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"TEXAS TALES"
by Mike Cox

Syndicated weekly in 11 newspapers
Email: texasmikecox@gmail.com
Mike Cox's Texas book review blog
Mike Cox
"Texas Tales" focuses on little-known aspects of Texas history Cox runs across in his research and travels across the state. Old-time Texas Rangers used to say some men just need killing. Some stories just need telling, and that's what Cox likes to do.

< "Texas Tales" cont.

  • Fort Kirby 12-30-10
    In the spring of 1946, an Army major assigned to desk duty at the Pentagon had his sergeant call the War Records Office at the National Archives to ask if they had any information on an old military post in South Texas called Fort Kirby...
  • Christmas Dinner 12-23-10
    In the letter the Galveston News published on Dec. 21, 1893, the former ranger A. J. Sowell expanded on an incident he had only mentioned briefly in his 1884 book “Rangers and Pioneers of Texas.”
  • Prairie Fire 12-16-10
    The Rev. C.B. Jernigan spent most of his life trying to save sinners from eternal fire and brimstone, but when he finally got around to writing a memoir he devoted a full chapter to an incident from childhood he remembered as hell on earth – a raging winter prairie fire.
  • Sundial in San Ygnacio 12-9-10
    The weathered sundial positioned on top of the arched entrance to the old family fort at San Ygnacio tells more than the time – it tells a story.
  • Brownfield's Riot That Never Was 12-1-10
    In the summer of 1908 an article with a Fort Worth dateline published in a Sunday edition of the New York Herald caught the eye of President Theodore Roosevelt...
  • Pecans 11-25-10
    There’s more to the nut produced by Texas’ official state tree than food value. At least there used to be. Early-day Texas kids, not having a very wide variety of what used to be called “store bought” toys, found ways to play with pecans before eating them.
  • Yankee Sawfish 11-18-10
    Now extremely rare, sawfish are curious marine creatures that use their unusual bladed snout to find food and then make it bite sized. But even stranger is how one Texas sawfish indirectly aided the Union Army during the Civil War.
  • Texas Thanksgiving 11-11-10
    Like a flock of wild turkeys pecking around in search of food, the date that Texans set aside to celebrate their blessings kept jumping around the calendar until well into the 20th century.
  • The Great Chicken-Fried Steak Hoax 10-28-10
    Ever wonder how a legend gets started? I had a small role in the creation of what has become one of Texas’ most enduring pieces of “fakelore” -- the story of the invention of the chicken-fried steak.
  • Hughes Springs and Trammell’s Treasure 10-20-10
    More than 300 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, the community of Hughes Springs owes its existence to a fanciful pirate story and one man who believed it.
  • The Haunting of the Old Travis County Jail 10-14-10
    Harvey, 34, had the distinction of being the last of nine men legally hanged in the castle-like stone jail, built for $100,000 in 1876 at the corner of 11th and Brazos streets — present location of the Dewitt C. Greer Building, headquarters of what is now the Texas Department of Transportation.
  • A Lion and a Boy 10-7-10
    And oilman Charles Edward Hipp of Graham
  • Faded Photographs 9-30-10
    "The people in these images could be your ancestors. Or mine. One thing is sure: They are long dead, and so, too, is anyone who could identify them."
  • Texas Expressions 9-23-10
    For years, I have collected Texas expressions like some people do postage stamps. Herewith, in no particular order, a sampling.
  • The Hat Story 9-9-10
    When Mrs. Jane Greenwood set out to write her autobiography in 1965, she knew she had to tell the hat story.
  • What happened to Charles Francis Coghlan 9-2-10
    His story is either one of the most incredible tales ever told, pure legend or a mixture of fact and fiction.
  • Archeological Diversion Ensured Granddad a Quiet Hunt 8-26-10
  • A Hanging in Austin 8-19--10
    Forty years ago, the late Edmunds Travis of Austin told me about a hanging he reluctantly covered for the Austin daily he edited in 1913...
  • Sea Monster of Port Isabel 8-12-10
    The monster showed up in the Gulf of Mexico off the small fishing village of Port Isabel in the summer of 1938. That Aug. 10, in a short article buried on a back page, the Brownsville Herald devoted five paragraphs to “the sea monster that is attracting so much attention in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.”...
  • A little Texas cultural history 8-5-10
    Surely most parents go through times when they wonder if they have failed at our species’ most important job: Child-rearing...
  • Houston 7-29-10
    An Internet search reveals five U.S. communities named Houston along with three counties named Houston, including one in Texas...
  • El Paso and the Battle of Juarez 7-22-10
    On June 29, during a gun battle in Juarez, Mexico, seven stray AK 47 rifle rounds flew across the Rio Grande and hit city hall in downtown El Paso... Nearly a hundred years have gone by since the last time it happened...
  • Mertzon Windmills 7-15-10
    Last time I drove through Mertzon, it sunk in on me that the windmills were gone...
  • The Secret Hurricane 7-8-10
    Don’t tell anybody, but there’s a hurricane in the Gulf ...
  • Cut and Shoot, Gun Barrel City, Gunsight, Point Blank and Winchester 6-30-10
  • Death Notice 6-23-10
    Anyone who has ever worked on the editorial side of a newspaper, which given all the various career paths out there is not a huge percentage of the labor force, knows about writing obituaries...
