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Journal of Anthony Glass
Trading Journey to Texas 1808
From The Handbook of Texas. Anthony Glass (d. 1819), a Mississippi planter and hardware store owner, was a trader to the Texas Indians in 1808-09 and acted as semiofficial emissary for the United States government. His journal of his Texas experiences is a valuable early account. In the years between Philip Nolan's first entrada into the North Texas wilderness and the outbreak of the Mexican war for independence in 1810, Hispanic and Anglo-American sparring began in the Southwest. During these years Spanish frontier troops were called out often to pursue parties of Louisiana and Mississippi Indian traders and once to halt a government exploring team sent out by the United States. The most important of these traders and mustangers who explored North Texas was Anthony Glass, who in July 1808 led a party of eleven traders on a ten-month journey to the Indian tribes of north and central Spanish Texas. Not only did Glass act as a semiofficial envoy for Thomas Jefferson's administration, but he also became perhaps the first Anglo-American to see Po-a-cat-le-pi-le-car-re (the Texas Iron), a meteorite important in the religion of Texas Indians and subsequently famous in American science.
Glass and his brother Andrew were Pennsylvania tories who moved to the Natchez area soon after the American Revolution and established a plantation on the Big Black River. By the outbreak of the Civil War their estate was valued at $85,000. Glass's 1808-09 expedition in answer to an invitation extended by Taovaya chief Awahakei to Indian agent John Sibley was also motivated by traders' stories of inexpensive mustangs and "silver ore" (meteoric iron) on the southern plains. With forty-eight horses, $3,000 in trade goods, and United States flags and presents from Sibley, the Glass party journeyed overland to the Taovaya-Wichita villages on the Red River, where they lived and traded for three months. During the ensuing winter Glass saw the meteorite, traded with congregating Comanches along the middle Colorado, and then returned to Natchitoches with his mustangs and his journal in May 1809.
The Glass expedition had three important consequences for Texas history. It led directly to the reversal of a Spanish policy, dating from the turmoil of the summer of 1806, of avoiding disturbances with the United States. It stimulated, in 1809-10, the retrieval by some of Glass's party of the 1,635-pound meteorite-the largest in any collection in the world for most of the nineteenth century. Finally, it generated a rare early trader's journal. Glass's journal is believed to be the earliest firsthand account by an American of Taovaya-Wichita and Comanche life and of the experience of plains mustanging. Dan L. Flores
Historian Dan Flores, who wrote the above summary, is the author of Journal of an Indian Trader: Anthony Glass and the Texas Trading Frontier, 1790-1810 (Texas A&M University Press, College Station, 1985) which includes the annotated Anthony Glass diary with sufficient footnotes to follow Glass' journey and interpret his context. The work is preceded by a thorough introductory section of The American Trader and the Southwestern Frontier and followed by an Epilogue: The Saga of the "Texas Iron," an interpretation of the impact of the great meteorite of the Southern Plains on early Texas and Western history. He contends that it is this source of metal, its reverence by aboriginal tribes and the constant legend passed among them and to outsiders that was the source of precious metal stories and legends and their driving force on exploration of the area for riches and mines since Coronado's search of Quivara in 1541.
Dr. John Sibley
The Glass journal was uncovered in the 1820's by renowned pioneer chemical educator and researcher Benjamin Silliman from Yale University in his research on the largest meteorite of the period, the "Louisiana Iron" (later called "Texas Iron" and "Red River" where it resides in the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History). He determined that Dr. John Sibley from Natchitoches was the source of the stone who had shipped it to New York. Upon contact with him, he learned of the 28 page Glass journal which was a copy of the original given to him by Glass as a report of his journey. The copy named "Copy of a Journal of a Voyage from Nackitosh into the interior of Louisiana on the waters of Red River Trinity Brassos Colerado & the Sabine performed between the first of July 1808 & May 1809 by Captain Anthony Glass of the Territory of Mississippi" is the only known version of the journal and is in the Silliman Family Collection at Yale University. It is unclear to what extent the copy was edited by Sibley. sdct
[Glass uses the term Panis/Panies of French origin (Pani Pique, Pani-piquets or Pani Noir) to describe the tribes known most commonly as Taovaya-Wichitas and the term Hietan to refer to the Comanches--WLM]
(There's more on the link, but here is a description of Taovaya-Wichitas house.)
10th WNW 18 miles. passed over Brushy lands and encamped about five Miles from the Panis Villages and according to custom dispatched a Messenger to give notice of our approach.
the Great Chief lives in the town on the North east side of the river Called Quich, the situation of the town is beautiful the land of the first quality and the water from the abundant springs they use is excellent Issuing from a Bluff fifty feet above the River; the Inhabitants of this village cultivate about one hundred and fifty acres of Land in Corn, Beans, Pumpkins, Melons & their Houses are in the form of a sugar Loaf 70 or 80 feet in diameter at the base and thirty or forty feet high. The frames are forks and poles Lathed and Thatched with long cypress, resembling Pipe straw. their Beds are ranged around next to the sides and the fire is made in the middle the smoke passes through a hole left in the top for that purpose.