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Early Southwest Texas as Told by Those Who Were There

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510.     SOWELL, A[ndrew] J[ackson]. Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas by A.J. Sowell, Author of “Texas Rangers” “Big-Foot Wallace,” etc. Facts Gathered from Survivors of Frontier Days. Austin: Ben C. Jones & Co., Printers, 1900. [i-v] vi-viii, 1-844 pp., 12 plates (mostly photographic), numerous text illustrations (scenes and portraits, engraved and photographic, some full-page). 8vo (24 x 16 cm), contemporary post-fire red buckram, spine gilt lettered. Binding lightly soiled, text block cracked in contents leaves (but holding strong), overall good; other than scorch mark to contents leaves, the interior is very fine. Most copies of this book were damaged or destroyed in a fire at the printer’s premises a few years after publication. The salvaged copies were bound in the solid red binding like the present copy, rather than in the pre-fire red and black binding.

     First edition, second issue, with copyright notice on title verso. Basic Texas Books 193: “The work contains 132 accounts of early pioneers, mostly as told by them directly to Sowell…. Most of the work relates to Indian fights and Texas Rangers. This material is fresh and for the most part not repeated in Brown, Wilbarger, or other works.” CBC 95, 3271, 4533. Dobie, pp. 58 & 60: “Sowell will some day be recognized as an extraordinary chronicler.” Graff 3909. Howes S797. Rader 2957. Raines, p. 193. Tate, The Indians of Texas: An Annotated Research Bibliography 2432: “Includes numerous anecdotes and first-hand information, but not always trustworthy.” Tutorow 3966: “Including some of Mexican War veterans.”

     Sowell includes the first-hand recollections of early Texas Rangers Bigfoot Wallace, Benjamin F. Highsmith, John Coffee Hayes, and others. Henry Castro’s diary and the founding of Castroville are well covered. Mrs. Hannah Berry relates her encounters with David Crockett, Cynthia Ann Parker, Rachel Plummer, and Josiah Wilbarger and discusses friends and relatives who participated in the Mier Expedition. The work is rich in social history, and several of the accounts are by or about women, including Amanda L. Scull, captive Matilda Lockhart, Sarah Kinchaloe, Aunt Mary Davenport, et al. Stock raising was an important pursuit in the time frame covered in the work, and many of the skirmishes fought involved depredations on ranchers and their stock. One of the plates is a photograph “A Group of Texas Cowboys, Atascosa County” (showing Charles Meadows, James Finch, Walter Franks, and Albert Finch, on the range). Not in Adams, Herd.

     Sowell (1848-1921), “Texas Ranger and author, son of Asa J.L. and Mary (Turner) Sowell, was born on August 2, 1848, at Seguin, Texas. In the early 1850s the family moved to Sowell’s Valley on the Blanco River in Hays County. A.J. Sowell joined the Texas Rangers and took part in the campaign against the Wichita Indians in 1870 and 1871. As a Ranger he scouted, trailed, and participated in Indian fights, which he later recorded in his writings. His books include Rangers and Pioneers of Texas (1884), Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas (1890), Life of Big Foot Wallace (1899), History of Fort Bend County (1904), and Incidents Connected with the Early History of Guadalupe County Texas (n.d.). Sowell died in 1921” (Handbook of Texas Online: Andrew Jackson Sowell).


Sold. Hammer: $400.00; Price Realized: $480.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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