Night the Ghost Hounds Came 10-8-12
got outside the hounds had the house surrounded. I could hear them baying in chase
all around me. I could see nothing. There was no movement in the grass, no shadows
among the trees. The brilliant moon showed a tranquil landscapebut all around
me were the sounds of hounds in chase..."
Ritter - A Texas Original 8-5-12
Maurice Ritter was born near Murvaul, Panola County, in the piney woods of deep
East Texas in 1907. He grew up on a cotton farm near Beaumont and graduated as
Valedictorian of his high-school class. He enrolled at what was then the only
University of Texas...
Oliver Thornton? 4-16-12
Thornton is no more than a footnote in the history of Western outlawry—a man who
wouldn’t be more than a name on a tombstone had he not chanced to get himself
murdered. Even so, very few people, even serious students of outlaws, would know
that name had not Eugene Cunningham, pioneer chronicler of sixshooterology, told
about his death...
When the old Iron Front Saloon
on Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas was torn down in the 1920s, a most peculiar
object was found in the basement. It was a fine marble tombstone—but there was
no inscription on it...
Hood of the Tonkawa 1-27-12
original teller of this story, John C. Jacobs, told it in Pioneer magazine
in the teens of the last century...
Oliver Partridge ‘Brushy Bill’ Roberts really Billy the Kid?
A recent episode of ‘Brad Metzger’s DECODED,’ shown on the History
Channel, delved into—or appeared to delve into—the long-held myth that Brushy
Bill Roberts was actually Billy the Kid...
"Then came April, 1836. Santa Anna
and his army showed up on Vince’s doorstep. The family promptly fled, leaving
their stock behind—including Old Whip. Santa Anna immediately appropriated the
stallion for his own use..."
in the Republic 11-21-11
first Masonic Lodge in Texas was formed in March of 1835, approximately a year
before Texas declared independence from Mexico. Although there were Masons in
Mexico—Santa Anna was a Mason—the Catholic Church frowned on Freemasonry. The
Knights of Columbus was established to counter the appeal of Freemasonry for Catholic
Heroic Murderers? 8-26-11
Indianola, Texas, county
seat of Calhoun County, September, 1875. Most of the adult males in Calhoun County
were at the Indianola courthouse, a jury panel for the trials of two suspected
The First Election
in Texas 7-9-11
In March, 1836, a convention met
at Washington-on-the-Brazos for the purpose of framing a constitution for the
fledgling Republic of Texas. The Republic really didn’t exist yet, since San Jacinto
was not yet fought. The constitution provided for a presidential election to take
place in the fall of 1836...
Pardons in Texas 4-21-11
Prior to the 1937 legislative
session, Texas governors had unlimited power to grant pardons, paroles, or commutation
of sentences. It had been this way in ‘the old states’ and, because that was the
way it was done where they left to come to Texas, that’s the way the laws were
written by the Anglo-Texans who controlled the state’s government.
On March 21, 1924, Mrs. Ida Lee Daughtery
of Hall, Texas, died. She was a woman of some reputation—not as a ‘soiled dove,’
but as a devoted wife.
Happened To Jesse Evans? 1-5-11
Jesse Evans is one
of the more enigmatic characters in the annals of West Texas and New Mexico outlawry.
He’s known to have worked with John Selman when Selman was robbing homes and stores
in Fort Davis during the late 1870s. He’s rumored to have been associated with
Billy the Kid in New Mexico. Then he just quietly disappeared sometime around
1879--and nobody knows what happened to him. Or maybe not.
Hero Named Tom 12-1-10
We don’t know much about Tom’s
background, because Tom was a slave. He belonged to William Snyder, a plantation
owner in East Texas. We’re told that he was about 35 years old, stood well over
6 feet in height, and weighed about 240 pounds. He was also, apparently, immensely
Jacinto Marriage Traditions in Texas 11-10-10
1837, but just for a short time, any man who had served honorably in the Texian
army in 1836 was entitled to a full league of land—over 4000 acres—but only if
he was married. There weren’t a great many unmarried girls and women in Texas
at the time...
B. Bloys and Bloys Camp Meeting 10-6-10
In 1878 a
rather slightly built man with blue-gray eyes came to Fort Davis, Texas. He was
a native of Tennessee and an ordained Presbyterian minister. The man’s name was
William B. Bloys. While a lot of folks have heard about another denizen of the
trans-Pecos, Roy Bean, William B. Bloys was far more influential, though far less
From 1919 until 1933 the United States was in the throes of one
of the worst mistakes it has ever made—prohibition. Texas has the longest border
with Mexico of any state. Mexico had no prohibition. It was perfectly legal to
make, sell, transport, and consume alcohol in Mexico. Just across the Rio Grande
was a very thirsty state...
