The article on this page was published in the March 07, 1860 issue of the Weekly Standard, a newspaper printed in Raleigh, North Carolina. W. W. Holden, Editor.     Transcribed by Myrtle Bridges    April 02, 2003.    Letter posted June 14, 2003

We have received from Maj. John T. Gilmore, of Fayetteville, a long and interesting letter, dated 
Houston County, Texas, which we will take pleasure in laying before our readers as soon as we can find 
room for it. Maj. Gilmore has recently traveled extensively in Texas; and being a close and intelligent 
observer, his opinions on the character and appearance of the soil, the productions, and the natural history 
of that State cannot fail to prove instructive and interesting. Weekly Standard

June 14, 2003
LETTER FROM MAJ. JOHN T. GILMORE- May 02, 1860. We publish in our issue today the first half of an interesting 
letter on the South, but more especially on the Lone Star sister of our confederacy, the lovely Texas. 
It is from the pen of Maj. John T. Gilmore, of Cumberland county, an intelligent planter of our State. 
Our readers will find many things of interest in his letter, and highly instructive comments on that 
beautiful country.
	We return thanks to Maj. Gilmore for the Texas seed of various sorts sent us. We placed them in the 
hands of a gardener, and they are already sown; we will inform him of their growth hereafter.

						Houston county, Texas, Jan. 30, 1860
W. W. Holden, Esq., 
	Dear Sir: I wrote you from Allegheny Springs and also from Memphis, at which place I remained about 
two weeks. I left for New Orleans on the 7th September, by the steamer Capitol. The river was very low, 
by which I was enabled to see how the banks were continually crumbling in upon the one side, and accumulating 
upon the other. This process takes effect at every turn of the river, which forms a cove-and thus gives 
occasion for many to remark, that inasmuch as the bed of the river is more or less filling up, it will 
become necessary to increase the height and width of the levees, in order to guard against an overflow 
of the river, which has been productive of so much damage during the past few years. In calling the 
attention of passengers to the subject, I was assured that these alternate changes of soil from one side 
to the other were carried on in a still greater degree by the Missouri river. The banks of the Mississippi 
are low, with bluffs occasionally, which are generally on the eastern side. The trees upon the banks did 
not appear to be large, and the cottonwood seemed to be the favorite growth. As the river was low, I did 
not have a commanding view of the plantations. 
We reached new Orleans on the-and remained at the City Hotel two days. I visited the custom house, which 
is a very large building, and which I learn, has been in progress of construction about thirteen years. 
We went over the Brashear City, on the east side of Berwick Bay, and remained a day, in order to take what 
is called "the inside passage to Galveston." This is quite a small place, and proves conclusively, that 
words are not always the representatives of ideas. There was a time when a city meant something more than 
a name. This place is connected with New Orleans by a railroad of 80 miles, which is designed to be continued 
into Texas. We took the boat, had a clear sky, a calm sea, and no one sick. We arrived at Galveston next day 
for dinner. This city was a beautiful location, but very sandy; and when built up will be quite a handsome 
place. There is a great deal of business done here, and there is said to be an increase every year in its 
population and wealth. During this trip I formed many pleasant acquaintances: Mr. Wheate, a merchant at 
Houston city, and his lady, Lieut. J. P. Major, U. S. Army (Camp Colarado), and his lady, Mr. Oliver (a 
merchant at Springfield), and his sister, Mrs. Strowd; all upon their return to Texas. I found them all 
intelligent and accomplished, and was especially fortunate in forming their acquaintance, without which, 
time would have hung heavily upon me. The impressions were not those destined to live only for the occasion, 
but such as will always be found deep in the recollections of the past. We left Galveston in the afternoon 
on the steamer Island City, bound for the city of Houston. We ascended Buffalo Bayou, which, at that time, 
was the only navigable stream in Texas; and during the night a friend informed me in confidence that the 
yellow fever was in Houston, and we had best make no halt. We arrived at about 6 a.m., and concluded to 
take breakfast; this was on the 15th September. We took the cars for Hempstead, and very soon learned that 
one death had occurred in the city that morning, and two others a day or two previous to that time. The 
next and succeeding cars, as I afterwards learned, were crowded with passengers leaving the city. This 
disease prevailed for some time, and was spread along the entire line of the railroad, as well as in many 
other places, until it was finally subdued by the intensely cold weather which prevailed some time since. 
At Hempstead I took the stage and reached Anderson, a flourishing village, that night. Learning next morning 
that the stage would not run upon our route for the next two days, one of our passengers, Mr. Green, of 
Kentucky, began to regret it very much, whereupon, I proposed we should take Walker's line; to which he 
agreed. Mr. Caldwell, to whom I am indebted for acts of courtesy and friendship, was to bring on our baggage. 
He is a young man of good talents, and is the Associate Editor of a paper called the Pioneer, issued at 
Fairfield, which I learn is well conducted, and has an extensive circulation. Green and I put off in the 
afternoon, and reached Kellum spring, 10 miles, before sunset. This is a place of great resort in the summer, 
and might be made beautiful. According to my taste, the water is composed chiefly of lime and sulphur. Next 
morning we left, and were joined by Joseph Smith, of Ellis county. We reached Madisonville that night, 
25 miles. Here Green stopped because his boots hurt him. Next day Smith and I reached Centerville, 22 miles, 
early in the afternoon. Upon the arrival of Caldwell in the stage that night I received my baggage. Next 
morning I met with a friend, Col. Thomas Blake, formerly of N. C., who introduced me to the landlord, Mr. 
