Analysis: Abney Book

In Geological Survey

December 2, 2008

This excerpt recognizes that Lafferty/Abney mention gold in Texas:

Of other publications of older date, such as D. Woodman’s ” Guide to Texas
Emigrants;” David R. Edwards’s “The Emigrant’s, Farmer’s, and Politician’s
Guide,” provided with maps, the notes about the country west of the Pecos,
even west of the Colorado River, are perfectly worthless, the maps not much
better than fictions.
The life and adventures of L D. Lafferty, by A. H. Abney, claiming to be
truth, mentions the presence of gold in Texas. Other publications, though
some of them are quite interesting, do not extend their narratives west of the
Staked Plains, and state more the adventures of the parties (surveyors and
hunters) than the approximately correct (geographical, etc.) character of the
country.

Source:  Geological Survey of Texas; Report of the State Geologist 1890.  GoogleBooks

Review: G. P. Garrison

December 2, 2008

This review published in “Publications of the Newberry Library”, accessed through GoogleBooks.

A narrative of a series of extraordinary personal
adventures, which, according to the preface of the
work, was recounted to the author by Mr. Lafferty
himself. It is probably fictitious, but with most of the
important features of the historical setting correct.
Mr.
Lafferty is represented as visiting Texas at intervals from
1818-1832, and thereafter living in Arkansas until 1855,
when he returned to Texas to remain. The visits are so
timed as to give him a share in both of Long’s two
expeditions, the Fredonian war, and the battle of Velasco.
The intervening periods are rilled in with Indian fighting,
the details consisting of desperate encounters, narrow
escapes, and fearful experiences in captivity.

The Long Expedition

November 28, 2008

Lafferty (via Abney) tells of his experience with the Long Expedition (including at La Bahia in Goliad) and subsequent imprisonment in Mexico.  Several references are made in the book regarding his imprisonment, release, “compadres” with whom he served, etc.  It does not seem to check out with other historians accounts of the incidents. Additionally, the original document (written in Spanish) listing prisoners (now part of the Texas Archives) does not mention Lafferty.

Upon reading the “Life and Adventures of L.D. Lafferty,” by Hon A.H. Abney, I became struck with the discrepancy between the statements of this “historical” publication and the reports that I had been accustomed to hear passing current as the true story of General Long’s expedition.

I took occasion to hand the book to Mr. McHenry, who partipated in that expedition throughout, with the request that he peruse its contents with care and attention; to which he assented, and stated as the result of the perusal that he was morally convinced that Lafferty could not possibly have been a participant in General Long’s expedition.  He said that the battle so graphically detailed by Mr. Abley as having occured on Aransas was purely a myth — no such fight had any existence in fact; the only fighting took place at La Bahia (Goliad), as stated in the foregoing narrative, which is substantially the statement of Captain John McHenry.  Equally fictitious is Lafferty’s account of the so-called surrender.

But on the principle, falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, we will dismiss the Abney-Lafferty concoction for better game.

Source:  Reminiscenses: Fifty Years in Texas, p. 75-76, by John Joseph Linn (Juan Linn)

Title Page

November 26, 2008

The Life and Adventures of L.D. Lafferty

Being of a true biography of one of the most remarkable men of

THE GREAT SOUTHWEST

From an adventurous boyhood in Arkansas, through a protracted life of almost unparalleled sufferings and hairbreadth escapes
Upon the FRONTIER of Texas

in which are given many highly interesting incidents in the
Early History of the Republic of Texas

with a brief review of affairs in Mexico during the same period

by A.H. Abney
of Rockport, Texas

Preface

November 26, 2008

The author’s words:
Footnotes are discussed in Preface Comments article (next).

“THE author hereof first met the subject of this sketch in Attascosa County, Texas, in the spring of 1869 (1), at which time he learned the principal facts herein narrated. Though, at that time, he had no intention of preparing them for publication , yet a subsequent acquaintance with Mr. Lafferty, and frequent conversations with gentlemen of unquestioned honor who fully vouched for his veracity, induced the writer to undertake this work.(2)

However, in making his debut before literary connoisseurs, he very frankly asks their indulgence, as he lays claim to neither elegance of diction nor originality of style; but simply details facts, the truth of which he verily believes. Indeed, many of them can be established by irrefragable testimony.

It is but justice, too, to the author to state that the work has been gotten up at intervals between the pressing cares of business, which has claimed most of his attention; hence he has not had sufficient time allowed him, in  the preparation of the work, to insure either rhetorical excellency or grammatical accuracy (3).

Neither is it improbable that there are some slight errors in the dates of the first few chapters, owing to the fact that Lafferty could neither read nor write until in the year 1824, being six years after his first visit to Texas (4); therefore, he has had to trust to memory for dates as well as for other facts connected with his early history.

And as there may be those who knew him some years ago, when, apparently, he was leading an irreligious life, who may doubt the character herein given him, as a believer in Christianity; to such we would say, that when he permanently located in Texas, wrecked in his domestic hopes and happiness, he very unwisely did just what thousands of good men before him had done: he gave way to a feeling of desperation, and, lending a listening ear to the allurements of the Evil One, fell into sinful practices which he -now deplores, and of which he sincerely repents (5).

That “truth is often stranger than fiction” is clearly shown in this biography; yet should it be asked, why a man possessed of such extraordinary powers has been so little known, our answer is this: When he first came to Texas, in 1818, he was uneducated, and had no ambition to acquire fame or notoriety; and as he never became a permanent citizen of Texas, during the days of the Republic, but merely fought as a volunteer during the several periods of revolution, from 1818 to 1832, returning to his home in Arkansas at intervals (6), he was not sufficiently known to attract special attention. And, furthermore, he had acquired, during his long residence among the Cherokee Indians (7), in early life, much of their peculiar habit of reserve and dignified retirement, and hence shrank from any public recognition of his services in behalf of the oppressed. Nor would he render himself conspicuous by thrusting into the public prints an account of his early contests with the Osage, Pawnee, and Kickapoo Indians.

And it was not without much persuasion, as well as logical argument, that he finally consented to allow the leading adventures of his eventful life to appear in this volume (8). In chronicling his connection with the Texans in their early struggles for liberty, it became necessary for the author to consult freely the best historians of that period, in order to test the correctness of Lafferty’s statements by a comparison of the same with those given by accepted history; and on a careful examination he finds that in the main they agree. In tracing the rise and progress of those early revolutions, the author has followed the account given by Yoakum in his excellent ” History of Texas,” (9) and to that able and trustworthy historian the author would acknowledge his special obligations for valuable information embodied in this work.

Perhaps the exploits of our subject are not recorded in that vivid and thrilling style which would commend them to the favor of the mere novel-reader, whose vitiated taste has so long fed on the romantic and the marvellous as to be incapable of appreciating plain literary food; yet, as a matter of fact, it is believed that no chapter in this book will prove entirely without interest. The author has carefully sought to eschew all display of mere words, and has endeavored to confine himself within the pale of truth. However, if in the perusal of these pages the reader should discover any want of embellishment in the portraiture of our hero, he can draw on his imagination to complete the picture.”