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Captain John R. Hughes

Lone Star Ranger

Chuck Parsons

Captain John R. Hughes, Lone Star Ranger is the first full and complete modern biography of a man who served as a Texas Ranger from 1887 until early 1915. He came to the attention of the Rangers after doggedly trailing horse thieves for nearly a year and recovering his stolen stock. After helping Ranger Ira Aten track down another fugitive from justice, Hughes then joined Company D of the Texas Rangers on Aten’s recommendation, intending to stay for only a few months; he remained in the service for nearly thirty years. When Sgt. Charles Fusselman was killed by bandits, Hughes took his place. When Captain Frank Jones was killed by bandits in 1893, Hughes was named captain of Company D. As captain, Hughes and his men searched the border and identified every bandit involved in the killing of Jones. They all received justice. Toward the end of his career Hughes became a senior captain based in Austin, and in 1915, having served as a captain and ranger longer than any other man, he retired from the force. His later years were happy ones, with traveling and visiting friends and relatives. He became a Texas icon and national celebrity, receiving more awards and honors than any other Texas Ranger, before or since. Due to Chuck Parsons’s extensive research, we now know more about Hughes than ever before. This biography of one of the “Four Great Captains” sheds light on his life prior to becoming a Texas Ranger and on his love interest, though he never married. From joining Company D in 1887 until retirement, Hughes served the state honestly and proudly, earning the respect of all he met. Zane Grey dedicated his most popular novel, The Lone Star Ranger, to Hughes and his Rangers.

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Captain W. W. Withenbury's 1838–1842 "Red River Reminiscences"

Edited and Annotated by Jacques D. Bagur

W. W. Withenbury was a famous river boat captain during the mid-1800s. In retirement, he wrote a series of letters for the Cincinnati Commercial, under the title "Red River Reminiscences." Jacques Bagur has selected and annotated 39 letters describing three steamboat voyages on the upper Red River from 1838 to 1842. Withenbury was a master of character and incident, and his profiles of persons, including three signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, reflect years of acquaintance. The beauty of his writing ranks this among the best of the reminiscences that were written as the steamboat era was declining.

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Capture These Indians for the Lord

Indians, Methodists, and Oklahomans, 1844-1939

Tash Smith

In 1844, on the heels of the final wave of the forced removal of thousands of Indians from the southern United States to what is now Oklahoma, the Southern Methodist Church created a separate organization known as the Indian Mission Conference to oversee its missionary efforts among the Native communities of Indian Territory. Initially, the Church conducted missions as part of the era’s push toward assimilation. But what the primarily white missionaries quickly encountered was a population who exerted more autonomy than they expected and who used Christianity to protect their culture, both of which frustrated those eager to bring Indian Territory into what they felt was mainstream American society.

In Capture These Indians for the Lord, Tash Smith traces the trajectory of the Southern Methodist Church in Oklahoma when it was at the frontlines of the relentless push toward western expansion. Although many Native people accepted the missionaries’ religious practices, Smith shows how individuals found ways to reconcile the Methodist force with their traditional cultural practices. When the white population of Indian Territory increased and Native sovereignty came under siege during the allotment era of the 1890s, white communities marginalized Indians within the Church and exploited elements of mission work for their own benefit.

Later, with white indifference toward Indian missions peaking in the early twentieth century, Smith explains that as the remnants of the Methodist power weakened, Indian membership regained control and used the Church to regenerate their culture. Throughout, Smith explores the complex relationships between white and Indian community members and how these phenomena shaped Methodist churches in the twentieth century.

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Castle Gap and the Pecos Frontier, Revisited

Patrick Dearen

First published in 1988, Castle Gap and the Pecos Frontier was acclaimed by reviewers as “superb,” “significant,” and “utterly delightful.” In this revised edition, Patrick Dearen draws upon the latest in scholarship to update his study of the Pecos River country of West Texas.  It’s a land wild with tales that blend history, geography, and folklore, and from his search emerge six fascinating accounts:
-Castle Gap, a break in a mesa twelve miles east of the Pecos River, used by Comanches, emigrants, stage drivers, and cattle drovers;
-Horsehead Crossing, the most infamous ford of the Old West;
-Juan Cordona Lake, a salt lake where sandstorms and skull-baking sun defied early efforts to mine salt vital to survival;
-The “bulto” or ghost who wanders the Fort Stockton night;
-Lost Wagon Train, a forty-wagon caravan buried in the sands;
-The lost mine of Will Sublett, who found gold and kept its location secret unto death.
Although linked by the search for treasure, the stories are as varied as the land itself.  They speak eloquently of the Pecos country, its heritage, and its people.

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The Cedar Choppers

Life on the Edge of Nothing

Ken Roberts

At the low-water bridge below Tom Miller Dam, west of downtown Austin, during the summer of his tenth or eleventh year, Ken Roberts had his first encounter with cedar choppers. On his way to the bridge for a leisurely afternoon of fishing, he suddenly found himself facing a group of boys who clearly came from a different place and culture than the middle-class, suburban community he was accustomed to. Rather, “. . . they looked hard—tanned, skinny, dirty. These were not kids you would see in Austin.” When Roberts’s fishing companion curtly refused the strangers’ offer to sell them a stringer of bluegills, the three boys went away, only to reappear moments later, one of them carrying a club. Roberts and his friend made a hasty retreat.