  • Johnson Island 6-17-10
    The graveyard, accessible today only by boat or toll bridge, is all that’s left of the Johnson Island Military Prison, a Lake Erie facility that held an average of 2,500 Confederate prisoners – all of them officers – throughout the Civil War...
  • Pica Pole 6-10-10
    Now a relic of the vanished hot type era, a pica pole used to be as integral to the newspaper business as servers are to Web sites. So what’s a pica pole?
  • Kate Polly's Pancakes 6-3-10
    Next time you fry a stack of pancakes, imagine what it would be like if your life and the well-being of your children depended on it.
  • Willie Morris 5-27-10
  • Thurber Brick 5-20-10
  • Fritch 5-13-10
    Starting in the mid-1930s and continuing well into the ‘50s, Fritch must have had some of the most mannerly, patient postal patrons in the country...
  • Jokes 5-6-10
    Folks who are really good at conveying ideas and information often do so through story-telling. And if those stories are funny, it’s all the better.
  • Cisco Twister 4-29-10
    In Cisco’s Oakwood Cemetery, five graves bear the same last name and the same date of death – April 28, 1893. That was the day a killer tornado struck...
  • Motels 4-22-10
    I passed through Clarendon... That’s where I saw a local overnight place called the It’ll Do Motel.
  • Flagpole 4-15-10
    This story is about a mystery involving the flag staff that once stood at Camp Howze, a sprawling World War II Army base at Gainesville...
  • 1837 4-8-10
  • Fishing Hogg 4-1-10
    In the spring, many a young man’s fancy turns to…fishing. Back in the spring of 1891, even Gov. James S. Hogg could not control an urge..
  • Barnhart 3-24-10
    Dust, bawling cattle, hell-raising cowboys and trains a half-mile long – that was Barnhart in the 1920s and ‘30s...
  • First Capitol 3-18-10
    To all but his political enemies, the government of Mexico and a few soreheads, the 44-year-old Tennessee transplant stood tall both literally and figuratively as Texas’ greatest living hero...
  • Moonlight Reflections at the Alamo 3-11-10
  • Buck's Horse 3-4-10
    Nothing’s perfect, but occasionally a good writer manages to arrange the literary building blocks we call words, sentences and paragraphs in such a way as to surprise and please the reader...
  • Post Offices 2-25-10
    With email and other forms of digital communication virtually (pun intended) having killed old-fashioned first class mail, it’s time to pay more attention to the history of all the hundreds if not thousands of post offices Texas has had over the years. Many have been closed...
  • Hazlewood Fight 2-18-10
    “The Indians, as a mark of recognition to bravery, would leave an arrow sticking upright in the ground by an victim whose valor and fighting spirit they respected... When Hazlewood’s body was found, so goes the story, an arrow so upright bore evidence…to his courage.”
  • Wolf Girl 2-5-10
    When the boy returned home that day he told his parents a story as horrifying as it was unbelievable.
  • Big Lake News 1-28-10
  • Jackson Day 1-21-10
  • Texas’ 10 Worst Disasters 1-14-10
  • Lone Wolf 1-7-10
    Long-time Ranger Captain Manual T. Gonzaullas, one of Texas’ best-known 20th century law enforcement officers is once again at the center of a mystery...
  • Thirsty 12-30-09
    Along the Texas frontier, bad water posed just about as much of a problem as no or little water.
  • Hog Stories 12-24-09
  • Christmas Shooting 12-17-09
    Many Texas families have their particular Christmas traditions, but the way the Hornsby clan used to observe the holiday may just take the fruitcake...
  • Wainwright's Buck 12-10-09
    Anyone who knows anything about the history of World War Two has heard of Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright. Far less known, however, is the story of the last skirmish in which he was ranking officer, a brief engagement that occurred on a West Texas ranch in the late 1940s...
  • Marshal Pitman 12-3-09
    Walter W. Pitman’s good luck held for more than half a century. Not everything went his way, but in big-stake deals the figurative roulette wheel of life generally spun in his favor...
  • Turkey Hunt 11-26-09
    When the governor and the state’s highest ranking U.S. Army officer took time off from their official duties to go turkey hunting together in the late winter of 1890, the outing did not escape the attention of the state’s leading newspaper...
  • Population Ranks 11-19-09
    For historians, genealogists, and anyone interested in a little Texas trivia, I’ve compiled the historic urban population hierarchy and population figures dating back to 1850. The 1850 and 1860 listings contain the top 10 cities, since there are some surprises...
  • Fishing Soldier 11-12-09
    When a wagon full of soldiers rolled out of old Fort Belknap early one spring morning in 1867 flanked by horseback troopers, while doubtless armed, they were not starting out on a scout for Indians.
  • John Roan Mystery 11-4-09
    On Dec. 13, 1879, the Atlanta Constitution published a brief story that should have been big news in Texas, but somehow no editor in the Lone Star state picked up on the Georgia daily’s report. The story dealt with the purported solution of a 29-year-old mystery in Central Texas, the disappearance of one John Roan...
  • Preacher Freeman 10-29-09
    Religious beliefs aside, all of us owe a debt to the early-day Baptist and Methodist preachers. They not only saved souls, being literate in an era when many were not, they saved a lot of history in their written recollections...
