Traces Posted January 20 Share Posted January 20 Note from Traces: each time I add a new Arcane Fact about Texas I'll edit this and put that new arcane fact at the top of this list (right below this text) so y'all don't have to scroll through the whole thing to see what's been added.Around 75 percent of the world’s Snickers bars are manufactured at the M&M/Mars plant in Waco, Texas. So if you’re enjoying or have enjoyed a Snickers anywhere in the world, odds are that very Snickers bar came from Texas. The first telegraph company in Texas was chartered in 1854 in Marshall, Texas. In those early days, telegraph wires were strung from treetop to treetop, which meant that telegraph operators frequently had to closed their offices and ride along the lines to repair them when the wind swaying the trees caused breaks in the wires. By 1870 there was an estimated 1,500 miles of telegraph wire in Texas. But, in the way of the world, telephones supplanted the telegraph and by 1943 the Western Union Telegraph Company, which had begun operating in Texas in 1866, was the only telegraph company still operating in the state. The last telegraph office to close was, ironically, in Marshall in 1972. After 118 years of operating in Texas, a technology that had at one time seemed like a miracle ---- instant communication over hundreds of miles? impossible! ---- was gone. Shown here: Staff of the Western Union telegraph office in Dennison circa 1920. Isn't it rather amazing to think that, only 100 years ago, a series of dots and dashes would be transmitted across the continent and then one of these boys would race off on his bicycle to deliver it to the recipient? We've come a long way, haven't we? I've heard a couple of old-timers use the expression "to stovepipe the beans" on various occasions and, from context, surmised that it meant "to lie." Example: "He really stovepiped the beans on that one" meant that he lied about it. But I never could understand where the expression came from or how it came about. Finally, from Paul Crume's "A Texan at Bay," comes the answer. The expression arose among old Texans from the practice of sacking beans to hide the bad ones. In stovepiping beans, you'd put a layer of choice beans in the bottom of a hundred-pound sack. Then you put in a section of stovepipe and pour good beans around it. You pour the cull beans (the bad ones) and maybe even some pebbles or dirt inside the stovepipe, pull it out, and top the sack with some more high quality beans. I'm not sure of the geographic origins of the expression, but it sounds like maybe it came from East Texas. 😉 Another mystery solved! On February 19, 1846, authority of Texas was formally transferred from the republic to the state, and Austin was made the official capital. However, Austin’s status as capital would remain in doubt until 1872. That year, a statewide election was held, and Austin beat Houston and Waco to remain as the capital of Texas. In an election held Nov. 5-8 that year, 63,377 Texans said that Austin should be the permanent seat of government. Houston got 35,143 votes while 12,776 citizens cast their ballot for Waco. There were a few votes for other cities like Bryan. Orange, Texas, which overlooks the Sabine River, was called "Green's Bluff" when it was founded in 1830. In 1840 it became Madison, Texas, in honor of President James Madison. By 1852, Madison had become the seat of Orange County, which was named for an orange grove. The postal folks, however, had a hard time differentiating Madison from Madisonville, so the settlement was incorporated and became Orange, Texas in 1858. Incidentally, the pirate Jean Laffite is said to have used the present site of Orange as a repair base. Alamo hero Jim Bowie was the 9th of 10 children and spoke Spanish and French fluently. In February 1818, Sam Houston led a delegation of Cherokees to Washington, D.C. to meet with Secretary of War John C. Calhoun and President James Monroe. While there, Sam was reprimanded by Secretary Calhoun for wearing Indian dress. The population of Thurber, Texas is roughly 50 people today, but in 1920, when bituminous coal was being mined in the area, there were 10,000 souls living there and it was the largest company town in Texas. But, beginning in 1920, the conversion of locomotives from coal to oil reduced the demand for coal, lowering prices, and the the miners and their families drifted away. Today, there are a few physical remnants of what used to be a thriving community. Thurber is in Erath County, very close to the Palo Pinto County State line. If you've ever driven I-20 from Dallas-Fort Worth to El Paso, you've driven through it. The Odessa meteor crater is a meteorite crater southwest of Odessa and is one of three such impact crater sites found in Texas, the others being the older and much larger Sierra Madera crater, the last being the Marquez crater. The Odessa crater is 550 feet in diameter and the age is estimated to be around 63,500 years old. The crater is exposed to the surface, and was originally about 100 feet (30 meters) deep. Because of subsequent infilling by soil and debris, the crater is currently 15 feet (5 meters) deep at its lowest point, which provides enough relief to be visible from the surrounding plains, but does not offer the dramatic relief found at the more famous Meteor Crater in Arizona. More than 1500 meteorites have been found at the site, including one that weighed 300 .lbs. Malakoff, Texas, is one of four Texas towns named after places in the former Imperial Russia. The others are Odessa, Moscow, and Sebastopol. Early settlers preferred either "Mitcham" or "Purdon" as a name for what became Malakoff, but U.S. postal authorities told them those names were already taken. They suggested naming it after a Russian fort that had recently been captured by the British during the Crimean War. That was fine with the East Texans, despite having no ties to Crimea or the 1855 Battle of Malakoff. Here is the population and rank of Texas' 10 largest towns in 1850: 1850 1. Galveston (4,177) 2. San Antonio (3,488) 3. Houston (2,396) 4. New Braunfels (1,723) 5. Marshall (1,180) 6. Gonzales (1,072) 7. Victoria (802) 8. Fredericksburg (754) 9. Austin (629) 10. Corpus Christi (533) It is interesting to look back and see how history treated some of them and to realize what cities are now in the top-10 (Fort Worth, Dallas, El Paso) that were not on the list then. Collin Mckinney was not only the oldest signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence (at 70 years of age), but he also lived under at least seven sovereigns during his life. He was born in New Jersey in 1766, a subject of King George, and died in Confederate Texas in 1861, aged 95. During his life he was governed by England, the American Colonies, the United States, Mexico, the Texas provisional government, the Republic of Texas, and the Confederate States of America. Incidentally, it was McKinney who advocated making counties as nearly 30 miles square as possible, with the courthouse near the geographic center, so that citizens could vote without undue hardship. After he was 75 years old, he made eleven trips guiding Kentuckians and Tennesseans to new homes in North Texas, where he helped establish the Disciples of Christ. In Brazoria, Texas, there is a park called the "Masonic Oak Park." It is named after a live oak tree that stands in the park. The tree is called the Masonic Oak because it was under that tree that Stephen F. Austin, Anson Jones (later President of the Republic of Texas), John A. Wharton (for whom Wharton is named), J.F. Caldwell (for whom Caldwell is named), A.E Phelps, Alexander Russell, and Asa Brigham met in March, 1835. to establish the first Masonic Lodge in Texas. Jones wrote, "The place of the meeting was back of the town of Brazoria near the place known as General John Austin's, in a little grove of wild peach or laurel, and which had been selected as a family burying ground for that distinguished soldier and citizen." They met underneath what was then a very prominent, 200 year-old live oak tree. The lodge was called the Holland Lodge, named for J.H. Holland who, at that time, was the Masonic Grand Master of Louisiana. The tree still stands and it is now estimated to be close to 400 years old. You can actually visit it. It's right here: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-95.569938,3a,75y,183.48h,97.44t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s0WZv0PWYd0tOFKiG151oig!2e0!7i13312!8i6656 If you look you can see both a historical marker and a granite marker erected by the Masons to mark the spot. HOW COOL IS THAT?. To think that this tree bore witness to that meeting and to every second of Texas history since then is pretty mind-blowing. Y'all realize, of course, that it took a Texan to kill Dracula, right? In Bram Stoker's classic 1897 novel it was Texan Quincey Morris who ultimately kills the supernatural vampire. Stoker describes Morris as a rich young American from Texas, and one of the three men who proposes to Lucy Westenra. Quincey is friends with her other two admirers, Arthur Holmwood and Dr. John Seward, even after Lucy has chosen between them, as well as Jonathan Harker. He carries a rhino head Bowie knife at all times, and at one point he admits that he is a teller of tall tales and 'a rough fellow, who hasn't "perhaps lived as a man should." Anyway, it's Quincey who drives his Bowie knife through Dracula's heart at the end. Unfortunately, just prior to that, he had been attacked by gypsies and his wounds end up killing him. Mina and John Harker, two of the novel's main characters, memorialize him by naming their son "Quincey." I was curious about all of this and wondered why Soker ---- an Irishman living in England ----- had made Quincey Morris a Texan. It turned out that Stoker was just as taken by the aura/mystique of Texas cowboys as anybody, for it was when he was writing "Dracula" that the first great wave of Texas "cowboy mythos" was washing over Europe. So, yeah. Quincey Morris, vampire slayer ---- and Texan. On October 21, 1970, at the age of 95, Abraham Lincoln Neiman died in a Masonic Home in Arlington. In September, 1907, with his wife Carrie and his borther-in-law Herbert Marcus, Neiman established the Neiman Marcus store in Dallas, and it immediately established a reputation for high quality at a high price. But in 1928, after frequent clashes with Herbert as well as with Herbert's son Stanley, he sold his share of the business to Marcus for $250,000. About the same time, he and Carrie were divorced. Neiman started several other business over the years, none very successful. At the time of his death he was utterly destitute, his only possessions being a pair of cuff links he kept in a cigar box. So, in a twist of fate, one of the founders of the world's foremost luxury store died a pauper. Folks around the world have a Texan named Daniel Haynes to thank for a good night's sleep. In the 1880s, the Austin County settler invented the process and the machinery for manufacturing the cotton mattress. This was the forerunner of today's modern bedding. Haynes named his company for the town where he developed the machinery ----- Sealy, Texas. Thus began the Sealy Mattress Company. The first movie to win an Academy Award for "Best Film" was shot in Texas. 1927's "Wings," a silent film starring Clara Bow and Buddy Rogers, was filmed in and around San Antonio and made its world premier in the Alamo City. In 1887, Comanche Chief Yellow Bear and his nephew, Chief Quanah Parker, went to Ft. Worth, Texas to discuss overdue money from leased tribal reservation lands. The two of them checked into the most modern hotel in the city, the Hotel Pickwick. Yellow Bear decided to retire early, but Quanah went with a friend for a social visit. Two hours later, Quanah returned to the hotel room, and retired for the evening. In turning off the gaslight, it is speculated that either he blew the light out, not realizing the consequences, or he did not turn the valve completely off. Whatever the reason, he awoke sometime later, roused Yellow Bear, and both struggled across the floor, Quanah falling near a window. Both lost consciousness. Almost 13 hours later, the scene was discovered. Yellow Bear was dead but Quanah survived. Not only did Gail Borden lay out the first plan for streets in both Galveston and Houston and publish Houston's first newspaper, but he later went on to invent condensed milk, which found a huge market during the Civil War. The company that he founded, the Condensed Milk Company, became Borden's Milk. Borden himself, after a lifetime of struggling financially, died a very wealthy man in Borden, Texas. He was buried in his home state of New York and has a very nice marker, indeed. Some 100 species of cactus are found in Texas, the most found in any state. They range from the common prickly pear cactus to a rare variety found only in El Paso. They come in radically different sizes, from the button cactus, which is no bigger than a dime, to the barrel cactus, also known as the fishhook cactus, which can weigh in at half a ton. Texas cacti have an interesting array of names as well, from pleasant to amusing to painful sounding. These include hunger, starvation, flapjack, dumpling, strawberry, blind pear, cow's tongue, night blooming cactus, devil's head, horse-killer, rainbow, pin cushion, porcupine, lady-finger, and "Glory of Texas." Burkburnett, Texas, fourteen miles north of Wichita Falls in Wichita County, was originally called "Nesterville," as it was established by "nesters" on land that was part of Samuel Burk Burnett's vast Four Sixes ranch. It was later changed to "Gilbert." But then, in 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt was Burk Burnett's guest for a wolf hunt at the ranch. Teddy had such a great time that he ordered the U.S. Postal Service to change the name of Gilbert to "Burkburnett" in honor of his host. The town thus became the only community in Texas to be named by a sitting U.S. President. Some sources say that Teddy didn't "order" the name change so much as "request" it and then pull some strings to make sure it happened. Other sources say that the change occurred by Presidential decree. No matter: it is still a neat story. Comfort, Texas (in Kendall County) was the sight of an amusing event in 1856. At that time the town had a cannon that was to be fired only in the event of an emergency, like a fire or an Indian attack. But on at least one occasion it was used for something quite different. It seems that back in 1856 the little town of Comfort was preparing for its Fourth of July celebration and had ordered a wagon load of beer from the Menger Brewery in San Antonio. The wagon, unfortunately, arrived on July 2, two days early. At that time there was no cold storage in Comfort and the unpasteurized beer was basically a living organism just WAITING to spoil. Well, a wagon full of beer in such danger was judged by at least some of the Germans thereabouts to be a calamity of the first magnitude, so somebody fired the cannon and everybody came running to the cannon, where they learned the true nature of the emergency. Some of the citizens were miffed because, by strict definition, the firing of the cannon was a false alarm. But those voices were drowned out by (intoxicated?) voices of reason, who decided right there on the spot to celebrate the 4th of July on July 2nd. You've got to love that pragmatic way of thinking! I was told this story several years ago by a man from Comfort. He was presented to me as somewhat of a local historian and told me this tale at a picnic. He was a tad inebriated, though, and I never knew whether it was true. But I just received "A Treasury of Texas Trivia" by Bill Cannon, and this story is included. So apparently it IS true. And, if it isn't, it should be! The book comes highly recommended, by the way. Lots of interesting tidbits. Arcane Facts about the mini-series Lonesome Dove: 1) Originally, Tommy Lee Jones was to play Gus, and Robert Duvall was to play Captain Call. After Duvall read the book, he wanted to play Gus, and the roles were switched. 2) The set was built just outside Del Rio, Texas. 3) Originally written by Larry McMurtry in 1971, as a movie script. He intended John Wayne to play Woodrow Call, James Stewart to play Gus McCrae, and Henry Fonda to play Jake Spoon, with Peter Bogdanovich directing. Wayne turned it down, and the project was shelved. Ten years later, McMurtry bought the script back, and wrote the book (on which this miniseries was based). 4) Principal photography lasted for 16 weeks at six days a week, and encompassed 89 speaking parts, 1,000 extras, 30 wranglers, 100 horses, 90 crew, and 1,400 cattle. Some scenes were so complex they were shot from six different cameras at once. 5) For authenticity, the producers decided to use real ranch horses. When the bullets hit below Gus's horse, the response was genuine, and Robert Duvall was bucked off. The cameras continued rolling, and the shot was kept in the final cut. 6) In 1985, Suzanne De Passe bought the rights to Larry McMurtry's unpublished novel for $50,000, with the idea of doing a miniseries in conjunction with the release of the book. Every major network in America turned her down. After the novel was published, became a massive success, and won the Pulitzer Prize, every network that had turned her down contacted her to try to persuade her to make the miniseries with them. 7) Two scenes are based on actual incidents that occurred during a cattle drive from Texas to Montana. Some cowboys ask "how far is it to Up-North?", believing it's a place, not a direction. During one river crossing, the cowboys strip off their clothes and ride their horses naked. Both episodes are in "We Pointed Them North", a memoir by Teddy "Blue" Abbott, a 19th century Texas cowboy who participated in a cattle drive from Texas to Montana. Abbott remained in Montana, married the daughter of cattle baron Granville Stuart, and become a relatively prosperous rancher. 😎 The Ogalalla, Nebraska set was originally built for Silverado (1985), which also featured Danny Glover. 9) Woodrow Call's final line, "A hell of a vision", was taken from the book "Cow People" by J. Frank Dobie. He attributed it to Charles Goodnight, a real-life Texas cattle baron who was the model for Call. 10) Gus's 1847 Walker Colt is as iconic as the Texas Rangers. It was designed by Samuel Colt at the behest of Texas Ranger and militia Captain Samuel Walker. The pistol is 16 inches long, with a nine-inch barrel, and weighs almost five pounds loaded. It's intended as a heavy cavalry pistol, to be carried in a saddle-mounted holster. At short range, it can stop a man or horse with one shot. The long cylinder holds a .44 caliber bullet on top of 60 grains of black powder, making it the most powerful black-powder revolver ever made. In modern tests, the Walker is at least as powerful as a metal-cartridge .357 Magnum. However, the cylinders issued with the Walker were not initially strong enough to handle such a large powder charge, and improper loading gave the guns a reputation for cylinders exploding during firing. The later Colt Dragoon pistol was slightly smaller, with thicker-walled cylinders. Only about 1,100 Walkers were produced; 1,000 for Captain Walker's order, and 100 added by Sam Colt for a special gift and promotions. 11) After the novel won the Pulitzer Prize, John Milius and John Huston attempted to adapt it into a feature film before Suzanne De Passe and Larry McMurtry decided to do it as a miniseries. 12) Charles Bronson was originally offered the role of Woodrow Call, but turned it down. Robert Duvall was next cast, but the producers decided to give him the part of Augustus instead. James Garner was chosen next, but bowed out for health reasons. After Garner, Jon Voight turned down the role, and ultimately Tommy Lee Jones was cast. However, Garner and Voight portrayed Woodrow Call in sequels. 13) The following famous "Old West" firearms are used in the film: Gus McCrae - Colt Walker (in the novel, Gus carries a Colt Dragoon, an improvement on the Walker design, and it is Deets who carries the Walker); Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call - 1860 Henry rifle; Jake Spoon - 1875 Remington with a pearl grip; July Johnson, Blue Duck, and various Hat Creek hands - 1873 Colt Single Action Army, a.k.a. "Peacemaker"; Blue Duck - 1859 Sharps cavalry carbine; Dan Suggs - 1875 Remington revolver carbine; Roscoe Brown - 1851 Colt Navy with 1872 cartridge conversion; Dog Face (Blue Duck's sharpshooter) - 1859 Sharps buffalo rifle; Jim (the smaller of the two robbers who attack Roscoe) - "Buntline Special", a version of the Peacemaker, with a twelve inch barrel; Various - 1873 Winchester rifle. 14) The first episode got a 26.8 rating and a 38 share when it first aired on CBS in 1989. According to Executive Producer Suzanne De Passe, CBS was optimistically hoping for a 23 share. 15) many of the costumes and props (including Gus' outfit and Colt Walker 1847) are on public display, free of charge, as part of the Wittliff Collection in the library at Texas State University San Marcos, in San Marcos, TX; about 30 minutes SW of Austin. The so-called Winchester Quarantine was an extralegal device instigated in the early 1880s by Panhandle ranchers to stop the northward movement of cattle that might be infested with disease-carrying cattle ticks. At that time many Panhandle herds were being decimated by Texas fever carried by these ticks, which were spread by cattle driven up from South Texas. When the Panhandle Stock Association was organized at Mobeetie in July 1880 the cattlemen designated certain routes as "lines of drive" to contain herds being trailed across the Panhandle to New Mexico and Colorado. Water tanks were built on these routes, and affected herds were allowed 1½ miles of range on either side of the trail. The Rath Trail was set aside for the "middle or distributing drive." Outfits trailing cattle via Fort Griffin to Kansas were strongly urged to stay on the Western Trail, which ran by Doan's Store on the Red River and through the Indian Territory, thus avoiding the Panhandle altogether. In 1882 the association met with trail drivers in Dallas to try to achieve that end. Not everyone was willing to cooperate with these measures. Accordingly, Charles Goodnight of the JA Ranch and Orville H. Nelson of the Shoe Bar Ranch posted guards along the forty-five-mile stretch between their ranches, so that nesters and cattle outfits from South Texas moving north were required either to go around the line or to turn their cattle over to the watchmen until after the first frost. These watchmen, who were paid seventy-five dollars a month for the job, were armed with Winchester rifles; hence the name Winchester Quarantine. The guards were instructed to use moral suasion, then bluff, but if both of these measures failed, they were to send for help from the nearest ranches to hold the recalcitrant drovers in check until an injunction could be obtained and served on the trail boss. Though this last resort took several days, it was always effective. Although lobbying efforts by J. F. (Spade) Evansqv and other cattlemen to secure a legal quarantine law for the Panhandle were unsuccessful, the Winchester Quarantine line was maintained for a few years in cooperation with the Spur and Matador ranches. By 1886, however, wide-scale fencing of Panhandle ranges served to lesson the problem of tick-infested herds. Source: Handbook of Texas Online, H. Allen Anderson, "Winchester Quarantine" Before he went to whip up on Hitler, Mussolini and the Axis in World War II, Col. George S. Patton commanded the 5th Cavalry at Fort Clark, in Brackettville, Texas. That was in July, 1938. He was commander there for six months before being transferred. Patton loved his time at Fort Clark. The quarters in which Patton lived are still there and can be toured. Arbuckle's coffee was the coffee of choice for cowboys along the various cattle trails that lead north out of Texas, but why? Well, the cook's coffee kept the cowboys going day and night. "Arbuckle Brothers," originated the idea of shipping coffee beans already roasted. Most of the coffee at that time was green and had to be roasted in the cook's skillet. Some of the descriptions of that coffee are downright unprintable in a PG forum like this one. When Arubckle's came on the scene, the brightly colored manila bag of that brand soon became a familiar sight on chuck wagons. The word "Arbuckle's," printed in bold letters across the front, had a picture of a flying angel in a long flowing skirt with a streaming red scarf around her neck. As a bonus, a stick of striped peppermint candy was in every one pound sack. When the cook hollered out, asking who wanted the candy that night, it was a comical sight to see those tough, rugged cowhands scuffle for the privilege of grinding the coffee beans in order to get the candy stick. If a cowboy had a cold or a cough, the cook could dissolve some of the peppermint in whiskey to make a remedy. Many Texans don't realize that Willie Shoemaker ---- perhaps the greatest jockey of all time ----- is also a Texan. Willie was born in Fabens, Texas—a border town near El Paso—August 19, 1931. Weighing one pound, sixteen ounces, he was not expected to live through the night. Maude Harris, Shoemaker’s grandmother, put him on a pillow in a shoebox and set it on the open door of an oven to keep him warm. Although he survived, Shoemaker was always small. He rode his first horse at seven and, after his parents divorced, moved to El Monte, California with his father. Shoemaker attended El Monte High School, where he boxed and was undefeated as an 80 pound wrestler before quitting school at 15 to work at a thoroughbred horse ranch. He mucked out stalls, working with yearlings, gained a great understanding of horses and the rest, as they say, is history. He ended up winning the Kentucky Derby four times, the Belmont Stakes five times, and the Preakness twice. His record of 8,833 career wins stood for 30 years. You know, now that I think about it, it sort of makes sense that a Texan would be such a great horseman, seein's how ubiquitous horses are hereabouts. Put this on your brain this morning as you eat your Cheerios: tools more than 16,000 years old (pre-Clovis) have been discovered north of Austin. It's kind of crazy to think what might be just a few feet down under your feet right now! http://westerndigs.org/16000-year-o...texas-among-the-oldest-yet-found-in-the-west/ At the Witte Museum in San Antonio you will find a bench that used to be on The Riverwalk in that fair city and upon which Johnny Cash once etched "Johnny luvs Vivian" with his pocket knife. That was in 1951 and the "Vivian" was Johnny's first wife. Here is a close-up of the inscription. Because of decades of weathering and additional carving, only a few letters are now visible, including the "J" in "Johnny" and part of Vivian's name. After becoming aware of the bench’s historical significance, city officials removed it from the River Walk, eventually giving it to the Witte Museum, where it is on permanent display. Behind the speaker's desk in the House of Representatives chamber at the state capitol in Austin hangs the oldest artifact in the capitol, a battle flag that was carried by Texian forces at the battle of San Jacinto in 1836. The flag, also known as the Newport Rifles Company Flag, is the only existing flag carried by the Texian army at the Battle of San Jacinto to remain in Texas. The charging Lady Liberty with sword drawn and “Liberty or Death” emblazoned on her sash originally had a blue background. The Newport Rifles of Kentucky, a 52-man company of volunteers carried the flag into battle. Before their departure for Texas, the unit received the flag from the ladies of Newport, Kentucky who had the painting of Liberty done by the 22 year old artist, James Henry Beard. Led by Captain Sidney Sherman, the volunteer soldiers’ journey to Texas was not easy. They left Kentucky aboard the steamer Augusta on December 31, 1835 in the middle of a snowstorm. They traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, then up the Red River to Natchitoches, Louisiana. The unit reached Texas later in January and proceeded to San Felipe, Texas. There, the Newport soldiers became part of the First Texas Regiment. As the number of volunteers grew, Sherman quickly rose to the rank of Colonel and received command of the Second Regiment of Texas Volunteers. It was Sherman who began the attack at San Jacinto, and who is credited with shouting the battle cry, "Remember the Alamo!" After the battle, the Newport volunteers returned this flag to Sherman and his family. His three daughters gave the tattered silk to the State of Texas on August 8, 1896. It has been restored and now hangs in its position of honor. In November, 1915, the Liberty Bell arrived in El Paso. It was on tour after being exhibited at a World's Fair. This is what the El Paso Times had to say about the event: "El Paso saw the Liberty Bell yesterday afternoon. Twenty-five thousand people, including thousands of children, felt the thrill of patriotism as they passed in dense columns before the bell which proclaimed to the world the independence of the United States. No other celebration in the Southwest ever called forth so many thousands of spectators — no other local event has been marked by such a unanimous display of patriotic reverence. Children and grown-ups, civilians and military, officials and private citizens alike turned out to welcome the venerable relic; and those who have traveled across the continent with the bell said during the reception that no other city on the route had surpassed El Paso in the enthusiasm of its greeting. Although scheduled to arrive here at 2:30 p.m., it was not until 3:30 p.m. that the historic emblem of the revolution rolled slowly to the place of exhibition in front of the Stanton Street station of the Southern Pacific. Since noon the crowds had been gathering, and when the signal was given to let them pass before the bell there was a shuffling of thousands of feet along the railway right-of-way where the bell rested." On Aug. 14, 1952, the Gulf Freeway ----- Texas' first freeway ----- was opened, and folks could drive on it from Houston to Galveston. The city of Kemah, Texas derives its name from a Karankawa Indian word that means "facing the winds." This is due, of course, to its position on Galveston Bay. The world's first rodeo was held in Pecos on July 4, 1883. Highland Park, an incorporated city with Dallas, and Beverly Hills, California, were both planned by the same man, landscape architect Wilbur David Cook. Incidentally, Highland park is 2.2 square miles and recently celebrated its 100th birthday, having been incorporated in 1913. The first American to walk in space, Ed White, was a Texan, having been born in San Antonio in 1930. White performed his spacewalk on June 3, 1965. Tragically, he died in a fire in the space capsule of Apollo 1 on January 27, 1967. During the period of July 24-26, 1979, the Tropical Storm Claudette brought 45 inches of rain to an area near Alvin, Texas, contributing to more than $600 million in damages. Claudette produced the United States 24 hour rainfall record of 43 inches. The oldest European settlement in the area that is present-day Texas is the community of Ysleta, which is now part of El Paso. It was first established in 1680. Although six flags have flown over Texas, there have been eight changes of government: Spanish 1519-1685, French 1685-1690, Spanish 1690-1821, Mexican 1821-1836, Republic of Texas 1836-1845, United States 1845-1861, Confederate States 1861-1865, United States 1865-present. José Gregorio Esparza, also known as Gregorio Esparza, was the last Texan defender to enter the Alamo before the Mexican siege began and his was the only Texian body that was not burned in the pyres in the aftermath of the Mexican victory. After the battle, one of the Mexican soldiers, Francisco Esparza, began searching for the body of his brother, Jose Gregorio, who had fought on the side of the Texians. When he found his brother's body, Francisco and his widowed sister-in-law went to Santa Anna and begged permission to give Jose Gregorio a proper Christian burial. Permission was granted, and Jose Gregorio was buried in the Campo Santo cemetery in San Antonio. Incidentally, Jose Gregorio brought his family along with him when he entered the Alamo compound. They were able to survive the battle and were not executed by the conquering army. Brewster County is the largest county in Texas, more than three times the size of the state of Delaware, and more than 500 square miles bigger than Connecticut. It is one of the nine counties that comprise the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas, and borders Mexico. Alpine, Texas, is the county seat. The county is named for Colonel Henry Percy Brewster, a Secretary of War for the Republic of Texas. Founder Harmon Dobson recorded that Whataburger #1 in Corpus Christi on August 8, 1950. Dobson opened and sold his first Whataburger through the window of a little portable building. The location of the first Whataburger was 2609 Ayers Street, across from Del Mar College in Corpus Christi. He charged a pricey 25 cents since the burgers were better quality than the competitors’ burgers. The burgers sold back then are the same as the original Whataburger that many Texans still love today. It is made of a grilled quarter-pound beef patty, fresh lettuce, four dill pickles, three slices of tomatoes, chopped onions, mustard and ketchup. The meat and vegetables were always fresh, never frozen. The burgers were always cooked exactly how the customer wanted them to be. This attention to detail likely led to Whataburger receiving $50 in purchases on their first day. The Brazos river is the largest river between the Red River and the Rio Grande. It is 840 miles long and rises from three forks: the Salt, Clear, and Double Mountain Forks. According to legend, the Brazos saved Coronado's expedition of 1540-1542 from dying of thirst, so the men thankfully named it "Los Brazos de Dios" ( The Arms of God). So if you ever wondered how it got its name, well there you go. Nearly 40 years before the Wright brothers flew their plane at Kittyhawk in 1903, a Texan flew a fixed-wing powered airplane near Fredericksburg in 1865. Newspaper accounts reveal that Jacob Brodbeck successfully flew an airplane that he had built which was powered with coil springs. Some accounts say that the plane reached an altitude of 12 feet, others say that it reached "tree top" height. It crashed into a hen house, killing numerous chickens and scaring many children. Brodbeck, a teacher and inventor, came to Texas from Germany in 1846 and lived in Luckenbach. "Ore Diggers” and “Muckers” were names considered for the University of Texas at El Paso before they became they settled on “Miners.” I'm glad, too. "El Paso Ore Diggers" just doesn't have the same ring. There are many interesting tales that revolve around the San Bernard River, which rises from a spring near New Ulm and flows for 120 miles before it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. One of the most fascinating such tales is the mysterious wailing violin sound that has caused the San Bernard to be nicknamed "The Singing River." It has been reported for more than 120 years. Some believe the violin sound comes from the ghost of a violinist from Jean Lafite's band who was killed while playing the violin along the riverbanks. Another story is that it is the cries from a boatload of slaves who drowned at the mouth of the San Bernard. Yet another is that the sound comes from the spirit of a young musician whose bride-to-be died just hours before the wedding, so he consoled himself by playing his violin nightly. Scientists, however, believe that the sound may be that of swamp gasses escaping. Spooky stuff. I'm scared! 