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Cowboys, Cops, Killers, and Ghosts

Legends and Lore in Texas

Edited by Kenneth L. Untiedt

Publication Year: 2013

This Publication of the Texas Folklore Society has something for everyone. The first section features a good bit of occupational lore, including articles on cowboys—both legendary ones and the relatively unknown men who worked their trade day by day wherever they could. You’ll also find a unique, personal look at a famous outlaw and learn about a teacher’s passion for encouraging her students to discover their own family culture, as well as unusual weddings, somewhat questionable ways to fish, and one woman’s love affair with a bull. The backbone of the PTFS series has always been miscellanies—diverse examinations of the many types of lore found throughout Texas and the Southwest. These books offer a glimpse of what goes on at our annual meetings, as the best of the papers presented are frequently selected for our publications. Of course, the presentations are only a part of what the Society does at the meetings, but reading these publications offers insight into our members’ interests in everything from bikers and pioneers of Tejana music to serial killers and simple folk from small-town Texas. These works also suggest the importance of the “telling of the tale,” with an emphasis on oral tradition, as well as some of the customs we share. All of these things together— the focus on tradition at our meetings, the fellowship among members, and the diversity of our research—are what sustain the Texas Folklore Society.

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Series: Publications of the Texas Folklore Society

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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Kenneth L. Untiedt

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pp. vii-ix

I’ve always said that the backbone of the Publications of the Texas Folklore Society series is miscellanies, collections of articles on a wide variety of topics—or at least four or five that can be arranged in chapters. This volume is just such a miscellany, and it has something...

Part I. On the Job: Legends and Language in Occupational Lore

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pp. x-2

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Recalling a Texas Legend: Samuel Thomas ‘Booger Red’ Privett

Jerry Young

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pp. 3-14

Thomas “Booger Red” Privett is a Texas legend who doesn’t fit the mold of the hard- drinking, hard-fisted, fast-on-the-draw, womanizing Texas cowboy of Hollywood and pulp westerns. Thomas Privett was a teetotaler and a devoted family man. He was a gentleman with a horribly scarred faced. His work clothes were...

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The Legacy of Bill Pickett, The Dusky Demon

Courtney Elliott

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pp. 15-24

For what reason would a cowboy run his horse full-blast after a calf, bail off sideways onto its head, then pull the animal to a halt? One explanation for such eye-catching behavior could be attributed to either the cowboy’s real life experiences, or to the sport of...

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Day Work Cowboys in the Depression Era

Len Ainsworth

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pp. 25-36

Dust from the trail herds had long since settled, and the open range was also gone. But “day work” cowboys were needed for ranches large and small during the years between the last two world wars. They were needed for riding pasture fences, doctoring...

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Red Overton, Somervell County Cedar-Chopper

Robert J. (Jack) Duncan

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pp. 37-46

If they made a film about Red Overton, I don’t know who they could get to play him—now that John Wayne and Robert Mitchum are permanently unavailable. Maybe there’s a stuntman out there who could pull it off, but I really doubt it....

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Folklore of Gunfighter John Wesley Hardin: Myths, Truths, and Half-Truths

Chuck Parsons

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pp. 47-58

John Wesley Hardin was born in Fannin County, Texas, in May of 1853. He was too young to fight in the Civil War, but was the right age to mature as one of the Unreconstructable Rebels. The study of that period makes Texas post-Civil War history so fascinating...

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Houston Cop Talk

Scott Hill Bumgardner

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pp. 59-70

Every occupation or walk of life seems to have unique terminology. I plunged into a world that was full of unique slang and terms that have entered the realm of oral tradition. In September of 1976, I became a cadet in the Houston Police Department’s academy. My...

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Jury Selection the Old-Fashioned Way

Jerry B. Lincecum

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pp. 71-81

Anyone who has reported for jury service and made it to the voir dire phase may have wondered how attorneys decide whether to strike or accept potential jurors. With the literal meaning “to speak the truth,” the French phrase voir dire denotes the preliminary...

II. A Sampling of Texas Cultures: From Bikers to Knanaya Catholics to Tejana Culture

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pp. 82-84

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The Texas Biker Sub-Culture and the Ride of My Life

Veronica Pozo

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pp. 85-96

The idea for this paper was inspired by my then-fiancé’s newfound interest in joining a bike club in 2012. My initial response was surprise and confusion. Who was this man whom I have been dating for the past four years? In my opinion, he was nothing like the...

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Texan Knanaya Catholics and Their Wedding Customs

Jenson Erapuram

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pp. 97-108

“You are Knanaya? What is that?” I have heard these questions many times in my life—from Texans, other Americans, and a great number of Indians, too. Surprisingly, I have been asked this question mostly from people I met during my stay in Kerala, a state in India which...

