Taos merchant, John A. Rowland, paid $60 in silver to Mexican Comancheros, to barter
with Comanche Indians for the return of nine-year-old Fayette Smith. The boy was
captured January 21, 1841, near present day Shoal Creek in Austin, Texas. Fayette’s
father, Judge James W. Smith, was murdered and scalped during the attack.
Fayette was taken to New Mexico. Rowland, who owned a trading post at Taos, heard
about a white boy living with the Indians. He paid the Comancheros to bring him to
Taos. The Rowland’s nourished the boy back to health and located his mother, Angelina
Smith, in Austin. The couple arranged to return Fayette to his family by wagon train to
Independence, Missouri, the eastern end of the Santa Fe Trail. The Santa Fe Trail was
the only safe route to travel at the time. They never asked and were never reimbursed
for their expenses for finding and returning Fayette.
The good samaritans fell out of favor with New Mexico Governor Manuel Armijo over
the Rowland’s connections to the Republic of Texas, in Austin. He and his Mexican
bride, Maria Encarnacion Martinez, headed west to California. They homesteaded
49,000 acres that would become a part of Los Angeles County. The 1855 home John
Rowland built still stands as the oldest surviving brick structure in southern California.
It is now the home of the Historical Society of La Puente Valley at 16201 Gale Avenue,
City of Industry, California which is being restored to become a museum.