Cottonwood Springs

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Young County, Texas
R.B. Marcy | Red River, Preston and Gainesville, 1853 | Cottonwood Springs | Prairie Traveler | California Trail

Most army officers of the time were beneficiaries of elegant educations. Dodge's forays through the Oklahoma Cross Timbers in the early 1830s not only included his soldiers but Catlin, the artist, several natural scientists and journalists. Marcy's party fortunately included his good friend, William B. Parker, whose journal provides us with a beautifully written account of unsettled Texas.

    …We were encamped in a pleasant mesquite grove, in sight of the cool spring, and though the weather was hot, a fine breeze so tempered the atmosphere that our stay was very reviving after night marches, with muddy rain-water to drink.

    Whilst lying in our tents, about noon, we described some objects advancing over the brow of the hill in front of camp, and soon found them to be a party of To-wac-o-nies and Waco’s on their return from Fort Belknap.

    They halted a short distance from our camp, and the women commenced putting up their temporary shelter, from sun and storm, which they constructed of boughs, skins and blankets…

    The chief (an ugly old creature, a fac simile of a superannuated monkey,) soon rode up, and dismounting near his half finished lodge, threw himself upon the grass, whilst his wife-about to become a mother-stopped her work, immediately, to unbridle, unsaddle and tether his horse, for of course, he disdained the smallest labour or assistance to her.

    The principal use the wild Indian makes of his wife or wives is to wait upon him, she takes his horse and attends to it when he halts, saddles, bridles and brings it up when he wishes to ride, cooks his meals, puts up the temporary lodge or shealting, and dresses what skins may be obtained in the chase, in fact, does all the manual labour necessary in their wandering life.

    Her lord lounges, sleeps, drinks, smokes, eats, fights, hunts, and not unfrequently, rewards her with a sound drubbing, the only extra physical exertion he ever makes.

    In the afternoon, the old chief made us a visit. He was full of affection for the whites, and showed us a certificate of character, (no doubt written by some worthless scamp, as we ascertained the old fellow to be a most arrant knave and horse-thief,) from which we learned his name to be Ak-a-quash.

    He was very importunate in his begging propensities, and not at all modest in his demands, as the sequel proved.

    He wanted meat, tobacco, flour, coffee and sugar, not salt meat either, for that he got at Belknap; and taking up some yellow sand in his fingers, he said, “Belknap suker so.” Meaning that he wanted white sugar; pretty well for a wild Indian, living the precarious life they do. We told him he must be satisfied with what he could get, not what he wanted, and he did not refuse what we offered him.

    …In the evening the Captain, Doctor, and Major Neighbours arrived. They brought with them three Delawares and a Shawnee, the addition to our Indian force which we expected, thus making our corps of guides and hunters six strong.

    Major Neighbours was a fine looking man, in the full vigor of manhood, about six feet two inches in height, with a countenance indicative of great firmness and decision of character.

    He was the Indian Agent for Texas, and joined the expedition to assist in the explorations and locations, a service which his great experience and judgment peculiarly fitted him for.

    The Delawares and Shawnees fraternizing so well, are often employed together on such expeditions. Another Version & More

The above story is from the book, Through Unexplored Texas, by William B. Parker.

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