Book review

The Texas Argonauts were on the march west as early as January, 1849 -a remarkable circumstance when it is recalled that the famous tea caddy of gold dust which set off the gold fever in the "States" did not reach Washington, D. C, until December 7, 1848. From Brownsville, Corpus Christi, and San Antonio, the dusty trails of the gold seekers crisscrossed through West Texas and northern Mexico. Among the travelers was young attorney Benjamin Butler Harris, who joined the fifty-two man Duval party, one of the earliest emigrant parties to head for California from Texas. Traveling by saddle horse and pack mule, the Duval group was probably the first to operate a ferry on the Colorado River, although the boat was only a hastily caulked wagon bed. The overland journey was fraught with interest and peril-Apache alarms and skirmishes adding to the hazards of nature -but the party reached the mines on September 29, 1849. Here, published for the first time, are Harris's colorful reminiscences of his experiences on the Gila Trail and in the Mother Lode mining camps in 1849-50. Harris was intelligent, observant, and gifted with a sense of humor, and his account of the trail and the feverish activities of the early mining camps makes first-rate reading for all Western Americana enthusiasts. There is a bonus, too, in the new material presented on some of the most interesting and important men of California's early days, among them Major James D. Savage, Judge David S. Terry, and John Joel Glanton. About the author and editor: The sixth of twelve children in a prominent Virginia family, Benjamin Butler Harris graduated from Nashville University, Tennessee, read law and went to East Texas to seek his fortune. Soon convinced that the East Texas climate, with its "Brazos fever," would do him in if he remained, he decided to take his law practice and his bad liver farther west-hence this account. Richard H. Dillon who has provided the superb introduction and informative notes for Harris's account, is a historian of note and author of Embarcadero an excellent story of the port of pre-fire San Francisco.

The Gila Trail: The Texas Argonauts and the California Gold Rush by Richard H. Dillon

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Richard H. Dillon
Write Thought, Inc.
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The Gila Trail: The Texas Argonauts and the California Gold Rush

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