Wise About Texas presents Texas history in an engaging, scholarly and interesting way. You'll learn more about the Texas history you know, and a lot of Texas history you don't know. Most importantly, you'll come to understand the spirit of Texas! So get Wise About Texas!
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The western frontier of Texas moved backwards during the Civil War. Indian raids pushed the settlers toward safer ground. After the war, the raiding had become so bad that something had to be done. The federal government thought leading with diplomacy would solve the problem but the Texans wanted military action. An 1871 attack on a wagon train and the subsequent efforts to impose the rule of law on the frontier proved a turning point in U.S./Indian relations. Ripped from today's headlines, the Indian Trial teaches us valuable lessons...if we choose to learn. Learn more in Part 1 of the the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
Freshwater pearls have always been valuable finds, but one man found one in 1909 that was said to be worth a ton of money! All of a sudden, East Texas experienced a pearl boom. One person reported watching a thousand people combing lake bottoms hoping to strike it rich. Hear about the East Texas pearl frenzy in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
In the early 1920's, the City of Houston was building what would come to be known as Hermann Park. Its centerpiece was to be a statue of Sam Houston. Enrico Cerracchio won the contract and his creation was lauded nationwide. But one person really didn't like it...Sam Houston's son. He hated it so much, a Judge had to get involved. Hear about the story of Sam's statue in this episode of Wise About Texas.
Galveston native Sam Collins III had a vision to bring Texas history and the Juneteenth story to its home in a grand way. Enlisting the help of a team of artists, technology experts, and the Galveston community, the Juneteenth Legacy Project came to life at the very site where General Granger issued General Order No. 3. Learn about Galveston's newest civic asset and the need for more Texas history, not less, from Sam Collins III in this bonus episode of Wise About Texas.
On June 19, 1865, union general Gordon Granger landed in Galveston and issued some general orders. His General Order No. 3 informed the people of Texas that all the slaves in Texas were now free. Since then, "Juneteenth" has been celebrated in Texas as the anniversary of emancipation. Juneteenth became an official Texas state holiday in 1980. In 2021, the U.S. followed Texas' lead and now a fateful day in Texas history is a holiday for the entire nation. Learn the history behind the emancipation proclamation and General Order No. 3 from the author who literally wrote the book on Juneteenth in this episode of Wise About Texas.
The victorious Texians only carried one flag into the Battle of San Jacinto. It was a gift from the citizens of Newport, Kentucky to Sidney Sherman. After the revolution, the flag was sent back to Kentucky. But after several decades, the flag found its permanent home. Learn the fate of the San Jacinto battle flag in this episode of Wise About Texas.
The San Jacinto monument stands 567 feet over a battleground upon which a ragtag army changed the trajectory of world history. A few hundred Texians surprised the President of Mexico and his army in an afternoon attack on April 21, 1836. Eighteen minutes later, the Texians had won their revolution against the tyrannical Santa Anna, who had run away in fear. The San Jacinto monument, begun in 1936 and completed in 1939, stands as a reminder of this glorious victory. But while it's the biggest, it's not the only one. Learn more about the multiple San Jacinto monuments in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
On March 27, 1836, several hundred Texian soldiers were brutally murdered on the orders of Santa Anna. One of them, John C. Logan, left us two letters. The first was written at a time of optimism and victory. The second reflected the hard conditions suffered by many in the Texian army. These two letters provide a quick glimpse into the experiences of the brave men who fought for Texas freedom. Hear the reflections of Texian soldier John C. Logan in this episode of Wise About Texas.
