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Monday, February 15, 1836

We were awakened before day by the Negroes cooking breakfast, which they said must be ready by sunrise.  We, however, did not get it until near 7 o'clock.  It consisted of boiled clince, fried fat pork, coarse corn bread, corn coffee, without sugar, and boiled eggs, alum salt and pepper, in a tea cup, all coarse, and filthy.

While breakfast was preparing, saw a yoke of oxen of extraordinary size.  One of them was fifteen and a half hands high.  Another had horns that spread to the width of five feet, and the ends had been cut off, two inches each, which made their natural width five feet four inches!

Left Lakey's at 8 o'clock.  Arrived at Col. Edward's[33]  about 11 o'clock, where we found Mr. Childers, of Milam, to whom I had a letter from Mr. Kimbal.  Childers informed me that himself and Mr. Robinson, the Empressario, were elected from Milam.  Had an argument with him on the tariff question.

Arrived at Cummins' at half past 1 o'clock; took dinner and had our horses fed.  While there the Post came in, with his mail completely wet, he having just swam Mill Creek, and got overset in the midst of it.  He had the mail in a pair of saddle bags, which he opened, and spread the wet packages out in the porch to dry.  Some travellers also came up, who had crossed the creek on a log, below the ford, and swam over the horses.  They brought a hand bill issued by the Provisional Council, announcing the approach of Santa Anna with an army, and calling upon the Texians en masse to take the field.[34]  A great pother is now to be made, and if the population of the country can be roused, and an armed force sufficient to keep them in arms should really be on the frontier, the Council may perhaps escape a part of the execration and disgrace that seems to await them.  In less than a fortnight their brief authority expires, and they will have an awful reckoning to make to the people.

We rode today over wide and beautiful rolling prairies.  The country everywhere presents the appearance of a cultivated region, only wanting a few good farm houses on the beautiful eminences that everywhere present themselves to form a splendid picture of rural beauty and fertility.  Immense flocks of geese and cranes were feeding on the prairies, and some ducks in the ponds; herds of cattle were grazing, and now and then a few deer, larks and blackbirds in great numbers.  The prairie consists mostly of the stiff, black soil, with some sand.  On the top flats a great deal of water lies.  The surface is ridged and furrowed, very much resembling the ridges left in an old cornfield.  They excited our surprise and appeared unaccountable, but Mr. Cummins explained them thus: those appearances are only met with on the black prairies, which are of a stiff soil, which bakes very much, and when it bakes it cracks open to a considerable depth.  When hard rains come the water sinks into these cracks, the

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The Diary of William Fairfax Gray, from Virginia to Texas, 1835-1837
Copyright 1997 William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas