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In 1900, just a few months after the deadly hurricane of September, W. L. Moody Jr. and his family moved into the four-story mansion at the corner of Broadway and Twenty-sixth Street in Galveston. For the next eight decades, the Moody family occupied the 28,000-square-foot home: raising a family, creating memories, building business empires, and contributing their considerable wealth and influence for the betterment of their beloved city. In 1983, Hurricane Alicia damaged the mansion, and Mary Moody Northen, eldest child of W. L. Moody Jr., moved out so a major restoration could begin. When the mansion opened to the public as a museum, education center, and location for community gatherings in 1991, it had been restored to its original grandeur. The Mary Moody Northen Endowment then commissioned award-winning author Henry Wiencek to write a history of the Moodys of Galveston and their celebrated home. Robert L. Moody Sr., grandson of W. L. Moody Jr. and nephew of Mary Moody Northen, contributes a foreword, giving a brief introduction and personal tone to the book, which also features fifteen color photographs of the Moodys and their home. An epilogue by E. Douglas McLeod summarizes the family’s accomplishments and developments associated with the mansion since Northen’s death in 1986. The Moodys of Galveston and Their Mansion is a must-read for Galvestonians, for the thousands of visitors who tour the mansion each year, and for anyone interested in the captivating tale of this influential and generous family and their magnificent house.
The Westward Adventures of Walter P. Lane
Walter P. Lane emigrated from Ireland as a young boy, fought in three wars, sailed the Texas coast with a privateer, and traveled to California and Arizona in search of gold. What drove this man, who in many ways typifies the adventurers who contributed to the westward expansion in the United States during the early nineteenth century? Through his mining of personal papers, memoirs, contemporary sources, and archived collections, Jimmy L. Bryan Jr. has produced a comprehensive portrait of the man who charged across the field at San Jacinto, aided in the removal of Indians and Tejano settlers from the East Texas Redlands, stormed Monterrey with the Texas Rangers during the U.S.-Mexican War, commanded a brigade of Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, supported the return to white rule during the turbulent Reconstruction era, and served the State of Texas in various public capacities. Bryan shows how the adventurism of Lane and his comrades provided both ethos and impetus for the westward migration. More Zeal than Discretion will appeal to historians and readers interested in Texas and the West, the Civil War, and the culture of American manhood.
A Texas Pioneer in the Civil War
So wrote Texas pioneer cattle drover William Berry Duncan in his March 1862 diary entry, the day he joined the Confederate Army. Despite his misgivings, Duncan left his prosperous business to lead neighbors and fellow volunteers as commanding officer of cavalry Company F of Spaight’s Eleventh Battalion that later became the 21st Texas Infantry in America’s Civil War. Philip Caudill’s rich account, drawn from Duncan’s previously untapped diaries and letters written by candlelight on the Gulf Coast cattle trail to New Orleans, in Confederate Army camps, and on his southeast Texas farm after the war, reveals the personable Duncan as a man of steadfast integrity and extraordinary leadership. After the war, he returned to his home in Liberty County and battled for survival on the chaotic Reconstruction-era Texas frontier. Supplemented by archival records and complementary accounts, Moss Bluff Rebel paints a picture of everyday life for the Anglo-Texans who settled the Mexican land grants in the early nineteenth century and subsequently became citizens of the proudly independent Texas Republic. The carefully crafted narrative goes on to reveal the wartime emotions of a reluctant Confederate officer and his postwar struggles to reinvent the lifestyle he knew before the war, a way of life he sensed was lost forever. Moss Bluff Rebel will appeal to history lovers of all ages attracted to the drama of the Civil War period and the men and women who shaped the Texas frontier.
