Austin Area History

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Road, River, and Ol’ Boy Politics: A Texas County’s Path from Farm to Supersuburb

Original Price
14.99
ISBN
9780876112359
Binding
Paperback
By
Linda Scarbrough
In 1946, Williamson County, Texas, was profoundly rural. Reflecting the Democratic Party represented in Congress by Lyndon Baines Johnson, the county was based on an isolated agricultural economy and contained a rich brew of ethnic groups and cultures. Half a century later, Williamson County was one of the five fastest growing counties in the United States, a staunchly Republican homogeneous supersuburb north of Austin whose economy depended on the global market for computers and other high-technology products. How did this radical transformation occur?It came about largely through the machinations of a handful of local political and economic "bosses" who brought to Williamson County two great federal public works projects: Interstate Highway 35 and a dam on the tiny San Gabriel River. Those projects swept away the farmers and ranchers whose way of life had defined the county for 100 years and triggered explosive population growth. In Road, River, and Ol' Boy Politics, Linda Scarbrough tells a cautionary tale about the difficulties of anticipating ripple effects from large-scale public works "solutions" and of adequately planning for their environmental, economic, and cultural consequences. It is a central Texas tale that is pertinent in all of America's "oasis" cities across the dry Sun Belt, a repeating story that has come to define American patterns of suburban development.In her examination of the roots of the transformation of traditional agricultural land in an American county into modern suburbia, Scarbrough identifies three essential ingredients that are necessary for dynamic growth: the promise of a new source of water, the promise of a new major highway, and a politically skillful and determined local leader. Without these three key ingredients, the kind of growth that has occurred outside Austin, Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, and Salt Lake City is not likely to happen.This book analyzes the spectacular growth and radical transformation of one American county in the last half of the twentieth century in the same way that Robert Caro's The Power Broker parsed the development of New York City and Long Island, New York, by looking at the public works projects of Robert Moses and how they set the stage for New York's economic domination over the eastern United States. The chief difference is that in Williamson County, Texas, no Robert Moses existed; instead, there were several "little Moses" characters who profoundly altered this agricultural outpost outside Austin through the public works they brought to fruition.
[...]

At the Heart of Texas: One Hundred Years of the Texas State Historical Association, 1897-1997

Original Price
25.99
ISBN
9780876112168
Binding
Hardcover
By
Richard B. McCaslin
"History like that of Texas is rare. . . . Is it not discreditable to the people of Texas, that they should leave the collection of material for the history of the State to the great endowed Northern libraries? . . . Let Texas arouse herself for very shame, and begin at once the discharge of her filial duty."

So wrote George Pierce Garrison in the first issue of the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, published in July 1897, just months after the establishment of the organization on March 2. The state of Texas was just half a century old; the city of Austin, going back to the days of the Republic, was a little older—a few years past its half-century; and the University of Texas, where Garrison was "the history professor," was not yet fourteen. Earlier attempts to organize historical societies in Texas, traced in the opening chapter, illuminate the factors that came ultimately to be decisive in the success of the Association: the wisdom in linking the organization with the University of Texas, the inclusion of lay historians, and the continued insistence on high academic standards. And, from the beginning, the Association has established a tradition for publishing in the Quarterly, in addition to the Anglo story, the stories of the Indians, the Spanish, and the French. According to author Richard B. McCaslin, "It may be that the Association survived where its predecessors had not because Garrison, who was as much a Progressive historian as any of his contemporaries, understood the value of inclusiveness."

The text is organized in chronological chapters by the tenures of the seven directors, George Garrison to Ron Tyler, all of whom were professors in the UT history department. Within the larger framework of the directors, the programs, and the publications, McCaslin gives shape to the unique interaction of forces—university, political, and the academic/lay membership—that has accorded the Association a character and suppleness that continues to ensure its long endurance. The book is profusely illustrated, and sidebars culled from past issues of the Quarterly complement the text.

Winner of the Award of Merit from the Philosophical Socierty of Texas
[...]

McKinney Falls: The Ranch Home of Thomas F. McKinney, Pioneer Texas Entrepreneur

Original Price
6.99
ISBN
9780876111727
Binding
Paperback
By
Margaret Swett Henson
McKinney Falls State Park, which lies across the Colorado River from Austin, is the 672-acre center of a 40,000 acre tract where Texas pioneer Thomas Freeman McKinney established his ranch. This carefully researched and well-written history relates the fascinating life story of the influential frontiersman and entrepreneur who lived and ranched at McKinney Falls.