Tubb, who took an active part in endeavoring to facilitate my journey. Mr. H. G. Buckingham, of New Orleans, 
was here with buggy and horses; he was traveling over the State for the purpose of making collections. As he 
was going somewhat in my direction, he was kind enough to offer me a seat, and even went out of his way to 
put me nearer my place of destination. I found him a clever and intelligent gentleman, and regretted much 
to part with his company. He left me within 8 miles of the place to which I was going. I found no difficulty 
hereafter, and reached the residence of John Smith, Esq., formerly of Bladen county, N. C., on the 21st 
September, where I have since resided during my stay in this country. Mr. Smith has a fine body of land on 
the eastern side of Trinity river, has made a very fair crop, and says he is well satisfied with the country. 
Since I have been here I have visited several of my friends from our own State, who appear to be well located, 
and to whom I am indebted for hospitality and attention. I would especially mention Dr. Wm. Murchison and 
his brother, Col. John Murchison, who are pleasantly situated near Elk Heart, and are doing well. With them 
I spent much of my time, and enjoyed the pleasant and welcome hospitalities of their house. Not long after 
my arrival here I made a tour, in company with Mr. Smith, of about 140 miles. We started on the 6th October, 
and Dr. Wm. Murchison joined us on the same day at Magnolia. We wee invited by Mr. John McLenahan to enjoy 
the hospitalities of his house for the night. We found him a polite, clever, and intelligent gentleman. On 
the next day we passed through some prairie, but chiefly through a woodland country, somewhat broken and 
sandy, and took up for the night at Dr. King's, where we were hospitably entertained by the family. The Dr. 
was not at home. Next day we remained a few hours at the Judson Association, where we parted with Dr. 
Murchison, pursued our journey, and crossed the Trinity at Wild Cat Bluff, where the bottom land is very 
wide and rich. We soon entered the prairies, and about ten miles from this I first say the Meskeet tree 
which has so long been identified with Texas, even in those days when the savage and warlike Camanche roamed 
in triumph over the land. During this little journey we passed through the counties of Houston, Anderson, 
Nevarro, Ellis, Freestone and Leon, and returned through the same, but different roads. In the county of 
Ellis I first saw the Grouse. This is a beautiful fowl-gregarious in habit, about the size of a small hen, 
and resembling very much the Quail or Partridge in appearance, with the exception that its color is much 
lighter. All attempts to domesticate this fowl have failed. I have met with several persons who have made 
the trial, but without success. It is very similar, though not so large as that described by Capt Herndon 
in his exploration of the Amazon, as seen in Peru, and there known in the Spanish language as the Perdiz 
Grande-the large partridge. Here also was the Plover, the Quail, and the Bird of Paradise; which is beautiful, 
and said to sing sweetly. The Hawk, too, was here, circling in the air, and looking down for objects of 
destruction. The lark was likewise to be seen sporting in playful mood over the prairie. With a low short 
flight he dives into the grass and eludes the vigilant eye of his oppressor-yet still he is brave, for he 
has stood his ground with many an Indian tribe, fearless of the deathful arrow. He sinks not beneath the 
severity of cold nor the intensity of heat, whilst his march, though slow, is onward, until he shall have 
gained the Rocky Mountains-there, upon its lofty summit, with his wild romantic notes warbled into the 
melody of song, to hail with joy the advent of spring, and cheer aloud the first approach of civilization.
	Here, also, we passed over some prairies which are said to extend from Trinity river to El Paso, a 
of more than six hundred miles. In this county, also, a few Antelopes are to be found; they are said to be 
beautiful animals, exceedingly swift footed and very shy, but if taken when young, easily domesticated, and 
perfectly harmless. They range upon the most elevated portion of the prairie which is free of timber, and 
will suffer to be captured by either dog or man, sooner than enter the little woodland that skirts the 
prairie, which is generally devoid of undergrowth, and in no event would seem to produce any material 
impediment to their running. I is, however, equally true that they never abandon their flight until their 
breath is nearly exhausted, when, in a few moments, they expire. We had not the pleasure of seeing one. 
On the road we passed several wagons loaded with lumber, drawn by five yoke of oxen, the usual team in 
this country, and bound for Dallas county, one hundred and twenty miles. The wagoners bring down flour 
from the upper counties, sell it in the piney region of eastern Texas, and make a return load in lumber. 
I have heard of lumber being hauled for building purposes, two hundred miles, and even for making board 
fences, nearly that distance. In some places cedar rails are hauled twenty miles. The usual length of an 
oak rail here is eight feet, which makes the strongest and best looking rail fence I have seen anywhere. 
The fences in this country are generally very good. Our farthest point of travel was near the northern line 
of Ellis county, at a little village named "Possum Trot." Here we saw a flour mill in operation, driven by 
three yoke of oxen treading upon an inclined wheel 30 or 35 feet in diameter. I regretted we had not arrived 
a few hours sooner, as then we could have seen sixteen Mexican ox carts loaded with flour from Dallas county, 
and bound for San Antonio. It was said they were in the service of a contractor to supply our troops. I was 
anxious to see the manner in which the oxen were geared. All accounts agree that the yoke is placed upon the 
head, in front, and just below the horns; so that the oxen may be said to push rather than to pull. Almost 
ever nation has its own peculiar method of gearing work animals. In this particular the South Americans differ 
widely from us in relation to the horse; and the inhabitants of Morocco differ from us in a still greater 
degree, as regards both horses and cattle. Of course each nation believes its own peculiar method to be best, 
and it becomes a matter of interest as well as curiosity to witness the diversity of the human mind, in the 
various applications which have been made to attain the same object.  All the country north of Navarro county 
is said to be especially adapted to the raising of stock of all kinds and to the production of wheat, rye, 
barley, and oats. Wheat is said, in Ellis county, to weigh 70 lbs. To the bushel, and the product of barley 
to be enormous. And those remarks, I understand, will apply with equal force to all of northern Texas. But 
little cotton is raised in that section. And here, perhaps, it might be proper to say that Texas may be 
regarded in three grand divisions-the Northern, of which I have already spoken,--the Middle, which is adapted 
to the production of cotton and corn, and the Coast, which is adapted to the production of sugar, cotton and 
corn. In this division, and very near the coast, I learn that stock raising is carried on to some extent. 
