Monday, June 8, 2015

ERASTUS "DEAF" SMITH-TEXAS FOLK HERO

By Celia Yeary

The History Channel's portrayal of the Texas Revolution titled TEXAS RISING, does have many errors or misconceptions, but still, it's entertaining. The characters interest me more, though, than the actual inconsistences of the battles, skirmishes or landscape.
One particular character worthy of praise is the character Deaf Smith. His real name was Erastus "Deaf" Smith. This man was truly a hero, although very quiet. Since he was deaf, he didn't speak very much.
ERASTUS "DEAF" SMITH
Some called him Johnny-on-the-Spot.
Erastus Smith was born in Dutchess County, New York in 1787. In 1798, his family moved near Natchez, Mississippi. In 1821, at age 34, he moved on to Texas for health reasons. His health apparently recovered except for a partial loss of hearing, hence the nickname "Deaf" Smith, pronounced "Deef Smith."

PRESENT DAY
PRESIDIO SAN ANTONIO de BEXAR
A FORT ON THE BANKS OF THE SAN ANTONIO RIVER
In 1822, he married a Tejana, Guadalupe Ruiz Duran, a widow with three children. The couple also had four children together. Smith settled his family in Presidio San Antonio de Bexar where he became accepted as a member of the Tejano (Latino-Texan) community.

Smith, also known as "El Sordo," (the deaf man) appeared in many areas of Mexican Texas and was in most significant actions related to development of the region both under Mexico and during evolution of independence. At San Antonio de Bexar, he introduced a fine stock of Muley cattle from Louisiana to the Texas area, where the Longhorn breed was previously popular.

SAN JACINTO MONUMENT
IN HOUSTON, TEXAS
SITE OF THE LAST BATTLE
FOR INDEPENDENCE FROM
MEXICO, LED BY SAM HOUSTON
Erastus “Deaf” Smith, became an ace scout, soldier, spy, and hero of the Texas Revolution. He also commanded Sam Houston’s scouts at the Battle of San Jacinto. As a scout, he set up the Battle of Concepcion and the Grass Fight, and he brought the Widow Dickenson and her baby back to safety from the fallen Alamo. When Sam Houston wanted Vince’s Bridge destroyed, so that neither his Texans nor Santa Anna’s troops could escape the field of San Jacinto, he called on Deaf Smith. Smith also briefly captained a company of Texas Rangers after the War.

Erastus Smith died in November of 1837, when the Republic of Texas was barely a year old. Sadly, he lost his eyesight, too, before he died. Smith became a folk hero in Texas.

Deaf Smith County borders New Mexico in the far-flung Panhandle of Texas. The county is one of about fifty descendant counties from Bexar County in South Texas (San Antonio.)
 
TEXAS RISING:
ERASTUS "DEAF" SMITH
PLAYED BY ACTOR
JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN

SPECIAL NOTE: 
February 19 is Texas Statehood Day. On this day in 1846, the Lone Star Flag came down, and the government passed to the new state of Texas.


DEAF SMITH COUNTY CORN SALAD (from the County Fair)
In a saucepan, combine: ¾ cup vinegar, ¾ cup corn oil, ¾ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil—set aside to cool.

Prepare: 1 cup chopped green pepper, 1 cup chopped celery, ½ cup chopped green onions and tops. Place in a mixing bowl.

Drain: one 16-ounce can shoepeg corn, one 8-ounce can LaSeur peas, one 2-ounce jar diced pimentos.

Lightly mix the chopped and the drained vegetables. Pour the vinegar and oil mixture over vegetables and mix. Refrigerate several hours. The salad stays crisp for days.
(Disclaimer: Recipe from “Tastes and Tales of Texas,” but the same recipe can be found in numerous other cookbooks, and written on 3x5 recipe cards in many kitchens.)   
 
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/celiayeary
My Website
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Sources:
History Channel "Texas Rising" site
Wikipedia
Handbook of Texas On-Line
Wikimedia
Note: Original Post from February 2012-revised and re-edited

20 comments:

  1. YAY, Celia! You're continuing posts relating to Texas Rising (though this one is only tangentially so).

    More than any other during the republic's fight for freedom and struggle to civilize a wild frontier as a young nation, I think Deaf Smith deserves our respect and admiration. The man didn't seek greatness. He had it thrust upon him -- and I'm not sure he was comfortable with the mantle. I wish Texas had named a more impressive county for him -- one closer to his home -- but it seems no matter how large a role they play in seminal historical events, the humble always become an afterthought.

