The Bookshelf, The Parlor, The Young Texas Reader, and the Monthly

The Texas Bookshelf is different from the The Texas Parlor, . The Texas Parlor carries "general" bookish information and non-book information and even different Texana news and notes of use to the bibliographically challenged and other nosey folks intersted in historical, literary, and cultural observations. Will's Texana Monthly may carry material from either blog, but extends itself beyond those, especially for longer compilations or treatments. The Monthly, the Bookshelf and the Parlor are all companions. So, is the Young Texas Reader which specialized on books and such things for the youngest to the teenagers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obedience Smith - Cook


  Obedience Smith (1771-1847) Pioneer of Three American Frontiers: Her Ancestors and Descendants.  By Audrey Barrett Cook.  Houston: Early Publishing Co. 1745 Marshall, Houston, Texas  77098-2801), 2008.  Hardback with multi-colored illustrated jacket, maps,  illus, genealogy charts, ports, endnotes, index, 520 pages. ISBN 978-9818196-3-1 $39.95. 

Audrey Cook provides this considerable volume on one of Houston's earliest important women.  Genealogical in nature but more broadly historical in content, Cook embarked on a years-long quest to put her ancestor in context.  The physical volume is divided into four "books," tracing the paternal Fort and maternal Sugg families and the subsequent Smith family (a Highlander crew) histories.  The families' trails begins in Virginia  (some say most good things do), and continues to North Carolina, Tennessee, through the Cumberland Gap and down the Natchez District into Mississippi, and finally to Texas at Pleasant Point (northwest of present Angleton , and finally Houston in 1836.

Obedience Fort Smith was a remarkable pioneer in the truest vein.  And Cook is congratulated for bring her to life on these pages.  After bearing 11 children in Tennessee and raising the survivors in Mississippi, her husband died in 1835, her son decided they would move to Texas when she was aged 65-years-old.  (Some family members preceded them in 1833.)  They arrived early in 1836 before the Declaration of Independence, got caught up in the Runaway Scrape, returned to Pleasant Point, and moved to Houston later in the year where she cared for family and others for the next 11 years before dying in 1847, after annexation.

Although the family was landed, they were "land poor."  Cook cautions us that Obedience was not the "Land Queen" or richest woman in Houston, but rather preferred the background.  But she was recognized and honored by her husband when he made her one of the executors of his estate which she ably managed.  It's also untrue that she shot a lawyer who was allegedly trying to steal her land.  The family's history includes some "less well behaved" members, but most hewed the line of propriety.  Cook's frankness is gracious but informative.

The volume, although with genealogical intent, is largely informative narrative and makes for a wonderful read as the reader transits the history with rich documentation and frequent splicing of document excerpts.


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