Southwestern Classics On-Line | Lone Star Junction
Previous Chapter | Evolution of a State Title Page



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; Tuscon; Mysterious murder; Down the home stretch; Ft. Yuma; Last forced march; The great Colorado desert.

In the summer of 1860 Colonel Dale came out from St. Louis, Mo., and bought land just below Burnet. He was connected with a manufacturing firm, which was projecting a scheme to build a woolen factory somewhere contiguous to the wool-producing section. The advantages to be gained by the utilization of the waterpower led Colonel Dale to the highlands of the Colorado. The Marble falls was the objective point in view, but the owner, Colonel Todd, held that site at a very high figure. My mill, having stood the test of the high water, next attracted the attention of Colonel Dale, and, after looking the situation all over, he made me an offer of $12,000 for it. Considering that sum a pretty fair return on my investment, and rather longing for more worlds, in the way of mill building, to conquer, anyway, I accepted the offer.

Colonel Dale then went back to St. Louis to report to his firm, proposing to return in the fall with the cash for the purchase, and the machinery for the plant.

In the meantime the presidential election came on, and the disturbed condition of the country arising therefrom knocked all enterprises out. We had had the locust plague, the eclipse of the sun, and the comet, all of which the superstitiously inclined averred foreboded war, and now the war was upon us. Scarce fifteen years had passed since we were rejoicing over being admitted to membership in the great American Union - fifteen years of comparative peace and unexampled prosperity. The country had settled up rapidly, capital was flowing in and new enterprises were being inaugurated. Schools, and good ones, were being organized all over the country, mail routes and postoffices established. The great overland stage route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific traversed hundreds of miles of Texas territory, with strong probability that a transcontinental railroad would in the near future supersede it. The iron horse had crossed the Brazos and was heading towards Austin. And now all the advantages accruing to us under Uncle Sam's beneficent rule were to be thrown to the winds. In vain our leading men - Houston, Culberson , Hamilton , Hancock, Throckmorton , Duval and many others - tried to reason with the excited populace. They were deaf to reason.

As the son of a revolutionary soldier, I could not raise my hand against the Union he had fought to establish. I had fought to make Texas a member of the Union, and I would not turn round and fight to undo my work. But when I talked of war my hearers scouted the idea. Many men offered to drink all the blood that would be shed.

"Oh, there won't be any war. The Northern men are all a set of D----d cowards; one Southerner can whip a dozen of them," said one.

"Well, Billy," I replied, "in former wars the Northern men have not shown themselves lacking in courage, and although I think I have as good a reputation as a fighter as most of you, when you parcel them out you needn't give me but one, and I don't care to have him a very stout one."

It was the prevailing impression that there would be no war; an impression to which the apathy of the outgoing administration gave color. Had there been an Andrew Jackson in the presidential chair, there would probably have been no war to speak of; his sentiments on the subject of secession being clearly defined in the case of South Carolina, twenty-nine years before. "By the Eternal, the Union must and shall be preserved." I was a Democrat of the Jackson school, my first vote having been cast for the hero of New Orleans, and when the term Democrat was made to mean secessionist I could go with the party no further. I was ever a man of strong convictions, and with me to think was to act. I was unalterably opposed to secession, both on principle and policy. I did not believe that the South would be benefitted thereby, nor did I believe that the North would tamely acquiesce in the disruption of the nation; and I felt a firm conviction that in case of an armed conflict the South must inevitably go down; a calamity from which I exerted all my little influence to save Texas, even taking the stump for the first time in my life, a course which placed me under the ban.

"Just wait till we get things fixed and we'll attend to your case," said one of the leaders, a man who never set foot in the country till all the danger from Mexicans and Indians had passed. I didn't wait. When the ordinance of secession passed, I immediately set about getting away. I sold my farm for $2,000. The mill for which I had been offered $12,000 I could not cash at any price. I was, however, bent on fleeing from the wrath to come, so I turned the property over to my nephew, John Hubbard, who, though also a Unionist, decided to stay and face the consequences; a decision that cost him his life. I didn't get a dollar for the mill, but took promissory notes, secured by mortgages, for $4,000. A fine young negro man that had a few months before the election been assessed at $1,500, I sold to Governor Houston for $800, and everything else in proportion.

