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[Sticky] Megathread of Texas Quotes: Volume 1  

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tracesoftexas
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"If we had arrested all the naked and drunk people I saw, we'd have filled our jail and yours and all of the jails from here to Dallas."

----- a Williamson County deputy sheriff talking to a reporter from the Austin American Statesman after Willie's 1975 4th of July picnic, held in Williamson County, Texas

 

 

 

 "Texas remains in my mind's eye that place to which I will eventually return to rake the dust for my formative tracks; that place where one hopes to grow introspective and wise as well as old. It is a romantic foolishness, of course: the opiate dream of a nostalgia junkie. When I go back to stay ---- and I fancy that I will ----- there doubtless will be opportunities to wonder at my plan's imperfections.

For already I have created in my mind, you see, an improbable corner of paradise: the rustic, rambling ranch house with the clear-singing creek nearby, the clumps of shade trees (under which, possibly, the Sons of the Pioneers will play perpetual string-band concerts), the big, cozy library where I will work and read and cogitate between issuing to the Dallas Times-Herald or the Houston Post those public pronouncements befitting an Elder Statesman of Life and Letters. I will become a late-blooming naturalist and outdoorsman: hiking and camping, and piddling in cattle; never mind that to date I have preferred the sidewalks of New York, and my beef not on the hoof but tricked up with mushroom sauces.

All this will occur about one easy hour out of Austin ---- my favorite Texas city ---- and exactly six miles from a tiny, unnamed town looking remarkably like what Walt Disney would have built for a cheery, heart-tugging Texas-based story happening about 1940. The nearest neighbor will live 3.7 miles away, have absolutely no children or dogs, but will have one beautiful young wife, who adores me; it is she who will permit me, by her periodic attentions, otherwise to live the hermit's uncluttered life. Politicians will come to my door hats in hand, and fledgling Poets and young Philosophers. Basically, they will want to know exactly what is Life's Purpose. Looking out across the gently blowing grasslands, past the grazing blooded cattle, toward a perfect sunset, with even the wind in my favor, and being the physical reincarnation of Hemingway with a dash of Twain in my mood, I shall ---- of course ----- be happy to tell them."

------- Larry L. King, "Playing Cowboy," 1975. This may be my favorite Texas quote of all time. It is part of a collection of essays entitled "Warning: Writer at Work: The Best Collectibles of Larry L. King. I should note that King actually DID come home to Texas: he passed away in 2012 and is buried in the state cemetery in Austin.

 

 

 

"While still in Natchitoches (Louisiana), I had decided to offer my services as an officer in the forthcoming war. I spoke about this to the Adjutant General of the Texas army, who happened to be there, and was informed that all of the government-appointed positions had been filled and that the officers of the volunteer companies were elected by members of those companies.

At the election of officers, the choice was not for the most worthy, but for the man who could buy the most whisky. It is no wonder, therefore, that orders were oftentimes not only ignored, but laughed at. The Captain commanded and the solder did as he pleased. I would have been glad to lead an armed group for the liberation of the land where I had sought to make my home, but under such conditions I would not and could not take up arms."

----- Friedrich W. von Wrede, a decorated Hessian officer and a veteran of the 1815 Battle of Waterloo against Napoleon and the French Army, passing up an opportunity to become a soldier in the Texas Revolution, 1836

 

 

 

 

"The site occupied by Schulenburg cannot be surpassed for beauty of natural scenery. The town corporation is one square mile and contains a population of one thousand souls most of whom are Germans who own most of the business houses of the place. The business transacted here is larger than any other town between Houston and San Antonio. Cotton, buffalo and cattle hides and cottonseed are shipped from this place daily. There are between 40 and 50 business houses and saloons in town, three hotels, the Masons and Odd Fellows Lodge in their recently built two-story lodge hall, the First Baptist Church, and St. James Missionary Baptist Church, one bakery, two meat markets, one livery stable, two blacksmith shops, three lumber yards, one cabinet shop, one grist mill, one planing mill, one cotton gin, one tobacco store, one musical instrument store, the Germania Hall, three physicians, daily train arrivals and departures and the telegraph. The population within a 20-mile radius is 3000 and the local farmland is the richest in the state. There is no drunkenness and do disturbances to mar the good feelings that pervade the community. Schulenburg should, in the near future, become one of the most desirable and attractive places in the state."

---- a glowing description of the new town of Schulenburg that appeared in The Schulenburg Argus in 1878. It reads as if it was written by the first Chamber of Commerce employee.

 

 

 

 

 

"Schulenberg (sic) is a small town on the railroad. Almost all the inhabitants are Germans,—thrifty, hard-working people, who attend to their own business with more enthusiasm than the native American can ever be accused of doing. They have a mayor and a board of aldermen in Schulenberg, and the aldermen make city ordinances,. Vagrant hogs, stray cows, and inebriated cowboys break those ordinances that are not vetoed by the mayor. There is a newspaper published in Schulenberg. Its columns are devoted to the mayor's proclamations, the railroad timetable, patent medicine advertisements, and reports of aldermanic discussions on municipal affairs. The absorbing topic at Schulenberg, when we were there, was, "Shall we continue to employ our present efficient police-force?

The "efficient police-force" consisted of a large man, whose clothes had apparently been made for a smaller policeman. He was armed with a very large revolver. His trousers did not quite reach his ankles; they had evidently been pulled before they were ripe."

----- Alexander Sweet, humorist, "On A Mexican Mustang Through Texas," 1882

 

 

 

 

 

"January 1 [1865]: For the past year Indians have been troublesome, coming into the section in such large bodies that a great many families have left the frontier .... and those who remain are "forted up." There are now 125 persons in the fort and others planning to move in.

January 23: This day was made memorable by the marriage of J.H. Browning and Miss Angelina McCarty. It was a grand occasion, being attended by a number of people from the lower fort, and all the visitors coming prepared to fight Indians along the way, if necessary.

March 13: Commenced school here today for a term of 14 weeks. I have only nineteen scholars at present and most of them are rude, wild and wholly unacquainted with school discipline.

July 8: A couple of the fort's leading ladies indulged in a fist fight this morning, the result of differences among their children.

November 29: A large buffalo was driven into the fort this morning, causing a great deal of commotion and excitement. The animal was immediately attacked by 40 dogs and killed in a very few minutes.

December 5: Cold and sleeting and several herds of buffalo drifted by during the day. I have stood in the school house and watched a herd no more than 100 yards away. I ave some home-made ink, but find it difficult to get it of the proper color and consistency, but it is a case of the best you can do or do without.

December 24: The first sermon ever preached in Fort Davis was preached here today by Parson Slaughter, and it was the first sermon that many of the people ever heard.

January 29 [1866]: My school is continually getting smaller. This is the second time a couple have quit school to get married."

----- entries in the diary of Sam Newcomb, who taught school at Fort Davis in 1865-1866, as uoted in "The Graham Leader" newspaper, January 29, 1922

 

 

 

 

"Farms are so big in Texas that on one of them a man starts out in the Spring and plows a straight furrow right on through until Fall and then he harvests back."

----- BOYCE HOUSE, Texas humorist extraordinaire

 

 

 

 

"One winter day the White family on Bear Creek in Sabine County killed a hog, cut it up, put the meat in a wooden tub, and set in in a corner of the cabin, to be salted down and smoked on the morrow. Then the man went off with his dogs to join the neighbor on a hunt. That night while Mrs. White was chunking up the fire in the fireplace, the children covered up in bed and a quilt wrapped around herself to shut out the cold norther blowing through the chinks in the log walls, she heard a panther scream.

She knew it had smelled the fresh meat. It prowled under the puncheon floor and then leaped up on the roof, every once in a while letting out a scream. Then it went to clawing on the logs and finally got a paw through a crack near the tub of meat and took out a piece. At this, Mrs. White threw her quilt over the tub, seized an axe standing just inside the door, and waited. In a little while the panther put its paw back through the crack for another piece of meat. She had the axe raised and now she came down with it, cutting the paw clean off. That panther did not bother around the cabin any more that night."

----- J. Frank Dobie, "Tales of Old-Time Texas," example # 4,321,745 of why not to mess with Texas women

 

 

 

 

"I thought that my eyes had deceived me. Could this small, boyish-looking youngster, not a particle of beard on his face, homely palefaced young man, be the venerable Jack Hays, the celebrated Indian fighter, the man whose name was sung by all the Texians? It could not be, I thought, but I soon found out that it was the venerable Captain Jack."

----- John W. Lockhart describes the physical appearance of legendary Texas ranger John Coffee Hays the first time he met Hays in a hotel in Washington-on-the-Brazos, "Jack Hays Visit to Washington, Texas"

 

 

 

 

"It was strange, leaving Texas. I had no plans to leave it, and didn't know how I felt... Then I really felt Texas. It was all behind me, north to south, not lying there, exactly, but more like looming over the car, not a state or a stretch of land but some giant, some genie, some god, towering over the road. I really felt it. Its vengeance might fall on me from behind. I had left without asking permission, or earning my freedom. Texas let me go, ominously quiet. But Texas hadn't gone away. It was always there behind me."

----- Larry McMurtry, author, "All My Friends are Going to be Strangers," 1972

 

 

 

 

"Cleanliness is next to Godliness. A man ought to take a bath every seven years whether he needs one or not. I do."

----- Big Bend recluse Bobcat Carter .... Note: Bobcat Carter was one of those figures who could only live in Texas and only in Big Bend. He was known for his lack of hygiene, among other things. One of his acquaintances, Guy Lee, said "I would just as soon of smelled a polecat as old Carter." But despite his lack of hygiene, Bobcat was in incredible health even into his 90s. He walked everywhere. He considered voting a sacred duty. He ordinarily went barefoot but, on election day, he would put on his voting clothes and his brogans and walk the 45 miles to Marathon and back. After voting, he did handsprings and sang and pranced down Main Street. He died in 1940 at the age of 97

 

 

 

 

"Mister, you can insult me, you can insult my friends and as a matter or fact, you can even insult my mother and my horse. But mister, don’t you EVER insult the great State of Texas!"

------ Pecos Bill, “Tall Tales"

 

 

 

 

"General Philip Sheridan is most famous for having said, in a moment of tired frustration back in 1866, 'If I owned Texas and all Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell.' Here is Sheridan explaining how that quote came about:

 

'Speaking so kindly of Texas ---- and I speak from my heart ----- probably I ought to explain a remark I once made about the Lone Star state. I had just returned to San Antonio from Chihuahua on some Mexican business when I received an order to proceed at once to New Orleans.

I hired relays and coaches so that I had only to hitch on the wagon and go speedily to gt the boat from Galveston. I rode night and day. It was in August and, need I say, a tad warm. I arrived here covered with dust, my eyes and ears and throat filled with it. I went to a little hotel in that condition and had just gone up to the register when one of these newspaper men rushed up to me and said, "General, how do you like Texas?'"

I was mad and I said, 'If I owned Texas and all Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell.' Needless to say, that did not represent my true opinion of this magnificent state.'"

----- General Philip Sheridan, March 24, 1880, during a speech in Galveston at the Tremont Hotel. Now you know the rest of the story ..... and I feel a little bit like Paul Harvey

 

 

 

 

"To be sure, quite a few beasts of prey are found here. There are panthers (a kind of tiger the size of a dog but shaped like a cat), bears, wolves, foxes, opossums, skunks, several types of snakes, and alligators in the lakes and rivers. But there is enough food for all the animals so they do not need to attack human beings. Snakes can be a nuisance and they crawl clear up to the second story, especially a type called the chicken snake because it eats chickens and eggs which it swallows whole. The reason for its intrusion into houses is that the hens usually have their nests under the beds and up in in the lofts."

--------- Elise Woernskjold, who moved from Norway to Texas in 1847

 

 

 

 

"The people who live in the pine woods of Eastern Texas are very primitive in their habits. This this was the first part of Texas that was settled by the early pioneers, their descendants form the principal part of the population ..... You often find grown men and women that have never seen a prairie country, mountain or valley, railroad or steamboat. They grow to manhood and womanhood in the heart of the thick pine woods, and are contented and happy in their log cabins.

Their diets would by no means please the stomach of an epicure. Cornbread, bacon and potatoes, with an occasional treat of venison, give them perfect satisfaction. Nearly all the children born and reared in the pine woods have light hair; it is rare to see a back-haired family."

----- John A. Caplan, "The Sunny South," November 5, 1887

 

 

 

 

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! The following description is GRUESOME and NOT FIT FOR CHILDREN. OKAY? What follows is Rachel Parker Plummer's description of being abducted by the Comanches in 1836. Two years earlier, in 1834, the Parker clan of 30 Baptists settled into near what later became Groesbeck, Texas, in Limeestone county.

On the morning of May 19, 1836, the Comanches overtook them all, stabbed John Parker, scalped & cut off his private parts. Granny Parker was stripped, speared to the ground & raped. They left behind 5 dead men, & 2 women who would die from their injuries. Granny Parker pulled the spear from her flesh & lived. She was tough stock. Rachael Parker Plummer & her children were taken captive in the raid. The following is her story, written her own words.

 

Rachael Plummer's Narrative of Twenty One Months Servitude as a Prisoner Among the Commanchee Indians

 

"On the 19th of May, 1836, I was living in Fort Parker, on the head waters of the river Navasota. My father, (James W. Parker,) and my husband and brother-in-law were cultivating my father’s farm, which was about a mile from the fort. In the morning, say 9 o’clock, my father, brother-in-law, and brother, went to the farm to work. I do think they had left the fort more than an hour before some one of the fort cried out, “Indians!”

The inmates of the fort had retired to their farms in the neighborhood, and there were only six men in it viz: my grandfather, Elder John Parker, my two uncles, Benjamin and Silas Parker, Samuel Frost and his son Robert, and Frost’s son-in-law, G. B. Dwight. All appeared in a state of confusion, for the Indians (numbering something not far from eight hundred) had raised a white flag.

On the first sight of the Indians, my sister (Mrs. Nixon) started to alarm my father and his company at the farm, whilst the Indians were yet more than a quarter of a mile from the fort, and I saw her no more. I was in the act of starting to the farm, but I knew I was not able to take my little son, (James Pratt Plummer).

The women were all soon gone from the fort, whither I did not know; but I expected towards the farm. My old grandfather and grandmother, and several others, started through the farm, which was immediately joining the fort. Dwight started with his family and Mrs. Frost and her little children. As he started, Uncle Silas said, “Good Lord, Dwight, you are not going to run?” He said, “No, I am only going to try to hide the women and children in the woods.” Uncle said, “Stand and fight like a man, and if we have to die we will sell our lives as dearly as we can.”

 

The Indians halted; and two Indians came up to the fort to inform the inmates that they were friendly, and had come for the purpose of making a treaty with the Americans. This instantly threw the people off their guard, and Uncle Benjamin went to the Indians, who had now got within a few hundred yards of the fort. In a few minutes he returned, and told Frost and his son and Uncle Silas that he believed the Indians intended to fight, and told them to put everything in the best order for defense.

He said he would go back to the Indians and see if the fight could be avoided. Uncle Silas told him not to go, but to try to defend the place as well as they could; but he started off again to the Indians, and appeared to pay but little attention to what Silas said.

 

Uncle Silas said, “I know they will kill Benjamin”; and said to me, “Do you stand there and watch the Indians’ motion until I run into my house”—l think he said for his shot pouch. I suppose he had got a wrong shot pouch as he had four or five rifles. When Uncle Benjamin reached the body I was now satisfied they intended killing him. I took up my little James Pratt, and thought I would try to make my escape. As I ran across the fort, I met Silas returning to the place where he left me. He asked me if they had killed Benjamin.

 

I told him, “No; but they have surrounded him & I know they will kill him, but I will be good for one of them at least.” These were the last words I heard him utter. I ran out of the fort, and passing the corner I saw the Indians drive their spears into Benjamin. The work of death had already commenced. I shall not attempt to describe their terrific yells, their united voices that seemed to reach the very skies whilst they were dealing death to the inmates of the fort. It can scarcely be comprehended in the wide field of imagination. I know it is utterly impossible for me to give every particular in detail, for I was much alarmed.

 

I tried to make my escape, but alas, alas, it was too late, as a party of the Indians had got ahead of me. Oh! How vain were my feeble efforts to try to run to save myself and little James Pratt. A large sulky looking Indian picked up a hoe and knocked me down. I well recollect of their taking my child out of my arms, but whether they hit me any more I do not know, for I swooned away.

The first I recollect, they were dragging me along by the hair. I made several unsuccessful attempts to raise to my feet before I could do it. As they took me past the fort, I heard an awful screaming near the place where they had first seized me. I heard some shots. I then heard Uncle Silas shout a triumphant huzza!

I did, for one moment, hope the men had gathered from the neighboring farms, and might release me.I was soon dragged to the main body of the Indians, where they had killed Uncle Benjamin. His face was much mutilated, and many arrows were sticking in his body. As the savages passed by, they thrust their spears through him. I was covered with blood, for my wound was bleeding freely. I looked for my child but could not see him, and was convinced they had killed him, and every moment expected to share the same fate myself.

At length I saw him. An Indian had him on his horse; he was calling mother, oh, mother! He was just able to lisp the name of mother, being only about 18 months old. There were two Comanche women with them (their battles always brought on by a woman), one of whom came to me and struck me several times with a whip. I suppose it was to make me quit crying.

I now expected my father and husband, and all the rest of the men were killed. I soon saw a party of the Indians bringing my Aunt Elizabeth Kellogg and Uncle Silas’ two oldest children, Cynthia Ann, and John, also some bloody scalps; among them I could distinguish of my grandfather by the grey hairs, but could not discriminate the balance.

Most of the Indians were engaged in plundering the fort. They cut open our bed ticks and threw the feathers in the air, which was literally thick with them. They brought out a great number of my father’s books and medicines. Some of the books were torn up, most of the bottles of medicine were broken; though they took on some for several days.

I had a few minutes to reflect, for they soon started back the same way they came up. As I was leaving, I looked back at the place where I was one hour before, happy and free, and now in the hands of a ruthless, savage enemy.

They killed a great many of our cattle as they went along. They soon convinced me that I had no time to reflect upon the past, for they commenced whipping and beating me with clubs, etc., so that my flesh was never well from bruises and wounds during my captivity. To undertake to narrate their barbarous treatment would only add to my present distress, for it is with feelings of the deepest mortification that I think of it, much less to speak or write of it; for while I record this painful part of my narrative; I can almost feel the same heart-rending pains of body and mind that I then endured, my very soul becomes sick at the dreadful thought.

About midnight they stopped. They now tied a plaited thong around my arms, and drew my hands behind me. They tied them so tight that the scars can be easily seen to this day. They then tied a similar thong around my ankles, and drew my feet and hands together. They now turned me on my face and I was unable to turn over, when they commenced beating me over the head with their bows, and it was with great difficulty I could keep from smothering in my blood; for the wound they gave me with the hoe, and many others were bleeding freely.

I suppose it was to add to my misery that they brought my little James Pratt so near me that I could hear him cry. He would call for mother and often his voice was weakened by the blows they would give him. I could hear the blows. I could hear his cries; but oh, alas, could offer him no relief. The rest of the prisoners were brought near me, but we were not allowed to speak one word together. My aunt called me once, and I answered her; hut indeed, I thought she would never call or I answer again, for they jumped with their feet upon us, which nearly took our lives.

Often did the children cry, but were soon hushed by such blows that I had no idea they could survive. They commenced screaming and dancing around the scalps, kicking and stomping the prisoners.I now ask you, my Christian reader, to pause. You who are living secure from danger—you who have read the sacred scriptures of truth—who have been raised in a land boasting of Christian philanthropy—I say, I now ask you to form some idea of what my feelings were. Such dreadful savage yelling! Enough to terrify the bravest of hearts. Bleeding and weltering in my blood; and far worse, to think of my little darling Pratt! Will this scene ever be effaced from my memory? Not until my spirit is called to leave this tenement of clay; and may God grant me a heart to pray for them, for “they know not what they do.”

Next morning, they started in a northern direction. They tied me every night, as before stated, for five nights. During the first five days, I never ate one mouthful of food, and had but a very scanty allowance of water.

After we reached the Grand Prairie, we turned more to the east; that is, the party I belonged to. Aunt Elizabeth fell to the Kitchawas, and my nephew and niece to another portion of the Comanches.

I must again call my reader to bear with me in rehearsing the continued barbarous treatment of the Indians. My child kept crying, and almost continually calling for “Mother,” though I was not allowed even to speak to it. At the time they took off my fetters, they brought my child to me, supposing that I gave suck. As soon as it saw me, it, trembling with weakness, hastened to my embraces. Oh, with what feelings of love and sorrow did I embrace the mutilated body of my darling little James Pratt.

I now felt that my case was much bettered, as I thought they would let me have my child; but oh, mistaken, indeed, was I; for as soon as they found that I had weaned him, they, in spite of all my efforts, tor him from my embrace. He reached out his hands towards me, which were covered with blood, and cried, “Mother, Mother, oh, Mother!” I looked after him as he was borne away from me, and I sobbed aloud. This was the last I ever heard of my little Pratt. Where he is, I do not know.

Progressing farther and farther from my home, we crossed Big Red River, the head of Arkansas, and then turned more to the northwest. We now lost sight of timber entirely.For several hundred miles after we had left the Cross Timber country, and on the Red River, Arkansas, etc., there is a fine country. The timber is scarce and scrubby. Some streams as salt as brine; and others, fine water. The land, in part, is very rich, and game plenty.

We would travel for weeks and not see a riding switch. Buffalo dung is all the fuel. This is gathered into a round pile; and when set on fire, it does very well to cook by, and will keep a fire for several days. In July, and in part of August, we were on the Snow Mountains. There it is perpetual snow; and I suffered more from cold than I ever suffered in my life before. It was very seldom I had anything to put on my feet, but very little covering for my body.

I had to mind the horses every night, and had a certain number of buffalo skins to dress every moon. This kept me employed all the time in day light; and often would I have to take my buffalo skin with me, to finish it whilst I was minding the horses. My feet would be often frozen, even while I would be dressing skins, and I dared not complain; for my situation still grew more and more difficult.

In October, I gave birth to my second son. As to the months, etc., it was guess work with me, for I had no means of keeping the time. It was an interesting and beautiful babe. I had, as you may suppose, but a very poor chance to comfort myself with anything suitable to my situation, or that of my little infant. The Indians were not as hostile now as I had feared they would be. I was still fearful they would kill my child; and having now been with them some six months, I had learned their language. I would often expostulate with my mistress to advise me what to do to save my child; but all in vain.

My child was some six or seven weeks old, when I suppose my master thought it too much trouble, as I was not able to go through as much labor as before. One cold morning, five or six large Indians came where I was suckling my infant. As soon as they came in I felt my heart sick; my fears agitated my whole frame to a complete state of convulsion; my body shook with fear indeed. Nor were my fears ill-grounded.

One of them caught hold of the child by the throat; and with his whole strength, and like an enraged lion actuated by its devouring nature, held on like the hungry vulture, until my child was to all appearance entirely dead. I exerted my whole feeble strength to relieve it; but the other Indians held me.

They, by force, took it from me and threw it up in the air, and let it fall on the frozen ground, until it was apparently dead. They gave it back to me. The fountain of tears that had hitherto given vent to my grief, was now dried up. While I gazed upon the bruised cheeks of my darling infant, I discovered some symptoms of returning life. Oh, how vain was my hope that they would let me have it if I could revive it. I washed the blood from its face; and after some time, it began to breathe again; but a more heart-rending scene ensued. As soon as they found it had recovered a little, they again tore it from my embrace and knocked me down.

They tied a plaited rope round the child’s neck and drew its naked body into the large hedges of prickly pears, which were from eight to twelve feet high. They would then pull it through the pears. This they repeated several times. One of them then got on a horse, and tying the rope to his saddle, rode round a circuit of a few hundred yards, until my little innocent one was not only dead, but literally torn to pieces. I stood horror struck. One of them then took it up by the leg, brought it to me, and threw it into my lap.

But in praise to the Indians, I must say, that they gave me time to dig a hole in the earth and bury it. After having performed this last service to the lifeless remains of my dear babe, I sat down and gazed with joy on the resting place of my now happy infant; and I could, with old David, say “You cannot come to me, but I must go to you;” And then, and even now, whilst I record the awful tragedy, I rejoice that it passed from the sufferings and sorrows of this world. I shall hear its deathly cries no more; and fully and confidently believing, and solely relying on the imputed righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, I feel that my happy babe is now with its kindred spirits in that eternal world of Joys.

Oh my dear Savior, by his grace, keep me through life’s short journey, and bring me to dwell with my happy children in the sweet realms of endless bliss, where I shall meet the whole family of Heaven—those whose names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

I would have been glad to have had the pleasure of laying my little James Pratt with this my happy infant. I do really believe I could have burried him without shedding a tear; for, indeed, they had ceased to (Low in relief of my grief) My heaving bosom could do no more than breathe deep sighs. Parents, you little know what you can bear, surely surely, my heart must break…

On one occasion, my young mistress & myself were out a short distance from town. She ordered me to go back to the town and get a kind of instrument with which they dig roots. Having lived as long, and indeed longer than life was desirable, I determined to aggravate them to kill me.

I told her I would not go back, She, in an enraged tone, bade me go. I told her I would not. She then with savage screams ran at me. I knocked, or, rather pushed her down, She, fighting and screaming like a desperado, tried to get up; but I kept her down; and in the fight I got hold of a large buffalo bone. I beat her over the head with it, although expecting at every moment to feel a spear reach my heart from one of the Indians; but I lost no time. I was determined if they killed me, to make a cripple of her.

Such yells as the Indians made around us— being nearly all collected a Christian mind cannot conceive. No one touched me. I had her past hurting me, and indeed, nearly past breathing, when she cried out for mercy, I let go my hold of her, and could but be amazed that not one of them attempted to arrest or kill me, or do the least thing for her. She was bleeding freely; for I had cut her head in several places to the skull. I raised her up and carried her to the camp. A new adventure this. I was yet undetermined what would grow out of it. All the Indians seemed as unconcerned as if nothing had taken place. I washed her face and gave her water. She appeared remarkably friendly.

One of the big chiefs came to me, and appeared to watch my movements with a great deal of attention. At length he observed— “You are brave to fight—good to a fallen enemy—you are directed by the Great Spirit. Indians do not have pity on a fallen enemy. By our law you are clear. It is contrary to our law to show you foul play. She began with you, and you had a right to kill her. Your noble spirit forbid you, When Indians fight, the conqueror gives or takes the life of his antagonist—and they seldom spare them.”

This was like a balm to my soul. But my old mistress was very mad. She ordered me to go and get a large bundle of straw. I soon Iearned it was to burn me to death. I did not fear that death; for I had prepared a knife, with which I Intended to defeat her object In putting me to death by burning, having determined to take my own life. She ordered me to cross my hands, I told her I would not do it, She asked me if I was willing for her to burn me to death without being tied. I told her that she should not tie me.

She caught up a bundle of straw, and setting it on fire, threw it on me. I was as good as my word. I pushed her into the fire, and as she raised, I knocked her down into the fire again, and kept her there until she was as badly burned as I was. She got hold of a club and hit me a time or two. I took it from her, and knocked her down with it. So we had a regular fight. I handled her with more ease than I did the young woman.

During the fight, we had broken down one side of the house, and had got fully out into the street. After I had fully overcome her, I discovered the same indifference on the part of the Indians as in the other fight. The whole of them were around us, screaming as before, and no one touched us. I, as in the former case, immediately administered to her. All was silent again, except now and then, a grunt from the old woman. The young woman refused to help me into the house with her. I got her in, and then fixed up the side of the house that we had broken.

Next morning, twelve of the chiefs assembled at the Council House. We were called for, and we attended; and with all the solemnity of a church service, went into the trial. The old lady told the story without the least embellishment. I was asked if these things were so. I answered, “Yes.” The young woman was asked, “Are these things true?” She said they were. We were asked if we had anything to say. Both of the others said “No.”

I said I had. I told the Court that they had mistreated me—they had not taken me honorably; that they had used the white flag to deceive us, by which they had killed my friends—that I had been faithful, and had served them from fear of death, and that I would rather die than be treated as I had been. I said that the Great Spirit would reward them for their treachery and their abuse to me.

The sentence was, that I should get a new pole for the one that we had broken in the fight. I agreed to it, provided the young woman helped me. This was made a part of the decree, and all was peace again.

This answered me a valuable purpose afterwards, in some other instances. I took my own part, and fared much the better by it.

One evening as I was at my work (being north of the Rocky Mountains), I discovered some Mexican traders. Hope instantly mounted the throne from whence it had long been banished. My tottering frame received fresh life and courage, as I saw them approaching the habitation of sorrow and grief where I dwelt. They asked for my master, and we were directly with him. They asked if he would sell me.

No music, no sound that ever reached my anxious ears was half so sweet as “Ce senure” (yes, sir). The trader made an offer for me. My owner refused. He offered more, but my owner still refused. Utter confusion hovers around my mind while I record this part of my history; and I can only ask my reader, if he can, to fancy himself in my situation; for language will fail to describe the anxious thoughts that revolved in my throbbing breast when I heard the trader say he could give no more.

Oh! had I the treasures of the universe, how freely I would have given it; yea, and then consented to have been a servant to my countrymen.

Would that my father could speak to him; but my father is no more, or one of my dear uncles; yes, they would say “stop not for price.”

Oh my good Lord, intercede for me. My eyes, despite my efforts, are swimming in tears at the very thought. I only have to appeal to the treasure of your hearts, my readers, to conceive the state of my desponding mind at this crisis.

At length, however, the trader made another offer for me, which my owner agreed to take. My whole feeble frame was now convulsed in an ecstasy of joy, as he delivered the first article as an earnest of the trade. MEMORABLE DAY!

Col. Nathaniel Parker, of Charleston, Illinois, burst into my mInd and although I knew he was about that time in the Illinois Senate, I knew he would reach his suffering niece, if he could only hear of her, Yes, I knew he would hasten to my relief, even at the sacrifice of a scat in that honorable body, if necessary.

Thousands of thoughts revolved through my mind as the trader was paying for me. My joy was full. Oh! shall I ever forget the time when my new master told me to go with him to his tent? As I turned from my prison, in my very soul I tried to return thanks to my God who always hears the cries of his saints:

 

My God was with me in distress,

My God was always there

Oh may I to my God address

Thankful and devoted prayer.

 

I was soon informed by my new master that he was going to take me to Santa Fe. That night, sleep departed from my eyes. In my fancy I surveyed the steps of my childhood, in company with my dear relations. It would, I suppose, be needless for me to say that I watched with eagerness the day to spring, and that the night was long filled with gratitude to the Living Conservator of the divine law of heaven and earth.

In the morning quite early, all things being ready, we started. We traveled very hard for seventeen days, when we reached Santa Fe. Then, my reader, I beheld some of my countrymen, and I leave you to conjecture the contrast in my feelings when I found myself surrounded by sympathizing Americans, clad in decent attire. I was soon conducted to Col. William Donoho’s residence. I found that it was him who had heard of the situation of myself and others, and being an American indeed, his manly and magnanimous bosom, heaved with sympathy characteristic of a Christian, had devised the plan for our release.

I have no language to express my gratitude to Mrs. Donoho. I found in her a mother, to direct me in that strange land, a sister to console with me in my misfortune, and offer new scenes of amusement to me to revive my mind. A friend? Yes, the best of friends; one who had been blessed with plenty, and was anxious to make me comfortable; and one who was continually pouring the sweet oil of consolation into my wounded and trembling soul, and was always comforting and admonishing me not to despond, and assured me that everything should be done to facilitate my return to my relatives; and though I am now separated far from her, I still owe her a debt of gratitude I shall never be able to repay but with my earnest prayers for the blessing of God to attend her through life.

The people of Santa Fe, by subscription, made up $150 to assist me to my friends. This was put into the hands of Rev. C——, who kept it and never let me have it; and but for the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Donoho, I could not have got along.

Soon after I arrived in Santa Fe, a disturbance took place among the Mexicans. They killed several of their leading men. Mr. Donoho considered it unsafe for his family, and started with them to Missouri, and made me welcome as one of his family. The road led through a vast region of prairie, which is nearly one thousand miles across. This, to many, would have been a considerable undertaking, as it was all the way through an Indian country. But we arrived safely at Independence, in Missouri, where I received many single favors from many of the inhabitants, for which I shall ever feel grateful. I stayed at Mr. Donoho’s but I was impatient to learn something of my relatives.

My anxiety grew so great that I was often tempted to start on foot. I tried to pray, mingling my tears and prayers to Almighty God to intercede for me, and in his providence to devise some means by which I might get home to my friends. Despite of all the kind entreatiesof that benevolent woman, Mr, Donoho, I refused to be comforted and who, I ask, under these circumstances, could have been reconciled?

One evening I had been In my room trying to pray, and on stepping to the door, I saw my brother—In—law, Mr. Nixon. I tried to run to him, but was not able, I was so much overjoyed I scarcely knew what to say or how to act. I asked, ‘Are my husband and father alive?” He answered affirmatively. “Are mother and the children alive?” He said they were. Every moment seemed an hour. It was very cold weather, being now in dead of winter.

Mr. Donoho furnished me a horse, and in a few days we started, Mr. Donoho accompanying us. We had a long and cold journey of more than one thousand miles, the way we were compelled to travel, and that principally through a frontier country. But having been accustomed to hardships, together with my great anxiety, I thought I could stand anything, and the nearer I approached my people, the greater my anxiety grew.

Finally on the evening of the 19th day of February, 1838, I arrived at my father’s house in Montgomery County, Texas, Here united tears of joy flowed from the eyes of father, mother, brothers and sisters; while many strangers, unknown to me, (neighbor’s to my father) cordially united in this joyful interview.

I am now not only freed from my Indian captivity, enjoying the exquisite pleasure that my soul has long panted for.

 

Oh! God of Love, with pitying eye

Look on a wretch like me; That I may on thy name rely,

Oh, Lord! be pleased to see.

From my poor wounded heart, Yet thou my wishes did reward,

And sooth’d the painful smart.

How oft have sighs unuttered flowed."

 

Note: In her preface to this narrative, Rachel wrote: “With these remarks, I submit the following pages to the person of a generous public, feeling assured that before they are published, the hand that penned them will be cold in death.” She was right. On February 19, 1839, one year after her release from captivity, Rachel Plummer died of complications from childbirth, as did the child to which she gave birth.

 

 

 

 

"In those days some of the north-bound cattle herds passed through Stephenville. It wasn't much of a village and a few fenced-in fields made going around it inconvenient. There were six or seven log cabins, with shed rooms of rawhide lumber, strung along the trail and out away from it. The central and largest structure served as a courthouse. It had a gallery covered with boards made of pin oak. The liveliest place in town was a saloon, where, for two-bits, a purchaser could get a 'fair-sized drink' of wagon-yard whiskey drawn from a 50 gallon barrel. Usually a group of cowboys were congregated there, but dogs far outnumbered people in the town, and dog fights were the chief entertainment. The sheriff owned a large parrot that habitually perched on the roof of the courthouse gallery. It had picked up a considerable vocabulary from the cowboys, including (naturally) profanities. Its favorite expression was "Ye-oh, sic 'em!" which usually started a dog fight.

 

On this particular day a herd was stringing through town, shying but keeping the middle of the road, when the parrot flapped his wings, gave a cowboy yell, and screeched "Ye-oh, sic em!" In a second all the dogs commenced to fighting. Some charged the herd, which stampeded. The cattle knocked down all the galleries, including the one the parrot was perched on, rammed through the sheds, and even demolished some of the cabins. Stephenville looked like a tornado hit it."

----- J. Frank Dobie remembers a cattle stampede through Stephenville, Texas, "The Longhorns"

 

 

 

 

"Pleasant it was on a warm, clear night to circle slowly around a herd of cattle that were bedded down quiet and breathing deep and out there to catch the strains of song or fiddle coming from camp, where the fire was like a dim star. But it was pleasanter to be in camp and, while just catching now and then a note from a singer or a fiddler on herd, to be dropping off to sleep. As long as a cowboy heard music, he knew that all was well."

--------- Veteran cowboy John Young recalling the delights of music on the Chisholm Trail in the 1870s

 

 

 

 

"THE STORY OF BONNIE AND CLYDE

Now you've heard the story of Jesse James

Of how he lived and died

If you're still in need

Of something to read

Here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde

Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow Gang

I'm sure you all have read

How they rob and steal

And those who squeal

Are usually found dying or dead.

They call them cold-hearted killers

They say they are heartless and mean

But I say this with pride

That I once knew Clyde

When he was honest and upright and clean.

But the laws fooled around

Kept taking him down

And locking him up in a cell,

Till he said to me

"I'll never be free

So I'll meet a few of them in hell!"

The road was so dimly lighted

There was no highway signs to guide

But they made up their minds

If all roads were blind

They wouldn't give up till they died.

If a policeman is killed in Dallas

And they have no clue to guide

If they can't find a fiend

They just wipe their slate clean

And hang it on Bonnie and Clyde.

If they try to act like citizens

And rent them a nice little flat

About the third night

They're invited to fight

By a sub gun's rat-tat-tat.

Some day they'll go down together

They'll bury them side-by-side

To few it'll be grief

To the law a relief

But it's death to Bonnie and Clyde."

---- Bonnie Parker, bank robber, girlfriend of Clyde Barrow, 1934

 

 

 

 

"Those who there received us, after they had touched us, went running to their houses and directly returned, and did not stop running, going and coming, to bring us in this manner many things for support on the way. They fetched a man to me and stated that a long time since he had been wounded by an arrow in the right, shoulder, and that the point of the shaft was lodged above his heart, which, he said, gave him much pain, and in consequence, he was always sick. Probing the wound I felt the arrow-head, and found it had passed through the cartilage. With a knife I carried, I opened the breast to the place, and saw the point was aslant and troublesome to take out. I continued to cut, and, putting in the point of the knife, at last with great difficulty I drew the head forth. It was very large. With the bone of a deer, and by virtue of my calling, I made two stitches that threw the blood over me, and with hair from a skin I stanched the flow.

They asked me for the arrow-head after I had taken it out, which I gave, when the whole town came to look at it. They sent it into the back country that the people there might view it. In consequence of this operation they had many of their customary dances and festivities. The next day I cut the two stitches and the Indian was well. The wound I made appeared only like a seam in the palm of the hand. He said he felt no pain or sensitiveness in it whatsoever. This cure gave us control throughout the country in all that the inhabitants had power, or deemed of any value, or cherished. "

----- Cabeza de Vaca describes what may have been the very first surgery ever performed in Texas, "La Relacion," or "The Narrative of Alvar Nuñez Cabeça de Vaca," 1542

 

 

 

"Once the Kiowas were seated, Tatum [the Indian agent] inquired whether they knew anything about the destruction of a wagon train near Fort Richardson. After a silence the man who rose to reply was Satanta (White Bear), who of all the Kiowa leaders was best known to the whites. Satanta looked straight at Tatum and thumped his chest.

'I have heard that you have stolen a large portion of our annuity goods and given them to the Texans; I have repeatedly asked you for arms & ammunition, which you have not furnished, and made many other requests which have not been granted, You do not listen to my talk. The white people are preparing to build a railroad through our country, which will not be permitted. Some years ago we were taken by the hand & pulled here close to Texans where we have to fight. But we have cut that loose now and are all going with the Cheyennes to the Antelope Hills....

When Gen Custer was here two or three years ago, he arrested me & kept me in confinement several days. But arresting Indians is played out now & is never to be repeated. On account of these grievances, I took, a short time ago, about 100 of my warriors, with the Chiefs Satank, Eagle Heart, Big Tree, Big Bow, & Fast Bear, & went to Texas, where we captured a train not far from Ft Richardson, killed 7 of the men, & drove off about 41 mules. Three of my men were killed, but we are willing to call it even. If any other Indian come here & claims the honor of leading the party he will be lying to you, for I did it myself.'

-------- "Satanta and Big Tree," unpublished manuscript, Oklahoma Historical Society

 

 

 

 

"You go south from Fort DavisUntil you come to the place

Where rainbows wait for rain....

And the river is kept in a stone box

And water runs uphill.

And the mountains float in the air.

Except at night, when they run away to play

With other mountains."

----- a Mexican vaquero (cowboy) describing how to get to Big Bend from Fort Davis:, Texas, as told to Frank Tolbert, legendary Dallas newspaperman

 

 

 

 

"A dance hall is where you dance with your wife. A honkytonk is where you dance with somebody else's."

------ seen on a bumper sticker in Flatonia

 

 

 

 

"I was not completely without guile. West of Dallas, near Fort Worth, lies a small range known as "Chalk Hill." A major criterion of automotive excellence was the ability of a car to take Chalk Hill in high gear. Prospects naturally demanded that the demonstrations include this hill-climbing contest. We always made it but, one day, with a particularly heavy prospect aboard, I feared we wouldn't.

In an effort to give the buggy every chance, I made a running start and we approached Chalk Hill at 30 miles per hour. The little buggy bounced and skidded on the gravel road like a skittish colt learning to gallop. We started up the grade, with my potential customer and me both leaning forward and pushing with body English....

Halfway up it became all too clear to me that we were not going to make it in high gear. Quickly I slammed on the brakes, and we came to a dead stop.

The customer turned to me, but before he could say a word I beamed at him with a proud smile. "How do you like those brakes?" I asked. "See how they hold us tight, right here on Chalk Hill?"

He smiled back. "By God, they DO hold us, don't they? Holy gee, that's great."

He bought the car that afternoon for cash."

------- Future World War I fighter ace Eddie Rickenbacker, selling Firestone-Columbus automobiles in Dallas, 1909, in his autobiography "Rickenbacker," 1967

 

 

 

"It was like clockwork; every time I raised my Colt carbine, they stuck an arrow in me."

----- Texas Ranger Jean Carr after being wounded four times in a battle with the Comanches, 1851

 

 

 

 

“Republic of Texas

To all who shall see this present, greetings. Whereas I, Clerk of this County, having this morning unthoughtedly tied my office key as a clapper in my cow’s bell; and whereas the said cow has gone astray to parts unknown, bearing with her the said key; and therefore the said key is “non inventus est” —- that is, it can’t he had; And whereas one Abner Barnes has made application to me for marriage license, and the said Abner persists that he cannot wait until the cow comes back with the key, but is compelled by the violence of his feelings and the arrangements already made to get married: Therefore these presents are to command any person legally authorized to celebrate the rites of matrimony to join the said Abner Barnes to Rebecca Downs; and for so doing this shall be your sufficient authority.

Given under my hand and private seal, on the doorstep of my office —- the seal being locked up, and my cow having gone away with the key, this fourth day of October, A.D. 1838. Henry Osborne, Clerk”

—–a quickly improvised Republic of Texas marriage license, 1838

 

 

 

 

In 1997, when Hallie Stillwell died just shy of her 100th birthday in Alpine, she was a West Texas legend. She had married Big Bend Rancher Roy Stillwell nearly 80 years before, in 1918, and moved to his very small ranch house in the desert. Here, Hallie describes a mistake she made upon first arriving at the house:

“What I had in mind was to clean up the place, which I did in a big way. I swept, scrubbed, dusted, and worked on anything and everything, including the old black coffee pot. That particular coffee pot had never been cleaned before. The men had always just thrown out the coffee grounds, rinsed the pot with cold water, and considered it ready to set down on the fire at any given moment to brew a fresh pot of coffee.

I decided to take this pot to the sand pile, scrub it with sand first, scrub it with wood ashes, and then scrub it some more. I did not have any other kind of cleaning material except soap. I finally removed the crusts of black from the outside and most of the stains on the inside. I was more than proud of my accomplishment.

The next morning when I awakened I heard grumbling sounds coming from the kitchen. Four men were sitting in a torment as they sipped on the early morning coffee. It was obvious that they were trying to make the best of a bad situation. I heard Lee [one of the cowboys] moan, “It will be six months before this pot can make decent coffee again.”

I knew then that I had made another mistake. I would never be forgiven for washing that coffee pot. I covered my head with a pillow and sank down under the covers as Roy came into the bedroom. “Here, try to drink this coffee. Why the hell did you wash the coffee pot?”

I have always enjoyed lying in a comfortable bed and listening to the cowboys as they ground the Arbuckle coffee beans in the coffee grinder as they prepared the morning meal, but that particular morning I was not so comfortable. The grumbling about the clean coffee pot did not last the six months as predicted, and the men were thoughtful enough to keep the comments to themselves so that I would not feel so bad. But I never even attempted to wash that coffee pot again without first checking with Roy.

Even though I was somewhat embarrassed about my mistake, I felt that it was just a little one. Nevertheless, the story was told in Alpine and Marathon and it was years before I heard the end of it. Roy’s friends would casually ask if I had washed the coffee pot again and then let out a hearty laugh. Let a woman make one mistake and the cowboys will joke about it for years.”

----- Hallie Stillwell, legendary Big Bend rancher, journalist, Justice of the Peace, school teacher in “I’ll Gather My Geese,” 1991

 

 

“Here I am living on a soil that my people have been living and working and dying on for more than a hundred years—the soil, as it happens, of Texas. My roots go down into this soil as deep as mesquite roots go. This soil has nourished me as the banks of the lovely Guadalupe River nourish cypress trees, as the Brazos bottoms nourish the wild peach, as the gentle slopes of East Texas nourish the sweet-smelling pines, as the barren, rocky ridges along the Pecos nourish the daggered lechuguilla. I am at home here, and I want not only to know about my home land, I want to live intelligently on it. I want certain data that will enable me to accommodate myself to it. Knowledge helps sympathy to achieve harmony.”

------ J. Frank Dobie, historian and folklorist, "Guide to Life and Literature of the Southwest," 1958

 

 

"In about an hour, a faint murmuring came, as of wind sighing in pine trees ---- but there were none. Could it be a buzz of insects? He could see none near. The buzz became a drone, a roar that shook the earth. And then he saw a monstrous herd of buffalo charging down upon him, a surging black mass that would engulf him.

There was a cluster of trees not far away and he dashed over to it, tied his horse, and clambered into the branches. The center of that mass of animals struck the little grove.

'The width of that sea of buffalo as shown by their trail was more than half a mile," Gordon related. 'My terror was indescribably. Alone, as I feared, far from civilization, without a horse, in a hostile country, with my last bullet in my gun, a braver man than I might have despaired.

It was a spectacle which I fancied neither the white man nor Indian had ever seen ... I could have whipped the buffalo on each side of me with a buggy whip, and the heap itself was approaching me, with the buffalo on top of it higher than the fork of the tree where I was perched. It was a great relief when I observed that the roar was lessening, and after 55 minutes of alternate terror and pleasure for me, the mighty host had passed.'

It had been a great migration of buffalo, from their winter pastures in Texas to their northern haunts of the summer."

------ former trail cowboy George Andrew Gordon narrates what happened to him after he got separated from his companions out on the plains of Texas back in 1846, "Kansas City Star" newspaper, December 30th, 1925

 

 

" May your belly never grumble

May your heart sometimes ache

May your horse never stumble

And your bridle never break.

 

May sunshine waltz alongside you

May your pricklies mostly pear

May your friends find you true,

In your favorite rocking chair.

 

May your cattle always low

across the valley deep

may peace be all you know,

in the Texas of your sleep. "

----- Me, Traces of Texas, My Texas toast to every single reader of Traces of Texas (this is a work in progress, by the way; I am still not entirely satisfied)

 

 

 

 

"He neither built nor explored nor populated the West but moved ever so briefly across it, as capricious and lonely as the blowing dust. Dime novelists and penny dreadful authors scribbled magniloquent lies about the cowboy for rapt eastern readers but saw him only in town, often ending long cattle drives with a few desperate hours of extravagant carousel before returning to a life of social desolation. Like a cloistered monk of some distant forgotten monastery, the cowboy served his god, the rancher, and toiled at labors decidedly unglamorous. Moving often from ranch to ranch, the cowboy made few lasting friendships. He was untutored and often illiterate. For endless months he lived on the range, burned in summer, frozen in winter, as punished as the cattle he attended. He slept on the ground under "hen--skin" blankets. He arose at 4:00 a.m., or earlier, and often was not asleep again until midnight. He was fed a constant diet of beans, "Pecos strawberries," greasy stews, and Arbuckle's coffee. His aches and sprains were treated with heavy coats of axle grease or prickly pear poultices. To stay away during long nights of riding herd, he rubbed tobacco juice in his eyes. He lived in a society of men and made love to the only available women, the ubiquitous "soiled doves" and "Fallen Angels" on almost a seasonal basis..."

----- Jerry Flemmons, journalist and author, "Plowboys, Cowboys and Slanted Pigs"

 

 

 

"You get out in front -- you stay out in front."

----- A.J. Foyt, famed race car drive and native of Houston, on his theory of winning car races

 

 

 

 

"The XIT brand was conceived of by an an old Texas trail driver named Ab Blocker, who placed it upon the first cow. She was not an animal of high pedigree, but a Longhorn from South Texas. Her color, gauntness, and perversity were historic. Nearly two centuries before, with the initial Spanish expedition into the province for the purpose of founding a settlement in 1690, there came a similar Mexican cow. She walked steaming from the waters of the Rio Grande, cropped the first grass on the northern shore, switched her tail at a persistent fly, and felt at home. Long of horn and leg, variegated in color, and belligerent of disposition, she was prophetic of the millions and millions of others to fatten upon the grasses of the border state.

As she pushed north and east with the expedition of Governor Alonzo de Leon and Father Massanet, the tallow thickened over her ribs, a little bit, and she became smooth and glossy. She sprang of hardy and wily stock. As she fled to the nearest pool or mud hole to escape the attentions of the heel fly, as she fought off the wolves by night and outran the thieving Indians by day, she built up a spirit of independence and of resourcefulness that made her a companion of the wilderness and a fighter of the frontier.

By the time the East Texas missions were abandoned, in 1693, the Longhorn had broken the ties that bound her to her native range, and when the soldiers and missionaries returned home to Mexico, she stayed in Texas. The Mexican cows matched with the wilderness, met claw and fang with horn and cow-sense, and when the Spaniards came again, twenty-three years later, Longhorn cattle grazed the East Texas grasslands. Since that first memorable day Texas has never been without cattle. For more than two centuries livestock has formed one of its chief sources of wealth. Wherever "Texas" is heard, steers are thought of, and the head of the Longhorn is as emblematic of Texas as is the lone star. Texas and Longhorns are almost synonymous."

---- J. Evetts Haley, "The XIT Ranch of Texas," 1936

 

 

 

 

"Van Horn [Texas] is so healthy, we had to shoot a man to start a cemetery."

 

------ Augustus Sanders Goynes, who coined this civic slogan for the town of Van Horn, was subsequently gunned down during an argument and was the first man buried in the Van Horn cemetery in 1892

 

 

 

 

"WHILE visiting his sister Mrs. Currie in San Angelo, a few years ago , W. N. Nicholas kindly furnished the following partial sketch of his eventful life on the early frontiers of Texas:

When I was sixteen years old, I went to Stephenville, Erath County, and entered a school taught by a Mr. Allard. I had been in school only two weeks, when a runner brought word that the Indians were in the country and had murdered the Woods family and that of Mr. Brumley, and had burned their houses. Two of the Brumley girls and the two Woods girls had been carried off by the savages. At the time of this occurrence all the available men were out in pursuit of another gang of Indians that had raided another settlement, leaving no man to take, the trail but the teacher, Mr. Allard. In his school there were sixteen boys from 12 to 17 years of age.

He explained the situation to us and said: "Boys, I'm going after those Indians, who'll go with me?" Every boy in school, even to the small boys, lined up and told him to lead out and we'd follow him to the jumping off place. He chose sixteen of us and in less than an hour were mounted and off. For the benefit of the youth of this degenerate age, it may not be amiss to state here that the boys and girls on the frontier in those days, were taught to ride and shoot from the time they were large enough to sit on a pony or hold a gun and when a little older, boys as well as men carried their guns everywhere they went, at church, at school, or a frolic. Their horses were always handy and when the word came that Indians were in the country the boys and men were ready to respond to the call for help. That's why the boys of Mr. Allard's school fell in line so quickly; they were minute men and ready.

But in this instance some of the boys had no guns. A Mr. Carter, who owned a hardware store in Stephenville, threw open his store and told Mr. Allard to help himself to all the guns and ammunition we might need.

About 10 a .m. we started all armed with double-barreled shot-guns and six shooters and after striking the Indians trail we came upon the dead bodies of the Woods girls. We wrapped these bodies in blankets and laid them side by side and stretched between two bushes and over the bodies a white shirt as a fright to keep the buzzards away until they could be removed. This was on the divide between Stephenville and Dublin.

Here, I will digress in so far as to say that after being stripped of every thread of clothing the Brumley girls were liberated some time during the night or early that night, and made their way back to Stephenville. Having cared for the bodies of these poor murdered girls to the best of our limited ability, we pushed on with a firm resolve to avenge their brutal murder if we ever came up with the inhuman butchers.

When we reached Leon creek, about twenty miles from Stephenville, the water in the creek was still muddy and we knew by that we were close on their trail. We hurried forward until we reached a slope that led off clown to Copperas Creek. Here we came up with the, Indians and charged them. There were eighteen of them and seventeen of us but, being armed with six-shooters, we had all advantage.

In the fight that ensued Mr. Allard's horse was shot through the neck with an arrow and fell. Mr. Allard was thrown with great force against the ground, and an Indian rushed upon him to finish him with a lance. Recovering himself almost instantly and seeing his peril, Mr. Allard seized a stone with which he knocked the Indian down and before he could rise the teacher was on him and gave the finishing touch.

The action became a running fight for about four miles and only two of the eighteen got away. Six of us were wounded, myself of the number, having stopped two arrows in my thigh. We got all of their horses, about 75 head, which they had stolen. One of the Indians killed had on one of the captured girl's dress, which was riddled with bullets.

On our return we came by where we had found the murdered girls and strapped their bodies on horses and reached Stephenville sometime after midnight. very well pleased with our day's work .

I had no further desire to attend school. I decided to go a ranging, and that two weeks in Mr. Allard's school was all the schooling, in a literary sense, I ever received.

* Note: Incidents like the one described in this article, occurred fairly often in the Frontier Counties of Brown, Coleman, Comanche, Eastland, Erath and others. Life was hard and tragedy struck without warning. These brave individuals, youths, men and women, tamed the frontier for others to follow."

----- W.N. Nichols, Frontier Times Magazine, February 1926

 

 

*

 

"Three separate 'frogtowns' sprang into existence [frogtowns were camps that 'hopped along,' keeping up with construction]. Although these "towns" were only 300 feet apart they might as well have been 50 miles apart, for you had to go either up or down if you went visiting and it was dangerous climbing.

There were 13 saloons around the Pecos bridge while we were building it, some on the west rim of the canyon, some on the east rim and some down in the canyon. Blaine and Sinclair had a big tent saloon with boarded sides on the east rim and there was another operated by a man named Sikorski.

Supplies were let down from the west rim on a derrick. Torres, the justice of the peace who defeated Bean, had build a saloon and 'frontier amusement palace' down in the canyon. When he opened it up he let 13 women over the side on the derrick and was ready for business.

The saloon building and all of the smaller rooms were build of ocotillo stalks for walls, with brush roofs. There used to be some high old times in that place, I'll tell you, especially around pay day. Some of the boys who lost their money quickly at faro or monte could always sneak around and peak through the ocotillo stalks and see how the rest of the crew were spending their money."

----- James McMullen, one of the builders of the Pecos High Bridge in the 1890s, interviewed by Sam Woodford and quoted in the "San Antonio Light," 1955

 

 

 

 

"When the smoke of the incoming train was seen [Judge Roy] Bean would lead the bear around in front of the saloon and tie it to a post. With the arrival of the crowd of sightseers the old frontiersman, or one of the Mexican mozos, would hand a bottle of beer to the animal and it would quickly drain it to the last drop down its capacious throat.

"Does the bear ever get drunk!" was usually the natural question of some curious-minded passenger.

"Enough beer would make anybody drunk," Bean would reply.

Beer bought over the bar cost a dollar a bottle, but there were always enough interested passengers to make the experiment. The bear was a big source of revenue to Bean, and the bruin seemed to thrive on the beverage. One day a traveling salesman overstepped the bounds of Bean's severe restrictions and was heavily fined. He vowed he would get vengeance. A few weeks later the traveling salesman found himself again in Langtry and at a time when Bean was in San Antonio on one of his periodical visits. The bear was in its accustomed place. A bright thought occurred to the seeker for revenge. He went to the telegraph station, wrote a telegram and signed the name of the Mexican who was in temporary charge of the saloon to the message. It was addressed to "Judge" Bean at his stopping place in San Antonio, and read :

"Bear died last night. What shall I do?"

The telegram was a severe blow to Bean. He wired back:

"Skin bear and ship skin to me here!'"

The Mexican knew what would happen to him if he disobeyed orders. He went out and looked at the bear. The animal was dozing peacefully in the shade. The Mexican went inside, picked up a rifle and shot the bear square between the eyes. He skinned the carcass, and the pelt went to San Antonio by the next train. Bean received it and sent it to a furrier to have it dressed. He came back to Langtry depressed and suffering more or less from a "hang-over."

"What in hell was the matter with the bear?" was the first question he asked.

The explanations which followed were accompanied by a stirring scene in which the Mexican narrowly escaped with his life."

----- New York Herald-Tribune, October 18, 1925

 

 

 

 

"When I came to Tascosa (about 1880) there were only three other American women in the Panhandle country west of Fort Elliott. They were Mrs. Charles Goodnight (he was a big cattle man), Miss Lizzie Rinehart and Mrs. Tom Bugby, wife of another big ranchmen ... There was a Mexican girl here in Tascosa, Senorita Piedad Romero, the richest man around. She was called "The Belle of the Llano Estacado." She sure was pretty.

When I came here Tascosa was the only town in the western Panhandle of Texas. Where Amarillo is now there was a buffalo ranch then. The nearest town on the north was Dodge City, Kansas, 242 miles away ... Everything we used was freighted in from Dodge. That why needles cost 10 cents apiece, and it took a small fortune to buy enough material for a new dress. To the south there were only cattle trils that led down over the wild and unsettled plains to the cattle ranches along the Gulf Coast and to old Mexico. I've seen 10,000 cattle in one herd, all Longhorns, come driving up across the prairie to swim the Canadian River here, and go up to the railroad at Dodge Cty or up to summer in Montana. Ive seen a quarter million cattle swim the Canadian here in one year. Now look at it. The railroad came through; it missed Tascosa; towns sprang up along the line; people moves out from here and Tascosa died."

----- Ms. Frenchy McCormick, faro dealer and last resident of Old Tascosa, interviewed in the Kansas City Star, December 1930

 

 

*

 

"At the time we moved to Texas the rich black lands of Navarro and Hill counties were selling at 50 cents an acre. My father, raised on a creek where water and timber were plentiful, preferred to pay six dollars an acre for bottom land which had to be grubbed of thick trees before a plow could turn the soil. But his boys were numerous, and they did the job during a long period of back-breaking years. We went down into the soil around the trees with mattox and grubbing hoe and cut the tap-roots, sometimes two feet below the surface.

My first remembrance of Bosque County is centered around a visit of my great-uncle, Charlie, who lived on a large cotton plantation on the Brazos River near Independence, Texas. I can recall his bright blue eyes, his long, beautifully-kept beard, the black cord running around his neck and down over his white waistcoat, fastened to a heavy gold watch; but most clearly I remember the shine new Barlow knife that he gave to me.

Our home was on the big road north of Meridian, a sort of Broadway leading from Waco up the Bosque valley to the vast northwest sections of Texas. Along this road traveled settlers in covered wagons, herds of horses, cattle, sheep (in later years), and many men on horseback. Buggies and carriages were seldom seen. Frequently travelers spent the night in our home. I can feel yet the thrill at hearing some belated person, late at night, down at the big gate, shouting amid the barking of dogs, "Hello! Hello!"

The big outside world was knocking at my door. I had hunted and fished, went in swimming, and lived with my kind ----- Frank and Tom Gandy, Joe and Harvey Francis, Billy Dysart, Sherman Graves, John Hornsby. John Cochran, a relative by marriage, was the only "town boy" I was comfortable with. My brother, Richard, ran with an older crowd. I remember especially his friends Cy Dennis, Bob Hanna and Andy Jordan. One Saturday afternoon Andy Jordan, naked, stood on a sharp point of land around which swerved the clear deep water of Bosque River. His feet rested in soft, lush grass. Half a dozen companions, naked also, lay flat on the grass or squatted, cowboy fashion, idly watching. As Andy raised himself on the balls of his feet, dug in his toes, poised for a dive, he stopped, held up a finger, and spoke:

'I takes my text this evening, dearly beloved, from that portion of the Holy Scripture where the 'postle Paul pints his pistol to the 'Phesians. The thirty-third verse of the forty-second chapter reads: "Repent ye, for the Day of Judgement is at hand." Now these may not be the exact words or from the exact place, but you'll find something like that somewhere in the Bible.'

Some of the boys giggled and nudged each other. Andy ---- unpredictable Andy ----- was about to deliver one of his famous impromptu sermons. He went on:

'But first let me tell you why I am here instead of brother Gus. You know that brother Gus is studying to be a preacher in Baylor University; and some of you have heard him preach on a hot August Sunday until long past dinner time. You know and I know that Gus is a good boy but ain't much of a preacher. Somebody has made a mistake, my brethren, and I have come here to tell you how it happened: the Lord called me to preach but Gus answered.'

Shouts of merriment greeted this sally. Andy, both by looks and words, sternly rebuked this outburst and went on to describe the scoffer and his place of punishment:

 

'Hell is deep and Hell is wide
Hell ain't got no bottom or side ...
and you're on the way there,' Andy shouted: then he made his dive."

----- John A. Lomax, "Adventures of a Ballad Hunter, Boyhood in Bosque," Southwest Review, 1944

 

 

*

 

LASCA

 

"I want free life and I want fresh air;

And I sigh for the canter after the cattle,

The crack of the whips like shots in a battle,

The medley of horns and hoofs and heads

That wars and wrangles and scatters and spreads;

The green beneath and the blue above,

And dash and danger, and life and love --

And Lasca!

 

Lasca used to ride

On a mouse-gray mustang close by my side,

With blue serape and bright-belled spur;

I laughed with joy as I looked at her!

Little knew she of books or of creeds;

An Ave Maria sufficed her needs;

Little she cared, save to be by my side,

To ride with me, and ever to ride,

From San Saba's shore to LaVaca's tide.

She was as bold as the billows that beat,

She was as wild as the breezes that blow;

From her little head to her little feet

She was swayed in her suppleness to and fro

By each gust of passion; a sapling pine

That grows on the edge of a Kansas bluff

And wars with the wind when the weather is rough

Is like this Lasca, this love of mine.

She would hunger that I might eat,

Would take the bitter and leave me the sweet;

But once, when I made her jealous for fun,

At something I'd whispered, or looked, or done,

 

One Sunday, in San Antonio,

To a glorious girl in the Alamo,

She drew from her garter a dear little dagger,

And -- sting of a wasp! -- it made me stagger!

An inch to the left, or an inch to the right,

And I wouldn't be singing here tonight;

But she sobbed, and, sobbing, so swiftly bound

Her torn reboso about the wound,

That I quite forgave her. Scratches don't count

In Texas, down by the Rio Grande.

Her eye was brown -- a deep, deep brown;

Her hair was darker than her eye;

And something in her smile and frown,

Curled crimson lip and instep high,

Showed that there ran in each blue vein,

Mixed with the milder Aztec strain,

The vigorous vintage of Old Spain.

She was alive in every limb

With feeling to the finger tips;

And when the sun is like a fire,

And sky one shining, soft sapphire,

One does not drink in little sips.

The air was heavy, and the night was hot,

I sat by her side, and forgot - forgot;

Forgot the herd that were taking their rest,

Forgot that the air was close opprest,

That the Texas norther comes sudden and soon,

In the dead of night or the blaze of noon;

That, once let the herd at its breath take fright,

Nothing on earth can stop the flight;

And woe to the rider, and woe to the steed,

Who falls in front of their mad stampede!

 

Was that thunder? I grasped the cord

Of my swift mustang without a word.

I sprang to the saddle, and she clung behind.

Away! On a hot chase down the wind!

But never was fox hunt half so hard,

And never was steed so little spared,

For we rode for our lives, You shall hear how we fared

In Texas, down by the Rio Grande.

 

The mustang flew, and we urged him on;

There was one chance left, and you have but one;

Halt, jump to ground, and shoot your horse;

Crouch under his carcass and take your chance;

And, if the steers in their frantic course

Don't batter you both to pieces at once,

You may thank your star; if not, goodby

To the quickening kiss and the long-drawn sigh,

And the open air and the open sky,

In Texas, down by the Rio Grande.

 

The cattle gained on us, and just as I felt

For my old six-shooter behind in my belt,

Down came the mustang, and down came we,

Clinging together -- and, what was the rest?

A body that spread itself on my brest,

Two arms that shielded my dizzy head,

Two lips that hard on my lips were prest;

Then came thunder in my ears,

As over us surged the sea of steers,

Blows that beat blood into my eyes,

And when I could rise--

Lasca was dead!

 

I gouged out a grave a few feet deep,

And there in Earth's arms I laid her to sleep;

And there she is lying, and no one knows;

And the summer shines and the winter snows;

For many a day the flowers have spread

A pall of petals over her head;

And the little gray hawk hangs aloft in the air,

And the sly coyote trots here and there,

And the black snake glides and glitters and slides

Into a rift in a cottonwood tree;

And the buzzard sails on,

And comes and is gone,

Stately and still like a ship at sea.

And I wonder why I do not care

For the things that are like the things that were.

Does half my heart lie buried there

In Texas, down by the Rio Grande?"

----- by Frank Deprez (1882)

 

 

*

 

"Somewhere in America, 2007 ....

The sea of humanity swells and roils all the way to the horizon, thousands of eyes fixed on him, thousands of hands clapping, a chorus of voices cheering and yelling, lips whistle, feet stomping, smiles everywhere, all because of him. Lone Star flags and arms thrusting skyward, hands clutching cigarette lighters and cans of beer above heads bobbing like buoys because of the music. The old man with the wild white eyebrows and wrinkled skin, his long white hair pulled back into two braids, tries to make eye contact with as many eyes as he can in ten seconds before glancing off-handedly over his shoulder at the musicians standing and sitting behind him. He straps on his guitar and steps to the microphone with a casualness that betrays a lifetime of going through the same ritual night after night, year after year. He half sings, half talks five magic words that trigger a sonic roar: 'Whisk-key Riv-verrr take my miiiiind.'"

----- Joe Nick Patoski describes the beginning of a Willie Nelson concert in his wonderful biography of Willie, which is simply titled "Willie Nelson." A great book. Willie read it and had to ask his friends if all the stuff Joe Nick wrote about his life was true. They told him it was. All of it.

 

 

*

 

"He never killed a man that did not need killing."

------ inscription on the grave marker in Pecos, Texas of cattle rancher, cattle broker, and occasional gunfighter Clay Allison. For all his gunfighting, Allison died at the age of 46 when he was hauling a wagon load of supplies and the load shifted, causing a sack of grain to fall from the wagon. Allison fell from the wagon as he tried to catch it, and a wagon wheel rolled over him, breaking his neck. He was buried the next day in Pecos Cemetery.

 

 

*

 

 

"Like the rest of y'all, I have been reading back issues of Austin's Texas State Times newspaper, and I found this amusing notice in the January 13, 1855 edition:

 

'To Marriageable Young Ladies. A young gentleman of the city lately took the census of the bachelors of Austin. He counted all who are over twenty-one, both bachelors and widowers. The object was to find the number of those who ‘would like to marry.’ That number is at least one hundred! We are serious about this. Most of them are sober, industrious, good looking and sensible young men. They are not rich, but bid fair to be men of worth and independence. But few of them are able to lose the time and money to travel and hence the only chance to see them is to come to Austin.–Mahomet cannot go to the mountain, will not the mountain come to Mahomet? Young Ladies! We appeal to you in the name of suffering humanity–but we’ll preach no sermon on it. If you all throw away these chances, you deserve to drink tea with cold toast and backbite your neighbors the balance of your lives.”

----- Me, Traces of Texas .... here is a link to the notice: https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth235742/

 

 

*

 

 

On January 7, 1874, [Clay] Allison killed a gunman named Chunk Colbert, who was known to have already fought and killed seven men by this time. After first racing their horses, Colbert and Allison entered the Clifton House, an inn located in Colfax County, New Mexico, where they sat down together for dinner. Colbert had quarreled with Allison years earlier, as Allison had physically beaten Colbert's uncle, Zachary Colbert, when he tried to overcharge Allison for a ferry ride across the Brazos River. During their meal, Colbert suddenly drew his pistol and attempted to shoot Allison; however, the barrel of his gun struck the dinner table, allowing Allison to quickly draw his own revolver. He fired one shot, which struck Colbert in the head. Asked afterward why he had accepted a dinner invitation from a man likely to try to kill him, Allison replied, 'Because I didn't want to send a man to hell on an empty stomach."

----- Note: Allison later became a rancher and cattle broker in Pecos, Texas, where he was killed in a freak accident at the age of 46 and where he is buried

 

 

*

 

 

"There was a feller in Langtry who got to messin' around with one of 'those' women ---- the kind his mamma and papa told him to stay away from. Eventually, as tends to happen in cases like this, she let daylight through him with a six-shooter and the hole wasn't worth patching. The local justice of the peace,acting in his capacity as coroner, was called to make a ruling on the cause of death.

"This here feller," he announced, "went and committed suicide, that's what he done. That's my rulin'," the J.P. said.

There happened to be a lawyer in the crowd. "Judge,' he objected, "you can't rule suicide here! That woman shot him. This was murder."

"I kin and I did. I tole that damfool if he kept messin' around' with that chippy he'd be committing suicide and he kept messin' around with her and by God he committed suicide. That-air's my rulin', and that's the way she stands," the J.P. replied.

The J.P. in the story is, of course, the notorious Roy Bean, Law West of the Pecos."

------- C.F. Eckhardt, "Tales of Badmen, Bad Women, and Bad Places: Four Centuries of Texas Outlaws," 1999

 

 

*

 

 

"We had long hair in my band, and a couple of the guys got pulled over in a little town called Ralls. The cops kept them for three days, then shaved their heads. It was even that way around Austin. If you were driving in from Lubbock or Amarillo with long hair, you had to get down on the floorboard in places like Oak Hill because you’d get pulled over."

------ Alvin Crow, guitarist and fiddle virtuoso, describes the dangers inherent in being traveling hippie musicians in Texas during the 1960s

 

 

*

 

 

"Lorie darlin', life in San Francisco, you see, is still just life. If you want any one thing too badly, it's likely to turn out to be a disappointment. The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself."

------ Augustus McCrae, "Lonesome Dove," 1989

 

 

*

 

 

In 1863, a British officer named Arthur J.L. Fremantle toured the southern United States, including Texas, for three months and wrote an account of it. Here's one of his diary entrees:

"28th April (Tuesday).—We crossed the river Guadalupe at 5 a.m., and got a change of horses. We got a very fair breakfast at Seguin at 7 a.m., which was beginning to be a well-to-do little place before the [Civil] war dried it up. It commenced to rain at Seguin, which made the road very woolly, and annoyed the outsiders a good deal. We dined at a little wooden hamlet called Belmont, and changed horses again there. The country through which we had been traveling was a good deal cultivated, and there were numerous farms. I saw cotton-fields for the first time. We amused ourselves by taking shots with our revolvers at the enormous jack-rabbits which came to stare at the coach.

In the afternoon tobacco-chewing became universal, and the spitting was sometimes a little wild. It was the custom for the outsiders to sit round the top of the carriage, with their legs dangling over (like mutes on a hearse returning from a funeral). This practice rendered it dangerous to put one's head out of the window, for fear of a back kick from the heels, or of a shower of tobacco-juice from the mouths, of the Southern chivalry on the roof. In spite of their peculiar habits of hanging, shooting etc..., which seemed to be natural to people living in such a wild and thinly-populated country, there was much to like in my fellow-travelers. They all had a sort of bonhommie honesty and straightforwardness, a natural courtesy and extreme good-nature, which was very agreeable."

