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Observations of an Anglo-American Immigrant (CEC)

Nathan Boone Burket, front row center, and his sons in 1890

Early Days in Texas, by Nathan Boone Burket, edited from the manuscript by Wallace L. McKeehan

Many of the American immigrants coming to Texas came from a long tradition of frontier wanderers. While history often points to the likes of James Bowie and William Travis as typical of Texas adventurers, the account of Nathan Boone Burket is actually a lot more typical:

From Missouri to the Lavaca Bay.

I was born on October 20, 1820, seven miles north of Jefferson City, Missouri, near a small stream which was then known as Cedar Creek. My parents on both sides were early settlers of Missouri and my father, David Burket, was a close friend of the Boone family. In fact I was named for the [youngest] son of Daniel Boone, and must have acquired much of his love for hunting and the great outdoors.

My father was of sturdy Pennsylvania stock and possessed all the hardy qualities that were needed to make a real pioneer. Hearing about the many advantages the province of Texas offered, he brought his family and came with other settlers in a group that was to compose a portion of Green DeWitt’s Colony. Most of the trip was made by traveling by water, coming by way of New Orleans. We landed at the mouth of the Lavaca River on the coast of South Texas on June 16, 1829.  Being nine years old at the time I can distinctly remember the first persons we saw at the landing were ten or twelve friendly Indians. They came on board the schooner as if to welcome us, and to help unload our goods and supplies.

The section of the coast where we landed was level prairie, and one could see for a considerable distance. We soon sighted hundreds of deer and other wild animals. That section was practically uninhabited at the time and there was game and wild life in abundance. We were soon met at the landing by one of the few settlers living near there, who came with his ox-wagon and hauled us out to his cabin, where we stayed for four or five days. Then a wagon train of some six in number came from Gonzales to haul us and our supplies to the colony, which was about ninety miles to the northwest. This trip inland to the Gonzales settlement required four or five days, the roads being just slightly used trails, and traveling in wagons drawn by oxen was rather difficult and slow.

There were five families in our group, all being friends and neighbors from the same section of Missouri, which was also the home state of Green DeWitt. We went to the headquarters of DeWitt’s Colony, which was located at the Gonzales settlement, on the Guadalupe River, and the head of each family was assigned land in that colony. Our family remained there for about six years . . .