At home general opinion was just the reverse. No one cared for more land than a homestead or for immediate use. No locations had been made adjoining my ranch on the Clear Fork, and it began to look as if I had more land than I needed. Yet I had confidence enough in the advice of my partners to reopen negotiations with my merchant friend at Austin for the purchase of more land scrip. The panic of the fall before had scarcely affected the frontier of Texas, and was felt in only a few towns of any prominence in the State. There had been no money in circulation since the war, and a financial stringency elsewhere made little difference among the local people. True, the Kansas cattle market had sent a little money home, but a bad winter with drovers holding cattle in the North, followed by a panic, had bankrupted nearly every cowman, many of them with heavy liabilities in Texas. There were very few banks in the State, and what little money there was among the people was generally hoarded to await the dawn of a brighter day.
My wife tells a story about her father, which shows similar conditions prevailing during the civil war. The only outlet for cotton in Texas during the rebellion was by way of Mexico. Matamoros, near the mouth of the Rio Grande, waxed opulent in its trade of contrabrand cotton, the Texas product crossing the river anywhere for hundreds of miles above and being freighted down on the Mexican side to tide-water. The town did an immense business during the blockade of coast seaports, twenty-dollar gold pieces being more plentiful then than nickels are to-day, the cotton finding a ready market at war prices and safe shipment under foreign flags. My wife’s father was engaged in the trade of buying cotton at interior points, freighting it by ox trains over the Mexican frontier, and thence down the river to Matamoros. Once the staple reached neutral soil, it was palmed off as a local product, and the Federal government dared not touch it, even though they knew it to be contrabrand of war. The business was transacted in gold, and it was Mr. Edwards’s custom to bury the coin on his return from each trading trip. My wife, then a mere girl and the oldest of the children at home, was taken into her father’s confidence in secreting the money. The country was full of bandits, either government would have confiscated the gold had they known its whereabouts, and the only way to insure its safety was to bury it. After several years trading in cotton, Mr. Edwards accumulated considerable money, and on one occasion buried the treasure at night between two trees in an adjoining wood. Unexpectedly one day he had occasion to use some money in buying a cargo of cotton, the children were at a distant neighbor’s, and he went into the woods alone to unearth the gold. But hogs, running in the timber, had rooted up the ground in search of edible roots, and Edwards was unable to locate the spot where his treasure lay buried. Fearful