This encounter provoked in the author the question, “Who are these people?” The Cedar Choppers: Life on the Edge of Nothing is his thoughtful, entertaining, and informative answer. Based on oral history interviews with several generations of cedar choppers and those who knew them, this book weaves together the lively, gritty story of these largely Scots-Irish migrants with roots in Appalachia who settled on the west side of the Balcones Fault during the mid-nineteenth century, subsisting mainly on hunting, trapping, moonshining, and, by the early twentieth century, cutting, transporting, and selling cedar fence posts and charcoal.

The emergence of Austin as a major metropolitan area, especially after the 1950s, soon brought the cedar choppers and their hillbilly lifestyle into direct confrontation with the gentrified urban population east of the Balcones Fault. This clash of cultures, which provided the setting for Roberts’s encounter as a young boy, propels this first book-length treatment of the cedar choppers, their clans, their culture and mores, and their longing for a way of life that is rapidly disappearing.

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Celebrating 100 Years of the Texas Folklore Society, 1909-2009

Kenneth L. Untiedt, editor

The Texas Folklore Society is one of the oldest and most prestigious organizations in the state. Its secret for longevity lies in those things that make it unique, such as its annual meeting that seems more like a social event or family reunion than a formal academic gathering. This book examines the Society’s members and their substantial contributions to the field of folklore over the last century. Some articles focus on the research that was done in the past, while others offer studies that continue today. For example, L. Patrick Hughes explores historical folk music, while Meredith Abarca focuses on Mexican American folk healers and the potential direction of research on them today. Other articles are more personal reflections about why our members have been drawn to the TFS for fellowship and fun. This book does more than present a history of the Texas Folklore Society: it explains why the TFS has lasted so long, and why it will continue.

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Chasing Dichos through Chimayó

Don J. Usner

The poetic proverbs known to nuevomexicanos as dichos are particular to their places of origin. In these reflections on the dichos of the Chimayó Valley in northern New Mexico native son Don J. Usner has written a memoir that is also a valuable source of information on the rich language and culture of the region. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs that Usner, who is also known for his photographic work, took of the people and places that he writes about, this book is a one-of-a-kind introduction to the real New Mexico.

Usner has known Chimayó since he was a boy visiting his grandmother and the other village elders, who taught him genealogies going back to family origins in Spain. The Spanish he learned there was embedded in dichos and cuentos. This book is the result of Usner’s research into these memorable sayings, and it preserves a language and a culture on the verge on dissolution. It is a gateway into a uniquely New Mexican way of life.

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Chasing the Santa Fe Ring

Power and Privilege in Territorial New Mexico

David L. Caffey

Anyone who has even a casual acquaintance with the history of New Mexico in the nineteenth century has heard of the Santa Fe Ring—seekers of power and wealth in the post–Civil War period famous for public corruption and for dispossessing land holders. Surprisingly, however, scholars have alluded to the Ring but never really described this shadowy entity, which to this day remains a kind of black hole in New Mexico’s territorial history. David Caffey looks beyond myth and symbol to explore its history. Who were its supposed members, and what did they do to deserve their unsavory reputation? Were their actions illegal or unethical? What were the roles of leading figures like Stephen B. Elkins and Thomas B. Catron? What was their influence on New Mexico’s struggle for statehood?

Caffey’s book tells the story of the rise and fall of this remarkably durable alliance.

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The Chosen Folks

Jews on the Frontiers of Texas

By Bryan Edward Stone

Texas has one of the largest Jewish populations in the South and West, comprising an often-overlooked vestige of the Diaspora. The Chosen Folks brings this rich aspect of the past to light, going beyond single biographies and photographic histories to explore the full evolution of the Jewish experience in Texas. Drawing on previously unpublished archival materials and synthesizing earlier research, Bryan Edward Stone begins with the crypto-Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition in the late sixteenth century and then discusses the unique Texas-Jewish communities that flourished far from the acknowledged centers of Jewish history and culture. The effects of this peripheral identity are explored in depth, from the days when geographic distance created physical divides to the redefinitions of “frontier” that marked the twentieth century. The rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the creation of Israel in the wake of the Holocaust, and the civil rights movement are covered as well, raising provocative questions about the attributes that enabled Texas Jews to forge a distinctive identity on the national and world stage. Brimming with memorable narratives, The Chosen Folks brings to life a cast of vibrant pioneers. Jewish History, Life, and Culture Michael Neiditch, Series Editor

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Circuit Riders for Mental Health

The Hogg Foundation in Twentieth-Century Texas

William S. Bush

Circuit Riders for Mental Health explores for the first time the transformation of popular understandings of mental health, the reform of scandal-ridden hospitals and institutions, the emergence of community mental health services, and the extension of mental health services to minority populations around the state of Texas. Author William S. Bush focuses especially on the years between 1940 and 1980 to demonstrate the dramatic, though sometimes halting and conflicted, progress made in Texas to provide mental health services to its people over the second half of the twentieth century. At the story’s center is the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, a private-public philanthropic organization housed at the University of Texas.

For the first three decades of its existence, the Hogg Foundation was the state’s leading source of public information, policy reform, and professional education in mental health. Its staff and allies throughout the state described themselves as “circuit riders” as they traveled around Texas to introduce urban and rural audiences to the concept of mental health, provide consultation for all manner of social services, and sometimes intervene in thorny issues surrounding race, ethnicity, gender, class, region, and social and cultural change.

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