Family storytelling is what gave me the inspiration to write the books Spring House, Adam’s Daughters, and Children of the Revolution. They were the first books in the Westward Sagas series, about my Grandmother Lillie Bowles’ family. I heard the stories told by my father and his siblings at family gathering. Sometimes the old stories were told a little different depending on who was telling it; which is to be expected of a story passed down from generation to generation?
One such story was of my three great Grandfather Thomas W. Smith being killed by Indians near Austin, Texas on August 6, 1841. Some said he was shot with a gun, others said he was killed by an arrow. Every one speculated he was scalped by the Indians. If I was to write a historically accurate novel, I needed the facts.
In my research, I discovered my ancestor Thomas W. Smith (1886-1841) was the first Travis County Treasurer of the new county carved out of Bastrop and Milam Counties in 1840. His son, James W. Smith (1806-1841) was the first Travis County Judge. They both were killed by Indians while in office, in separate incidents near Austin. I never heard that family story, but these and other facts I discovered will make a great book.
I still don’t know if Thomas W. Smith was shot with a gun or a bow and arrow. Records only confirm he was killed by savages eight miles from Austin on August 6, 1841.