58. HELM, Mary S[herwood Wightman]. Scraps
of Early Texas History, by Mrs. Mary S. Helm, Who, with Her First Husband,
Elias R. Wightman, Founded the City of Matagorda, in 1828-9. Member
of the Texas Veteran Association. Austin: Printed
for the Author at the Office of B. R. Warner & Co., 1884. ,
iv, 198,  pp. 8vo, original terracotta blind-stamped cloth
with gilt lettering on upper cover, marbled endpapers. Spine
darkened, mild to moderate shelf wear, hinges weak (but holding well),
light scattered foxing to interior, overall very good, contemporary
pencil ownership of Irene Goulding. Rare.
First edition. Basic
Texas Books 90: "This valuable book contains not only the personal recollections of Mrs. Helm in Texas, but also a lengthy description of Texas written in the 1820's by her first husband, Elias R. Wightman. One of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred, Wightman came to Texas in 1824 as a surveyor for the new colony. According to Mrs. Helm, he wrote the first description of the colony and ‘compiled the first map of Texas in 1828, from which all subsequent maps obtain their basis.’ The volume begins with an extraordinary account of the Texas Revolution from a woman's viewpoint, including one of the best descriptions extant of the Runaway Scrape...Mrs. Helm relates her adventures in Texas between 1828 and 1835, including the initial colonization of the Matagorda Bay area." Bradford 2219. Eberstadt, Texas 162:390. Graff 1847. Howes H399. Tate, Indians of Texas 584: “Includes Mrs. Helm’s descriptions of the Karankawas who still resided in the area where she settled.”
Helm joined her husband on “long journeys through unsettled regions to reach those sites [to be surveyed] for future cities.” She declares: “It was voted that I should have the honour of being the first white woman to ascend the mouth of the Colorado River.” Her comparison of Anglos and Mexicans exhibit the expected contemporary prejudices. On the other hand, the appendix contains a section on “Horsemanship of the Spaniards” extolling the skills of the Spanish, Mexican, and Native American, with descriptions of methods, saddles, lasso, equipage, etc. There are but few first-hand accounts of the Texas Revolution by women.
Handbook of Texas Online: Mary Sherwood Wightman Helm:
Mary Helm (1807-1886) pioneer teacher, the daughter of John Hutchinson and Janet (Henderson) Sherwood, was born on July 3, 1807, in Herkimer County, New York. She began teaching at the age of sixteen and was teaching in a district school when she became reacquainted with her former teacher, Elias R. Wightman, who had recently returned from working as a surveyor for Stephen F. Austin and Green DeWitt in Texas. After a short courtship the two were married, on October 26, 1828. The Wightmans gathered a group of approximately fifty to sixty colonists, a majority from New York, and on November 2, 1828, set out for Texas. They traveled by wagon to the Allegheny River and from there down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans. There they chartered the schooner Little Zoe and set out on December 26; bad weather and difficulty in sailing through Matagorda pass kept them from landing at Matagorda until January 27, 1829. The Wightmans lived in a small fort for several months until they were able to obtain material with which to build a crude cabin.
They founded Matagorda, where they owned a salt works and much of the surrounding land. Mary taught both day school and Sunday school in a log schoolhouse in Matagorda from about 1829 until 1832. The Wightmans also received some land on Caney Creek, in what is now Matagorda County, which they farmed with the help of several slaves. During the Texas Revolution Mary, her sister, an orphan girl, the Wightman slaves, and several neighbors tried to flee from the Mexican army by sea. The group was stranded in Galveston and after much hardship finally got back to Caney Creek.
In 1841 the Wightmans moved to Covington, Kentucky, in search of a more healthful climate. Elias died there on October 26. About 1845 Mary married Meredith Helm, who helped found Connersville, Indiana, where they lived until Mary's death. Mary Wightman Helm was a member of the Episcopal Church and an honorary member of the Texas Veterans Association. In 1884 she published Scraps of Early Texas History, a compendium of history, personal reminiscences, religious dogma, and a number of her first husband's essays on the geography of Texas. The book includes lucid and detailed accounts of her experience in Texas, including the Runaway Scrape, her perceptions of the Karankawa Indians, the hardships of daily life and life during a revolution, and comparisons of various cultures.
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