James L. Haley is one of Texas' finest writers. He has written a preeminent biography of Sam Houston, an award winning narrative history of Texas called Passionate Nation as well as several works of fiction, also very highly regarded. But we Texans take our history very seriously, so writing historical fiction about Texas can be a risky endeavor. James Haley delivers. His latest work is a naval adventure series featuring American naval officer Bliven Putnam. In the fourth book, Captain Putnam takes on a secret mission for the Republic of Texas during its fight for independence. I talked Mr. Haley into sitting down and discussing his writing process, research process, writing historical fiction versus history, as well as other topics around his work. Enjoy this interview with award winning author James L. Haley in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
From February 23, 1836 through its fall on March 6, the Mexican army lay siege to the Alamo. William Barrret Travis wrote several letters during the siege but one stands above all others. On February 24, 1836, Travis dispatched a letter "To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World." This letter would become one of the most famous, inspirational, and heroically tragic missives in history. Remember the Alamo in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
In 1925, there were only a few women lawyers in Texas. But women still couldn't serve as jurors and nobody dreamed there would ever be a female judge. Then a real estate lawsuit came to the Texas Supreme Court involving a mutual life insurance company called the Woodmen of the World. At the time, every member of the Supreme Court of Texas was a member of the Woodmen of the World, so were disqualified from hearing the case. That left Governor Pat Neff with a problem. He had to appoint judges to sit on the Supreme Court but couldn't find any that weren't affiliated with the Woodmen. So he did what Texans have done since 1836, he turned to Texas women. Hear about the first all-female state Supreme court in American history in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
In the early 20th century, Texas had room to grow. Like the empresarios of the early 1800's, real estate drove efforts to settle new Texans. But not all developers were honest. Promises of historically productive land, railroads and pleasant temperatures lured many to the coastal prairie. Towns were built...and towns died. One in particular was billed as a farming paradise. Two crops a year plus a railroad on its way. Hundreds came to Texas to establish this paradise, appropriately named Provident City. Hear an all-too-typical tale of early 20th century land deals in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
San Augustine had a crime problem in the 1930’s. A semi-organized gang was preying on the black community and something had to be done. The problem was compounded by a corrupt governor who had all but destroyed the Rangers. But new Governor James V Allred cleaned up the Texas Ranger force and restored it to its rightful place as one of the nation’s premier law enforcement organizations. Then he sent them to San Augustine. The Rangers cleaned up the town and broke down some Jim Crow barriers. Hear the story of how the Allred rangers cleaned up San Augustine in this interview with one of the premier Texas Ranger scholars in Texas, Dr. Jody Edward Ginn.
Texans love their freedom. At the door of a hat, we'll declare independence and the fight is on! For years, folks have referred to Van Zandt County as the "free state of Van Zandt." How did this come about? Was it taxes, or was it the civil war? In this episode we'll look at three of the most common stories about how a certain East Texas county came to be known as a free state.
In April, 1836, Texas went to war with the United States by capturing an American ship in the service of Mexico. After the battle of San Jacinto, an international relations nightmare loomed. President David Burnet had to find some way to hold a trial. Without a constitution, laws, courts or judges, Burnet took matters into his own hands and created the Judicial District of Brazos. Judge Benjamin Cromwell Franklin decided the case, then kept the court open! Before the people elected a president or the first congress met, Texas had a judiciary. Hear about the first court of the Republic of Texas in this episode of Wise About Texas.
During 1837, the Mexican government was still reeling from the successful Texas revolution. Bent on reconquering Texas, an army massed at Matamoros. The Secretary of the Texas Navy knew that Texas could keep Mexico at bay by attacking its ports and shipping. Sam Houston, however, thought the Texas Navy an unnecessary extravagance. Despite the President's orders, Secretary of the Navy Samual Fisher ordered the ships to sea. One day, they landed at Cozumel...
During World War II, Texas played an important role in training pilots and bomber crews. The city of Dalhart contributed to the war effort by building an airfield. Practice bombing missions took place over the panhandle by the famous B-17, B-24, and later the B-29. One night in 1943, a young B-17 crew set out on a 40 mile round trip to bomb a lit square on the practice range. 50 miles later, they bombed Boise City, Oklahoma! Hear more about the night Texas attacked Oklahoma in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has been a trying time for Texans. But we've been through much worse. The harsh climate, tropical ports, lack of medicine, etc. has resulted in Texans enduring several pandemics and epidemics through the years. From yellow fever to cholera to smallpox, it seems as though we've seen it all. Texas is sometimes a tough place to live, but Texans have always been tougher. Hear some stories from prior pandemics in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
Austin is famous for its music scene. Willie, Waylon, Jerry Jeff and so many others helped Austin become weird. But before any of them there was Kenneth Threadgill. A preacher's son, Threadgill loved music. He especially loved Jimmie Rogers and his yodel. Threadgill opened a tavern that provided musicians a place to play, and college kids a place to listen. Kenneth Threadgill and his hootenanies gave many Austin musicians their start, and launched one hippie girl to superstardom. Hear about the earliest days of the Austin music scene and get to know one of its pioneers, Kenneth Threadgill.
In April, 1836, two armies converged at Peggy McCormick's ranch on the banks of the San Jacinto River. In just 18 minutes, the Texian Army routed Santa Anna and the portion of the Mexican Army he commanded. Texas was free! Almost immediately, the area was revered as hallowed ground in the history of Texas. Visitors clamored to see the place where Sam Houston and the Texians claimed victory in what has been described as one of the most consequential battles in world history...the Battle of San Jacinto. Now a Texas State Historic Site, you can walk the ground Sam Houston walked and see the place where Texas independence was finally won. Come explore the Texas Revolution at the San Jacinto Battleground in this interview with Texas Historical Commission personnel in charge of preserving some of the most sacred ground in Texas.
