its rest,
Blooming gaily, in memory’s shrine.
We continued our journey alternately sailing and rowing, and night found us at Patterson’s a few miles below Harrisburg where we stayed, and the next day brought us to Harrisburg. Here the passengers waited and rested, for several days, when the little steamboat Laura came puffing up the bayou, and we again started for our final destination, Houston. This little boat, narrow and propelled by only a wheel at the stern, was continually swept by the overhanging boughs of trees and she seemed to be cutting her way into the very heart of the forest, so dark and dense was the growth, and so narrow and tortuous the bayou on which she sped her course. The trees and shrubs which were in season for flowering, were in full bloom. The dog-wood, flowering-ash, and red-bud swept low over the guards of the boat, so that the passengers could easily gather them, and once a great limb tore away a part of the guards near which I was standing, and from which I was quickly drawn by my father, in time to prevent my being carried overboard. In a few hours we reached Houston, then a city of tents and shanties, with the presidential mansion, a double log cabin, where we rested, and where for the present, dear reader, you and I will rest also.
8. Reminiscences of Early Childhood in Texas (published in Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 9, March 1884 (part 1), and Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 10, April 1884 (part 2); part 1 reprinted in Texas Division United Daughters of the Confederacy Directory 1922 Minutes 1921 [alternate title: Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth Annual Convention (Report of 1921) of the Texas Division United Daughters of the Confederacy]; this text incorporates some variations which appeared the 1922 printing)
Looking back through all the long years which have intervened since my advent into Texas, the scenes which rise to my view in all their freshness, are fraught with mingled feelings of pleasure and sadness. My recollections are placed in that semi-quiet period between the Texas revolution and the summer of ’42, at which time I returned to Alabama. The home of my parents in Texas was, for the first three years, in two places—in Houston during the winter, and during the summer in Galveston. When our first home in Houston was built it consisted of five rooms, built of poles and clapboards, and though rude of structure, was comfortably furnished and carpeted. Our kitchen was a shed covered with boughs of trees. But though our house was small, the four grown servants whom we had kept busy waiting upon and providing the cuisine for the numerous guests with which it was always filled; for in those days Texas hospitality was a proverb, and in no house was it more exercised than in our own. Our table glistened with cut glass, china and silverware, among which last was an elegant pitcher of antique mould and finish, belonging to general Sam Houston, and presented to him in commemoration of his gallant services at the battle of San Jacinto. This pitcher he gave as a conditional present to my mother. It was hers until he married, which event he was not contemplating at the time.
Within a stone’s throw from us was General Houston’s new house, built also of poles and clapboards, and the residence of Major Frank Lubbock, Colonel Barnard E. Bee and Colonel A. C. Allen. As the seat of government had been removed to Houston, many of the distinguished sons of the republic are familiar to my memory, meeting them, as I often did, at my father’s house. Dear are the recollections which their names recall, while the advantage of their brilliant wit and conversation was inestimable, even to a child so young as myself. The Mexican prisoners were not returned to Mexico until late in thirty-seven. Their shanties, where they were encamped, were nightly the scenes of festivity. How vividly does my memory recall those fantastic, though graceful fandangos, danced before the camp fires, which lighted up the scene with flickering flame, and gave an almost mysterious wildness to the gay dancers “dancing in tune,” and anon bringing forth the sombre form of some spectator hovering in the surrounding obscurity. The Texas soldiers had lately been disbanded, and many of them hung idly around the place, waiting some ship to bear them back to the “States,” which they had so lately left with the adventurous spirit of youth, while hastening to the succor of Texas. In those days the patriotic spirit was rife in Houston. The Lone Star flag, with its white and red bars, waved in her midst, and the constantly recurring theme of the revolution was on every tongue. On the day of the memorable ball, when I made my first debut as a dancer, an oration was delivered at the hall by my father. He was near the close of his speech when I entered the room. I was only a child of seven years, but I have never forgotten; nay, never could forget, the thrilling, the stirring, the profoundly earnest feeling evoked in my little breast, when the sentence feel upon my ear in eloquence of voice and manner indescribable, “Remember the Alamo.” This he repeated three times and the audience as with one heart throbbed back the answer, “Remember the Alamo.” Upon the audience, with the butchery of the Alamo fresh in their memories, and with some, perchance, among them whose unhealed wounds were bleeding for some loved one who had fallen among that martyred band, these words feel with telling effect. The dirge-like strain which swept over the chords of every heart at the remembrance of that appalling tragedy, when Travis and his little band, with the shout of heroes, laid down their lives for Texas, mingled with exultant emotions produced by the thought of that hour of victory when, on San Jacinto’s field, the Texans hurled themselves upon the foe with the vengeful cry, “Remember the Alamo!”
Part of that summer we spent in Galveston, and in this short space of six months, there had been erected a hotel, some stores and a number of dwellings. In the fall of thirty-seven we moved to a place about four miles from Houston, which was afterwards known as the Lamar place, General Lamar making it his residence during his administration as president of the republic.
The winter of 1838 was very severe. A large number of cattle died, and a heavy sleet did great damage to the trees. My mother had the only piano in Houston at this time. I remember one day, in the following spring when the doors and windows were open, that my mother was seated at the piano trying some new pieces of music which she had lately received. I was standing at her side, when, happening to turn around, I saw standing in the doorway, and looking eagerly in at the open windows, many Indians—men, women and children, all deeply absorbed by the music. I involuntarily uttered an exclamation of alarm at this unexpected and unusual sight, but my mother very calmly and quietly arose and advanced towards them. But this they would not permit. With vehement gestures, they motioned her to continue playing, saying “Baba sheelah,” to quiet our fears. My mother again sat down at the piano and played a long time. Surely no mansion ever had a more attentive audience. They stood there absorbed, entranced by the music, motionless and, apparently, forgetful of all else, save those strains which so possessed them, their usually stoical countenances expressive of every emotion of delight. They at last departed, after gazing, with a kind of curious awe, at the piano, and with almost reverential admiration at my mother. They shook hands with me, and repeated “Baba-sheelah.” Although the victory of San Jacinto was complete and Santa Anna had entered into an engagement to keep the peace, yet Texans, knowing the treacherous soul of the Mexican, were in constant apprehension of another invasion. Rumors were continuously floating about to the effect that a Mexican army was approaching San Antonio, and, indeed, Filisola was stationed on the Rio Grande to organize an expedition for the invasion of Texas. One morning, just at daybreak, a Mexican startled our family out of its dreams by rushing in and proclaiming that a Mexican army was advancing not far away. He had distinctly seen it moving across the prairie. Our family hastened into Houston without delay, the inhabitants were aroused, armed and prepared for action. But the alarm was a false one. The Mexican, a prominent man who had espoused the cause of the Texans, had mistaken a large body of cattle in the misty shadows just before day, for the dreaded invaders. In the summer of thirty-eight we moved to Galveston, and in June my sister Eliza was born. It was claimed for her that she was the first white girl born on Galveston island. It was during this time that my father was elected to represent this district in the Texas Congress, this being the first time that it was entitled to a representative in that body. Galveston, at this time, was a little city. The Texas navy yard had been established there, a number of hotels and restaurants were opened for the accommodation of the constantly arriving newcomers from the United States and Europe. Society was constantly enlivened by balls, theaters, steamboat rides, and it was a delightful place of summer resort to the many who frequented it from the interior. There was no church there this summer. The sand hills near the beach were used as a cemetery, and often, when the gulf was high or the winds unusually strong, the sand would be drifted away, and leave the coffins partly exposed. It was a dreadful thought, the idea of being buried there. Texas was at this time a very paradise for sportsmen. I have seen, in riding along the prairies on the mainland of Galveston bay, a herd which looked like a buff-colored wall, in which it was estimated that there were five thousand deer. As our carriage would roll lightly over the grassy sward in early springtime young fawns were constantly springing up before the horse’s feet. The bay, during the fall and winter, would be black for miles with ducks and geese. Swans were very common, and on Galveston island the sky at times would seem to be hung with a pink curtain of cloud, as the rosy plumed flamingo floated over us. Pelican Island was an El Dorado of wealth for the fisher boys, who brought therefrom boat-loads of pelican eggs for the Galveston market. These eggs are about the size of a hen’s egg, not quite so oval, contain more yolk, which is of a reddish hue, and richly flavored.
In the fall of thirty-eight we moved again to Houston, which place had begun really to become a city. In December the inauguration of General Lamar took place in front of the capitol, which event I had the pleasure of witnessing. The inauguration ball that night was gotten up with much elegance. The invitations were printed with gold letters on satin. A fine band discoursed the music. Many of the dresses were superb, having been ordered from New Orleans and northern cities. Monsieur Matopez, a French confectioner, prepared the sumptuous supper. This ball was held in the House of Representatives, and many of Texas’ most distinguished men were present.
The hall of the House of Representatives was also used for divine service on Sunday, and the congregations were always large, serious and attentive. The Rev. Mr. McCullough, Presbyterian chaplain of the House, officiated.
The succeeding summer of thirty-nine my father moved again to Galveston. This place was improving steadily. Being the principal seaport of Texas, and with a constantly arriving immigration, it was always alive with strangers, while its society insensibly assumed that cosmopolitan character which belongs so essentially to a marine city. During this summer the visit of Admiral Bandin, of the French navy, occurred. The French fleet, which had been engaged in the bombardment of Vera Cruz, had succeeded in capturing that place, and after a treaty made with the Mexican commandant, returned by the coast to Texas, and touched at Galveston. Though his ostensible motive was simply to pay a visit to this country there was no doubt that Admiral Bandin came with secret instructions from the French government looking towards the acknowledgment of Texan independence. The French officers were gladly welcomed by the authorities of Galveston and Houston. The entertainment of the admiral and his officers, all of whom were the flower of the French nobility, devolved upon my father, who entertained them with a banquet and ball at his residence on Tremont street. Colonel A. C. Allen gave them entertainment in Houston. In return many of the citizens were invited to a collation and dance on the admiral’s ship, which, with the fleet, was anchored some distance outside the bar. The government steamship, Savannah, was chartered to convey the citizens. It was a delightful day in spring. The water was smooth, the air balmy, and as the passengers promenaded the deck of the Savannah, they were enlivened by the gay strains of the band, which played the Texas national air, “Will You Come to the Bower?.” Every Texan knew that tune, for it had once invited the Texan army to the onslaught of the enemy at San Jacinto. As our ship approached the fleet, the French band struck up the “Marseillaise,” salutes were fired, while at the same moment the French sailors, in their white suits and tarpaulin hats, sprung to the rigging, and, with graceful evolutions, formed themselves into festoons, stars, and flowers, in the most fanciful and beautiful manner. That was a delightful and long-to-be-remembered day of festivity. With that refinement of courtesy in which the French so greatly excel, the most delicate attentions were shown to every guest. Oh! how many years ago since the participants of this happy occasion danced beneath the awning, or wandered in joyous groups along the hurricane deck of this mighty ship—the blue sea around them! the blue sky overhead! On the ocean of time, they revelled for a moment. On the ocean of eternity, where are they? Most of them have long ago drifted away from the shores of time, while a few are left upon the deserted strand, to await the phantom sail which comes to bear them hence.
In the fall of 1839 my father moved to Galveston Bay, at the place now occupied by Col. Ashbel Smith. It was at this time a most picturesque place, and the beautiful evergreens which crowned the bluff, and groves of cedar which margined the bay suggested to my mother, the name Evergreen, which name it has always borne.
This part of the bay was the residence of a number of old Texans. Opposite us was New Washington, the home of Col. Jas. Morgan, commandant of Galveston Island, and adjoining him that of Gen. Sidney Sherman, who had commanded the left wing of the army at San Jacinto. “Allenwood,” the home of A. C. Allen, the founder of Houston, was four miles below us on the bay, and “Headquarters,” the residence of Col. Ashbel Smith, who was at that time foreign minister to France, was a mile or two back of us, adjoining the place of Col. Amasa Turner, who had been a captain at San Jacinto. Still farther down was the home of Gen. Sam Houston and a few miles above us that of Judge David G. Burnet, who was the first president of the republic, so that one can easily surmise that the social atmosphere was of an elevated and charming character, enlivened as it often was by the numerous visitors of the different families. Much of the visiting was done in sail boats, and often in the long summer evenings, with the blue arched sky above us, we sailed home bathed in the silvery light of the moon which shed its lustrous beauty over the scene; while the boat wafted by white winged sails left a roadway of gold on the surface of the waves, we passed by islands grouped amid the murmuring waters, glided by darkling cedars and snowy beach whereon the chanting waves poured forth their mournful prophecy of song.
