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With more than 400 photographs, extensive interviews with the descendants of pioneer Jewish Texan families, and reproductions of rare historical documents, Natalie Ornish’s Pioneer Jewish Texans quickly became a classic following its original release in 1989. This new Texas A&M University Press edition presents Ornish’s meticulous research and her fascinating historical vignettes for a new generation of readers and historians. She chronicles Jewish buccaneers with Jean Lafitte at Galveston; she tells of Jewish patriots who fought at the Alamo and at virtually every major engagement in the war for Texan independence; she traces the careers of immigrants with names like Marcus, Sanger, and Gordon, who arrived on the Texas frontier with little more than the packs on their backs and went on to build great mercantile empires. Cattle barons, wildcatters, diplomats, physicians, financiers, artists, and humanitarians are among the other notable Jewish pioneers and pathfinders described in this carefully researched and exhaustively documented book. Filling a substantial void in Texana and Texas history, the Texas A&M University Press edition of Natalie Ornish’s Pioneer Jewish Texans brings back into circulation this treasure trove of information on a rich and often overlooked vein of the multifaceted story of the Lone Star State.
Battling a Terrifying Unknown
From the 1930s to the 1950s, in response to the rising epidemic of paralytic poliomyelitis (polio), Texas researchers led a wave of discoveries in virology, rehabilitative therapies, and the modern intensive care unit that transformed the field nationally. The disease threatened the lives of children and adults in the United States, especially in the South, arousing the same kind of fear more recently associated with AIDS and other dread diseases. Houston and Harris County, Texas, had the second-highest rate of infection in the nation, and the rest of the Texas Gulf Coast was particularly hard-hit by this debilitating illness. At the time, little was known, but eventually the medical responses to polio changed the medical landscape forever. Polio also had a sweeping cultural and societal effect. It engendered fearful responses from parents trying to keep children safe from its ravages and an all-out public information blitz aimed at helping a frightened population protect itself. The disease exacted a very real toll on the families, friends, healthcare resources, and social fabric of those who contracted the disease and endured its acute, convalescent, and rehabilitation phases. In The Polio Years in Texas, Heather Green Wooten draws on extensive archival research as well as interviews conducted over a five-year period with Texas polio survivors and their families. This is a detailed and intensely human account of not only the epidemics that swept Texas during the polio years, but also of the continuing aftermath of the disease for those who are still living with its effects. Public health and medical professionals, historians, and interested general readers will derive deep and lasting benefits from reading The Polio Years in Texas.
The Path of Reform in Arizona, 1890-1920
Politics, Labor, and the War on Big Business details the rise, fall, and impact of the anticorporate reform effort in Arizona during the Progressive reform era, roughly 1890–1920. Drawing on previously unexamined archival files and building on research presented in his previous books, author David R. Berman offers a fresh look at Progressive heritage and the history of industrial relations during Arizona’s formative period. In the 1890s, once-heavily courted corporations had become, in the eyes of many, outside “money interests” or “beasts” that exploited the wealth of the sparsely settled area. Arizona’s anticorporate reformers condemned the giant corporations for mistreating workers, farmers, ranchers, and small-business people and for corrupting the political system. During a thirty-year struggle, Arizona reformers called for changes to ward off corporate control of the political system, increase corporate taxation and regulation, and protect and promote the interests of working people. Led by George W.P. Hunt and progressive Democrats, Arizona’s brand of progressivism was heavily influenced by organized labor, third parties, and Socialist activists. As highly powerful railroad and mining corporations retaliated, conflict took place on both political levels and industrial backgrounds, sometimes in violent form. Politics, Labor and the War on Big Business places Arizona’s experience in the larger historical discussion of reform activity of the period, considering issues involving the role of government in the economy and the possibility of reform, topics highly relevant to current debates.
The Story of a West Texas Family
Prairie Gothic is rich in Texas history. It is the story of Erickson s family, ordinary people who, through strength of character, found dignity in the challenges presented by nature and human nature. It is also the story of the place instrumental in shaping their lives the flatland prairie of northwestern Texas that has gone by various names (High Plains, South Plains, Staked Plains, and Llano Estacado), as well as the rugged country on its eastern boundary, often referred to as the caprock canyonlands. One branch of Erickson’s family arrived in Texas in 1858, settling in Parker County, west of Weatherford. Another helped establish the first community on the South Plains, the Quaker colony of Estacado. They crossed paths with numerous prominent people in Texas history: Sam Houston, Sul Ross, Charles Goodnight, Cynthia Ann and Quanah Parker, Jim Loving, and a famous outlaw, Tom Ross. Erickson’s research took him into the homes of well-known Texas authors, such as J. Evetts Haley and John Graves. Graves had written about the death of Erickson s great-great grandmother, Martha Sherman. The theme that runs throughout the book is that of family, of four generations’ efforts to nurture the values of civilized people: reverence of the written word, honesty, godliness, thrift, and personal relationship. It is the story of pioneer women and their struggles to keep their families together; it is the story of cowboys, outlaws, and Indian raids, told against the background of a harsh environment of droughts, blizzards, and rattlesnakes; and it is universal. Erickson has created a fascinating blend of family and regional history.
