It's a name that evokes great adventure, and to many people the word
represents a symbol of the struggle for liberty and human rights. Most folks associate
the name with the likes of Bowie, Houston, Crockett, and others like them - all
But what about the women? Those strong Texas female pioneers - we
don't often hear of their hardships and the things they had to endure to produce
this great land.
An acquaintance of mine who works for The Gonzales
Inquirer, Wallace "Sarge" Morgan, has researched his family back to the early
days of Texas. And he was kind enough to share an interesting article with me
that shows just one example of the hardships endured by those exceptional ladies
of the Lone Star State. The article is from the book, The Fergusons of Texas,
written by Ouida Ferguson Nalle.
is a direct descendant of Mitchell Garrison, who once served as a captain in Sam
Houston's army, and this story is about an accident, which occurred in the spring
of 1855 and resulted in Garrison's death. But what impressed me most about the
article was what Garrison's wife and daughter experienced during this sad time.
It seems that Garrison was breaking a wild horse and was thrown from
the animal onto a picket fence. One piece of the fence went through the man's
thigh leaving him impaled on a wooden board. His wife, Ellender, and some other
folks removed him from the fence and attempted to tend the wound.
family did what they could to help Garrison but the wound was too deep and refused
to heal. He needed a surgeon and the nearest one was in San Antonio, which was
150 miles from the Garrison's Bell County home. Now the big problem was, who would
take the man to have his wound treated? The Garrisons owned a store and someone
had to run it - there were also small children who had to be tended.
task fell upon Susan Nancy Garrison who, according to the book The Fergusons
of Texas, was a grown young daughter. In those days "grown" probably meant
15 to 20 years of age. Prior to the accident Mitchell Garrison had intended to
go to Galveston to buy supplies for his store and the family decided to send along
a large freight wagon with two extra horses.
The plan was for the girl
to drive a buggy, which had the back seat removed to make a bed for her father.
The freight wagon and its team were tied behind the buggy. Garrison figured that
when he recovered from his wound he would go on to Galveston and get the supplies
needed for his store.
Try to imagine this young woman managing a caravan
of wagons and all the while watching for bandits and Indians. Her father had a
rifle but he was in no shape to fight. Susan Nancy carried a money belt around
her waist, which was concealed by her full homespun skirt. The trip was made during
a hot Texas summer and she wore a bonnet to protect her from the broiling sun.
The young woman fed and watered the horses when she made camp beside the road
at night. She then fixed supper for her father before she finally fell asleep,
exhausted, on sacks of feed in the back of the wagon.
After more than two
weeks of travel the small caravan made its way into San Antonio. The young woman
had done her job - now her father would get the help he so desperately needed.
Doctors treated Mitchell Garrison for several weeks before they decided that the
leg must be amputated. The young woman wouldn't make that decision for her father
but Garrison did, and he told the surgeons to get on with it because he needed
to get to Galveston for the supplies.
Mitchell Garrison did not recover
after the leg was amputated. And his young daughter, alone and without family,
buried her father in San Antonio on August 5, 1855.
Susan Nancy did not
want to attempt the trip back home so she sent a letter to her mother by a man
who was traveling to Georgetown, which was about halfway to her home. After the
letter arrived at Georgetown folks passed it from farm to farm until it finally
reached Mrs. Garrison. She immediately sent relatives to San Antonio to bring
her daughter back to Bell County.
Susan Nancy Garrison went on to marry
John Fletcher Ferguson. She is the great grandmother of Wallace Morgan, my acquaintance
at the Inquirer. Two more of Morgan's ancestors, Miriam and James Ferguson,
served as governors of Texas.
This is just one account of the hardships
faced by the women of Texas - there are many more. And there is no doubt, in my
mind, that today's Texas ladies have inherited the same strong and enduring traits
of their ancestors.