The Journey to Texas

George Washington Davis Memoirs Part Three: The Journey to Texas



I believe that George Davis wrote this document soon after he found his way to Gonzales. His wife, Rebecca, Sidna, John, Eugene and his new born son George Jr. were still at Old Scotts (near New Bielieu Tx.). In a land wild and untamed we now call Texas, Davis finds himself alone and without the skills needed to survive in this wilderness. I believe he left this story for his children and their children and all those who would follow. The original document has survived at least one fire and is a story of survival of its own. It is a my pleasure to share it with you.

Hugh Shelton

Great-Great-Great Grandson of George Washington Davis

Eugene was born which happened October 12,1828. I became now disheartened with this country. I saw that if I remained there poor as I was I must continually toil from day to day for a mere subsistence with but a small hope of accumulating anything for the future -- the gains if any must continue to be small and come in slow.

I had long heard of Texas -- its rich soil; fine climate its beautiful scenery and the advantage of getting large tracts of land there for almost nothing. I had pondered upon all these things for a long time -- but the distance was so great that country was so far off -- the heavy expense of going there the risk, hardship, privation, and dangers a family would be exposed to in making the voyage all conspired to detain me a long time from the undertaking, but now I had excited your mother's enthusiasm on the subject and her good sense led her to see the great advantage that would most probably result from the enterprise. And cheered on by her assistance and smiles of approval I determined to brave all hazards and make one strong daring effort to better a condition and secure a future competence for myself and family. Accordingly I immediately set about making preparation for the journey.

Sold everything we had except some bed clothing a few household things and in the month of October 1830 hired a wagon which hauled all I had left and went to Louisville on the Ohio. When we got to Louisville we found the Ohio river unusually low. Our intention was to take passage in a steamboat to New Orleans from that place but there was no boat running. No boats would run. We remained there a month waiting for the river to rise but it did not. I then concluded to get on board of a flat boat as the season was advancing too fast to waste time winter was fast approaching. Mr. Schwing was sending off at this time some flat boats with flour. I was acquainted with him and bargained with him to work down on one of his boats as a hand for 30 dollars for the trip and my family and my goods to be taken or have their passage free. This I found soon to be a good arrangement for instead of taking money out of my pocket for passage, it put thirty dollars into it and money was indeed an object thenÑ To bear the large expense I would have to get to the end of my journey I found would consume all my means. We were a long time on the way but the voyage was otherwise pleasant enough. We worked hard (that's we hands) but we lived well. The crew were well behaved decent men and jovial and agreeable fellows. For six weeks after we started we landed in New Orleans.

We remained in New Orleans about two weeks before we could get a passage. At last we got one- on board of the Schooner Emblem for Matagorda Texas. We embarked on her about the last day of January 1831. Left the Mississippi and went to sea with the beginning of a norther which continued to increase and the next day became a violent gale. We ran before under the smallest quantity of sail all that day, when at night it had increased to such a violence that they had to lay the vessel too- as the sailors term it. Some time before daylight the vessel had headed in and worked so near the shore that she began to strike among or on the breakers. All hands were instantly on deck at the first alarm and by great exertion and activity got the vessel wore around- almost in an instant got her under way and saved her and all on board from destruction which in a few minutes more would have been inevitable. Before this time almost everybody on board had become sea sick and such a woebegone miserable looking set of wretches you never saw. Your mother and myself escaped this sickness but Eugene had a small share of it. The third day after leaving the Mississippi we entered Matagorda Bay at Pass Cavallo and had a tedious passage up the bay getting aground at last on the 12th day of February 1831 we landed at Cox's Point on the Lavaca Bay, about twenty miles from any house on the naked and lonesome bay shore. Our crowd of passengers for there was 80 or 90 of them on the vessel made it for a while a lively and populous place.

Here we put up camps or tents and remained about two weeks before we could get a way. The roads were so bad there that wagons could not travel them. We procured planks from the captain of the vessel, built a sort of flat boat. I got our passage in her for helping to build her and afterwards helping to work her up the Lavaca River. We ascended the Lavaca and Navidad in her as far as Old Scotts where we landed; Here I again had to build a camp- I did and a very snug one with poles and palmetto leaves. From the meager description of the country which I had only been able to obtain; and from the idea I had formed of it, I had when I started fixed upon the Guadalupe River as having the country on it that would please me best. The country on the bay, Lavaca and Navidad I did not like at all, nothing could have induced me to live there. The people there endeavored to persuade me to stop there. There was plenty of the best land the country afforded and open for location I could have got one of their first rate leagues, but I would not stay there. After we had landed I met a man who was going to Gonzales and wanted company and I anxious to hunt a home soon agreed to go with him to the Guadalupe River.

Accordingly- I shoulder my rifle and on foot with a half dollar in my pocket all the money I had in the world,- a little wallet of provision with the best heart I could muster-- leaning on hope alone-set out. Here, now let me pause and look back upon that period of my life and may we draw from it an useful lesson. How little had I to build hope upon-- how gloomy the prospect was in reality before me. Your mother while on the river to New Orleans became afflicted with Rheumatism and so severely, that when she landed and when I left her on the Navidad she could not walk without crutches. The rest of the family, except Sidna were entirely helpless. We had brought provisions with us to last us sometime or they would have suffered. And then I- what had I to calculate or how to expect live in this wilderness. I alone, unknown and unfriended- unaccustomed and unfit for hard labor- knew nothing about it- had neither skill not strength for it- was no hunter, incapable from nearsightedness of ever becoming one. Thrown here where these were the prime requisites,- the only available qualifications. I could to be sure make shoes and boots but what use for a bootmaker among people who had no leather where leather could not be had and who were well content to wear moccasins.

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