In the latter part of the spring of 1841, extensive preparations were being made for an armed expedition to New Mexico. Texas laid some claim to that territory, and Santa Fe, its capital, was an important mercantile point. About this time a Mr. Hudson, a young gentleman and native of New York, came to visit Col. Ashbel Smith, and to get my father’s legal advice in reference to a marriage which he had contracted on the way out from New York. Having taken the sea voyage on an outward bound ship to Galveston, the young people, to relieve the monotony, diverted themselves with a pretended marriage, Mr. Hudson and a young lady from New York being the principals in the farce. After the ceremony, the captain who had officiated claimed that he was legally authorized to perform marriage ceremonies. The young people were willing to abide by the marriage but the parents of the young lady objected, and on arriving in port, immediately reembarked for New York, carrying the young lady with them. Mr. Hudson was deeply interested in the matter, but the young lady would not leave her parents without their consent, so throwing up the business engagements for which he had started to Texas, he joined the command of Gen. Hugh McCloud, and took up the line of march for Santa Fe. From letters written by him to a friend is derived the following account of his adventures. Sanguine of success, they started off in high spirits, passing through a marvelously diversified country, and they had some hair-breadth escapes in fighting their way through the Indian country. Herds of buffalo and wild horses roamed the vast plains, or were hidden in the impenetrable forests. The danger of capturing them gave additional zest to the pleasure of the hunting parties who were sent out to provide meat for the expedition. For a while the expedition journeyed prosperously, having fine weather, and being abundantly supplied with game, until about a month after their departure, when it was found that their guides showed symptoms of uncertainty regarding the route, frequently changing their course toward every point of the compass. They were at length compelled to acknowledge that they had lost their way. Game had now become scarce and water scarcely obtainable, and they soon began to suffer privation of food. Disease now began to make its inroads upon them. Food became more scarce, and at last they were reduced to the necessity of subsisting upon lizards, frogs or whatever else could satisfy the craving of hunger. Despair had begun to fasten on the hearts of some when, after a night of wretchedness, they awoke to resume their erratic course through the sandy desert. As they were dragging on their weary way, the morning sunlight gleamed upon a party of well-dressed and finely mounted Indians, plumed and painted, and armed with bows and arrows. The Texans made preparation for defence. But the Indians, numbering some three hundred, turned out to be friendly to the Texans, though out on the war path against another tribe. The Indian chief caused the party to be supplied with food for their present necessities, and sent a couple of guides to direct them in the right course.
Once more they started, with hope beckoning them forward. They were told by their Indian guides that they would find wells about noon the next day where a small supply of water could be obtained. They reached them at about 2 p. m., but found the water entirely exhausted, the poor weary worn animals so weak that they could scarcely travel. But the party were compelled to continue the line of march sorrowfully, indeed, and by a terrible fatiguing ride late at night they reached some springs where they found water, though in very small quantities. Leaving these springs the next morning they turned their horses’ heads towards the Rio Grande. What a magical influence the word, water, had upon the men as they spurred their tired and famished horses on to that Mecca of all their hopes of getting through safely. Their way now lay through a rough rocky country, covered with cactus and Spanish daggers, when they entered a canyon, deep, dark and winding which they pursued until dark when a signal from the advanced guard told them they stood upon the bank of the Rio Grande, a cool fresh breeze met them and their horses sniffing the water, hastened their speed through the darkness, and the whole command plunged into the river. A thrilling sense of pleasure filled their very beings at the realization that they had now reached the place where water was not dealt out to them by the cupfuls, but ran before them in inexhaustible supply. Our space does not admit entering further into the details of the journey, but we must hasten to its conclusion. Upon arriving near their destination, an advance party under Capt. W. P. Lewis, was sent forward to ascertain how the people of New Mexico were disposed to receive them, but they had already heard of their approach, and were up in arms to resist them. Lewis, on finding that they were likely to be overwhelmed by numbers, and knowing the enfeebled condition of the Texans, with a treachery almost unparalleled, abandoned his own command with whom he had journeyed and suffered so much, joined the Mexican forces and led them to the Texan encampment, where worn out with fatigue and privation, the Texans were made an easy prey. The Texas prisoners bound two and two together, were compelled by their captors, to make forced marches on foot through a dreary and miserable country, subjected to every privation which their cruel foes could suggest. The cruelties to which they were exposed could scarcely be exaggerated. Immediately after their capture, without giving them any time for rest, they were started on the long march for Mexico, which occupied over three months. Yoakum says, “that the only food offered to one hundred and fifty starved men was fifty small cakes, Saliezar. The Mexican commandant would call the prisoners around him, and tossing a cake into the air would enjoy the scramble made by the poor fellows for the little morsel.” They arrived at length in a most deplorable condition at the city of Mexico where they were separated into different parties and confined in the fortresses of Perote, Santiago and Puebla.
In the frontier counties of Texas the inhabitants suffered much from the incursions of Indians about this period, and many were the heroic deeds evinced by those who were put to the test. Miss Hunt, afterwards, Mrs. Gyoms, the wife of a well known veteran, when quite young, was one day left by her brothers (who had to go a short journey from home) in company with the widowed mother and a sister. The Indians at that time were dangerous. The ladies saw a party of Indians approaching the house led by their chief. Miss Hunt seized a rifle and went forth to meet them, pointing the rifle at the chief, and telling them that if they approached nearer she would shoot him down. The Indians seeing her determined manner, and realizing their leader’s peril, turned around and departed, with many yells of laughter. They named Miss Hunt the “fighting squaw,” by which name she was always known among them.
Early in 1842 the question of annexing Texas to the United States began to be agitated. Six years had elapsed since the battle of San Jacinto, and Mexico had made no attempt to recover her lost possessions. Now when the subject of annexation began to attract attention, in order to keep up the shadow of a claim, the Mexican government sent out small military parties into Texas, though with no expectation of permanent occupancy.
In March 1842, the Mexican general Vasquez took possession of San Antonio, but only occupied it for two days, when he when he withdrew his troops to the west side of the Rio Grande. A number of the Mexican residents went with him, carrying off their goods and those of others. This demonstration, with others made by small parties of military near Goliad and Refugio, immediately aroused the Texans. In a short time the whole country was in warlike array. Many volunteers from the United States had come to our help. My father being at that time general of a brigade was one of the first to start from Houston with his command to repel the invaders. I well remember this season of excitement in Houston. The troops were eager to march, but President Houston whose policy was pacific, was tardy in giving the order. Military were constantly parading the streets; speeches were being made, while within doors, wives, mothers and sisters were busy preparing knapsacks for their loved ones. One of the delicacies prepared was parched meal mixed with sugar and cinnamon. The night before my father’s command started, I attended the marriage of a soldier of his staff to a young lady of Houston. The event took place at the old capitol, which had now been turned into a hotel. As the Texans were seriously contemplating an offensive war into Mexico, matters looked very gloomy and the young officer wished to place his wife under the protection of his family (for she was without relatives) in case he should fall. However, before our troops reached the Rio Grande, the enemy had withdrawn into Mexico, and orders from the government prevented any farther pursuit. Not longer than a month ago I met the lady, my particular friend, who was married on that very night, and she laughed heartily when I asked her if she remembered how her tears dropped over the knapsack she was packing for her soldier lover. She said she had forgotten the tears. How strange that emotions which wring the heart should ever be forgotten. The charming circle of grandchildren by whom she is now surrounded is giving to her a new existence, and the remorse of the past is merged in the happiness of the present and the hopes of the future.
In the summer of this year, 1842, my family prepared to return to Alabama. Bidding farewell to Houston, which from its infancy I had known, and where no vestige remained of the presidential log mansion, leaving behind the beautiful islands, and lovely points of mainland of Galveston bay, we took the steamer Neptune at Galveston in August, and swept out of port on a beautiful afternoon, our sails filled with the summer breeze, and the long column of smoke drifting far behind us over the beautiful island, where as a little child, I first set foot on Texas soil. Then it was only an island with shells, and surging waves. An island of enchantment then, and now. But as I looked back upon it over the distant sea, it had grown to be a city. Many mansions had arisen and superceded the one lone house on the east end where I was first carried in the arms of Col. Morehead. Upon the signal tower, the Lone Star flag was waving. I looked upon it with that impassioned feeling which in the young heart the patriot fire evokes, little thinking that it was the last time I should ever behold it floating above the republic. Arrived in New Orleans a pleasant surprise awaited us. Mr. Hudson, the Santa Fe prisoner, had been liberated from his prison in Mexico, through the interposition of Gen. Waddy Thompson, United States minister to Mexico, was there on his way to New York to meet his affianced wife, the young lady of his previous adventure, her parents having consented to their union. All this he told us when he called with Col. Bee to see us at the St. Charles.
My “Reminiscences” have now closed. When I returned to Texas four years later, the United States had planted her flag over our land, and Texas was no longer a republic.
9. Romances of the Texas Revolution: Bowie (published in Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 12, June 1884)
The stupendous war, with its overwhelming results, through which we have just passed, has almost completely overshadowed the comparatively small revolution in which Texas was engaged thirty-four years ago. But still it is with pride, mixed with a pleasurable sadness, that those who now rejoice under the appellation of “Old Texian,” together with their descendants, revert to the exciting and trying scenes of those early days. I, who am a descendant of one of our revolutionary soldiers, take great pleasure, sometimes, in the reminiscences of some elderly friends, who, to use the expression of one of them, “were there and seen it all.”
Thus it happened, on one of those lovely days of summer when the perfections of nature have expanded in all their charms, the season of the year which to me is peculiarly delightful, that I had gathered in my little parlor a company of those much to be revered links between the present and the past, from whom by hint of questioning and a coup d’ etat of womanly tact, I succeeded in eliciting a series of incidents and historical facts, which I design giving to the world in a succession of articles intended to embrace the whole of the Mexican war, from the fall of the Alamo to the battle of San Jacinto.
As Mrs. Wilson was the first who took the bait which I had dexterously thrown, I give her relation as follows: “I had not been in the country very long,” she said, after recounting her sensations on landing here, “before Bowie come from San Antonio.”
Bowie!” I exclaimed, my attention instantly riveted at the sound of that magic name; “What kind of a looking man was he?”
“Ah, he was one in a thousand!” said the old lady, with an expression of admiration, which showed that the light of romance which had illuminated her once handsome features was not altogether extinguished. “A bold, large, brawny man, with dark blue eyes, deep set in his head. His hair was what might be called a light brown. Pistalio was with him. He was a friend of Bowie, and quite a young man, say about twenty-five, elegant in manners, graceful and handsome. Bowie was at that time a widower, having been married to Senorita Ursula Veremendi, who died, together with her two children, during an epidemic of cholera which had prevailed on Mexico a year or two before, taking “all his pretty chickens and their dam at one fell swoop.” It was said of Bowie that he had been a devoted husband and father and the loss of his family had left a shade of melancholy upon his life. Be that as it may, he had never shown any inclination to resume the matrimonial state. At the time I saw him, he was too completely absorbed in the momentous subject of Texas independence to yield himself to the beguiling influences of those softer emotions of the heart. He seemed as one insulated from all such feelings. Wrapped, as it were, in a mantle of patriotism, his free-born spirit gave forth no repose to the thoughts and feelings of others save upon that one theme, when with an eye kindling with the light of noble thoughts, and his whole face aglow with the enthusiasm which pervaded his soul, he would pour forth to excited crowds such bursts of eloquence, and such earnest appeals, that he would not have a dissenting voice among those who heard him, as to the expediency of immediate and determined action on the part of the Texians against the tyranny which threatened them. None could doubt his disinterested motives, for he had given many proofs of his patriotism and valor in preceding Indian fights. None could help but feel the earnest eloquence of his words, which were the language of his soul, and so deeply impressed was he himself with the calamities which impended over his adopted country, that I have seen him even weep.
Noble Bowie! though time has dimmed these eyes which gazed upon you so admiringly, yet memory remains true to the past, and loves to linger beyond the shadowy vale which only partially obscures the magic land, all radiant with the light of hope and roseate sky of love!—the light of youth, in whose mystic circle I first beheld you! But, though unloving, it must not be inferred that he was not loved; for it was my lot to be the intimate friend of one who loved him truly, and when I say love, I speak not of that sentiment so common in this world, which is but a reflection of a flame, but that constant, all-absorbing feeling which is nursed by poetic imagination and enthusiastic emotion which invests the object, however inferior, with the loftiest attributes of humanity. Such love was that which Clara Lisle felt for the patriot, Bowie, and to those who knew him, it is needless to say how worthy was the object which inspired it. As I have said before, I was the intimate friend of Clara Lisle, and have many a time witnessed, with grief the unconfessed agony of her heart, as she could not conceal from herself the truth that her love was unreturned. But yet, like all others in her condition, who catch at a straw, I could see that each delicate attention which he often showed her was made the predication of future hope—hope which, unextinguished, will feed the lamp of love even unto the grave.
About that time there was a grand ball to be given at Texana, a few miles from the place where I was then sojourning, and I was anxious to attend, for I was young and happy in those days, and most of the young people of my acquaintance would be there. Clara also wanted to go, for it would be her last opportunity of meeting Bowie, who was then absent at Matagorda, but promised to attend the ball, as he returned on his way to San Antonio. But we greatly, feared that our wishes would be doomed to disappointment, as we had no conveyance suitable for the occasion. Howard Lisle, the brother of Clara, would have been sufficient escort, but vanity warned us that we would make but a poor appearance on the little mustangs which would never do for so grand an occasion as the one to which we were looking forward. But the days of early Texas were the days of chivalry, and our eyes were delighted not long after at the appearance of an elegantly mounted Mexican, arrayed in all the glittering decoration to which his race is so partial, leading two beautiful horses, each equipped with sidesaddles and silver mounted bridles. It is needless to say that our hearts bounded with delight as the graceful rider approached and handed me a note from Gen. Somervell couched in elegant language requesting our presence at the ball, and our acceptance of the mode of conveyance which he furnished. Of course we accepted and were soon arrived at the place where the ball was to be held, escorted by Howard Lisle. General Somervell came courteously forward to meet us on our arrival, and my woman’s intuition made me know that I was the special object of his admiration. You may not know it, but people said I was a handsome woman in those days. Gen. Somervell was not what would be called a handsome man. He was broad and square built, but possessing the most genial and laughter-loving face imaginable.