From the famous little village spoken of above, we turned our course homewards, passed the flourishing 
village of Waxahachie, where we saw another flour mill in operation, driven by the weight of three yoke 
of oxen upon an inclined wheel, and within a few miles of this we saw some fields partly enclosed by the 
Bois d'Arc, or Osage Orange, as it is called in some sections-passed Chambers creek, where the bottom land 
is about a mile wide and very rich. We stayed all night at Dr. Foster's, where we saw a large flock of grouse. 
I have since learned that they are to be found as far south as the coast, and, perhaps, in every section 
of the State.
	We left in the morning and reached the village of Corsicana, where we remained about an hour. Here Mr. 
Wm. Storey kindly presented me with some curiosities, and among the number the Centipede and Tarantula. 
The former is said to have a sting in every foot-the latter inflicts its damage with its fangs alone. We 
passed Richland creek, where the bottom land is very rich and covered with wild rye, which, although dead, 
was still standing. We tarried for the night with Mr. Burleson, brother of the lamented Gen. Edward Burleson, 
who was a native of Buncombe county, NC. His memory is respected by all, and his deeds of service stand 
in brilliant association with the history of Texas. Next morning Mr. Burleson, with horse and dogs, rode 
out with us to see if we could start the Mule Hare, which is regarded as one of the animal curiosities of 
the State. When our hunt was nearly over, one sprang up within a few feet of our horses, ran in front of 
us about fifteen paces, stopped and faced us. We had a good view for the time it lasted, but one of our 
party calling for the dogs, one came up and the hare led off slowly and in a playful manner at first, but 
soon its speed was doubled. The gap between the racers widened rapidly at every pace, and in a few moments 
it was gone from us forever. As well as I could judge, it was of a grey color, and its ears from five to 
seven inches in length, and hence its name. It was three or four times larger than the common rabbit, and 
its head present somewhat a bushy appearance, arising perhaps from it length of hair. The same remarks I 
made concerning the Antelope apply with equal force to the hare. Under no circumstances will it enter 
timbered land, but is always found in the prairie, and sooner than violate this law, will suffer to be 
captured by either dog or man. Several persons sometimes post themselves on horseback around the prairie, 
and when one is started it is chased alternately by the riders until finally it is broken down. Like the 
Antelope, it is said to be easily domesticated. It is an unsettled question which of these animals has the 
greater speed, and upon this point public opinion seems to be about equally divided. They both run perfectly 
level like the horse.
	We reached Fairfield in the afternoon, which is a beautiful place. Here I was introduced to Mr. Huckaby, 
a polite, clever and wealthy gentleman, residing a few miles in the country. To him I was indebted for the 
politeness of an introduction to Mr. Bragg, the brother of ex-Gov. Bragg, of our State. I found him a polite, 
clever and intelligent gentleman. We were invited by Dr. Milner, the friend of Mr. Smith, to enjoy the 
hospitalities of his house for the night. He was polite, clever and intelligent. His lady appeared to be 
equally so, and we were entertained with an elegant hospitality. It was there I was introduced to Mr. 
Henry L. Graves and his lady, both from our own State, and the latter a sister of the Hon. Calvin Graves, 
of Caswell. They have charge of a female college here, which is in a flourishing condition, with about 
ninety scholars, and possessing a reputation in advance of any similar institution I have yet heard of 
in the State. This of itself sufficiently proclaims for themselves character, talent and capacity.  Having 
left Fairfield we arrived on the second day thereafter at the place from which we originally set out. During 
this little journey I made it a point to stand by my old rule, which was always to keep a good lookout for 
snakes. I saw but two, and these were what we call highland snakes. The weather was quite warm, so much so 
I was frequently compelled to use an umbrella. My attention was drawn to the fact that I had not seen a 
snake of any kind at or near any of the streams we crossed, although most of them were not running, but 
the water was standing in little pools. In such places I had always been accustomed to see snakes, and 
especially the moccasin. I was therefore led to the conclusion, that any water impregnated with lime is 
unfavorable to the habitation of snakes. And this conclusion is greatly strengthened, if not completely 
verified, by the fact that in those localities in Eastern Texas where the water is free of lime, and especially 
about the pond the moccasin is very abundant. From what I have seen and learned upon this subject, I would 
say that snakes are not more abundant here than with us. The rattlesnake and blacksnake are more numerous 
than any other snakes in Texas. I have heard of some localities far in the west where the rattlesnake is 
said greatly to abound, but of this I am not sufficiently informed. All the land over which we traveled 
west of the Trinity might be regarded as good; most of it rich, and nearly all of it prairie. It is a 
limestone country, and hence the drinking water is not good, inasmuch as but few persons are provided with 
cisterns. When this provision shall have been made, good water may be obtained. I learn that cisterns are 
more numerous as you proceed west. In many places water for stock is deficient in summer and fall. This 
difficulty is now being removed by the establishment of tanks, which is neither more nor less than raising 
a dam across a ravine by which the rain-water is held in this little pond for the benefit of stock. This 
water remains good throughout the season. And here I will say that the State of Texas is divided by the 
people into three divisions besides those I have already mentioned. Eastern Texas, extending from the Sabine 
to the Trinity river; Middle Texas, from the Trinity to the Brasos, and Western Texas, from the Brasos to 
the Rio Grande. Whilst the importance of so many divisions might appear questionable at first view, especially 
as no other State in the Union contain more than half that number, yet when you recollect that it contains 
an are of 237,321 square miles, being more than four times the area of our own State, the importance of those 
divisions will be readily conceded. Eastern Texas contains less rich land than the other divisions which I 
have just named. The soil in some places is prairie, in others sandy, and in many places is supplied with 
short and long leaf pine. It is from these localities that lumber is obtained for the supply of a large 
portion of Middle Texas. The water here is said to be generally better and more abundant than in the two 
remaining divisions. In regard to diseases, I would say that chills and fevers in the summer and fall, 
pneumonia in winter, are the most prevalent. Here, as in other places, the typhoid fever prevails occasionally.
