Texas Reader - Curious Drams of Texas History and Culture

Texas Buys the Alamo January 18 2020 12 Comments

In 1885, the State of Texas purchased the Alamo chapel from the Catholic Church. Most people in Texas at the time knew the story of the siege and fall, but had never visited, and may not have even seen a picture of it.
A correspondent for the Galveston News decided to be their eyes and described what he saw during his visit in detail. See if you can imagine the Alamo as he saw it. Would you have felt the same?
San Antonio, Tex., October 30, 1885 - The State of Texas now owns the Alamo, for the purchase of which the Eighteenth legislature appropriated the sum of $20,000. I have here before said that it is a monument to heroism as well as of a civilization, but there is little now remaining to indicate its ancient origin or use, for it no longer resembles a mission, nor the ruins of a mission, but it has rather the appearance of a stone warehouse - the towers and stone roof are gone and a plain tin or iron roof now covers the Alamo.
The front and rear walls above the upper windows have been rebuilt with stone, in the style of modern architecture, and taken altogether, it has an unsightly appearance, for a building so renowned. It would therefore be inappropriate to speak of it as a monument of ancient civilization, since there is nothing save the columns, front windows, and it may be the contour of the wall itself, that would suggest such an origin or use to the mind of the visitor.
As the people are supposed to have purchased the Alamo through the aforesaid legislature, it will not be uninteresting to them to learn its present condition; and as thousands of people, whose money is invested in it, may not have seen it, a minute description will no doubt be acceptable to them; it may aid them in buying Alamo futures:
The Alamo fronts west on Alamo Plaza; the walls are about four feet thick and at the sides about 22 feet high it is about 75 feet in width and 105 feet in length. The side walls are very irregular. Commencing at the front wall, which is plain, the sides extend back about 18 feet, where there occurs a recess of about 11 feet. This recess extends back about 34 feet, where the wall projects again to the width of the front. This projection extends about 36 feet to another recess of 11 feet, thence fro said recess about 19 feet to the east, or rear end of the building.
The first recess in the south wall has been enclosed with the front and rear projections forming a room the whole length of the recess, and covered by the roof of the building in the nature of an ante or shed room, the use of which is unknown to me (note: this room was later used as a police station.)​
Alamo Plaza at about the time of the writer's visit.
Did they not think the people would like to see the property that had bought? If so, why did they not purchase the right of way around the Alamo?
There is an alley about 30 feet wide between this wall and the Crockett Saloon, on the opposite side of the alley, but it is obstructed by a fence, once side of which is attached to the Alamo and the other to the Crockett Saloon, at about 35 feet from the front of the building. There is a gate in the fence, which is usually closed and locked; should you find it open you can pass through to the rear of the Alamo; should it be closed, you may gain admission from the proprietor.
Passing through this gate you cross an irrigation ditch which flows at the base of the south wall. You are now in a lot, or yard, or both, for there is a stable on the south bank of the ditch, and a residence in the interior of the enclosure without a partition fence. Some big trees are growing near the base of the wall.
You have now seen the front and about one-third of the south wall of the Alamo from Alamo Plaza, and about two-thirds of said wall and the south end of the Alamo from the aforesaid enclosure. You now desire to see the north wall externally, but that is impossible.
The north wall is invisible and unapproachable; it is not open to the public. A business house, bearing the sign of Hugo & Schmeltzer, formerly H. Genet, encloses the side of the Alamo; said house is situated about nine feet from this wall and extends about two thirds back toward the read (note: this business house incorporated the walls of the Alamo convento or long barrack within its structure, a fact the writer seem unaware of.)
The space between this wall and the said business house in enclosed under the roof with same house, and is divided , about on third of its length, by a strong wall; the front of this space is used for storage purposes, the remaining space - projecting into the recess of the Alamo wall - was formerly used for ice, now it use is unknown to me.
From the rear of the business house to the south wall of the Alamo is a plank awning, attached to the wall , and used for the storage of boxes, barrels, and general rubbish which are no longer needed for use. The awning itself is decaying.
A fence attached to the southeast corner of the Alamo, extending along the north side of the aforesaid ditch, encloses the business house on the south, and excludes all public approach to the north wall of the Alamo.
The visitor may now desire to enter this historic building, which the State has purchased for the purpose of exhibiting to their citizens. You will go to the front door - there being no other - where a courteous gentleman meets you and shows you over the building. You first pass into a small room on the left, in which you are informed Colonel Bowie died (note: this is incorrect. Bowie was killed in one of the rooms converted to hospital use, next tot the sally port on the south side of the compound.)
You now walk round the building on the first floor. Nothing, however, of interest presents itself. You turn away feeling weariness and wish the visit were over. Your guide is polite and you dislike to wound him by abruptly terminating the visit, and you never yourself to endure the remainder of the scene.
You are led by a stairway at the right of the entrance the the second floor (note: this second floor was installed by the army when the chapel was used as a quartermaster's warehouse. It was like a converted attic space.) At the head of the stairs is a small room in which are two windows, which you are informed were used as port holes for cannon during the siege (note: this is incorrect.) You pass around the walls which you see have been broken at the ends and a part of one side, and rebuilt with stone, half as thick as the original walls.
You now descend to the first floor and enter a door in the north wing. Here the darkness is profound. Your guide lights a small lamp and you follow him through a narrow passage into the interior darkness.
You are informed that there are graves here, but you have not seen them - that heroes died here - and they may be there yet as far as you know. You feel oppressed and return by the narrow passage to the door by which you entered. You are now in the light - you have seen the Alamo. You pass out of the building disappointed, dissatisfied, disgusted. Did Texas heroes fall here? Can this be the monument purchased by the State to the memory of Bowie, of Crockett and of Travis?
You feel you have seen a warehouse instead of a monument. Indeed it was a warehouse from 1851 to the date of purchase by the State. The Eighteenth legislature called it a church, which is calculated to mislead the public mind. did they not know the difference between a church and a warehouse? Once it was a church - later a warehouse.