Born in Kentucky in 1801, McKinney led an adventuresome life on the early Texas frontier. In 1823, he and his cousin Phil Sublett left Missouri with a Santa Fe caravan. Finding the market there glutted, they took their goods on south to Chihuahua, Mexico. Returning through Saltillo and San Antonio, they stopped long enough in Stephen F. Austin's fledgling Texas colony for McKinney to claim a league of land. En route home, the men stopped in Nacogdoches where both young men settled and married.

McKinney became a successful trader, eventually moving to the Brazos River valley, a jumping off point for his pack trains of cotton to Saltillo. Handy with a Kentucky rifle and fluent in Spanish, he traveled in Texas and Mexico as a businessman and made valuable contacts for the commission business he founded at the mouth of the Brazos in 1834. His firm of McKinney and Williams prospered and helped supply the Texas revolution in 1835–36.

In 1837, McKinney and others founded the Galveston City Company. When he moved the McKinney & Williams commission house there, he became one of the wealthiest leaders of the new Republic. He was a power behind the political scenes, supporting Sam Houston, among others. After statehood, he served in the Texas House of Representatives. A Unionist like Houston in 1860, McKinney opposed secession, but when Texas left the Union, he reluctantly helped the struggling Confederacy. Eventually Confederate mismanagement and corruption ruined McKinney and he lost his fortune. When he died at McKinney Falls in 1871, after years of ranching and raising thoroughbred horses, Thomas F. McKinney had lived an eventful and influential life that spanned the entire early history of Texas.
[...]

A History of the French Legation in Texas

Original Price
6.99
ISBN
9780876110874
Binding
Paperback
By
Kenneth Hafertepe

This readable and thoroughly documented volume relates the fascinating story of the French Legation in Austin. The oldest house in the city, it was built in 1840-1841 as the residence of the French chargé d'affaires to the fledgling Republic of Texas. Alphonse Dubois, the self-styled "Count de Saligny," dazzled frontier Texans with elegant parties until he was recalled after less than a year in Austin.

[...]

Peg Leg: The Improbable Life of a Texas Hero, Thomas William Ward, 1807-1872

Original Price
25.99
ISBN
9780876112373
Binding
Hardcover
By
David C. Humphrey
Irish-born Thomas William (“Peg Leg”) Ward ventured to Texas in 1835 to fight in the Texas Revolution, but in his first day of action his right leg was hit by Mexican cannon fire in and amputated. Four years later he lost his right arm to cannon fire in an accident. Though confronted with an unending problem of mobility and tormented by pain in his residual leg, Ward surmounted his horrific injuries to become a notable public figure.

Ward’s public career spanned three decades and a multiplicity of responsibilities—military officer, three-time mayor of Austin, presidential appointments as U.S. Consul to Panama and a federal customs official in Texas—but it was as Texas land commissioner during the 1840s that he particularly made his mark. At a time when land was the principal asset of the Texas republic and the magnet that attracted immigrants, he fought to remedy the land system’s many defects and to fulfill the promise of free land to those who settled and fought for Texas.

If Ward had a remarkable career, his life was nonetheless troubled by symptoms comparable to those experienced by recent war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder—a hair-trigger temper, an impulse to violence, and marital discord. His wife, Susan Ward, though deeply in love with him at the start, eventually left him and accused him in two bitterly fought court cases of verbal, psychological, and physical abuse. To many of his fellow Texans, however, Ward remained a hero who had sacrificed his leg for a noble cause—independence from Mexico.
[...]

Austin: A History of the Capital City

Original Price
6.99
ISBN
9780876111628
Binding
Paperback
By
David C. Humphrey
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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The Texas State Capitol: Selected Essays from the Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Original Price
13.95
ISBN
978-0876111505
Binding
Paperback
By
Ella Mae Moore, Fred H. Moore
[...]

Abner Cook: Master Builder on the Texas Frontier

Original Price
19.99
ISBN
9780876111017
Binding
Paperback
By
Kenneth Hafertepe
[...]

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