Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series

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Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series

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Austin

A History of the Capital City

Humphrey David

State capital and home of the University of Texas, Austin is the one city that belongs to all Texans. This finely written book, illustrated with historic photographs, tells the story of Austin’s transformation from an “Indian haunted” frontier village into a residential mecca and high-tech hot spot.

Called by Sam Houston at its founding the “most unfortunate site upon earth for the seat of government,” the infant community struggled for three decades against political enemies and competing towns before winning recognition as the permanent capital. The founding of the University of Texas turned the seat of politics into the seat of education, but Austin’s nineteenth-century dreams of becoming a river port and a factory town came to naught.

A slave city in a slave state, Austin cast its lot with the Confederacy. Retaining a frontier flavor into the 1890s, post–Civil War Austin became the headquarters of the Texas gambling fraternity and a magnet for cowmen seeking “booze and women of the night.”

Turning the nineteenth-century frontier town into an appealing twentieth-century residential community taxed the energies of civic leaders for several decades. Virtually parkless and with no paved streets in 1900, Austin by the 1940s boasted tree-lined boulevards, a cornucopia of parks and pools, and a leisurely lifestyle. But for African American residents these were years of oppressive segregation. Mexicans encountered similar treatment as Austin became a tri-ethnic community during the 1920s and 1930s.

Segregation gradually gave way in a divisive but nonviolent struggle. While adjusting to this, Austin experienced eye-popping expansion. Fearful that Austin would become “another Houston,” residents sought to preserve the lifestyle that had made the capital city such an attractive place to live.

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Civil War Texas

Ralph A. Wooster

Written by one of the deans of Texas history, Civil War Texas provides an authoritative, comprehensive description of Texas during the Civil War as well as a guide for those who wish to visit sites in Texas associated with the war. In one compact volume, the reader or tourist is led on an exciting historical journey through Civil War Texas.

Because most of the great battles of the Civil War were fought east of the Mississippi River, it is often forgotten that Texas made major contributions to the war effort in terms of men and supplies. Over 70,000 Texans served in the Confederate army during the war and fought in almost every major battle. Ordnance works, shops, and depots were established for the manufacture and repair of weapons of war, and Texas cotton shipped through Mexico was exchanged for weapons and ammunition.

The state itself was the target of the Union army and navy. Galveston, the principal seaport, was occupied by Federal forces for three months and blockaded by the Union navy for four years. Brownsville, Port Lavaca, and Indianola were captured, and Sabine Pass, Corpus Christi, and Laredo were all under enemy attack. A major Federal attempt to invade East Texas by way of Louisiana was stopped only a few miles from the Texas border.

The Civil War had significant impact upon life within the state. The naval blockade created shortages requiring Texans to find substitutes for various commodities such as coffee, salt, ink, pins, and needles. The war affected Texas women, many of whom were now required to operate farms and plantations in the absence of their soldier husbands. As the author points out in the narrative, not all Texans supported the Confederacy. Many Texans, especially in the Hill Country and North Texas, opposed secession and attempted either to remain neutral or work for a Union victory. Over two thousand Texans, led by future governor Edmund J. Davis, joined the Union army.

In this carefully researched work, Ralph A. Wooster describes Texas's role in the war. He also notes the location of historical markers, statues, monuments, battle sites, buildings, and museums in Texas which may be visited by those interested in learning more about the war. Photographs, maps, chronology, end notes, and bibliography provide additional information on Civil War Texas.

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Fort Concho

A History and a Guide

Matthews James

In the fall of 1867 the United States Army established a permanent camp on the plateau where the North and Middle Concho rivers join. For centuries, this high open plateau had remained barren except for passing expeditions or Native American hunting parties. The establishment of Fort Concho provided a vital link in the line of frontier defense and led to the development of the town of San Angelo across the North Concho River from the military post.

In more than twenty years of federal service, Fort Concho was home to companies of fifteen regiments in the regular United States Army, including Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie's Fourth Cavalry and Col. Benjamin Grierson's Tenth Cavalry of buffalo soldiers. The post provided a focal point for major campaigns against the Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches. Patrols from Fort Concho charted vast areas of western Texas and provided a climate for settlement on the Texas frontier. Today Fort Concho stands restored, thanks to numerous preservation efforts, as a memorial to all the peoples who struggled to survive on the plateau where the rivers join.

Fort Concho: A History and a Guide by James T. Matthews has been hailed by Fort Concho director Bob Bluthardt as "the first book on the history of the fort in fifty years." Fort Concho is another title in the Texas State Historical Association's Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series, which publishes short books about important historical sites or events in Texas history.

Number Eighteen: Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series

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Galveston

A History and a Guide

David McComb

Indians! Pirates! Rebels! Blockade Runners! Smugglers! Murder! Beaches! Beauty Contests! Hurricanes!

These are all a part of the colorful history of an island city that once called itself “The Free State of Galveston.” Located at a natural harbor on the northeastern part of a thirty-mile-long sand barrier island, the city dates its beginning from the end of the Texas Revolution. Before then, the harbor had attracted Jean Lafitte, a pirate from Louisiana, and the revolutionary Texan government fleeing in front of the attack of Santa Anna’s Mexican Army.

