ON THE CAMINO REAL
A Western Quest Series Novel
This work of historical fiction is the second in the Westward Quest Series. The first book, Out of the Wilderness, follows the arrival of Thomas Turner from Ireland to South Carolina in 1749. He carved a plantation and home from the raw frontier wilderness and defended it against Indians and British soldiers.
On the Camino Real follows his grandson, Aaron Turner, as he hears the call of the West and sets out to explore and settle in Texas in the days when it was still part of Spain.
Only a few historical glimpses remain of Aaron in deeds and wills and a few other documents. He inherited 59 acres near the family plantation in South Carolina which he later sold to finance his travels west. We know he was married to a Cynthia Simmons in Georgia who was a widow with children from a previous marriage. Aaron had one or more children with her before the marriage ended, it is assumed, by her death. The children did not live with Aaron, including his own son Aaron, Junior. On his death bed he leaves a token inheritance to these step-children and Aaron, Junior. He married a widow, Nancy King, who had children from a previous marriage named Lucius, Marcus and Louisa. He and Nancy had other children in Georgia and Texas. The actual date of their arrival in Texas is unknown. However, the location of their land is established. They lived on the Camino Real as it passed through what would later become Leon County near the Navasota River. A small cemetery near there holds the remains of some grandchildren and very likely Aaron Turner. Nancy remarried, but the marriage failed and she lived with her children for many years.
Aaron and his family would know the terror of the Texas Revolution and the infamous “Runaway Scrape,” as the only land route out of Texas to flee pursuing Mexican troops was literally by their front door. They also saw the depredations of Indians, especially the dreaded Comanche. The fear of the “Comanche Moon” is quite real. The raid on Fort Parker by Peta Nocona was only a few miles from their home.
Aaron was ordained as a Methodist minister at some point before reaching Texas. His 1851 obituary survives to give a small glimpse of his life. Three of his sons, David, Noah, and Aaron Lloyd, enlisted in the Confederate army just a few miles from home in 1862. David was never to return. He is buried near Camp Douglas, a Union prison camp outside Chicago.
I have attempted to complete the missing parts of the tapestry of his long and interesting life with plausible fiction based on period research. The next book in the series, Under Troubled Skies, will continue Aaron’s saga and adventure in Texas.
—Stephen L. Turner