----- Lieutenant Col. Arthur J.L. Fremantle, "THREE MONTHS IN THE SOUTHERN STATES," 1863

 

 

"For two and one-half years I never went to the post-office ---- Colorado City, 115 miles away ----- nor looked upon the face of a woman. I allowed my beard to grow and never, never gave the matter a thought, must have become as tough looking a character as ever bestrode a horse in Texas. It is not strange that, when I did finally go to town and attend a "baile," Eliza Hudgins would not see fit to favor me, when I sought a dance. Late in the evening, the party broke up in a fight and it was several months before I saw the fair young lady again. But the memory of her drew me back to town and on to Plainview, where her family resided. The time I was shaved and slicked up like a city dude, or as nearly so as a sunburned, calloused cow-hand could be. She smiled upon me and I rushed the case as rapidly as her breadcrumbs of encouragement would justify. We were married in her father's home and I took her back to the Elwood ranch as a new top-hand. As she accustomed herself to the rigors of the open range, she gradually became as good a hand with cattle as many of the men we had. At the time, she was the only woman in four counties and very rarely did she see another of her sex, except on occasions when we could tear ourselves away from ranch duties to ride a hundred miles or so to a dance.

Later our savings enabled us to buy sixteen sections, which we fenced, the two of us, almost entirely by our own labor ... Then we got a windmill. I will never forget how happy we were, standing at the door of the little dugout, watching the flow of the first water the new windmill pumped for us. Then came the cattle, slowly. We'd buy a cow here and a cow there; then we got a good bull and a few young steers for fattening ... Our first baby, Mary, was born .... She died at seven years ... Then came little Bob Lee, who drowned when he was three years old. Later, after we had proudly built a new house with several rooms, Ruth was born and we were blissfully happy..

From this time on, it seemed like everything to which we placed our hands prospered and multiplied."

 

-------- Frank Norfleet, "Norfleet," 1924

 

 

"Although mountains are rare in Texas, hills abound. In most places the terrain offers to the eye irregular and picturesque undulations, which extend like solid waves on a troubled sea ...

 

The forests which Texas possesses are usually located on river banks. More than in any other part of American one finds there those secular giants precious for ship building when their timber has been hardened by the elements. Forests of future masts rise up to the sky as they await the ax of the Americans, who have so far left them untouched. The products of Texas will, as time goes on, become infinitely more varied. The fertility of the soil, which in all of North America, is perhaps unequaled except in the states of Indiana and Illinois; the mildness of the climate, Texas' heat being tempered by a steady cool breeze; these factors make it suitable for all types of agriculture, whether colonial or European."

-------- from an article by Theodore-Frederic Gaillardet in a French journal called "journal des Debats," Ocotber 26, 1839

 

 

In two weeks our leave was up, and we left for the Western frontier. We traveled two days, without incident or trouble, from San Antonio towards Fort Inge [near Uvalde]. Though the drive on the third day was long and tedious, we hoped to reach the post soon after dark. The roads were heavy from recent rains; any one at all familiar with the black and sticky Texas mud can understand the meaning of "heavy roads.'' Evening came upon us when we were still many miles from the fort The mules showed signs of giving out, and the prospect of reaching home that night was anything but bright.

Husband and the driver held a consultation on the situation; it was certain the mules could travel no farther. The driver thought there was a placee not far off the road, where we might be allowed to spend the night; so we turned into a dim path, following it until we came to the house. It was so dark by this time we could scarcely see where we were going; but the door was found at last, and, after thundering on it with tremendous force time and again, a voice called out, "What do you want ?" Husband answered, "To stay all night." "You can't do it." "But we must; there is a lady here, our mules are broken down, and we cannot go on." "That makes it worse; having a lady, you can't stay." More parleying followed, when finally a reluctant consent was given for me to go into the house, and the door was opened. As the driver turned the wagon into the corral, a voice called to him "to be careful, as there was a bit of a bank near," which in the morning we found to be a sheer descent of at least two hundred feet to the river below, and we had gone close to the edge in the night, never dreaming of its vicinity.

We were taken into a small room, where a fire of big logs burned brightly. By the light of it I studied the owner of the voice who had talked in the darkness to us. It was a superb-looking old man I saw, with snow-white beard to his waist His mild, benevolent gaze gave me confidence at once, and his manner was kind and gentle.

There were several awkward girls and young men in the room, who were his children, he told us. Without asking permission, the old man mixed me a drink of whiskey and honey, which I declined ; but he insisted so much on my tasting it, I did so, rather than hurt his feelings. One of the girls was preparing supper for us, of which we were much in need, and when ready we did full justice to it, simple as it was, — corn-bread, bacon, and coffee, but no butter nor milk.

In the course of the evening, one of the sons, recently married, came in, leading his bride by the hand. Her appearance was so ludicrous I could not repress a smile. Her frock came about to her knees, and below it appeared pantalettes to her heels. A large sun-bonnet, entirely concealing her face, completed her costume. When time came to retire, we found we were to share the common sleeping-room of the family, there being no other. Indeed, we were fortunate to have a bed to ourselves! Besides the one given to us were several others, which were filled by two old men, two young men, two girls, and two boys, ten people in one small room ; only three were women, of whom I was one! There was no sleep for me that night.

It turned out the old men had been to a horse-race the day before, and they were going over it in their dreams, shouting and swearing incessantly. My faith in the patriarchal-looking old man was destroyed as I listened to his loud and angry voice while he slept.

I lay watching for the dawn, and could plainly see the stars through the cracks in the roof. As they disappeared and morning broke, we got up and made hasty preparations for departure, and, after paying for our night's lodging, we left, very thankful to escape from such a place.

We heard, afterward, the true character of these people. They were outlaws of the worst description ; but while we were under their roof they treated us well. "

----- Lydia Spencer Lange describing a journey in the 1850s, "I Married a Soldier," 1893

 

 

 

"I'm from Texas, and one of the things I like about Texas is there's nobody in control."

----- Willie Nelson

 

 

"When that match popped, there was a roar like an earthquake and the herd was gone in the wink of an eyelid; just two minutes from the time Curley scratched his match, that wild, crazy avalanche of cattle was running over the camp outfit, two and three deep. But at that first roar, I was out of my blankets, running for my hoss and hollering, "Come on, boys." with a rising inflection on "boys." The old hands knew what was coming and were on their hosses soon as I was, but the tenderfeet stampeded their own hosses trying to get onto them, and their hosses all got away except two, and when their riders finally got on them, they took off across the hills as fast as they could go out the way of that hoard of oncoming wild-eyed demons. The men who lost their hosses crawled under the front end of the big heavy roundup wagon, and it is a wonder the herd didn't overturn the wagon, although lots of them broke their horns on it and some broke their legs."

----- trail cowboy Frank Benton describes how the slightest thing could set off a cattle stampede when cattle were being driven north to be shipped back east, "Cowboy Life on the Sidetrack," 1903

 

 

"Filming 'Giant' was essentially a dawn-to-dusk affair, with few breaks. But the one break all looked forward to was lunch. The company erected a large tent behind the "Reata" set where the Gillespie Catering Service served both cast and crew in that common area. Actress Carroll Baker remembered the repast with great enthusiasm: "We ate the catered noonday meal at long picnic tables, and that made every lunchtime a party. The buffet was sumptuous: caldrons of stews and curries; serving planks with roasts and fish and chicken, mashed, baked, boiled and fried potatoes; a wide variety of vegetables and salads, assorted cheese, freshly baked rolls, and bread; and dozens of yummy desserts. I had never seen such a quantity of delicious foods.'"

------- Kenneth B. Ragsdale describes the 1955 filming of "Giant," which starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean, in Marfa, Texas, "Big Bend Country: Land of the Unexpected," 1998.

 

 

 

 

"How To Cook Cornfield Peas: go to the pea-patch early in the morning and gather the peas, taking them home in a split basket. Take them in the left hand and gouge them out with your right thumb until it gets sore, then reverse hands. Look the pea well in the eye to see its color, but cook them anyway, as no color exempts the pea from domestic service, still the grey eye and white lips and cheeks are to be preferred. Throw the shelled peas mercilessly into hot water and boil them until they "cave in." When you see they are well subdued, take them out and fry them about ten minutes in gravy ----- a plenty of gravy, good fat meat gravy, and try to induce the gravy to marry and become social with the peas. When you see that the union is complete, so that no man can put them asunder, and would not wish to if he could, put them in a dish and eat them all."

------ The Hon. J.C. Hutcheson, "The First Texas Cookbook," 1883

 

 

"In bowing her acknowledgements, Miss Bloodgood had the misfortune to spill herself out of her corsage, upon which a fair debutante from Temple, with the naivete' of a little child, observed that "a bust of that kind should be carried in a bucket."

 

------ William Cowper Brann, "The Iconoclast," 1897

 

 

The typical Texan is a large-sized Jabberwock, a hairy kind of gorilla, who is supposed to reside on a horse. He is half alligator, half human, who eats raw buffalo, and sleeps out on a prairie. He is expected to carry four or five revolvers at his belt, as if he were a sort of perambulating gun- rack. He also carries a large assortment of cutlery in his boot. It is believed that a failure to invite him to ' drink is more dangerous than to kick a can of dynamite. The only time the typical Texan is supposed to be peaceable is after he has killed all his friends, and can find no fresh material to practice on. It is also the belief in the North that all the Texans are typical Texans, it being utterly impossible for a Texan to be anything except a desperado...

----- Alexander Sweet, "Texas Siftings," 1882

 

 

"We don't have a monopoly. Anybody who wants to drill an oil well without a Hughes drill bit is welcome to use a pick and shovel."

----- billionaire Howard Hughes

 

 

"I guess [my son will] be a cowboy, too," Glenda says. "I hate for him to do it, but that's what Bigun would want , and I know Banty (Bigun's daddy) is going to have it that way. Bigun was never allowed to be a little boy. Banty had him out breaking horses when he was old enough to ride. I mean breaking horses .... colts ... not riding old nags. Bigun and Banty and all their people, cowboying is all they've ever known or wanted. To be on a horse chasing a cow was what Bigun enjoyed. Kent has already turned that way. Unless I remarry and my husband is so different .... but I don't think I'd like any other life except cowboying."

 

------ Glenda Bradley, widow of Bigun Bradley (The Marlboro Man), quoted by Gary Cartwright in "Confessions of a Washed-up Sportswriter," 1982

 

 

 

The Texan Santa Fe Expedition was a commercial and military expedition to secure the Republic of Texas's claims to parts of Northern New Mexico for Texas in 1841. In response to the Santa Fe Expedition, the Mexicans made several raids into Texas. In September 1842, General Adrian Woll occupied San Antonio for nine days and carried off several prominent Texans when he withdrew. Angry Texans hurriedly answered President Houston's reluctant call for volunteers to punish the raiders. General Alexander Somervell led them as far as the Rio Grande but finding that the Mexicans had retired to the other side of the river, he ordered the expedition home. About three hundred of his men, however, refused to obey, choosing Colonel W. S. Fisher as their leader, and started down the river toward Matamoros.
On December 26 they lost a desperate battle at Mier to General Pedro Ampudia, and were started as prisoners toward Mexico City, but at Salado, south of Saltillo, they escaped. After nearly starving in the arid mountains, 176 of the 193 to escape were recaptured and returned to Salado. Only three reached Texas. Seventeen black and 159 white beans were placed in a vessel and each man required to draw one out. Those drawing black beans were summarily shot. Ewen Cameron, who had engineered the escape, drew a white bean but was afterwards executed by special order. The survivors were taken to Mexico City and imprisoned in Castle Perote with the prisoners of the Santa Fe Expedition and from San Antonio.

The following account of the drawing of the bean, is from the pen of General Thomas J. Green, a participant. It's harsh stuff:

"Soon after they arrived [at the Salado on March 25, 1843], our men received the melancholy intelligence that they were to be decimated, and each tenth man shot. It was now too late to resist the horrible order. Our men were closely ironed and drawn up in front of all their guards, with arms in readiness to fire. Could they have known it previously, they would have again charged their guards, and made them dearly pay for this last perfidious breach of national faith. It was now too late! A manly gloom and a proud defiance prevaded all countenances. They had but one alternative, and that was to invoke their country's vengeance upon their murderers, consign their souls to God, and die like men . . .

The decimator, Colonel Domingo Huerta, who was especially nominated to this black deed after Governor Mexier refused its execution, had arrived at Salado ahead of our men. The "Red-cap" company were to be their executioners; those men whose lives had been so humanely spared by our men at this place on the 11th of February.

The decimation took place by the drawing of black and white beans from a small earthen mug. The white ones signified exemption, and the black death. One hundred and fifty-nine white beans were placed in the bottom of the mug, and seventeen black ones placed upon the top of them. The beans were not stirred, and had so slight a shake that it was perfectly clear they had not been mixed together. Such was their anxiety to execute Captain Cameron, and perhaps the balance of the officers, that first Cameron, and afterward they, were made to draw a bean each from the mug in this condition.

He [Cameron] said, with his usual coolness, "Well, boys, we have to draw, let's be at it;" so saying, he thrust his hand into the mug, and drew out a white bean. Next came Colonel Wm. F. Wilson, who was chained to him; then Captain Wen. Ryan, and then Judge F. M. Gibson, all of whom drew white beans. Next came Captain Eastland, who drew the first black one, and then came the balance of the men. They all drew their beans with that manly dignity and firmness which showed them superior to their condition. Some of lighter temper jested over the bloody tragedy. One would say, "Boys, this beats raffling all to pieces;" another would say that "this is the tallest gambling scrape I ever was in," and such remarks.

Poor Major Cocke, when he first drew the fatal bean, held it up between his forefinger and thumb, and with a smile of contempt, said, "Boys, I told you so; I never failed in my life to draw a prize;"

Just previous to the firing they were bound together with cords, and their eyes being bandaged, they were set upon a log near the wall, with their backs to their executioners. They all begged the officer to shoot them in front, and at a short distance; that "they were not afraid to look death in the face." This he refused; and, to make his cruelty as refined as possible, fired at several paces, and continued the firing from ten to twelve minutes, lacerating and mangling these heroes in a manner too horrible for description . . .

During the martyrdom of these noble patriots, the main body of our men were separated from them by a stone wall of some fifteen feet high, and heard their last agonized groans with feelings of which it would be mockery to attempt the description. The next morning, as they were marched on the road to Mexico, they passed the mangled bodies of their dead comrades, whose bones now lie bleaching upon the plains of Salado."

----- General Thomas J. Green

 

 

"I had succeeded in transplanting myself from a state [Michigan, about 1875] where the people .... good citizens who loved God and nature ----- had accepted and, as a rule, lived up to the Ten Commandments; where, when trouble arose between men, it seldom was carried to a point beyoind a fist fight. But in the section of Texas I had now entered, different conditions and codes prevailed. The War of Rebellion [Civil War] then so recent, had caused numerous men who had survived it and who had committed all sorts of desperate crimes, to seek refuge in the wilds of the land of chapparal and cactus, where the strong arm of the law seldom entered, and where, when it did, the refugee would be apt to have the best of it. A majority of the ranchmen in the country preferred aiding a white refugee to helping bring him to justice. The preference sprang from a motive of self-protection, for the enmity of such characters was a most dangerous thing. As there was in that section but little employment other than working with stock, naturally these men took up the life of the cowboy ---- when their time was not occupied dodging State Rangers or robbing stages and small settlements. Almost every dispute had to be settled with a gun-or-knife fight or else assassination. Such people, added to thieving bands of Mexicans and Indians, wild beasts of many sorts, and other terrors such as centipedes, tarantulas, and rattlesnakes, were a help in making life interesting ...

I did not let anyone know where I hailed from. A 'blue-bellied Yankee,' even if he were but a boy, was about the most unpopular thing in Texas at that period. With many people, anyone who came from the country lying to the north of the Red River was a Yankee."

----- James H. Cook, "50 Years on the Old Frontier," 1923

 

 

"It was in that common area [on the set of the movie "Giant"] that Marfa got to know Hollywood, and vice versa. Most agreed movie people were "very fine people." Actor Robert Nichols, who played Pinky, emerged as one of the local favorites. :"With that first filmed sequence being the barbecue scene, which was so much fun, and we all got to know one another at that point," he later recalled. "And it was like a big party: it went on for a week .... It sort of opened things up." The "big party" continued during breaks. Cast members not involved in a particular scene headed for a big tent where the snacks and cool refreshments were always available. This was indeed a common area; stars and extras met and conversed on a casual basis. Rock Hudson and Jane Withers are remembered with special fondness. To extra Lee Bennett, Hudson was "just great. He was so casual, so charming. Just hung out with us and loved to talk." Jane Withers was "a great yakker, laughing and talking all of the time." And Mercedes McCambridge was "a lovely lady, sweet and charming. They all seemed to enjoy our company as much as we enjoyed theirs."

The one person who did not mix well with the locals was Elizabeth Taylor. Unlike other cast members, she is remembered as "spoiled," "demanding," "arrogant beyond belief," and "an exhibitionist." According to one extra, she seemed to relish flaunting her sexuality. On one occasion, the evocative star emerged from her air-conditioned trailer dressed in short shorts and, in lieu of a blouse and brassiere, had wrapped a loose fitting bandana around her breasts. To some of the women extras, it was an example of poor taste. The the men it was one of the more memorable days on the range."

----- Kenneth B. Ragsdale, "Big Bend Country: Land of the Unexpected," 1998

 

 

 

"Filming 'Giant' was essentially a dawn-to-dusk affair, with few breaks. But the one break all looked forward to was lunch. The company erected a large tent behind the "Reata" set where the Gillespie Catering Service served both cast and crew in that common area. Actress Carroll Baker remembered the repast with great enthusiasm: 'We ate the catered noonday meal at long picnic tables, and that made every lunchtime a party. The buffet was sumptuous: caldrons of stews and curries; serving planks with roasts and fish and chicken, mashed, baked, boiled and fried potatoes; a wide variety of vegetables and salads, assorted cheese, freshly baked rolls, and bread; and dozens of yummy desserts. I had never seen such a quantity of delicious foods.'”

------Kenneth B. Ragsdale "Big Bend Country: Land of the Unexpected," 1998. Ragsdale is referencing the 1955 filming of "Giant," which starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean, in Marfa, Texas

 

 

“I use heavy strings, tune low, play hard, and floor it. 'Floor it .....' That's technical talk.”

------ Stevie Ray Vaughan

 

 

"I believe musicians can run this state a lot better than politicians. We just won't get much done in the morning."

-----Kinky Friedman, musician, raconteur, and former candidate for governor of Texas

 

 

 

"The sun was fiery hot and the atmosphere like a blast from a hot air furnace, the water salt. Every branch and leaf in this country, nearly, are armed with a point and seem to poison the flesh. What a blessing the children are not here! They would be ruined."

----- Robert E. Lee in a letter to his wife from Fort Ringgold (near present day Rio Grand City), August 25th, 1856

 

 

 

It appears that some folks were glad when the second Texas State Capitol went up in flames in 1881. This following quote is a blurb from "Texas Siftings," a weekly satirical journal published in Austin. I just love the way they wrote back them ..... so adjectival. To wit:

"The architectural monstrosity [the state capitol building] that has so long disfigured the crown of the heaven-kissing hill at the head of Congress Avenue in Austin, is no more. The venerable edifice that bore such startling resemblance to a large sized corn crib, with a pumpkin for a dome, and whose halls have so often resounded with legislative eloquence, reminding the distant hearer of a dog barking up a hollow log, is gone [destroyed by fire].

It was a thrilling scene. The fire demon's cruel tongues licked the fair proportions of the historic pile, while huge volumes of black smoke poured from the doomed building, and settled over the fair city of Austin, like a sable funeral pall, enveloping in its somber folds the spires and domes that glitter on the seven hills of the Capital City of Texas, while the toot, too, toot of the fire engine and the hoarse profanity of the enthusiastic volunteer firemen, seemed a solemn and appropriate dirge as the old sarcophagus crumbled into etc... etc... But we are getting poetical and encroaching on the province of the local reporter. What we have written in the above paragraph will, however, demonstrate that we can be sentimental and pathetic when we want to. Those who imagine that the Sifters have no pathos or poetry inside them are requested to read the foregoing about the "doomed building" and the "funeral pall" over and over again.

When the alarm was given, it was supposed by a great many that the treasury, containing the million and a half cash balance, was in danger. The anxiety on the part of all classes to assist in removing the silver to a place of safety was touching. Wealthy men, who had failed in business, got up from champagne and oysters, and, bareheaded, distanced impecunious candidates and speedy journalists, who were also rushing to the front to remove the cash balance to a place of great safety ...."

------ from "Texas Siftings," a satirical weekly published in Austin, 1881. The editors apparently resented the fact that strong policemen turned back "even newspaper men" who offered to help save the Treasury's silver.

 

 

"Some big-footed long-legged galoot with more stomach than conscience stole Prof. J.E. Farrow's watermelon on Friday night. This was no ordinary melon. It was the pride of the Prof.'s heart. Farrow does not regret the loss of the melon as much as he does the loss of the seed. If some of the seed will be returned to the professor no questions will be asked."

----- Dalhart newspaper, 1907

 

 

"Whether traveling or at home, we had no peace. Not even the church was free of their antics. In many instances it might have been just horseplay, but it had serious effects on the victims. These cowboys entered the church during the services with their hats on and smoking cigarettes. They would come around the altar during the Mass and curiously examine the contents of the chalice. One of them wanted to ride into the church on horseback and see how many targets he could shoot on the walls. On the road they would shoot at the Polander's feet, in many instances wounding him. A woman, caught alone on the road, was found with a knife-stab in her back. These and many other calamities we endured. As a protection against such and against the snakes that crawled everywhere, I provided myself with a revolver. With a rosary in my pocket and the revolver hanging in a scabbard on my saddle, I went along that everyone who did not believe the word of God would believe the word of my revolver......"

-------- Father Adolf Bakanowski, the spiritual head of the Polish colony of Panna Maria, on relations with neighboring ranch hands, 1866

 

 

The following quote reminds us to let he who is without sin cast the first noose:

"It was right funny. [About 1871] I knew a fellow by the name of Denny Murphy, who drove off more cattle than anybody else ... He was just a better rustler. The cattlemen decided that Denny had better be killed. He had just left a few days before with a big herd of cattle for Denver, Colorado. The boys at Fort Griffin made up a posse, loaded up on whiskey, and started after Denny. They tried to get some of us to go, but we wouldn't go. They overtook Denny's outfit out on the Pecos about 12:00 o'clock one day. Denny had an idea they were up to something, but he had his cook prepare a good dinner for the boys. After dinner they told Murphy what they had come for. He just sort grinned and said, "Now, boys, I don't mind you fellows hanging me, but I have one request to make. I want an honest man to do it. If there is a single man in the crowd that hasn't done what I have, I want him to put the rope around my neck." The boys began to grin and look at each other. After a hearty laugh they all got back on their horses and rode back to Fort Griffin."

------- Ernesto Roberts, from an interview in the "The Anson Western Enterprise," 1923

 

 

 

 

"Did I ever tell you about Brother Foster's Thanksgiving prayer? Long ago, out in that West Cross Timbers country beyond Fort Worth, Brother Foster was famous for prayers that showed scope and style. I once heard him send up a thanksgiving prayer that was major league in all respects, and he did it standing in the kitchen door on Gramdma Hale's farm.

This old fellow was not really a preacher. But in rural regions at the time I am talking about, purebred and registered preachers were scarce and people made do with the nearest they had to the real article.

Brother Foster taught Sunday School, and did funerals, and went around comforting the sick and sorrowful, and generally made a satisfactory substitute for a preacher. My father used to say you could put a black hat on Brother Foster and hand him a Bible and a collection plate and he could pass for a preacher.

His specialty was prayers on special occasions, like at Fourth of July Picnics, ice cream suppers, Christmas gatherings, and other holiday affairs. It must have been in '31 or '32 that Brother Foster came to Gramdma Hale's farm for Thanksgiving dinner. All the women, especially, counted it a social victory to have Brother Foster for Thanksgiving. I don't know how we got him, as he was spread pretty thin over that region.

The meal was the occasion for the prayer, so it was delivered as the blessing. Or, asking the blessing, as we said, or returning thanks.

When the formal invitation was issued - "Brother Foster, will you return thanks for us?" - that luminary backed away from the table and took up a position in the doorway that led into Grandma's kitchen. Evidently he felt a need to be isolated from the general bunch.

He was a big, heavy-shouldered fellow with deep-set eyes and wavy white hair and a mighty voice. My father used to say that they ruined a first-rate preacher when they put Bro. Foster to following a mule across a cotton patch.

He waited for silence before he began. If silence took a full minute to arrive, still he waited. We were supposed to keep our heads bowed and our eyes closed but by that time I had perfected a system of looking around at things through eyes that seemed closed but really weren't.

Bro. Foster stood with his legs slightly apart and his hands behind him and his chin elevated and his eyes closed. Just when you thought he would begin, a foot would scuff or a throat would clear and he would hold off a while longer. Even a calf, bawling for its mama out at the barn, would delay his beginning.

 

He started out quietly, and built volume as he went along. He began with the food and the blessed hands that prepared it. He called Grandma by name, and I learned later that this was a high blessing, to get your name sent up in a prayer by Brother Foster, and on Thanksgiving Day, at that.

From the women he went to the men who tilled the land and brought forth its fruits. He went on to thank the Lord for the beasts that pulled the plows, and those that sacrificed their lives to give us sustenance.

Then he took up the children, and asked the Lord to bless their little hearts and keep them safe.

He went into the field of medicine and thanked the Lord for protecting those of us who hadn't caught terrible diseases or suffered crippling injuries. He got into agriculture and mentioned the good corn crop, and the cotton crop which was fair. Went then to meteorology and pointed out to God that the rains came a little too late in the season but were appreciated anyhow. He called the names of people who had died during the year, people we knew, and he gave thanks for their lives. He gave thanks for breezes that turned windmills, for pretty music, for the love of friends and kinfolks, for the very roof over our heads, for feather mattresses on cold winter nights.

This litany went on until the dressing was cold and I thought it was more a sermon than a prayer. Not until a good many years later did I understand why Bro. Foster's long prayers were sought and appreciated:

Life in that country was hard, and those folks needed somebody to remind them that they had a lot to be thankful for."

----- Leon Hale, Houston Chronicle, Nov 24, 1988

 

 

 

"I'm not saying it's windy out here, but I will say that in 1951 I was at a drive-in theater in Odessa that was showing a Western picture. At one point the wind outside my pickup got to blowing so strong it blew Gene Autry clean out of the saddle."

------ An old cowboy that I met in a honky-tonk in Midland back in 1986. I kind of didn't believe him, but I kind of did.

 

 

"If there is one instantly recognizable characteristic of West Texans it is their friendliness. It is almost impossible to overstate this trait. The newcomer, whether traveling through or settling down, finds constant and almost overwhelming welcome, even in the larger cities like Abilene, Odessa, Midland, and San Angelo. If he so desires he becomes an immediate member of whatever group he wishes.

Helpfulness is so ingrained in common affairs ----- especially at times of visible emergency ----- that other West Texans take such acts as being pulled from the ditch, driven somewhere out of the way for gasoline, or offered physical assistance in many forms almost for granted.

It is a land where the casual acquaintanceship is not only tolerated but demanded. You seldom enter one of the numerous highway cafes without getting engaged in conversation by some of the other customers or waitresses. And most times when you do not open your mouth you will still be included in whatever general conversation is taking place. Someone at the counter will address himself to the room at large, ending his declaration, perhaps, in a rhetorical question which is uttered directly at you, the stranger. The speaker may or may not expect an answer but is never displeased to get one, or a silent but agreeing nod."

----- A.C. Greene, "A Personal Country," 1979

 

 

 

"Did we have a dance? Just two days and two nights! And did we eat? We had Delmonico beat two to one, for our chef was none other than Billy Dixon, noted scout, Indian fighter, and hero of the Adobe Walls fight.

Romance was in the air, so it was quite natural when one of the handsome Turkey Track boys should toss his loop over one of our prettiest girls' wedding bells were ringing shortly after for two couples at least who were at the party.

When we got home we maybe looked and felt like the last petal of the last rose of summer in late twilight of a stormy day, but we wouldn't have missed it for anything. "

----- Mollie Montgomery remembers a fandango at the Turkey Track Ranch near Mobeetie, during the town's brief heyday in the mid-1880s.

 

 

"Every guitar has its own unique character and personality, which can be magnified once you commence to beating it up."

----- ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons

 

 

"You just can't live in Texas if you don't have a lot of soul." ------ the immortal Doug Sahm, musician extraordinaire

 

 

 

"I ain't saying he's fat. I'm just saying he's warm in the winter and shady in the summer."

------ overheard at Arkey Blues' honky tonk in Bandera, Texas, on a Saturday night in September, 2016

 

 

"Most Christmas Eve services are held within the protective walls of a church building, but one such service, conducted 116 years ago in Texas, was not.

The year was 1854 and the place was a small hill in central Texas overlooking the junction of the San Antonio and Cibolo rivers. The time was midnight. Assembled under these live oak trees on a broad, almost treeless plateau, a strangely garbed group of seven or eight hundred settlers bent in prayer as a young priest conducted Mass before an altar set under the trees.

After the service a few spent the night huddled together under the oaks, while others slept amid their belongings in shallow trenches or in the profusion of tall grass. Thus with little more than a spark of hope and the Holy Spirit to comfort and sustain them, the first emigration of Polish settlers to America passed their Christmas Eve in a strange land.

Nine weeks on a sailing ship and three weeks of foot travel through a hostile land in the dead of winter had left an indelible impression on the minds and bodies of these Polish settlers. Many later moved to other areas of Texas, but some remained to build and establish homes.

During the first year, these sturdy oaks witnessed deprivation, fever, and dissension among the settlers, who by now had little food and no money, and who spoke neither English nor Spanish. Their first homes were of pickets or sticks driven in the ground and covered with mud. The roofs were of grass, and the floors were of dirt covered with grass.

In spite of their many hardships and a dwindling population, the deeply religious people made plans to build a church that first spring. Work began in the summer, and the first Polish church in America was built beside these historic live oaks, which sheltered the first Mass.

Panna Maria, conceived of man's burning love for liberty and freedom, and born of hardship and deprivation, grew in humble and reverent obedience to God. Death of the little community is not imminent, and though these ancient oaks may never see a great city develop, Panna Maria carries the distinction of being the first Polish settlement in the New World and of having contributed to the growth of a great state. "

----- From "Famous Trees of Texas," third edition, published by the Texas Forest Service. Note: The Panna Maria Oaks can be found on the north side of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, which is located along FM 81 in Panna Maria, Texas. I have seen and photographed this group of oaks and it is gorgeous.

 

 

"Smoking, while universal, was practically restricted to cigarettes, which were pronounced cig-a-reets, and were handmade by the cowboy. Although in fact the great majority of cowboys had to use both hands in the operation of rolling and lighting, consummate elegance dictated that but a single hand should be employed; and that the rolling should be effected by the finger-tips of this single hand, or, better still, through a method which was successfully followed by some of the cowboys and was studiously attempted by all of them.

In this latter method, the paper, laid above the knee, received a charge of tobacco, and then, without change of position, was rolled into shape by a quick sweep of the ball of the thumb. Next, with the finished cigarette held between the fourth and fifth fingers of the rolling hand, the thumb and forefinger of that hand grasped one loop of the tobacco-sack's draw-string, the puncher's teeth seized the other loop, and a whirling of the sack like a windmill closed its aperture. A dab by the tongue along the papered cylinder, a match drawn by that same rolling hand across tightened trousers, and the cigarette was "working." The performance of this feat was one of the conventional ways of exhibiting ostensible nonchalance when on the back of a moving horse."

----- Phillip Ashton Rollins, "The Cowboy," 1922

 

 

"The 'catching of fire' by a pioneer plainsman became almost a science within itself ....As matches were unknown, other means of obtaining fire were necessary, the most common of which was the use of punk [ decayed wood, used as tinder] and steel. But in the prairie country, where there was no punk, the frontiersman had to turn to other ways of catching fire. A substitute for punk was frequently prepared as follows: Red corn cobs were burned to ashes, then the ashes were put in a tin plate and made into a very thin mush with water. Into this mush colored calico was put; when dried, this would readily catch fire from flint and steel.

In spells of rain the rangers were soaked and a fire became a matter of serious concern. Perhaps their powder alone was dry. As a last resort, the scout rubbed a damp rag through powder held in the palm of his hand, until it was saturated with half-melted explosive. Then he slipped off one of his Spanish spurs, placed a percussion cap at the end of a rowel, and wrapped the powder-laden rag around the rowel below the cap. He hit the cap sharply with the back of his Bowie knife. The rag caught the sparks and flashed into a blaze and burned; from this blaze the kindling was set."

----- legendary rancher Charles Goodnight in an interview with historian J. Evetts Haley, 1925

 

 

 

"More often than otherwise, the parties meet upon the plaza by chance, and each, on catching sight of his enemy, draws a revolver and fires away. As the actors are under more or less excitement, their aim is not apt to be of the most careful and sure; consequently it is, not seldom, the passers-by who suffer. Sometimes it is a young man at a quiet dinner in a restaurant who receives a ball in the head, sometimes an old negro woman returning from market who gets winged. After disposing of all their lead, the parties close to try their steel, but as this species of metallic amusement is less popular, they generally contrive to be separated ('Hold me! Hold me!') by friends before the wounds are mortal. If neither is seriously injured, they are brought to drink together on the following day, and the town waits for the next excitement."

----- Frederick Law Olmsted describes the gunplay that frequently occurred in San Antonio on the early days of Texas, "A Journey Through Texas," 1857

 

 

 

"There are very few things in life I cannot afford, but patience is one of them."

----- Larry Hagman, aka J.R. Ewing aka Major Tony Nelson aka ... you get the picture. Larry was born in Fort Worth and died in Dallas.

 

 

"In the absence of an act of God, serious family injury, or some other emergency, I pledge to stay here as the last man and to do everything I can to help other last men remain in this country. We promise to stay here ’til hell freezes over and skate out on the ice."

----- The oath of the "Last Man Club," organized by John McCarty of the Dalhart Texan during the dust bowl. The Last Man Club was a mutual support group for farmers who chose to stay in the American Great Plains in spite of the devastation caused by the Dust Bowl natural disaster of the 1930s. McCarty, an editor of the Dalhart Texan, formed the Last Man Club in Dalhart, Texas to support farmers fighting to remain in the drought-swept Great Plains or, as he called it, "Grab a Root and Growl." Members of the club pledged to help each other remain on the land for as long as possible and that each would be the last man standing

 

 

The following quote comes from Noah Smithwick's classic account of early Texas, "The Evolution of a State." Smithwick knew William Travis and Sam Houston and fought under Jim Bowie at the Battle of Concepcion a few months before the fall of the Alamo. Here, Smithwick is describing Webber's Prairie in Travis County (Austin) in 1853:

"The country was wild, and infested with predatory beasts, the most troublesome of which were the big gray wolves — lobos — 'the Mexicans called them. Many of them stood three feet high, measuring six or seven feet from tip to tip, with powerful jaws, which enabled them to drag down a grown cow single-handed if they could separate it from the band. Their endurance and speed were such that one could run down a deer.

Between my house and the timber belt of the Colorado river, stretched a prairie about a mile across. One evening near sundown, myself being away from home, my wife, looking across the prairie, saw the milk cows coming on a run and behind them two big wolves. One cow, falling a little behind the band, was seized by the foremost of the wolves, but her calls for help caused the other cattle to turn and fight the fierce brutes back. The cows then started again for home, but the wounded one again fell behind and again was seized, but she managed to tear herself loose. By this time the chase had reached half across the prairie, and my wife, unable to stand and see one of her favorites torn to pieces by their ferocious pursuers, calling to the dogs, started to the rescue.

 

The dogs, seeing the oncoming chase, dashed away and my wife after them, an unsafe thing, as the lobo had been known to make a stand and whip off dogs, and being intent on their victim, whose blood had already whetted their appetites, it would not have been surprising if they had refused to be vanquished. The dogs, encouraged by the presence and voice of their mistress, sped away on their mission of rescue, and, though wary of attacking the enemy, checked their advance, giving their torn and bleeding victim a chance to escape, till the wolves, catching sight of my wife, turned and made off to the timber. The cow was frightfully torn and died from the effects. After losing several cows and a number of calves, many of the latter being killed within a few hundred yards of the house, I began to treat the lobo family with strychnine, which noticeably decreased the loss of my cattle.

 

These wolves were a distinct species, having long, shaggy hair about the neck and shoulders, something like a lion's mane ; they did not hunt in packs, like the northern wolf, but rather in pairs. Wild cattle when attacked by them would form a ring around their calves, and presenting a line of horns fight them off; but gentle cattle were wont to break for home when frightened, as if understanding that they would be safe there, and woe to the unfortunate that fell behind. Milk cows lived on the range and were only separated from their calves during the intervals be- tween milkings, the calves being kept up during the day while the cows went out to feed, and the cows kept in at night to give the calves the benefit of pasture; so that the little bovines were at the mercy of the prowling lobos, who, under cover of darkness, ventured quite near to the house; and sometimes before we had gone to bed we would be startled by a piteous bleating, followed by an answering bellow from the cows, which would break from the inclosure and rush to the rescue, together with dogs and men; but though the wolf was cheated of his prey, he had inflicted fatal injuries, not one of the victims ever recovering."

----- Noah Smithwick, The Evolution of a State, 1899

 

 

"Wild Pigeons ---- large flocks of these birds have been wheeling and circling above in the last few days, seeking roosts and food. They make a noise in their passing like the rushing of a heavy wind, and there is a degree of grandeur in the regularity and rapidity of their movements, combined with the immensity of their number. They have made one roost about ten miles from town, and some of our neighbors went out and got some. Knocking down pigeons, netting partridges which are also in immense numbers, and hunting buffalo which range within 50 miles of town are three sources of amusement which would be considered great fun in most settled countries."

----- The Clarksville Northern Standard newspaper, 1843

 

 

"You give your hand to me

Then you say hello

I can hardly speak

My heart is beating so

And anyone can tell

You think you know me well

But you don't know me"

 

------- Cindy Walker, "You Don't Know Me" Cindy was born near Mexia, Texas, lived most of her 87 years there, and wrote top-10 hit songs in five different decades. This one, of course, has been covered by everybody from Ray Charles to Michael Buble.

 

 

 

Traces of Texas reader Robert Berryman's great aunt, Marie, was 12 years old when the great storm of 1900 destroyed Galveston. Her father was the assistant lightkeeper at the Bolivar lighthouse and the family survived the storm by riding it out in the lighthouse. She kept a diary of the events of that time and Robert's cousin posted some excerpts from it. This is an incredible read. Can you imagine being a 12-year old girl and witnessing this? It's a little gruesome so be forewarned:

 

From Marie's Diary: "It began at 7 am and ended at 6am the next morning. We lived in one of the lighthouses; my father was assistant keeper of the light. There were but a few residents near us and the business part was about a mile away. We had a pretty little home with two acres of beautiful lawn. We were in our home and a great many people came to us for refuge, and they stayed there as long as they could stay in the houses. At 6pm the water was 8 feet deep and it was coming in the house, se we all went to the lighthouse.

The lighthouse was about 150 feet from our house, so a lifeline was stretched from our house to the lighthouse. The ladies were carried there on men’s backs, while the men held on to the lifeline. After we had been in there long enough to get comfortable as anyone could expect at such times, some one cried from below that the water was rising and to move further up. But we did not move because we were fixed comfortable. We stayed where we were, but the water did not reach us.

We were sitting in a small window and it was so hot that a great many ladies wanted to break the window open. But if they had done so they would have been still hotter than ever because the door above would have had to been closed and that would close off all the air. Many children were crying for water and my brother got outside on top of the tower 125 feet high and caught the dirty water that fell off the roof. When they got the water they found it was very salty from the surf that dashed from below one hundred and twenty five feet high, and that is why the water was salty.

We had a boat and when we saw the storm was coming, we pulled it to shore and when the water got high enough we pulled the boat in our yard and tied it to the trees. But in spite of everything the boat was lost and we never saw anything of it since.

After the storm was over, many a man would have given a hundred dollars to have someone to take them to Galveston to get to their families. When we came out of the lighthouse the place was nothing but a mass of ruin. Our house was wrecked, and when we entered it we found a white pekin duck, and how he got there would be hard to say. A cow was on our back porch, and also a chicken, a dog, and a cat. All the stores had floated away and all the groceries were in the mud or floating around. Only one store was saved and it was about one mile away and that’s the only place we could get things to eat.

And when people went on the beach, they found dead people, cows, chickens, dogs, horses, birds, turtles, fishes, snakes, cats, and almost everything you could think of. The people would take the jewelry off the ladies’ fingers, and would even tear the ears to get the earrings. And to get the rings, they would pull them off with skin and all.

Many a man was shot for robbing the dead. There were so many dead people that they could hardly find room to bury them, and they had to throw them in the Gulf. They had some barges and they would put seven hundred people on a barge at a time, and throw them all in the Gulf of Mexico. They would ask a man to help bury the dead, and if he refused they would shoot him on the spot. So rather than get killed, they would try to help, but they would faint.

They burned most of the people to get rid of them and many a person noticed that they were burning their own parents or cousins, or perhaps their sisters. There was an old man with a wife and daughter that kept the life saving station. He was there alone – his wife and daughter had gone to town to do some shopping and they were drowned. After he found that he could not find their bodies he went to Port Bolivar where they kept the rings that belonged to the dead. When he went there he found his wife’s ring and he said that it was his wife’s ring, and to show him her body. They had buried her on the beach and he had her taken up and buried in the Galveston Cemetery. But if he found his daughter’s body, I do not know.

There was an old couple that kept the lighthouse in Galveston, who was worried about her son in Galveston. When the storm came up he tried to keep his light burning, but it was of no use. He had been a fine soldier in the Confederate army, and became a lighthouse keeper. The wind blew so hard it blew down a piece of slate and hit him on the head and injured him. He watched the light until it went out and of course there was no use in trying to make it burn any longer. Se he went downstairs with his wife in the front room and they stayed there together, thinking every minute they would go with the rest. But they were saved, and the next morning they could see dead bodies floating around their house. Her son was saved also.

The forts were a short distance from our house. The night of the storm the guns went boom! Boom! All night and we heard them and would say someone is in trouble. The next morning we found out it was the poor soldiers who were crying for help. When the people went on the beach, the soldiers were among the rest, and they were taken up and buried in Galveston at government expense. The way we knew about the soldiers was from only one who had escaped. He floated by the lighthouse and tried to reach it, but could not, so he floated away on the roof of an old house. Some people say they saw him riding the waves on the back of a dead mule that belonged to the soldiers.

There was a lady who stayed with us, by the name of Douglas, with her people until they could get her home, and they had a little boy that was in Galveston during the storm, and it was about a month before they ever found him. Many people were almost crazy trying to get to Galveston to get to their families. Many tried to get aboard the big vessels out in the Gulf because they thought it safer than on land.

There was a trestle that had two coal cars in the middle of it, and after the storm they had crossed the trestle, broke the switch, upset all the coal, and broke the car all to pieces. But the coal was no where to be seen – it had blown everywhere. You cannot imagine such a storm. I walked out on the beach near the wharf, and the wharf was torn off at the end where a ship had gone through."

----- Traces of Texas reader Robert Berryman's great aunt, Marie, writing in her diary about the great Galveston hurricane of 1900

 

 

 

"Once when [freight driver Bill Harelson and I] stopped for dinner at a little hotel at Paint Rock [near San Angelo], Bill began his meal by gulping down a cup of coffee, and then, searching for his sixshooter, shot a hole in the dining room floor. Whereupon the girl waiter placidly emerged from the kitchen. Holding out his cup and saucer at arm's length toward her, Bill smilingly said, "Another cup, please." It appeared that I was the only one to sense anything extraordinary about this mode of calling a waiter."

----- S.J. Houghton of Dallas, Texas, 1936

 

 

 

"When the roundup was over we went back to our routine work, but before getting down to routine duties, the waddies always took a little spell in Amarillo to shake off the roundup fever.

Amarillo was a pure cow-town those days [pre-1900] and run by stage. There were just a few womenfolks in the town, and they were at a premium. Most of the waddies would make the town after the roundup, and some of the boys would stay until all their money was gone. Some of the boys played the gambling joints, some just soaked themselves in the "pizen," and some went sally-hooting in the sally joints. Any kind of joint that a fellow wanted was in the town to satisfy the waddies' wants.

I was just a kid, but the older waddies took charge of me so I wouldn't get taken in, or get in wrong, and the boys held me down to earth, but I watched and saw the op'ra.

I saw some shootings and many bear fights. Nearly all the saloons in Amarillo, at that time, had bull-pens at the rear of the joints. The purpose for which the bull-pens were built was to have a place to shunt the fellows who became overloaded where they could sleep off the load of "pizen"; also to prevent interference from the law or meddling gentry who were looking for a chance to swipe a roll of money. The bull-pen was also used for a battle ground. When a couple of fellows got riled at each other they were shunted into the bull-pen to cool off. The saloon bouncers would take the guns away from the riled men and push them into the bull-pen to settle the argument, bear-fight fashion. That method saved a lot of shooting but could not always be worked in all cases, and there was an occasional shooting."

---- ancient trail cowboy Richard Murphy, as quoted in "Texas Cowboy," edited by Jim and Judy Lanning, 1984

 

 

"Poor meals and poor horses were constant companions of negro troopers The post surgeon [in 1870] at Fort Concho put it bluntly. The food was inferior to that provided at other posts. The bread was sour, beef of poor quality, and the canned peas not fit to eat. There were none of the staples common at other posts – molasses, canned tomatoes, dried apples, dried peaches, sauerkraut, potatoes, or onions. The butter was made of suet, and there was only enough flour for the officers. Certainly there were no visions of a sumptuous repast in the minds of worn-out troopers coming in to Concho after days or weeks in the field.

Off-post recreation, of a sort, was available in the sordid little towns that blossomed around the posts, but a good soldier had no cause to seek trouble, as it was already awaiting him. If a trooper was unfortunate enough to lose his life in a clash with a white citizen, his comrades could hardly expect that justice would be served. One such citizen, John Jackson, a settler near Fort McKavett, murdered a negro infantryman, private Boston Henry, in cold blood, long eluded the law and in the process shot and killed Corporal Albert Marshall and Private Charles Murray of F Compny, stationed at Fort Mckavett. When finally apprehended and brought to trial, a jury quickly set him free."

------- William H. Leckie, "The Buffalo Soldiers, a Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West," 1967

 

 

"Not long after my second birthday, Hank Williams made his next-to-last public appearance at Cook’s Hoedown, East Houston’s premier hillbilly nightspot. Rejecting the notion that I was too young to enjoy the experience, my father appointed me his preferred companion for the evening. Hoisted high on his shoulders, my legs straddling his neck, I felt my senses dawning in this new world like the first few pieces being fitted into a puzzle. The eddy of cool air wafting down from overhead awakened the feeling I was somewhere very different from my usual surroundings, the hush of anticipation in the audience stirring the suspicion that I was part of something incomprehensibly great. A thunderous man-made roar tested the building’s rafters for structural weakness and overwhelmed my fledgling sensory receptors even further, but somehow I was made to understand that this kaleidoscope of sound, color and chaos was nothing I need fear. And then there was the light. Two weeks shy of fading away forever in the backseat of a powder-blue Cadillac convertible, Hank Williams was suddenly spotlit and burning on center stage, the embodiment of the lone flaming star. Visions of a distant paradise bobbed in the wake of his brilliance. I’d have joined the light then and there were it not for the scent of hair tonic and Old Spice aftershave that tethered me to my father’s shoulders.

The pulse of the music matched my beating heart perfectly, and I took comfort in this. And yet it’s the memory of my father that holds in place the memory of seeing and feeling a Hank Williams performance.

My father idolized him, and reminding me I once saw “ole Hank” sing was something he never tired of. It was the part of his legacy he savored the most. Knowing he’d exposed his only son to the greatness in another man that he imagined in himself served to soften the hard fact that his own dreams would never materialize. Hank Williams was what my father wanted to be—a Grand Ole Opry singing star. Taking me to see him perform was his way of saying, Look at me up there on that stage, son, that’s who I really am. This is the truest picture of my father that I own, though at times I strain to see it."

------- Rodney Crowell, "Chinaberry Sidewalks," 2011. By the way, the book, which is autobiographical, is HIGHLY recommended. Rodney is a beautiful writer.

 

 

"Johnny Bush.

Good friend. Good drummer. Good singer. Good levitator.

Johnny Bush and I go way back, at least 50 years, to when I was a deejay at KBOP in Pleasanton, Texas, and playing clubs in and around San Antonio. I played in his band, and at one time I was also his personal manager. I was mostly a guitar player and John was the singer.

I remember we played a club in San Antonio called "Al's Country Club." The owner later changed the name to Mugwomp's. We asked him why he changed the name. He said, "The mugwomp is the meanest animal on the planet. It is like a huge dog with a head on both ends." We asked him, "Well how does it crap?" He said, "He don't. That's what makes him so mean."

Later on, Johnny played in my band. We called ourselves "The Offenders." Then John started fronting my band, and Paul English played drums behind John until I came on, and Johnny went back and played drums. Then Johnny started recording on his own, and we started calling him "Winni Mac Pigs**t Bush," a name he still loves to this day.

And then Johnny wrote "Whiskey River." He has been exceedingly wealthy ever since. He doesn't need to sing anymore, or write books. He only does it to serve his public, which he deeply loves.

So John, in the words of Dr. Ben Dorsey, "If you ever need a friend, buy a dog." And if there is anything that I can ever do for you, forget it.

 

Yours in country music,

 

Willie Nelson

 

P.S. Me and Texas and the rest of the world are very proud of Johnny Bush. Love forever. WN

 

P.P.S. Oh, about that levitation act. Apparently some stories cannot be told even in a tell-all book like this."

 

-------- Willie Nelson, writing the forward to Johnny Bush's autobiography "Whiskey River (Take My Mind)

 

 

 

"Bread or no bread, the excellence of anything was summed up in the phrase, 'As good as venison and honey.' Nobody ever appreciated this particular goodness more than Gideon Linecum, unflagging in his passion for liberty and knowledge of nature, his genius flavored with a tang as sharp as the juice of the mustang grape. Of his wanderings through the Texas wilderness in 1835, he wrote: 'I lived plentifully all the while. Three or four times I found honey. Once I tried fish. I did not relish them ---- had no bread or salt. But every time I found honey I would have a feast of the first order. I could kill venison any time, and to broil the back-straps of a deer on the coals, dip the point of the done meat into the honey, and then seize it off in your teeth and saw it off with your knife, is the best and most pleasant way to eat it. I have often thought that there could be no other preparation of food for man that is so suitable, so natural, so agreeable, and so exactly suited to his constitutional requirements.'"

------ J. Frank Dobie, "Tales of Old Time Texas," 1928

 

 

 

"Several of the young men have been in the habit lately of buying reserved seats in the opera house and presenting them to prostitutes. It is bad enough for them to buy the seats for these women at all, but it is a thousand times worse when they take advantage of the management to purchase seats in parts of the house where they know full well these women are not allowed to sit. Several prostitutes occupied such seats on the night of "Charley's Aunt," and the managers are anxious for the public to understand how it occurred, and to know exactly where the blame should rest. Fallen women are not allowed in any seats in the opera house except from the third dress circle row back, and in the gallery. And if they impose upon the management again as they have been doing, they will have to occupy the gallery or not enter the house. And further than this, the name of the person who buys tickets for them in the wrong part of the house will be published."

----- El Paso Times Newspaper, 1894

 

 

" I love Austin. To me, Austin is Texas going to the prom after eating some mushrooms."

----- Nick Offerman, the actor best known as "Ron Swanson" on TV's "Parks and Recreation," at an Austin book signing

 

 

 

"He's a carved-in-granite, samurai poet warrior Gypsy guitar-pickin' wild man with a heart as big as Texas and the greatest sense of humor in the West."

----- Texan Kris Kristofferson, speaking about his friend and fellow Texan Willie Nelson

 

 

 

"When General Houston's army was retreating from Gonzales, some of his men camped near a widow's home and made fire of her fence rails. The brave woman gave the culprits a piece of her mind, and just then General Houston rode up and tried to pacify her by saying that as soon as he whipped Santa Anna, he would return and compel his men to make rails for her until she was satisfied. "You'll never come back," she screamed. "You cowardly old rascal. You'll come a runnin' as long as your lazy legs will carry you. You look like whuppin' Santa Anna, you a-runnin' like hell and a' goin' so fast your men can't keep up with you, just stoppin' long enough to burn a poor woman's rails!" General Houston rode away smiling, and when he became President of Texas he sent her a fine clock as a gift and saw that she was paid for her rails."

------- Frontier Times magazine, March, 1926

 

 

"I thought: Now I know why I am not a revolutionary ---- have never had a desire to kick over old, established things. It's because The Hill Country does not teach you the need for change. The land is always so satisfying that you want it to remain the same forever as a kind of handy immortality."

------ Elroy Bode, "This Favored Place," 1983

 

 

 

The following is an obituary for Sam Houston that appeared in the Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph after he passed away in 1863:

 

"DEATH OF GEN. HOUSTON

 

It is with deep and heartfelt sorrow that we announce the death of Gen. Sam Houston. It took place at his residence in Huntsville, on the 26th inst, at a quarter past 6 P. M. A letter from his physician, says:

 

"He died after an illness of five weeks. At one time during his sickness, hopes were entertained of his recovery, but his improvement was only apparent and it soon became evident that the band of death was upon him. To his numerous friends it will doubtless be a matter of great satisfaction to care that in his last hours he was sustained by the christian's hope and that he died the death of the righteous."

Thus has passed away one of the great men of the age. Say what we may of General Houston, we can but accord to him the merit of having filled his full share of the history of the last forty years. His life has been a remarkable one. Whether as Governor of Tennessee, when he was but a little over thirty years of age, or as chief of the Cherokees, or as a hero of the Texas revolution, or still later in the political arena of these last past years, he has always occupied a high place in the public consideration. He has not always been right, nor has he always successful, but he has always left the impress of his mind upon the times in which he has acted.

What were the springs of action to his mind, who dare undertake to tell? What drove him when he was on the high road to fame, and the enjoyment of life, the governor of a great State, the idol of a great people, to cast himself loose from them all and plunge into the wilderness of the West, and become the companion of savages? What led him afterwards, restated in the paths of civilization, honored Senator of another great State, and the beloved idol of its people, to again cast himself loose from their convictions of right, and in defiance of their feelings yield his assent to the designs of their enemies? Who can tell? What ever it was, the ease with which he regained of his fellow citizens, in both these instances, are among the most remarkable incidents in history.

After being lost for years in the wilderness, he re-visited Tennessee, and was received with the most flattering attentions by the whole people. He entered Texas, and was made little less than dictator. After being repudiated by the people of Texas twenty years later, denied his seat in the Senate, cast off by many who had always before voted for him, he took the field against a powerful and well organized party, and again the people flocked to his support and made him Governor.

Such power over men is unquestionably the most remarkable trait of his character. There in lay the greatness of Sam Houston. It was not in his virtue, for in the course of his life he has passed through what would have been degradation to other men and from the couch of the debauchee he has risen to the throne of power, his faculties unimpaired and his authority unquestioned. It was not in his generosity of heart, for a man who is slow to forgive as was General Houston, is not a natural lover of his kind. But it was in the certain power of discovering the springs of human action, a knowledge of human nature, and an ability to use his knowledge which few men possess.

To write a history of the life of Sam Houston is not our part. His history is too well know to make it necessary. To picture his character is also a task that may well be left to the public at large, to whom he is as well know as to us. We pity the heart that could now conceive evil of him. His noble qualities are before the people.

Let us shed tears to his memory, due to one who has filled so much of our affections. Let the whole people bury with him whatever of unkindness they had for him. Let his monument be in the hearts of those who people the land, to which his latter years were devoted. Let his fame sacredly cherished by Texans, as a debt not less to his distinguished services than own honor, of which he was always so jealous and so proud."

----- obituary for Sam Houston, Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph, 1863

 

 

 

How three eyewitnesses saw the 1895 shooting of John Wesley Hardin, the most notorious gunslinger in the Old West, in El Paso.

"My name is Frank Patterson. I am a bar tender at present at the Acme saloon. This evening about 11 o'clock J. W. Hardin was standing with Henry Brown shaking dice and Mr. Selman walked in at the door and shot him. Mr. G. L. Shackleford was also in the saloon at the time the shooting took place. Mr. Selman said something as he came in at the door. Hardin was standing with his back to Mr. Selman. I did not see him face around before he fell or make any motion. All I saw was that Mr. Selman came in the door, said something and shot and Hardin fell. Don't think Hardin ever spoke. The first shot was in the head."

"My name is E.L. Shackeford. At the time I met Mr. Selman he was in the saloon drinking with several others ... I advised him as a friend not to get under the influence of liquor. We walked out on the sidewalk and came back into the saloon, I being some distance ahead of Selman, walking towards the back of the saloon. There I heard shots fired. I can't say who fired the shots, as I did not see it. I did not turn around but left immediately. The room was full of powder smoke, and I could nae have seen anything anyway."

"My name is Henry Brown. We were shaking dice. I heard a shot fired and Mr. Hardin fell at m feet at my left side. I heard three or four shots fired. I then left, went out the back door, and don't know what occurred afterward. When the shot was fired, Mr. Hardin was against the bar, facing it, as near as I can say, and his back was towards the direction the shot came from. I did not see him make any effort to get his six-shooter. The last words he spoke before the first shot were. ;Four sixes to beat,' and they were addressed to me."

------ three accounts of the murder of John Wesley Hardin by John Selman in El Paso's Acme Saloon in 1895; Selman himself was shot dead about 10 months later

 

 

"We bedded our cattle for the last time near Abilene, Kansas. The boss let myself and another boy go to the city one day. As it had been a long time since we had seen a house or a woman, they were good to look at. I wore a black plush hat which had a row of small stars around the rim, with buck-skin strings to tie and hold on my head. We went into town, tied our ponies, and the first place we visited was a saloon and dance hall. We ordered toddies like we had seen older men do, and drank them down, for we were dry, very dry, as it had been a long ways between drinks. I quit my partner, as he had a girl to talk to, so I went out and in a very short time I went into another store and saloon. I got another toddy, my hat began to stiffen up, but I pushed it up in front, moved my pistol to where it would be handy, then sat down on a box in the saloon and picked up a newspaper and thought I would read a few lines, but my two toddies were at war, so I could not very well understand what I read.

I got up and left for more sights— you have seen them in Abilene, Dodge City and any other place those days. I walked around for perhaps an hour. The two toddies were making me feel different to what I had felt for months, and I thought it was about time for another, so I headed for a place across the street, where I could hear a fiddle. It was a saloon, gambling and dance hall. Here I saw an old long-haired fellow dealing monte. I went to the bar and called for a toddy, and as I was drinking it a girl came up and put her little hand under my chin, and looked me square in the face and said, "Oh, you pretty Texas boy, give me a drink." I asked her what she wanted and she said anything I took, so I called for two toddies. My, I was getting rich fast —a pretty girl and plenty of whiskey. My old hat was now away back on my head.

My boss had ,given me four dollars spending money and I had my five-dollar bill, so I told the girl that she could make herself easy; that I was going to break the monte game, buy out the saloon, and keep her to run it for me when I went back to Texas for my other herd of cattle. Well, I went, to the old longhaired dealer, and as he was making a new layout I put my five on the first card (a king) and about the third pull I won. I now had ten dollars and I thought I had better go and get another toddy before I played again. As I was getting rich so fast, I put the two bills on the tray and won. Had now twenty dollars, so I moved my hat back as far as it would go and went to get a drink— another toddy, but my girl was gone. I wanted to show her that I was not joking about buying out the saloon after I broke the bank.

After this drink things did not look so good. I went back and it seemed to me that I did not care whether I broke him or not. I soon lost all I had won and my old original five. When I quit him my hat was becoming more settled, getting down in front, and I went out, found my partner and left for camp. The next morning, in place of owning a saloon and going back to Texas after my other herds, I felt—oh! what's the use? You old fellows know how I felt."

------ J.L. McCaleb, as quoted in "The Trail Drivers of Texas," 1925

 

 

"There is an old army story to the effect that, when General [Zachary] Taylor's little army was on the march from Corpus Christ to Matamoras, a soldier on the flak of the column came upon and fired at a Longhorn bull. The bull immediately charged, and the soldier, taking to his heels, ran headlong, scattering several regiments like chaff, finally escaping unhurt, having demoralized and put to flight an army which a few days after covered itself with glory by victoriously encountering five times its numbers of human enemies."

------ Richard Irving Dodge, "The Hunting Grounds of the Great West," 1878

 

 

"The year was 1904, Teddy Roosevelt was President, Archie Hahn was the world's fastest human, Jim Jeffries was the heavyweight champion, the New York Giants under John McGraw had won the National League pennant, and down in the Texas cattle country Jack Abernathy was catching wolves bare-handed.

Which seems a rather interesting occupation and one not to be taken lightly. There had been nothing in Abernathy's background that gave a hint he would become involved in so risky a pastime. Abernathy was born in Bosque County. At nine, he was a working cowboy and by 15 he was breaking horses in the Texas Panhandle on Charles Goodnight's JA Ranch. But for those times and that country this wasn't particularly unusual. The only clue that Abernathy might be subject to aberrant whims came at 17 when he decided to be a musician.

The question that comes to mind is why he wanted to catch a wolf bare-handed or why ANYONE would want to.

Abernathy caught his first wolf without giving much thought to danger. It was a mistake, done, he said later, in a hasty moment. When he was 15 he was working as a cow-puncher for the JA ranch. Working cattle one day, two greyhounds of which he was very fond jumped a wolf. After a chase the wolf turned and bayed. By the time Abernathy rode up, one dog had been disemboweled and the other was being chewed. Abernathy had no gun and, without thinking, jumped from his horse and started for the fight. He was a young man noted for his exceptional quickness and agility, but, even so, a big wolf—and this one weighed about 125 pounds, almost as much as Abernathy—has canines an inch long and jaws that can crush bones. Abernathy later wrote that his only concern was getting the wolf off his dog, and that he expected the beast to run away.

Instead, the wolf attacked Abernathy, lunging for his throat. Instinctively he threw up a hand, thrusting it sideways into the wolf's mouth. He then grabbed the wolf with his free arm and threw it on its back, and he discovered that as long as he kept the animal's lower jaw open it could not bite him. They struggled, the animal scratching and clawing. Once, Abernathy lost his hold and had to retake it. The scramble ended in a standoff with Abernathy on top of the wolf, holding on to its jaw for dear life, and the animal sulking beneath him. Abernathy was cut and bleeding when his brother, who had missed him, rode up. Abernathy later told his son that his brother said, "Well, what have you got there, Jack?" and he said, "I've got something captured I can't get loose from." His brother wanted to shoot the wolf, but Abernathy decided that since he'd got that far he was going to take the animal back alive. He made a running hitch with cord around the wolf's jaws, jerked his hand out, and with a quick pull tied its mouth shut. Then he slung it over his saddle and took it back to camp.

They say Abernathy caught a few more wolves at this time, but it was more for the sport of the thing and it wasn't until years later that he got serious about wolves. Instead, he decided to become a musician, got married, began selling pianos and raising a family, including two sons. It's important to take note of these two sons because they figure in the story later and they were just a bit unusual, too, maybe even more so than their father.

After Abernathy quit being a musician and piano salesman he returned to cowboying and catching wolves. Only this time he discovered that he had a real knack for wolf catching and he began doing it full time, selling the animals to zoos, circuses and traveling shows for $50 each. His fame spread and Teddy Roosevelt heard about him. Teddy, of course, couldn't let something unusual and outdoorsy go uninvestigated. A month after he was sworn in for his second term as President, Roosevelt arrived in Frederick, Okla. to watch Jack Abernathy catch a live wolf. That made everyone nervous, including the governor of Texas, S.W.T. Lanham, who sent Texas Rangers to provide Roosevelt with added protection. According to newspaper accounts, Roosevelt was immediately taken with Jack Abernathy and with Abernathy's famous wolf-hunting horse, "Sam Bass." The President and Abernathy posed for pictures, the two looking bully and the Secret Service men looking apprehensive.

The first morning, Roosevelt joined the 10-mile chase over broken and rocky land. He later wrote: "...just as they crossed the creek the greyhound made a rush, pinned the wolf by the hind leg and threw it. There was a scuffle, then a yell from the greyhound as the wolf bit it. At the bite the hound let go...and at that moment Abernathy, who had ridden his horse right on them as they struggled, leaped off and sprang on top of the wolf. He held the reins of the horse with one hand and thrust the other, with a rapidity and precision even greater than the rapidity of the wolf's snap, into the wolf's mouth, jamming his hand down crosswise between the jaws, seizing the lower jaw and bending it down so the wolf could not bite him...with his knees he kept the wolf from using its forepaws to break the hold until it gave up struggling. When he thus leaped on and captured this coyote it was entirely free, the dogs having let go of it; and he was obliged to keep hold of the reins of the horse with one hand. I was not 20 yards distant at the time.... It was as remarkable a feat of the kind as I have ever seen."

Of course, they had trouble with Roosevelt because he wanted to catch a wolf, too. The Secret Service finally talked him out of that, and he turned his attention to killing rattlesnakes, one as long as five feet, with his riding quirt.

Roosevelt wasn't the only one of the party who wanted to try catching wolves. It was reported in the Daily Oklahoman that two others attempted it and had their hands badly mangled. When Roosevelt asked Abernathy about his technique, he said, "Well, Mr. President, you must remember that a wolf never misses its aim when it snaps. When I strike at a wolf with my right hand I know it's going into the wolf's mouth."

During his career Abernathy caught about a thousand wolves. He wrote: "Usually I wore a thin glove, the thinner the better. I wore this glove merely to prevent the sharp canine teeth of the wolf from splitting open the skin of my hand. In thrusting my hand into the mouth of a biting wolf, sometimes the sharp teeth would scratch the skin if I didn't have on a thin glove." In a book he wrote called Catch-'Em-Alive Jack, Abernathy talked about trying to teach others the process. "Nearly all were able to make the catch so far as letting the wolf have their hand. But when the savage animal would clamp down on the hand, the student would become frightened, fearing the hand would be ruined forever. Instead of holding fast to the lower jaw, the student would quit. Consequently the wolf would then almost ruin the hand."

One of Abernathy's sons, Temple, talks of witnessing such an instance as a small boy: "Dad was trying to teach a Mexican cowhand who was around the camp. The man got the wolf all right, but then he got scared and let go and the wolf bit him viciously. He died a few days later. Loss of blood or some such."

In his book Abernathy claimed that the only time he was badly bitten was when he was catching wolves for a Colonel Cecil A. Lyon near Sherman, Texas. He had caught several wolves successfully, but then he had a few drinks of whiskey and the next wolf bit him. He later said the whiskey had ruined his timing.

Temple says the worst bite his father got was from his very first wolf. "Dad told me he was surprised at how easy he got that wolf down and thought he had a good chance of getting out of a bad spot unharmed. So he went to jerk away, but when he did, the wolf got him by the wrist and bit him pretty bad. Dad pried open his mouth and took his hold again, but the wolf had severed the artery in the wrist, and he was losing blood pretty fast when my uncle rode up. When they got back to camp, that big vessel was sticking out about half an inch and spurting blood. Dad tried to shove it back in under the skin, but it wouldn't go. Finally, he just stretched it and cut if off with some shears they had around the wagon, tied it and stopped the bleeding."

When Roosevelt returned to Washington, he sent for Abernathy and asked him what federal office he would like to hold. Abernathy said he'd like to be the United Slates marshal for the Oklahoma Territory and Roosevelt appointed him on the spot at a salary of $5,000 a year. Later, the President wrote:

 

My Dear Marshal:

I guess you had better not catch live wolves as a part of a public exhibition while you are Marshal. If on a private hunt you catch them, that would be all right, but it would look too much as if you were going into show business if you took part in a public celebration.

 

Give my regards to all your family.

I am sure you are doing well in your position.

Sincerely, President Theodore Roosevelt."

 

------ From a 1976 Sports Illustrated Article about Jack Abernathy

 

 

 

"An old, old man got to remembering down in Texas the other day, and when somebody questioned a statement he made, he hauled forth from the tray of an ancient horsehair trunk yellowed letters that have the haughtiest crest of British royalty, and two very famous signatures.

When he showed them around, he not only convinced his hearers that his story was true, but he made public for the first time a tale of both homely and historic value ---- a tale that casts a very human sidelight upon the most famous of modern monarchs, Queen Victoria.

The venerable Texan's name is Shannon ----- last survivor of that famous family that, headed by Colonel Thomas Jefferson Shannon, prairie-schoonered its way into that vast and howling wilderness in the days of head-rights and buffalo. The old Colonel, a bluff, hard riding, sharp-shooting old plainsman, is remembered as the man who introduced the Red Durham strain into the cattle business of the West.

It now appears that that start ----- probably the parent herd of all the Durham cattle in America today, was a male and two females sent to Colonel Shannon by none other than Victoria, herself, and sent to him merely because he wrote her a letter saying he'd like a sample of the cattle she liked best.

He was only a plainsman living in an uncharted wilderness, but ... he sat down and wrote the Queen of England ... simply asked her to sell him some of her livestock. He told her who he was, where he lived, and what he wanted with it. The order was for a male and two females, and he generously offered to let her set any price she thought was fair.

Two months later the Queen herself wrote. It was a friendly but business-like letter. She said she'd be glad to let the colonel have the stock as he requested, and if he'd pay the freight on them from New Orleans to his North Texas home, she'd be glad to make him a present of them .... and in 1848 the bull and two cows landed from a British ship in New Orleans.

The colonel conveyed them carefully from there to North Texas. There were no railroads, but he placed them in wagons. At frequent intervals he unloaded them, fed them, and let them graze for a day or two. He at last got them home in perfect condition and they founded the herd that was the sensation of the old Southwest.

The old colonel never forgot the graciousness of England's queen. He sent her reports from time to time as to how her transplanted stock was flourishing in the New World. He named his first daughter "Victoria" in her honor and one of his sons was christened "Albert" in honor of her consort."

------- Norfolk (Virginia) News, March 20, 1926. I love little slices of human-interest history like this one. To think that the Queen of England would be so humored by this simple Texan's letter that she would actually send a bull and two cows all the way to New Orleans at her own expense is just too great.

 

 

"In that day [1870s] there was truly a hard set congregated in Houston. It seemed to me that the sole business of most of them was drinking liquor and playing cards, varied now and then by a little recreation in the way of ''target shooting" at each other with their double barrel guns and derringers. I was walking leisurely along Main street, when I heard the reports of two or three pistols in rapid succession, and shortly afterwards I noticed a small crowd collected in front of a shanty, over the door of which was a board with the following legend inscribed on one side: ''The First Chance," and on the other*'The Last Chance," thus appropriately soliciting the custom of thirsty wayfarers, coming into or going out of town.

I stepped up to one of the crowd collected around this "juicery" and inquired if anything unusual had happened. "No," said he, "nothing more common. Bob Sprowls and Arkansaw Jake had a little misunderstanding 'bout a game of poker just now, and Jake 'upped him' with a derringer, that's all." "And where is Sprowls now?" said I. "Well, some of his friends carried him off to the drug store to see if the doctor could do anything for him, but I reckon he can't do much for a fellow that's got a half ounce bullet through his lights."

"And where is Arkansaw Jake now?" I asked. "Have they arrested him?" "Arrested thunderation!" replied my informant, ''you must be green from the States— he's there," pointing to the door ofthe juicery. "Seth Blake has taken Spowls' hand, and they are finishing the game— and by the by, my young man," he continued, "you'd better git out of the range of that door, for I heard Arkansaw Jake jess now tell Seth he was renigging, and I reckon 'twont be long afore another derringer goes off."

I got out of the range of that door promptly and returned to my hotel, satisfied that the "lions" of Houston were a unique species, and were very dangerous animals to tamper with. "

------ John C. Duval, "The Young Explorers," 1892

 

 

"The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland."

----- historian Jack MaGuire

 

 

"He walked out of the valley, as lean as a mesquite post and just about as gnarled, his eyes harsh and stubborn like the land around him. He paused to kick at a clump of prickly pear cactus that held on selfishly to a patch of dirt that had washed down among the rocks. He looked out as the bluebonnets, the Indian Paintbrush, the clover, the purple, orange and red haze that ran up and down the gentle hillsides without going anywhere at all, the beauty amid the bristles.

In the rugged valley from whence he came, he saw the face of Texas the way the mythical Texas is supposed to be:big and empty, delicate yet defiant, tough as boot leather and just about as polished.

"This land ain't worth a plugged nickel," he explained, a definite German accent rolling off his tongue. "I've seen cows walk for ten miles just tryin' to find an acre of grass to chew on. 'Bout all you can raise on it is rocks and a little Cain now and then." He paused and sighed. "It's poor, useless, good for nothin', and too dadgummed hard to even leave a footprint. But ain't it pretty?"