"If it hadn’t been for a Spaniard
named Bernardo de Galvez—and yes, Galveston is named for him—the United States
might not exist."
This is gonna come as a surprise to a lot of folks, but armadillos
are not native to Texas. In fact, the very first armadillo ever identified in
the Lone Star State apparently crossed the Rio Grande near Brownsville in 1859...
A Very Personal Ghost
I’ve come to the conclusion, over the years, that when it
comes to ghosts there are two sorts of people—those who realize ghosts exist and
those who don’t want to realize it. One of the sure ways to become one of the
first variety is to see a ghost. However, even if you see a ghost, you may not
realize at once what you’ve seen. I know. It happened to me...
Great Airship Mystery 9-20-09
In 1896 and 1897 what
had to be a lighter-than-air craft—a dirigible—was seen by credible witnesses
in California, Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa,
Kansas, Colorado, what became Oklahoma ten years later, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas,
Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio...
From the late 1860s into the 1870s,
Texas was, in effect, divided into two armed camps. The battlers were south Texas
cattlemen who needed to drive their cattle north to the railheads in Kansas, Nebraska,
and Missouri—and north Texas cattlemen, joined by cattle raisers in the Indian
Nations, Kansas, and Nebraska, who stood ready, with rifles if necessary, to stop
The Snively Expedition
was either a con-man, a fool, or probably the unluckiest man on earth. It’s hard
to tell which. He claimed to be a mining man who’d prospected the Sierra Madres.
He also claimed he’d found one of the richest gold mines on the continent in the
mountains below El Paso, on the Texas side of the Rio Grande...
Murder Maverick 4-16-09
If you’ve ridden many miles
on the sunset side of the Colorado and listened to people talk in bars and cafes,
you’ve heard a good many tales. Once you get west of the Pecos, there’s one in
particular you’ll hear. You’ll hear the tale of a phantom steer called ‘the Murder
Alley Oop is a Texan?
Alley Oop, the cave-man character created by Victor T. Hamlin
in 1932, is a native Texan. The area around present Iraan, Texas was a gold mine
of dinosaur fossils. In the days before salvage archaeology, the fossils were
simply hauled away by the truckload. This gave Hamlin the idea for a comic strip.
Nearly everybody knows that Sheriff
Pat Garrett of Lincoln County, New Mexico Territory, shot and killed a 21-year-old
bandit named Henry McCarty, who usually went by Billy the Kid, in Pete Maxwell’s
bedroom at Fort Sumner in July, 1881. What most people don’t know is that Pat
Garrett was himself murdered in Doña Ana County, New Mexico 27 years later. The
murder of Pat Garrett is one of the many unsolved mysteries of the West.
Marfa Lights 10-4-08
I’ve seen the Marfa lights.
Twice. Only the first time I saw the Marfa lights, what I saw wasn’t the Marfa
lights. This requires explanation...
Longest Train Ride 9-20-08
"Train #1 of the Gulf
& Interstate Railroad, which left Beaumont, Texas, at 7:00 AM on September 8,
1900, to make the run to Port Bolivar, about 85 miles away by modern highway,
arrived at Port Bolivar at 11:10 AM, September 24, 1903—three years, sixteen days,
and ten minutes late. Some of the original passengers were still aboard..."
Many Legends of La Llorona 8-12-08
"To set the
La Llorona story straight once & for all. I've been digging into La Llorona for
nearly forty years. This article pretty much sums up what I've found."
Eckhart Name in Yorktown and Elsewhere 8-1-08
Al Jennings of Oklahoma, largely
through masterful self-promotion, became for a time the best-known of the outlaws
of the American West. He was a genuine bandit, he did go to a Federal penitentiary
for attempted murder on a life sentence which was commuted to five years in 1900.
He was pardoned by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902...
yer powder dry! 6-1-08
Black gunpowder is extremely
hygroscopic. That’s a five-dollar word scientists use to mean stuff that gets
wet real easy. In fact, black gunpowder will absorb enough moisture from very
humid air to make it unusable. ‘Keepin’ yer powder dry’ was of the utmost importance
in the early West...
Maw Bell - Rural Telephone Systems in the West 5-8-08
Alexander Graham Bell’s patent expired in the 1890s, and as soon as it did anyone
could legally manufacture and sell a telephone. Almost instantly both Sears, Roebuck
and Montgomery Ward began offering telephone sets in their catalogs... Across
much of the west, to the west of old US 81 (present I-35) in Texas... there was
already a network of wire covering most of the country, in the form of barbed-wire
The Forgotten Hero
Who was the first—and possibly the greatest—hero of the Texas
Revolution? He’s a man you may have heard of, but not very often. Try Ben Milam...