  • Mobeetie Preachers 10-22-09
  • Old Jokes 10-14-09
    Ever wonder what jokes made your great-grandparents laugh?...
  • Hughes' Stock Book 10-8-09
    Labeled “Horse Record – Hughes Bros.” the book contains hand written records of horses sold and traded
  • The Huntsville Humdinger and the Texas Prison Rodeo 10-1-09
    When the Huntsville Humdinger hit the streets that Monday, the feisty four-column competitor of the long-established Huntsville Item carried on page one a humdinger of a local scoop: The prison system would be starting a rodeo that fall. On Sept. 4, 1931...
  • Tesnus, Texas 9-24-09
    Tesnus, Texas is one of those ethereal ghost towns—except for a railroad siding and a sign, no physical evidence of it remains...
  • Judge Stories 9-17-09
    The Texans we elect to the bench often figure in amusing stories. Especially long-time judges like the late Mace B. Thurman Jr...
  • Baled in a Bale 9-11-09
    Though most of the ginning is done by brainless machinery, the industry’s human element has developed a colorful folklore with a range of subsets.
  • Central Texas Flood 9-3-09
    The first day it started raining, people took it as good news...
  • Port Isabel Wireless 8-27-09
    In 1915 the U.S. military had plans to install at Point Isabel a state-of-the-art radio facility that would provide virtually instantaneous communication as the government prepared for the possibility of a second war with Mexico.
  • The Texas Ranger 8-13-09
    I wrote about this ship with a famous name last summer, but only recently ran into some additional information on her...
  • U.S. 67 8-6-09
    It may not be the Mother Road, but U.S. 67 stretches 1,560 miles across five states, connecting Iowa to Mexico. The highway extends through Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois to the intersection of U.S. 52 in Sabula, Iowa, population 670. Six hundred thirty-seven miles of U.S. 67 are in Texas, from Presidio to Texarkana...
  • Bluffton Reappears 7-30-09
    At this writing, the normally sprawling Lake Buchanan is only 51 per cent full... While a few traces of the old town have become visible, most of it is still under water...
  • Bonnie and Clyde Slept Here 7-23-09
  • Heat 7-16-09
  • Runaway scrapes 7-9-09
  • July 4, 1894 7-2-09
  • The Old Book Shelf 6-24-09
  • Ranger Silver 6-18-09
  • Susan's Indians 6-11-09
  • Ghost Ships 6-4-09
  • Sideshow Texans 5-28-09
  • News Bits 5-21-09
  • Joe Pruno 5-14-09
  • Book Snippets 5-7-09
  • Pecos High Bridge 4-30-09
    The “fair young” Pecos River Queen
  • Flash II 4-23-09
    More news about the Flash, the vessel that carried the Twin Sisters most of the way to the Texian army just in time for Sam Houston’s decisive defeat of Santa Anna at San Jacinto...
  • Flash 4-15-09
    Some aspects of Texas’ struggle for independence from Mexico have fallen through the figurative cracks in the floor of history’s log cabin. The Flash is a good example...
  • Early Movie Making 4-11-09
  • Quito 4-2-09
    The ghostliest of ghost towns are those that existed only on paper...
  • Texas Sketchbook 3-26-09
    Humble, a Texas oil company created in 1911... published thousands of copies of the “Texas Sketchbook”...
  • Boyce House 3-19-09
    Boyce House deserves to be remembered...
  • Elmo Johnson 3-12-09
    This is not the first time the border has been a dangerous place.
  • Gail Borden 3-5-09
    A New Yorker who grew up in Indiana, Gail Borden came to Texas in 1829, five years after his brother Thomas arrived as one of Stephen F. Austin’s colonists...
  • Pansy 2-26-09
    The old woman walked along one of McCamey’s unpaved streets, pulling a red Radio Flyer wagon...
  • Indian Stories 2-19-09
    Texas fought two wars during the Civil War. One war, of course, was the bloody struggle against the North... The second war was primarily one of self-defense against hostile Indian tribes taking advantage of the absence of the U.S. military and the state’s preoccupation with the larger war...
  • The Hermit in the Dugout 2-11-09
    Why would anyone want to live out their years in a dirt-floor dugout competing for shade with scorpions and rattlesnakes in the summer and warmed only by burning chopped railroad ties in the winter? Gold.
  • Clyde’s Funeral 2-5-09
    Stories can turn up in weird places. For instance, who would expect to find an account of the Depression-era outlaw Clyde Barrow’s funeral in the self-published memoir of a long-time fiddler-turned-preacher?
  • Treasury Raid 1-29-09
    When the bell atop the First Baptist Church started clanging about 9 o’clock that Sunday night, it was not a call to worship. It was June 11, 1865. A full moon hung over Austin, a city of some 4,000 residents.
  • Hog Killing Time 1-22-09
    "You don’t have to delve too deeply into almost any written recollection of a Texan who lived in the days before refrigeration became the norm to find accounts of hog-killing."
  • Owen Wister 1-15-09
    The cultured gentleman from Philadelphia generally credited with inventing the Western novel, a genre that evolved into film and eventually television, spent some time in West Texas on his way to becoming a nationally-known writer...
