June 13, 2010

Texas - a Microcosm of the Whole United States

By Lena Nelson Dooley

Just as the US was settled by a variety of nationalities at different times, so was the only mainland state that at one time was a country. While studying The Texans volume of The Old West series published by Time Life Booke, I found a variety of interesting characters. I'm going to introduce you to several of them.

Addolphus Sterne came from Germany to settle in Texas. He became mayor of Nacogdoches in 1833.

James Brown was a successful brick mason in New York. After he arrived in Galveston in 1842, he built a jailhouse, a cathedral, and a fancy home for himself. All were built with brick.

After Henry Kinney helped establish Corpus Christi with his Kinney's Ranch Trading Post, he tried in 1854 to establish a 30-million-acre empire in Nicaragua. He wasn't successful in that endeavor.

Gail Borden was a man of many talents. He helped establish the first successful newspaper in Texas in 1835. After that he surveyed the site that is now Houston. He didn't strike it rich until he came up with a way to condense and can milk. The rest, as they say, is history. I'm sure most of you who are cooks have used Borden's Eagle Brand condensed milk in recipes.

Henry Hedgecoxe served as an agent for a Texas land firm before settlers chased him from his office in a land dispute that was called the Hedgecoxe War. This Englishman finally settled near Austin.

An accountant from New Jersey, David Burnet became a land speculator in Texas. He was part of the separatist movement and was the first president of the Republic of Texas.

The vice president was Edward Burleson, who had come from North Carolina to Texas in 1830. He took part in the siege of San Antonio and led a regiment at San Jacinto before his served in office.

After Davy Crockett came to Texas, his friend Ben McCulloch followed him in 1836. Ben went on to become a Texas Ranger and a federal marshal.

Benjamin Long, from Switzerland came to Texas with his family to join a 300-member French colony, La Reunion. He was one of the first mayors of Dallas.

In 1837, Memucan Hunt was the envoy for Texas to Washington, DC. Later he was a strong advocate for a railroad from Galveston Bay to the Red River.

Many settlers in the plains of Texas hunted the wild mustangs that descended from the Spanish explorers' Arab stock. In the 1830's, they could sell these horses that had been broken to saddle for about $4, which was a lot of money.

When trying to find subject matter for a historical novel set in Texas, you'll find lots of available information and interesting people.

I actually used some of the research information I found for Wild West Christmas about the railroads to help me when I wrote Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, which is available both in print edition and Kindle edition.


Tina Dee Books said...

I loved meeting all these folks, Lena! I think I've overlooked Texas for far too long. Now I wish I had taken the time to enjoy the area when I was there for an ACFW conference a few years ago.

Thank you for sharing! Can't wait to read your new book, Love Finds You in Golden, Mexico--beautiful cover!

Vickie McDonough said...

Very interesting, Lena. I recently found out that Texas is the only state whose flag can fly at the same level as the U.S. flag. I'd never heard that before.