THE MAN THAT WAS NOT ANNEXED.
A good story is told of this bold frontiersman, who had made him self notorious, and given his character the bend sinister, by frequent depredations on both sides the boundary line between Texas and the United States. The old fellow had migrated thither from parts unknown, years since, knew every foot of country for fifty miles on either side in his vicinity, and had communication by runners with many “birds of the same feather,” then common in the region.
The old fellow saw, with sorrow and regret, the rapid influx of population within the last ten years, and was compelled gradually to narrow his sphere of usefulness, for said he “ peeple’s a gittin too thick about me—tha and their varmints and critters is fillin up the woods and spilin the huntin—and then tha aint no chance for a feller to speculate upon travellers as tha used to be when tha wa’nt any body to watch a feller :––why tha is gettin to be so civylizated that a feller can’t drink a barrel of douberectified thought havin em all abusin him about it—and then ef he doas happen jist by accident to drap a half ounce of lead into a feller, why tha is all up in arms about it—now tother day when I wanted to mark JOE SLITSES ears like tha marks their hogs, case he called me vill-yan, they wanted to jewdicate me afore the court. But cuse ‘em for a set of blasted fools they aint a gwoin to fool “ OLD SINGLETIRE” ef he is a gittin old and aint as quick on the trigger as he used to was.”
“ Blast their skins, I dont care ef tha does annexate Texas ! I’ll show em somethin—tho’ tha thinks tha is got me slick when tha git the two countries wedged up into one—but I’ll fix em, I’ll quit and go to ARKANSAW—whar a decent white man kin live ‘thout bein pestered, and bused and jewdicated !”
“ OLD SINGLE” as he was called, for short, had, several years previous to the late discussion of the annexation question, with singular cuteness ascertained the precise line dividing the two territories, and built his cabin thereon in such a position that when lying down—he slept, one half in the United States, and the other half in Texas, for he lay at right angles with the line.
The authorities of both sides had frequently found him in that position, but as their separate claims lay severally on the entire individual, they were not content to arrest one half of him at a time. A great deal of courtesy was at times exhibited by the officers, each pressing the other to break the forms of international law by pulling Old Single bodily over either side the line—each was up to trap, and feared the other wished to trick him, and declined the effort which might cause a rupture between Texas and the Union.
On one occasion they were exceedingly pressing on the subject, at first politely so, then teasing each other, and then daring by taunt, and jeer, and jibe, until they worked themselves into such furious excitement, that “ OLD SINGLE.” their pretended victim, had to command and preserve the peace—“ Gentle-men,” said he, “ you may fun and fret and quarrell jist as much as you please in my house—but when tha is any lickin to be done ‘bout these diggins, why “ OLD SINGLE” is thar sure !—so look out boys, ef you strikes you dies :––show your sense make friends and lets liker,”—“ you,” nodding to one, “ hand me a gourd of water, and” “ you,” to the other, ”pass that bottle and I’ll drink to your better ‘quaintance.”
The day passed, “ OLD SINGLE” crosses the line, and one of the beauties on each side his cot, all going it like forty at twenty deck poker—a sociable game as Sol. Smith says—and as remarked our informant “ the old man was a perfect Cumanche horse at any game whar tha was curds.”
For the last three months “ OLD SINGLE” had been mightily distressed—“mighty onesasy bout annexation”—for he knew he would be compelled to travel—well the news of the action of Texas on this great question was received in “ OLD SINGLE’S” vicinity on the 29th of June—the day it reached Fort Jessup.
Next morning “ the boys” from Boston and DeKalb, a couple of border villages—after a glory gathering about annexation, determined to storm “ OLD SINGLE” and ‘rout’ him. They accordingly, en masse a-la-regulator, started off for his cabin, and on arriving near it, a consultation was held and it was determined that bloodshed was useless—as it was certain to occur if violence was resorted to—and that a flag of truce should be sent into the fortress offering terms.
The old man was found in a gloomy mood—with a pack strapped to his back in woodsman style—“ old Centresplit, his friend of thirty years standing, his rifle, his favorite—his all—was laid across his knees and he in deep thought, his eyes rested on vacancy as the delegation entered :––he looked up “ well boys the time is cum, and Texas and you is annixated, but I aint, and I aint gwoin to be nuther :––so take care how you raise my dander, I can shoot sum yet !”
The party explained and it was agreed the old fellow should take up the march upon the line for the nearest point on Red river, the party escorting him at twenty paces distant on either side—that the last mile should be run—that if he struck the water’s edge first he should go free—if otherwise, he was to be taken and rendered up a victim to the offended dignity of the laws. “ Agreed,” said Old Single, “ its a bargain. Boys tha is a gallon in that barrell, let’s finish it in a friendly way and then travel.” The thing was done, the travel accomplished, and the race, fast and furious was being done. The old fellow led the crowd hallooing at his topmost voice as he gained the river—HOOPEE !—HURRAH ! I aint annixated—I’m off—I aint no whar—nuther in the States nor Texas, BUT IN ARKINSAW ! ! ! swam to the opposite shore, fired a volley, gave three cheers and retired victorious.
Source: New York Spirit of the Times 15.25 (16 August 1845): 287.
University of Virginia Alderman Library.
Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.
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