  Middle Texas is said to contain a much richer soil than the division of which I have just spoken, especially 
the cotton lands of the Brasos and its tributaries, some of which would of course be embraced in the Western 
division. I have heard these lands spoken of as being equal, at least, to any in the State, and perhaps the 
same remark might be made in relation to the bottom lands of some of the rivers farther west, but I have 
been in no condition to ascertain the fact. In regard to diseases, I presume that chills and fevers and 
pneumonia prevail in every division. I have talked with several persons who seemed familiar with the State, 
who say that the timbered land occupies only about one-fourth the area of the whole State; all the rest being 
prairie. There is quite a difference in the forest growth of this State and our own-fully as great as there 
is in soil and climate. As well as I can learn, Texas has no poplar, sourwood, forked-leaf black jack nor 
chestnut. In fact this latter tree is said to be found nowhere west of the Mississippi river. All of these 
we have. On the other hand Texas has the Meskeet, Rattama, Pecan, Dwarf Plum, Burr Oak, Osage Orange, a 
species of Haw, wild China, and the wild Peach Tree, none of which I believe are indigenous to our State. 
As I intimated elsewhere, I regard the first as a beautiful tree, although everyone might not consider it 
so. The largest I have seen would compare in size with an apple tree, nor do I believe it ever attains a 
much greater size. It has a bean from five to ten inches in length, resembling somewhat in appearance the 
common field pea, of which stock of all kinds are very fond, and of which the Indians, by preparation, 
made a very sweet bread. Of the second I have seen but one, which is very beautiful, and I have no hesitation 
in saying would be admired by all. Either of these would be highly ornamental to the yard, more so, I think, 
than any tree I have seen either in your city or mine; for since I have been here I have learned that 
Fayetteville is about being lighted up with gas, and as all the ancient distinctions in relation to cities 
have been destroyed, I regard coal gas and railroads as their only true modern criteria. The Dwarf Plum tree 
is from 2o to 3 feet high and bears full of fruit, which is not desirable for eating purposes, but seem 
chiefly adapted to the taste of hogs and deer, by which it is eaten with great avidity. The Burr Oak is a 
large tree, and bears an acorn of great size. Of the remaining trees it is perhaps unnecessary to speak. 
Beside these in south-western Texas, there are Ebony, Acacia, (Guisache,) Brazilwood, Lignum Vitae-and in 
north-western Texas, here is the Dwarf Post Oak, from six to eighteen inches in height, bearing acorns in 
great abundance. 
	If you will not consider it too great a descent, I will here mention another article of growth, but which 
belongs entirely to the water. It is called in this section the Youkapin, in Kansas, the Nocanut, and in 
Florida the Bonnet Acorn or acorn of the water Lilly. It  sprouts at the bottom of a pond and continues 
its growth until it has reached the surface of the water. Its limitation in this particular is not well 
defined, for it has been known to grow eight or ten feet high, and it is believed would grow much higher, 
if necessary, to attain the top of the water. Its stem is about half an inch in diameter, and had a flower 
on the top which gives place to a burr which is smooth upon its upper surface, and divided into cells of 
about fifteen or twenty in number, in each of which there is a nut in appearance and taste very much like 
the chinquapin nut with a shell much harder. As it ripens the burr turns down and the nuts finally fall out, 
sink to the bottom, and are ready for the next year's growth. This plant was quite a curiosity to me, 
inasmuch as I had never seen anything of the kind heretofore, nor do I believe it is to be found anywhere 
in our State. I do not consider this section of the State a good country for fruit. I have seen but few 
orchards or either Apple or Peach trees. The latter appeared decidedly the better of the two. Nor do I 
regard this country as by any means equal to our own in the production of domestic grapes. It is true 
the season for fruit had passed before my arrival; I therefore judge only from what I can see and what 
I can learn from others in relation to the line. It is, however, worthy of the remark, that public attention 
has not been directed to its culture, nor is it likely to be, so long as the culture of cotton is profitable 
and the price of labor high. Yet I have heard it stated upon good authority, that west of this an excellent 
wine has been manufactured from the Mustang grape. I find grape vines very plenty in the woodland, and where 
they have not been overrun by the fire, they attain a good size. There are said to be four kinds of grape 
here. The Mustang grape, which is in clusters upon the vine and very unpleasant to the taste; it ripens 
early in the summer. The most common is the Post Oak grape, which bears in bunches; this is said to be 
decidedly better for eating than the Mustang.  Next is the common bunch grape, such as we have in our 
own State. I will mention, that in certain localities the bullis and the muscadine are said to be found. 