Hellagain Hill -
How Elgin Got Its Name 4-7-08
In Elgin they’ll tell
you the town was named for a Mister Elgin... If you ask the members of the Shadetree
Historical Society, they’ll give you a version of Elgin’s naming that has nothing
to do with a Mr. Elgin. They’ll tell you the original name of the place was Helgin—derived
from ‘Hell again.’...
The Long Shot 3-17-08
If you know Texas history, you know the story. At the second battle of Adobe Walls
buffalo shooter Billy Dixon used his Sharps rifle to shoot a Comanche chief off
his horse at about 1000 yards. With the chief dead, especially at such extreme
range, the Comanches called it quits and left.
The L-O-N-G Roads of Texas: Texas-State-Highway-16
Texas’ state highways are some of the most interesting
ways to travel. They pass through—not go around—interesting communities of every
sort. The towns are both beautiful—sometimes (and sometimes not so beautiful)—and
often historically interesting. The two longest state highways in Texas are Highway
16 and Highway 6. Both cut across scenic and historically significant parts of
Meat on the Frontier 2-21-08
the Mexican War 2-3-08The
Wail of the Wampus Cat 1-3-08Panoramic
"If you do much historical research, one of the things
you're going to run across is beautiful, highly-detailed panoramic drawings done
in the 17th, 18th, and the first half of the 19th Centuries..." The
General Was A Spy—And So Was The Pirate 11-2-07
James Wilkinson was Commanding
General, United States Army... He was also the top spy in the US for the Spanish
Empire. He was designated Agent #1... Agents #12 and #13 were the brothers Laffite,
Pierre and Jean... Aliens
Amongst Us 10-21-07
About some plants and animals that are entirely foreign
to Texas—indeed, to the US...
James. Miss Shirley’s Story 10-8-07First
to Fly 9-19-07The
Second Battle of the Alamo 9-4-07‘Mysterious
Cattle Deaths’ Not So Mysterious 8-15-07Was
South Carolina’s ‘Lost’ First Lady Buried On The Texas Coast? 8-1-07The
King's Texan and USS Texas 7-14-07Did
John Wilkes Booth Live In Texas? 6-30-07Who
Was J. Frank Dalton, Anyway? 6-15-07History's
Most Successful Failure - US Army's Camel Corps 6-1-07
In May of 1856,
at Powderhorn, Texas, the US Army's most successful experiment in overland transportation
before the development of four-wheel-drive vehicles powered by internal combustion
engines began. By the end of May, 1866, the experiment was dead. Henry
O. Flipper, An Epic Remaining To Be Told 5-14-07
Perhaps the most enigmatic
figure in the annals of the American West is 2/LT Henry O. Flipper, 10th United
Killed the Chief? 5-1-07
Peta Nocona was the husband of the captive white
woman Cynthia Ann Parker-and the father of perhaps the greatest of all Comanche
chiefs, Quanah Parker. He was chief of a band of Quohada Comanches. Over his death,
over the years, there has arisen considerable controversy. Bloody
The Murder of LaSalle County Sheriff Charles B. McKinneyThe
Bartlett Bank Robbery That Wasn't 3-28-07
Back during the 'hippie era'
of the '60s, a group of 'unwashed intellectuals' out of Austin decided to do their
bit for the Age of Aquarius by robbing a bank... The
Ancient Art of Dowsing 2-16-07
In the search for water, minerals, and
many other things, there is nothing quite as controversial as the practice of
Josiah Wilbarger - Scalped Alive on Onion Creek The
Other Houston 1-22-07
Temple Lea HoustonThe
Great Blackeyed Pea Hoax 1-1-07
Did you eat blackeyed peas for good luck
on New Year's Day? Did you do so because it's a 'great ante-bellum Southern tradition?'
If so, congratulations. You have been scammed by one of the most likeable con-artists
in Texas history...Mr.
Acton's Story 1-1-07
"...We headed for that light. It was slow going,
but we made progress-but when we got to it, there was no house..." Fox
in the Pickup Bed 12-15-06O.
Henry and the Shoal Creek Treasure 12-1-06The
Little Engine That Couldn't 11-15-06
The Fredericksburg & Northern Railroad
in Texas: The Robert E. Howard Story 11-1-06Victor
T. Hamlin & Alley Oop 10-24-06Santa
Anna or Ste. Anne? 10-11-06
When Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna y Perez de
LeBron was captured following the battle at San Jacinto, people in the United
States government wanted to talk to him... Stampede
"Stampede Mesa was-and may still be-one of the most
thoroughly haunted places in Texas."The
Devilin' of Old John 9-20-06
Old John was about the oldest man I knew
who was still working as a cowboy, and I don't know how old he was when he died...
