South Texas History

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A Wild and Vivid Land: An Illustrated History of the South Texas Border

Original Price
19.99
ISBN
9780876112564
Binding
Paperback
By
Jerry Thompson
[...]
This collection of letters, written by a young German colonist in Dr. John Charles Beales's ill-fated colony Dolores, provides an almost daily account of the colonists' journey to the Rio Grande from New York City harbor and their labors to establish a settlement there on Las Moras Creek. Ludecus recounts in his letters the colonists' efforts to provide protection from Indian attacks by constructing around the settlement a high, thorny barrier of mesquite branches and cactus cleared from the land they wished to plant. He narrates how the carpenters among the colonists fashioned a cannon of oak which they successfully fired once to warn off hostile Indians in the area. His record of life in the colony emphasizes the deprivation suffered by the colonists. From the day of their arrival at the colony site to the day most of the colonists abandoned the settlement in desperation, Ludecus's letters are filled with descriptions of the colonists’ hardships and frustration as they tried to cope with an almost total lack of stone and timber in the vicinity of Dolores for constructing houses, outbuildings, and fencing around their young crops.Eduard Ludecus's letters are also an important source of valuable information about life and culture in pre-revolutionary Texas. His letters are but one of a handful of eyewitness reports about the early Texas frontier. His observations are those of a young, well-educated German merchant who had traveled from the urbane environment of Weimar, the center of art and literature in Germany in the early nineteenth century, to the raw, hostile environment of Texas. As a result, many of his remarks seem to have been recorded in wide-eyed awe of his new environment.Ludecus's letters are written with a vivid directness often lacking in the recollections of such well-known narrators as John C. Duval, Noah Smithwick, and John Holland Jenkins. Ludecus's narrative style is so vivid, so lively that the reader often feels as if he were sharing the narrator's experiences and observations not as a reader, but as a companion.
[...]

I Would Rather Sleep in Texas: A History of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and the People of the Santa Anita Land Grant

Original Price
15.99
ISBN
9780876112427
Binding
Paperback
By
James A. McAllen, Margaret H. McAllen, Mary Amberson
This superb work of history tells the story of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and the people who struggled to make this daunting land their home. Spanish conquistadors and Mexican revolutionaries, cowboys and ranchers, Texas Rangers and Civil War generals, entrepreneurs and empire builders are all a part of this centuries-long saga, thoroughly researched and skillfully presented here.

Steamboats used the inland waterway as a major transport route, and fortunes were made when the river served as the Confederacy’s only outlet for money and munitions. Mexican presidents and revolutionaries, European empires and investors, American cattle kings and entrepreneurs all considered this river frontier crucial. Men, women, and beasts braved the unforgiving climate of this land, and its cattle and cowboys gave rise to the great cattle drives up the Chisholm Trail to Kansas. It was and remains a crossroads of international cultures.

In this moving account of the history of the families of the Santa Anita land grant, almost two hundred years of the history of the lower Rio Grande Valley (1748–1940) are revealed. An important addition to any collection of Texas history, I Would Rather Sleep in Texas is one of the most complete studies of the lower Rio Grande, abundantly illustrated with maps and photographs, many never before published.

In 1790 the Santa Anita, a Spanish land grant, was awarded to merchant José Manuel Gómez. After the land passed to Gómez’s widow, part of the grant was acquired by María Salomé Ballí, the daughter of a powerful Spanish clan. Salomé Ballí married Scotsman John Young, and her family connections combined with his business acumen helped to further assemble the Santa Anita under one owner.

In 1859, after Young’s death, Salomé struggled to hold onto her properties amid bandit raids and the siege of violence waged in the region by borderland caudillo Juan Nepomuceno Cortina. Soon after the beginning of the Civil War, she married Scotch- Irish immigrant John McAllen. They participated in the rapid wartime cotton trade through Matamoros and had business associations with a group of men—Mifflin Kenedy, Richard King, Charles Stillman, and Francisco Yturria—who made fortunes that influenced businesses nationwide. Rare firsthand accounts by Salomé Ballí Young de McAllen, John McAllen, and their son, James Ballí McAllen, add to a deeper understanding of the blending of the region’s frontier cultures, rowdy politics, and periodic violence.

All the while, the Santa Anita remained the cornerstone of the business and stability of this family. As the lower Rio Grande Valley moved into the modern era, land speculation led economic activity from 1890 through 1910. The construction of railroads brought improved means for transportation and new towns, including McAllen, Texas, in 1905. The book’s ending reveals how, in 1915, Mexican warfare again spilled over the banks of the Rio Grande with deadly results, tragically affecting this family for the next twenty-five years. I Would Rather Sleep in Texas tells a remarkable story that covers a broad sweep of Texas and borderlands history.
[...]