And so it was. The old man grinned again, bent low into the wind, and slowly shuffled away. I looked close. There were no footprints behind him to even prove he had ever come to or from the valley that separated Kerrville from Medina."

----- Caleb Pirtle III, "The Genuine Old-Fashioned, Down-Home, Home Grown Official Texas Cookbook," 1990

 

 

"As a Texan and a country music fan, I didn't LEARN George Strait songs; I knew them the same way I know English. In Texas, when you get your first car at 16 or 17 years old, it comes standard with a George Strait Greatest Hits along with brakes and A/C."

----- Country Musician Jack Ingram

 

 

 

"I come from a long line of dancers. My maternal grandfather, a short, squat blacksmith named Daddy Harrell, was the king of country dancing ... Everything was music to Daddy Harrell. A mule could bray and he'd mistake it for a melody. .. When Aunt Esther sang at Mam Harrell's funeral, it was all they could do to hold Daddy Harrell down and keep him from dancing over her coffin. He cried, 'They who hear not the music think the dancers mad.' Then he sat down and let the preacher finish."

 

----- Bill Porterfield, "The Greatest Honky Tonks in Texas," 1983. Note: You know, besides being a wise observation and a bumper sticker slogan in and of itself, this is the PERFECT comeback. How many times have you been been caught doing something really stupid and, when somebody calls you out on it, you don't have a comeback? Well here is the perfect comeback right here. Example: "Traces, what in tarnation were you thinking, climbing 475 feet up that giant television broadcast antenna?" "Those who hear not the music think the dancers mad!" Not that I, myself, have ever illegally climbed one of those towers, mind you. Of course not. That would be dangerous. But still, you can see where this response would come in handy, right?

 

 

 

"I have lived long enough to know that nothing has been screwed up so bad that I can't screw it up some more."

----- overheard at the Starlight Theater in Terlingua on New Year's Eve, 2016

 

 

 

"That night he dreamt of horses in a field on a high plain where the spring rains had brought up the grass and the wild flowers out of the ground and the flowers ran all blue and yellow far as the eye could see and in the dream he was among the horses running and in the dream he himself could run with the horses and they coursed the young mares and fillies over the plain where their rich bay and their rich chestnut colors shone in the sun and the young colts ran with their dams and trampled down the flowers in a haze of pollen that hung in the sun like powdered gold and they ran he and the horses out along the high mesas where the ground resounded under their running hooves and they flowed and changed and ran and their manes and tails blew off of them like spume and there was nothing else at all in that high world and they moved all of them in a resonance that was like a music among them and they were none of them afraid horse nor colt nor mare and they ran in that resonance which is the world itself and which cannot be spoken but only praised."

----- Cormac McCarthy, "All the Pretty Horses"

 

 

 

"You never know what worse luck your bad luck might have saved you from."

------ Cormac McCarthy, "No Country for Old Men"

 

 

 

"When the wind was in the north you could hear them [the Comanches], the horses and the breath of the horses and the horses' hooves that were shod in rawhide and the rattle of lances and the constant drag of the travois poles in the sand like the passing of some enormous serpent and the young boys naked on wild horses jaunty as circus riders and hazing wild horses before them and the dogs trotting with their tongues aloll and foot-slaves following half naked and sorely burdened and above all the low chant of their traveling song which the riders sang as they rode, nation and ghost of nation passing in a soft chorale across that mineral waste to darkness, bearing lost to all history and all remembrance like a grail the sum of their secular and transitory and violent lives."

----- Cormac McCarthy, "All the Pretty Horses"

 

 

 

"He stood hat in hand over the unmarked earth. This woman who had worked for his family fifty years. She had cared for his mother as a baby and she had worked for his family long before his mother was born and she had known and cared for the wild Grady boys who were his mother's uncles and who had all died so long ago and he stood holding his hat and he called her his abuela and he said goodbye to her in Spanish and then turned and put on his hat and turned his wet face to the wind and for a moment he held out his hands as if to steady himself or as if to bless the ground there or perhaps as if to slow the world that was rushing away and seemed to care nothing for the old or the young or rich or poor or dark or pale or he or she. Nothing for their struggles, nothing for their names. Nothing for the living or the dead.

IN FOUR DAYS' riding he crossed the Pecos at Iraan Texas and rode up out of the river breaks where the pumpjacks in the Yates Field ranged against the skyline rose and dipped like mechanical birds. Like great primitive birds welded up out of iron by hearsay in a land perhaps where such birds once had been…..The desert he rode was red and red the dust he raised, the small dust that powdered the legs of the horse he rode, the horse he led. In the evening a wind came up and reddened all the sky before him. There were few cattle in that country because it was barren country indeed yet he came at evening upon a solitary bull rolling in the dust against the bloodred sunset like an animal in sacrificial torment.

The bloodred dust blew down out of the sun. He touched the horse with his heels and rode on. He rode with the sun coppering his face and the red wind blowing out of the west across the evening land and the small desert birds flew chittering among the dry bracken and horse and rider and horse passed on and their long shadows passed in tandem like the shadow of a single being. Passed and paled into the darkening land, the world to come...

----- Cormac McCarthy, "All the Pretty Horses"

 

 

"He rode with the sun coppering his face and the red wind blowing out of the west. He turned south along the the old war tail and he rode out to the crest of a low rise and dismounted and dropped the reins and walked out and stood like a man come to the end of something.

There was an old horse skull in the brush and he squatted and picked it up and turned it in his hands. Frail and brittle. Bleached paper white. He squatted in the long light holding it, the comicbook teeth loose in their sockets. The joints in the cranium like a ragged welding of the bone plates. The muted run of sand in the brainbox when he turned it.

What he loved in horses was what he loved in men, the blood and the heat of the blood that ran in them. All his reverence and all his fondness and all the leanings of his life were for the ardenthearted and they would always be so and never be otherwise."

------ Cormac McCarthy, "All the Pretty Horses"

 

 

"In the afternoon he rode through the McKenzie crossing of the Clear Fork of the Brazos River and he and the horse walked side by side down the twilight toward the town where in the long red dusk and in the darkness the random aggregate of the lamps formed slowly a false shore of hospice cradled on the low plain before them. They passed enormous ricks of bones, colossal dikes composed of horned skulls and the crescent ribs like old ivory bows heaped in the aftermath of some legendary battle, great levees of them curving away over the plain into the night."

----- Cormac McCarthy, "Blood Meridian"

 

 

"Part of the problem was his charm. At first blush women loved him. He approached young and old with equal gallantry and broke many a heart when they realized he was here today and gone tomorrow. Among men he mixed well. On those small-town sidewalk Saturdays he could be as courtly as a colonel to the promenading ladies and then duck into the pool hall and cue up and casually cuss with the best. And of course he always had a proposition, a little something for everyone, a side deal here, a bigger deal there. The war was on abroad, and although we weren't in it yet, we were already feeling the pinch of shortage and hearing talk of rationing. If your lady didn't like nylons, Uncle John could get her silk. In a dry county he knew the bootleg, in a tight country the black market."

----- Billy Porterfield, describing his Uncle John Pierson, a man who was not related to him by blood but who became his "Uncle" when, in 1941, his parents left a young Billy to live with Mr. Pierson as they left Texas to go to Oklahoma to tend to Billy's dying grandmother. The portrait of Pierson that Porterfield paints in "A Loose Herd of Texans" is wonderfully comic.

 

 

 

"The family had not yet entered the sanctuary, but at our backs we were startled to see an unmistable likeness of the dead man standing in the doorway. It could have been Hunt himself, thirty years younger. "Hassie!" someone whispered. And indeed it was. Haroldson Lafayette Hunt III, the old man's eldest son, the gentle one who was said to live in a world of his own. Some great tragedy had befallen him, and he had lived close to the side of his father. Once, it was said, he had shown the same managerial genius as the father, only to retreat from the world of men and affairs.

Some said Hassie's tragedy was his experience in the Second World War. Others said he had never gone to war, that he had changed because he could not stand up to the pressure of being a great man's son. Is it indelicate and inaccurate of me to slip here into heresay? What the mourners said that day, and what the press and other people wrote and said, were the stuff of the Hunt legend. For a man so prominent yet so private, this legend is what lives on, and it bathes his children in the same light. In a moment Brother Chriswell himself would be myth-making, and I would listed to that. Right now I watched Hassie Hunt. He walked down the aisle, looked at his dead father, and wept. Then he returned to his post behind us, near the door. There was in him such a sad dignity. "

----- Bill Porterfield (one of my literary idols) describes the funeral of legendary oilman H.L. Hunt, "A Loose Heard of Texans," 1978

 

 

 

"Texas is still a caricature, damn it.

There is no other way to describe it, try as you might in so short a space. Sure, if one had the pages, not to speak of the power, of a Tolstoy, and the time he took to take us to the steppes of Russia, then one could write of Texas and its people without cliche'. Stereotypes which stick in the desert of the mind like prickly pear would soften and surrender to a steady rain of specificity. Panorama would give way to closeup; people and place would come into focus as individual and unique and yet all all too human and familiar, and we would glory in the universality, not the rootin', tootin', chauvinism of it all.

And yet caricature is appropriate here ---- the word must match the deed, in outline at least. Texas is an exaggeration, not only of itself but of the American dream, past and present. As old as Indians and cowboys, it is as new as the last moon shot and the latest millionaire. Between these extremes of time, temper, tall tales, and technology, however, lies the truth, the middling mean, about the Lone Star state."

----- Bill Porterfield, "A Loose Herd of Texans," 1978

 

 

 

"Of all the fabulous cattle empires in Texas, only three ever surpassed the Waggoners' in sheer size: the 3-million-acre XIT ranch in the Panhandle, the 1.8 million-acre Matador Land and Cattle Company just below the Panhandle, and the 1-million-acre King Ranch on the southern coast. The Chicago corporation, which owned the XIT, disbanded it in 1912, and the Scottish syndicate that ran the Matador had sold it off in parcels by 1951. In 1954 ranch historian J.W. Williams wrote that 'if the the great ranches are to be weighed according to value, the vast oil wealth of the owners of the Waggoner Estate might tip the scales in their favor.'

The oil, however, came years after Dan Waggoner's death in 1904. They discovered it in 1903 while drilling water wells. They considered it a damn nuisance. Dan's son, W. T., is said to have abandoned the wells in disgust, plugging them with fence posts. "Damn it," he bellowed, "cattle can't drink that stuff." Tom, as they called him, had better things to think about. He was once heard to say, 'a man who doesn't admire a good steer, a good horse, and a pretty woman ---- well, something is wrong with that man's head.'

Tom was a chip off the old bock, not one of those sons who is devoured by his father's epic appetites. At the age of eighteen he herded up the Chisholm Trail with the old man. Their bond was so close that he and the widowed Dan married sisters. The mansion in Decatur was imposing but not removed from the workaday ranch life. It was headquarters and hotel for the hands as well as residence for the Waggoners. Eventually, their operation outgrew the environs. (continued on next page)

They bought one-half million acres in Vernon. When the old man died, he left Tom an estate valued at seven million dollars. Thirty years later when Tom died, he left his two sons and daughter an empire worth seven million dollars multiplied a hundred times over. It included cattle, banks, oil, buildings in cities, and a famous race track and horse breeding farm called Arlington Downs ---- now the site of Six Flags Over Texas and the home of the Texas Rangers baseball team."

---- Bill Porterfield describes the famed Waggoner Ranch and the men who created it, "A Loose Herd of Texans," 1978

 

 

"It was funny how such a simple thing as a tree tall enough to shade became precious and worth resting under. The chaparral was a tangle of treachery. Jesús la Feria told me so, and I believed him. We had shared the umbrella of a roadside oak that July a quarter-century before ---- I lost and letting my car radiator cool, he trying to revive with drinking water the wilting funeral flowers that covered a casket in the back of his hearse. On the door panels of the death wagon, carved in gilded wood, was the legend:

 

Jesús & Jesús

Master Morticians

Mirando City, Texas

 

An old woman from one of the ranches of his boyhood had died, and Jesús had taken her to his establishment, seventy miles to the west, to embalm the body. Now he was returning her for burial that afternoon. An uncle, a superintendent for an oil company, had hired me to nightwatch a drilling rig going up on the Armstrong Ranch and I, eighteen and a stranger to the border country, had lost my way on one of the back roads.

Jesús la Feria gave me excellent directions. He was a large man, his heavy body entombed in a black suit, all canopied by a big, black hat. He sank to his haunches beneath the tree, removed his sombrero, and poured water on his steaming scalp. His neck was as black as a bois d'acr root. Suddenly, he reached out and swatted me, or rather a large red ant crawling up my pant leg.

It startled me, and he laughed, "Better me hit you than the hormiga," he said. "Stand still out here, and you're in trouble, my friend. Think of all the things that can get you." In spite of his warning, we sat for a while, and I listened as he described with a kind of pagan pride the predatory nature of his home lands. He was an eloquent and convincing man, and when we parted I prayed nightfall would not find me stranded."

----- Bill Porterfield describes a random meeting in the chapparral country of South Texas, "A Loose Herd of Texans." 1978

 

 

"It seems to me that I spent most of my childhood in the rear seat of a black Terraplane Hudson staring at the back of my father's wrinkled red neck as we droned across the Texas prairie from one oil patch to the next. I can still hear the engine and the whine of that transmission. It is like a mother's heartbeat. I can smell the faded felt of the seats. The telephone poles and their crossbars flash past like crucifixes. We could get out so far from nowhere that we left the poles behind, and there would be nothing but the ribbon of road amid all that time and space.

On those endless odysseys, the destinations proved to be mirages ----- dreamy reststops half-remembered ---- for we never got to where were were going and have yet to complete the journey. Oh, we may have gotten to the rig were Daddy was to work but that's another thing entirely."

----- Bill Porterfield, "The Greatest HonkyTonks in Texas," 1983

 

 

"What hits you most is the cussedness of the country. It is at once friendly and hostile. Friendly in its soils, which send up good grasses and productive oil sands. Hostile in its distances and high winds. The mesquite and the post oak have to hold on for dear lifte to keep from becoming tumbleweeds. It is no place for a baldheaded man with a hairpiece. Obfuscation and sophistication seem out of place and thus writers don't belong."

------- Bill Porterfield writing about Archer City, Larry McMurtry's hometown and the setting for "The Last Picture Show"

 

 

 

 

The Night Before Christmas, Texas Style:

 

'Twas the night before Christmas, in Texas, you know.

Way out on the prairie, without any snow.

Asleep in their cabin, were Buddy and Sue,

A dreamin' of Christmas, like me and you.

 

Not stockings, but boots, at the foot of their bed,

For this was Texas, what more need be said,

When all of a sudden, from out of the still night,

There came such a ruckus, it gave me a fright.

 

And I saw 'cross the prairie, like a shot from a gun,

A loaded up buckboard, come on at a run,

The driver was "Geein" and "Hawin", with a will,

The horses (not reindeer) he drove with such skill.

 

'Come on there Buck, Poncho, & Prince, to the right,

There'll be plenty of travelin' for you all tonight.'

The driver in Levis and a shirt that was red,

Had a ten-gallon Stetson on top of his head.

 

As he stepped from the buckboard, he was really a sight,

With his beard and mustache, so curly and white.

As he burst in the cabin, the children awoke,

And were so astonished, that neither one spoke.

 

And he filled up their boots with such presents galore,

That neither could think of a single thing more.

When Buddy recovered the use of his jaws,

He asked in a whisper,'Are you really Santa Claus?'

 

'Am I the real Santa? Well, what do you think?'

And he smiled as he gave a mysterious wink.

Then he leaped in his buckboard, and called back in his drawl,

'To all the children in Texas, Merry Christmas, Y'all!'

 

 

 

Here is an interesting article about an incident that happened in La Grange in 1883:

"After emancipation the State of Texas began to pass Jim Crow laws (laws requiring racial segregation). The Lone Star state eventually passed 27 of these laws which were not repealed until 1964. Blacks were segregated in schools and when using public transportation. Voting rights were curbed. Interracial marriage was outlawed and, by 1915, violating this law could bring you a prison sentence of two to five years.

Despite the contentious relationship between the races, an extraordinary event occurred in La Grange late one spring evening in 1883. Mr. J.F. McClatchy, a white man from Mississippi, found his livery stable ablaze. It was located on the east side of the town square. He lost 23 horses to the fire and nearly all his buggies. At one point the fire threatened to destroy the square’s entire east side. However, both African American and white citizens joined together to fight the flames and limited the damage to McClatchy’s property and several other small buildings. Sadly, the fire was thought to be the work of an arsonist.

Unfortunately for Mr. McClatchy, insurance covered less than half of his loss. However, local African Americans came to his aid. Having no money to give, they donated their time and labor to help him build a new stable:

 

Johnson Miller 6 days

Reuben Pierce 6 days

Jack Blocker 2 days

W. A. Schropshire 2 days

Granderson Lindsay 3 days

Sam Rogers 1 day

George Holmes and team 1 day

Nathan Powel 2 days

Bob Lyles 1 day

Richard Smith 1 day

 

 

Mr. McClatchy was able, within 36 hours, to open another stable with 18 stalls on the same lot.

White citizens expressed their appreciation to those who helped put out the fire in a May 25, 1883 letter to the editor of the La Grange Journal:

“We, the signers hereto, desire through the columns of your paper, to express our sincere thanks to the citizens, white and colored, who came to our relief on the occasion of the recent destructive fire. Your prompt and continuous efforts saved, not only the property of the signers hereto, but the property of many others. For the prompt, noble, and untiring efforts of the citizens and visiting friends, we do most sincerely tender our grateful acknowledgements.”

 

White & Bradshaw,

Aug. Kleinert

Chas. W. Gregory

H. Scholz & Co.

A.L.D. Moore

Wm. Hermes

Kruschel & Schmidt

H. Harigel

B. Willenberg

A.E. Willenberg

B. Zander

W. Karges

Wm. Logan"

 

This comes verbatim from the "Footprints of Fayette County" webpage. You can find this and many other really interesting articles and photos about La Grange and Fayette County here: http://www.fayettecountyhistory.org/la_grange_footprints.htm

 

 

 

 

"Around noon on January 21, 1932, a cloud ten thousand feet high from ground to top appeared just outside Amarillo. The winds had been fierce all day, clocked at sixty miles an hour when the curtain dropped over the Panhandle. The sky lost its customary white, and it turned brownish then gray as the thing lumbered around the edge of Amarillo, a city of 43,000 people. Nobody knew what to call it. It was not a rain cloud. Nor was it a cloud holding ice pellets. It was not a twister. It was thick like coarse animal hair; it was alive. People close to it described a feeling of being in a blizzard—a black blizzard, they called it—with an edge like steel wool. The weather bureau people in Amarillo were fascinated by the cloud precisely because it defied explanation. They wrote in their logs that it was "most spectacular." As sunlight came through the lighter edge of the big cloud, it appeared greenish. After hovering near Amarillo, the cloud moved north up the Texas Panhandle, toward Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas.

 

Bam White saw this black monstrosity approaching from the south, and he thought at first he was looking at a range of mountains on the move, nearly two miles high. But the Llano Estacado was one of the flattest places on earth, and there was no mountain of ten thousand feet, moving or stationary, anywhere on the horizon. He told his boys to run for protection and hide deep under their little house. The cloud passed over Dalhart quickly, briefly blocking the sun so that it looked like dusk outside. It dumped its load and disappeared, its departure as swift as its arrival, the sun's rays lighting the dust.

Some sandstorm, they said down at the DeSoto.

No, sir, that was no sandstorm, others said.

Did you see the color of that monster? Black as the inside of a dog.

The storm left the streets full of coal-colored dust and covered the tops of cars and the sidewalks on Denrock. The dust found the insides, too, coating the dining table and wood floor of Doc Dawson's place, and the fine furniture inside the DeSoto lobby, and the pool tables at Dinwiddie's, and the baseball stands at the edge of town. Folks had it in their hair, their eyes, down their throat. You blew your nose and there it was—black snot. You hacked up the same thing. It burned in the eyes and made people cough. It was the damnedest thing, and a mystery.

What is it? Melt White asked his daddy.

It's the earth itself, Bam said. The earth is on the move.

Why?

Look what they done to the grass, he said. Look at the land: wrong side up."

----- Timothy Egan, "The Worst Hard Time"

 

 

“They heard somewhere in that tenantless night a bell that tolled and ceased where no bell was and they rode out on the round dais of the earth which alone was dark and no light to it and which carried their figures and bore them up into the swarming stars so that they rode not under but among them and they rode at once jaunty and circumspect, like thieves newly loosed in that dark electric, like young thieves in a glowing orchard, loosely jacketed against the cold and ten thousand worlds for the choosing.”

----- Cormac McCarthy, "All the Pretty Horses"

 

 

 

"Then there's the story of a young Texas lad in Sunday School who was asked to name the birthplace of Jesus. He guessed Gladewater, Mount Pleasant, and Bonham. When told the answer was Palestine, he said "I knew it was in East Texas somewhere."

------ "The Truth About Texas," Lewis Nordyke, 1957

 

 

 

“In keeping with the Laws of the Prophet Bubba and the Code of the UIL, as set forth in the Book of First Downs, as the sun sets on Friday nights the rites of the Texas state religion are celebrated: high school, smash-mouth football. ‘And lo, the children of Jim Bob do take to the roads in caravans and they do go up unto the stadium by tribes, the Indians of Groveton, the Panthers of Lufkin, the Mustangs of Overton, and the very Wildcats of Palestine, and who shall withstand the traffic jams thereof?’ Thus is it written, and so it is and shall be.”

------ Markham Shaw Pyle

 

 

 

The following quote is a VERY interesting description of a murder trial and its aftermath in El Paso back in 1851:

 

"It is doubtful whether in the whole history of trial by jury a more remarkable scene than the one here presented was ever exhibited. The trial took place in one of the adobe or mud-built houses peculiar to the country, which was dimly lighted from a single small window. Scarcely an individual was present who had not the appearance and garb of men who spend their lives on the frontier, far from civilization and its softening influences. Surrounded as we had been, and now were, by hostile Indians, and constantly mingling with half-civilized and renegade men, it was necessary to go constantly armed. No one ventured half a mile from home without first putting on his pistols; and many carried them constantly about them, even when within their own domicils. But, on the present occasion, circumstances rendered it necessary for safety, as well as for the purpose of warning the desperate gang who were now about to have their deserts, that all should be doubly armed.

In the court room, therefore, where one of the most solemn scenes of human experience was enacting, all were armed save the prisoners. There sat the judge, with a pistol lying on the table before him; the clerks and attorneys wore revolvers at their sides; and the jurors were either armed with similar weapons, or carried with them the unerring rifle. The members of the Commission and citizens, who were either guarding the prisoners or protecting the court, carried by their sides a revolver, a rifle, or a fowling-piece, thus presenting a scene more characteristic of feudal times than of the nineteenth century. The fair but sunburnt complexion of the American portion of the jury, with their weapons resting against their shoulders, and pipes in their mouths, presented a striking contrast to the darker features of the Mexicans, muffled in checkered serapes, holding their broad-brimmed glazed hats in their hands, and delicate cigarritos in their lips. The reckless, unconcerned appearance of the prisoners, whose unshaven faces and disheveled hair gave them the appearance of Italian bandits rather than of Americans or Englishmen; the grave and determined bearing of the bench; the varied costume and expression of the spectators and members of the Commission, clad in serapes, blankets, or overcoats, with their different weapons, and generally with long beards, made altogether one of the most remarkable groups which ever graced a court room.

Two days were occupied in the examination and trial: for one immediately followed the other. In the mean time, a military guard of ten men had been promptly sent to our aid by Major Van Home, the commanding officer at El Paso, on my requisition: so that the open threats which had been made by the friends of the prisoners during the first day of the trial, were no longer heard; for they now saw that the strong arm of the law would triumph.The second day, a member of the Commission who manifested a deep interest in the prisoners, was requested by one of them to act as his counsel; but his efforts to prove an alibi, to impeach the testimony of some of the witnesses, and to establish the previous good character of the defendant, proved utterly futile. The prisoners were then heard in their own defense; but they could advance nothing beyond the mere assertion of their innocence. At the close of the testimony, an attempt was made by one of the friends of the prisoners to postpone the trial, for the purpose, as he stated, of obtaining counsel and evidence from El Paso. But the court had been apprised of the existence of a plot for attempting a rescue that night, and accordingly the request was refused.The evidence being closed, a few remarks were now made by the prosecuting attorney, followed by the charge of the Judge, when the case was given to the Jury. In a short time they returned into court with a verdict of guilty, against William Craig, Marcus Butler, and John Wade; upon whom the Judge then pronounced sentence of death.

The prisoners were now escorted to the little plaza or open square in front of the village church; where the priest met them, to give such consolation as his holy office would afford. But their conduct, notwithstanding the desire on the part of all to afford them every comfort their position was susceptible of, continued reckless and indifferent, even to the last moment. Butler alone was affected. He wept bitterly, and excited much sympathy by his youthful appearance, being but 21 years of age. His companions begged him "not to cry, as he could die but once!"

The sun was setting when they arrived at the place of execution. The assembled spectators formed a guard around a small alamo, or poplar tree, which had been selected for the gallows. It was fast growing dark, and the busy movements of a large number of the associates of the condemned, dividing and collecting again in small bodies at different points around and outside of the party, and then approaching nearer to the center, proved that an attack was meditated, if the slightest opportunity should be given. But the sentence of the law was carried into effect.The entire proceedings were intensely interesting, and the scene of a character which none present desired ever again to witness. The calm but determined citizens on the one side, and the daring companions of the condemned wretches on the other, remained throughout keenly on the watch: the first for the protection of life, and the support of good order in the community, the other with the malicious eyes of disappointed and infuriated demons, who, to rescue their companions, would have been willing to sacrifice a hundred additional lives."

----- Boundary Commissioner John Russell Bartlett describes a murder trial in El Paso, 1851. Three American outlaws were convicted of murdering one of the Boundary Commissioners, for which they were soon hanged.

 

 

The following is an account of the death of notrious gunslinger John Wesley Hardin that appeared in the August, 20th, 1895 edition of the El Paso Herald newspaper of the death of John Wesley Hardin:

 

 

THE DEATH OF HARDIN

 

"Last night between 11 and 12 o'clock San Antonio street was thrown into an intense state of excitement by the sound of four pistol shots that occurred at the Acme saloon. Soon the crowd surged against the door and there, right inside, lay the body of John Wesley Hardin, his blood flowing over the floor and his brains oozing out of a pistol shot wound that had passed through his head. Soon the fact became known that John Selman, constable of Precinct No. 1, had fired the fatal shots that had ended the career of so noted a character as Wes Hardin, by which name he is better known to all old Texans. For several weeks past trouble has been brewing and it has been often heard on the streets that John Wesley Hardin would be the cause of some killing before he left the town.

“Only a short time ago Policeman Selman arrested Mrs. McEose, the mistress of Hardin, and she was tried and convicted of carrying a pistol. This angered Hardin and when he was drinking he often made remarks that showed he was bitter in his feelings towards young John Selman. Selman paid no attention to these remarks, but attended to his duties and said nothing. Lately Hardin had become louder in his abuse and had continually been under the influence of liquor and at such times he was very quarrelsome, even getting along badly with some of his friends. This quarrelsome disposition on his part resulted in his death last night and it is a sad warning to all such parties that the rights of others must be respected and that the day is past when a person having the name of being a bad man can run roughshod over the law and rights of other citizens.

This morning early a Herald reporter started after the facts and found John Selman, the man who fired the fatal shots, and his statement was as follows:

"I met Wes Hardin about 7 o'clock last evening close to the Acme saloon. When we met, Hardin said, "You've got a son that is a bastardly, cowardly son of a b— .'

"I said, "Which one?"

"Hardin said: 'John, the one that is on the police force. He pulled my woman when I was absent and robbed her of $50, which they would not have done if I had been there."

"I said: 'Hardin, there is no man on earth that can talk about my children like that without fighting, you cowardly s — of a b — ."

"Hardin said: 'I am unarmed.'

"I said: 'Go and get your gun. I am armed."

"Then he said, 'I'll go and get a gun and when I meet you I'll meet you smoking and make you pull like a wolf around the block."

"Hardin then went into the saloon and began shaking dice with Henry Brown. I met my son John and Capt. Carr and told them I expected trouble when Hardin came out of the saloon. I told my son all that had occurred, but told him not to have anything to do with it, but to keep on his beat. I also notified Capt. Carr that I expected trouble with Hardin. I then sat down on a beer keg in front of the

Acme saloon and waited for Hardin to come out. I insisted on the police force keeping out of the trouble because it was a personal matter between Hardin and myself. Hardin had insulted me personally.

"About 11 o'clock Mr. E. L. Shackleford came along and met me on the sidewalk. He said: "Hello, what are you doing here?'

'Then Shackleford insisted on me going inside and taking a drink, but I said, 'No, I do not want to go in there as Hardin is in there and I am afraid we will have trouble.' Shackleford then said: 'Come on and take a drink anyhow, but don't get drunk.' Shackleford led me into the saloon by the arm. Hardin and Brown were shaking dice at the end of the bar next to the door. While we were drinking I noticed that Hardin watched me very closely as we went in. When he thought my eye was off him he made a break for his gun in his hip pocket and I immediately pulled my gun and began shooting. I shot him in the head first as I had been informed that he wore a steel breast plate.

As I was about to shoot the second time some one ran againstme and I think I missed him, but the other two shots were at his body and I think I hit him both times. My son then ran in and caught me by the arm and said: 'He is dead. Don't shoot any more.' "I was not drunk at the time, but was crazy mad at the way he had insulted me."

"My son and myself came out of the saloon together and when Justice Howe came I gave my statement to him. My wife was very weak and was prostrated when I got home. I was accompanied home by Deputy Sheriff J. C. Jones. I was not placed in jail, but considered myself under arrest. I am willing to stand any investigation over the matter. I am sorry I had to kill Hardin, but he had threatened mine and my son's life several times and I felt that it had come to that point where either I or he had to die.

 

(Signed.) JOHN SELMAN."

 

 

 

"Fort Worth in the late nineteenth century was no different than dozens of other western towns built on cattle and railroads. They all had their [gambler] Ben Tutts and saloons and theaters. In fact, every frontier community ----- from Deadwood to Denver and San Francisco to San Antonio ----- had its own red-light district. They were as ubiquitous in the West as "boot hills," but much more profitable for everyone involved. In Texas the chief rivals to For Worth for "Sin Capital of the State" were AUstin, San Antonio, El Paso, and Galveston ---- in all, two cattle towns, a railroad town and a seaport. Austin had an unfair advantage because, some said, politics are the worst sin of all and that was the main business in Austin. Dallas, some Fort Worthers were proud to point out, was not even in the running.

In the typical red-light district, prostitution went hand-in-hand with gambling, drinking, and general hell-raising. One just naturally led to another. The amount of sinning and hell-raising that went on in these districts largely explains a curious sameness in the names of the most notorious examples. From "Devil's Addition" in Abilene to "Hell's Half Acre" in Fort Worth, most paid homage to Satan, the devil, or hell somewhere in their names. Neither creative originality nor any desire to come up with mellifluous-sounding monikers entered into the picture; nor did anyone ever hold a contest to "Name that red-light district." Instead, the same names appear again and again in the local histories of western towns. San Antonio called its red-light district "Hell's Half Acre"; so did Tascosa, Texas and Perry, Oklahoma. Even Dallas, 30 miles away, had a smaller, less notorious district that went under the same name as Fort Worth's. "Hell's Half Acre" was such a common name on the frontier, it acquired an almost generic status. A cowboy could ride into practically any trail town and ask the first citizen he met, "Where's the Acre" and the locals would know exactly what he was talking about."

----- "Hell's Half Acre" by Richard F. Selcer. It is a very interesting read and can be purchased at the usual suspects

 

 

 

"You have to remember that space is large. It is even larger than Texas."

----- Dr. Werner von Braun, famed rocket scientist. I mentioned this quote to my friend Thomas and he said, "Well, Werner probably knew what he was talking about, but I'll bet he never drove Beaumont to El Paso."

 

 

 

"Mr. Tuttle, a brick mason, fell from the scaffold on which he was working on the new courthouse Monday. He was slightly injured. Mr John Marening was also injured on the same day but standing on the ground. He was shot."

----- "The Lone Star" newspaper, El Paso, May 6 1885

 

 

 

Famed singer Marty Robbins describes how he wrote his monster hit song, "El Paso":

 

"It was a funny sensation. I'm driving across the desert from El Paso to Phoenix as I'm writing, you see. The song came out like a motion picture, and I could never forget the words to it. I put them down after I got to Phoenix, but I couldn't forget them because it was like a motion picture. I didn't know how it was going to end. It just kept coming out and coming out and the tune was coming out at the same time. I was rushing real quick trying to get through it, saying the words as fast as I could because they were just coming out. It was real exciting and I kept waiting for the end to see what was going to happen. Finally it ended when it wanted to. I really didn't have much to do with that song. It just came out."

----- Marty Robbins, in an interview with Ralph Emery

 

 

 

"He is gone from among us, and is no more to be seen in the walks of men, but in his death like Sampson, he slew more of his enemies than in all his life. Even his most bitter enemies here, I believe, have buried all animosity, and join the general lamentation over his untimely end."

----- John Wesley Crockett, David Crockett's son, in a letter dated July 8th, 1836. This was written only four months after the Battle of the Alamo, in which David Crockett lost his life.

 

 

 

Here is an excerpt from Susanna Dickenson's 1875 account of the Battle of the Alamo. Susanna was the wife of Almeron Dickinson, an artillery officer there. She was one of the survivors:

 

"On February 23d, 1836, Santa Anna, having captured the pickets sent out by Col. Travis to guard the post from surprise, charged into San Antonio with his troops, variously estimated at from six to ten thousand, only a few moments after the bells of the city rang the alarm.

Capt. Dickinson galloped up to our dwelling and hurriedly exclaimed: "The Mexicans are upon us, give me the babe, and jump up behind me." I did so, and as the Mexicans already occupied Commerce street, we galloped across the river at the ford south of it, and entered the fort at the southern gate, when the enemy commenced firing shot and shell into the fort, but with little or no effect, only wounding one horse.

There were eighteen guns mounted on the fortifications, and these, with our riflemen, repulsed with great slaughter two assaults made upon them before the final one.

I knew Colonels Crockett, Bowie and Travis well. Col. Crockett was a performer on the violin, and often during the siege took it up and played his favorite tunes.

I heard him say several times during the eleven days of the siege: "I think we had better march out and die in the open air. I don't like to be hemmed up."

There were provisions and forage enough in the fort to have subsisted men and horses for a month longer.

A few days before the final assault three Texans entered the fort during the night and inspired us with sanguine hopes of speedy relief, and thus animated the men to contend to the last.

A Mexican woman deserted us one night, and going over to the enemy informed them of our very inferior numbers, which Col. Travis said made them confident of success and emboldened them to make the final assault, which they did at early dawn on the morning of the 6th of March.

Under the cover of darkness they approached the fortifications, and planting their scaling ladders against our walls just as light was approaching, they climbed up to the tops of our walls and jumped down within, many of them to immediate death.

As fast as the front ranks were slain, they were filled up again by fresh troops.

The Mexicans numbered several thousands while there were only one hundred and eighty-two Texans.

The struggle lasted more than two hours when my husband rushed into the church where I was with my child, and exclaimed: "Great God, Sue, the Mexicans are inside our walls! All is lost! If they spare you, save my child."

Then, with a parting kiss, he drew his sword and plunged into the strife, then raging in different portions of the fortifications.

Soon after he left me, three unarmed gunners who abandoned their then useless guns came into the church where I was, and were shot down by my side. One of them was from Nacogdoches and named Walker. He spoke to me several times during the siege about his wife and four children with anxious tenderness. I saw four Mexicans toss him up in the air (as you would a bundle of fodder) with their bayonets, and then shoot him. At this moment a Mexican officer came into the room, and, addressing me in English, asked: "Are you Mrs. Dickinson?" I answered "Yes." Then said he, "If you wish to save your life, follow me." I followed him, and although shot at and wounded, was spared."

------ Susanna Dickenson, 1875

 

 

 

Here is a description of David Crockett at the Alamo, as seen by Captain Rafael Soldana of the Mexican Army's Tampico Battalion:

 

"A tall man, with flowing hair, was seen firing from the same place on the parapet during the entire siege. He wore a buckskin suit and a cap all of a pattern entirely different from those worn by his comrades. This man would kneel or lie down behind the low parapet, rest his long gun and fire, and we all learned to keep a good distance when he was seen to make ready to shoot. He rarely missed his mark, and when he fired he almost always rose to his feet and calmly reloaded his gun, seemingly indifferent to the shots fired at him by our men. He had a strong, resonant voice and often railed at us, but as we did not understand English, we could not comprehend the import of the words, other than that they were defiant. This man I later learned was known as "Kwockey."

----- Captain Rafael Soldana

 

 

 

Here are several quotes describing the city of Houston as seen by early travelers to that fair place. All of these come from Jeffrey Stuart Kerry's excellent "Seat of Empire," a book that describes the battle between Mirabeau Lamar and Sam Houston regarding which city --- Austin or Houston ---- should be the state capitol of Texas. Regarding the city of Houston:

 

"An early Houstonian named Granville Rose and friends were lounging on the banks of the bayou one afternoon in 1837 when they decided to jump into the water to escape mosquitoes "as large as grasshoppers."

 

'They thought they would have a nice bath,'Rose's sister later recalled,'but in a few minutes the water was alive with alligators' Their splashing scramble to safety left one of their companions on the opposite bank. Finding a canoe to ferry him across, they spooked a large panther crouching in the brush. The big cat bounded away.

 

John J. Audobon, the famous naturalist, visited Houston in May, 1837. He noticed the "drunk and hallooing" Indians "stumbling about in the mud in every direction." He strode through a collection of half-finished houses, tents, and roofless buildings to approach the "mansion" of President Sam Houston by sloshing through ankle-deep water. A gathering of Cabinet members welcomed Audobon into a log house consisting of two rooms separated by a dog run. Audobon, though impressed by Sam Houston himself, wrote that "the state of his abode can never be forgotten."

An anonymous visitor who got to Houston the same year as John J. Audubon found a one-story frame building, several log cabins and "a few linen tents which were used for groceries together with three or four shanties made of poles set in the ground, and covered and weathered with rough splint shingles."

The grocers, purveyors of hard liquor as well as food, stayed busy: "It appeared to be the business of the great mass of people to collect around these centers of vice and hold their drunken orgies." Texians, the visitor noted, "not only fought, but drank, in platoons."

Another visitor, John Dancy, was impressed with the energy of Houston, even though he described it as "one of the muddiest and most disagreeable places on earth."

----- Jeffrey Stuart Kerr, "Seat of Empire"

 

 

 

"Tascosa's about a hundred miles due northwest, and you can't miss it. Just follow the plain trail of empty whiskey bottles."

----- A rancher's instructions to attorney Temple Lea Houston (Sam Houston's son) regarding to how to find Tascosa, Texas, 1882

 

 

 

"Lord help the fish below."

 

----- Sam Houston, upon being congratulated that baptism had just washed away his sins, 1854

 

 

"A gentleman in Sioux City, Iowa appeals to 'The Iconoclast' to inform him "What a Texas norther may be." A Texas norther, my Christian friend, may be, and usually is, very much of a nuisance. It is much like a spring day in Iowa, a cold, dank, windy, water wetness. A norther is a Dakota blizzard that has gotten off the reservation and lost its bearings. It usually comes down on Sioux City first like a wolf on the fold, then makes a Fitzgibbons swipe at Omaha. Then it drops a tear on the pine tombstone of the erstwhile Jesse James and blows into the mouth of the Kaw just to see if it's loaded. It then starts across Kansas, but usually becomes frightened by the female reformers; and then it comes achortling down into the Indian Territory and makes Lo the poor Indian yearn for a five-finger snifter of bootleg booze and a new government blanket. If it doesn't break its mainspring crossing the Red River, it introduces itself to the people of Denison as a full-fledged Texas norther.

The norther is bad enough in all conscience, but is to the blizzard what varioloid [a mild form of smallpox] is to confluent small pox, or lager beer to Prohibition booze. It is the thin edge of a northern winter which inserts itself into this earthly Eden semi-occasionally, much to our dissatisfaction. It usually catches a man seven miles from home without his overcoat. Sometimes it wanders as far south as Waco and evokes audible wishes that the Yankees should keep their damned weather for their own consumption. About the time you get a stove up and trusted for a ton of coal, the norther is dead as Hector, the kids are rolling on the grass in the glad sunshine and the gude [sic] housewife is chasing a marauding hen out of the flower garden. That, my dear sir, is all I know about northers. If you can deliver an able-bodied one at this office during the next ten days you will hear something to your advantage.

----- William Cowper Brann, "The Iconoclast," 1897. Note: This was written less than a year before Brann was murdered.

 

 

"It is a source of much astonishment and of considerably severe comment upon the religious character of our city, that while we have a theater, a courthouse, a jail, and even a capital in Houston, we have not a single church."

----- "The Morning Star," a Houston newspaper, June 18, 1839

 

 

"The only thing a golfer needs is more daylight."

----- Ben Hogan, legendary golfer, who was born in Stephenville in 1912 and passed away in Ft. Worth in 1997.

 

 

 

This is a claim letter written by a cowman in Fort Worth to a railroad in the late 1800s. I preserved the spelling and punctuation as he wrote it:

 

Dear Sir:

 

6:30 this morning in going to the Stockyards to feed at this place another train run in to my stock train. On an open switch . & killed 2 cows & crippled 4 & the rest of the cows in that car is now all over town. So I got one car less & few cows in another car is feeling sore & some of them got one horn left.

 

The crew of both train jumped off & myself. So it was no one hurt. It was not enough left of the engine to tell the fait [?]. 8 or 10 of the cowboys is all over town picking up our cattle ----- wich you could see them coming down the street driving one or two of them cows ----- I think they got about ten of them cows in a pen (down in town) & they heard of 5 cows in a cornfield just a little while ago, so I guess they will get most of them back today. I will leave here about 5:00 p.m. Will make tomorrow market.

 

Yours truly,

 

Dock

 

P.S. This R.R. ought to take charge of this whole shipment and pay for same

P.S. The Sheriff shot one cow on the street just a little while ago.

P.S. The cows in town is making the horses run off with buggys and running all the women out of town.

P.S. I think this will cost the R.R. a good deal in this town.

P.S. The Rail Road they give me a poor and sorry run.

P.S. They run my cattle 40 hours before this happened without feed: (how about that).

 

----- Swenson Brothers, "The Story of the S.M.S. Ranch," 1922

 

 

 

From an 1863 British traveler's account of traveling through Texas (link below) that is utterly fascinating ---- especially the description of crossing the Brazos river:

 

30th April (Thursday.)--I have to-day acquired my first experience of Texan railroads.

In this country, where every white man is as good as another, by theory, and every white female is by courtesy a lady, there is only one class. The train from Alleyton consisted of two long cars, each holding about fifty persons. Their interior is like the aisle of a church, twelve seats on either side, each for two persons. The seats are comfortably stuffed, and seemed luxurious after the stage.

Before starting, the engine gives two preliminary snorts, which, with a yell from the official of "all aboard," warn the passengers to hold on; for they are closely followed by a tremendous jerk, which sets the cars in motion.

Every passenger is allowed to use his own discretion about breaking his arm, neck or leg, without interference by the railway officials.

People are continually jumping on and off whilst the train is in motion, and larking from one car to the other. There is no sort of fence or other obstacle to prevent "humans" or cattle from getting on the line.

We left Alleyton at 8 A. M. and got a miserable meal at Richmond at 12.30. At this little town I was introduced to a seedy-looking man, in rusty black clothes and a broken-down "stovepipe" hat. This was Judge Stockdale, who will probably be the next Governor of Texas. He is an agreeable man, and his conversation is far superior to his clothing. The rival candidate is General Chambers, I think, who has become very popular by the following sentence in his manifesto: "I am of opinion that married soldiers should be given the opportunity of embracing their families at least once a year, their places in the ranks being taken by unmarried men. The population must not be allowed to suffer."

Richmond is on the Brazos river, which is crossed in a peculiar manner. A steep inclined plane leads to a low, rickety, trestle bridge and a similar inclined plane is cut in the opposite bank. The engine cracks on all steam, and gets sufficient impetus in going down the first incline to shoot across the bridge and up the second incline. But even in Texas this method of crossing a river is considered rather unsafe.

After crossing the river in this manner, the rail traverses some very fertile land part of which form the estate of the late Colonel Terry. There are more than two hundred negroes on the plantation. Some of the fields were planted with cotton and Indian corn mixed three rows of the former between two of the latter. I saw also fields of cotton and sugar mixed."

------- Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, "Three months in the Southern States, April-June 1863" The whole thing is extremely intersting but be forewarned that there is A LOT of "casual, everyday 1863 racism" that is pretty hard to stomach. You can read it here:

http://docsouth.unc.edu/imls/fremantle/fremantle.html

 

 

"Texas was a new country then .... and certainly an aggressive country. Every brush had its thron, every animal, reptile, or insect had its horn, tooth, or sting; every male human his revolver; and each was ready to use his weapon of offense on any unfortunate sojourner, on the smallest or even without the smallest provocation."

----- Richard Irving Dodge, "The Hunting Grounds of the Great West," 1877

 

 

This is both a gripping account of an incident that happened in the late 1860s and a reminder of how tough Texas women can be:

 

"Mr. Menasco came into the country, when a young man, from Arkansas, and lived for a time in Navarro County, where he was married to Judge Brown’ s daughter. Afterwards he moved into the northwest part of Denton County, and settled on the head of Clear Creek, where he had been long enough, when the war began, to become very well and comfortably fixed in his home. In the early part of the war, his father came to live with him. Although the Indians had been into the country on a number of very destructive raids, they had never yet molested his home. They, nevertheless, were in continual suspense, waiting and hoping for the time to come when the Government would give them safe protection. Captain Shegog, who married a sister of Mr. Menasco, lived near him, perhaps a mile and a half from him. One day in the winter of 1868 and 1869, at a time when Captain Shegog and Menasco were out on the range, hunting stock, a large band of Indians, estimated at three hundred, came down through the cross timbers. Evidently they were Comanches from high up on the Red River, and on account of the large number of them, they were moving along intrepidly in the daylight, and camping at night, as if they were in their own country, among their friends. This whole body of fearful savages moved through the country, leaving devastation and death as they went. They carried on their brutal work, as if they had no thought or fear of being restrained in their destruction.

On this sad and fatal. day, the two oldest children of Menasco were at the home of Captain Shegog, when their grandfather, learning that the Indians were in the country, went over to Shegog’s to bring them and their aunt, Mrs. Shegog, where they could be in a safe place . But while they were returning, and perhaps had gone about half the distance, they were suddenly surrounded by a large number of the Indians. The old man was cruelly murdered and Mrs. Shegog, with her child a year or more of age, and the two little Menasco girls, four and six years of age, were taken as prisoners.

They then went to the house of Menasco and, surrounding it, began whooping and yelling like infuriated demons. Of course, they intended to kill, rob and carry off as captives the inmates of the house, as might suit their momentary fancy, but Mrs. Menasco, taking her stand in the door, with her gun presented, told them that some of them must die, should they attempt to enter there. Just think of this brave woman, standing there all undaunted in the presence of such dreadful danger, seeing her sister-in-law and her own dear children there, captives, in the merciless hands of the savages! Calmly and with determination she stood for home and for fireside and all that was left her there. Those cruel old warriors read in her appearance the fate of that one who dared to enter there. So they turned to the horse lot, took the two valuable horses that were there and departed. Just after they surrounded Menasco’s house, Shegog and Menasco came in sight, but it would have been worse than folly for them to have attacked such an overwhelming force, and they could only watch and wait to see what the dreadful result would be. When these people were carried off, it was quite warm and pleasant for the time of year, consequently they were not clad for cold weather on that day.

This large band of Comanches went far down into the settlements, evidently intending to sweep the vast herds of stock horses off of the prairie country, but in this they failed to a great extent. They went down below the town of Gainesville, and then turning back west again, they camped only a mile or two from the town. They had not taken their prisoners far before they killed Mrs. Shegog’s child, and took its mother on with them, until one night, a cold norther blowing and the snow falling, she slipped off into the darkness and escaped to the house and hospitable home of Sam Doss, where, though almost frozen, she was kindly cared for and soon returned to her home. No doubt that, on account of the extreme cold weather, the Indians failed to make search for her. The next morning early they moved on, but before they had gone many miles on their way, they left both of these tender little girls, perhaps frozen to death at the time they were left. The body of one of them was found in about one month afterwards, but that of the other was not found until nearly three months had passed. The Indians found that the horses on the prairie were too thin of flesh to bear rapid driving, so they took but few of them away and then, again, the excessive cold hindered them on their return, and it was said that many of the horses perished in the snow storm. Not long after these heart-rending scenes, these families moved clown to Pilot Point, where they lived and prospered until a few years past."

------- "Escape of Mrs. Shegog," Texas Indian Troubles, H.G. Bedford, 1905

 

 

 

 

What follows is an article that I transcribed verbatim from a November, 1967 Harper's magazine, which I found at Half Price Books. It's the text of an article written about jazz legend Louis Armstrong by Larry L. King, one of my Texas literary idols. This is not THE Larry King, the famous journalist/interviewer whom you can still see on TV today, but rather the Texan who is most famous for writing the Broadway play "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." Besides BLWIT, Larry L. King wrote thousands of articles for magazines and whatever else would pay the bills. He was a first rate journalist and is buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.

 

 

EVERYBODY'S LOUIS

by Larry L. King

 

"When I blow I think of times and things from outa the past that gives me a image . . . A town, a chick somewhere back down the line, an old man with no name you once seen in a place yo udon't remember. What you hear coming from a man's horn, that's what he is."

Perhaps you have not heard of my singing with Louis Armstrong. Nobody reviewed us for Downbeat and we didn't get much of a crowd--just the two of us. This impromptu duet with Pops (also Satchmo, Louie, Dippermouth, "America's Ambassador of Good Will") took place last July in his suite at the Chalfonte, a resort hotel on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, around five o'clock of a groggy morning.

For several hours we had been "stumbling over chairs"--Satchmo's euphemism for serious tippling--while he reminisced, smoked an endless chain of Camels, and poured with a quick hand. This mood carried him back almost sixty years to New Orleans' Storyville section where as a boy he delivered coal to the cribs of certain available ladies, lingering to monitor honky-tonk and sporting-house bands until "the lady would notice me still in her crib--me standing very silent, digging the sounds, all in a daze--and she would remind me it wasn't no proper place to daydream."

Storyville was wide open in those days. Liberty sailors, traveling drummers, cotton traders, and assorted bloods in hot pursuit of fun mingled with prostitutes, pickpockets, musicians, gamblers, street urchins, and pimps. It was located directly behind Canal Street and touching the lower end of Basin in the French Quarter, and it had everything from creep joints where wallets were removed from the unwary during sex circuses to Miss Lulu White's Mahogany Hall on Basin Street with its five posh parlors, fifteen bedrooms, and $30,000 worth of artfully placed mirrors. Miss Lulu hired "none but the fairest and most accomplished of girls," and Jelly Roll Morton played piano for her. In 1917 the Navy Department sent in a task force to clean up the district after too many sailors turned up robbed, drugged, or dead. Preachers railed against this sinkhole, but it was the place where jazz was born and where Daniel Louis (pronounced "Louie") Armstrong, literally before he was out of short pants, learned to play a little toy slide whistle "like it was a goddamn trombone." The boy strolled behind brass bands at street parades, funeral processions, or in horse-drawn bandwagons to tout their appearances at local clubs. "Two bandwagons would park head-to-head," Armstrong remembers, "and blow until one band was reduced to a frazzle." The Armstrongs lived in a cement-brick house on Brick Row. Armstrong's grandmother bent over a tin tub and corrugated washboard to scrub white families' clothes and his father, when he was around, attended turpentine boilers. There was a decrepit neighborhood tavern called the Funky Butt, which Armstrong remembers for its bands and its razor fights. A detective grabbed Armstrong for celebrating for eighteen months to the New Orleans Colored Waifs' Home. At nineteen he married Daisy Parker, the first of his four brides. One night she caught Louis with another doll and chastised him with a brickbat. "I ain't been no angel," Pops confessed that morning as we lounged in the Chalfonte, "but I never once set out to harm no cat."

 

Louis Armstrong's marvelous memory took me back to the night he arrived in Chicago in 1922, up on the train from New Orleans to join King Joe Oliver's Creole Jazz Band as second trumpet for $50 a week. "I was carrying my horn, a little dab of clothes, and a brown bag of trout sandwiches my mother, Mayann, had made me up. Had on long underwear beneath my wide-legged pants--in July. I am just a kid, you see, not but twenty-two years old, don't know nothing and don't even suspect much. When we pull into the old La Salle Street station and I see all the tall buildings I thought they was universities and that I had the wrong town. Almost got back on that rail-runner and scooted back home."

He spoke lovingly of old pals: King Oliver, Jack Teagarden, Kid Ory, Bix Beiderbecke, and a hot-licks bass drummer everyone recalls only as Black Benny. ("All dead and gone now, them swinging old cats-and I've took to reading the Bible myself.") Between dips into his on-the-rocks bourbon Armstrong hummed or scatted or sang snatches of his ancient favorites. "Hotdamn"--he would say, flashing his teeth in that grand piano grin--"you remember this one?" and out would pour "Didn't He Ramble," "Gut Bucket Blues,' " Blueberry Hill," "Heebie-Jeebies," and "Black and Blue."

Just how I presumed to sing with him remains unclear and possibly indefensible. Earlier, in a noisy penny arcade on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, I had proposed to his traveling manager, Ira Mangel, that I perform on stage with Armstrong at one of his three-a-day shows. Mangel, a stoic man of generous figure, ate peanuts, staring, while I explained. I would describe both the elation and the dread of appearing with the most celebrated figure in a filed wholly alien to my talents, a man who has been called "an authentic American genius" for his contributions to jazz. Paul Gallico and George Plimpton had done the same thing in sports, I recalled to Mangel, boxing Jack Dempsey and Archie Moore, golfing with Bobby Jones, pitching to Mantle and Mays. Their first-person stories permitted the average sports fan to consort vicariously with champions. Out there on that stage, moving into the spotlight to join Pops in Blues in the Night or perhaps even Hello Dolly, I would represent all my peers.

Ira Mangel has been in show business almost as long as pratfalls. He is neither easily rattled nor easily amused. When my special plea was done Mangel gazed into my face, chewing all the while. When the peanuts ran out he smiled and walked away.

Now, days later, sitting at a table holding the wreckage of our midnight snack (sardines in oil, Vienna sausages, Chinese food, soda crackers, pickles, beer) Pops and I somehow cut into That's My Desire. My uncertain baritone mingled with the famous voice that has been likened to a "cement mixer ... rough waters ... iron filings ... a gearbox full of peanut butter ... oil on sandpaper ... a horn wailing through gravel and fog."

Once--when I came in on the break behind him at precisely the right point--Pops gave me some skin. He reached out his dark old hand just as he does on-stage when Joe Muranyi has ripped off an especially meritorious stretch on clarinet, and I turned my hand, palm up, as I had seen Muranyi do. Leaning across sardine tines and cracker wrappers Pops lightly brushed my open palm in a half-slap, the jive set's seal of approval, the jazz equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor. And there was good whiskey waiting in the jug.

We had already siphoned off generous rations, waving our arms a bit much, gently boasting and exaggerating. "Hey, Pops," my host said (it is his all-purpose salutation, as well as what friends call him, and saves everybody memorizing a lot of troublesome names), "this is the way I get my kicks. Having a little taste ... talking over the olden times in Storyville and Chicago ... remembering all the crazy sounds that always seemed to be exploding around you and inside you. Everything made music back then: banana men, ragpickers, them pretty painted streetwalkers all singing out their wards--oh, yeah! Everything rocking and bobbing and jousting and jumping." He grinned that huge, open grin again. "Ya know, Pops," he said, "my manager, Je Glaser ----- Papa Joe, bless his ole heart he's my man, we been together since we was pups, why to hear us talk on the phone you'd think we was a couple of fairies I say, 'I love you, Pops,' and he say, 'I love you, Pops' ----- well, anyhow, Joe and Ira and all them people don't like for me to talk about the olden days. All the prosty-toots and the fine gage and the bad-ass racketeers. But hell, Man, I got to tell it like it was! I can't go around changing history!"

(Often one gets the feeling that Pops prefers those "olden days" to the frantic existence that has become his life. He once told writer Richard Meryman, "I never did want to be no big star....All this traveling around the world, meeting wonderful people, being high on the horse, all grandioso--it's nice--but I didn't suggest it. I would say it was all wished on me. Seems like I was more content, more relaxed, growing up in New Orleans. And the money I made then--I lived off it. We were poor and everything like that, but music was all around you. Music kept you rolling.")

Thought two weeks earlier Louis Armstrong wouldn't have known me from any other face in the multitudes, we had reached a stage of easy friendship--all thanks to him. For tough I have known three Presidents and two wives, I sat down to face Armstrong that first night in Washington with a head full of wind and dishwater. There seemed nothing I was able to ask or say, not even banal comments about Washington's dreadful humidity, for on the couch beside me sat a living legend, a talent so long famous and admired that I considered him of another age and so was struck dumb in his presence--as if I had come upon Moses taking a Sunday stroll in the Gaza Strip or had encountered Thomas Jefferson at a Democratic National Convention.

Downstairs, I knew, Shriners offered hotel bellboys five-dollar bribes for Louis Armstrong's room number. No telephone calls were put through to him from the Shoreham front desk unless you knew a special secret. In Armstrong's suite (a palace of curved glass, rich draperies, soft carpets, and pillows of psychedelic hues) he sat wrapped in a faded robe. A white towel around his neck soaked up juices from the last of the evening's two one-hour shows, while Pops accepted photographs of himself from a thick stack presided over by his hovering valet, Bob Sherman. On each he scrawled, "Hello, Louis Armstrong" in a round, uneven hand. Ira Mangel asked his star if he would like a drink, a snack, another pen, a crisp handerkerchief. Mopping his brow, Louis declined with grunts and headshakes. "You go ahead," he said as I sat there tongue-tied and witless. "Ask me anything you wnt. Won't cramp my writing style. Just doing the bit for a few of my fans." Out of the silence Ira Mangel suggested that Armstrong discuss a recent TV tape cut with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass: perhaps Armstrong would compare the two generations of music and judge the younger man's artistry. "Oh, yeah," Armstrong said. "He blows pretty, all right. Nice young cat." Mangel then prompted him to say something of his popularity with the public, his friendships in show business, the world figures who have toasted him. "Everybody's been real nice," Pops said.

Mangel's helpless shrug left me on my own. Finally I said, "Well, I seem to have come down with a bad case of buck fever. Can't think of a damn thing. Maybe I'd better run along and return another night." Quickly Armstrong cast aside his pen. A look of pain passed his face. "Aw, naw!" he said. "It ain't like that! We'll just loaf and chew the fat and have a little taste of bourbon and if we feel like stumbling over chairs--well, hell, we all over twenty-one! Ira, get my man a little taste." THen he launched into a story, and the generous act got me functioning again.

The men who handle Armstrong thought we got a little too chummy. Valet Bob Sherman, a dapper middleweight with a heavyweight's torso and a Sonny Liston scowl when one is needed, nailed me backstage at the Steel Pier. "You'd better cut on out tonight after about an hour," he said. "Otherwise, you're gonna wear Pops out. He needs rest." Later, when I tried to leave at a decent hour, Pops protested. "Man, I'm just starting to roll. Won't be hitting the sheets for some odd-hours on. Here"--he splashed liquid into my glass--"relax and have another little taste." Waiting in the wings for his introduction one matinee, mopping his face and carrying that golden trumpet, he waved me over: "Where'd you go last night, Pops? Had to stumble over chairs all by myself. Ira and them people keep you away from me?" Well, yes, I admitted. "Aw, they ought not to do that!" Armstrong said. "They know Pops is still gonna be unwinding when first light comes. Don't pay them people no mind."

Armstrong's associates can hardly be blamed for their vigilance: he is a most valuable commercial property. Last spring a two-month recuperation from pneumonia cost more than $150,000 in bookings. His sixty-seven years, his respiratory ailments, and his grinding travel schedule--Ireland, England, Denmark, France, Spain, Tunisia, New England, the Midwest, the West Coast and two major TV bookings in August and September alone--cause concern for his health.

He is not the world's most docile patient. He walked around with bronchial pneumonia for two weeks last spring before anyone knew it. His trombonist, Tyree Glenn, was one of his first hospital visitors: Pops coaxed him into rehearsing a duet he wanted to put in the show. Nurses managed to clear the room only after a one-hour concert. The Washington booking was the first to follow his illness. Yet he stayed up all one night reveling with me, another with old music-world cronies (Duke Ellington and Clark Terry turned up at the Shoreham on July 4th to lead the midnight-show crowd in singing Happy Birthday to him), and on his night off he dropped by Carter Barron Amphitheatre to catch Ella Fitzgerald's performance--and ended up doing several numbers with her. Pops played two shows of his own each night and one two-hour benefit for wounded Vietnam veterans at Walter Reed Hospital.

A week later in Atlantic City he stunted and cheered at a nightclub until dawn, and the following night railed-in vain--when he learned that Ira Mangel had wired a second club expressing regrets that Pops would not catch the late show as promised. "Damnit!" he complained. "All them cats over there live and breathe Louis Armstrong. They love Pops! If I go back on my word to them it's like, why hell, it's like the United States Marines losing a goddamn war!"

Armstrong has a zealot’s faith in certain old remedies. He is quick to offer his medical opinions: “Man, a heart attack is nothing but so much gas accumulated and bubbled over.” Armstrong on cancer: “Nowadays it has come in fashion to die of it. What they call cancer is merely the bodily poisons fermented because people is so full of fevers beating and working in the blood.” Germs: “I always carry my mouthpiece in my hip pocket—never pitch it around where germs can crawl over it and into its parts.” To rid himself of possible heart disease, crawling germs, or malignant tissues, Armstrong recommends the removal of “bodily impurities.” For this he relies on a laxative called Swiss Kriss. It is his old reliable among an assortment of wonder-working products that seems to unusual vigor. One dawn he gave me three Swiss Kriss sample packets. The following night, as we blitzed another midnight snack of sardines and supporting embellishments, Pops asked, “You take your Swiss Kriss yet?”

“Ah…well; not yet.”

“Get my man some Swiss Kriss,” Armstrong instructed Bob Sherman. “Be just the thing to clear him all up. Flush out the bodily impurities.” Sherman didn’t move a step. He dipped into his pocket and produced a thin packet of olive-drab substance.

“Lay it on your tongue,” Armstrong said. “Take it dry, then send some beer chasing after it. Beer all gone? Well, bourbon do it too.” I turned the thin packet in my hands to stall for time. “Active ingredients”—I read aloud—“dried leaves of senna. Also contains licorice root, fennel, anise, and caraway seed. Dandelion, peppermint, papaya, strawberry and peach leaves. Juniper berries—“

“Oh yeah,” Pops broke in. “Got all manner of elements in there. Lay it on your tongue.”

“—Juniper berries, centaury, lemon verbena, cyani flowers, and parsley for their flavoring and carminative principles.”

“Here’s your chaser, Pops.” Armstrong nudged the bourbon glass over while I frantically searched for something more to read. Bob Sherman celebrated my discomfort with a grin as Armstrong, hooting and exhorting like an evangelistic witch doctor, urged the treatment on.

I know not what it tastes like on the tongue of Louis Armstrong. In my mouth it registered flavors of creosote and licorice with slight overtones of Brown Mule chewing tobacco. It neither improves bourbon nor bourbon it. Just as the main body of surprise had passed my host reproved me:

“Looka here, Pops! You left half of it in the bag!” He poked the dose under my nose. “Don’t never do nothing halfway,” Pops said, “else you find yourself dropping more than can be picked up.”

“Take off your shirt” he ordered, suddenly.

“Beg your pardon?”

“Gonna teach you another little trick. Now this”—he grabbed a brownish bottle from a nearby table—“is called ‘Heet.’ H-e-e-t. Swab myself down with it when I come off stage all sopping wet. Cools me down and dries me out and steadies the skin….You ain’t got that shirt off, Pops.” Armstrong circled me like Indians attacking a wagon train, crying a sales pitch as he daubed my chest, ribs, back. “Don’t that cool you like rain?” he said. “Ain’t that a goddamn groove?”

“Now you take a man’s eyes,” he said, ominously. “You ever have any trouble with your eyes?”

“No…not really…”

“Must have trouble, else you wouldn’t be wearing them eyeglasses! This little remedy gonna pull all the bloodshot qualities right outa your eyeballs.” He brandished a new bottle. “Witch hazel. Now, I take these”—he was ripping into a package and extracting two gauze pads—“and I dab a little on there, like this, swoggling it all around. Now I put them babies on your eyelids and I won’t be thirty seconds until you feel it cooling up all the way back inside your cranium!” He marched about, rattling on, while I sat in darkness, feeling like ka man who has stumbled into May Clinic by mistake. “Take them pads off in another three minutes and you can feel heat on the underside like you had fried an egg there! So, quite nat-ur-ally—you gonna see clearer and sweeter and cooler than you ever did see before.”

“You use all sorts of nostrums, don’t you?” I said.

“Use whatever helps. You know, it wasn’t long ago I believed in all kinds of old-timey remedies like the voodoo people. Yeah! Various dusts and herbs and junk like that.” He laughed to think on days when he had been so medically unschooled. “Now I jjust use things do me some good, ya dig? And it works, Pops. Do you know I am the only one left from the olden days in Storyville still blowing? Oh yeah, lotta cats lost their chops. Lips split and goddamn the blood spurt like you had cut a hog and the poor cats can’t blow no more. Now, I got this lip salve I’m gonna expose you to. Keeps my chops ready so I don’t go in there and blow cold and crack a lip like I did in Memphis so bad I lost a chunk of meat.”

Armstrong snatched the pads away and leaned forward with his face almost against mine, pulling his upper lip outward and upward, trying ineffectually to talk under the handicap. I leaned in, much in the manner of a man judging a horse’s teeth for age, and saw in the middle of that talented lip a sizable flesh-crater. “My poor damn chops would be tender as a baby’s bottom,” Pops said. “Oh, no way to tell you how them chops could throb.” He poked a small orange tin at me. “I order this salve from Germany by the caseload. Bought so much the cat that boils it up named it after me. See, it says ‘Louis Armstrong Lip Salve.’ You write something nice about that cat for Pops, ya hear? Aw yeah, he’s fine!” He reached for my pen: “I’ll write it down so’s you don’t forget.”

He selected a cocktail napkin and printed in large, undisciplined letters: ANZACZ CRÈME MADE IN MANNHEIM GERMANY. He turned the napkin over and printed BY FRANZ SCHUITS. “That cat saved my lip,” he said. “Reason his salve’s so good it draws all the tiredness out. So—quite naturally—your chops rest easy. You oughta try some…only you don’t blow so it wouldn’t benefit you.” He daubed his own lips with the wonder potion. “Oh, yeah! I got this other little tidbit here! I see you got weight problems—now no offense, Pops, ‘cause most of us go around bloating ourselves up with various poisons which—quite naturally—causes some heavy stomping on the scales. All the sweets and sugars a person eats just goes right down there and hangs over your belt and looks up at you! Fat is made outta sugar more than anything else—you know that? Yeah! Why, a year ago I weigh two hundred and some pounds and now I’m shed off to a hundred and sixty-some and feel retooled. Between my Swiss Kriss and this Sweet ‘N Low—it ain’t like real sugar, you can eat a ton of this—I got no more weight imbalances which throws the body off center. Here”—he again sprang across the room to produce yet another packet—“it goes groovy on grapefruit. You want to try it? I got plenty grapefruit.”

When I demurred, Pops looked somehow betrayed. “Well,” he said, “you come on back tomorrow night. I’ll lay it on you then, Pops.

“Quite naturally,” I said.

Louis Armstrong is sophisticate and primitive, genius and man-child. He is wise in the ways of the street and gullibly innocent in the ways of men and nations. After four marriages, reform school, international fame and personal wealth, there is still a fetching simplicity about him. (Of his friend Moise Tshombe, kidnapped and facing a return to the Congo, he says, “I pray each night they won’t kill him. When I played Africa in [‘60] that cat was so nice to me. Kept me in his big palace and all…fed me good…stayed up all night gassing. I had this little tape recorder that cost me several big bills and Tshombe dug it so much I laid it on him. They ain’t gonan kill a sweet cat like hat, are they? So many he hung out with the wrong cats—that any reason to kill a man?”)

The on-stage Louis Armstrong is all smiles and sunshine, almost too much the “happy darky” of white folklore. When he has finished Hello Dolly in a spasm of body shaking, jowl flapping, and gutteral ranges, and has the joint rocking with applause, he sops at his ebony, streaming face with his white handkerchief and rasps, “Looka here, my Man Tan’s coming off!” Maybe his white audiences break up, but they no longer laugh at such lines in the black ghetto. One soon learns that this “happy” image is not all stagecraft; privately Pops is often full of laughter, mugging, instant music, irrepressible enthusiasms, and vast stories of colorful misinformation.

He is not Old King Cole merry old soul, however; his waters run much deeper. I have seen Pops swearing backstage between numbers, his face wrinkled and thoughtful and sad only seconds before he burst back on stage, chest out, strutting, all teeth, and cutting the fool. He can be proud, shrewd, moody, dignified—and vengeful. “I got a simple rule about everybody,” he warned me one evening. “If you don’t treat me right—shame on you!”*

[*Armstrong despises a couple of comedians who use their audiences or associates as targets in their acts. “Ain’t noting funny about putting another man down,” he judges.]

Cross him or wound his pride and he never forgets. My innocent mention of a noted jazz critic set off a predawn tirade. “I told that bastard, ‘You telling me how to blow my goddamn horn and you can’t even blow your goddamn nose.’” When he was young and green somebody gave him fifty dollars for a tune he had written called Get Off Katie’s Head. “I didn’t know nothing about papers and business, and so I let go all control of it.” Pops did not share in the money it made under another title. He has never performed the tune in public and never will. Of his father, Pops said, “I was touring Europe when he died. Didn’t go to his funeral and didn’t send nothing. Why should I? He never had no time for me or Mayann.”

He is big on personal loyalty. “Frank Sinatra—now there’s a man carries a lot of water for his friends. A most accommodating gentleman—if he digs you. My wife, Lucille, she’s another one that when she’s with you she’s with you one thousand per cent.”**[**Lucille holds the record as Mrs. Armstrong. They have been married twenty-five years, and live in Queens on Long Island.] And my mother, why she would work with you—laugh, cry, or juice with you. Oh, what a sweet and helpful girl Mayann was. Only tears I ever shed was when I saw ‘em lower her into that ground.”

He is generally a relaxed man, able to take a quick nap in strange rooms or on buses. “I don’t like nothing to fret me,” Pops said. “You healthier and happier when you hang loose. Business I don’t know nothing about and don’t want to. It must have killed more men than war. Joe Glaser books me, pays my taxes and bills, invest me a few bundles. Gives me my little leftover dab to spend. And that’s the way I want it. Don’t want to worry all time about that crap! I don’t even know where I go when I leave this pier until today I overhear Ira say something about Ireland and France and such places. I go wherever they book me and lead me.” (Both Armstrong and Joe Glaser are wealthy men. Armstrong commands top money—$20,000 to $25,000—for guest shots on television. He accepts eight to ten such jobs each year.)

Nothing worries Louis Armstrong for long. “Mama taught me,” he says, “that anything you can’t get—the hell with it!” This philosophy may be at the root of Armstrong’s rumored differences with militants of the Black Power generation. Nobody has flatly called him Uncle Tom but there have been inferences. Julius Hobson, a Washington ghetto leader, said during Armstrong’s Shoreham appearance last July, “He’s a good, happy black boy. He hasn’t played to a black audience in ten years. I’m glad I saw him though, but I wouldn’t come here if I had to pay. He’s an interesting example of the black man’s psychology but if he took this band”—two whites, three Negroes, a Filipino—“down on U street it would start a riot.” Armstrong, who remembers that not long ago everyone cheered him for having an integrated band, is genuinely puzzled by such comments.

He was not eager to talk civil rights. When I first mentioned the subject, as he dried out between shows in the dingy dressing room at Atlantic City, Pops suddenly began to snore. The next time he merely said, “There is good cats and bad cats of all hues. I used to tell Jack Teagarden—he was white and from Texas just like you—‘I’m a spade and you an ofay. We've got the same soul—so let’s blow.’”