We did not dress for the ball until after our arrival. My dress consisted of an elegant crimson damask silk, made low off the shoulders, with large puffed sleeves, reaching nearly to the elbow, edged with a deep flounce of edged lace. I had feather cushions inside of them to make them stand out. A white ribbon rosette with long, streaming ends drooped from my left shoulder. My hair was done up in the fashion of the day, the chignon at the back held firm by a high elaborately carved tortoise shell comb. My front hair was parted in the middle, with curls on each side. The skirt of my dress was narrow, and just long enough not to hide what was then called a very pretty foot, encased in delicate slippers. Long agate ear-drops hung from my ears and nearly touched my shoulders. A long, massive gold chain, with locket attached, wound twice around my neck, and hanging to my waist, complimented my attire. I have been thus particular in describing my dress in order to give you an idea of the fashions in those days, which I considered far more beautiful than the present fashions, with its little dress cap bonnets and Grecian benders. Ah! a bonnet was the work of artistic skill in those days and a pretty face looked doubly pretty when set in an elegant frame work of silks, laces and flowers.
Clara’s dress was simplicity itself. It consisted of a plain white silk, with no ornaments save a few natural flowers, while the light brown hair hung in most exquisite natural ringlets to her waist. On this night she was surpassingly beautiful, and as I looked at her the thought of Bowie’s indifference struck me with indignation. How unnatural, I thought, that he should be so devoted a worshipper at the shrine of liberty who will no doubt desert him when her work is accomplished, when here is one endowed with all the sweet attributes with which Beauty and Love have been able to invest her—one who is willing to be his companion, nay, his almost adoring slave, through the vicissitudes of life—and he has no responsive feeling—no loving word for her. Cold! selfish! but even as these words passes my lips, conscience reproached me, for I knew he had not the faintest suspicions of the emotions which love had awakened for him.
Most of the guests were assembled when we entered the ball room, and I flattered myself that either my presence or fashionable attire had made a decided impression, as there was a hushed silence during the few minutes that we traversed the room. To this day it seems to me that it was an unusually delightful ball. There was a novelty in the whole affair that gave it peculiar zest, and I remember that I danced with more than usual sprightliness.
Bowie was not there when we first entered, and I noticed that Clara seemed sad and abstracted until his arrival; when her whole manner changed, and from that time she surprised me by what appeared an unnatural gaiety and exuberance of spirits. I noticed that Bowie was more attentive than usual, and there was a depth of feeling in his face and a light in the expression of his eyes that I had never seen in him before. Can it be? I thought to myself, that the enthusiastic patriot, Bowie, has at last had his eyes opened to the work of the blind little god? and if so, have one of those fatal little shafts in his own heart been the means of his awakening?
Running along the front of the house was one of those usual appendages to Texas houses—a gallery, or piazza, as it is sometimes called. Majestic oaks spread their shadowy branches over and before it; through which the moon shed its golden, shimmering light, and although the season was winter, it was one of those delightfully warm evenings which summer sometimes sends to remind us of her in order that she may not be forgotten. This long gallery was used as a promenade by those who were fatigued with dancing and I observed that Bowie and Clara were there. The ball room had charms enough for me, for I was its queen that night, and I was determined to enjoy my brief reign to perfect satiety. At length the ball concluded, and we retired to our places of rest. Then I saw the joyful flush of her cheek, and the tender light in her large brown eyes which whispered to me that all was well with my sweet friend.
“Why, Clara! what are you doing with this?” I said, taking in my hand a silver chain which hung on her neck, and which I had seen Bowie wear.
“Don’t touch it, Isabella,” she said—”it is mine. He threw it on my neck as we parted, and—Oh! darling—I am happy to-night.”
Bowie had gone, having started on his return to San Antonio, in company with his friend, Pistalio. I have not said much about Pistalio, for I have been so taken up with the love and sorrows of my friend Clara that I have really not had time. But, as I said before, he was young and handsome, agreeable and gay, and we were mutually attracted to each other that night of the ball; so much that I secretly concluded that Gen. Somervell was much too old for me, and that it was better to be a young man’s darling that a old man’s slave.
Thus ended my first grand ball in Texas, an event which gave my mind employment for some time afterward; my evening’s conquests being something to talk over by day and to dream of by night.
But these quiet, pleasant days were quickly darkened by the heavy cloud of war which suddenly swept over our land, shedding consternation and dismay upon all hearts.
First came rumors, which were not much attended to. Then the call of Travis for help, a vain, despairing cry, which rang in my ears many a long day afterwards, as the ghosts of those martyred men rose in my visions of sleep. But strange to say, at the time when our hearts were almost paralyzed with gloomy foreboding, Clara Lisle seemed suddenly endowed with a heroism which might not be shamed by the spirit of her own immortal Bowie. To see her as she inspired and encouraged those who were preparing to go to his assistance, how unfaltering she labored in preparation for their departure; how hopefully and cheerfully she contended that they would yet be victorious, astonished all who knew her best. I knew how ardently she desired to be with him she loved and share his danger. But that could not be.
A few nights after our company started for San Antonio, and I went over to Clara’s to spend the night with her. It was at her urgent request, for now that the company had gone, the excitement which buoyed her up gave way, and the spirit of gloom took possession of her. It was a wild night on the 6th of March, and the wind blew in fitful gusts against the front door, which, not being firmly secured shook and rattled as if the very fiends of the air were tearing it down. It was late before either of us slept, for the exciting rumors which were constantly arriving had been more than usually threatening that day, and we lay awake until after midnight, talking them over. At length, we slept, I know not how long, when suddenly I was awakened by shrieks from my companion, who I found sitting up in bed, while her features were convulsed and her limbs almost paralyzed with terror. I strove to soothe her, and at length so far succeeded that she was able to relate the following dream:
“I was dreaming of Bowie, dear Isabella, and thought that he had told me that he was coming tonight, I dreamt that the night was wild and terrible, just as it is now, but in the midst of it I knew he would come, for you know he would not break his word. All at once the wind grew fiercer than ever, and shrieked and howled as if in agony, and with that came the tramping of his horse’s feet. Then came the sound of his footstep on the gallery, and then a knocking at the door, which fell upon my ear with a portentous sound, such as you feel when the first tolling of a death knell falls upon the ear. I rushed to open it, exclaiming ‘Bowie have you come at last?’ But when I threw open the door there stood revealed a gigantic shrouded form, which moved not nor spoke. Oh! Isabella, I cannot convey an idea of the paralyzing, crushing influence that form possessed over me. I tried to retreat, but when I did so, it followed me. I strove to speak, but could not; but at length, after almost superhuman effort, I whispered ‘Merciful Heaven! who are you?’ The form threw open its arms, the shroud which enveloped it fell off, revealing a hideous skeleton, and in thundering tones which seemed to vibrate to the vaulted sky, it cried, ‘death!’ and clasped me in a tightening and unrelenting grasp. It was then that I found power to scream and awake, but ah! I fear it was not merely a dream, it has more the reality of a vision, and I believe it has been sent as a precursor of some awful evil. Oh! Bowie, best bravest of men; you who have seemed to me so far above those fatalities which afflict other men; can it be that death also had dominion over you? Terrible, merciless death! I have felt your power this night, but I would cheerfully yield myself to your embrace once more, did I know that he I loved had been clasped within your dreadful arms.”
Soon after this the terrible tidings of the fall of the Alamo came upon us, and couriers were hastening through the country urging the people to instant flight. I was forced from my friend’s side, (I will not stop to speak of her now—it was too unutterably sad) by my father who had hastily procured a small truckle, into which we put some bedding and articles of wearing apparel, and it seemed to me life, as we urged our one horse in the direction of Houston’s army. The road for many miles was literally thronged with fugitives flying from the advancing enemy. A universal feeling of consternation impelled their flight from the wrath behind them, for too well they knew the merciless foe into whose hands they feared to fall, and now commenced that “runaway scrape,” as it is called in Texas, which ceased not until many had crossed the Sabine, and others had heard of the fortune of our arms at San Jacinto.
At length, worn out in body and dispirited in mind, we reached Houston’s camp. Deaf Smith had just come in from reconnoitering, bringing in two Mexican prisoners whom he had captured. They had been among those engaged in the fearful butchery of the Alamo, and upon their persons were discovered the well known pistols of Bowie, and with his name engraved upon them. I cannot tell you how forcibly the realization of his untimely fate presented itself to me, as I gazed upon those relics of my brave and noble friend, and among those who gathered around to view them there was not a dry eye; while some even were heard to sob aloud, as they swore to revenge him. I afterwards met Mrs. Dickinson, who was an eye witness of the bloody scenes perpetrated at the Alamo, and who recounted to me the horrible details of Bowie’s death and the mutilation of his noble body after life was extinct. Pistalio was one of the braves where all were heroes. She saw him at the last moment, after he had been repeatedly wounded, upon his knees by the bedside of his friend, fighting with all the desperation of despair, until struck to the floor beneath the last and fatal blow!
Yes! Travis and his companions had shouted their last battle cry for Texas, and then slept the sleep of the brave. But they will not sleep unknown to fame, for wherever freedom reigns, wherever a love of noble deeds shall inspire the human heart, their names will be sung in the song and a story as the more than successful rival of Leonidas and his Spartan Band.
It was not for many weeks afterwards that I could learn anything of Clara Lisle; but after the battle of San Jacinto had been fought, I one day saw a feeble and sad looking young man approaching me, and it was not until he made himself known that I recognized him as Howard Lisle, the brother of Clara. I dreaded to inquire of her whom I so tenderly loved, but at length I faltered out that one word, Clara. He mournfully shook his head, and said, “we buried her a week after you left, by the side of the Colorado.”
10. Romances of the Texas Revolution: The Action at San Filipe (published in Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 3, no. 5, November 1884 (part 1), and Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 3, no. 7, January 1885 (part 2). The contents of this story suggest that an earlier story in the series, one related by “Mrs. Grant,” and a later story, one related by Dillard Cooper, have been lost. The name of San Felipe in has been left as originally spelled, on the grounds that Darden might have been attempting to reproduce the narrator’s pronunciation. The name of the principal female character appears in the original publication twice as “Madeline” and fourteen times as “Madaline.” Here she is called Madaline throughout.)
Mr. Caldwell, after draining the last drop of coffee from his cup, thus proceeded with his narration: “I was residing at San Filipe de Austin at the time of the invasion, and was then about nineteen years old, but considered myself as much a man as I have ever since. Life was just beginning to open to my gaze, with all its bright illusions to urge me forward, while no bitter, chilling experiences shrieked their dark forebodings in my ear, or chained me down to a despondent, inactive life. Reared in a country where the alarm of danger was ever being sounded, I early acquired a martial spirit and longed for some event to occur in which I might show that I inherited the spirit of my father, who had already distinguished himself in the preceding Indian and Mexican fights, so that you may well imagine that the coming of Santa Anna was hailed by me with enthusiasm and delight. At that time there was living with my parents my beautiful cousin, Madaline Searcy. Though only nineteen years old, she had been a widow two years having lost her husband shortly after her marriage. She was something above the medium height, and her form, which was exquisitely moulded, might have been a model for Canova’s “Venus de Medici.” Her hair might have been called brown, but displaying every gradation of shade from chestnut to that bright golden hue which seems the reflection of the sun’s sparkling rays. Her eyes were large, dark, melting, and of the hue which the poet describes as “darkly, deeply, beautifully blue.” I was a mere boy then, but I had an eye for the beautiful, and delighted to gaze upon my charming cousin, and as I was not in love, to take a pardonable pride in the consciousness of our close consanguinity. I can say, with truth, that Madaline was as good as she was beautiful; but her goodness was not of that negative kind which we so often see in persons of her type. There was an archness, a gaiety, an exuberance of spirit in Madaline which was constantly refreshing, from its every varying novelty. But then again, when some more serious mood came over her, you could discover a profoundness of thought, a depth of feeling, which proved her to be a woman of no common caliber. It is needless to say that such a woman had her lovers. They were not very numerous it is true, for it was not every one who dared aspire to the possession of this “bright, particular star,” but those who did lay their hearts upon the altar of her love, were among the best and most cultivated of the country. I will only mention two of them. They were brothers—Edward and Richard Woodville. Edward was several years the oldest of the two, tall, finely formed, handsome, and altogether the person, in appearance and manners, to captivate a lady’s heart. Richard, on the other hand, was of medium height, broad shouldered, muscular, with a face which would ordinarily be called plain, except when lighted by the beautiful images and noble impulses which dwelt within his soul, which, giving expression to his features, and dark eloquent eyes, made him handsomer to the thinking observer than his brother. But then Richard, though two or three years her senior, was in Madaline’s eyes, a mere boy.