😉 McLean, Texas, the last town on Route 66 to be bypassed by I-40, was once known as "Uplift City" for the large brassiere factory, Marie's Foundations, which used to employ a good percentage of the area residents. The factory is long gone now, but the building was renovated and now houses the Devil's Rope Museum. The Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is the world's largest rose garden. It contains 38,000 rose bushes representing 500 varieties of roses set in a 22-acre garden. Alexander Franklin James --- the brother of notorious outlaw Jesse James and participant in at least four robberies that resulted in the deaths of bank employees or citizens ----- later worked innocuously as a shoe salesman at Sanger Brothers in Dallas. It's true. What happened is this: Five months after the killing of his brother Jesse in 1882, Frank James boarded a train to Jefferson City, Missouri, where he had an appointment with the governor in the state capitol. Placing his holster in Governor Crittenden's hands, he explained, "I have been hunted for twenty-one years, have literally lived in the saddle, have never known a day of perfect peace. It was one long, anxious, inexorable, eternal vigil.' He then ended his statement by saying, 'Governor, I haven't let another man touch my gun since 1861." Accounts say that James surrendered with the understanding that he would not be extradited to Northfield, Minnesota. He was tried for only two of the robberies/murders – one in Gallatin, Missouri for the July 15, 1881 robbery of the Rock Island Line train at Winston, Missouri, in which the train engineer and a passenger were killed, and the other in Huntsville, Alabama for the March 11, 1881 robbery of a United States Army Corps of Engineers payroll at Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Among others, former Confederate General Joseph Orville Shelby testified on James' behalf in the Missouri trial. He was acquitted in both Missouri and Alabama. Missouri accepted legal jurisdiction over him for other charges, but they never came to trial. He was never extradited to Minnesota for his connection with the Northfield Raid. His New York Times obituary summarized his arrest and acquittal: In 1882 ... Frank James surrendered in Jefferson City, Mo. After his surrender James was taken to Independence, Mo., where he was held in jail three weeks, and later to Gallatin, where he remained in jail a year awaiting trial. Finally James was acquitted and went to Oklahoma to live with his mother. He never was in the penitentiary and never was convicted of any of the charges against him. Set free, Frank James drifted to Dallas, where he worked for Sanger Brothers in the later 1880s. A manuscript written by a co-worker described him as "friendly and generous." He passed away on Feb. 18, 1915. Folks who like spicy food can thank their lucky Texas for much of their eating pleasure, as the first commercially available packaged chili-powder came from Texas. William Gebhardt, German-born New Braunfels restaurant owner, sold the first commercial chili powder in 1894. Before that, chili, which is the state dish, was served only when fresh chilis were available. By 1896 there was enough demand for the spice that Gebhardt established a factory in San Antonio. Later, Gebhardt added the nations first canned chili con carne and canned tamales to his product line. You can still buy Gebhardt's chili powder and I've had people swear that it's the only one worth buying. Stephen F. Austin had a dog while he lived in what would become Texas, and that dog's was named "Cano." There are 11,247 named Texas streams identified in the U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System. Their combined length is about 80,000 miles, and they drain 263,513 square miles within Texas. Also, there are 14 major rivers in the Lone Star State. Without looking it up, how many can you name? Lajitas, Texas, which lies on the border with Mexico in the Big Bend region, is named after the flat rocks, the "lajitas," that lie beneath the shallow water at the ford that has made it a natural crossing place in the Rio Grande for centuries. War parties from both the Comanches and the Apaches frequently raided south into Mexico, fording the Rio Grande at this same spot. It was on June 26, 1832 at the Battle of Velasco that blood was first drawn during the Texas Revolution. This event marked the first incidence of Texian resistance to Mexican law. What happened is that John Austin and Henry Smith, in charge of a group of Texans who had gone to Brazoria to secure a cannon to use against Mexican forces at Anahuac, engaged forces under the command of Domingo de Ugartechia, commander of the Mexican fort at nearby Velcaso, who was determined to prevent passage of the vessel carrying the cannon. About 150 Texians engaged a similar number of Mexican soldiers. Ugartechea and his soldiers were forced to surrender when their ammunition was exhausted. 10 Texans were killed and 11 wounded; five Mexican solders were killed and 16 wounded. But, yeah, the shots that ultimately ended up in San Jacinto were fired almost four years later. Everybody knows that the Bluebonnet is THE Texas state flower. But did you realize that Texas actually has five state flowers? It's true, given that there are five varieties of Bluebonnets The five state flowers of Texas are: 1) Lupinus subcarnosus, the original champion and still co-holder of the title, grows naturally in deep sandy loams from Leon County southwest to LaSalle County and down to the northern part of Hidalgo County in the Valley. It is often referred to as the sandy land bluebonnet. The plant's leaflets are blunt, sometimes notched with silky undersides. This species, which reaches peak bloom in late March, is not easy to maintain in clay soils. 2) Lupinus texensis, the favorite of tourists and artists, provides the blue spring carpet of Central Texas. It is widely known as THE Texas bluebonnet. It has pointed leaflets, the flowering stalk is tipped with white (like a bunny's tail) and hits its peak bloom in late March and early April. It is the easiest of all the species to grow. 3) Lupinus Havardii, also known as the Big Bend or Chisos Bluebonnet, is the most majestic of the Texas bluebonnet tribe with flowering SPIKES UP TO THREE FEET. It is found on the flats of the Big Bend country in early spring, usually has seven leaflets and is difficult to cultivate outside its natural habitat. 4) Lupinus concinnus is an inconspicuous little lupine, from 2 to 7 inches, with flowers which combine elements of white, rosy purple and lavender. Commonly known as the annual lupine, it is found sparingly in the Trans-Pecos region, blooming in early spring. 5)Lupinus plattensis sneaks down from the north into the Texas Panhandle's sandy dunes. It is the only perennial species in the state and grows to about two feet tall. It normally blooms in mid to late spring and is also known as the dune bluebonnet, the plains bluebonnet and the Nebraska Lupine. Source: The Texas A&M Agricultural Extension Service Here is a partial list of Kansas ladies who "greeted" Texas cowboys at the end of a trail drive: Poker Alice Alabama Jane Cayuse Laura Cowboy Anna Poker Nell The Crying Squaw Snowplow Bowers Wild Horse Kate Madame Bulldog Dutch Jake Yellowstone Nell Chinook The Karankawa Indians were relative latecomers to the coast of Texas. Native Americans had lived along the coast for at least 4,500 years, but the Karankawas arrived in (about) 1400 AD, less than a century before Europeans discovered the new world. Many archaeologists believe the tribe originated in the Caribbean. The language, impressive physical size, and the cultural traits (particularly the antisocial behavior) of the Karankawas are strikingly similar to those of the Carib Indians, a tribe of cannibal warriors who traveled in sturdy dugout canoes and regularly raided and conquered neighboring lands. By the way, "Karankawa" is not the name this tribe gave itself. Like most other North American Indians, they called themselves men, people, bodies etc.... Other South Texas tribes assigned various names to these newcomers. The Lipan-Apaches knew them as "people who walk in the water," and others called them "wrestlers" or "without moccasins." But the name that stuck came from two Indian words "Karan (dog)" and "kawa (to love). Since the tribe traveled with small, barkless, foxlike dogs, it became known as the dog lovers, Karankawas. Archaeologists note that this breed of dog has been discovered in only two places in the western hemisphere: among the Karankawas and among the Armwak population of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. The nine-banded armadillo can hold its breath for as long as six minutes. Most Texans know that, because of the weight of their armor, they can walk across the bottom of bodies of water. But did you know that they can also swim quite well? They have a trick of "swallowing air" to inflate their stomachs, giving them a temporary buoyancy for long enough to swim across narrow ditches and streams. Here is a typical dance program of a cowboy's ball, as published by the Taylor County News on March 19, 1886: 1) Grand circle round-up march 2) Horse hunter's quadrille 3) Catch-horse waltz 4) Saddle-up lancers 5) Broncho racquet 6) Captain's quadrille 7) Circular's gallop😎 Round-up lancers 9) Cut-out schottische 10) Branding quadrille 11) Cow and calf racquet 12) Night-horse lancers 13) First guard waltz 14) Second guard quadrille 15) Third guard Newport 16) Fourth guard quardrille 17) Day herder's waltz 18) Maverick's polka 19) Bull calves' medley 20) Stampede all If I am not mistaken, a dance card listing all of the dances would be given out to all of the dancers before the ball started and then those in attendance would try to get as many different people to dance with them, filling out the dance card with the names of those with whom they danced. Good, clean fun! There is a bed and breakfast in Fort Davis called "The Veranda." The Veranda was originally a hotel called "The Lempert Hotel." Comanche Chief Quanah Parker stayed at the hotel in the late 1800s when he came to Fort Davis in search of peyote cactus for a peyote ritual. According to Barry Scobee, a legendary pulp-fiction writer and amateur historian who lived out in west Texas for many years (and who passed away in 1977), Quanah Parker showed up in Fort Davis in search of, as Quanah put it, “the gift-of-God cactus to lighten the Red man’s burden”. Accompanied by Chief Rising Star and several others, Chief Quanah arrived at the Lempert Hotel much to the surprise of a Miss Finck, who worked the front desk. An Indian agent who accompanied the party allayed Miss Finck's initial fears, saying Quanah and Rising Star had come in search of peyote and only wanted room and board. According to Comanche legend, peyote was only found in the vicinity of nearby Mitre peak. So, yeah, if you go and stay at the Veranda Bed and Breakfast in Fort Davis ----- which is an exceptionally nice place, by the way ---- you can stay in the place at which Quanah Parker stayed. Here is a list of ferry tolls across the Nueces River in 1847: For each and every wheel to a wagon, buggy, or carriage, 25 cents. For each and every pair of oxen and horses, 25 cents. For each man and horse, 25 cents. For each man, 12 1/2 cents. For each loose horse, 10 cents. For each head of sheep, goats, or hogs, 3 cents. ------ Paul S. Taylor, "An American-Mexican Frontier," 1934 Did you know that the world's first photograph is in Texas? It's true. In 1826 or 1827, Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce took the first photograph in history, and that photograph is on permanent display on the UT-Austin campus on the first floor of the Harry Ransom Center. You can go and see it pretty much anytime. Here is the photograph and here is a TRULY interesting article about it, about the challenges that Mr. Niepce faced etc... it includes shots of his house, the place from which the photo was taken, and the camera with which he took it. It was an eight hour exposure, if you can believe that: http://petapixel.com/2013/10/02/first-photo/ You can also see Gutenberg Bible when you visit. Really a fantastic place. Tell them Traces of Texas sent you and watch them say, "who?" Dr. James Long and a group of fillibusters created a fort made out of mud at what is now Port Bolivar in 1819 and stayed there 'til 1821. Long then left his wife, Jane, and entered Mexico, where he died. Jane Wilkinson Long subsequently gave birth to a child, somehow managing to avoid being killed by Indians. Because her baby was the first Anglo baby known to be born in what became Texas, she is known as "The Mother of Texas." And, of course, these days there is a free, 24 hour a day ferry that connects Port Bolivar with Galveston. If you like cookies or brownies or cake or pie or pizza, you may consider that you owe a debt of gratitude to Gus Baumgarten of Schulenburg, Texas. It was he who effected a revolutionary change in kitchens worldwide. In 1917, Baumgarten was fooling around with a thermometer in his oven and invented controlled-heat baking in the process. Herbert Hoover, who had been appointed head of the U.S. Food Administration by President Woodrow Wilson, heard of Baumgarten's experiments and wrote to him, asking if he would please instruct by mail 2,385 home economists, who would demonstrate this new baking method all over the country. The result was a thermostat on nearly every oven subsequently produced in America and, of course, the world. It's hard to imagine an oven without a thermostat these days, but prior to 1917, baking had consisted of (essentially) heating and cooling, with no direct way to evenly control the heat. So the next time you bite into an apple fritter, remember old Gus Baumgarten in Schulenburg, and thank your lucky stars for the general inventiveness of Texans. The first long-distance telephone lines in Texas were installed between Houston and Galveston in 1883. Can you imagine how crazy it must have seemed to Houstonians to be able to pick up a phone and talk to somebody 50 miles away? They must have been amazed. Incidentally, the first long distance direct-dialing in Texas was initiated in 1955. According to Cabeza de Vaca, the coastal Indians in Texas lived nomadic lives that were cyclical and based on where food could be found at any given time during the year. From January to April, these natives lived almost entirely on oysters that they harvested from the Laguna Madre, the series of hypersaline bays that lie between the Texas mainland and barrier islands (like Padre Island) that line the Texas coast. After the dewberries ripened in May, they would move inland to feast on them. In summer they migrated to an area south of San Antonio to collect prickly pears. And when fall arrived they would head to what they called "the river of nuts," probably the Guadalupe River, where they ate the pecans that fell from the trees that covered the forested river bottoms. In late fall and early winter they would harvest cattails and native roots like arrowroot as well as fish from their canoes. And then back again to the oyster beds when the weather turned cold. Comstock, Texas, was established in 1892 and at first had a railroad sidecar serving as its post office. The town was named for a Southern Pacific railroad section foreman. The trans originally crossed the nearby Pecos River through a series of underground tunnels. Then, in 1890, the Southern Pacific began construction of a high bridge across the Pecos River gorge to shorten the route by eleven miles. Touted as the "eighth wonder of the world," workers spent 87 days building the bridge, which eventually opened for traffic in 1892. A marvel of engineering, the bridge stood 321 feet high, stretched 2,180 feet long ---- the world's longest at the time ---- and cost 1.2 million dollars.To pay for costs, the railroad charged and extra fifty cents just to cross the bridge. A highway bridge spans the Pecos today. it is 273 feet above the river and doesn't cost a cent to drive across. After Sam Houston resigned as Tennessee's governor he returned to live with the Cherokees, with whom he had lived as a youth. In 1832, while Houston was a member of an Indian delegation to Washington, Ohio Congressman William Stanberry, on the floor of the House, said some slanderous things about him. Houston sent a note challenging Stanberry to a duel. Stanerry refused to answer but started carrying pistols when he went out. Almost two weeks after the original insult Houston was going to his hotel one evening when he encountered Stanberry on Pennsylvania Avenue. Houston attacked Stanberry with his hickory cane. Stanberry drew one pistol, aimed, and pulled the trigger but the pistol did not fire. Stanberry filed a complaint with the Speaker. The House voted to arrest Houston, since the offensive statement had een made in that chamber, and Congressmen were supposed to be immune for statements made there. Houston's only punisment could be reprimand and withdrawal of his privilege, as a former Congressman, of coming onto the floor of the House. Houston appeared the next day and was given 48 hours to prepare his defense. The Arcane Texas Fact of the Day is that his attorney was none other than Francis Scott Key. That's right, THE Francis Scott Key, the man who, 18 years earlier, had written the Star Spangled Banner. The trial began on April 19. Stanberry showed the bumps on his head and Houston's cane was put into evidence. Key's defense was that the words which so inflamed Houston were not spoken in the House ---- he did not hear those ---- but those printed in the newspaper. it was a rather unsatisfactory position, since the newspaper account was a direct quote of Stansberry's speech in the House. The trial lasted for a month and attracted a great deal of attention. President Jackson was displeased by the actions of his young friend, Houston, but said a few such chastisements would teach congressmen to maintain civil tongues. The House found Houston guilty, but the attempt to deprive him of the privileges of the House was defeated by James K. Polk and other Jacksonians. In the District of Columbia courts Houston was charged with the crime of assault and a fine of 500 dollars was imposed. A year later Houston was advised, "Get that remitted by the Old Chief (Andrew Jackson)." After another year Houston wrote Jackson about the fine. By virtue of his pardoning power, the President granted a remission and Houston never had to pay it. The Battle of Palo Alto, which took place near Brownsville in May, 1846, was notable not only because it was the first battle of the U.S.-Mexican War, but for a couple of more obscure reasons. For one, it was the first time that the U.S. used mobile, lightweight artillery in battle. But another is that it brought together on the battlefield three future Presidents: U.S. Grant and Zachary Taylor on the American side and Mariano Arista ---- who was President of Mexico for two years beginning in 1851 ---- on the Mexican side. Incidentally, Arista's full name was José Mariano Martín Buenaventura Ignacio Nepomuceno García de Arista Nuez. In 1977 the San Antonio Light reported that people were "shocked and appalled" at the sight of topless bathers at Austin's Barton Springs swimming pool. "Matter of fact, some folks are driving 200 miles to be shocked and appalled by the sight," the newspaper reported. The largest raid ever mounted by Native Americans on white cities in what is now the United States occurred in 1840 in Texas. It followed the Council House Fight, in which Republic of Texas officials attempted to capture and take prisoner 33 Comanche chiefs who had come to negotiate a peace treaty, killing many of them together along with two dozen of their family and followers. The Texas Officials were determined to force the Comanche to release all white captives among them. To avenge what the Comanche viewed as a bitter betrayal by the Texans, the Comanche war chief Buffalo Hump raised a huge war party of many of the bands of the Comanche, and raided deep into white-settled areas of Southeast Texas. Victoria was the first town attacked, on August 7th. The next day, Linnville was sacked and burned in a scene that was tragicomedic. That afternoon, the Comanches withdrew, taking with them more than 3,000 horses and mules and hundreds of thousands of dollars of other plunder, ranging from silver to cloth and mirrors. Unfortunately for them, the sheer volume of loot slowed them down, and made them vulnerable to attack from a militia that otherwise would never have caught them. A combined force of Texas Rangers and militia volunteers caught up with the Comanches at Plum Creek near what is now Lockhart and engaged them in a running battle in which the Texans attempted to kill the raiders and recover loot and the Comanches simply attempted to get away. Equally, the militia missed an opportunity to destroy the bulk of the raiding party when they concentrated on recovering and dividing the recovered bullion and other plunder. It's further around the state of Texas than it is from New York to Liverpool, England. It sounds like a tall tale to say that the Academy Awards statuette, the Oscar, was named for a Texan, but although he was known to a limited few, Oscar's namesake is indeed a Texan. A man named Oscar Pierce had a niece who worked for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science in Hollywood. When she saw the gold statue for the first time she said "That looks like my uncle Oscar!" The name stuck. Texan Roy Benavidez, Jr. received the Medal of Honor for valor displayed in Vietnam in 1968. Roy was born in Lindenau, Texas and was raised in Cuero and El Campo. He was the son of a sharecropper who died when he was two years old and orphaned at the age of 7 when his mother passed away. From his medal of honor citation: "Master Sergeant Benavidez, a Green Beret fighting in the Vietnam War, learned that a small recon team had been surrounded, and all members had been killed or wounded. He got on a bird, and all by himself, jumped off and ran through enemy fire to reach the team. From his medal of Honor citation: “Prior to reaching the team’s position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members… Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy’s fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader’s body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, re-instilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy’s fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from behind by an enemy soldier. In the ensuing hand-to-hand combat, he sustained additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft.” Dallas' Swiss Avenue, which has long been one of the more fashionable addresses in that fine Texas city, was so named because it was originally settled by a group of Swiss immigrants who came to Dallas after Swiss-born Dallas mayor Benjamin Long, a former La Reunion colonist, returned to Zurich in 1870 and persuaded a group of his countrymen to immigrate. About three dozen arrived in December of that year and built homes along what would become Swiss Avenue. And this is not to say anything bad about Dallas, which I love dearly, but can you imagine the expression on their faces when they left their homes and those beautiful Alps in Switzerland, traveled across the ocean, and pulled up into ... Dallas? I wonder if there was any buyer's remorse? 😉 Stanley Kubrick attempted to cast Dan Blocker in his film Dr. Strangelove, after Peter Sellers elected not to add the role of Major T.J. "King" Kong to his multiple other roles, but Blocker's agent rejected the script. The role subsequently went to Slim Pickens, who played the iconic scene of riding an atomic bomb down while waving his cowboy hat. Blocker, who was born in De Kalb, Texas and raised in O'Donnell, Texas, was best known for playing "Hoss Cartwright" on TV's "Bonanza" series. One of the greatest historical coincidences that I know of: In 1810, Stephen F. Austin was a student at Transylvania College in Lexington, Kentucky. His best friend was a young man named Robert Todd. Stephen had a budding romance with a young lady named Eliza Parker but, alas, fate intervened when Stephen's father's lead mining business went sour in Missouri and his father, unable to afford tuition, called Stephen home. Before leaving, Stephen asked Robert Todd to keep an eye on Eliza, fully intending to come back to school and resume his romance with her when things got a little better, financially speaking, for his father. 'Twas not to be. Robert Todd ended up marrying Eliza in 1812. They had a daughter, Mary, who was born in 1818 and ended up marrying Abraham Lincoln in 1842. Many historians consider her as one of the driving forces in Abe's political career, particularly at the beginning. So I always wonder how history would have been changed had Moses' lead mining business in Missouri not gone south. Stephen would no doubt have stayed in Lexington, finished his degree, and become the lawyer he wanted to be. He might have married Eliza himself and there would have been no Mary Todd to marry Abraham Lincoln. There might have been a Mary Austin but things would have been entirely different. And, of course, Austin would most likely never have been driven to move to Texas because his life in Lexington, or wherever, would have been settled. And since it was Austin who provided the impetus that got the whole Texas experiment going, there would have been no Battle at the Alamo, no San Jacinto ... nothing. The upshot is that Mary Todd Lincoln's mother was, at one time, Stephen F. Austin's sweetheart. And it's fun to ponder what might have happened had the bottom not fallen out of the lead mining business in 1809-1810. As I often say, history combs the thinnest of hairs. I'm not sure what I mean by that, but it sounds deep. Vernon, Texas, began life as Eagle Flat, Texas, on account of numerous eagles that nested in the vicinity. It wasn't until the 1870s that they changed the name to "Vernon" in honor of George Washington's home, Mount Vernon. Here is a list of early Texas newspapers and the year in which they were founded. Help me add to it! The Cotton Plant: San Felipe, 1829 The Mexican Nation: San Felipe, 1831 The Redlander: San Augustine, 1837 The People: Brazoria, 1837 The National Banner: Houston, 1837 The Civilian: Houston, 1838 The Intelligencer: Houston, 1838 The Western Texan: San Antonio, 1848 The Flea: Jacksboro (Fort Richardson), 1869 The Plowboy: Lubbock, 1871 The Busy Bee: San Marcos, 1874 The Iron News: Llano, 1884 The Kicker: Ozona, 1891 The Spy: Mason, 1893 The Daily Thomas Cat: San Marcos, 1898 The Pointer: Dripping Springs, 1905 The U.S.-Mexican war that began in 1846 lasted less than 18 months and yet the ramifications were enormous. In defeat, Mexico forfeited more than one million square miles of territory that it had laid claim to. In time, those vast lands became the states of California, Arizona and New Mexico, with large portions of Colorado, Utah and Nevada thrown in. Texas, then only recently annexed into the Union, was made by treaty free of the long-standing claim of ownership by Mexico. And the Rio Grande was formally fixed as the boundary between Texas and the United States. Incidentally, freshman U.S. Congressman Abraham Lincoln, then only 38 years old, railed against the war so often and with such vigor that his loyalty to the Union was called into question. The bloodiest battle in Texas history was the Battle of Medina, fought on August 18, 1813 ---- and nobody knows exactly where it took place. Here's what happened: The early 19th century was a time of political upheaval, and in 1812, while the U.S. was at war with England, Spain faced revolts throughout Latin America, including Mexico. In this revolutionary climate, Americans and others began efforts to influence the fate of Mexico, of which Texas was a province. Bernardo Gutiérrez and Lt. A.W. Magee marched from Louisiana to Texas in 1812 with their Republican Army of the North. Capturing Nacogdoches and Trinidad, they moved on to Presidio La Bahía, where they survived a four-month siege by Spanish governors and their Royalist forces. The Royalists retreated toward San Antonio in February 1813, and in March the Republican Army followed them and was ambushed in the Battle of Rosillo. The Republicans persevered, captured San Antonio and executed the Spanish governors. Gutiérrez's new Republic of Texas, with its green flag, was marked by internal political problems. Spain sent troops under Gen. Joaquín de Arredondo to retake Texas. Among his men was Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Yes .... THAT Santa Anna. The Republicans marched from San Antonio on Aug. 15, 1813 with about 1,400 troops: American volunteers, Tejanos, Mexicans and Native Americans. Led across the plains south of the Medina River, the fatigued army faced Spanish troops on Aug. 18 and was soundly defeated. Fewer than 100 escaped; most were executed. The Spanish left the decimated Texans on the battlefield and proceeded to San Antonio to punish citizens who supported independence. Eight years later, Mexican leaders ordered the remains of the fallen soldiers to be buried under an oak tree on the battlefield. But here's the thing: nobody knows for sure exactly where that oak tree was. It is believed to have taken place about 20 miles northwest of what is now downtown San Antonio, but no archaeological evidence has been found. Incidentally, José Antonio Navarro, a founding father of Texas, and José Francisco Ruiz ----- both future signers of the 1836 Texas Declaration of Independence ----- fought in the Battle of Medina, as did at least one man who had fought in the American revolutionary war against the British in the previous century. America's most purchased and favorite food, the hamburger, was invented in Texas. The hamburger got its start in the Henderson County town of Athens in the 1880s, when Fletcher Davis served up a meat patty with mustard, pickles and onions between two slices of bread. The sandwich caught on, and Davis introduced the hamburger at the World's Fair in St. Louis in 1904. And despite what others might say about this, that's our story and we're sticking to it! The last man to be killed by "Wild Bill" Hickock, Phillip Houston Coe, is buried in the Prairie Lea cemetery in Brenham, Texas. Phillip "Phil” Coe was a soldier, a gambler, a businessman, and called the famous Ben Thompson, gunman and gambler, one of his best friends. Born Phillip Houston Coe in July, 1839 in Gonzales, Texas, to Elizabeth Parker Coe and Phillip Houston Coe, Phil would grow up to be called one of the greatest gunfighters of Texas. In September, 1861 he joined the Confederate forces in Houston, Texas to fight in the Civil War and was quickly made a 3rd Lieutenant. However, just a few months later, in December, he was mustered out due to illness. In March, 1862, he re-joined the Confederate forces, enlisting in the 36th Texas Cavalry, fighting for over a year, when he left the force in April, 1863. After the war over, it is thought that he served with Ben Thompson under Emperor Maximilian in Mexico. It was under famous gunfighter and gambler, Ben Thompson, that Coe would hone his shooting and gambling skills. By late 1869 he was in Brenham, where his sister, Delilah, and her family lived. There, he met and gambled with such notorious individuals as James Madison Brown, John Wesley Hardin, and William P. Longley. Next he went to Salina, Kansas in 1870, but by May, 1871 he had moved on to the wild Kansas cowtown of Abilene. Also there were Ben Thompson and Bill Hickok, who was serving as city marshal. Coe and Thompson soon went into a partnership operating the Bull’s Head Saloon, one of the wildest places in the already wild cowtown. This, of course, created dissension between Thompson and Coe with City Marshal, Bill Hickok. Though there were a number of disagreements, tension rose again when Thompson and Coe hanged an oversize painting of a Texas Longhorn, complete in its "full masculinity” at the Bull’s Head Saloon. Most Abilene townspeople were offended by the sign and demanded the animal’s anatomy be altered. As a result, Hickok stood by with a shotgun as the necessary deletions were made to the painting. The tension was, no doubt, so thick it could be cut with a knife, and the alteration was made without serious incident. Though Coe and Hickok continued to have a number of disagreements, and it was well known the two disliked each other, Thompson and Hickok never had problems with each other, seemingly having a mutual respect for each other’s reputations. Later, Thompson left town and Coe sold his interest in the saloon, although he remained on as a gambler. When Hickok and Coe began to court the same woman, rumors started to circulate that each planned to kill the other. At one point, Coe and Hickok passed words during a disagreement, during which Coe bragged of his expertise in shooting, with Coe reportedly stating he could "kill a crow on the wing", to which Hickok replied: "Did the crow have a pistol? Was he shooting back? I will be." Eventually, the tension between the Phil Coe and Wild Bill Hickok would culminate in the ultimate gunfight. On the night of October 5, 1871, the trouble came to a head. It was the end of the cattle season and Coe, along with a number of Texas cowboys were celebrating by drinking and carousing in Abilene's numerous saloons. As the cowboys neared the Alamo Saloon a vicious dog tried to bite Coe, and the gunman took a shot at him. Though he missed the dog, Hickok appeared just minutes later to investigate the gunfire. The marshal demanded that Coe surrender his firearms, as an ordinance prohibited carrying them in the city. But instead of giving over his weapons Coe sent a bullet Hickok's way, to which the marshal returned fire, shooting Coe twice in the stomach. At about the same time, Hickok heard footsteps coming up behind him and turning swiftly; he fired again and killed Deputy Mike Williams, who had been coming to his aid. Williams' death haunted Hickock for the rest of his life. Coe lingered in agony for days and finally died on October 9th. His body was transported back to Brenham and buried in Prairie Lea Cemetery. In the meantime, Hickok drove the rest of the cowboys out of town. But the city of Abilene had had enough. Before long, the city fathers told the Texans there could be no more cattle drives through their town and dismissed Hickok as city marshal. Though some thought that Ben Thompson would retaliate against Hickok for the shooting, he did not, and by some estimations seemed to believe the shooting was justified Coe's body was returned to Brenham, where he was buried. Source: "Legends of America," a very nice website that you can find here: http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-philcoe.html The events of the Texas War for independence from Mexio are well known. What is less well known is that these events were actually the SECOND attempt by Anglos in Texas to secede from Mexico. The Fredonian Rebellion (December 21, 1826 – January 23, 1827) was the first attempt by Anglo settlers in Texas to secede. The settlers, led by Empresario Haden Edwards, declared independence from Mexican Texas and created the Republic of Fredonia near Nacogdoches. The short-lived republic encompassed the land the Mexican government had granted to Edwards in 1825 and included areas that had been previously settled. Edwards's actions soon alienated these established residents, and the increasing hostilities between them and settlers recruited by Edwards led Victor Blanco of the Mexican government to revoke Edwards's contract. In late December 1826, a group of Edwards's supporters took control of the region by arresting and removing from office several municipality officials affiliated with the established residents. Supporters declared their independence from Mexico. Although the nearby Cherokee tribe initially signed a treaty to support the new republic because a prior agreement with the Mexican government negotiated by Chief Richard Fields was ignored, overtures from Mexican authorities and respected Empresario Stephen F. Austin convinced tribal leaders to repudiate the rebellion. On January 31, 1827, a force of over 100 Mexican soldiers and 250 militiamen from Austin's colony marched into Nacogdoches to restore order. Haden Edwards and his brother Benjamin fled to the United States. Chief Richard Fields was killed by his own tribe. A local merchant was arrested and sentenced to death, but later paroled. The rebellion led Mexican President Guadalupe Victoria to increase the military presence in the area. As a result, several hostile tribes in the area halted their raids on settlements and agreed to a peace treaty. The Comanche abided by this treaty for many years. Fearing that through the rebellion the United States hoped to gain control of Texas, the Mexican government severely curtailed immigration to the region from the US. This new immigration law was bitterly opposed by colonists and caused increasing dissatisfaction with Mexican rule. Some historians consider the Fredonian Rebellion to be the beginning of the Texas Revolution. In the words of one historian, the rebellion was "premature, but it sparked the powder for later success. As an aside, I have always loved the name/word "Fredonia." It's just a great-sounding word. Like maybe if I ever get another dog I'm naming him/her "Fredonia" or something. The Gulf Coast in Texas extends some 367 miles as the crow flies, but along the major highways between Brownsville and Orange you will have to drive 460 miles to cover that