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Hemphill: Revisiting Small-Town Texas

Sue M. Friday

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pp. 109-116

When I was a little girl in the 1950s, the town of Hemphill was magical, a movie set for a turn-of-the-century film. Thriving shops surrounded the large courthouse, men in khakis and overalls, their Stetsons pushed back, played 42 under a large old cedar tree or sat...

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Música Tejana Recording Pioneers

Alex LaRotta

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pp. 117-130

Unique to Texas, amongst its diversity in cultures, geography, and folklore, is the independent recording industry born from America’s post-World War II economic boom. What follows is an indepth documentation and history of the Tejanos that pioneered a...

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"But Miss, My Family Doesn’t Have a Saga!"

Lucy Fischer-West

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pp. 131-149

I have been telling stories for as long as I can remember. More specifically, I have been telling my story since the third grade. My homeroom teacher, Miss Ross, was also the librarian, so I was surrounded with books. I came from a home filled with books and...

III. Urban Legends, Ghost Stories and Towns, and Searching for Lost Treasure

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pp. 150-152

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Living an Urban Legend: Galveston Ball in the Early 1970s

Gretchen Kay Lutz

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pp. 153-162

“What brings you to the Treasure Isle?” The interviewer for the Galveston Independent School District smiled sardonically. He had a good idea why a young married woman right out of college was looking for a teaching job in Galveston. The interviewer presumed...

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The Truth versus the Legend of the Interstate 45 Serial Killer

Marissa Gardner

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pp. 163-172

The citizens of Houston know all too well what it is like to live in fear of a serial killer. Between 1971 and 2006, there were thirty-two homicides and six disappearances that occurred on, or in close proximity to, the southeast side of Interstate 45, which runs...

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Ghost Towns of the Big Thicket

Francis Edward Abernethy

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pp. 173-184

This was back in 1960. Somebody told me that there was going to be a big Josey party on Saturday night at Bleakwood in the high school gymnasium. It sounded like an occasion too special to miss, especially since I was heavy into collecting East Texas folk...

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The Ghost Lights of Marfa

Stephanie Mateum

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pp. 185-194

They only come out to play at night. They tease—bright lights that dance in the dark, flirting with the spectators that come from all corners of the world to see them perform. They mask themselves briefly in the darkness with their games of hide-and-seek, disappearing...

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Beyond Texas Folklore: The Woman in Blue

Jennifer Curtis

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pp. 195-206

Many strange tales lurk in the legends and folklore of the southwest. One of the strangest is one of the earliest: The Woman in Blue. Briefly, in the early 1600s, mission fathers in Texas were asked to investigate a report made by a nun in Spain who said she...

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There’s Gold in Them There Hills—or, Silver at Least

Lee Haile

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pp. 207-220

I guess I was bitten by the treasure hunter’s bug early in life and it has stayed with me to this day. Luckily, though, I am too lazy to have wasted much time in pursuit of treasure. After growing up digging post holes with just a crowbar and a coffee can to get the...

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Ben Sublett’s Gold

Winston Sosebee

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pp. 221-225

My first fascination with the story of Ben Sublett’s lost gold mine began more than twenty years ago. During a bout of telling “war stories” and drinking among some friends of mine, one of my friends told of reading an account of a legend of lost gold in far...

IV. “Just for Fun” Lore

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pp. 226-228

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Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty: Fishing with Bubba

L. Patrick Hughes

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pp. 229-238

Here a hierarchy; there a hierarchy. Everywhere you look, a hierarchy. Folk just seem to want to create pecking orders. In the public and private sectors of business, education, and government, chain-of- command hierarchies proliferate and life seemingly could not...

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Texas Country Churches

Pat Parsons

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pp. 239-248

Don’t you just love to read church signs? One of my favorites is, “The Fasting and Prayer Conference includes meals.” Texas country churches are special places. At eleven o’clock on Sunday morning you’ll hear the preacher shout out the door, “Y’all...

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Texas Weddings: Rattles on the Garter and ‘Barbwire’ in the Flowers

Mildred B. Sentell

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pp. 249-258

An important precursor to a Texas wedding is the engagement announcement. It is important to establish the family, family connections, grandparents and, in a town in which the family is well established and has been for generations, the occupations of the...

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Sally and Chance: An Unusual Love Story

Sheila Morris

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pp. 259-266

If you spend time in a small town in Texas, you can be pretty sure you’ll meet a storyteller or two and be thoroughly entertained with gossipy tales about town politics and politicians, or a hurricane that blew through a few years ago, or the high school football team that...

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They’re Still Singin’ and Sayin’ on the Range: Cowboy Culture Enters the 21st Century

Charles Williams

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pp. 267-286

We all have the picture firmly in our minds. The herd of longhorn cows has bedded down for the night. Most of the cowboys have gathered by the chuckwagon and eaten their nightly meal of steak, baked potatoes, salad and beans, with biscuits on the side

Contributors’ Vitas

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pp. 287-296


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pp. 297-306

E-ISBN-13: 9781574415445
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574415322

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 70 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Publications of the Texas Folklore Society