Having decided on California as the land of refuge, and the trip thither to be made overland, the next thing was to provide means of transportation. As we had to run the gauntlet of two hostile tribes, we could not rely upon our horses or mules, which were liable to be stampeded, so there remained only the slow, but sure ox or a train of burros. A number of my acquaintances joined the movement, and we rigged out a fleet of prairie schooners and gathered up a lot of wild, long-horned Texas steers, few of which had ever felt a rope except when they were branded. These we tied together in couples as the preliminary step.

"What are you going to California for? That state will secede before you get there," I was asked.

"Well, if it does," I replied, "I'll get me one of those big trees they tell about and dig me a dugout and go across to the Sandwich Islands."

I went down to Austin to lay in supplies for the trip. Speechmaking was the order of the day. Somebody, I don't remember who, was holding forth from the steps of the capitol. A big, rough looking fellow, a carpenter, I believe, stepped up among the crowd, and, after listening a few minutes, said to those in his vicinity:

"What the hell's it all about, anyway?"

"The nigger," someone answered.

"The nigger! H----l. I ain't got no nigger. Give me a nigger, some of you, and I'll fight for it as long as any of you. I ain't going to fight for somebody else's nigger," And yet that was just the kind that had to do a large part of the fighting.

I went to see General Houston and had a long talk. "General," said I, "if you will again unfurl the Lone Star from the capitol, I will bring you 100 men to help maintain it there."

"My friend," said he, "I have seen Texas pass through one long, bloody war. I do not wish to involve her in civil strife. I have done all I could to keep her from seceding, and now if she won't go with me I'll have to turn and go with her."

And so we parted ways. It was with a feeling of inexpressible sadness that I bade farewell to old Austin and the many friends who had been associated with me in our early struggles. Many of them were Unionists, some of whom like myself fled the country, while others, like General Houston, acquiesced in the will of the majority. Hamilton and Hancock were among the former.

Conspicuous among the latter was J. W. Throckmorton, whose memorable speech in the convention that passed the ordinance of secession deserves to live among the classics of the nation; he being one of the seven who voted in the negative. When it came to his turn to vote he arose to his feet. These, I think, are the words he used:

"Unawed by the reckless spirit of revolution around me, in the presence of God and my country and my own conscience, which I fear more than either, I vote No." As he sat down some one hissed. Springing to his feet, he exclaimed:

"Gentlemen, 'the rabble may hiss when the patriot trembles.'" How he reconciled his subsequent course with his conscience I do not know.

That Houston and Hamilton, both outspoken in their opposition to the secession movement, which was even then under discussion, were in 1859 elected by handsome majorities respectively Governor and member of Congress, is evidence of the loyalty of the people of Texas until carried away by excitement. Among other devices employed to influence the wavering, was a book entitled "The Armageddon," by one Baldwin, in which the author demonstrated to his own satisfaction that the impending conflict was that foretold in the prophecies of Daniel; in which the king of the North and the king of the South were to meet in battle, from which the king of the South was to come off victorious. Either Daniel, or Baldwin, was mistaken; but, the book had quite a run among the church people.

I was apprehensive that we had no time to lose, so we hastened our preparations, and on the 14th day of April, 1861, the very day that Fort Sumter was evacuated by the United States forces, though we were in total ignorance of the fact for many days thereafter, we started on our long, tedious, dangerous journey. For the second time I was being driven from the land of my adoption. There were about thirty-five souls in our train, of whom thirteen were men, all armed with revolvers.

At Fort Chadbourne we encountered the first visible effects of the impending war in the absence of the American flag from the fort where it had fanned the breeze so long. There were a few Texas rangers there, about one company, I think. There we struck the United States overland mail route to California, and in the dismantled and deserted stations thenceforward were constantly reminded of the disturbed relations between the two sections of the country. The road paralleled the Concho river many miles. Through all that fine fertile country there was not even a stock ranch. The Comanche was lord there. At the head of the Concho a protracted rain came on and, availing ourselves of the deserted station buildings, we awaited fair weather. During the sojourn we got our first Indian scare. A couple of the boys who were out herding the stock, ascended a high knoll to reconnoiter. Discovering a lone horseman approaching, they hastened to conceal themselves to observe his movements. They were seen by the object of their distrust, who in turn, taking them for Indians and having descried our camp, hurried on up to warn us of the danger. We hurriedly housed the non-combatant portion of our party and, being apprehensive of danger to the boys out herding, sent a party to their aid, which of course brought the matter to a solution. The lone horseman, Dr. Ferguson by name, proved to be the advance guard of a large train of emigrants from Dallas.