After independence in 1836, Michel B. Menard, along with nine associates, bought the harbor property and founded the town. Galveston grew on the strength of the harbor—the best between New Orleans and Veracruz—and the city became a major entry point for immigrants to Texas. During the Civil War it was a haven for Confederate blockade runners and the site of one of the major battles of the war in Texas. Afterward it was a center for occupation forces and the point from which Major-General Gordon Granger announced emancipation for Texas slaves on June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth Day). The city later became a major cotton port for the Southwest and the location of the University of Texas Medical School.

In 1900 Galveston was struck by a hurricane and flood that killed approximately six thousand people: the greatest disaster in the history of the United States. Afterward, the citizens built a sea wall, raised the grade of the island, and constructed a causeway for future protection. The city led the way with a commission form of government, and in the first half of the twentieth century, became noted for its illegal drinking, gambling, and prostitution.

After the Texas Rangers cleaned it up, Galveston developed into a tourist town with its attractions of the beach, hotels, celebrations, and fishing. Historic preservation projects such as houses, buildings, museums, and the square-rigged ship Elissa completed its evolution.

This authoritative and well-written history of Galveston provides an overview of the city’s rich and colorful past and provides readers, researchers, and tourists with information about today’s historical points of interest. Galveston: A History and a Guide is a delightful read and a useful traveling companion.

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Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

The ‘Great Pedestrian' of North and South America

Donald Chipman

 Cabeza de Vaca’s mode of transportation, afoot on portions of two continents in the early decades of the sixteenth century, fits one dictionary definition of the word “pedestrian.” By no means, however, should the ancillary meanings of “commonplace” or “prosaic” be applied to the man, or his remarkable adventures. Between 1528 and 1536, he trekked an estimated 2,480 to 2,640 miles of North American terrain from the Texas coast near Galveston Island to San Miguel de Culiacán near the Pacific Coast of Mexico. He then traveled under better circumstances, although still on foot, to Mexico City.

 About a year later, Cabeza de Vaca returned to Spain. In 1540, the king granted Cabeza de Vaca civil and military authority in modern-day Paraguay. After arriving on the coast of Brazil in 1541, he was unable to find transportation by ship to the seat of his governorship. He then led a group of more 250 settlers through 1,200 miles of unchartered back country, during which he lost only two men.

Cabeza de Vaca’s travels are amazing in themselves, but during them he transformed from a proud Spanish don to lay advocate of Indian rights on both American continents. That journey is as remarkable as his travels. It was this “great awakening”  that landed him in more trouble with Spaniards than Indians. Settlers at Asunción rebelled against the reformist governor, incarcerated him, tried to poison his food on two occasions, and finally sent him to Spain in irons. There he was tried and convicted on trumped-up charges of carrying out policies that were the exact opposite of what he had promoted—the humane protection of Indians.

This book examines the two great “journeys” of Cabeza de Vaca—his extraordinary adventures on two continents and his remarkable growth as a humanitarian.

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Matamoros and the Texas Revolution

Craig H. Roell

The traditional story of the Texas Revolution remembers the Alamo and Goliad but has forgotten Matamoros, the strategic Mexican port city on the turbulent lower Rio Grande. In this provocative book, Craig Roell restores the centrality of Matamoros by showing the genuine economic, geographic, social, and military value of the city to Mexican and Texas history.

Given that Matamoros served the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Texas, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, and Durango, the city’s strategic location and considerable trade revenues were crucial. Roell provides a refreshing reinterpretation of the revolutionary conflict in Texas from a Mexican point of view, essentially turning the traditional story on its head. Readers will learn how Matamoros figured in the Mexican government's grand designs not only for national prosperity, but also to preserve Texas from threatened American encroachment. Ironically, Matamoros became closely linked to the United States through trade, and foreign intriguers who sought to detach Texas from Mexico found a home in the city.

Roell’s account culminates in the controversial Texan Matamoros expedition, which was composed mostly of American volunteers and paralyzed the Texas provisional government, divided military leaders, and helped lead to the tragic defeats at the Alamo, San Patricio, Agua Dulce Creek, Refugio, and Coleto (Goliad). Indeed, Sam Houston denounced the expedition as “the author of all our misfortunes.” In stark contrast, the brilliant and triumphant Matamoros campaign of Mexican General José de Urrea united his countrymen, defeated these revolutionaries, and occupied the coastal plain from Matamoros to Brazoria. Urrea's victory ensured that Matamoros would remain a part of Mexico, but Matamorenses also fought to preserve their own freedom from the centralizing policies of Mexican President Santa Anna, showing the streak of independence that characterizes Mexico's northern borderlands to this day.

