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Harsh Country, Hard Times Cover

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Harsh Country, Hard Times

Clayton Wheat Williams and the Transfsormation of the Trans-Pecos

Janet Williams Pollard and Louis Gwin

Clayton Wheat Williams—West Texas oilman, rancher, civic leader, veteran of the Great War, and avocational historian—was a risk taker, who both reflected and molded the history of his region. His life spanned a dynamic period in Texas history when automobiles replaced horse-drawn wagons, electricity replaced steam power in the oilfields, and barren and virtually worthless ranch land became valuable for the oil and gas under its surface. The setting for Williams’s story, like that of his father before him, is Fort Stockton in the rugged Trans-Pecos region of Texas. As a youngster accompanying his father on surveying trips through the land, and subsequently as a cadet at Texas A&M, he developed a toughness that served him well in France and Flanders. His letters home provide an unusually nuanced picture of what life was like for an American officer in Europe during the Great War. After the war, he returned home, where he taught himself petroleum geology—so effectively that he picked the site of what would become in 1928 the deepest producing oil well in the world. With his brother, he mapped the structure of what later became the Fort Stockton oil and gas field, and he went on to hammer out a successful career in the boom and bust cycles of the West Texas oil industry. On the civic front, Williams served for fourteen years as a Pecos County commissioner, and he held offices in a number of social and civic organizations. Imbued with a deep love for the history of his region, he wrote (with the editorial help of historian Ernest Wallace at Texas Tech University) Texas’ Last Frontier: Fort Stockton and the Trans-Pecos, 1861–1895, published by Texas A&M University Press in 1982. Nonetheless, by some of his neighbors he may be best remembered for his role in drying up the town’s famous Comanche Springs by pumping water feeding the spring’s aquifer to irrigate his and others’ farms west of town. Williams left behind a treasure trove of letters, personal papers and writings, and interviews with his family, helping document in rich detail the history of an unforgiving land as well as what life was like during a pivotal period of American history. These materials, which form the core of the present manuscript, reveal a life that made a difference in the economy and history of the region and the nation at large.  

A Harvest of Reluctant Souls Cover

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A Harvest of Reluctant Souls

Fray Alonso de Benavides's History of New Mexico, 1630

Baker H. Morrow

The most thorough account ever written of southwestern life in the early seventeenth century, this engaging book was first published in 1630 as an official report to the king of Spain by Fray Alonso de Benavides, a Portuguese Franciscan who was the third head of the mission churches of New Mexico. In 1625, Father Benavides and his party traveled north from Mexico City to New Mexico, a strange land of frozen rivers, Indian citadels, and mines full of silver and garnets. Benavides and his Franciscan brothers built schools, erected churches, engineered peace treaties, and were said to perform miracles.

Benavides’s riveting exploration narrative provides portraits of the Pueblo Indians, the Apaches, and the Navajos at a time of fundamental change. It also gives us the first full picture of European colonial life in the southern Rockies, the southwestern deserts, and the Great Plains, along with an account of mission architecture and mission life and a unique evocation of faith in the wilderness.

The Hawkins Ranch in Texas Cover

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The Hawkins Ranch in Texas

From Plantation Times to the Present

Margaret Lewis Furse

In 1846, James Boyd Hawkins, his wife Ariella, and their young children left North Carolina to establish a sugar plantation in Matagorda County, in the Texas coastal bend.
In The Hawkins Ranch in Texas: From Plantation Times to the Present, Margaret Lewis Furse, a great-granddaughter of James B. and Ariella Hawkins and an active partner in today’s Hawkins Ranch, has mined public records, family archives, and her own childhood memories to compose this sweeping portrait of more than 160 years of plantation, ranch, and small-town life.

Letters sent by the Hawkinses from the Texas plantation to their North Carolina family in the mid-nineteenth century describe sugar making, the perils of cholera and fevers, the activities of children, and the “management” of slaves. Public records and personal papers reveal the experience of the Hawkins family during the Civil War, when J. B. Hawkins sold goods to the Confederacy and helped with Confederate coastal defenses near his plantation. In the 1930s, the death of their parents left the ranch in the hands of four sisters, at a time when few women owned and ran cattle operations.

The Hawkins Ranch in Texas: From Plantation Times to the Present offers a panoramic view of agrarian lifeways and how they must adapt to changing times.