One morning, however, he approached the racial topic on his own. “When I was coming along, a black man had hell. On the road he couldn’t find no decent place to eat, sleep, or use the toilet—service-station cats see a bus of colored bandsmen drive up and they would sprint to lock their restroom doors. White places wouldn’t let you in and the black places all run-down and funky because there wasn’t any money behind ‘em. We Negro entertainers back then tried to stay in private homes—where at least we wouldn’t have to fight bedbugs for sleep and cockroaches for breakfast. Why, do you know I played ninety-nine million hotels I couldn’t stay at? And if I had friends blowing at some all-white nightclub or hotel I couldn’t get in to see ‘em—or them to see me. One time in Dallas, Texas, some ofay stops me as I enter this hotel where I’m blowing the show—me in a goddamn tuxedo, now!—and tells me I got to come round to the back door. As time went on and I made a reputation I had it put in my contracts that I wouldn’t play no place I couldn’t stay. I was the first Negro in the business to crack them big white hotels—Oh, yeah! I pioneered, Pops! Nobody much remembers that these days."

“Years ago I was playing the little town of Lubbock, Texas, when this white cat grabs me at the end of the show—he’s full of whiskey and trouble. He pokes on my chest and says, ‘I don’t like niggers!’ These two cats with me was gonna practice their Thanksgiving carving on that dude. But I say, ‘No, let the man talk. Why don’t you like us, Pops?’ And would you believe that cat couldn’t tell us, Pops? So he apologizes—crying and carrying on. Said he was just juiced and full of deep personal sorrows—something was snapping at his insides, you see—and then he commenced bragging on my music. Yeah! And dig this: that fella and his whole family come to be my friends! When I’d go back through Lubbock, Texas, for many many years they would make old Satchmo welcome and treat him like a king.”

“Quite naturally, it didn’t always test out that pleasurable. I knew some cats was blowing one-nighters in little sawmill stops down in Mississippi, and one time these white boys—who had been dancing all night to the colored cats’ sounds—chased ‘em out on the highway and whipped ‘em with chains and cut their poor asses with knives! Called it ‘nigger knocking.’ No reason—except they was so goddamn miserable they had to mess everybody else up, ya dig? Peckerwoods! Oh, this world’s mothered some mean sons! But they try such stunts on the young Negroes we got coming along now--well, then the trouble starts. Young cats, they ain't setting around these days saying 'Yessuh' or 'Nawsuh.' Which I ain't knocking; everybody got to be his own man, Pops. No man oughta be treated like dirt."

"If you didn't have a white captain to back you in the old days--to put his hand on your shoulder--you was just a damn sad nigger. If a Negro had the proper white man to reach the law and say, 'What the hell you mean locking up my nigger?' then--quite naturally--the law would walk him free. Get in that jail without your white boss, and yonder comes the chain gang! Oh, danger was dancing all around you back then."

"Up north wasn't much to brag on in many ways. Not only people put your color down but you had mobsters. One night this big, bad-ass hood crashes my dressing room in Chicago and instructs me that I will open in such-and-such a club in New York the next night. I tell him I got this Chicago engagement and don't plan no traveling. And I turn my back on him to show I'm so cool. Then I hear this sound: SNAP! CLICK! I turn around and he has pulled this vast revolver on me and cocked in. Jesus, it look like a canon and sound like death! So I look down that steel and say, 'Weeelllll, maybe I do open in New York tomorrow.' That night I got every Chicago tough me or my pals knew--and it must have been eighteen hundred of 'em--to flock around and pass the word I wasn't to be messed with. And I didn't go to New York. Very Very shortly, however, I cut on out of town and went on tour down South. And the mob didn't mess with me again. They never wanted me dead, wanted me blowing so they could rake in my bread."

"You was running a very large risk to buck them mobsters and all the sharpies. They controlled everything. Cross 'em just so far--and BLIP! Your throat's cut or you're swimming in cement with lumps on your head. You needed a white man to get along. So one day in 193[5] I went to Papa Joe Glaser and told him I was tired of being cheated and set upon by scamps and told how my head was jumping from all of that business mess--Lil, one of my wives, had sweet-talked me into going out on my own to front some bands and it was driving me crazy--and I told him, 'Pops, I need you. Come be my manager. Please! Take care all my business and take care of me. Just lemme blow my gig.' And goddamn that sweet man did it! Sold his nightclub in Chicago where I had worked and started handling Pops."

"Sometimes Joe Glaser says I'm nuts. Says it wasn't as bad as I recall it. But then Papa Joe didn't have to go through it. He was white. Not that I think white people is any naturally meaner than colored. Naw, the white man's just had the upper hand so long--and can't many people handle being top cat."

"Passing all them laws to open everything up--fine, okay, lovely! But it ain't gonna change everybody's hearts. You know, I been reading the Bible this last little bit and them Biblical people had wars and riots and poverty and bad-asses among 'em just like we got. Nothing new happening!"

"It's much the same they talk about making marijuana legal. They think they're gonna do that and say, 'Everything's cool now, babies, it's all right and set square.' But how about them poor bastards already been busted for holding a little gage and have done their lonesome fifteen and thirty and fifty years? My God, you can't never never make it all right with them! Many years ago I quit messing around with that stuff. Got tired looking over my shoulder and waiting for that long arm to reach out and somebody say, 'Come here, Boy. Twenty years in the cage!' BLOOEY! Naw, they can't undo all the years of damage by passing a few laws."After a moment's brooding he said, 'That's why I don't take much part in all this fandangoing you hear about today. All I want to do is blow my gig."

Louis Armstrong’s first professional gig—as a substitute cornet player in a Storyville honky-tonk—brought him fifteen cents. He was fifteen years old. “But I sang for money long before I played for it,” he says. “When I was around twelve we formed this quartet—me, Little Mack, Georgie Gray, and Big Nose Sidney. We’d sing on the streets and in taverns—pass the hat; might make six-bits, a dollar. Good money. After hours all them prostitutes would be juicing, having a little fun, and they would offer us big tips to entertain ‘em. Carried their bankrolls in the tops of their stockings. Some would hold us on their laps and we would sniff the pretty scents and powders they wore.”

Though he had taught himself to play the little toy slide whistle and a homemade guitar, Armstrong really familiarized himself with musical instruments in the New Orleans Waifs’ Home. He began with the tambourine, then the snare drum, then ran through the alto horn, bugle, and cornet. Soon he was the leader of the Waifs’ Band, playing picnics and street parades. Old-time drummer Zutty Singleton, a boy then himself, was so astounded at hearing Armstrong’s horn that he moved closer to see if the boy was actually playing those fabulous notes. On his release from the home, Armstrong took one-night jobs filling in with bands until a few months later he landed a regular job at Henry Matranga’s in Storyville. “I wasn’t making no great sums so I kept on delivering coal, unloading banana boats, selling newspapers—though there never was any doubts I would follow music at that point. Had to work for extra bread, you see. For when I am sixteen I start hanging out with the pretty chicks and need operating money.”

King Joe Oliver took Louis Armstrong under his wing. “He was the best,” Pops says. “Laid a new horn on me when mine was so beat I didn’t know what sounds might come out of it. Advised me…took me home for red beans and rice feasts. Taught me about blowing trumpet, too. Lotta claims been made that Bunk Johnson put me wise to trumpet—Bunk hisself helped that story along. No such thing. Joe Oliver was the man.”

When King Oliver left Kid Ory’s brass band to go it alone, seventeen-year-old Louis Armstrong took his chair. In the eighteen months he played with Kid Ory at Pete Lala’s, Armstrong’s reputation grew. He was with the Tuxedo Brass Band in 1922, when King Oliver called him to Chicago—then the center of jazz as New Orleans once had been. In 1924-25 Armstrong was with the Fletcher Henderson band but quit because “The cats was goofing and boozing—not blowing. I was always deadly serious about my music.” From Henderson he joined Lil Hardin’s group (she was his second wife) and also worked in Erskine Tate’s pit orchestra at the Vendome Theatre in Chicago. Then he went to work at the Sunset Club for Joe Glaser—who immediately billed him as “The World’s Greatest Trumpet Player.” This title had been generally conceded to Joe Oliver—and King Joe was playing at a rival club nearby. It came down to a head-on contest between the two great trumpeters. “I felt real bad when I took most of Joe Oliver’s crowds away,” Armstrong says now. “Wasn’t much I could do about it, though. I went to Joe and asked him was there anything I could do for him. ‘Just keep on blowing,’ he told me. Bless him”

----- Larry L. King, Harper's magazine, November, 1967

 

 

 

The following quote finds historian Robert Caro describing the hard life of women in the Hill Country before electricity came to the land:

 

"In the Hill Country, canning was required for a family's very survival. Too poor to buy food, most Hill Country families lived through the Winter largely on the vegetables and fruit picked in the Summer and preserved in jars.

Since--because there was no electricity--there were no refrigerators in the Hill Country, vegetables and fruit had to be canned the very day they came ripe. And, from June through September, something was coming ripe almost every day, it seemed; on a single peach tree, the fruit on different branches would come ripe on different days. In a single orchard, the peaches might be reaching ripeness over a span as long as two weeks; "You'd be in the kitchen with the peaches for two weeks," Hill Country wives recall. And after the peaches, the strawberries would begin coming ripe, and then the gooseberries, and then the blueberries. The tomatoes would become ripe before the okra, the okra before the zucchini, the zucchini before the corn. So the canning would go on with only brief intervals--all Summer.

Canning required constant attendance on the stove. Since boiling water was essential, the fire in the stove had to be kept roaring hot, so logs had to be continually put into the firebox. At least twice during a day's canning, moreover--probably three or four times--a woman would have to empty the ash container, which meant wrestling the heavy, unwieldy device out from under the firebox. And when the housewife wasn't bending down to the flames, she was standing over them. In canning fruit, for example, first sugar was dropped into the huge iron canning pot, and watched carefully and stirred constantly, so that it would not become lumpy, until it was completely dissolved. Then the fruit--perhaps peaches, which would have been peeled earlier--was put into the pot, and boiled until it turned into a soft and mushy jam that would be packed into jars (which would have been boiling--to sterilize them--in another pot) and sealed with wax. Boiling the peaches would take more than an hour, and during that time they had to be stirred constantly so that they would not stick to the pot. And when one load of peaches was finished, another load would be put in, and another. Canning was an all-day job. So when a woman was canning, she would have to spend all day in a little room with a tin or sheet-iron roof on which the blazing sun was beating down without mercy, standing in front of the iron stove and the wood fire within it. And every time the heat in that stove died down even a little, she would have to make it hotter again.

"You'd have to can in the Summer when it was hot," says Kitty Clyde Ross Leonard ... "You'd have to cook for hours. Oh, that was a terrible thing. You wore as little as you could. I wore loose clothing so that it wouldn't stick to me. But the perspiration would just pour down my face. I remember the perspiration pouring down my mother's face, and when I grew up and had my own family, it poured down mine. That stove was hot. But you had to stir, especially when you were making jelly. So you had to stand over that stove." Says Bernice Snodgrass of Wimberley: "You got so hot that you couldn't stay in the house. You ran out and sat under the trees. I couldn't stand it to stay in the house. Terrible. Really terrible. But you couldn't stay out of the house long. You had to stir. You had to watch the fire. So you had to go back into the house."

And there was no respite. If a bunch of peaches came ripe a certain day, that was the day they had to be canned--no matter how the housewife might feel that day. Because in that fierce Hill Country heat, fruit and vegetables spoiled very quickly. And once the canning process was begun, it could not stop. "If you peeled six dozen peaches, and then, later that day, you felt sick," you couldn't stop, says Gay Harris. "Because you can't can something if it's rotten. The job has to be done the same day, no matter what." Sick or not, in the Hill Country, when it was time to can, a woman canned, standing hour after hour, trapped between a blazing sun and a blazing wood fire. "We had no choice, you see," Mrs. Harris says."

----- Robert Caro, "The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power," 1982

 

 

 

The following quote is a description of a journey made in 1849 by legendary Texas Ranger John Salmon Ford:

"It took them fifty-five days to cover the 1160 miles form San Antonio to El Paso and back again. During that time Ford felt better mentally and physically than at any time since his wife's death. He made new friends too: Doc Sullivan, an impetuous and impish little man, always into mischief, and his constant companion Alpheus D. Neal, and Delaware Jim Shaw and several other Indian scouts, all of whom accompanied the expedition; and out at El Paso Ford met a living Texas legend, the "Great Western," a huge, powerful woman who operated a hotel and gambling house. She could whip any man, fair fight or foul, could shoot a pistol better than anyone in the region, and at black jack could out play (or out cheat) the slickest professional gambler.

The way the story went, she had fallen in love with Zachary Taylor back in Florida and had followed him to Texas. When war began, and Old Rough and Ready Taylor lead his army into Mexico, she came to El Paso and bought a hotel. One day a man fresh from the Battle of Buena Vista came running into the hotel crying that Taylor had been badly defeated. The Great Western floored the courier with a powerful blow between the eyes as she bellowed: "You damned son of a bitch, there ain't Mexicans enough in Mexico to whip old Taylor!" According to the gossipers she was still in love with the general and would let no man touch her. Which was all right, they added, because it would require some sort of mutation of man and gorilla to handle her anyway."

----- Stephen Oates, "Rip Ford's Texas," 1987

 

 

“It was like the circus had come to town, it was a festival for all the time I was there. It was glorious what was happening in Marfa.”

----- actor Earl Holliman on the impact of the filming of the movie "Giant" in that West Texas town. Holliman played the roll of Bob Dace, Rock Hudson\Bick Benedict's son-in-law in the film.

 

 

 

 

Here is a hazard of frontier life that you might not have considered:

 

"W.W. Schermerhorn, an attorney of San Angelo, once a citizen of this town, while under the influence of liquor last week in the saloon of Memph Eliot, had his feet badly burned by some unprincipled party pouring alcohol in his boots and setting fire to them. The proprietor of the saloon, Memph Eliot, is charged with the crime, and people of San Angelo are very indignant at the outrage. It is thought that amputation will be necessary in order to save his life. Judge Schermerhorn has entered suit against Elliot for $4,000.00, which he will have no trouble in recovering, as he has good witnesses who saw the affair."

------- The Colorado City Clipper newspaper, April 11, 1885

 

 

 

 

"I believe I could walk along the streets of any Texas town or city and pick out the real cowboy, not by his clothes especially, but because one can nearly always notice that he has a very open countenance and almost innocent eyes and mouth. He is not innocent of course; but living in the open, next to nature, the cleaner life is stamped on his face. His vices leave no scars, or few, because old mother nature has him with her most of the time."

----- Mrs. Bula Rust Kirkland, "The Trail Drivers of Texas," 1914. Mrs. Kirkland was the daughter of C. H. Rust, of San Angelo, Texas, one of the active members of the Old Trail Drivers' Association.

 

 

 

 

"If I, a lowly singer, dry one tear or soothe one humble human heart in pain, then my homely verse to God is dear and not one stanza has been sung in vain."

------ epitaph inscribed on Country Superstar Jim Reeves' grave in Carthage, Texas. Jim was born in Galloway, Texas (Jefferson County) and killed in 1964 in a plane crash near Nashville, Tennessee.

 

 

 

"I’d begun “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother” one night in this redneck bar in Red River [New Mexico]. Somebody had started in on me with “How can you call yourself American with long hair like that?” Then I’d seen a pickup outside with a bumper sticker reading something like “America, love it or leave it.” Later that night, B.W. Stevenson and Bob Livingston and I were passing a guitar around, and I started singing, “He was born in Oklahoma …” I came up with the chorus, we laughed, and that was it. Next thing I know, Livingston calls me from Luckenbach and says 'Jerry Jeff wants to cut it.' But there was no second verse. I made it up over the phone."

------ Ray Wylie Hubbard talking about how he wrote "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother" and how Jerry Jeff Walker recorded it and turned it into an anthem

 

 

A Mexican vaquero (cowboy) describes how to get to Big Bend from Fort Davis:

 

"You go south from Fort Davis

Until you come to the place

Where rainbows wait for rain.

And the river is kept in a stone box

And water runs uphill.

And the mountains float in the air.

Except at night, when they run away to play

With other mountains."

----- as told to Frank Tolbert, legendary Dallas newspaperman, 1960s

 

 

The cowboy seems to wear long sleeved western shirts even in the summer. They are likely to be gray or blue chambray, and starched and ironed by the cowboy's wife or mother. The younger cowboy may have on cotton knit shirts with a pocket. These knit shirts do not say things on the back, nor do they express obscenities. This form of self assertion is saved for bumper stickers. Whether knit of chambray, the shirt has a long tail, which is tucked in the Levis, those being positioned under a (usually) prominent stomach, "beer belly," or paunch. The cowboy has muscular arms and shoulders; he obviously does manual labor at times. He doesn't really drink enough beer to justify the stomach, but it is there, and he has a tendency to pat it. When his wife is particularly pleased with him, she may pat it. By some feat of engineering, the shirt reaches around the stomach and stays tucked into the Levis.

Next the watcher will notice the Levis. He will wish to give his "501s" away: the cowboy will neither have on "501s" or bell bottoms. He will have on boot or cowboy cut Levis, well washed and ironed (presumably by the same accommodating woman who irons the shirts). The crease will be ironed in according to the way the pants legs fall, not according to the seams. If the [cowboy] aspirer tries to match the side seams and iron a crease straight down, he will find, when he puts his pants on, that the crease seems to wind about his legs, giving a peculiar appearance to his stance. The Levis are not "flood or highwater" pants: they are the length which cause the hem to break just across the front of the boot and to just drag the ground in the back. After several wearings, the hem in the back of the Levis will be worn off and raveled. The watcher should not attempt the shortcut of cutting the hem off in the back; it must wear off and ravel naturally. These Levis can have a button fly instead of a zipper, but it is important either way that they are tight and that they do not bag.

These Levis are worn with a belt that has a large buckle.

The back right hand pocket will have a peculiar circle worn on it from the inside. This has been worn by the ubiquitous can of "Skoal" ---- snuff ----- which is carried there. In the left pocket in back will be the billfold, or wallet, with varying amounts of paper money, a driver's license, a gas credit card, and little else. This billfold will not have a plastic picture album in it."

----- Mildred Boren, "The Real Thing: How to Look, or Avoid Looking, Like a Real Cowboy, " a monograph, 1990

 

 

 

In 1940, legendary Texas songwriter Cindy Walker showed some good, old-fashioned Texas sticktoitiveness when she went to Hollywood with her parents and tried to sell some of her songs. In that year, Cindy, then 22 years old, 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.

Cindy 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 both 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".

------- Cindy Walker, "You Don't Know Me." Cindy was born near Mexia, lived her 87 years there, and wrote top-10 hit songs in five different decades. "You Don't Know Me,' of course, has been covered by everybody from Ray Charles to Michael Buble

 

 

 

The following quote finds Traces of Texas reader Johnny Hughes' recollection of the dating scene at the Lindsey Theater in Lubbock about 55 years ago. Johnny is a rather legendary character and this is a touch risque', but this is how he wrote it:

 

TAKING DATES TO THE LINDSEY THEATER: LUBBOCK, TEXAS

by Johnny Hughes

 

"Fireworks always reminds me of the Lindsey Theater in Lubbock. Y'all remember the nicest moving picture show house in your town? From ninth grade all through high school, it was the social, focal point of our town. When a car load of boys hoping to get to talk to a car load of girls were making the circle: Hi D Ho, Hi D Ho Jr on College Avenue, the Village Mill, across the street, to Etter's Rebel at 34th and P, giving the Lindsay and State Theaters a drive by was in there. Etter's had car hops on roller skates.

Before you'd ask a gal for a movie date, there was the coke date. In Texas, coke is a generic term meaning cherry lime, root beer, and what folks from the lesser states call pop or soda water. A coke dated started with one of the most terrifying experiences and went on to a more terrifying experience. First, you had to ask her and risk some phony baloney excuse, "I have to wash my hair" which meant you are not cool enough for me or anyone I know. If she did say yes, you had to meet her ax murderer-looking father and remember the eye contact and firm handshake while being given a Charlie Manson eye dance. 'Ol Daddy would set a curfew with the unspoken you might be killed if you were over five minutes late.

You might go to the Hi D Ho for a coke but since the man paid for everything, ususally not a burger. Then there was the sole reason for coke dates: parking which implied necking a.k.a. smooching a.k.a. making out and for certain, attempted light petting where a mental score of first bast, second base, third base was kept but never talked about. It is a myth about all that locker room talk as boys do not wish to share their rare successes because of their far more frequent failures, We'd go parking out in the country on dirt road, on isolated spots on Texas Tech's campus, and the traditional spot, Prairie Dog Town in Mackenzie Park. It was good because there was a row of cars with teenies necking which set an example for your date of the reason for your presence. There was one legendary Lubbock policeman, Copper Rollins, who would come shine lights and even get out and talk to folks.

Out in the country, you might encounter sheriff's deputies hoping to see half-clothed teenie women, if that is not an oxymoron.

Movie dates were often Friday or Saturday night affairs. There were larger than life oil paintings in the lobby at the Lindsey and it was a class joint with a big balconey where dates could be semi-alone in the dark. Goody. Goody. We might pick our date up at 7:30 and enter the movie in the middle which didn't seem odd at all. In this Golden Age of the movies, movies had Intermission with an overture. I'd go to the Lindsey lobby to smoke and flirt with other girls and my date would save our seats. You'd want to be back to sing along with songs with the lyrics up on the screen and a bouncing ball. I date myself. Y'all are not as old as me. Our high school motto was "Rough as hell. Sweet as heaven. Senior class of '57."

There was the dilema of whether to hold hands, put your arm around her, cop a feel. Daddys didn't have much to worry over because gals had on layers of clothes and mysterious garments. We'd dress up some for the Lindsey, no ties, but slacks, sports coats in season. Gals would have on panties, a bra held in place by buckles, clasps, and it might be mildly padded. The gal had on panty hose and a garter belt, and a girtle, nearly required at Texas Tech, again held tightly by security devices. Over that, she might have fifty petty coats, a dress, and a sweater. There was an actual gal down in there if you were persistent.

It was cool to go to the major flicks early in their run. When Red River with John Wayne premeired around 1949, Hemphill Wells also opened and they gave away these packets of four chocolates and they had an escalator we would ride like a carnival ride. We'd walk downtown stopping at Sears to look at our feet in the exray machine and sit on the saddles, maybe buy a quarter's worth of hot peanuts.

This was at a time in the mid to late fifties when the teenies were in rebellion and called juvenile delinquents. The biggest event was the midnight movies at the Lindsey. One time a few of us worthless boys, trying to be James Dean, spent the afternoon making flour bombs, a Kleenex full of baking flour, secured by a rubber band. At midnight, we hurled these from the baloney on all the folks below. Made a big white cloud. No one snitched us off, being the rebellion and all. The next year, at midnight, my best friend and I, lit a string of firecrackers right by the screen. We lacked a coherent exit plan and were immediately siezed by the Lubbock police, arrested, and walked to jail, a few blocks.

I was fourteen and this was my first arrest. Daddy came down in good humor and paid 'em something. We were put on probation and had to be lectured by this old dude, John Wilson, who majored in stern in college. Worse, we were forced to go to the Boy's Club and take part in their activites. They had a gym, a boxing ring I hated, a dangerous wood craft room with spinning saws and other minor criminals all around, a baseball field and teams you were assigned to, which I hated. I was the eternal right fielder, last guy chosen and bad at all sports even though I tried them all: football, baseball, basketball, track, boxing, and golf. I was good at poker, a blessing since they play with real money and you do not bump into big guys or get slugged. The swimming was way more than weird. We were required to swim naked. The offical reason was that the loose threads from bathing suits would clog the drain. I still suspect strongly that the real reason was that the honchos who chose to work with teenage boys just wanted to see them naked. Duh!

I miss the Lindsey. I miss downtown Lubbock. Remember it?"

----- Johnny Hughes

 

 

 

"Not all [Texas] Ranger captains had Captain John W. Samson's grit, but results also depended on the caliber of the men in the companies. Captain Bland Chamberlain certainly did not have much to work with. Of the sixty rangers in Chamberlain's Company H, only five hailed from Texas. The non-Texans included a Frenchman who had been in Emperor Maximilian's army in Mexico, a man who during the Civil War had ridden with Quantrill's guerrillas, eight Mexican-Americans, and, as one of the Texans later wrote, 'the rest of the company was fished out of the slums in San Antonio by the first sergeant.'

 

The company spent a few months scouting the Rio Grande but its service record amounted to only a few words: "Arrested several rustlers on February 25, 1871." Three days later, the company received orders to disband. That lead to Company H's most notable accomplishment ---- being the only Ranger company known to have had a mutiny.

As it developed, the men of Company H believed that Sergeant John Morgan, a former Yankee soldier, took his job way too seriously. He and the other ex-soldiers in the outfit made up one faction, the less disciplined Texans and others composing the other side. On the way back to Austin for their official mustering out, some of the Texans, in strict violation of orders, got drunk.

 

The situation degenerated into a melee punctuated by gunfire. Nobody got shot, but one state-owned wagon ended up in flames. Order finally restored, the by-the-book sergeant had five rangers clapped into irons. When they reached Austin, he said, he would see them court-martialed for mutiny. The captain did not intervene, but when a lieutenant returned to the unit ---- he had been gone during the incident ---- he countermanded the sergeant's order and released the rowdy rangers.

 

Unreconstructed, when the rangers arrived in Austin on St. Patrick's Day, they pawned state-issued pistols and carbines for a keg of beer. When the brew ran dry, they started on whiskey.

 

The next day, those able to stand marched up Congress Avenue for discharge. Since the state did not have enough money to pay them all it owed them, the adjutant general told them they would be sent vouchers for back pay. He also offered them commissions in the state police, but most had had enough of state service.

 

The men of Company H had learned, as others would, that rangering did not always prove to be exciting and romantic."

------ Mike Cox "The Texas Rangers: Wearing the Cinco Peso," 2008. This is an excellent study of the Rangers, by the way. Highly recommended.

 

 

"My favorite Aggie joke? I'm sorry, I don't understand the question."

 

----- singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett, Texas A&M alumnus

 

 

Over the course of his life, Charles A. Siringo was a cowboy, lawman, detective and writer. Today's Texas quote finds Charles describing an even in Old Tascosa which, though a ghost town now, was once a wild and wooly place:

 

"About Christmas we had a little excitement, chasing some Mexican thieves, who robbed Mr. Pitcher of everything he had in his little Jim Crow store. John and I were absent from our camp, six days on this trip. There were nine of us in the persuing party, headed by Mr. Moore, our boss. We caught the outfit, which consisted of five men, all well armed and three women, two of them being pretty maidens, on the staked plains, headed for Mexico. It was on this trip that I swore off getting drunk, and I have stuck to it--with the exception of once and that was over the election of President Cleveland--It happened thus:

We rode into Tascosa about an hour after dark, having been in the saddle and on a hot trail all day without food or water. Supper being ordered we passed off the time waiting, by sampling Howard and Reinheart's [Saloon] "bug juice."

Supper was called and the boys all rushed to the table--a few sheepskins spread on the dirt floor. When about through they missed one of their crowd ----- me. On searching far and near I was found lying helplessly drunk under my horse, Whisky-peet, who was tied to a rack in front of the store. A few glasses of salty water administered by Mr. Moore brought me to my right mind. Moore then after advising me to remain until morning, not being able to endure an all night ride as he thought, called, "come on, fellers!" And mounting their tired horses they dashed off at almost full speed.

There I stood leaning against the rack not feeling able to move.

Whisky-peet was rearing and prancing in his great anxiety to follow the crowd. I finally climbed into the saddle, the pony still tied to the rack. I had sense enough left to know that I couldn't get on him if loose, in the fix I was in. Then pulling out my bowie knife I cut the rope and hugged the saddle-horn with both hands. I overtook and stayed with the crowd all night, but if ever a mortal suffered it was me. My stomach felt as though it was filled with scorpions, wild cats and lizards. I swore if God would forgive me for getting on that drunk I would never do so again. But the promise was broken, as I stated before, when I received the glorious news of [Grover] Cleveland's election."

----- Charles A. Siringo, "A Texas Cow Boy," 1885

 

 

"Sunday morning in Texas. The hum. The softness and possibility of dawn. The gradual graying from the east. A cow lowing, a truck rumbling. Are you awake? Yes. That cricket you fell asleep to last night is still chirping. Your refrigerator kicks on in the kitchen. You should get up. Really, you should get up. You have to clean out the truck and your clothes need washing and a bunch of limbs got knocked down in the last storm, so you should get your butt up out of bed right ... now .... But it is so nice lying next to your sweetie, and one of your dogs --- Callie, it feels like ----- is curled up at the foot of your bed, and although a cup of coffee would be nice right about now, you fall back asleep for a few minutes, a smile on your heart .

It's the little things, you know."

----- Me, Traces of Texas

 

 

 

"Many of the Texas country blues musicians toiled in obscurity, only to be discovered late in their lives. Mance Lipscomb is probably the best example of these artists. He was born in 1894 in the Navasota River bottoms and spent his life as a sharecropper. An intuitive and cunning guitarist who originally learned fiddle from his father, Lipscomb entertained at parties and barn dances. Though he made trips to Dallas to pick cotton during the harvest, and would anonymously watch Blind Lemon Jefferson play, he never made the trek to any of the urban blues centers with the idea of performing himself.

Lipscomb "turned pro" when he was sixty-five ... In 1950, Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Rocords, an archival label in San Francisco, was led by Houston disc jockey Mack McCormick to Navasota, where Lipscomb could generally be found playing on his porch.

A guitarist whose staggering technique underscored a lifetime spent writing and cataloging a spectacular range of material (from country blues to ballads to jazz and folk) by all accounts Lipscomb was a devout, friendly, gentle man, and it must have been astonishing to him when the records he recorded for Arhoolie brought him a bit of fame.

He criscrossed the United States, appearing before adoring fans and bedazzled musicians at various clubs and folk festivals, but he found a spiritual home in Austin. For almost ten years, Lipscomb was a kind godfather to a city-wide family of players, preaching his gospel of Texas music in "churches" like the Armadillo World Headquarters and the Vulcan Gas Company. He passed away in 1976, but scores of modern guitarists ----- from Jimmie Vaughan to Ian Moore ----- are quick to point to Lipscomb as a genuine Texas musical force. Arhoolies "Texas Sharecropper and Songster" and "You Got to Reap What You Sow" are recommended."

----- Rick Koster, "Texas Music," 1998

 

 

"I stood at street corners in waiting to see some ranchero, or farmer, emerge from a saloon and vault cleanly into the saddle of his patient mustang. This feat is thoroughly Texas, and should be seen to be appreciated."

------- reporter in the June, 1880 edition of "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper" describes Austin

 

 

"In Old Hico is a house in which, at different times within the past 30 years, some six or seven men have been killed for diverse offenses. The house, which is known as “The Slaughter pen,” is situated on the farm of Mr. G. H. Medford, and occasionally some renter moves into it, and also moves out in haste, and as the house is rarely occupied it is said the place is frequented by the restless and disembodied spirits of the man whose material existence was so suddenly terminated there, and the result is edifying only at a distance and in broad daylight.

The parties whose mortal coils were shuffled off forgot, on the spur of the moment, to remove their boots, and they, therefore, make a great deal of unnecessary noise in their midnight peregrinations, and are anything but seemly and fastidious ghosts. They also seem to be on unfriendly terms with each other, and their bickerings are so open that the neighbors have noticed it and deprecate the lack of secrecy that the skeleton in the closet observes. The last addition to this select circle of ghost were two gentlemen who about two years ago, stole some money from old Mr. Isaac Malone.

They were found in a barbershop in Waco and brought back and placed in this house. During the night, while chained together near the fireplace, their spirits escaped to another world. Since then these two ghosts have seemed rather “stuck up" to the other ghosts, probably because they were clean- shaved and wander off to themselves, clanking the chain to irritate the other low-down ghosts. We've noticed that fresh shaved ghosts always act this way. The old ghosts retaliate by driving these two away, as, having branded the wrong yearlings only, they cannot associate with ghosts who steal.

Because of these quarrels it is very disagreeable to remain in the house at night. The last occupant moved out two weeks ago, because, as he told Hol Medford, a barrel of pistols had been thrown into the house and all fired off at once; he didn't mind the ghost, but he said the pistols were really dangerous. He was an Englishman and hadn't got the hang of Texas ghosts."

----- From the Hico Times as reprinted in the Brenham Weekly Independent. Vol. 1, No. 15, Ed. 1, Thursday, April 20, 1882, page 5

 

 

 

Obituaries from the Dallas Times Herald, 1890:

"Philip Cris Ungeheuer, a German farmer, died at his residence, 1334 Pacific avenue, yesterday, from the effects of an overdose of morphine, taken with suicidal intent the night before. Justice Brown was called to hold the inquest.

The wife of the deceased stated that he received injuries about the head in an accident several months ago which completely unbalanced him, and to this cause, his rash deed is attributed. The deceased formerly lived at Mesquite, where he sustained the reputation of an excellent citizen."

------ January 25, 1890, Dallas Daily Times Herald

 

 

"Floyd, the four-year-old son of John Spartman [Sparkman?], living near Cochran's Chapel, met with a horrible death yesterday. Mr. Spartman and his employes were preparing to slaughter hogs and a great iron kettle filled with boiling water hung on a crane over a blazing fire near the slaughtering pen. The little boy was playing about the premises and venturing near the fire, he missed his footing and plunged into the scalding water. The horrified spectators drew him from the kettle, but too late to save his life. After lingering an hour in terrible agony, the little sufferer expired. The funeral took place this morning at Cochran's Chapel and was largely attended. A number of relatives and friends of the family were present from this city."

------ January 2, 1890, Dallas Daily Times Herald

 

 

"Mr. and Mrs. T. Cordell of East Dallas, mourn the loss of their little seven-year-old daughter, who died at the family residence in East Dallas at 8 o'clock last evening.

Yesterday afternoon, a group of children were playing the childish game of "see-saw," among the number, deceased. By some means, she fell, or was thrown from the plank to the ground, only a short distance, and was considerably stunned by the fall. This happened at 3 o'clock, and while her injuries were regarded as slight, at 8 o'clock, the child expired."

------ January 6, 1890, Dallas Daily Times Herald

 

 

"Mary A. Rice and M. W. Rice, parents of Nannie West, the unfortunate deaf and dumb mute who was killed a few months ago by a Central train near the intersection of the railroad track and Ross avenue, filed suit for $25,000 damages against Charles Dillingham, receiver of the Houston & Texas Central road."

----- January 29, 1890, Dallas Daily Times Herald

 

 

"George W. Collins, a well-known printer, for some time past foreman in the establishment of A. D. Aldredge, died at 312 Caruth street to-day of consumption. Deceased was about thirty-two years of age, a fine workman and held in high esteem by a large circle of friends. The remains will be shipped to Chicago, his old home, for interment."

------ January 29, 1890, Dallas Daily Times Herald

 

 

"Word was received in this city today that J. K. P. Jourdan, one of the leading farmers and most prominent citizens of Dallas county, died at this home in Grand Prairie last evening. after a brief illness of la grippe. Mr. Jourdan was in the city Saturday, hale and hearty and in the best of spirits, and his early demise is a great shock to his relatives and friends."

------ January 30, 1890, Dallas Daily Times Herald

 

 

 

"Pampa was a Texas oil boom town and wilder than a woodchuck. It traveled fast and traveled light. Oil boom towns come that way and they go that way. Houses aren't built to last very long, because the big majority of the working folks will walk into town, work like a horse for a while, put the oil wells in, drill the holes down fifteen thousand feet, bring in the black gushers, case off the hot flow, cap the high pressure, put valves on them, get the oil to flowing steady and easy into the rich people's tanks, and then the field, a big thick forest of drilling rigs, just sets there pumping oil all over the world to run limousines, factories, war machines, and fast trains. There's not much work left to do in the oil fields once the boys have developed it by hard work and hot sweat, and so they move along down the road, as broke, as down and out, as tough, as hard hitting, as hard working, as the day they come to town.

The town was mainly a scattering of little old shacks. They was built to last a few months; built out of old rotten boards, flattened oil barrels, buckets, sheet iron, crates of all kinds, and gunny sacks. Some were lucky enough to have a floor, Others just the dusty old dirt. The rent was high on these shacks. A common price was five dollars a week for a three roomer. That meant one room cut three ways. Women folks worked hard trying to make their little shacks look like something, but with the dry weather, hot sun, high wind, and the dust piling in, they could clean and wipe and mop and scrub their shanty twenty-four hours a day and never get caught up. Their floors always was warped and crooked. The old linoleum rugs had raised six families and put eighteen kids through school. The walls were made out thin boards, one inch thick and covered over with whatever the women could nail on them: old blue wallpaper, wrapping paper from the boxcars along the tracks, once in a while a layer of beaver board painted with whitewash, or some haywire color ranging from deep-sea blue through all of the midnight blues to a blazing red that would drive a Jersey bull crazy. Each family usually nailed together some sort of a chair or bench out of junk materials and left it in the house when they moved away, so that after an even thirty-five cents worth of hand-made wash benches, or an old chair, or table had been left behind, the landlord hired a sign painter to write the word "Furnished" on the "For Rent" sign.

Lots of folks in the oil fields come in from the country. They heard about the high wages and the great number of jobs. The old farm has dried up and blowed away. The chickens are gone dry and the cows have quit laying. The wind has got high and the sky is black with dust. Blow flies are taking the place over, licking off the milk pails, falling into the cream, getting hung up in the molasses. Besides that, they ain't no more work to do on the farm; can't buy no seed for planting, nor feed for the horses and cows.

Hell, I can work. I like to work. Born working. Raised working. Married working. What kind of work do they want done in this oil boom town? If work is what they want done, plowing or digging or carrying something, I can do that. If they want a cellar dug or some dirt moved, I can do that. If they want some rock hauled and some cement shoveled, I can do that. If they want some boards sawed and some nails drove, hell's bells, I can do that. If they want a tank truck drove, I can do that, too, or if they want some steel towers bolted up, give me a day's practice, and I can do that. I could get pretty good at it. And I wouldn't quit. Even if I could, I wouldn't want to.

Hell with this whole dam layout! I'm a-gonna git up an' hump up, an' walk off of this cussed dam place! Farm, toodle-do. Here I come, oil town! Hundred mile down that big wide road."

----- Woody Guthrie describes Pampa, Texas in "Bound for Glory," 1943

 

The next quote is an entire article that was published in the Dallas Times Herald back in 1903:

 

TWO EARLY PIONEERS AND THEIR STORIES.

 

"Captain June Peak and How

He Joined the Army, Chickasaw

Indian Fighters -- "Uncle Buck"

Hughes and the Big Flood of 1866.

 

Captain June W. Peak is 58. He is a splendidly preserved specimen of manhood and one among the last of the early broncho-busters and buffalo hunters of Dallas county. Captain Peak is a superb horseman, and in the 60's and 70's, the mustang did not live that he could not mount and subdue. A veteran of the war between the states, he is proud of relating war stories, and is an accomplished raconteur. "I was plowing in the field when the news came of the fall of Fort Sumpter," he said to a Time Herald representative, "Our farm was at the edge of the old town, and is now known as East Dallas. I was a husky boy then, and an ardent secessionist. Our people had been repeatedly assured that one Southern man could whip five Yankees, and I was very ambitious to whip my five. It must have been a mistake, as it is much easier to whip an enemy with a bayonet at close quarters.

'As I stated, I was plowing in the field when my brother came from town with a copy of our weekly newspaper. Dallas had no daily, and news was week to ten days old when it reached us. At dinner, he read the news and my boy's martial spirit was aroused. I resolved to go as a soldier without delay. Knowing that it would be useless to ask my mother's consent, I made my arrangements secretly. Ben Long, afterwards city marshal, owed me eighteen dollars. The best pony in Dallas county was in my stable. Dinner over, I saddled and mounted him. My mother asked, 'Where are you going, Son?' "To town, to get my money from Ben Long, Mother," I replied. She accepted the explanation, never dreaming that her boy had murderous designs upon the Yankees. Ben Long paid me the money, and I rode home and lariated the pony a safe distance from the house, slipped up stairs, packed my saddle-bags, and under cover of the night, mounted and rode away. That pony had plenty of bottom, and before sun was noon high the next day, I had ridden ninety miles to the northward, and was in the camp of Colonel Bill Young, who had rallied to his standard, the young men of Lamar, Fannin, Grayson and Cooke. Fort Arbuckle was garrisoned by Federal soldiers and was commanded by Colonel Edmonds, a soldier and a gentleman. Colonel Young decided to seize Fort Arbuckle, and we made a rapid march to the place, only to find the fort had been deserted and the Federals were working their way across the Indian Territory.

“Our men were farmers, frontiersmen, cowboys and hunters. Some were armed with squirrel rifles; others had army carbines, and a few were equipped with army muskets. They were fighting men, but poorly armed for pitched battles with trained soldiers with modern firearms in their hands. Well, we decided to give pursuit and capture Colonel Edmunds and his 1200 regulars. Fifty of our boys were detached from the regular command and were sent ahead to spy out the lay of the land as scouts. 'It is fun to hunt the tiger, but it is hell when the tiger hunts you.' Colonel Edmunds was too old a campaigner to be caught napping. One morning, bright and early, we were drawn into an ambush and caught like rats in a trap. Resistance would have been suicide. We were surrounded, outnumbered, and in a bad scrape. What did we do? Laid down our arms and surrendered like little men. Colonel Edmunds treated us kindly. 'Boys,' said he, 'go back to your people. I don't want to hurt you, but if you pursue me another step, there's going to be graves to dig and men to fill them.'

"We did not stand on ceremony, and obeyed the instructions of the Federal commander. Crestfallen and footsore and hungry, we retraced our steps. Colonel Bill Young reconsidered and did not carry out his threat to bag Edmunds and his command.

"No, I did not return to Dallas. The Chickasaw Indians were loyal to the South and raised a regiment of fighters, volunteering for one year. This was the first regiment of Indians to take up arms for the Stars and Bars. I became a member of the command, and we were given plenty to do for the next twelve months. At the expiration of the year, the survivors demanded their discharge. they were homesick, longed for a sight of their wives and children in the Indian Territory. They were loyal, mind you, and were ready to re-enlist after a visit to their families. Colonel Cooper mustered out the redmen, and I re-enlisted with a Texas regiment and saw enough in the four years that followed to convince me that General Sherman was right when he stated that 'war is hell.'

I was attached to Wharton's command and was with him at Houston, when he was shot and killed by General Baylor. They were gallant soldiers, true sons of the South, and it was a pity that a private quarrel should have culminated in a bloody tragedy. We were in camp at Hempstead at the time. General Wharton had gone to Houston on business and General Baylor had followed him to the Bayou City. The shooting occurred in the old Lamar House, I believe, and was one of the regrettable and tragic incidents of the war between the states. I returned to Dallas in 1865, with plenty of experience and a few scars, but my pony and $18 were gone. I was a boy when I joined Colonel Bill Young's squad, and but little more than a boy when the flag of the South went down at Appomattox Court House thirty-eight years ago. My Indian comrades were splendid soldiers, regular dare-devils, and their loyalty to the cause of the South in those trying times, made me love them. It is almost like a dream when I think of it. In 1861, Dallas was a very small village, and the leading farmers raised corn and cotton almost within a stone's throw of the post office. In my boyhood, Texas was a wilderness. Today, she is an empire, teeming with people and is the fifth in the constellation of stars. God has been good to the land of the Lone Star."

__________________________________________________________________________

 

Rev. W. H. Hughes is another veteran of Dallas county, who came here in the 50's and knows Dallas county, its history and its pioneers, as he knows his good right hand. He is called "Uncle Buck" by the sons and daughters of the old pioneer families, and his reminiscences would fill a book of many pages. Parson W. C. Young and "Uncle Buck" Hughes are the survivors of the band of men who were called "sky pilots" by the ungodly in the early days of Dallas and adjoining counties. They preached the gospel of Christ on Sunday, held revivals at intervals and tilled the soil between times. Pioneer preachers had work to do, and they never shirked. "Uncle Buck" has a marvelously retentive memory, and has been a close observer. He talked high water and crop conditions to a coterie of old friends the other day. "Yes," he said, "the Trinity is away up this year. The government gauges shows 36 feet of water in the river, I've been told. The rise of 1890 is a favorite theme with navigators and recent comers. These gentlemen should have been here in 1866. That summer, the greatest flood in the history of Dallas county since the coming of white men, swept down upon us. The bottom lands were inundated, and over in what is now known as the Second ward, you could easily have floated a boat. The water touched Ross avenue, and farmers had to go miles out of their way to get to town. The high-water mark of the Trinity was made in 1866, and the floods since that year, have been freshets. Alex Cockrell rescued a family from drowning on the West Dallas pike at that time. It was a heroic performance and Alex was lionized by the people. There is always danger on the West Dallas pike when the river is out of its banks. I crossed it in the 50's, and had a narrow escape. Something should be done to protect life and guard against these frightful accidents."

Mr. Hughes was speaking of the drowning of a German farm-hand and young woman, who started for town from West Dallas and lost their lives before assistance could reach them.

"Wheat and oats yielded large crops," said the veteran preacher-farmer, "and the corn crop is far beyond the expectations of the most sanguine. Cotton is coming all right, and the staple will make a good showing in sections free from bollweevil."

 

__________________________________________________________________________

 

Captain Peak and "Uncle Buck" Hughes are Dallas county pioneers of the genuine type and will swell the throng at the Old Settlers' Reunion at Hutchins on the 29th of July. The people of Hutchins are getting ready to entertain visitors in royal style and all the veterans, men and women of the good old days and good old times will attend the reunion."

------- Dallas Daily Times Herald, July, 1903

 

 

 

In 1849, Dallas farmers had their wheat fields invaded by millions of wheatbirds (otocoris alpestris or horned lark). An 1858 account in the Dallas Herald newspaper relates one farmer's attempts to save his crop:

"He sought by gun and shot, ringing bells, beating tin pans, and every other available noise-maker, to frighten them from his grounds. For this purpose, bringing his whole force, big and little, into requisition, with these motley weapons he stationed the little army over the field. Finding that his efforts were likely to prove unavailing, he thought to compromise with the enemy by giving up a part of the field, and concentrating his force on the remainder, and defend it the more effectually.

The rapacious gluttons soon made a ' clean sweep' of the relinquished spoils, and then swooped down on the other. After a desperate struggle, our farmer concluded to relinquish the half of that, and give the other to the birds. No sooner had they finished the second section of the crop, than they insolently demanded the balance. A gallant stand was made by the farmer to save this, but his little force could do nothing against the legions of the invader. He finally thought he would save enough for seed, and retreated and took position on an acre, there resolved to 'do or die.'

It became a hand-to-hand fight, but while shotguns were firing, pans sounding, bells ringing, and sticks, whips, and bludgeons waving around the heads of the little urchins, the birds would swarm defiantly around them, light in their midst, and actually destroyed the last of his acre of wheat before his eyes, and in defiance of all his efforts."

----- Dallas Herald newspaper, 1858

 

 

 

So, just like you, I've been reading the front page of the Dec. 1st, 1916 Bartlett Tribune and News (linked below). I am struck by the rather routine gruesomeness with which they wrote back then. For example, we have the article about the death of local farmer R.F. Mclaren, killed when his auto went off a bridge. This is what we're told:

 

"R.F. Mclaren, a prominent farmer near Taylor, was crushed to death beneath his car and his body nearly cremated in the flames when the car caught fire last night ... The body was burned nearly beyond recognition. Both hands had been burned off and the entire body practically cremated. It is not thought, however, that Mr. McLaren ever suffered for even a moment as the skull had been crushed in when the car fell on him, undoubtedly killing him instantly."

Can you imagine a story being written in this manner today?

Also on the first page is a giant advertisement for Christmas toys at the Gersbach-Wacker Company. Besides telling us that Santa Claus has arrived and located his headquarters in the store, the ad reads "Every live boy and girl, no matter how old or young, is invited to visit this store." Isn't it nice that the specified that the children be live? It does make me wonder, however, why they are discriminating against deceased children.

http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth49002/m1/1/?q

 

 

 

"I meant to tell you about a house ... The walls still stand, and part of a rotting roof, from which protrudes part of a rusty stovepipe. Even if I offered explicit directions, many of you would not find it. You have to go west from Fort Worth about 225 miles, through Weatherford, Mineral Wells, Breckenridge, Albany, Stanford, Aspermont, Swenson, to Jayton. By now, you'd be into territory from which it costs about fourteen dollars to send a letter to the world, but you'd still not be there yet. Jayton, with a population of about 750, is the last big city before you get there. You drive four or five miles out into what people in the area call the Cotton Breaks for seven or eight miles, and after a while you'd come to the little community known as Golden Pond. It's not close to anything. Nobody ever goes there. It's no longer recognized as a community. The only inhabitannts are ghosts, and the wouthwest wind keens and moans through rotting plannks of an occasional ruined shack.

Not far from Golden Pond ... is the house I mentioned. It is a little house mde of native stone. It measures about ten feet by twelve feet, and there is a small wooden lean-to on the back. You can see through the walls.

My aunt lived in that house with a family during the school year of 1933-34 ... It was her first teaching job, and she made 12 dollars a month, with room and board thrown in.

She was far miles from home. There were no telephones in Golden Pond, and she had no transportation save what her feet offered. She was among strangers in a barren, twisty land. That area, the Cotton Breaks, is broken, eroded country; dry creeks, ravines, gullies, and canyons break the terrain for thirty miles and maybe more. Even in 1933 it ws nearly forgotten country.

There were no telephones, no electricity, no running water, no way to wash except in a pan or round metal washtub. And the wind whistled and moaned through the rocks.

If you stand on the little rise between ravines where the rock house is, if you stand there even in bright daylight, in every direction you look the distance is blue and far and melancholy. It is the lonesomest country I know. If you stand there at night, imagine what the dark is like when you're far from home and there's only one dingy. smoky kerosene lamp which, for the sake of economy, you can't burn for long.

Imagine lying in a narow bed with the wind coming in between the rocks and across you. How could you possibly imagine a bright future?"

----- James W. Corder, "Lost in West Texas," 1988

 

 

 

The following quote is the first chapter of Paul Horgan's monumental treatise on the Rio Grande river, "Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History." Every Texan and every fan of great writing should read this incredible book. Here's the quote:

 

"Space.

Abstract movement.

The elements at large.

Over warm seas the air is heavy with moisture. Endlessly the vast delicate act of evaporation occurs. The seas yield their essence to the air. Sometimes it is invisible, ascending into the upper atmosphere. Sometimes it makes a shimmer in the calm light that proceeds universally from the sun. The upper heavens carry dust—sea dust of salt evaporated from ocean spray, and other dust lingering from volcanic eruption, and the lost dust of shooting stars that wear themselves out against the atmosphere through which they fly, and dust blown up from earth by wind. Invisibly the volume of sea moisture and dust is taken toward land by prevailing winds; and as it passes over the coast, a new condition arises—the wind-borne mass reflects earth temperatures, that change with the earth-forms inland from the sea. Moving rapidly, huge currents of air carrying their sea burdens repeat tremendously in their unseen movement the profile of the land forms over which they pass. When land sweeps up into a mountain, the laden air mass rolling upon it must rise and correspond in shape.

And suddenly that shape is made visible; for colder air above the mountain causes moisture to condense upon the motes of dust in the warm air wafted from over the sea; and directly in response to the presence and inert power of the mountain, clouds appear. The two volumes—invisible warm air, immovable cold mountain—continue to meet and repeat their joint creation of cloud. Looking from afar calm and eternal, clouds enclose forces of heat and cold, wind and inert matter that conflict immensely. In such continuing turbulence, cloud motes collide, cling together, and in the act condense a new particle of moisture. Heavier, it falls from cold air through warmer. Colliding with other drops, it grows. As the drops, colder than the earth, warmer than the cloud they left, fall free of cloud bottom into clear air, it is raining.

Rain and snow fall to the earth, where much runs away on the surface; but roots below ground and the dense nerve system of grasses and the preservative cover of forest floors detain the runoff, to that much sky moisture goes underground to storage, even through rock; for rock is not solid, and through its pores and cracks and sockets precipitation is saved. The storage fills; and nearing capacity, some of its water reappears at ground level as springs which find upward release through the pores of the earth just as originally it found entry. A flowing spring makes its own channel in which to run away. So does the melt from snow clinging to the highest mountain peaks. So does the sudden, brief sheet of storm water. Seeking always to go lower, the running water of the land struggles to fulfill its blind purpose—to find a way over, around or through earth’s fantastic obstacles back to the element which gave it origin, the sea.

In this cycle a huge and exquisite balance is preserved. Whatever the amount of its element the sea gives up to the atmosphere by evaporation, the sea regains exactly the same amount from the water which falls upon the earth and flows back to its source.

This is the work, and the law, of rivers."

------- Paul Horgan, "Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History," 1955

 

 

"Some of the largest cattle herds belong to the great companies operating where the nation's range cattle industry had its origin ---- along the Rio Grande between the Pecos and Mexico Bay. It was "the brasada," the brush country, stretching from the Nueces to the Rio Grande. It was profuse in growth ---- but almost all were thorned. It was either swept with gray dust borne on blistering winds or beaten by deluges that hissed as they struck the hot ground or raked by blizzards that came whistling out of the north. In the interlocking thickets that enclosed small clearings where grew curly mesquite grass, cattle could graze by thousands and hardly be seen by horsemen who sought them. There cicadas sang of the heat, and sharp-haired peccaries rooted among the thorns and blue quail rand amidst the wire shadows, and rattlesnakes sought the cool and were sometimes drummed to death by wild turkey gobblers at whose destroying wings they struck and struck with no effect on nerveless quill and feather. It was a land of hard secrets, the best kept of which was the location of water. Its few rivers ran in abruptly cut trenches walled with pink or yellow or slate blue limestone, and could not be seen except at their very brinks. In every direction the wilderness looked the same. There were no distant mountains to be seen. The land swelled away toward the white sky in slow rolls and shimmered in the heat that blended the ashen color of the ground with the olive greens of the brush until across the distance there seemed to hang a veil of dusky lilac."

----- Paul Horgan, Great River Vol. II, 1954. Incidentally, Horgan's two books about the Rio Grande are "must" reading for any fan of Texas history. They are not only lyrically written but incredibly informative. You could spend a summer reading them and you would be the better Texan for it.

 

 

 

"In the early days, a YO ranch hand couldn't get into town as often as he does now. When he did, the sudden release from isolation sometimes proved more a curse than a blessing.

That's the way it was with Hen Baker, a cowboy who'd been up the trail with YO rancher Gus Schreiner. On one of Hen's infrequent forays into Kerrville, he wound up getting indicted by the grand jury for killing a man with his pocketknife. At his trial, Baker took the stand in his own defense.

While attending a picnic and barbecue along the Guadalupe River, he explained, he decided to appoint himself parking lot attendant. In the course of carrying out those duties, a stranger from Bandera rode up, got off his horse, and challenged Baker:

"I'm the Bull of the Bandera Woods and I hear you're King of the Kerrville Cedarbrakes. Let's see who's the best man."

Baker noticed the man seemed drunk. He also noticed there was a gun on his hip. Baker shooed him away and went back about his business.

After the picnic, Hen strolled into the Mint Julep saloon for a drink. Sure enough, here came the Bandera Bull, still drunk and still looking for trouble. Baker bought him a drink. The Bull swallowed it in one gulp, folded his arms, and accordring to Hen's testimony, "roosters me in the ribs just like that."

Hen then told the jury, "I didn't have my six-shooter, so I had to cut his throat."

In effect, what Hen was doing was apologizing for bad manners. A frontiersman didn't use his fists or his knife --- but, as Baker explained, he didn't have his pistol. What was he to do, under the circumstances, knowing the Bandera Bull had a gun?

The case was clear enough to the jury, and they found Hen Baker 'not guilty.'"

----- Neal Barrett Jr., "Long Days and Short Nights," 1980

 

 

 

"Giddings,

Lee County, Texas

May 18, 1877

 

M. Mast Esq.,

Nacogdoches, Texas

 

Dear Mr. Mast,

Your esteemed favor of April 24th was received. Allow me to thank you for your interest in the arrest of criminals. [Bill] Longley is today the worst man in Texas ---- he hs committed many murders in this vicinity ---- he has even murdered a woman. He is about six feet high; weighs 150 .lbs; tolerably spare built; black hair, eyes, and whiskers; slightly stopped in the shoulders. I have been told by those who know him that he can be recognized in a crowd of 100 men by the keenness and blackness of his eyes... You will have to take advantage of him.... he will fight and is a good shot.

 

Very respectfully yours,

 

W.A. Knox"

----- 1877 letter from W.A. Knox of Lee County, Texas, to Captain Milt Mast in Nacogdoches, Texas. Mast had written to Knox with an offer to help arrest Bill Longley. Captain Mast eventually caught Longley. See the next quote:

 

 

"On yesterday evening, Captain Milt Mast of Nacogdoches County and W.M. Burroughs of that same county, arrived in Henderson, having under arrest one William Longley, a notorious murderer of Lee County, Texas. Captain Mast was corresponding with friends in Lee County and by this means got on the track of this desperado. A $1,050.00 reward has been offered for his arrest by different counties. He says that he has killed 32 men."

----- Panola Watchman newspaper, June 27, 1877

 

 

Here is a description of the hanging of Bill Longley as it appeared in "The Frontier Times" in June, 1926:

 

"Bill Longley was hanged on October 11, 1878, in the northern part of Giddings. This spot is marked now by the houses of the water and the light plant.

The day of the execution opened with a murky morning and with rain threatening, but this did not deter the crowds from coming in along the highways and byways and bridle paths, afoot, in wagons and on horseback. Toward mid-day, the clouds disappeared and the little town of Giddings was thronged with a crowd of 4,000 people.

About 1:30 p.m., Sheriff Jim Brown and his special guards took Longley out of the jail and the melancholy march began. The gallows were erected of framing timber and were thought to be abundantly strong. Longley ascended the stairs with a cigar in his mouth and with a rather jaunty tread. The stair steps vibrated as he ascended about a quarter past two, and Longley exclaimed 'Look out, the steps are falling,' and laughing added, 'I don't want to get crippled.'

Longley then spoke from the gallows as follows:

'Well, I haven't got much to say. I have got to die. I see a good many enemies around me and only a mighty few friends. I hate to die, of course; any man hates to die, men who loved life as well as I do. If I have any friends here I hope they will do nothing to avenge my death; if they want to avenge my death, let them pray for me. I deserve this fate. It's a debt I owe for my wild, reckless life. When it is paid, it will all be over. I hope you will forgive me; I will forgive you, whether you do or not, may God forgive me. I have nothing more to say.'

Prayer was offered by Father Querat, after which Longley did a spectacular and unlooked for thing. He kissed Sheriff Jim Brown and the priest, shook hands with everybody on the scaffold, raised his hand and in a clear, ringing voice, exclaimed, "Goodbye everybody." Several from the crowd responded with a last farewell. The black cap was drawn, the rope adjusted, and the signal given. The drop was almost 12 feet. After hanging slightly over eleven minutes, Doctors pronounced him dead. Dr. Brown took the head in his hands and turned it completely around 180 degrees. Sheriff Brown placed the body in a covered hack and conveyed it to the cemetery in the western part of the town and buried it outside the fence that enclosed the cemetery."

----- "the Frontier Native" writing for "The Frontier Times," June, 1926

 

 

"The Big Bend is not close to nowhere so people ain't had a chance to ruin it. It's just like it always was. When your lungs are full of Big Bend air you seem to forget that you are gettin' older. But I reckon the best thing about this part of Texas is that it's lonesomer than any place else."

------ Attributed to an unnamed Big Bend resident by Virginia Madsen in "The Big Bend Country of Texas," 1955

 

 

 

"Texans have moved across the map of history with a kind of innocence and wonder that there are other people in the world who might see life through different lenses. In another way, they are like a friendly, undisciplined Dalmation dog that, as it smothers you with its affection and interest, cannot understand why you do not think it is the greatest dog in the world. In a word that shows signs of weariness, I personally often wish that Texas would grow up ----- but only a little bit."

----- Joe B. Frantz, "The Republic of Texas," 1968

 

 

 

The following quote was written in 1844 by "Mrs. Housrou," an English woman who had traveled through Texas the previous year:

 

"INTERIOR COMMUNICATIONS.

 

The city of Houston was our headquarters during our stay up the country; and greatly did we regret that the state of the prairie' owing to the constant and heavy rains, prevented our traveling as far as Washington, which city we had intended to have visited. The scarcity and indifference of the accommodations would not have deterred us from such an undertaking; but, in a country where roads do not exist, it is difficult not to lose one's way. The danger is considerably increased when the trail of previous travelers is obliterated by the rains, for "plumbing the track," the Texan term for tracing a road, is at all times a slow and tedious operation. Between Houston and Washington there is a certain space of two miles, which, when we were in the country, was not traversed in less time than four hours, so deep was the mire.

Even at Galveston, the first city in the country, things do not seem vastly better for a little excursion.

 

THE GALVESTON DRIVE.

 

The only " drive " is on the sea-beach : and a most beautiful beach it is—so hard and smooth, with its fine sand, that you scarcely hear your horse's foot fall, as he trots or rather runs along, a light carriage behind him, and the broad prairie spreading far before. Occasionally you are—I was going to say stopped, but I should have been wrong: no one is stopped in this country by anything short of a bowie-knife or a rifle-ball; but your progress is delayed by an interesting bayou, through which you have to wade, or swim, as the case may be. There is neither time nor spare cash to erect bridges and, indeed, were the expense to be incurred, the probability is they would be washed away by the first rain, or by a more than usually high tide. Bridges, then, being out of the question, nothing is left you but to make the best of such means of transport as are within your reach. If you fortunately chance to meet with any person who has lately crossed, you ask, " 'Well, Sir, is it swimming ? " Should the answer be in the affirmative, and you happen to be on horseback, equipped for a journey, with your plunder (luggage) about you, you " up saddle-bags," and boldly plunge into the stream. Should your route lie along the shore, the safest plan is to go a good way out to sea—on, on—till you find yourself well out among the breakers. I confess that at first this struck me as rather an alarming proceeding: but in fact it is much the safest plan ; there being always a bar of sand formed across the mouth of these bayous; and if you can hit that, the depth of water is much lessened.

Nor does there seem much in the social state of Texas to counterbalance the material evils. Mrs. Housrou admits three drawbacks to British emigration,—a total insecurity of titles to land; the smartness of the Texans, who when they deal with a Britisher, generally end by completely " shaving " him, that is possessing themselves of all his material goods; and the want of adaptability in the British character to qualify our settlers to meet the new and endless demands upon ingenuity. She says there are a great many lawyers in Texas, and a vast many laws—the Assembly having been industrious enough in this kind of work: but Mrs. Housrou makes it a ground of panegyric that there is little law among them—which seems to be true enough."

----- "Littell's Living Age II", August-October 1844

 

 

 

 

"They [the Texans] were citizens of the free and enlightened republic which boasts itself the smartest nation in all creation, and like most Yankes transplanted from their native localities to the rank soil of Texas were lazy, reckless, and rude: beyond the conception of anything European."

----- Littell's Living Age, January/March 1845

 

 

"I owe any success I've had to a single strange thing. I've never been able to hold one note longer than one beat, and then it sort of trails off. So all over the country there are guys sitting in bars getting soused and trying to impress their girl. Then my voice comes on the jukebox and they say, 'I can sing better than that guy.' And in about 90% of the cases they're right."

----- country music legend Ernest Tubb, 1967, interview with "The Nashville Tennessean"

 

 

"I don't care whether I hit the right note or not. I'm not looking for perfection of delivery ----- thousands of singers have that. I'm looking for individuality."

----- country music legend Ernest Tubb

 

 

 

"If you judge notoriety by the number of times the name of a place is spoken, the likelihood is that the most famous towns in Texas are Tenaha, Timpson, Bob and Blair. The reason for this is that there are so many dice players in the world. When trying to make ten with dice, crap shooters everywhere are apt to holler "Tenaha, Timson, Bobo and Blair," even though they may not know what these four words mean. These four towns are strung out along U.S. 59 in the East Texas county of Shelby.

Now how in creation did four little places in East Texas ever get to be so common on the tongues of dice players? I once set out to solve that mystery. At Tenaha, Bobo, and Blair I found no one who could shed any light on the matter.

At Timpson, I located R.R. Morrison, Colonel, U.S. Army (retired) who said that the old dice shooter's cry had its beginnings right there in town just before World War I. Morrison was then captain of a local company of infantry organized as Fory's Fusileers, named in honor of a Timpson railroad agent, H.R. Fory. The Fusileers later became Company B, 3rd Texas Infantry, of the National Guard, and Colonel Morrison led the company to France in World War I.

Just before leaving home the infantrymen in that company had a few dice games, as soldiers anywhere are apt to do before going overseas, or even when they're coming home, for that matter. Anyway, while talking to the dice as crapshooters do and calling on them to make ten, one of the boys happened to yell, "Tennyhaw!" Which inspired another, who was apparently betting his friend would make the point, to answer with "Timpson!" and somebody threw in Bobo and Blair. This was a natural thing, for the four towns lay within a few miles of each other along the railroad and passengers were accustomed to hearing the stations called out in that order. And it made a nice alliterative phrase, pleasing as it rolled off the tongue.

The names of the soldiers who applied this cry to crap shooting will remain forever a mystery, but the fact is clear that the phrase sailed to Europe with Fory's Fusileers. There it fell on fertile ground and spread to dice games the world over. During World War II in Europe I heard dice players from New York and Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, and California and various other states invoking the dice to make ten in the name of Tenaha, Timpson, Bobo and Blair, but I never found one who'd believe me when I explained that those are the names of four small towns in Shelby County, Texas.

----- Leon Hale, "Turn South at the Second Bridge," 1964

 

 

 

"On last Thursday afternoon, a terrible gale of cold wind swooped down upon this devoted section while in its shirt-sleeves, that cleared the thoroughfares in a few brief and hurried good-bye moments, killed business dead, stopped all out-door work, sent men tumbling into their overcoats, and in a few hours froze all creation stiff and hard.

The gale blew great guns all of Thursday night, and on Friday morning the thermometer actaully went down to 1 degree above the point of zero!

The Colorado was frozen entirely over at Bluffton, Marble Falls, and other crossing where the water was comparatively shallow and still. The ice ranged from half to over an inch in thickness, which is unprecedented. At Marble Falls, it took over two hours to cut a passage for the ferry boat on Friday. The Llano river was also a mass of ice in places. Mr. J.J. Smith saw a horse pass over it at Llano town. Hamilton Creek was frozen all over as far as the eye could see with thickness of two and three inches reported and the boys had a lively time sliding."

------ Burnet Bulletin, January 1866

 

 

 

"Havin' fun while freedom fightin' must be one of those lunatic Texas traits we get from the water ---- which is known to have lithium in it ----- because it goes all the way back to Sam Houston, who was surely the most lovable, the most human, and the funniest of all the great men this country has ever produced."

----- Molly Ivins, journalist, humorist, and essayist

 

 

 

"The rivers, especially the Colorado, Brazos, Guadalupe, and Nueces, were only crossable at a few fords when in full flow, and sometimes not even then, making ferries vital, for bridges as yet could span only the minor tributaries. The communities that appeared by 1800 grew up beside the rivers: San Antonio de Bexar, capital of the early province under Spain, and known colloquially both as San Antonio and simply as Bexar, sat on the upper reaches of the San Antonio River, one hundred and forty miles from the coast.

 

Downstream, just fifty miles from the Gulf, the river passed La Bahia, which men would later rename Goliad. Gonzales grew up seventy miles due east of Bexar, and fifty miles north of Gonzales sat Mina on the edge of the Hill Country. The major future settlement would land between the Lavaca and the Trinity, but as of 1800 that stretch of territory sat virtually uninhabited except by a few tribes of Koshatta, Karankawa, and other native peoples. Above the Trinity almost no settlement appeared except at Nacocdoches some fifty miles from the Sabine. Meanwhile, all of that vast empire north and west of the settle area was the home ground of the feared Comanche.

Primal forces of earth itself created this Texas, ripped it apart in the separation of the continent, then drove it back together in a geological metaphor for the human history to come. Indeed, even as the first European men ventured north of the Nueces to find that rich land of gentle breezes and tall waving grass, the strains in the earth's crust continued their epochal battle to shape the land. But then came men with their own ideas about shaping a world above all that terrestrial turmoil, men with younger traditions than those of tectonic stresses, but just as deeply ingrained in them as were the shifting of the plates beneath their feet. They, too, carried in their blood a compulsion for change, for destruction, revolution, and rebuilding, only theirs was not the patience of the eons. The primal forces that drove them wanted metamorphosis within the scale of a lifetime rather than over uncounted millennia. They came because the earth itself made this Texas a lure. They stayed because of what they saw they might do with it. And inevitably, they warred among themselves in the conflict of their dreams.

 

Chance and geography placed Texas at one of history's crossroads. At the dawn of a new century in a New World, that intersection was about to become very busy indeed."

----- William C. Davis, "Lone Star Rising: The Revolutionary Birth of the Texas Republic"

 

 

 

"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."

----- Pedro Castaneda, one of the soldiers who accompanied Coronado on his expedition across the southwest United States from 1540-1542, describes the first European encounter with the incredibly flat Texas Panhandle

 

 

"But it so happened that a man by the name of Burleson, from the Austin country of Texas, had a herd of cattle just behind mine. With my assistance his herd had been saved from capture and the two herds were very close together each night. Burleson had gone through to Ft. Sumner some weeks before, and was there awaiting the arrival of the herd. The herd on account of delay, was late in getting in, and Burleson, being very uneasy about the cattle would make trips down the trail about once a week, as far as he could venture with a small party.

On one of these trips he met the ox-wagon, and Mexicans with Loving. He at once returned to Ft. Sumner as fast as a horse could take him and got the government ambulance and doctors, meeting the ox-wagon some fifty miles down the trail. The doctors dressed Loving's wounds and returned with him to Ft. Sumner, where he appeared to do well for a few days, but the wound in the arm would not heal, the one in the side having healed.

On another of Burleson's excursions down the trail I met him some seventy-five miles below Ft. Sumner, in rather a peculiar way. Knowing we had to pass through some broken country before camping time, it was my usual custom to go ahead, generally alone, to reconnoiter, to ascertain whether any Indians were present or not, to prevent surprise. On this evening two or three hours by sun, I had gone into these brakes a mile at least north of the trail it being my custom never to follow the trail on such excursions. While slipping around through the brakes, I saw a man coming into the hills. I was perfectly sure it was an Indian and maneuvered around keeping out of his sight, aming to cut him off from the brakes and get him. This man seemed to be very cautious, peeping from one hill to another, but coming in my direction.

When he got close enough I discovered he was a white man. I then got my horse and rode in open ground. Strange to say, I rode some little distance in the open before he saw me. However, I had worked around until I was almost behind him and he was interested in looking ahead. When he did see me, he started to run, but when he saw me making signals he halted and allowed me to overtake him. He was so anxious about the herd that it was some time before I could get any definite information.

I told him that Loving had been killed by the Indians some hundred miles below. He said, "Loving is at Ft. Sumner." I said, 'Impossible, he was killed by the Indians.' He says, 'He is not dead; he is now in Sumner.' He then related the circumstance of meeting the ox-wagon getting the ambulance and taking Loving to Ft. Sumner, saying he thought he would get well. He said Loving had sent a message to me should he find me, to come to Sumner at once. We returned to the herds and caught the best animals we had, and about one hour by sun, I started. After riding all night I reached Ft. Sumner about two hours by sun, making the distance of about seventy-five miles, in fourteen

hours. I soon met Mr. Loving, who was walking around feeling well with his arm in a sling. He felt confident he would recover, yet I did not like the looks of the wound. The old post doctor being at Las Vegas on a court martial, had left the young doctor in charge who assured him it was all right. After resting two or three days, Mr. Loving asked me to go to the mountains and recover some stock which had been stolen from us several months before, six or eight fine mules and some saddle horses. The stock was scattered from in behind Las Vegas to San Jose on the Pecos River, below Sante Fe. I was gone about ten days and recovered all the stock.