As it rains less here in summer and fall than in any of the States north and east, the effect to be produced 
thereby upon the culture of the vine remains to be tested. I consider North Carolina the premium State for 
the vine-the scuppernong, the catawba and the white bunch grape are all of well know celebrity, they are not 
excelled either for table use or for wine, and all of them find their nativity in our own State. The 
scuppernong is now being considered (wherever it can be grown) as the le plus ultra of all the grapes, 
and yet we have a variety of the muscadine in Cumberland which is believed by many to surpass it, even 
in the delicacy of its flavor. But this grape as yet is unknown to some. We have also the Flower grape, 
a native of our State, which has but recently entered the list for public flavor, and seems destined 
quickly to attain it. Beside all these, we have a great variety of the black bunch grape, ripening in 
the summer and fall. We can show an equal variety of the cluster grape, covered by the names of Bullance 
and Muscadine. Let me here ask what State in the Union can show a catalogue so full, and out of which as 
many have acquired by their merit, a national reputation? Superior culture will have its reward, and a 
soil and climate inferior in production may be made equal to their superior; but I hazard nothing in 
saying, if the culture be the same, that certain portions of our State cannot be surpassed in the successful 
culture of the vine
	As I have said elsewhere, this State is very subject to drought; and the seasons are almost as much 
defined by wet and dry as by heat and cold. And this is the case in a still greater degree the farther 
South and West you go. Bishop Pierce, in his eighth letter published in the Texas Christian Advocate, 
says that at El Paso he was informed that no rain had fallen there in two years. You will not suppose, 
however, that such is the case in this section of the State. Rain, nevertheless, is very scarce during 
the spring and summer, and generally so in the fall. If rains could be obtained here as in some other 
States, there would scarcely be a reason-able limit to the production. I heard a respectable gentleman 
say, that upon one occasion he had made about thirty bushels of corn to the acre without any rain after 
the corn had come up, with the exception of a very light shower that did not lay the dust. In fact, I have 
been told by many who ought to know that if corn could be planted early enough, that is before too much 
of the moisture had dried out of the ground, a fair crop could be made without any rain. But if planted 
too early they run the risk of having it killed by the frost; in which event they are set back farther 
than ever. I have likewise been informed that the bottom lands stand the drought far better than any others, 
and that fair crops of cotton or corn can be made without rain. If this be so, then the bottom lands are 
decidedly best and most desirable of any. In this section of the State, that which is known as the Gama 
Grass Prairie, is perhaps considered the best. In taking this name because that grass is densely set in 
those bottoms. I have heard it said that wherever this grass is found the land is subject to overflow, 
and this I believe to be true.
	Here I will say once for all, that possessing as we do a favorable climate, and being generally 
supplied with abundant rains in spring and summer, I regard the swamp lands of our own State as equal 
to any lands in the union for the production of corn. The experience of past years I think full sustains 
this position; for during those occasional droughts which have sometimes proved disastrous to the hilly 
and rolling lands in the production of that important article of food, it has been abundantly supplied 
by the swamp lands of our own State. Nor have the benefits arising from this production been confined to 
ourselves alone, but they have been felt in other States through the medium of their ports. Considering 
the extensive area of those lands, the general advancement in reclaiming the same, and the vast improvements 
in modern agriculture, no human foresight aided by the light of reason, can discern any diminution of those 
advantages in the future, nor any change in the high limit of position to which we seem destined to attain. 
I do not allude to those localities where irrigation is at command, for in such, the greatest production 
has ever been obtained combined form, in comparative measure, but a speck upon the globe.
	You must not suppose from anything I may have said elsewhere, that the production of the grasses is 
confined to any distinct division of this State. Every county in which I have been seems well adapted to 
their growth, and I learn that the same is true in relation to those portions of the State which I have 
not yet seen. I observe, however, in eastern Texas, that the undergrowth is not only taking possession 
of the woodland, to the exclusion of the grasses, but is also advancing rapidly upon the prairie. This 
arises, no doubt, from the fact that the lands have been heavily pastured by the stock, thereby leaving 
but a small amount of grass, which renders an effectual burning of the woods impracticable. Some, however, 
are of opinion that it was the density of the grasses which kept back the undergrowth, and not the burning. 
However this may be, the process is now going on, and I have observed the same on the western side of the 
Trinity. The result of this is, that certain parts of the State must, after a while, be deficient in 
pasturage. If we judge from a statement in the Crockett Printer, which I saw some time back, the emigration 
to this State must be very great. It was there stated that two hundred wagons were then on the road between 
Crockett and Alexandria.
	Upon the little journey, to which I have heretofore referred, I perceived that the encroachment of the 
undergrowth became less as we proceeded north. This undergrowth is nearly all of what is called scrub oak. 
Since I have been here I have observed some ten or twelve different grasses, and most of them entirely new 
to me. Among the most important in this section I would name, is the Gama grass, which is the same as that 
in our own State. This, however, is liable to one great objection. The people here say it will "tread out,"
that is it will die and disappear, under the pasturage and tread of the cattle. But for this, no grass in 
this particular section of the State would stand in higher repute. I could but remark the different estimate 
placed upon this grass by the people here and those of our State. With us, you know that this grass, for 
many years past, has been considered worthless, whilst here its position in that regard is reversed. There 
is another grass in this section which grows in rich bottom lands-is highly valued, and known as the 
Beavertail. It derives its name from the fact that its head is flat, and is supposed to correspond in 
likeness with its name. I do no believe that this grass is to be found in our State. The crow foot and 
crab grass is here, but in a more limited extent than with us, and neither of them flourish in prairie soil. 
I have also seen the wild rye here in the creek bottoms, as I have elsewhere stated. This is considered 
most excellent food for stock, especially when green. I have seen none in our State, although I have seen 
what is there called wild rye.
	In one of the counties above I have also seen the wild oats, none of which have I seen in our State. 
Many of the remaining grasses to which I have above alluded are considered excellent, having been identified 
by name, I am content to pass them over. … Some few spots of ground in this section of the State are now 
being set with a grass, thought by many that it has been brought hither by the cattle. The people here 
appreciate it very much, and are desirous of it propagation. Although a very short grass, it is known to 
be very nutritious, and is possessed of that great and overruling merit, a capacity to resist the hoof and 
not "tread out." It will maintain its ground even upon a traveled road. It receives the various names I 
have mentioned because it is a running grass, has many joints, from which it puts forth roots, and when 
the blades dry up they present a curly appearance. It resembles very much that which is know in some 
localities as the Bermuda grass, in Cumberland and Harnett as the Cane grass, and in your county, the 
Wire Grass; which last I think is decidedly a misnomer, and am of opinion would be so decided by any 
Agricultural society. Because we have in our State another brass bearing the same name, from which brooms 
and baskets are manufactur-ed, and whose stem resembles very much the article from which its name is derived. 
