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Marauders and Frontier Trade and Life

So great has been the protection and security resulting from the active enterprise of this excellent officer that the settlements are extending on every side around [San Antonio, and] the country is assuming the appearance of peace and prosperity that characterized it previous to the revolution. This must be cheering news to those families that have been so long waiting for "better times" to return to their homes in the fertile and healthy valley of the San Antonio and resume the occupations of husbandry.

It was rumored in the west that Arista had no intention of submitting to Santa Anna, but hoped to form an offensive and defensive alliance with Texas. "Should he carry these threats into execution," reported Francis Moore, "he would doubtless be able to maintain his position, and the trade with Chihuahua and other provinces, would probably be opened to our citizens. His movements are watched with eager eyes by the western traders, and many entertain sanguine hopes that within a few months they will reap a golden harvest from his favor."[13]

Conditions on the lower Nueces frontier in the summer and fall of 1841 were not as prosperous or as encouraging as those at San Antonio. The difference might be accounted for (1) by the character of many of the frontiersmen in this area as evidenced by their past activities; (2) by the greater volume of trade funneled through the adjacent ports which afforded more numerous opportunities to banditti groups; and (3) last, but by no means least, by the fact that there was no captain comparable to Hays to protect this segment of the frontier. Hays' daring, energy, and hard-fighting qualities were becoming known. He was a terror to all lawless groups, be they Texan, Mexican, or Indian; and his honesty and integrity were beyond reproach.

The several companies of volunteers which were gotten up around Victoria pursued a policy toward the Mexican traders which exasperated the frontier settlers of the Río Grande, who, reported S. L. Jones, after a visit to the frontier are "friends of this Country, but . . . [whose] traders are robbed of all their effects and turned adrift to make the best of their way home on foot. From men [so] treated . . . we have every reason," he declared, "to expect similar treatment if in their power."[14]  In mid-August a company of Texan volunteers, operating from San Patricio, apprehended thirty-three traders, who subse-

13. Ibid.

14. S. L. Jones to Gen. M. B. Lamar, Corpus Christi, Aug. 18, 1841 [addressed: Victoria, Aug. 23, His Excellency Genl M. B. Lamar, Austin], in Lamar Papers, III, 563-565.

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AFTER SAN JACINTO: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836-1841
Joseph Milton Nance, 1963