Hide, Horn, Fish, and Fowl Cover

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Hide, Horn, Fish, and Fowl

Texas Hunting and Fishing Lore

Edited by Kenneth L. Untiedt

What would cause someone to withstand freezing temperatures in a cramped wooden box for hours on end, or stand in waist-high rushing waters, flicking a pole back and forth over and over—in many cases with nothing whatsoever to show for his efforts? Why is it that, into the twenty-first century, with the convenience of practically any type of red meat or fish available at the local supermarket, we continue to hunt game and fish on open waters? The answer is that no matter how sophisticated we think we are, no matter how technologically advanced we become, there is still something deep within us that beckons us to “the hunt.” This desire creates the customs, beliefs, and rituals related to hunting—for deer, hogs, and other four-legged critters, as well as fish and snakes, and other things that perhaps aren’t physically alive, but capture our interest as much as the prey mentioned above. These rituals and customs lead to some of our most treasured stories, legends, and practices. This volume of the Publications of the Texas Folklore Society includes serious, introspective articles on hunting and fishing, as well as humorous tall tales and “windies” about the big ones that got away—all lore that reminds us of that drive that calls us to become predators again.

History along the Way Cover

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History along the Way

Stories beyond the Texas Roadside Markers

Dan K. Utley

Texans love stories, and the 15,000 roadside markers along the state’s highways and byways testify to the abundance of tales to tell. History along the Way recounts the narratives behind and beyond more than one hundred Texas roadside markers.

Peopled with colorful characters—a national leader of Camp Fire Girls, an army engineer who mapped the Republic of Texas frontier, a hunter of mammoth bones, a ragtime composer, civil rights leaders, and an iconic rock star, among others—the book gives readers an intriguing and expanded look at the details, challenges, and lives commemorated by the words cast in metal on these wayside markers scattered across the Lone Star landscape.

Also recounted in History along the Way are the stories of historic structures (from roadside architecture and elaborate West Texas hotels to university Old Mains and country schoolhouses of Gillespie County), engineering features (the Hidalgo Pumphouse in South Texas and the Rainbow Bridge in East Texas), and even town mascots (a jackrabbit, a mule, and a prairie dog). Accompanied by helpful maps, colorful photographs, and informative sidebars, History along the Way is guaranteed to inform, amuse, and intrigue.

Every part of Texas gets a visit in this anthology of select sites, making it easy for travelers—both the armchair and touring varieties—to enjoy and learn about the fascinating nooks and crannies of history captured in all their variety by the roadside markers of Texas.

The Hoggs of Texas Cover

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The Hoggs of Texas

Letters and Memoirs of an Extraordinary Family, 1887–1906

Virginia Bernhard

In The Hoggs of Texas: Letters and Memoirs of an Extraordinary Family, 1887–1906, Virginia Bernhard delves into the unpublished letters of one of Texas’s most extraordinarily families and tells their story. In their own words, which are published here for the first time.

Rich in details, the more than four hundred letters in this volume begin in 1887 in 1906, following the family through the hurly-burly of Texas politics and the ups-and-downs of their own lives.


The letters illuminate the little-known private life of one of Texas’s most famous families. Like all families, the Hoggs were far from perfect. Governor James Stephen Hogg (sometimes called "Stupendous" for his 6'3", 300-plus pound frame), who lived and breathed politics, did his best to balance his career with the needs of his wife and children. His frequent travels were hard on his wife and children. Wife Sallie’s years of illness casted a pall over the household. Son Will and his father were not close. Sons Mike and Tom did poorly in school. Daughter Ima may have had a secret romance. Hogg’s sister, “Aunt Fannie,” was a domestic tyrant.

The letters in this volume, often poignant and amusing, are interspersed liberally with portions of Ima Hogg's personal memoir and informative commentary from historian Virginia Bernhard. They show the Hoggs as their world changed, as Texas and the nation left horse-and-buggy days and entered the twentieth century.