I will, however, adjourn this question until I see you.
	From what I have already said elsewhere, it may now, perhaps, appear useless to repeat that cotton is 
the staple production of this section of the State. There are many different kinds of cotton planted here, 
but that in most general use is the Petit Gulf. When in Raleigh, Mr. Fab. Hutchins asked me to select him 
some cotton seed. I have, therefore, procured some for him, and some likewise for Bledsoe, of the same 
sort, which, for the want of a better name, I shall denominate the Trinity Cotton. I made this selection 
because I believed it best adapted to our climate. It does not grow so tall as the Petit Gulf, but bears 
very cull and has a good staple. It, however, does not stand the drought of this country as well as those 
kinds of cotton which have fewer bolls; but inasmuch as it does rain in Wake sometimes, at least, that 
objection will be removed. We have had several good varieties of cotton in our State heretofore, but 
they were soon allowed to run out, and this remark applies with equal force to many other articles of 
production. When the cotton begins to open, those stalks should be selected which bear the greatest 
impress of purity, and the seed selected from these should be planted to themselves. In addition to this, 
a sufficient supply of seed should be kept on hand so as to plant every other year, that is, the seed 
raised in the fall of 1860 should be planted in the spring of 1862, and so on. This process continued 
annually will preserve them in their purity, and render new importations of seed quite unnecessary. 
Without this they must degenerate. I gathered most of this cotton myself in order to obtain the seed 
in their original purity, and should my two friends fail to give it a fair trial and good attention, 
you may be your "bottom dollar" I'll gather no more cotton seed for them My old friend John Hutchins 
said to me one day that he would like to have a cotton which would not fall out of the boll, but remain 
until it was ready to pick. I suggested that perhaps it might be better if it would also jump into the 
basket, but he said it would be quite sufficient if it would only wait until he sent the basket round. 
So whilst I was here and my hand was in, I determined to accommodate him also. I have, therefore, got 
cotton which is said, by those who plant it, to grow of good size, to bear well and to have a fine stable. 
That it will demand a cent per pound more than any other upland cotton and that the winds of this country 
will not blow out. In fact that you may let the first and last boll ripen, and when you send round to 
pick the cotton you will find it all there. I think this is coming quite up to his mark. But I make it 
a rule to take everybody's opinion, and I find that those who do not plant this cotton swear they would 
not have it at all. Whilst they admit everything I have said in relation to it above, and especially its 
capacity to resist the wind, they say in the energetic language of the country, that you can scarcely blow 
it out with a double-barrel gun. Thus you see there are two sides to every question, even in Texas. 
However, I have got this seed, and if my good old friend is not suited it will be his fault, certainly 
not mine.
	I have seen it stated in well authenticated writing, based upon tradition, that the devil was once 
an inhabitant of Spain. That after having devoted three months to the study of the Basque language, he 
made a failure; whereupon, I presume, he quit that country and settled in Texas, which, at that time, 
was a department of Mexico, and the latter a colony of Spain. Having resided here for a long time, in 
various places, he was finally driven out by the Texans. And as most persons, in leaving a country, are 
unable to carry off all their goods and chattels, and especially when driven out in haste, so it was 
with him, whereupon he left behind several of his pincushions. As he was never known to slight his work, 
they are always abundantly provided with pins and needles, and woe be unto the man who puts his foot there-on. 
Travelers, from time to time, in passing over these vast prairies have occasionally found them, and although 
low in statue, are still in a flourishing condition, and standing forth as vegetable monuments of skill and 
ingenuity. I plucked the seed from one of these, which are herewith enclosed. Give five to Fab. Hutchins, 
five to Bledsoe, five to Sylvester Smith, five to Wilson, and keep the balance yourself. Whatever may be 
thought of this matter by some, I feel assured it will be properly appreciated by Wilson and yourself; for, 
if I mistake not, there is attached to your establishment the printer's devil, or the devil's printer, and 
I see no sensible reason why there should not be a pin cushion among them.
	I was under the impression, some time ago, that I had read of the existence of the Mule Hoof Hog in 
Hungary, but could not find any authority. I was also of opinion that I had heard of its existence in Texas, 
but could not recollect my author. I am now prepared to affirm the fact that it does exist here. Some six or 
more of these hogs, in company with others, were driven from Middle or Western Texas, through this part of 
the State, whilst one of them, becoming lame, was left with Mr. Wm. Radford, about 14 miles distant from 
this place. Its name is derived from the fact that every foot has a hoof in form just like the mule. I am 
not informed of any peculiar excellence attached to this breed, but the owners, as far as I can learn, 
evince no desire to change it. I have a friend here from Fayetteville, NC, who, some years ago, saw a 
drove of these hogs at Shreveport, and I have talked with others who have seen them also in Arkansas. 
I am not prepared, at present, to give any opinion as to the place of their nativity. 
I will here mention that I have recently made a short tour towards the coast. My friend, Dr. Thos. Smith, 
was with me the first day, 21st November. We remained at Crockett for the night. This is the capitol of 
Houston county, and a small place, but improving very fast. The stores are large and full; several stages 
meet here, and the travel is considerable. Next day I passed over prairie, bottom, post oak, and sand lands 
respectively; remained for the night at Sumter, the capitol of Trinity county. Next day the sandy and post 
oak lands prevailed; but as I approached Livingston, there were some prairies. I passed through the capitol 
of Polk county, which, although small, is improving fast, and took up for the night with my friend, the 
Rev. Reuben E. Brown, by whom I had been previously invited. He has quite a beautiful place within three 
miles of the village. It was here I first saw the Umbrella China of which I shall say more hereafter. I 
remained with him for two days and enjoyed the pleasant and welcome hospitalities of his house. He is a 
preacher of the Baptist denomination, and maintains a character and reputation, wherever he is known, 
equal to the best. Here I was introduced to his son, John Brown, who is a lawyer, and settled in Livingston. 