When I reached within thirty miles of Ft. Sumner, I met a courier hunting me, saying that Mr. Loving had sent him for me, that he was very sick, that the arm from its long neglect and the excessive heat had become poisoned; gangrene having set in, necessitating amputation. He didn't want the operation performed unless I was there, fearing he might not survive the operation. I left the stock in charge of the hired man and in a few hours reached Ft. Sumner. The next morning the operation was performed, and he came out from under the choloform in good shape and then rallied for some forty-eight hours, when the arteries commenced to leak. They then had to re-chloroform, take the arm apart and re-tie the arties. He then revived from the chloroform, but gradually sank from that time on. While he had a great and strong constitution, he had gone through more than a man could stand, and twenty-two days later, died. He was buried at Ft. Sumner by the officers of the garrison, who showed us a great kindness.

 

In October 1867, I returned to Ft. Sumner from Colorado and took his body placing the metal casket in a wagon drawn by a pair of good mules and returned it to his home, in Weatherford, Texas, something over six hundred miles, where he was buried by his own lodge of Masons, and where his body now rests."

----- Charles Goodnight, as told to J. Evetts Haley

 

 

"Texas is a powerful word, and its power is magnified within the state. Attaching those two syllables to all manner of things -- and people and creatures -- lends them a certain authenticity and Texas-ness. That slice of bread isn't just toast. It's Texas Toast. That song on the radio isn't just country. It's Texas Country. That creature isn't just a toad. It's a Texas Toad, also known by its not-as-catchy scientific name, Anaxyrus speciosus."

------- MANNY FERNANDEZ, "When They Say 'State Your Name,' She Says: 'Yes, It Is'", New York Times, February 14, 2017

 

We wanted to come [in 1869] to a new place so our children could grow up with the country. I came willing (my husband said he could live ten years longer in Texas); and I have never regretted it one moment, but oh, how sorry I was to leave our Mississippi home where six of my children were born; four came with us, two were left back in Shady Grove graveyard. We finally got to a place in Texas now called Morgan [Bosque County]. It was then the Nichols Place. Then on to Dr. Russell's on Steel's Creek.

I remember well what a dinner we had. There was a large dish filled with turnips and the greens cooked together with a large square of beef that looked exactly like streaked bacon. I thought it was the best thing I had ever tasted, so I handed my plate for a second helping.

Dr. Russell killed a wild turkey soon after we got here that weighed twenty pounds dressed. We could hear the turkeys gobble every morning just before day. We bought a beef weighing 800 pounds for seven dollars. We had pork but no dainties. I made all my own soap. I did all my own washing, made all the clothes for the family. Kept them clean. They never went with holes in their clothes or stockings...
Women, they stayed at home and did the work. I would work hours at night after I had put my little children to bed. Sometimes I could do more at night than I could in daytime.

-----Letter written by the mother of John A. Lomax, quoted in "The Adventures of a Ballad Hunter," 1947

 

"The Texas Ranger is not so handsome as an eight-dollar-a-week dry-goods clerk, but he is more courageous than a Numidian lion and tougher than a Mexican burro. His language might sound a little barbaric in a London drawing room, but he can successfully ride a broncho pony and kill a Mexican horse thief at five hundred yards with his eyes shut. His manners are not exactly Chesterfieldian, but this deficiency in etiquette is more than offset by the aestheticism he displays in scalping an Indian, He may not be up on the tariff question, but he can follow a blind trail at a gallop and never miss the way. It is possible that he cannot tell the difference between the hypothesis of atomic evolution and a lunar eclipse, but he knows a "rustler" at sight and can name half the fugitives in Texas. Taken altogether, the ranger is a tough case and most of them have been born on the headwaters of Bitter Creek, where the natives are 'wild and wooly and hard to curry.'

The further you go on this Classic Stream, the tougher the citizen. Underneath this rough exterior the Ranger hides a heart as simple and guileless as a child's and a soul whose tenderest chords are instantly touched by human misery or woe. He cleans his gun, washes his shirt, and repairs his saddle on Sunday, but he will share his only dollar with a man in want and throw his last biscuit to a hungry dog. His salary is meager, and he does not profess to love his country as dearly as he does a candidate for the Legislature, but he will tackle a bunch of rustlers single-handed, and round em up, too. He never saw the inside of a college but he has been the advance courier of civilization and has made his life and property safe in Texas. Half the time he receives no credit for his work. He does his duty all the same. Short-sighted Legislators grumble and growl when they are called upon to pay him his pittance, and every year cut down the appropriation. Penurious taxpayers insist that he is a burden upon the State. He returns them their stolen horses and cattle, brings to justice the man who robs them on the highway, and guards their houses day and night.

The Ranger is hardly ever out of the saddle. He is the original and only "solitary horseman" who has been scouring the plains in search of Indians ever since the dawn of the dime novel. He is Young America's beau ideal of border chivalry. The Ranger can ride harder, fight longer, live rougher, and talk less about it than anyhting that walks on two feet. He wears a sombrero and spurs, thus accoutred, and with a two dollar government blanket, he will defy alike the rains of summer and the snows of winter. he generally dies with his boots on, and as the State does not furnish rosewood caskets and cemetery lots for her fallen rangers, his comrades wrap him up in and old blanket and,

 

In an unmarked shallow grave,

They lay him to rest;

His saddle for a pillow

His gun across his breast"

----- Alexander Edwin Sweet, "Texas Siftings," 1882

 

 

“THE TEXAS RED ANT.

 

There are several kinds of ants in Texas, but the red one comes most into public notice.

Like all red-headed animals, this ant is of a very irascible turn of mind. When angry, the red ant knows no bounds to its rage, and respects no person or part of a person. It shows its temper most at picnics, but it has been even known to bite a good little boy on his way to Sunday school. Except, perhaps, the wasp, the red ant is the least amiable of insects.

There are a great many different sizes of ants, assorted as if manufactured to suit the different tastes of different people; but the sting of the smallest of them is large enough to satisfy the most demanding; at least, the party who gets stung is usually willing, in the heat of the moment, to swear that it is as large as a tenpenny nail. The most common and unpopular kind of an ant is an unhappy medium between extremes. Although he does not live and have his nest in the busy haunts of men, he is disposed to be rather familiar at times. To begin at the front end of the ant, he has two feelers growing out of the bumps of mirthfulness on his large, full forehead. These feelers are used in shaking hands with other ants.

Like the man who has his quarrel just, the red ant is doubly armed, having for a mouth a pair of pincers that will bite off the corner of an iron safe. At the southern end of him Providence has provided him with a javelin not unlike the hip-pocket weapon of the wasp, and which he uses with both celerity and liberality when occasion offers. At barbecues and picnics, when man tramples on the rights and property — the hearths and homes of the ant, that insect is very apt to take part in a joint discussion ; and usually a delegation of ants, with a reprehensible lack of modesty, will climb upward under the clothing of the seeker after rural joys, and seizing a piece of him in their unmerciful jaws, shake and tug at it as the boarder does in his efforts to masticate the spring chicken of the city boardinghouse. Having securely anchored his head, the ant humps himself, like unto an irate cat on a fence, and then drives several yards of envenomed sting into the leg of the unsuspecting excursionist, who, for a moment afterward, is undecided whether he should climb a tree or take off his clothes and go in swimming. He usually compromises by dancing the Can-can and using language not intended for publication, but merely given as a guarantee of good faith.

The way a single red ant can make a lazy man get up and move around is truly wonderful. Solomon must have had such a scene in his mind when he told the sluggard to go to the ant.

 

The ant does not work during the winter months, but remains at home and sits by the fire all day telling lies about the peculiar winters they used to have when he first came to Texas. It was for a long time a disputed point as to whether ants worked at night, until a scientist from Boston received light and other experience on the subject, when he was visiting Austin last year for the benefit of his health. He procured the services of the hotel clerk to aid him in his researches. Armed with a walking-cane and accompanied by a lantern, they went out one night and found an ant hill. The scientist brought an eye-glass to bear on the ant hill at short range, while the genial hotel clerk stirred up the ants' nest with the cane. Soon the doubts of the scientist as to the late working hours of the ant were removed. When he returned to his room, upward of twenty healthy specimens of an ant, with a Latin name a yard long, were removed from his scientific anatomy with a pair of tongs.”
----- Alexander Edwin Sweet, “Texas Siftings,” 1884

 

 

"When the Indians robbed houses they invariably took all the books they could find, using the paper to pack their shields. They knew, as well as we did, the resistance paper has against bullets. Paper offered more resistance to a bullet than anything to be had upon the frontier, unless it was cotton. The Indians knew this and stole all the books and paper they could find ...

Their shield was made by forming a circular bow of wood two or three feet across, over each side of which was drawn untanned buffalo hide from the neck of the buffalo, the toughest and thickest they cold get. They filled between the hide with paper. In times of action, the Indian had this on his elbow and always aimed to keep it at an angle between you and him. Very few of the old fashioned rifles would penetrate these shields. The rifle I carried then [1861], and still have, would knock a hole right through them at any angle. I once shot an Indian down on the Quitaque. I did not kill him, but he dropped his shield. Between the folds of hide was a complete history of Rome, and the boys had considerable fun passing the sheets around and reading them.”

------ Charles Goodnight, as quoted in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Review, 1928

 

"Texas is a den of thieves .... a rendezvous of rascals for all the continent."

------- Horace Greeley, 1850

 

 

"I reached some plains so vast, that I did not find their limit anywhere I went, although I travelled over them for more than 300 leagues ... with no more land marks than if we had been swallowed up by the sea .... [T]here was not a stone, nor bit of rising ground, nor a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything to go by."

----- Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in a letter to the King of Spain on Oct. 20, 1541, describing the Llano Estacado, somewhere on the southern great plains (i.e. the Panhandle) of Texas

 

 

Woodrow Call: ...and if that ain't bad enough you got all them Greek words on there, too.

Gus McCrae: I told you, Woodrow, a long time ago it ain't Greek, it's Latin.

Woodrow Call: Well what does it say in Latin?

[Gus blusters some gibberish]

Woodrow Call: For all you know it invites people to rob us.

Gus McCrae: Well, the first man that can read Latin is welcome to rob us as far as I cam concerned. I'd like a chance t' shoot an educated man once in my life."

----- dialogue between Gus McCrae (Robert Duvall) and Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones) in the television mini-series "Lonesome Dove"

 

 

"We have a saying in Texas: the rooster crows, but the hen delivers the goods."

----- former Texas agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower

 

 

"During the long Texas drought of the 1950's a joke ---- probably already as old as the state ---- was told again and again about a man who bet several of his friends that it would never rain again, and collected from two of them."

----- western author Elmer Kelton, who lived most of his life in San Angelo

 

"I have the honor to report my arrival here with the camels. They are in good condition, considering their long confinement on shipboard and the tossing upon the sea that they have been subjected to and, with the exception of a few boils and swollen legs, are apparently in good health. On being landed and feeling once again the solid earth beneath them, they became so excited to an almost uncontrollable degree, rearing, kicking, crying out, breaking halters and, by other fantastic tricks, demonstrating their enjoyment of the liberty of the soil."

----- Major Henry C. Wayne, writing in 1856 after delivering camels imported from Egypt to Texas for testing as an alternative to horses and mules for the Army.

 

 

 

"The first fictional Texas movie appeared in 1908. It was made in Denmark, of all places, and it had the ultimate Texas title, "Texas Tex." The Great Northern, a film company located in Copenhagen, used "genuine" American Indians, members of a Wild West show on tour, to add authentic color to "Texas Tex." Since Great Northern had offices in New York as well, "Texas Tex" was distributed in the United States and billed as an "American story for Americans."

"Texas Tex" mixed scenes of Western life such as capturing and taming wild horses with routine melodrama. A bad cowboy and his sidekick, a Sioux Indian, steal Texas's horses and abduct his sweetheart. In the woods the cowboy tries to kiss her, and she resists. Then the Indian kills his partner, hoping to have the girl to himself. He ties her to a tree, but Tex arrives just in time to coldcock the Indian and reclaim his sweetheart."

----- Don Graham, "Cowboys and Cadillacs"

 

 

 

"I once punched cattle on the T-Bar Ranch. As we followed a long string of white-face cattle across the bed of an old alkali lake reflecting the moon's light, while the wind swept across the plains and the coyotes howled from the head of Laguna Rica, I wanted to answer the forces of nature, and did answer them, in wild-half maniac compositions of my own. In such times and for such reasons are cowboy ballads born."

------- R. L. Smith

 

 

"The story of the first Texas pardon is this: a woman was convicted of murdering her husband and was sentenced to be "erected [?] by the neck until dead, dead, dead. Sam Houston was President of the Republic and pardoned the woman with the chivalrous statement that 'when all the men in Texas that need hanging get hanged, then it will be time enough to start inflicting that punishment on the women.' "

----- Traces of Texas (me) around a campfire in Terlingua, 2012

 

 

“Of the world's four great cuisines ----- French, Italian, Chinese and Texas ----- only the latter has a recipe beginning “First, dig a three-foot-deep-hole ...”

----- Jerry Flemmons, writing in his column in the Fort Worth Star Telegram

 

 

"The air was full of ice needles that drove into the exposed flesh and stuck, but did not seem to melt. The snow seemed to parallel the ground in its flight, yet the plains grass was covered by it in a few minutes and it rolled along the ground with the wind. That wind didn't turn aside ... There wasn't a hill between us and the North Pole and that wind must have come all the way ---- and gathering power at every jump."

----- J.C. Tolman, describing the 1887 Christmas blizzard in Palo Duro Canyon

 

 

"Whether your destination is heaven or hell, you always have to change planes in Dallas."

----- Kinky Friedman, musician, author, and former Texas gubernatorial candidate

 

 

 

"It was so dry once, the fish would crawl up out of the creek and hang around the back door, waiting for us to throw out some dishwater. Some years it got so bad out here we had to gather 'em all up and douse 'em with tick powder."

----- Warren Klein, Hill Country rancher noted raconteur

 

 

 

 

"Achtung! Alle touristen und non-technischen lookenpeepers! Das machine is nicht fur fingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzen sparken. Das machine is diggen by experten only. Is nicht fur gerwerken by das dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken sightseeren keepen das cottenpicken hands in das pockets. Relaxen und watchen  das blinkenlights."

------ Sign on sausage machine at Wurstfest in New Braunfels, 2015

 

 

 

 

"We take great pleasure in announcing to our readers in the upper country, that the Overland Mails which left San Antonio on the 26th [July] under the contract entered into between the government and James F. Birch, Esq., of Sacramento, arrived on the 31st, at noon precisely, in charges of Mr. James E. Mason, the party having made the trip in the unprecedentedly short time of 34 traveling days.

The event naturally created the greatest enthusiasm among our people, and was hailed with a salute of 100 anvils, the firing of crackers, and the general congratulations of the citizens. It was looked upon as the most important event which has ever occurred in the annals of San Diego."

----- San Diego Herald, September 5, 1857

 

 

 

 

 

"All old time printers and telegraphers of the 1880s remember "Peg," for he was a remarkable character, never to be forgotten. He had lost one of his legs in a railroad accident, having gone to sleep and fallen off the brakebeam, or something like that. The leg was really a fine one and "Peg" could, and did, get from $10 to $15 on it in any pawnshop. He was a great talker, and when only half-loaded, was very amusing. He told some good stories, too. I remember one in particular....

"Gentlemen," said he, "you can talk about your hot towns as much as you want to, but Santone takes the cake. I was out there last winter and I had the time of my life. There was a big variety show going on down on one of the plazas and, of course, I went to see it.

The show was nearly over when a drunken cowboy came in. He had two big guns strapped round his waist and a Bowie knife that looked like a young sword. He swaggered about and the show had to stop for a few minutes and then catching sight of the boxes on the edge of the stage, he made for one. Everybody seemed to be afraid of him and tried to quiet and pacify him.

A fellow on the stage began to sing. The cowboy promptly ordered him to stop. The fellow paid no attention, but went on singing. The cowboy kept making a fuss. Finally the singer got mad and, advancing to the front of the stage, asked if there was not an officer in the house to take the drunken nuisance out and lock him up. There was no response so the singer advanced to the side of the stage and began climbing to the box.

The cowboy reached out and dragged him into the box. They dropped to the floor in a clinch, but as they fell I saw the cowboy had his knife in his hand. Then I saw them rise, the cowboy holding the singer by the back of the neck. He rammed him face foremost against the wall and rammed that big knife through him twice and then, slamming it plumb through him between the shoulders, he left it sticking in his body and, picking him up, hurled him out of the box to the stage below. "It was all over in a minute and there was the biggest stampede you ever saw. The whole audience made for the door in one solid mass, and I was working well in the lead, in spite of having only one good leg to work with.

When I struck the sidewalk I saw a policeman and rushed to him: I said, 'You had better go down yonder, a cowboy just murdered a man in the theater down there.' He looked at me and just grinned. 'That's all right,' said he. 'They been killing that same man for two nights now. It's part of the show.' "Next night I went back to enjoy the fun of seeing the stampede, now that I knew it was part of the show. I got a seat near the end of a row and there is where I was a fool.

The cowboy came in and went through the same performance. There was the same stampede, too. and a big Dutchman near me stampeded at the first flash of the knife and took the whole tier of seats with him. In the rush they got my leg, the broomstick one, jammed in the seat and broke it square off. Then they walked all over me and I never saw a thing. When the dust settled they found me all spraddled out on the floor. The proprietor acted pretty square. He set 'em up two or three times, sent me home in a hack and next morning early they had a carpenter come 'round and fix my stem, and that night I left for El Paso. Santone was too strenuous for me."

 

----- Samuel Oliver Young, True Stories of Old Houston and Houstonians, 1910

 

 

 

From Jeff Hamilton, a slave who was owned by Sam Houston:

 

"I was born in the state of Kentucky, in 1840. I came to Texas when I was three years of age. My mother, Kitty McKem , and three sisters came with me. We came with a man by the name of McKem . We located in Fort Bend County, only stayed there a short time and moved to Moscow, Texas. We moved from Moscow, Texas, to Greenville, Texas, where we made one crop. The next year we moved to Old Sumster, county seat of Trinity County. Mr. McKem, my master. was not good to me nor to his own familly. He would get drunk and run the entire family away from home, at times. Times were not good in Trinity County at that time, so he decided to sell me to get some needed cash.

I was sold to General Sam Houston , in Trinity County, in 1852, for $450.00. I hated to leave my mother and sisters. The separation from them caused me to weep. General Sam Houston went in a store and bought me a new straw hat with a feather on the side, which I was very proud of. General Sam Houston was a member of Congress at that time. He served two years in Congress after he bought me. He ran again and was elected. I served him during the time he was Governor. We moved from Austin when General Sam Houston served out his term as Governor, to Chambers County on the Galveston Bay. We made one crop there and sold it to the landlord before it was harvested. We then moved back to Huntsville, where he lived on the farm until he died. My work was to 'tend to General Sam Houston and herd sheep.

The General was very kind to me. He allowed me to live in the house with him and kept the fires burning all night. I wore good common clothes. General Sam Houston never allowed his slaves to work in bad weather. I have lived by his advice, he would say to me "My boy you can not be the most truthful man in the world nor can you be the most honest, but you can be as good as any man. Respect old age." I think General Sam Houston was one of the greatest men that ever lived. I had the pleasure and honor of attending the dedication ceremonies of a State Marker on the former home-site of General Sam Houston , located on Tri-Cities Beach, Chambers County, August 8th, 1937. I was with Colonel Andrew Jackson , the last living son of General Sam Houston , on this program. It was a great affair. "

------- Jeff Hamilton, 1937. He was 97 years old when this interview was conducted and would talk to anybody about his life. The interviewer wrote, "Jeff Hamilton lives with his son-in-law, Charles H. Graves, just south of Baylor College, in northwest Belton, and he can be seen there almost any time."

"My duties at Jacksboro for the past month [March 1867] had been entirely indoors, and I was not prepared for the beautiful and enchanting appearance of the landscape, as I now for the first time saw the prairies in all their spring beauty. The gorgeous wild flowers, covering the green sward in a thousand hues, that would have made many a cultivated flower garden blush with envy ----- numbers of them were new to me ----- the splendid grass, covering the earth with a luxuriant matting; the clear atmosphere, the pure and bracing breezes sweeping from the gulf, all combined to enchant me with my first Texas spring. And, after all these years, each recurring spring here is as delightful to me as ever; nowhere, in my knowledge, does nature so completely re-invigorate everything and fill everything with new life as it does each spring in Northwest Texas."

----- H. H. McConnell, Five Years a Cavalryman, 1889

"Northwest of Van Horn, in the Sierra Diablo, cloudbursts and persistent winds have carved tortuous Victorio Canyon from an uplifted Permian ocean reef that rises steeply to more than six thousand feet above a closed salt basin on the east, then slopes gently westward into the Diablo Plateau.

I went in with a natural area survey team ... toward J.V. Mcadoo's pioneer homestead. We rode from the town of Sierra Blanca over the wide, brown Diablo Plateau through a cholla forest blooming head-high in magenta cactus flowers that opened at sunrise, spread at noon, then closed again at dusk. Roaring bees contended with relentless winds as I wandered up a slight rise to the edge of a bleak expanse, unprepared for what lay before me. The earth fell away as if stricken eons ago by some huge hammer on the side of of a gigantic anvil.

An ignominious hollow near the rim marks the final battle site between Texas Rangers and the last of dead Chief Victorio's defeated Mescalero Apaches. It does not look particularly sacred despite the blood shed on that cold January dayin 1881 when native American men, women and children were shot to end their occupation of west Texas."

------ Jim Bones, "Texas West of the Pecos," 1981

 

 

 

 

 

Before reading this quote you should know that 1) Sam Houston had a fear of parasitical ticks  and 2) in 1835, Sam had set in his mind the idea that he needed to marry young Anna Raguet of Nacogdoches. Anna ended up spurning Sam's advances and Sam ended up marrying Margaret Lea"

"[Of] Houston’s many sojourns in Nacogdoches, this was to be the most stressful, because with everything else going wrong, he still had to be on his best behavior in his losing campaign for the affections of Anna Raguet. This particular stay, therefore, is most likely the one during which Houston accompanied several lawyer friends on a hunting excursion of several days on Neal Martin’s property outside of town. While the other men were in pursuit of the panting deer, Houston, attended by his bodyservant, also named Sam, stayed behind at Martin’s cabin, drinking, or as the bodyservant put it, the president “looked upon the wine when it was red.” This got to annoy his companions, who determined upon an appropriate revenge:

The general had a horror of ticks; he would strip off his clothes and make Sam tick him every night before he went to bed. One day his legal friends, assisted by Martin’s children, picked a cap box full of ticks—deer ticks, dog ticks, seed ticks, every other kind of tick. There must have been a million of them in that box. That night, just as General Houston was getting into his bed, one of his friends surreptitiously emptied the box of ticks into his bed. Exclamation points are needed here !!! He called for SAM in capital letters. The reader may conjure his most expressive language . . . and it won’t begin to do justice to General Houston’s vocabulary. He himself had to resort to the [Cherokee] tongue.”

----- James L. Haley, "Sam Houston," 2004

 

 

"As has already been stated, the Texas-Mexican vaquero is at heart a religious man; all the wonders of Nature he attributes to a supernatural power. All goodness and beauty come from the Virgin Mary and are part of her. A beautiful sunset is her smile; the blue sky is the blue of her mantle; the rainbow is formed by the tears that she sheds for sinners.

The folklore of the Mexican vaquero has the combined charm of the Andulasian lore as told by Fernán Caballero and the quaintness and simplicity of the Indian myth. To understand it is to understand the spirit and soul of the Mexican people. With the hope that the true character of the vaquero will be better understood this legend is offered.

One of the greatest hardships against which the vaquero has to contend is the drought. it is the enemy that blights all his hopes and frustrates all his plans. This is the theme of 'El Cenizo.'

'El Cenizo'

It had been an unusually hard winter, cold and dry. But then coyotes had in the fall announced it would be so, for their fur had been thick and heavy, and they had stayed close to the ranches, not daring to go into the hills. All vegetation had been killed by el hielo prieto (the black frost), and even the cactus, the always reliable food for the cattle, had wilted.

Spring came, and with it new hope. But whatever young, green things sprang up died for lack of water. Even the mesquites were mere ghosts; the huisaches, ashamed of not bearing their sweet-smelling velvety blooms, hid their leaves. All the waterholes dried up, and death and starvation ruled the prairie. The buzzard was lord of the plains, and as it flew over the trees was a constant reminder of death. The cattle, once so plentiful and fat, had diminished to a few, and those that remained looked at the world with sad, death-like eyes.

"¿Por que no llueve, dios mio?" ("Why do you not make it rain, my Lord"?) the vaquero said, looking up at the sky. And with a sigh of resignation he added, 'Asi es la suerte.' ("That's luck.")

There was just one possible way of salvation, and that was prayer, prayer to the Virgin. The cowmen gathered together and reverently knelt on the plain to beg for help. As the last prayer of the rosary was said, a soft breeze, a laguneño, blew from the east. Soon drops began to fall; all night the rain fell like a benediction.

Filled with new hope, the people rose early the next day to see the blessing that had fallen over the land. And indeed it was a beautiful blessing. For as far as the ey could see, the plain was covered with silvery shrubs, sparkling with raindrops and covered with flowers, pink, lavender and white.

It was a gift of the Virgin, and because the day was Ash Wednesday the shrub was called "el cenizo" ('the ashen"). The interpretation given by the vaqueros was charming, to say the least; the gray of the leaves signifies the Passion of the Christ; the white flowers, the purity of the mother, and the pink, the new dawn for the cowmen and the resurrection of life."

----- Jovita González, "Folklore of the Texas-Mexican Vaquero," Texas and Southwestern Lore, Texas Folklore Society Publication Number VI, 1927

 

 

 

 

"This sweep of shortgrass country [Texas Panhandle] is the old buffalo plains, where the wind blows free, where the altitude ranges in a northwestward slope from 1600 to 4600 feet above sea level, and where the average rainfall is only slightly more than twenty inches. The region was the last in Texas to be hit by hordes of homesteaders because it was high and dry, with little wood and water and almost no protection from the blue northers that whistled across the wide-open spaces.

You can see the whole development of the high plains in the story of one girl's life. She was a beautiful young lady with golden hair, as luscious as a ripe peach. She married a man who had pioneering in his veins, and they rolled out by wagon to the high plains, almost against the New Mexico line. There they started life in a sod-thatched dugout with only prairie dogs as neighbors. Eventually, after several children had arrived, they built a little house with two wind-blown locust trees out front. By this time there was a scatter of neighbors, and these pioneers stuck close to home. Anyone who had been over to Carlsbad in New Mexico to see the cavern had really been somewhere. In the course of time the golden-haired bride became a grandmother, and she was called Granny. She was the mainstay of the family. She could do anything. If a dollar was needed, Granny could find one deep in her purse ----- butter and egg money.

One day Granny became ill and couldn't get out of bed. All the members of the family went to pieces, for this had never happened before. They simply couldn't manage without Granny, so they hurriedly called the doctor. As he examined her, he said, "You've been through menopause, haven't you, Granny?" "Lord, no," she said. "I ain't even been through Carlsbad Cavern. I ain't been anywhere except right here."

----- Lewis Nordyke, The Truth About Texas, 1957

 

 

"Babe White, of Chicago, better known as "The Human Fly," will be here [Austin] Tuesday, February 7, for the purpose of climbing the dome of the state house and putting in a new set of electric lights on the torch in the hands of The Goddess of Liberty.

White was here five years ago and place new lights in the hands of the Goddess, but since then the lights have been broken, and no one has been found who would put new ones in their place.

White has signed an agreement to hold the state blameless for damages in case of accident. A hat collection will be taken up for White upon completion of the feat."

----- article in the Victoria Advocate newspaper, February 9, 1928

 

Concerning the fire that took most of General "Black Jack" Pershing's family when he was residing in El Paso and leading U.S. troops against Pancho Villa:

"Warren Pershing, the 5-year-old son of Brigadier General John J.Pershing, was rescued early today from his burning home at the Presidio of San Francisco (California) in which his mother and three sisters,Mary Margaret, Anne and Helen were suffocated and burned. His father, General Pershing, commanding troops on the Mexican border, left El Paso today, and U.S. Senator Francis E. Warren, father of Mrs. Pershing, will come from Cheyenne, Wyoming.

"Little Warren Pershing, the only one left tonight of General Pershing's family, is being mothered by nurses at the Letermann General Hospital at the Presidio. He was taken there today when he was picked up unconscious on the floor of his bedroom by officers and men who crawled through the burning house searching for Mrs. Pershing and her children."Warren revived quickly. The others were dead when the rescuers reached them, suffocated, and their hands and feet burned. Warren was found by Will Johnson, the Pershings' aged Negro servant, who led a rescue party into the house."In a corner of the room most burned the rescuers found Mrs.Pershing dead on the floor with her arms across one of the children who was on the bed. In another bed was another child; the third lay on the floor. The bodies of all were considerably burned.

"Mrs. Pershing was Frances E. Warren, daughter of Senator Warren, chairman of the powerful committee on Military Affairs during the Republican control of that body. In 1905, Miss Warren married John J.Pershing, who was then a captain of the 15th Cavalry. The next year, by congressional action, Captain Pershing was raised to the rank of Brigadier General. '

----- article in the San Antonio Express, August 28, 1915

 

 

"The shallow river looked so innocent, yet its mercurial essence belied immense forces forever beyond our control. All at once the folded walls soared up and narrowed down to a slender corridor against the Mexican shore, where I stopped as advised, to scout, and frightened a red racer in the dry champagne glass. I went to the edge of the battered block that chokes the whole river to a passage scarcely three yards wide at the "Tight Squeeze" and stared in disbelief.

It looked mighty tricky, but to portage single-handed over the breakdown was impossible. I drifted on the edge to the throat, turned to barely miss Texas, then pulled hard on the left, ascended a roaring pillow, and dropped down the other side on a breathless rollercoaster ride. I whooped and hollered like a fool ....

----- Jim Bones, "Texas West of the Pecos

 

 

 

"It is remarkable that during my 10 years on the trail I rarely ever had a man who would shirk his duty; had he been so inclined, he would have been ridiculed out of it. It is certain that no deadheads every stayed in a cow camp any length of time."

----- the legendary Charles Goodnight, "Managing a Trail Herd"

 

 

"Tend to the family, the diapers. Stay out of show business."

---- legendary Broadway producer Billy Rose giving career advice to Mary Martin, future star of "South Pacific," "Peter Pan," and "The Sound of Music," 1933. Mary Martin was from Weatherford, Texas and was also, of course, Larry Hagman's mother.

 

 

"If long hair, part of a sombrero, Mexican spurs, etc.. would make a fellow famous, I already occupy a topmost niche in the Temple Frame. If my wild, untamed aspect had not been counteracted by my well-known benevolent and amiable expression of countenance, I would have been arrested long ago by the Rangers on general suspicions of murder and horse stealing. In fact, I owe all my present means of lugubrious living to my desperate and bloodthirsty appearance, combined with the confident and easy way in which I tackle a Winchester rifle.

----- William Sydney Porter (O. Henry) in an 1884 letter

 

 

The Texas quote of the day finds early Texas iconoclast William Cowper Brann employing his typical articulate savagery to denounce women wearing birds as hat decorations:

"The woman who will sacrifice a songster [bird] on the altar of her vanity is wholly devoid of sentiment. There's no more music in her soul than in a ham sandwich, less poetry in her life than can be found in a horned frog. A bird on the bonnet means that the woman beneath it would embalm her baby and wear it as a brooch if Dame Fashion decreed it. A wise husband would hesitate to insure his life in favor of such a woman, for she'd pour hot lead in his ear or dope his dinner to secure the price of a new dress."

------ William Cooper Brann, The Iconoclast, 1897

 

 

"Yesterday [railroad magnate] E.H.R. Green startled Terrell by passing through the streets in his automobile, which is the first owned in Texas. The whole town turned out to witness the sight, dogs barked, horses were frightened, and one child ran screaming into the house and told her mother to come quick and see the wagon running away without the horse."

------ Dallas Times-Herald, 1899. It sounds so silly to us now, but can you imagine how you would react if you'd never seen a car before? Those folks were standing on the cusp of an industrial revolution and most probably didn't even realize it.

 

 

"How many men in the hurry, scurry, and irresponsible management in the field were taken out maimed, mashed, struck dead, will never be known. To get the oil out of the earth and get it converted into money was the sole thought of land owners; and those engaged in other forms of business were moved by like motives. They halted at no obstacles. Employers paid good wages for what they had done, and slam, bang, clang, they had to have results. Hence firemen with eyes so badly gassed they could hardly see the steam gauges worked around boilers; hence well crews worked with old rattletrap outfits that were liable any minute to fly to pieces and knock them to kingdom come; hence men worked in the top of derricks, hanging on with one hand, straining with the other to the limit of their muscles to adjust something that had gone wrong. After forty years of sobering absence, it still seems to me that there was more high-pressure work going on in Sour Lake than in any other place I have ever seen. "

------- Charlie Jeffries remembers life, death, and hard work in the Sour Lake oil fields, 1903

 

 

"These balmy days, I often recall my ideas of Texas before I had the pleasure of mingling with its people ------ of becoming a Texan myself. I regret to say that I had accepted Phil Sheridan's estimate of the State ----- an opinion that still prevails in too many portions of our common country. After living in Texas for ten years I paid a visit to my people beyond the beautiful Ohio. The old gentlemen sized me up critically, evidently expecting to see me wearing war-paint and a brace of bowie-knives.

"So, young man, you're living in Texas?"

"Yes, paw."

"Fell kinder t'hum 'mong them centerpedes, cowboys 'n other varments, I s'pose?"

"Y-y-yes, paw."

"Well, Billy, you allers was a mighty bad boy. I kinder cackalated as how you'd go t'hell some day; but, praise God, I never thought you was bound fer Texas!"

----- William Cowper Brann, "The Iconoclast," 1897

 

"E.D. Chambers purchased for his place of business one of the most ingenious pieces of mechanism we have ever seen in the way of a cash register. It is called the "national cash register." It not only registers the amount of your purchase, but also furnishes a thicket showing the name of the article and by whom sold. It is a complete set of books in itself. The only objectional feature it has that keeps every business man from having one is that it costs $300.00."

----- Quanah Tribune newspaper, 1896

 

 

"She sat alone in the moonlight, her beautiful cheek resting upon her hand, so soft and white and dimpled. You could tell, as you looked at her, that her thoughts were far away, and that she was thinking of something beautiful. Her eyes were wistful, the dimples in her cheeks had died out, and only the dimple in her chin remained, that little rosy cleft, the impress of Love's finger. She was less glowing than at times, but none the less lovely. I thought to myself, as I looked at her, that she was neared to heaven than we coarser mortals, and I longed to know whither her pure heart turned itself. I approached her; she did not hear me. I spoke; she did not answer. I touched her softly on the arm, she looked up and smiled, a far-away smile, such as an angel might have given. "You are thinking very intently," I said. "Yes, I am thinking of SANGER BRO'S, who owing to the Removal of their Stock, and the want of room to exhibit their great quantity of Goods, are determined to reduce their stock at great sacrifice."

----- Handbill advertisement for Sanger Brothers department store, Dallas, 1873

 

 

This quote was written by somebody who apparently didn't have a high opinion of us at all!

"Texans are a people whose existence as an independent nation is owing, first, to their own base treason, and secondly, to a political juggle of Andrew Jackson. [Texas is] filled with habitual liars, drunkards, blasphemers, and slanderers; sanguinary gamesters and cold-blooded assassins; with idleness and sluggish indolence (two vices for which the Texans are already proverbial); with pride, engendered by ignorance and supported by fraud."

------- Nicholas Maillard, "The History of the Republic of Texas," 1842. *Sidenote: I read this quote to some of my Texas friends last night and one of them said, "So? What's it to Mr. Maillard?" and the other said, "Mr. Maillard says that like it's a bad thing!"

 

 

"Someone has said that no once could look into the firmament and be an infidel. People who just go out and look up at the stars at night do not see them, they just see a few, but the cowboys see them and love them, and to the old-timers they were guide and clock and almanac. Sometimes when you think things are all wrong, and that you may have been forgotten, get out somewhere with your bedroll and spend a night with the stars. After awhile they will begin to come out in hundreds and thousands as though God were counting his angels and when you fall asleep there will be quiet and rest in your heart, and no matter what the sorrow, you will be ready to face it in the morning."

---- Frank Hastings, SMS Ranch Booklet, 1919

 

 

"We gathered the heads growing in the middle of the mescal plant. This had the color and shape almost of a white cabbage head. A hole was dug, a fire built in it, and, after the whole cavity had been heated, the coals and the ashes removed. The bottom was lined with cactus leaves, from which the thorns had been burned. The mescal was deposited and covered by cactus leaves; a layer of dirt was placed over them, and a fire built on top of it all. It should have been kept burning all night. We judged it had been allowed to wane; the mescal was not properly cooked the next morning. We ate it nearly half raw.

Now. although the writer was in the possession of a first class appetite, he could not eat horse meat. It tasted like a sweaty saddle blanket smells at the end of a day's ride. The liver had an offensive smell; by holding his nose he forced down some of the strong-scented viand. So he made a hearty breakfast on the undercooked mescal and, as a result, suffered from colic."

---- Ranger John Salmon Ford describes trying to stay fed on the trail from Austin to El Paso back in 1849. Heck, it's hard enough these days in a car at 80 mph!

 

 

"This is the place where brilliant minds assemble to willfully pool ignorance with questionable logic in order to reach absurd conclusions."

------ hand-painted sign hanging in the Study Butte General Store, Study Butte, TX

 

 

"A small supply of buffalo meat was brought in by our neighbor, Mr. T. Briggs, yesterday, and disposed of readily by the market. Bison steak, juicy and delicious, is a rarity in these days even in the West. It used not to be thus."

----- the Tascosa Pioneer newspaper, 1886

 

 

"Most areas of the world may be place in longitude and latitude, described chemically in their earth, sky and water, rooted and fuzzed over with identified flora and populated with known fauna, and there's an end to it. Then there are others where fable, myth, preconception, love, longing, or prejudice step in and so distort a cool, clear appraisal that a kind of high-colored magical confusion takes permanent hold. Greece is such an area, and those parts of England where King Arthur walked. One quality of such places as I am trying to define is that a very large part of them is personal and subjective. And surely Texas is such a place."

---- John Steinbeck, "Travels with Charley," 1962

 

 

"Nearly all the bawdy houses in the city will give Christmas dinners to their "guests" and have issued printed invitations, sending them to nearly every young man in the city."

------ San Antonio Light, 1886

 

 

Think your life is hard? The Texas quote of the day finds Frederick Law Olmsted describing part of his journey through Texas in 1857:

"We arrived in a norther, and were shown, at the hotel to which we had been recommended, into an exceedingly dirty room, in which two of us slept with another gentleman, who informed us that it was the best room in the house.

The outside door, opening upon the ground, had no latch, and during the night it was blown open by the norther, and after we had made two ineffectual attempts to barricade it, was kept open till morning. Before daylight, a boy came in and threw down an armful of wood by the fireplace. Afterwards, we made a fire.

He appeared again, an hour or two later, when the breakfast bell rung. We all turned out in haste, though our boots were gone and there was no water.

At this moment, as we were reluctantly pulling on our clothing, a negro woman burst into the room, leaving the door open, and laid a towel on the wash-table. " Here!" we cried, as she ran to the door again; "bring us some water, and have our boots brought back." She stood half outside the door, and shaking her finger at us in a weird manner, replied : " Haant got no time, master " got fires to make and ebery ting ;" and she vanished.

We naturally began to talk of changing our quarters and trying another of the hotels. Then up spoke a dark, sad man at our side, "You can't do better than stay here; I have tried both the others, and I came here yesterday because the one I was at was too dirty." And the man said this, with that leopard-skin pattern of a tablecloth, before him, with those grimy tools in his hands, and with the hostler in his frock, smelling strongly of the stable, just handing him the (No. 3). Never did we see any wholesome food on that table. It was a succession of burnt flesh of swine and bulls, decaying vegetables, and sour and mouldy farinaceous glues, all pervaded with rancid butter."

---- Frederick Law Olmsted, "A Journey Through Texas," 1857

 

 

"The first local party of automobilists to successfully make a trip from Houston to Galveston and return in a single day made the run on Sunday, leaving here at 6 o'clock in the morning, returning about 9 o'clock in the evening."

--------- Houston Chronicle, 1909

 

 

"Last night there were fifty electric lights burning in the city, and a beautiful light they made. The streets at night are crowded with strangers and citizens going from place to place admiring the wonderful electric light and holiday goods displayed in the various stores."

----- The Houston Post describing the new electric lights that had recently been installed in the city in December, 1882

 

 

"I couldn't discern it above the noise of my engine, but reporters said 'a reverent hush fell over the crowd.' This was appropriate, for I was praying."

---- Lt. Benjamin D. Foulois, pilot of the first military flight in U.S. history, San Antonio, 1910

 

 

"Every steamboat that comes in from New Orleans brings volunteers and, unfortunately not having Mexicans to fight with, the Texans have commenced fighting among themselves."

------ William Bollaert writing in his diary, 1842. Bollaert was a writer, chemist, geographer, and ethnologist who lead a remarkably adventurous life and who lived in Texas for two years, from 1842 to 1844. You can purchase the book "William Bollaert's Texas" used off of Amazon for less than a dollar! Highly recommended.

 

 

Frederick Law Olmsted describes the gunplay that frequently occurred in San Antonio in the 1850s:

"More often than otherwise, the parties meet upon the plaza by chance, and each, on catching sight of his enemy, draws a revolver and fires away. As the actors are under more or less excitement, their aim is not apt to be of the most careful and sure; consequently it is, not seldom, the passers-by who suffer. Sometimes it is an young man at a quiet dinner in a restaurant who receives a ball in the head, sometimes an old negro woman returning from market who gets winged. After disposing of all their lead, the parties close to try their steel, but as this species of metallic amusement is less popular, they generally contrive to be separated ('Hold me! Hold me!') by friends before the wounds are mortal. If neither is seriously injured, they are brought to drink together on the following day, and the town waits for the next excitement."

------ Frederick Law Olmsted, "A Journey Through Texas," 1857

 

 

William Cowper Brann describing his notions of feminine beauty. It's quite a read:

"The southern beauty of the novelist is almost invariably a dashing brunette, but she is quite as apt to be a decided blonde. The idea is quite general the world over that while southern women possess more than the average of beauty, it is far more ephemeral than that of their sisters of colder climes. Here, as elsewhere, women of Spanish or Italian extraction are apt to be a blaze of glory in their girlhood, but early lose the charm of face and figure; and here, as elsewhere, the woman of Celtic or Saxon blood seldom reaches the meridian of her beauty before she has doubled " sweet sixteen." A gloriously beautiful woman with grown children is no uncommon sight in the South.

No portion of the earth has ever yet obtained a monopoly of feminine loveliness. It is found under the Arctic circle and at the equator. Many a Michigan and Massachusetts maid is doubtless as divinely fair as was that dame for whom Paris deserted Cenone on many-mountained Ida; but it must be confessed that never yet did a country where the "thermometer ranges from 30 below to 100 above zero become celebrated for womanly beauty. It is the beauty of southern, not of northern Europe that the artist has delighted to sculpture and the poet to sing.

It is not conducive to beauty to compel a woman to vibrate between a hell of fire and a hell of frost — alternately boiling her blood and freezing her face. You can scarce expect to develop an Aphrodite by hanging upon her 40 pounds of furs and flannels and sending her about with drawn shoulders that make her chest resemble the concave of a pie-plate — pigeon-toeing against blizzards until she acquires a gait like a pair o' bars, and a nose like an indigo-bag. Women who desire to be beautiful cannot afford to remain in Michigan, where their complexions are exposed to the raw lake winds in winter and a broiling sun in summer. They must come South where balmy airs make the skin like velvet — airs so delicious that they involuntarily throw back their shoulders and inhale it until they resemble the high-breasted heroines of Homer."

----- William Cowper Brann, "The Iconoclast," 1897

 

 

"Every farmer with an extensive estate lays out a town, which often consists solely of his own "castle" ---- far from being a castle in the air or Chateau d'Espagne, it is too often in the mud."

----- Mary Austin Holley, "Texas," 1836

 

 

"Eve was delighted to see a nice walk from the gate to the front door, covered with shells. It did not look clean & nice very long, for I never saw anything like the mud here. It is tenacious black clay, which cannot be got off of anything without washing, and is about a foot or so deep."

------ Millie Gray, just arrived from Virginia, describes conditions at her new house in Houston, 1839

 

 

"We camped once on a pretty grass plot. One night there was a Texas "shower," and soon there was six inches of water in our tents; and I made my first military mental note: when you see a green spot in Texas, ask yourself why it's green before you camp there."

---- Colonel Percy M. Ashburn remembering what he learned when he was an army doctor new to Texas, writing in "History of the Medical Department of the United States Army, 1929

 

 

"The rats, Golly, there were so many of them that at one time, that summer of 1926, the Rig Theater offered a bounty on rat tails. For ten or twelve rat tails you could get admission into the theater.

---- W. Horace Hickox, an oilfield worker in Borger during the boom in the 1920s

 

 

"Hoover hog."

---- Depression era nickname for the armadillo

 

 

 

"A viny, tangled prose would never do for a place so open; a place, to use Ross Calvin's phrase, where the sky determines so much. A lyricism appropriate to the Southwest needs to be as clean as a bleached bone and as well-spaced as trees on the llano. The elements still dominate here, and a spare, elemental language, with now and then a touch of elegance, will suffice."

----- Larry McMurty, "In a Narrow Grave," 1968

 

 

"I dearly love the state of Texas, but I regard that as a harmless perversion on my part and would not, in the name of common humanity, try to foist my pathology off on anyone else."

----- Molly Ivins, "Texas Observed" in "Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?", 1991

 

 

"It is widely speculated that all Texans eventually go to heaven because hot air rises."

----- Wallace O. Chariton

 

 

"The creation of the Republic of Texas was one of the most astounding achievements of all history, a feat that in audacity of conception and brilliance of consummation is without parallel in the annals of the human race. "

------ Jack C. Butterfield

 

 

"Beauty is only skin deep, but Texan is to the bone."

---- Me, Traces of Texas, waxing philosophical at Scholz Bier Garten in Austin

 

 

A blue perpendicular stripe of the width of one-third of the whole length of the flag with white star of five points in the center therof, and two horizontal stripes of equal breadth, the upper stripe white, the lower red, of the length of two-thirds of the whole length of the flag."

--- the actual language the created the specifications for the Lone Star flag by the Republic of Texas legislature, 1839

 

 

The Texas quote of the day is a little piece I like to call "Ode to Texas summers."

The devil wanted a place on earth
Sort of a summer home
A place to spend his vacation
Whenever he would roam.

So he picked out Texas
A place both wretched and rough
Where the climate was to his liking
And the cowboys hardened and tough.

He dried up the streams in the canyons
And ordered no rain to fall
He dried up the lakes in the valleys
Then baked and scorched it all.

Then over his barren country
He transplanted shrubs from hell.
The cactus, thistle and prickly pear
The climate suited them well.

Now the home was much to his liking
But animal life, he had none.
So he created crawling creatures
That all mankind would shun.

First he made the rattlesnake
With it's forked poisonous tongue.
Taught it to strike and rattle
And how to swallow its young.

Then he made scorpions and lizards
And the ugly old horned toad.
He placed spiders of every description
Under rocks by the side of the road.

Then he ordered the sun to shine hotter,
Hotter and hotter still.
Until even the cactus wilted
And the old horned lizard took ill.

Then he gazed on his earthly kingdom
As any creator would
He chuckled a little up his sleeve
And admitted that it was good.

'Twas summer now and Satan lay
By a prickly pear to rest.
The sweat rolled off his swarthy brow
So he took off his coat and vest.

"By Golly," he finally panted,
"I did my job too well,
I'm going back to where I came from,
'Cause Texas is hotter than Hell.

----- author unknown

 

 

Yes, siree," the Amarillo rancher said to the visitor, "We got them high winds blowing on us almost ever' day. You jes' learn to kinda lean into 'em. One day last November, I think it was, the wind jes' stopped, and all the chickens in the Panhandle fell over."

------ old joke

 

 

"I worked with Logan one trip, until we got back to the ranch and then I settled up for the first time since going to work, nearly two years before.

An old irishman by the name of "Hunky-dorey" Brown kept the store and did the settling up with the men. When he settled with me he laid all the money, in silver dollars, that I had earned since commencing work, which amounted to a few hundred dollars, out on the counter and then after eyeing me awhile, said: "Allen, Pool & Co. owe you three hundred dollars, or whatever the amount was, "and you owe Allen, Pool & Co. two hundred ninety-nine dollars and a quarter, which leaves you seventy-five cents/ He then raked all but six bits into the money drawer.

To say that I felt mortified wouldn't near express my feelings. I thought the whole pile was mine and therefore had been fig uring on the many purchases that I intended making. My intentions were to buy a herd of ponies and go to speculating. I had a dozen or two ponies, that I knew were for sale, already picked out in my mind. But my fond expectations were soon trampled under foot. You see I had never kept an account, consequently never knew how I stood with the company.

After pocketing my six bits, I mounted "Fannie 1, a little mare that I had bought not long before and struck out for W. B. Grimes ranch, a few miles up the river. I succeeded in getting a job from the old gentleman at fifteen dollars per month."

----- Charles A Siringo, "A Texas Cowboy," 1885

 

 

"There never was an enterprise of such great importance proposed at so little risk and expense."

--- Rene'Rober Calialier, Sieur de La Salle (yes, THAT La Salle), on his dream of leading an expedition to found a French colony in Texas, 1684. Ironically, La Salle, was murdered and nearly everybody on the expedition perished. Oops.

 

"Keep your airport ---- it will place you among the commercial leaders of the world."

------- Charles Lindbergh, Dallas, 1927

Charles was pretty perspicacious on that observation, eh?

 

 

"I hereby order and command all the heads of families that they shall under no conditions consent, tolerate, or permit their sons and daughters to go together to bathe alone in the company of men, even though they be their own brothers, nor shall they go at improper or irregular hours, and these girls who are so found I hereby order whoever may see them bathing thus, to immediately inform me, so that I may proceed forthwith to place her in a safe place where she can be properly admonished; and I will permit only married men to go along with their wives to take such baths.

I hereby repeat my order that the women shall bathe at sunrise and the men after the tolling of the "Angelus" in the evening and whoever shall break any off the orders I have given shall be put in jail for ten days and shall pay a fine of six pesos."

---- Santiago de Jesus Sanchez, Mayor of Laredo, 1794

 

 

"To The People of Texas and
All Americans In The World --
February 24, 1836

Fellow citizens & compatriots --
I am beseiged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna -- I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man -- The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken -- I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls -- I shall never surrender or retreat.Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, & every thing dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch -- The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country --
VICTORY OR DEATH
William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Comdt."

 

 

"I am the last leaf on the tree."

------ Mary McCrory Jones, widow of Anson Jones, last President of the Republic of Texas, 1906. She passed away a year later.

 

 

My Top-10 Favorite Willie Quotes:

14) "I take it not only a day at a time, but a moment at a time, and keep it at that pace. If you can be happy right now, then you'll always be happy, because it's always right now."

13) “I've been a long time leaving but I'm going to be a long time gone.”

12) "If a song was ever good, it's always good."

11) "My doctor tells me I should start slowing down, but there are more old drunks than there are old doctors so let's all have another round."

10) "I believe in looseness."

9) "Three chords and one truth --- that's what a country song is."

8) "I'm from Texas, and one of the reasons I like Texas is because there's no one in control."

7) "As adults we try to relax from the never-ending quest for reason and order by drinking a little whiskey or smoking whatever works for us, but the wisdom isn't in the whiskey or the smoke. The wisdom is in the moments when the madness slips away and we remember the basics.”

6) “All I do is play music and golf -- which one do you want me to give up?” ---- Willie's response when asked why he doesn't retire

5) "We create our own unhappiness. The purpose of suffering is to help us understand that we are the ones who cause it."

4) "Par is whatever I say it is. I've got one hole that's a par 23 and yesterday I damn near birdied the sucker.” ---- Willie talking about the benefits of owning his own golf course

3) "You know why divorces are so expensive? They're worth it."

2) “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”

1) “Ninety-nine percent of the world's lovers are not with their first choice, and that's what makes the jukebox play.

 

 

"We, the undersigned cowboys of Canadian River, do by these presents agree to bind ourselves into the following obligations, viz ---- First, that we will not work for less than 50 dollars per month, and we furthermore agree that no one shall work for less than 50 dollars per month after the 31st of March.

Second, good cooks shall also receive 50 dollars per month.

Third, anyone running an outfit shall not work for less than 75 dollars per month. Anyone violating the above obligations shall suffer the consequences. Those not having funds to pay board after March 31st will be provided for 30 days at Tascosa."

---- Declaration of the cowboys strike in the Panhandle, 1883. The strike collapsed within the month when the cowboys started going hungry.

 

The Texas Declaration of Independence was written, produced, agreed upon, and signed literally overnight. Immediately upon the assemblage of the Convention of 1836 on March 1, a committee of five of its delegates were appointed to draft the document. The committee, consisting of George C. Childress, Edward Conrad, James Gaines, Bailey Hardeman, and Collin McKinney, prepared the declaration, which was reviewed and then adopted by the delegates of the convention the following day.

Here is the text of the Texas Declaration of Independence:

"The Unanimous
Declaration of Independence
made by the
Delegates of the People of Texas
in General Convention
at the town of Washington
on the 2nd day of March 1836.

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.

When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.

When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth.

The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America.

In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.

It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.

It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.

It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.

It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyrrany, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.

It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.

It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.

It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.

It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.

It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.

It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.

It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.

It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.

These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior. We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution therfor of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.

The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations."

 

 

"We have fortunately passed the 'jigger' district and their bites are healing. I wish I knew what was the real word ---- 'chigger' or 'jigger' ---- our boys pronounce it the latter. It is so small as to be almost invisible but soon builds a large bloody house about him which itches extremely, and if scratched is inflamed into a large running sore. Many cannot resist bringing them to this ---- although I have. But such a scratching goes on in tents as to annoy those who otherwise could sleep."

------ Artist Miner Kellogg, writing in his journal in 1872

 

 

"The mesquite loves life and will grow almost anywhere. In fact, most West Texans think it prefers the dry red clay or the worst soil God has to offer. It has about its annual bloom a mysterious sense of danger in springing forth prematurely and it is traditional in West Texas that spring isn't safely abroad in the land until the mesquite acknowledges it. The late Frank Grimes, editor of the Abilene Reporter-News, made an annual affair of running his poem, warning those who would disregard the signs of this prophet:

'We see signs of returning spring ----
The redbir'ds back and fie' larks sing,
The ground's plowed up and the creeks run clean,
The onions sprout and the redbud's near;
And yet they's a point worth thinkin' about ----
We note that the old mesquites ain't out!"

----- A.C. Greene, "A Personal Country," 1969

 

 

"Naturally, when it comes to voting, we in Texas are accustomed to discerning that fine hair's breadth worth of difference that makes one hopeless dipstick slightly less awful than the other."

----- Molly Ivins

 

"No wild animal, or domestic either, has as many vocal tones as the Longhorn. In comparison, the bulls and cows of highly bred varieties of cattle are voiceless. The cow of the Longhorns has one moo for her newborn calf, another for when it is older, one to tell it come to her side and another to tell it to stay hidden in the tall grass. Moved by amatory feelings, she has a low, audible breath of yearning. In anger, she can run a gamut. If her calf has died or otherwise been taken from her, she seems to be turning her insides out into long, sharp, agonizing bawls. I have heard steers make similar sounds. They seemed to be in the utmost agony of something so poignant to them that the utterance meant more than life and would be willingly paid for by death."

----- J. Frank Dobie, "The Longhorns," 1941

 

 

"By exerting no undue energy and exercising a bit of consideration, he could have expectorated OVER the rail."

----- Mrs. John Lockhart, complaining about Sam Houston sitting and spitting tobacco all over her porch, 1842

 

 

"I was at my home and my own Dear Father told me never to put my foot in his house again and Brother Jim quit me and siad I was too bad for him and my kinsfolk is all so G_ _ D _ _ _ cowwardly they don't want me to come about them so I stil tread the living land destitute of Friends, but G _ _ D _ _ _ the world and every son of a bitch that don't like me for I am a wolf and it is my night to howl. I expect to get killed some time but you may bet your sweet life that I will keep the flys off the son of a bitch that does it while he is at it."

----- Bill Longley, murderer of perhaps thirty-two men, in a letter to Lee County Sheriff Jim Brown, 1877, written from "DevilsPass, Hells half acre," and dated "Septober the 41st, 7777."

 

 

"He said his name was McBride, but he was a liar as well as a thief."

---- Note pinned to the shirt of a man hanged from a pecan tree in Fort Griffin, 1878

 

 

"It is impossible to imagine the beauty of a Texas prairie when, in the vernal season, its rich luxuriant herbage, adorned with its thousand flowers of every size and hue, seems to realize the vision of a terrestrial paradise .... The delicate, the gay and gaudy, are intermingled with delightful confusion, and the fanciful bouquets of fairy Nature borrow tenfold charms when associated with the smooth verdant carpet of modest green which mantles around them."

----- Mary Austin Holley, "Texas," 1836

 

 

"It was customary for one man to do the washing for the whole crew. We usually settled this by cutting the cards or a little game of "freeze-out" if time permitted. But it was surprising how little laundry is necessary when no ladies are present."

--- Clay Stevenson, who worked on the Rock Island Line as it laid track across the Texas Panhandle, 1901

 

 

The Texas quote of the day is a great read. It comes from a letter written in 1830 by an early Texas settler named "J.C.R" to her friend Florence, who lived back east in Virginia:

"My letter has been delayed, as the boat we expected did not
come. I am not sorry, as it gives me a chance to tell you of a ball we attended last week. It was given in honor of a young bride, Mrs. T., whose husband owns large tracts of lands. She was a New Orleans belle. The guests came from miles around the country. The bride was as pretty as a picture ; she was dressed in pink silk trimmed with exquisite lace ; her diamonds were superb. All the ladies were out in their best dresses. 'Twas a merry crowd. What difference did it make to us if we didn't have smooth floors, fine music, or brilliant lights? We were happy. The entire evening I found myself asking, "Can this be Texas?" If you could have looked round upon the bright faces and pretty dresses, or if you had heard the sparkling conversation, you'd have wondered too.

However, ere midnight we had a taste of Texas. In the midst of the "Old Virginia Reel" a piercing shriek was heard. " The Indians!" was the cry that burst from each and all. In a second the gentlemen had dropped the hands of their fair partners and seized their rifles, which are always kept near. Out they rushed, under the lead of our host. Captain Y. While no attack had been expected that night, yet Captain Y. had placed four of his servants to keep watch. They could not resist the temptation of occasionally coming near enough the house to see the
dancing. On returning to their post, one of them fell, pierced by an arrow; his dying scream was the alarm of the approach of the savages.

I could not but admire the courage of young Mrs. Y. While some of the ladies were crying and wringing their hands, she coolly placed in her sash the pistol her husband had given her on leaving, and then advised us to sit where we would not be exposed to arrows or bullets shot through the windows. In half an hour the worst was over. The savages, being disappointed at not taking us by surprise and finding their men falling fast, retreated. Only two of the gentlemen were wounded, nor were the wounds severe. You may rest assured, however, that we did not sleep much that night, nor did we go home for two days, as the Indians were skulking near to waylay us.

Hoping you may make up your mind to make us a visit, and
with much love to all my friends,

I am, ever yours,

J. C. R."

From "A Texas Scrapbook," DWC Baker, 1875

 

 

"Last Friday night a fire broke out at Mollie McCabe's 'Place of Beautiful Sin.' She owned the building which was entirely consumed, together with her household goods and clothes. The fire was caused by one of the damsels of spotted virtue."

---- Jacksboro Frontier Echo, 1875

 

 

"I'm a dead man, boys, but don't let the others know it; keep on fighting to the death!"

------ Richard Andrews, first fatality in the Texas Revolution, during the Battle of Concepcion, 1835

 

 

"Millers in San Antonio was one of the best-loved barbecue joints in the state for many years. Founder Harvey Miller grew up in the farm town of Floresville. He started Miller's Bar-B-Q in the back of his house in San Antonio in 1941. He began selling barbecue sandwiches for 15 cents apiece, plates for a quarter. His daughters Myrtle and Bernice kept the business going until 1990. Miller's Bar-B-Q was never listed in the Yellow Pages and never advertised, but it attracted all races, classes and age groups to an obscure suburban backyard for 50 years. The Washington Post, Texas Monthly, and other publications took note.

The business operated in violaton of zoning and health department regulations, but the inspectors told the Millers that the barbecue joint was too important to San Antonio to write any citations. The Millers were famous for their ribs and their secret-recipe barbecue sauce.

'Everybody wants the secret of my famous barbecue sauce," Myrtle told an interviewer in 1990 [when Myrtle was 87 years old] when the place closed. "People have offered to buy the recipe but I've never been tempted to sell it. We worked on it together, mama, daddy and I.

Myrtle Miller Johnson died in 1999 at the age of 96. She took the barbecue recipe to her grave." She ordered that the house be torn down upon her death so that no one could give the family a bad name with inferior barbecue.

---- Robb Walsh, "Legends of Texas Barbecue"

 

 

"As the flowers are made sweeter by the sunshine and dew,
So this old world is made brighter by the likes of you."

---- Inscription on Bonnie (from "Bonnie and Clyde") Parker's tombstone

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

"Of seven newspapers in the Panhandle each claims its town to be the present and prospective metropolis. As a matter of fact, there are and will be some good towns in the Panhandle, but the rest need only settle among themselves the question of second place, for Tascosa will inevitably rank first. Evidences of the fact accumulate every day."

------- The Tascosa Pioneer newspaper, 1887. Within 25 years, Tascosa was a ghost town.

 

 

"I have bought an interest in the Wigwam Saloon, and you, whether in El Paso or elsewhere, that admire pluck, that desire fairplay, are cordially invited to call at the Wigwam where you will have everything done to make it cordial for you. All are especially invited to our blowout on the 4th."

--- Notorious gunman John Wesley Hardin in the El Paso Times in 1895. Hardin was killed three months later by John Selman. Some think that Selman shot Hardin because Hardin owed Selman money and that Selman may have thought that Hardin should have repaid him instead of investing in the Wigwam.

 

 

"If you've got it, flaunt it!"

---- Advertising slogan for Braniff Airlines, 1960s

 

 

This was written in 1932 by Robert E. Howard, author of Conan the Barbarian, in a letter to the famous horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft.

"Mexican dishes I enjoy, but they don't agree with me much. However I generally wrestle with them every time I go to the border. Tamales, enchilados, tacos, chili con carne to a lesser extent, barbecued goat-meat, tortillas, Spanish-cooked rice, frijoles - they play the devil with a white man's digestion, but they have a tang you seldom find in Anglo-Saxon cookery. You know a coyote nor a buzzard never will touch a Mexican's carcass - they can't stand the pepper he ate in his lifetime. The last time I was on the border I discovered one Pablo Ranes, whose dishes smoked with the concentrated essence of hell-fire. I returned to his abode of digestional-damnation until my once powerful constitution was but a shell of itself. I aided Pablo's atrocities with some wine bottled in Spain that kicked like an army mule, and eventually came to the conclusion that the border is a place only for men with cast-iron consciences and copper bellies."

A tip of the stetson to Traces of Texas reader Aaron Frith, who sent this quote to me.

 

 

"I do not fear death but dread the idea of ending my life in a loathsome dungeon. Tell them I prefer a Roman's death to the ignominy of perpetual imprisonment, and that my last wish is for my country's welfare."

----- Philip Dimmitt, before committing suicide in a Mexican prison, 1841.

Incidentally, I had been under the impression that Dimmitt, Texas is named for Phillip Dimmitt, but it turns out that I was wrong. Dimmitt, Texas was named in honor of Rev. R.C. Dimmitt, colleague and brother-in-law of the town's founder, H.G. Bedford.

 

 

"All new states are invested, more or less, by a class of noisy, second-rate men who are always in favor of rash and extreme measures, but Texas was absolutely overrun by such men."

----- Sam Houston

Incidentally, as a noisy, second-rate man who is always in favor of rash and extreme measures, I completely identify with this quote.

 

"The cattle season beginning, we think more freedom ought to be allowed, as everyone is aware of the great amount of money spent in this city by the cattle men and cowboys, thus making every business and trade prosper.

We notice especially this year that, contrary to their usual custom, almost all of them remain in their camps a few miles from the city, and give us as the cause, the too stringent enforcement of the laws closing all the places of amusement that attract them, and thus their principal pleasures being closed and forbidden, they remain away from the city, paralyzing a large number of business houses and diverting from this city an immense amount of money which this city has always been the recipient of and benefited by.

We hope the honorable mayor and city council, who have always been foremost in the ranks when the city's prosperity has been concerned, will see this in the same light and urge an enlightened view of the situation."

--- Open letter from "Many Citizens and Businessmen" deploring a recent crackdown on gambling and prostitution, published in the Fort Worth Democrat newspaper, 1879

 

 

"Although Texas is the finest state in the union, and may be literally regarded as "a land flowing with milk and honey," it is necessary to FIRST MILK THE COWS AND GATHER THE HONEY, before they can enjoy either the one or the other, for neither of them can be obtained without the aid of labor. Therefore, those who arrive here and an impression that they are to realize a fortune without hard work will soon find out that Texas is not the country that they supposed it to be."

---- Advice to immigrants from Jacob de Cardova in "Texas: Her Resources and Public Men," 1858

 

 

"No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that's in the right and and keeps on a-comin."

----- Inscription on the tombstone of Texas Ranger Bill McDonald, 1918

 

 

"Ima, you are not pretty. You will never be pretty, and you must never let anyone tell you so."

------ Ima Hogg's Aunt Fannie, trying to ensure that Ima didn't get too full of herself, 1895

 

 

"He could eat centipedes for breakfast and barbed wire for supper without injuring his digestion, and ride all day and dance all night without missing a step."

----- Olive Dixon on her husband Billy Dixon in "The Life of Billy Dixon," 1927

 

 

"If any member is too drunk to rise from his seat to speak, the chair shall appoint a committee of three to hold him up; but provided the member shall be dead drunk, and unable to speak, the chair shall appoint an additional committee of two to speak for him; provided however that if the member is unable to be held up by tables, chairs etc... and in that case, one of the members shall gesticulate for him."

---- Rules of Order for the incoming Texas Congress, which had a reputation of having some members who liked to have a drink, as proposed by the Austin Daily Bulletin in 1841

 

 

"General Lamar may mean well ---- I am not disposed to impugn his motives ----- he has fine belles-lettres talents, and is an elegant writer. But his mind is altogether of a dreamy, poetic order, a sort of political troubadour and crusader, wholly unfit by habit or education for the active duties and the every-day realities of his present station. Texas is too small for a man of such wild, visionary, "vaulting ambition."

------ Anson Jones, 1839

 

 

"That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I'm just the one to do it."

------ Early Texas Congressional candidate, name lost, possibly mythical

 

An 1843 account of breaking wild horses in Texas. What can be said other than that early Texas was frequently a brutal place that was certainly not for sissies?

"These mustangs are small horses, rarely above fourteen hands high, and are descended from the Spanish breed introduced by the original conquerors of the country. During the three centuries that have elapsed since the conquest of Mexico, they have increased and multiplied to an extraordinary extent, and are to be found in vast droves in the Texian prairies, although they are now beginning to become somewhat scarcer. They are taken with the lasso, concerning which instrument or weapon I will here say a word or two, notwithstanding that it has been often described.

The lasso is usually from twenty to thirty feet long, very flexible, and composed of strips of twisted ox hide. One end is fastened to the saddle, and the other, which forms a running noose, held in the hand of the hunter, who, thus equipped, rides out into the prairie. When he discovers a troop of wild horses, he manoeuvres to get to windward of them, and then to approach as near them as possible. If he is an experienced hand, the horses seldom or never escape him, and as soon as he finds himself within twenty or thirty feet of them, he throws the noose with unerring aim over the neck of the one he has selected for his prey. This done, he turns his own horse sharp round, gives him the spur, and gallops away, dragging his unfortunate captive after him, breathless, and with his windpipe so compressed by the noose, that he is unable to make the smallest resistance, and after a few yards, falls headlong to the ground, and lies motionless and almost lifeless, sometimes indeed badly hurt and disabled. From this day forward, the horse which has been thus caught never forgets the lasso; the mere sight of it makes him tremble in every limb; and, however wild he may be, it is sufficient to show it to him, or lay it on his neck, to render him as tame and docile as a lamb.

The horse taken, next comes the breaking in, which is effected in a no less brutal manner than his capture. The eyes of the unfortunate animal are covered with a bandage, and a tremendous bit, a pound weight or more, clapped into his mouth; the horsebreaker puts on a pair of spurs six inches long, and with rowels like penknives, and jumping on his back, urges him to his very utmost speed. If the horse tries to rear, or turns restive, one pull, and not a very hard one either, at the instrument of torture they call a bit, is sufficient to tear his mouth to shreds, and cause the blood to flow in streams. I have myself seen horses' teeth broken with these barbarous bits. The poor beast whinnies and groans with pain and terror; but there is no help for him, the spurs are at his flanks, and on he goes full gallop, till he is ready to sink from fatigue and exhaustion. He then has a quarter of an hour's rest allowed him; but scarcely does he begin to recover breath, which has been ridden and spurred out of his body, when he is again mounted, and has to go through the same violent process as before. If he breaks down during this rude trial, he is either knocked on the head or driven away as useless; but if he holds out, he is marked with a hot iron, and left to graze on the prairie. Henceforward, there is no particular difficulty in catching him when wanted; the wildness of the horse is completely punished out of him, but for it is substituted the most confirmed vice and malice that it is possible to conceive. These mustangs are unquestionably the most deceitful and spiteful of all the equine race. They seem to be perpetually looking out for an opportunity of playing their master a trick; and very soon after I got possession of mine, I was nearly paying for him in a way that I had certainly not calculated upon.

We were going to Bolivar, and had to cross the river Brazos. I was the last but one to get into the boat, and was leading my horse carelessly by the bridle. Just as I was about to step in, a sudden jerk, and a cry of 'mind your beast!' made me jump on one side; and lucky it was that I did so. My mustang had suddenly sprung back, reared up, and then thrown himself forward upon me with such force and fury, that, as I got out of his way, his fore feet went completely through the bottom of the boat. I never in my life saw an animal in such a paroxysm of rage. He curled up his lip till his whole range of teeth was visible, his eyes literally shot fire, while the foam flew from his mouth, and he gave a wild screaming neigh that had something quite diabolical in its sound. I was standing perfectly thunderstruck at this scene, when one of the party took a lasso and very quietly laid it over the animal's neck. The effect was really magical. With closed mouth, drooping ears, and head low, there stood the mustang, as meek and docile as any old jackass. The change was so sudden and comical, that we all burst out laughing; although, when I came to reflect on the danger I had run, it required all my love of horses to prevent me from shooting the brute upon the spot."

----- Charles Sealsfield, "Adventures in Texas," 1843

 

 

"Nobody is ever going to make biscuits as good as a Texan's own mother."

---- Barry Schlachter, Fort Worth Star Telegram

 

 

"Never have men so quickly and ruthlessly slashed a forest as they did the Southern pine forests. Labor was cheap, the country flat to rolling, the weather rarely severe. The Southern lumber baron pushed his "cut and get out" policy to an extreme not seen before or since. Oddly enough, very little lore resulted from this massive transformation. The lumberjack of the north and northwest has no counterpart in Texas mythology. Compared with the backwoods bear hunter, the cowboy, or the oilfield roughneck, the East Texas timber worker appears as drab a character as the Southern mill worker he resembles, tied to the region in which he, his wife, and children were born, constantly in debt to the company store."

----- Dr. Pete Gunter, "The Big Thicket: A Challenge for Conservation," 1971

 

 

"Hound dogs and blowing horns. Blackeyed peas and hog jowl. Sausage with a flavor unrivaled, red-pepper-hot, solid pork-meat with some substance. Grits floating in fresh butter or redeye gavy. Hot biscuits and and mayhaw jelly. A pokey mule turning a syrup mill. The land where "The King and I" means nothing but an old-time gospel hymn. Gray silvered shacks with bitter oranges and chinaberry trees near them, the yard a bleached sweep of hard-packed earth, an iron washpot turned over near a round white spot on the ground where the suds from strong yellow lye-soap wash water has been emptied for years. The broomstick used to punch the clothes down, boiled to the color and smoothness of old ivory. Grove's Chill Tonic and Slaughterine for Pains. Chrisper's Hot Shot Nerve Sedative.