  • Bluebonnet Hotel 1-8-09
    Now surrounded by so many 200-foot tall wind turbines that it has become the wind power capital of the nation, Sweetwater used to have a more traditional skyscraper – the seven-story Bluebonnet Hotel...
  • Pranks 12-31-08
    Whatever happened to pranks? Old-time Texans enjoyed practical jokes more than their descendants seem to. A sampling of long-ago stunts:...
  • Belle Christmas 12-22-08
    No matter how she came to be called Belle Christmas, she had a reputation as a local character long before someone dreamed up the “Keep Austin Weird” bumper sticker...
  • Old But Odd Gift Ideas 12-18-08
    The December 1911 issue of a long-forgotten but fun-to-read iconoclastic monthly called K. Lamity’s Harpoon offered a full-page ad from a Uvalde taxidermist with some unusual gift items for sale that some modern readers will probably wish were still available today...
  • Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang 12-11-08
    Oil field shacks, military barracks, college rooming houses, hotels catering to traveling salesmen, smoke-filled railroad cars or the outhouse – anywhere in Texas young men could be found, so could a copy of Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang...
  • Bad Man Returns 12-4-08
    As the old saying goes, it’s hard to keep a good man down. But that sure couldn’t account for Bill Johnson’s reappearance in McLennan County. One of Texas’ lesser-known outlaws...
  • Bill Wharton 11-27-08
    Used to be, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, some people were born Thankful and died Thankful. That’s because, way back, parents sometimes named their daughters Thankful. Born in 1803, Thankful Rankin...
  • Boo-boo towns 11-27-08
    Call ‘em boo-boo towns. The Texas map is sprinkled with cities and towns that got their names by mistake...
  • White Buffalo 11-18-08
    The rifle roared, a .50 caliber hunk of lead smacked into the side of the buffalo and the huge animal tumbled to the ground. That happened all across the plains of Texas during the 1870s, but this was no ordinary bison – it was all white, one of only seven known to have been killed on the North American continent...
  • Remembering Austin 11-6-08
    On July 2, 1864, Congress passed an act to turn the original House chamber into a hall of statuary…
  • Ranger Cemeteries 10-30-08
    Except for the occasional thunder-like sound of a jet taking off or landing at Austin’s Bergstrom International Airport, the small cemetery could be out in the middle of nowhere...
  • Art 10-23-08
    Until shortly after World War One, Art’s name was Plehweville, a handle that sounds something like a sneeze, followed by “ville.”...
  • Horse Troughs 10-16-08
    Water troughs, better known in Texas as horse troughs, were intended for the hydration of livestock. But Texas ranchers and their families found far more use for these open containers of water than merely affording Old Dobbin a place to drink...
  • Fall Roundup 10-9-08
    In his 1937 book, “Memories,” J.B. Cranfill told the story of J. M. Carroll, a man who had the reputation of being the best wing shot in Texas...
  • Indian Emily 10-2-08
  • October Barrel 9-25-08
  • Balinese Room Cashiered 9-18-08
  • Rankin Beach 9-11-08
  • Ghost in No. 7 9-4-08
    The old officer’s quarters at Fort Concho...
  • Hardin's Shotgun 8-27-08
    John Wesley Hardin's shotgun used by him to kill the Sheriff of DeWitt County, the most notorious of the men...
  • Peaches 8-21-08
    Most peach trees seldom make it past their first decade of existence. That’s what made the peach tree outside the old stone structure in Burnet at the site of Fort Croghan so unusual...
  • Million Barrel Hole 8-14-08
  • Trivia 8-7-08
  • Possum Trot 7-30-08
  • Steamship Texas Ranger 7-24-08
  • Old Pecos 7-17-08
  • Cuttings 7-10-08
  • Terry's Texas Rangers 7-3-08
  • Twin Towns 6-26-08
  • Forgotten Conservationist 6-19-08
  • Austin Fires 6-12-08
  • Battle of Medina 6-5-08
  • Bud Newman, part II 5-29-08
  • Bud Newman Gang 5-26-08
  • Badger Fight 5-26-08
  • Ben's Pistol 5-8-08
  • Indianola Remnants 5-1-08
  • San Jacinto Hero Henry Millard 4-17-08
  • Earth 4-10-08
  • Henigan Water 4-3-08
  • Sam Houston 3-27-08
  • Bull in the Brush 3-20-08
  • Denison UFO 3-13-08
  • Alamo Backdoor 3-6-08
  • Coffee Drinkers 2-28-08
  • International Pavedway 2-21-08
  • Valentine’s Day 2-14-08
  • Rock Fences 2-7-08
  • Granite 1-31-08
  • Buffalo Bill 1-24-08
  • Shumla 1-18-08
  • Travel Trailers 1-9-08
  • Suddenly Silly 1-3-08
  • Buggies 12-26-07
  • Oil Patch Memories 12-22-07
  • More News of the Odd 12-13-07
  • Santa Robber 12-6-07
  • Staple Shopping 11-29-07
  • Bosque Treasure 11-20-07
  • Biscuits 11-17-07
  • Doe and a Bride 11-8-07
  • Tramp Printers 11-1-07
  • Chupacabra 10-24-07
    Does a zoologically unknown, blood-sucking creature prowl the South Texas mesquite?...