The Disappearance of Albert and Henry Fountain
On a cold February evening in 1896, prominent attorney Col. Albert Jennings Fountain and his eight-year-old son Henry rode home across the White Sands of New Mexico. It was a trip the father and son would not complete—they both disappeared in a suspected ambush and murder at the hands of cattle thieves Fountain was prosecuting. The disappearance of Colonel Fountain and his young son resulted in outrage throughout the territory, yet another example of lawlessness that was delaying New Mexico’s progress toward statehood. The sheriff, whose deputies were quickly becoming the prime suspects, did little to solve the mystery. Governor Thornton, eager for action, appointed Pat Garrett as the new sheriff, the man famous for killing Billy the Kid fifteen years earlier. Thornton also called on the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, who assigned top operative John Fraser to assist Garrett with the case. The evidence pointed at three men, former deputies William McNew, James Gililland, and Oliver Lee. These three men, however, were very close with powerful ex-judge, lawyer, and politician Albert B. Fall. It was even said by some that Fall was the mastermind behind the plot to kill Fountain. Forced to wait two years for a change in the political landscape, Garrett finally presented his evidence to the court and secured indictments against the three suspects. Garrett quickly arrested McNew, but Lee and Gililland went into hiding. Lee claimed that Garrett merely wanted to kill him with a warrant for his arrest as an excuse. When both men were tracked down at one of Lee's ranches, Lee and Gililland got the best of the sheriff's posse in the ensuing gun battle, killing one deputy and forcing Garrett and his two remaining deputies to retreat. Lee and Gililland would finally surrender months later, under the condition that they would never be in the custody of Sheriff Garrett. The trial took place in the secluded town of Hillsboro. The murders of the Fountains became an afterthought as the accused men, defended by their attorney Fall, pleaded innocence. Missing witnesses plagued the prosecution, and armed supporters of the defendants, who packed the courtroom, intimidated others. The verdict: not guilty. The bodies of Albert Fountain and his young son Henry still lie in an unmarked grave, the location of which remains a mystery. Corey Recko tells for the first time the complete story of the Fountain case and, through extensive research, reconstructs what really happened to them and who the likely killers were.
The 1937 New London School Explosion
On March 18, 1937, a spark ignited a vast pool of natural gas that had collected beneath the school building in New London, a tiny community in East Texas. The resulting explosion leveled the four-year-old structure and resulted in a death toll of more than three hundred—most of them children. To this day, it is the worst school disaster in the history of the United States. The tragedy and its aftermath were the first big stories covered by Walter Cronkite, then a young wire service reporter stationed in Dallas. He would later say that no war story he ever covered—during World War II or Vietnam—was as heart-wrenching. In the weeks following the tragedy, a fact-finding committee sought to determine who was to blame. It soon became apparent that the New London school district had, along with almost all local businesses and residents, tapped into pipelines carrying unrefined gas from the plentiful oil fields of the area. It was technically illegal, but natural gas was in abundance in the “Oil Patch.” The jerry-rigged conduits leaked the odorless “green” gas that would destroy the school. A long-term effect of the disaster was the shared guilt experienced—for the rest of their lives—by most of the survivors. There is, perhaps, no better example than Bill Thompson, who was in his fifth grade English class and “in the mood to flirt” with Billie Sue Hall, who was sitting two seats away. Thompson asked another girl to trade seats with him. She agreed—and was killed in the explosion, while Thompson and Hall both survived and lived long lives, never quite coming to terms with their good fortune. My Boys and Girls Are in There: The 1937 New London School Explosion is a meticulous, candid account by veteran educator and experienced author Ron Rozelle. Unfolding with the narrative pace of a novel, the story woven by Rozelle—beginning with the title—combines the anguished words of eyewitnesses with telling details from the historical and legal record. Released to coincide with the seventy-fifth anniversary of the New London School disaster, My Boys and Girls Are in There paints an intensely human portrait of this horrific event.
