The Evolution of a State, or, Recollections of Old Texas Days

9780292720459: Paperback
Release Date: 1st January 1983

37 b&w illus.

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 280

Series Barker Texas History Center Series, Texas Classics

University of Texas Press

The Evolution of a State, or, Recollections of Old Texas Days

Written by
Noah Smithwick
Illustrated by
Charles Shawl
Paperback / £22.99

"I was but a boy in my nineteenth year, and in for adventure when I started out from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, with all my worldly possessions, consisting of a few dollars in money, a change of clothes, and a gun, of course, to seek my fortune in this lazy man's paradise."

Noah Smithwick was an old man, blind and near his ninetieth year, when his daughter recorded these words. He had stayed on in "paradise"—Texas—from 1827 to 1861, when his opposition to secession took him to California. The Evolution of a State is his story of these "old Texas days."

A blacksmith and a tobacco smuggler, Noah Smithwick made weapons for the Battle of Concepción, and he fought in that battle. With Hensley's company, he chased the Mexican army south of the Rio Grande after the Battle of San Jacinto. Twice he served with the Texas Rangers. In quieter times, he was a postmaster and justice of the peace in little Webber's Prairie.

Eyewitness to so much Texas history, Smithwick recounts his life and adventures in a simple, straightforward style, with a wry sense of humor. His keen memory for detail—what the people wore, what they ate, how they worked and played— vividly evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of the frontier.

First published in part by the Dallas Morning News, Smithwick's recollections gained such popularity that they were published in book form, as The Evolution of a State, in 1900. This new edition of a Texas classic makes widely available for the first time in many years this "best of all books dealing with life in early Texas."

  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Biographical Sketch of the Author
  • Chapter 1: Journey to the Land of Promise-first impressions; Dewitt's Colony
  • Chapter 2: Trip to interior—Victoria, Gonzales, LaGrange, Columbus; Karankawa Indians; Creasing a Mustang; Encounter with malarial fever; Night adventure in Brazos bottom; Ft. Bend; Bexar; Mistake of a life time; Murder of Early; An avenging Nemesis; Eventful career of the murderer
  • Chapter 3: Bell's Landing (Columbia); Josiah Bell; Other old residents; Slavery; Social events; Weddings, etc.
  • Chapter 4: A smuggling trip to old Mexico; First introduction to horsemeat; San Fernando; Ancient customs and prejudices; Practicing medicine; Ampirico Indians; Trip to silver mines; Smuggling adventures; An "old Moke"
  • Chapter 5: San Felipe de Austin; Pen pictures; Prominent men, Anecdotes of; Professional men; Social happenings; Early Colonists; Duels; Colonial Poet; Character of early Colonists; How it feels to be a homicide; Banished; Left a malediction on the place
  • Chapter 6: The Redlands—general character of; San of the land; Notorious counterfeiter; Mob law; Precious metal; Brown's mine; A noted horsethief
  • Chapter 7: Return to Texas; The gathering of the clans; First flag; March to San Antonio; Battle of Concepcion Mission
  • Chapter 8: Joined the ranging service; First Indian fight; Rescue of Mrs. Hibbon's child; The old Tumlinson block-house
  • Chapter 9: The Mexican invasion; Fall of the Alamo; "The runaway scrape;" Massacre of Goliad; Battle of San Jacinto; Division of spoils; Jim Bowie; Noted duel; Sam Houston
  • Chapter 10: Army falls back to Victoria; Peter Carr; Incidents of army life; Gen. Rusk; Disbanding of army
  • Chapter 11: Rangers return to frontier; Coleman's fort; Social event in Bastrop Co.; "The Color line;" Frontier clothing; Col. Coleman; Surprising a Comanche camp
  • Chapter 12: A return surprise; Stampeding a Caballado; Anecdotes of field and chase; Cure for fistula; Old frontiersmen; Commissioner to Indians
  • Chapter 13: Camping with Comanches; Comanche language; Social and domestic customs; Indian song; Political affairs; Amusements
  • Chapter 14: A tight place; Conclusion of treaty; Michael Andrews; Organization of Bastrop Co.; Old seals of office
  • Chapter 15: Stone-house fight; Second attempt to treat with Comanches; Narrow escapes; Tumlinson's Rangers; Eastland's Co.; Nat Turner's insurrection
  • Chapter 16: The San Saba Indian fight; A bad horse trade; Battle of Brushy Creek; "Flacco Colonel"
  • Chapter 17: Webber's Prairie; Old settlers; Humble heroes; First postoffice; First justice; Official record; Social features; Financial affairs; Exchange
  • Chapter 18: Webberville founded; Mormon Mills; Frontier hospitality; Trials and tribulations; Tonkawa scalp dance; Funeral
  • Chapter 19: Council house fight; Victoria and Linnville sacked; Plum Creek fight; Dark days; Woll's invasion; Dawson Massacre; A ride for life; Reuben Hornsby and family
  • Chapter 20: Founding of Austin City; Early arrivals; Land grabbers; John Caldwell
  • Chapter 21: Santa Fe, Mier, and Bexar prisoners in Mexico; Stories of their suffering and illtreatment; Murder of Mark B. Lewis; The Archive war; Cherokee war
  • Chapter 22: Annexation; R. E. B. Baylor; Mexican war; Texans in the war; Occupation by the United States Army; Army officers; Public debt; Removal to Brushy Creek; Wolves; Neighbors; Early emigrants to California
  • Chapter 23: Old Ft. Croggin; Officers in command; Early settlers; Burnet Co. organized; The town of Burnet; Mormon Mills and settlement; Character of Mormons; Schools
  • Chapter 24: Bear hunting; Advent of Galveston News; The agents' adventure; Old acquaintances; Social gatherings; Christening of Marble Falls; Camp meetings
  • Chapter 25: Double Horn; Hickory Creek; Smithwick's Mill; High Water; Fight with runaway slaves; Grasshoppers; Indian trial
  • Chapter 26: Troublous times; Fleeing from the wrath to come; Preparation for departure; The last farewell to Texas; Off for California; Incidents enroute; Scenes along the Rio Grande; Arizona; Apache Indians; A. Sidney Johnston; First encounter with Indians; Tucson; Mysterious murder; Down the home stretch; Ft. Yuma; Last forced march; The great Colorado desert