  • FDR 10-18-07
  • Valley Talk 10-12-07
  • Sullivan 10-4-07
  • Cow Patties 9-26-07
  • Pope's Flying Machine 9-19-07
  • Camels 9-12-07
  • Carr Boys 9-6-07
  • The Banker 8-30-07
  • Austin Happenings 8-22-07
  • Pan-Am and the Valley 8-17-07
  • Gator 8-14-07
  • Transitions 8-3-07
  • Robert Leroy Ripley 7-31-07
  • In the News 7-17-07
  • CSA Veterans 7-12-07
  • Chinese Coins 7-5-07
  • Big Map 6-27-07
  • Menard Grave 6-20-07
  • Prairie Fires 6-14-07
  • Armless Judge 6-7-07
  • Dumont 5-30-07
  • Centennial House 5-23-07
  • Kinch West 5-16-07
  • Checkers 5-9-07
  • Road Log 1922 5-3-07
  • Weird News 4-26-07
    From the Lone Star State in 1899
  • Hail Storm 4-19-07
    Just a boy at the time, Howard Campbell never lost his vivid memory of the only time he ever saw both of his parents cry...
  • Capitol No. 1 4-12-07
    The story of a civil engineer from San Antonio who earned less than the value of a good mule for designing a new capitol for Texas...
  • John Ringo 4-5-07
    "It didn't play out quite like a scene from "Gunsmoke," but two of the Old West's more notorious characters faced each other in Austin's red light district in 1881..."
  • Sam's Mother-in-Law 3-30-07
    "Despite the rocky beginning of their relationship, Sam Houston treated Mrs. Nancy Lea, his mother-in-law, with all due respect..."
  • Lindbergh 3-27-07
  • Bagdad 4-3-07
    "Far from the Middle East, another Bagdad lay on the south side of the Rio Grande at the river's mouth, just across from a Texas town called Clarksville. (Not to be confused with the Clarksville in Red River County.)"
  • Richard Ellis 4-3-07
  • Stage Coach 4-3-07
  • Reconstruction Valentine 2-16-07
  • Tallest Rebel 2-8-07
    Henry Clay Thruston
  • Photographer Louis de Planque 2-1-07
  • Priddy Good Sandwiches 1-26-07
  • Baskin-McGregor Act 1-23-07
  • Cotton Picking 1-11-07
  • 1907 1-4-07
  • New Year's Day 12-28-06
  • Burnt Boot Creek 12-14-06
  • Blue Northers 12-7-06
  • Moctezuma 11-28-06
  • Lord's Acre 11-23-06
  • La Posada 11-16-06
    Laredo's La Posada Hotel
  • Rockport Ships 11-9-06
  • Mystery Wall 11-2-06
    Someone went to a lot of trouble to build the old stacked-stone wall hidden in a thick stand of yaupon and other brush on a Lee County ranch...
  • Dead Man's Hole 10-30-06
  • Bowie 10-19-06
  • Extra Slow 10-12-06
    "Early day Austin newspaper editor Edmunds Travis liked to claim he had a hand in putting out both the slowest and fastest extras in Texas newspaper history."
  • Rankin Hotel 10-5-06
  • Withers 9-28-06
  • Rural Mail Routes 9-21-06
  • Moody House 9-14-06
    The two-story Victorian house in Taylor has been nicely restored...
  • Thurber Booze 9-7-06
  • Mother 8-30-06
  • Disappearing Cows 8-24-06
    "... Not only did the animals move, many believed that unrested souls flitted about. Strange things were said to happen..."
  • Texas City 1914 8-17-06
    "A small town with a big name, Texas City hosted an Army camp..."
  • Kid Murray 8-10-06
    Texas' least-known outlaw, newspapers dubbed him "Kid" Murray...
  • Humble Fire 8-2-06
    "...Hudson's enthusiasm for the oil business changed abruptly on July 23, 1905. That evening, a thunderstorm triggered a bolt of lightning that ignited the oil in one of the large tanks Hudson had helped build.
  • Old Sam Houston Song 7-27-06
    "The song, reprinted in 1928 in a long-defunct Texas magazine called Bunker's Monthly, lies on the pages of the few surviving copies of that publication, long forgotten..."
  • Clairmont Jail 7-20-06
  • Antlers 7-13-06
  • Down in Texas 7-6-06
    "'Down in Texas' captured what the rest of the nation wanted to believe about the Lone Star State's petroleum boom towns..."
  • Rochester Teacher 6-29-06
    School teaching has never been the best paying avocation, but the terms of employment have definitely improved over the last century...
  • Lehmann Show 6-22-06
    When Fred Gipson's family went to an old-settlers reunion and fair at Katemcy to see the aging Herman Lehmann put on a one-man exhibition, the Mason County youngster got a taste of the old west far more realistic than anything he ever saw in a Tom Mix movie...
  • Llano Gold 6-15-06
    Washed in golden sunset, from a distance Llano County's Sharp Mountain looks like a giant Paleolithic flint hide scraper lying on its side... Few today know about the long-abandoned mine shafts the mountain hides...
  • Austin Will 6-8-06
    Austin real estate agent Susanne Lee has fond memories of the house in Houston she grew up in, but until recently she never knew it had much of a history.