The country where a midwife is a "granny woe-man"; one a 92-year old black woman with slender steely fingers who was said to have delivered a live baby from a dead mother. "White doctor say she daid, so I don't say she ain't." Signs saying "Wheels spoked." The stomping ground of a blind, toothless guitar player: "Play me some blues," "I don't play no sinful songs, lady." His gigantic wife, Billie, emerging from out back hollerin' "An' me lookin' like Who'd -a-Thunk-It!" Razorback hogs and hickory nuts. Light bread and sweet milk. English walnuts and Irish potatoes, and firecrackers at Christmas. The smell of fresh-made lye hominy and the lacquered cypress beams of a smokehouse. A hint of frost in the air, and the sweet mouth of a coon dog when he trees."

------ Mary Lasswell, "I'll Take Texas," 1958

 

 

"Cowboys could perform terrible labors and endure bone-grinding hardships and yet consider themselves the chosen of the earth; and the grace that redeemed it all in their own estimation was the fact that they had gone-a-horseback. They were riders, first and last. I have known cowboys broken in body and twisted in spirit, bruised by debt, failure, loneliness, disease, and most of the other afflictions of man, but I have seldom known one who did not consider himself phenomenally blessed to have been a cowboy, or one who could not cancel half the miseries of his existence by dwelling on the horses had had ridden, the comrades he had ridden them with, and the manly times he had had."

———- Larry McMurtry, “In a Narrow Grave,” 1968

 

 

Herman Ehrenberg's 1st-person account of the siege of Bexar (San Antonio) in 1835. Ehrenberg was one of the "New Orleans Greys" who answered the call and came to Texas to fight. Long but very interesting. The account of Deaf Smith's marksmanship is fantastic:

"One of the main diversions we had in our camp on the San Antonio river was to go through the cornfield lying between us and the city to a small redoubt, which Cook's Greys had set up in that vicinity. This small outwork possessed only two guns, with which my comrades tried to shell the old Alamo. Their aim was clumsy and uncertain, yet their missiles would now and then hit the fortress, and we could see fragments of its wall crumbling down. We all thought this cannonading huge fun; loud yells of triumph accompanied each successful discharge, our glee being more or less boisterous according to the damage done. Meanwhile the enemy was not idle; from the muzzles of eight or nine artillery pieces showers of grape-shot would pour over the empty field around the redoubt and beyond it. The ground was drilled with holes everywhere, and the camp filled with great clouds of dust. Our short trips back and forth between the camp and the battery had now become a perilous adventure, for in order to reach our destination we had to walk a distance of six or eight hundred paces under a raking fire from the enemy's artillery, which was far better manned than ours. The projectiles of our foes made things lively for the Greys who ran across the field to join their friends in the redoubt, and their progress through the dangerous zone supplied the occupants of the small fort with a few moments of intense hilarity and excitement.

The Greys had no special reason for visiting the battery; mere curiosity or idleness drew me thither, and I imagine that similar motives directed the steps of my comrades to the same spot. The merry laughter of the men around the guns, and perhaps a desire to get a closer view of the old Alamo fortress, were strong enough inducements to tempt us away from the shelter of the camp into the exposed and barren neighborhood of the redoubt. Of the many visits which my comrades and I paid to the battery, I remember one very vividly, probably because on that occasion we narrowly missed being severely hurt and also on account of the exciting events that followed. There were eight of us altogether. It seemed as if on that day the Mexicans had turned all the guns of the Alamo on the one spot in the field which interested us. But in spite of this heavy shelling, we started to run up the hill leading to the redoubt, hoping that our brisk pace would save us from danger and delay. Such a deluge of grape-shot assailed us, however, that we were forced to take shelter behind the trunk of a pecan tree. Falling in line quietly one behind the other, we felt both amused and enraged at our predicament, for all our comrades, those in the redoubt as well as those in the camp, laughed loudly each time a volley hit our tree or snapped its branches. The bombardment around our refuge was so intense that we dared not move, and as the minutes elapsed, one of us, Thomas Camp, a future hero of the Revolution, remarked: "I must say that this is war in earnest." "And this" replied another, as a shell darted past us, "is what I call a variation on Yankee Doodle." "Let us call it," broke in a third, "the death rattle of Santa Anna's tyranny." The next second saw us scurrying away as fast as we could to the redoubt, for a cannon-ball had hit our tree and scattered its branches on the ground where we stood.

Deaf Smith's Marksmanship

Inside the redoubt, we found our friends busy with the loading, pointing, and firing of the guns. Every one of the men had his turn, but before letting off the charge the gunner on duty had to indicate which part of the Alamo he intended hitting. This was the occasion for a good deal of lively chatter, as bets were taken for and against the shooter and his target. "A hundred neat and handy musket balls against twenty," shouted one, "that I hit the old barracks between the third and fourth windows." "Done, " answered two or three voices at once. The gunner fired-and then had to spend the whole of the next day casting bullets. "My pistols-by the way, the best in the place," yelled another contestant, who likewise was going to fire the gun, "against the worst ones in the camp." "Well, sir, I reckon I can risk it" said a pioneer wrapped in a green frieze-coat. His pistols may not have been quite so good as those which had just been offered as a wager, but at any rate they were next best. Away flew the shot, and the forfeited pistols of the pointer now adorned the belt of the man in the frieze-coat, who magnanimously took his own and handed them to the loser, as he said: "Look here, friend, I will also fire the gun once. If I miss my aim, then I'll return your pistols."

Immediately after saying these words, this new competitor in our shooting match loaded the gun and brought it to the proper elevation. He went about his task more slowly than those who had tried before him, but his experience and skill seemed greater than theirs. Screwing up one eye, he carefully examined his objective, ascertained its probable distance, and for a while remained deeply absorbed in his mathematical computations. As he was deaf, the noisy bustle in the redoubt left him undisturbed, for nothing but the thunderous discharge of the cannon could have interrupted the train of his thoughts. Finally, after he had spent some time adjusting his aim, he lit the fuse. The fatal shot, impelled by the heavy charge of powder, struck the designated spot. A sudden crash of stones warned us before the smoke had cleared away that the mark had been hit, and when the vapors which darkened the atmosphere had blown off, the Greys and their comrades looked in vain for the third and fourth windows of the fortress. Unanimous applause greeted this feat of old Deaf Smith, as he was called. A little later on we found that this proficient gunner was also the boldest and most expert hunter on the Texas prairie. The Revolution added to his reputation for daring and success, for during the war he did excellent work with his scouts between the Nueces and the Rfo Grande. Smith was a most skillful marksman, and his well-aimed shots filled the enemy with dread. As a hunter he had never met his match; he always struck his game neatly in the head, and for this reason he had the greatest contempt for the Mexicans, whose bullets, except by the merest chance, never hit their target.

An Attack on the Mexicans

Smith's success stimulated our zeal. So to pass away the long hours which hung heavily on our hands, we kept chipping off the walls of the Alamo. But owing to a stratagem of the enemy, matters suddenly took a turn for the worse. A few Mexicans crept unnoticed to a part of the river bank exactly opposite our battery. Lying flat in the high grass or taking cover behind dense thickets, these sharpshooters directed against us a brisk and effective fire without fearing retaliation on our part, for we were compelled to keep our heads below the wall of our entrenchment. This continuous shooting soon made the place too hot for us, and we found ourselves in a painful quandary. Unwilling to leave the redoubt yet unable to endure a situation which was fast becoming intolerable, we finally made up our minds to dislodge our foes from their advantageous Position. As there was no time to lose, we carried out our plans at once. A detachment of thirty or thirty-five Greys, of whom I was one, left the battery. With rifles loaded and primed, we stationed ourselves on the edge of the stream close enough to the Mexican sharpshooters but beyond the reach of the shells from the Alamo. This maneuver obtained the desired effect; we silenced the enemy's firing, and I do not doubt that we killed several of our foes. Elated by this satisfactory ending to a disagreeable episode, we felt no desire to return to the camp or to the redoubt, and without consulting friends or superiors, we attacked several of the enemy's outposts stationed at some distance from the city. The Mexicans withdrew. Encouraged by the lack of resistance, we pursued them into the city with yells of triumph. Our onset took both soldiers and residents by surprise. Confused and frightened, they fled to the central quadrangle of the city. In the first flush of victory we forced our way into the empty houses; and as we needed cooking utensils badly, we seized all we found. We acted quickly, for from the center of the city the shrill notes of bugles and a sharp rattle of drums summoned our careless or truant adversaries to arms against us. While part of us got their loads, the others fought to keep off the Mexican soldiers, whose numbers were steadily increasing. Pressed by this more immediate danger, the enemy ceased cannonading the redoubt and directed their attention and firing against our small detachment. As the deadly bullets of our rifles weakened the resistance of those who tried to stop us, we continued our hurried visits from house to house' thus adding considerably to our loot. Fearing, however, that the whole Mexican army would soon be hot on our heels, we decided to retreat, especially since the prizes secured for our kitchen were now quite numerous. Our decision came almost too late, for hardly had we proceeded to withdraw when volleys of grape-shot began to furrow the air above us on the right. In the rear a similar danger threatened us from two small four-pounders set up on the roof of the church situated in the center of the city. Fortunately, these projectiles, after glancing off the ground, merely whizzed over those of us who were farthest away. Instinctively the Greys ducked their heads when the shots flew over them. Such low salaams were quite distasteful to these staunch republicans, but they were forced to submit to stem necessity. The heavy artillery which defended the center of the city also came into play, and its volleys gave wings to our retreat.

A Close Call

Our situation was precarious, for we had not only to run but also to fight, turning around at brief intervals and firing at the Mexican artillery, which at first raked our rear with its shells but now as we drew closer to the outskirts of the city peppered our left flank. So well adjusted were our shots, however, that we compelled the enemy's gunners to abandon their position; but this brought us only a short respite, for we were unable to spike the guns or haul them away. The Mexican bluecoats were now coming in swarms out of all the streets, and unless we hurried to safety they would cut off our retreat. In the midst of this confusion and noise we heard dearly the lively notes of a military march which was being played in our camp. The well-known tune with its familiar associations cheered our depressed spirits and helped us to accelerate our step. Such encouragement was sorely needed, for we were still in great danger. As soon as the Mexican artillerymen saw that we could no longer reach them, they returned to their guns and harried us with, shot, but they did us very little harm, for as the vibration of the atmosphere and the sharp report of the firing warned us of every discharge, we merely repeated our previous tactics and ducked our heads under the shower of bullets which General Cos, commander of San Antonio, sent after us.

For a while our way lay along the bank of the river, among woods which afforded us some shelter against the heavy cannonading, but when we left this temporary refuge we found ourselves within range of both the guns of the Alamo and those on the roof of the church. Our situation became even more difficult when we discovered the cornfield crowded with Mexican soldiers. The following circumstance alone saved us: When the Mexicans fired their arms they did not, as we did, keep an eye on their targets, but jerked back their heads to avoid the recoil of their rifles, which are more dangerous for the marksman than for his target. This aimless shooting would send the bullets flying twenty or thirty feet above their mark, so that many of the shots directed against us went a quarter of a mile beyond us and dropped harmlessly at the feet of our comrades in camp or elsewhere.

Hard pressed on all sides, and in danger of being hit by stray bullets, we gained a cluster of trees which ran a few hundred yards inland from the river bank and stood across our 'way. During this brief spell of comparative safety we opened fire on the Mexicans, hoping to intimidate them. Fully aware, however, of their advantage, they did not abandon their pursuit, but, encouraged by the blare of their trumpets, kept up their advance with the hope of outflanking us. We were growing desperate. Our only alternative if we wanted to escape this encircling movement was the resumption of a dangerous and unprotected retreat. Death and defeat loomed menacingly before our eyes, when suddenly the loud and inspiriting notes of Yankee Doodle struck our ears and revived our waning hopes. This unexpected and cheerful outburst of song was but the prelude to another more joyful surprise, for we saw a detachment of pioneers and volunteers hastening through the woods to our rescue. They had come, they told us, to get the Greys out of their scrape; and a fatal one it had almost turned out to be, for without the timely assistance of our comrades we might have paid dearly for our rashness.

Deaf Smith to the Rescue

Our friend, old Deaf Smith, headed the party of our rescuers. He was frantic, rushing excitedly up and down the front row of the column and waving his arms wildly. In his right hand he held a gun; in his left a staff hung with the unfurled colors of our flag, Mexican bullets disturbed him as little as the din of drums and bugles. He thought that his long-deferred hopes had on that day been fulfilled and that he could now have some real fighting with Santa Anna and his troops. The apathy of his fellow-citizens had always been for him a source of bitter disappointment. Up to the present time he had vainly urged commanding officers and men to attack, but he had always been put off with what seemed to him unworthy excuses. Today he fondly imagined that their sluggish spirits had been roused at last, and he looked forward to a general battle between Mexicans and Texans, but the cowardice of our opponents defeated once more the expectations of this brave Texan. As soon as the Mexicans saw the advancing line marching to our aid, they fled back to the city in such frantic haste that they did not give the relieving force a chance to use their rifles.

Now that the danger was over, our companions triumphantly escorted us back to camp with our precious spoils, the kitchen pots and pans, which none of us had thrown away during our hurried and hazardous retreat. This rash but successful raid on the enemy's ground put the Greys in high favor with good old slow-hearing Smith, who from now on called us his children. Several days went quietly by; nothing important occurred save a few skirmishes between the outposts of the enemy and the restless volunteers. It was about this time that Smith's aggressive energy drove the militia into a hostile encounter, known in history as the Grassbattle. In this fight the Texans took one hundred and sixty men; these captives, however, were of little use to the victors and even proved, in this case, to be a serious handicap, for although they did nothing, it was necessary to feed them. Finally, as there seemed to be no other way of getting rid of them, they were set free. All departed, with the exception of a few who stayed behind) saying they were better off with us than with their own countrymen. The militia, whose commander was Burleson, made up the greater part of the army. Up to the present time the Greys had failed to secure Burleson's consent to a general plan of attack in which our joint forces would storm San Antonio and its fortress. As a result dissatisfaction and restlessness prevailed in our ranks; furthermore, our inactive life wearied us, and the uncertainty into which we were thrown by the aimlessness of our chiefs depressed and irritated us. In order to soothe our discontent and raise our spirits, Colonel Grant, formerly an officer in the Scottish Highlanders and afterwards a citizen of Mexico, induced Burleson to call a general assembly of the whole army. Word went around that on this occasion the commander of the militia would explain his plans, and it was suggested that if they received the support of the majority of the men they would be carried out without delay.

A lively tattoo summoned us to the meeting. In joyful expectation of warlike schemes and decisions we shouldered our rifles and hastened to the parade ground, where we waited impatiently for the arrival of our superiors. Our enthusiasm ran so high that with the exception of the wounded every man was present. After we had been standing some time, the commander appeared with several other officers, stepped forward, and, though he seemed ill, addressed us as follows:

Citizens: Your zeal for liberty and your loyalty to Texas have aroused in your hearts the wish to strike a decisive blow on behalf of freedom. Urged likewise by your ardent devotion to our common cause, you are eager to carry your arms beyond the territories which we reclaimed from savagery in the early days of our colonization. Eager to give you the fullest satisfaction, I have long and deeply considered your wishes. Furthermore, in order to give you a more general and unbiased opinion on these matters, I have sought the advice of Major Morris and Colonel Johnson. Both the Colonel and I agree that, with winter so close to us, it would be wiser for the militia to retire behind the Guadalupe, select there suitable camping grounds, and wait until next spring for reinforcements from the States. We could resume our campaign in February or March with a larger body of troops and launch a general offensive against San Antonio, or, if that still proved an impracticable step, we might again make camp in the neighborhood of this city.

Loud cries of disappointment broke out among the men, and Grant himself, our brave Scot, shared our bitter disappointment. "If we withdraw" said one of the captains of the Greys, "let us then return to the United States, for five or six months of enforced idleness would be unbearable for all of us. Not one of us could endure it until next spring. If we intend to act, let us do it now or never." Uproarious cheers hailed the Captain's short oration. When this sudden outburst of enthusiasm had died down, Burleson resumed his speech:

"My friends, since I felt that you might be averse to the proposal I have just now submitted to you, I made other plans which may suit you better. If you approve of them, we will put them into effect tomorrow at dawn."

We warmly applauded this part of our commanding officer's discourse; he continued:

"This is the scheme I have in mind. The army will be separated into three detachments. The first detachment, under Colonel Milam, will attack San Antonio on the northwest side, down the river. Meanwhile the second division, commanded by Major Morris, will fall upon the center of the city, on the western side, and Mr. Smith, who is well acquainted with the place, will lead Major Morris's men to the point where they will launch their attack. The third group will stand on the defensive with me in the camp so as to protect it and cover the retreat of the others in case of mishap."

The scorn which filled us on hearing this proposal soon turned into contemptuous laughter; and as there was no reason for staying longer in the ranks, the militiamen began to disperse. Having nothing better to offer, Burleson concluded his address by pointing out to those of us who were still present that since the army received his suggestions with such contempt, immediate retreat was imperative. He then urged us to be patient and cautioned us once more against choosing this unfavorable time for our attempt against Cos and his forces. The Greys vehemently protested against such a weak policy. Cook, one of our captains, was very emphatic in his criticism, and made it quite clear that if the militia moved away and postponed a general attack until spring, he and his men would not go to the distant Guadalupe, but would set up their winter quarters in one of the old fortified missions below San Antonio. Burleson did not insist, but left our final decision to our own judgment. Thus ended the meeting to which we had come with such sanguine expectations of bold leadership and enterprising action. We separated, and, beset with misgivings for the future, returned to our huts.

Departure of the Militia

Bustle and confusion now filled the camp of the militia, as the men were busy packing their belongings and saddling their horses. Convinced that there would be little active service for the present, the pioneers were getting ready for their return to the settlements. So great was their hurry to go that some left the camp immediately after the meeting, and a few hours later half the men of the militia were on their way to the Guadalupe. The glow of the deserted fires flickered on. in the half empty camp of our Texan friends, and the dimly burning embers reminded the Greys more sharply of their solitude. The frustration of our immediate designs had cast both my friends and me into doubt and despondency as regards our immediate prospects. Fighting was unthinkable, for what could a hundred and thirty men accomplish against fifteen times their number? Such a mad endeavor could result only in a useless loss of life. Would the other alternative, an idle life in the settlements for two or three months, be preferable? Hardly so. The Greys could not give up for such languid and profitless repose the safe and brilliant expectations which had been held out to them in New Orleans. It was not love of soldiering that had drawn them away from their homes, for as a rule the glamor of military life makes no appeal to the industrious citizens of the States. No selfish mercenary motive, but the generous desire to help friends in need had brought these volunteers to Texas. They had come eager to serve and to fight, so that the chilling realization that their help was not wanted at present was indeed a bitter disappointment. As we were struggling among the perplexities of such a cheerless and baffling situation, the arrival in camp of five Mexican riders gave a new turn to our affairs. The leader of the party was a small, slender man wearing the uniform of a Mexican lieutenant; he actually held this rank. A white flag fluttered in his left hand. After the usual preliminaries in such cases, he hurriedly asked for our commanding officer. We took him to the latter to whom he declared that he could manage to bring our troops close to the center of the city without anyone's noticing their presence. He even added that if a few of our men would follow him, he could slip undetected beneath the very windows of General Cos's residence.

The informer's offer was tempting, but there were so many obvious reasons for suspecting his good faith that it would have been the height of rashness to trust him implicitly. He was not only a traitor but also a Mexican half-breed, a fact which in our eyes made him even more unreliable. Therefore Smith's warning to be cautious in our dealings with him was unnecessary, for no one was foolish enough to stake the safety of all on the pledges of a man of doubtful character, an enemy, and a stranger to all of us. Everyone, however, especially Smith, warmly approved of the idea of storming the city, now that it seemed possible to do so.

When the Greys heard the good news, they romped and yelled with joy in the half-deserted camp, although they soon found that most of their comrades in the militia were opposed to the surprise attack. With half the army already gone to the Guadalupe, most of the Texans who had remained behind thought it would be very rash to fall upon San Antonio with so small and unprepared a force. They said that there were hardly four hundred men left and that with such small numbers victory was improbable. The Greys declared very plainly that they were determined to make the attempt even though the volunteers were the only ones ready to see it through. The volunteers, whose willingness to fight was thus left unquestioned, were represented not only by the Greys but also by a company from Mississippi, which, 1 must admit, took in the ensuing expedition as great a share as my comrades from New Orleans. After we had decided to attack the city, our next step was to call the roll of those who wanted to share in our expedition, arranged for the early hours of the next morning. A list was then sent through the, ranks, and each man who wanted to join the storming party was to sign his name. After the paper had gone around the lines of the assembled volunteers, there were two hundred and thirty names written down on the sheet. Only a few men of my company were missing, and they were the wounded.

This is how we planned our attack. Part of the troops which had stayed behind to defend the camp left it some time after twelve and took a position a little higher up the river. During the night they hauled a few artillery pieces to a point opposite the Alamo, but at a reasonable distance from the fortress. Their directions were to wait on that spot until four o'clock, and then make a feint attack against the fort so a~ to draw upon themselves the attention of the enemy. In the meantime, the rest of the troops would form two columns and march at a rapid pace along the two roads parallel to the river until they had come to the center of the city. Their next move would be to station themselves near the central quadrangle behind the thick walls of the houses in that section of the city. Finally, when daylight came these men would reconnoiter their ground and determine how to conduct the assault from those quarters. In spite of the nearness of this momentous day, we slept soundly that night. Wrapped in our rugs from head to foot and lying around the fire, with our rifles near us and our saddles serving as pillows, we were not in the least disturbed by the norther whose icy gusts swept over us.

The Surprise Attack

The men of the watch stepped silently around the tents at two o'clock to arouse us. We got up quietly and soon stood in line with our rifles slung over our shoulders and our rugs held closely about us. The cold was penetrating, and as the icy gusts whistled about our stiff limbs, we shivered while awaiting the signal for our departure. As our movements had to be timed with those of our friends who were to attack the Alamo, we could not start before the hour previously agreed upon. At last Major Morris came into our midst; and our names were called once more, but now only two hundred and ten men were on the assembly grounds to answer the roll. Night had dispelled the enthusiasm of the missing volunteers, and the cold wind had extinguished the wavering flame of their courage, just as it had put out the sparks of our fires. But this desertion left us unmoved, for if we won, the smaller our numbers the greater our glory. Moreover, we very wisely thought that timid and frightened soldiers would harm us more by their cowardice than they could help us by their mere presence.

Our silent and fireless wait lasted an hour. At three O'clock we hurried noiselessly through the cornfield on our way to the city. There were many Mexican sentries scattered around the Alamo, not very far from us, but evidently they suspected nothing and thought they had faithfully discharged their duties if they shouted at intervals, "Centinela alerta." Their monotonous cries and the howling of the storm were the only sounds around us as we ran briskly across the field. The exercise warmed us and made us less sensitive to the cutting edge of the north wind. The feverish excitement into which the thought of the coming attack had thrown us also kept us from paying much attention to the unpleasantness of the chilly weather. A little after our start from the camp, the password for the day, "Bexar" went down our column, each man whispering it to the other.

When we were near the middle of the cornfield we heard a deafening noise-not the sharp hiss of the storm, but a loud, booming crash. This explosion did not take us unaware, for we had expected it. It merely told us that the other contingent was doing its share of the work and shelling the Alamo. The hollow roar of our cannon was followed by the brisk rattling of drums and the shrill blasts of bugles. Summons, cries, the sudden trampling of feet, the metallic click of weapons mingled in the distance with the noisy blare of the alarm and the heavy rumblings of the artillery. Our friends had done the trick. Their cannonading had put the Mexicans on the alert, and many of them would probably rush to the defense of the fortress. The success of this first part of our scheme encouraged us, for we thought that in the midst of the din and confusion we should have a better chance of slipping into the city unnoticed.

The Entry into San Antonio

Our guide, the Mexican lieutenant, moved on warily. Not a word passed his lips and his eyes were constantly turned toward the Alamo, as if the dense shadows about the fortress held the secret fate of our adventure. He wavered, perhaps fearing some unforeseen betrayal, an unexpected and disastrous breakdown of his plans. All of a sudden several rockets went up over the Alamo and lit up the darkness with their vivid glow. Our Mexican at last broke his long silence and asked us to look at the short-lived but brilliant illumination. Noticing our astonishment, he added that these fireworks were signals of distress to summon out of the city a part of the garrison. It meant, he said, that the road was free and that we were safe. He urged us to quicken our pace so as to be inside the city within the next ten minutes. As we started running, we noticed a small outpost in front of the city, with several soldiers standing around the fire. Our Mexican guide forbade our molesting them, saying that even though our shots might kill a few of them, the noise would bring upon us the rest of the garrison, who would delay or prevent our entrance. Speed and quietness were what we needed most if we wanted to effect our purpose. The men at the outpost fled as soon as they saw us. We dashed along behind them, for the Mexican lieutenant had warned us that it would be best for us to reach the center of the city as soon as they; he pointed out that the farther into the city we ran, the more stone houses we should be able to occupy.

No resistance held up our entrance into San Antonio. Our detachment consisted of two columns. The one to which I belonged was under the command of Breece, whose directions were to push his way down the road along the river. To play safe, we kept to the left. Sometimes our way lay across small Mexican gardens, which afforded us a good deal of shelter; sometimes over bare, exposed patches of ground close to the edge of the stream. We were in a hurry to reach the center of the city, because we were afraid that the enemy would soon get word of our arrival and would scour the streets with artillery so as to check our advance. Our fears were not groundless. We were barely within two hundred yards of our goal when a discharge of grape-shot flew past us. The pale light of dawn, slowly growing in the east, increased our risks, for it dispelled the gloom of the streets and left us exposed to the running fire of our foes. The increasing danger of our unprotected position compelled us to seek shelter in a massive stone building nearby, an old guard-house. When we got in, we stared curiously at the black outline of the square walls around us, for we had never seen buildings of this type before. The houses of the Mexicans are not unlike small fortresses, with walls whose thickness is as impressive as it is suitable; for this massive masonry keeps the rooms cool in summer and warm in winter. This explains why one seldom sees a fire lit in these apartments, which, I must add, are likewise unadorned by costly furniture.

It was quite early yet; most of the objects around us were still wrapped in the receding shadows of departing night, but in spite of this semi-darkness, we easily detected the enemy's position. The lurid glow of the explosions lit up the central quadrangle of the city, from which the Mexican artillery poured forth continuous volleys of shot. A dozen or more six-pounders seemed to have chosen our small fortress as a special objective, and one of them, which stood within eighty feet of us, gave us a good deal of anxiety. This intensive shelling fell mostly on the rear wall, which ran parallel to the quadrangle, and therefore lay open to the incessant fire of the Mexican guns. During the furious bombardment several of us stood behind that very wall and were busy setting up a fine, long six pounder with which we hoped to check the enemy's furious attack. Cannon-balls and bullets whizzed and crashed above our heads, leaving us frightened and bewildered.

A few men of our detachment who had taken their stand on the roof fared worse. The continued shooting made it dangerous for them to raise their heads above the low wall which bordered the roof and compelled them to keep quite still. Finally, an avalanche of cannon-shots dislodged them from their position. These projectiles came from the church roof, which was now used as a battery, and the guns of which dominated all the buildings within range of their fire. They commanded our roof also, and as soon as daylight showed the position of our sharpshooters a deluge of missiles sent the latter scurrying downstairs, where laughter greeted their dismay.

Friends, or Enemies?

The hours flew on without bringing us news from our comrades, and though it was eight o'clock now, we did not know where they might be. We felt sure they were not far from us, but we were unable to ascertain their exact location. In the end we found them only through an unfortunate accident. On our right and somewhat farther back than we were, little clouds of smoke were rising at intervals from. several stone buildings. Judging from the intermittent shooting that these were held by a small number of our adversaries, we promptly made up our minds to seize the houses and use them as part of our quarters. Just as our plans were completed, several discharges from these same houses informed us that they were in the hands of our friends, who likewise had mistaken us for enemies. While they were firing upon us, one of their bullets had hit a tall Mississippian named Moore, but fortunately it had glanced off a two-dollar piece which he had in his coat pocket. The second bullet struck another very tall fellow, also from Mississippi, tore off part of his forehead, and dashed its fragments on the flagstone and on those of us who stood around him.

When the clear report of the shot and the small size of .the bullet which had glanced off the piece of money had confirmed the suspicions of a few of my comrades that it was our own men who were firing from the building, several of us immediately went to Colonel Milam, who now commanded us, and asked him to let us go at once to our friends in the other houses in order to warn them of their mistake. The motion was agreed to and carried out without delay, but not before another man had fallen a victim to this blunder. This time it was a German, who was posted at another window and was preparing to fire at the central quadrangle. There was a detonation, smoke issued from the building of our friends, and at the same instant the German's rifle clattered to the ground. The wounded man, moved by an irresistible force, turned around automatically.

A gust of wind blew past him and blood gushed from his shoulder. White as a sheet, he looked around him in a daze, tapped his shoulder with his left hand, and remarked anxiously that he thought he must be hurt, although he felt no pain. He suffered terribly later on, and his fractured shoulder gave more trouble to the surgeon than the wounds of all the others on the casualty list. As soon as we had made ourselves known to our friends, the shooting stopped, and we all set to work to dig a trench between their building and ours. We also cut doors in the thick walls of the houses at each end of the passage, thus making it possible for the two detachments to communicate with each other promptly and safely. Crossing the street had become dangerous; the enemy was vigilant, and scores of lead and copper bullets greeted the appearance of volunteers bold enough to run the gauntlet of this well-sustained fusillade. One of our most urgent needs was a sheltered, convenient passage between our respective quarters.

As soon as we had attended to that matter, we turned our attention to another but no less pressing difficulty. Sound strategy required us now to disable the Mexican cannon which stood within eighty feet of our back wall and pelted us with its shot. Several of our best sharpshooters stationed themselves close to the loop-holes in our walls and mercilessly struck down every bluecoat who came near the artillery piece, which was very soon reduced to silence because the Mexican soldiers were unable to reach it. On the other hand, with our bright, slim six-pounder we inflicted no little harm on the row of houses which were opposite us. But our limited stock of ammunition prevented us from using this cannon as often and as effectively as we should have liked to use it; for, fearing to be left wholly unsupplied in case of an emergency, we drew sparingly upon our scanty stores.

As time passed, the temperature grew hotter and the atmosphere in the house closer, and thirst parched our throats. There was no well in the building; if we wanted a drink we had to go to the river, which was about fifty yards away. Palls in hand, we would hurry over this short distance, dip our vessels into the water, and fly back to shelter under a hail of bullets. The Mexicans soon became aware of our predicament and took position close to the spot where we ran to the water's edge. This stratagem greatly increased the peril of our short trips to the stream, until finally a man to be paid three or four dollars each time he filled up a pail of water. After a time an even larger sum failed to induce any one to undertake this dangerous errand.

There was in our present quarters a Mexican woman whom we had found there when we first came and had kept with us to cook our food and bake our bread tasks which she performed willingly enough. As soon as she saw our predicament, she offered to go alone to the river to get water for us all. Colonel Grant as well as the volunteers would not at first hear of her doing such a thing, for we feared that the Mexicans would show her no more mercy than they had shown the rest of us. But she laughed at our objections, saying that we did not begin to realize the fondness of the Mexicans for the fair sex. She added that since there was no danger it would be foolish to stop her, and was off before we had time to hold her back. She had filled the buckets and was preparing to go back when the enemy opened fire on her. Four bullets went through her body and she fell lifeless on the green grass. Our men, horror-stricken, gazed over the walls, and after a few moments several of them rushed outside and dragged in the well-meaning but unfortunate woman. While the Mexicans were reloading their rifles, a few others among the Greys, taking advantage of their' momentary disablement, ran down to the river, filled their vessels, and came back safe and sound, to the great disgust of the Mexicans.

Storming the Stone House

The evening came, but it brought us no respite. Sharper fighting went on, and greater danger on our right brought a call to our detachment for volunteers who would attack and seize a small building in our immediate neighborhood. This stone house stood on our right and a little closer to the center of the city than our shelter. Volleys of shot came from the interstices of its pallsaded windows and its nearness to our own quarters made this rifle-fire very dangerous. Thus its capture would yield a twofold advantage: it would rid us of undesirable neighbors, and it would bring us closer to the enemy's depot. Breece's volunteers, of whom I was one, determined to storm the house without the help of the second detachment, which had just conquered another building. This feat had put us on our mettle, for we wanted to emulate and, if possible, surpass the success of our comrades. But we came too late, for as we leaped out of the windows and rushed ahead with our crowbars, we met our tall and athletic allies, the Mississippians. Under the heavy blows of the crowbars, driven in by the muscular arms of our friends, the walls crumbled down. Hardly ten minutes had elapsed when the first stone rolled down. As it crashed on the ground we aimlessly discharged our rifles into the dark through the aperture. Terrified screams of women and children inside told us that the house was full of helpless people. We ceased our shooting immediately, but kept tearing down the walls. Soon the Mississippians had made a large opening through which a train of women, children, and men staggered. The latter gave up their rifles, no doubt imagining we would cast them into prison. Knowing quite well that we had hardly anything to eat and therefore could not afford to keep any prisoners, the Mississippians magnanimously told their captives that the colonists and their friends had no desire to interfere with the liberty of the citizens of Mexico. They therefore dismissed all the Mexicans who had fallen into their hands and let them go back to the houses which lay between our present quarters and the camp.

An Artillery Duel

Meanwhile, a third building had fallen into the hands of Cook's Greys. But not content with this victory, they intended in the early hours of the following day to seize another house which stood near a small canal, for they hoped through this new conquest to provide us with an abundant supply of good drinking water. On the next morning the pale light of a stormy dawn showed us a crimson flag floating over the church in the center of the city. The menacing color of the Mexican pennant seemed to us very appropriate, for was it not the fitting emblem of Santa Anna's cruel and treacherous tyranny? What was the meaning of this change in the enemy's flag? Did General Cos hope to intimidate or insult us by flaunting this new ensign over his army? Derisive laughter was our answer to this foolish notion of the Mexican commander. His innovation had one good point, however. It drew a clearer line of separation between our party and that of Santa Anna. Now that our foes were fighting under the blood-red banner of despotism, our own three colors would symbolize more forcefully the 'deals which inspired our enthusiasm and led us to battle. The enemy's new flag soon lost its claims to our attention, held by a more important object--a long twelve-pounder, with a larger caliber than any other gun in San Antonio. This cannon had been hauled to our walls during the preceding night, and our first occupation upon its arrival had been to cut a loophole for it in the masonry of our walls and set it up at an angle from which we could conveniently shell the enemy's position.

The day progressed favorably for us. Many stone buildings fell into our hands, and the rows of mesquite thickets which ran down to the river between the enemy's walls and ours caught fire. The blaze, which began in the late afternoon, lasted until eight o'clock and left nothing but smouldering ashes of the cover under which our foes had crept unnoticed to our line. When the second day was over, we had already connected by trenches the blocks of houses we had seized. That night the Mexicans kept up their shooting without interruption. Sheltered by the darkness, they bombarded us at close range with a six-pounder which stood exactly opposite our own walls. Yet our labors on the preceding day had been so strenuous that in spite of the noise and danger we slept as soundly as if we were residing in one of the large, peaceful communities of the Eastern states.

The third day brought on fiercer fighting and hostilities conducted on a larger scale. Our iron twelve-pounder was a most effective weapon of attack. Hurling its thunderbolts through the new loophole, it battered the roof of the church from which the enemy had been inflicting heavy losses upon us. A Brunswickian called Langenheirn was in charge of our artillery piece when its projectiles demolished part of the church dome. The terrific crash temporarily forced the Mexicans to vacate their position on the roof. Unwilling to destroy this venerable monument entirely, we ceased shelling it and directed our volleys toward a few buildings which we intended to take a little later on. It would be a mistake, however, to imagine that laughter and humor had altogether deserted us during this grim and unequal struggle with its unavoidable burden of death and suffering. We snatched a few moments of hilarious fun from the practical jokes which we played on our adversaries. One of these harmless tricks was the source of a good deal of merriment. This is how it came to my notice. On returning from my rounds, I was surprised to see several men who looked hale and sound although their caps were riddled with bullets. I thought it strange that such severe shooting should have left so many of my comrades unhurt. My curiosity was aroused, and I was eagerly seeking an explanation when at that very minute a volunteer set his cap on the ramrod of his rifle and raised it slowly over the wall. Hardly had it emerged from the edge when a shower of bullets whizzed around it until it sank behind the walls among the cheers of the Mexicans, who thought that they had dispatched another worthless heretic to Hades. A pause followed on our side, but the enemy kept up its firing, indifferent, as it seemed, to the waste of powder and ammunition which such random shooting entailed. Their bullets continued to hum in the empty air over our building although not one report came from our walls or 10'opholes. A few minutes later another enterprising cap rose above our wall, and as we had all expected, the enemy greeted its appearance with a loud rattle of musketry. Bullets flew right and left, above and through the daredevil that fearlessly faced this furious attack and seemed to defy the adversary's destructive rage. Soon, however, the fury of our opponents turned into amazement when they beheld their victim still in the same position and apparently impervious to their violence. The loud laughter of the Greys roused our foes from their stupefaction, and when one of my comrades exposed the empty cap to their bewildered gaze, understanding flashed through their minds. This was the end of our joke, and for some time after that the enemy would have nothing to do with our caps or broad-brimmed hats, nor would any attention be paid to our heads if part of our bodies were not also seen.

Our inventive wits soon fastened on another trick to spur on the interest of our Mexican audience. Setting up our caps on our bottle-gourds, we propped the latter against the wall so that part of this masquerade should be visible over the top of the masonry. Our success was immediate-our adversaries merrily resumed their firing, with the result that they wasted their powder and not infrequently exposed themselves to the view of the pioneers or Greys, who either shot them down or at least disabled their right arms. So far our heaviest losses of man power had been among the gunners, who, when they adjusted or fired their pieces, offered their whole bodies as targets for the bullets of the bluecoats. Their unprotected position made them such easy marks for the enemy that almost all the gunners had been severely wounded save a tall, good-looking Brunswickian, who until now had miraculously escaped the fate of his comrades. One of our best artillerymen, an.Englishman named Cook, was killed during the third day of our siege. This was a serious blow for us, for having served in the British fleet, Cook was an experienced hand and we greatly missed the skill of this well-trained marine. He was the first man to die while on duty at the twelvepounder.

Milam's Death

The death of our valiant Colonel Milam on the same day was another and greater tragedy. He was struck in the head by a bullet while he was standing in the yard of the house occupied by the first detachment, and died instantly. We buried the two bodies quietly at night. Their funeral march was the loud, monotonous boom of the enemy's cannon, while the black and idle muzzles of our silent artillery were the only tokens of grief and esteem we could give to the two brave men who had died in action. The officers next to Milam in command were Major Morris and the two captains of the Greys, but they did not attempt to fill the Colonel's vacant post during the remainder of the siege. Even during these moments of stress and danger, strict military discipline did not exist within our ranks. No orders were given. Whenever special duties had to be performed, the call was sent out for men ready to offer their services, and tasks were entrusted to volunteers willing to discharge them. Yet the lack of authority and proper subordination was not injurious to our success, because we all firmly believed that victory would be impossible without close unity in our ranks, and this conviction insured cooperation and order among our resolute though untrained troops.

On the fourth day a reinforcement party of five hundred men under Colonel Ugartechea marched into the Alamo. They came from the other side of the Rio Grande and had escaped the vigilant eyes of our scouts by crossing the wild prairie of Tamaulipas. But the arrival of this fresh contingent did not frighten us, for we knew that no civic pride, no patriotic urge drove these men to the assistance of their fellow-citizens.

An Attack of the Volunteers

That evening at five o'clock the roll was called. Men were needed to storm and occupy several buildings which were now held by the bluecoats. This appeal met with a generous response, and before sunset those of us who had volunteered for this attack stood in random groups close to the doomed houses. Equipped with our tools and weapons, we waited for the men of the militia to complete with their crowbars the demolition of the walls. Although the soft stone crumbled down rapidly, we thought the time passed slowly, for the Mexicans harassed us from a small redoubt which they had dug on the other side of the river opposite our division. It was not long, however, before a small part of the wall fell, and a second later our rifles poured their fire into the house. These openings were enlarged, and as soon as we had loaded our arms, we sent in another volley. The enemy's bullets whizzed dangerously around us from the loopholes which the crowbars were ripping open. This brisk musketry fire, however, was ineffective, as during the pulling down of the walls the militiamen exposed only their tools to the foes' gaze. At last the gap in the masonry was large enough to admit us one by one, and after another volley from our rifles had chased the bluecoats away, we entered the now deserted room.

The door to the next room was stoutly barricaded, and in order to tear it down we had to use our axes. This we did with the greatest caution, for while we were smashing the wooden panels the Mexicans tried to shoot us and had already wounded two of our comrades though not seriously. The sun had set during our struggle and, as is usual in the South, night closed in upon us at once, so that when the door to the next room was forced open under our repeated blows, black, impenetrable darkness filled the apartment. It was empty, and as we could not see a thing, we groped our way along the walls. The sharp reports of the explosions and the flash of burning powder, visible through an aperture close to the ceiling, warned us that our adversaries still held the room adjoining ours. Their random shooting was harmless, for most of the bullets after hitting the ceiling fell dead at our feet with a little loosened plaster. We continued our blind search for an exit until we came to a door, which we had to batter down, for it was locked and bolted. This entrance gave us access to another vacant room, possession of which made us the sole masters of the house. This place was an important point, for it stood only ten or fifteen yards from the central quadrangle. Our next and last step would be to take one of the houses which formed part of the block of buildings surrounding the large square. This would enable us to gain control of the church depot in the middle of the square, and as this military magazine was the key to the city, if it fell into our hands San Antonio would be ours. But fatigue and the lateness of the hour prevented us from carrying out our scheme at once. Our friends from the backwoods shouted that they had had enough glory for one day, and wrapping themselves in their blankets, stretched out on the floor to rest.

The Fifth Day

The dawning sun of the fifth morning rising in crimson, autumnal splendor shed its warm rays over the bloody scene of our strife. An Indian-summer day spread its rich and serene brilliance over the immense prairie, no longer green, but bleached like a ripe cornfield rolling endlessly on until it merged in the distance with the blurred skyline. Fearful was the contrast between these peaceful and radiant grasslands and the empty streets and charred areas which surrounded our quarters. Blackened tree-stumps, battered walls, smoldering ash heaps gave to our immediate neighborhood a look of utter desolation. The enemy's cannon still shook the dilapidated houses, and muskets kept firing at the half-empty ruins. The stones crumbled, the men crouched under shelter, and fighting went on between Greys and Mexicans, who probably gave no thought to the mellow beauty of this magnificent autumn day. On this day both the enemy's artillery and our own were very active. Our mighty twelve-pounder did wonders, and its heavy projectiles shattered one wall of the building we had proposed to seize that evening. Unfortunately, the ammunition we had for our sixpounders gave out, and they would have remained silent for the rest of the siege if the Mexicans had not supplied us with the missing shot. This is how it happened. Each time the enemy's missiles hit the quarters of the Greys, the men immediately sprang over the walls, picked up the cannon-balls, and loaded our cannon.

At three o'clock in the afternoon the Mexicans made a sally, but nothing came out of it. With a great rattle of drums and flourish of trumpets, a detachment of five or six hundred bluecoats left the walls of the Alamo. They marched down the river in the direction of our camp as if they intended to assault and capture it. This was merely a feint, intended to draw most of the besiegers out of the city so as to give General Cos a chance of making a mass attack on the few left behind. Unafraid, we saw through the design of the Mexican general, and decided to remain where we were. Should the camp be attacked, then those who guarded it would defend it; if they could not do so, they would make a dash to the city and try to join us. This rounding up of all our forces would not be untimely, for during the night we should need all the hands and rifles we could muster in order to deal a final blow to the Mexicans and at last clear from the prairie the rabble of the central government. After the sallying party had paraded for a while with a good deal of swagger, but at a proper distance from the range of our guns, they returned, crestfallen and silent, to the Alamo, for it was evident now that their ruse had failed.

The field was now clear for the military operations we intended to carry out that night. My friends and I in the first division had planned to occupy a stone house near the quadrangle, and the men of the second detachment, who were staying in a house a little apart from ours, decided to help us in this undertaking. But a mass attack which the enemy launched against the first division at nine o'clock at night forced us at the last minute to do things differently.

The Mexican Offensive

This offensive of the Mexicans surpassed in vigor and persistence any of their previous attacks. The din and confusion which had harassed us in other encounters were trifling annoyances compared to what took place now. Our walls were shattered, almost leveled to the ground, and the best we could do was to seek refuge behind the crumbling stones or falling adobe. Crouching close to our ruins, we waited anxiously, expecting every minute to see the bluecoats scaling our battered barricades. With our guns at full cock, we were ready to shoot the first Mexicans who should venture close enough to us. Pioneers stood at the loopholes we had bored through the walls, and their unerring aim struck down every Mexican who came within their firing. Our opponents, however, aware of our decided advantage in marksmanship, kept at a safe distance, and as our expectations of a fierce hand-to-hand fight grew smaller, we began to tire of our inaction. Impatient of further delay, about twenty Greys decided to attack the enemy on one of his flanks. The numerical strength of our foes did not alarm us, and although we were only a handful against six or eight hundred men, we stormed the four walls of a dilapidated blockhouse which stood at a little distance from the scene of the main conflict. Darkness favored us; before the enemy could suspect anything, we had advanced almost up to the buildings occupied by the Mexican squadrons. Startled and unnerved by the sudden, simultaneous flashes and reports of our rifles and pistols, the Mexicans beat a hasty retreat to the buildings of the center, where, selecting our roofless conquest as a special target, they resumed their firing.

Cannon-shots and musket-balls boomed and rattled around the quarters of the second detachment, so that the predicament of our friends seemed even worse than ours. While we were speculating upon their luck, the central quadrangle rang out with a shrill call to arms. The bugles blew and the drums rolled, swelling the clamor which already arose from the enemy's ceaseless fusillade and blasphemous yells. At intervals a deeper note drowned this deafening noise as the flaming muzzles of the' Alamo's cannon bellowed out their wrath. Such a tumultuous uproar in the middle of the night had a kind of sublimity which gripped my heart. The strange exaltation which possessed me recalled to my mind the emotion which I had experienced when for the first time I saw a large towboat sailing up the Mississippi. This strong, heavily built tug hauled in its wake schooners, brigantines, and other ships with such a noise of hissing steam, puffing engines, and creaking machinery that it held me spellbound, and I remained listening to the loud gasps of the monster's panting breath long after it had vanished from sight.

The turmoil of the conflict lasted until eleven o'clock. At that hour the bombardment ceased; and now that quiet had been restored we left our four walls, for we wanted to find out our party's plans about the storming of the center. Imagine then our surprise when we found all the buildings of the second division empty. As we stood there, unable to explain the absence of our comrades and at a loss what to do, we discovered a wounded man lying in a corner. He told us that immediately after the enemy's assault against the first division, all the men of the second detachment had left their quarters to capture that section of the central quadrangle which, earlier in the day, we had decided to occupy during the night. The present circumstances, however, had greatly altered the situation of the besiegers. Therefore, the volunteers in charge of this expedition had attacked the center from a totally different direction and had taken the enemy completely off guard. Success rewarded their daring. They drove the Mexicans from two large buildings and spiked a cannon, which owing to its nearness to our building had worked terrible havoc among us during the siege.

The rash undertaking. which I have been describing above may justly deserve censure. Indeed, the surprise attack conducted by the men of the second detachment can hardly escape criticism, for they not only deserted us in our hour of danger, but gave up a safe position for the sake of a very uncertain gain. I have no excuse to offer except that we considered ourselves almost invincible, an opinion which later on brought us and our friends very near ruin. The fifth day, with its drastic events, likewise ended in victory; and we looked forward with excitement to the next day, which fell on the tenth of December. The enemy's firing had ceased; only the small redoubt on the other side of the river sent solitary volleys, the shots of which flashed like stray bullets through the empty space which during the preceding five days had been plowed up by thousands of cannon- and musketballs. The deafening explosions of the artillery no longer shook the earth, and only the groans of the wounded reminded us of the cruel sacrifices imposed upon us by the cause we served.

As the shadows of the night stole away in the east before a radiant December sunrise, the sixth day of our siege dawned and ushered in the downfall of our foes. A white flag, the meek token of surrender, floated over the ruins of the Alamo. It was nine o'clock before the two armies came to an agreement over the terms of the capitulation, which were as follows: The Mexican troops should depart at once from the city, with a hundred and fifty rifles as well as enough powder and lead to protect themselves against the Comanches. Furthermore, they were to take an oath never again to fight against Texas, to abandon the Alamo by the twelfth, and to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico as soon as possible. On the appointed day Cos marched off with his men and left in our possession the Alamo with its stores of ammunition. Forty-eight cannon, an important supply of powder, four thousand muskets, ready-made cartridges, and a large quantity of cannon and musketballs fell into our hands.

 

 

Stephen F. Austin explaining to Mexican authorities why he needed to employ the first group of Texas Rangers:

"The roads are full of errant thieves united with the Indians, and without a small force of mounted troops to clean-up and guard them, I cannot respond to the security of travelers .... If it is possible to permit me to continue in service the 14 men and augment them with 10 more and a Sergeant, I can respond to the security of the roads."

--- Stephen F. Austin, November 1823

 

 

"250 miles to nearest Post Office; 100 miles to wood; 20 miles to water; 6 inches to hell. God bless our home! Gone to live with the wife's folks."

----- Sign on a deserted house in Blanco County, quoted in the "Mason News," June 18th, 1887

 

 

an 1847 account of the Texas Panhandle:

"When we were upon the high table-land, a view presented itself as boundless as the ocean. Not a tree, shrub, or any other object, either animate or inanimate, relieved the dreary monotony of the prospect .... it is a region almost as vast and trackless as the sea ---- a land where no man, either savage or civilized, permanently abides; it spreads forth into a treeless, desolate waste of uninhabited solitude, which always has been, and must continue, uninhabited forever."

------ Captain Randolph Marcy, recording his first impressions of the Texas Panhandle in his diary, 1847

 

 

When a British journalist remarked about the ragtag uniforms worn by Civil War soldiers of Hood's Texas Brigade, General Robert E. Lee replied:

"Never mind the raggedness. The enemy never sees the backs of my Texans."

---- from "Texas: An Album of History," James Haley, 1985

 

 

From a sign that hung for many years in a general store near Terlingua out by Big Bend National Park:

"Next time two hours hangs heavy on your heads, spend it on our porch. Along in the cool of the evenin', we present 'Sunset on the Chisos' in natural color and on the widest screen on earth. It's pure beauty gone plumb loco in thin blue air. A million pairs of 20-20 eyes can't take in all its beauty. All props ten times older than the pyramids. All sunsets painted personally by the Lord his own self."

That pretty much sums it up. I love west Texas.

 

 

 

"A man has got to be at least seventy-five years old to be a real old cowhand. I started young and I am seventy-eight. Only a few of us are left now, and they are scattered from Texas to Canada. The rest have left the wagon and gone ahead across the big divide, looking for a new range. I hope they find good water and plenty of grass. But wherever they are is where I want to go."

---- Old cowboy Teddy Blue, writing in his autobiography "We Pointed them North," 1939

 

 

Written by a traveler through Texas back in 1875:

"In the long, creaking supper-room, a dirty cloth was laid upon a greasier table, and pork, fried to a cinder and swimming in grease hot enough to scorch the palate, was placed before the guests. To this was presently added, by the hands of a tall, angular, red-haired woman, a yellow mass of dough supposed to be a biscuit, a cup of black, bitter bean-juice named coffee and, as a crowning torture, a mustard pot, with very watery mustard in it."

---- Edward King, "The Great South," 1875

 

 

"In early days there were a great many survivors of San Jacinto living in or near Houston and San Jacinto Day, April 21, was always celebrated in great style. The "Twin Sisters" were taken down to the corner of Commerce Street and a salute was fired, after which the town was literally turned over to the heroes of San Jacinto. I remember well one of the most conspicuous of them. He was Tierwester, an old Frenchman. At the battle of San Jacinto he had a powder horn slung to his neck. This powder horn was a cow's horn scraped very thin and had a wooden plug at the large end and a small plug at the little end of the horn. During the battle a Mexican bullet struck this horn and entered through one side, but did not have enough force to go out the other. Tierwester never removed the ball, but on San Jacinto Day he came to the reunion wearing his horn round his neck and the drunker he got the louder he told the story and rattled the bullet. He was a great character and lived and died in what was then known as Frosttown, not far from the Hutchins residence, now the center of Houston almost.

But these San Jacinto celebrations were not always fun alone. Tragedy cropped up occasionally. I remember one which occurred when I was a little boy. The "Twin Sisters" had been taken out, as usual, for the salute. A man named Tom Ewing took charge of the big end of the gun and volunteered to hold his thumb on the vent hole, a necessary precaution to keep the gun from exploding after it became heated. Mr. Warren Stansbury performed the duty of loading the piece. The salute was about half over and Stansbury was ramming home a charge when the gun became so hot that Ewing, thoughtlessly, took his thumb from the vent. Instantly the piece discharged and Stansbury's arm was so badly mutilated by the rammer that amputation was necessary. He recovered and lived several years afterward."

----- Dr. S. O. Young in his book "True Stories of Old Houston and Houstonians," 1913.

 

 

“In keeping with the Laws of the Prophet Bubba and the Code of the UIL, as set forth in the Book of First Downs, as the sun sets on Friday nights the rites of the Texas state religion are celebrated: high school, smash-mouth football. ‘And lo, the children of Jim Bob do take to the roads in caravans and they do go up unto the stadium by tribes, the Indians of Groveton, the Panthers of Lufkin, the Mustangs of Overton, and the very Wildcats of Palestine, and who shall withstand the traffic jams thereof?’ Thus is it written, and so it is and shall be.”

------ Markham Shaw Pyle

 

 

"Texanness is next to Godliness."

---- Me, Traces of Texas

 

 

"I've seen them wear six-shooters to games in the Texas League, and when a fan pulled one out in Fort Worth and took a shot at a fly ball, I was ready to check out."

---- Former umpire "Wild Bill" Setley recalls the turbulent 1910 Texas League baseball season

 

 

"But let it not be supposed that we in Houston are going to sit down like children and cry because we have dropped our bread and butter, although it HAS fallen on the "buttered side." Not we, nothing can be farther from our thoughts than this. We WILL have a great city, in spite of them, and if they don't behave very well up there in Austin, we will CUT OFF THEIR SUPPLIES, and throw them upon corn bread and beef."

----- the Houston Morning Star newspaper in 1839, after the City of Houston lost the fight (to Austin) to have Houston named the capital city of Texas

 

 

"Now that railroads are penetrating the country, a new industry will spring up and assume supporting dimensions, and there are millions in it, Bones! Reports have it that in various parts of the Panhandle, tons and tons of these are being gathered for early sale."

----- The millions of buffalo skeletons left scattered across the prairie by hunters were a valuable source of minerals, as pointed out in the Tascosa Pioneer newspaper, 1887

 

 

"Within my knowledge, there is not a country of the same extent that has more poor land; that has a greater number of local causes of disease ---- that has more unseemly and disagreeable swamps and ponds, or that has more snakes, mosquitoes, ticks and flies than Texas."

---- James W. Parker, 1844, "The Rachel Plummer Narrative"

 

 

"The secession leaders tell us if war comes that the superior courage of our people with their experience of the use of firearms will enable us to triumph in battle over ten times our number of Northern forces. Never was a more false or absurd statement ever made by designing demagogues. I declare that Civil War is inevitable and near at hand. When it comes the descendants of the heroes of Lexington and Bunker Hill will be found equal in patriotism, courage, and heroic endurance with the descendents of Cowpens and Yorktown ... When the tug of war comes, it will be Greek meeting Greek. Then, oh my fellow countrymen, the fearful conflict will fill our fair land with untold suffering, misfortune, and disaster."

------- Sam Houston with some prescient words on the eve of the Civil War in February, 1861

 

 

"We have often heard of Nowhere, and supposed it somewhere in Texas."

----- Galveston Texas Times, December 7, 1842

 

 

"The legislature convenes at Austin, near the center of the state, and while the representative from Rio Grande country is gathering his palm leaf fan and his linen duster to set out for the capital, the Panhandle solon winds his muffler around his well-buttoned overcoat and kicks the snow from his well-greased boots, readying himself for the same journey."

----- O. Henry describes Texas weather, "A Departmental Case," Ainslee's Magazine, 1902

 

 

Thunder of hoofs over range as we ride,
Hissing of iron and smoking of hide!
Bellow of cattle and snort of cayuse,
Longhorns from Texas as wild as the deuce!
Midnight stampedes and milling of herds,
Yells from the cowmen, too angry for words!
Right in the midst of it all I would stay
Make me a cowboy again for a day!

---- Anonymous

 

 

"On the 11 of March last, Wm. Sutton, my husband, and Gabriel Slaughter, whilst engaged in getting their tickets for Galveston, on board the steamer "Clinton" at Indianola, were murdered by James and Bill Taylor in my presence without any warning or notice, James Taylor shooting my husband in the back with two six-shooters. The murderer of my husband is still at large and I offer to anyone who will arrest him and deliver him inside the jail of Calhoun County, Texas, one thousand dollars.

Description of James Taylor, age 23 years; weight 165-170 .lbs, very heavy set; height 5 feet and 10 inches; complexion dark; dark hair; round features; usually shaves clean about once a week; wears no whiskers, beard rather heavy, talks very little, has a low, dull tone, and very quiet in his manners. MRS. LAURA SUTTON."

----- Reward notice after one of the bloody episodes in the Taylor-Sutton feud, 1874

 

 

"You can just say that I am a friend to any brave and gallant outlaws, but have no use for that stinking coward class of these who can be found in every locality, and who would betray a friend or comrade for the sake of their own gain. There are thee or four jolly good fellows on the dodge in my section, and when they come to my home they are welcome, for they are my friends and would lay down their lives in my defense at any time the occasion demanded and go the full length to serve me in any way."

----- the infamous Belle Starr in an interview in the Dallas News, 1886

 

 

"The ladies of Mason, bless their sweet lives,
The radiant maidens and the good queenly wives
Dress finer than any who dwell in the West
Because Smith and Geistweidt sell them the best."

----- advertisement in the Mason newspaper, 1889

 

 

an old settler describing the first time he (and his horse) saw a train:

"I was between Hearne and Bryan when I saw my first railroad train. We were all watching the laying of tracks. I was riding my pony the day I saw the train. I heard the terrible puffing and blowing noise and it frightened me and my horse. He squatted as if to make a wild jump and run away. I put the quirt on him and got him away from the scene as fast as I could. The train burned wood in the engine and traveled about twenty miles per hour. One engine did not pull over 20 cars. I can remember when the passenger trains did not run on Sunday as people in those days did not believe in desecrating the Sabbath by riding on a train."

------- R. C. Allen of Hearne remembers when the Houston and Texas Central Railroad came to Hearne in 1868

 

 

"Well, I am just going to tell him that I have helped some and I have skinned some. Those I skinned could afford it, and those I helped needed it, maybe."

---- legendary Fort Worth gambler Ned Kramer, on his deathbed, when asked if he was ready to meet St. Peter. His primary distinction as a gambler was that he never took a drink, engaged in a quarrel, or carried a gun. By avoiding the more violent aspects of being a gambler, he was able to live to a ripe old age.

 

 

describes the impact of yellow fever on society in Texas back in 1878. When you think about "the good old days," you might also want to consider this:

"When a suspected [infected] person is found on the train going to Galveston, he is summarily seized at the muzzle of a six-shooter and tumbled off the train on the open prairie. If he is sick there is no shelter, no hospital, no bed, no preparation for medical treatment, no anything to keep him from dying like a dog. If he is well, there is no house, no food, no place where the necessities of life are to be had, and if he approaches a human residence he is driven off by an excited and fear stricken people armed with shot guns. Every house has its separate quarantine, any hamlet or village takes the responsibility of turning back trains, stopping the mails and disorganizing the commerce of an entire state. Human pity is extinguished, human mercy abolished, and insane panic armed with a shot gun rules supreme."

----- the Houston Daily Telegram in an article regarding the effects of yellow fever on Texas, 1878

 

 

The Texas quote of the day is a great one but I have to set the scene. It is 1843. The author, Charles Sealsfield, was a genteel man who had come to Texas from Maryland. He'd been in Texas for about a month and was visiting one Mr. Neal on the Texas coast near Bolivar. While there, he impetuously jumped on a horse to chase a mustang that he had previously been riding but which had bolted away and, apparently, run like crazy. As a result, Mr. Seaslfield found himself lost. I will let him pick up the narrative:

"After a time, however, other ideas came to console me. I had been already four weeks in the country, and had ridden over a large slice of it in every direction, always through prairies, and I had never had any difficulty in finding my way. True, but then I had always had a compass, and been in company. It was this sort of over-confidence and feeling of security that had made me adventure so rashly, and in spite of all warning, in pursuit of the mustang. I had not waited to reflect, that a little more than four weeks' experience was necessary to make one acquainted with the bearings of a district three times as big as New York State.

Still I thought it impossible that I should have got so far out of the right track as not to be able to find the house before nightfall, although that was now rapidly approaching. Indeed, the first shades of evening, strange as it may seem, gave this notion increased strength. Home-bred and gently nurtured as I was, my life, before coming to Texas, had been by no means one of adventure, and I was so used to sleep with a roof over my head, that when I saw it getting dusk I felt certain I could not be far from the house. The idea fixed itself so strongly in my mind, that I involuntarily spurred my horse and trotted on, peering out through the now fast-gathering gloom, in expectation of seeing a light.

Several times I fancied I heard the barking of the dogs, the cattle lowing, or the merry laugh of the children.

"Hurra! there is the house at last — I can see the lights in the parlor windows."

I urged my horse on, but when I came near the house, it proved to be an island of trees. "What I had taken for candles were fireflies, that now issued in swarms from out of the darkness of the islands, and spread themselves over the prairie, darting about in every direction, their small blue flames literally lighting up the plain, and making it appear as if I were surrounded by a sea of Bengal fire. Nothing could be more bewildering than such a ride as mine, on a warm March night, through the interminable, never-varying prairie ; overhead the deep blue firmament, with its host of bright stars ; at my feet, and all around, an ocean of magical light, myriads of fire-flies floating upon the soft, still air.

It was like a scene of enchantment. I could distinguish every blade of grass, every flower, every leaf on the trees — but all in a strange, unnatural sort of light, and in altered colors. Tuberoses and asters, prairie roses and geraniums, dahlias and vine branches, began to wave and move, to arrange themselves in ranks and rows. The whole vegetable world around me appeared to dance, as the swarms of living lights passed over it. "

----- Charles Sealsfield, "Adventures in Texas," 1843

 

 

"Someone said that we ought to continue the war and whip them until they consented to take back all of Texas."

---- An American soldier writes home about a comrade's proposed terms to end the Mexican-American war, 1847

 

 

written in 1856 and finds Joseph Harrell of Austin irate when he returns home from a trip to Tennessee, only to find that the outhouse for the governor's mansion has been built directly across from his front door:

"The undersigned would respectfully represent that in drafting the plan for the Governor's House and necessary outbuildings, the Draftsman consulting the convenience of the outbuildings to the Main Building, placed the Privy right opposite the front door of my dwellinghouse, across the street, not thinking of the relative situation to my home... I never saw the plan and knowing nothing of the position the outbuilding bears to my home, I went to Tennessee, where I was absent some months, and during my absence, the contractor put up the main building and the Privy, which is according to the plan above laid down, right opposite the front door of my house. On returning home I complained to the Building Committee, who said they had not thought of the position the Privy would bear to my house and would be perfectly willing for it to be placed anywhere else, but that all the appropriations made by the last Legislature for the erection of the Governor's House was exhausted, and there were no funds to pay for removing it.

The Privy was removed and rebuilt in another place, by the contractor, I becoming responsible to him for the cost of removing and rebuilding it, which he estimated at 125.00. Had the buildings been erected by a private individual, throwing the Privy directly in front of my dwellinghouse, there would be no doubt of the duty of that individual to remove it at his own cost and expense. The State should be as just to its citizens, as are individuals with each other, and the undersigned thinks it but just, right and proper, that a sufficient appropriation be made by the Legislature to pay the necessary expense of removing and rebuilding the Privy, and thereby saving him harmless. I would refer to the Governor, Comptroller and Treasurer, to say if the above is not a plain statement of facts."

----- Joseph Harrell of Austin in a letter to the state legislature, 1856. He was eventually reimbursed for the money he had paid to have the outhouse removed

 

 

"Having breast cancer is massive amounts of no fun. First they poison you, then they mutilate you, then they burn you. I've been on blind dates better than that. And when it's over, you’re so glad that you're grateful to absolutely everyone. And I am. The trouble is, I'm not a better person. I was in great hopes that confronting my own mortality would make me deeper, more thoughtful. Many lovely people sent books on how to find a more spiritual meaning in life. My response was, "Oh, hell, I can’t go on a spiritual journey—I'm constipated."

------ Molly Ivins

 

 

"He was a fighting man. He believed it was more important for the troops to scout the frontier and perform military duty than it was to build chicken coops for officers and interfere with the citizens of the country; and within two years after he took command, the occupation of the Indians was gone, the lives of the settlers were safe, and the early abandonment of numerous military stations possible, they being no longer needed."

----- Former Sergeant H.H. McConnell on the legacy of Colonel Ranald MacKenzie and his 4th Cavalry, assigned to Fort Richardson in 1871. MacKenzie went on to be appointed brigadier general and assigned to the Department of Texas (October 30, 1883). He bought a Texas ranch and was engaged to be married; however, he began to demonstrate odd behavior which was attributed to a fall from a wagon at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in which he injured his head. Showing signs of mental instability, he was retired from the Army on March 24, 1884 for "general paresis of the insane". He was escorted to New York City and placed in the Bloomingdale Asylum. In 1886 he was moved to New Brighton, Staten Island, where he died on January 19, 1889. He was buried in the military cemetery at West Point.

 

 

"Parisiana and LaReine Corsets are sold here ---- Women who wear corsets are the well-dressed women. The corset is the dominating feature in a women's dress, in her whole appearance. If the corset is not correct, the gown cannot be. The corsets sold here are designed to meet the requirements of the latest fashions, made of good material and a large variety of models, so that there is a model for every individual figure."

---- Trinity County Star, 1911

 

 

"Another example of the Ozona way of doing things is the installing of an up-to-date covered-in ice wagon, put into service Monday morning by the Ozona Improvement Company, and the horse is wearing a harness made by our own harness and saddle maker, Mr. Arthur Williams. The outfit cost the company considerable money, but in the long run it is money well spent, as ice can be delivered in any kind of weather without lossage."

---- the Ozona Kicker newspaper, 1906

 

 

"DURING THE LONG TEXAS DROUTH OF THE 1950S, a joke—probably already as old as the state—was told again and again about a man who bet several of his friends that it never would rain again, and collected from two of them.

Indeed, it seemed the rain was gone forever. For parts of West Texas the ordeal lasted a full seven years. Though some would argue that it was not the most devastating drouth they had ever seen, it was by all odds the longest in memory.

Each new generation tends to forget—until it confronts the sobering reality—that dryness has always been the normal condition in the western half of the state. Wet years have been the exceptions. Walter Prescott Webb, in his classic The Great Plains, noted how the land changes west of the 98th meridian, and how this has affected the people who live there, etching its marks upon their characters and impacting upon their culture. Traditionally it has taken a strong-willed, individualistic breed to live west of that line,“especially when that living is tied closely to the soil, as is the case with the rancher and the farmer. Those not strong enough either did not cross the line or retreated after being bruised by the demands of that uncompromising land. Those who remained became tough, resilient, and almost militantly independent. As a group they have been like the old rancher who declared, “I don’t want anybody giving me anything, and I don’t want anybody telling me what to do; I just want to be left the hell alone!”

This fierce protectiveness for one’s own prerogatives has been compromised to some degree in the last generation or so, but enough remains to be a potent political factor. Resistance to regulation may be stronger in drouth-prone West Texas than anywhere. This trait remains a puzzle to people in other areas, willing to trade their freedoms piecemeal for what appears to be a guarantee of security. They, perhaps, do not have this heritage of recurring struggle for survival which every succeeding generation of West Texans has had to face, each in its own time."

----- Elmer Kelton, "The Time it Never Rained"

 

 

"The way they fixed those things, they would put a wood floor and wood around, up to about three and a half or four feet all around. Then they put a tent or tarpaulin and fastened it down just below the top of this wood. Then they'd screen it in. They had to on account of the flies. They had screens up to the top.

And that was the sweetest sleeping you ever had. At night you'd just roll that tarpaulin up, and that breeze would just come through there, and it was the finest sleeping you ever see. Just a little bit shaky when it was stormy."

------ Tom Wilburn on the pleasures of living in a "rag house" in Pyote during the oil boom of 1926

 

 

"To the professional man we say that neither DOCTORS or LAWYERS are wanted. We already have a sufficient stock in our market; and, were it not that some of them have been wise enough to turn their attention to farming and stockraising, a large number would starve, for there is not business enough in our country to support them.

To POLITICIANS we say, remain where you are; we have no room for you."

------ Jacob de Cordova, "Texas: Her Resources and Her Public Men, 1858

 

 

 

 

 

 

"In 1948, I returned to France at the invitation of French Government. It was still a war-ravaged country ... but this time there was something different. It wasn't the absence of fighting, nor the silence of the big guns, nor the disappearance of uniforms and chow lines ... I didn't know what it was until one morning when I was taken to the grounds of a small French school. The children had been assembled in the play yard. They were grouped close together and arranged in wobbly little rows, their dark heads bobbing around like flower buds on long stems. One of the teachers rapped for silence. The kids quieted immediately and turned their eyes towards her. Their Faces were scrubbed and bright in the sunshine. The teacher raised her arms, and for a moment, there was no sound ... Then the teacher brought her arms down and the kids began to sing ... I Knew why I felt at home. The spirit of freedom was hovering over that play yard as it did all over France at that time. A country was free again. A people had recovered their independence and their children were grateful. They were singing in French, but the melody was freedom and any American could understand that. America, at that moment, never meant more to me ... The true meaning of America, you ask? It's in a Texas rodeo, in a policeman's badge, in the sound of laughing children, in a political rally, in a newspaper... In all these things, and many more, you'll find America. In all these things, you'll find freedom. And freedom is what America means to the world. And to me."

------ Audie Murphy, born in Kingston, Texas in 1925.

 

 

 

"The new county will never be the same. Some of the ruffians of Robertson County had all hell scared out of them. Never have I heard such preaching and I'm sure no one else has."

----- Harrison Owen in a letter to Francis Slauter after Methodist preachers harangued hundreds of settlers at a camp meeting near Franklin in 1841

 

 

"Friend,

We have used in our family Post's cereals and Postum for years, but never until the last few hours did we hear of Post's City of Homesteads. Do write me ALL about the scheme. Do you have literature regarding the same?

In haste,

Yours for Success,
Mrs. A. B. Schultz

P.S. Is the soil sandy?
Does the wind blow?
Do you have fleas?
Does it snow in winter?"

---- A letter to inquire about C.W. Post's planned community (now Post, Texas) in the Panhandle, 1911

 

 

Our cattle quieted down nicely after this run, and the next few weeks brought not an incident worth recording. There was no regular trail through the lower counties, so we simply kept to the open country. Spring had advanced until the prairies were swarded with grass and flowers, while water, though scarcer, was to be had at least once daily. We passed to the west of San Antonio—an outfitting point which all herds touched in passing northward—and Flood and our cook took the wagon and went in for supplies. But the outfit with the herd kept on, now launched on a broad, well-defined trail, in places seventy-five yards wide, where all local trails blent into the one common pathway, known in those days as the Old Western Trail. It is not in the province of this narrative to deal with the cause or origin of this cattle trail, though it marked the passage of many hundred thousand cattle which preceded our Circle Dots, and was destined to afford an outlet to several millions more to follow. The trail proper consisted of many scores of irregular cow paths, united into one broad passageway, narrowing and widening as conditions permitted, yet ever leading northward. After a few years of continued use, it became as well defined as the course of a river.

