A Texas Matchmaker HTML version

I. Lance Lovelace
When I first found employment with Lance Lovelace, a Texas cowman, I had not
yet attained my majority, while he was over sixty. Though not a native of Texas,
"Uncle Lance" was entitled to be classed among its pioneers, his parents having
emigrated from Tennessee along with a party of Stephen F. Austin's colonists in
1821. The colony with which his people reached the state landed at Quintana, at
the mouth of the Brazos River, and shared the various hardships that befell all
the early Texan settlers, moving inland later to a more healthy locality. Thus the
education of young Lovelace was one of privation. Like other boys in pioneer
families, he became in turn a hewer of wood or drawer of water, as the
necessities of the household required, in reclaiming the wilderness. When Austin
hoisted the new-born Lone Star flag, and called upon the sturdy pioneers to
defend it, the adventurous settlers came from every quarter of the territory, and
among the first who responded to the call to arms was young Lance Lovelace.
After San Jacinto, when the fighting was over and the victory won, he laid down
his arms, and returned to ranching with the same zeal and energy. The first
legislature assembled voted to those who had borne arms in behalf of the new
republic, lands in payment for their services. With this land scrip for his pay,
young Lovelace, in company with others, set out for the territory lying south of the
Nueces. They were a band of daring spirits. The country was primitive and
fascinated them, and they remained. Some settled on the Frio River, though the
majority crossed the Nueces, many going as far south as the Rio Grande. The
country was as large as the men were daring, and there was elbow room for all
and to spare. Lance Lovelace located a ranch a few miles south of the Nueces
River, and, from the cooing of the doves in the encinal, named it Las Palomas.
"When I first settled here in 1838," said Uncle Lance to me one morning, as we
rode out across the range, "my nearest neighbor lived forty miles up the river at
Fort Ewell. Of course there were some Mexican families nearer, north on the
Frio, but they don't count. Say, Tom, but she was a purty country then! Why, from
those hills yonder, any morning you could see a thousand antelope in a band
going into the river to drink. And wild turkeys? Well, the first few years we lived
here, whole flocks roosted every night in that farther point of the encinal. And in
the winter these prairies were just flooded with geese and brant. If you wanted
venison, all you had to do was to ride through those mesquite thickets north of
the river to jump a hundred deer in a morning's ride. Oh, I tell you she was a land
of plenty."
The pioneers of Texas belong to a day and generation which has almost gone. If
strong arms and daring spirits were required to conquer the wilderness, Nature
seemed generous in the supply; for nearly all were stalwart types of the inland
viking. Lance Lovelace, when I first met him, would have passed for a man in
middle life. Over six feet in height, with a rugged constitution, he little felt his
threescore years, having spent his entire lifetime in the outdoor occupation of a