Texas Quote

"The Alamo isn't a structure now. It's a symbol of valor in the minds of men. It can never fall again."

- John M. Myers


The Plaza

The schematic of the Alamo in the article above is taken from an historic fire insurance map produced by the Sanborn Company, showing Alamo Plaza and the surrounding area as it was in 1885, forty-nine years after the battle
And it's a treasure trove of detail, because it was meant to show insurance agents exactly what they were agreeing to cover.

It shows every building, how it was being used and its construction (blue is masonry, yellow is wood, pink is brick.)
See the police station in the Alamo chapel?

See the Hugo & Schmeltzer liquor store in the long barrack?

Hard to imagine isn't it? 
It gives you the full plan of the Menger Hotel, from the billiard room to the linen closet. You can even read the details of it's lighting and heating.
We have reproduced it as a limited edition fine-art print. Click below to learn more about it.

A Night of Violence December 31 2018 5 Comments

Bad information leads to bad decisions and bad outcomes. Ask Vida Henry.
Back in 1917, what is now Memorial Park in Houston was a mix of pines and prairie being turned into a new Army training center called Camp Logan. Construction sites need to be guarded to prevent materials from evaporating, so the Army assigned the duty to the 3rd Battalion of the 24th Infantry.
Apparently the Army brass didn't understand that Houston was very much a Southern city with a full set of Jim Crow laws on the books, or they never would have sent an all black battalion to do that job. Bad information.
Vida Henry was sergeant of I Company, and by all accounts a good soldier who went by the book. Strict but fair. He had cautioned the men in his charge about the dangers of going into town, but still issued passes. After being stationed in the wilderness of New Mexico, Houston with its thriving black community in the Fourth Ward was like finding an oasis in the desert.
Still, this was the Jim Crow South and the officers of the Houston police force didn't feel the black soldiers showed enough deference. There were dust-ups, a few arrests and a lot of mutual bad blood.
Everything came to a head on August 23. Corporal Charles Baltimore went into town to investigate the arrest of another soldier that afternoon. Things escalated and Baltimore was beaten, shot at, and arrested.
By the time the news reached Camp Logan, it was erroneously reported that Baltimore had been killed. Bad information. And the last straw.
Sgt. Henry and 155 men of the 3rd Battalion declared war on the Houston Police Department, seized weapons and marched out of camp.
They marched down Washington Avenue, turned right at Shepherd Drive, then left down what is now W. Dallas and into town.
A few citizens who went outside to see what was happening where they were bayoneted and shot. One man was shot fifty times when he refused to give up his car.
Police on horseback attempted to stop the advance, but to no avail. The soldiers continued on until they reached Valentine Street. It was now dark and the men were overcome by the futility of what they were doing.
Sgt. Henry advised them to put down their arms and surrender. He then walked off down the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. A short while later a shot was heard.
When the sun rose the next day Houston was under martial law. Five police officers, four soldiers and eight citizens were dead.
Military tribunals convicted 110 soldiers. Nineteen were hanged at Fort Sam Houston, sixty-three received life sentences and the remainder lesser terms. It was the largest court martial in US history.

