Monday, January 18, 2010

The Frontier Environment

The Gazley Headright Land Grant encompassed both sides of the confluence of a small spring fed creek (appropriately dubbed Spring Creek in the land survey notes) and the south west bank of the Colorado River about twelve miles southeast of the settlement of Mina (Bastrop). This location was reasonably near the northwestern fringe of Austin’s settlements and was inhabited by the Lipan and also the more friendly Tonkawa Indian tribes. Hostile marauding tribes of Indians occasionally plagued the area. The nearest neighbor was several miles away.

The Gazley land was divinely endowed with abundant fresh water; luxuriant grasses which provided adequate grazing; fish, water fowl, beaver, otter, buffalo, deer, and bear to provide game meat for sustenance as well as pelts for clothing, hats, and shoes. Initially, surviving mainly off of the land and its plentiful natural resources, the family hunted, fished, and foraged for native berries and nuts. Later, they raised corn and other crops, bred cattle and hogs, and raised chickens.

(This riverfront location would later become the site of Dr. Gazley’s Landing, a stopover location for the cotton and supply laden riverboat Kate Ward and others which plied the river’s water while in route to Austin from Matagorda during the late 1840’s. The western portion of today’s city of Smithville also rests within this tract of land. As a point of reference, Stephen F. Austin owned the adjacent tract of land to the west and numerous heroes of the Texas War of Independence also owned and lived on nearby tracts.)

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