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October 26, 2007

Mary Maverick’s Vivid Picture of Life on the Texas Frontier
One of Six Copies of a Legendary Rarity

161. MAVERICK, Mary Ann Adams. Memoirs of Mary A. Maverick [cover title]. Hectograph manuscript. N.p., n.d. [1896]. 122 [1, blank] leaves (mostly numbered) printed on recto only. 4to, stab-sewn across top edge. Occasional contemporary additions and corrections in ink. Hectograph quality of pages ranges from strong and very clear to extremely faded, but most is readable. Paper age-toned and with foxing, first and last few leaves chipped along edges, last two leaves separated and with lower left corners wanting (some text lost on penultimate page). This copy of the memoir came from a Maverick family member.

            One of the legendary six copies prepared and printed in 1896 for members of the Maverick family. Rena Maverick Green records that her grandmother and her father, George M. Maverick, edited Mary Maverick’s diaries and memoirs and “printed” six copies, which were distributed to the senior Mavericks:

My grandmother kept diaries and notes during much of her married life, certainly from 1837 to the late 1850’s. These she wrote up in the form of memoirs in 1880 and 1881, adding to her previous notes a final chapter to comprise the period of the Civil War and the death of her husband in 1870. She spent several summers with us on the New England seacoast to escape the heat of San Antonio and St. Louis, and in the summer of 1896, while we occupied a cottage at East Hampton, Long Island, she and my father, George Madison Maverick, worked together over her diary: forming chapters, making connecting links and omitting some details, thus shaping it up for the family. They had six copies printed.... (Rena Maverick Green, Samuel A. Maverick, Texan: 1803-1870. San Antonio: Privately printed], 1952, p. xiv).

Although Jenkins in Basic Texas Books (p. 378) reports that “to the best of my knowledge none of these six copies have survived,” we have located, in addition to the copy being offered here, one more (along with an old typed transcript thereof) in the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. The Center’s copy belonged to Albert Maverick and has written on the front page: “Manuscript of Mrs. Mary A. Maverick Given by Her to Her son Albert Maverick.” The Center’s copy is disbound and in lesser condition, but it has the same manuscript corrections as the present copy as well as the same variations of hectograph quality on the same pages.

            In 1921, Rena Maverick Green edited her grandmother’s memoirs and privately published them for general distribution (San Antonio: Alamo Printing Co.). A comparison of the present hectographed memoir with the printed book reveals many variations, some minor, others more extensive. There are differences in text (possibly to make it more “literary”), including some details in the hectograph that are not in the book, and there are also blank spaces where information is wanting in the hectograph that have been completed (or the text modified to avoid the problem) in the printed book. To give two examples:

In Chapter VI: Comanches:

Hectograph, page 22: The signal was given by the Cathedral bell, and the men generally responded promptly to the call. They were organized to follow the Indians, to their mountain fastnesses, and to destroy them and their habitations.

            Jack Hays, came from Tenn. to Texas, about _______ and when he came to San Antonio in _______ he was eighteen [sic] years of age at which time he was appointed a deputy surveyor.

Printed 1921 book, pages 28-29: At a certain signal given by the Cathedral bell, the men were off, in buckskin clothes and blankets responding to the call. They were organized to follow the Indians to their mountain fastnesses and destroy their villages, if they failed to kill the Indians.

            Jack Hays came from Tennessee to Texas just after the battle of San Jacinto and when he came to San Antonio he was nineteen years of age, at which time he was appointed a deputy surveyor.

Describing the Battle of the Salado in Chapter XI:

Hectograph, page 64: The Battle of the Salado. On the morning of the 19th Caldwell selected his battleground on the left bank of the Salado about six miles from San Antonio and a mile below the Austin’s crossing of that creek. His choice fell upon a ravine in which he concealed his men and from the banks of which they were to battle the enemy. Early in the morning he sent Hays with 50 men to draw the Mexicans out of San Antonio. Hays maneuvered successfully — he feigned flight and was hotly pursued to the Salado by 200 Mexican cavalry.

Printed 1921 book, pages 69 & 72 (The book has an issue point here regarding inserted text; see the next item herein for more information.): 18th. Caldwell moved with 225 men to the Salado, and on the morning [69/72] of the 19th, selecting a ravine for his force, he ordered Hays with 50 mounted men to draw the Mexicans out of San Antonio.

            The Battle of the Salado. The battle ground was on the left bank of the Salado about six miles from San Antonio and a mile below the Austin crossing of that creek. Hays maneuvered to success, and feigning flight, was hotly pursued by the two hundred Mexican cavalry to the Salado....