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Old Red

Pioneering Medical Education in Texas

Heather Green Wooten

Tucked away in a corner of the University of Texas Medical Branch campus stands a majestic relic of an era long past. Constructed of red pressed brick, sandstone, and ruddy Texas granite, the Ashbel Smith Building, fondly known as Old Red, represents a fascinating page in Galveston and Texas history. It has been more than a century since Old Red welcomed the first group of visionary faculty and students inside its halls. For decades, the medical school building existed at the heart of UTMB campus life, even through periods of dramatic growth and change. In time, however, the building lost much of its original function to larger, more contemporary facilities. Today, as the oldest medical school building west of the Mississippi River, the intricately ornate Old Red sits in sharp contrast to its sleeker neighbors. 

Old Red: Pioneering Medical Education in Texas examines the life and legacy of the Ashbel Smith Building from its beginnings through modern-day efforts to preserve it. Chapters explore the nascence of medical education in Texas; the supreme talent and genius of Old Red architect, Nicholas J. Clayton; and the lives of faculty and students as they labored and learned in the midst of budget crises, classroom and fraternity antics, death-rendering storms, and threats of closure. The education of the state’s first professional female and minority physicians and the nationally acclaimed work of physician-scientists and researchers are also highlighted. Most of all, the reader is invited to step inside Old Red and mingle with ghosts of the past—to ascend the magnificent cedar staircase, wander the long, paneled hallways, and take a seat in the tiered amphitheater as pigeons fly in and out of windows overhead.

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Remember Goliad!

A History of La Bahía

Roell Craig

When Sam Houston's revolutionary soldiers won the Battle of San Jacinto and secured independence for Texas, their battle cry was "Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!" Everyone knows about the Alamo, but far fewer know about the stirring events at Goliad.

Craig Roell's lively new study of Goliad brings to life this most important Texas community.

Though its population has never exceeded two thousand, Goliad has been an important site of Texas history since Spanish colonial days. It is the largest town in the county of the same name, which was one of the original counties of Texas created in 1836 and was named for the vast territory that was governed as the municipality of Goliad under the Republic of Mexico.

Goliad offers one of the most complete examples of early Texas courthouse squares, and has been listed as a historic preservation district on the National Register. But the sites that forever etched this sleepy Texas town into historical consciousness are those made infamous by two of the most controversial episodes of the entire Texas Revolution—the Fannin Battleground at nearby Coleto Creek, and Nuestra Señora de Loreto (popularly called Presidio La Bahía), site of the Goliad Massacre on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836.

This book tells the sad tale of James Fannin and his men who fought the Mexican forces, surrendered with the understanding that they would be treated as prisoners of war, and then under orders from Santa Anna were massacred. Like the men who died for Texas independence at the Alamo, the nearly 350 men who died at Goliad became a rallying cry. Both tragic stories became part of the air Texans breathe, but the same process that elevated Crockett, Bowie, Travis, and their Alamo comrades to heroic proportions has clouded Fannin in mystery and shadow.

In Remember Goliad!, Craig Roell tells the history of the region and the famous battle there with clarity and precision. This exciting story is handsomely illustrated in a popular edition that will be of interest to scholars, students, and teachers.

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Sacred Memories

The Civil War Monument Movement in Texas

Kelly McMichael

War memorials are symbols of a community’s sense of itself, the values it holds dear, and its collective memory. They inform us more, perhaps, about the period in which the memorials were erected than the period of the war itself.

Kelly McMichael, in her book, Sacred Memories: The Civil War Monument Movement in Texas, takes the reader on a tour of Civil War monuments throughout the state and in doing so tells the story of each monument and its creation. McMichael explores Texans’ motivations for erecting Civil War memorials, which she views as attempts during a period of turmoil and uncertainty—“severe depression, social unrest, the rise of Populism, mass immigration, urbanization, industrialization, imperialism, lynching, and Jim Crow laws”—to preserve the memory of the Confederate dead, to instill in future generations the values of patriotism, duty, and courage; to create a shared memory and identity “based on a largely invented story”; and to “anchor a community against social and political doubt.”

Her focus is the human story of each monument, the characters involved in its creation, and the sacred memories held dear to them.

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Washington on the Brazos

Cradle of the Texas Republic

Richard B. McCaslin

With Washington on the Brazos: Cradle of the Texas Republic, noted historian Richard B. McCaslin recovers the history of an iconic Texas town. The story of the Texas Republic begins and ends at Washington, but the town’s history extends much further. Texas leaders gathered in the new town on the west bank of the Brazos in March 1836 to establish a new republic. After approving a declaration of independence and constitution, they fled as Santa Anna's army approached. The government of the Republic of Texas returned there in 1842, but after the United States annexed Texas in 1846, Austin replaced Washington as the capital of the Lone Star State. The town became a thriving river port in the 1850s, when steamboat cargoes paid for many new buildings. But the community steeply declined when its leaders decided to rely on steamers rather than invest in a railroad line, although German immigrants and African American residents kept the town alive. Later, Progressive Era plans for historic tourism focused the town’s central role in the Texas Republic brought renewed interest, and a state park was founded. The Texas centennial in 1936 and the hard work of citizens’ organizations beginning in the 1950s transformed this park into Washington-on-the-Brazos, the state historic site that serves today as the primary focus for preserving the history of the Republic of Texas. 

 

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