Lead, Follow, or Get-the-Hell-Out'a-the-Way!

by Ronald G. Fieseler

I was driving west from Austin the other day, going out to Ft. Martin Scott in Fredricksburg, and got to thinking about folks moving to Texas back in the early 1800's. They just had a tremendous amount of nerve. There was a lot of stuff between them and their destination, and most of it caused problems of one sort or another. It clearly required a special type of person to take such a big step. I determined that there was at least three types of immigrants.

The first type was the leaders, including Moses Austin, Steven F., DeWitt, and a few others. These were the visionaries. They were probably a little possessed, if not downright tunnel-visioned. They were incredibly fixed-focused, and I believe that was a necessity in those early and unsettled days. Just as importantly, they were charismatic pied-pipers.

They had to be in order to deal with the second type of immigrant, the followers. The leaders induced the "Old Three Hundred" and others to follow them way-the-hell out to wild and wooly Texas. It occurred to me that "The Old Three Hundred", bold and nervy they may have been, still had to be led to Texas. They needed the security of organization and leadership. They wanted the guarantee of land grants waiting for their arrival. Without the guidance of the early leaders, "The Old Three Hundred" may have procrastinated long enough waiting for someone to lead them to Texas to become "The First Three Hundred Who Arrived After All the Fighting Was Over". Let's face it, they got there pretty early on, but don't appear to have been much of self-starters.

The third, the "Get-the-Hell-Out'a-the-Way" type, on the other hand, were independant, greedy, desperate, self- serving, ambitious, confident, pugnacious, self-sufficient, arrogant, do-it-your-selfers who jumped at the chance to write GTT on their cabin door (or maybe just douse their overnight cookfire!) and point themselves west. These men and women needed only to hear a story or two about Texas (even the ones about Texas being hell on women and horses!) to realize the opportunity it offered them. These hardy folks needed no guarantee of land, no one to organize the journey for them, or lead them to their destination, they just packed up and went. They arrived in a steady stream year after year.

If one of my ancestors had been with "The Old Three Hundred", I would be quite happy to mention that fact at every opportunity, and I have no problem with qualified descendants doing so. However, I am forever proud that my great-great-great grandfather, Samuel Givens Evetts, Jr., was of the third type. Along with a couple of brothers and a few other folks, they made the decision to go to Texas. They managed to wander around and ask enough directions to arrive at Washington-on-the-Brazos sometime around 1834-1835, just in time for the Revolution. Sam went with Ben Milam into San Antonio during the Seige of Bexar and was shot in the jaw. He recuperated in time to join W.W. Hill's company and fight at San Jacinto. This solved his land problem, as the veterans were awarded land grants by the Republic of Texas. After a stint with one of the first companies of Texas Rangers, he finally claimed his land and more or less settled down and began to help populate the Republic.

I agree that "The Old Three Hundred" are to be honored and revered for their early arrival. However, I submit that the vast majority of Texans today are descended from, and owe an even greater respect and thanks to, the often forgotten or ignored third type of immigrant. Sam and his cohorts contributed much to the making of Texas and Texans. Too bad they didn't have a catchy sounding nickname. Hmmm...how about "The Thousands and Thousands"? Yeah, I know...it probably needs a little more thought, but in the meantime, join me in a toast to their lives and times. They did us proud.

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