Originally established in 1721 along the banks of the Guadalupe river, Presidio La Bahia was moved to its present location along the banks of the San Antonio river in 1749. Since then it has been a critical location for worship, trade, protection, battle and commerce. The presidio has been taken and re-taken as Texas has earned its reputation as one of the most contested places in North America. Perhaps it's best known as James Fannin's headquarters before his ill-fated attempt to reach Victoria, resulting in the Goliad massacre. The chapel has hosted church services since 1749, and still does today. Fort, community center, and even graveyard, there are few places in Texas as historic as Presidio La Bahia. Join me as I interview site manager Scott McMahon and explore the Texas revolution at Presidio La Bahia.
James Fannin fancied himself an accomplished military commander. But in March of 1836 he had trouble deciding where and when to move. He finally headed for Victoria but decided to stop and feed his animals. Fannin didn't realize how close the Mexican army was but he soon found out. Surrounded, without supplies, desperate, Fannin surrendered to Mexican General Urrea. The battleground where Fannin surrendered was the third historic site acquired by the State of Texas, right after the Alamo and San Jacinto. Enjoy learning what you can see at this sacred site from site manager Bryan McAuley with the Texas Historic Commission.
The twin sisters were two cannons graciously manufactured and donated to the cause of Texas liberty from the people of Cincinnati. They served Texas well at the Battle of San Jacinto and played a key role in Texas independence. You can see these great guns of liberty at....wait minute...no you can't. We've lost them. Where could they be? Theories abound, but evidence is thin. Some say they are buried by a bayou in Houston. Some say they are in the bayou. Some say they're in Austin somewhere. Some think they were sold for scrap. Nobody knows. Listen to the latest episode of Wise About Texas and form your own opinion, and maybe start your own search for two of the most important artifacts in Texas history...the Twin Sisters.
Old Washington, better known as Washington on the Brazos, began with a ferry crossing on the Brazos River along the La Bahia road. The convention of 1836 would cement Washington's place in Texas history. In an unfinished building, donated to the convention for free, the Texians declared independence, elected a government and drafted a constitution. In this episode you'll hear from Texas Historical Commission site manager Jonathan Failor as he describes what you can see and experience when you explore the Texas revolution at Washington on the Brazos.
Stephen F. Austin chose to set up the capitol of his colony on the banks of the Brazos River where the El Camino Real crossed the river. He envisioned a major metropolitan area as the center of immigrant activity in his colony. He named the town San Felipe. San Felipe de Austin became the second largest town in Texas before Sam Houston ordered it burned in advance of Santa Anna's army in 1836. It was at San Felipe that land titles were issued, commerce thrived and politics was done. Today, it is a very interesting historic site at which you can get a feel for life in pre-revolution Texas. In this episode, learn more about the San Felipe State Historic Site with site manager Bryan McAuley.
184 years ago, the Texas Army was long on spirit, but short on guns. Artillery, that is. How would they take on Santa Anna without some "hollow ware?" Enter the good people of Cincinnati, Ohio. They formed a committee, the "Friends of Texas," to support our war effort. They sent two cannons to Texas and they reached the Texas Army just in time. Used to great effect at the Battle of San Jacinto, the "twin sisters" disappeared from history. Where are they now? Theories abound but nobody has located them yet. In Part 1, hear the story of how the twin sisters came to be and the important role they played in winning the fight for freedom.