When the rain ceased we all started on together. With this accession to our strength there was little fear of an open attack from Indians; still we were in the Indian range and we older folks who had had experience in that line had much trouble in bringing our young folks to a realizing sense of their danger. Our girls would venture too far away from camp and our boys persisted in emptying their revolvers at everything and nothing, just for the fun of shooting. Many pounds of lead were thrown away in the vain attempt to kill a prairie dog, but if one was ever hit he tumbled into his burrow, to the mound surrounding the entrance to which he betook himself at the first alarm. Safe retreat being thus secured they stood up on their hind quarters to take observations, emitting little yelps, dispatches presumably to the inhabitants within. "Bang! Bang! Bang!" The dirt flew and all that the quickest eye could catch was the twinkling of tiny feet as the unscathed rodent disappeared down the shaft of his tunnel. So persistent were the boys in their ambition to secure a prairie dog scalp that there were times when if the Indians had charged us there would not have been a loaded weapon in camp. When we struck camp we drew our wagons round in a circle, lapping the tongues upon the wheels of the wagons in front, securing them with chains; in this way forming a corral in which to keep our stock at night. We stopped long enough before night to give the stock a chance to feed, sending them out again as soon as it was light in the morning.

Guards were kept out all night, being relieved every two hours. One night one of the guards came to the wagon in which I was sleeping and rousing me told me that he had discovered a suspicious object out in the chaparal. With as little show of alarm as possible I arose and accompanied the guard to the further side of the enclosure, where he pointed out the object. It certainly did look in the dim starlight like a crouching figure and the guard was positive that it had but just come there. I told them to bring their guns to bear on it and if it did not answer when hailed to shoot. I hailed "Who goes there?" There was no reply. I repeated it, and still the figure neither stirred nor spoke. Telling the guard to be ready to fire, I was just in the act of hailing the third and last time when a woman in a wagon near by put out her head and called "Minerva," and the crouching figure answered "Ma'am." A cold shiver ran over me and I sat down as weak as an infant. The child had left her bed in obedience to a call of nature, and either did not know that the challenge was directed to her or did not realize her danger. That was another narrow escape I made from the brand of Cain.

Leaving the head of the Concho, we struck out across the staked plains. The Mustang ponds being the last living water until we reached the Pecos at the old Horsehead crossing, eighty or one hundred miles distant, we lay by there till evening before beginning the long, dry march. There was no station at the ponds, but as the next station out - Johnson's - had to haul their water from there, there had been a stone house built for protection in case of attack. In the summer of 1860, I think it was, Tom Johnson, a brother of General Adam Johnson, and another man having gone to the ponds for water, were surprised by the Comanches, and took refuge in the stone house. The Indians laid siege, keeping the boys prisoners three or four days, when the stage with its armed guard came along and broke the siege. Filling up our water barrels, with which we had provided ourselves before leaving Burnet, we started out late in the afternoon. Slowly the long train of white-covered wagons drew its sinuous length along, the steady tramp of the oxen and the monotonous grinding of the wheels on the gravelly road being the only sounds that broke the stillness of the night, save when the occasional pop of a whip told that some driver had stirred his lagging team. All night we kept up the pace, and morning found us in the center of the wide, treeless plain. Cattle and drivers alike were tired, so we halted for the day. There was plenty of green grass, fresh and dewy, on which the stock regaled themselves, but not a drop of water. Here we had the novel experience of digging for wood. The ground was full of mesquite grubs, though there was not a green shrub in sight. Unwittingly we made a dry camp within a few miles of water, our chart, a map sent out with the Texas Almanac, not correctly locating the Wild China ponds, which we would have passed early the second night but for the sagacity of the thirsty cattle. Scenting the water the team in the lead made a break for it, snapping the wagon-tongue. Another long forced march brought us to the Pecos river. Here the work of vandalism had already begun in the destruction of the ferry boat. There was a ford lower down, but the river was flush, and in order to keep our goods dry we had to lift the wagon beds and put blocks underneath, and then chain the beds down to prevent their floating.