It is natural for women to wish to reverence the man whom she is to call her husband, so that we often find that the sedateness which age imparts, and which gives a wise and oracular air to the possessor, takes the place of those noble impulses of the heart which, like truth, hidden in a well, are not to be discovered by those who form their opinions from mere external appearances. Edward and Richard had both declared their love, and, in accordance with the rules laid down above, Edward was the accepted suitor. I, for my part, being the friend of Richard, was indignant, and urged his higher claims over those of his brother, to her regard. But Madaline only laughed, and threw out some taunting allusions to verdancy and juvenility which exasperated me so much that I was ready, for the first time in my life, to renounce all claims for cousinhood, thenceforth and forever. Women have always been great anomalies to me. I have never understood them, and I suppose no man ever has, or ever will, until time shall make all things clear in the hereafter. They certainly do not see as men do, that is, they are no judges of our sex, for if they were, there would not be so many broken hearts, pining spirits, and longing souls—longing for the love which can never be theirs in this world, but which it is hoped will be poured out to them in the fullness of mercy hereafter, reviving their blighted hopes with eternal beauty and beatific glory.
At length the day on which Madaline and Edward were to be married was fixed upon, and guests from all the neighborhood around were invited to attend. Richard seemed enveloped in the gloom of despair at the announcement, and I must confess I had a feeling for him which bordered on contempt when he came to unburden his heart to me, while his voice trembled with emotion whenever he spoke of Madaline. I am afraid I did not console him much, for I told him he ought to have more manliness than to allow a woman to make a fool of him; that they were weak-minded creatures, after all, and that “there were as good fish in the sea as ever came out of it.” But Richard could not be convinced; he evidently thought there was but one woman in the world, and that one Madaline.
However, fate had predestined that the marriage should not take place at the appointed time. Before that day arrived, we were called to arms. It had been formally announced that Santa [Anna] was on the march, and that the garrison of the Alamo was preparing for defense. All was now excitement and confusion. Enthusiasm pervaded all hearts. A company was organized under Captain Mosely Baker, and in a very short time we were ready to start to the assistance of Travis. Madaline was all enthusiasm, and was urging every one into the army. The morning we were to start, she came to me and said: “William, I wish you would bring Richard Woodville to see me—I want to say good bye.” I saw that she looked pale and agitated, but she had just parted with Edward, and knew she loved me very much in a cousinly way which made it quite natural.
Richard went with me to say good bye, but I saw that he had a great struggle to nerve himself for the parting. She had a little souvenir to give him—one of those little tricks that the ladies are always manufacturing for soldiers (a needle book or something of the kind), and which they never once look into after they have started, and as she handed it to him, there fell from the ribbon which she wore around her neck a little cornelian heart and it rested on the floor at Richard’s feet. I recognized it as one he had given her months before. He looked very pale and his hand trembled as he handed it to her. She did not take it, but said, in a voice scarcely audible, “Keep it, Richard. I have no longer any right to wear it;” but as he turned to go, she called him back, and between sighs and tears, “Oh, Richard! if you only knew how my heart aches to part with you!” and then, like all men who are in love, and who invariably make fools of themselves, he poured forth all the fullness of his love and told her that, though she would never be his, he would remain eternally true to her, and call down every blessing upon her head, in such earnest and eloquent words that I, like an artless youth as I was, had to turn my face to the wall, rub my eyes with my coat sleeve, and pretend to cough, as if I had been seized with a sudden fit of strangulation. I think we were all surprised into that foolish little episode, but Madaline, woman-like, was the first to recover, and told Richard very decidely, that she could not hear such language from him or any one; that she was engaged to another; and spoke of her duty and honor in such a majestic way that I could not but be impressed with a feeling of reverential awe towards my beautiful cousin, quite forgetting that she it was who had brought it all about. I have said that she had just parted with Edward Woodville, who joined our company. It was no ardent spirit for the fray, however, which prompted him to become a soldier, for at first he had no other thought than to remain at home and consummate his intended marriage; but the enthusiastic spirit of Madaline, which could brook no lukewarmness in a cause which she held sacred, and the flashing eye of scorn which she threw upon him when he ventured to make known his intentions, gave him no alternative but to shoulder his rifle and depart with the others, all of whom were eager for the contest.
Our company, together with Captain McNutt’s, from Mill Creek, and Captain Rabb’s, from Colorado—each of about forty men—arrived at Gonzales where we met Captain (afterward Colonel) Sidney Sherman, who had just come into the state with his company from Cincinnati; also Captain Jesse Billingsley, of Bastrop, with a company. Our friend, Mrs. Grant, has just told you the particulars of our rendezvous there, of the fall of the Alamo and our subsequent retreat.
When we at length pitched our camp at Dewees’ crossing on the Colorado, the Mexican army was situated as follows: Sesma, with seven hundred men, on the Colorado, southwest of Columbus, about two miles from our encampment; Santa Anna at Gonzales on the march with one thousand men under Filisola; Gaona at Bastrop, with one thousand men, on his way to the Trinity; General Andrade at Bexar with fifteen hundred men; General Urrea at Goliad with two thousand men; and numerous detachments scattered at different points west of San Antonio. The most intense ardor pervaded the Texan army, and as many of them had before engaged the Mexicans at many odds, it was with deep mortification that we found ourselves ordered to retreat before them, so that by the time we reached the Colorado there was almost a mutiny in camp, as we found the commander-in-chief still determined on retreating.
Our own force was seventeen hundred men, and the majority were in favor of attacking and routing Sesma—our desire being based on the belief that, after that, we could immediately have fallen on Santa Anna, on his way from Gonzales, and have given him battle, with nearly two to one in our favor. A victory over him would have given us the choice of attacking Gaona or Urrea, as we would have deemed proper, without the part of one to assist the other. Colonel Sherman made an earnest appeal to be allowed to cross over with three hundred men, promising to rout the enemy or not return alive; but his request was not granted and our retreat continued to the Brazos. In making the foregoing statements I am far from attempting to cast any blame on our commander, for, although I was among those most anxious for the contest yet time has led me to take a more unprejudiced view of the case, and I now have no doubt that his movements were dictated by policies thoroughly marked out and known only to himself. I mention it to show how anxious the Texans were to engage the enemy, to avenge the death of the defenders of the Alamo, and to rid the country of their tyrannical oppressors. It was here that we first heard of the surrender of Fannin at Goliad, but we were as yet uncertain as to the fate reserved for them.
At length we reached the bank of the Brazos, and still the order for retreat was continued. Our company, however, which had been raised at San Filipe, was permitted to remain to defend the crossing, though not until our captain, together with his men, had positively refused to go farther. This step will no doubt call forth much censure from those who bow to the supremacy of military rule; but we had for our apology that all we held dear was about to be abandoned to the mercy of the enemy. They had called to us for protection, and we would have been less than men to have turned a deaf ear to their cry. Besides that, we were volunteers, and had engaged for no particular term of service, and had a perfect right to remain and fight the enemy on our own responsibility. The authority to do so, however, was at length granted us, and we immediately went to work throwing up breastworks on the east side of the river, and assisting the inhabitants to cross over to a place of safety. Among the last who crossed was Madaline. I shall never forget how inspiring her presence was that day, and ignoble must have been the heart that could have faltered in presence of such an example; but I shame to say that such a coward did exist in our ranks.
Our captain having received orders to burn the town, M. Austin Bryan was detailed for that purpose, but upon his stating his reluctance to do so, upon the ground that it was the town which his uncle, Stephen F. Austin, had founded, he was excused from that duty, and our captain proceeded to execute the order by setting fire to his own house first. This order was necessary, as the materials of which the houses were built would have afforded the means of constructing rafts, by which they could have crossed. The river was now rising rapidly.
We had scarcely completed our means of defense when Santa Anna’s army reached San Filipe. He arrived in the night, and the first that we knew of his proximity was a discharge of musketry on our encampment. But I am anticipating. Immediately after crossing, Captain Baker drew up his company and, after a short and stirring speech, gave permission to any one who was not willing to defend the crossing to the uttermost to withdraw from the ranks. The hot blood mounted to my cheek at the moment, for I felt the proffer an insult to our noble company, but to my great astonishment, and much to the disgust, and amid the execrations of every member of the company, Edward Woodville deliberately laid down his gun and stepped to one side. It would be impossible to describe Richard’s countenance at that moment—shame and rage were alternately depicted upon it. But a minute had scarcely elapsed when Robert, a young brother of theirs, about sixteen years old, sprang forward and seizing the musket exclaimed, “Captain, if you will accept me in my brother’s place, I will prove a good soldier and do my best to wipe away the dishonor of this day.” The young recruit was accepted, and I saw a tear on Richard’s manly cheek.
After that we were exposed to a hot fire from the enemy for several days. It is not for me to proclaim the valor of our little company. It is sufficient to say that the enemy were not permitted to cross, but were compelled to beat a retreat down the river, and to our company belonged the honor of being the first to repel the progress of the enemy.
After Santa Anna had gone down the river in search of another crossing, I received one of those delicate little notes which ladies are so fond of writing, from Madaline, requesting me to visit her and bring Richard Woodville. It was not an easy matter to induce Richard to accompany me on this occasion. He pretended to have urgent business which prevented his compliance, but I finally succeeded in inducing him to go. I expected to find Madaline sad and repining over the disgrace of her intended husband, but was surprised to see her looking cheerful and happy. I could not help noticing that, although she was at that time living in a rude camp, she had managed to array herself in a becoming dress, while the ribbons and laces, which served to heighten her beauty, were no doubt suggested by that inherent coquetry peculiar to the sex generally. She colored deeply as her eyes met those of Richard, but she apparently nerved herself for what followed. “Richard,” she said, in a slightly faltering voice, “you have told me that you loved me. Can you forgive my having placed my trust in one who has proved himself so thoroughly a miscreant? Will you believe me when I tell you that I love, and have always loved you inexpressibly more than I did him, though I did not know my own heart until I thought that I might never again behold you. Say, can you not forgive me, Richard?”
“Forgive you! dear Madaline, say, rather, can I ever cease to bless you for the precious words you have this day spoken?”
I do not wish my lady friends to think me possessed of the hard-headed stupidity which characterizes my sex generally, and which is particularly odious at such delicate moments as those of which I am telling. I will therefore say that I had the good sense to see that I was one too many on that occasion, and accordingly took my departure for camp.
When I reached there I found two of Fannin’s men who had made their escape from the massacre at Goliad, and there, for the first time, we heard the dreadful details of that fearful butchery, which must be the theme of our next story. And here is our old friend, Dillard Cooper, one of the few who escaped from the massacre, who will relate it to us.
Every member of our gallant little company passed safely through the battle of San Jacinto, not long after, and when peace was restored, were present at the consummation of an event which you have no doubt anticipated—the marriage of Madaline Searcy to Richard Woodville.
11. Mrs. Darden’s Address to the Ladies of the Exposition Society of Columbus (published in Colorado Citizen, August 7, 1884)
12. Extracts from the Manuscript of Moseley Baker (published in Ella Hutchins Steuart, ed., Gems from a Texas Quarry (New Orleans: J. S. Rivers, 1885). Though Darden always spelled her father's name "Mosely," we have retained the spelling used in the original.)