  • Sheriff Kirk 6-1-06
    "...The killing of Sheriff Kirk stands out as an Old West shootout worthy of any Hollywood Western..."
  • Lolita 5-18-06
  • Eureka 5-12-06
    "...Ozona did become the county seat. Today, Eureka-first known as Couch Well - is not even a ghost town, only a ghost name..."
  • Karma 5-5-06
  • Plains Pioneer Charlie Saigling 4-27-06
  • Prairiedom 4-21-05
    Most people driving along U.S. 71 from Austin to Columbus don't spend any time thinking about the highway bridges that afford them the ability to cross streams and rivers without getting wet.
  • Wild Navidad 4-14-06
    The Navidad River is only 74 miles long but it is as tangled in history and folklore as the vines and trees along its banks...
  • Baker Talk4-11-06
    The talk Captain Mosley Baker supposedly gave to the men of his company at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836...
  • Bluebonnets 3-30-06
  • Wired 3-24-06
  • Barton Springs 3-17-06
  • Houston Ring 3-9-06
  • Adobe Outposts on the Rio Grande 3-1-06
  • Line in the Sand 2-23-06
  • Army Booze 2-16-06
  • Earl Abel's 2-13-06
  • 1918 Flu 2-2-06
  • Cleo Face 1-26-06
    "The folks along Bear Creek in Kimble County always called the mysterious stone carving the “Cleo Face.”
  • Columbus Tower 1-13-06
    "No matter how European it looks, however, the tower is the product of Yankee – well, Southern – ingenuity."
  • Hudson Bend 12-16-05
    "Maybe some day a scuba diver will find the old bent rifle barrel at the bottom of Lake Travis..."
  • Medley 12-10-05
    Sam Houston and more
  • Bull Creek Battle 12-3-05
    "Now covered with spacious, expensive houses, the cedar-studded canyons on the western edge of Austin used to be Central Texas’ version of Appalachia."
  • Crockett News 11-17-05
    "Volume one, number one of the newspaper appeared to enlighten the citizenry of Houston County on Dec. 6, 1853. It had not been an easy process."
  • Last Cavalry Horse 11-17-05
    "That cold winter morning, Dec.14, 1932, was a sad one for old-time horse soldiers and civilians alike at Fort D.A. Russell in Marfa -- they both realized they were witnessing the end of an era."
  • Amarillo Symphony 11-3-05
    "The whistle was music to the railroad man’s ears. With tongue-in-cheek, he called it the “Amarillo Symphony.”
  • Storm of 1895 10-26-05
    The dust storm in El Paso
  • Jackass in Heaven 10-20-05
    "Clay McGonagill may have been the ropingest cowboy Texas ever produced..."
  • Dead Ellis 10-13-05
  • Catarina 10-6-05
    If you’re looking for a ghost, it figures you’d go to a ghost town to find one.
  • Circus 9-29-05
    The Gainesville Community Circus in the 1950s
  • Outlaw Letter 9-20-05
    An outlaw's love letter in 1878
  • Missing Coat 9-15-05
    "Third-term Sterling County Sheriff S.T. Wood..."
  • Galveston 1900 9-8-05
  • Lady Doc 9-1-05
    Dr. Sofie Herzog, first female surgeon in Texas
  • Exterminator 8-23-05
    German immigrant J.C. Melcher of Fayette County and Port Lavaca
  • Nameless Cave 8-18-05
    Nameless, Texas, Nameless Cave and hermit's treasure.
  • Bombsite 8-10-05
    The story of the Manhattan Project and its product, the atomic bombs against Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945, has been well told. But buried in all the official documents is another story, far less known.
  • Oddities 8-1-05
    "The December 1938 issue offered some items of Texas trivia just as interesting today as they were then."
  • Book Burning 7-22-05
    “Where they have burned books,” German poet Johann Heinrich Heine wrote in the 19th century, “they will end in burning human beings.” Indeed, Texans have done both.
  • Terrell County 7-14-05
    Bexar and Terrell County
  • Sam Houston's Will 7-6-05
  • Rev. Dancer 7-1-05
    Namesake of Dancer Peak neat Llano
  • Poker 6-23-05
    "Gambling was a Galveston institution early on."
  • Dare Devil Rogers 6-16-05
    :During the Depression, as the people of the nation collectively dug deep into their pockets and often came up with nothing, Dare Devil dug his own grave time after time, town after town."
  • Lost Sword 6-8-05
    "Somewhere in Texas is a sword with a history."
  • O. Henry 6-2-05
    "The mustachioed young man from North Carolina hardly seemed the martial type, but as a citizen soldier in the Austin Grays he demonstrated the qualities of a leader – even if it was to keep from spending the night in the guardhouse...."
  • Stagecoach Holdup 5-26-05
    "Stagecoach robberies happened so often along the Texas frontier it came to be considered something of a right of passage to hand over one’s money and valuables to a masked man with a gun on some lonely roadside."
  • Whiskey Funeral 5-19-05
    "He won his nickname when he got so desperate for a drink that he traded his horse and saddle for a gallon of whiskey."
  • Bold CSA Vet Thomas Evans Riddle, & Man o’ War 5-14-05
    Thomas Evans Riddle bet on a dead racehorse. He lost.