The Horrell Wars Cover

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The Horrell Wars

Feuding in Texas and New Mexico

David Johnson

For decades the Horrell brothers of Lampasas, Texas, have been portrayed as ruthless killers and outlaws, but author David Johnson paints a different picture of these controversial men. The Horrells were ranchers, and while folklore has encouraged the belief that they built their herds by rustling, contemporary records indicate a far different picture. The family patriarch, Sam Horrell, was slain at forty-eight during a fight with Apaches in New Mexico. One Horrell son died in Confederate service; of the remaining six brothers, five were shot to death. Only Sam, Jr., lived to old age and died of natural causes. Johnson covers the Horrells and their wars from cradle to grave. Their initial confrontation with the State Police at Lampasas in 1873 marked the most disastrous shootout in Reconstruction history and in the history of the State Police. The brothers and loyal friends then fled to New Mexico, where they became entangled in what would later evolve into the violent Lincoln County War. Their contribution, known to history as the Horrell War, has racial overtones in addition to the violence that took place in Lincoln County. The brothers returned to Texas where in time they became involved in the Horrell-Higgins War. The family was nearly wiped out following the feud when two of the brothers were killed by a mob in Bosque County. Johnson presents an up-to-date account of these wars and incidents while maintaining a neutral stance necessary for historical books dealing with feuds. He also includes previously unpublished photographs of the Horrell family and others.

Houston Blue Cover

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Houston Blue

The Story of the Houston Police Department

Mitchel P. Roth and Tom Kennedy

Houston Blue offers the first comprehensive history of one of the nation’s largest police forces, the Houston Police Department. Through extensive archival research and more than one hundred interviews with prominent Houston police figures, politicians, news reporters, attorneys, and others, authors Mitchel P. Roth and Tom Kennedy chronicle the development of policing in the Bayou City from its days as a grimy trading post in the 1830s to its current status as the nation’s fourth largest city. Prominent historical figures who have brushed shoulders with Houston’s Finest over the past 175 years include Houdini, Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, O. Henry, former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, hatchet wielding temperance leader Carrie Nation, the Hilton Siamese Twins, blues musician Leadbelly, oilman Silver Dollar Jim West, and many others. The Houston Police Department was one of the first cities in the South to adopt fingerprinting as an identification system and use the polygraph test, and under the leadership of its first African American police chief, Lee Brown, put the theory of neighborhood oriented policing into practice in the 1980s. The force has been embroiled in controversy and high profile criminal cases as well. Among the cases chronicled in the book are the Dean Corll, Dr. John Hill, and Sanford Radinsky murders; controversial cases involving the department’s crime lab; the killings of Randy Webster and Joe Campos Torres; and the Camp Logan, Texas Southern University, and Moody Park Riots.

Houston's Hermann Park Cover

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Houston's Hermann Park

A Century of Community

Alice (Barrie) M. Scardino Bradley

Richly illustrated with rare period photographs, Houston’s Hermann Park: A Century of Community provides a vivid history of Houston’s oldest and most important urban park. Author and historian Barrie Scardino Bradley sets Hermann Park in both a local and a national context as this grand park celebrates its centennial at the culmination of a remarkable twenty-year rejuvenation.

As Bradley shows, Houston’s development as a major American city may be traced in the outlines of the park’s history. During the early nineteenth century, Houston leaders were most interested in commercial development and connecting the city via water and rail to markets beyond its immediate area. They apparently felt no need to set aside public recreational space, nor was there any city-owned property that could be so developed.

By 1910, however, Houston leaders were well aware that almost every major American city had an urban park patterned after New York’s Central Park. By the time the City Beautiful Movement and its overarching Progressive Movement reached the consciousness of Houstonians, Central Park’s designer, Frederick Law Olmsted, had died, but his ideals had not. Local advocates of the City Beautiful Movement, like their counterparts elsewhere, hoped to utilize political and economic power to create a beautiful, spacious, and orderly city. Subsequent planning by the renowned landscape architect and planner George Kessler envisioned a park that would anchor a system of open spaces in Houston. From that groundwork, in May 1914, George Hermann publicly announced his donation of 285 acres to the City of Houston for a municipal park.

Bradley develops the events leading up to the establishment of Hermann Park, then charts how and why the park developed, including a discussion of institutions within the park such as the Houston Zoo, the Japanese Garden, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The book’s illustrations include plans, maps, and photographs both historic and recent that document the accomplishments of the Hermann Park Conservancy since its founding in 1992.

Royalties from sales will go to the Hermann Park Conservancy for stewardship of the park on behalf of the community.

How Did Davy Die? And Why Do We Care So Much? Cover

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How Did Davy Die? And Why Do We Care So Much?

Dan Kilgore and James E. Crisp

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.

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