13. A Flight into Egypt (dated January 5, 1886, published in Colorado Citizen, January 14, 1886)
Having been invited by my friend, Mrs. Pauline Northington, well known to our citizens as a daughter of Gen. Augustus Jones, to visit her, I accompanied her to this place on Tuesday last. It was raining heavily when we arrived at New Philadelphia, our stopping point on the Sunset, but the subsequent ride of ten miles in an ambulance was made the more interesting by the numerous flocks of wild fowls thronging the prairie, and whose flight, made low and sluggish by the rain, permitted a near approach, quite novel to one unaccustomed to such surroundings. As we drew near our destination the sun broke through the lifting clouds with unusual splendor, giving us a bright welcome and a happy prescience of a pleasant visit. The home of the Northingtons, Messrs. William and George, is a historic spot, having been settled by their grandfather, Capt. Wm. J. E. Heard in 1833, and was at one time a sugar plantation. Capt. Heard commanded Company F, at the battle of San Jacinto. This company was raised in this vicinity and we recognize in the roll of officers and men the familiar names of Eli and Elijah Mercer, Alfred Kelso, Daniel Miller, T. Breeding, Leander Beeson, S. T. Foley, T. M. Hardeman and others. When Dillard Cooper and his companions made their escape from Fannin’s massacre, Capt. Heard’s sugar plantation was the first place of safety which they struck after their perilous wanderings. They swam the Colorado at that point, and it was there that they heard the dog bark which made them break out into “a great big laugh.” The inhabitants had all fled, the women and children making their way for the Sabine, and Capt. Heard leading his company to the defence of his loved Texas. This place is situated on the alluvial soil of Peach creek, Old Caney and the Colorado, unsurpassed in their richness and fertility and is located in the upper quarter of the John C. Clark league. Looking from Mr. Wm. Northington’s gallery we see several residences skirting the prairie, among which is the old John C. Clark residence with its adjoining plantation, so well known to lawyers and litigants as a property for which during many years no heir could be found. In conversing with Mr. Wm. Northington, I was told a version of the capture of Santa Anna, related by his grandfather, Capt. Heard, which will probably prove interesting to your readers and add another little scrap to Texas history. It seems that after the battle of San Jacinto, while two of the men who subsequently captured Santa Anna were riding in search of the fugitive Mexicans, that they saw some deer on the other side of a clump of bushes. One of them dismounted and approached the clump of bushes for the purpose of killing a deer to take into camp, but before he reached the spot, the deer became frightened by some object farther off and ran. The huntsman’s companion observing this, concluded that there must be a Mexican hidden in the grass which grew in that place three or four feet high, and approaching they discovered a Mexican dressed in the garb of a common soldier crawling through the grass. On searching him they found he had on a shirt of fine linen cambric and concluded that he was an officer, and on taking him into camp, discovered him to be Santa Anna, as the Mexican prisoners instantly recognized him and with one accord cried out, El Presidente! Thus did Providence in this incident of the deer place in the hands of our little band of Texan patriots, the crowning victory of the battle of San Jacinto—the capture of the Dictator of Mexico, the commander-in-chief of her armies, Gen. Lopez de Santa Anna. The father of the Northington brothers, Capt. Mentor Northington, was also a Texas Veteran, though a mere boy at the time, and for his services under Gen. Green obtained the headright on which he is now living, located in Jones county, on the Clear Fork of the Brazos. The name of Egypt is significant of the great productiveness of its soil and no doubt would hold its own in comparison with that of its prototype on the world-famed Nile.
To me this has been a happy visit. Dreaming at night beneath the tender eyes of the faithful, watching stars and wakened at morn by the bright smile of the rising sun, I feel that care can not stretch her hand within the encircling line of the beautiful and wide-spread prairie which surrounds me, and in wishing you and your readers a happy New Year I can hope for you no greater pleasure than to enjoy the old Southern warm hospitality of the “Egyptians.”
SECTION 2: POETRY
14. Be Thou Faithful Unto Death, and I Will [Give] Thee a Crown of Life (n. d., published in unknown newspaper, date unknown but believed to be prior to 1870)
15. Goodbye To Summer (n. d., published in unknown newspaper, date unknown but believed to be prior to 1870)
16. Magnolia Flower (n. d., published in unknown newspaper, date unknown but believed to be prior to 1870)
17. To Anna (dated December 1858, published in Southern Statesman, date unknown)
And do you wander in the groves,
Of whispering pines on the sunny hills,
And do you weave bright garlands fair,
And leave them to fade by the sparkling rills?
Oh, could I wander hand in hand,
Dear Anna, with thee, in my childhood’s home,
And breathe the sweet air of my native land,
Methinks I’de never more wish to roam.
There the roses surely bloom more bright,
And the streamlets glide more swiftly along,
While the light spray kisses the pebbles white,
As they wander away with their pleasant song.
Autauga, thy child dwells far away,
Her home is the land of the lonely star,
Yet her heart turns back by night and day
To dream of the home she has left afar.
And thy song, dear Anna, of birds and trees,
And flowers, and streams, in thy home so calm,
Are sweet to my heart as the gentle breeze
That is wafted from fragrant fields of balm.
18. To Anna (dated 1859, published in Southern Statesman, date unknown)
Anna, I thank thee, for ’twas kind
In thee to ask me home again;
It cannot be. I should but find
That pleasure would be mixed with pain.
I must not leave this glorious land
For which my father fought and bled,
When pressed by foes, the Texian band
Like freemen rose to conquest led.
But tell me Anna, near the grave
Where lies my grand-sire loved, though lost,
Still darkly do the Cedars wave
Like sentinels o’er sacred dust?
Oh I should miss the loving voice
Of her, who by his side shall rest,
Till called with Angels to rejoice
In songs of praise among the blest.
Another voice I’d miss that sung
With mine the merry songs of yore,
For oft at eve the welkin rung
With strains that he will sing no more.
That voice is stilled since last I trod
The land of which he loved to write;
He’ll sleep ‘neath Alabama’s sod,
Till morn succeeds Death’s lonely night.
So, Anna, urge me not to come
‘Mid scenes that I have loved so well;
Though sweet to hear the old mill’s hum,
Or roam with thee o’er hill and dale.
Though we should muse by rippling stream
O’er which the wild flowers idly bloom,
I’d only wake from that sweet dream
To weep o’er loved ones in their tomb.
19. Lines (dated January 16, 1860, published in unknown newspaper, date unknown)
My life was but a desert drear,
Thou the oasis green and bright,
Towards which my youthful heart did steer,
Blest with the morning light.
My life is still that desert drear,
The morn of life has long departed,
And now beneath the mid-day glare,
I sink, the broken hearted.
My life has been a wild, wild sea,
On which my little barque was tossed,
And through the dim obscurity,
Thou my loved Isle wert lost.
My barque is yet on that lone sea,
The winds are hushed, there is no motion,
No smiling heaven welcomes me,
Becalmed on life’s vast ocean.
20. Voices of the Night (dated February 11, 1860, published in unknown newspaper, date unknown)
21. Mary Bell’s Answer (dated October 19, 1866, published in unknown newspaper, date unknown)
I am no elfin sprite or fairy child,
Creation of Poetic Fancy’s Thought,
Or creature of Imagination wild—
A thing of mirth, of Superstition wrought.
A far more glorious heritage is mine—
A Soul, creation of the Almighty’s breath,
Fitted in Heaven’s own beauteous courts to shine,
Redeemed and purchased by the Savior’s death.
By Holy hands uplifted, and with prayer
From holy lips, that, pure and undefiled,
I might pass on. They give me there
At Heaven’s baptismal font—a christian child.
There is a dreamy light within my eyes—
A prescience of the future. Deep imbued
With that immortal feeling which will rise
O’er earth. With childhood’s purest faith endured.
There is a mystic sign—a sacred spell—
Which leads my footsteps in the perfect way—
The Christian’s symbol cross. The bosoms swell
Which owns the influence of the Spirit’s sway.
22. Thanksgiving (dated November 1867, published in unknown newspaper, date unknown)
23. “Hark! through the silent air the tidings toll!” (dated November 1867, published in unknown newspaper, date unknown)
24. Books (dated June 2, 1869, published in Colorado Citizen, date unknown)
My childhood’s friends and teachers kind,
How oft I pause to think
Of morn’s bright dawn, when first my mind
Did at your fountains drink;
As thirsting buds, with joy, look up,
When dew drops fill each chaliced cup.
And journeying on through life’s wide waste
You still have been the true
And constant friends—the very best
Of all I ever knew;
And when I have your counsel sought,
You’ve always answered to my thought.
Teachers you were, and first I learned,
To love with reverence mixed,
Sir Walter, whose bright fancies burned
Throughout the glowing text,
Portraying with an artist’s eye,
Scotia’s majestic scenery.
And when with many a moral fraught,
Miss Edgeworth gently led,
To Springs where oft repeated draught,
Each childish grief allayed,
It seemed as ‘twere my mother’s breast,
Where I might lay my head and rest.
And Dickens thou the paradox,
How oft beyond belief,
Thy genius laughter now provokes.
Then melts the soul to grief;
How oft you’ve lured me with your wiles,
To mingle childhood’s tears and smiles
And when arose that noble band,
Evoked by England’s bard.
Great Shakespeare, whose conceptions grand
Earth’s choicest souls have stirred,
How has my fancy wild been caught
With flashes from that master thought.
‘Twere vain! I could not name each one,
The tender, and the true,
Whose music, like the harp’s sweet tone
Enchantment o’er me threw:
But still above their silent lore,
Their presence hovers, as of yore.
25. The Old Brigade (published in Ida Raymond, ed., Southland Writers. Biographical and Critical Sketches of the Living Female Writers of the South (Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, 1870))
26. Rippling Waves (dated April 1870, published in unknown newspaper, date unknown)
They sat beneath the lamp-light’s glow,
He was dark and she was fair,
And chess was the game that they played, but O
Often a furtive glance he threw
At her rippling waves of hair.
And she, with looks bent on the game,
Seemed not to mark the roving glance,
But her cheek bore a blush of maiden shame,
And it told that treacherous “tell-tale” flame,
Her dream of soft romance.
Rippling waves of golden hair
Sparkled in the lamp-light’s glow,
Around her forehead, without compare,
Over her shoulders, so snowy fair,
To her waist, in billowy flow.
Now on the board with eager look,
Where kings and queens, in mimic war,
With knights and bishops their lances broke,
They gazed, while not a word was spoke
By each would-be conqueror.
But Fate was there with mystic spell,
And silently her web she wove,
And the maid’s bright hair as it waving fell
She knew would soon his heart impel
To her mesh, whose woof was love.
“Check-mate!” he cried, “you’ve lost at last.”
But she, with meek, unconscious air,
Was smiling at Fate, who with wise forecast,
In her golden mesh had caught him fast,
Entangled by her hair.
27. The Prairie Plume (dated May 30, 1870, published in unknown newspaper, date unknown)
Across the bright, green prairie wide,
Our car glides swiftly on
Towards the West, where calmly sinks
The slowly setting sun,
Which now with softest radiance glows,
As o’er the world his light he throws,
Then sinks into a long repose,
Like dying saint, who sheds
A smiling benediction, e’er
The world, receding, fades.
How sweet to watch, in dreamy mood,
The prairies glide away
Like soft, dissolving views, that fade
In the horizon grey:
To gaze upon the sky, where crowds
Of swiftly-racing phantom clouds,
Like ghosts that fly in floating shrouds,
Sweep o’er the ether blue:
Oh, Nature! in serenest mood
This picture fair you drew—
I said, and to the prairie bright
A sigh I wafted low;
“Oh, prairie! of my ardent love,
“Thou surely canst not know,
“Nor of the songs I’ve sung to thee.”
When through the window, wafted free,
By zephyrs soft, there came to me,
And rested on my breast,
A grassy plume, which might have been
A sylph’s light, wavy crest.
A token from the prairie sent!
How shall my tongue express
The quick succeeding thoughts which came
With joy’s full, rich excess?
Yes, Nature! still my songs I’ll pour
To tell thy beauties o’er and o’er;
And sacred be the mystic lore
Which thou hast lent,
As is that token which to me
The prairie sent.
28. The Dying Year (published in Colorado Citizen, February 22, 1872)
29. Nature’s Festival (published in New Orleans Times, date unknown; reprinted in Colorado Citizen, February 29, 1872; reprinted as “Nature’s Festival!” in Sam Houston Dixon, ed., The Poets and Poetry of Texas (Austin: Sam H. Dixon & Co., 1885))
30. The Soldier’s Grave (dated March 1872, published in Colorado Citizen, March 14, 1872)
Far in the deep and melancholy woods,
Where the lone owl keeps sentry all the day,
And the plaintive dove in silence broods,
And deep’ning sorrow holds a subtle sway—
There is a soldier’s grave, both rude and bare,
Lying among the rank and humid weeds;
No hand had ever decked with modest care,
No epitaph to tell his valiant deeds.
Thou need’st no memorial to tell
That in life’s struggling drama thou had’st stood
Amidst the thinned front, and there had fell,
Baptizing thy loved land with patriot blood.
31. To Miss L. R. (dated March 1872, published in Colorado Citizen, March 28, 1872)
32. Carrier’s Address (published by Colorado Citizen as a broadside, date unknown, presumed to be January 1874, attributed to Darden by tradition. In each of several years the local newspaper’s delivery boy, in anticipation of a gratuity, would recite a lengthy poem to the newspaper’s patrons on New Years Day. The poem usually referred to events that had happened in the previous year.)
33. Teach Me The Way (dated May 18, 1874, published in Colorado Citizen, May 21, 1874)
Teach me Thy way to know;
Teach me the pure and perfect way to Thee
There is but one the Gospel light doth show,
In Christ alone, whose grace shall make us free.
One path alone, the straight and narrow one
Which leads us unto Christ, who is the door;
And lo! I come, a sinner all undone,
Coming through Christ Thy pardon to implore.
The way is dark; I fear
To venture with this weary load of sin!
O grant me strength, Father draw very near,
And by Thy Spirit bid me enter in:
And though the darkness compass me around,
Thy word, the Gospel lamp, shall light my path
That word where precious promises abound,
Speaking of peace to those who live by faith.
Jesus—the bread of life—
Oh feed us daily with Thy Heavenly grace;
Oh dwell in us, till all the bitter strife
Is past, and we with joy shall seek Thy face.
And we who search the blessed Truth to know
Can only find it Lord by seeking Thee,
For Thou art Truth, life’s vanities a show;
Grant us, dear Lord, Thy blessed Truth to see.
Thou art the only way
Whereby the fallen souls of men are saved,
Oh be our Light, our Hope, our only Stay
Though in the past, Thy justice we have braved.
