Industry that moved goods to build, sustain distant settlements in 18th-19th century Texas. Teamsters defied Indians, bandits, and Texas weather to supply outlying forts and inland towns, which suffered if imports from the Gulf Coast, U. S. , or Mexico slackened.
One of few regular runs was Austin-Matagorda. Wagons left each city on 1st and 15th of every month, crossing Matagorda, Wharton, Colorado, Fayette, Bastrop, and Travis counties. Houston was major Texas freight center because of access to Galveston Bay. George T. Howard and Charles Ogden were early freight men.
First carts, later wagons with 3000-7000 lbs. of cargo were drawn by 3 to 6 yoke of oxen or mule teams. "Grass rates" for faster mules. Early wooden carts were 15 ft. long with two 7-ft. wheels and a thatched roof. Their hubs were greased with prickly- pear leaves. For heavy loads, rough roads, the 2-ton "Prairie Schooner" was best. Caravans varied from 5 to 150 wagons. When resting or attacked, wagons formed a round, protective corral, and trained mules took their places instantly. Teamsters often banded together for mutual assistance. With coming of the "Iron horse" in 1853, the freighter began slowly to disappear from the state.