Here again we filled our water barrels, another long, dry stretch intervening between the Pecos and Fort Stockton. Fort Stockton was held by a company of state troops. The stage route from San Antonio to El Paso here connected with the overland route so that communication with the balance of the world was restored. I do not remember how often the trips of the stage were made, but I remember how eagerly the stage was watched for, and how breathlessly we listened for the latest news of the war that was then only just beginning to take shape.

The station buildings had begun to feel the effects of abandonment. They were all adobe with earthen floor and roof, the latter requiring for its support heavy timbers. These, which with the heavy doors and jams had been procured with much labor and danger, many of them hauled hundreds of miles, were being torn out by emigrants for firewood.

In the Wild Rose pass we had another accession to our train, consisting of two families and several single men who were traveling under the escort of a Mexican government train. The head of one of these families was one James Brown, cousin to John Henry Brown, the historian. The pass through the Apache mountains was at that time a dangerous one, but we got through without trouble, though some trains that came later encountered the Indians. Fort Davis had a small garrison of Texans. From El Muerto springs across to Van Horn's well was another long, dry stretch, and another between the well and Eagle spring. We reached the latter place in the night, men and teams tired out, so the latter were just turned loose to seek water, which was in a dangerous canyon beyond the station. The next morning when the boys went out to look up the cattle they had all disappeared, but in looking around the boys found their trail where they had gone through the canyon, and following in their wake, were shoe tracks. This discovery reported in camp, we rallied our forces and started in pursuit. There were two men at the station. Their opinion was that it was the work of Mexican bandits, but bandits would scarcely have been on foot. We followed the trail several miles back into the mountains, at one place finding the carcass of one animal, from which a portion of the meat had been taken. A little further on in a secluded spot we found most of the herd. The poor creatures had not rested for twenty-four hours, and had not even reached the water when they were captured. We drove them slowly back, but so tired out were they that it was necessary to lay by another day before making the final march to the Rio Grande at Fort Quitman, which completed the first stage of our journey. Here we found the remainder of our cattle, they having taken the road and kept on it till they found water.

We drew a long breath of relief when we at last struck camp on the Rio Grande at Fort Quitman, though the flag under the folds of which we should have found protection, had been withdrawn. The fort was held by four men pending the arrival of Baylor. Having safely crossed the Comanche range we felt secure from bodily harm and so far as possible threw off the load of care and anxiety, resolved to take a good rest.

The river being low we were compelled to keep a close watch on our stock during their grazing time; but, obtaining permission to use the fort corral, we were relieved of the necessity of night guard.

We came near losing some of our stock, however, by the treachery of some of our own men, outsiders having induced two of our boys to join them, without divulging their plans in full, which were to run the stock over into Mexico. Through the men at the fort, to whom the leader of the conspiracy made overtures on the score of our being Union men, we learned of what was going on and took prompt measures to rid ourselves of such undesirable company. Finding the game up, the leaders skipped. The station men proposed following them and hanging them on general principles. Our two boys pleaded ignorance of any designs on our property, but the fact that they had secretly entered into negotiations with the other fellows to leave us, destroyed our confidence in them and we promptly dismissed them, and they went on and joined the other party.

In the meantime another large train of emigrants, hailing from McKinny, Texas, came up. Four families, Elliot, Kendal and Austin brothers, were taken into our train.

With few exceptions the Texans who came out to California that season (1861) were rampant secessionists, but they were better voters than fighters, they probably having every one voted for secession and then run away from the consequences. One of these braves was cursing Abe Lincoln.

"Well, what has Lincoln done?" I asked.

"Why, d----m him, he voted for the fugitive slave law," said he. And this was a fair sample of their intelligence.

From Fort Quitman up to Fort Filmore, where we crossed the river, feed and water being everywhere available, we traveled by easy stages, to give our stock a chance to recuperate for the long, hard, dry march across Arizona. There were many little Mexican pueblos along the way, the denizens of which came out with fruit and vegetables to sell or barter for coffee. At one place a wealthy ranchero came out and invited our young people to attend a fandango at his house in the evening. Several of the boys went out, and were made welcome by the host. They were cordially invited to participate in the dance, but as none of them could go through the dizzy maze of the waltz, and the Mexicans were equally as ignorant of the evolutions of set dancing, our boys were compelled to remain wall flowers. Some of them were induced to sample the mescal, the effects of which were painfully apparent. The Mexicans used to be very temperate drinkers, the act being more a social rite than to gratify a thirst. Their custom was to take a sip and pass the cup on, much as the communion cup is passed. When the Texas boys got hold of the cup they drained it.