Texas Quote
"What you northerners never appreciate ... is that Texas is so big that you can live your life within its limits and never give a damn about what anyone in Boston or San Francisco thinks."
- James Michener

Christmas 2018, Bananas & Such December 24 2018

The following was written by Dr. David Fentress, a Texas surgeon serving in the Confederate Army.

 He had spent the previous two years in the field in Arkansas and Louisiana. He was back in Texas, but it would still be several months before he was back with his family.


December 21, 1864

My Dear Wife,

 I send you by Mr. Bothwell to Sister Cordie's at Gonzales, a bundle & a cigar box.

 The bundle contains 3 1/2 yards of grey cloth, 1 piece of drilling (stout cotton fabric) for lining & another for drawers ... 

 The stuff for drawers I wish you would make up and send to me the first opportunity, taking ease to make them a little larger round the waist and in the legs than the last ones you made for me ...

 The cigar box contains three bananas, four oranges, 1/2 pound candy in three parcels & various peanuts, costing nearly fifty dollars in new issue (currency), but I thought I might spend it foolishly upon myself at Christmas time & I had better make this disposition of the money - the variety of articles will add to your enjoyment of them in these war times.

 I regret exceedingly I had not the money left to buy as much for Cordie's children, for it looks shabby to send these through her hands & seem to forget her children, but tell her it was because I had but twenty-five dollars left - just enough to satisfy my modest washer woman for twelve pieces ... 

 Well, now that all danger is past I will tell you I was with yellow fever - only one case however & that the only one since I got here.

 If you get me some cotton socks knit & not too large, I would be obliged to you. The yarn socks I have are so large the wrinkles on them blister my heel and I lap them over my toes.

 I enclose to you some postage stamps & hope you will use them often. Now that I get all your letters you have no excuse.

 Well my love, I wish you a happy Christmas. Oh how I regret that I can not spend it with you & our darlings. God bless them. 

- David


I love this letter for its contrast of great and small concerns. Socks and war. Christmas candy and yellow fever.

 It reminds me that our small comforts are pretty great by contrast with earlier times. And for the majority of us, our biggest worries aren't so terrible when contrasted with most of history. 

These mercies, mild though they be, are echoes of the great and eternal mercy that Christmas heralds.

 At home or afield, wherever Christmas finds you, we pray that it's peace and joy will find you as well.

 Merry Christmas!

Mark, Michelle and the Copano Bay Press family.

A Hairy Christmas December 20 2018

This week, in honor of the listmaker rumored to be coming to town, I decided to have a look at beards.
First lets get some hard data. In 1976 an economist at the University of Washington, Dwight Robinson, made a study of the facial hair shown in published images from 1840 to 1972. Here's what he found:
Sideburns were tops in the 1840s and 50s, when 60% of men sported them. But they went into steep decline after the mid 1850s as beards gained favor. From 1860 to 1900, over 40% of men were bearded. 
Then dawned the age of the mustache. 60% of men had them in the years leading up to the first world war. The War to End All Wars may not have lived up to its billing, but it sent the popularity of facial hair into a tailspin. By 1970 nearly 90% were clean-shaven.  
Here's Jim Bowie in the 1830s wearing the sideburns of the day.
Same with Congressman Crockett of Tennessee.
And Sam Houston in the 1840s.
I never realized it, but Sam Houston provided a record of facial fashion all by himself.
Here is clean-shaven Senator Sam in 1849. Portrait made in Washington DC by the great Mathew Brady.
By 1856 he is contemplating a presidential run, and wearing a fashionable full beard.
In 1859 he is back home running for governor. He only made one speech during the campaign. The mustache said it all.
The following year he is in the Governor's Mansion an wearing the sideburns of his younger days. In trying times we revert to familiar ways. Another Mathew Brady portrait.
Here are the last remaining San Jacinto veterans in 1906. William P. Zuber, J. W. Darlington, Asa Hill, Stephen F. Sparks, L. T. Lawlor, and Alfonso Steele. Bearded all.
Confederate vets at the capitol in 1902. Sticking with the styles of their younger days.
But by 1940s, the last Confederate veterans have changed with the times.
In contrast, here is a group of WWI flyboys visiting General Dynamics in Fort Worth sometime in the 60s. Not a whisker to be seen.
Back to the thing that started me thinking about beards...
This is the earliest mention of Santa Claus I could find in a Texas publication. From the South-Western American (Austin) in 1853.
But there was an earlier mention for St. Nicholas in December of 1849. This is from the Houston Telegram:
In case you don't know, Laudanum was 90% grain alcohol and 10% opium.

