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A Texas Legacy

October 2018

The meeting of a Boston woman and the Lone Star State is recorded in a set of watercolors

Sarah Anne Lillie Hardinge sailed into Galveston harbor on January 29, 1852, on the trail of an inheritance. A few years earlier, lured by the promise of cheap land in Texas, her brother Edward had bought up an 885-acre tract on the east bank of the Colorado River about ninety miles southwest of Houston. Now he was dead, and the young lady from Boston, accompanied by her husband, Dr. George Hardinge, arrived to claim the land her brother had left her. Like so many parcels of Texas land bought sight unseen by hopeful and trusting settlers, Edward’s chunk turned out to be poorly located and worth less than a dollar an acre. More land purchases surfaced later, and the Hardinges remained in Texas for four years while dealing with their claims.

During this time Dr. Hardinge took to drink. Sarah, on the other hand, learned to cope with giant mosquitoes and the occasional terrifying Indian attack. She taught school, and she gave birth to three sons, whom she affectionately called “our trio Texans.” Through it all she wrote about what she saw and she painted the sharply observant watercolors shown here. These and others will be exhibited at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, in September.