Father, through Christ the only way, I come,
Oh wash me white in His all cleansing blood,
And for my soul, in Paradise make room
To dwell in Thee, with all thy love imbued.
34. Night (dated July 4, 1874, published in Colorado Citizen, July 16, 1874)
35. Morning Glory (dated November 7, 1874, published in Colorado Citizen, November 12, 1874, with sub-heading: "Inscribed to Corinne Harbert")
36. Wild Flowers from the Grave Yard (dated April 19, 1875, published in Colorado Citizen, April 22, 1875)
37. A Happy New Year to All: Carrier’s Address, to the Patrons of “The Colorado Citizen” (published by Colorado Citizen as a broadside in 1876, attributed to Darden by tradition, stylistically much more akin to the work of Friench Simpson)
38. Golden Honey (published in Colorado Citizen, July 24, 1879, accompanied by an article stating: “Mrs. Darden’s many friends and admirers will be glad to welcome her muse in print once again, after a silence of several years.”)
See a long, straight row of bee hives
Sheltered by the hanging trees,
When through all the long, bright Summer
Flew the heavy laden bees,
Gathering honey from the flowers
Bright within each garden bed,
And from where the gay Ratamma
Soft its yellow petals shed.
Gathering honey from the willow
Bending o’er the glassy stream,
And from where the corn’s light tassels
Like a bannered army gleam;
And from many a poisoned chalice
Do these busy workers sip
Only honey, golden honey,
From the deadly flower’s lip.
So should we, dear little Sydney,
And our little Willie, too,
Like these busy workers, gather
Treasures all the bright day through;
Each event, though gay or saddening,
Every scene though bright or drear,
To our winged thoughts thus yielding
Precious store of golden cheer.
Thus to-night I preach this lesson,
For ’twas scarce an hour ago
When you made beside the bee hives
Pictures, in the fire-light’s glow;
Standing side by side and watching
Uncle Cyrus as with care,
How he smoked the bees, then slowly
Laid their golden treasure bare.
Then the blazing pine torch waving
Lit the bending boughs o’er head
Heavy now with juicy peaches,
Yellow, full, and ripened,
While the grapes in heavy clusters
Black, the Spanish kind, you know,
Hang in arches from the tree tops
Shining in the torch’s glow.
Then did Uncle Cyrus proudly
Lift the first bright yellow comb,
While his dark face, full of gladness,
Seemed like brightness sprung from gloom.
“Hold de light, dis honey’s richer ‘n
All I ever seen before.”
Sure no miner e’er more gladly
Gathered in his golden store.
’Tis the harvest time, we gather
Now from orchard, field and hive,
Fruits of toil and faithful labor
By our Father made to thrive.
Thus should you, dear little children,
Do your daily work with care,
Then with joy go forth to gather
What the harvest time will bear.
39. To My Blessed Babe (dated June 6, 1880, published in Colorado Citizen, June 10, 1880, with sub-heading: “Inscribed in sympathy to Mrs. Laura Washburne”)
40. Carrier’s Address (published in Colorado Citizen, January 6, 1881, attributed to Darden by tradition)
41. Frozen Violets (dated January 17, 1882, published in Colorado Citizen, January 19, 1882, accompanied by an article reading: “Mrs. Darden furnishes us with a poetic gem, which we present our readers this morning, the first she has written for many months. It is exquisite.”)
I see ye all, sweet violets,
Within your icy casket laid,
Smiling, as when in life ye bloomed
In lowly beauty, where the shade
Fell flickering o’er thee,
And now they tell me ye are dead.
But yet beneath thy glassy shroud
Of ice, how bright and fair ye seem!
Robed in thy beauteous tints of blue,
Like Summer skies, of which we dream;
And Heavenward gazing
As watching for the sunlight’s gleam.
But yestermorn, with dewy mantle
Draped around each gentle form,
Breathing on the air a blessing,
Little did ye dream of harm;
As blooming gaily,
Could ye foresee the coming storm?
So real now thou seem’st, sweet flowers,
And yet upon the silent air
Thy sweet perfume no more exhaling,
Proclaims thy spirit is not there;
And memory only,
Shall tell of thee, O flowers fair!
Ye were the last of all sweet friends
To cheer me in my wintry hour,
For lowly in their tomb are laid
Each bud of love and treasured flower—
Each glorious bloom
Hath paled beneath death’s blighting power.
But memory—that gracious boon—
Restores them all to me again;
I gather ye, my treasured flowers,
Back to my throbbing heart of pain
In sacred keeping
Imperishably to remain.
42. Lines (dated December 25, 1882, published in Colorado Citizen, January 4, 1883, with sub-heading: “Inscribed to Mrs. M. E. Converse,” accompanied by an article reading: “Read Mrs. Darden’s graceful tribute to a cherished friend, elsewhere printed.”)
43. Santa Rosa (dated December 1882, published in Colorado Citizen, January 11, 1883)
44. Carrier’s Address (published in Colorado Citizen, January 4, 1883, attributed to Darden by tradition)
45. Over the “Sunset” Route (dated January 8, 1883, published in Colorado Citizen, January 18, 1883)
46. The Engineer (published in Colorado Citizen, unknown date, reprinted in Colorado Citizen, February 8, 1883, accompanied by an article stating: “As the ‘railroad boys’ so much pleased with the poem written by Mrs. F. A. D. Darden, entitled ‘Over the Sunset Route,’ recently published in the Citizen, we have concluded, at the request of one of their number, to reproduce ‘The Engineer,’ a poem by the same distinguished authoress, which was printed several years ago in this paper. ‘The Engineer’ enjoys the distinction of having been published in a book entitled ‘Living Female Writers of the South,’ having been selected for that work by the late Mrs. M. J. Young, of Houston, a life-long and devoted friend of Mrs. Darden. Mrs. Young facetiously remarked as a reason for its choice to the exclusion of one on ‘Summer,’ that a great many people could write about the seasons, but only a few could make poetry about an engine.”)
Whistle, clear off the track, now my engine we’ll go
For the soft blushing morn flees the sun’s fiery glow
As he rises refreshed from his bath in the ocean,
Though a Titan in strength, and all wild thy career
Thou shalt find, my own steed, that thy master is here
As we fly from the town and its busy commotion.
On the bridge! and I feel like a bird in the air
With the blue sky above, and the clear river fair
Far below, winding slow, with its rippling motion
So diminished in size, that it seems but a brook,
While all objects below from my airy outlook
Seem dwarfed as we pass them, in swift locomotion.
And now o’er the broad spreading prairie we glide,
And the free spirit feels that ‘twere joy to abide
Near its verdant expanse, where the grass lightly bending
Seems like billowy waves, which now sink, and now rise
As the soft southern breeze with Eolian sighs
Tells its tales of the sea and its moan never ending.
And the echoes which wake to my engine’s shrill scream
In the shadowy past, were not roused from their dream
Only when at long intervals wildly and maddening—
The war whoop of Indians startled the plain,
Or the cry of the ravenous wolf o’er its slain
Or the song of the whipperwill plaintive and saddening.
But I see in the distance the faint blue outline
Of a wood on the edge of a stream serpentine
We must cross, and the culvert has need of repairing;
Be alert, then, each sense of thy sovereign the brain
For the safety of those who are borne on the train
Has more need of the skill, than the soul’s deepest daring.
For our freight is more precious than gems of the mine
For ’tis human, and deep in some heart’s sacred shrine
Each hath holiest keeping; I saw ere we parted
Many phases of character opened to view,
The grave and the gay, the perfidious and true,
And the soul melting anguish of some when they parted.
And for me, there’ll be waiting at soft even tide
One I love, and I deem her, my own cherished bride,
The fairest whom beauty delighted in gracing;
Come, I’ll put on all speed, now the danger is past,
And we’ll shame the wild deer, who with looks all aghast
Never thought to have been so out-rivalled in racing.
47. In Loving Memory of Mrs. M. J. Young, of Houston, Texas (dated February 13, 1883, published in Colorado Citizen, March 8, 1883, with sub-heading: “Thoughts are heard in Heaven,” reprinted in Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 3, no. 3, September 1884. Matilda Jane Young, who, after she was left a widow when in her early twenties, began producing poetry, fiction, and essays, and who, like Darden, maintained a romantic attachment to the Confederacy long after its defeat, died on April 15, 1882.)
I seek to write of thee, my beauteous Jane,
But words abashed would turn, nor strive to tell
Thy varied charms, where lined as in a chain
Beauty and intellect abiding dwell.
Supreme in each, and gladly brightened oft
With that transcendent light of love which makes
E’en homeliness a beauty, brilliant, soft
Like the auroral light which evening wakes.
I could not write ere this of thee, my friend,
Because too tender are the thoughts that rise
Within my heart, too sacred to be penned,
And then to meet the gaze of careless eyes.
Thou wert so glorious in thy earthly mould,
Surpassing in the wonderous realm of thought,
And now thou dwellest mid the joys untold
Thy spirit with perpetual beauties fraught.
I feel thy presence near me now, with love
And tenderness within thy heavenly gaze,
With pitying look, as bending from above
Thy spirit looks on mine as face to face.
What seest thou in mine? oh spirit give
Even as of yore, but now with heavenly power
Thy counsel dear, and I will fondly breathe
My thought of love within this lonely hour.
Thou knowest, sweet friend, the thoughts I bore to thee
Even as a lover hung I on each word
Which sparkling glowed, a stream so bright and free
As from thy teeming brain they lightly poured.
Say, dost thou come with message from that band,
The precious loved, who linked our souls more near
Now gladly dwelling in the better land?
Oh strengthen me with their fond words of cheer.
Cheer thou my lonely gloom, and bid me lift
Mine eyes to look with rapturous gaze where light
Celestial breaks ‘mid earthly clouds some rift
Shall show the heavenly vision to my sight.
Thou art my spirit friend, and comest now
Within the tempter’s hour, as battling even
(While lone I sit beneath the lamplight’s glow)
With unseen foes which flit ‘twixt earth and heaven.
Thou comest to say that not alone I stand,
For thou art near, and closely does the world
Which thou inhabitest draw near, the blessed land
Whose veil is yet to mortal gaze unfurled.
My friend, my glorious and lovely Jane,
Whose heart to mine responsive answered here,
It cannot be these thoughts of thee are vain,
That I dissevered could have grown less dear.
No, thou art perfect made, and love which here
Is mutable, and mixed with earthly dross,
Within the imortal world, the heavenly sphere,
Is changeless, pure and suffers no more loss.
My sister friend, I lift the eye of faith
To gaze on Him who bore the cross for me,
His strength shall heal my weakness ‘long the path
Which leads to immortality and thee.
48. [Memorial to Lawrence Fontaine Legg] (dated March 7, 1883, published in Colorado Citizen, March 8, 1883)
49. Flowers (dated March 1883, published in Colorado Citizen, March 29, 1883)
Plant not the cypress tree over my grave,
There let the rose and the wild flower wave;
One in her beauty so regal and fair,
One with her natural grace debonair,
Each with her bright censer lifted on high,
Breathing sweet incense aloft to the sky,
Kneeling devoutly above the green sod,
Raising their pure hearts of fragrance to God.
Oh! let the rose, with her culture and grace,
Wave there to brighten my last resting place,
Oh let the wild flower—nature’s sweet child—
Bloom ever smiling with heart unbeguiled;
There shall the mocking bird pour his glad lays,
In ecstasy lifting his soul high in praise,
There shall the many-hued butterfly light,
Poising ‘mid zephyrs his airy wing bright,
There shall the soft sighing breezes awake
Their harps of the wind, breathing low for my sake,
The sun shall at morn shed his golden light there,
At evening the dew, in her robe light and fair,
Shall moisten with tear drops the flowers, and weep
O’er the sod which so faithfully guards my last sleep;
Yes, there where in hope, I shall waiting repose,
Plant tenderly o’er me the wild flower and rose.
40. Prairie Flowers (dated April 1883, published in Colorado Citizen, April 12, 1883)
51. To Whom I Brought the Lilies (dated July 1, 1883, published in Colorado Citizen, July 5, 1883)
52. Mother Hubbard (dated July 7, 1883, published in Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 4, October 1883, p. 177)
53. Loved Texas (dated July 1883, published in Colorado Citizen, July 26, 1883)
Why do I love thee, thou beautiful land?
Is it because of thy features so grand?
Is it because of thy beauty so rare?
Majestic and regal, though gentle and fair,
For these do I love thee, oh! beautiful land!
Where sweeps the wild wave on thy silvery strand,
Where roll the red hills on thy glorious breast
As the sun’s waking smile greets thee far in the East,
To the rivers that flow with their emerald tide
Amid forest, and hill, and through green prairies wide,
When the red Rio Grande flows swiftly and proud,
Where the mountains stand wrapped in their tissuey clouds,
Thou art mine! for my father his willing sword drew
When to save thee from tyrants he stood with the few
Who gave thee to freedom, the Texian band;
And for these do I love thee, oh glorious land!
Bright Texas, my home by the ocean breeze fanned,
But I love thee still more for the hallowed dust
Which I laid ‘mid tears on the cherishing breast.