A Black Sharecropper's Recollections of the Depression
"I grow up a dirt farmer and retired a dirt farmer. Never got rich and didn't want to be. My childhood stomping ground is now concrete, stores and houses. I remember the good times and bad. It was not the money we made but how to stretch that last dime. It was not the wind, rain or snow. It was about the love that flow. It was not the hot sunshine nor the clouds that hung low. It was the grace of God that help us swang that hoe. I want my grandchildren to understand. My grands, your grands and their grands." In 1929, near Plano, Texas, Eddie Stimpson, Jr., weighing 15-1/2 pounds, was born to a 19-year-old father and a 15-year-old mother. The boy, his two sisters and mother all "grew up together," with the father sharecropping along the old Preston Road, the route used by many freedmen trying to escape Texas after the Civil War. His childhood was void of luxuries, but full of country pleasures. The editors have retained the simplicity of Stimpson's folk speech and spelling patterns, allowing the good-natured humility and wisdom of his personality to shine through the narrative. "Tough time never last," he writes, "but tough people all way do." The details of ordinary family life and community survival include descriptions of cooking, farming, gambling, visiting, playing, doctoring, hunting, bootlegging, and picking cotton, as well as going to school, to church, to funerals, to weddings, to Juneteenth celebrations. This book will be of extraordinary value to folklorists, historians, sociologists, and anyone enjoying a good story. "My spelling is bad, my hand writing is bad, and my language is bad," Stimpson writes. "But my remembers is still in tack."
The Evolution of a Texas German Slave Plantation
In the 1840s an organization of German noblemen, the Mainzner Adelsverein, attempted to settle thousands of German emigrants on the Texas frontier. Nassau Plantation, located near modern-day Round Top, Texas, in northern Fayette County, was a significant part of this story. James C. Kearney has studied a wealth of original source material (much of it in German) to illuminate the history of the plantation and the larger goals and motivation of the Adelsverein. This new study highlights the problematic relationship of German emigrants to slavery. Few today realize that the society’s original colonization plan included ownership and operation of slave plantations. Ironically, the German settlements the society later established became hotbeds of anti-slavery and anti-secessionist sentiment. Several notable personalities graced the plantation, including Carl Prince of Solms-Braunfels, Johann Otto Freiherr von Meusebach, botanist F. Lindheimer, and the renowned naturalist Dr. Ferdinand Roemer. Dramatic events also occurred at the plantation, including a deadly shootout, a successful escape by two slaves (documented in an unprecedented way), and litigation over ownership that wound its way to both the Texas Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Wallen and Evans Inspection Reports, 1862-1863
These inspection reports, edited by award-winning Civil War historian Thompson, provide unique insight into the military, cultural, and social life of a territory struggling to maintain law and order during the early Civil War years.
The South Texas Ranching Empire of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy
The matriarch of one of the most important families in Texas history, Petra Vela Kenedy has remained a shadowy presence in the annals of South Texas. In this biography of Petra Vela Kenedy, the authors not only tell her story but also relate the history of South Texas through a woman’s perspective. Utilizing previously unpublished letters, journals, photographs, and other primary materials, the authors reveal the intimate stories of the families who for years dominated governments, land acquisition, commerce, and border politics along the Rio Grande and across the Wild Horse Desert. From Petra’s early life in the landed ranchero society of northern Mexico, through her alliance with Luis Vidal—an officer in the Mexican army to whom she bore eight children—until her move to Brownsville after Vidal’s death, Petra lived in Mexico. When she moved to Texas, having taken Vidal’s name, she represented a link to the landed families of the region. Mifflin Kenedy, a steamboat captain who had first come to Texas during the Mexican War, married into her world, acquiring local respectability and stature when he took Petra as his wife. The story of their life together encompasses war, the taming of a frontier, the blending of cultures, the origin of a ranching empire, and the establishment of a foundation and trust that still endure today, giving millions to Texas through charitable gifts. An attractive woman of business acumen, strong religious convictions, and intense family loyalty, Petra Vela Kenedy’s influence through her husband and her children left a legacy whose exploration is long overdue.