Tales of the Sabine Borderlands

Early Louisiana and Texas Fiction by Théodore Pavie

978-0-89096-854-3 Paperback
6 x 9 x 0 in
128 pp. 5 b&w illus., Map.
Pub Date: 10/01/1998


In February, 1830, eighteenyearold Théodore Pavie traveled west on the Camino Real from Natchitoches, in the new state of Louisiana, to Nacogdoches, Texas, which remained under Mexican rule. Events of his trip inspired him to write stories rich in details of the LouisianaTexas border region after he returned to France.

“Le Nègre” depicts the internal dynamics of a Louisiana slave community in an elemental tale of good versus evil. Pavie contrasts the nobility of the tragic hero, once a tribal chief in Africa, with the inhumanity of his white overseer.

“Le Lazo” is one of the first pieces of Texas or Western literature. It is an enigmatic blend of reportage and imagination reflecting the effects of the Fredonian Rebellion of 1827, the Spanish invasion of Mexico in 1829, and the passage of the Law of 6 April 1830, which triggered the next phase of Anglo rebellion against Mexican authorities in Texas. The Mexican protagonist Antonio enters into conflict with the Creole commander of the presidio at Nacogdoches, Col. José de las Piedras. Both men pursue rosaryclutching Clara, who represents the vessel of the new era to come.

Pavie brings to life a diverse and rapidly evolving society between Nacogdoches and Natchitoches. The fear inspired by Texas’ unstable political situation in the 1820s drives the action of “The Bearskin,” which takes place in Louisiana where shock waves are felt in the planter society.

“El Cachupin” tells of the fullblooded Spaniard, Pepo, and his Creole wife, Jacinta, who had been successfully established in Texas, only to be chased across the Sabine by increasing political hostilities in Mexico. East of the river, a lonely planter (probably a remnant of the pirate Lafitte’s band) and his concubine take them in and alter their fate.

After Pavie’s death in 1896, his works slipped into quiet oblivion until Betje Klier discovered his travel journal and letters in the late 1980s. Both Pavie and his modern biographereditor Klier work at the intersection of history and literature. Borderlands and Western historians, anthropologists, literati, and travelers will be interested in exploring these treasures of historical detail and early examples of American ethnographic fiction.

Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University

Published by Texas A&M University Press