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Just over thirty years ago, Dan Kilgore ignited a controversy with his presidential address to the Texas State Historical Association and its subsequent publication in book form, How Did Davy Die? After the 1975 release of the first-ever English translation of eyewitness accounts by Mexican army officer José Enrique de la Peña, Kilgore had the audacity to state publicly that historical sources suggested Davy Crockett did not die on the ramparts of the Alamo, swinging the shattered remains of his rifle "Old Betsy." Rather, Kilgore asserted, Mexican forces took Crockett captive and then executed him on Santa Anna's order. Soon after the publication of How Did Davy Die?, the London Daily Mail associated Kilgore with "the murder of a myth;" he became the subject of articles in Texas Monthly and the Wall Street Journal; and some who considered his historical argument an affront to a treasured American icon delivered personal insults and threats of violence. Now, in this enlarged, commemorative edition, James E. Crisp, a professional historian and a participant in the debates over the De la Peña diary, reconsiders the heated disputation surrounding How Did Davy Die? and poses the intriguing follow-up question, “. . . And Why Do We Care So Much?” Crisp reviews the origins and subsequent impact of Kilgore’s book, both on the historical hullabaloo and on the author. Along the way, he provides fascinating insights into methods of historical inquiry and the use—or non-use—of original source materials when seeking the truth of events that happened in past centuries. He further examines two aspects of the debate that Kilgore shied away from: the place and function of myth in culture, and the racial overtones of some of the responses to Kilgore’s work.
The Decoys, Guides, Clubs, and Places, 1870s to 1970s
The days are gone when seemingly limitless numbers of canvasbacks, mallards, and Canada geese filled the skies above the Texas coast. Gone too are the days when, in a single morning, hunters often harvested ducks, shorebirds, and other waterfowl by the hundreds. The hundred-year period from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries brought momentous changes in attitudes and game laws: changes initially prompted by sportsmen who witnessed the disappearance of both the birds and their spectacular habitat. These changes forever affected the state’s storied hunting culture. ?Yet, as R. K. Sawyer discovered, the rich lore and reminiscences of the era’s hunters and guides who plied the marshy haunts from Beaumont to Brownsville, though fading, remain a colorful and essential part of the Texas outdoor heritage.? Gleaned from interviews with sportsmen and guides of decades past as well as meticulous research in news archives, Sawyer’s vivid documentation of Texas’ deep-rooted waterfowl hunting tradition is accompanied by a superb collection of historical and modern photographs. He showcases the hunting clubs, the decoys, the duck and goose calls, the equipment, and the unique hunting practices of the period. By preserving this account of a way of life and a coastal environment that have both mostly vanished, A Hundred Years of Texas Waterfowl Hunting also pays tribute to the efforts of all those who fought to ensure that Texas’ waterfowl legacy would endure. This book will aid their efforts, along with those of coastal residents, birders, wildlife biologists, conservationists, and all who are interested in the state’s natural history and in championing the preservation of waterfowl and wetland resources for the benefit of future generations.
Susan McSween and the Lincoln County War
The events of July 19, 1878, marked the beginning of what became known as the Lincoln County War and catapulted Susan McSween and a young cowboy named Henry McCarty, alias Billy the Kid, into the history books. The so-called war, a fight for control of the mercantile economy of southeastern New Mexico, is one of the most documented conflicts in the history of the American West, but it is an event that up to now has been interpreted through the eyes of men. As a woman in a man’s story, Susan McSween has been all but ignored. This is the first book to place her in a larger context. Clearly, the Lincoln County War was not her finest hour, just her best known. For decades afterward, she ran a successful cattle ranch. She watched New Mexico modernize and become a state. And she lived to tell the tales of the anarchistic territorial period many times.
Peter Ellis Bean in Mexican Texas
How can the life of one relatively unknown man change our understanding of Texas history and the American West? Peter Ellis Bean, a fairly minor but fascinating character, casts unexpected light on conflicts, famous characters, and events from the time of Mexican rule through the years of the Republic. Bean’s role in Mexico’s revolution against Spain and his service as an agent of the Mexican government, especially as Indian agent in eastern Texas, provide an unusually vivid picture of Mexican Texas, as well as new information about the Indians in his region. More explosively, Jackson’s research on Bean’s career as Indian agent casts doubt on the traditional characterization of Sam Houston as a friend to the Texas Indians. Bean’s career shows Houston as a rival for the loyalty of the Indians during Texas’ rebellion against Mexico, a rival who made false promises for military and political gain. After Texas independence, Bean acquired vast lands in Texas, at one point holding more than 100,000 acres. A good citizen and a good businessman, involved with real estate, sawmills, salt works, agriculture, and stock raising, he was also a bigamist. Meticulously researched, dramatically written, and embodying a unique understanding of Mexican Texas, Jack Jackson’s chronicle of Peter Ellis Bean not only rescues him from relative obscurity but also corrects key aspects of the history in which he was involved and brings to life an era more often consigned to myth.