Because it was here I once looked on the smile
Of love that was pure, of hearts without guile;
I love thee because of each gentle kind hand
Which came to my aid, and which helped me to stand
When the night on my desolate spirit drooped low
And the fell lightning came with its quick crushing blow
And I love thee, that still in affliction’s dark wave
I may cling to the “One who is mighty to save,”
Here I cling to the cross, e’en though over my soul
Still sweeps the wild wave, with its troublous roll
Here I wait for the time that shall bring me to rest
In loving repose on thy beautiful breast.
54. The Spirit of Poesy (dated August 1883, published in Colorado Citizen, August 9, 1883)
Thou comest to me with zephyr low and sweet
Sighing amid the boughs so lightly waving
Around my cottage porch, whose light wing fleet
That from the bosom of old ocean heaving
Rose fair, fresh freighted with new life, to bring
To weary hearts the balmy ocean’s breath,
Soft sighs from out her coral caves beneath
Where mermaids ever their love warblings sing.
Thou comest to me when o’er the rose’s lips
I bend, to catch her perfumed breath entrancing
Or where above the low wild flower, there dips
The bee with banded wing, in sunlight glancing.
And when the mocking bird on topmost bough
Swings up and down, as ever keeping time
To the wild gush of song almost sublime,
A spell is felt which does thyself foreshow.
Thou comest to me when sad, low strains are borne
Across the twilight room, of music sighing,
As sobbing, rises from some heart forlorn
The tale which tells of cherished hopes now dying.
And then anon, some gay and sparkling note
Flies swift, the sun’s last golden ray to join,
When in a marriage tie they both combine
And light and music through the lattice float.
And when from pictured walls, the sweet, sad face
Of the madonna gazes down upon me,
From many a canvas bright, which bears the trace,
Of perfect forms, whose presence long hath won me,
Ah! now I know, and feel how close the link
Which binds thee near to thy twin sister Art,
Two forms distinct, but answering heart to heart
By fate ordained, as one to rise or sink.
For dost thou not, sweet poesy, suggest
The pictured forms upon the canvas glowing?
The world’s fierce strife, its scenes of peace and rest
Each classic grace in lines of beauty flowing?
And then again, those forms complete look down,
And speak thy own sweet language poesy,
And thus resolved in perfect unity
Thou and thy sister Art, are two in one.
55. Putting Away the Jewels (dated October 15, 1883, published in Colorado Citizen, October 18, 1883; reprinted in Ella Hutchins Steuart, ed., Gems from a Texas Quarry (New Orleans: J. S. Rivers, 1885))
56. To Mattie B (dated October 30, 1883, published in Colorado Citizen, November 8, 1883)
57. Cedar Grove (published as part of prose piece entitled “Autobiography of Childhood: The Journey to Texas” in Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 5, November 1883; reprinted in Evelyn M. Carrington, ed., Women in Early Texas (Austin: Jenkins, 1975. Reprint. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1994). The larger prose piece contains two other verse insertions which have never been published separately, and therefore have not been cataloged as separate items.)
58. The Dying Autumn (dated December 1883, published in Colorado Citizen, December 6, 1883)
59. Carrier’s Address (published in Colorado Citizen, January 4, 1884, attributed to Darden by tradition, credited only to “a lady friend of the carrier”)
60. “Peas Upon a Trencher” (published in Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 8, February 1884)
I was asked to write a poem, but the subject—could you guess it?
’Twas a grey-haired man who asked it, but I scarcely can confess it;
’Twas on peas—the black-eyed, corn-field peas and poetry commingled;
Was it strange that indignation to my very fingers tingled?
“Oh, by all means write upon it,” said my husband quite sarcastic,
As he beat upon the table with his fingers light and plastic;
“Fancy’s self shall come to aid you with rich poetic treasure.”
As he spoke he still kept beating all the time a simple measure.
Tapping lightly like the drum-beats, when our banner waving o’er him;
(The Southern cross, which proudly led) to the battle’s front he bore him.
“Is it reveille, or tattoo?” I suggested at a venture.
“Neither reveille, or tattoo, but it’s “peas upon a trencher.”
Simple words of magic power, like Arabian wand enchanted,
Bearing thoughts with floating pinions to far scenes with memories haunted—-
To Virginia, midst whose mountains, by Potomac’s rushing water,
Shrieks the ravenous fiend of battle o’er its dark and bloody slaughter.
Fair Virginia! noblest daughter which heroic fathers gave us;
Midst thy valleys and blue mountains seeks the foeman to enslave us.
Years have come, and slowly vanished, while we’ve struggled, hoping ever,
With our hearts resolved to hold thee, and to yield thee never, never!
Yield our country!—sacred memories would arise to mock and haunt us,
Should a patient bosom falter, or the foeman’s legions daunt us.
Oh, Virginia! thou art grand in mountains, vales and sunny waters,
But nobler in thy wealth of gallant sons and virtuous daughters.
Years have witnessed our brave struggle, as our brothers fell around us,
With our faces to the foe, and want following fast behind us;
And when famine pressed us sore it was only, peradventure,
What, when noon-day came, the drum would beat to “peas upon the trencher”—
To “peas, the black-eyed, cornfield,” vain our pride, oh weak endeavor,
To tell of nature’s work from human vision hidden ever—
The germ of life within the seed, the leaf, the bud, the flower,
The feeding root—the whole built up by one All-Guiding Power.
Oh, foolish pride, bow low thy head; the plant which God created,
Each part integral with a life mysterious animated,
All things in nature, howsoe’er their high or lowly station,
Is worthy of our noblest thought or earnest contemplation.
61. Wayside Flowers (dated June 1884, published in Colorado Citizen, June 26, 1884)
62. Bertie’s Baby (published in Colorado Citizen, November 27, 1884, with sub-heading: “affectionately inscribed to Mrs. Bertie Wagner”)
I love dear Bertie’s baby, gaily smiling through the window,
Which beckons with its fairy hand, a hand so fair and tender,
And stretches out its soft white arms and woos me to caress it
With kisses oft and oft again, and tender words to bless it;
Again, and now again, beating on the window pane;
Bertie’s baby knows I love it, and how ardently I covet
To clasp the little baby hand that beats upon the pane.
Bertie’s baby has no name by which any one can call her,
So I call her Lovey Dovey, as plain English would appall her,
That’s baby talk for love and dove, she understands it better
So quickly does her dove-like heart beat with a gentle flutter;
Her pearly finger tips dyed by the rose’s lips
Press my cheek with love’s own thrilling, while her sparkling eyes are telling
That dove-like love resigns in her heart supreme, nor fears eclipse.
When my soul which like a garden filled with many varied flowers,
Sees them droop beneath some wintry cloud which darkly o’er them lowers,
And sunlight fades, and music’s voice is stilled and fragrance dying
Is borne away to Tropic fields on breezes sighing, sighing,
Bertie’s baby like a dream of sunlight’s glorious beam,
Brightens every drooping flower and her voice with music’s power,
Thrills into life each gladdening thought, with which my flowers teem.
Oh baby, if together we should live ‘till you are older,
Would the dove take flight from out its nest, and love grow cold and colder?
Would you leave me desolate should want, the wolf, come near my door?
Would you pass me with averted eyes, like some I have loved before?
Sweet! the tears are in your eyes and you look with grieved surprise
At cruel doubts and stinging, of the snow-white dove which winging
Her flight to earth, so late came down with blessings from the skies.
If, baby, we together should be called to yield each spirit
To Him above and seek the sphere we both through Christ inherit,
You’d rise to where the cherubs dwell, the purest and most holy,
While I a sinner “saved by grace” must dwell among the lowly,
Would you wave your angel hand from amid the cherub band?
Should you call and I should hear you, would you beckon me to come near you?
To the golden, golden glory where the Heavenly angels stand?
I said to dear Bertie’s baby, this piece is written sincerely
To tell the world of your winsome ways, and to say I love you dearly,
She grasped and crumpled the paper white, while in my arms I wound her,
Then tore it to fragments, dropping each like falling leaves around her;
For some might envious be of the love of her and me
The crown of fame though brightly shining was only dross with the winning
Like our wreath of love which woven on earth shall live in Eternity.
63. Carrier’s Address (published in Colorado Citizen, January 8, 1885, attributed to Darden by tradition)
64. The Whispering of the Sea (published in Ella Hutchins Steuart, ed., Gems from a Texas Quarry (New Orleans:J. S. Rivers, 1885), with sub-heading: "Inscribed to Mrs. M. J. Young and Miss Mollie E. Moore" This poem is an introduction to three other poems, all entitled "What the Sea Said," one written by Darden, one by Young, and one by Moore.)
65. What the Sea Said (published in Ella Hutchins Steuart, ed., Gems from a Texas Quarry (New Orleans: J. S. Rivers, 1885))
66. Tokonah (published in Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 7, January 1884, p. 334; reprinted as “Yokonah” in Sam Houston Dixon, ed., The Poets and Poetry of Texas (Austin: Sam H. Dixon & Co., 1885); reprinted as “Yokonah” in Davis Foute Eagleton, Texas Literature Reader (Dallas: The Southern Publishing Co., 1919). The text published here follows that of the original publication.)
When the night is dark and dreary,
And the winds are loud and high,
And the fleeting clouds are drifting
Swift athwart the leaden sky,
Then there comes a sad and plaintive
And my startled ear, attentive,
Lists to catch the sigh profound;
For it comes from out the branches
Of the sycamore that stands
Near my window, waving toward me,
What appears like ghostly hands.
For I look and see its outline
Well defined against the sky,
Waving high its arms in anguish,
As the stormy gusts sweep by.
And it seems an Indian warrior—
One of old—
Such as those whose ancient glory,
Still adown the ages roll;
And I see his mantle floating
‘Round his tall, majestic form,
While his crested plume is waving
With the wildly sobbing storm.
But a weariness overcomes me
And I turn to rest and dreams.
When against my window—harken,
Like a finger tap it seems,
And I look, and lo! the Indian,
Looms before me, and I hear him
Tapping on my window pane;
And he waves me to come near him,
And he sighs a mournful tale.
And his voice sounds weird and dreary,
Mingled with the tempest’s wail.
“I was once a mighty chieftain,
And Tokonah was my name—
It will tell thee of my valor.
For it means the burning flame.
And o’er all these widespread prairies
With a band
Of my noblest braves I wandered—
I was chieftain of the land.
But the Indians’ day of glory,
Like the dying sun, has set,
Though it sheds a softened radiance
O’er the sky of memory yet.
“Dost thou think, thou foolish pale face,
Thou art wiser in thy pride
Than my mighty band of warriors
When we trod these prairies wide?
Then my eagle glance, undaunted,
Scanned the plain,
And our foemen knew our valor
By their hosts of warriors slain.
Then our wampum-belts were heavy
With their scalps all reeking, wet,
And their scattered tribes, diminished,
Tell our tale of glory yet.
But, alas! I could no longer
Wield my weapons as of yore,
And there stood one night a warrior
Just before my wigwam door.
In the dim light, tall and shadowy,
He stood there;
And he waved me on to follow
To the spirit-land most fair.
I was gathered to my fathers
In the happy hunting-ground;
But to thee I’ll not discover
This deep mystery profound.
And my form they laid it gently
On my mother earth’s soft breast,
While they chanted loud, compelling
Evil spirits from their quest,
And they placed my bow and arrow
In my hand,
For they knew that I would need them
In the happy hunting-land.
But the centuries passed o’er me,
And my dust, resolved once more,
By a fixed decree of nature,
Then became this sycamore.
But ’tis only when the tempests
On the night winds wildly shriek,
That my spirit comes to quicken
This fair tree that it may speak.
Now I swear thee, pale-face woman
With a vow,
That you tell my tale of triumph,
How with spear and bended bow
I have put to flight my foemen
On the war-path’s deadly trail;
While within their camp resounded
Woman’s agonizing wail.
What is this? The day is breaking,
And the storm has passed away
And the East with rosy blushes
Heralds in the coming day;
And I look to see the chieftain
Of the night.
But behold! his form is vanished
In the clear, revealing light,
And I know that I would deem it
A delusion of the brain,
If his finger were not tapping
Still upon my window-pane.
67. Grandmother’s Baby (published in Sam Houston Dixon, ed., The Poets and Poetry of Texas (Austin: Sam H. Dixon & Co., 1885))
68. Christmas in Texas (dated Christmas tide, 1885, published in Colorado Citizen, December 31, 1885, with sub-heading "Inscribed to Mrs. Jas. Converse")
’Tis Christmas, but the sunlight warms
Our Texian land with brightest beams,
With tenderest love, and light caress
To wake each slumberer from their dreams,
For all have dreamt this happy night
That darkness shall give birth to light.
For childhood slept with glowing cheek,
Pillowed on breast of soft repose,
And dreamt such dreams of Santa Claus
As only wishing childhood knows,
So old he seems, but ever new
Fast speeding from his land of snows,
And youth has dreamed of happy love
With all its sweet ecstatic thrill,
Of gifts, which on the morrow’s morn
Shall mutely every fond wish tell,
But greater power than Santa Claus
Shall any destined dream fulfill.