  • Wells Branch 5-7-05
    "Today, as the rustic center piece of Katherine Fleischer Park, the cabin sits in the middle of some 8,000 residences occupied by 20,000 people."
  • Freer 5-1-05
    "In rhyme, Wilson tried to distill life in and around the Duval County town of Freer, the state’s last truly wild and wooly oil boom town."
  • Patriots 4-26-05
    "The American Revolution lasted seven years, affording plenty of men the opportunity to go down in history as patriots."
  • Freeny Hanging 4-17-05
    "James Washington White lost an arm fighting for the South during the Civil War. He could have spent the rest of his life seething with bitterness, but that’s not how it turned out."
  • Twin Sisters 4-5-05
    The most famous pieces of artillery in Texas history
  • San Jacinto Monument 3-23-05
    "Most people think the towering star-topped limestone monument, built during the Texas Centennial in 1936, is the only San Jacinto monument. Actually, it’s only the biggest."
  • Spanish Cattle 3-21-05
    "All those longhorns that revitalized Texas’ post-Civil War economy had to come from somewhere. And where the breed came from was the interior of Mexico. Via trail drive."
  • Jesus 3-21-05
    When old “Hay-sus” died that winter afternoon, just about everyone in Eagle Pass mourned.
  • Davy's Widow 3-9-05
    Elizabeth Patton Crockett
  • KKK 3-1-05
  • Mission Rules 2-22-05
    Around 1760, a now-unknown Franciscan priest at the Apostolic College for Missionaries in Queretaro, Mexico set down rules for Texas missionaries. The rules, laden with advice, were “meant for a missionary who has never been in charge of a mission and is all alone and does not know whom to consult for advice.”
  • Battle of Brushy Creek 2-05
    A little-known fight between Comanche warriors and Texas Rangers
  • August Carl Weiss 2-16-05
    During the Civil War not every Southern soldier served in the Confederate army because he believed in slavery or hated Yankees. Some shouldered arms only because they had to. That was the case with August Carl Weiss, one of 2,000 men who soldiered for the South in Waul’s Legion, a unit raised at Brenham by Thomas Neville Waul.
  • Chili by Mike Cox 1-31-05
    William Gerald Tobin’s career as a Texas Ranger left a lot to be desired. But he had an idea that left Texas, and the Southwest, an enduring gastronomical legacy.
  • Kaiser Cows - Bovine Saboteurs of WWI 1-25-05
  • Jake, the Bridge Ghost of Williamson County 1-17-05
  • Tejano Hero Norberto Sierra 1-5-04
  • Austin Grade School 1-1-05
  • Newspaper Death 12-27-04
    The Athenian of East Texas
  • Nice Politics 12-20-04
  • Big Foot Wallace and the Indian 12-12-04
    Smith had plenty of interesting experiences during his long life, but one of the best stories he told involved another character -- Big Foot Wallace. It is a tale of good and evil with a twist.
  • Pardner Jones 12-12-04
    "Jones was the go-to guy for shooting hats off actor’s heads or cigars out of their mouths. A la William Tell, he also could make instant apple sauce, albeit with a bullet instead of an arrow."
  • Kate Ward 11-22-04
    Whatever happened to the Kate Ward is far from the most daunting mystery in Texas history...
  • Strange News 11-15-04
    Strange news and early 20th century urban folklore
  • Punkin Center 10-26-04
    The Punkin Center Phenomenon, and the old Irish folktale about Jack-O’-Lantern, the enduring symbol of Halloween.
  • Which Road 10-21-04
  • Asherton 10-15-04
  • Covert Park - Mount Bonnell 10-4-04
    Next time you’re in Austin, be sure to visit Covert Park
  • Tres Presidents 9-23-04
    Presidents' military records
  • Poison Doc 9-23-04
    Herman Webster Mudgett, America’s first serial killer
  • Lost in the Flood 9-16-04
  • Donna 8-26-04
    Donna Hooks Fletcher, namesake of Donna, Texas
  • Alamo Monument 8-17-04
    In 1912, a San Antonio group began raising money to build a monument to the defenders of the Alamo. But the memorial they wanted for Alamo Plaza would not be any run of the mill monument. It would be Texas-sized and then some, an architectural wonder.
  • Rooster 8-12-04
    Word spread of Houston’s April 21 defeat of Santa Anna at San Jacinto. Slowly, those who still wanted to give life in Texas a chance turned to the west and went back to what was left of their homes. And that’s when a nameless hero gave his all for Texas....
  • William Christy 7-29-04
    A forgotten Texas hero
  • Wind Wagon 7-22-04
  • Palacios 7-14-04
  • Rust’s Ride 7-7-04
  • Lost Painting of Sam Houston 7-1-04
  • Jumper 6-26-04
    Jumpers, diving horses and Sonora Webster
  • Summer News from 1894
  • Surly Stranger 6-15-04
    Texas Ranger J.W. Fulgham and a Reeves County sheriff’s deputy ... left Pecos, Texas for a ride down the Pecos River, looking for cattle thieves or fugitives in early September 1893. Back then, the Pecos was a good place to find either variety of criminal.... more
  • Last Buffalo 6-15-04
  • Slots 5-19-04
  • Kate 5-19-04
    Catherine "Kate" Magill Dorman -- a little known Texas heroine of the Civil War
  • Leaping Lovers 5-12-04
    Four landmarks known as Lover's Leaps
  • Racing Parson 5-1-04
    How a preacher held a horse race and build a church
  • Athens 4-27-04
    Somewhere in northern Travis County or southern Williamson County is the site of a long dead dream, a "delightful" community that never was.