Cultivate Vine and Olive 9-13-06
"Texas under six flags." That's been
around pretty much since who flung the chunk, and it's wrong. "Texas under sixty
flags" might be closer to the truth, and even some of the six we claim never flew
over Texas... One French flag we don't claim actually did fly over Texas...How
the Texas Rangers Helped Win WWII 9-6-06Cowboy
Life on a Small Spread 8-30-06The
Sleep Tight 8-16-06
The old expression "Good night, sleep tight" once
had real meaning. Beds didn't have springs in early Texas. They had ropes... To
Build a House II 8-9-06
"...Adobe was brought
to the Americas by the Spanish..." To
Build a House 8-2-06
Texas Log Cabins and Log HousesThe
Whirlwind Lt. John Lapham Bullis and the Seminole Negro Scouts 7-26-06
One of the least-known heroes of the Texas frontier was a man known to his followers
as The Whirlwind and to his enemies as The Thunderbolt.Bob
Wills: The Greatest Fiddle-Player of Them All 7-19-06
a shirt-tail kid from Turkey... Sixty years after that beginning he was a legend-Bob
Gunfight that Killed Helena 7-12-06
"The Colonel's son has been gunned
down, in cold blood or so the story implies..."
Ghost on Highway 281 6-28-06
... "Oh," somebody said, "you saw Lackey's
ghost." Thereby, as the old saying goes, hangs a tale..." The
Ranger's Creek of Gold 6-21-06
In the first chapter of what was the treasure-hunter's
bible for many years, J. Frank Dobie's CORONADO'S CHILDREN... there are enough
clues to tell you...
Antonio's Blue Book 6-14-06
'The Blue Book' is the legendary directory
of a city's 'red light' district...
Dish of Texas 6-7-06
Chili con carne.
Rise and Fall of Meansville, Texas 5-24-06
You have to hunt for Meansville,
Texas, and unless you have a guide who knows San Patricio County well, you won't
Lake That Wasn't and Was and Wasn't and Is 5-12-06
The story of Caddo
Ghost on Milam Street
Seguin's Headless Ghost
Column begins May
C. F. ECKHARDTHis
full name is Charles Frederick but uses his initials because his name is too long
to get on one line, goes by Charley with an 'ey' because he's not a perfume. He
was born a long time ago in Austin, Texas, and grew up in an atmosphere where
Texas and Southern history were part of his life almost from the day he was born.
His paternal grandmother, a lifelong member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy
and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas -- she was a 'real daughter' in the
former case, since her father was a Confederate soldier -- who lived with his
family until he was 12, was born when Sam Bass, Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and
George A. Custer were still all alive and kicking, and was a young lady before
Butch Cassidy stole his first horse. The man across the street was born when Texas
was still a republic, the man next door was the grandson of one of Jim Bowie's
companions at the Calf Creek fight in 1831, the man up the street was visited
frequently by an elderly uncle who knew way too much more about a couple of Clay
County, Missouri boys named Dingus and Frank than any peaceloving feller had any
business knowing, and just down the creek lived a feller named J. Frank Dobie.
Eckhardt grew up in Austin and on about 400 acres of hardpan, cedar brake,
and honeycomb limestone in western Williamson County, Texas. He attended the University
of Texas when there was only one, and managed to stay on good terms with both
H. Bailey Carrol and Walter P. Webb, which was considered something of an achievement,
as the two Ph. D.s hated each other's guts. He majored in history and holds a
BA in the subject. Since jobs in 'the history bidness' were hard to come by unless
one was politically 'correct' - which Eckhardt has spent a lifetime refusing to
be - he spent many years as a peace officer and soldier. Finally tiring of being
a moving target, Eckhardt pursued a trade that would allow him both the time and
the intellectual energy to pursue his first love, writing about Texas and the
American West. From this trade he retired on 30 March 2002, to pursue writing
books include THE LOST SAN SABA MINES (Texas Monthly Press, 1980), UNSOLVED TEXAS
MYSTERIES (Republic of Texas Press, 1990-co-author), TEXAS TALES YOUR TEACHER
NEVER TOLD YOU (Republic of Texas Press, 1990), TALES OF BADMEN, BAD WOMEN, AND
BAD PLACES-FOUR CENTURIES OF TEXAS OUTLAWRY (Texas Tech University Press, 2000),
and TEXAS SMOKE-MUZZLE- LOADERS ON THE FRONTIER, illustrated by Wesley G. Williams
(Texas Tech Press, 2001). Forthcoming is "Tales Told Across Campfires," from Texas
Tech Press, probably in 2005, and of course the perennial 'novel in progress'
that all writers have. He has been published in magazines as diverse as The Tombstone
Epitaph and the short-lived revival of Harper's Weekly, and in magazines in Great
Britain, Switzerland, and Australia.
Eckhardt lives in an historic home
in Seguin, Texas, with Vicki,
his wife of more years than she likes to admit, and numerous critters.
Texas Books by C. F. Eckhardt
|Book Hotel Here