The Man Who Drew Texas - An Investigation December 06 2018 3 Comments

If you looked through our offerings of historic Texas city views, you probably noticed that one artist was responsible for more than half of them.
His name was Augustus Koch, and only the briefest of biographical information has been available for him.
  • He was born in Germany.
  • He served in the Civil War.
  • He drew city views for two decades after the war.
  • He spent a lot of time in Texas.
  • No one knows what happened to him after the mid 1890s (some say he went back to Germany.)
Let's see if we can can flesh him out through the magic of the internet.
I'll start with Texas newspapers. Surely an artist spending that much time in Texas would be profiled at some point.
The first mention I find is from Brenham in 1881. Interesting, but tells us nothing about the man.
Then a notice from Schulenburg that same year.
In 1885 I find him staying at the Washington Hotel in Galveston. His residence is given as Kansas City. That should be useful, but let's stay in Texas papers for now.
Also Galveston in 1885. The editors of The News were impressed with his work, but say nothing of the man himself.
Galveston in 1885 again.
In 1887 we find him in Austin.
Then the papers go quite until 1908, when this article about his 1873 San Antonio view. Once again, praise for the art, but nothing of the man.
And the final newspaper clipping from the San Antonio Light in 1931. Maury Maverick praised his accuracy.
Time to leave the papers behind and check genealogical records. Guess I should have started there.
We immediately find our Augustus Koch was born in Birnbaum, Prussia in 1840. This area was made part of Poland after WWII.
Here are his parents, Heinr and Josephine in late life.
By 1849 his family is in Wisconsin. That was unexpected. When the war came along he enlisted as a private in the 9th Wisconsin Infantry.
Later he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 51st US Colored Infantry and spent the rest of the war on the lower Mississippi.
This probably explains why his maps always note black churches and schools in the community.
He is listed as an engineer and he is noted as drawing a map of Vicksburg.
And at long last, here is the artist in the flesh:
After the war he goes to California, where he draws views and marries a Swiss miss. They would have two sons and a daughter.
The family settled in Kansas City from which he would head out several times a year to spend weeks at a time making hundreds of sketches of some far away city which were required to produce his bird's eye views.
The 1870s and 80s were productive for him, but sadly, his health began to fail in the mid 1890s. He died of Bright's Disease in Los Angeles on Christmas Day, 1899. He was fifty-nine.
Thanks for reading. I know none of this is earth-shattering. I just like to get to know the people who made these things and thought I'd take you along for the ride.

The Godmother of Texas History December 04 2018 1 Comment

When Anna J. Hardwicke Pennybacker died in 1938, her name had been a household word in Texas for over forty years.
She was a teacher to her core, a member of the first graduating class of Sam Houston Normal Institute (now Sam Houston State University) in 1880.
Over the next fourteen years she taught both grammar school and high school, first in Tyler, where she married Percy V. Pennybacker, and later in Palestine.
But teaching, no matter how excellent the teacher, seldom leads to fame.
Her notoriety grew from a project she began in 1887.
Texas history was then a required course of study in Texas public schools from the third grade through graduation. Unfortunately there was no text that presented the subject in a form fit for both younger and older students.
Mrs. Pennybacker set out to remedy that.
Her goal was:
"to picture the principal events in our history in a style easy and natural, yet vivid... written from the standpoint of a teacher, who believes that success in teaching history demands not only a live instructor, but also a live text-book."
When A New History of Texas was published in 1888, the teachers of Texas were quick to put it to use in the classroom. Over the next seven years, Mrs. Pennybacker kept up a cyclone of correspondence with teachers and scholars about how to improve the book.
The revised edition of 1895 added much to the text, as well as maps and illustrations. Two years later, the the State of Texas adopted it as the first official Texas History textbook. It remained the official text for the next forty years.
More than any other person of her time, Mrs. Pennybacker was responsible for how Texans understood their unique heritage.
She wrote in the preface of the revised edition:
"No occasion should be lost to cultivate true patriotism; this means not the blind egotism that asserts our State to be without blemish, but the wise love that sees all faults, and seeing, resolves to correct the same. March 2d and April 21st should never pass without some exercise that tends to make youth revere and honor the men who made those day immortal."
And her influence is alive and well today, though few realize it or even know her name. A New History of Texas introduced many historical events to the public consciousness of Texas.
One of those events was first reported in the Texas Almanac of 1873, but Almanacs are ephemeral, and when the year was out, many found service in the privy.
Mrs. Pennybacker included that event in her book and now, after being taught to Texas children for five generations, it's sure to live in the Texan psyche as long as there are Texans.
Here's how she wrote it:
"When Travis had finished, the silence of the grave reigned over all. Drawing his sword, he drew a line in front of his men and cried: "Those who wish to die like heroes and patriots, come over to me." There was no hesitation. In a few minutes, every soldier save one had crossed."