On December 7, 1941, Mess Attendant Doris "Dorie" Miller was doing laundry, one of the few jobs available to African American sailors in the U.S. Navy at the time. When his ship came under attack, Miller rushed to help his fellow sailors. Though not trained, and not allowed, he manned an anti-aircraft gun and engaged the attacking Japanese planes. For his bravery and his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty, Miller was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross. But his heroism affected not only the Navy, but the entire military. Recently, the U.S. Navy announced yet another tribute to Dorie Miller, a Texas war hero. Learn more about this brave Texan in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
In 1629 a group of Jumano Indians suddenly appeared at a New Mexico mission, eager to learn more about Christianity. The excited and grateful Franciscan priests wondered what motivated this sudden interest. The tale the Indians told seemed unbelievable. A "lady in blue" had appeared to them instructing them to seek out the priests and teaching the Indians the sign of the cross. That sounded incredible enough but what really stunned the priests was that they had just received a letter from Spain relating the story of a nun telling the exact same tale...half a world away. Is the Lady in Blue a myth...or a miracle? You decide in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
In 1891, one cowboy murdered another over the ownership of a brindle bull. Other cowboys branded the bull so that all would remember the crime. Some say the bull wanders the trans-pecos to this day, appearing whenever a certain crime occurs. Hear about a bull branded MURDER in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
Brian Kilmeade, best known as a host of Fox & Friends and the Brian Kilmeade show, is also a lover of history. In his latest book, Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers, Kilmeade takes on the story of Texas independence. As a Texan, I couldn't resist finding out why a New York author might want to write about Texas independence. In this interview, you'll learn why he loves history and how his love of history has shaped his values. Kilmeade also shares why he believes the fight for Texas independence is so important to the American story. I hope you enjoy this interview with TV personality and author Brian Kilmeade. ADVISORY: Because this interview was conducted by phone, the audio is a little loud.
Right after the civil war, women weren't really expected (or even thought capable) to be in business. But of course, Texas women proved them wrong. Lizzie Johnson was a school teacher, but she was also a writer and discovered how lucrative the cattle business could be. So she became a cattle baroness and Austin real estate mogul. Learn more about the Texas Cattle Queen in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
Award-winning author Stephen Harrigan visits Wise About Texas to discuss his new book--a history of Texas titled Big Wonderful Thing. Mr. Harrigan talks about how, as a journalist and novelist, he approached the colossal task of writing an entire history of Texas. Among other topics, he discusses his favorite Texas stories, the impact of our history on Texas, and a writer's view of the Texas history we all love. Learn how one of Texas' greatest writers approached Texas history in this episode of Wise About Texas.
Ben Kilpatrick was an outlaw. He rode with Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and the Wild Bunch into western infamy. The law caught up with him and he went to prison where he met Ole Hobeck. They two decided when they got out, they'd go into business together. Being outlaws, that business was train robbery. So they set out for the barren landscapes and lonely railroad tracks of West Texas to score big. But they didn't count on meeting Wells Fargo agents David Trousdale and J.K. Reagen. They would soon wish they had thought twice...Hear about one of the last train robberies in Texas in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
Oliver Loving was a trailblazer...literally. He drove cattle to Illinois, Louisiana, and Colorado. With Charles Goodnight he blazed a new western trail intended to avoid the Indian threat. Impatient as he was brave, he rode ahead to Santa Fe and was immediately attacked. However, he held off hundreds of Comanches while one of his men went for help. Through luck, or fate, or toughness, or all of it, he survived the attack. But his wounds were too severe. Before he died, his best friend promised to take his body back to Texas. Get a taste of the cattle drives, the danger, the bravery, and promises kept in this latest episode of Wise About Texas.
When Texans talk about the Declaration of Independence, they usually mean the one signed at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 2, 1836. Occasionally, we refer to the Goliad declaration of 1835. But there was one before all of them. In 1813, Texans in San Antonio de Bexar declared the province of Texas to be independent. The wording sounds familiar in places but the principals are timeless, and very familiar to Texans and Americans. Learn more about what motivated the Texans of 1813 to declare independence, which ultimately led to the Battle of Medina a few months later. (PHOTO BY BOB OWEN/SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS/ZUMA PRESS)
Texas has 254 wonderful counties. But we might have 284, or maybe we did but are down some. Or are we? What??? Learn about counties of Texas that were created, disappeared, were repealed, or maybe still exist. Oh yeah, we gave a couple to the USA (you're welcome, New Mexico) and Oklahoma stole one. Learn more in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
Born into poverty and raised in north central Texas, Bessie Coleman wanted to fly. But in the early 20th century, nobody in the United States would teach a black woman to fly an airplane. So Bessie Coleman learned a new language, traveled a world away, and realized her dream. A pioneer pilot, Coleman came home and became famous. She used her talent and her perseverance to show everyone what was possible. Learn more about a true pioneer aviator in this episode of Wise About Texas.
This bonus episode features an interview with Dr. Jody Edward Ginn, Ph.D., who was a consulting historian on the new Netflix movie The Highwaymen. The movie stars Kevin Costner as former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and Woody Harrelson as former Texas Ranger Maney Gault. The movie tells the story of the chase and killing of two of the most vicious killers in American history. In the interview, Dr. Ginn talks about historical movies, the myths surrounding Bonnie and Clyde and what its like to take Texas history to the big screen. Enjoy this bonus episode of Wise About Texas.
