Crossing the Trinity River Prairies Where Cold and Flooded Waters Caused Many Lives to be Lost – 1836
In my recently released creative non-fiction novel, The Rose of Bray’s Bayou, Dilue Rose Harris and thousands of other elderly men, women, and children rush across the “wilderness” trying to reach the Sabine River before Santa Anna and his army catch up to them and kill them all!
Their long trek through their “wilderness” was a very fearful place, indeed. I described this area in my novel, Hallelujah, He is Not Here. He Has Risen! With Moses. This same fearful place in 1836 was the cold and swollen rivers and creeks and the long march across this prairie wilderness by thousands upon thousands trying to escape Santa Anna. There were very few husbands and brothers to help during the exodus from Texas as they were with Sam Houston’s army.
Dilue Rose Harris and her family kept trudging eastward over quicksand, cold flooded waters, horses and wagons abandoned in the mud, yellow fever, measles, and other diseases taking life, one after another. There wasn’t enough water to drink, there wasn’t enough food, many swallowed every few miles by quicksand.
Many who had faith in God began to speak against him openly. It wasn’t the first time this type of incident happened. It happened when Moses and the Jews passed the Red Sea, one could hear them moaning and complaining about God.
During the Runaway Scrape, what wagons could continue to roll were stacked with family members who had died during the terrible and unbearable conditions. Their doubts, in some way, were understandable.
It was from the beginning of their 120-day trek where they left the comfortable and safe lives to where they had reached, the wilderness where people died, some found face down in the mud and left to alligators to consume in due time.
The Sabine Shoot, their trip to reach and cross the Sabine River before Santa Anna caught them, was unavoidable. To make the “Promise Land,” the land where they would be safe.
The Wilderness is Lonely
The prairie lands from the Trinity River eastward to safety was a vast, trackless expanse of nothing but water in every direction one would look. Walk for a mile in waist deep water and the terrain looks the same. Climb up a small rise out of the water and peer further and nothing but water. Even though Dilue and her family was together and surrounded by thousands of people, in this wilderness, she felt alone.
She, like everyone else worried for her sick sister, Missouri, and wondered if she and her parents and brothers and sisters could hold out another week, much less another month. She tried to find forgiveness but found it difficult. What she would give for dry land, someplace to get out of the water, just to sleep for a while, if that was even possible.
It was in this taut, tense and fearful trek to think that God had forgotten about everyone! But, what she didn’t realize was that it was she and the others who had forgotten God.
GENESIS – Stepping onto the Shore and Finding it is Heaven
To compare the Runaway Scrape to the Wilderness where Moses led the Jews from slavery, my earlier published novel, GENESIS, talks about how God set a table during the wilderness. This is where I relate to being thankful. We may celebrate one day of being grateful, but it is every day we should celebrate being thankful.
Let’s move along for a moment since in about five hours I will be sitting down at a table at my brother’s house. Let’s relate this a moment to Dilue Rose Harris and others trapped on the prairies. Many had lost their faith in God. They were all starving and needed something to eat. Much of the food they did have to eat had to be left on the muddy prairie to make room for people who lost their life.
God began to line the way with fish where the water resided, and trails of fish to eat were left behind. There was no wood to burn, and the fish had to be eaten raw. There was water to drink as it was captured by barrels in each of the wagons that were still able to move, but in very limited supply.
Complaints soared about how much better the food was back home, cooked and not raw, and all the wonderful vegetables they were able to eat before their Great Escape began. How annoying to eat nothing but fish every day? How many ways can one serve fish, only one, raw? How quickly the thousands upon thousands took for granted their blessings.
The people complained and said, “Can God set a table in their wilderness?”
It looked impossible to them. They had lost their faith, and many lost one family member or two to the many adversities facing them while they continued east out of harm’s way.
In Christ is hidden all the wonderful riches of heaven.
This flooded wilderness to the families of the Runaway Scrape showed the peoples’ own weakness and how God can meet them in the most amazing ways. As long as they stayed behind in the comfort of their warm and toasty homes with plenty to eat, they would never need trails of fish strewn out across the ground or deer that were trapped and died in the flooded waters. But, they wouldn’t experience the miracle-working power of God either.
This low-lying area where all the waterways were out of their banks, alligators patrolled up and down looking for someone who was wading to get further east, all along the way it was not an easy place to be. Dangerous! Lonely! Hopeless!
But, it is also a place where Dilue and the others faced their own limitations, faced their failures, and many began listening to God’s word. It was here where they learned to lean on others. To find the strength they didn’t know they had, encounter the impossible, and learn what God is like.
The wilderness isn’t a fun place to be. As the thousands headed east, closer and closer to the Sabine River, they felt alone and exhausted. Most felt like giving up. There was apparently no way they were going to outrun Santa Anna. They felt like God had abandoned them. Nothing made sense. All was confusing to no end.
But Dilue Rose Harris and the thousands of others came closer together. Several women stood their ground when Davy Crockett’s brother rode up to the escaping masses and tried to take their horses for their men. The women stood their ground with shotguns in hand. In the back of their minds, they remembered the promises of God. They became stronger and stronger and did not give into their emotions. They each leaned onto their sisters and brothers in the name of Jesus Christ.
God did not lead the thousands of Texians into the flooded prairies of the coast of Texas to destroy them. He intended the time during their escape from Santa Anna to test them. Make them stronger!
One should ask themselves, what did the older men, women, and children find during their escape through the many adversities that faced them? The victory was there! Spiritual growth was there! The Holy Spirit was there. So was Jesus Christ!
It was far better to be crossing the flooded lands with Jesus by their side than back on dry land inside a warm and cozy house without him with Santa Anna on the back of his white horse standing outside the front door.
Life is about God’s agenda. God’s ideas. And, God’s plans. It is without a doubt his kingdom we are all praying to come, not ours.
Back to setting the table today for Thanksgiving and why every day is Thanksgiving in my household.
Can God set the table in the wilderness?
The answer is Yes! He can, he does and he will!
And later today, a table will be prepared as all of my family comes together to be thankful for what God has done for us today, and every day our eyes are opened!
As we always do, we will form a Circle of Life around the dining room table, holding hands and my brother will ask that I lead the Thanksgiving Day prayer:
O Heavenly Father, we thank you for the food before us today and remember the hungry. We thank you for our health, and as we do, we remember the sick. We thank you for our many friends in life and remember those who do not have any friends. We thank you for our freedom and remember those enslaved. All together, let there be many grateful days ahead and be endless. We are thankful for each hand we hold gathered around this table today. Lead us to do everything in the name of Jesus Christ and give thanks to You, O Lord through Him. Amen.
p.s. In my novel called Faith – Seventy Times Seven, there was a song which was the First Ordained Woman of Louisiana’s favorite song during the early 1900’s. Her name was Reverend Ada Caston Slaton Bonds of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The name of the song was “I Want to Be Like Jesus in my Heart!” The General Assembly gave her the lifetime title of “Mother of All Presbyteries.” I am ending this blog with this beautiful and moving hymn.