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First-Hand Account of Life & Death on the Texas Frontier in 1859

“But few better men are left behind”

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263.     MACBRIDE, Thomas, Jr. Autograph letter in ink signed to William W. Leibert, Philadelphia. Meridian, Bosque County, Texas, June 17, 1859. 6 pp. including address panel. Folio (32 x 19.5 cm). Creased where formerly folded, address panel slightly soiled, minor splits at folds (no losses), overall wrinkling. Highly legible. Overall, fine.

     MacBride writes to inform Leibert that his brother, Charlie J. Leibert, died on June 12, 1859. (Leibert is apparently MacBride’s uncle.) After remarking that it may come as news that MacBride moved to Texas about five months prior and persuaded Charlie to join him, he reviews the persistent troubles with Native Americans, who “had scattered over & were murdering, plundering & Scalping in every quarter.” Included in the destruction was his own ranch, which he found “broken up, stock destroyed and several of my neighbors murdered & Scalped.” He joined his neighbors to form a ranging company, but dissuaded Charlie from joining them and persuaded him instead to stay behind to tend the mill.

     After trying to contact Charlie, he discovered that he was missing, only to be found dead by his companions, apparently having drowned after striking his head while diving into water. Although MacBride is only partially satisfied with this explanation, it strikes him as reasonable enough, despite some inconsistencies, such as the victim’s empty pockets. He reassures Leibert that whatever the case, Charlie surely was not drunk: “I don’t believe there was a drop of liquor within fifty miles of him.” MacBride then describes the interment, at which “The neighborhood for 20 miles around turned out to escort the body to its final resting place. Though but two months has elapsed since he started to this place, he had gained the goodwill and affection of the community for twenty miles around; a number of old Texans accustomed to hard scenes, could not refrain from tears as we laid him in the grave.” Finally, he offers to secure a coffin and send the body back to Philadelphia; otherwise, he plans to get a proper headstone for the grave, which is in Bosque Valley opposite Honey Bee Bluff at Mount Meridian.

     MacBride closes with something of a hopeful sigh: “I have neither time nor heart at present to go into details of our frontier difficulties. A more delightful country & nobler hearted people cannot be found.” A moving, detailed letter describing what must have been a common scene for many aspiring Texans who came to the country in its early, wilder days. Meridian was established in 1854 as the county seat of Bosque County. The town was a log cabin town until after the Civil War.




Auction 22 Abstracts

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