Solms, Castro, and Sam Houston's Colonization Contracts
In 1842, Sam Houston, president of the new Texas Republic, wanted four things: peace with Mexico, peace with the native population, financing from Europe, and productive settlers for his vast, new country. He issued colonization contracts in an effort to meet all these objectives, but only two of President Houston’s contracts actually resulted in permanent settlement. Promised Land provides a close examination of the circumstances surrounding the colonization contract issued to Henri Castro of France and the contract assumed by Germany’s Adelsverein.
This examination of key issues in New Mexico public education emphasizes policies and trends that will remain dominant in shaping schools and curricula in the state. Educational reform is a constant in New Mexico, as is the influence of politics since nearly one-half of the state's budget goes to education. But several other significant themes emerge. The vignettes included throughout the text are included to offer human interest touches to our New Mexico story.
A Local History of the Chicano Movement, 1966–1981
In the mid-1960s, San Antonio, Texas, was a segregated city governed by an entrenched Anglo social and business elite. The Mexican American barrios of the west and south sides were characterized by substandard housing and experienced seasonal flooding. Gang warfare broke out regularly. Then the striking farmworkers of South Texas marched through the city and set off a social movement that transformed the barrios and ultimately brought down the old Anglo oligarchy. In Quixote’s Soldiers, David Montejano uses a wealth of previously untapped sources, including the congressional papers of Henry B. Gonzalez, to present an intriguing and highly readable account of this turbulent period. Montejano divides the narrative into three parts. In the first part, he recounts how college student activists and politicized social workers mobilized barrio youth and mounted an aggressive challenge to both Anglo and Mexican American political elites. In the second part, Montejano looks at the dynamic evolution of the Chicano movement and the emergence of clear gender and class distinctions as women and ex-gang youth struggled to gain recognition as serious political actors. In the final part, Montejano analyzes the failures and successes of movement politics. He describes the work of second-generation movement organizations that made possible a new and more representative political order, symbolized by the election of Mayor Henry Cisneros in 1981.
Enforcing Law on the Texas Frontier
Ira Aten (1862-1953) was the epitome of a frontier lawman. At age twenty he enrolled in Company D during the transition of the Rangers from Indian fighters to topnotch peace officers. This unit—and Aten—would have a lively time making their mark in nineteenth-century Texas. The preponderance of Texas Ranger treatments center on the outfit as an institution or spotlight the narratives of specific captains. Bob Alexander aptly demonstrated in Winchester Warriors: Texas Rangers of Company D, 1874-1901 that there is merit in probing the lives of everyday working Rangers. Aten is an ideal example. The years Ira spent as a Ranger are jam-packed with adventure, border troubles, shoot-outs, solving major crimes—a quadruple homicide—and manhunts. Aten’s role in these and epochal Texas events such as the racially insensitive Jaybird/Woodpecker Feud and the bloody Fence Cutting Wars earned Ira’s spot in the Ranger Hall of Fame. His law enforcing deeds transcend days with the Rangers. Ira served two counties as sheriff, terms spiked with excitement. Afterward, for ten years on the XIT, he was tasked with clearing the ranch’s Escarbada Division of cattle thieves. Aten’s story spins on an axis of spine-tingling Texas history. Moving to California, Ira was active in transforming the Imperial Valley from raw desert into an agricultural oasis. Unmistakably he was public spirited and committed to community betterment. Relying on primary source documents to build a platform for this meticulously researched and comprehensive biography with 1000 endnotes and 100 remarkable old-time photographs, Alexander gives us Ira Aten in the round—evenhandedly—the true story of a Ranger tough as rawhide.
African Americans, the Extension Service, and Rural Reform in Jim Crow Texas
Jim Crow laws pervaded the south, reaching from the famous "separate yet equal" facilities to voting discrimination to the seats on buses. Agriculture, a key industry for those southern blacks trying to forge an independent existence, was not immune to the touch of racism, prejudice, and inequality. In Reaping a Greater Harvest, Debra Reid deftly spotlights the hierarchies of race, class, and gender within the extension service. Black farmers were excluded from cooperative demonstration work in Texas until the Smith-Lever Agricultural Extension act in 1914. However, the resulting Negro Division included a complicated bureaucracy of African American agents who reported to white officials, were supervised by black administrators, and served black farmers. The now-measurable successes of these African American farmers exacerbated racial tensions and led to pressure on agents to maintain the status quo. The bureau that was meant to ensure equality instead became another tool for systematic discrimination and maintenance of the white-dominated southern landscape. Historians of race, gender, and class have joined agricultural historians in roundly praising Reid's work.
A Naturalist's Odyssey along the Big Thicket's Snow River
When Geraldine Watson’s father was a teenager around the turn of the last century, he spent a summer floating down the Neches River, called Snow River by the Indians. Watson grew up hearing his tales of the steamboats, log rafts, and the flora and fauna of East Texas. So when she was sixty-three years old, she decided to repeat his odyssey in her own backwater boat. Reflections on the Neches is both the story of her journey retracing her father’s steps and a natural and social history of the Neches region of the Big Thicket. The Neches, one of the last “wild” rivers in Texas, is now being subjected to dams. Watson’s story captures the wildness of the river and imparts a detailed history of its people and wildlife. Profusely illustrated with drawings by the author and including maps of her journey, Reflections on the Neches will appeal to all those interested in the Big Thicket region and those indulging a feeling of wanderlust–and float trips–down the river.