From the 1873 Texas Almanac

Here is how the account of Travis' line in the sand first appeared.
It is from a letter written to the editors of the Texas Almanac by William Zuber, relating the story told to his parents by Moses Rose about escaping from the Alamo.
"Col. Travis then drew his sword, and with the point traced a line upon the ground extending from the right to the left of the file. Then resuming his position in front of the center, he said: 'I now want every man who is determined to stay here and die with me to come across that line. Who will be the first? March!' 
The first respondent was Tapley Holland, who leaped the line at a bound, exclaiming, 'I am ready to die for my country!' His example was instantly followed by every man in the file, with exception of Rose, manifest enthusiasm was universal and tremendous.
Every sick man that could walk arose from his bunk, and tottered across the line. Col. Bowie, who could not leave his bed, said: 'Boys, I am not able to come to you, but I wish some of you would be so kind as to move my cot over there.' Four men instantly ran to the cot, and each lifting a corner carried it over. Then every sick man that could not walk made the same request, and had his bunk moved in the same way.
Rose was deeply affected, but differently from his companions. He stood till every man but himself had crossed the line. He sank upon the ground, covered his face, and yielded to his own reflections. A bright idea came to his relief; he spoke the Mexican dialect very fluently, and could he once get out of the fort, he might easily pass for a Mexican and effect his escape. He directed a searching glance at the cot of Col. Bowie. Col. David Crockett was leaning over the cot, conversing with its occupant in an undertone.
After a few seconds Bowie looked at Rose and said: 'You seem not to be willing to die with us, Rose.' 
'No,' said Rose, 'I am not prepared to die, and shall not do so if I can avoid it.' 
Then Crockett also looked at him, and said: 'You may as well conclude to die with us, old man, for escape is impossible.' 
Rose made no reply, but looked at the top of the wall. 'I have often done worse than climb that wall,' thought he. Suiting the action to the thought, he sprang up, seized his wallet of unwashed clothes, and ascended the wall."

Ski Texas! December 02 2018

Every time we post a map showing the Republic of Texas with its original borders, someone (sometimes several someones) will respond with, "Ski Texas!"
Texas gave up so much in the Compromise of 1850. More than we knew.
Who would have guessed that Santa Fe County and the old "stovepipe" panhandle encompassed lands that would become some of the finest ski resorts in the world?
So we decided to indulge our imaginations and play the "what if" game.
What if Texas had remained a republic?
What if she had stayed independent and found the capital to build ports and railroads?
What if she prospered and grew?
What would you say to that?
Ski Texas!

This fantasy print is titled (what else?) Ski Texas. It's what we imagine would be seen in railroad stations back east during the 1920s.
The Republic of Texas Tourism Bureau was doing a fine job, don't you think?
Ski Texas!
Winter Thrills
This one is titled Winter Thrills. It's what we think the Republic of Texas Tourism Bureau would have put out in the mid to late 1930s.
Are you ready to enjoy winter thrills under the Lone Star?

Hell and Texas November 30 2018

This week's clippings are inspired by a famous quote.
Here it is. From the lips of General Phillip Sheridan as it appeared in the Washington DC Evening Star of March 31, 1866.
Seventeen years later, Texans sill couldn't let it go. This is from Sweet & Knox's On a Mexican Mustang Through Texas (1883)
Also from 1883. The editors in Hillsboro were less forgiving.
But Texans are a fair minded people. They let General Sheridan explain himself. I had to look up the tiger reference. Apparently crowds used to roar at speakers.
This poetic work is from the 1906 University of Texas yearbook. Where did General Sheridan say he had just come from?
Audie Murphy knew what hell was. He lived it, then starred in the movie. Photo from the world premiere at San Antonio in 1958.
Let's move on to another famous quote about hell and Texas. It begins with this event of September, 1835.
Col. Crockett said to his former constituents:
"I would rather be beaten, and be a man, than to be elected and be a little puppy dog...Since you have chosen to elect a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas."
December of 1835. David (he preferred to be called David) Crockett kept his word and left Tennessee for Texas. Isn't this wording prophetic?
Here's the quote as Crockett gave it to the people of Nacogdoches in January of 1836.
A few days after the Nacogdoches event, he wrote to his children back in Tennessee.
From that same letter. He was among his friends to the end.