distance. In Texas, the gulf's total shoreline ----- including bays, islands, river mouths etc... ----- measures some 3,360 miles. The fossilized skeletons of creatures such as woolly mammoths, giant ground sloths, horses, camels, and many extinct smaller mammals have been discovered in the El Paso area. They are typically found in what's referred to as the Fort Hancock Formation, which is described as "lacustrine and play sediments predominantly consisting of interbedded clays and silts." Examples of the fossils can be seen in the Centennial Museum on the UTEP campus. They are part of an excavation of mammoth bones from a sand quarry near the present site of Vista Hills Hospital. This history of the Torrey brothers a series of trading houses they established in the 1840s is an interesting one. The Torrey's started their business in order to trade primarily with Native Americans but also with anybody else who happened by. The firm of Torrey and Brothers traded widely with the Indians for about ten years, from John F. Torrey's arrival in Houston in 1838 until 1848, when the Torreys sold the major trading house to George Barnard and move to California. The Torreys' trading activities were a vital part of Sam Houston's peace policy and acted as a civilizing agent for the Indians. The Torreys conducted a significant fur trade, assisted in the establishment of New Braunfels, recovered stolen horses and captives from the Indians, and established what was perhaps the first regional bank in the United States. John Torrey and his brothers David K. and Thomas S. Torrey built the first frame house in Houston and used it as a trading post and as a supply center for their other posts. David purchased goods in Boston and New York. George Barnard and Sam Houston may have been stockholders in the enterprise. The Torreys operated a trading house on the Bosque River in 1842 and established houses at Austin, San Antonio (1844), New Braunfels (1845), and Fredericksburg. Barnard opened a branch store on the Navasota River in 1843, and, at Houston's request, the firm opened a branch at the falls of the Brazos. The Brazos post, on Tehuacana Creek in McLennan County, received a license in December 1843 after the Torreys made bond for $10,000. With its official status under a law of the Republic of Texas passed in 1843, the post had a near monopoly of the Texas Indian trade. In 1846 Dr. Ferdinand von Roemer made a trip from New Braunfels to the Brazos post with John Torrey and described the trading house as standing in a post oak grove on a high, pebble-covered hill overlooking Tehuacana Creek. The post comprised six or seven houses built of rough-hewn logs. The largest house held pelts, another contained trade goods for the Indians, and the remaining served as living quarters. In 1846 Paul Richardson built an additional building for a fee of $100. The post traded goods to the Indians and, for a price, recovered stolen horses, runaway slaves, and captured Mexicans from the Indians. Indians frequently met at a council ground some four miles west of the trading post. In May 1845 about 1,000 lodges, or 4,000 persons, camped near the post. On November 16, 1845, Thomas I. Smith and George W. Terrellqqv made a treaty with the Kichai, Tawakoni, Waco, and Wichita groups at the post. In 1844 the Torrey brothers furnished Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels with weapons for the Adelsverein. The brothers contracted with John O. Meusebach to provision and transport German immigrants from the coast inland. The Torreys had an unusual banking and credit system. The Tehuacana post served as a clearinghouse for the notes of rangers and Indians in the immediate area and for the entire border from the western edge of what is now Hood County almost to New Braunfels. The trading company sometimes paid advances to Indians for deerskins; the debts could then be paid at the posts on the Navasota River, at the falls of the Brazos, or at New Braunfels. Debts were sometimes paid by supplying six shaved skins for each dollar borrowed. Sam Houston signed and witnessed receipts for the Torrey Company at New Braunfels in 1846 and 1847. From 1844 to 1853 the trading house handled at least 75,000 deerskins. William N. P. Marlin and Leonard Williams, freighters, traveled an estimated 15,000 miles collecting and delivering pelts to Houston at $1.50 a hundred pounds in 1846 and $2 a hundred pounds in 1848. Williams was the Indian agent assigned to the post in April 1845. Grant and Barton, commission furriers in New York, sold at auction for Torrey and Brothers and later for George Barnard more than seventy-five lots of skins. Barnard bought the Brazos post and moved it to Comanche Peak in Hood County in 1849. Torrey and Brothers entered into a partnership with the J. C. Spencer Company of Robinson County and dissolved this alliance in 1846. By 1849 the Torrey Brothers had sold their remaining interests to Barnard and moved out of Texas toward California. Citation: Handbook of Texas Online, Henry C. Armbruster, "Torrey Trading Houses." The old Taylor County jail was built in 1879 in Buffalo Gap, Texas. Buffalo Gap, you will recall, was the county seat before it was moved to Abilene. The jailhouse, which still stands, was built on unstable soil, so the builder hollowed out pockets in the limestone blocks and put in cannonballs hauled from Vicksburg, Mississippi after the Civil War to lock the blocks together. It is said that today, well more than 100 years later, the building, now a museum, has no cracks in it. If you would like to appear especially gracious, bodacious, vivacious, sagacious, ostentatious, capacious, and perspicacious over dinner tonight, inform your dining companions that it was in 1906 that former Governor James Hogg’s last wishes included being buried with a walnut tree at his feet and a pecan tree as a headstone, the nuts to be “given out among the plain people so that they may plant them and make Texas a land of trees.” The last public hanging in Texas took place on July 30, 1923, in Waco, when Roy Mitchell was executed for one of eight murders he committed during a reign of terror. 90 miles east of El Paso on US 62/180 are extensive surface salt deposits in a desert bolson (a depression with no natural drainage) at the foot of the Guadalupe Mountains. White men first used those flats in mid 1600s, and the Indians likely used them, too. Salt served an important function in meat preservation, in addition to its value as a seasoning. Perhaps more crucial to the men who dug precious metals from the ground , salt was necessary for smelting silver. Silver mines in northern Mexico consumed tremendous quantities, and to meet this need at least two well-traveled salt trails jutted up from Mexico and fanned out though the region. Flash forward to the 1860s, when corrupt El Paso politicians formed a "salt ring" and began charging fees for salt removal, the injustice of which led to the infamous salt wars of the 1860s and 1870s. The fighting ended in San Elizario with the surrender of a squad of Texas Rangers. Political assassinations and a congressional investigation followed, leading to numerous indictments and the resurrection of Fort Bliss. Built from the same pink granite from central Texas that the state capitol building is made from, the Tarrant County Courthouse In Fort Worth was completed in 1895 after more than two years of construction. Although the Courthouse building project came in early and nearly 20 percent under budget, the citizens of Tarrant County were outraged by the perceived extravagance, and responded by voting the County Judge and all of the Court Commissioners out of office during the next election. Be that as it may, it's a gorgeous building and I'm glad it turned out the way it did. On July 5, 1883, Joseph Brinster was legally hanged at the county seat of Ysleta, having been convicted of rape. He had been charged with raping the wife of a non-commissioned officer at Fort Davis and was the first man ever legally hanged in El Paso County. He had to be dropped twice because the first drop did not cause death. In October, 1886, El Paso had one saloon for every 232 inhabitants, including women and children. The chances of dying of thirst were pretty slim thereabouts, I reckon. The city of Killeen was established in 1881 when the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway, planning to extend its tracks through the area, bought 360 acres some 2½ miles southwest of a community known as Palo Alto, which had existed since about 1872. Soon afterward the railroad platted a seventy-block town on its land and named it after Frank P. Killeen, the assistant general manager of the railroad. In 2016, Abilene, Texas took the No. 1 spot on Forbes’ "Best Places to Retire. " Per Forbes, if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of your working days, Abilene is a good 150 miles from the D-FW metroplex, and “provides a more down-home environment,” Forbes says. "But being far from a major city doesn’t mean culture and higher education suffer in the West Texas town. There are seven colleges in the area, like Abilene Christian University." Other fast facts about Abilene that make it Forbes’ top locale: "Crime, housing and the cost of living are all lower than the national average." San Marcos and Grand Prairie also made the list of top retirement spots. Four months after his record-setting trans-Atlantic solo flight, Charles Augustus Lindbergh landed in Abilene for one hour and thirty-six minutes during a nationwide publicity tour. Touching down at Kingsolving Field (now the site of Abilene Zoo) after an almost nine-hour flight from Santa Fe, "Lucky Lindy" was given a hero's welcome by thousands of West Texans. His famous Ryan Monoplane, "Spirit of St. Louis," was taxied into a fenced area and surrounded by National Guard Troops for protection. An escort plane landed later. Heading a parade into Abilene were seventy-one mayors and countless officials. Lindbergh was escorted by Mrs. Mildred Moody (1897-1983), wife of Governor Dan Moody and an Abilene native; Mayor Thomas Edward Hayden (1891-1949); and Chamber of Commerce president Charles William Bacon (1871-1947). The young pilot reportedly balked at a "throne" rigged for him in an open Nash automobile, and rode with Mrs. Moody through the town to Federal lawn. Lindbergh delivered a brief speech over loudspeakers, praising the ideal terrain and weather in Texas for developing civil and military aviation. He was escorted back to this plane and flew two hours and forty-two minutes to his next stop in Fort Worth. The first department store in Taylor County was Minter's Dry Goods Store in Abilene, built in 1925 at 244 Pine Street in that beautiful city. The building still stands, as you can see from this Google Street view. It now houses a cooperative featuring arts and crafts. You cn see the building here: http://bit.ly/2jeYE5j ----- Source: "A Browser's Book of Texas History" by Steven Jent. It's a highly entertaining book and I recommend it for any Texas history shelf Gunsight, Texas, in southern Stephens County, was named for nearby Gunsight Mountain. It was settled in 1879 and gained a post office in 1880 at J. W. Shepard's store. The community's population was fifty in 1890 and grew to 150 in 1920 because of the oil boom and the town's location near the Wichita Falls and Southern Railway. The population declined, however, after the 1920s and the current population is six people, some chickens, and a dog named "Skeeter." Okay, I made up the part about the chickens and the dog. Incidentally, Gunsight Mountain mountain was named because it runs "as straight as a gun barrel" and has a projecting peak that the early settlers said represented a gunsight. Its summit, at an elevation of 1,658 feet above sea level, rises 208 feet above U.S. 183. Pretty much everybody knows about Stevie Ray Vaughan, but many don't know the story of his favorite guitar, which he referred to variously as his "wife" or "number one." Stevie got this guitar ---- described as a “ragged American Stratocaster with 1959 pickups, a ’62 neck, and a ’63 body n finish, upside-down tremolo bar, cigarette-burnt headstock” in 1974. He got it from Ray Hennig's Heart of Texas music in Austin. But what is so unusual is that this guitar's previous owner was Christopher Cross, the Austin musician who had series of smash hits in 1980 and 1981, including "Ride Like the Wind," "Sailing" etc... Ray told me in his shop one time that Christopher Cross came in with the guitar and wanted to trade it for something that had a more powerful, more muscular sound. So Ray traded Christopher a Les Paul for it. According to Ray, Stevie Ray Vaughan came in the next day, saw the guitar that Christopher had traded in, played it, and decided he wanted it. Mr. Hennig hadn't even had a chance to clean it up or repair it in any way when --- boom! ---- it went right back out the door. So it went from Christopher Cross to Stevie Ray Vaughan and became one of the most famous guitars in history. It was in 1898 that the horned frog became the mascot of Texas Christian University. Of course, at that time it was not yet Texas Christian University but instead was named "Add-Ran Christian University." And it was not in Fort Worth, as it is now, but in Waco. It's said that the horned-frog population in Waco was so great that the critters were just everywhere on the campus. In 1902, the school's name was changed to Texas Christian University. In 1910 the main building burned and Fort Worth offered the school a 50-acre campus and 200,000 dollars to move to that city. The university accepted the offer and after 15 years in Waco the school moved to Fort Worth. The first tolls on the Waco Suspension Bridge were collected on January 1, 1870, just a couple of days after the bridge was completed. There was a huge celebration. The bridge ---- which still stands ----- was considered an architectural marvel and the financing and building of it was so difficult that other Texas cities were quite impressed with the merchants in Waco who had succeeded in getting the bridge built. The San Antonio Express newspaper proclaimed, "All honor to Waco! She is leading all the inland cities with enterprise and prosperity!" The bridge was indeed a a spectacular engineering feat. Built at a time when most of Texas was still reeling from the Civil War and in the throes of reconstruction, it is impressive even to this day. The main span stretches 475 feet across the Brazos and the roadway was so wide that two stagecoaches could pass each other going in opposite directions. No other bridge in the state for years could compete with it in terms of beauty and size. The suspension span operated as a toll road for 19 years, until 1889. It was under the ownership of the Waco Bridge Company during that time, after which it was purchased by McLennan County. The County then turned it over to the City of Waco for operation as a free public bridge. The last car crossed it in 1971, when it was retired, at least in terms of vehicular traffic. It has been restored/fixed up several times over the last 145 years, and looks to be good to go for another century at least. The last surviving Confederate General, Felix Huston Robertson, was the only Texas-born general to serve the Confederacy during the Civil War. He was born in 1839 at Washington-on-the-Brazos. His father, Jerome B. Robertson, also fought in the Civil War and was for a time commander of Hood's Brigade. He attended Baylor University and went to West Point in 1857, but left before graduation to serve the Confederacy. Felix was a harsh disciplinarian whose Indian-like features gave him the nickname "Comanche Robertson." In 1864, Robertson was assigned a field command, leading first a brigade and later a division of cavalry. On October 3, 1864, a group of guerrillas associated with Robertson's troops during the campaign slaughtered more than one hundred black Union soldiers who had been wounded in the previous day's fighting. One of his subordinate officers, Champ Ferguson, was executed by hanging after the war for his part in what the Northern press deemed the "Saltville Massacre. Noted historian William C. Davis, in his book "An Honorable Defeat. The Last Days of the Confederate Government," reports that Robertson personally "join(ed) in the act of villainy" although he escaped prosecution. Robertson was severely wounded in the elbow during the Battle of Buck Head Creek near Augusta, Georgia, in late November 1864. He lived, but never resumed field duty. After the war, Robertson returned to Texas and settled in Waco. He studied law, passed his bar exam, and established a profitable legal practice. He and his father speculated in real estate and invested in several local railroads. After the death of his wife, Robertson remarried in 1892. He attempted to enter local politics in 1902 as he ran for mayor of Waco in the Democratic primaries. However, he was defeated by incumbent J. W. Riggins. He became the commander of the local United Confederate Veterans in 1911. In 1913, Texas Governor Oscar B. Colquitt appointed him as the Texas Representative for the Battle of Gettysburg Commission, a national group that commemorated the battle's fiftieth anniversary in July 1913. He died in Waco in 1928 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. At the time of his death he was the last surviving Confederate general. Noted historian William C. Davis had this to say about Robertson: "Perjurer, sycophant, quite probably a murderer, Felix Robertson of Texas was almost without doubt the most reprehensible man in either army to wear the uniform of a general. Only by the narrowest of margins did he escape being tried by his own government for what later generations would call war crimes." Originally from the Balkans, Poland and the former Soviet Union, zebra mussels are firmly established in Europe and have invaded much of the U.S. On April 3, 2009, the first adult zebra mussel in Texas waters was confirmed in Lake Texoma. Zebra mussels have spread from the Red River basin to the Trinity and, most recently, the Brazos river basin. Zebra mussels are currently in Lake Texoma, Lake Ray Roberts, Lewisville Lake, Lake Bridgeport, Lake Lavon, Lake Waco, Dean Gilbert (a 45-acre Community Fishing Lake in Sherman), and Lake Belton. They have also been found on isolated occasions in the Red River below Lake Texoma, the Elm Fork of the Trinity River below Lake Ray Roberts, and Sister Grove Creek, and a boat with zebra mussels attached was found in Lake Ray Hubbard. Zebra mussel DNA has been found in several other lakes where larvae and adults have not been found to verify their presence. ONCE ZEBRA MUSSELS ARE ESTABLISHED IN A BODY OF WATER, THEY ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO ERADICATE WITH CURRENT TECHNOLOGY. Please check to make sure you're not transporting these critters from one lake to another. Here's how to do it: http://texasinvasives.org/action/index.php This is a real threat to the beautiful Texas environment that we all hold dear. Glen Rose, Texas, started in 1849 as a trading post called Barnard's Mill. Settler Thomas Jordan purchased the mills in 1870 and renamed the town Glen Rose. The town has sometimes been called "The Petrified City" because so much petrified stone was used in building local buildings. "Lopes and smokes" was an early means of estimating distance. The phrase comes from the fact that most travel was done by horseback, and usual gait was a lope. Cowboys rolled their own cigarettes, which was a tricky maneuver that required the rider to stop the horse and "fix the makings." So a trip might be four smokes distant. In this century, in West Texas, driving their pickups, cowboys often measured their distance by beers. "Valentine's 'bout three beers due west, and one beer left, outta Marfa." Or something like that. Although there is a Rosa's Cantina in El Paso, and even though Rosa's has been in existence for decades, it was not the inspiration for the famous song by Marty Robbins. Robbins wrote the song in 1957 and recorded it in September, 1959. It was released as a single the following month and became a major hit on both the country and pop music charts, reaching number one in both at the start of 1960. But El Paso city directories show no mention of Rosa's Cantina until 1961. The 1959 city directory lists a beer bar operating at 3454 Doniphan, under the name "J & M Club." The owner was Miguel Aranda, a former Asarco employee. The 1961 city directory indicates that the bar had come under the proprietorship of Ernest A. Erbe and had been renamed "Rosa’s Cantina." By 1962, Rosa’s Cantina had yet another owner, Roberto Zubia, who remained the owner for several decades. Further substantiation came from Marty himself, who said that there was nothing true about the story. So even though you may see claims that Rosa's Cantina is THE Rosa's Cantina, the song inspired the bar rather than the bar inspiring the song. Broken glass from bottles and handles from beer mugs can be seen jutting through the walls of the Alamo here and there. When the U.S. Army reinforced the walls during the 1850s, they used dirt from a nearby garbage dump. The Beer Can House in Houston is covered with 39,000 beer cans, all of which were consumed over an 18-year period by John Milkovisch, who apparently really, really loved beer. Ernest Tubb was born on a cotton farm near Crisp (now a ghost town), Texas. His father was a sharecropper, so Tubb spent his youth working on farms throughout the state. But Ernest had dreams and, inspired by Jimmie Rodgers, spent his spare time learning to sing, yodel, and play the guitar. At age 19, he took a job as a singer on San Antonio radio station KONO-AM. The pay was low so that Ernest also dug ditches for the Works Progress Administration and then clerked at a drug store. In 1939 he moved to San Angelo, Texas and was hired to do a 15-minute afternoon live show on radio station KGKL-AM. He drove a beer delivery truck in order to support himself during this time, and during World War II he wrote and recorded a song titled "Beautiful San Angelo." In 1936, Tubb contacted Jimmie Rodgers’s widow (Rodgers died in 1933) to ask for an autographed photo. A friendship developed and she was instrumental in getting Tubb a recording contract with RCA. His first two records were unsuccessful. A tonsillectomy in 1939 affected his singing style so he turned to songwriting. In 1940 he switched to Decca records to try singing again and it was his sixth Decca release with the single "Walking the Floor Over You" that brought Tubb to stardom. He joined the Grand Ol' Opry in 1943 and with his band, the Troubadours, stayed for more than 40 years. The Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells was named for T.B. Baker, the man who built it. Considered by many to be “The Greatest Hotel Man of the South” prior to the stock market crash of 1929, Theodore B. Baker and his hotels were once a household name. By the late twenties, Baker had built a chain of prestigious hotels that stretched from San Antonio, Texas to Birmingham, Alabama, including the Menger, the Gunter, and St. Anthony hotels in San Antonio and the Stephen F. Austin hotel in Austin. During the Great Depression, Baker and many other prominent Texas hotel men like Conrad Hilton found themselves in dire financial straits. However, while Hilton was able to salvage part of his business and build it back up into the company that we know today, unfortunately T.B. Baker and his chain of luxury hotels were not so lucky. After losing everything he passed away in a small house in San Antonio at the age of 96 in 1972 ---- the same year that the Baker closed its doors in Mineral Wells for the very last time. The city of Garland was originally called "Duck Creek." The first Duck Creek school was built in 1858, and three stores and two grist mills were in operation in the 1870s. Duck Creek was granted a post office in 1878. In 1886 the Katy railroad built through the area from Greenville to Dallas. and a short time later the Santa Fe railroad crossed the Katy from the south, going from Dallas to Greenville. Both railroads missed the village of Duck Creek, however, so various citizens laid out two new towns. The one near the Santa Fe depot was named "Embree" in honor of the Postmaster, K.H. Embree, and the one near the Katy depot assumed the proud name of "Duck Creek." The hamlets refused to join hands, but in 1887 a fire wiped out most of the original Duck Creek, at which time New Duck Creek claimed the post office. The village of Embree contested it. The matter was put to rest in 1888 when newly-elected Congressman Jo Abbott got the post office department to relocate the post office halfway between New Duck Creek and Embree, naming it "Garland" in honor of President Grover Cleveland's attorney General, A.H. Garland, who had earlier been a Confederate congressman from Tennessee. How explosive was the growth of agriculture in Texas after the Civil War? From 1870-1890, the number of farms in Texas grew from 61,125 to 228,126. During the same time period, cotton production went from 350,628 bales produced to 1,471,242 bales produced and the value of farms, tools and livestock rose from $80,777,550 to $552,127,104. "Farmers are pouring into Western Texas so fast," claimed a New Orleans newspaper in 1886, "that ranchmen have just enough time to move their cattle out and prevent their tails being chopped off by the advancing hoe." Victoria, Texas has often been called "The City of Roses" and it has also often been at the crossroads of history and NOT just a rest stop on the old San Antonio-Indianola road. Martin de Leon established the settlement in 1824 and named it for Guadalupe Victoria, one-time president of Mexico. De Leon colonized it with Irish, German, Italian and Hispanic residents. It had five mayors before the Republic of Texas was created in 1836. Santa Anna's army passed through after the Goliad Massacre. It was struck by a significant Comanche raid in 1839 and several citizens were killed. In 1846 it was struck by a significant cholera epidemic and many lives were lost. If you go to Newcastle, Texas and visit the Fort Belknap cemetery there, you'll find a crumbling false crypt and a Texas historical marker dedicated to this man, Robert S. Neighbors, shown here in a circa 1847 daguerreotype. His story is an interesting one: Robert came to Texas in 1836 from Virginia. He served in the Texas Army as a quartermaster. In 1842, while serving with the legendary John C. Hays, Robert was captured by Mexican General Adrian Woll's troops and imprisoned in Mexico. He was one of the survivors of the notorious "black bean incident." He was released in 1844 and became an Indian agent. Robert was instrumental in establishing relations with several Indian tribes, serving well enough that in 1853 he was appointed to the post of supervising agent for all of Texas. During this time he became sympathetic to the plight of various Native American tribes. After opposition arose to having Indian reservations in Texas, Robert lobbied for and secured the transfer of tribal members to what is now Oklahoma. While on a return trip to Texas in 1859, he was murdered by a man who was angry with Neighbors for his friendliness towards Native Americans. In 1936, the State of Texas erected a historical marker at his grave site. In 1894, the population of Waco was about 17,000 people. There were almost 70 churches in the city at that time, more than half of them Baptist. The territory atop the Edwards Plateau that spills over onto the coastal plain and the Brazos river bottoms on both the east and northeast was the 16th century homeland of the Tonkawa Indias. The word "Tonkawa" was derived from the Waco Indian's terms for them: tonkaweya, which meant "the all stay together." Tonkawas called themselves "tickanwatic," meaning something similar to "the most human of all people." This terms appears in many forms, including Tonkawega, Tancoyre, Tanquagas, Tonchahual, and Tonquaay. The independent bands were the Tonkawa proper ---- the Ayeye, Yojaune, Erviplame ---- and a number of smaller , more obscure bands, like the Cavas, Emet, Sana, Tobo, and Tohaha. Telephus Telemachus Louis Augustus Albertus Johnson, who died in Waco in 1875, was originally buried in the historic First Street Cemetery there. His remains were later re-interred in Oakwood Cemetery, which laid to rest the myth that he was buried sitting at a poker table with a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a six shooter in the other. Johnson was born on November 22, 1822, a son of Hezekiah Johnson. The family moved to Waco in 1852. Johnson received only an elementary education but became one of the wealthiest men in Waco. He engaged primarily in trading and between 1863 and 1864 bought a total of 760 acres of land on the east bank of the Brazos River. He also owned many town lots and influenced the building of the courthouse at Second and Franklin Streets. He was involved in the Tomas de la Vega land suits. After his marriage, he built a home at Second and Mary Streets for his wife for whom Mary Street is named. The house was demolished in 1913. Johnson died on January 27, 1875, and was buried in First Street Cemetery. It was some time later that his remains were re-interred. Also, there is no truth to the rumor that Johnny Cash originally wrote "Boy named Telephus Telemachus Louis Augustus Albertus Johnson" but changed it to "Boy named Sue." During the blizzard of 1899, the temperature tumbled to 10 degrees below zero in Waco and people ice-skated on the Brazos River. According to the US Patent Office, the beverage known as Dr Pepper, which was born in Waco, was sold for the very first time on 12th January 1885. It is the oldest major soft-drink brand in the United States. Although the population of Jefferson, Texas, is now roughly 2,000 people, at one point back in the 1800s the population was 30,000. That was when Jefferson was a thriving riverport. Today, the remnants of all that activity still remain. You'll find more than one hundred buildings in Jefferson that have been awarded historical markers, and there are over forty bed and breakfasts, along with two historic hotels. On August 7, 1867, in Jefferson, Texas U.S. Revenue collector Davis B. Bonfoey confronted a deputy collector named W.H. Fowler and accused him of conniving with area cotton dealers to embezzle taxes. Fowler drew a pistol and threatened to kill Bonfoey unless he signed a receipt that would absolve him (Fowler) of any misdeed. When Bonfoey agreed, Fowler naively put down his gun to prepare the receipt and Bonfoey pulled his own pistol and shot Fowler dead. He was jailed pending an inquiry into the affair. Later in that same month, Bonfoey's wife was attacked at the their home in Marshall, where a safe held $34,000 dollars in tax money plus $13,000 dollars in personal savings. The robbers failed to break into the safe but left her in a coma and she died without awakening. The detail of federal guards assigned to protect the house was accused of the crime, but this was Reconstruction Texas; the military government sent the men out of town and they soon disappeared. When Bonfoey was released and came home to Marshall, he visited his wife's grave, collapsed in grief, and died the next day. Along with the city's other ethnic neighborhoods, San Antonio once had an active Italian neighborhood. Most of that area that was was once situated on the northwest side of downtown is now gone, removed by highway construction and urban renewal. Virtually all that remains is San Francisco de Paola Catholic Church, the Christopher Columbus Society Hall, and Columbus Park. At one time, these were focal points of Italian life in San Antonio. One of the earliest influential Italian immigrants was a man named Antonio Bruni, an Italian grocer and businessman in San Antonio who found success and convinced others to join him. Many of the first such immigrants were miners, farmers and unskilled laborers who came to work on the railroad and the mines in Victoria and Thurber Counties. After that work was finished, many of them moved on to the urban centers. On June 3, 1955, thirteen-year-old Lubbock native Mac Davis witnessed Elvis Presley shake the showroom of a local Pontiac dealership. It changed Davis' life and he knew afterward that he wanted to be a singer. The cool thing is that Presley later recorded seven of Mac Davis’s compositions, including the 1969 Top 10 hits “In the Ghetto” and “Don’t Cry Daddy.” A Spanish soldier named Pedro Castaneda accompanied the explorer Coronado on the first Spanish expedition into what is now Texas back in 1542. Later, Pedro wrote a description of what the Texas Panhandle was like for the first Europeans to see it: "The country seems like a bowl, and when a man sits down the horizon surrounds him at the distance of a musket shot. There are no groves of trees except at the rivers.... In traversing 800 miles, [no] mountain range was seen, nor a hill nor a hillock three times as high as a man." The Seawall Wal-Mart in Galveston is reputed to be one of the most haunted places on an island filled with haunted places. That's because that Wal-Mart is located on the former grounds of the St. Mary's Orphans Asylum, which was destroyed during the great 1900 hurricane, taking the lives of 90 children and 10 sisters who were in charge of them. Employees of that Wal-Mart report toys being knocked off shelves, hearing the sounds of children crying where no child is etc.... Incidentally, as the tidal surge rose that fateful day, the sisters had the children sing an old French hymn, "Queen of the Waves," to calm them. Here are the lyrics to that song: Queen of the Waves Queen of the Waves, look forth across the ocean From north to south, from east to stormy west, See how the waters with tumultuous motion Rise up and foam without a pause or rest. But fear we not, tho' storm clouds round us gather, Thou art our Mother and thy little Child Is the All Merciful, our loving Brother God of the sea and of the tempest wild. Help, then sweet Queen, in our exceeding danger, By thy seven griefs, in pity Lady save; Think of the Babe that slept within the manger And help us now, dear Lady of the Wave. Up to the shrine we look and see the glimmer Thy votive lamp sheds down on us afar; Light of our eyes, oh let it ne'er grow dimmer, Till in the sky we hail the morning star. Then joyful hearts shall kneel around thine altar And grateful psalms reecho down the nave; Never our faith in thy sweet power can falter, Mother of God, our Lady of the Wave. Hurricane Carla, which struck the Texas coast at Port Aransas in 1961, remains one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded. Peak winds of 175 mph were observed. I talked to an old-timer down there who rode it out in a relatively small office-type building. He told me that within about 15 minutes of Carla making landfall he realized he'd made a horrible mistake by staying, and that the most helpless feeling was the sound of the cotter pins on the metal covers over the windows breaking away "with that pinging sound and knowing there was not a damn thing I could do except get down on my knees and pray." The lovely town of Fredericksburg, in the Texas HIll Country, has a friendly greeting built-in for folks who visit. The first letters of the street names going east along Main Street/290 from the Vereins Kirche spell "All Welcome." Those going west spell "Come Back." It's true. Going east we see Adams, Llano, Lincoln, Washington, Elk, Lee, Columbus, Olive, Mesquite, Eagle streets ("all welcome") and going west we see Crockett, Orange, Milam, Edison, Bowie, Acorn, Cherry, Kay ("come back"). I have met many folks who are from Fredericksburg who don't realize this, but it appears the city founding fathers were thinking ahead about hospitality! The frozen margarita was invented in 1971 in Dallas by Mariano Martinez, the owner of Mariano's Mexican Cuisine. Mariano adapted a soft serve ice cream machine to make margaritas and dubbed it "The World’s First Frozen Margarita Machine". That machine is now in the collection of the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution. The Official Texas state soil is "Houston Black." Houston Black Soil extends over 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2) of the Texas blackland prairies. The soil is composed of expansive clays and is considered one of the classic vertisols. Houston Black soils are used extensively for grain sorghum, cotton, corn, small grain, and forage grasses. In their natural state, they support mostly tall and mid grass prairies of big bluestem, sideoats grama, switchgrass, little bluestem, and indiangrass, with some elm, hackberry, and mesquite trees thrown in for good measure. In the USDA taxonomic system it is