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  Texas : Trips : Courthouses : The Great American Legends Tour, Texas Style

The Great American Legends Tour, Texas Style,

Bison Bill and Swoops

by Swoops

The Guides: Bison Bill & Swoops
The Tour: 67 Texas County Courthouses

Editor's Note:
You don't get more legendary than an American Bald Eagle and a Buffalo. Follow their adventure around the state as they explore Texas' courthouses and tell the stories of Texas from their unique perspective and viewpoint.

The best thing about living in a state the size of Texas is that there are plenty of things out there to see and do. You can go to water parks and amusement parks. You can go on trail rides and hiking tours. And then you can go see beautiful buildings that have been around for so long that folks tend to take them for granted. We call these particular buildings "Great American Legends."

These legends are works of architecture that have withstood the test of time. They may be gristmills, post offices, train depots, or even courthouses. But each one of them has a character of its own. And each one has a story behind it.

Many of these great architectural achievements are listed with the National Register of Historic Places as structures that have a special meaning to its community. Often, the stories behind these treasures have been forgotten or haven't been told in a long time.

It is our mission to get the word out about these legends and the people who made their community famous.

Bison Bill and Swoops are ready to leave the suburbs of Houston on their tour of the historic Texas courthouses
Photo by Lou Ann Herda

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is George Armstrong Custer Bald Eagle. But you can call me Swoops. I was adopted about five years ago from Fort Abraham Lincoln up near Mandan, North Dakota by Taylor Lang from Houston. It was from this fort in 1876 that Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry rode out to fight against the Sioux at the Little Big Horn in what was then Montana Territory. That was when he got up close and personal with several arrows and a mean tomahawk which took care of his long blonde hair. Portions of the military post, including the Custer House, have been reconstructed at that fort.

Did you know that Custer spent some time in Texas after the Civil War? He and his reconstruction troops were camped on the grounds of the Liendo Plantation, which is near Hempstead just northwest of Houston on Highway 290. There is a Civil War re-enactment there one weekend in November, and we're going to be there! Holy cow! I almost forgot to mention my traveling buddy, Bison Bill! He's pretty much a buffalo, but since someone else called himself Buffalo Bill, and since that fellow liked killing buffalo for sport, then my friend decided his name should be Bison Bill. Good ol' Bison Bill is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, so he has a bit of a Southern accent. He doesn't do much of the writing, but when my wings get tired of flapping, he's great for a free ride! Just be sure you don't give him any alfalfa because he's allergic. And if he sneezes on you, hoooo-eee! It's time to hit the showers!

We're also Great American Legends, and we'd like you to join us on our tour of great Texan legendary buildings. Of course, you won't be able to ride along with us, but perhaps you, too, can go to all the places we see and find out even more exciting things about those places than we have!

The Great American Legends Tour begins with us visiting all those Texas county courthouses that are listed with the National Register. There are sixty-seven of them spread out all across the state, from Donley County in the Panhandle to Goliad County near the Gulf. And from Shelby County in East Texas to Presidio County out West. We also will be on the lookout for those old courthouses that are still standing but are no longer used as seats of justice.

Each time we go somewhere, I'll log an entry at this website. We'll have a photo of us in front of the courthouse with hopefully some kids from that town. That way you can see what we saw!

If you'd like to see all 254 Texas courthouses, there's a cool website (www.texascourthouses.com) that has even better pictures than the ones we take. Maybe you have one near you!

We plan on going to some festivals on our courthouse trek, so if you know of any we need to see, please let us know! You can email us at bbnswoops@aol.com.(That's for Bison Bill 'n Swoops.)

Look for a new report about once a month, keep a Texas map handy, and don't forget to write us!

May 2001
Copyright Lou Ann Herda, Ed. D
Author, Bison Bill & Swoops Email address : bbnswoops@aol.com

Author's Bio

Click here :
The Great American Legends Tour: Table of Contents
Texas Architecture

Editor's Intro

We were made aware of the Great American Legends Tour by Lou Ann Herda, who has become the chauffeur / spokesperson / transcriber / translator and make-up artist (dry cleaner) for the Two American Legends (you don't get more legendary than a Bald Eagle and a Buffalo) that are embarking on this trip around historic Texas.

We've long wanted something for our younger readers, since we know we have a huge readership from ISDs around the state. Speaking through Lou Ann, who is a Storyteller and Educator, the two visit the county seats around the state and relate the histories of the various counties. The humor is crisp and can be appreciated by older folks as well.

We enjoy the observations of these two (we've read some of their trips) because their "take" on Texas is informative, refreshing and since it's the viewpoint of a bison and an eagle - it's never dull. It's also less violent than if we were reporting on the trip of a coyote and a roadrunner.

The two are not Texans, which we feel is an asset. It adds a certain freshness as we share their discoveries - and besides, it's always fun to hear what "foreigners" have to say about Texas.

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