He is a young man of good talents, and I think of much promise in his profession. After leaving here I 
found the land, as heretofore, diversified in it character. I passed through a portion of Liberty county, 
and reach Sour Lake, in Hardin county, the 27th November, which is situated in the midst of a prairie, and 
covers about two acres of ground. About two feet of prairie soil over-lies a white substance deeply 
impregnated with lime and sulphur. At this time the lake was dry, but there were several wells from 
three to four feet deep, and all of these had water. I drank from several, and the water was very sour. 
In one the water was very clear, pure and beautiful, and had a very peculiar grass growing in it. None 
of the other wells had any grass at all, either in the water or upon the side of the banks. There was 
also observable, in places, a bituminous substance emanating from the soil, which finds its way into 
many of these wells. It has the appearance and consistence of tar, but differing in the smell. I noticed 
one or two places in the soil where this substance was quite abundant. The lake when covered with water, 
which is the case generally, is said to be apparently in a boiling condition over all its surface. This 
is believed to be the effect of gas. The water is said by some to be curative in all cases except consumption, 
and the place is regarded as one of the curiosities of the State. It is owned and kept by Col. Lacy, a very 
intelligent gentleman. This State is not deficient in mineral waters. Beside those I have already named, I 
could mention several springs I have heard of in different counties, but most of them receive but little 
patronage. The Lampasas spring, situated in Lampasas county, is more numerously attended than the rest. 
Sulphur is said to be the predominating ingredient in all. The geological survey of the State has developed 
the existence of iron ore, coal, lignite, copper, lead, gypsum, limestone, marbles, potters, pipe, and fire 
clays. The coal formation in the region of Fort Belknap is most extensive and best
I could but observe on my way to the lake, as heretofore in the prairies, the elevations of soil which are 
thrown up by the ants-some of them from 15 to 20 feet in diameter and from 3 to 4 feet high. Upon leaving 
there I passed through Hardin county, over some broken swamp lands-also some sandy lands covered with 
long-leaf pine; and here I found these mounds or elevations more numerous-most of them were from 25 to 
40 feet in diameter, from two to three feet high, and covered with a large growth of pine.  This presented 
quite a new and curious feature. At first I was at a loss to account for their formation. Not an ant was 
to be seen, and the growth of the forest, from its size, presented the same age; but a little reflection 
gave me to understand they were all made by the same small labors-years, and perhaps centuries gone by-and 
when their work was completed, their residence was changed. In passing over these sandy lands, the traveler 
may often form a proper estimate of their value for production, by means of the small hills which are 
thrown up by the "Salamander" from the soil below. I enter the county of Tyler, where the land was more 
rolling, and took up for the night at Mr. Arrant's, and here again I saw several trees of the Umbrella 
China. From him I obtained its history. He said the original tree stood at Lynchburg, which is at the 
junction of San Jacinto river and Buffalo Bayou, and on the South side of the former. Two of his neighbors 
went there to work, and he had one or more slaves at work at the same place. If I mistake not, he said that 
Col. Washington owned the place at the time. These neighbors brought back with them some of the berries 
of this tree, and gave some to him, which he planted in the fall of 1851. This tree, from its size, as 
they represented, could not have been more than seven years old at that time. In September 1853, known 
as the September storm, this tree was blown up and washed away by the overflow of the San Jacinto river. 
He stated (what I had heard before,) that no one knew how it came there. It is said to have been the only 
tree of its kind in Texas. In fact it is said and believed that there is none of its species within the 
limits of the union, except those trees now growing in Texas. However this may be, I will say I have seen 
nothing of the kind either north or south. This tree is beautiful, and would be admired by all. It differs 
materially from the common China, in the multitude and arrangement of its branches, together with the 
density of its foliage. Otherwise  they would be alike. It is regarded by all who have seen it as one 
of the curiosities of the State. I reached Moscow, a little village in Polk county, on the night of the 
1st December, at which time there came up a norther and snow storm. I was delayed thereby several days 
on the road, and when I reached Crockett I learned that the thermometer was down to 5 degrees on the 6th 
of December. Nearly all the persons I heard speak upon the subject admitted this to have been the coldest 
weather ever known in Texas.
I reached the place of my departure on the 8th December. The game in this country may be considered plenty. 
Wild turkeys are abundant, and there is quite a sufficient number of deer, although the number existing 
heretofore has been greatly diminished by the black tongue disease, which prevailed here as well as in our 
own State some year or so ago. Ducks, Brant and Geese are said to be numerous in the fall and winter. Of 
the first I have seen but very few; of the second none, but of the last I can say they are very abundant. 
During the months of October and November they were passing here nearly every day on their way still further 
south. Smaller birds, such as are to be found in some of the south western States are also to be found here.
Upon my return, Dr. Smith informed me that whilst in Crockett, a gentleman arrived having two Leopard skins, 
one full grown, the other less than half that size. The animals from which these skins were taken, he said 
he had killed in the west, perhaps last fall, between the Rio Frio and the Neuces river. This statement 
appeared to be at variance with the natural history of the country. At all events, I had never heard before 
of the existence of that animal upon our continent. Dr. Smith had seen the Leopard in the Menageries, and 
was therefore fully competent to distinguish the existing difference between that and the Catamount or 
spotted cat as it is sometimes called. Nor would I have ventured to call your attention to the subject, 
were it not for the fact that a few days ago I was favored with the perusal of a letter from Bishop Pierce 
in relation to his travels across the continent, published in the Texas Christian Advocate, of September 
1st, 1859, wherein he affirms upon the authority of the settlers the existence of a species of Leopard on 
the Neuces river. In certain parts of Texas the Bear is said to be abundant, and also in the same localities 
the Panther may occasionally be found. I have heard of four well established cases where this latter animal 
has made an attack upon different individuals, but all escaped death, some however, very narrowly. In 
north-western Texas the Mexican lion is know to exist, as also the Ibex. Wherever I have traveled there 
has been no scarcity of prairie Wolves. They exist in reasonable numbers in almost every neighborhood. 
