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As we read through the pages of Texas history and see expressions like “Runaway Scrape”, we sometimes think that we might have an understanding of what that was like. Very often, we simply pass over some of those terms and go on to other things. Let’s take a few minutes and look a little closer at that period of time, and maybe we can gain a better idea of what happened during those cold, wet, and rainy Texas February days. Some of the following material is quoted verbatim from a journal that was written by a young woman who was there when it happened.

As an introduction: Dilue Rose was ten years old when she and her family were caught up in the horrific exodus called the Runaway Scape. They had only been in Texas for two years and had barely settled in the Harrisburg area when they learned that Santa Anna and the Mexican army were headed in that direction, burning and pillaged everything in their path. Residents from across the territory of Texas had already began to move eastward in large numbers, leaving nearly everything that they owned behind. A wave of hungry, tired, and sick humanity was slowly slogging their way across the rugged landscape. Many of the fleeing crowd was on foot, with a lot of the women carrying small children in their arms. There was little to eat and almost no shelter available, so many of them died along the way.

Dilue made these written notes in a journal, which were later transcribed in her book. - "We left home at sunset, hauling clothes, bedding, and provisions on the sleigh with one yoke of oxen. Mother and I were walking, she with an infant in her arms, while Father rode their one horse. Brother drove the oxen and my two little sisters rode in the sleigh. When we got to the San Jacinto River, there were five thousand people waiting for the Lynchburg Ferry. We waited three days before crossing. Our hardships began there. The river was rising and there were struggles to see who should cross first. Measles, sore eyes, whooping cough, and every other disease known to man broke out. We got on the ferry first because of my little sick sister. The horror of crossing Trinity was difficult to describe. Once on the ferry, the flood waters broke over the banks above. It took eight men to get us to safety."

"We crossed the San Jacinto River and stayed late into the night on the San Jacinto battlefield. A soldier asked my mother to go with him to see Santa Anna as a captive and the Mexican prisoners, but she would not go, saying she was not dressed to go visiting. Instead, I got permission to ride there with him. Earlier, I had lost my bonnet in the raging river, and Mother made me wear a tablecloth tied over my head. But I wouldn't wear the tablecloth again since I would be seeing some of the young men. I was on the battlefield of San Jacinto on April 26, 1836. Two days later I turned eleven years old. We left the battlefield late in the evening. We had to pass among the dead Mexicans, and once Father had to stop and pull one out of the road so we would not run over the body. The prairie was very boggy, it was getting dark, and now there were thirty families with us. We were glad to leave the battlefield, for it was a gruesome sight. We camped that night on the prairie, and could hear the wolves howl and bark as they devoured the dead." (end quote) items to wear of the party online

After Santa Anna was defeated, many of the fleeing settlers began their return trip home again. For most of them, it was a slow tedious trek back across some of the same countryside that they had previously traveled. There were numerous stories of people finding their homes burned to the ground, and those that weren’t completely destroyed, were very often ransacked, with broken dishes and furniture tossed about. Dilue Rose reported that their floor had been torn up and hogs were running around inside their house. She went on to write:

"Father had hidden some of our better things in a big chest so that no one could find them. We had left in our better clothes. Now our better clothing was in that chest, and among them was my old sunbonnet. I was prouder of that sunbonnet than anything, for I was sorely tired of wearing that tablecloth." (end quote)

At the age of 13, Dilue Rose married Ira A. Harris, who served with the Texas Rangers, and they later had nine children together. Ira Harris died in 1869 at age 53, and Dilue died in 1914 at age 89.

It is interesting to me that after I came home from across the big pond and was discharged from the Navy, I had difficulty in finding “any” job during those days, so my lovely bride and I loaded everything that we owned in a car and headed for Houston. Where we settled was in the same area that Dilue had described in her book, that was written many years earlier. The region certainly doesn’t look the same today, so the reader will have to use their imagination to get a mental picture of the location. Rather than to show a similar site in my photo, I thought it would be appropriate to illustrate what that place looks like today.

Do you think that it is likely that any of those commuters zipping along that busy freeway have a clue as to what happened there a few generations before? I suspect that most of them don’t know, and don’t care. Sadly, that is the current state of our history.