designated an "Udic Haplusterts." The soil also shrinks and swells with variations in how much water it contains. Nowhere in the official description do I see the words "makes architects apoplectic" or "makes grown men cry," but I know these things to be true about it, too. Early Texas trail drivers, while herding the giant herds of Texas cattle over the historic trails of Texas, were sometimes treated during storms to a bizarre phenomena in which eerie luminous flashes of yellow-green tongues lightning-like fire arced from the horns of one steer to that of one nearby. Often this early day "laser show" continued until the entire herd was bathed in an incandescent glow. This phenomena, although a mystery to those old cowboys, is today most often associated with ships, masts and aircraft and is known as "St. Elmo's Fire." If you go to Gonzales, Texas, and head southeast on U.S. 90A toward Shiner, after about 12 miles you will come to CR 361, which has a historical marker next to it. A turn north on CR 361 will take you to the reason for the historical marker, which is the Braches House and the Sam Houston Oak. The Braches House is a handsome Greek Revival plantation house and stagecoach stop that was built when Texas was an independent republic. The house is large and was quite advanced compared to other houses when it was built. In front of the house is the star attraction, the Sam Houston Oak. Sam Houston's army was camped at this oak on March 11, 1836, when word reached Houston of the fall of the Alamo five days earlier. It was from this oak that Houston sent orders to Col. James Fannin to retreat from Goliad and made plans for his own troops to fall back in order to induce Santa Anna to divide his forces in pursuit. Panic took hold of the settlers and most abandoned their homes to flee to the east, an event known as "the Runaway Scrape." Santa Anna is said to have camped at this same tree after Houston's forces had retreated. Here is a photo of the house with the tree. Texas mountain cedars, those blasted things that are causing me so much misery at the moment, are not actually “cedars.” Often called “mountain cedar,” their fancy Latin name is Juniperus ashei. Thus, they are juniper trees, technically, and we’d be more accurate if we called them “Ashe juniper." From 1886 to 1921, what is now the ghost town of Thurber, Texas, produced 13 million tons of coal. The Devils River in south Texas rises in Crockett county and flows 100 miles south to the Rio Grande, before the Rio Grande itself empties into Amistad Reservoir. Back in 1590, Spanish explorer Gaspar Castano de Sosa supposedly called the Devils River "Laxas" because of its slack or feeble quality. For a long time after that, locals called it the San Pedro river. But the name it carries today originated more than two and a half centuries later with Captain John Coffee Hays of the Texas Rangers. After riding across desolate country for days, he encountered a deep, crooked crevice in the ground. He looked to its bottom and saw water. "What's the name of this place," he asked a local. "San Pedro," came the answer. "St. Peter?," Hays replied, "it looks more like the Devil's River to me." Hays’ opinion became codified when a San Antonio newspaper called the " Western Texian" printed Hays’ December report to Col. Peter H. Bell. In that report, Hays wrote: “Owing to the difficulties we had in extricating ourselves from the deep ravines and mountains which encompass it for many miles from its mouth, we named it Devil’s River.” Cool history here in Texas. The highest point between Dallas and Houston is Tehuacana, Texas, at an altitude of 640 feet above sea level. Tehuacana is six miles northwest of Mexia in Limestone County and has a population of 283 hearty souls, plus a mess of dogs, cats and horses and one Vietnamese pot-bellied pig named "Lo-retta." A Texan created the New Year's tradition of eating black-eyed peas. Here's how: https://bit.ly/2NbuUom Ferdinand Lindheimer is the Father of Texas Botany and, in fact, one of the most fascinating men in our state's history. Here is a description of Ferdinand Lindheimer's plant-gathering method, as described by a friend at the time: "He bought a two-wheeled covered cart with a horse, loaded it with a pack of pressing paper and a supply of the most indispensable provisions, namely flower, coffee, and salt, then set forth into the wilderness, armed with his rifle and with no other companion than his two hunting dogs, while he occupied himself with collecting and pressing plants. He depended for his subsistence mainly upon his hunting, often passing whole months at a time without seeing another human being." It should be noted that more than 30 and perhaps as many as 40 varieties of plants are named after Lindheimer. The plants that he collected are now housed in the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. He was a remarkable man. Look him up. Although Jeff Davis county is roughly 50 miles x 45 miles square, it has only two towns: Valentine and Fort Davis. Valentine's name refers to the date of its founding in 1882 by a Southern Pacific Railroad construction crew: February 14. On August 16, 1931, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck near Valentine, causing extensive damage. The earthquake was the most powerful ever recorded in Texas. The first recorded Christmas celebration in Texas happened in 1683 at La Junta de los Rios, which is where the Rio Conchos, the Rio Grande, and Cibolo Creek meet in Presidio, Texas (actually just northwest of the city limits). Back then, the Spanish were exploring the land and Juan Dominguez Mendoza expedition passed through. They stopped because there was water, which of course is so important in that region. So they got to the confluence of those three water sources and celebrated with the Native Americans who were there. If you look at this map, this would have been in the area where the "Cibolo Creek" marker has been placed: https://bit.ly/2FD0Vlo Jane Long is sometimes referred to as "the mother of Texas." How tough was this pioneer lady? This tough: In late 1821, Jane's husband, Dr. James Long, decided that he and a band of about 50 men were going to wrest Texas from Mexican rule, leaving Jane in a small stone fort on Bolivar Point at the entrance to Galveston bay. Winter was coming, the nearest people were a hostile band of Karankawas living across the bay, and Jane was pregnant. James promised to return in three weeks. He left Jane, their 6-year old daughter Ann, and Kian, a 12-year old servant girl, in the company of a few soldiers at the fort. Three weeks came and went, supplies began to run low, and the soldiers left, a few at a time. Jane was 23 years old. Winter blew in and it may have been the most brutal winter in Texas history. Galveston Bay froze over. Jane moved into a small makeshift tent in the middle of the fort, but snow collapsed the walls. On December 21, Jane delivered her own baby as Kian, the servant, laid delirious with fever. Jane christened the newborn baby "Mary James," and the next day went out to collect fish that had frozen in the ice. There were so many fish that Jane, who had been on the verge of starvation, was able to store and salt away so many that she was able to pull her and her little family through. The day after Christmas, some men showed up with a message from James, her husband: he had been captured and was imprisoned in Mexico City, but was well. Across the bay, on Galveston Island, the Karankawas were waiting. Their fires burned at night. One morning, Kian went outside and spotted several canoes loaded with warriors approaching the fort. Jane and Kian turned their one, old, aging cannon on the Karankawas, applied tinder, and blasted away. She didn't hit anything, but the tremendous roar turned the Indians away. Finally, in March 22, Jane agreed to leave the fort and travel with James Smith to San Jacinto. Several months passed and she received a letter that informed her that her husband had died in Mexico City. An accident, Mexican authorities claimed. Undaunted, Jane opened a boarding house in Brazoria and, over time, refused marriage proposals from Mirabeau Lamar, Sam Houston, and Ben Milam, among others. For a long time, Jane's daughter Mary James was thought to be the first Anglo child born in Texas, which is why Jane was called "the Mother of Texas," though it has now been confirmed that Mary James was NOT the first Anglo child born in Texas. Nevertheless, Jane's amazing struggle and perseverance during that awful winter of 1821 remains a testament to the human capacity to endure, and I have often felt it would make the basis of an excellent Hollywood screenplay. P.S. It got so cold that winter that Jane saw a large black bear walk across the frozen bay from the mainland to Galveston Island. A black bear can weigh some 350-400 .lbs, so the ice must have been 5 inches thick, minimum. There are 254 counties in Texas. On January 1, 1956: 93 counties were fully "wet," allowing the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits, 17 counties allowed the sale of beer up to 4 percent 3 counties allowed the sale of beer and wine 141 counties were totally dry," allowing no sales of alcohol. As of 1996 there were 53 dry counties. By 2011 that number had dropped to 25. Today there are five dry counties in Texas. They are Borden, Hemphill, Kent, Roberts, and Throckmorton counties. According to "Barron's Tarantulas and Other Arachnids," the tarantula's "mouth parts include the muscular fang bases and the attached backward-pointing fangs… The tarantula's venom glands are inside the basal part." When it attacks prey such as an insect or another spider, the tarantula swiftly drives its fangs into the body and delivers the venom, which liquefies the insides, according to the Tarantula Facts internet site. The tarantula dines on the resultant "soup." If a tarantula should bite you – probably after warning you to back off by raising its front legs and displaying its fangs in a threat posture – it will likely inflict a pain comparable to that resulting from a bee or wasp sting. Brent Hendrixson, in his article, "So You Found A Tarantula!" on the American Tarantula Society internet site, says that the tarantula's "venom is of no medical significance, and contrary to popular belief, nobody has ever died from such a bite…" Other authorities, however, say that a tarantula's bite can trigger an allergic reaction, making you gasp or feel ill, calling for a visit to the doctor. Midland was originally established in June 1881 as Midway Station, on the Texas and Pacific Railway. It earned its name because of its central location between Fort Worth and El Paso, but because there were already other towns in Texas by the name of Midway, the city changed its name to Midland in January 1884 when it was granted its first Post Office. Midland became the county seat of Midland county in March 1885 when that county was first organized and separated from Tom Green County. By 1890 it had become one of the most important cattle shipping centers in the state. Also, while I have you, Midland was at one point nicknamed "Windmill City" because of the vast amounts of windmills one saw in the town and outside the town as one approached it. Mrs. Irene Florey, who moved with her parents to Midland in the early 1900s, told an interviewer that " it was beautiful and a sight to behold, coming into Midland and seeing all the windmills.” Gillespie County, in which Fredericksburg is located, was named for Captain Richard Addison Gillespie, a native of Kentucky who came to Texas in 1837 and set up a merchandise business. He participated in the war of the Republic of the Rio Grande in 1839, in the Plum Creek Fight in 1840, and in the Somervell Expedition of 1842. A Texas Ranger under John Coffee Hayes, Gillespie was wounded in the Battle of Walker's Creek in June, 1844. In command of the Hays Regiment of Rangers in the US-Mexico war, he led his men overland from San Antonio to Laredo, where he raised the U.S. flag. He took his men on to Mier in July, 1846, and was killed leading the charge on the Bishop's Palace in Monterrey on Sept. 22, 1846. Pioneer aviator Wiley Hardeman Post was born on November 22, 1898, in the community of Corinth in Van Zandt County, to William Francis and Mae Laine Post, who moved to Oklahoma when Wiley was 10 years old. Wiley was inspired as a youth to learn to fly. In the late 1920s he obtained flight training, made his first solo flight, and acquired an air transport license. Despite the loss of one eye in an oil field accident, Post worked as a barnstormer, commercial pilot and flight instructor. Post set many flight records and won the national air races in 1930. He and Harold Gatty circled the world, flying 15,474 miles in less than 9 days in 1931. Post soloed around the world in less than 8 days in 1933. Post invented and developed the first pressurized flight suit, explored stratospheric flight, and used an early Sperry autopilot mechanism. He worked with the U. S. Army Air Corps on an experimental automatic direction finding (ADF) radio compass, and was a pioneer in the use of liquid oxygen for high altitude flight. Wiley and humorist Will Rogers died in a plane crash on a trip to Alaska in 1935. His plane the "Winnie Mae" is in the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Here's a photo of Wiley and the Winnie Mae. The photo comes courtesy the "This Day in Aviation" website, here: https://www.thisdayinaviation.com/ Geographically speaking, Houston is so large that Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit and Santa Fe, New Mexico could fit inside it ----- simultaneously. And there would still be quite a bit of room left over. Houston = 669 square miles. Chicago = 234 square miles. Baltimore = 92 square miles. Detroit = 142 square miles. Philadelphia = 142 square miles. Santa Fe = 36 square miles. Total of those five cities = 646 square miles. William B. Dewees was one of the earliest Anglo settlers in Texas, arriving first in 1821. Upon reaching Nacogdoches, which at that time had a population of roughly 100 people (including the Mexican commandant), Dewees had an unusual experience. It seems that a distraught traveler from Mexico presented himself to the commandant and demanded to be hanged. The commandant, thinking the man was mad, ordered him to leave. But the traveler insisted that he deserved death, as he had murdered his partner on the road and sunk the body in the Angelina river. So insistent was the traveler that the commandant finally agreed to send a party of men along with the traveler to the Angelina, and there the man produced the corpse of his murdered partner, weighted down by rocks. Upon returning to Nacogdoches, the commandant listened to the evidence and granted the conscience-stricken man his wish. According to Dewees, "the commandant called a few persons together to witness the solemn scene, took the man out behind the old stone building and there, according to the man's request, hung him until he was dead." You know, I read Dewees' letters from Texas and I'm amazed at how matter-of-fact he was about the most fantastic incidents. Hanging a man who demanded to be hanged for a crime nobody knew had been committed? Just another day in early Nacogdoches. 35 miles east of downtown El Paso lies a square mile of huge, jumbled syenite rock known as "Hueco Tanks." As the rock dissolved unevenly through time, it formed depressions ("tanks") in the ground that are capable of holding large amounts of water. In the middle of the desert, this awesome waterhole has attracted both humans and animals for millennia. Among the rocks are caves, canyons, and overhanging cliffs. Prehistoric Indians camped there, and two of their cultures (Jornada and Mogollon) adorned the walls with art, as did early Europeans. Much of the art remains uninterpreted but in Comanche Cave, the largest cave in the complex, the art is believed to tell of a massacre of Indians by Spanish or Mexican cavalry.The zoo in Abilene, Texas, was founded in 1966. But before the land that the zoo occupies became a zoo it was Kinsolving Field, an aviation facility. It's hard to picture an airport there today, what with the current airport to the south, a man-made lake abutting the zoo and other familiar landmarks that have been in place for years, but the zoo's parking lot once was a runway. Both Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh flew into Kinsolving Field, Lindbergh arriving on a publicity tour just four months after flying to Europe in "The Spirit of St. Louis." After he landed The Spirit of St. Louis at Kinsolving Field, Lindbergh taxied it to a fenced area that was surrounded by national guard troops for protection. Abilene staged a parade and Lindbergh rode with the wife of Governor Dan Moody in an open Nash automobile to Federal Lawn, where he made a brief speech in which he lauded the ideal terrain and weather in Texas for developing civil and military aviation. He was then escorted back to his plane and flew two hours and 42 minutes to his next stop in Fort Worth. It's kind of cool, when you're at the zoo (which is surprisingly impressive small zoo), to consider what happened there 92 years ago. Stephen F. Austin was a particular man when it came to whom he wanted to immigrate to Texas. On many occasions, and with many different correspondents, he referenced his standards regarding the character of his colonists. His letters are filled with clarity on his position. For example, in 1823 he wrote "No frontiersman who has no other occupation than that of hunter will be received ---- no drunkard, nor gambler, nor profane swearer, nor idler, nor any man against whom there is even probable grounds of suspicion that he is a bad man, or even has been considered a disorderly man will be received." Knowing how specific Stephen F. Austin was about who came to Texas and thinking about my miscreant friends here now, it makes me wonder what happened! About 22 miles southeast of Ozona, Texas, is the location of what once was Howard's Spring aka Howard's Well. First known to outsiders in the 18th century, when, according to legend. Franciscan Padre Alvarez prayed for water to ease his thirst, put down his staff, and saw a spring gush forth from the ground, this landmark of western travel was named for its re-discoverer, Richard A. Howard of San Antonio, an ex-Texas Ranger. Howard and other men, along with 15 Delaware Indian guides, made up an expedition sent out in 1848 under Col. John Coffee Hays to map a wagon road from San Antonio to El Paso. Although aided by the discovery of the well, the expedition failed, turning back in a state of near-starvation. In 1849 the U.S. Army made its maps of the route, with Howard along as a guide. Many forty-niners went past the spring on the way to the California gold rush. In 1853 the first regular San Antonio-to-El Paso mail line was routed by way of the well. So were many later ventures. Although white travelers seldom caught sight of them, Indians also frequented the well. There, on April 20, 1872, Comanche and Kiowa surprised a large wagon train led by a man named Gonzales, and killed 16 persons. Santa Gertrudis cattle are a tropical beef breed of cattle developed in southern Texas on the King Ranch. They were named for the Spanish land grant where Captain Richard King originally established the King Ranch. This breed was officially recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1940, becoming the first beef breed formed in the United States. The origin given by King Ranch is that it was formed by mating Brahman bulls with Beef Shorthorn cows, with the final composition being about 3/8 Brahman and 5/8 Shorthorn. In 1918 King Ranch purchased 52 bulls of 3/4 to 7/8 Bos indicus breeding to mate with 2500 pure-bred Shorthorn cows on the ranch. At this time the American Brahman breed as such did not exist nor were there pure-breed Bos indicus available in the United States . Monkey was born in 1920, a son of Vinotero, one of the bulls who was purchased in 1918. This bull became the foundation sire for the breed. With the birth of Monkey and a decision to line-breed came a very uniform and very hearty breed of beef cattle. These cattle are red in color, display a blend of Bos indicus and Bos taurus attributes and may be polled or horned. In addition to being a hardy breed, other characteristics include good milking ability, good for beef production, excellent mothering ability, ease of calving, high heat tolerance and parasite resistance, and an ability to turn off (sell or use for food) a steer at just about any age. The steers also show good weights for their age as well as good weight gains whether on pasture or in a feedlot. In 1950 the Santa Gertrudis Breeders International Association was formed at Kingsville, Texas. Santa Gertrudis cattle are known the world over for their ability to adapt to harsh climates. They were exported to Australia c. 1951 and have been subjected to inspection and classification since then. The Santa Gertrudis Breeders (Australia) Association was established in 1954 and the Santa Gertrudis Group Breedplan has operated in Australia since 1994. Anna Creek, Australia's largest cattle station raises Santa Gertrudis. There are approximately 11,500 registered in the United States. All of the above, with a little editing, per WIKIPEDIA. Of course, I edited the WIKIPEDIA article, so some of it's mine. Until the early-1880's, no range fences existed in the Texas Panhandle. When winter blizzards came, cattle drifted onto Panhandle ranches from Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas, causing those ranches to be overgrazed because, by the time of the spring roundup, there were as many "northern" cattle as local cattle in the herds thereabouts. In order to prevent the costly and time-consuming job of separating the cattle, each Texas rancher agreed to construct a fence along his north boundary line. The resulting fence was 200 miles long and ran from the northeast corner of the Panhandle southwest to near the site where Dumas, Texas, was later founded, then west about 35 miles into New Mexico. It was a 4-strand, 4-bars fence with posts 30 feet apart and a gate every 3 miles. The materials amounted to about 65 carloads of wire and posts hauled from Dodge City. In 1890, however, to comply with an 1889 state law prohibiting any fence from crossing or enclosing public property, most of the fence was removed. All that work and all that expense for nothing! At the time of the creation of the Republic of Texas, Texas contained 281 major and historically significant freshwater springs . Of these, four were originally very large springs (over 100 cubic feet per second flow); however, only two, the Comal and the San Marcos, remain in that class today. The San Marcos springs have never been known to fail, but the larger Comal Springs DID fail for a short period of time in 1956, after a long drought. Of the original 281 major springs, more than 70, many with important historical backgrounds, have completely dried up. Also, of those original 281 major springs, 139 issue from 2 underground reservoirs, the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) and the Edwards-Trinity (Plateau) aquifers. San Saba County, with 19 major and significant springs, leads all other counties in the State. Val Verde and Kerr Counties follow closely. The only major warm springs in Texas are Boquillas Warm Springs in Brewster County. These springs range in temperature from 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 41 degrees Celsius) which indicates that they originate from depths as great as 2,000 feet below the surface. What do you do when you want coffee but there's nary a ground to be had? Old time Texas settlers got inventive. Here's a list of four ways "coffee" was made. 1. "We would parch okra seed, barley meal, or anything we could get and make coffee." ----- Mrs. M.E.F. Mackey, explaining how impoverished settlers were in post-Civil War Texas to the Dallas Semi Weekly Farm News,1913 2. Mrs. [Mary] New "cut up sweet potatoes in small bits, strung them on a string, dried them and parched them like coffee. Then they were ground in the old coffee mill. There you are: sweet potato coffee. In some sections the pioneers used barley for coffee." ----- T.U. Taylor, Austin Statesman, 1941 3."Such a thing as a real cup of coffee was not to be had at all. Instead they roasted corn and acorns and mixed certain portions together and used it." ----- A. Huffmeyer, "Adventures of an Old Texas Cowboy," 1941 4. "For coffee they used a mixture of cracked and parched post oak acorns, rye and wheat grains." ----- Alexander Sweet, "Texas Siftings," 1881 On November 21, 1884, the Reverend Joseph Wiklin Tays, who was better known as "Parson Tays" and who was the first Protestant minister in El Paso, died there. Shortly before he passed away he had presided at the funeral of a smallpox victim and subsequently came down with the disease himself. He died after a week of suffering, tended to by only his son and his wife. That night., two men from the city showed up at the house, hurriedly wrapped Parson Tays in a sheet, and rushed the body to Concordia Cemetery, where it was hastily buried during a driving rainstorm. Parson Tays, who had ministered to so many sick and dying, was himself laid away with only two drenched, grave-digging strangers to say a kind, final word. Tough life back then. On Dec. 1, 1901, North Texas rancher William Riley Curtis was shot and killed while on a train when a fellow passenger's gun accidentally discharged. William led one of those fascinating Texas lives. He was born about 1845 in Jacksboro, Texas, where he grew up a ragged orphan and learned self-sufficiency at an early age but was denied the education he coveted. He worked for several years learning the cattle business from William S."Bose" Ikard. He earned some of his first money riding for Oliver Loving, driving herds to Shreveport, Louisiana, and up the Chisholm Trail to Kansas. For a time he served as a Texas Ranger. He married Alice V. Ghormley of Weatherford on May 18, 1869; they made their home in Jacksboro. To their union were born three sons and a daughter. In 1870 Bill Curtis and his younger brother, Jim C., purchased Mose Dameron's small herd of Diamond Tail Ranch cattle. They grazed this herd along Cache Creek near Fort Sill after securing a government contract to sell beef to Fort Reno and Fort Sill in the Indian Territory. Soon they accumulated enough wealth to build up ranches on both Cache Creek and the Wichita River. After the expiration of the contract compelled them to seek other pastures, the Curtises established their ranch headquarters near Cambridge in Clay County. There Bill was dealt a severe blow with the accidental death of his brother in 1878. At the same time, he realized that his land was too crowded for good grazing and therefore moved his cattle north to Grosebeck Creek, near the site of present Quanah. Curtis formed a new partnership with Thomas J. Atkinson, one of a family of Jack County pioneers. With the help of a cowboy, Sam Bean, the partners early in 1879 selected for their headquarters a site on Gypsum Creek, in southeastern Childress County. Later they moved this new headquarters to the junction of Doe and Buck creeks in Collingsworth County. Since their families resided in Henrietta, where the children had better educational opportunities, the partners never constructed a permanent ranchhouse. However, the Curtis and Atkinson families enjoyed summers on the ranch; the Atkinsons brought their own hired nurse and trail cook, along with appropriate camping equipment. Over the next few years Curtis secured more government contracts for reservation beef sales and delivered herds to the Kansas markets. In the early 1880s George Loving, son of Oliver Loving, made a proposition whereby Curtis could sell out to British capital for a handsome sum and Loving himself could make a $100,000 commission. Curtis accepted, the contract was drawn up, and Loving went to Scotland to form a company and bring back prospective investors to see the Diamond Tail. Despite the ranch's crude living conditions, the Scotsmen were impressed and offered Curtis $1.25 million for the place, which he accepted. Before the deal could be completed, however, Curtis was indicted for shooting a lawyer from Henrietta who tried to kill him. Although he was acquitted, this turn of events caused the Scotsmen to call off negotiations. Due to their initial lack of trust, Curtis later turned down a second offer from Scotland, proposing that he retain one-quarter interest and manage the ranch himself. George Loving lost his commission, and the Diamond Tail remained in the possession of Curtis and Atkinson. Curtis was widely known for generosity. After Giles emerged as the Diamond Tail's main shipping point with the arrival of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway in 1887, Curtis began hosting an annual barbecue. A highlight of that event was his presentation of a baby carriage to every baby named for him during that year. When the lean years of the late 1880s caught up with Curtis, he brought in Sam Lazarus, a man with remarkable financial skills, as a receiver to put the ranch in the black again. On February 11, 1893, when a blizzard swept across the Panhandle, Curtis saved the Diamond Tail cattle by riding ahead of them in a heavy Arctic suit. With a pair of wire clippers he cut every fence in his path, allowing the herd to pass through and find safety. Beginning in 1895, Curtis moved most of his cattle to Chavez County, New Mexico. His oldest son, Jim, managed the cattle there and bought out several smaller ranches. Curtis, in the meantime, bought and sold whole herds at Amarillo, holding them on open range near the numerous playas until sold and then shipping them out to the buyers by rail. On December 1, 1901, Curtis and W. H. Harrell, an Amarillo cattleman and longtime friend, caught the Fort Worth and Denver City train from Amarillo to Memphis, Texas, on business. While making their way to the diner as the train neared Giles, Curtis jostled a passenger whose gun dropped to the floor and discharged accidentally, giving Curtis a fatal wound. A special train from Clarendon rushed him to Fort Worth, but he lived only a few days. The president of the FW&DC road, who was a friend of Curtis, ran a special train to Henrietta to bear the body home for burial. Curtis's last request to his family was complete forgiveness for the careless man whose gun had killed him. For many years the Curtis children and their families continued ranching activities in New Mexico, and some of them made their homes in Amarillo, where their heirs still reside. Several years after Curtis's death, George L. Rickard, a one-time Diamond Tail cowboy since grown rich, used the brand on his herd of 50,000 head in South America as a tribute to his former boss. Source: Handbook of Texas Online, H. Allen Anderson, "CURTIS, WILLIAM RILEY," Since "Ford vs. Ferrari" is now a movie, I thought it would be a good time to point out that Carroll Shelby, the focal point of that movie, was not only the first American to win the 24 Hour Le Mans race (in 1959), but a Texan as well, having been born in Leesburg, Texas, in 1923 and passing away in Dallas in 2012, aged 89. Leesburg is an unincorporated community in southwestern Camp County, which is in northeast Texas. Leesburg lies along State Highway 11 west of the city of Pittsburg, the county seat of Camp County. Matt Damon plays Carroll Shelby in the movie, which is receiving good reviews. The town of Muldoon (16 miles southwest of La Grange) was named after Father Michael Muldoon, a clergyman who briefly served Stephen F. Austin's first colonists. He was the only non-Hispanic member of the Monterrey, Mexico Diocese and was probably assigned his duties because he spoke English. He was born in County Cavan in Ireland and later ordained in Spain. In 1834, Muldoon travelled to Mexico to visit Stephen F. Austin during Austin's confinement there. Later, he assisted William Wharton in his escape from a Matamoros prison in 1837, after which the town of Wharton, Texas was founded. Muldoon was openly pro-Texan, which led to his own brief imprisonment by the Mexican government. However, he was eventually released, and even traveled back to Texas following the revolution, making an appearance in 1842 during which he was given a letter of appreciation from Texas President Anson Jones. Afterward, Father Muldoon disappeared from history and his final resting place is unknown. The 2010 census showed that the population of Muldoon was 114 ----- and growing very slowly. Personally, I think it's kind of cool that this man showed up on the scene, has a town named after him, then disappears without a trace. Just one of the many mysteries about Texas history about which I wonder .... "Teneha, Timpson, Bobo and Blair" was a conductor's call along the small Houston East and West Texas Railway back many decades ago. East Texans who fought in World War II introduced others to the four towns as part of an urgent plea when craps shooting: "Teneha, Timpson, Bobo and Blair....Give me a seven, see if I care." Later, Tex Ritter immortalized the four towns in a venerable country-western song, "Teneha, Timpson, Bobo and Blair, let me get off just any ole where." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t76Hw_Gip8U Speaking of Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders in San Antonio, you can play a round of golf on the grounds where the Rough Riders trained, Camp Riverside. At the time it was the grounds of the International Fair, but is now Riverside Golf Course, located along the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River. Cheetos were invented in 1948 by the same man who created Fritos, Charles Elmer Doolin. It was Doolin who first cooked early test batches in the Frito Company's Dallas, Texas-based research and development kitchen. The new snacks were marketed by the H.W. Lay company, and in 1961 the two companies merged to become Frito-Lay. The snack, which is extruded corn coated with artificially-colored cheddar cheese, is sold in many countries around the world and dominates its market space like few other brands. But, yeah, both Fritos and Cheetos were created in Texas by the same man. I say we need to make a statue of him! He needs to go into the Traces of Texas Hall of Fame. The first electric traffic lights in Houston went into service on May 18th, 1922. I'm told that one of the motorists who got caught in the ensuing traffic jam finally made it home a couple of days ago. 😉 On the very first day of the 2018 Tour de France, Houstonian Lawson Craddock crashed, breaking his scapula (shoulder blade) and tearing up his face. Most professional cyclists probably would have quit, knowing that there was still 20+ stages and 2,000 + miles to ride. But most professional cyclists aren't Texans. Not only did Lawson get back on his bike and ride 50 miles to finish the stage, but he resolved to try to complete the Tour, injuries notwithstanding. Because that clearly wasn't enough badassery, later that night he decided to dedicate 100 dollars to Hurricane Harvey relief for each stage that he finished. Then he set up a Go Fund Me that raised more than 279,000 dollars for Harvey relief. Folks, I was a fairly good cyclist earlier in my life and there is no doubt in my mind that professional cycling is the world's toughest sport. The suffering that the riders do is beyond imagination, and that's WITHOUT having a broken shoulder blade and a bloodied face. 22 days later, Lawson finished the Tour de France in dead last place ------ but he finished. I am in awe and y'all should be, too. Way to go, Lawson! What an amazing accomplishment! If you're like me, you like looking at maps of Texas and searching for places with unusual names. I was looking at Coleman County on a map when I saw a community called "Whon." Whon is at the intersection of FM 2633 and County Road 224/226, about about 15 miles southwest of Brownwood. Anyway, I wondered how Whon became Whon so I looked it up. Turns out it was a case of early good intentions done in by a bad case of being Texan. This community in southeast Coleman County wanted to honor an esteemed local cowboy. He was Hispanic. When his name was suggested to the Post Office department, the local postmistress, Mrs. Sam McCain, simply spelled his name as best she could, phonetically and in English. I guess Juan himself was too nice to correct the spelling. In any case, the population of Whon, Texas, is currently about 15, though in the past as many as 60 hardy folks have called Whon home. The fossilized remains of gigantic crocodiles have been discovered in the Aguja Formation in the south-central part of the Big Bend National Park. These are among the largest crocodiles ever known. With lengths of 40–50 feet and jaws studded with 6-inch teeth, these powerful predators were extraordinarily equipped to feed upon a variety of dinosaurs. In fact, dinosaur bones have been found here that are heavily damaged and covered with distinctive crocodile bite marks! Just like modern day crocodilians, Deinosuchus riograndensis probably hunted by ambush—lying submerged near shore, and violently seizing large dinosaurs as they foraged amid the vegetation of Big Bend's ancient swamps. We recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first college football game to be broadcast on the radio. That took place on November 23, 1919, and pitted the University of Texas Longhorns against the Texas Aggies. The Aggies won, 7-0. Vietnamese is the third most common language spoken in Texas, after English and Spanish. This is my way of saying that some Pho sounds good for lunch. 