Several herds which had started farther up country were ahead of ours, and this we considered an advantage, for wherever one herd could go, it was reasonable that others could follow. Flood knew the trail as well as any of the other foremen, but there was one thing he had not taken into consideration: the drouth of the preceding summer. True, there had been local spring showers, sufficient to start the grass nicely, but water in such quantities as we needed was growing daily more difficult to find. The first week after leaving San Antonio, our foreman scouted in quest of water a full day in advance of the herd. One evening he returned to us with the news that we were in for a dry drive, for after passing the next chain of lakes it was sixty miles to the next water, and reports regarding the water supply even after crossing this arid stretch were very conflicting.

‘While I know every foot of this trail through here,’ said the foreman, ‘there’s several things that look scaly. There are only five herds ahead of us, and the first three went through the old route, but the last two, after passing Indian Lakes, for some reason or other turned and went westward. These last herds may be stock cattle, pushing out west to new ranges; but I don’t like the outlook. It would take me two days to ride across and back, and by that time we could be two thirds of the way through. I’ve made this drive before without a drop of water on the way, and wouldn’t dread it now, if there was any certainty of water at the other end. I reckon there’s nothing to do but tackle her; but isn’t this a hell of a country? I’ve ridden fifty miles to-day and never saw a soul.’

The Indian Lakes, some seven in number, were natural reservoirs with rocky bottoms, and about a mile apart. We watered at ten o’clock the next day, and by night camped fifteen miles on our way. There was plenty of good grazing for the cattle and horses, and no trouble was experienced the first night. McCann had filled an extra twenty gallon keg for this trip. Water was too precious an article to be lavish with, so we shook the dust from our clothing and went unwashed. This was no serious deprivation, and no one could be critical of another, for we were all equally dusty and dirty.

The next morning by daybreak the cattle were thrown off the bed ground and started grazing before the sun could dry out what little moisture the grass had absorbed during the night. The heat of the past week had been very oppressive, and in order to avoid it as much as possible, we made late and early drives. Before the wagon passed the herd during the morning drive, what few canteens we had were filled with water for the men. The remuda was kept with the herd, and four changes of mounts were made during the day, in order not to exhaust any one horse. Several times for an hour or more, the herd was allowed to lie down and rest; but by the middle of the afternoon thirst made them impatient and restless, and the point men were compelled to ride steadily in the lead in order to hold the cattle to a walk. A number of times during the afternoon we attempted to graze them, but not until the twilight of evening was it possible.

After the fourth change of horses was made, Honeyman pushed on ahead with the saddle stock and overtook the wagon. Under Flood’s orders he was to tie up all the night horses, for if the cattle could be induced to graze, we would not bed them down before ten that night, and all hands would be required with the herd. McCann had instructions to make camp on the divide, which was known to be twenty-five miles from our camp of the night before, or forty miles from the Indian Lakes. As we expected, the cattle grazed willingly after nightfall, and with a fair moon, we allowed them to scatter freely while grazing forward. The beacon of McCann’s fire on the divide was in sight over an hour before the herd grazed up to camp, all hands remaining to bed the thirsty cattle. The herd was given triple the amount of space usually required for bedding, and even then for nearly an hour scarcely half of them lay down.

We were handling the cattle as humanely as possible under the circumstances. The guards for the night were doubled, six men on the first half and the same on the latter, Bob Blades being detailed to assist Honeyman in night-herding the saddle horses. If any of us got more than an hour’s sleep that night, he was lucky. Flood, McCann, and the horse wranglers did not even try to rest. To those of us who could find time to eat, our cook kept open house. Our foreman knew that a well-fed man can stand an incredible amount of hardship, and appreciated the fact that on the trail a good cook is a valuable asset. Our outfit therefore was cheerful to a man, and jokes and songs helped to while away the weary hours of the night.

The second guard, under Flood, pushed the cattle off their beds an hour before dawn, and before they were relieved had urged the herd more than five miles on the third day’s drive over this waterless mesa. In spite of our economy of water, after breakfast on this third morning there was scarcely enough left to fill the canteens for the day. In view of this, we could promise ourselves no midday meal—except a can of tomatoes to the man; so the wagon was ordered to drive through to the expected water ahead, while the saddle horses were held available as on the day before for frequent changing of mounts. The day turned out to be one of torrid heat, and before the middle of the forenoon, the cattle lolled their tongues in despair, while their sullen lowing surged through from rear to lead and back again in piteous yet ominous appeal. The only relief we could offer was to travel them slowly, as they spurned every opportunity offered them either to graze or to lie down.

It was nearly noon when we reached the last divide, and sighted the scattering timber of the expected watercourse. The enforced order of the day before—to hold the herd in a walk and prevent exertion and heating—now required four men in the lead, while the rear followed over a mile behind, dogged and sullen. Near the middle of the afternoon, McCann returned on one of his mules with the word that it was a question if there was water enough to water even the horse stock. The preceding outfit, so he reported, had dug a shallow well in the bed of the creek, from which he had filled his kegs, but the stock water was a mere loblolly. On receipt of this news, we changed mounts for the fifth time that day; and Flood, taking Forrest, the cook, and the horse wrangler, pushed on ahead with the remuda to the waterless stream.

The outlook was anything but encouraging. Flood and Forrest scouted the creek up and down for ten miles in a fruitless search for water. The outfit held the herd back until the twilight of evening, when Flood returned and confirmed McCann’s report. It was twenty miles yet to the next water ahead, and if the horse stock could only be watered thoroughly, Flood was determined to make the attempt to nurse the herd through to water. McCann was digging an extra well, and he expressed the belief that by hollowing out a number of holes, enough water could be secured for the saddle stock. Honeyman had corralled the horses and was letting only a few go to the water at a time, while the night horses were being thoroughly watered as fast as the water rose in the well.

Holding the herd this third night required all hands. Only a few men at a time were allowed to go into camp and eat, for the herd refused even to lie down. What few cattle attempted to rest were prevented by the more restless ones. By spells they would mill, until riders were sent through the herd at a break-neck pace to break up the groups. During these milling efforts of the herd, we drifted over a mile from camp; but by the light of moon and stars and the number of riders, scattering was prevented. As the horses were loose for the night, we could not start them on the trail until daybreak gave us a change of mounts, so we lost the early start of the morning before.

Good cloudy weather would have saved us, but in its stead was a sultry morning without a breath of air, which bespoke another day of sizzling heat. We had not been on the trail over two hours before the heat became almost unbearable to man and beast. Had it not been for the condition of the herd, all might yet have gone well; but over three days had now elapsed without water for the cattle, and they became feverish and ungovernable. The lead cattle turned back several times, wandering aimlessly in any direction, and it was with considerable difficulty that the herd could be held on the trail. The rear overtook the lead, and the cattle gradually lost all semblance of a trail herd. Our horses were fresh, however, and after about two hours’ work, we once more got the herd strung out in trailing fashion; but before a mile had been covered, the leaders again turned, and the cattle congregated into a mass of unmanageable animals, milling and lowing in their fever and thirst. The milling only intensified their sufferings from the heat, and the outfit split and quartered them again and again, in the hope that this unfortunate outbreak might be checked. No sooner was the milling stopped than they would surge hither and yon, sometimes half a mile, as ungovernable as the waves of an ocean. After wasting several hours in this manner, they finally turned back over the trail, and the utmost efforts of every man in the outfit failed to check them. We threw our ropes in their faces, and when this failed, we resorted to shooting; but in defiance of the fusillade and the smoke they walked sullenly through the line of horsemen across their front. Six-shooters were discharged so close to the leaders’ faces as to singe their hair, yet, under a noonday sun, they disregarded this and every other device to turn them, and passed wholly out of our control. In a number of instances wild steers deliberately walked against our horses, and then for the first time a fact dawned on us that chilled the marrow in our bones,—the herd was going blind.

The bones of men and animals that lie bleaching along the trails abundantly testify that this was not the first instance in which the plain had baffled the determination of man. It was now evident that nothing short of water would stop the herd, and we rode aside and let them pass. As the outfit turned back to the wagon, our foreman seemed dazed by the sudden and unexpected turn of affairs, but rallied and met the emergency.

‘There’s but one thing left to do,’ said he, as we rode along, ‘and that is to hurry the outfit back to Indian Lakes. The herd will travel day and night, and instinct can be depended on to carry them to the only water they know. It’s too late to be of any use now, but it’s plain why those last two herds turned off at the lakes; some one had gone back and warned them of the very thing we’ve met. We must beat them to the lakes, for water is the only thing that will check them now. It’s a good thing that they are strong, and five or six days without water will hardly kill any. It was no vague statement of the man who said if he owned hell and Texas, he’d rent Texas and live in hell, for if this isn’t Billy hell, I’d like to know what you call it.’

We spent an hour watering the horses from the wells of our camp of the night before, and about two o’clock started back over the trail for Indian Lakes. We overtook the abandoned herd during the afternoon. They were strung out nearly five miles in length, and were walking about a three-mile gait. Four men were given two extra horses apiece and left to throw in the stragglers in the rear, with instructions to follow them well into the night, and again in the morning as long as their canteens lasted. The remainder of the outfit pushed on without a halt, except to change mounts, and reached the lakes shortly after midnight. There we secured the first good sleep of any consequence for three days.

It was fortunate for us that there were no range cattle at these lakes, and we had only to cover a front of about six miles to catch the drifting herd. It was nearly noon the next day before the cattle began to arrive at the water holes in squads of from twenty to fifty. Pitiful objects as they were, it was a novelty to see them reach the water and slack their thirst. Wading out into the lakes until their sides were half covered, they would stand and low in a soft moaning voice, often for half an hour before attempting to drink. Contrary to our expectation, they drank very little at first, but stood in the water for hours. After coming out, they would lie down and rest for hours longer, and then drink again before attempting to graze, their thirst overpowering hunger. That they were blind there was no question, but with the causes that produced it once removed, it was probable their eyesight would gradually return.

By early evening, the rear guard of our outfit returned and reported the tail end of the herd some twenty miles behind when they left them. During the day not over a thousand head reached the lakes, and towards evening we put these under herd and easily held them during the night. All four of the men who constituted the rear guard were sent back the next morning to prod up the rear again, and during the night at least a thousand more came into the lakes, which held them better than a hundred men. With the recovery of the cattle our hopes grew, and with the gradual accessions to the herd, confidence was again completely restored. Our saddle stock, not having suffered as had the cattle, were in a serviceable condition, and while a few men were all that were necessary to hold the herd, the others scoured the country for miles in search of any possible stragglers which might have missed the water.

During the forenoon of the third day at the lakes, Nat Straw, the foreman of Ellison’s first herd on the trail, rode up to our camp. He was scouting for water for his herd, and, when our situation was explained and he had been interrogated regarding loose cattle, gave us the good news that no stragglers in our road brand had been met by their outfit. This was welcome news, for we had made no count yet, and feared some of them, in their locoed condition, might have passed the water during the night. Our misfortune was an ill wind by which Straw profited, for he had fully expected to keep on by the old route, but with our disaster staring him in the face, a similar experience was to be avoided. His herd reached the lakes during the middle of the afternoon, and after watering, turned and went westward over the new route taken by the two herds which preceded us. He had a herd of about three thousand steers, and was driving to the Dodge market. After the experience we had just gone through, his herd and outfit were a welcome sight. Flood made inquiries after Lovell’s second herd, under my brother Bob as foreman, but Straw had seen or heard nothing of them, having come from Goliad County with his cattle.

After the Ellison herd had passed on and out of sight, our squad which had been working the country to the northward, over the route by which the abandoned herd had returned, came in with the information that that section was clear of cattle, and that they had only found three head dead from thirst. On the fourth morning, as the herd left the bed ground, a count was ordered, and to our surprise we counted out twenty-six head more than we had received on the banks of the Rio Grande a month before. As there had been but one previous occasion to count, the number of strays absorbed into our herd was easily accounted for by Priest: ‘If a steer herd could increase on the trail, why shouldn’t ours, that had over a thousand cows in it?’ The observation was hardly borne out when the ages of our herd were taken into consideration. But 1882 in Texas was a liberal day and generation, and ‘cattle stealing’ was too drastic a term to use for the chance gain of a few cattle, when the foundations of princely fortunes were being laid with a rope and a branding iron."

----- Andy Adams, "The Log of a Cowboy," 1903

"Log of a Cowboy" is widely considered the most accurate, authentic firsthand account of life on a cattle trail. You can read the rest of this book in its entirety here:

https://americanliterature.com/author/andy-adams/book/the-log-of-a-cowboy/summary

 

A very early explanation as to why many early settlers originally came to Texas:

"Few persons feel insulted at such a question [as to why a man has run away from the States and come to Texas]. They generally answer for some crime or other which they have committed; if they deny having committed any crime, or say they did not run away, they are generally looked upon rather suspiciously."

------ W. B. Dewees, "Letters from an Early Settler of Texas,"
Compiled by Cara Cardelle, 1854

 

"Lord God, you know us old cowhands is forgitful. Sometimes I can’t even recollect what happened yestiddy. We is forgitful. We jes' know daylight and dark, summer, fall, winter, and spring. But I sure hope we don’t never forgit to thank you before we is about to eat a mess of good chili.

We don’t know why you have been so dogone good to us. The heathen Chinee don’t have no chili, ever. The Frenchmens is left out. The Rooshians don’t know no more about chili than a hog does about a side saddle. Even the Meskins don’t get a good whiff of it unless they stay around here. Chili eaters is some of your chosen people. We don’t know why you so doggone good to us. But, Lord God, don’t ever think we ain’t grateful for this here chili we’s about to eat. Amen.”

 

 

"As the nation moved west seeking new frontiers, Texas, a rude young empire won in blood, was inhabited by restless and adventurous men chasing their own special dreams. One of these was Oliver Loving, a legendary cattleman who, passing through the barren reefs adjoining New Mexico in 1867, was shot, scalped and left for dead. He crawled 18 miles, chewing an old leather glove for sustenance, and emptied his pockets of valuables to a roving band of Mexican traders against assurance that he would be packed in charcoal and returned east to Weatherford -- almost 500 miles -- for burial. It was perhaps typical of the breed, the period and the place that Oliver Loving stubbornly refused to die until he had arranged his own terms.

Our literature and our legends abound with tales of the frontier spirit, of men who lived out of saddlebags or sod huts, carving and sweating a new civilization in which they attended their own fractures, made there own rules and raised their sons to independent and taciturn ways. In 1893, 26 years after Oliver Loving's death, a county bordering on New Mexico in the westernmost part of Texas was named for him. Loving County today is the most sparsely populated county in the contiguous United States, 647 square miles with 150 people scattered among 451 producing oil wells. This is land no less desolate than in an earlier time, and it is reasonable to suspect that the folks who remain here -- the sons and daughters of gritty dry-gulch farmers, wild-horse tamers and oil-field roustabouts -- would naturally retain their forebears' adventuresome pioneer spirit, coupled with their own stubborn dreams of self-fulfillment.

Once the nation drew its strength from these lower regions, masses of individual songs melding into one symphony of hope and pride and individual doing. Now, so much in America seems to have homogenized and dulled us that it is not too much to imagine that one day soon we shall all sound like Jack Lescoulie. Perhaps out on those few old frontiers where there is still elbow room, we can rediscover charms, virtues and vitalities that speak well of our roots and suggest options for our futures. These are the hopes, at least, that one can bring to an examination of Loving County.

The best place to meet Loving County's last frontiersmen is in the town of Mentone, and more specifically in Keen's Cafe, popularly known as "Newt's and Tootsie's." Keen's is the only place in all the county where one may purchase a beer -- or anything else of value, though they do sell marriage licenses across the street at the squat county courthouse. On this boiling day, Weepin' Willie Nelson is warning on Newt Keen's jukebox of all the gratuitous troubles love provides when another kind of trouble -- wearing a big-brimmed hat and a snub-nosed pistol -- clatters through the front screen door.

Granville Lacy, ruddy-faced to the bone, is toting the snub-nosed pistol under the aegis of the Texas Liquor Control Board. He has driven from Odessa across 78 miles of burning desert sands -- past oil-well pumps, nodding their rich extractions like gentled rocking horses, and past infrequent hardscrabble ranches -- to serve a seven-day suspension notice of the beer permit entrusted to Keen's Cafe.

Newt Keen, proprietor, is a graying former cowboy with jug ears and a sly country grin that says he knows the joke and the joke is not on him. He seem to harbor some secret mirth, a submerged mysterious bubbling that has survived tornado funnels, droughts, bedroll rattlesnakes, rodeo fractures and the purchase of a ranch from a salty old pioneer woman who, it developed, did not own a ranch to sell. Equipped by seasoning and history to expertly sense disaster in its many forms, Newt, on spotting the lawman, mumbles, "Oh, hail far! It's liable to get a whole lot drier around here."

Newt greets the liquor agent aloud, however, as if in the hire of Welcome Wagon: "Come in! Come in! Y'awl been getting any rain over your way?" He crashes about in scuffed cowboy boots, his body a tad stooped as if permanently saddle-sore, and offers the lawman a mug of thick coffee.

Granville Lacy sits at one of the two rickety counter between a factory-tooled sign instructing: AMERICA, LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT! and a homemade sign running alternately uphill and down, as if maybe it had been painted in the dark: OUR BEER LICENSE DEPENDS ON YOUR GOOD CONDUCT. The six other customers in the cafe, which seats a maximum of 20, watch the lawman with obvious distaste and apprehension.

"Mr. Keen," the lawman says, "I've got some papers to serve on you."

Conveniently deaf, Newt gestures toward the coffee he's poured Lacy: "You want me to cripple that with a little dab of cream? Looks like it was dredged up from the Pecos River bottom." A head shake. Newt tries again: "How's them two big old boys of yours? They doing all right?" Above the counter are likenesses of Newt's own two older sons, Vietnam veterans, proudly in uniform.

The liquor agent unfurls and crackles his official documents: "Now, Mr Keen, this temporary suspension begins next Monday..." But Newt is clomping across the wooden floor to replenish beer supplies and honor orders for cheeseburgers or chicken-fried steaks with cream gravy.

Agent Lacy inspects his papers while Newt relays food orders to his red-haired wife. Tootsie, who retains a high faith in beehive hairdos. The jukebox has fallen dumb, permitting the lawman to better sample a united community hostility among the oil-field workers and ranchers. It is one thing to retard the flow of alcoholic comforts in any one of Manhattan's countless aid stations -- or even one of Odessa's -- but it is quite a deeper sin to dry up the only watering hole in all of Loving County. Newt and Tootsie dispense approximately 50 cases of beer each week; a shutdown theoretically would meanly deprive every man, woman and child in the county of eight bottles or cans. Better Granville Lacy had come to town to poison the water, which leads on the believe that Sheriff Elgin "Punk" Jones -- who reported the infraction -- will have to pay for his nefarious deed.

When Newt Keen next passes within range, the liquor agent reads in a low monotone: ... did on the some-oddth day of August, 1971, in violation of section this, paragraph so-and-so...

Newt shuffles, pulls an ear, shoot concerned glances at Tootsie. She attends her griddle with jerky motions of anger, slapping hamburger patties with unusual vigor...nor sell, nor give, nor consume, nor allow to be consumed, any alcoholic beverage on said premise until.... Wearing the abashed grin of an erring schoolboy, Newt laboriously scratches his signature.

Newt's formal surrender seemingly reassures the lawman, who jovially says: "Now I got another complaint. You've got four beer signs outside, and you're not allowed but two."

"Four? I can't count but three."

"Naw, four. Your main sign counts as two. One for each side of the sign."

Newt, uncertain of the bureaucratic bogs, says, "Well, what's the big gripe?"

"Congestion."

Newt is mute and uncomprehending. This is happening to him in downtown Mentone -- population 44 -- where from any vantage point one can see for three days in all directions and still have nothing to tell. He gazes across all that empty territory until his eyes lock on a distant windmill. "Well," he finally drawls, "I sure would hat to cause any traffic jams." When the locals snigger over their well-catsuped home fries, the lawman reddens: "We've got no choice but to enforce the law. It's an old law the church folks got passed back in the '30s." He makes it out the door unaided by any understanding nods.

Before the lawman's dust departs, all the customers compete to damn the prying old government. Warren Burnett, a prominent Texas lawyer who has paused at the cafe in mid-passage to El Paso, offers to represent Newt for free should he wish to fight the suspension order: "We'll claim cruel and unusual punishment! A man could die of thirst out here. Hell, Newt, your place is more than a community center -- it's an outpost, by God, offering new beginnings and shelter against the elements...."

"Do it, Newt." Tootsie said.

"Naw, I got to live with that old boy. Besides, this ain't his fault."

"Well," the lawyer said, "come next Monday it'll be a long hot path to beer. So whose fault is it?"

Newt drawls it out like Gunsmoke's Festus: "Accordin' to that batch of official papers, it's mine!" After the laughter abate, he says, "Aw, one night a while back we got to dancing and barking at the moon in here and, well, maybe we run a little past closing time. Mister, I been in this country since the sun wasn't no bigger than a orange and there wasn't no moon a-tall and windmills wasn't but waist-high, and I've learnt that when you can sell something out here -- you better not worry about what time it is."

Tootsie says: "That ain't the whole story."

"Well, okay, Mama. Awright, I was drinking nearly as much as I was selling and business wasn't too bad. The sheriff -- old Punk Jones -- he come in and caught me and snitched to the liquor board."

"You oughta run for sheriff yourself, Newt," one of the locals suggests.

"Naw sir." Newt says, "I ain't gonna say a mumblin' word against old Punk -- right on up to election day." Appreciating the laughter, he fishes in icy waters and pops himself a beer. "Punk, he don't have nothing to do but enforce the closing laws in this one little old place, and I sure wouldn't wanta interfere with law and order here in Loving County."

The dominant political strain in Loving County runs to an abiding conservatism. The natives -- well-off and poor alike -- reject anything smacking of charity, and so they regard federal aid as being no less poisonous than the ever-present rattlesnake. When a federal court instructed every county in Texas to participate in the Family Food Assistance Program for the poor, Loving County Judge W. T. "Bill" Winston said: "We don't need it, we don't want it, and we can't use it if we're force to take it." Snorting and jiggling his beer glass in Newt's and Tootsie's now, Judge Winston gloomily says, "They finally forced it on us. We've got nine people getting it -- seven in one family. And they're Mexicans." When the Department of Health Education and Welfare ordered the county to either racially integrate Mentone's 16-pupil school or lose its federal money. Judge Winston fired off a terse letter informing Washington that Loving County: (1) had no black residents; (2) had never received a dime's worth of federal school aid; and (3) didn't covet any.

Television has brought the problems of New York, Watts and Saigon to the attention of the neglected territory. Everybody worries about blacks or dope or crime or the Vietcong just as if they had some. Newt Keen no longer goes off and leaves his cafe doors unlocked to accommodate stray customers because "you can't tell when somebody might come over from Monahans or Pyote and clean you out." But the Mentone jail has not had a customer in seven years, and Loving County's crime wave last year consisted of a profitless burglary of the schoolhouse and the theft of several rolls of steel cable from an oil lease.

Ann Blair, a pretty young blond who works in the courthouse for her mother, County Clerk Edna Clayton, frets that the outside world may taint her two small children. "Let's face it, it's boring here for adults, but there's no better place to raise kids." says Ann, a graduate of Odessa Junior College. "We have a good family life. My fifth-grade boy has learned work and the value of a dollar. When I went off to college, I saw wild kids and all kinds of temptation. And it's so much worse now, with drugs and sex crimes."

Inconvenience is taken for granted. The nearest movie house, beauty shop, physician, lawyer, bank, weekly newspaper, cemetery or grocery store is from 55 to 90 round-trip miles away. Fifteen of 16 Mentone School pupils are bused in from six to 60 miles away. Sixth-graders and above are bused almost 80 round-trip miles to Wink.

Despite the riches of oil and gas under the earth, each Loving County family must provide its own bottled-gas system. And there is no public water supply. Water is hauled in a tank from Pecos at 50 cents per barrel. Even cattle balk at drinking the brackish product of the Pecos River, long ago polluted by potash interests in upstream New Mexico, a fact that, surprisingly, no one here rails against even though their forebears always raised hell at anything - fences, sheep herds, squatters -- infringing on their freedoms or presuming to prosper at their expense.

The land is stark and flat and treeless, altogether as bleak and spare as Russian literature, a great dry-docked ocean with small swells of hummocky tan sand dunes or humbacked rocky knolls that change colors with the hour and the shadows: reddish brown, slate gray, bruise-colored. But it is the sky -- God-high and pale, like a blue chenille bedspread bleached by seasons in the sun -- that dominates. There is simply too much sky. Men grow small in its presence and -- perhaps feeling diminished -- they sometimes are compelled to proclaim themselves in wild or berserk ways. Alone in those remote voids, one may suddenly half-believe he is the last man on earth and go in frantic search of the tribe. "Desert fever," the natives call it.

And while the endless dry doomed land and eternal sky may bring on the fever, so, too, can the weather. The wind, persistent and unengageable for half the year, swooshes unencumbered from the northernmost Great Plains, howling, whining, singing off-key and covering everything with a maddening grainy down. Court records attest that during the windy seasons the natives are quicker to lift their voices, or their fists, or even their guns, in rage.

The summer sun is as merciless as a loan shark: a blinding, angry orange explosion baking the land's sparse grasses and quickly aging the skin. In winter there are nights to ache the bone, cold, stinging lashings of frozen rain. Yet ever the weather is not the worst natural enemy. Outside the industrial sprawl of the prairie's minicities -- on the occasional ranches or oil leases or in the flawed little country towns -- the great curse is boredom. Teen-agers in the faded jeans and glistening ducktail hairstyles of another day wander in restless packs to the roller rink or circle root beer stands sounding their mating calls by a mighty revving of engines. Old men shuffle dominoes in the shade of service stations or feed stores. There is the television, of course, and the joys of small-town gossip -- and in season a weekly high school football game may be secretly considered more important than even Vacation Bible School. Newt Keen laments the passing of country socials where people reveled all night at one ranch house or another: "Now you got to go over to Pecos to them fightin' and dancin' clubs. But, you know, it ain't near as much fun to fight with strangers."

The young and the imaginative in Loving County are largely disaffected, strangers in Jerusalem. And those who can, move on when they can. Today's desert youths belong to a transitional generation. Born to an exhausted frontier where there are no more Dodge Citys to tame, no more wild rivers to ford, no more cattle trails to ride or oil booms to follow, theirs is a heritage beyond preserving. The last horseman has passed by, leaving only myths and fences. Industrialization has come and gone: having drilled and robbed the earth, the swaggering two-fisted oil boomer, heir apparent to the earlier cowboy or Indian fighter, has clattered off to the next feverish adventure, leaving behind sterile sophisticated pumps and gauges and storage tanks that automatically record their own dull technological accomplishments. Only the land remains, the high sky, the eerie isolation. The wind hums mocking tunes of loss and the jukeboxes echo it: "...Just call Lonesome-seven-seven-two-oh-three..." "I'd trade all of my tomorrows for just one yesterday...."

The songs are of rejection, disappointment, aborted opportunities...of finishing second. And the music is everywhere, incessantly jangling, the call of the lonely. Even many graybeards who have trimmed back their dreams -- if they ever had any -- cannot sit still unless the jukebox or radio is moaning to them of unrequited love, of the tricks of the wicked cities, of life's rough and rocky traveling. Few know that the music says more about them than they say of themselves.

The young sense the loss of a grander and more adventurous past. It is these -- the young and those who secretly know they never will be truly young again -- who prove most susceptible to fits of desert fever. And so they sometimes go lickety-split down the rural highways at speeds dizzy enough to confuse the ambidextrous, running like so many Rabbit Angstroms, leaving behind a trail of sad country songs, beer vapors and the echo of some feverish, senseless shout. Some may find themselves at dawn howling in the precincts of a long-forgotten girl friend, or tempting the dangers of the "fightin' and dancin' clubs." Some keep running: to the army or to a Fort Worth factory or maybe to exotic Kansas City. Others, their fevers cooled and with no place to go, drive back slowly -- a bit sheepishly -- to join the private chaos and public tediums of their lives.

Newt Keen's son Jack begins to boot-stomp across the wooden floor in a jukebox dance with a tall visiting airline hostess. Jack is dipping snuff and wearing an outsized silver belt buckle he has won riding bulls. Over the whines and thumps of the music he regrets that after next weekend he can't rise at a 4:30 each morning to cowboy on one of the area ranches because school is imminent. Jack does not appear to be real partial to school, where they take a dim view of 12-year old, 83-pound boys who appreciate snuff more than arithmetic. To somebody who first dipped at age 5, who slew his first snake at 7 and who is impatient to ramrod his own ranch, the arbitrary restrictions on scholars can be mighty vexing.

Tootsie worries about her son. "Till school takes up, Jack's the only kid in Mentone. The rest live on ranches or oil leases. All he's ever been around is adults and he don't get along real well with kids." Jack proves his mother right on the second day of school, decking another boy who has earned his disapproval. Jack's reward is three licks from the principal's paddle. "It stung," he admits, taking a pinch of Copenhagen from his personal tin. "I got to sign the paddle, though. You ain't allowed to sign is unless you been whupped with it."

"What'd you hit that boy for?" Tootsie demands.

Busy roping a cane-bottomes chair, Jack says, "Aw, he's about half silly."

"Yes, but what'd he do, look at you crosseyed? Jack, dammit, stop roping them chairs. This ain't no rodeo arena."

Disengaging his lariat, Jack says, "He put his hands on my book."

"Oh," Tootsie says, apparently mollified.

Newt is amused: "Jack despises school much as I do a rattlesnake. He swears he's gonna quit when he gits to sixth grade."

"Or the seventh," Jack says. "Maybe the eighth."

"Why, Jack," Newt says, "you're liable to wind up a full professor. What's got into you?"

The boy, vaguely embarrased, tilts his western hat over his eyes: "Mr. Knott says sixth grade ain't enough anymore."

Charles Knott, 43, is the new schoolteacher in Mentone. When asked why in mid-career he has deserted El Paso's modern school system for the lesser ecstasies of Loving County, he says, "I like small towns. I had 30-odd kids to the class in El Paso, damn few of them Anglos. The kids here are eager. You take little Jack Keen. Now, he may wind up ranching and live here all his life. If he wants that -- well, fine. But he ought to have options. He ought to know that another life exists. You know, kids from small towns -- well, there just seems to be more to them. I grew up in a little old East Texas town -- one picture show and a one-gallus night watchman. And a higher percentage of the kids there made it than ever will make it in El Paso. They were more aware of themselves, aware of life. Maybe it's nurturing their isolation, having time to think things through. Whatever, I think small-town kids use more of their potential."

The next day, as school lets out, Tootsie is gazing through the shimmying heatwaves when suddenly she say, "My Lord, little Jack must be sick. Yonder he comes wagging his school books home with him." Apparently she doesn't realize that Jack may have a growing dream.

Day after day, as the suspension lengthens, the mood in Newt's and Tootsie's beerless free-enterprise cafe grows more and more subdued. Since the suspension, Sheriff Punk Jones -- who rose to his present eminence after serving as courthouse janitor -- has begun to hear rumors that a disgruntled Newt Keen might oppose him on the ballot after all. A good country politician who knows that a handful of votes might return a sheriff to mopping the courthouse, Punk Jones begins to stress the vast stores of bookwork attending his office; it is well known that Newt's painfully concocted customers' checks for chili or cheeseburgers require more translations that the Rosetta Stone.

In the cafe, customers are infrequent. Those who drop in jangle around aimlessly, some lamenting the lack of liquid comforts with the sorrow of one whose dog has died. Tootsie sits at a table near the soundless jukebox, making do with coffee. Abruptly, she says to her husband behind the counter, "Newt, what we doing in this fool cafe business anyhow?"

"Well, hon, I just plain tard of being governor, and the gold-mining business was boring me."

Irked, Tootsie helplessly shakes her head. Daring for once to question life's random assignments, her reward is another of Newt's drawling jokes. One has the impression she suddenly requires answers to questions that did not exist for her before. Something in the restless sweeping of her eyes hints that she has come on some new, if myopic, vision.

"We've made a living," Newt defends, walking over and putting a quarter in the jukebox.

"Yeah," Tootsie says, "I don't buy a whole lot of diamonds."
"Naw, Mama, but you don't live in some old line shack and cook for the range camp neither." They are silent while Willie Nelson sings of how "it's a Bloody Mary mornin' since baby left me without warnin' sometime in the night..." "Say," Newt says, "you remember when we was fresh married and lived in that old dirt-floor dugout?" Tootsie nods, smiling, he face softened by some special old memory. "Well, hon, I always wanted to ask you something about that: when you snuggled up so close to me that first winter, was it on account of you loved me so much or because you was scared of the rats?"

In a monotone as flat as sourdough biscuits, she says, "I was scared of the rats." They look at each other and laugh.

"All this will straighten out in a day or two," Newt promises, seeming to have missed the point of her question, her mood.

"Hail, we got more food business that we do beer sales."

He shuffles over and sits beside Tootsie who is stirring her mug of thick coffee at the table. The two of them gaze out the screen door at the lost frontier. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is moving on the ribbon-straight highway. They sit and stare, their faces in repose as melancholy as a plain old three-chord hurtin' country song, while Eddy Arnold croons to them of big bouquets of roses.

Something old and precious and a close kinsman to steel -- some abiding chemistry of hope and grit -- seems to have disappeared from the frontier blood. The men who shaped and settled this desolate waste relied on a fierce, near-savage independence coupled with a vision that made them feel captains of their own fate. That vigor, that vision, is gone now, as exhausted as the frontier itself.

It is sad to see people so tamed and hobbled and timid and dreamless in a land born wild. The descendants of the old breed may roar like wounded lions at distant menaces -- the pretensions of sociologists, the pious prattlings of politicians, the mod and the unfamiliar -- but they grapple ineffectually with their immediate concerns, their boredoms, small, mean jobs, polluted rivers and officious bureaucrats. In the old days, the people simply would not have tolerated the closing down of their only communal outpost: No, they would have told Punk Jones that they would drink when thirsty, by God, no matter the preferences of some chair-bound Austin bureaucrat with nothing better to do than sign suspension orders. This lethargic acceptance of fate's happenstance gifts, with no more than a shrug or a token grip, gives one the sense of being a visitor at a wake, of witnessing some final burial of the spirit, of watching people without purpose merely getting through another day. Frontiers were made for better uses.

Still, on does encounter qualities to admire and enjoy here. A withered rancher who will identify himself only as "Jesse" contentedly saws into one of Tootsie's steaks and says, "This country's soothin'. The country's close to you out here. You feel a kinship with it. It don't have no boundaries." Newt Keen says of his neighbors: "We come together like a family when there's trouble. You take over here in Kermit" -- he jerks a thumb toward the highway -- "this stranded family stopped at a church one Sunday to ask for a little food and gas money. All they got was a promise the congregation would pray for 'em. Well, they limped on over here. We supplied 'em a big box of groceries and took up a collection for gas."

There is little Jack Keen, who probably has spunk and survival instincts superior to most children and surely has more room to discover himself. Some essence of the pioneer woman's endurance survives in Tootsie. Newt is improbably cheerful in a time full of frowning; he at once preserves the old colloquialisms and speaks a native American poetry.

That much has survived, and must be clung to. But over the years, generation by generation, the resources and the spirit of Loving County have been dried up, and there is a lesson to be learned here. As in the nation as a whole, each generation spoke much and thought little of the future requirements of its heirs.

Hereafter, we must plan far better with far less."

----- Larry L. King, "The Last Boomer is Dead," Life Magazine, March 10, 1972

 

 

 

 

Elton Miles wrote:

"The high, spindle-legged railroad bridge across the deep canyon formed by the Pecos River between Langtry and Comstock was breathtaking. It was more breathtaking to stand on it and look down than to stand beneath it and look up. It had no guardrails, and a broad footpath ran its length. To walk across made one giddy enough, and legend gives credit to a young ranchwoman who first dared to ride across it on horseback. She was
celebrated in an anonymous poem, "The Pecos River Queen." James Cooper of Snyder said that when he lived near the bridge in the 1930s, sheet metal was laid in places where the wooden walk was unsafe. Many times, however, he and others rode their horses across that clattering path with the danger of plummeting to death at both elbows. He said you needed a steady, unspookable horse. Others told stories of their encounters with the Old Pecos High Bridge. When she was a child, Katherine Anne Porter crossed it more than once on trips from Kyle, Texas, to El Paso. She remembered the bridge, which was two years younger than she, having been built in 1892, as being unsafe. She wrote, "Here was the famous and beautiful Pecos Bridge, then supposed to be the highest and one of the longest in the world." Three hundred twenty-one feet above the river, it stretched 2,180 feet long, almost half a mile. It was the highest bridge in the United States and third highest in the world, merely 27 feet short of the record."

------ Elton Miles, More Tales from the Big Bend, 1988

 

Jim Rose wrote:

"I was just turning my sixth year when I ate my first biscuits. It's a fact, and I was lucky to get 'em then for flour was not in general use until I was about 20. People all raised little patches of corn and bread made from that was all we had. Father took a trail herd up the year I was 6 and when he delivered it and collected the money he spent some of it for a wagon and flour enough to load it to the full. When he drove home with all that flour it was some sight.

All of the neighbors came to see and share in it; for of course he let them have their part. I'll never forget it if I live to 100, how anxious I was to taste bread made of that white soft flour. Nor how good those first biscuits were. We saved every tiny crumb, for corn bread had never been plentiful enough to waste and biscuits were on a basis with cake those days.

I was 16 years old before I had a pair of shoes that I could actually wear all the time. Rawhide was our only shoe material and all you could say for it was the hair was taken off. Talk about hard, dry, stiff, unbendable leatherthat rawhide had the world beat and a mile to go on.

If they were big enough to avoid all this trouble you couldn't walk in them, especially hunting, and we just had to hunt, for it was no trick at all to kill a big buck deer or antelope, a buffalo or all the wild turkey we could carry. And it was too much fun to give up just to wear shoes.

A fellow with a grain of sense would rather trust to the calluses on his soles than to risk losing a shot and rubbing blisters on his feet with those rawhide hobbles.

I might say honestly that I never did have any real shoe or boot comfort until I got my first pair of high-heeled, high-topped, hand-made cowboy boots. I still wear that kind, too, and always will for th're as much a part of me and every other open-range cowpuncher as his leather leggings, spurs and broad-brimmed hat."

------ Cowboy/rancher Jim Rose, quoted in the Dallas SemiWeekly Farm News, April 8, 1927

 

David Trousdale said:

"One of the men got on the engine at Dryden, although I did not know this until the train came to a stop out on the railroad line. But a minute or two thereafter the negro porter came to the door of the car and called me. I recognized his voice. Just about then I was finishing up my work before reaching Sanderson. The negro porter said, "They's some robbers out here."

As I opened the door, I looked down the barrel of a gun one of the robbers was holding on me... Well, the big fellow went into the cars and the other remained on the outside. In the mail car he got hold of five pouches and one of these was cut open, the man seeing some registered letters, threw these back into the pouch with the intention of getting them later on. There was only two express packages removed. One of these was valued at $2 and the other at $35. So you see there was not a great deal obtained by the robber who was doing the work.

But you know the fellow was making me madder all the time. If I was not holding my hands high enough he seemed to take delight in jabbing me in the side with his gun. However, I kept jollying him along [and] wondered how to kill him. I was mad for I was determined I would have it out with him for jabbing me in the side and bruising me up. I'd have fought him with my fists had it come to that. Well, I saw a maul lying on top of the barrels of oysters. These mauls are built something like a croquet mallet, only the handle is about as thick as the handle of a hatchet. You know you can hit an awful blow with such a maul. Why, I've broken up a box of ice at a blow.

He was stooped over looking at packages. I lifted the maul from the top of the oyster barrel. I struck him at the base of the skull. The first blow broke the man's neck. I struck him a second and a third time. After that, I saw that he was done for [and] took the man's Winchester. I decided to fire a shot through the roof of the car to attract attention. I soon heard the other robber on the outside of the car talking low. Pretty soon I saw a head poked out from back of some baggage. I saw his head again and I cut down on him. The bullet struck him about an inch above the left eye.

----- David Trousdale's account of the attempted train robbery, reported in the San Antonio Express, March 15, 1912; the slain robbers were Ben Kilpatrick and Ed Welch, two recently paroled convicts

 

Mimi Swartz wrote:

"The Rose Window at the San Jose mission in San Antonio is known as much for its mystery as for its beauty. First of all, the window isn't where it's supposed to be. You'd expect something known as the finest example of Spanish colonial ornamentation in the United States to be situated above the entrance to the mission's main church, keeping company with the glorious carvings of pious saints. An oval portal has that position of honor; the Rose Window, an elegant anamoly on an otherwise barren wall of worn and crumpling stone, adorns the sacristy around the corner. No one knows why the window is so ornate ----- sacristy windows are usually simple ----- and no one knows what it was used for; steps inside the sacristy leading up to the window suggest that someone might have preached a special service from its height. No one knows who made the window or how it got its name, either. The Rose Window, it can be said with certainty, keeps its own counsel."

----- Mimi Swartz, Texas Monthly magazine, February, 1987

Rose Window,Mission San Jose,San Antonio,Mimi Swartz,Texas Monthly,Texas Quotes

 

"Whenever they could do so, Westerners liked to have fun with the mighty railroads, taunting and teasing, obstructing and annoying. During the time that Ben Thompson, a gambler-gunman-lawman, was marshal of Austin, Texas, the railroad refused to cooperate with him in a certain legal matter, and he resolved to square accounts. An elite daily express train was the pride of the road, keeping to exact schedules, the engineers boasting that watches could be set by their arrivals and departures.

One day Ben Thompson drove his buggy upon the track right in front of the locomotive just as it was preparing to pull out. At the first emission of steam, Thompson covered the engineer with his revolver and ordered him to hold the train. In a leisurely manner the marshal then called to acquaintances on the station platform and carried on bantering talk with them for several minutes while the engineer cursed and fumed.

When Thompson was certain that the express would be late at its next station, and probably all along the line, he slowly picked up his reins, slapped his horse into motion, and rolled the buggy off the tracks with a parting shout at the engineer: "You needn't think, sir, that any corporations can hurry me!" ----- Richard Harding Davis, The West from a Car Window, 1892

 

"[Billy the Kid] was only a boy. You'd never think he would kill anyone. He was good looking, with a smooth face, his hair was brown and wavy; his eyes were clear blue. The only thing about him that wasn't attractive, you might say, were two of his upper front teeth, one on each side, they were longer than the others and protruded a little. He was the best natured kid and had the most pleasant smile I most ever saw in a young man, and I've heard from men who saw him do it that he often wore that smile when he killed. At other times, so they told me, he had an awful look in his face when he killed a man.

They say he had killed twenty-one men when Pat Garrett killed him, and the Kid was only 21 years old, so he killed a man for every year of his life. I used to see the Kid often here and he and I became well acquainted. He was always heavily armed, but that wasn't unusual in those days; everyone went around with two heavy sixshooters sagging from his belt. The Kid always had a gang with him, bad men they were; but they behaved here. They had to; our boys wouldn't have stood for any funny business. We all knew of course, that Billy the Kid and his gang were bandits and horse and cattle thieves and killers, but they came here with horses to sell, and our cattlemen needed horses. We knew those horses had been stolen over in New Mexico, so we didn't care."

----- Attributed to Ms. Frenchy McCormick, a onetime saloon faro dealer and the last resident of old Tascosa, Texas, interviewed in the Kansas City Star, December, 1930.

 

 

"In any group of nineteenth century cow boys, more were bearded than clean-shaven. Their costumes were much alike, though with individual variations. But all their garments were "coarse and substantial, few in number and often of the gaudy pattern." The cow boy wore a wide-brimmed hat with its crown dented into a pyramid or flattened. If the brim in front was sometimes turned up at the face, it could be turned down to protect him from the pressing light of the sky under which he spent all day. Around his neck he wore a bandana of tough silk. It served many purposes. Tied over his face it filtered dust before his breath. It served to blindfold a calf or tie its legs. It was a towel, a napkin, a bandage, a handkerchief, or simply an ornament.

His shirt was of stout cotton flannel, in a bright color or loud design of checks or stripes or plaids. Over it he sometimes wore a cloth or leather vest but rarely a jacket. His trousers were either of heavy denim, dyed dark blue, sewn with coarse yellow thread, and reinforced at points of great wear with copper rivets; or were of odd colors and materials, mostly dark, that could stand tough use. They fitted tightly. The trouser legs were stuffed into boots that reached almost to the knee. At work, the cow boy often wore leggings of thick cowhide. They were made after the pattern of Indian leggings of thick cowhide - two long robes, with wide flaps at each side cut into fringes or studded with silver disks that reached from ankle to groin, and were tied to a belt as though to the string of a breechclout. Their purpose was to shield him against thorns in the brush he rode through, and the violent rub of haired animal hides, and the bum of rope when he pulled it against his leg as he turned his horse to control a lasso'd creature.

On his boots he wore large spurs, of silver or iron. He wore gloves to work in, and around his fight hips he wore a cartridge belt from which depended his pistol - most often a Colt's single-action, .45 caliber revolver called the Peacemaker. He had no change of clothing. He went unwashed and unbathed unless he camped by a stream or pond. "I wash," he said in his multiple anonymity: "I wash in a pool and wipe on a sack, I carry my wardrobe all on my back."

----- Paul Horgan, Great River, Vol. II, 1954

 

 

"Most cowmen wanted hosses of solid colors, browns, bays, sorrels and duns, but no paints. The latter found little more favor in the average remuda than did a mare. Paints were the favorite hosses of the western story writers, but they didn't meet with any favor in the cattle country. It was a rare thing to find one that developed into a cuttin' hoss, or a hoss fitted for any quick, close work. They were mostly for show, and got to be pop'lar with town folks. A cowboy didn't mind havin' one in his string to use for a Sunday, or 'gallin'' hoss, but when it came to workin' a herd, he'd rather have a solid color hoss with some breedin'. Like the old sayin': 'All a paint's fit for is to ride 'im down the road.'

----- Ramon F. Adams, The Old-Time Cowhand, 1948

 

 

"As Justice of the Peace and leading saloon keeper [Judge] Roy Bean gradually became a sort of alcalde to the neighborhood, performing wedding ceremonies, christening babies and arbitrating family troubles. Marriages constituted a steady source of revenue. Even Bean himself appreciated the humor of the situation, especially in the days when he was not a legal justice of the peace and thus had no lawful right to perform marriage ceremonies. 'Juan,' he said in a typical ceremony, 'do you take this woman for your lawful wife?' The answer is 'Si, Senor.' Obtaining the befuddled promise from Juan, he turned to the girl. 'Maria, you want to marry this sorry maverick?' With the proper answer extracted from the participating parties, he dismissed them with, 'And Lord have mercy on your pore souls! Five dollars!'

When the young husband did not have the five dollars, as was frequently the case, Justice Bean would permit him to work out the fee. 'Judge,' a downhearted cowboy bemoaned one day, 'that weddin' you give me shore didn't take. I caint get along with that gal atall!' Bean stroked his beard. His face brightened. 'By gobs!' he exclaimed. 'I guarantee all my weddin's. If yores ain't satisfactory, why, I'll just divorce you; but it'll cost you ten dollars.' He reasoned that it was worth twice as much to get out of a bad bargain as to get into it; and he found the cowboy willing enough to pay."

----- Ruel McDaniel, "Vinegarroon, The Saga of Judge Roy Bean," 1936

 

 

The Texas Quote of the Day was written in 1887:

"I have been in the heart of the "Big Thicket" in Polk and Hardin counties, Texas, for ten days. Nothing can be seen except the tangled underbrush and tall trees. In a ride of 150 miles through...there is one continuous dense growth of tall pines, oaks, magnolias and numerous other forest trees. As far as the eye can penetrate, it is the same; the tangled undergrowth and fallen trees block and interpose an almost impassable barrier in the way of any kind of vehicle. In many places we have to get down on our hands and knees to crawl through the thick, dose knitted growth of bay, gall bushes and cane-brakes. Not a human being can be seen for miles. Not a voice is heard except our own; and when we pass a grove of pines, the moaning of the wind makes us feel as if Judgment Day was about to come.

The people who live in the pine woods of Eastern Texas are very primitive in their habits. As this was the first part of Texas that was set-fled by the early pioneers, their descendants form the principal part of the population... You often find grown men and women that have never seen a prairie country, mountain or valley, railroad or steamboat. They grow to manhood and womanhood in the heart of the thick pine woods, and are contented and happy in their log cabins... Their diets would by no means please the stomach of an epicure. Cornbread, bacon and potatoes, with an occasional treat of venison, give them perfect satisfaction. Nearly all the children born and reared in the pine woods have light hair; it is a rare sight to see a black-haired family.

Very few own their own land. For the last forty years they have been in the habit of settling upon any land fit for cultivation. After finding a good, rich land, the piney woods settler will commence felling and cutting the trees and underbrush away from where he expects to have his field. When all the space he wants is cut down he informs his neighbors that on a certain day he will have a log-rolling. His wife makes preparations for a big dinner, and all his neighbors, for miles around, come and pile up the logs that have been cut, then put the brush in piles and set them on fire. In a few days his field is all cleared and ready for the plow.

After a hard day's ride I stopped at a house near the road for supper and shelter for the night. About fifteen minutes after arrival my host announced supper was ready. I cast my eyes over the anticipated meal. My digestive organs, after the inspection of the supper spread over me, rebelled and contracted. The following is the bill of fare complete: Cornbread, very fat bacon, and clabber [curdled milk]. As I am not fond of clabber, I did not eat it. My host called his daughter and said: "Emma Jane, bring this man some water." The girl brought me a cup of water. My heart was sick within me to think I could not get a cup of coffee. I had not missed my evening coffee in ten years, and the result was that I suffered with a raging headache all night; and the next day the fat bacon and combread that I had partaken of could not or would not settle without the coffee. The next time I come along this way I will fill my pockets with ground coffee."

----- John A. Caplen, "The Sunny South," 1887

 

"I did know one feller that had killed three men. Bud Knolles, it was. He killed his first one up at Batson during the oil boom, but there was so many killed up there that if it wasn't a plain case of murder, the authorities didn't even arrest them for it. That's what happened to Bud.

The next one he killed was when they was building the Missouri Pacific railroad from Beaumont to Houston. Him and another mule-skinner got in an argument, and that evening after they come in and tended to their teams, they each got a singletree and got after each other. Bud got beat up some but finally split the feller's head open and then finished him off on the ground. They took that one to the grand jury, but they no-billed him on self-defense.

The third was at Liberty. Him and somebodyI can't remember his name right offhad a falling out at the saloon and just fell out in the street with their pocket knives and cut each other down and then laid side by side and kept cutting til they was drug apart. Bud finally got over it, but the other feller died. They no-billed him on that'un, too.

Well, after that lots of folks was skeered of Bud, and he knowed it and got pretty overbearing, 'specially when he'd had a few drinks. People would get out of his way and leave him alone all they could and try to get along any way they could, and he just got worse and worse.

Well, he come to town one day and hit several saloons and was coming out of one just as old Cap'n Nance was going in, and Bud just pushed the old man down on the porch and told him to get the hell out of the way and went on.

Now, if there ever was a mild man, it was the old captain. He'd fought from start to finish in the Civil War, and when he came back, he bought a place a mile or two out of town and settled down to minding his own business and leaving other folks alone, unless he was needed. He'd got too old to farm he was ever' bit of eightybut he'd walk into town every day, get the mail and one drink, and go back home. That's what he done after Bud pushed him down. Got his drink and went home.

Well, sir, I heard he got some water and cooled awhile and then took a bucket and some other things and went out next to the road and set down on the bucket in a little patch of brush under a big tree. Directly he got up and cut a sprout and set back down and whittled on it while he was waiting. Just before sundown he heard a horse coming and leaned forward and jabbed the stick in the ground. It was forked, and he laid his old double-barrel on it, and when Bud Knolles got close on the road as he was coming, the captain cut him half in two with one barrel, and when Bud's horse run off and the dust settled, he took his time and walked over and give him the other barrel. I learnt two things out of that. One is that when they said Colonel Colt made all men equal, they didn't give near enough credit to Mr. Remington's ole double-barrels, and the other'n was that old folks don't like to be pushed around any more than young ones do."

----- Bill Brett, "This Here's a Good'un," 1983

The Texas Quote of the Day is SO good, but I need to give y'all some historical context. Although Sam Houston stressed the need for discipline among his soldiers during the Texas revolution, Sam sometimes joined with them in bending the rules. He and his troops commandeered cattle from farms as they moved through Texas but he gave strict orders for the men not to touch pigs and chickens which, unlike the wild bovines, were the cherished personal property of families. Soldier Frank Sparks wanted a break from beef and, discovering an abandoned barnyard full of chickens and hogs and a smokehouse packed with bacon, told several friends that he was going to cook a regular dinner. They warned him that Houston would punish them but he told them that he didn't care and said that he'd take the blame. And now the Texas quote of the day:

"I told them that I would take all the blame, and clear them. They soon agreed to this, for none of us had tasted any bread for some time. We had nothing but beef, and that cooked only one way--roasted by the fire.(we had no vessels to cook in)--and without any salt, too.

I went to work and killed twelve grown chickens, dressed them, and put them in a large wash pot; I also put in some sliced bacon. I then made an oven and a large skillet of cornbread. I took six of the chickens, and put them in a dinner pot, with at least half a gallon of rich gravy, and set it away, together with the oven of bread. By this time the beeves had been butchered and hung up, and I called the men to come to dinner. The yard was covered with feathers, and the men said to me, 'Ain't you afraid Houston will punish you if you don't take those feathers away?' I said, 'No.' Well, we all did justice to that dinner.

It was getting late in the evening. I got up on the rail fence, and pretty soon I saw the army coming. Houston, Rusk, Burleson, Sherman and some of the other officers came up and dismounted. I opened the gate, and said, 'Gentlemen officers, I wish to see you in the house.' I led the way, and they all followed me in. I saw Houston knit his brows when he saw the feathers in the yard. When they were all in, I closed the door, and addressed General Houston in the following way, 'General, I have disobeyed orders; when we arrived here, I found everything deserted and we were hungry, for we have had nothing to eat, except beef; so I killed some chickens and baked some bread, and we had a good dinner.' He looked at me as if he were looking through me, and said, 'Sparks, I will have to punish you. You knew it was against orders; I will have to punish you.' I said, 'General, I saved you some,' and I took the lids off the vessels that contained the chicken and the bread, and told them to help themselves. Rusk drew his knife first, and all the others followed suit, except Houston, who had not taken his eyes off me all this time. Finally he said, 'Sparks, I hate to punish you.' I said, 'General, I will submit to whatever you put upon me.' Rusk said, 'General, if you don't come on we'll eat all the dinner. We have not had such a dinner since we left home. Sparks is a good cook.'

Then the General drew his knife, and attacked the dinner. After he had eaten a short time, General Rusk said, 'General Houston, it is a maxim in law that 'he who partakes of stolen property, knowing it to be such, is guilty with the thief.'' General Houston replied, 'No one wants any of your law phrases.' After the meal General Houston said, 'Sparks, I'll not punish you for this offense, but if you are guilty of it the second time I will double the punishment.'"

----- Recollections of S. F. Sparks, extracted from the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, 1909

 

Burning of the Steamer Mittie Stephens.
Sixty-three Lives Lost.
The Survivors at Jefferson, Texas

Our telegraphic columns this morning contain the particulars in brief of another terrible steamboat disaster-- the burning of the Red River packet Mittie Stephens, Capt. H. Kellogg, in Caddo Lake, at midnight, night before last.Sixty-three lives are reported to have been lost, among them Mr. W.A. Broadwell and Mrs. S.L. Lyon and son, of New Orleans.The survivors, forty-three in number, reached Jefferson, Texas, yesterday, and we may today be enabled to lay before our readers fuller particulars respecting the disaster. The Mittie Stephens, though not a very new boat, was a favorite in the Red River trade. She left our city for Jefferson and Shreveport on her last trip the evening of Friday, the 5th
inst. Her agents were Messrs W.M. Surls, No. 2 Tehoupitoulas street and H.R. Eppler, No. 4 Tehoupitoulas street.

----- New Orleans Times Picayune, February 13, 1869

 

We copy as follows from the Shreveport Southwestern of the 16th:

We are indebted to Mr. J. Lodwick, one of the steersmen, for the following particulars of this unparalleled catastrophe:The Mittie Stephens, Captain Kellogg, George Remer, clerk, left this port for Jefferson on Thursday, the 11th, at 4 o'clock p.m., with over one hundred souls on board. Nothing worthy of notice happened unitl 12 o'clock at night, the time for changing watchmen, about two and a half miles below Swanson's Landing in Caddo Lake, when Mr. Lodwick remarked to Mr. Swain, the pilot on watch, that he smelt something burning, and at the same time noticed smoke rising from the hay forward on the larboard side. The alarm was at once given, the boat headed for shore, and all hands put to work to extinguish the flames, but without effect. In less than five minutes the bow of the boat was run ashore near Jeter's place, at which time the forward part of the boat was completely in flames, cutting off all egress in that direction. The passengers then rushed in the stern of the boat, driven by the flames and with the hope of making their escape in that direction. The stern of the boat was at least 160 feet from the shore, in ten feet water. The yawl was swamped at once by being overloaded, and the occupants met a watery grave. Here the scene beggars description. Nearly one hundred frantic, terror-stricken people-- men, women and children-- were collected on the afterguard, with the flames hissing and crackling behind them and a watery grave before them. Every movable thing was thrown overboard, and many men jumped overboard and found watery graves fighting for something to float on. Here fathers could be seen hunting for their wives and children, wives for their husbands, and children for their parents, amid the shrieks and cries of the excited crowd. As the flames approached, all of the men jumped overboard, some to find a watery grave, and others to save themselves by swimming; but not a lady could be induced to take the cold water, and they perished in the flames. In less than half an hour from the discovering of the fire the vessel was a total wreck and over sixty persons had perished.

The steamer Dixie, Capt. Thornton Jacobs, came alongside and rendered valuable assistance with her skiff in picking up persons floating in the water. Messrs. Swain and Lodwich staid at the wheel until driven away by the flames, and were the last persons to leave the hurricane roof, at which time the cabin was entirely deserted. They both jumped overboard from the stern and swam ashore. In fact all who were saved did the same thing. As soon as the fire was discovered a large amount of powder was thrown overboard, as well as what else could be got at, but the fire made such headway that every effort proved fruitless. Cap. Kellogg and his officers behaved with great coolness, and made every effort in their power to save the passengers.

The last seen of Mr. George Remer, the first clerk, was as he jumped overboard. He was one of the oldest clerks on the river, but not the regular clerk of the boat. Mr. C.F. Hayes, who occupied that position, was taken sick just before the boat left New Orleans, and stopped off.

Mr. J.C. Christian was one of the oldest and most respected citizens of this parish. He got on board the Stephens at Mooringsport, where he had been waiting two days, and in less than an hour met a watery grave in sight of the port from which he embarked. Of the other persons lost we had no personal acquaintance, but how the eye dims and the cheek blanches as we glance over the long list. Here we find father, mother and three children in one place, four of the same name in another, two in another, etc., all of whom found their last resting place at the mid hour of night, by the light of the burning wreck. Great God, how inscrutable are thy ways! From what we can learn the safe contained at least $100,000 in gold, which, we presume, can be recovered.

The last seen of Col. Broadwell was as he jumped overboard at the stern of the boat. He was, no doubt, drowned. The circumstances attending the loss of Mrs. Lyon and her son Frank are truly heartrending. They were the last in the cabin to awake, and then, not until the flames had reached them. They rushed to the aft end of the cabin, where Mr. Lyon used every effort to get his wife and child to step over the railing and jump into the river, a distance of eighteen or twenty feet. The sight was too much for her, and blinded and suffocated by the smoke, she swooned away with her child clinging to her. Mr Lyon staid with them until the flames scorched him and compelled him to leap overboard, after all chance of saving his wife and child had gone. He was picked up by the Dixie's skiff in an insensible state.
The steamer Dixie, Capt. Thornton Jacobs which arrived here yesterday, brought the charred remains of Mrs. Lyon and son. They were found on the lower deck of the wreck, immediately below the place where they were last seen. The Dixie, on her down trip, lay by the wreck all day Sunday, and her officers succeeded in recovering the remains of fourteen persons. Too much praise cannot be awarded Capt. Jacobs for his invaluable services in rescuing the passengers. At the time he first discovered the flames he was six miles off, with fires out and laid up for the night. He at once dispatched his skiff to the scene, and followed with the Dixie as soon as he could raise steam.

A large force is still at the wreck, looking after the bodies of the lost, but up to last accounts nothing had been seen of the body of Col. Broadwell. Not a single lady passnger in the cabin was saved, they one and all refusing to take to the water, the only avenue of escape left.

----- New Orleans Times Picayune, February 17, 1869

 

 

The Shreveport Southwestern of the 19th says:
The iron safe belonging to the Mittie Stephens has been recovered, brought to this city and turned over to the agents of the insurance companies. It is supposed to contain a large amount of money. Up to yesterday morning thirty-eight bodies had been recovered and buried. Nothing as yet has been seen of the remains of Col. Broadwell.

 

 

The New Orleans Crescent (New Orleans, Louisiana)
23 February 1869
The Burning of the Mittie Stephens.
FURTHER ACCOUNT OF THE DISASTER.
(From the Jefferson (Texas) Jimplecute

Our citizens have not yet recovered from the shock of one of the most appalling occurences that has ever happened to steamboating west of the Mississippi. The fine sidewheel passenger steamer Mittie Stephens, Homer Kellogg, master, left New Orleans for this port on the evening of the -- instant. She proceeded on her way, with every prospect of a speedy and safe voyage,until the hand of fate fell upon her and the unfortunate crew and passengers. We hereto append the statements, in substance, of a passenger and the watchman of the boat as sworn to before a notary. It is proper to state that all the affidavits made by passengers and officers coincide, and do not materially differ:

Statement of A. Pace, Passenger.--Mr. Pace states that he was a passneger on the Mittie Stephens, from New Orleans to Jefferson, Texas. That during the whole voyage to the time and place of the burning of the boat, he was careful to observe the constant diligence, watchfulness and attention of all the officers and crew. At 12 o'clock on the night of the 11th inst. he was aroused from sleep by the smell of fire, and the ringing of the alarm bell. He immediately proceeded to the stern of the boat, at which tme the passengers were given the alarm by the crew. That the pilots remained at the wheel until the fire drove them away. The officers and crew did all that could be done to save the lives of the passengers. The fire broke out in the hay on board, and the bow of the vessel was in flames in from one to three minutes after the fire was discovered. The hay was kept covered by a tarpaulin during the trip, and the officers and crew used every precaution to prevent the hay from being exposed to the fire. He was sick during the voyage, and was frequently up in the night and found the captain up at all times. Messrs. Seuzaman, Bjirke and S.J. Johnson, the latter of whom had from seven to eight thousand dollars worth of goods aboard, concur in Mr. Pace's testimony as regards the unremiting vigilance and caution on the part of Captain Kellogg and his men.

Statement of Samuel Underwood, Watchman.-- Mr. Underwood was watchman of the steamer Mittie Stephens, and on watch at the time of the disaster. At about 12 o'clock on the night of the 11th inst., was on the staging on the bow of the boat, and discovered a bale of hay on fire, about thirty feet from the torchlight and some distance from the furnace. All the hay on board was covered by tarpaulins. He instantly gaze the alarm of fire. The deckhands present threw buckets of water on the fire, but failed to quench it. The mate then ordered the hay to be thrown overboard, when the flames covered the balance of the hay, and prevented the orders of the mate from being carried out. The engineer turned the hose upon the fire, which failed to extinguish it. The crew, with the mate and witness, worked at the hose until the flames drove them off. They then went to the assistance of the passengers, and helped them to escape. As soon as it was known that the boat would be consumed, the mate ordered the crew to throw overboard the powder that was in the hold of the vessel. Witness and the mate assisted the passengers until they were driven off by the flames. It was not exceeding ten minutes from the discovery of the fire until the boat was enveloped in flames. The officers and crew did all that could be done to save the passengers and boat. All the officers, so far as witness could or did know, were at their post and on duty.

We do not deem it necessary to rehearse any more of the statements, as they eliminate no new facts pertinent to the issue, which is that the burning was purely accidental, and that human prudence or foresight could not have averted the calamity.

In our issue of Friday we gave a summary of the affair, and a list of those known to be lost and saved.

The accounts of the eye witnesses represent the spectacle as most appalling. The ill-fated steamer was quietly gliding through the turbid waters of the lake, which at that point was about five miles wide and nearly fifty miles from Jefferson. It was a calm, beautiful, starry night, and naught disturbed its serene stillness save the musical surging of the waves at the prow and the monotonous and labored vibration of the machinery. All on board, except the watches were wrapped in profound slumber. The hour of midnight had just chimed by the clock, when the pilot discovered signs of fire on the larboard side of the forecastle, where it seems two hundred and seventy-four bales of hay had been stowed. Four quick, successive taps of the bell gave the alarm to the crew. That alarm was the knell that summoned sixty-one souls to meet their Maker. Exertions almost superhuman were made by the men, but all to no purpose. The fire-king had begun his reign. Already he was "painting hell on the sky." The maddened flames were holding their high carnival on the doomed decks of the gallant boat, and no earthly power could avert the impending woes that must soon overwhelm her human freight.

Then ensued a scene of dismay, of terror and of death, which the pen of man cannot adequately depict, nor the mind of man fully conceive. The brave captain, comprehending his duty at this crisis, as by intuition, cried to the pilot, "head her from the wind! Open up!" To the clerk, the unfortunate Riemer, he gave orders to rouse and save the passengers. Riemer went below to die at his post. It now was certain destruction to remain any longer on the roof, and the captain bid the pilots save themselves which they did by escaping from the stern of the vessel. Capt. Kellogg made a leap for life through the flames, being slightly burned as he went, and fell into the lake a distance of thirty feet. He had however, inhaled so much hot air that he became insensible; luckily the water was shallow, and he was ovserved by a passenger and the barkeeper, who soon recuscitated him.

All united in their praise of the captain's presence of mind, purdence and gallant efforts to save the boat and passengers. It would seem invidious to particularize where all did so well; but the thanks of the passengers are directly due to the meritorious services rendered by Mr. Hetherton, the bill clerk, in providing life preservers for them. He was the last to leave the wreck. Binding on a preserver, he dropped into the cold waters of the lake. He floated about awhile, and becoming insensible was picked up or rather towed ashore by the Dixie's yawl.

The Dixie lay in Jim's bayou, about five miles distant, tied to a tree, with steam down. Capt. Jacobs, the master, was informed by the watchman that he believed there was a boat on fire. He thereupon dispatched his mate and a deck hand to the place of the disaster. Capt. Swayne, the pilot of the Mittie Stephens, was the first one of the survivors whom they saw; he was enconsced in a tree to which he had swam. He directed him to the body of Mr. Hetherton, and afterward to that of T.L. Lyons, of the house of J.W. Burbridge, N.O. They then relieved some persons clinging to the rudder of the wreck. Capt. Swayne in the meantime refusing to be relieved until the yawl had done all the service possible. They picked up the corpse of an unknown woman, who came aboard the Stephens at Grand Ecore.
The vessel was but a few minutes consuming, owing to the combustible material of the freight. That short time seemed like an eternity to some. The distressing screams and groans of the sufferers ascended to heaven mingling with the din of disaster, and the prayers of the dying husband and wife, child and mother, friend and foe were cradled in the billows of the lake, which soon rocked them to sleep. Like the boat on which they but a few minutes before so peacefully slumbered; they passed away as it were "a tale that is told."

Mr. Bjirke, a surviving passenger, having been informed by the officers of the steamer that two thieves had come on board at Shreveport, was keeping watch for them in the cabin when the fire broke out. The thieves were both lost.

One of the most signal acts heroism that has ever come to our lot to record, was performed by Phil Hill the carpenter, and a deck hand, by the name Jacob Stein. Twenty kegs of powder had been deposited in the magazine in the hold. With the presence of mind and a daring that have few parallels in the annals of steamboating, they, in the face of a horrible death, carried the powder up, and threw it overboard. A moment lost, and there would have been no one to tell the awful story. Gallant fellows! Peace hath her heroes, no less renowned than war.

In conclusion we have this to say. With a charasteristic generosity our citizens did everything that could be done to alleviate the sufferings and amellorate the conditions of the survivors; but, as public jounalists, it becomes our painful though imperative duty to animadvert upon the conduct of the captain of the Caroline. When the crew of the Stephens presented themselves to him, and asked for a passage to New Orleans, he gruffly replied that he worked for money and could not take them. He afterwards, however, sent them an invitation. Destitute as the poor men were, they were still smarting under the insult, and wouuld not accept the same. Captain Jacobs, of the Dixie, kindly tendered them the use of his boat, and they are now on their way to the city.

 

Regarding Cynthia Ann Parker after she had been recaptured from the Comanches and after she had lived with them for 24 years:

"Texans could not get enough of her. There were many newspaper accounts of her return, all of which were uniformly obsessed with the idea that a pretty little nine-year-old white girl from a devout Baptist family had been transformed into a pagan savage who had mated with a redskin and borne his children and forgotten her mother tongue. ... And all the stories assumed that everything she had done had been forced upon her. That she had suffered grievous mistreatment, had been whipped and beaten and had led a lonely and desperate existence. People simply did not believe that a Christian white woman had gone along with it voluntarily. One paper, the Clarksville Northern Standard, observed later that 'her body and arms bear the marks of having been cruelly treated.' Yet there is nothing to suggest that she was cruelly treated after the first few days of her captivity, as her cousin Rachel Plummer had described them. She was the ward of a chief, later his wife. The scars may have resulted from the practice among Comanche women of cutting themselves in mourning, often on the arms and breasts. Apparently no white people wanted to think too hard about the implications of the lovely mixed-race girl named Prairie Flower, whom her mother obviously adored."

---- S.C. Gwynne, "Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Nation in American History," 2010

 

 

"Say you sue me because you say my dog bit you. Well, this is my defense: My dog doesn't bite. And second, in the alternative, my dog was tied up that night. And third, I don't believe you really got bit. And fourth, I don't have a dog."

----- Legendary lawyer Richard "Racehorse" Haynes ----- who was born in Houston in 1927 and is still alive ---- describes how he defends somebody whom everybody knows is guilty.

 

"How chosen are we here in Texas, that we preside over such a bounty?"

------ overheard last night (believe it or not) at my favorite watering hole

 

 

"Denton, June 22 ---- This afternoon Mrs. Leona Lyles, wife of a prominent business man of this city, accosted W.B. Roberts at Ball and Poe's livery stables. She told him he had been slandering her and asked him to sign a libel, which he refused to do. She persisted in her request, telling him at the same time, that if he did not sign it he would regret it. He again refused, whereupon she drew a revolver and shot him five times. Each shot took effect --- two in his neck, breaking it, and one in the head. Either of these three shots was fatal. The other two shots entered his shoulder. Roberts died in a few minutes. Mrs. Lyles, after snapping several times upon empty cartridges, walked quietly from the scene and surrendered to the sheriff.

Roberts leaves a wife and two children. He was formerly sheriff of this county and stood high. Mrs. Lyles has a husband and two children. The shooting was incited by Roberts making statements that he had been intimate with Mrs. Lyles, which the woman pronounced to be false at the muzzle of a revolver. The coroners jury rendered a verdict in accordance with the facts. Public sympathy is with the woman."

------- Austin Weekly Statesman, June 24, 1886. As if we needed more examples, here's lesson regarding why not to mess with Texas women.

 

 

"I have sworn to be a good Texan, and that I will not forswear. I will die for that which I firmly believe, for I know it is just and right. One life is a small price for a cause so great. As I fought, so shall I be willing to die. I will never forsake Texas and her cause. I am her son." ----- Jose Antonio Navarro, from Mexican Prison in 1841

Note: After being tried and sentenced to death, Navarro was imprisoned in Mexico. He was given the choice of freedom if he would simply renounce Texas but refused, languishing for several years in prison. Finally, with the help of sympathetic prison officials, Navarro escaped and, by 1845, was a member of the Republic of Texas Congress from Bexar County.

 

 

"Everybody thought I had a duster. Y'all thought ol' Spindletop, Burke and Burnett was all the oil there was, didn't ya? Well, I'm here to tell you that it ain't, boy! It's here, and there ain't a dang thing you gonna do about it! My well came in big, so big, Bick and there's more down there and there's bigger wells. I'm rich, Bick. I'm a rich 'un. I'm a rich boy. Me, I'm gonna have more money than you ever *thought* you could have - you and all the rest of you stinkin' sons of... Benedicts!"

