“The lowing of Texan cows is not very musical…” English traveler Mary Jaques wrote in 1894 in a charming, vividly detailed account of her two-year stay in Texas, with side trips to Canada and Mexico. J. Frank Dobie once claimed that “the English write our best Western books,” and Jaques’ account bears him out. Out of print for some ninety years, this collector’s classic will delight and inform, entertain and amuse.
So taken with Texas that she bought a twenty-five acre spread with “a dear little one-roomed cottage,” Mary Jaques entered into the frontier life around Junction City with gusto, describing it with a lively intelligence and humor that recreate for modern readers the land and its inhabitants as an earlier generation knew them. Outings to gather algerita berries, coon hunts, camp meetings, weddings, funerals, cave explorations-all find their place in Jaques’ chronicle. She gives vivid portrayals of the countryside, the crops, and the wildlife, from snapping turtles to coyotes, deer, wild turkeys, and even tarantulas (“in Texas they prefer whiskey to music as an antidote”).
Local hospitality proferred a dance to honor her and her companion, Didymusa-a real “Texan dance,” with a “stand-up supper of black coffee without sugar, hot biscuits, and all kinds of cakes.” Her sportsmanship even earned her an impromptu stint as a stagecoach driver on one trip. At last, the “sentiment” growing in her to see her homeland again, she voyaged back to England, to write this tale of her adventures, a tale which gives an important perspective on the land she had visited.
This facsimile reprint of the 1894 edition published in England makes available a valuable resource on early Texas life, long sought by collectors and historians alike.