Go to Page | Index | Cont. | xxiv     | Notes | Biblio. | Page- | Page+

the Grays immediately entered the most polite and cultured society that the Republic of Texas had to offer.  Dr. Anson Jones greeted and entertained them upon their debarkation in Galveston, and they met Dr. Ashbel Smith soon after their arrival by steamboat in Houston on January 2, 1839.  However, the rough material conditions of the Texas urban frontier proved daunting to the Virginia aristocrats.  Millie reacted strongly against several features -- what she considered rude housing and dirty water -- but the condition of the streets left her almost inconsolable:

I never saw anything like the mud here -- It is a tenaceous [sic] black clay, which can not be got off of any thing without washing -- and is about a foot or so deep -- although every thing looks better than I had expected, my heart feels oppressed & it requires an effort to wear the appearance of cheerfulness -- I could (if I were a weeping character) sit down & fairly weep -- and if asked for what, I could not tell -- merely because all is strange & I fear to look forward.

Gray had leased a dwelling on Fannin Street near the courthouse before he left Texas, and furniture and lumber made the trip intact.  The Grays brought or soon acquired an ample array of household items, including: 9 bedsteads and appropriate bedding, 3 dressing glasses, 4 tables, 6 washtubs, 10 basins, 4 dozen sets of knives and forks, 4 dozen plates, 43 silver tea and tablespoons, 3 dozen tumblers, 2 sets of tea china, 2 dozen wine glasses, sundry kitchen bowls and utensils, 4 stoves, 18 Windsor chairs, 4 brass candle sticks, 2 glass candle shades, 6 Japanese waiters, and a safe.  However, Millie described the kitchen, which doubled as a servant quarters, as worse than a barn even though it was superior to the houses of most Houstonians.  It took four days of hard work to make the one-and-a-half-story house -- built partially of concrete and graced by folding doors; windows curtained, shuttered, or with venetian blinds; plastered walls; and painted woodwork -- reasonably livable.[32]

Millie might justifiably have been apprehensive as well about her husband's chances for financial success, for he never really prospered, and she had to resume her pattern of contributing to the family income by taking in boarders in addition to other wifely duties.  Nevertheless, the Grays did their best to replicate in Houston the religious, fraternal, and cultural institutions as well as the family patterns that they cherished in Virginia.  They were typical immigrants in the sense that Texas attracted them with the lure of starting over from financial adversity; however, the Grays did not fit the stereotype of individualism carried to antisocial or antifamilial extreme.

Commitment to church headed the list of their institutional pioneering.  During the visit of Robert M. Chapman, a young minister who stayed in their

Go to Page | Index | Cont. | xxiv     | Notes | Biblio. | Page- | Page+

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