😉 Garner is a small Texas town located west of Fort Worth. According to the Texas State Historical Associaton, before its name was changed, it was called Trappe Spring. It was there that two boys, William A. Thomas and Walter Earl, "invented" the domino game "42." It seems that Thomas, 12, and Earl, 14, children of devout Baptists, were caught playing cards in the hayloft of a barn. Playing cards was considered sinful in those days, and the boys were disciplined for their indiscretion. Well, necessity breeds invention and the two boys set out to find a way to play cards using dominoes. By the fall of 1887, they had devised a four-player game using double-six dominoes that incorporated bidding and trumps, very similar to the game of 42 played in Texas today. Since domino playing was acceptable to their parents and other residents of Trappe Spring, Thomas and Earl began teaching others how to play the game. The game caught on and spread from there. The Earl and Thomas families later moved to Windom in Fannin County (north-northeast of Dallas), and the game reportedly spread from there, too. Now you know the rest of the story .... Good day. Levelland, Texas, was originally named Hockley City. That's what Charles W. Post called it when he surveyed it in 1912. The name was changed when Hockley County was organized in 1921 and Levelland became the county seat. If you've ever been to Levelland, you know exactly why they decided to name it that. James McMurtry knows why, too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-D824LHti4 Actor Jesse Plemons, best known by Texans for his role as Landry Clarke in the wonderful "Friday Night Lights" TV series, is directly related to Stephen F. Austin. Landry's great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, Emily Austin, was Stephen F. Austin's sister. That makes Jesse Stephen F. Austin's great-great-great-great-great grandnephew. Jesse was born in Dallas in 1988 and spent a good deal of his childhood in Mart, Texas. To say that his career has taken off since Friday Night Lights would be an understatement: he's currently starring in "The Irishman" opposite Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino and is engaged to Kirsten Dunst. I read all of this just now and thought "our little Landry is all growed up!" As written by Truman Capote in the novel and played by Audrey Hepburn in the movie, Holly Golightly, the main character in "Breakfast at Tifffany's," is from Tulip, Texas. For the longest time, I thought Tulip was a fictional place. It is not. Tulip is a small community on Farm Road 2554 twelve miles north of Bonham in north central Fannin County. The land around Tulip can produce cotton, corn, wheat, oats, vegetables, and fruits, though one finds mostly cattle ranches nowadays. In 2002 some forty-eight people lived in Tulip. During its heyday, the brick factory in Thurber, Texas, was producing 80,000 bricks per day. This was in the early 1900s, when Thurber's population was an 10,000 people. Thurber is a ghost town today. There are two varieties of roadrunners, the greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) and the lesser roadrunner (Geococcyx velox). The ones we see here in Texas are the greater roadrunner. The lesser roadrunner is slightly smaller, not as streaky, and has a smaller bill. Both the lesser roadrunner and the greater roadrunner leave behind very distinct "X" track marks appearing as if they are traveling in both directions. The greater roadrunner has been clocked at speeds of up to 27 mph. They generally try to run away from predators but they will fly if threatened. Despite occasional infanticide, the Karankawa Indians of the Texas coast were extremely fond of their children. Cabeza de Vaca wrote that they "love their children the most of any in the world, and treat them with the greatest mildness." He was amazed to learn that Karankawa children nursed until they were 12 years old ---- old enough to fend for themselves. In answer to his question regarding this practice, the Karankawas told him that it was because of the frequent necessity to go several days without food that children had to be allowed to nurse for so long a time; otherwise they would starve or at best be sickly. Incidentally, Karankawa children were given two names, one a nickname which was used in public and to outsiders, the other a secret name, probably having magical significance. There once was a place called Zigzag, Texas. Zigzag was about six miles west of Devine, Texas, in Medina County. Zigzag got its name from the twisted, bendy road one had to take to reach it. It had a post office from 1901 to 1911 and, in 1945, there was a school and a cotton gin. By the 1980s all that was left of Zigzag was a Baptist church and I think that even that is now gone. But if you take FM 2200 west of Devine for a few miles you'll drive through what once was Zigzag, Texas. Kinda wish it was still there. A Mexican-born Spanish officer named most of Texas' rivers ---- and named Texas itself. His own name was Alonso de León. He was born in Mexico in 1640 and, as governor of the Province of Coahuila, led several expeditions into what is now Texas. On one such expedition, he named the Nueces, the Hondo, the Medina, the Guadalupe, the Navidad (now called the San Marcos River), the Colorado, the Brazos, and the Trinity (La Santisima Trinidad) rivers. On his last expedition, in 1690, he marched into East Texas to found the first Spanish mission, San Francisco de los Tejas, among the Tejas (Hasinai) Indians in present-day Houston County. Thus this northeastern frontier of Spanish Mexico was provided with a name. Incidentally his descendants still reside in the Mexican state of Nuevo León. The building of John Wayne's "The Alamo" movie set near Brackettville required more than 1.5 million adobe bricks, all of which were made onsite. There was, at one point, a community called "Yell, Texas." Yell, also known as "Yell Settlement," was twenty-two miles northwest of San Marcos in the hills of central Hays County. It was settled in 1869. The community apparently was originally called West Point; a school opened under that name in 1876. With the establishment of a post office in 1890, the community moved one-half mile to the north and was renamed in honor of early settler and Methodist circuit rider Mordecai Yell. Mordecai was one of those hellfire and damnation preachers and when I read about his town I thought "What better name for a community named after such a preacher than Yell? By 1892 two gristmills were in operation. When postal authorities complained of confusion with a town called Tell, the name was changed to Good and then to Best before the post office was closed in 1907. It was reported in 1990 that some locals still referred to it as "Yell Settlement." Incidentally, Mordecai Yell died in 1897 at the age of 89 and is buried in the Lytton Springs cemetery in Caldwell County. Here's a photo of his nice grave marker. It reads: Rev Modecai Yell Pioneer Methodist Preacher of Texas Born in Tenn 1809 Member of Tenn and Memphis Conf 1832 to 1844 Texas Conf. 1844 to 1866 Father of Original Northwest Texas Conf Of Which He Died a Super Annuated Member Jan 1897 ----------------- He Lived Faithful To God And Mankind And Died As A Victor In The Faith of Jesus Christ "Somewhere during all this [about 1920], they stopped calling themselves "The Four Nightingales" and changed the name of the act to the "Marx Brothers & Co." Presumably this was to hide their identity, but essentially the act was the same. They were fooling no one, and by the time they pulled into a place called Nacogdoches, Texas, they were prepared for what could conceivably be a last ditch stand. Their first performance in Nacogdoches was at a matinee. It was a real honky-tonk kind of theater. "The audience was full of big ranchers in ten-gallon hats, and a few small ranchers in five-gallon hats," Father told me. The first part of the performance went fairly well, but in the middle of the show the audience suddenly got up en masse and disappeared through the front exit. Investigation disclosed that the customers had gone outside to view a runaway mule. My father and his brothers, though accustomed to insults, were enraged by this one. When the customers filed back into the theater, thirty minutes later, the Marx brothers were no longer interested in giving a good performance. All they wanted to do was get even with the audience, and the only way they knew how was to burlesque the kind of singing they had been doing so seriously. This quickly evolved into a roughhouse comedy bit, with the Marxes, led by my father, flinging insults about Texas and its inhabitants to the audience as rapidly as they could think of them... My father is not very clear about the exact phraseology of some of these insults, but he does remember calling the Texans in the audience "damned Yankees" and throwing in a couple of lines that went something like: Nacogdoches Is full of Roaches. And: The Jackass Is the finest Flower of Tex-ass They were not looking for laughs; they fully expected to be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. But instead the audience loved their clowning and greeted their insults and most tired jokes with uproarious laughter. And so they were suddenly comedians, with their fame traveling all the way to Denison, Texas. The manager of the theater in Denison not only wanted to book them, but he offered to raise the salary for the whole act from fifty to seventy-five dollars a week. "After that we were a pretty big hit everywhere else we played in Texas. I guess we could have stayed there indefinitely, but after we got ourselves reasonably solvent, we decided to go back to Chicago. After all, how long can anyone eat chili con carne?" ----- Arthur Marx,"Life With Groucho," 1954 On March 1, 1973 at around 8:30 p.m., a hailstorm struck Conroe, Texas, that covered Interstate 45 with hailstones 6-24 inches deep. Martin Varner, born March 7, 1787, left his Virginia home at an early age after the death of his mother and lived with his two sisters in Missouri. When he heard of Moses Austin's colonization plan for Texas, he immediately applied for a grant and in 1821 joined the first group of Austin's colonists, settling at Hickory point in what is now Brazoria County. Varner's grant was the twelfth issued of the "Old Three Hundred." Varner had the first distillery in Texas. In 1829, Stephen F. Austin thanked him for a bottle of home-made rum, which he called "the first ardent spirits of any kind made in the colony." Varrner grew restless and sold his plantation to Columbus Patton; (much) later it was bought by Gov. Jim Hogg, whose daughter Ima gave it to the state. It is now the Varner-Hogg Plantation Museum and State Park. After fighting in the Texas Revolution, Varner took land in Wood county. In 1843, a neighbor, Simon Gonzales, borrowed money from Varner, putting up some of his tools as collateral. Gonzales later rode back to Varner's house and asked for return of the tools without repaying the loan. Varner refused, an argument ensued, and the neighbor pulled a gun and shot Varner, reportedly in the back. Seeing his father shot, Varner's only son, Stephen F. Varner, aged 18, ran to the man, who was still on horseback, and grabbed his arm, only to be shot through the heart. Their loyal slave, Joe, appeared on the scene, disarmed the killer, and turned him over to Varner who, enraged, cut the tendons in the neighbor's legs, then proceeded to strip him of skin. Varner's wife grabbed a kitchen fork and gouged out the killer's eyes. A neighbor found the man still alive and, as an act of mercy, gave him the coup de grace with a shot to the head. (Descendants say the body was thrown in a hog wallow, from which flooding rains washed it away, and it was never found; others report that it was buried nearby.) Varner died after three days, leaving a wife and six young daughters. In 1975, a historical monument was erected near the rural homesite, naming Varner as the first Anglo settler of Wood County. ------- Courtesy A.C. Greene's wonderful "Sketches from the Five States of Texas." The book is highly recommended for the Texas history buff on your Christmas list. Women did not serve on juries in Texas until 1954. 1) Light as air 2) Stronger than whiskey 3) Cheaper than dirt Three claims made by John "Bet-a-million" Gates about the newfangled barbed wire he was trying to sell to Texas ranchers in 1876. He became a very rich man selling "bob-wire" in Texas and elsewhere. Yucca petals are really good eating. You can just pick the petals, wash the bugs off and throw them in a salad. Better yet, fried yucca petals are a treat. Here's a recipe I have used: Fried Yucca Petals: 12-15 flower stalk from yucca plants 1 tablespoon shortening 2 medium onions, chopped 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped 1 cup water Salt and Pepper Pull the flower petals from the stalk and wash them in some salt water. Melt the shortening in a skillet and add the flower petals, onion, and tomatoes. Stir gently until the onions are soft. Add water and simmer until most of the liquid is gone. Salt and pepper to taste. You can also batter and deep fry them, though I have never done it myself. I am told they are delicious that way. I got this recipe from "Tastes and Tales from Texas," a book written by Peg Hein and published in 1984. Peg attributes it to a Cherokee woman named Nakai Breen. How much things cost in Texas back in 1857: Gingham cloth: 31 1/4 cents per yard Silk velvet: 20 cents per yard Sugar: 17 cents per pound Tobacco: 38 cents per pound Ladies' shoes: 1.75 per pair Buckshot: 25 cents per pound Whiskey: 15 cents per pint Source: "More Texas Siftings" by Jerry Flemmons, 1997 Regarding mesquite trees: the seedpods or beans of the mesquite can lie dormant for up to 40 years waiting for conditions to be just right for sprouting. Early-day ranchers like W.T. Waggoner called mesquite “the devil with roots” because they absorb all of the water in their surroundings, causing other plants and trees to wither away and die. This, in turn, allows more mesquites to move in and take over. Yup. We all know that Texans are the most hospitable folks on earth. That hospitality becomes ingrained even in folks who come from elsewhere and settle here. So it should be no surprise that, having just concluded the biggest business deal in Texas history up to that time ---- the sale of his oilfield to Magnolia Petroleum for 12 million dollars ----- Edgar B. Davis threw a humdinger of a BBQ picnic in Luling, Texas. The BBQ was held on June 11, 1926, drew 30,000 people, and cost Mr. Davis 5 million dollars ----- about 65 million dollars in today's money. Can you imagine what a party that must have been? But it wasn't just the picnic that Mr. Davis gave. To his employees he gave from 25 to 100 percent of their total salaries as bonuses. He also gave the citizens of Luling a golf course, an athletic clubhouse for local blacks, various other facilities, and endowments for each. One of the various other facilities was a bathhouse just south of Luling on the San Marcos river. The bathhouse still stands at the site of the picnic, though it has fallen into graffiti-covered disrepair. Ysleta, Texas, is the reason El Paso claims more than 300 years of history. The town began in 1680 when Pueblo Indians drove 2,000 Spaniards from their homes in northern New Mexico. This was the greatest retreat of European peoples from Indians in the history of North America. The refugees fled south from Santa Fe and Albuquerque, leaving behind their burning villages and haciendas plus their dead relatives. The Spaniards brought Tiqua Indians with them from Isleta Pueblo, still in existence near Albuquerque. Upon reaching El Paso del Norte, the Spanish created a village called Ysleta del Sur (small island to the South) twelve miles downstream in the Rio Grande. Isleta and Ysleta are spelled differently but pronounced the same. Both mean "small island," which in English is an islet. During the decade of the 1850s the population of Tarrant County (where Fort Worth is located) rose dramatically. The 1850 census showed 599 whites and sixty-five slaves. By 1860 the number of whites had grown to 5,170, and the number of slaves had increased to 850. The Civil War was hard on the county, however, and the decade of the 1860s is the only decade that Tarrant County recorded a population decrease. The population of the county is now more than two million people. The Woodbine Hotel in Madisonville, Texas, was built in 1904 and is still going strong. You can see many photos of the interior and exterior of the hotel on the Google Maps link here: https://www.google.ca/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x8646454eaa13c07d%3A0x86468361c3bf7ec1!3m1!7e115!4s%2Fmaps%2Fplace%2Fthe%2Bwoodbine%2Bhotel%2F%4030.9505205%2C-95.9144828%2C3a%2C75y%2C229.47h%2C90t%2Fdata%3D*213m4*211e1*213m2*211sEheJtAMQ675ytiky_mIk4A*212e0*214m2*213m1*211s0x8646454eaa13c07d%3A0x86468361c3bf7ec1%3Fsa%3DX!5sthe woodbine hotel - Google Search!15sCAQ&imagekey=!1e2!2sEheJtAMQ675ytiky_mIk4A&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi_gpSR_dPiAhVNPK0KHcjwCbUQpx8wC3oECBAQCw It's absolutely true that, as a young boy with a newspaper route, famed oilman Glenn McCarthy --------- perhaps the most compelling of all Texas oilmen because of his rags-to-riches-to-rags life story and flamboyant, ostentatious ways ------ delivered newspapers to Howard Hughes' home. In 1598 the wealthy conquistador Juan de Oñate lead 500 colonists north out of Santa Barbara, Chihuahua, a village near Parral. They arrived at the Rio Grande and celebrated Thanksgiving two decades before the Pilgrims did. Then, on May 4, the crossed the river near what is now downtown El Paso. Oñate called the crossing "El Paso del Rio del Norte," "the Pass across the River of the North." At the end of his journey lay Santa Fe, in modern-day New Mexico. This journey was 1600 miles long and the trail that was blazed became "El Camino Real," The King's Highway. It was the longest road in North America, and for 200 years the commerce of empire flowed along its route, each journey bringing the merchants, traders, slavers, missionaries and other travelers through the site that is now El Paso, Texas. When oil was discovered in Mexia, Texas, in 1920, it precipitated an enormous population explosion. Mexia went from 3,500 to 35,000 people within one year. The rapid growth was excessive for local authorities, and for a short time in 1922 Mexia was under martial law. That year was the peak of production for the Mexia field, with 35 million barrels produced. Cumulative production of the field totaled 108 million barrels by the mid-1980s. But after the initial oil boom the population declined almost as precipitously as it had risen and was down to 10,000 by the mid-1920s. The huge saline deposit at Grand Saline, Texas, was a major source of salt for Texas and the confederate states during the Civil War. Salt was the only known way of preserving meat in warm temperatures during those days and, because salt was such a key industry, mine workers were exempt from service in the confederate army. Many wells were sunk into the deposit and, believe it or not, more than 10,000 pounds of salt was mined daily. Meat was salted, smoked and canned for the long, hot journey to confederate front lines. Salt also preserved hides for making horse harnesses and saddles. Salt is still mined in Grand Saline. The underground salt dome there is 1.5 miles wide, three miles deep, and can feed the world's salt needs for 20,000 years. Cherokees and Caddos mined the salt deposits, and there is evidence that the deposit was used by Native Americans in prehistoric times. In 1841, W.S. Peters of Kentucky contracted with the Republic of Texas to bring immigrants to the area that is now Grapevine, Texas, which is in Tarrant County. By 1848 the Peters Colony covered two million acres. Almost 150 families, most of whom were American-born families of modest means, had moved into the area. It was the largest empresario enterprise ever undertaken by the Republic of Texas and helped open the area thereabouts to settlement. Were you to to to the intersection of 8th and Colorado in downtown Austin and look at the northeast corner, you will see an art deco style stone building. But had you been standing at that same spot in, say, 1846, you would have been looking at the very first Texas state capitol building. That's where it stood. And it was at that spot in on February 19, 1846, that Anson Jones, then President of the Republic of Texas, proclaimed “The final act in this great drama is now performed: the Republic of Texas is no more!” Yup. That's where the Republic of Texas ended and the State of Texas began. And look at us now! Here's what the spot looks like today: https://email@example.com,-97.7434756,3a,75y,60.31h,102.64t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sgKDeJ6PMsRJaXUZ_EfRO2Q!2e0!7i16384!8i8192 The city of Ballinger, Texas, in Runnels county, lies at the confluence of the Colorado River and Elm Creek. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway runs through the town. Ballinger was established when the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway built westward out of Brownwood in 1886. Runnels City, the original county seat, campaigned for selection as the new railroad terminal but could not compete with the superior water supply offered at the future site of Ballinger, five miles to the south. Extensive advertising in the Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, and Galveston newspapers brought 6,000 people to the sale of town lots in Ballinger on June 29, 1886. The 1.7-square-mile area was laid out in large lots, with a courthouse square and public park set aside for future use. Roughly half of the lots sold on the first day. To ensure the success of their new terminal, Santa Fe officials offered free property to anyone who would move a home from Runnels City to Ballinger and to any church that would erect a building. Source: Handbook of Texas Online, Kathryn Pinkney, "Ballinger, TX," I grew up playing along the banks of Bird's Creek in Temple. As a boy I never knew why it was called Bird's Creek. I assumed somebody had seen a bird of some sort a long time ago and named it because of that. It turns out that the real reason it's called "Bird's Creek" is a lot bloodier and more exciting. It's strange for me to think that this happened right smack dab in what is now a residential community: http://www.texasescapes.com/ClayCoppedge/Birds-Creek.htm Fantastic read from the folks at Texas Escapes! You may count yourself among a very small group of Texans if you know the Arcane Texas Fact of the Day: the town of Bastrop was founded on June 8, 1832, and named for the Baron de Bastrop, who had been helpful to Moses Austin, Stephen F. Austin's father, in Moses' attempt to obtain land rights for the first American colony in Texas. A couple of years later, Mexican authorities imprisoned Austin in Mexico City. The white settlers in the Bastrop area, wanting to show their loyalty to Mexico in hopes of getting Austin released, renamed the town of Bastrop "Mina," in honor of Francisco Xavier Mina, a national hero and martyr to the cause of liberty in Mexico. And so it was that, on April 24, 1834, Bastrop officially changed its name to "Mina." Austin was subsequently released and Texas won its independence. No longer having to show deference to Mexico, Texas renamed Mina back to Bastrop on December 18, 1837. And it's been Bastrop ever since. So, if you knew that Bastrop was called "Mina" for about five and a half years, go to the 'fridge, get yourself a Shiner Bock, and smile inwardly to yourself regarding your superior Texanhood. But don't rub your friends' faces in it; wouldn't be nice. The Mustang grape (also called "Muscadine") is the only grape native to Texas. It favors disturbed ground, fence rows, woodland edges and sandy slopes in the eastern half of Texas, east to Louisiana and north into Arkansas and Oklahoma. Althought its fruit is usually pungent and unpleasant, the fruits of the variety "diversa" are actually sweet and have often been used in wine-making. This is a high-climbing vine which tolerates great heat and drought. The lower surface of its leaves is very white and densely hairy, a noticeable ornamental feature. It is reported to be largely resistant to Phylloxera and hybridizes with several other grape species. You can make a very good pie or cobbler out of Mustang grapes. Wild Mustang grape pie is a true treat from Texas past, and it is still enjoyed today by those of us who have access to a place where the delicate grapes can be picked. Tthe trick for a perfect pie is to pick the grapes at just the right time, while they were still a luscious green color and just before the seed formed. 3 cups green mustang grapes 1 1/2 cups sugar 3 tablespoons flour 3 tablespoons butter Unbaked pastry for a 9-inch two-crust pie 1/4 cup melted butter Sprinkling of sugar Wash the grapes and put in a saucepan with just enough water to cover; bring to a slow boil. Combine the sugar and flour and add to the grapes when they begin to boil. Add butter and cook over medium heat, stirring gently, about 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken. Pour into an unbaked 9-inch pie crust and top with a lattice crust. Brush the top crust with a little melted butter and a sprinkling of sugar, if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue baking 20-30 minutes. The source for this recipe is "Cooking Texas Style," a 1983 book that was authored by Candy Wagner and Sandra Marquez You can also make some pretty good wine out of Mustang grapes. I've never done it myself but I have tasted it and, while it will never be confused with a fine Bordeaux, it is certainly pleasant and quite drinkable ---- sort of like a Chenin Blanc. I have been told that this recipe for Mustang grape wine is excellent: https://defalcos.com/tutorials/basic-brew-recipes/defalco-s-wild-grape-wine-recipe-mustang-and-or-muscadine.html Johnny Cash wrote "I Walk the Line" in Gladewater, Texas. Said Johnny: "I wrote the song backstage one night in 1956 in Gladewater, Texas. I was newly married at the time, and I suppose I was laying out my pledge of devotion. In the dressing room at Gladewater I was sitting with Carl Perkins, strumming on the guitar.... "This is an idea I got today," I want to write a song that has something to say. A song that will have a lot of meaning not only for me, but for everybody who hears it -- that says I'm going to be true not only to those who believe in me and depend on me, but to myself and to God -- a song that might give courage to others as well as myself." Carl said, "That's a good idea. What will you call it?" "I don't know," I said. "Something like 'I'm Still Being True' or 'I'm Walking the Line' or some such thing." "I Walk the Line would be a good title," Carl said. "Hmmmmmmmmm --" I began. The song came easily. It was one of those rare times I felt a song was just "begging to be written." There was no wringing the mind or biting the pencil on I Walk the Line. The lyrics came as fast as I could write, and in twenty minutes I had it finished." A Brief Historical Survey of Texas Costs, Prices and Salaries One year's subscription to the Telegraph & Texas Register, a newspaper, 1838: $5.00 One pound of coffee in Austin. 1840: $1.00 One-way fare on the Tarbox & Brown stagecoach between Houston and Austin; travel time, three days, in 1841: $15.00. Monthly salary, driver of ox-drawn freight wagon in 1852: $15.00. One-way ticket via railroad between Galveston & Houston; travel time, 2 1/2 hours, 1860: $2.50. One-way ticket via Butterfield Overland stage, 2,795 miles from St. Louis, through Texas, to San Francisco; travel time, 25 days, in 1861: $200.00 Daily buggy rental at Fort Worth livery, 1880: $4.00 weekday, $6.00 Sunday. Daily salary for working cowboy on ranches around Tascosa before March 24, beginning of the cowboy strike for higher wages in 1883: $1.18 Daily salary for working Tascosa cowboys after April 3, end of the strike for higher wages in 1883: $1.68 Average daily wages for, respectively, men, women and children industrial workers in 1890: $1.82, $1.05 and 98 cents. County judge's annual salary in Borden County, 1891: $360.00 Price per acre of land in Lamb County; financed at 3 percent interest for 50 years in 1900: $1.50 Price per barrel of Texas crude oil in early 1903: 3 cents Annual salary, Methodist circuit-riding preacher, Texas Panhandle in 1903: $121.00 Construction price of massive rock headquarters house of 6666 Ranch in Guthrie in 1917: $100,000 Price of live horned frogs at Democratic National Convention in Houston in 1928: $2.50 The Arcane Texas Fact of the Day: The earliest known document in Texas history is this map of the Gulf of Mexico, created by Alonso Álvarez de Pineda in 1519. Alonso Álvarez de Pineda was a Spanish Conquistador and cartographer. In 1519, he led several expeditions to map the westernmost coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico, from the Yucatán Peninsula to the Pánuco River, just mapped parts of Florida, which he believed to be an island. Antón de Alaminos' exploration eliminated the western areas as being the site of the passage, leaving the land between the Pánuco River and Florida to be mapped. Alaminos persuaded the governor of Santiago, Francisco de Garay, to finance an expedition to search the remainder of the Gulf. Garay outfitted three ships with two hundred and seventy soldiers, and placed them under the command of Álvarez de Pineda. He left Santiago in early 1519 and sailed west to follow the northern coastline of the Gulf At the western tip of Southern Florida, he attempted to sail east, but the winds were uncooperative. Instead, he sailed west from the Florida Keys along the Gulf Coast On June 2, 1519, Álvarez de Pineda entered a large bay with a sizable Native American settlement on one shore. He sailed upriver on the Mississippi River, the description of the land and its settlement has led many historians to believe he was describing Mobile Bay and the Alabama River. Alvarez de Pineda continued his rough journey westward. On June 24, 1519, on the Roman Catholic Feast Day of Corpus Christi, he sailed into what he named Corpus Christi Bay. There is no reliable evidence that he ever disembarked on the shores of Texas, but he anchored off of Villa Rica de la Veracruz shortly after Hernán Cortés had departed. Cortés returned on hearing of Álvarez de Pineda's arrival. Álvarez de Pineda wished to establish a boundary between the lands he was claiming for Garay and those that Cortés had already claimed; Cortés was unwilling to bargain, and Álvarez de Pineda left to retrace his route northward Shortly thereafter, he sailed up a river he named Las Palmas, where he spent over 40 days repairing his ships. The Las Palmas was most likely the Panuco River near present-day Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Although de Pineda was killed in a battle with the native Huastec people at the Panuco River, his map survived. The expedition established the remainder of the boundaries of the Gulf of Mexico, while disproving the idea of a sea passage to Asia. It also verified that Florida was a peninsula instead of an island, and allowed Álvarez de Pineda to be the first European to see the coastal areas of what is now western Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, lands he called "Amichel." This map is the first known document of Texas history and was the first map of the Gulf Coast region of the United States and is stored at the Archivo General de Indias in Spain. Of the 59 signers of the 1836 Texas Declaration of Independence, only 2 were native Texans, only 1 was among Stephen Austin's original settlers, only 10 had lived in Texas for more than six years, and only 17 had been in Texas more than six months. Source: Louis Wiltz Kemp, "Signers of The Texas Declaration of Independence," 1944. On March 1, 1836, the Alamo's 12-pound cannons fired two shots. One of them hit Santa Anna's headquarters. Weapons and ammunition found in Bonnie and Clyde's car after they were shot and killed included: 3 Browning Automatic rifles 1 sawed-off shotgun, 20 gauge 1 sawed-off shotgun, 16 gauge 1 Colt Automatic Pistol, 32 caliber 1 Colt Automatic Pistol, 380 caliber 7 Colt Automatic Pistols, 45 caliber 100 machine gun clips of 20 cartridges each 3000 rounds of ammunition scattered all over the car Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar was born in Georgia in 1798. He was secretary to Governor George Troup, a newspaperman, and a Georgia State Senator. After his wife died of tuberculosis and he failed in two attempts to be elected to Congress he came to Texas. Arriving in 1835, Lamar became interested in the opposition to Santa Anna. He joined the Texas army as a private during the retreat eastward (the "Runaway Scrape"). Lamar demonstrated a great deal of courage and ability in fighting just prior to the battle of San Jacinto. On April 21 he was commissioned as a colonel and given command of the cavalry. Ten days later he was secretary of war of the Republic of Texas. In another month he was commander of the Texas Army, with the rank of major general, but difficulties with his men caused him to resign. In the first election for the Republic Lamar was made vice-president. He was subsequently nominated for President by enemies of Sam Houston, who could not succeed himself. Lamar's two opponents, Chief Justice James Collinsworth and former Attorney General Peter Grayson, committed suicide. Collinsworth drowned himself and Grayson shot himself, after which Anson Jones ---- who later also died by his own hand ---- wrote that henceforth, "I shall be surprised at no one's committing suicide ..." When Lamar took office, December 10, 1838, the population of Texas was some 65,000, including slaves and Native Americans. As president, Lamar urged a system of public education and took a hardline toward Native Americans. Recipts during his administration were $1.1 million and expenditures were $4.8 million, causing the currency to depreciate badly. Lamar dreamed of a Texas that would rival the United States in size and strength. He, of course, opposed annexation, though later he changed his mind and worked for Texas' admission to the union. One of Lamar's acts to expand the Republic was putting Texas' capital on the frontier; in his vision, Texas would grow past it and eventually reach the Pacific ocean. When Congress appointed a commission to choose a permanent capital, Lamar suggested that they look at an area in which he had recently successfully hunted buffalo. There the commission found two tiny settlements, Waterloo and Montopolis. They were favorably impressed and recommended the site. In the late spring of 1839 the new capital city, Austin, was laid out. While armed guards watched out for Indians the government buildings were begun. The first capitol was made of logs. In October, 40 wagons brought the government records and property to Austin. By the time Austin was six months old the population was 856, comprised of 145 slaves, 61 women, 100 children, and 550 men. The records show that 73 of the men were church members. One historian wrote, "The Republic of Texas of which he [Lamar] dreamed would spurn annexation to the United States, conquer as much of Mexico as it might want, and contest with the United States for leadership of the Americas." Tom Landry, future coach of the Dallas Cowboys, interrupted his studies at the University of Texas after one semester in order to enlist in the Army Air Corps after his older brother, Robert Landry, was lost when his plane went down over the North Atlantic near Iceland. Tom did his basic training at Sheppard Field near Wichita Falls then did his preflight training at Kelly