Thanksgiving 2018 - Texas Family Recipes November 25 2018

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Some Texas Trivia November 13 2018

Texas History Trivia

Answers are at the Bottom of the Page

Question 1:

What where the Dallas Bluebonnets and Fort Worth Shamrocks?

Question 2:

How many towns served as the Capital of the Republic of Texas?

Question 3:

Anthony Lucas, the oil pioneer who drilled Spindletop, wasn't born in Texas. Where was he from?

Question 4:

What where the names of the twins for whom the famous Twin Sisters cannons were named?

Question 5:

The Joint Resolution annexing Texas to the United States provided that Texas could divide itself into five separate states. Would they have been slave states or free states?

Question 6:

In 1903, when the county seat of Hartley County was moved to Channing, how did they get the old courthouse to its new location?

Question 7:

Why is No. 3 Saint James Street, London significant in Texas History?

Question 8:

What name did Sam Houston take when he became a Roman Catholic in 1833?

Question 9:

What happened to Houston's Colt Stadium after the Astrodome was built?

Question 10:

What did Texas Ranger Bigfoot Wallace call his favorite rifle?

Texas Quote

“No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that's in the right and keeps on a-comin'.”

- Captain Bill MacDonald, Texas Ranger

Trivia Answers

Answer 1:

Women's Professional Football teams.

Both were franchises in the WPFL (Women's Professional Football League). They were active in 1973-76 and competed against teams from Los Angeles, Pasadena, Toledo, Detroit, and Toronto. Games were played at Texas Stadium and drew as many as 5000 fans.

Each team's roster consisted of forty-two women who were paid $25 per game, plus worker's compensation. Another team, the Houston Herricanes, joined the league in 1977 and played through 1979.

Answer 2:


Washington on the Brazos was the provisional capital were independence was declared. With Mexican troops approaching, interim President Burnett moved the Capital to Harrisburg (now part of Houston).

The first elected legislature met at Columbia (now West Columbia), where the decision was made to move the Capital to the new town of Houston during the next session. In 1839 the government moved from Houston to the little hamlet of Waterloo, newly rechristened Austin.

In 1842, when the Mexican Army occupied San Antonio, the government was evacuated to Washington on the Brazos. President Houston tried to use that opportunity to set up his namesake city as the seat of government once again, and succeeded with the executive branch.

The legislature, however, continued to meet at Washington on the Brazos until the eve of statehood, when Austin was made the permanent state capital.

Answer 3:


Anthony Lucas (born Antun Lucic) was born in 1855. He served in the Austrian Navy and studied mechanical engineering before coming to the United States in 1879.

He not only brought in the Spindletop Gusher, but also was the first to apply a steam engine to rotary drilling and helped develop the blowout preventer.


Answer 4:

Elizabeth and Eleanor

When they got word that the Texians where fighting for their freedom, the citizens of Cincinnati sent a matched pair of cannon to help the cause. The guns were sent down the Mississippi to New Orleans, escorted by a Dr. Rice, along with his wife and twin six-year-old girls, Elizabeth and Eleanor.

When the Texian agent took possession of the thunder tubes, he commented that he had never seen two prettier sets of twins. Thereafter the guns were always referred to as the Twin Sisters.

Answer 5:


The Joint Resolution provided that any new state lying South of the Missouri Compromise Line could be slave or free, depending on the will of the people. New states lying North of that line would be free. The Compromise of 1850 made the line irrelevant to the issue, as Texas gave up all her lands North of it in exchange for $10 million.

The clause in the Joint Resolution providing for the division reads:

New States of convenient size not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas and having sufficient population, may, hereafter by the consent of said State, be formed out of the territory thereof, which shall be entitled to admission under the provisions of the Federal Constitution; and such states as may be formed out of the territory lying south of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude, commonly known as the Missouri Compromise Line, shall be admitted into the Union, with or without slavery, as the people of each State, asking admission shall desire; and in such State or States as shall be formed out of said territory, north of said Missouri Compromise Line, slavery, or involuntary servitude (except for crime) shall be prohibited.

Answer 6:

Cowboys from the XIT Ranch set the old frame building on wheels, then mounted up and hauled it fifteen miles to it's new location.


Answer 7:

It was the home of the Texas Legation, where Dr. Ashbel Smith, as Texian minister to Great Britain, played the great diplomatic game to further the interests of the young republic from 1842 to 1846. 

