The trails we take today are the paths that shape tomorrow

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Early pioneers wrote about the beautiful clear streams they found here in those days when Texas was still a wilderness...

Pictured above is Serenity Creek which runs through our Trails West Retreat at a point where Austin, Fayette and Washington Counties all meet.

Memorial Day 2007--My husband Del, daughter Rebecca & I took a walk with our 3 year old grandson Jake through the dripping wet woods along our little creek.  It had been raining for three days straight and finally, the sun was breaking through the light drizzle.  As we neared the rocky shallow canyon walls that the creek had carved over centuries of time, we saw the water running swiftly over the rocks, making rapids as it bounced over the boulders.  It was exciting to those who lived in the flat and sandy rockless lands near Houston.  This was real backwoods wilderness only 70 miles away!

We showed Jake the different vegetation in the woods, lichens growing on the wet ground, and different species of trees and birds.  He absolutely loved it!

Our guests that weekend at the Retreat had brought their little 4 year old grandson and were fishing off the bridge that crosses the swollen creek.  They were actually catching perch in that swiftly moving water.  At one point during a heavy rainfall, our waterfall couldn't even be recognized as the water level was several feet higher than normal. Later, however, the stream had returned to its regular course and the guests were wading in the solid rock bottom of Jacob's Crossing.



If you read and enjoyed my history FROM JAMESTOWN TO TEXAS, I believe you will also be interested in the companion novels entitled TRAILS WEST. These novels, which are done in a timeline format, feature the same characters.  They chronicle the stories and roots of many families whose members fought either at the Alamo or at San Jacinto. Many of these same families had ancestors who participated in other great battles such as King's Mountain, Cowpens, and Guilford Courthouse during the American Revolution.

Although both the history and the novel start out in 1821, they go back in time to the early 1600's and trace the parallel families of William Barrett Travis, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Andrew Jackson, and Daniel Boone. Important characters like our first President George Washington, General Nathaniel Greene and Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, who played such vital roles in the American Revolution are also associated with many members of the families of focus. These prominant families intermarried with the families depicted in this series of books. They go back to the blue blood of Europe. The families originate in Scotland, Ireland, England, France and Germany. They are also stories about the Native Americans these colonists encountered and stories of slavery and the Black Americans. The novels are somewhat of a cross between Lonesome Dove and Little House on the Prairie, always dealing with the same basic family groups as they move westward settling the new frontier.  I had one reader who compared them to Louis L'Mour whose writings my father absolutely adored.

The books I have written are filled with echoes of the events portrayed in Braveheart, the Patriot and Gone with the Wind.  Send me an email at Betty Meischen for more information on ordering or if you want a signed, autographed copy.




Photo of OLD AUSTIN COUNTY TEXAS COURTHOUSE taken ca 1910 in Bellville.

Betty was only 10 when the beloved old courthouse burned. Her mother Sibyl Smith shed tears the day the wrecking ball swung into its staunch, masonry sides, which refused to fall under repeated strkes.

Alas, a new modern structure was built on the same site. Betty's trails and much of her research began here.

Brief sketches of a few Notable Real Life Characters in Betty's family who are direct ancestors:

James Bell (1790-1859):  Immigrated to Austin's Colony from Florida, received original Spanish land grant, co-founder with his brother Thomas of Bellville, Texas, owned over 8000 acre plantation next to Jared Groce, helped to form first Methodist Church in Texas

James Stephenson (1790-1853):  Immigrated to Texas in 1826, received an original Spanish land grant league and a labor, settled on his own plantation just south of Groce Retreat plantation, land joined William Barrett Travis.  First Methodist Church deacon.  Donated land at Caney Creek for camp meetings.  Wife Amelia one of the first to be baptized in Austin's colony.

James Bell Stephenson (1820-1905):  born in the Florida wilderness, traveled to Texas at age 6 with his parents, James and Amelia Bell Stephenson in 1826 to Austin's colony, saw Santa Anna pulled from the bog hole at San Jacinto at age 16, among the first Texas Rangers, fought in many Texas-Mexican battles 1839-1842, fought at the Bird Creek Indian Battle at Waco, Captain of the Grimes County Greys in the Civil War, first commissioner of Waller County, friend and neighbor of the sculptress Elizabet Ney.

George Grimes (1785-1849):  Immigrated to Texas in 1827, received original Spanish land grant in Austin County, fought in the Texas battle for Independence, his land adjoined Stephen F. Austin's

Benjamin Granville (1789-1864): Immigrated from England to Austin County in 1834, was at Harrisburg guarding the sick and baggage during the battle of San Jacinto, received war bounty land in Austin County, 1st postmaster of Bellville, justice of the peace and deputy sheriff.  Donated land at Piney Creek for a Methodist Church.

Newitt Cloyd (1821-1868): Manager of the Groce plantation, Sheriff of Austin County during Civil War, married daughter of James Bell

Baltazar Hoffman (1813-1888): Immigrated from Germany in 1839, Justice of the Peace, school board member, bought the land once owned by William Barrett Travis in Austin County

Samuel L. Duke (1840-1900): Fought in almost every major battle of the Civil War including Gettysburg and was present at Appamattox courthouse for the surrender of Lee to Grant, received a pardon and passport to return home to Georgia signed by Grant

Robert Hammock, Robert Dowling, James Dowling, John Washington Hargrove, John Greer, Bartley McCrary: Veterans of the American Revolution

And that's just the beginning of the story........ 


These are all direct family lines of Betty Meischen that are reviewed in the book From Jamestown to Texas and Virginia: The Cradle of America: Austin, Ball, Barrett, Bell, Boutwell, Bradshaw, Brooks, Claud/Cloyd/Cloud, Dandridge, Doddridge/Dodrill/ Daughtry/ Daughtery/ Doty/ Dougherty, Dowling, Duke, Gardner, Greer, Grimes, Granville/Grenville, Guinn/ Gwinn/Gwyn/Guinn, Hammock/Hammack, Hartgrove/ Hargrove/ Hargrave, Jackson, James, Kendall, King, Lambert, Lewis, Mayo, Maxwell, Middleton, Miller, McCrary, Moore, Morgan, Munn, Potter, Smith, Spruill, Standley/Stanley, Stephenson, Valentine, Ward, Wilson, Williamson, Young

German Lines: Grimes/Greim, Haedge, Hoffman, Platte, Pluennecke, Meischen, Miller, Schiller, Schmidt

Associated and parallel lines (married into/cousins multiple times and next door neighbors): Adams, Alford, Alexander, Allen, Anderson, Armstrong, Atkins, Atkinson, Baker, Barham, Bennett, Benton, Blake, Boone, Bray, Brewer, Brown, Bryan, Bird/Byrd, Cato, Carter, Corbin, Childers, Christian, Clark, Clayton, Claughton, Crawford, Cook, Cox, Crenshaw, Crockett, Cummings, Curry, Davis, Drew, Dunn, Ellis, Fielding, Ferguson, Green/Greene, Harris, Harrison, Harrell, Hill, Hinton, Holland, Holmes, House, Houston, Hughes, Hull, Jamison, Jennings, Jones, Larimore, Lee, Lindsey, Lowry, Kuykendall, Macon, Malone, Martin, Matthews, McBride, Miles, Morrow, Nichols, Parham, Parker, Portis, Pugh, Osborne, Ramsey, Ray, Reid/ Reed, Reams, Ruffin, Taylor, Travis, Turner, Washington, Walker, Weir, West, White, Willis, Wood, Wright, Wyche


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