I've been reading Larry McMurtry's books this past summer. I'd read Lonesome Dove and the one after that, but not the two prequels to them. After reading the first book I have no idea how the West was settled at all. It wouldn't have been by me for sure. I believe all the situations he set up in the books. When I was doing some genealogy research a number of years ago I got all caught up in Colonel Jack Hays. He was a relative of my husband and he was one of the first Texas Rangers. I found the book about him in a small used book store after I'd read the copy in our branch library. I bought it for my father in law for Christmas that year. Captain Jack was something else and his friend and fellow ranger was Samuel H. Walker, the co-inventor of the Walker Colt handgun. There are Walkers in my family and there have been Sam Walkers and I had a grandfather who was a Texas Ranger, so that led to my reading a number of books about Texas militia and wars. How cool would it have been for him to be one of my ancestors and Captain Jack to be one of my husband's. Well, it was not to be. Sam Walker was killed before he could sire any of my ancestors. Oh well, a brush with greatness was fun and my husband is still a descendant of Captain Jack. There are portraits of both of them at the Ranger Hall of Fame in Waco.
One of the books I read about Sam Walker's adventures during the Mexican war told about the Texas prisoners being marched to Mexico City. A great distance from anywhere in Texas. Actually I think they caught him twice and made him walk. I guess it was a good thing I was born a girl and a century later. I'd not have made a good pioneer woman.
Captain Jack and his band of Rangers chased and killed the Comanches around San Antonio and central Texas until it was somewhat safer for settlers. Actually not all that many were killed. The Comanches were wonderful fighters, great horse thieves, and could blend into the environment so well they couldn't be seen until it was too late. Many a settler or ranger found themselves afoot when the Comanches were around. It was not safe at all back in those days for many reasons, but the Comanche braves were a big part of it. Part of my family settled around Austin and while reading books about early settlers in that part of Texas there were a number of stories about families who were brutally killed by Indians. If there had been anywhere else to go but into the wildness that was where these people were trying to make a new life, I would have stayed where I was or gone back to where I came from. I would not have made a good settler, but I'm glad they did. I'm also glad my ancestors settled here finally. I love it in Texas, even if it is still sort of wild.