The legation rented rooms in the building from Berry Bros. and Rudd, Wine and Spirit Merchants, who have conducted business at that address since 1698. In 1923, Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky was born in that same building. 

Answer 8:

Sam (who was not given a middle name by his parents) chose Samuel Pablo when he joined the Catholic Church as required of colonists under Mexican law. Later, in 1854, a Baptist minister dunked him in Rocky Creek near Independence. When told his sins had been washed away, he replied, "Lord help the fish down below."

Answer 9:

It was disassembled and trucked to Mexico.

After the Astrodome opened, Colt Stadium became a holding pen for odds and ends from Astroworld. In 1973 it was broken down and sold to a minor league team in Torreon, Mexico for $100,000. There it was known as Estadio Superior, It was later moved to Tampico and renamed Estadio Angel Castro. It was scrapped in the late 1980s.

Answer 10:

Sweet Lips

William Alexander Anderson Wallace was the son of a Virginia planter. He came to Texas at the age of nineteen, after his older brother and a cousin were killed in the Goliad Massacre. He arrived determined to take his revenge on Mexico.

He was imprisoned in Mexico after taking part in the Mier Expedition and surviving the black bean executions. These events did not help his attitude toward Mexico. Serving with Jack's Hays' Texas Rangers during the Mexican War, he had to be restrained  from attacking the Mexican officer carrying the surrender flag at the Battle of Monterrey.

Bigfoot Wallace (minus Sweet Lips) in the 1880s


Update on the DIVERSE Alamo Defenders September 16 2018

Posted at 20:13 • 16 Sept • Michelle M. Haas

A Dumb Solution to a Dumber Problem

I wrote last week about the proposed efforts to remove the word "heroic" from Texas history curriculum to describe the Alamo defenders. Many of you reached out to Board of Education reps and some to the Work Group members who suggested the changes in the first place. You shared your letters with me and reading them was a profound experience. Texans from all regions, ages and walks of life - from DRT members to newly adopted Texans - homemakers, physicians, Texas history teachers - all treated the Alamo defenders as family and spoke up. Some of those letters moved me to tears. I'm grateful to all of you for your heart and your concern.

So what's the verdict?

We were heard and we did good! The Board chair had to put her email on an auto-responder because of the flood of emails.

The good news: After the public hearing on September 11, the Board held a PRELIMINARY vote and voted unanimously to keep the Travis letter and the word "heroic." Newspaper and online media headlines declared that "heroic" will stay. Even Senator Cruz and Gov. Abbott applauded the final decision. But it isn't the final decision. The final vote is not until November, and we need to remain vigilant about this until the final vote takes place. It ain't over til it's over.

The bad news: In order to cram some political correctness in, any which way, it was suggested that the Alamo defenders be described thusly: "...the heroism of the diverse defenders who gave their lives there." This entire streamlining process was about removing extraneous junk from the curriculum, so much so that Travis' letter was almost lost. But now we can teach Alamo heroism, as long as it's diverse.

Why? Because it's 2018. God forbid we not check the white privilege of men who died 182 years ago in a garrison where Anglos outnumbered Tejanos 17 to 1. The defenders don't become magically more diverse if we add the pet word of postmodernists to the curriculum. We can't go back in time and morph David Crockett into Dave Cortez. It is what it is, and it wasn't particularly diverse.

Here's an interesting exercise. Let's take a look at what diversity looks like to Work Group E - the group who made the recommendations to remove Travis' letter, and to those who offered advice to them. They reviewed the seventh grade curriculum and struck through "heroic" as a value-charged word, yet when they reviewed the eighth grade curriculum....

If you've never heard of William Carney or Philip Bazaar, don't worry, you're not dumb. Of the 1,500 Congressional Medals of Honor given out for service in the Civil War, these two heroes were chosen for our curriculum some time ago. By the Board's standards, it's okay to call them heroes because they were "diversity hires," so to speak. Sgt. Carney was the first black man to receive the Medal. Bazaar was a Chilean immigrant who received the award for valor as a Union seaman.

The Alamo defenders were, essentially, too white to be heroic. I know, I know...this is not a popular sentiment to express publicly. Living in a time where everything is about race is exhausting. I didn't want this to be about race, but the evidence has stacked itself that way. In the coming days and weeks, I will tell you about what esteemed professors in Aggieland and at UT have to say about this.

In the meantime, please remember that this thing isn't over until November. A lot can change between now and then.

