Mary Wightman’s writing revealed early Texas life

Mary Helm

   Mary Helm, pioneer teacher, the daughter of John Hutchinson and Janet (Henderson) Sherwood, was born on July 3, 1807, in Herkimer County, New York.  
   She began teaching at the age of 16 and was teaching in a district school when she became reacquainted with her former teacher, Elias R. Wightman, who had recently returned from working as a surveyor for Stephen F. Austin and Green DeWitt in Texas.  
   After a short courtship the two were married, on October 26, 1828.  
   The Wightmans gathered a group of approximately 50 to 60 colonists, a majority from New York, and on November 2, 1828, set out for Texas.  
   They traveled by wagon to the Allegheny River and from there down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans.  
   There they chartered the schooner Little Zoe and set out on December 26; bad weather and difficulty in sailing through Matagorda pass kept them from landing at Matagorda until January 27, 1829.  
   The Wightmans lived in a small fort for several months until they were able to obtain material with which to build a crude cabin. 
   They founded Matagorda, where they owned a salt works and much of the surrounding land.  

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