It was harvest time and in every village there was a threshing yard. The straw was arranged around a center pole, a band of horses driven in and started in a gallop around the stack, horsemen forming a ring around to keep them from breaking away, and also to keep them crowded toward the center till the whole stack was trampled down when the straw was shaken and removed and the grain cleaned by a kind of dry washing process. The Mexican plow and cart were in general use, and when a swain wished to take his lady for a ride he seated her in his saddle and mounted behind her, to hold her on. There were white men at all the towns, and as a rule they were worse than the Mexicans. The day we reached El Paso, while we were stopped for dinner, our loose stock was left to graze in the vicinity of the camp. Elliot had three fine horses, on which he kept vigilant eyes, but while eating he observed one of them feed off around a little knoll, out of sight. He finished his dinner and went to drive it back, but it had completely disappeared, nor could any trace of it be found. Going on up to El Paso - Franklin, as the town on the American side was then called - Elliot made his loss known, when a white man offered him a Mexican pony for the chance of the American mare he had lost. A half loaf - even a quarter - beats no bread, so Elliot took the pony, and within a few hours the purchaser of the "chance" was riding the mare through the streets.

I asked an El Paso man how it was that such a large vote was polled in favor of the ratification of the secession ordinance in a county apparently so sparsely settled. "Oh, that was a light vote," rejoined he. "We could have polled twice that number if the river hadn't taken a rise." There was a well equipped flouring mill just above Franklin. The flour, however, was slightly gritty from the grain having been tramped out on the ground.

At San Elizario, White, one of the best men in the Dallas train, was accidentally shot, and having no family, two of his friends, Campbell and Kirkney, also single men, stopped with him. He lingered some weeks, but finally died. Campbell and Kirkney then joined some of the returning parties and probably went into the Confederate army.

On the evening of July 3rd we reached Fort Filmore and for the first time in many months saw Old Glory floating from the mast. That beautiful ensign never before looked so lovely to me, and I thought of Francis Scott Key when straining his eyes "through the dawn's early light," the "broad stripes and bright stars" floating over Fort McHenry, catching "the gleam of the morning's first beam," flashed them the signal that their friends still held the fort. But it harbored an officer beneath its folds, who a few days later made a disgraceful surrender of the place.

On July 4, 1861, we crossed the Rio Grande. At Mesilla the stars and stripes were flying, but the glorious old constellation had been cleft in twain. That was the only Confederate flag displayed along the route. At Mesilla we parted company with the Brown family, and also old man Hambrick, they deciding to stop there, and I never saw or heard of any of them again.

From Mesilla we struck out across the arid sands of Arizona, the long, dry stretches of sand being broken at intervals by rough, dangerous passes, through which we hurried with bated breath. The Apaches were literally in possession of the country, all the United States troops having been ordered to fall back to the Rio Grande. The Indians probably had not yet grasped the situation, otherwise our progress might have been interrupted. As it was, we saw no hostile parties on the trip, though we saw many evidences of their atrocious work. At the eastern outlet of Apache pass were nine graves where the overland mail coach had recently been ambushed, all of the occupants being killed. Apache pass is a narrow wash just wide enough to permit a wagon to pass between high overhanging walls of rock that seemed to look menacingly down upon the traveler, and had the Indians known enough to provide themselves with crowbars they could have dealt destruction to us in comparative safety themselves. The guards that always accompanied the stage were always on the lookout when approaching and in going through the pass. This the Indians had found out, so they built breastworks of stone at the farther end, and when the guards, having gone safely through the pass, relaxed their vigilance, the Indians made the attack. At another place were the charred remains of a government train that had been captured, the teamsters being lashed to the wagons, which were then fired. For this last outrage at least six of them paid the death penalty, the pursuing party catching them and stringing them up to the trees, where the mummified remains were still swaying in the wind. The coyotes had nibbled off their toes, but otherwise the forms were well preserved. There was an old regular with us who had been over at Filmore in the hospital. His company was stationed at Fort Breckenridge, and when the order was issued to abandon the place he scanted to join his company, and to that end asked to travel with us to the nearest point, which was forty miles north of Fort Breckenridge. He was with us when we came to the place where the Apaches were hanging some little way from the road. We stopped the team and every man, except the old soldier struck off to see the show. The old regular stayed with the train and deplored the thoughtlessness of the balance of us for leaving it defenseless in such a dangerous locality. At Dragoon springs, just on the western side of Dragoon pass, were the battered walls of an old stage station which had succumbed to the attack of a large force, the few men who were in it being killed. At still another place a family of emigrants had been attacked, and the father, mother, and several children killed, and a young lady taken prisoner. A boy of fourteen escaped by jumping from a high bluff. The name, I think, was Oatman.