In Defense of Alamo Heroism September 10 2018 3 Comments

In Defense of Alamo Heroism

Posted at 4:38 • 10 Sept • Michelle M. Haas

Given the chance, would you have defended the Alamo?

Hemmed in within its decrepit walls for two weeks, with the enemy flying a flag of no-quarter. Knowing that you were outnumbered 10 to 1, out-gunned, under-supplied, famished and exhausted, would you?

Knowing that reinforcements, if they came, wouldn’t level the playing field at all, would you?

Knowing that the enemy was led there by a capricious dictator who showed up personally to teach your crew a lesson...would you have stood on those walls and delivered?

History-changing valorous opportunities don’t present themselves to the average civilian much these days. So I guess I’ll never know. Maybe my knees would have buckled. Maybe yours would have, too. I have a question...were the men at the Alamo heroes? Did they do anything heroic?

These are no longer rhetorical questions.

Before I go whole hog on this and make you as irate as I am, let’s take a quick look at the applicable definition of “hero,” per Merriam-Webster, for clarity’s sake. “One who shows great courage.” Got it. Now let’s compare that definition to the words of William Barret Travis, who, according to both Texian & Mexican accounts, did precisely what he said he was going to do in his famous "Victory or Death" letter:

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.…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.

Today it is our duty to fight for the Alamo defenders. Today we have the honor to stand for what’s right. The desperate vultures of political correctness have descended upon the men of the Alamo, and now threaten to take away the best word that we learn from the story of the Shrine of Texas Liberty: “heroic.”

Kids need heroes. Boys especially. Always. This is never negotiable. In a society where fathers are increasingly absent, our boys turn to peers, musicians, actors, athletes, even failed NFL quarterbacks who feign moral outrage for money. We have Nike in our faces, telling our kids that this loser is a hero. Seems counterintuitive to remove actual heroes from the classrooms, then, right?

In Texas, our kids are required to take Texas History in the 7th grade. Why? Because we want our kids to grow up to be Texans! That means different things to different people, but at the heart of it lies a strong sense of place, an independent spirit, and the desire to stand for what’s right. It means we all learn to stand on that wall and deliver, in one way or another, regardless of our path in life. We learn that when we learn about the Alamo.

Texas history is full of larger-than-life heroes, twisted villains, and Average Joes. And the Alamo was full of heroic men.

There is presently a push to strip them of that well-earned descriptor. In an effort to streamline the curriculum—devote more time to other standardized test topics—an advisory panel has suggested the State Board of Education remove “heroic” as a way to describe the Alamo defenders to students. The rationale was that it is a “value charged word.”

They also wanted to remove Travis’ letter as required learning. To devote those 90 minutes to something else, they propose ditching the document and stripping the heroism from 187 men who fought to the death in defense of the Alamo.

(After word got out about the possible changes, the Travis letter was reinstated because the public objected to such a stupid move. “Informal public feedback” was how they officially worded it.)

The panel who made the suggestions is comprised of 8 Texas social studies teachers, “coordinators,” and “specialists” selected by the Board of Education. Per the streamlining guidelines, posted on the Texas Education Agency’s website, “Feedback will be accepted in response to work group drafts throughout the streamlining process.”

So, while this anti-heroism travesty may not have originated with the 8 members of Work Group E, they chose to allow it in their recommendations and have opted to keep it there. If you’d like their names and home districts, I’d be happy to provide them. Just let me know.

The same panel of eight also reviewed the 8th grade social studies curriculum. There, they found to two gentlemen from the Civil War era -- William Carney, a black Union sergeant; and Philip Bazaar, a Chilean-born Union seaman. Work Group E considered removing these two little-known men, but decided there was "strong rationale" for keeping them in as required learning. Only one problem: Carney and Bazaar are described as "heroes" in the curriculum. The Work Group apparently doesn't think that word is value-charged when it comes to obscure historical figures, so long as they satisfy certain intersectional requirements. Our kids deserve better than politically correct double standards such as these.

The Board of Education will vote on whether or not to accept the Work Group’s recommendations in November. Between now and then, we need to raise our voices and let the Board know that we LIKE that “heroic” is a value-charged word because we LIKE values. Let them know the definition of a hero and that the men of the Alamo embody that definition. And lastly, remind them that they are elected.

The State Board of Education has a public hearing on the changes scheduled for Tuesday, September 11. This hearing will ironically be held at the Capitol’s William B. Travis Building, Room 1-104 around 9 a.m. Each member of the public gets 2 minutes to speak. If you can’t make it to Austin on Tuesday, you can contact the Board of Education member that represents your area. Member emails and phone numbers can be found HERE.