Fifty Miles and a Fight: Major Samuel Peter Heintzelman's Journal of Texas and the Cortina War

Original Price
25.99
ISBN
9780876111604
Binding
Hardcover
By
Jerry Thompson
Fifty Miles and a Fight: Major Samuel Peter Heintzelman's Journal of Texas and the Cortina War, a rare and dramatic firsthand account of one of the most volatile and traumatic events in the long history of Texas—the Cortina War, chronicles the day-to-day activities of one of the most cultured, dedicated, and well-respected (although often vain) officers of the antebellum frontier army. It was while Heintzelman was at Camp Verde on September 28, 1859, that a daring thirty-five-year-old illiterate ranchero named Juan Nepomuceno Cortina sent shockwaves throughout Texas by brazenly leading some seventy-five angry raiders into the dung-splattered streets of Brownsville. Tired of a clique of Brownsville attorneys, resentful of men he accused of killing tejanos with impunity, and determined to settle a blood feud with bitter enemy Adolphus Glavecke, Cortina initiated a war that would reverberate north to Austin and beyond to the halls of Washington and Mexico City.

Fifty Miles and a Fight magnifies the brutal nature of the Texas Rangers, a portrayal not readily evident in other sources. Not only does Heintzelman, who was placed in command of the Brownsville Expedition with orders to crush Cortina, record his disdain and distrust of the Rangers, but also their indiscriminate killing of both mexicanos and tejanos. Heintzelman's journal, which reads like a Zane Grey thriller, provides a detailed and vivid account of the battles at El Ebonal and Rio Grande City as well as glimpses into the filibustering activities of the shadowy Knights of the Golden Circle, who were hoping to expand the Cortina War into a larger conflict that would lead to the eventual annexation of Mexico and the creation of a slave empire south of the Rio Grande. Heintzelman's impressions of his senior commander, Col. Robert E. Lee, are also noteworthy.

A real jewel of soldiering on the Southwestern frontier, Heintzelman's journal begins on a sunny and optimistic New Orleans day, April 17, 1859, with his family on its way to Texas, and ends on a depressingly cool and overcast December 31, 1861, also in the Crescent City, with secession fever sweeping the South and the nation on the verge of war.
[...]

The Wests of Texas: Cattle Ranching Entrepreneurs

Original Price
25.99
ISBN
978-1625110268
Binding
Hardcover
By
Bruce Shackelford
With the Wests of Texas, noted author Bruce M. Shackelford tells the story of the West family of Lavaca County, forgotten Texas legends.

Originally from Tennessee, Washington and Mary West moved to Lavaca County, Texas, in the early 1850s. There they raised three sons who were destined to leave an indelible mark on the Texas cattle industry. At the end of the Civil War, George, the eldest, made his first trail drives as so many Texans did. But unlike many who made the trip, George saw the venture as the business of moving cattle to market and became a professional drover. As his brothers Sol and Ike came of age, George brought them into his already growing business of trailing cattle herds north. The brothers became some of the most important drovers in cattle business, standing out during the era of the great trail drives. In their lifetimes their accomplishments were legendary, but today they have been largely forgotten. Their history and achievements are examined in this beautiful volume illustrated with photographs and personal effects from the family.
[...]

Texas and the Mexican War: A History and a Guide

Original Price
6.99
ISBN
9780876111925
Binding
Paperback
By
Charles M. Robinson
Written for both the specialist and the casual reader, Texas and the Mexican War discusses the pivotal role Texas played in the Mexican War, battles fought on Texas soil, and the contributions—for better or sometimes worse—of Texas troops throughout the war.

Since the opening of hostilities in 1846, the Mexican War has remained controversial. Author Charles M. Robinson III describes how attitudes of the era were influenced by sectional, political, and social differences, and, in recent times, by comparison to conflicts such as Vietnam. Robinson draws on U.S. and Mexican sources to discuss conditions in both countries that he believes made the war inevitable.

Besides examining the political and military differences, he reveals the motivations, egos, pettiness, and quarrels of the various generals and politicians in the United States and Mexico. He also looks at how the common soldier saw the war. The extensive citations include commentaries on the historiography of the war. The book is profusely illustrated with contemporary photographs, sketches, and drawings, many from the author’s own collection.

Besides an account of the war itself, sidebars throughout the book titled “Then and Now” serve as a guide for those who want to visit important Mexican War sites in Texas, northern Mexico, and Louisiana.

[...]

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