It was so hot during the day that we had to keep up our night travels, during which every cactus was regarded with suspicion. Somewhere out in that desolate region we met A. Sidney Johnston and party hastening to join the Confederate army. Upon learning that we were from Texas he said with some asperity:

"I think you are doing very little for your country."

"Well," I retorted, "it seems to me you are doing equally as little for yours." Johnston had just resigned his position as commander of the Pacific Coast Division of the United States army.

We wanted to send letters back to friends in Texas by the party, but they did not care to have papers that would betray their destination in case they fell in with United States troops. They at least had the courage of their convictions, which was more than could be said of the current of emigration that was setting toward California. One large train of emigrants coming on behind us, learning of the approach of Baylor and becoming apprehensive that he might arrest their flight, crossed over into Mexico and did not recross the line until well on toward the Colorado.

General A. Sidney Johnston was killed in the battle of Shiloh.

Away back in Texas, at Fort Davis I think, I picked up a Mexican boy that wanted to go to California. He made himself useful and trustworthy, and when on the Rio Grande he met some friends who persuaded him to go with them, he came and told me of the change in his plans and offered to return the butcher knife I had given him. Up about Mesilla I picked up another Mexican. He also made himself useful, but not trustworthy, as I found to my cost. I had been riding and driving the loose stock, and being under the weather, when we went into camp on Rio Mimbres, about where Deming now is, I told the Mexican to get on my horse and go out and herd. That was the last I saw of the Mexican or my horse; my revolver was hanging on the saddle horn and my coat was tied on behind. It was a better outfit, no doubt, than the greaser had ever possessed in his life, and he could not resist the temptation. "Lead us not into temptation."

Just before we reached Tucson we espied moccasin tracks, and in reconnoitering discovered a lone Indian jogging across the country ahead of us. We immediately called a halt and held a consultation. Some were for pursuing the Indian and others for forming in battle array and awaiting developments; but, as the Indian kept straight on without seeming to take notice of us, we concluded he was not hostile, and kept on our way. Pretty soon a train of squaws hove in sight, each one laden with a large basketful of mesquite beans, which the Indians used for food and also to make a beverage of. They were friendly, and our little people taking a fancy to the strings of beads with which they were adorned, traded off all the bread in camp.

We had heard much of Tucson as the seat of territorial government, and expected to see something of a place, but a dirtier, more disreputable den it would be hard to imagine. A little cluster of adobe huts, before one of which, suspended from a pole laid in the forks of two upright poles, hung three bells, typical of the Catholic church. There were a few American men there, but we saw no American women.

Lying over there a day, the boys out herding the stock, came upon a new made grave. The authorities were notified and they proceeded to investigate. A few feet below the surface the body of a man wrapped in a blanket was found. When the blanket was removed we recognized the features of one Hale, who had been traveling with the Brown family, but left them to follow the lead of another, thereby losing his life. There was evidence of foul play in a contusion on the back of the head that looked as if it might have been made with a junk bottle. Some of the front teeth were also knocked out. The authorities blustered and talked of sending out a posse to arrest the whole outfit, which had made haste to get away before our arrival, but a murder was an every day occurrence thereabouts and nothing to make a fuss about. We afterward overtook the train and a terribly scared lot they were when questioned about Hale. They said that a lot of them went into a watermelon patch to steal melons and were fired on, Hale being killed and one of the Bain boys being shot in the leg. The Bain boy did carry a bullet in his leg till one of our men cut it out, but the mark of the bludgeon on the back of Hale's head was not satisfactorily accounted for.

