One hundred and seventy-five years ago this week; President Mirabeau Lamar arrived in the Capitol City. The townspeople waited anxiously for their President at the “Hall of Congress.” The modest wooden structure sat on a hill; at the NW corner of what is now 8th and Colorado. The covered porch of the Capitol looked down on a large clearing of land; two blocks wide and fourteen blocks long. Tree stumps cluttered the muddy ground; that would become Congress Ave.
Lamar’s architect for his new center of government; Edwin Waller and a hand full of mounted dignitaries, met his Excellency’s entourage west of town. They were led to the unpainted capitol. As the citizens cheered; a twenty-one gun salute was fired from the town’s only cannon.
After a short public ceremony, the officials proceeded to Bullocks Hotel for the official dinner. President Lamar made a toast “there has sprung up, like the work of magic, a beautiful city, whose glory is destined to overshadow the ancient magnificence of Mexico.”
My next book, Two Trails to Taos, about the story of Fayette Smith’s capture in Austin, Texas in 1841. Why did the Comanche’s take a 9 year old boy to Taos? It was simple, it was the only place with an active slave trade. The going rate for a healthy white boy at that time was $60. I found a well-written article from Adam James Jones that I would like to share with anyone interested in this bit of southwest history.
Jacob M. Harrell, early settler, was born in Tennessee in 1804. He married Mary McCutcheon and they had four kids. Harrell came to Texas in 1833. In 1836, he was one of five pioneers living at the settlement of Reuben Hornsby on the Colorado River. The Harrell family was one of the first to move to Waterloo (later Austin) in 1838. Harrell was reported to have been living near Capitol Hill when Mirabeau B. Lamar first visited the Austin area on a hunting trip. A historical marker near the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin indicates the site of his home. About 1839, Harrell established a butcher pen in Austin. In 1840, he was a member of an Austin vigilance committee and in June 1843, he represented Austin in a convention at La Grange, Fayette County, called to express dissatisfaction with the republic’s policy in the west. In March 1844, Harrell was a commissioner to sell shares in the Colorado Navigation Company. He was elected mayor of Austin in January 1847. In 1848, he moved to Round Rock, where he was listed as a blacksmith on the 1850 census. He died on August 23, 1853, at his home on Brushy Creek.
This information was taken from the New Handbook of Texas, Volume 3, Page 469.
The following poem is something I found in a barn many years ago on a feed sack. I tore it off and have since found the poem in various places; sometimes it was signed anonymous. In 1954, it was published in Songs of the Saddlemen by S. Omar Barker.
They are still appropriate rules to live by.
It don’t take such a lot of laws
To keep the rangeland straight,
Nor books to write ‘em in, because
There’s only six or eight.
The first one is the welcome sign -
True brand of western hearts:
“My camp is yours an’ yours is mine,”
In all cow country parts.
Treat with respect all womankind,
Same as you would your sister.
Take care of neighbors’ strays you find,
And don’t call cowboys “mister.”
Shut pasture gates when passin’ through;
An’ takin’ all in all,
Be just as rough as pleases you,
But never mean nor small.
Talk straight, shoot straight, and never break
Your word to man nor boss.
Plumb always kill a rattlesnake.
Don’t ride a sorebacked hoss.
It don’t take law nor pedigree
To live the best you can!
These few is all it takes to be
A cowboy – and a man!
Last week, Lulubelle and I visited the D.H. Ranch near the top of Lobo Mountain at 8,600 feet. The afternoon excursion, 20 miles northwest of Taos, was part of the 16th Annual Taos Summer Writers Conference. D.H. Lawrence authored such works as Women in Love and Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
He and wife Frieda were invited to the ranch in the fall of 1922 by New York socialite Mabel Dodge Luhan, who lived in Taos. He wrote of his first trip “I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had. It certainly changed me forever…”
The Kiowa Ranch was given to D.H. Lawrence and Frieda not for a song, but one of his original manuscripts. In 1924, the Lawrence’s and artist Lady Brett, the Earl of Esher’s daughter, moved there. If the story sounds like something out of PBS Downton Abbey, it might very well be.
From the ranch, on a small table under a giant Ponderosa Pine, he wrote St. Mawr, and parts of David, The Plumed Serpent, and The Woman Who Ran Away.
Years later, artist Georgia O’Keefe lay on her back looking up from a long pine bench, to paint the branches of The Lawrence Tree, which is now owned by the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut.
The 160 acre ranch was willed to the University of New Mexico by Frieda in 1955.
David and Lulubelle near the Lawrence Tree