    Thanks for this informative look at an true Texas hero. :-)

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  2. Wbat an interesting post, Celia! I think Smith is the best character in "Texas Rising." A quiet, intense, get-the-job-done person commands more attention than a loud and blustering one, anyway. Three cheers for "Deef"! (BTW, I recently read that actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who portrays Smith in the series, ate nothing but a can of tuna a day for weeks to get that hardscrabble, live-off-the-land, pared-to-the-bone look. Thank goodness writers don't have to do that! LOL)

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  3. Thank you so much for bringing an easterner like me up to snuff on the history of Texas and this very interesting man. You have such a way of making history feel personal and like it just happened yesterday, Celia.
    And thank you for the recipe. BTW, I tried your broccoli casserole you posted some time back, and I want you to know my family loved it.
    I hope things are improving with your water situation there in Texas. I think about you so often.

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  4. Interesting post, Celia. I must admit I haven't been watching Texas Rising, but I have enjoyed your posts about the series and the real history.

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  5. Kathleen--I, too admire Erastus Smith. He was tough, but quiet about it--mostly because he couldn't hear very well. Sam Houston chose him not only for other battles, but to blow up the bridge at San Jacinto so neither the Mexicans nor the Texans could escape the battle field. It saddened me to learn he died the year after Texas became free.
    Tonight I'll be watching Episode 4-Vengeance is Mine. Thanks so much for you comment.

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  6. Lorrie--I so agree writers aren't required to pare our bodies down to hard muscle. I did not know that about the actor who played Smith--very interesting. I need to pay more attention to the character tonight. Several of them look so much alike! Thanks for the extra bit of story!

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  7. Sarah--I'm always surprised when you mention being an Easterner. You are more like us, the Westerners--in your heart, I think you are.
    I'm glad your family enjoyed the Broccoli-Rice Casserole. We had that last night some left for the freezer for later. This time I used Minute Brown Rice instead of the while. It came it more flavor and a better texture...not quite so mushy.
    The salad...this is my take-out salad, to those pot-luck things I really don't like much but go anyway. I'd rather just have coffee and a sweet roll and talk....instead of so much food.
    Also, the salad will keep for a few days since it's marinated. It's great in the summer.
    Thanks!

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  8. Kirsten--Glad you're enjoying the posts. I admit the series is confusing. Even though I know the history, I can't follow the scenes all the time.
    Thanks for commenting!

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  9. I've been following the TV series since you brought it to my attention a few weeks ago--so thank you so much--otherwise I would have missed it. I'm really enjoying it, but I find I understand and get so much more out of who the characters really were and how it really came down from your posts. Keep them coming as I too, along with Sarah, am an Easterner and find myself absolutely amazed at the info, lingo, etc. that I never knew about until all of you westerners so graciously offer all the tidbits, etc. in your posts and on the yahoo site. I feel like a sponge trying to absorb all of it. I just hope I retain half of it. Thank you again for a delightful time spent with Erastus. And let us hope that the for that one year of Texas's freedom, Erastus knew it and appreciated his part in helping.

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    1. Hi, Beverly--I have one more thing about Erastus via Lorrie Farrelly. I'm so happy you're enjoying our behind the scenes take on Texas Rising. Just try not to believe everything you see in this series. I say it's entertaining and frustrating at the same time. Anyway, I have three events to share somewhere--maybe on FB. Thanks so much for visiting!

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  10. Deaf Smith is such an interesting character, both in real life and in the TV series. Thanks for telling us more about him, Celia. The corn salad sounds fantastic. I'll have to try making it.

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    1. Lyn--he was. Very much a "good man", which the highest compliment I can give any man. Not all are, but we need more "good men."
      The salad is a great summer dish for cookouts, anything. With the marinating, it lasts a while in the refrigerator and won't "go bad" at picnics. We eat it as a separate salad, but most often I put in on cooked paste, say Mini-Penne. Great one dish meal. Thanks for commenting!

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  11. I have most of the series yet to watch but have the first couple episodes down. I find Deef a very heart-touching character. Can't say the same for Houston... His family life seemed a mess. I am eager to try the salad.. Interesting post today, Celia! Thanks for the great peek into the past!

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    1. Sam Houston was often "a mess." He was a real rounder when young, but made a name for himself among some native tribe--can't remember which tribe--but they called him The Raven. There is a novel titled The Raven written by a local San Marcos girl who grew up in the White House and now writes novels.

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  12. Goes to show having a disability can't stop a good person from getting things accomplished!

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    1. Yep. Our Texas Governor is paraplegic...in a wheel chair. As a young man, he was jogging in a big park in some city, and just as he was under this tree, a huge limb cracked off and fell on him. What are the odds of that? It broke his back and ruined the lower part of his body. He went on to law school, entered Texas politics, and this new term, we put him in the Governor's Office. Greg Abbott. Thanks, Morgan.

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  13. He was a remarkable man! I agree with Morgan.

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  14. That recipe sounds perfect for a hot afternoon, Celia. I don't know where but I've heard of this man before. Isn't it amazing how people can rise above their disability and go onto greatness. Hats off to this man.

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    1. I know the feeling. Sometimes I hear about a historical figure, and think, I've heard of him...I think. They call him "Deef Smith...an old term for "deaf." He's one of my favorite historical figures.

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