Our breadstuff having run low, we were obliged to replenish our stock at Tucson. The only thing in that line obtainable was an unbolted mixture in which sand and mesquite beans were present in considerable quantities, especially sand. The only way in which we could possibly eat it was to "bolt" it. We mixed up a batter of such consistency as to allow the cobblestones to settle to the bottom and then poured off the top, which was made into slapjacks, upon which we didn't dare close our teeth. Our free, outdoor life gave us the digestion of ostriches, else the slapjack diet would have been fatal.

From Tucson the road followed down the valley of the supposed underground Santa Cruz river. The rainy season was on and waterholes were all full. From Casa Grande we struck straight across to the Gila at Sacaton in the Pima Indian reservation and were assured by the chief that we had passed the danger line and might therefore turn our stock loose with perfect safety; an assurance that brought relief to our souls after many months of incessant watchfulness. To the credit of those Indians be it said that not a thing was molested.

The Pima and Maricopa Indians farmed to some extent, bringing to our camp the cleanest, whitest wheat I ever saw. They also raised "frijoles," but didn't go back on the old reliable mesquite bean, which is really quite sweet and nutritious; cattle and horses eat them with avidity.

I do not know how the natives attired themselves in winter, but the summer costumes of the men consisted of a breech clout about ten inches wide and from two to four yards long, confined at the waist by a string. The only garment of the women - if garment it could be called, that had never felt scissors or needle was a breadth of calico a couple of yards long, wrapped about the waist so as to extend to the knee.

The danger being passed, the bond of mutual protection that held the trains together was soon dissolved, and each one traveling to suit himself, we formed an unbroken line for many miles down the Gila. We had, however, to keep up our night journeys, it being August and the sun hot enough to roast Gila monsters. Excepting the space covering the mouth of the great bend we traveled in striking distance of the Gila clear on down to its confluence with the Colorado. Somewhere between the bend and Gila City we struck an old time resident of Bastrop county, who may still be remembered by some of the earliest settlers, James Dye. Though not a participant in the Texas revolution, he came to Bastrop shortly thereafter and was out trading with the Comanches during the time I was with them. Dye came to California in '39 or '40 and, after roaming over the state, drifted out to the Gila country where he took up a ranch, also keeping the overland mail station. The withdrawal of the stage line left him without any occupation to speak of, so he soon after returned to California, marrying and settling in San Diego county, where he died, leaving several children, who I believe are still there. About the middle of August we reached Fort Yuma, and with the most trying stretch of road on the whole route confronting us.

Yager was king of the civic portion of the place. He had the only ferryboat and had no conscience about charging for the use of it. It cost me ten dollars to get my outfit across the river.

Taking a good rest, we started from Yuma at sunset to make the last forced march across the great Colorado desert, ninety miles of sand with but one watering place for stock, the sun like a glowing furnace and a portion of the road below sea level. The wagon road took the nearest cut across, coming in south of the San Jacinto mountains, to the north of which runs the Southern Pacific railway. There is a stream laid down on the map called New river about midway of the desert, but the only water we found there was that deposited by the summer rains. But August being the rainy season on the desert, we found more water than we had expected, and there were tons of mesquite beans. We were unable to make more than fifteen miles a day, owing to the weakened condition of the cattle, and so were about five days crossing the desert.

Crawling along in the middle of the night, the monotonous grinding of the wheels in the coarse, loose sand was broken by a crash as an old wheel collapsed. As a large part of our original freight had been provisions, which were pretty well cleaned out, we transferred the contents of the disabled wagon, consisting mostly of human freight, to another wagon, and left the poor old hulk that had borne the most precious part of the cargo hundreds of weary miles stranded on the waste of sand. We had gone but five or six miles further when another wheel succumbed. As this wagon could not be spared, I sent two of the boys back to the wagon we had left to bring up a sound wheel from the wreck, and myself stopped with the wagon till their return, sending the balance of the party on to Indian wells. That was a long, lonely night, but not so dangerous as many vigils I have kept.

There were household goods, dead animals and broken wagons strewn all across the desert. At one place we found a complete set of blacksmith tools, including heavy anvil, which some poor fellow had been obliged to abandon on this last stage of the Journey after having hauled them many hundreds of miles. I appropriated the set.

A sandstorm swept across our way, obliterating every trace of the road, but here again the bread we had cast upon the waters in taking in an old Californian at Tucson returned to us, said Californian safely piloting us through the trackless sea of sand by means of notes made on former trips. There were others not so fortunate, who got lost and narrowly escaped the horrible fate that has overtaken so many. Without further mishap we reached the land of the living, having spent four months on a trip that is now accomplished in three days, nights included.

