Smith (Alexander W.) Letter, 1857
Alexander W. Smith served under Edward Fitzgerald Beale as the wagon master during an expedition to survey a wagon road from Fort Defiance, New Mexico, through Arizona and Texas to the Colorado River. The former wagon master Gwinn Harris Heap resigned after an argument with Beale, and Smith was promoted to the position. The expedition included twenty-five camels with Arab and Turkish handlers to test their usefulness during cattle drives. The trail, now known as the Beale Wagon-Road, became a main route for settlers moving west and later part of Route 66.
"Camels."Handbook of Texas OnlineAccessed January 28, 2011. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/quc01.html
Olsen, Russell A.The Complete Route 66: Lost and Found.Voyageur Press, 2008. Accessed January 28, 2011.http://books.google.com/books?id=fOOEXzXkZNMC&lpg=PA2&pg=PA2#v=onepage&q&f=false
The Alexander W. Smith Letter, 1857, from Smith to James Andrews, dated Ft. Tejon, December 1, 1857, summarizes the expedition until its end at Fort Tejon on November 22. Smith writes about the health of the company (“all well without any one having required even a dose of medicine”), the dangers of traveling through “hostile Indian country,” and the agricultural landscape and economy of Texas. The letter also contains a description of New Mexico’s population, agriculture, and climate. Smith closes the letter with an anecdote about Beale’s encounter with 500 Native American warriors in Colorado.
This collection is open for research use.
Alexander W. Smith Letter, 1857, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
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