Fleas and Onions

Here is something from the pen of Cornelius Cox (brother-in-law of General Sidney Sherman) about his hard-knock life life as a storekeeper in Houston during 1839.

“…our quarters were in a loft in a building apart from the store, and our bed a few blankets on the floor, but such accommodations would have been satisfactory but for other company.

The fleas were as thick as the sands of the sea. Our clothes were actually bloody, and our bodies freckled after a night of warfare with the vermin.

And the rats, I cannot convey an idea of the multitude of rats in Houston at that time. They were almost as large as prairie dogs and when night came on, the streets of Houston were literally alive with these animals.

Such running and squealing throughout the night, to say nothing of the fear of losing a toe or your nose if you fell asleep, created such an apprehension that together with the attention that had to be given to our other companions, made sleep well nigh impossible.

We boarded at a hotel near the bayou and I can almost smell that dining room yet. In those days the markets did not furnish fresh vegetables – but onions in barrels and boat loads were everywhere and in everything and the smell of onions and the taste of onions followed us day and night like a nightmare…”

Happily for young Mr. Cox, the store failed and he was able to secure a commission in the Texas Navy.

Categories: Texas history