Something to Live By

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!

Puryear/Pearson Reunion

Puryear/Pearson family and friends will gather to honor our Great Grandmother Rose (Rosa) Anne Thurman Puryear-Pearson b. 1872 – d. 1941. Rosa, a Travis County Pioneer, widowed twice, raised 15 children – 12 Puryears and 3 Pearsons. She outlived 3 husbands and her children populated a large portion of Travis County.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

10:30-11:30 a.m.

White Rock Cemetery – Bee Cave, Texas

Color Guard – Texas re-enactors-Artillery & Musket Salute by Members of Moses Austin Rangers.

From Austin: Take Highway 71W to the city limits of Bee Cave. The White Rock Cemetery is on the right, past Hwy 620 just before Hamilton Pool Road (FM 3238).

Public Invited

Rosa holding AltaRosa holding Alta

Austin’s First Settler – Jacob M. Harrell – 1804-1853

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.


First Treasurer of Travis County

Four generations of the Thomas W. Smith family came to Austin during the spring of 1839. Family members were his mother Ann Rodgers, his wife Rebeckah. His oldest son James W. Smith and his wife Angelina brought their three children, a son Fayette, daughters Caroline and Lorena. Four of Thomas and Rebeckah’s grown children; William, Harvey, Fenwick and Margaret, all unwed, completed the family of twelve.

Thomas was appointed the first county treasurer; his son James was the county judge when Travis County was organized on January 25, 1840. Judge James Smith was killed one year later by Comanche Indians just west of his Pecan Street (now W. 6th Street) home, his son Fayette was captured. Fenwick, the judge’s younger brother, witnessed and escaped to report the attack. Family and neighbors searched in vain for nine year old Fayette. As his grandfather Thomas searched, he too was killed just outside of Austin by Indians on August 6, 1841. Rebeckah lost her husband, a son and a grandson to the Indians in eight months.

A document dated May 9, 1840, signed by Thomas Smith, gives some indication of Indian problems in the new county. He wrote a requisition for six kegs of gun powder and five bars of lead, to be delivered to Captain John Holliday at the falls of the Brazos.

Rebeckah returned to Alabama and died there in 1856. Thomas and Rebeckah Smith’s children and grandchildren stayed to take part in Austin’s future.

Something New

I will be writing short vignettes of the earliest known pioneers of Austin and Travis County during the Republic of Texas. A census taken in December of 1839 accounted for 856 people in the new town of Austin. Men numbered 550, woman 61, children 100, and slaves 145.

I have identified about 75 families who resided in the capitol city from October 1839 until February 19, 1846 when the Republic of Texas ceased to exist. I intend to share with you their stories, based on newspaper accounts, letters and Republic of Texas history. These first footers stories will be published periodically in no particular order. If you know of a good story of an early Austin/Travis County Pioneer, please share it with the Westward Sagas website.  The next blog will be about the first Travis County Treasurer, Thomas W. Smith.

City of Austin 1840

City of Austin 1840

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