  • Joe 4-20-04
    Travis' slave, who witnessed his death at the Alamo
  • Except Texas 4-11-04
    That spring of 1866, more than a year after the last great battles between North and South, the United States still officially considered Texas in a state of insurrection.
  • Camp Bowie 4-2-04
    On the night of May 5, 1837, two officers of the Republic of Texas' army lay asleep in their tent at Camp Bowie. Only one of them would wake up.
  • Meteorite 3-21-04
    The Williams Ranch meteorite, truth or hoax
  • Sam Houston Oak 3-12-04
    In the vicinity of the tree on March 14, 1836, Sam Houston and several hundred Texas citizen-soldiers spent one of the worst nights of their lives
  • Alamo Letters 3-12-04
    The surviving words of someone who died in the old Spanish mission on March 6, 1836.
  • Tyrant's Gold 3-2-04
    When General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna came to Texas in 1836 he left behind death and destruction -- and possibly gold.
  • Old News 2-26-04
    Tired of all the new news of war, politics and other forms of violence? For a change of pace, here's some old news of war, politics and other forms of violence.
  • Bevo, the University of Texas' longhorn mascot 2-20-04
    One of the more bizarre events in Texas collegiate history took place in Austin on a January night in 1920.
  • Old Armory 2-12-04
    Is there really an historical treasure trove beneath downtown Austin?
  • Sarah
    "Son," a wise old man once said, "always marry a Texas girl. No matter what happens, she's seen worse."
  • Lindsey City 1-29-04
    A ghost town in Big Bend National Park
  • Hondo 1-20-04
    Who made the word Hondo famous?
  • Cowboy Gene 1-10-04
    Gene Autry the Singing Cowboy
  • McDade Hanging 12-17-03
    The story of the McDade Christmas clean up has become one of Texas' more frequently told Yuletide tales.
  • Barbecue Bust 12-14-03
    Where O. Henry, student protests, the Texas governor and barbecue come together.
  • Elephant
    A wild cowboy tale.
  • Hunting Mishaps 11-28-03
    Prominent Texans killed while hunting
  • Tascosa and Boothill
  • Alien Camp 11-28-03
    World War II alien camp in Crystal City
  • Lechuza 10-27-03
    "Lechuzas have been scaring people in Mexico and South Texas for a long time.... Lechuzas are witches - brujas - who transform themselves into birds...."
  • Range King 10-27-03
    "It can't atone for his murder, or even the apparent contempt of those who buried him, but at least James W. King lies in a beautiful cemetery."
  • Mustang Gray 10-4-03
    Someone wrote a ballad about him that many Texas mothers used for years as a lullaby...
  • Tennessee 10-25-03
    "Texas is probably more indebted to Tennessee for her independence and subsequent development than to any State in the Union."
  • Llano Boom 10-25-03
    The Great Llano Uranium Boom
  • Sipe Springs 9-14-03
    But all that remains today is a mystery written in concrete: "Who is the little girl, age 3?"
  • Bikes 9-9-03
    In 1897, when a Texas peace officer needed to go somewhere to do his job, he walked, rode a horse, went in a wagon or took a train. Deputy sheriff Josh Messenger began using a two-wheeled bicycle.
  • Sergeant Kelly 8-31-03
    The unknown soldier of the Mexican War
  • Bear Den 8-24-03
    "One of the stories Vantine told was about the time he went hunting for a bear and found an Indian...."
  • Bluffton 8-17-03
    When all the engineering work for the long-contemplated dam was completed in the mid-1930s, residents of Bluffton received some hard news - the town would be inundated by the new lake.
  • Popeye 8-10-03
    ... So there it is, in black-and-white: Popeye, the Sailor Man is a native Texan.
  • Hoo Doo 8-3-03
    A writer of Western fiction could get a dozen movies out of the Hoo Doo War story...
  • First Whites 7-27-03
    Being known as an FWC was considered a mark of distinction, and because of the honor attached to it, sometimes became a point of controversy.
  • Pearl 7-20-03
    He has the singular distinction of being the first and last man legally hanged in the county.
  • Cranfill 7-13-03
    For about the last quarter of the 19th century ... being a "wet" or a "dry" defined a Texan politically much more accurately than being Democrat or Republican....
  • Two Braids 7-6-03
    More Texans owned horses than automobiles in 1910, but when the middle-aged man rode into Eagle Pass that summer, people noticed....
  • A.J. Sowell 6-25-03
  • Lion Hunt 6-11-03
  • News from Texas 5-28-03


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    COLUMNS:
  • Mike Cox - "Texas Tales"
  • Clay Coppedge - "Letters from Central Texas"
  • Murray Montgomery - "Lone Star Diary"
  • Wanda Orton - "Wandering"
  • Michael Barr - "Hindsights"
  • Maggie Van Ostrand - "A Balloon in Cactus"
  • David Knape - "Once Upon A Line" Poems
  • Roger Todd Moore - "Moore Texas" Cartoons
  • John Troesser
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