Early Historians of the Lone Star State
Bluebonnets and tumbleweeds, gunslingers and cattle barons all form part of the romanticized lore of the state of Texas. It has an image as a larger-than-life land of opportunity, represented by oil derricks pumping black gold from arid land and cattle grazing seemingly endless plains. In this historiography of eighteenth– and nineteenth–century chronologies of the state, Laura McLemore traces the roots of the enduring Texas myths and tries to understand both the purposes and the methods of early historians. Two central findings emerge: first, what is generally referred to as the Texas myth was a reality to earlier historians, and second, myth has always been an integral part of Texas history. Myth provided the impetus for some of the earliest European interest in the land that became Texas. Beyond these two important conclusions, McLemore’s careful survey of early Texas historians reveals that they were by and large painstaking and discriminating researchers whose legacy includes documentary sources that can no longer be found elsewhere. McLemore shows that these historians wrote general works in the spirit of their times and had agendas that had little to do with simply explaining a society to itself in cultural terms. From Juan Agustin Morfi’s Historia through Henderson Yoakum’s History of Texas to the works of Dudley Wooten, George Pierce Garrison, and Lester Bugbee, the portrayal of Texas history forms a pattern. In tracing the development of this pattern, McLemore provides not only a historiography but also an intellectual history that gives insight into the changing culture of Texas and America itself. Early Texas historians came from all walks of life, from priests to bartenders, and this book reveals the unique contributions of each to the fabric of state history . A must–read for lovers of Texas history, Inventing Texas illuminates the intricate blend of nostalgia and narrative that created the state’s most enduring iconography.
Heritage and Carnival in San Antonio
Fiesta San Antonio began in 1891 and through the twentieth century expanded from a single parade to over two hundred events spanning a ten-day period. Laura Hernández-Ehrisman examines Fiesta's development as part of San Antonio's culture of power relations between men and women, Anglos and Mexicanos.
Building on his earlier work, A History of the Jews in New Mexico, Henry Tobias incorporates new material and sources in this updated volume. He demonstrates how Jewish awareness in New Mexico following World War II gave rise to significant cultural and political influence, introducing writers, musicians, and such artists as Ira Moskowitz, Arthur Sussman, and Judy Chicago to the state's flourishing art scene.
Lawman and Rancher
“Texas, by God!” cried notorious killer John Wesley Hardin when he saw a Colt .45 pointed at him on a train in Florida. At the other end of the pistol stood Texas Ranger John B. Armstrong. Hardin’s arrest assured Armstrong a place in history, but his story is larger, fuller, and even more important—and until now it has never been told. Serving in the Rangers’ famed Frontier Battalion from 1875 to 1878, Armstrong rode with Captain L. H. McNelly in the capture of King Fisher, was called to Round Rock when Sam Bass was cornered, and helped patrol the region caught in the Taylor-Sutton Feud. His more lasting legacy, though, was as founder of the Armstrong Ranch, an operation that remains active and important to this day. From this family base he helped change ranching techniques and was an important sponsor for bringing the railroads to South Texas. In the 1890s he joined a special Ranger division that supplemented the force’s efforts, especially in pursuit and apprehension of gunmen and cattle rustlers in the region. As Elmer Kelton notes in his afterword to this book, “Chuck Parsons’ biography is a long-delayed and much-justified tribute to Armstrong’s service to Texas.” Parsons fills in the missing details of a Ranger and rancher’s life, correcting some common misconceptions and adding to the record of a legendary group of lawmen and pioneers.
Find out more about this title here: http://johnhillfortexas.com/ During his distinguished career, John L. Hill Jr. served as secretary of state, attorney general, and chief justice of the state supreme court—the only person to hold all three state offices. Hill's office played a significant role in vastly expanding Texas consumer protections, waging war against wholesale rate increases by AT&T/Southwestern Bell; and resolving the disposition of Howard Hughes's fabled estate to bring tens of millions of dollars into Texas coffers. Before Hill's death in July 2007, Ernie Stromberger, journalist and Hill's longtime friend, worked with him to craft this first-person narrative.
His Life and Times from the Hoo Doo War to Tombstone, Second Edition
Few names in the lore of western gunmen are as recognizable. Few lives of the most notorious are as little known. Romanticized and made legendary, John Ringo fought and killed for what he believed was right. As a teenager, Ringo was rushed into sudden adulthood when his father was killed tragically in the midst of the family's overland trek to California. As a young man he became embroiled in the blood feud turbulence of post-Reconstruction Texas. The Mason County “Hoo Doo” War in Texas began as a war over range rights, but it swiftly deteriorated into blood vengeance and spiraled out of control as the body count rose. In this charnel house Ringo gained a reputation as a dangerous gunfighter and man killer. He was proclaimed throughout the state as a daring leader, a desperate man, and a champion of the feud. Following incarceration for his role in the feud, Ringo was elected as a lawman in Mason County, the epicenter of the feud’s origin. The reputation he earned in Texas, further inflated by his willingness to shoot it out with Victorio’s raiders during a deadly confrontation in New Mexico, preceded him to Tombstone in territorial Arizona. Ringo became immersed in the area’s partisan politics and factionalized violence. A champion of the largely Democratic ranchers, Ringo would become known as a leader of one of these elements, the Cowboys. He ran at bloody, tragic odds with the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday, finally being part of the posse that hounded these fugitives from Arizona. In the end, Ringo died mysteriously in the Arizona desert, his death welcomed by some, mourned by others, wrongly claimed by a few. Initially published in 1996, John Ringo has been updated to a second edition with much new information researched and uncovered by David Johnson and other Ringo researchers.