----- Jett Rink (James Dean) in the movie "Giant," 1956

 

 

"An attempt to remove the bones of Moses Austin, founder of Potosi, who died here in 1821, from its grave in Presbyterian and Masonic Cemetery, for reburial in Texas was formally halted by an order issued by the Potosi City Council in special session this morning. Mayor W.L. Edmunds, summoned by sharp-eyed Potosi residents, hurried to the cemetery and discovered an Austin, Texas, undertaker and some helpers digging into the 117-year-old grave. The undertaker exhibited documents signed by Austin's descendants authorizing the removal, but the mayor was not satisfied."

----- St. Louis Post Dispatch writing about the grave of Moses F. Austin, and the Texans who tried to steal his body from its grave in Potosi, Missouri, in 1938:, April 26, 1938

 

 

"You get out in front ---- you stay out in front."

---- A.J. Foyt theory of winning car races. A.J. knew a thing or two about getting out in front

 

 

"There's no better place than Texas for starting over."

---- John Connally

 

 

"Then there was his affability. However much he may have adopted an exaggerated pose on the stand, he projected a basic and genuine gentility. People liked him, and he adapted with ease to the tenor of those around him. He could sense their expectations of him, smoothly catch their mood on introduction, and succeed, sad one, in "agreeably confirming pre-entertained opinions in reference to himself." He calculated what he said carefully for effect, and more by instinct than by cunning seemed to know that these backwoods voters were looking for a new type, an identity springing from themselves that represented the new America; a generation that, like a child, was ready to move out on its own and declare its independence from its Founding Father parents. Washington, Jefferson, and John Adams had been the types of their time, but the last of their ilk, James Monroe, left the presidency early in 1825, and Jefferson and Adams both died in 1826, just months before this [1827] election. Their era died with them, and so did Yankee Doodle, and these new Americans sought a replacement in their own image of themselves. Andrew Jackson fitted the mold in large degree, but even he was tainted by a kind of frontier aristocracy, as well as by his stunning ability to create mortal enemies through a willfulness that exceeded even Crockett's. But by the time of this election in the backwoods of West Tennessee in 1827, David Crockett was coming to realize that he made rather a nice fit indeed."

----- William C. Davis, "Three Roads to the Alamo," regarding David Crockett and how he began to realize that he had what it took to get elected to the U.S. Congress in Tennessee:

 

"His elder brothers seem to have crossed his wishes occasionally, and by a sort of fraternal tyranny quite common, exercised over him some severe restraints. At last they compelled him to go into a merchant's store, and stand behind the counter. This kind of life he had little relish for, and he suddenly disappeared. A great search was made for him, but he was nowhere to be found for several weeks. At last intelligence reached the [Houston] family that Sam had crossed the Tennessee river and gone to live among the Indians, where, from all accounts, he seemed to be living much more to his liking. They found him, and began to question him on his motives for this novel proceeding. Sam was now, although so very young, nearly six feet high, and standing straight as an Indian, coolly replied that he "preferred measuring deer tracks, to tape-that he liked the wild liberty of the Red men, better than the tyranny of my brothers, and if I cannot not study Latin in the Academy, I can, at least, read a translation from the Greek in the woods, and read it in peace."

----- Charles Edwards regarding a teenage Sam Houston, "The Life of Sam Houston," 1855

 

 

"The cattle would weaken down, and they'd die from lack of food. And there was some wild hogs over there ... A cow'd get down and they'd just start eatin' her while she was alive."

----- Eugene "Boob" Kelton, an Upton County rancher and brother of Western writer Elmer Kelton, describes the drought during the 1950s. More evidence that Texas is not for sissies!

 

 

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, "All Slaves are Free."

----- General Order Number 3 issued by Major General Gordon Granger (1822-1876), representing Union forces occupying Galveston, 149 years ago today on June 19th, 1865

 

 

"The liquor traffic was broken up, many stills being seized and destroyed, and several thousand gallons of whisky being captured and poured out. Two hundred and three gambling slot machines were seized and destroyed. Numerous gambling resorts were placed under surveillance and forced to clean up, and in a period of twenty-four hours no less than 1200 prostitutes left the town. The Mayor, City Commissioners, Chief of Police, and practically all of the Police Force of Borger resigned and were replaced by citizens pledged to enforce the laws."

------ Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Texas for the Year Ending August 31, 1927

 

 

"I had hoped God would remain neutral."

----- Texas Longhorn football coach Darrell Royal, on seeing a sign in front of a church reading "Darrell Royal, Cast not Thy Steers Before Swine," before the 1969 "Game of the Century" between the Longhorns and the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Arkansas

 

 

"I stayed all night with Jim Bowie. On the night before the fight was to take place I never saw a man sleep more soundly than he did."

----- an unidentified Texian "soldier" under Jim Bowie's command, regarding the night before the Battle of Concepcion, which took place on October 28, 1835. The quote is found in a clipping in the Daughter of the Republic of Texas' biographical file of Jim Bowie

 

 

“If Bobby doesn’t love football, he won’t lead a fulfilling life, and then he’ll die.”

----- Hank Hill, "King of the Hill" TV show

 

 

“Civilization shouts, gives orders, writes rules, puts man in institutions and intimidates him with a thousand irritating directives. In return it offers him protection, soul salvation and a living if he can find it. Nature looks down on him and broods in silence. Its noises of running streams and wind in the trees are its own, not directed at but soothing to him because he heard them before he heard the noises of civilization.”

------- Walter Prescott Webb, Historian and University of Texas professor. Webb was born near Carthage in Panola County. He is one of the three men (J. Frank Dobie and Roy Bedichek being the others) who are immortalized in the famous "Philosoper's Rock" sculpture at Barton Springs in Austin

 

 

"If I, a lowly singer, dry one tear or soothe one humble human heart in pain, then my homely verse to God is dear and not one stanza has been sung in vain."

----- The inscription on Jim Reeves' tombstone in Carthage, Texas

 

 

The Texas quote of the day was written in 1878 and details how legendary Texas Ranger Jack Hays beat back an Indian attack atop Enchanted Rock, north of Fredericksburg:

"At another time. Hays went out with a party of some fifteen or twenty Rangers, upon the frontier of Texas, then many miles west of the white settlements, for the purpose of surveying and locating lands in the vicinity of a place well known as the 'Enchanted Rock.' We are unable to give to the reader the traditionary cause why this place was so named, but nevertheless, the Indians had a great awe, amounting almost to reverence for it, and would tell many legendary tales connected with it, and the fate of a few brave warriors, the last of a tribe now extinct, who defended themselves there for many years as in a strong castle, against the attacks of their hostile brethren. But they were finally overcome and totally annihilated, and ever since, the 'Enchanted Rock' has been looked upon as the exclusive property of these phantom warriors. This is one of the many tales which the Indians tell concerning it. The rock forms the apex of a high, round hill, very rugged and difficult of ascent. In the center there is a hollow, in the shape of a bowl, and sufficiently large to allow a small party of men to lie in it, thus forming a small fort, the projecting and elevated sides serving as a protection.

"Not far from the base of this hill. Hays and his men, at the time of the expedition spoken of, which occurred in the year 1841, or "42, were attacked by a large force of Indians. When the fight commenced, Hays, being some distance from his party, was cut off' from them, and being closely pressed by the Indians, made good his retreat to the top of the hill. Reaching the 'Enchanted Rock,' he there entrenched himself, and determined to sell his life dearly, for he had scarcely a gleam of hope left to escape. The Indians who were in pursuit, upon arriving near the summit, set up a most hideous howl, and after surrounding the spot, prepared for the charge; being bent upon taking this 'Devil Jack,' as they called him, at all hazards, for they knew who was the commander. As they would approach, Hays would rise, and level his rifle. Knowing his unerring aim, they would drop back. In this way he kept them at bay for nearly an hour, the Indians howling around him all the while, like so many wolves.

But finally becoming emboldened, as he had not yet fired his rifle, they approached so near that it became necessary for him to go to work in earnest. So, as they continued to advance, lie discharged his rifle, and then seizing his five-shooter, he felled them on all sides; thus keeping them off, until he could reload. In this manner he defended himself for three long hours. When the Indians, becoming furiously exasperated, rushed in mass, and gained the top, on one side of the hill. His men, who had heard the crack of his rifle, and had been fighting most desperately to reach their leader, now succeeded in breaking through the file of Indians on the other side, and arrived just in lime to save him.

"This,' said the Texan who told us the story, ' was one of Jack's most narrow escapes, and he considers it one of the tightest little places that he ever was in. The Indians, who had believed for a long time that he bore a charmed life, were then more than ever convinced of the fact."

----- Samuel C. Reid, Jr., "The Scouting Expeditions of McCullough's Texas Rangers; or the Summer and Fall Campaign of the Army of the United States in Mexico, 1846" copyright 1878

 

 

"A hundred names of men I knew come back to me, and most of them, I suppose, are now dead. Hard lives, hard men, maybe ---- but they come back to me like murmurs of far-off voices sometimes, something soft, like a flute's sweet wine that has a message left to tell. Maybe I didn't see them so soft those days, because it was all too close. Life is something like a gun battle. A man doesn't know what he really thought until the shooting's over. That's the way I went through a lot of things down there. Never saw the danger then."

---- J.K.P. Langford, remembering his Texas Ranger life along the Rio Grande in the San Antonio Express, May 25, 1930

 

 

"Business deals are often closed and social engagements made at a barbecue stand."

—Texas, A Guide To the Lone Star State, 1940

 

 

"I'm just tryin' to keep everything in balance, Woodrow. You do more work than you got to, so it's my obligation to do less."

----- Augustus McCrae, "Lonesome Dove"

 

 

When Sam Houston was challenged to a duel by David Burrnet, who was five foot one inches tall, Houston, who was well over six feet, said that "I do not fight downhill."

 

 

Listening to Levon Helm's great version of "Deep Ellum Blues" this morning and it reminded me of today's Texas quote of the day, which was written about that legendary area of Dallas by a newspaperman in the 1930's:

“Deep Ellum is the one spot in the city that needs no daylight saving time because there is no bedtime…the only place recorded on earth where business, religion, hoodooism, gambling and stealing goes on at the same time without friction…Last Saturday a prophet held the best audience in this ‘Madison Square Garden’ in announcing that Jesus Christ would come to Dallas in person in 1939. At the same time a pickpocket was lifting a week’s wages from another guy’s pocket that stood with open mouth to hear the prophecy.”

----- as quoted by Darwin Payne in " Dallas: An Illustrated History"

 

 

"The governor of a state needs to save money, and everybody knows a wife can always save two dollars where a husband can only save one."

----- Miram "Ma" Ferguson campaigning to be governor of Texas in 1925. Apparently, she was successful in persuading the voters, because she was elected twice.

 

 

"When the Rangers were outside the buffalo region there was nothing for them to eat but prairie dogs. The only fault they could find with prairie dogs was that they were too small and very hard to get. Rangers always tried to keep a little flour on hand to thicken soup and prairie dogs, being very fat, made good soup, but this was not very satisfying; after a meal of it one became hungry again within two or three hours. Rangers would boil a prairie dog or two, the more dogs in the kettle the better, and with a little flour make quite a pot of soup."

------ Charles Goodnight, from interviews conducted over several years with J. Evetts Haley, published in the Southwest Review, 1925

 

 

"As I contemplate becoming a resident of Texas, I feel great anxiety about the nature of the population which will inhabit that country. The planters here have a most desperate opinion of the population there, originating I presume from such villains as have been driven from among them and who have taken shelter in that province."

------ Letter of January 31, 1829 from Thomas White of Louisiana to Texas colonizer Stephen F. Austin

 

 

"Any ballplayer that won't sign autographs for little kids ain't an American. He's a communist."

----- Rogers Hornsby, one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Hornsby, a member of a Texas family with deep historic roots, was born in Winters, Texas and raised in Fort Worth. He once said that he couldn't remember anything before he had a baseball in his hand. He is buried just east of Austin in Hornsby Bend.

 

 

The Texas quote of the day:

"I have lived in Texas since 1870, when my father moved his family here from Atlanta, Georgia, where I was born on July 11, 1865. We settled in Dallas, Texas. My father labored at any kind of work he could get to do when we first lit in Dallas. The Civil War sort of tore things up for father back in Atlanta, so he came to Texas calculating on getting a new start. Soon as I was able to go on my own, I lit out to find a job and dragged up to Denton County, which contained a tolerable lot of small cattle ranches back in those days.

In 1880 I landed a job with the Red Robinson outfit located eight miles north of Denton on Denton Creek. There I got my learning of the cow business.

I was a greener of the first water when I landed on Robinson’s outfit. The only thing that I could do was to sit in a saddle; but to ride a hoss was out of the question, unless the hoss was an easy saddle.

The range life didn’t stack up to home life, with a good bed to bunk in and a mother to fuss over fixing the chuck to suit, and such we hankered for, but the work got into my blood and I couldn’t leave it. I stayed with the cattle and hoss business so long as I was able to work.

The Denton County range was a brush country, and that kind of a range is no picnic to work. It takes better roping, riding, and more gizzard gravel to stay with the brush range. It is harder to herd critters and easier for the rustlers, and because of that it took more watching. . . .

The RR was not a large outfit; it run around two thousand head, more or less, according to Robinson’s selling and buying activities. Robinson worked from five to ten hands, depending on the season. Negro Joe was the cook, and there was my brother, myself, John Munson, and Joe Jones which made up the steady crew.

We slept in a ranch house and ate in a cook shack most of the time. During the roundup, and occasionally other short spells, we slept in the open and ate our chuck squatted on our haunches around the chuck wagon.

Our chuck run strong to beef and beans. The beef was not considered as costing anything, because the country was full of cattle, and when some beef was wanted, a waddy would rope a fat yearling and never look at the brand. That was a fact; generally the best yearling carried the brand of some other ranch. Besides beef, we would have wild game whenever the cooky took the notion or one of the waddies would decide to vary the meat deal by going out and shooting some game. Our bread was biscuits, sourdough, or corn pone. We had some vegetables which came in the can, dried fruit, and all the black coffee we called for. The cooky would regularly fix up something for our sweet tooth, such as fruit pies made from dried fruit, pudding of some sort, and once in a while a cake.

Negro Joe was a good belly-cheater and knew it, but the boys used to hoss-play him a lot, all in fun, and he would hoss-play us back. We generally got the worst end of the play, because he would load some dish we hankered for with red pepper or some sweet dish with salt. Once he made a cake with cotton stewed through it. To try and eat that cake sure put sadness in your heart, but we had a tolerable lot of fun about it when we discovered the cause of our eating trouble. . . .

One time the boys sent me out to get a “wouser” that was supposed to be in the creek bottom, because they feared that it would get some of the critters. My instructions were to stay after the animal until I located it and got a shot at it. The boys said, “If the animal is shot at it will leave the section pronto, but kill it if you can.” The animals was described as having a body like a calf and a head similar to a wolf. I left to locate the wouser early in the morning and stayed with the job until dark, but nary a glimpse did I get of the critter. I came into the camp sort of ashamed of myself because I had fell down on the job. I reported how I had watched and sneaked quietly here and there. While I was telling the tale, I noticed that all of the bunch ws mighty interested and noticed some smiles. It then came into my conk what had been pulled on me. I then sure enough was riled for a bit...."

----- Old cowboy George T. Martin in an interview with Sheldon Gauthier for the Works Progress Administration, 1936

 

The Texas Quote of the Day is a reminder of one of the saddest events in Texas history. On January 8, 1865, at Dove Creek, 18 miles southwest of present day San Angelo, a tribe of Kickapoo Indians was attacked by a troop of Confederate soldiers. The soldiers had mistaken the friendly Kickapoos for Comanches, and the misunderstanding became a massacre of eighty Indians ----- men, women and children. Thirty-five soldiers were killed. Years later, one of the surviving Kickapoos told the Indians' side of the battle:

"We had lived friendly with the white people many years. They said they were our friends and we believed them. The great [Civil] war came on. We did not know why our white friends wanted to kill each other. They led some of our young men into war and some never came back because they were killed. They went in for twelve months, then they came home and said they did not want to fight with the white soldiers any more. Our old men held a council. They kept the fires burning three days. The white men had been fighting three years. Soldiers came and killed our cattle. They took all our corn. Sometimes they were white soldiers; sometime Pin Indians. Our old men said it was not our war, and no man could say when peace would come back. They said as long as there was no peace, the war trail would lead through the Kickapoos' country. They told our people they must go to Mexico where they could live in peace. When the white men quit war and made peace, the Kickapoos could come back to their lands. Five of our chiefs went to see General Smith. He gave them papers. He told them they could take their people to Mexico. When the corn was ripe and all gathered, we started. It was a long journey but we had strong arms and hearts, and wanted to get away from the war. We crossed Red River and kept above the settlements all the way. Six white men came to us on the Brazos. They were friendly. They asked many questions. They saw all our horses. They did not claim any of our horses. We told them to look at all our horses. After that we saw few white men until the morning of the fight. We had a fight with the Comanches two days before on the Concho. They shot one of our men in the eye with an arrow. He died that night.

"When the soldiers came up that morning, one of our chiefs wanted to talk. He went out of the thicket with a white cloth. They killed him. Then a young woman went out with a white cloth. They shot her down. They killed her baby also. Her name was Oo-lath-la-hi-na. She had gone to school at Fort Gibson. She could write and read and spoke good English. She said, 'I will go and talk with the white captain. He thinks we are Comanches. The white men won't shoot a woman.' They killed her. Then we had to fight or stand still and be killed like rabbits. Our young men wanted to follow them when they ran off, and kill all. Our chief and old men said no. We must go quick. They will bring more soldiers and surround us. We buried our chief and Oo-lath-la-hi-na that night. We carried our wounded with us. Many died on the way. We traveled day and night till we crossed the Rio Grande. We were hungry all the way. We were sad and wanted revenge. We took no scalps in that fight. The battle ground is one day west of the Concho River."

----- John Warren Hunter, Hunter's Magazine, 1911

 

 

“Sanger Bros.’ and L. Wagner’s stores are the only mercantile establishments still in business at their old stands that were here when I landed in Dallas in November, 1880, and Judge Robert B. Seay and Judge Charles F. Clint are the only lawyers still in the practice who were here at that time. Col. Robert E. Cowart, one of the most brilliant members of the Dallas bar forty-three years ago or thereafter, is still here, but has retired from the practice. So far as I know, not one of the physicians of 1880 is actively connected with the profession today. The Rt. Rev. Alexander C. Garrett, the venerated bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Dallas, is the only remaining minister of the Gospel, to my knowledge. All overtaking time has dealt more leniently with the newspaper writers: Col. William Greene Sterrett and Maj. Charles L. Martin are still scribbling away as they were in 1880, and, in my judgment, doing better work all the time. Is the average man limited to far less than forty years of business or professional activity?

When I disembarked from the overdue train at the downtown Texas & Pacific depot, forty-three years ago, I beheld such a town as one sees in a Wild West show at the movies — a collection of shacks and wigwams as background for rows of horses hitched along the sidewalks, and everybody looking impudently vigorous and well pleased with himself and his environment. It was a place for anyone with young blood in his veins to locate and join in the push, just for the fun of growing up with the town and country. It was not the promised land, but, what was better, the land of promise, which holds cut the pleasure of pursuit, which, after all, seems to be the only thing that gives a zest to life and keeps us going.

I went to work in the carpet department of Sanger Bros.’ store, and made my acquaintance with the town from that viewpoint. The big dry goods houses were Sanger Bros., Thompson Bros. and Fee Bros. on the north side of Elm street, opposite Sanger Bros.’, and Henry Kahn & Bros. on Elm street, near Griffin. Loeb & Friedlander ran a supply grocery; that is, they advanced supplies to ranchmen and farmers. Their store was on the present site of Huey & Philp’s wholesale hardware house. Metzler & Oppenheimer’s wholesale grocery was on the northeast corner of Lamar and Camp streets, afterward Doc Chamberlain’s saloon stand for many years. An old man, named Wolfe, I think, had a hide house at the place now occupied by N. Nigro & Co., and was succeeded by Harry Brady. Wallace & Wagner, Bond Bros., Robert Ogden and L. Wagner were the leading retail grocers. E. M. Tillman and G. H. Schoellkopf were on the north side of Elm street, between Lamar and Griffin streets, though Griffin street was then College street. Dennis & Wagner had a soap factory, not far from the Dallas Brewery site.

Garlington & Underwood had a wholesale grocery on the northeast corner of Main and Lamar, and afterward moved to The News corner, Commerce and Lamar. Charles Kahn’s bakery was on the southwest corner of Main and Lamar. An Englishman, a Mr. Kent, ran a bakery on the Linz corner. Harry Bros., who afterward put down the first street paving in Dallas, had in 1880, a china store. Dave Goslin also ran a china store, known as Goslin’s China Hall. Another baker, whom I was about to overlook, was Joseph Blakeney, father of Jo and Hugh Blakeney, whose place of business was up about the Union Depot. Mr. Blakeney, who was possessed of remarkable energy, used to stimulate business by peddling cakes from a basket on the streets, which he proclaimed to be ‘fine, very fine; one for a nickel, two for a dime.’ From this, he became to be known over town as Fine Very Fine, so that many newcomers who became well-acquainted with him, did not know his real name. Silberstein & Hirsch had a livery and sales stable on the northwest corner of Commerce and Poydras streets. Turner Hall was on part of the lot on which Padgitt Bros. afterward built.

Col. John C. McCoy, who so lived that men still kindly remember him almost forty years after his death, had his residence on the Texas Drug Company’s property. Col. McCoy did not consider the whole block too much for yard and garden. R. V. Tompkins’ agricultural and implement house was where the Higginbotham-Bailey-Logan dry goods house now is. His building was overhauled for the State Saengerfest, a rousing big thing, held here about 1882. Later, in the same building, that amazing evangelist, Sam Jones, jarred the sinners of the community in a series of harangues charged with the thunders of Sinai. The first steam laundry in the town was put in by G. D. Moffitt, near old Turner Hall. The laundry passed into the hands of W. L. Logan, who built a plant near the Santa Fe trestle on Jackson street, adjoining the wagon yard and stables of S. P. Siler, the pioneer bus line man of the town.

In 1880, the postoffice was on the south side of Main street, adjoining the present Linz Building on the east. Next door, J. D. A. Harris kept a book store. After him, on the east, came W. S. Bryant’s pawnshop. The ground floor of the southwest corner of Main and Murphy was occupied by the Glen Lea Saloon and the second floor was a gambling hall. The fashionable tailor the town was Zimmermann, on Main street, in the Sanger block. In those days, men who made any pretensions to style had their clothes hand-made by tailors. Manufacturers had not yet discovered that men, physically, as well as morally and mentally, fall into very serviceable broad classes, and that patterns or measurements of clothes may be devised in advance for each class, in which every individual of that class may find a fit. This made it possible to turn out men’s suits by machinery, and resulted in crippling the business of the old-time tailor. Just as a classification of feet, and the manufacture of shoes by machinery, about the same time, put the worthy craft of old-time shoemakers on their uppers.

In 1880, Connor & Walker ran a drug store on the southwest corner of Main and Austin streets. Hickox & House, on the north side of Main street, just east of Lamar; Eisenlohr on the southwest corner of Main and Field; W. H. Patterson on Lamar street, between Main and Elm, and George Atkins on the north side of Elm, second door west of Lamar. Mr. Atkins manufactured Rattlesnake Oil, recommended as a cure for any and all ills of the flesh. Billie Patterson put out Peachstone Liniment, also a cure-all. The Ananias Club met in Patterson’s drug store. Mr. Atkins was, himself, the entertainer in his store. The loafers of the town divided their time between these two apothecary shops. Ice was scarce and high, but Mr. Atkins, nevertheless, kept for his friends, a barrel of ice water, or what looked like ice water. The water was very muddy in those days, but Mr. Atkins cleared with chemicals what he put in his barrel, and on the surface of it, he placed an immense square block of glass, hollow within, so as to make it float. It was funny to see a thirsty man clear his throat and take out a cup of water, only to find he was dealing with only the mirage of an iceberg. One cold night about Christmas time, a dozen or more of us [local] loafers barred all approaches to Mr. Atkins’ red-hot stove. This remarkable pharmacist opened the stove door, produced from his pocket, a giant firecracker, about the size of a quart milk bottle, and remarking, “Boys, we’ll all go down together,” tossed it into the furnace. Such acrobatic feats as we performed would have amazed even the Ringling Brothers. If the infernal machine ever exploded, I was so far away, that I neither heard the detonation, nor saw the flying debris.

In the early days, Dallas had no drainage, and many localities were flooded whenever it rained hard. One night in 1882, something like a small cloudburst flooded the negro houses in the low grounds in the vicinity of Ervay and Jackson streets. Shouts of distress from those caught in the houses attracted groups of persons to the water’s edge, and moved some to go to the rescue, me among them. The first burst of the storm that had caused the inundation, was succeeded by a slanting rain that stung like birdshot. In this, we swam over the fence tops to the houses where we found women and children standing on chairs, tables, beds ­­ anything to keep above water. The firemen arriving, took things in hand and soon got everybody to solid ground.

I still carry on my hands, the scars of burns I received in a fire in 1882. I boarded with Mrs. Frank, who occupied an apartment house built by Maj. C. M. Wheat, on the north side of Ross avenue, just east of Lamar. The house caught fire, and I found Mrs. Frank wringing her hands and almost beside herself. Her grand baby, she said, was upstairs. I undertook to rescue the baby. Failing to find it in the room she indicated, I looked elsewhere and was caught myself. The staircase collapsed just as I reached it, and I fell to the first floor. In permitting me to enter the house, Mrs. Frank was not aware that some one else had already rescued the baby. I was laid up more than a month with the burns I received.

Shortly after I came to Dallas, one of the strangest tragedies that has ever occurred here, took place in a second-floor room on the north side of Elm street, a door or two west of Lamar street. Bowie Strange, bookkeeper in one of the implement and machinery houses, and William H. Beale, superintendent of the mail order department of Sanger Bros.’ store, had been neighbors, schoolmates and boy chums in Virginia. They came to Dallas together, and here continued inseparable friends. They always met a few minutes after business hours, and one was never seen abroad without the other, and together they occupied the room referred to. They were last seen early in the night together, pleasantly chatting, on the southwest corner of Main and Lamar streets. An hour later, two pistol shots were heard in their room. The officer who entered the room found the men dead, lying on opposite sides of a table, each with a pistol in his hand. What had come between them, is a secret they took with them; at least, it was never made public.

My, how I do run on with these half-faded memories! While I was connected with the carpet department of Sanger Bros.’ store or Charles Eckford’s store, I decorated Craddock’s Opera House, and afterward the billiard hall, into which the opera house was converted when Bennett’s Opera House (the Dallas Opera House) was opened, and then the latter play house. I also put the decoratings in the Windsor Hotel, the St. George and the McLeod in Dallas, the Ferguson House at Tyler, the Huckins at Texarkana, the Capitol at Marshall, the Lamar & Peterson House at Paris, the Harris House at Terrell, the Lampasas House at Lampasas, the McGraw House at Bonham, and many more. After that, I left Dallas and worked at Kansas City and Memphis, Tenn. Returning to Dallas in 1889, I went in business on my own hook."

------ Max Munzesheimer of 3027 Routh street in Dallas as told to the Dallas Morning News in October, 1923

 

Stubb's Bar-B-Q in Lubbock was known not only for its BBQ, but probably more for the legendary jam sessions that went on in the place. Most of Lubbock's musical royalty and much of Texas' musical royalty today owes a huge debt to C.B. Stubblefield, the owner of the place. Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Muddy Waters, Johnny Lee Hooker, BB King and many others played in the little 'ol place on East Broadway. After he closed the Lubbock operation C.B., aka "Stubb," moved to Austin, where there is still a BBQ joint and musical venue at 801 Red River Street that bears his name. He passed away in 1995. Here are some of his classic quotes:

"I was born hungry; I wants to feed the world."

"Bar-B-Q? Makin’ do with what you got."

"God born me a black man and I plan to stay that-a-way."

"They build barb wire fences around old locomotives. I’ll be damn if they do that to me."

"I guarantee you one thing, you ain’t gonna cook no better than I can. Another thing, you not gonna love people no better than I can."

When asked how he was while in the hospital, Stubbs replied," My Spark plugs ain’t firing, and I got this tornado loose in my chest."

 

 

"Whether they liked him or not, they all knew that he was absolutely brave, and they could depend upon his being fair to foe and loyal to friends."

----- Juan Seguin describing Jim Bowie, April 10, 1874 ---- almost 40 years after Bowie's death

 

 

"FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY THE 520,000-acre Waggoner Ranch has been an inseparable part of the culture and fabric of the Red River country west of Wichita Falls—and of Texas itself. It is the nation’s biggest ranch within the confines of a single fence, a spread so vast that it extends across six counties and covers more than eight hundred square miles. On the map of Texas it appears as a great emptiness south of Vernon, occupied only by the thin strip of U.S. 183/283. From the highway, its pastures seem timeless and impregnable. And so they were, for a hundred years and more. Then, twelve years ago, the two branches of the Waggoner family that control the W. T. Waggoner estate, which in turn controls the ranch, locked themselves in a lawsuit no one can win. One side wants the ranch divided equally but otherwise left intact. The other wants to sell the ranch and divide the assets. It seems inconceivable that they can’t agree on a compromise. Both families are already fabulously wealthy, though the wealth is in the land rather than their pockets. But selling the ranch—or, worse still, permitting the court to liquidate it—would cost both sides dearly in taxes and prestige. Why do they fight on?

The answer lies in the rich and rowdy heritage of the Waggoner clan. Bickering and backstabbing have been a way of life in the family. It is as much a part of the legacy as horses, cattle, oil, opulent mansions, divorces, and drunken sprees. By all rights the Waggoner Ranch ought to be the equal of the King Ranch in Texas lore. Both ranches once covered more than a million acres. Both were famous for breeding, the King Ranch for Santa Gertrudis cattle, the Waggoner Ranch for cutting horses. But the difference is that the cattle barons of the King Ranch led private, almost secretive lives, running their empire themselves and living on the land, while the Waggoners turned their ranch over to professionals, moved away, and pursued flamboyance. As a consequence, the King Ranch scions moved comfortably in elite Texas social, political, and business circles, while the Waggoners never achieved the same degree of prominence. So it was the King Ranch whose legend was set down for posterity by the distinguished Texas author Tom Lea, while the Waggoners’ escapades were left to be recorded by the English author John Bainbridge—a few passages in his 1960 book called The Super-Americans, about the excesses of Texas’s oil millionaires. Yet the Waggoner Ranch has outlasted its South Texas rival in one respect: It is still under the direct control of its founding family. "

----- Gary Cartwright, Texas Monthly, January 2004

 

 

"In the summer of 1874 we captured a young man named Waldrop on the river where the town of Medina is now located. He was accused of finding ropes with horses at one end. There were also others accused of similar crimes, and we took them to San Saba where they were wanted, and turned them over to the officers at that place. A little broke-backed man by the name of Ace Brown, evidently the alcalde (mayor) of the town, ordered the prisoners put in a hole in the ground about 10 x 10 feet, which served as a jail. Guards were placed around this sweat hole to keep the inmates from escaping. And there we left them, and as we bade them farewell I could see the beads of perspiration breaking out on their faces. I heard afterwards that these fellows left that hole that night and got away. I was glad of it."

----- Tom M. Stevens, a former Texas Ranger, Frontier Times magazine, January 1926

 

 

"I'm from Texas, and one of the reasons I like Texas is because there's no one in control."

----- Willie Nelson

 

 

"The definition of insanity in Texas is so insane that it's impossible to be insane in Texas."

-------- actor Malcolm McDowell

 

 

"Col. John Watkin and his wagon train were caught in a driving rain between Laredo and Uvalde. Camping out, the Colonel found that a roll of bills in his pocket was wet and placed them before the campfire to dry. While the party was eating supper, a jenny [female mule] on which they carried their packs very innocently protruded her tongue and took in her throat $785 of Uncle Sam's currency. The Colonel, by mere chance, happened to look that way just as the mule was swallowing his valuable rations, ran to her, put his hand down her throat, seized the greenbacks, and brought them forth intact."

----- the Uvalde Hesperian Newspaper, March 14, 1885

 

 

"W.W. Schermerhorn, an attorney of San Angelo, once a citizen of this town, while under the influence of liquor last week in the saloon of Memph Elliot, had his feet badly burned by some unprincipled party pouring alcohol in his boots and setting fire to them. The proprietor of the saloon, Memph Elliot, is charged with the crime, and the people of San Angelo are very indignant at the outrage. It is thought that amputation will be necessary in order to save his life. Judge Schermerhorn has entered suite against Elliot for $4,000, which he will have no trouble in recovering, as he has good witnesses who saw the affair."

----- Colorado City Clipper newspaper, April 11, 1885

 

 

"I don't care whether I hit the right note or not. I'm not looking for perfection of delivery ----- thousands of singers have that. I'm looking for individuality."

------- Ernest Tubb, country music hall of famer, who was born on a cotton farm near Crisp, in Ellis County, Texas (now a ghost town). His father was a sharecropper, so Tubb spent his youth working on farms throughout the state. He was inspired by Jimmie Rodgers and 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, but the pay was low so Tubb also dug ditches for the Works Progress Administration and clerked at a drug store.

 

 

"Whether traveling or at home, we had no peace. Not even the church was free of their antics. In many instances it might have been just horseplay, but it had serious effects on the victims. These cowboys entered the church during the services with their hats on and smoking cigarettes. They would come around the altar during the Mass and curiously examine the contents of the chalice. One of them wanted to ride into the church on horseback and see how many targets he could shoot on the walls. On the road they would shoot at the Polander's feet, in many instances wounding him. A woman, caught alone on the road, was found with a knife-stab in her back. These and many other calamities we endured. As a protection against such and against the snakes that crawled everywhere, I provided myself with a revolver. With a rosary in my pocket and the revolver hanging in a scabbard on my saddle, I went along that everyone who did not believe the word of God would believe the word of my revolver ----- the God of the Americans."

-------- Father Adolf Bakanowski, the spiritual head of the Polish colony of Panna Maria, on relations with neighboring ranch hands, 1866

 

 

"Rain! Why it falls in torrents. And muddy! Whoopee!! If there is a town in Texas more muddy than this please tell the Bishop not to send me to it."

----------- Houston Pastor C.H. Brooks, 1856

 

 

The Texas Quote of the Day describes one way in which trail-riding cowboys might amuse themselves long ago:

"Another form of amusement which might from time to time be conducted for a few minutes at table or about a campfire was a competitive reciting of the inscriptions upon the labels of the cans of condensed milk and other foodstuffs habitually used at the ranch. Partly for recreative nonsense and partly out of loneliness when solitary in camp, every ranchman sooner or later committed to memory the entire texts upon these labels and could repeat them verbatim. With a penalty of five cents for each mistake in punctuation, of ten cents for each error in a word, the competitive recitals offered a sporting possibility."

------ Phillip Ashton Rollins, "THE COWBOY: HIS CHARACTERISTICS, HIS EQUIPMENT, AND HIS PART IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE WEST," 1922

 

 

"Sam Houston asked Deaf Smith first to reconnoiter the enemy position and get an accurate count of the Mexican troops. Smith picked Walter P Lane to accompany him. Smith and Lane stealthily rode to the rear of Santa Anna's camp and halted a mere three hundred yards from it. Smith told Lane to hold his mount while he sighted his telescope and methodically began counting enemy tents. The Mexicans spied the two and sent out a company of infantry to apprehend them. Lane was acutely aware of the musket balls 'that whistled over our heads,' but Smith, being hard of hearing, seemed not to notice them. The two Texian scouts were under constant fire for twenty minutes, but Smith remained oblivious. Only when a squad of dragoons charged on them did Smith cease his counting. Turning to his startled comrade, he observed, "Lane, I think them fellers are starting to shoot at us; let's git." As an old man, Lane recalled that he 'never obeyed an order more cheerfully.'"

-----Stephen L. Hardin, "Texian Iliad"

 

 

"I tell people I have the good Lord on my side. So that helps. It helps a lot."

------ Horace Archie, pitmaster of the legendary New Zion Baptist Church barbecue in Huntsville, Texas

 

 

A 1828 description of the Tonkawas:

"Their huts were small and numbered thirty, all conical in shape, made of light branches, covered with the same material and an occasional buffalo skin. In the center of each is located the fireplace around which lie the male Indians in complete inaction, while the women are in constant motion either curing the meat of the game, or tanning the skins, or preparing the food, which consists chiefly of roast meat, or perhaps making arms for their indolent husbands."

------ Jose Maria Sanchez, "A Trip to Texas," 1828

 

 

From Jose Enrique de la Peña, one of the officers under Santa Anna at the Alamo, concerning the fact that the winter of 1836 was one of the coldest ever known in Texas. In fact, on Feb 13th, while the Mexican army was still in south Texas and approaching the Alamo, 15 or 16 inches of snow fell. Said De La Pena:

"The Tampico Regiment had left its cavalry saddled, and the mounts, covered to the haunches, couldnt be distinguished by their color. Many mules remained standing with their loads; others, as well as some horses, died, for those that fell and tried to get up inevitably slipped from being so numb, and cracked their heads. The snow was covered with the blood of the horses, contrasting with its whiteness."

---- Jose Enrique de la Pena, "With Santa Anna in Texas"

 

 

Noah Smithwick and finds him describing his time as a Texas ranger in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of San Jacinto:

"When the Texas army, under General Rusk, moved up from San Jacinto to Victoria in the wake of the retreating Mexicans, the rangers were detailed to guard the baggage. The country being deserted, we helped ourselves to anything in the way of provisions we found lying around loose ; but, the Mexican army having marched and countermarched through that section, there was little, except livestock, left to forage on. Camping for the night at Squire Sutherland's place on the Colorado, the only thing in the way of commissary we could find was a number of fat hogs lying around the gin house. They jumped up and "booed" at us when we came up, and, our military honor forbidding us to allow such an affront to pass unnoticed, we charged upon the saucy porkers, bringing down a 200-pounder.

Dressing our prize, we soon had pork chops to broil. The odor arising therefrom wasn't exactly what we could have wished ; but, as we sniffed the air rather doubtfully, familiarity with the peculiar odor served to lull our suspicions, and by the time the meat was cooked, we had persuaded ourselves there was nothing unusual about it. One bite served to dispel the fond delusion. Having been fattened on cottonseed alone, the meat was so strongly impregnated with the flavor that it was impossible to eat it.

All danger from the Mexicans being over, our men were strung out across the prairie, sometimes a mile ahead of the wagons. The sedge grass, which in many places was waist high was getting dry, furnishing material for a terrible conflagration if by chance a spark should light among it. So when a column of smoke suddenly rose up some little way ahead, realizing the danger to which we were exposed, we put spurs to our horses and hurried to the spot to prevent its spreading. On reaching the scene of the incipient fire we found a man lying half unconscious in the midst of the smoke, his face blackened and burned, his clothing on fire and his right arm almost torn from his body. The fragments of what had a few moments before been a powderhorn and a pipe accounted
for the poor fellow's condition, but there was no time to waste in speculation, as the fire was making such headway that a few moments more would put it beyond our control.

The fire being extinguished, we resuscitated the unfortunate victim, who, to our inquiries as to the cause of the explosion, said he had lighted his pipe for a smoke, but the tobacco didn't burn well, so he turned up his powderhorn to add a few grains of powder for kindling. The experiment was entirely successful, and but for our prompt arrival on the scene, he might have burned himself and the wagons and possibly other men. Thus the Texas rangers demonstrated their ability to cope with the devil in his natural element...."

---- Noah Smithwick, "The Evolution of a State or Recollections of Old Texas Days, 1900

 

 

"Unfortunately, most of the things I've read about myself have been true."

------ Willie Nelson

 

 

"All those guys with cowboy hats started growing their hair and all those guys with long hair started wearing cowboy hats and pretty soon there was nothing but girls in halter tops standing between them."

------ Eddie Wilson, founder of Austin's Legendary Armadillo World Headquarters, on what brought the hippies and the rednecks together in the early 1970s and lead to the creation of "redneck rock" and outlaw country music.

 

 

 

 

Written in 1840. Check out the title of the book in the citation. You feel like you've already read it!

"The eagles of Rome in all her glory soared not over so fine a country as Texas."

-------- Col. Edward Stiff, "The Texan Emigrant: Being a Narration of the Adventures of the Author in Texas, and a Description of the Soil, Climate, Productions, Minerals, Towns, Bays, Harbors, Rivers, Institutions, and Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants of that Country; Together with the Principal Incidents of Fifteen Years Revolution in Mexico; and Embracing a Condensed Statement of Interesting Events in Texas, from the First European Settlement in 1692, down to the Year 1840," Cincinnati, 1840

 

 

Moses Austin, Stephen F. Austin's father, writing to Stephen from his (Moses') deathbed in his last letter to Stephen before dying. Moses was asking Stephen to take his place and move forward with colonizing Texas:

"I can now go forward [die] with confidence, and I hope and pray that you will discharge your doubts as to the enterprise. Raise your spirits. Times are changing, and a new chance presents itself."

----- Moses Austin in a letter to Stephen Austin, May 21, 1821. It was this letter and the fact that Mary, Stephen's mother, wrote to him and said, "He [Moses Austin] drew me down to him and with much distress and difficulty of speech told me that it was too late ... that he was going. He begged me to tell you dear Stephen that it was a dying father's last request to tell you to prosecute the enterprise he had commenced" that convinced Stephen to cross the Sabine River in July of 1821 and start a new life as an empressario, convincing families in the United States to move to Texas.

 

 

One of Jim Bowie's friends describes him:

"It was his habit promptly to settle all difficulties without regard to time or place, and it was the same whether he met one or many. At the same time he was self-possessed and conspicuously cool. An unyielding enemy, he pursued unrelentingly, but was always willing to forgive his worst foe when properly approached. He was sincere in all he said. No man was ever deceived as to his feelings or conduct. The fiery impulse of his nature was instantly subdued into a cool caution in the immediate presence of real danger. power of will on such occasions was remarkable, and sometimes subjected him to the imputation of fear, so instantaneous was the change from the fervor of passion to the quiet coolness of apparent trepidation. It was then that he was terribly dangerous to an over-confident foe."

----- William H. Sparks, friend to both Jim Bowie and his brother Rezin

 

 

“They always come and they shake my hand and they thank me for the ‘Luv Ya Blue’ years and all of us who played in it. And you see this faraway look in their eyes. It was like Shangri-La. It was like Camelot.”

------ former Houston Oiler quarterback Dan Pastorini, talking about folks in Houston who still come up to him and want to talk about the late 1970s, early 1980s Oilers

 

 

Cabeza de Vaca writing in 1542 about the Coahuiltecan Indians of south Texas:

"I believe these people see and hear better, and have keener senses than any other in the world. They are resistant in hunger, thirst and cold, as if they were made for the endurance of these more than other men, by habit and nature."

------ Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, "The Relation," 1542

 

 

"My ambition has been to succeed in redeeming Texas from its wilderness state by means of the plough alone, in spreading over it North American population enterprise and intelligence, in doing this I hoped to make the fortune of thousands and my own amongst the rest. My success so far has fully equalled my expectation, and I think that I derived more satisfaction from the view of flourishing farms springing up in this wilderness than military or political chieftains do from the retrospect of their victorious campains."

------- Stephen F. Austin, in an 1829 letter. This was eight years after he first entered Texas in July, 1821, and seven years before the Alamo fell.

 

 

"Texas history is a varied, tempestuous, and vast as the state itself. Texas yesterday is unbelievable, but no more incredible than Texas today. Today's Texas is exhilarating, exasperating, violent, charming, horrible, delightful, alive."

----- Edna Ferber, the author of "Giant," 1955

 

 

From Tunin' Tom Hawkins, the man who is responsible for making sure Willie Nelson's famous guitar, Trigger, is ready to go. Tom's been working for Willie for 35 years:

"Trigger is with me always. It's got an extra hole. It's been beat like Noah's Ark in the desert. It's gone ----- no it's not, It's beautiful. Just like Willie. Willie keeps it together. We don't ask questions. Things work. It's not allowed to go out of tune. I've got to be able to read the weather, factor in whether the gig is indoors or outdoors. Bobbie's Steinway B (Willie's sister Bobbie plays a Steinway in his band) is the same. It's his guitar, that's her piano. It's her Trigger."

---- Tunin' Tom Hawkins, as quoted by Joe Nick Patoski in his excellent biography of Willie, "Willie Nelson"

 

 

"During the cattle drives, Texas cowboy music came into national significance. Its practical purpose is well known—it was used primarily to keep the herds quiet at night, for often a ballad sung loudly and continuously enough might prevent a stampede. However, the cowboy also sang because he liked to sing.... In this music of the range and trail is 'the grayness of the prairies, the mournful minor note of a Texas norther, and a rhythm that fits the gait of the cowboy's pony'."

-------- from "Texas: A guide to the Lone Star State," 1940, WPA Guide

 

 

"I have lived in Texas since 1870, when my father moved his family here from Atlanta, Georgia, where I was born on July 11, 1865. We settled in Dallas, Texas. My father labored at any kind of work he could get to do when we first lit in Dallas. The Civil War sort of tore things up for father back in Atlanta, so he came to Texas calculating on getting a new start. Soon as I was able to go on my own, I lit out to find a job and dragged up to Denton County, which contained a tolerable lot of small cattle ranches back in those days.

In 1880 I landed a job with the Red Robinson outfit located eight miles north of Denton on Denton Creek. There I got my learning of the cow business.

I was a greener of the first water when I landed on Robinson’s outfit. The only thing that I could do was to sit in a saddle; but to ride a hoss was out of the question, unless the hoss was an easy saddle.

The range life didn’t stack up to home life, with a good bed to bunk in and a mother to fuss over fixing the chuck to suit, and such we hankered for, but the work got into my blood and I couldn’t leave it. I stayed with the cattle and hoss business so long as I was able to work.

The Denton County range was a brush country, and that kind of a range is no picnic to work. It takes better roping, riding, and more gizzard gravel to stay with the brush range. It is harder to herd critters and easier for the rustlers, and because of that it took more watching. . . .

The RR was not a large outfit; it run around two thousand head, more or less, according to Robinson’s selling and buying activities. Robinson worked from five to ten hands, depending on the season. Negro Joe was the cook, and there was my brother, myself, John Munson, and Joe Jones which made up the steady crew.

We slept in a ranch house and ate in a cook shack most of the time. During the roundup, and occasionally other short spells, we slept in the open and ate our chuck squatted on our haunches around the chuck wagon.

Our chuck run strong to beef and beans. The beef was not considered as costing anything, because the country was full of cattle, and when some beef was wanted, a waddy would rope a fat yearling and never look at the brand. That was a fact; generally the best yearling carried the brand of some other ranch. Besides beef, we would have wild game whenever the cooky took the notion or one of the waddies would decide to vary the meat deal by going out and shooting some game. Our bread was biscuits, sourdough, or corn pone. We had some vegetables which came in the can, dried fruit, and all the black coffee we called for. The cooky would regularly fix up something for our sweet tooth, such as fruit pies made from dried fruit, pudding of some sort, and once in a while a cake.

Negro Joe was a good belly-cheater and knew it, but the boys used to hoss-play him a lot, all in fun, and he would hoss-play us back. We generally got the worst end of the play, because he would load some dish we hankered for with red pepper or some sweet dish with salt. Once he made a cake with cotton stewed through it. To try and eat that cake sure put sadness in your heart, but we had a tolerable lot of fun about it when we discovered the cause of our eating trouble. . . .

One time the boys sent me out to get a “wouser” that was supposed to be in the creek bottom, because they feared that it would get some of the critters. My instructions were to stay after the animal until I located it and got a shot at it. The boys said, “If the animal is shot at it will leave the section pronto, but kill it if you can.” The animals was described as having a body like a calf and a head similar to a wolf. I left to locate the wouser early in the morning and stayed with the job until dark, but nary a glimpse did I get of the critter. I came into the camp sort of ashamed of myself because I had fell down on the job. I reported how I had watched and sneaked quietly here and there. While I was telling the tale, I noticed that all of the bunch ws mighty interested and noticed some smiles. It then came into my conk what had been pulled on me. I then sure enough was riled for a bit...."

----- Old cowboy George T. Martin in an interview with Sheldon Gauthier for the Works Progress Administration, 1936

 

 

"Any ballplayer that won't sign autographs for little kids ain't an American. He's a communist."

----- Rogers Hornsby, one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Hornsby, a member of a Texas family with deep historic roots, was born in Winters, Texas and raised in Fort Worth. He once said that he couldn't remember anything before he had a baseball in his hand. He is buried just east of Austin in Hornsby Bend.

 

 

"As I contemplate becoming a resident of Texas, I feel great anxiety about the nature of the population which will inhabit that country. The planters here have a most desperate opinion of the population there, originating I presume from such villains as have been driven from among them and who have taken shelter in that province."

------ Letter of January 31, 1829 from Thomas White of Louisiana to Texas colonizer Stephen F. Austin

 

 

"When the Rangers were outside the buffalo region there was nothing for them to eat but prairie dogs. The only fault they could find with prairie dogs was that they were too small and very hard to get. Rangers always tried to keep a little flour on hand to thicken soup and prairie dogs, being very fat, made good soup, but this was not very satisfying; after a meal of it one became hungry again within two or three hours. Rangers would boil a prairie dog or two, the more dogs in the kettle the better, and with a little flour make quite a pot of soup."

------ Charles Goodnight, from interviews conducted over several years with J. Evetts Haley, published in the Southwest Review, 1925

 

 

"The governor of a state needs to save money, and everybody knows a wife can always save two dollars where a husband can only save one."

----- Miram "Ma" Ferguson campaigning to be governor of Texas in 1925. Apparently, she was successful in persuading the voters, because she was elected twice.

 

 

Listening to Levon Helm's great version of "Deep Ellum Blues" this morning and it reminded me of today's Texas quote of the day, which was written about that legendary area of Dallas by a newspaperman in the 1930's:

“Deep Ellum is the one spot in the city that needs no daylight saving time because there is no bedtime…the only place recorded on earth where business, religion, hoodooism, gambling and stealing goes on at the same time without friction…Last Saturday a prophet held the best audience in this ‘Madison Square Garden’ in announcing that Jesus Christ would come to Dallas in person in 1939. At the same time a pickpocket was lifting a week’s wages from another guy’s pocket that stood with open mouth to hear the prophecy.”

----- as quoted by Darwin Payne in " Dallas: An Illustrated History"

 

 

When Sam Houston was challenged to a duel by David Burrnet, who was five foot one inches tall, Houston, who was well over six feet, said that "I do not fight downhill."

 

 

"I'm just tryin' to keep everything in balance, Woodrow. You do more work than you got to, so it's my obligation to do less."

----- Augustus McCrae, "Lonesome Dove"

 

 

"Business deals are often closed and social engagements made at a barbecue stand."

—Texas, A Guide To the Lone Star State, 1940

 

 

From old Texas Ranger J.K.P. Lankford:

"A hundred names of men I knew come back to me, and most of them, I suppose, are now dead. Hard lives, hard men, maybe ---- but they come back to me like murmurs of far-off voices sometimes, something soft, like a flute's sweet wine that has a message left to tell. Maybe I didn't see them so soft those days, because it was all too close. Life is something like a gun battle. A man doesn't know what he really thought until the shooting's over. That's the way I went through a lot of things down there. Never saw the danger then."

---- J.K.P. Langford, remembering his Texas Ranger life along the Rio Grande in the San Antonio Express, May 25, 1930

 

 

Written in 1878 and details how legendary Texas Ranger Jack Hays beat back an Indian attack atop Enchanted Rock, north of Fredericksburg:

"At another time. Hays went out with a party of some fifteen or twenty Rangers, upon the frontier of Texas, then many miles west of the white settlements, for the purpose of surveying and locating lands in the vicinity of a place well known as the 'Enchanted Rock.' We are unable to give to the reader the traditionary cause why this place was so named, but nevertheless, the Indians had a great awe, amounting almost to reverence for it, and would tell many legendary tales connected with it, and the fate of a few brave warriors, the last of a tribe now extinct, who defended themselves there for many years as in a strong castle, against the attacks of their hostile brethren. But they were finally overcome and totally annihilated, and ever since, the 'Enchanted Rock' has been looked upon as the exclusive property of these phantom warriors. This is one of the many tales which the Indians tell concerning it. The rock forms the apex of a high, round hill, very rugged and difficult of ascent. In the center there is a hollow, in the shape of a bowl, and sufficiently large to allow a small party of men to lie in it, thus forming a small fort, the projecting and elevated sides serving as a protection.

"Not far from the base of this hill. Hays and his men, at the time of the expedition spoken of, which occurred in the year 1841, or "42, were attacked by a large force of Indians. When the fight commenced, Hays, being some distance from his party, was cut off' from them, and being closely pressed by the Indians, made good his retreat to the top of the hill. Reaching the 'Enchanted Rock,' he there entrenched himself, and determined to sell his life dearly, for he had scarcely a gleam of hope left to escape. The Indians who were in pursuit, upon arriving near the summit, set up a most hideous howl, and after surrounding the spot, prepared for the charge; being bent upon taking this 'Devil Jack,' as they called him, at all hazards, for they knew who was the commander. As they would approach, Hays would rise, and level his rifle. Knowing his unerring aim, they would drop back. In this way he kept them at bay for nearly an hour, the Indians howling around him all the while, like so many wolves.

But finally becoming emboldened, as he had not yet fired his rifle, they approached so near that it became necessary for him to go to work in earnest. So, as they continued to advance, lie discharged his rifle, and then seizing his five-shooter, he felled them on all sides; thus keeping them off, until he could reload. In this manner he defended himself for three long hours. When the Indians, becoming furiously exasperated, rushed in mass, and gained the top, on one side of the hill. His men, who had heard the crack of his rifle, and had been fighting most desperately to reach their leader, now succeeded in breaking through the file of Indians on the other side, and arrived just in lime to save him.

"This,' said the Texan who told us the story, ' was one of Jack's most narrow escapes, and he considers it one of the tightest little places that he ever was in. The Indians, who had believed for a long time that he bore a charmed life, were then more than ever convinced of the fact."

----- Samuel C. Reid, Jr., "The Scouting Expeditions of McCullough's Texas Rangers; or the Summer and Fall Campaign of the Army of the United States in Mexico, 1846" copyright 1878

 

Rio Grande City, Texas, sepia toned. This portrait features four heavily armed Rangers, listed on the verso as George Parker, J. Walter Durbin, J. W. King, and Robert McNamar. The verso inscription further identifies the subjects as "State Rangers in Rio Grande City, Tex. Oct. 1887."

 

If there was ever magic in the Hill Country it was on those mornings in early September when I walked out on the porch and felt the first bare breeze of fall. It did not seem to be air, really, it was, instead, a kind of moving, a lightness, a gentle hint of the northers that would be coming down soon to inaugurate the season properly. As I looked out beyond the porch the leaves of the oak trees in the front yard would be in a slight, easy sway ----- as if the breeze were content merely to nudge them, almost playfully, after its long absence.

Later in the day, when the sun returned to its job deep in the sky and tried to intimidate the land with its familiar heat and bluster, I stood bareheaded in the yard and knew that the sun's summer fierceness was gone. The new breeze washed off the sting of the sunrays from my body, insulating me from the force of the sun's burning.

.... Yet it was as much with this first breeze augured as what it brought; it meant that there would be school again, and soon; it was suddenly right on me. In a week or so, through the trees, I would be seeing figures at the tennis court ----- arms bending, legs straightening out into runs; and the casual sound of the rackets hitting against the balls ----- pflock... pflock ----- would be sailing past the gym and over the vacant lot and into our yard. There would be girls in starched dresses along the neighborhood streets, and small boys with new crayolas and Big Chief writing tablets. It would be hoarse cries on the football practice field - cries that were as good and natural a sound to me in the fall as the sound of our front door slamming at supper time. There would be sweaters to put on and incinerator smoke to smell and loose notebook paper caught in dusty weeds along the streets. And the high school band would be marching encounter marching through the long September afternoons ----- "National Emblem" coming over the practice field, through the vacant lot, into our yard.

It was all there ----- a sudden sense of school, the curious fading of Summer ----- in that single meandering first breeze. I stood on the porch and felt the twinge of fall as it made its way into the waiting Hill Country and I sensed a pleasant mystery, a Wonder, in the carefully managed ways of the world."

----- Elroy Bode, "This Favored Place: The Texas Hill Country," 1983

Herman Ehrenberg was one of the few survivors of the Goliad Massacre, the tragic event that occurred on March 27, 1836, following the Battle of Coleto; 425–445 prisoners of war from the Texian Army of the Republic of Texas were killed by the Mexican Army near the town of Goliad. 17 years later, Ehrenberg wrote a book about his experiences in Texas, including that of the massacre. The following excerpt appeared in The Gonzales Inquirer newspaper in December, 1853:

 

A Survivor's Account of the Goliad Massacre
The Gonzales Inquirer - December 3, 1853
By Hermann Ehrenberg

After the names had been called, the order to march was given, and we filed out through the gates of the fortress, the Greys [New Orleans Greys, a volunteer unit from Louisiana] taking the lead. Outside the gate we were received by two detachments of Mexican infantry, who marched along on either side of us, in the same order as ourselves. We were 400 in number, and the enemy about 700, not including the cavalry, of which numerous small groups were scattered about the prairie.

We marched in silence, not, however, in the direction we had anticipated, but along the road to Victoria. This surprised us but, upon reflection, we concluded that they were conducting us to some eastern port, thence to be shipped to New Orleans, which, upon the whole, was perhaps the best and shortest plan.

There was something, however, in the profound silence of the Mexican soldiers, who are usually unceasing chatters, that inspired me with a feeling of uneasiness and anxiety. It was like a funeral march, and truly might it be so called. Presently I turned my head to see if Miller's people had joined, and were marching with us. But to my extreme astonishment, neither they nor Fannin's men or the battalion, were to be seen.

They had separated from us without our observing it, and the detachment with which I was marching consisted only of the Greys and a few Texan colonists. Glancing at the escort, their full dress uniform, and the absence of all baggage, now for the first time struck me. I thought of the bloody scenes that had occurred at Tampico, San Patricio, and the Alamo, of the false and cruel character of those in whose power we were, and I was seized with a presentiment of evil.

A quarter of an hour had elapsed since our departure from the fort, when suddenly the command was given in Spanish to wheel to the left, leaving the road: and as we did not understand the order, the officer himself went in front to show the way, and my companions followed without taking any particular notice of the change of direction.

We were marched along the side of the hedge towards the stream, and suddenly the thought flashed across us, "Why are they taking us in this direction?" The appearance of a number of lancers, cantering about in the fields on our right, also startled us; and just as the foot soldiers who had been marching between us and the hedge, changed their places, and joined those of their comrades, who guarded us on the other hand.

Before we could divine the reason of this maneuver the word was soon given to halt. It came like a sentence of death; for at the same moment it was uttered, the sound of a volley of musketry echoed across the prairie. We then thought of our comrades and our probable fate.

"Kneel down!" Now burst in harsh accents from the lips of the Mexican commander. No one stirred. Few of us understood the order, and those who did would not obey. The Mexican soldiers, who stood at about three paces from us, leveled their muskets at our breasts. Even then we could hardly believe that they meant to shoot us; for if we had, we should assuredly have rushed forward in our desperation, and, weaponless though we were, some of our murders would have met their death at our hands.

The sound of a second volley, from a different direction then the first just then reached our ears, and was followed by a confused cry, as if those at whom it had been aimed, had not all been immediately killed. A thick cloud of smoke was wreathing and curling towards the San Antonio River.

The blood of our lieutenant was on my clothes, and around me lay my friends convulsed with their last agony. I saw nothing more. Unhurt myself, I sprang up and, concealed by the thick smoke, fled along the hedge in the direction of the river, the noise of the water for my guide.

On I went, the river rolled at my feet, the shouting and yelling behind. "Texas forever!" And without a moment's hesitation, I plunged into the water. The bullets whistled round me as I swam slowly and wearily to the other side, but none wounded me.

Whilst these horrible scenes were occurring on the prairies, Col. Fannin and his wounded companions were shot and bayoneted at Goliad, only Dr. Shackleford and a few hospital aids having their lives spared, in order that they might attend the wounded Mexicans."

Biographical note:

Prussian-born Herman Ehrenberg was a surveyor, cartographer, writer, and engineer who survived the Goliad Massacre of 1836. Ehrenberg immigrated to the United States in 1834 and, after joining the New Orleans Greys in October 1835, fought in the Texas Revolution. Ehrenberg fought at the siege of Bexar in December 1835 and the battle of Coleto under James W. Fannin. Fannin and his men surrendered following the battle of Coleto, and a week later the Mexican army executed most of the prisoners, only twenty-eight men escaped. Ehrenburg fled under the cover of the gun smoke and managed to cross the San Antonio River. After surviving for several days in the wild, Ehrenberg surrendered to Mexican General José de Urrea. Urrea took Ehrenberg to Matagorda and released him following news of the battle of San Jacinto.

Ehrenberg returned to Germany to study mining at Freiburg University, and in the early 1840s taught English at Halle University. In 1844, Ehrenberg returned to the United States and spent the rest of his life as a surveyor, explorer, cartographer, and miner in the Southwest. He surveyed and mapped the Gadsden Purchase; portions of Arizona, New Mexico, and California; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Colorado City, Arizona. In addition, he was an agent for the Mojaves on the Colorado River Reservation, 1863-1866. As a writer, Ehrenberg published articles in Mining Magazine and Journal of Geology and Arizona Weekly. He also wrote an account of his actions during the Texas Revolution called Texas und seine Revolution, 1843.

In 1866, robbers murdered Ehrenberg at Dos Palmas in California near the present day site of Palm Springs. I sometimes think about him, dying in the desert like that, if in his last moments he thought of the events in Goliad 30 years earlier and thought "I survived all of that only to die here, like this?"

 

"Throughout the more than four-century span of her history Texas has been the meeting point of alien peoples and diverse heritages, so that today she represents the focal point of many conflicting cultures. The Spanish influence lays a heavy hand upon her past; the Rio Grande, her southern border, is the international boundary line with Mexico; at her western extremities lie Isleta and El Paso, among the oldest European outposts on this continent; and against her western boundary impinges the bilingual culture of New Mexico. In the east remain strong traces of two Anglo-American traditions, that of the Tennessee and Kentucky frontiersman, and that of the Old South. Upon her northern sections the practicality of the Middle West presses down. Within her borders the German of early colonists is still spoken, and the dialects of Indians. In the upper Panhandle men yet young remember the days of free land; there are dugouts still inhabited by the original homesteaders.

These are the cultures which fringe Texas. She stands at the center, self-sufficient, receiving them all, dominated by none ----- absorbing them all: those of the Mexican, the Kentucky Colonel, the Kansas wheat farmer, the Cajun, and by some mysterious alchemy converting them into the Texas way of life."

------- Donald Day, "Big Country Texas," 1947

 

This is the text of a letter written from Sarah Horton to her sister soon after the town of Dallas was established by John Neely Bryan. It is a remarkable account. Possibly the best thing about it is Sarah saying that of all the sisters who make up their family, she (Sarah) is the most forgettable among them. That turned out to be HUGELY untrue because Sarah married a man named Alexander Cockrell and, after his death, took over his business affairs. By the time of her death in Dallas in 1892, Sarah had a net worth of what today would be hundreds of millions of dollars. Here's Sarah's letter to her sister back east:

 

 

"To: Jane Horton Bradshaw
The Bradshaw Farm,
Abington, Virginia

 

My beloved sister, Jane, your letters arrived in the same post yesterday. It was good to hear from you. I can tell by some of the questions you asked and the comments you made that you have not been receiving all of my letters. It is just as well. I have no idea which ones you received and which ones were lost en route, but I can only wish that some of my babbling went astray. My face turns red when I think how I must have sounded like a lovesick school girl in some of the things I wrote. If you, perchance, did receive those two letters telling you about my meeting with Mr. Alexander Cockrell, please know that I have come to my senses and no longer give him a thought.

 

We are having a beautiful spring. The crops are all in and looking great. Harvest time is just around the corner. For now, I have dispensed with school. I can only hope that encouraging our sisters to read, to write to you and to take advantage of every opportunity for learning is turning them into young ladies who will have a modicum of education along with their charm and beauty. Our sisters are beautiful! I look at them and wonder how I could have turned out so plain—nondescript brown hair, and not a lot of it—to their ravishing locks that fall halfway down their backs and are chestnut, bronze and golden wheat. Our three sisters with blue eyes all are framed in black lashes as are Martha’s lovely brown— almost black—eyes while I managed to get deep-set gray eyes with little to recommend them! There is no doubt that of all of my sisters—you, Mary, Martha, Rachel, Lucy and Emma—I am the most forgettable of all!

 

During the second week of April, Pa finally gave way to our wheedling and took us into town. It was an all-clay affair with only a couple of hours to spend in the village before we had to begin our trip back home. The boys hitched the oxen to the wagon and took us to the banks of the Trinity River. Pa rode across on his horse and rented Mr. Bryan’s canoe, then returned for us. The little boat is so small that only four of us, at best, could make the trip across. Pa took Ma, Mary and Emma across, then returned for Martha, Lucy and me. It took only a short time to row across the river, but I felt that time was wasting for my own adventures to begin. I learned later that Ma, Mary and Emma were welcomed by Mrs. John Neely Bryan as soon as they arrived, as were we when we got to her cabin on the east bank of the Trinity.

 

Mrs. Bryan is such a tiny thing and so young! I am sure she has not yet reached her twenties, but she is twice a mother already. I felt such a kinship with Mrs. Bryan, whose name is Margaret. She was a Beeman, the daughter of the second family to arrive in the area to join Mr. Bryan in the founding of the town. The Bryans live in the largest cabin in the town; it is their third. Mrs. Bryan said that her husband brought her as a bride to his first home right on the banks of the Trinity, a one-room tiny cabin where she prepared their meals on the open hearth. Shortly after their wedding, Mr. Bryan started another house for them, a larger cabin that was washed away when the river overflowed not long after they moved into it. Then, he build a third cabin, the one in which they now live, which was completed shortly before John Neely Bryan, Jr. was born. It is a fine home, located far enough away from the river where Commerce and Broadway streets (more on this later) intersect. Made of cedar logs, it has two big rooms under one roof. The room on the east with doors and a window facing the rising sun is for cooking and dining.The one on the west, its outlets facing the river, is the family space that is used for a living room and for sleeping.We were royally entertained in the family room but were shown the rest of the house. The second room has a walkway between it and the first so that cooking odors and heat will not permeate the other part of the house. Both are floored with puncheons, wide planks smoothed on top but still uneven. Mrs. Bryan is working on a rag rug for the “front” room. She said it is going slowly because fabric is so hard to get, and she must use what she can find. When we cut our dresses from the fabric we bought in town at the new Smith & Patterson general merchandise store, I hope to have some scraps to give to Mrs. Bryan for her rug. I am tempted to start one of our own. Perhaps some day in the future I may even have a house where I could use such a thing!

 

We were told that the first census has been completed and that 53 “men” now live in the area. I take it that means families! There is such a tendency in these parts to count the men and dismiss all the rest of us as irrelevant. The “First” families include: the Bryans, of course; the John Andersons; the Beemans (brothers John and James Beeman with their wives Emily Hunnicutt and Sarah Crawford, later joined by Samuel, a third brother); the Cochrans (William M. and his wife, Nancy Hughes Cochran) three of Nancy’s sisters with their husbands (Mary Hughes Webb and her husband Isaac Blackmon Webb, Sarah Matilda Hughes Williams and her husband Thomas Carroll Williams and Serena Caroline Hughes Knight and her husband, Obadiah Woodson Knight); the Rawlins family; and, of course, I include our own family—the Horton family on Mountain Creek, plus Wesley Cockrell and family, our neighbors to the north and the Hords, our neighbors to the south.There are others, many which this first census missed.The one thing that most upsets, even angers me, is that the “men” are counted. Many, like my own father, is “head” of a large family that includes Ma, our four brothers, five sisters and me! What is this? That only the married men count and nobody else is to be noted in the census?

 

In February Texas formally installed a state government in Austin. Several men from Dallas are among the new officers. Even more important to us than having a state government is that we now have a COUNTY! One of the state legislature’s first acts was to create Dallas County, carving it from portions of Nacogdoches County on the east and Robertson County on the west. Dallas has been named the first seat of county government simply because Mr. Bryan designated space in his cabin for county records and immediately, with the help of three or four other men, began to construct a separate building to seat the officials and house the records.We witnessed the start of the cabin, some 15 by 16 feet in size, which is located on the northwest cornér of what Mr. Bryan designates to be the “square” of his town. It is being made of four-foot boards, has puncheon floors and a large fireplace with a chimney of split wood daubed with clay. For furnishings, at least temporarily, split logs will be put in for seating. Mr. Bryan is a real visionary, never lets an opportunity pass without taking advantage of it. Mrs. Bryan seems to take everything he does calmly. She is several years younger than he, and I suppose looks on him as the founding father he claims to be.

 

Not everybody is pleased with the town of Dallas as a seat of government.We are a part of a community west of the Trinity River now known as Hord’s Ridge.To the north of the village of Dallas is a settlement called Cedar Springs. For now, as of May 12, Mr. Bryan has been designated as the official to select managers who are to name temporary officers and select a date, time and place for an election that will determine where the county government will be permanently located and who will serve as its officers.

 

Mr. Bryan was also concerned with setting up a city government. He has already laid out the “city” of Dallas and named its streets. When J. P. Dumas, a surveyor, and Mrs. Dumas arrived two and a half years ago, Mr. Bryan hired him to survey the area in 200 by 200 foot blocks.As it was laid out, it extended eight blocks west to east from the Trinity to Poydras Street and 10 blocks north and south from McKinney to Young Street. Mr. Bryan proudly showed Pa and James the plat provided by Mr. Dumas. Neatly laid out in squares, it included from the north to the south, McKinney, Columbia, Polk,Wood,Jackson, Commerce, Main, Elm, Burleson, Carondelet, Walnut and Calhoun streets and from the Trinity River on the west eastward, Water, Broadway, Houston, Jefferson, Market, Austin, Lamar and Poydras. Mr. Bryan says he is selling city lots on these streets, and he hopes to have at least a hundred families living in the “city” soon. But now, as I said, there are only four cabins! There is no doubt he was hinting that Pa should purchase one of the lots, but none of us has any desire to live in town.

 

Everybody is talking about the Mexican War. The men, of course, discuss it and the women are supposed to play dumb and have no clue about what is going on. I listen but do not voice an opinion. That way I learn a lot! There is a great deal of disagreement over whether we should be fighting this war at all. In April when President Polk asked Congress to declare a state of war with Mexico, there seemed to be no way to settle the dispute between that country and ours over the borders of Texas, portions of California and New Mexico. But then, as General Zachary Taylor was ordered to post troops on the left bank of the Rio Grande River, across from Matamoros, Mexican authorities began to seek a face-saving way to avoid conflict. By that time, I understand, President Polk was spoiling for a fight and in mid-May had his way when Congress approved a resolution that “a state of war exists between the Government of Mexico and the United States Government.” Congress then authorized the recruitment of 50,000 soldiers and agreed to $10 million to fight the war.There is a growing feeling that the real issue has to do with the disagreement between the North and South over whether, or not, slavery will continue. For me, this war has a face—that of Mr. Alexander Cockrell. I think of him often and wonder what role he is playing. He told me that he was not in the regular Army, only a volunteer, and I wonder if this means he can walk away if he wants to. Please don’t misunderstand; I have absolutely no romantic feelings toward this man. I would feel the same way toward anyone who faced danger in battle. I think women do this.The government can glibly talk about an Army of 50,000, but each of those is an individual, some mother’s son, some woman’s husband or sweetheart or friend, some sister’s brother. I think of how I would feel if any one of our brothers was recruited into the Army. I lie awake at night and ponder these things . . . and all the while continue to miss you so very much.

 

Much love,
Sarah Horton"

 

----- This letter comes from Vivian A. Castleberry's wonderful biography of Sarah Cockrell entitled "Sarah--the Bridge Builder: Dowager Of A Dallas Dynasty." It was published in 2004 and comes highly recommended. You can get a copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Mrs. Castleberry is an excellent writer.

"Dalhart is the only place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.

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Posted : 6th January 2020 1:38 pm
tracesoftexas
(@tracesoftexas)
Honorable Member Admin

I have roughly 11,000 archived quotes about Texas and I'm adding to my collection nearly every day. I'm wondering if I should break them off into chunks of about 500 quotes each. A single thread with 11,000 quotes might take forever to load, given that some of the quotes are thousands of words long. Hmmm...

This post was modified 3 months ago by tracesoftexas

Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.

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Posted : 24th June 2020 9:07 pm