The wild cat and catamount are also here, and such other animals as are to be found in any of the 
south-western States. The Mexican hog is said to be an animal of some little note; he is small but fierce 
in battle, and is rarely seen this side of western Texas. The horned lizard claims his place on paper as 
one of the curiosities of the State, but I record him reluctantly. There is also another animal here more 
diminutive in size, though not quite so harmless, possessing a higher order of instinct, and entitled at 
least to an equal share of respectability; I should be doing injustice not to give it a place in this 
communication; I allude to what is here called the scorpion spider, which has its weapon in its tail, and 
upon the slightest touch is ready to use it.
I will here call you attention to Capt. Stansbury's Report, wherein he speaks of the villages of prairie 
dogs as seen on his route to the Salt Lake, and wherein he mentions that seemingly unnatural family, the 
dog, rattle-snake and the owl inhabiting the same hole. Although he became perfectly satisfied of the 
existence of the former two, that of the third he derived from the evidence of others. A statement like that, 
at variance with the general sentiment of mankind in relation to the distribution of animals, presenting an 
apparent reversal of instinct by which they could harmonize together under one social compact and in one 
common habitation, required some moral courage to announce it, and cannot at any time be too strongly 
fortified by evidence. Belief is more or less educational, and observation has proven that evidence which 
is abundantly sufficient for the establishment of a fact at home becomes wholly inadequate when taken from 
abroad. But such is the character of the human mind, and it is now too late ever to be changed. I must here 
again refer to another letter of Bishop Pierce, written to the editor of the Texas Christian Advocate, 
wherein he states that he was present when one of those holes was dug out, and the snake, the dog and the 
owl were all there. I regret that I have not the letter at my command that I might quote the precise language. 
The entire letter is full of interest, and withal the Bishop is one of the most accomplished writers of the 
day. I find this subject also spoken of in Parley's Kaleidoscope as matter of curiosity. None of the writers 
I have named have ventured to assign any cause for this singular association. The idea that the snake feeds 
upon the young of either of the others cannot be reasonably entertained. No statement has ever denied the 
fact that any but three occupy the same habitation. But even suppose for a moment that the snake does subsist 
upon the young of the others, it is very evident that no great length of time would be required to accomplish 
the extinction of the dog and the owl, for they would necessarily die of old age, yet they appear to be as 
numerous as when first discovered. And when it is remembered  that both these animals are quite as small as 
others upon which that reptile has been known to feed, the supposition above becomes still more unreasonable. 
But again, if it be admitted that the offspring of either is used for the subsistence of the snake, thereby 
leaving the original occupants untouched, it will be seen at once that this very act passes the limits of 
instinct and becomes the exercise of high rational power which hitherto has been considered to reside in man 
alone. The exercise of that power has been absolutely denied to those classes of animals bearing the greatest 
resemblance to the human species; and I hazard but little in saying an economy equal to that does not exist 
in some of the African tribes nor in some few Indian tribes upon our own continent. This question, therefore, 
more of curiosity than worth, must remain unexplained until further developments shall have been made.
I regret that it was not in my power to be present at the Agricultural Fair in Cumberland. I was gratified, 
however, to see that your address upon that occasion met the full and just expectations of your friends and 
the audience. I have read it in the Observer, and have no hesitation in saying your topics were judicially 
selected, well arranged and ably discussed. Although I may here transcend the legitimate scope of this 
communication, I will say that your remarks upon the great value of our swamp lands and the importance of 
reclaiming the same, deserve the especial notice of our people, and cannot at any time be too strongly 
pressed upon their attention. For whilst an allusion to those lands has generally been regarded as applicable 
almost alone to the extreme eastern section of our State, it is worthy or remark, that all the counties upon 
the Cape Fear are abundantly supplied with swamps, presenting in depth and appearance of soil and growth 
upon the same, the highest evidences of fertility. Nor have these usual badges at any time proved deceptive. 
These lands have been tested in several counties, and their production would compare favorably with that of 
any land in the State. I would here do injustice to my own feelings were I to fail in concurrence with the 
views you have expressed in relation to the future prosperity of Fayetteville and the adjacent country, 
founded upon the completion of our railroad to the coalfields . I am sure you were gratified to witness 
the energy with which that work had been carried on, for your were its friend from the beginning to the 
end, and no one is more sensible of that then myself. There were others, too, in your city and various 
other localities in the State, who were the strong advocates of the passage of the bill upon which depended 
the speedy and successful termination of the work. I would be unjust to myself were I not here to record my 
grateful acknowledgment of the generous feeling of the Senate upon that occasion, whether prompted by the 
great merit of the work itself or by the past services of former member from my section, mingled as I trust 
it was, in either event, by a friendly consideration for those I had the honor to represent. Nor has any 
measure at any time during the passed legislation of that body been sustained reflecting a higher compliment 
upon the constituency of any section or demanding a deeper gratitude. Nor will I fail here in like manner to 
express my grateful remembrance of the generous feeling of the Commons by which that measure was likewise passed, 
being the only appropriation which was made for works of internal improvements during the past session of the 
legislature. And here again I must be permitted to say in reference to all that a full and just appreciation 
is felt by myself, and I trust and believe by those I had upon that occasion the honor to represent. John T. Gilmore

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