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Townsend, the partner of J. R. Jones, to whom I had borne a letter.  Learned that Col. J. A. Wharton[ 2]  was in town, but could not see him, nor Governor Smith.  Returned to Borden's at the land office, purchased half a bushel ears of corn in the neighborhood for seventy-five cents, fed him at Borden's stable, and took my supper and lodgings with him.

I ought to have mentioned a splendid sight that I saw last night before reaching Foster's.  It was the prairie on fire, after dark!  A similar object seen by day a few days since was striking; this was beautiful, not to say sublime.  It extended upwards of one-half mile in one unbroken, steady blaze, and almost on a level line.

Yesterday the weather was warm and cloudy, indicating rain.  All the forenoon today we were met by a strong south breeze, blowing a drizzling rain in our faces.  About noon the drizzle ceased, and it was so warm that I rode in my shirt sleeves.  It was summer heat.  At night the wind chopped suddenly round to the north, and there commenced what is familiarly called in this country a norther, by which is always understood a hard and cold blow from the north.  It generally lasts for two or three days, and is sometimes so excessively cold that persons have been known to freeze to death in crossing the prairies.  Long observation has taught them to expect a norther between the 20th of February and 1st of March, and that generally closes the winter.

Friday, February 26, 1836

This morning it was excessively cold for this southern region.  Yesterday it was summer heat.  I put the thermometer out in the porch and it fell to thirty-five degrees.  It being so cold, I did not start until near noon.

Last night an express was received from Lieut. Col. Wm. B. Travis, at Bexar, February 23, stating that 1,000 of the enemy were in sight of that place.  He had but 150 men, and was short of provisions and ammunition, but determined to defend the place to the last, and calling for assistance.  The people now begin to think the wolf has actually come at last, and are preparing for a march.  Mr. Gail Borden[ 3]  is packing up the papers of the land office, in order to remove them eastward should the enemy approach.

Not being able to get my land business arranged, left Borden's at noon.  Dined at Cummins' (thirty-seven and a half cents), and rode down on the Brazos to the plantation of Dr. Peebles, who had walked to a neighbor's.  I met him, and conversed a few minutes, then rode on to Col. Edwards', where I met Capt. Swisher[ 4]  and Dr. Barnett,[ 5]  two of the delegates from Milam, and a Mr. Bartlett, a surveyor.  $1.50.


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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