            Mary Ann Adams Maverick (1818-1898), pioneer and diarist, married Samuel A. Maverick in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, on August 4, 1836, and accompanied him to Texas early in 1838. Samuel had originally immigrated to Texas in March 1835 and was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence before returning to the South on family business. In Texas, Mary was destined to become the matriarch of a large, prominent, and influential Texas family. She kept diaries and journals of her family life as well as of events in Texas in the period from her arrival until Samuel’s death in 1870, including the 1840 Comanche invasion, the Council House Fight (hers is generally considered the best eye-witness account), the Woll Expedition, Samuel’s incarceration in the Perote Prison, and many other events. She describes numerous expeditions against the Native Americans, especially those led by Jack Hays in which Samuel participated. Mary also made note of social activities and of her acquaintance with many famous early Texans. As Jenkins remarks, “Her description of social life in early Texas is particularly interesting and useful, presenting everyday life of both the Anglo-Americans and the Mexicans who remained in Texas after San Jacinto.” Her ca. 1838 drawing of the Alamo is the “earliest known post-battle view of the Alamo ruins” (Schowlwer, Alamo Images: Changing Perceptions of a Texas Experience, pp. 28-29).

            A great deal more might be said about the remarkable Mary Ann Maverick, but perhaps Paula Marks Mitchell best sums up this great female pioneer of Texas and the West: “Mary Maverick’s published Memoirs first drew me into the story of the pioneer life she shared with her husband in frontier Texas. I had found many nineteenth-century American pioneer women’s accounts to be disappointing models of Victorian rectitude; a mother who had given birth in a covered wagon in the middle of the prairie would fail even to mention the event. By contrast, Mary Maverick’s memoirs had a freshness, an immediacy of detail, a relative frankness that brought me closer to her frontier experience.... Here in all its emotional intensity was the real frontier experience of a literate, observant frontier woman” (Turn Your Eyes Toward Texas: Pioneers Sam and Mary Maverick (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1989, p. xi).

            In 1880-1881, Mary gathered her material together into a single memoir, and late in her life, with the encouragement of her family, she and her son George assembled her memoirs together and edited them to share with her children. George’s editing remained true to his mother’s original intentions, though in at least two places in the hectograph, he feels obliged to comment on some of the changes he made. His comments do not appear in the 1921 printed book. In a full-page “Apology” on page [4], George says: “I write to offer a few words before you begin the perusal of this little volume. The book I had for my guide, the book which furnished the bone and sinew for this book, was not in a condition to be printed. I am sincerely grateful that I was chosen by our Mother to prepare this book.... I have tried to act as her...agent in this work.... However, I trust that the errors and crudities of which I am guilty, will be lost sight of when you enter fairly upon the perusal of these sweet and touching Memoirs.” The result is an absorbing telling of early life in Texas.

            The hectograph process employed for these memoirs was a low tech, gelatin-based printing process used from the latter part of the nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century to make duplicates of an original. A special ink or pencil was used to prepare a master copy that would then be transferred to a gelatin pad, and duplicate copies were made by pressing sheets of paper against the gelatin. Many copies could be printed before the ink on the gelatin pad was exhausted. The normal ink color was blue, as are the Maverick memoirs. Those of a certain age will remember hectographed handouts and quizzes from their school days (and your tell-tale blue fingers if you were chosen by your teacher to make them).

            The following references are to the 1921 printed book: Adams, Herd 1460: “Gives the history of her husband’s experiences in his cattle venture, and the true origin of the term ‘maverick’ as applied to unbranded cattle.” Basic Texas Books 140: “One of the most interesting and important narratives of life in Texas during the 1830s and 1840s.... The memoirs are engrossing and colorful.... Insights into the lives of famous Texans are numerous.” Campbell, p. 94. CBC 351. Dobie, pp. 57, 62: “Essential.” Graff 2727. Howes M443: “First woman from the States to settle in San Antonio.” King, Women on the Cattle Trail, p. 17: “Good account of early days in the Austin and San Antonio area.” Tate, The Indians of Texas 2089. Winegarten, Finder’s Guide to the Texas Women: A Celebration of History Exhibit Archives, p. 132; Texas Women’s History Project, p. 40. See also: Handbook of Texas Online: Mary Ann Adams Maverick <>. ($7,500-15,000)

Sold. Hammer: $14,000.00; Price Realized: $16,450.00

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