Field near San Antonio. At the age of 19, he was transferred to Sioux City, Iowa, where he trained as a copilot for flying a B-17. In 1944, Tom got his orders, and from Sioux City he went to Liverpool, England, where he was assigned to the Eighth Air Force, 493rd Squadron in Ipswich. At the age of 19 he had become a B-17 co-pilot. From November 1944 to April 1945, he completed a combat rotation of 30 missions and survived a crash landing in Belgium after his bomber ran out of fuel. Then he went back to UT, where he graduated in 1949 before getting his master's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Houston in 1952. Somehow, while working toward his masters, he also managed to start his NFL career in 1950. He played as a defensive back for the New York Giants for five years and ended his career with 32 interceptions in only 80 games. He also recovered 10 fumbles. You know, I ponder all of this and wonder what Coach Landry was thinking 30 years later when he was having problems with players like Lance Rentzel and Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson. Did he think, "Did I really risk my life 30 times in World War II and crash land in Belgium for THIS kind of BS?" Surely the thought must have crossed his mind. He was an incredible Texan. We'll not see his like again. Before Texas' independence from Mexico, Jared Groce was one of the few wealthy men to come to Texas. Born in Virginia in 1782, Groce lived in Georgia and then owned a large Alabama plantation. When Groce moved in 1821, more than fifty covered wagons were needed to transport his possessions. He used pontoon bridges to cross the rivers. Groce settled at the Madelina crossing of the Brazos in present-day Waller County. Since the system of land distribution provided 80 acres for each of his 90 slaves, Groce received 10 sitios. He expanded his land holdings rapidly. In 1822 Groce planted the first cotton in Texas and built the first gin. To defend his plantations he maintained a company of African-American Indian fighters. Groce, leading 30 members of this calvalry, joined an 1824 expedition to defeat the Karankawas. At his plantation, Bernardo, four miles south of present-day Hempstead, Groce huilt a large home of cottonwood logs. The gallery, which ran the length of the house, was supported by polished walnut columns. The kitchen was in a separate building, to minimize the fire hazard created by cooking. A building referred to as Bachelor Hall was used for entertaining. Quarters for he house servants were nearby. The houses, kitchen, dining hall, and day nusery of the field slaves were located by a lake. Groce's Ferry was at the Bernardo plantation. In 1833 Jared Groce moved to a Grimes County plantation home. He called it Groce's Retreat since he had fled the malaria along the Brazos. While President David G. Burnet and his cabinet were moving the government from Washington-on-the-Brazos to Harrisburg, they stayed three days at Groce's Retreat in March, 1836. Groce, crippled in both hands, did not take an active part in the fighting, but he contributed large quantities of supplies to the Texas Army and furnished treatment for sick and wounded soldiers. Sam Houston and the Texas Army camped near Groce's Ferry frmo March 31 to April 14, 1836, just before the Battle of San Jacinto. Bernardo housed refugees from the Runaway Scrape; the women made sandbags and Groce's slaves melted lead water pipes to make bullets for the army. Austin County records contain a copy of Groce's will dated October 24, 1838; he died in 1839 and was buried at Bernardo. The present community of Retreat was established in 1851 two miles east of Groce's Retreat on the route of a stage line from Houston to Anderson. According to noted historian J. Evetts Haley, legendary rancher and "Father of the Texas Panhandle" Charles Goodnight smoked 50 cigars a day as a young man. Despite this, he lived to be 94 years old. Also, Charles never learned to read or write but would have his wives read to him and write for him. I've always been amazed that he was such a visionary and accomplished so much ---- even establishing a college ----- without being literate. Mission Concepcion in San Antonio was once located in or near what is now Zilker Park in Austin. I had a hard time believing this, but it's true. This was back in 1730. The next year, in 1731, it was moved to its present site in San Antonio. Incidentally, it is the oldest unrestored church in America, and its formal name is "Misión Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña." In December 1842, Sam Houston ordered the secret removal of the archives of the Republic from the state capital (Austin) to safekeeping in Washington-on-the-Brazos. Mrs. Angelina Eberly, realizing that the symbols of national government were being removed from the Austin, fired a six-pound cannon into the General Land Office Building, arousing the town to what they considered theft. The ensuing conflict became known as "The Archives War" and was won by the Austinites, thus preserving Austin as capital of Texas and keeper of the archives and providing yet another example of why not to mess with Texas women! The city of Killeen was established in 1881 when the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway, planning to extend its tracks through the area, bought 360 acres some 2½ miles southwest of a community known as Palo Alto, which had existed since about 1872. Soon afterward the railroad platted a seventy-block town on its land and named it after Frank P. Killeen, the assistant general manager of the railroad. Baby Head, Texas is on State Highway 16 near Babyhead Mountain, ten miles north of Llano in north central Llano County. A post office was established there in 1879 with Shelby Walling as postmaster; the post office was closed in 1918. Baby Head was at one time the site of an election and justice court precinct and supported several small businesses and a school. By 1968 it was a rural community of twenty people marked only by a cemetery. According to local oral tradition, the name "Babyhead" was given to the mountain in this area in the 1850s, when a small child was killed by Indians and its remains left on the mountain. A local creek also carried the name, and a pioneer community founded in the 1870s became known as Baby Head. The oldest documented grave here is that of another child, Jodie May McKneely, who died on New Year's Day 1884. Willie Nelson wrote "Crazy," "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Night Life," and "Turn Out the Lights (The Party's Over)" in the course of one week while driving back and forth from his home in Pasadena to his job as a DJ in Houston in the spring of 1960. The arrival of the railroads to El Paso in 1881 and 1882 was the single most transformative event in that city's history. Prior to the arrival of the iron horse El Paso's population was less than 1,000. It became the county seat in 1883 and had more than 10,000 people by 1890. By 1900 the population was almost 16,000. This grew to almost 80,000 by 1925. Although Jeff Davis county is roughly 50 miles x 45 miles square, it has only two towns: Valentine and Fort Davis. Valentine's name refers to the date of its founding in 1882 by a Southern Pacific Railroad construction crew: February 14. On August 16, 1931, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck near Valentine, causing extensive damage. The earthquake was the most powerful ever recorded in Texas. Pat and James Foley opened their first store in Houston in February, 1900. They named it "Foley Brothers Dry Goods Company." On their first day of business, 44 THOUSAND people visited the store, but the brothers only took in $128.29. From this inauspicious start arose the store we just called "Foley's." The original plans and specifications for the capitol building in Austin called for its construction of native limestone rather than the red granite that it is made of. However, all of the limestone found near Austin contained discoloring iron particles. Abner Taylor, the chief contractor, proposed using limestone from Bedford, Indiana, but the Capitol Board and Governor John Ireland wished to use Texas stone and decided on red granite from Granite Mountain near the site of present-day Marble Falls in Burnet County. The owners of the mountain, George W. Lacy, William H. Westfall, and Nimrod L. Norton, offered to give the state enough granite for the building. Taylor initially refused to use the red granite because he believed the difficulty of working the stone would make it too expensive. In early 1885 subcontractor Wilke informed Taylor that it would cost much less to use donated red granite in a simplified style agreed upon by architect Myers than limestone with the extensive decorative carving originally agreed upon. However, Taylor kept this information a secret, and continued to assure state officials that he could not afford to use red granite because of its additional cost. Finally, on July 25, 1885, he signed a supplementary contract in which he agreed to use red granite for the Capitol if the state would supply it free of charge, share the "extra cost," construct a narrow-gauge railroad from Burnet to Granite Mountain, and furnish convict labor to quarry the stone. Taylor also agreed to pay the state for the use of the convicts and to provide room and board for them. Lay this little piece of Texas trivia on your friends and family over dinner tonight, sit back, and bask in their admiration. You will undoubtedly hear "we're not worthy," repeatedly, but don't rub anybody's nose in it. Doing so would be unseemly and besides, you put your pants on one leg as a time, same as they do. Just smile inwardly and be secure in the knowledge that they truly AREN'T worthy. 🙂 Source: William Elton Green, "CAPITOL," Handbook of Texas Online The cemetery at Hornsby Bend (just north of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport) is one of the most historic cemeteries in Texas. There are currently slightly more than 200 people buried in the Hornsby cemetery, including 18 former Texas Rangers and one Hall of Fame baseball player, Rogers Hornsby. Of the 18 Texas Rangers, 15 of them are from the Hornsby Family. The cemetery has the second highest number of Texas Rangers buried in the state of Texas. In 1921, Edward Dealey, writing in the Dallas Morning News, had this to say about the cemetery: "There is a peculiar fitness that here in a lonely spot among the mesquite trees, within calling distance of the spot where once stood the first house in Travis county, are buried together all the dead members of the Hornsby family. In their lives, amid these very scenes, they did much to make Texas history and pave the way for those who followed in the more secure paths of civilization. It is meant that they should lie here in perpetuity, the little forest of their headstone serving as a lasting memorial, not only to their own bones, but to the vivid scenes and stirring times in which they took so large a part." Bell County was formed on January 22, 1850, and named for Peter H. Bell, who had been elected third governor of Texas in 1849 and again in 1851. Nolan Springs was chosen as the county seat and named Nolanville. On December 16, 1851, the name was changed to Belton. In 1854 Coryell County was marked off from Bell County, and in 1856 the legislature attached a six-mile-wide strip of Falls County to Bell County. In 1860, when a resurvey of the line between Bell and Milam counties was made and recognized by the legislature, Bell County assumed its present boundaries. Early settlement in the county was along the creeks and rivers, but by 1860 most of the county land, some 462,884 acres, was divided into farms. Incidentally, Bell resigned near the end of his second term as governor to fill a vacancy in the U. S. Congress, where he served until 1857. Barbara Mandrell, who was born in Houston, was a musical prodigy. At the age of 13 she played steel guitar for the legendary Patsy Cline, who wrote to a friend that Mandrell was, "a 13-year-old blonde doll who plays the steel guitar out of this world! What a show woman!" Barbara toured at age 13 with Patsy, Johnny Cash, and George Jones. And she was country, when country wasn't cool! Actor Robert Redford learned to swim at Barton Springs in Austin. Actor Woody Harrelson's father, Charles Harrelson, assassinated U.S. District Judge John H. Wood Jr. near his home in San Antonio in 1979. The slaying made headlines, as Wood — who was known as "Maximum John" for the long sentence he typically handed down — was the first federal judge killed in the 20th Century. Charles Harrelson, who was born in Hunstville in 1938, was convicted of murder and passed away in prison in 2007. The Fairmount Hotel in San Antonio is the largest structure ever moved on wheels. It weighs 2.5 million pounds, and was moved in one piece through the city streets on a series of flatbed trucks a little over 5 miles in 1984. It took five days to move it. The last song that Janis Joplin recorded before her death was the song most associated with her, "Mercedes Benz." It is one of her own compositions. She recorded it on October 1, 1970. She died three days later in the early-morning hours of October 4th, 1970. Janis was a Texan, of course, having been born in Port Arthur in 1943. Q: how many Dallas Cowboys are in the NFL hall of fame and who are they? Answer: Sixteen: Troy Aikman, Tony Dorsett, Bob Hayes, Michael Irvin, Tom Landry, Bill Parcells, Rayfield Wright, Bob Lilly, Emmitt Smith, Larry Allen, Mel Renfro, Deion Sanders, Tex Schramm, Roger Staubach Randy White and Mike Ditka. Back in 1929, San Antonio River Walk architect Robert H. Hugman wanted to name the San Antonio attraction "The Shops of Romula and Aragon." I'm kind of glad that didn't catch on! The bell currently in use at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in San Antonio was almost certainly cast from a bronze cannon used in the Battle of the Alamo. The cannon was found buried in their yard in the early 1850s by Samuel and Mary Maverick, the church's founding members. The yard was very near the Alamo and it's extremely likely that the cannon came from the battle. Anyway, they re-purposed it, melting it down and casting it into a bell. Incidentally, Samuel Maverick is the namesake of the word "maverick." Finally, LBJ and Lady Bird were married in St. Mark's Episcopal church. It's a veritable cornucopia of obscure Texas facts here on Traces of Texas, folks! Who was the first U.S. President to visit Texas? In 1891, President Benjamin Harrison was the first U.S President to travel through Texas, stopping in Del Rio among other places. I'm embarrassed to admit that I've been long been operating under the mistaken belief that it was President Wiliam McKinley in 1901. Wrong, wrong, WRONG! President Harrison had visited 10 years earlier. Incidentally, I'm talking about sitting presidents, i.e. Presidents who visited Texas when they were in office. Rutherford B. Hayes had actually visited Texas in 1848-1849, but that was 30 years before he became President of the United States. And Ulysses S. Grant was here in 1846 during the Mexican-American war but, again, that was long before he became President. So the answer to the question is President Benjamin Harrison. Bring this little factoid up over dinner tonight and bask in the admiring glances of your dining companions as they are forced to admit your superior Texanhood. Maybe they'll even let you have the last slice of pecan pie. It's worth a shot! Roger Miller, singer and composer of "King of the Road," "Dang Me," "Chug-A-Lug," "Engine, Engine no. 9" and other hit songs, never learned to read or write music. Roger, who was born in Fort Worth in 1936, received eleven grammy awards. He also won 5 Tony awards for his score to "Big River," a Broadway musical based on Huckleberry Finn. He passed away in 1992 at the age of 56. Women did not serve on juries in Texas until 1954. In 1891, Fine Gilliland shot and killed Fort Davis cattleman Henry Harrison Powe during a roundup near Leoncita Springs in Brewster County. Gilliland had been sent by the firm of Dubois and Wentworth to make sure none of the local ranchers appropriated any of the company's cattle; he became embroiled in a dispute with Powe over an unbranded brindle yearling steer found without its mother. Powe believed that the steer belonged to a cow with his HHP brand, but Gilliland disagreed. Gunplay ensued. Gilliland killed Powe and fled on horseback, but was himself killed a few days later in a shootout with two Texas Rangers. Meanwhile, the cowboys branded "MURDER" on one side of the yearling and "JAN 28 91" on the other. Legend has it that the "murder steer" still appears whenever foul play has occurred; the incident also inspired an episode of the television series Rawhide and a ballad by Canadian folk singer Ian Tyson. Angleton, Texas, was founded in 1890 by Lewis R. Bryan, Sr., and Faustino Kiber near the center of Brazoria County and named for the wife of the general manager of the Velasco Terminal Railway. In 1896 Angleton was chosen (over Brazoria) to be the new county seat of Brazoria County. The move followed a political battle so bitter that county records were said to have been moved to Angleton at night by citizens who feared they would be destroyed. The controversy resurfaced in 1913, when another election was called to make Brazoria the county seat again. It failed. The two towns were roughly the same size in 1913, but today Angleton's population is close to 19,000 while Brazoria's is about 3,000. Roughly 30 towns, give or take a couple, were born in the Texas Panhandle between 1910 and 1930. There are more than 470 varieties of grasses native to Texas. At the moment the Lou Della Crim No. 1 oil well "blew in" on December 28th, 1930, the population of Kilgore, Texas was 590. Within 72 hours it was more than 10,000. The fossilized remains of gigantic crocodiles have been discovered in the Aguja Formation in the south-central part of Big Bend National Park. These are among the largest crocodiles ever known. With lengths of 40-50 feet and jaws studded with 6-inch teeth, these powerful predators were extraordinarily equipped to feed upon a variety of dinosaurs. In fact, dinosaur bones have been found in the Big Bend that are heavily damaged and covered with distinctive crocodile bite marks! Just like modern day crocodilians, Deinosuchus riograndensis probably hunted by ambush, lying submerged near shore, and violently seizing large dinosaurs as they foraged amid the vegetation of Big Bend's ancient swamps. The magnificent skull of Deinosuchus is on display at the Dallas Museum of Natural History. Can you imagine a 50-foot crocodile? Sheesh! Rockne, Texas (which is about 12 miles southeast of Austin-Bergstrom International airport) has been known by several names. First called Walnut Creek because of its proximity to the stream, it was known as Lehmanville when the Lehman Post Office was established in 1900, and as Hilbigville after William Hilbig opened a store here. In 1931 the children of Sacred Heart School were given the opportunity to permanently name their town. A vote was taken, with the children electing to name the community Rockne in honor of Knute Rockne, the famous Notre Dame University football player and Head Coach who had died in a plane crash in 1931. Songwriter Cindy Walker was born in Mexia, lived her 87 years there, and wrote top-10 hit songs in five different decades. "You Don't Know Me," which was covered by everybody, is probably the most famous. Did I ever tell y'all how she got her big break? In 1940, Walker, at the age of 22, accompanied her parents on a business trip to Los Angeles. As they were driving down Sunset Boulevard she asked her father to stop the car near the Bing Crosby Enterprises building. Walker later recalled: "I had decided that if I ever got to Hollywood, I was going to try to show Bing Crosby a song I had written for him called 'Lone Star Trail'". Her father said "You're crazy, girl", but nonetheless stopped the car. Walker went inside the building to pitch her song and emerged shortly afterward to ask her mother to play the piano for her. Bing Crosby’s brother Larry Crosby had agreed to listen to the song. Walker sang “Lone Star Trail” to him, accompanied by her mother. Larry Crosby was impressed and aware that his brother was looking for a new Western song to record. The next day Cindy played guitar and sang “Lone Star Trail” for Bing Crosby at Paramount Studios (where he was making a movie). Crosby arranged for her to record a demo with Dave Kapp of Decca Records, who was also impressed and offered her a recording contract."Lone Star Trail" was recorded and became a top-ten hit for Bing Crosby. Walker remained in Los Angeles for 13 years. In 1940 she appeared as a singer in the Gene Autry Western Ride Tenderfoot Ride. The Decca recording contract led to Walker recording several songs with Texas Jim Lewis and His Lone Star Cowboys, including “Seven Beers with the Wrong Man” in 1941, which was also filmed as an early "Soundie" (a precursor of music videos). In 1944 Walker recorded a song (not her own) which became a top ten hit, “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again". William Travis was only 26 years old when he died at the Alamo. Waylon Jennings had never been to Luckenbach when he and Willie recorded and released the classic "Luckenbach, Texas." Texas covers approximately 1,078,211,616,768,000 square inches. That's a little more than one quadrillion. How many of them have you seen? The city of Temple was named after a Santa Fe Railroad official, Bernard Moore Temple, who was a civil engineer and former surveyor with the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company. It was founded as a railroad town in 1881 and incorporated in 1882. The Mason County "War (also called the "Hoodoo War")" of 1875-1876 was actually a period of lawlessness during a "tidal wave of rustling" that resulted in (roughly) 12 deaths. The violence resulted in a climate of bitter "National prejudice" between the "Americans" and "Dutch" or "Germans" in Mason County. What sparked the war was this: organized bands of cattle rustlers stole livestock but the spring trail bosses were also "indifferent to whose cows they drove", picking up mavericks and even other brands, though the understanding was they were supposed to return the profits to the rightful owner. Germans had settled in Mason and Gillespie counties, "loyal to their adopted country and government when undisturbed" but "were sorely tried by the rustlers and Indians, who committed many depredations upon their cattle." In 1860 the county's first Sheriff, Thomas Milligan, was killed by Indians. In 1872, the Germans elected Sheriff John Clark and Cattle Inspector Dan Hoerster. Clark and Hoerster organized a posse to reclaim lost cattle and soon came across a herd stolen by the Backus brothers gang and eight others, capturing five of them, who were taken back to the Mason jail. The captives included Lige Backus, Pete Backus, Charley Johnson, Abe Wiggins and Tom Turley. A posse member, Tom Gamel, later claimed that Sheriff Clark and Dan Hoerster suggested lynching their captives. In any case, a mob of forty attempted to break into the jail on the night of 18 February 1875 with a battering ram after failing to get the keys from the jailer, Deputy John Wohrle Both Sheriff Clark and the visiting Texas Ranger Lt. Dan W. Roberts were prevented from interfering with a warning that they would be shot. Clark did gather a posse of about six citizens and, with Roberts, pursued the mob to the south edge of town where they were hanging the prisoners from a large post oak. By the time the posse reached the mob, Lige, Pete Backus an Abe Wiggins, were dead, but they managed to save Tom Turley while Charley Johnson had escaped. This was the beginning activity of the vigilance committee, or Hoodoos, who used "ambushes and midnight hangings, to get rid of the thieves and outlaws who had been holding a carnival of lawlessness in Mason County. A man named Tom Gamel learned he was the target of the vigilance committee on March 25th, prompting him to gather his friends and proceed into town in an effort to confront the threat, but Sheriff Clark immediately left. Gamel's group left after a couple of days, but returned after Sheriff Clark returned with sixty-two men, all Germans, and both groups agreed to peace with "no more mobs or hanging". However, in May, Deputy Wohrle arrested the "prominent and popular American" Tim Williamson, after Dan Hoerster revoked his year old bond for stealing a yearling. Williamson worked for Charley Lehmberg in Loyal Valley. Lehmberg was known for paying five dollars a head for unbranded cattle. Wohrle and Williamson were confronted a short distance from the ranch by a dozen men led by the German rancher Peter Bader, who shot Williamson dead. This murder increased the tension between the American and German factions enormously, especially after the Grand Jury of 12 May did nothing. Among those now involved was Scott Cooley, a former Texas Ranger who had been raised by Williamson and who vowed "he would get the men who did it". Cooley had been carried off by Indians after they killed his parents, but was recovered later and, as mentioned, raised by the Williamsons. Cooley served in Texas Rangers Company D under Captain Perry before taking up farming near Menardville. After Williamson's murder, Cooley came to Mason, learning as much as he could about the circumstances and the names of those involved. His first act of revenge occurred on August 10, when Cooley shot Worhle in the back of the head while he helped Doc Charley Harcourt dig a well, taking Worhle's scalp as would an Indian. Cooley formed a gang whose members included George Gladden, John and Mose Beard, and Johnny Ringo. Mose Beard and Gladden were ambushed south of Mason by sixty men led by Peter Bader, Dan Hoerster and Sheriff Clark, resulting in the death of Beard. Cooley's men, including Johnny Ringo, then killed a man named Cheney at his home. Cheney was the man who had led Beard and Gladden into the ambush. Hoerster was killed as he rode past the Mason barber shop by Scott Cooley, Gladden and Bill Coke. Coke was captured and killed by a Mason posse the next day at John Gamel's. Under orders from the governor, Major Jones of the Texas Rangers arrived on 28 September, with ten men from Company D (Cooley's old unit) and thirty men from Company A. Major Jones promptly sent scouts out looking for Cooley but without result after two weeks. The remaining justice of the Peace, Wilson Hey, issued warrants for Sheriff Clark and others, who were arrested, and although the charges did not stick, Sheriff Clark resigned his office and was never seen again. Major Jones' scouts continued to seek Cooley and his gang but to no avail, prompting Jones to confront his Rangers with the opportunity for those in sympathy with Cooley to "step out of the ranks." Fifteen of them did. The remaining Rangers captured Gladden and Ringo. In November, Scott Cooley's gang killed Charley Bader at his place and Peter Bader soon followed the same fate. At the end of December, 1875, Cooley and Ringo were arrested by Sheriff A. J. Strickland for threatening the life of Burnet County, Texas Deputy Sheriff John J. Strickland. They later escaped from the Lampasas County, Texas jail with the help of forty "Helping Hands". The summer of 1876 was another period of terror and lawlessness before Cooley left Mason County for good, either by poison after dining at the Nimitz Hotel in Fredericksburg or by "brain fever". Johnny Ringo left the state for Arizona and Gladden headed for the penitentiary for the murder of Peter Bader. On 21 January 21, 1877, the Mason County Courthouse was burned to the ground and with it the official records of the Mason County War. It is believed that the war resulted in the deaths of 12 men, but nobody can say with certainty. The Battleship Texas ----- the one in San Jacinto ----- was the first ship to launch an aircraft from a catapult. The ship has a long line of other firsts, too: it was the first U.S. Navy vessel to house a permanently assigned contingent of U.S. Marines, the first U.S. battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns, the first to control gunfire with directors and range-keepers (analog forerunners of today’s computers), and one of the first to use radar equipment in the U.S. Navy. After Sam Houston resigned as Tennessee's governor he returned to live with the Cherokees, with whom he had lived as a youth. In 1832, while Houston was a member of an Indian delegation to Washington, Ohio Congressman William Stanberry, on the floor of the House, said some slanderous things about him. Houston sent a note challenging Stanberry to a duel. Stanerry refused to answer but started carrying pistols when he went out. Almost two weeks after the original insult Houston was going to his hotel one evening when he encountered Stanberry on Pennsylvania Avenue. Houston attacked Stanberry with his hickory cane. Stanberry drew one pistol, aimed, and pulled the trigger but the pistol did not fire. Stanberry filed a complaint with the Speaker. The House voted to arrest Houston, since the offensive statement had een made in that chamber, and Congressmen were supposed to be immune for statements made there. Houston's only punisment could be reprimand and withdrawal of his privilege, as a former Congressman, of coming onto the floor of the House. Houston appeared the next day and was given 48 hours to prepare his defense. The Arcane Texas Fact of the Day is that his attorney was none other than Francis Scott Key. That's right, THE Francis Scott Key, the man who, 18 years earlier, had written the Star Spangled Banner. The trial began on April 19. Stanberry showed the bumps on his head and Houston's cane was put into evidence. Key's defense was that the words which so inflamed Houston were not spoken in the House ---- he did not hear those ---- but those printed in the newspaper. it was a rather unsatisfactory position, since the newspaper account was a direct quote of Stansberry's speech in the House. The trial lasted for a month and attracted a great deal of attention. President Jackson was displeased by the actions of his young friend, Houston, but said a few such chastisements would teach congressmen to maintain civil tongues. The House found Houston guilty, but the attempt to deprive him of the privileges of the House was defeated by James K. Polk and other Jacksonians. In the District of Columbia courts Houston was charged with the crime of assault and a fine of 500 dollars was imposed. A year later Houston was advised, "Get that remitted by the Old Chief (Andrew Jackson)." After another year Houston wrote Jackson about the fine. By virtue of his pardoning power, the President granted a remission and Houston never had to pay it. Mound Street in Nacogdoches was named for the fact that it initially ran between four native American mounds (a mound being a man-made hill that was constructed primarily for burial or religious purposes). Three of them were leveled for the purpose of house construction but one still stands, at 516 North Mound Street. There is a house there, too, but it was built atop the mound. Right across the street, at 515 North Mound Street, is the only still-standing original university building built for a Republic of Texas university. Nacogdoches University received its charter from the Republic of Texas on February 3, 1845.The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Henry Fanthorp, a native of England, came to Texas in 1832. He was a 42 year-old widower when he filed for land in the Austin and Williams colony. In 1834, Fanthorp built a house for his new bride, Rachael Kennard, where the Houston and Springfield mail route crossed the road connecting Nacogdoches and San Felipe. Because of its location, many people needing lodging and board stopped by Fanthorp's house ---- a geographical situation that created many an inn in early Texas. In those days, a man was expected to feed and take in anyone who happened to be passing, but if he called his place an inn he could charge for bed and board. Otherwise, travelers imposed upon him as if he owed them something. One lady Texan wrote, "We became very weary of entertaining people of whom we knew nothing; but there was no hotel or house of any kind where they could go ...." On one cold night she and her husband slept on the floor while ungrateful strangers occupied their bed. She said, "We are told to take in the stranger as by doing so we 'may entertain an angel unawares.' I do not think that class of guest often travels in Texas ...." Hen Fanthorp's house quickly became Fanthorp Inn. The first post office in the county was established there in 1835, with Fanthorp as postmaster. In 1837, he opened the first store in the county. Fanthorp called the town that developed "Alta Mira." Kenneth Anderson, a North Carolinian, had come to San Augustine in 1837. He became collector of customs, then Speaker of the House, and finally vice-president of the Republic of Texas. He died at the Fanthrop Inn on July 3, 1845. Alta Mira was renamed "Anderson" in his honor; Anderson County is named for him also. Today Henry Fanthorp's house still stands at 579 S. Main St. in Anderson and is maintained by the state of Texas as a historical site. You can visit most any day and it is truly a wonder to behold. Red-tailed hawks, which are seen year-round throughout Texas, can dive at 120 mph. Gail, Texas is the county seat of Borden County and was named for Gail Borden (of Borden Condensed Milk and "Elsie the Cow" fame) despite the fact that Gail Borden never set foot in the county. Although it is the county seat, Gail has a population of only 231 people. I believe the only smaller county seat in Texas is Mentone. Live Oak wood is one of the densest tree woods on the planet, weighing an average of 76 pounds per cubic foot, though some have been measured at 95 pounds per cubic foot. That’s why mature branches, laden with such weight, often bow to the ground. Once they touch the ground, they find the strength and support to begin reaching up again, seeking light and sky. The city of Hallettsville is named for Margaret Hallett, the widow of John Hallett. John Hallett, who had been a member of Stephen F. Austin's colony and was a former sea captain, had the first home in the area, a log cabin that he built in 1833, but died soon after it was completed. After he passed away, his estate went to his wife, Margaret, who gave land for the town of Hallettsville in 1838. It became the county seat of Lavaca county in 1852. Margaret was a formidable woman. She turned the cabin into a store and traded for pelts and hides with the Tonkawa Indians and the white settlers, who were beginning to fill up the area; she then had the hides carted to Gonzales and exchanged for corn. She had a field cleared for a crop, raised horses under her own brand, and acquired a basic vocabulary in Tonkawa. More than once she raised lumps on the head of Tonkawas who attempted to help themselves to her merchandise. Tonkawa Chief Lolo is said to have rewarded her with the nickname "Brave Squaw" and with honorary tribal membership. She died in 1863 and was buried on the Hallett league, the land that had been granted to her husband by Stephen F. Austin some 30 years before. Later, her remains were transferred to City Memorial Park, where a grave marker acknowledges her as the founder of Hallettsville. Of course everybody knows that Sammy Baugh ---- born in Temple, raised in Temple and Sweetwater ----- is one of the greatest professional football players of all time. But did you know that, in 1943, in the midst of one of the most amazing seasons in NFL annals, he had arguably the greatest single-game performance in history: In a 42-20 win over the Detroit Lions on Nov. 14, Slingin' Sammy fired four touchdown passes, INTERCEPTED FOUR PASSES, and got off an 81-yard punt, the longest of the year in the NFL. Oh, and he's also responsible for making the forward pass an integral part of professional football. Sammy passed away at the age of 94 in 2008. According to the US Patent Office, the beverage known as Dr Pepper, which was born in Waco, was sold for the very first time on 12th January 1885. It is the oldest major soft-drink brand in the United States. Of the 6,000 varieties of moths found in the United States, about 3,000 of them are found in Texas. Ernest Tubb was born on a cotton farm near Crisp (now a ghost town), Texas. His father was a sharecropper, so Tubb spent his youth working on farms throughout the state. Bur Ernest had dreams and, inspired by Jimmie Rodgers, spent his spare time learning to sing, yodel, and play the guitar. At age 19, he took a job as a singer