At the western edge of the desert we met another party going on to join the Confederate army. Shortly afterward a third party led by Dan Showalter came on, but General Carlton with a column of California infantry was ahead of him and bagged the lot, putting them on parole. All of what is known as Southern California was then given over to stock raising, the inhabitants for the most part being of a class among which it was not desirable to bring up a family. So we kept on to Tulare county, remaining there till the advent of the railroad brought in another class of citizens, when we returned to Los Angeles, in the vicinity of which we have since remained.

On our way up to Visalia we fell in with an old time Austin boy whom the gold excitement had lured away years before, George S. Evans, son of Judge Evans who was connected with the land office during the days of the Lone Star Republic. George Evans at the time of which I write was a lieutenant-colonel of the Second California Cavalry, with a detachment of which he was on his way to Owen's river to quell an Indian outbreak. Later he was ordered to Visalia where we again renewed old acquaintance. He was soon promoted to full colonel and sent to Salt Lake to look after the rebellious Saints. He rose to brigadier-general before the close of the war. He was mustered out by the great ruler long years ago.

When after the close of the war, we established communication with friends in Texas, I learned of the fate of many of my Union friends, among them my nephew, John Hubbard, who was waylaid and shot down, his body being riddled with bullets. I felt that it would be unwise for me to return, as I should feel an uncontrollable desire to avenge his death. And yet up to the time I left Burnet county there had never been a case of murder in the county. But the dogs of war were literally turned loose, and the devil concealed in men, unchained.

Toward the man who, believing in the justice of his cause, had the courage to shoulder his gun and face his opponents on the field of battle, I harbor no resentment now, but for the cowards who, taking good care to keep out of harm's way, hunted down and murdered defenseless Union men - well, I have never been a believer in the orthodox hell, still, when I think of those wretches, I am forced to concede that it was an oversight in the plan of creation if hell was left out. Among the many good men who were sent to their long home by assassin's bullets in Burnet county during the war were the fathers of two young men who came away with us. "All that a man hath will he give for his life." I only saved mine by so doing.

I found a number of my old Mormon friends in California, and without an exception found them secessionists, not from any partiality for the Southern people, who were even more intolerant of Mormonism than the Northern people, nor yet because of any sympathy with the peculiar institutions of the South. They wanted to see the South succeed in its purpose to withdraw from the Union, thereby establishing a precedent - which Brigham Young would have made haste to follow. Had there been no other reason for opposing secession, that dangerous precedent, which would have been a constant menace to the South as well as to the North, would have been sufficient ground. It is extremely improbable that I shall ever see Texas again, as the first of January, 1899, ushered in my ninety-second year, but I will cherish the memory of the long ago spent on her soil, and wish her a prosperous future. I am proud to note the progress she has made, though I can scarcely realize the transformation that progress has wrought.

So few of my old time friends have kept pace with me, that in thinking them over, I, indeed,

"Feel like one who treads alone
Some banquet hall deserted;
Whose lights are fled, whose garlands dead,
And all but he departed."

Thanking my readers, if any there be, who have patiently followed me through the pages of this journal, I close the volume and bid you adieu.




White star of peace! Mars' lurid light
No longer stains thy 'scutcheon bright.
On that clear field of blue,
Which seemeth but a fragment rent
From the blue vault above it bent,
God's peace descends like dew.
No more the wolf's long quivering howl,
Or dismal hooting of the owl,
In woods where foes were wont to prowl,
Thrills, like the knell of doom.
But, rising from each peaceful grove,
Soft notes of gentle woodland dove,
Cooing her sweet low song of love,
Like benedictions come.
Exchanged the battle's bloody gage
For helpful staff of peaceful age:
The roar and din of strife,
For bursts of childhood's mirth and glee,
As, from their throne upon his levee,
The patriot's great grandchildren see
The gladsome dawn of life.
Thou wast his life's bright morning star.
Through the dark night, through want and war,
He followed thee!
His long, long race is almost run.
Shining above life's setting sun,
His star of rest from work well done,
O, may'st thou be!



Previous Chapter | Evolution of a State Title Page
Southwestern Classics On-Line | Lone Star Junction

Online Edition Copyright © 1997 Lone Star Junction. All rights reserved.