Reader's Exchange

A Texan a day...

Sam Bass is still causing trouble: the third request from out-of-towners for "the shootout map" (starring Mr. Bass in his final appearance) this week triggered my realization that March is done and I missed Texas Independence Day.

Visitors, bless ‘em, have shown more regard for Texas history than I have lately.

Perhaps if I were a fifth-generation Texas like my husband (I'm only fourth generation) my devotion would surface at less erratic intervals.  He checks in daily with the Texas State Historical Association's Texas Day By Day.

I may be subconsciously preventing schedule erosion by visiting this remarkable compendium less often.   Though immune to other digital lures--online gaming, serial Facebook updating--I am helpless in the face of so many links to pursue and can't resist roaming beyond TSHA's daily offerings to explore further.  

You'd be amazed at the variety of lore chronicled therein.  Not a native?  All the more reason to acquaint yourself with Three-Legged Willie, The Light Crust DoughBoys, "Ma" Ferguson, Bring ‘Em Back Alive Buck,  Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Ima Hogg.

Life in other states may not have promoted knowledge of what transpired when the Chilympiad barred women from competing or when the U.S. War Department shipped camels to Texas. The Texas movie poster

But you'll encounter frequent references to The Other 49.  One can't be faulted for being born elsewhere.  We gladly claim "naturalized" Texans who arrived later and notably achieved:  Walter Cronkite, Norah Jones, Emmitt Smith, golf guru Harvey Penick, Sandra Bullock, Dr. Phil....

Electric guitar pioneer Charlie Christian was a native, as were Roy Orbison, Van Cliburn, Ornette Coleman, and too many other influential artists to name.  Bandleader/Governor/Senator Pappy O'Daniel demonstrated (as have others since) that in Texas politics and entertainment are, if not indistinguishable, definitely intertwined.

TSHA affords juicy gossip:  Pennsylvania-born Anna Raguet inspired Sam Houston to (once he'd been elected President of the Republic) expedite the divorce suit against his first wife.  Ms. Raguet allegedly found the proceedings off-putting and married Houston's secretary of state instead.

As for adventure:  Rebecca Gilleland Fisher, captured by Comanches who killed her parents, was subsequently rescued.  She later became a charter member of the DAR and aided in saving the Alamo from destruction.   Medal of Honor recipient John Cary Morgan, whose achievement was fictionalized in the movie Twelve O'Clock High, didn't merely take over his B-17's controls when the pilot was shot; he had to fly with one hand and stave off the "crazed" pilot with the other.

And nowadays, as we contemplate a diminished Post Office presence, the loss of stagecoach mail and passenger service (March 1, 1861; the route was relocated north out of Texas) resonates, doesn't it?

John Steinbeck observed that, "Like most passionate nations, Texas has its own history based on, but not limited by, facts."   TSHA's trove of data in Handbook of Texas Online defies fiction to invent anything so colorful.

But it's still OK to speculate, as Tex Ritter did:  "They say that Virginia is the mother of Texas.  We never knew who the father was, but we kinda suspected Tennessee."


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