Oh hope! Oh love! on this glad morn
Which ushered in the Savior’s birth,
There is a niche prepared for thee
In every heart, by every hearth,
Come now, and fill each heart with joy,
Come quickly, fill each home with mirth.
Our Christmas day has set, and night
With stately step, and pensive brow
Hath walked our earth, the vault above
With stars illuminated now;
Most gloriously with Heavenly light
Each constellation seems to glow.
Fond nature hath illumed the world
To celebrate the joyful hour
When Christ was born, and on our hearts
Her choicest benedictions pour,
So bright as if an angel hand
Were opening wide the heavenly door.
One lone star glowing in the West,
More bright than all, a type of one
Which led the wandering Magi where
Lay cradled low, God’s only son,
Sheds magic rays and bids us bring
Our heart’s best offerings to his throne.
Oh day of gladness! Night of joy;
Thus echoing down through many days,
Our hearts respond to that glad song
Which angel voices sang in praise;
And like the shepherds, so do we
Expectant to the heavens gaze.
69. Carrier’s Address (dated January 1, 1886, published in Colorado Citizen, January 7, 1886, attributed to Darden by tradition, credited only to “a lady friend of the carrier”)
70. A Valentine (dated February 14, 1886, published in Colorado Citizen, February 18, 1886)
A scene of memory, seems to speak of thee;
It is an Island in a Summer sea,
Environed by a shelly beach and white,
While in its midst far reaching through the light
Which Heaven benignly sheds, the Church tower high
Lifts up her cross towards the Summer sky.
Oh in this Island ‘midst a Summer sea
What memories come speaking unto me,
What deep regrets, and yet one treasured thought
Speaks of a joy which came to me unsought,
Which put away, yet ever comes again
While my heart echoes back the sweet refrain.
This thought, my Island is a jewel rare
Circled by love’s own band, so pure and fair,
Far from the noisy crowd it safely lies
Guarded by gentle seas, ‘neath Summer skies
And the tall Church tower speaks of memories where
We once have worshiped at the hour of prayer.
This Summer scene is framed in garland gay
Of wild briar roses, bright as beauteous May;
Is it an emblem that from Wint’ry tomb
My thought shall spring, even as the roses bloom?
And do the chanting waves with low refrain
Say to my heart, we yet shall meet again?
71. In Memory of Mrs. M. E. Converse (published in Colorado Citizen, June 3, 1886, with the sub-heading: “affectionately inscribed to my loved friend, Mrs. C. M. Allen”)
They tell us thou art gone, sweet friend, that thou art lowly laid
Beneath the sod where flowers bloom, then slowly fail and fade;
But yet we know thy presence lives to bless us as of yore,
While thy happy spirit, safely dwells on life’s immortal shore.
The hearts that loved thee bowed in woe, when death’s dark cloud of gloom
Hung densely low and earth to them seemed but a living tomb.
But faith can draw the veil aside and show thee in the light
Where sorrow nor where death can come, where “there shall be no night.”
But yet they long to hear again thy voice so gently low—
That voice which once with music thrilled thy home on earth below,
They long to see thy smile so dear, so fraught with tender love
They long for Thee, whose life to theirs so closely was enwove.
Oh, in the grateful hearts you blessed with many a gentle word,
Or to their need your kindly gifts with generous hand you poured,
Your memory lives and like the flowers which spring from wint’ry tomb
Your deeds of love shall spring to life in future years and bloom.
And still the record thou hast left shall shine with brightest light,
To gloom on some poor pilgrim’s path in sorrow’s deepest night,
As daughter, wife and mother, thy mission nobly done
As “faithful unto death” the “crown of life” thou now hast won.
We know that thou art perfect now, where love can ne’er grow cold,
Where heart of man hath ne’er conceived the glories all untold,
But oft we feel that in some sweet communion thou art near
To tell of Paradise and still our earth warn hearts to cheer.
And in the day when Christ, our blessed Redeemer strong to save,
Shall come to ransom all the just, from death and from the grave
Thy form and spirit re-united shall in heavenly beauty rise
To meet him with his angel hosts descending from the skies.
72. To My Mocking Bird (published in Colorado Citizen, July 29, 1886)
73. Carrier’s Address (published in Colorado Citizen, January 6, 1887. This poem refers to the erection of the statue of liberty, and to the imminent replacement of the aging delivery boy by Drew Cunningham Baker, the son of the editor of the Colorado Citizen)
Happy New Year to our patrons all,
The Carrier gives on his morning call,
And he wishes for all with heart sincere,
Much of joy in the coming year;
And he thanks them all for their favors kind
In the fleeting years we have left behind,
The Carrier bids you all adieu,
And yields his place to our faithful Drew,
To bear you our “Citizen” loved so well,
Whose coming our people gladly hail,
For the years which swiftly have come and gone,
Have made him a youth now taller grown,
And while he hopes in the office still
To pursue his calling with earnest zeal,
With true ambition and honest heart,
To perfect himself in the printer’s art,
He now resigns to his young compeer,
And asks you his youthful heart to cheer.
The year now past, an eventful one
As ever rolled ‘round the flaming sun,
Fraught with disasters on every hand,
Not only in our own loved land,
Where earthquakes shocked the heaving ground
And tempests shrieked above the drowned,
Where drouth with famine gaunt and pale
Stalked desolate o’er hill and vale,
But human hearts in every land
Have mourned beneath affliction’s hand.
But yet how blest, that o’er the dark
And troub’lous waves that bear our barque
A ruling hand still holds the helm,
Nor storm nor wave can overwhelm.
Still, still within our sky afar,
Shines steadfast Bethlehem’s gleaming star,
To earth’s remotest lands it streams
To light the world with heavenly beams.
Our own United States so dear
Resounds throughout with words of cheer.
Peace reigns supreme, while war’s fierce strife
Threatens no more her beauteous life.
Bartholdi’s statue on her shore
With torch which blazes evermore,
The year of eighty-six may claim,
To light the world with freedom’s flame;
To tell the nations of mankind
How law with freedom well combined
And guided by true Wisdom’s hand
Hath made so great our glorious land.
To well loved friends so good and true,
Who their subscriptions oft renew,
Fain would he mention every name
Which on our pages weekly claim
Your notice and attention call,
Lawyers and doctors, tradesmen all
But space forbids and now at last,
With thanks again for favors past,
With kindly thoughts no words can tell,
The Carrier bids you all farewell.
74. To Miss Ida Wright (published in Colorado Citizen, November 10, 1887, with sub-heading: “On the Eve of Her Marriage, Nov. 5, 1887”)
Ida, the sun which slow declines
In golden glory in the West,
Will be the last which sets upon
Thy virgin life so sweetly blest;
So bright the rays, they seem to be
A benediction shed for thee.
And we long who have learned the prize
Thy truth sincere and earnest love,
Lift up our hearts in fervent prayer
For benedictions from above,
From Him who formed from Adam’s side
A perfect woman for a bride.
May He who formed this holy tie
Of marriage, bless thy dawning life,
Now merging from thy maidenhood
To crown thee as a happy wife,
Thy happy future, journeying fast;
How soon this eve will be the past.
Thy bridal morn will bring thee gifts,
Flowers of grace and jewels rare,
All formed of love, of which the world’s
Material gifts will not compare,
Love’s diamond smiles to wreathe thy head
And pearly tears at parting shed.
This tribute to thy band I bring,
Accept the simple offering,
Which from my spirit’s harp evoked
Pours forth its strain on feeble string,
But yet a loving, tender lay,
With blessings for thy bridal day.
75. Withered Leaves (published in Colorado Citizen, December 1, 1887)
76. Carrier’s Address (dated January 1, 1888, published in Colorado Citizen, January 5, 1888; reprinted in Colorado County Citizen, April 4, 1957; reprinted in Colorado County Historical Commission, Colorado County Chronicles (Austin: Nortex Press, 1986))
77. Greeting To Tom Green’s Brigade (published in Colorado Citizen, February 28, 1888, with sub-heading: “At Their Reunion at Columbus, Feb. 21, 1888”)
Soldiers! We greet thy presence here
With throbbing hearts of pride,
While memory’s touch brings to our eyes
The tears we fain would hide.
Heroes of many bloody fights
By woodland, stream and plain,
Oh! Can it be, with lapse of years,
We greet thee once again?
Not with the sound of rolling drum,
Or the bugle’s call, ye meet,
On prancing steed, with flying flag,
For war, equipped complete.
But, Oh! ye come with memories strong,
Like altar fires that burn.
And treasured thoughts to greet again,
This happy day’s return.
And we, with thoughts that turn to gaze
A down the distant past,
With hearts that never can forget
Through all the weary waste
Of time, behold your gathered host,
As proud ye marched away
Toward the setting sun, and bore
Your floating banner gay.
With saddened hearts and tear-dimmed eyes
We saw thee disappear
Beyond the reach of human sight,
But not of memory dear.
With toilsome march ye journeyed far
Where arid mountains spread
Their white pitched tents, like sepulchres
Where all around is dead.
Ye passed the Rio Grande’s flood,
On Mexico’s far shore,
But who can tell the message dark
Which war’s hot breathings bore?
Valverde’s fight came first, and then
Toiled like a funeral knell,
“On Glorietta’s bloody plain
Our gallant Shropshire fell.”
Oh! many youthful hearts were stilled
And weary heads were laid
To rest, that gladly marched away
With that proud cavalcade.
And oft, again, we see thy ranks
In many a gallant fight,
While he whose noble name ye bore
Fell battling for the right.
Tom Green, whose name a golden vein
Through Texas’ history streams,
On San Jacinto and on plains
Of Mexico it gleams.
And where the lapping wave
On Louisiana’s breast, drank up
The blood he freely gave.
As Ranger on our border land,
As patriot, pure and bright
Like him who bore “Excelsior”
He perished on the height.
But, memory, we close once more
The curtain of the past,
Our thoughts too sacred to forget,
But yet too sad to last.
Our proud defenders still ye are,
To battle for the right
On nobler fields, where wisdom leads
With shield and banner bright.
We greet thee now, while happy peace
Broods gently from above,
While softly blending blue and gray,
Springs from her nest the dove.
We greet with smiles and clapping hands
Our honored guests to-day,
Defenders of our lives and homes—
Our Soldiers once in gray.
78. In Memory of Mrs. Fannie Steiner (published in Colorado Citizen, August 23, 1888)
A few days past, and thou wert with us here,
Thy kindly voice was heard, thine eyes beamed clear,
And in thy household shrine the love then gavest
Enhanced each pleasure, made each joy more dear.
But now how changed, a pall of gloom is spread
O’er each bowed heart which longs for thee in pain,
Thy children miss thee. Oh! that thou wert here
Mother, sweet mother! is the sad refrain.
But silence sends no answer to their cry,
Naught but the plaintive dove with saddening moan,
As of a spirit sent to grieve on earth
And mingle sighs with human hearts that groan.
The sorrowing miss thee; seeking not thy own
But others’ good, how oft thou camest to bless
With sympathetic heart at grief’s sad cry,
Or ministering hand to poverty’s distress.
And I will miss thee; through the changing years
How many tokens of thy kindly heart
Thou gavest to me, dear friend, into my life
This woof of memory forms a treasured part.
Though thou art gone fond memory pictures thee
As in thy life with kindliness full fraught,
Thou livest again with features lighted o’er
With love for all, thy motive power of thought.
79. To My Muse (published in Colorado Citizen, November 8, 1888, with the sub-heading: “In Answer to a Request to Write for a Magazine”)
How silent is my muse! To-day I turned
The pages of this book and caught again
Thy breath, sweet poesy, like violets’ breath
In subtle power and fragrance after rain.
Sweet inspiration of the past, dost wait
To bless me once again? Full well you know
That not with wanton hand I cast aside
The music of my life and beauty’s glow.
Sweet thoughts, I cherish every tender tone,
Each pure ethereal grace, each gentle flower
Which bloomed and paled upon my throbbing heart
And thrilled my senses with their magic power.
Still, still I feel thy presence, when the toll
Of life at sunrise bids me take again
The work the Master giveth me and go
Obedient to his will in joy or pain.
’Tis now my lot to teach the youthful mind
To view fair nature with the artist eye;
To trace her image on some landscape fair
Of mountain, stream or brightly glowing sky;
To catch some thought poetic from thy hand
And on the canvas leave it smiling, where
‘Twill speak to many hearts and they will say
Sweet poesy hath laid her impress there.
Oh, heart of childhood, o’er whose forms I bend
And gentle as the flowers they love to trace,
How sweet to teach thee from fair nature’s book
The truths which time or care can ne’er efface.
Perchance some hand more skillful than the rest
Seeks to portray the human face divine.
Guide thou that hand, sweet poesy, and bid
Each feature be a soft reflex of thine.
Oh, noblest work of God, centered in man,
Who on the sixth day bade him rise and bear
The image of his maker, place thy touch
In choicest work bright inspiration there
And bide with me. How lightly do the years
When touched by thee glide on. Thou canst transform
All things deformed to beauty and to grace
And ride in music on the raging storm.
80. Carrier’s Address (published in Colorado Citizen, January 3, 1889, attributed to Darden by tradition)