Bonnie & Clyde were on the run for two years. They committed small time thefts but big time murders. They were killers, pure and simple. They drove fast and far, laid low, and had help all over their territory. But they always came home. Over 1000 men from various law enforcement agencies, including the new FBI, couldn't catch them. So we needed one Texas Ranger, and that man was Frank Hamer. Hamer, his friend and fellow Ranger Maney Gault, along with two Dallas deputy sheriffs, tracked the outlaws and set them up to get what they had coming. The posse did in a few weeks what the rest of the country couldn't do in two years. They got justice. Hear about the chase and dramatic end to the crime spree of Bonnie & Clyde in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
The great depression was hard on everyone everywhere, and Texas was no exception. People couldn't work, could barely eat and just needed a break. The people wanted excitement, they wanted romance, they wanted something to cheer for...even if it was evil. That's when a petty chicken thief met a beautiful wanna-be movie star, both from the poor side of town. They set off on one of the most wide-ranging, violent, notorious, and legendary crime sprees in American history. Pretty soon, everyone knew their names...Bonnie & Clyde. Meet two of America's most notorious outlaws in this episode of Wise About Texas.
The account of the Texas revolution makes for glorious telling, retelling and reading. It seemed that every man, woman and child in early Texas just couldn't wait to rebel against the tyrannical Mexican government and win another glorious war for independence. Didn't they? Well, not exactly. Just like the 13 American colonies, Texas had its tories too. Learn more about "differences of opinion" in revolutionary Texas in the latest episode of Wise About Texas
The late 19th century saw Texas industry expanding west. The railroads were laid and towns were springing up everywhere. That quintessential Texas opportunity was knocking once again. One railroad entrepreneur gave one aspiring town builder the idea to layout a new town near the Big Bend called...what else...Progress City. He surveyed, he platted, and he sold. He sold thousands of lots. Deeds were filed and taxes were charged and paid. The problem was...it never existed. Hear the story of Progress City in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
Over 5000 Texans served in World War One. Many returned to Texas and continued their service to their home State. Here are just a few stories of men who returned from war and continued their service. A tribute to all our men and women who served so bravely in the Great War.
December 23, 1927 was a typical day in Cisco, Texas. People going about their Christmas shopping, ready for holiday time with family and friends. The kids even saw Santa Claus walking down Main Street! He engaged with the kids, wishing them Merry Christmas. Then he walked to the First National Bank, and into history, in what would be one of the most sensational gunfights and manhunts in Texas history. Hear the story of the Santa Claus Bank Robbery in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
Before they can fight, our soldiers must be trained. General Sherman decided that the dwindling U.S. Army would be consolidated into two garrisons, one being based in San Antonio, Texas to protect the frontier and conduct the Indian wars necessary to western expansion. When war in Europe beckoned, San Antonio was ready. But the Army was running out of room. So the Army began buying ranches until San Antonio became the huge military city it remains today. Learn about San Antonio's role in equipping our troops for world war in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
The early 20th century brought chaos to the Texas/Mexico border. The Mexican revolution(s) created opportunities for raiders, bandits and criminals to run rampant. The law was hard to enforce and depredations hard to prevent. Germany fostered this chaos to distract the U.S. from the war in Europe. Soon, two documents were discovered that would focus U.S. attention on either quelling the chaos, or joining the war. Hear the story of the role Texas played in the U.S. entering World War I in the latest episode of Wise About Texas: Texas and the Great War, Part 1.
In the early 20th century Japan sought to extend its relations around the world. Texas made imminent sense. A Japanese professor saw the Alamo as a perfect companion to one of ancient Japan's most famous battles. The Emperor saw Texas as a perfect place to relocate some of his brightest farmers. Learn about the early connections between Japan and Texas in this latest episode of Wise About Texas.
In the first days of 1836 revolution was brewing in Texas. The battle of Gonzales had spawned the Texian conquest of La Bahia and Bexar. The Texians were sure the Mexicans would soon see the wisdom of allowing the Texians their own government. The Indians, however, just saw opportunity. Depredations continued and the further up the Guadalupe river you lived, the more danger you faced. That danger reached Sarah Hibbens and her family. This wasn't her first suffering at the hand of the indians and it wouldn't be her last. But after a harrowing escape from the horror of captivity, she ran into a new force that would change the course of Indian/settler relations forever: The Texas Rangers. Captain Tumlinson and his men chased the Indians into the area that would later become the capital of the Republic of Texas. Hear the story of the first battle between Texas Rangers and Comanche Indians in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.