on San Antonio radio station KONO-AM. The pay was low so that Ernest also dug ditches for the Works Progress Administration and then clerked at a drug store. In 1939 he moved to San Angelo, Texas and was hired to do a 15-minute afternoon live show on radio station KGKL-AM. He drove a beer delivery truck in order to support himself during this time, and during World War II he wrote and recorded a song titled "Beautiful San Angelo." In 1936, Tubb contacted Jimmie Rodgers’s widow (Rodgers died in 1933) to ask for an autographed photo. A friendship developed and she was instrumental in getting Tubb a recording contract with RCA. His first two records were unsuccessful. A tonsillectomy in 1939 affected his singing style so he turned to songwriting. In 1940 he switched to Decca records to try singing again and it was his sixth Decca release with the single "Walking the Floor Over You" that brought Tubb to stardom. He joined the Grand Ol' Opry in 1943 and with his band, the Troubadours, stayed for more than 40 years. Cleburne, Texas is named for General Patrick Cleburne, a Confederate General during the Civil War. Born in County Cork, Ireland, Cleburne served in the 41st Regiment of Foot, a Welsh regiment of the British Army, after failing to gain entrance into Trinity College of Medicine in 1846. He emigrated to the United States three years later. At the beginning of the Civil War, Cleburne sided with the Confederate States. He progressed from being a private soldier in the local militia to a division commander. Cleburne participated in many successful military campaigns, especially the Battle of Stones River and the Battle of Ringgold Gap. His strategic ability gained him the nickname "Stonewall of the West". He was killed in 1864, at the Battle of Franklin. Italy, Texas, was given its name in 1880 by Waxahachie postmaster Gabriel J. Penn because the climate was much like that found in "sunny Italy." Prior to that, some residents wanted to name the town "Houston Creek" because Sam Houston had once camped on a creek there. But there was already a Houston Creek in Harris County and U.S. postal officials said that wouldn't work. The Battleship Texas that is now on display at San Jacinto had a cruising range of 17,722 miles, assuming an average speed of 12 mph. Its full crew consisted of 1,810 servicemen. The frozen margarita was invented in 1971 in Dallas by Mariano Martinez, the owner of Mariano's Mexican Cuisine. Mariano adapted a soft serve ice cream machine to make margaritas and dubbed it "The World’s First Frozen Margarita Machine". That machine is now in the collection of the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution. It was on August 9th, 1850 that the Compromise of 1850 both established the Territory of New Mexico and defined the present boundaries of Texas. New Mexico's boundaries were defined as extending to the Staked Plains (Llano Estacado) on the east and on the west reaching to California, specifically the Colorado River. The final Texas-New Mexico boundary controversy was settled on November 25th, 1850, when Texas accepted 10 million dollars from the U.S. government to pay off debts incurred by the Republic. The de facto Texas counties of Santa Fe and Worth were thereafter under the jurisdiction of the territory of New Mexico. Not only are Sissy Spacek and Rip Torn both Texans (she from Quitman, he from Temple), but they are first cousins. The town of Muldoon (16 miles southwest of La Grange) was named after Father Michael Muldoon, a clergyman who briefly served Stephen F. Austin's first colonists. He was the only non-Hispanic member of the Monterrey, Mexico Diocese and was probably assigned his duties because he spoke English. He was born in County Cavan in Ireland and later ordained in Spain. In 1834, Muldoon travelled to Mexico to visit Stephen F. Austin during Austin's confinement there. Later, he assisted William Wharton in his escape from a Matamoros prison in 1837, after which the town of Wharton, Texas was founded. Muldoon was openly pro-Texan, which led to his own brief imprisonment by the Mexican government. However, he was eventually released, and even travelled back to Texas following the revolution, making an appearance in 1842 during which he was given a letter of appreciation from Texas President Anson Jones. Afterward, Father Muldoon disappeared from history and his final resting place is unknown. The 2010 census showed that the population of Muldoon was 114 ----- and growing very slowly. Most everybody knows that the mockingbird is the state bird and the pecan is the state tree, but how many of you knew that sideoats grama is the state grass, petrified palmwood is the state stone, square dance is the state dance (shouldn't this be the two-step?), jalapenos are the state pepper, and the Texas Longhorn is the official state large mammal? Wimberley, Texas, started as an empty trading post settlement near Cypress Creek in 1848, the year Hays County was organized. After William Carvin Winters built a gristmill at the site in 1856, it took on the name Winters' Mill. When the mill was sold in 1864 to the Cude family, its name was changed to Cude's Mill. It was sold again in 1874 to Pleasant Wimberley and took on his name. Over the years, the mill was expanded to process lumber, shingles, flour, molasses, and cotton. In 1880, Alfred vom Stein, a postmaster from San Marcos, applied to have a post office established in the community, calling it Wimberleyville. The application was granted, but the name shortened to Wimberley. Female Texas Brown Tarantulas have been known to live up to 30 years and are believed to live considerably longer, but males rarely live over 1 year after they have matured. Accompanied by three accomplices, on Dec. 23, 1927, a man dressed as Santa Claus robbed a bank. It happened in Cisco, Texas and became the most bizarre robbery in American history. The four men ----- Marshall Ratliff, dressed as Santa Claus, along with Henry Helms and Robert Hill, all ex-cons, and Louis Davis, a relative of Helms', robbed the First National Bank in Cisco, Ratliff wearing a Santa Claus costume because he had lived there and he was well-known there. See, he was a smart feller and had decided that, it being Christmas and all, the Santa Claus costume would be a brilliant disguise. It was a comedy of errors from the git go. A little girl saw "Santie Claus" enter the bank and dragged her mother inside so she could tell Santa one last wish. When she and her mother entered the bank and saw the men with drawn guns the girl started crying "They're going to kill Santie Clause!" and, because the robbers weren't hard-hearted enough to harm them, the mother and the girl ran through the bank, out the rear door, and into the street, screaming the alarm. Spurred by a well-publicized $5,000 reward for "Dead Bank Robbers" that was offered by Texas bankers, within minutes the bank was surrounded by well-armed citizens, some who went into the hardware store and grabbed guns from its stock. The robbers shot their way out of the ambush to their get away car, stolen only the night before, only to discover within a couple of miles that the gas gauge was showing empty. They had forgotten to fill the tank after stealing the car the night before in Wichita Falls. Then, when they held up another car in order to take it. The 14 year-old driver calmly pocketed the ignition keys, ran away, and hid. An armed posse was right on their tails, so the robbers jumped back into the first car and fled again, in their rush leaving a dying companion and everything they had stolen in the robbery. By that time not only was one of them dying but two Cisco policemen , including the Chief, were dead. The manhunt that ensued was the biggest in Texas history, involving several sheriffs, dozens of citizens, and the Texas Rangers under the famous Tom (Ace) Hickman. This was the first time the Rangers used and airplane in a search, sending M.T. (Lone Wolf) Gonzaullas aloft in an open cockpit plane to scour a section of Brazos River bottoms near Graham. It took a week for the three remaining hold-up men to be caught. Ultimately, one of them was given life in prison, one was electrocuted, and on November 19, 1929, after he had mortally wounded a jailer, a mob broke into the Eastland County jail, pulled out "Santa Claus" and lynched him by hanging. No one was ever tried in association with the lynching, although a grand jury was formed. Several thousand persons viewed Ratliff's body the next day at a furniture store in Eastland before Judge Garrett ordered the corpse locked up. Ratliff's family took possession of the body and arranged for a funeral in Fort Worth, with burial at Olivet Cemetery. Although the Cotton Bowl at Fair Park is famous for its annual New Year's Day Game and the Texas-Oklahoma grudge match, during the State Fair of Texas, football was featured at Fair Park long before there was a Cotton Bowl Classic or a Texas-OU Weekend. When the city of Dallas purchased the fair grounds from the State Fair Association in 1904, a football field was already in use, though it was more of a cleared off dirt area with no rocks. Athletic facilities were expanded in 1914 when Fair Park over Gaston Park (about where the Music Hall is today), which contained a small stadium that had once served as the homefield for the Dallas Giants of the Texas League. The first Texas-OU game took place in Dallas, with both as Southwest Conference members, on October 19, 1918. The Southwest Conference had been organized in Dallas in 1914 with the support of State Fair members. For several years in the 1920s the annual game played by the Longhorns in Dallas was against Vanderbilt, not Oklahoma. The modern Texas-OU series started in 1929. Texas leads in the series, 60-44. After World War I, many area colleges and universities began scheduling contests at Fair Park Field, and in 1921 a real football stadium was built, with wooden stands seating 13,500. It was razed in 1930 and a magnificent stadium built for 44,500 people on the site of the race track and grandstand. It carried the unimaginative name of Fair Park Stadium. The first Cotton Bowl game was played there January 1, 1937 between TCU and Marquette. The Horned Frogs came out with a the victory. By the time the Southwest Conference took over as host team in 1941, Fair Park Stadium had been renamed "The Cotton Bowl" It has since undergone several enlargements. The first Cotton Bowl game to be televised was in 1953 when Texas beat Tennessee 16-0. The largest catfish ever caught in Texas was a Blue Catfish caught in Lake Texoma back in 2004. It weighed 121.5 .lbs and was 58 inches long. Considering how many catfish are caught in Texas every year, wouldn't it be kind of cool to walk around knowing that you'd caught the biggest one, ever? Here is a photo of the fish: https://www.catfishedge.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Cody-Mullenix-Record-Blue-Catfish.jpg The city of Garland was originally called "Duck Creek." The first Duck Creek school was built in 1858, and three stores and two grist mills were in operation in the 1870s. Duck Creek was granted a post office in 1878. In 1886 the Katy railroad built through the area from Greenville to Dallas. and a short time later the Santa Fe railroad crossed the Katy from the south, going from Dallas to Greenville. Both railroads missed the village of Duck Creek, however, so various citizens laid out two new towns. The one near the Santa Fe depot was named "Embree" in honor of the Postmaster, K.H. Embree, and the one near the Katy depot assumed the proud name of "Duck Creek." The hamlets refused to join hands, but in 1887 a fire wiped out most of the original Duck Creek, at which time New Duck Creek claimed the post office. The village of Embree contested it. The matter was put to rest in 1888 when newly-elected Congressman Jo Abbott got the post office department to relocate the post office halfway between New Duck Creek and Embree, naming it "Garland" in honor of President Grover Cleveland's attorney General, A.H. Garland, who had earlier been a Confederate congressman from Tennessee. One of the initial acts of the first Congress of the Republic of Texas in 1836 was to charter the Texas Railroad, Navigation and Banking Co., and although the project was supported by some of the most illustrious names in Texas history, it was successfully opposed by Anson Jones because of its banking provisions. But ambitious rail schemes continued to be chartered in Texas, mostly involving the Brazos River, Buffalo Bayou, and Galveston, the major port of that day. As early as July 1840, grading was done and ties bought by Andrew Briscoe for the Harrisburg Railroad and Trading Co., which was planned as a transcontinental line starting from Harrisburg on Buffalo Bayou. In 1847 General Sidney Sherman (originator, probably, of "Remember the Alamo!") took over the stalled project and collected Boston capital for the venture, obtaining a state charter in 1848, for the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos, and Colorado Railroad. Not until late in 1852 was the actual work begun. Harrisburg, long since a part of Houston, was the eastern terminus and Richmond, 30 miles west, was to to be the crossing point on the Brazos. The gauge was 4 feet 8 1/2 inches, which became standard for U.S. railroads. Much of the construction was to come from the sale of lots in Harrisburg. The road was planned deliberately to miss Houston, considered a competitor. The first locomotive, the "General Sherman," arrived in Galveston in December, 1852. It was the second locomotive west of the Mississippi. It was not until August of 1853 that 20 miles of rail had been laid to Stafford's Point (now Stafford), which insured survival under the railroad's charter. Officially, service began on September 9th. 1853. A Galveston News advertisement stated that on Wednesday and Saturday at 9:00 A.M. cars with passengers and freight would leave Harrisburg for Stafford's Point, returning at 12 noon. There were no Sunday trains. Passengers were carried in four-wheel carriages which one observer said were originally Boston streetcars. The BBB&C finally reached the Brazos opposite Richmond in 1855, then made it to the San Bernard River in 1859 and Eagle Lake later that year, and in the fall of 1860 reached Alleyton on the east bank of the Colorado where it stopped until after the Civil War. In 1870 the road's named was changed to Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railroad, and in 1877 it became the first railroad to reach San Antonio. The timetable for that year showed one train daily from San Antonio to Houston but, alas, no passenger service to Harrisburg. In 1888 the Harrisburg shops were rebuilt in Houston, future headquarters for the Southern Pacific roads in Texas. Southern Pacific later absorbed the GH&SA. Thus the first railroad in Texas remains in operation under the Southern Pacific name. Although Dallas' founder, John Neely Bryan, was generous with the whiskey gourd when travelers appeared, and Adam Haught dispensed wet goods at some point after his arrival in 1845, Dallas didn't get its first tavern until 1846, nearly five years after the founding of the city. That year the Beeman family's Dallas Tavern opened under the management of Henry Harter, who was married to Elizabeth Beeman, sister of Bryan's wife, Margaret. Although it was ostensibly also an inn, its main attraction was its bar. One early traveler's account said the innkeeper merely shared his own room with travelers. The Dallas Tavern was located at the northwest corner of Houston and Commerce streets, in today's Dealey Plaza. James Bryan, a brother of John Neely Bryan, married Mrs. Harter after she had divorced Henry (doesn't early Dallas sound like a little like Payton Place?). James Bryan took over management of the tavern. Then William Beeman, Mrs. Harter-Bryan's brother, affectionately known as "Uncle Billy," took over the management of the tavern, claiming in later years that he made it the first true inn. He sold the tavern in 1852 to Tom Crutchfield, who tore it down and built Dallas first REAL hotel, The Crutchfield House, where everybody had a private bed, if not a private bedroom. The man who led the University of Florida team that invented Gatorade, Dr. Robert Cade, was a Texan, having been born in San Antonio in 1927. He went to Brackenridge High School, where he ran the mile in 4 minutes, 20 seconds ---- a great time for a high schooler in the 1940s. He served in the Navy during WW II and, after being discharged, enrolled in the University of Texas. He completed four years of undergraduate coursework in two calendar years, and graduated with his bachelor's degree in 1950. In 1953, he married Mary Strasburger, a nurse from Dallas, Texas, He got his doctor of medicine degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in 1954. Gatorade has, so far, earned the University of Florida more than 150 million dollars in royalties. When I think about it, it makes sense. Who knows more about thirst than Texans? Nobody, that's who. Felix Huston Robertson was the only Texas-born general to serve the Confederacy during the Civil War. He was born in 1839 at Washington-on-the-Brazos. His father, Jerome B. Robertson, also fought in the Civil War and was for a time commander of Hood's Brigade. He attended Baylor University and went to West Point in 1857, but left before graduation to serve the Confederacy. Felix was a harsh disciplinarian whose Indian-like features gave him the nickname "Comanche Robertson." In 1864, Robertson was assigned a field command, leading first a brigade and later a division of cavalry. On October 3, 1864, a group of guerrillas associated with Robertson's troops during the campaign slaughtered more than one hundred black Union soldiers who had been wounded in the previous day's fighting. One of his subordinate officers, Champ Ferguson, was executed by hanging after the war for his part in what the Northern press deemed the "Saltville Massacre. Noted historian William C. Davis, in his book "An Honorable Defeat. The Last Days of the Confederate Government," reports that Robertson personally "join(ed) in the act of villainy" although he escaped prosecution. Robertson was severely wounded in the elbow during the Battle of Buck Head Creek near Augusta, Georgia, in late November 1864. He lived, but never resumed field duty. After the war, Robertson returned to Texas and settled in Waco. He studied law, passed his bar exam, and established a profitable legal practice. He and his father speculated in real estate and invested in several local railroads. After the death of his wife, Robertson remarried in 1892. He attempted to enter local politics in 1902 as he ran for mayor of Waco in the Democratic primaries. However, he was defeated by incumbent J. W. Riggins. He became the commander of the local United Confederate Veterans in 1911. In 1913, Texas Governor Oscar B. Colquitt appointed him as the Texas Representative for the Battle of Gettysburg Commission, a national group that commemorated the battle's fiftieth anniversary in July 1913. He died in Waco in 1928 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. At the time of his death he was the last surviving Confederate general. William C. Davis had this to say about Robertson: "Perjurer, sycophant, quite probably a murderer, Felix Robertson of Texas was almost without doubt the most reprehensible man in either army to wear the uniform of a general. Only by the narrowest of margins did he escape being tried by his own government for what later generations would call war crimes." Most folks think "Bob Wills" when they think about who invented western swing music, but it's really Milton Brown who deserves that distinction. A Stephenville native who was born in 1903, Brown's experience in the Wills Fiddle Band and with the Light Crust Doughboys served him well, but when he broke off and started his "Musical Brownies" he returned the favor in spades. In addition to added instrumentation and the improvisational aspects of Brown's band, he constantly looked for ways to improve the sound. He'd spend hours in Fort Worth's Kemble Furniture and Record store, listening to discs of obscure blues and pop singers and jazz and southeastern string bands, fusing all of that input in some great melodic cauldron in his brain. The original Musical Brownies included brother Durwood Brown on guitar, fiddlers Jesse Ashlock and Cecil Browner, pianist Fred "Papa" Calhoun, and bassist Wanna Coffman. The band started to record for the Bluebird label in April, 1934, the switched to Decca in 1935. While Brown eschewed the horn sections later favored by Wills, the Brownies nevertheless embraced a wildly improvisational style and, with the addition of jazz guitarist Bob Dunn in 1935, became the first country-rooted act to utilize an electric guitar. (It's interesting to note that country guitarist Zeke Campbell was the first musician to record with an electric guitar ----- not just great Charlie Christian, as is so widely believed.) The Brownies had several big-selling singles ---- both jazz and country ----- and became a huge draw at the Crystal Springs Dance Pavilion. Though the music was still called "Texas Fiddle Music," by the Brownies' Crystal Springs era, what they were actually playing was the prototypical form of Western Swing. Their popularity was enormous, and the band began traveling through Texas and into Oklahoma, performing a heavy schedule of fanatically attended dances wherever they played. That they were the most popular band in Texas was not open to discussion, and Brown's place in history might well have exceeded that of his good friend and rival Bob Wills ---- but in 1936, returning from a gig at the Crystal Springs Pavilion, Brown blew a tire and ran into a telephone pole. The speedometer was found frozen at 93 mph, and Brown's passenger, a sixteen-year old girl, was killed instantly. Brown survived the crash and was transported to a hospital, but died shortly thereafter. Though the Brownies stayed together, they never really overcame the tragedy, and when their recording contract was up in 1938, they called it quits. Though their recorded output was limited, the Texas Rose Collection with His Musical Brownies 1934 and MCA's Pioneer Western Swing Band (1934-1936) ably demonstrate the significance of Milton Brown. You can also listen to him on YouTube. ------- Source: Texas Music by Rick Koster, 2000 Janis Joplin's middle name was "Lyn." Janis Lyn Joplin. On March 15th, 1848, the Texas Legislature created Santa Fe county. It included the Big Bend region, the Texas panhandle, west Texas, most of New Mexico, a third of Oklahoma, and chunks of Wyoming and Kansas. Santa Fe (New Mexico) was named the county seat. Although Jimmie Rodgers is considered the father of country music, it took a Texan, Vernon Dalhart, to show the way. That's because it was Dalhart's 1924 recording "The Wreck of the Old '97" that was the first megahit in the history of recorded music. The song ----- a classic American railroad ballad about the September 27, 1903 derailment of Southern Railway Fast Mail train No. 97 near Danville, Virginia ----- sold seven million copies, a colossal number for a mid-1920s recording. The "B" side of the recording was "The Prisoner's Song." The recording was the biggest-selling non-holiday record in the first 70 years of recorded music and in 1998 was honored with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Additionally, the Recording Industry Association of America named it one of the Songs of the Century. And it was the desire of the Victor Talking Machine Company to duplicate the sales success of 'Wreck/Prisoner' that led them to contract with Ralph S. Peer to go to the southern mountains in the summer of 1927 to facilitate the Bristol Sessions, arguably the single most important recording event in the history of country music. It was at the Bristol Sessions that Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family were discovered. And the rest, as they say, is history. Dalhart's recordings are estimated to have sold 75 MILLION copies over the years. Despite this success, he was a night baggage clerk at Barnum's Hotel in downtown Bridgeport, Connecticut when he had a heart attack in January, 1948. He never fully recovered and died from a second attack on 15 September 1948. The site that is now Beeville was first settled by the Burke, Carroll and Heffernan families in the 1830s. Present-day Beeville was established on a 150-acre land donation made by Ann Burke in May of 1859 after the Republic of Texas was annexed by the United States. It was first named "Maryville" for pioneer Mary Heffernan. It was renamed "Beeville" after Barnard E. Bee, Sr., who had served as Secretary of State and Secretary of War for the Republic of Texas. It was called "Beeville-on-the-Poesta", with a nearby community "Beeville-on-the-Medio" seven miles (11 km) to the west. In 1859, Beeville's first post office opened. Incidentally, as is the case with many Texas cities, Beeville got its first real bump from the railroad: in 1880, the population was about three hundred. But in 1886 the first railroad to the town was constructed, stimulating the growth of the economy and population, which exceeded one thousand by the end of the decade. Among the "soldiers" who fought under Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto were roughly 100 men who had been born in Ireland. Building 950 at Brooks AFB (now Brooks City-Base) housed more than 100 pounds of moon rocks and soil gathered by Apollo astronauts until military control was relinquished during Base Realignment and Closure in 2002. C.E. Doolin bought a recipe for fried corn chips from a Mexican man in San Antonio for $100 in 1932. Doolin soon begin manufacturing the chips as Fritos. Which was good because, without Fritos, there would have been no Frito Pie, Fritos being a necessary precursor to Frito Pie. And what would life be without Frito Pie? A whole lot sadder, is what. Incidentally, Doolin also invented the Cheeto. If you relate all of this Texas trivia over dinner, you can bask in your companions' adulation. Before Austin was decided upon, several towns were considered by the Texas legislature to be sites for the future capital of the Republic of Texas. Washington (on the Brazos) was one of the towns considered. Washington's pitch was made by Asa Hoxey. The town offered one half league of land on the east side of the Brazos river across from the town and another half league of land bordering the western city limits. Part of Hoxey's pitch regarded the healthful aspects of life in Washington on-the-Brazos: In November, 1837 Hoxey wrote that "Washington was laid out as a town in the spring of 1835 and there have been but 15 persons buried in the Town during all the time, not one of whom died with fever." The capital was still at that time in Houston but the legislators were convinced by Houston's mosquitoes and bayous and mud and disease that it must be moved to another location. Bastrop was also considered as were Gonzales, San Felipe, and a few other spots. In early February, 1836 David Crockett and a group of about 12 other men rode into San Antonio de Bexar. They were greeted by Jim Bowie and Antonio Manchaca. After arriving at the Alamo, Crockett made a speech. One eyewitness, Dr. John Sutherland, reported the following: "Col. David Crockett arrived, with twelve others, direct from Tennessee. Crockett was immediately offered a command by Col. Travis, and called upon by the crowd for a speech. The former honor he would not accept; but mounted a goods-box on the civil plaza, amid prolonged cheers of the people. The applause, however, was followed by profound silence, when the full-toned voice of the distinguished speaker rose gradually above the audience and fell smooth and lively upon the ears of all; its content was familiar to many who had heard it in days past, while the hearts of all beat a lively response to tbe patriotic sentiments which fell from his lips. Frequent applause greeted him, as he related in his own peculiar style, some of those jolly anecdotes with which he often regaled his friends, and which he only could tell with appropriate grace. He alluded frequently to his past career, and during the course of his remarks stated that, not long since, he had been a candidate for Congress in his native district, and that during the canvass he told his constituents that 'if they did not elect him, they might all go to hell and he would go to Texas.' After which he concluded his substance, as follows; 'And fellow citizens I am among you. I have come to your country, though I hope not with any selfish motive whatever. I have come to aid you all that I can in your noble cause. I shall identify myself with your interests, and all the honor that I desire is that of defending as a high private, in common with my fellow citizens, the liberties of our common country.' --- John S. Ford, "Origins and Fall of the Alamo," 1895 On May 4, 1883, the El Paso Times started a campaign to get the railroad tracks removed from Main Street. Almost 65 years later, on March 3, 1948, the job was finally completed. A census of Stephen F. Austin's colonies in 1827 showed a population of 2,000 folks. Three years later, that had more than doubled, to 4,200. By 1835, the beginning of the Texas Revolution, more than 30,000 Anglo settlers were believed to be in Texas, while some 2,500-3,500 inhabitants were of Mexican descent. Incidentally, the population of San Antonio, founded in 1718, numbered some 1,500 in 1821. Just remember that Jot 'Em Down ---- a community in western Delta County that lies about 8 miles north of Commerce ------ was named in 1949 for Lum and Abner's fictional radio store and nobody gets hurt, okay? In October, 1886, El Paso had one saloon for every 232 inhabitants, including women and children. Clearly, the chances of dying of thirst were not high. Settlers came to the area near present-day Plano in the early 1840s. Facilities such as a sawmill, a gristmill, and a store soon brought more people to the area. Mail service was established, and after rejecting several names for the budding town (including naming it in honor of then-President Millard Fillmore), the locals suggested the name Plano (from the Spanish word for "flat"), as a reference to the local terrain. The name was accepted by the post office and Plano, which could have been called "Millardville" or "Fillmore Heights" or something equally silly, got its name. Church's Chicken was started in San Antonio in 1952 by George W. Church. The company had four restaurants by the time of Church's death in 1956. It now has 1660 restaurants in 26 countries worldwide. On a cold winter day in 1839, Sam Houston and Robert Williamson --- better known as "three-legged Willie" ------ rode west out of "downtown" Austin, forded Shoal Creek on their horses, and out to the west end of Pecan (6th) street. From there, they continued on toward the northwest, moving through a patchwork of woodland and open clearings before ascending the tallest peak in the hills west of Austin, which is now called Mt. Bonnell. The wonderful view from the top moved both men to climb down from their horses and gaze appreciatively at the beauty surrounding them. They were transfixed. Finally Houston broke the silence by slapping Williamson on the shoulder and proclaiming, "Upon my soul, Williamson, this must be the very spot where Satan took our Savior to show and tempt him with the riches of the world!" Three-Legged Willie's reply reflected his equally reverential mood, "Yes, General, and if Jesus Christ had been fallible, he would have accepted his Satanic majesty's proposition." Remember, the next time you're standing at the top of Mt. Bonnell, that 175 years or so before, Sam Houston and Three-Legged Willie stood at the exact same spot. The view is still marvelous though DRASTICALLY changed! I don't know how many folks have suggested that the arcane fact of the day should be that Fort Worth's own Delbert McClinton taught John Lennon how to play the harmonica and that Lennon then went on to play the famous harmonica intro to "Love me do" afterward. Folks, it is an urban legend. Despite what Casey Kasem said one time on "Amerca's Top 40," John Lennon already knew how to play the harmonica when he met Delbert. On June 21, 1962 The Beatles ----- with Pete Best still on drums ------ were on the bill at the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton, Wallasey, U.K. supporting the headliner of the evening, Bruce Channel. Three months earlier Bruce had scored a 3-week number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. with “Hey! Baby.” The harmonica player used on Bruce’s “Hey Baby” single was also along for the tour – a session musician known as Delbert McClinton. Here's what Delbert told "The Bradenton Herald" in Florida a couple of years ago: “The Beatles were on the show we were on. We all hung out backstage as we always did. It was a magic time. John was one of the guys who came back to our dressing room and wanted me to show him how I played on ‘Hey! Baby.’ We shot the breeze. He came out to three shows, and we hung out maybe 18 to 24 hours total during two weeks. Then I came back, and about a year or two later, in an interview, John said he was influenced by ‘Hey! Baby.’ Now, it’s morphed into ‘I taught John Lennon how to play harmonica!' In fact, John played his harmonica on “Love Me Do” at the very first recording session for EMI, with future producer George Martin, on June 6th, 1962, a couple of weeks before John even met Delbert. This early version of the song appears on The Beatles Anthology 1. So, despite the fact that I would LOVE for it to have been true that a Texan taught John Lennon how to play the harmonica, it isn't quite. Here's a photo of Delbert McClinton and John Lennon from that time, June 1962. On 28 February 1928, the first airline passenger ever carried out of the State of Texas on a scheduled commercial airline flight departed Meacham Field in Fort Worth for Oklahoma City. This photos shows the the hands of Stevie Ray Vaughan and, this, his favorite guitar, which he referred to variously as his "wife" or "number one." Stevie got this guitar ---- described as a “ragged American Stratocaster with 1959 pickups, a ’62 neck, and a ’63 body n finish, upside-down tremolo bar, cigarette-burnt headstock” in 1974. He got it from Ray Hennig's Heart of Texas music in Austin. The Arcane Fact is that this guitar's previous owner was Christopher Cross, the Austin musician who had series of smash hits in 1980 and 1981, including "Ride Like the Wind," "Sailing" etc... Ray told me in his shop one time that Christopher Cross came in with the guitar and wanted to trade it for something that had a more powerful, more muscular sound. So Ray traded Christopher a Les Paul for it. According to Ray, Stevie Ray Vaughan came in the next day, saw the guitar that Christopher had traded in, played it, and decided he wanted it. Mr. Hennig hadn't even had a chance to clean it up or repair it in any way when --- boom! ---- it went right back out the door. So it went from Christopher Cross to Stevie Ray Vaughan and became one of the most famous guitars in history. Jefferson, Texas was named for Thomas Jefferson when it was founded in the early 1840s by Allen Urquhart and Daniel Alley. In the late 1830s Urquhart, who immigrated to Texas from North Carolina, received a headright on a bend in Big Cypress Creek; he laid out a townsite there around 1842. At about the same time Alley obtained a 586-acre parcel adjacent to Urquhart's survey and laid out additional streets that became known as Alley's Addition. In contrast to most other town planners of the time, who arranged their plans around a central square, Urquhart laid out the town along Big Cypress Creek, with its streets running at right angles to the bayou. Alley's streets, on the other hand, followed the points of the compass. The intersection of the two plans gave the town its distinctive V-shaped layout. Source: The TSHA Handbook At its peak, the XIT ranch in the Texas panhandle had about 150,000 head of cattle on its 3 million acres, yet employed only 150 cowboys to manage them all. That seems to me like a remarkably low number of cowboys, but that's what J. Evetts Haley wrote in his book about the ranch. By the by, the XIT was roughly 30 miles wide and 250 miles from north to south. More than 30,000 species of insects are found in Texas. This figure is several times more than all of the birds, mammals, reptiles, fishes, and plants of the state combined. Before it was called "Amarillo," Amarillo was named "Oneida." After John Wesley Hardin was shot and killed by John Selman in a bar in El Paso, his body lay on the floor of the bar for about three hours. Many locals streamed through the bar to view his body, and women dipped their dresses in his blood. Fletcher's Corny Dog stand at the state fair sells roughly 630,000 corny dogs during the 24 days of the state fair .... approximately 26,250 per day. They go through about 1500 gallons of mustard. They also go through about 800 gallons of ketchup. The ketchup surprises me. I mean, what kind of barbarian puts ketchup on a corny dog? Must be those Sooners from Oklahoma who come rampaging down across the Red River every year. When the first Pecos High Bridge over the Pecos River (east of Langtry, west of Comstock) was completed in 1892, it was the highest and most massive bridge ever attempted in the United States, being 321 feet above the river and 2,180 feet long. It was regarded by many as the 8th wonder of the world. The total cost of the iron bridge and masonry piers was 250,000 dollars. Regarding the herds of cattle that cowboys drove from Texas to Kansas during the last half of the 1800s: Every trail herd had its dominant steer, which by instinct strode to the front of the bunch to lead the way. Good lead steers were particularly valuable when crossing a river because hesitant leaders would cause most of the others to stop. If a steer did the job well, it would not be sold; it would be brought home to lead the other herds north. Charles Goodnight owned such a valuable steer in Old Blue, whom he had bought from cattleman John Chisum. During eight seasons, more than 10,000 head followed Old Blue to Dodge City- a one-way trip for them but not for Blue. Goodnight put a bell around Old Blue's neck, and the other steers learned to follow the familiar ringing. Old Blue, according to range legend, "could find the best water, the best grass, and the easiest river crossings, and could even soothe a nervous herd during a storm with his reassuring bawl." After his last drive, he was retired to a permanent pasture and lived to be 20 years old. At his death his horns were mounted in a place of honor in the Goodnight ranch office. Incidentally, a good day's progress for a herd was about 10 miles. San Saba, the city, is named for the San Saba river. The river was named by the governor of Spanish Texas, Juan Antonio Bustillo y Ceballos, in 1732. He called it Río de San Sabá de las Nueces, because he and his troops had arrived on the feast day of St. Sabbas, a 6th-century monk. The first highway in Texas was started in 1918 and finished in 1920, between Falfurrias and Encino in Brooks County, along present day US 281. Incidentally, there are 92 rest stops along Texas highways and 615 picnic areas. And, while I have you, Texas has more different interstates than any other state, seventeen. There are at least 63 shipwrecks in Matagorda Bay. On July 10, 1869, the world's first shipment of beef carcasses transported under refrigeration arrived at the port of New Orleans. The ship had sailed from Indianola, Texas. Indianola, if you haven't heard the tale, is one of the truly sad stories in Texas history. Established just a few feet above sea level on Matagorda Bay, the population grew to more than 5,000 and the town was Galveston's rival when it was struck by a devastating hurricane in 1875. Some stubborn Texans partially rebuilt the town when it was struck by another crushing blow in August, 1886, and abandoned. I read a survivor's account of the first hurricane and the writer said that as soon as the storm blew up the first thing that happened was the road leaving Indianola was submerged, leaving the residents to survive a major hurricane in flimsy houses only a few feet above sea level. Between 150-300 people were killed. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Texas is -23, which has been reached twice. The first time was on Feb. 2, 1899, in Tulia, Texas. This was part of the "Big Freeze," an infamous norther that killed 40,000 cattle across the state overnight. This temperature was matched in Seminole in 1933. Lewisville was once known as "Holford Prairie," named for its previous owners, but in the 1850s, B.W. Lewis bought the land and renamed it after himself. While filming "No Country for Old Men" out near Marfa, the Coen brothers had to shut down production for one day when a gigantic cloud of dark smoke floated conspicuously into view. It turned out that it was from the production of the film "There Will Be Blood," which was also filming in Marfa at the time. That film's director, Paul Thomas Anderson, was testing the pyrotechnics of an oil derrick set ablaze on the set of his film. The Coens resumed filming the next day, when the smoke finally dissipated. A year and a half later, both films were the leading contenders at the Academy Awards. Incidentally, a couple of years after filming "No Country for Old Men" was completed, Paramount Studio was forced to pay Tommy Lee Jones a $15,000,000 bonus when an arbitrator found the studio's lawyers had made an error drafting Jones's deal to appear in the film. Fifteen million dollars. Nice work if you can get it, I guess Jesse James once refused to rob a bank in Mckinney, Texas, because that town had a chili parlor that Jesse liked, and he knew that he would not be able to return to eat there if he robbed the local bank. Mission Concepción in San Antonio has an annual “solar illumination” event on Aug. 15, the date that marks the Feast of the Assumption. Inside the building, a conically-shaped window beams sunlight in a unique path across the cross-shaped church. At the same time, sunlight from a window illuminates the face of Mary in a painting. Many who view it find it to be a powerful experience. Santa Anna’s fear of water may have led to his own capture at San Jacinto. Santa Anna fled the San Jacinto battleground on April 21 as his forces were being overrun. He and his secretary Ramon Caro rode to the boggy marshes near Vince’s Bridge and abandoned their horses. Caro knew that “His Excellency” had a profound fear of water. Earlier, on April 14, as the Mexican army was crossing the Brazos River en route to Harrisburg, Santa Anna refused to ride his horse through the swollen stream. Instead, the self-styled “Napoleon of the West” dismounted and cautiously inched along a log while a soldier swam his horse across. Once safely on the opposite bank, Santa Anna was seen to laugh as some of his troops slipped and floundered in the fast-flowing water. After San Jacinto, Santa Anna was similarly afraid to swim through creeks and bayous to escape. While some of his officers splashed to freedom, Santa Anna hid overnight in the thickets near the creek. He later disguised himself in the uniform of a Mexican private and was fleeing on foot near Sims Bayou on April 22 when a patrol of Texans captured him. Had he conquered his fears, Santa Anna might have speedily made his was to a nearby column of reinforcements led by General Vicente Filisola and the Texas Revolution might have played out differently. The first two letters that Lyndon Johnson wrote as president were to Caroline Kennedy and John Kennedy, Jr. Stanley Kubrick attempted to cast Dan Blocker in his film Dr. Strangelove, after Peter Sellers elected not to add the role of Major T.J. "King" Kong to his multiple other roles, but Blocker's agent rejected the script. The role subsequently went to Slim Pickens, who played the iconic scene of riding an atomic bomb down while waving his cowboy hat. The "big tree" Live Oak at Goose Island State Park is estimated to be more than 1100 years old. Some recent estimates believe that it is closer to 2000 years of age. It is estimated to have survived 40-50 major hurricanes and is one of the largest Live Oaks in the world. The tree was believed to be the largest Live Oak in Texas until 2003, when a larger one was found in Brazoria county. Its trunk is more than 35 feet in circumference. Although it is a massive tree, it stands "only" 44 feet tall, which means that many live oaks are taller than it is. The reason it is so short, relatively speaking, is because of the near constant wind off the gulf. Flower Mound's name comes from the 50 foot, 12-acre hill located on what is now the southeast side of the city, which was covered in Indian Paintbrushes when the town was named. Josefa "Chipita" Rodriguez (December 30, 1799? - November 13, 1863) is the only woman ever hanged by the state of Texas. She was convicted of murder and hanged in San Patricio County, Texas at the age of 63. A century later, on June 13, 1985, the Texas Legislature passed a resolution noting that Rodriguez did not receive a fair trial. Josefa was a Mexican-American woman from the South Texas town of San Patricio who furnished travelers with meals and a cot on the porch of her lean-to on the Nueces River. She was accused of robbing and murdering a trader named John Savage with an axe. However, the $600 of gold stolen from him was found down river, where Savage's body was discovered in a burlap bag. She and Juan Silvera (who was possibly her illegitimate son) were indicted on circumstantial evidence and tried before 14th District Court judge Benjamin F. Neal at San Patricio. Although Rodriguez maintained her innocence, she refused to testify in her defense and remained silent throughout the trial, perhaps, some have speculated, to protect her guilty son. Although the jury recommended mercy, Neal ordered her executed. She was hanged from a mesquite tree on Friday, November 13, 1863. She was 63 at the time of her death. Her last words were quoted with being, "No soy culpable" (I am not guilty). At least one witness to the hanging claimed to have heard a moan from the coffin, which was placed in an unmarked grave. Her ghost is said to haunt San Patricio, especially when a woman is to be executed. Rodriguez is depicted as a specter with a noose around her neck, riding through the mesquite trees or wailing from the river bottoms. Telephus Telemachus Louis Augustus Albertus Johnson, who died in Waco in 1875, was originally buried in the historic First Street Cemetery there. His remains were later re-interred in Oakwood Cemetery, which laid to rest the myth that he had been buried sitting at a poker table with a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a six shooter in the other. Johnson was born on November 22, 1822, a son of Hezekiah Johnson. The family moved to Waco in 1852. Johnson received only an elementary education but became one of the wealthiest men in Waco. He engaged primarily in trading and between 1863 and 1864 bought a total of 760 acres of land on the east bank of the Brazos River. He also owned many town lots and influenced the building of the courthouse at Second and Franklin Streets. He was involved in the Tomas de la Vega land suits. After his marriage, he built a home at Second and Mary Streets for his wife for whom Mary Street is named. The house was demolished in 1913. Johnson died on January 27, 1875, and was buried in First Street Cemetery. It was some time later that his remains were re-interred. What we’ve come to know as the modern convenience store was born in Dallas. In 1927 a Southland Ice Company employee opened an improvised business outside of the company. His business would later become known as 7-Eleven, which currently has more than 50,000 locations, making it the largest chain in the world. During the blizzard of 1899, the temperature tumbled to 10 degrees below zero in Waco and people ice-skated on the Brazos River. The Karankawa Indians were relative latecomers to the coast of Texas. Native Americans had lived along the coast for at least 4,500 years, but the Karankawas arrived in (about) 1400 AD, less than a century before Europeans discovered the new world. Many archaeologists believe the tribe originated in the Caribbean. The language, impressive physical size, and the cultural traits (particularly the antisocial behavior) of the Karankawas are strikingly similar to those of the Carib Indians, a tribe of cannibal warriors who traveled in sturdy dugout canoes and regularly raided and conquered neighboring lands. By the way, "Karankawa" is not the name this tribe gave itself. Like most other North American Indians, they called themselves men, people, bodies etc.... Other South Texas tribes assigned various names to these newcomers. The Lipan-Apaches knew them as "people who walk in the water," and others called them "wrestlers" or "without moccasins." But the name that stuck came from two Indian words "Karan (dog)" and "kawa (to love). Since the tribe traveled with small, barkless, foxlike dogs, it became known as the dog lovers, Karankawas. Archaeologists note that this breed of dog has only been discovered it two places in the western hemisphere: among the Karankawas and among the Armwak population of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. Within the city of Houston are more than 900,000 street name and traffic control signs, 2,000 signal-controlled intersections, 60,000 storm water manholes and 50,000 fire hydrants. Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas contains a piece of cake from the wedding of President Wilson's daughter, Jessie. The cake is built into the building's cornerstone. The "Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight" was a famous gun fight that occurred on April 14, 1881 on El Paso Street in El Paso. . Witnesses generally agreed that the incident lasted no more than five seconds after the first gunshot, though a few would insist it was at least ten seconds. Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire accounted for three of the four fatalities with his twin .44 caliber Colt revolvers. On the day of the gunfight, a posse of about 75 heavily armed Mexicans galloped into El Paso looking for two missing vaqueros named Sanchez and Juarique, who had been searching for 30 head of stolen cattle. Solomon Schutz, mayor of El Paso, made an exception for the Mexicans, allowing them to enter the city limits with their firearms. Gus Krempkau, an El Paso County Constable, accompanied the posse to the ranch of Johnny Hale, a local ranch owner and suspected cattle rustler, who lived some 13 miles northwest of El Paso in the Upper Valley. The corpses of the two missing men were located near Hale's ranch and were carried back to El Paso. A court in El Paso held an inquest into the deaths, with Constable Krempkau, who was fluent in Spanish, acting as an interpreter. The verdict was that Sanchez and Juarique had been in the vicinity of Hale's ranch looking for the stolen cattle. The court determined that the American cattle rustlers, among them Hale, had feared that the men would discover the cattle and return with a larger force. Two American cattle rustlers, Pervey and Fredericks, were accused of the murders of Sanchez and Juarique after they were overheard bragging about killing two cowboys when they found them trailing the herd to Hale's ranch during the night of April 13 or in the early morning of the 14th. Meanwhile, a large crowd had gathered in El Paso, including John Hale and his friend, former town Marshal George Campbell. There was tension between some of the Americans, concerned about the Mexicans being heavily armed within the city, and the Mexicans, who wanted justice for their two murdered comrades. At the inquest, Pervey and Fredericks were formally charged with the murders and immediately arrested. The court was adjourned and the crowd dispersed. They were scheduled for trial at a later date. The Mexicans rode quietly back to Mexico with the bodies. Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire, a noted gunman who had only started as town marshal on April 11, was present in the court room. After the court adjourned, he walked across the street for dinner. Constable Krempkau went to a saloon next door to retrieve his rifle and pistol. There, a confrontation took place with George Campbell over remarks allegedly made by Campbell about Krempkau’s translations and his apparent friendship with the Mexicans. John Hale, who was reportedly unarmed, was heavily intoxicated and was also upset with Krempkau’s involvement in the matter. Hale grabbed one of Campbell's two pistols and yelled, "George, I've got you covered!" He then shot Krempkau, who reeled backward. Slumping against a saloon door, Krempkau drew his own pistol. Marshal Stoudenmire heard the shot. Jumping up from his dining chair at the Globe Restaurant and pulling out his pistols, he ran out into the street. While running, Stoudenmire fired once, wildly, killing Ochoa, an innocent college-educated Mexican bystander, who was running for cover. John Hale jumped behind a thick adobe pillar, but as he peered out from behind it, Stoudenmire shot him between the eyes, killing him instantly. Campbell stepped from cover with his pistol drawn, saw Hale topple down, and yelled to Stoudenmire that it wasn't his fight. Constable Krempkau, mistakenly believing that Campbell had shot him, then fired his pistol twice at Campbell before losing consciousness. The first bullet struck Campbell's gun and broke his right wrist, while the second hit him in the foot. Campbell screamed and scooped up his gun from the ground with his left hand. Stoudenmire whirled and fired. Campbell dropped his gun again, grabbed his stomach and toppled to the ground. Stoudenmire walked slowly toward Campbell and glared down at him. In agony, Campbell yelled, "You big son of a bitch! You murdered me!" Stoudenmire said nothing. Both Campbell and Krempkau died within minutes. After just a few seconds, four men lay dead or dying. Three Texas Rangers were standing nearby, but did not take part, saying later that they felt Stoudenmire had the situation well in hand. Three days after the gunfight, on April 17, 1881, James Manning, a friend of Hale and Campbell, convinced former deputy Bill Johnson to assassinate Stoudenmire. Stoudenmire had publicly humiliated Johnson days before. Late at night of April 17, an intoxicated Johnson was hiding behind a pillar of bricks, but his wobbly legs gave in and he fell backward squeezing double triggers of his double barrel shotgun into the air which narrowly missed Stoudenmire. Stoudenmire immediately fired his Colts and sent a volley of eight bullets at Johnson, shooting off his testicles. Johnson bled to death quickly. This began a feud between Stoudenmire and Manning and his brothers. Eventually, first Stoudenmire's brother-in-law Stanley "Doc" Cummings and later Stoudenmire himself died at the hands of the Mannings, who were acquitted in two trials in which the juries were packed with their friends. The Sabine river flows for 555 miles. Its total drainage basin area is 9,756 square miles, of which 7,426 is in Texas and the remainder in Louisiana. Unlike most Texas rivers, the Sabine is entirely in an area of abundant rainfall. Average annual precipitation is between thirty-seven inches at its source and fifty inches at its mouth. Also it flows through forested sandy country adaptable to the conservation of runoff and is fed by many flowing tributaries and springs. It has, therefore, a remarkably strong flow for its length, and it discharges the largest volume of water at its mouth of all Texas rivers. On the eve of the Civil War, there were 12 operational light houses along the Texas Gulf Coast. Only two remain operational today, though: the Coast Guard operates the lighthouses at Sabine Banks, while the lighthouse at Aransas Pass is privately owned and maintained. Lighthouse keeps, just like buggy whip manufacturers and many others, were replaced by the the superior technology of radio, radar, LORAN, and GPS. According to the 1794 Nacogdoches census, "Don Felipe Nolan, Irish, native of Belfast, bachelor, 23 years of age, has a negro slave, 25 years old, native of New Orleans ..." The same Philip Nolan would be killed by Spanish troops in 1801, at which time he was either mustanging, as he claimed, or plotting to seize Texas, as he also claimed. Spanish law forbade the entry of foreigners into Texas and made trading with them an offense. But in 1780 a royal order made an exception; since horses were in short supply there, Louisiana citizens might buy them in Texas. This was important to traders, for in a barter society horse buyers had to bring goods to exchange. One observer said of Nolan, "his mode of carrying such articles as he takes out is in little barrels, which are placed upon pack horses, three barrels on a horse; and in this manner he will travel for hundreds ---- I may say thousands of miles ----- through the woods, bartering with the Indians, as he goes along, and receiving in return skins or wild horses." Nolan was a protege of James Wilkinson, the commanding general of the United States Army, who was also a Spanish secret agent. Although he was in the service, the Spaniards felt that Wilkinson was not to be trusted. Their suspicions extended to Nolan. On Nolan;s first Texas trading venture, in 1791, he was arrested and his merchandise confiscated. Five years later he wrote Wilkinson from New Orleans after his third trip into Texas. He brought out 250 Texas horses which he sold at Frankfort, Kentucky, and at Natchez. Nolan was in San Antonio in 1797 with a passport showing that he was buying horses for the Louisiana government. He had brought $7,000 worth of trading goods. Noland offered to make for Texas' commanding general, Pedro de Nava, a map of the country between San Antonio and Louisiana. Nolan knew the Terrain better than the Spaniards did, which made Nava uneasy. He ordered Nolan's permanent expulsion from Texas. On June 24, 1798, Vice President Thomas Jefferson ---- whose curiosity about the country beyond the Mississippi resulted in the Lewis and Clark expedition ---- wrote Nolan asking about mustangs. Nolan may have talked to Jefferson later, which, if known, would have increased Spanish suspicions. In August, 1800, Nava ordered Nolan's arrest if he returned. He was to be questioned about his recent activities and about his relationship with General Wilkinson, who called Nolan, "a child of my own raising." With a passport, Nolan came into Texas in 1800. His mustanging company included 18 Americans, seven Spaniards, and two slaves. Nolan avoided Nacogdoches, the usual place of entry. From Nacogdoches, on March 4, 1801, 120 Spanish soldiers, went in search of Nolan. Finding his party camped in present Hill County on March 21, the commander demanded Nolan's surrender. A battle ensued and Nolan was killed. Some of the survivors, including Ellis P. Bean, were imprisoned in the Nacogdoches Stone Fort. The first of their trials were held in June, 1801. Nolan's ears were cut off, presented to the governor at San Antonio, then forwarded to the commanding general at Chihuahua. In early 1949, Rev. Rhea Kuykendall, a descendant of one Joseph Pierce who had settled on the "old Dixon Grant" along Mustang Creek, found the weathered tombstone of Philip Nolan. Mustang Creek is near Blum and Highway 174. There is now a more formal marker on the spot. Sources: "Historic Sites of Texas," June Rayfield Welch, Wikipedia, and the Texas State History Association article on Mr. Nolan In 1834 Mexico granted land (1834) on Poesta Creek to the first settlers in what is now Beeville, Anne Burke and James Heffernan. Their colony, although successful at first, soon met disaster. In 1836 James Heffernan, his brother John, and John Ryan, who had planned to join Texian forces at Goliad, were planting a crop in a field at the present-day site of the Bee County courthouse when they were massacred by Comanches. Also killed was James' family in his picket house not far away. Bee County was organized in 1858 and named for Col. Barnard E. Bee, a Republic of Texas statesman. Soon after, choice of a county seat came into hot dispute. A site seven miles east, on Medio Creek, was chosen for "Beeville". But ten months later, voters made the 150-acre donation of Anne Burke "O'Carroll permanent county seat, on the banks on the Poesta. The new town, first called "Maryville" for Mary Heffernan (relative of those killed in 1836) was soon renamed Beeville. In its first decade, it had two stores, one saloon, and a blacksmith shop. The first courthouse was built for $750 on west side of present courthouse square in 1860. The first railroad came through in 1866, and a larger courthouse was soon built. After it burned, the present one was erected in 1913. The first lighthouse to be lit on the Texas coast is the one built in 1852 that still stands on Matagorda Island. That's interesting enough, but what's really interesting to me is that, although it's the same lighthouse, it is not in the same spot that it was originally. It was moved, rebuilt and, in 1873, fired up again. I knew all of this but I always meant to find out why and never did, so I finally researched it. Briefly: 1) The lighthouse was originally built in 1852 overlooking Pass Cavallo, which is two miles from where it is today. Murray and Hazelhurst of Baltimore were awarded the contract to build it. The lighthouse was constructed of cast iron plates bolted together. The plates were cast in Baltimore and arrived abord the brig "Russell" in May, 1852. It was assembled on Matagorda Island. On New Year's Eve, 1852, James E. Cummings, the lighthouse's first keeper, lit the lamp. Crowds gathered for the event, accompanied by whistle blasts from steamers in the bay. It was 55 feet tall. 2) During the next decade, a series of upgrades would be applied to the tower. The lighthouse was painted during its first year of service, receiving a distinctive daymark of alternating white, red, and black horizontal bands. 3) In 1854, a wire enclosure was built around the lantern room to protect the lantern room’s glass plates and lamps from misguided birds. To increase the range of the light, additional iron sections were cast and used to raise the lantern room an additional twenty-four feet, giving the otherwise conical tower its distinctive long, straight neck. After the recently formed Lighthouse Board had finally adopted the Fresnel lens developed in France in 1822, a rotating third-order lens was placed in the newly extended tower and activated in July 1859. 4) During the Civil War, most of the lights along the Gulf Coast were extinguished, so as not to aid the blockading Union forces. The lens from Matagorda Lighthouse was removed from the tower and put into storage. The lighthouse was nearly lost to history when confederate soldiers were ordered to destroy the tower. Fortunately for us, their explosive charges only succeeded in damaging some of the of the tower’s iron sections and removing a large chunk of its foundation. 5) In 1865, after the war ended, a temporary, three-story wooden tower, fitted with a fifth-order Fresnel lens, was put into operation on the island until the original tower could be repaired. The keeper and his family lived in this temporary tower, which leaked very badly, because the original keeper's dwelling did not survive the war. Over time, the encroaching surf threatened to topple the original lighthouse, the one that the Confederates had tried to destroy, so in 1866 it was dissassembled and its pieces stored on one of the island's few high spots. 5) A new tract of land, located two miles farther inland, was purchased from the state of Texas for the new station. The transaction was completed in the spring of 1869, but workers didn’t arrive to rebuild the tower until early in 1872. Work was suspended on July 31, 1872 due to a depletion of the $20,000 appropriation and then resumed the following May, after another $12,000 was provided. 6) Matagorda Island Lighthouse finally returned to service on September 1, 1873, with a new one-and-a-half-story residence for the keeper standing nearby. The reconstructed tower was painted an unimaginative solid black and outfitted with a new third-order Fresnel lens, manufactured by L. Sautter and Company in Paris, France and fitted with six bull’s-eye panels. The lens produced a white flash every ninety seconds. Sources: Indianola and Matagorda Island 1837-1887 by Linda Wolff and an article at https://www.lighthousefriends.com. River Oaks, the tony residential neighborhood in Houston, came about because one oilman had a dispute with another oilman. In the early 1920s, a ritzy neighborhood called "Shadysde" had sprung up just north of Rice Institute (now Rice University). Folks like J.S. Cullinan, who founded Texaco, lived there. Will Hogg, the son of former Texas Governor Jim, Hogg, wanted to build a mansion in Shadyside, but he had a fight with Cullianan, who had been Will's partner in an oil venture. So Will decided that he'd build his mansion somewhere where he wouldn't have to look at Cullinan's face. Will bought 1100 acres of land along Buffalo Bayou west of downtown Houston and began developing "Country Club Estates." This new neighborhood had wide, winding streets, leafy parks, and exclusive cul-de-sacs, as well as neighborhood association to keep riff-raff like me out. Ground was broken in 1924 and somewhere along the line Country Club Estates, and the country club, got its name changed to River Oaks. Hogg spent three million dollars on amenities. Being Houston, the mud was so deep that truckloads of rubber boots had to be brought in so that prospective buys didn't get muddy while looking. The smallest lots were 64 x 140 feet and cost 5000 dollars. The Hogg family ----- Will, Ima and brother Mike ----- got 14.5 acres and Ima built the beautifu mansion we now call Bayou Bend. Neither Will nor Mike were married at the time but Mike got married in 1929 and moved next door. Will died unexpectedly in 1930 but Ima stayed on, living until 1975. This might be the earliest known photo of Quanah Parker. It was taken by noted Vernon, Texas photographer Daniel P. Sink either in 1889 or 1890. Quanah Parker, as many Texans know by now, was a war leader of the Quahadi ("Antelope") band of the Comanche Nation. He had been born into the Nokoni ("Wanderers") band, the son of Comanche chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, an Anglo-American who had been kidnapped as a child and assimilated into the tribe. Following the apprehending of several Kiowa chiefs in 1871, Quanah emerged as a dominant figure in the Red River War and clashed repeatedly with Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie. With European-Americans deliberately hunting American bison, the Comanches' primary sustenance, into extinction, Quanah eventually surrendered and peaceably led the Quahadi to the reservation at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Quanah was never elected chief by his people but was appointed by the federal government as principal chief of the entire Comanche Nation and became a primary emissary of southwest indigenous Americans to the United States legislature. In civilian life, he settled near Cache, Oklahoma where he gained wealth and stature in the eyes of American citizens. Though he encouraged Christianization of Comanche people, he also advocated the syncretic Native American Church alternative and passionately fought for the legal use of peyote in the movement's religious practices. He was elected deputy sheriff of Lawton in 1902. After his death in 1911, the leadership title of Chief was replaced with Chairman. He is buried at Chief's Knoll at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Quanah, Texas is named for him. As mentioned earlier, Daniel P. Sink was a noted photographer in the Red River Valley town of Vernon, Texas. Daniel and his newlywed wife arrived in Vernon from Calvert, Texas in March, 1889 and set up a photography studio. Vernon was a wild place at the time. Mrs. Sink later recalled that “On Main Street proper were some frame buildings full of bullet holes from the pistols of cowboys who came to Vernon on pay day and would practice on the houses as they rode down the street.” She also said that some of her neighbors would cover their windows at night to keep the cowboys from shooting out their lights and recalled the great cattle herds that moved through the heart of town. Daniel Sink's photograhy studio was on Main Street in Vernon, where the present city administration building stands. At the beginning the studio was actually just a large tent covered in heavy, opaque cloth. Over time, the studio prospered and Daniel built a more permanent structure. Sink's specialty was the popular fad of "cabinet card" photos, in which albumen portraits of famlies or individuals were affixed to thick card stock and displayed in homes or sent through the mail to friends and distant relatives. Quanah Parker posed in Sink's studio on multiple occasions and the resulting photos are probably what Sink is best known for, but he took portraits of thousands of people over the years. We don't know how many of his photographs are still extant but it must be quite a few because I've seen a lot of them. Many can be identified by his name and studio on the bottom, while others can be determined by the rather distinctive studio set pieces he used in his early photographs. Mr. Sink remained in Vernon until 1919 when at the age of 74, he sold his studio to a Mr. Clifton and moved to Southern California to retire. He died in 1931 in Glendale, California. Texas Quote of the Day posted Feb. 22, 2022: News tidbits from around the state. DALLAS --- Following the filing of papers for a divorce by his wife, August Tosch, formerly a member of the city fire department, went to his home and fired three bullets into his wife, inflicting injuries that may result in death. CENTER --- In a severe storm about a mile from here, Mrs. J.W.C. Hughes was severely hurt. She and her husband were gathering peaches when the storm came up. They took refuge in an outhouse. The house was blown down, falling on Mrs. Hughes and breaking her limb just below the hip. PLAINVIEW: Prof. Richard S. Lull, searching for fossils, said that not only had two skeletons of the minute two-toed horse been found, but remains of prehistoric camels, elephants and ancient sloths. He said that the discoveres proved that the staked plains had once been a timbered country that had a very heavy rainfall. TEMPLE: On fulfillment of a promise made to his friend years ago that upon his friend's death he would preach his funeral sermon, Rev. G. A. Strain, a noted Universalist preacher from Georgia, will perform the last sad rites for his departed friend, J.A. Mabry, to whom the promise was made back in Georgia when both were very young men. Mr. Mabry died on the 24th of last December. EL PASO: R.R. Ramirez was instant killed Thursday when a train struck a wagon he was driving. R. Rominski, a soldier at Fort Bliss, was killed in a similar accident last Wednesday. WACO: For the first time within recollection of the present police force the city jail was vacant for several hours Wednesday night. So unusual was the event that a "For Rent" sign was placed upon the walls of the city bastile. DALLAS: Mrs. Minnie Laduque, charged with the killing of her husband, W.A. Laduque, at the Waldorf Hotel on the morning of July 5, will not be tried at this term of court. Prosecutor Noah Roark announces the case would be set for trial during the September term of the court. [Note: Minnie Laduque was tried and acquitted in December, 1912]. Brownwood: W.A. Rouselle and daughter, Miss Bonnye, will leave Monday for St. Louis, where they will spend a month to six weeks. Mr. Rousselle spends six weeks there twice a year and he is taking Miss Bonnye with him this season as a reward for her excellent work in school this year. ----- Brownwood Daily Bulletin newspaper, August 3, 1912. Shirttail Days Leon Hale "Two of us would go sometimes. Three, maybe. Never more than four. I think it was best when we wandered in threes, and one of us was new, someone who hadn't been along before, and we could show him things we knew about. Fence rows where coveys of quail were, and we'd flush them out and count therem. Stock tanks with mallards so beautiful and fat. We'd sneak up behind the dam, and peek oer, and watch. We knew were jackrabbits played in the sand, and pecan bottoms where hundreds of crows would sit in the tops of the trees and talk and argue and laugh, and we knew holes in the creek we had swum and fishe in, and those needed to be checked and talked about. But we didn't DO anything. We didn't have a fish hook or a gun. We'd have a dog but it wouldn't have any responsibility except to circle around and sniff and snort. It would be any kind of a hunting scenario. We'd go to special spots. A rocky rim at a bend in the creek. A high place, where we could rest and point out things in town, small and dim and miles away. We'd go into old barns that had lost their houses, and were lately filled with fresh hay, and we'd find owls up in the lofts, and chicken snakes, and valuable things like that. And nobody cared, not then." Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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