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texas AUTHENTIC

T H E

H E R I T A G E

M A G A Z I N E

ELISSA The Off icial

O F

T E X A S

JOE T. GARCIA’S

TALL SHIP

FORT WORTH’S

Iconic

OF TEXAS

MEXICAN RESTAURANT

FRONTIER HISTORY The Comanchero Canyons Museum IN QUITAQUE

FROM

BIG BEND TO BOQUILLAS

Carmen Tafolla, San Antonio’s first Poet Laureate, sings the song of her city

A Trip Back IN TIME

LANGUAGE

Heart + OF THE

VOLUME 3 SUMMER 2019 EDITION

LAREDO ARCHIVE • LAREATHA CLAY AND THE TEXAS PURPLE HULL PEA FESTIVAL • WACO’S HISPANIC HERITAGE MUSEUM • EAGLE PASS PUBLIC LIBRARY

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FROM THE TEXAS HERITAGE TRAILS LLC

H STATEMENT REGARDING CADDO MOUNDS SHS At time of publication, the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site is closed due to tornado damage. The Texas Historical Commission issued the following statement shortly after the incident: On Saturday, April 13, during the annual Caddo Culture Day event, Caddo Mounds State Historic Site was hit by an EF3 tornado. Many visitors were injured, and one guest lost her life. Damage to the visitor center and museum is extensive, and a replica Caddo grass house was completely destroyed. As an agency, our focus now is on the visitors, our Caddo Nation partners, community members and our employees who were impacted by this disaster. At some point, we’ll shift our focus to rebuilding the site — and we’ll need your help. But for now, we urge those of you reading this to be generous in your support of the Alto community, Cherokee County and other communities who are suffering from the effects of the storm.

Updates and additional information are available at thc.texas.gov/historic-sites/ caddo-mounds/caddo-mounds-disasterrecovery and at www.facebook.com/ TexasHistoricalCommission

COVER PHOTOGRAPH: Alan Silva

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Hola, and welcome to the trails! It’s hard to believe we’re entering our fourth year of publication of Authentic Texas. We’ve been challenged in unanticipated ways but have persevered with encouragement and support from countless historians and heritage associates from across the state. Our friends in the travel information centers, state historic sites, and visitor centers across Texas have helped deliver vibrant heritage stories, as told by true Texans, to communities large and small, far and wide. We owe great thanks to our partner, the Texas State Library and Archives, a regular contributor to our publication, and welcome the Texas Historical Commission as the latest addition to our growing list of distinguished contributors. In this 14th edition of Authentic Texas, we’re exploring our Spanish heritage. Spanish conquistadors were the first Europeans to record their exploration into Texas, establishing settlements beginning in 1680, and flying the flag of Spain over the state until 1821, when Mexico won its independence. Although almost 200 years have passed since then, Spanish heritage is alive and well across Texas in the peoples, architecture, food, religion and culture woven into the tapestry of our daily lives. Dr. Carmen Tafolla, a native of San Antonio’s West Side barrios, is our Authentic Person. Tafolla is internationally renowned for her poetic works and children’s literature. One of Spain’s earliest settlements, El Paso, is our Authentic Place, where self-guided walking tours offer a variety of views to the city’s cultural sites. And we’ll travel to some of the state’s earliest architectural sites, constructed from our Authentic Thing, the adobe brick. Elsewhere, the official tall ship of Texas, and a National Historic Landmark, the Elissa is an iconic maritime treasure on display in Galveston, about an hour’s drive from the San Jacinto Monument and Museum in La Porte, both featured in this issue. Whether your itinerary this summer lands you among the City Lights or somewhere out Yonder, be sure to take Authentic Texas along as your guide. Subscriptions are available online for the low cost of $15 per year. You may also read the magazine online at authentictexas.com. As always, we hope our features inspire you to hit the trails and discover authentic Texas experiences of your own. Until then … ¡Gracias y hagan que las aventuras sucedan! (Thanks, and make adventures happen!)

Patty Bushart Secretary, Texas Heritage Trails LLC

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Contents SUMMER 2019

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46

52

AUTHENTIC PERSON

AUTHENTIC PLACE

AUTHENTIC THING

A native of San Antonio’s West Side, Dr. Carmen Tafolla is an internationally acclaimed Chicana writer and the former Poet Laureate of the State of Texas (2015– 16). The diversity of her writings reflects a joyful celebration of community and an affirmation of individual and cultural strength.

Located far from the bright lights of Dallas or San Antonio, in the state’s western corner along the shores of the Rio Grande, El Paso boasts a different feel than its eastern counterparts. A true melting pot of American and Hispanic culture, this irresistible combination is evident wherever you go.

Mud-brick building has endured for centuries, and there are countless examples of adobe in buildings throughout Texas. Though evidence suggests mud-brick construction predated the Spanish arrival in North America, the colonial presence of the conquistadors made adobe the predominant building technique.

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ALAN SILVA

FEATURES

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Contents LEGACY BOQUILLAS, P. 26

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TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION

Meridian

The restored Bosque County Courthouse is the city’s Victorian centerpiece.

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TEXAS ORIGINAL

Lareatha Clay

The preservationist behind the Texas Purple Hull Pea Festival.

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TEXAS STATE LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES

LOCAL

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Laredo

TEXAS ICON The Elissa is the official Tall Ship of Texas and, in 1990, was registered as a National Historic Landmark.

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A stroll through the Laredo Historic District — a 12-block downtown delight — reveals stunning architecture and an undeniable Spanish influence.

Eagle Pass

YONDER

Denton

The city’s legendary courthouse — and, as important, the large lawn that surrounds it — serves as an ideal locale for nightly music.

Quitaque

The fascinating tale of the comancheros — merchants and traders — is on display at the Comanchero Canyons Museum.

Boquillas

An international ferry transports adventure-seeking tourists from Big Bend to this small Mexican town.

San Jacinto

The Museum of History — and the San Jacinto Monument — recall the battle that ended the Texas Revolution.

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CITY LIGHTS

What was once a post office has been transformed, thanks to a major historical restoration, into a public library — with a newly constructed adjoining tower.

Nacogdoches

The town’s story is, in part, told in the trash pits located under and around downtown buildings, revealing Spanish roots.

Waco

Nearly destroyed during urban renewal, the centerpiece of the Calle Dog neighborhood, La Pila (“the basin”), is a reminder of the city’s Hispanic heritage.

Laredo Archives

LIFE

A custodian’s accidental discovery of long-lost documents has revealed essential history of both Laredo and Webb County.

TRAIL DRIVES

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Adobe Structures

Mud-brick buildings can be found all over Texas.

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EATS & DRINKS

Joe T. Garcia’s L & J Cafe

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HISTORIES

Land Grants in Early Texas History

A misconception that Spanish and Mexican frontiersmen lacked drive and resourcefulness is countered by a review of land grants.

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TEXAS STATE HISTORIAN

DEEP IN THE ART

Flintknappers

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LIVE SHOW

Juneteenth Celebration

Preserving the History of Those Who Lived It Dr. Monte Monroe

Trails in This Issue Brazos 38, 73 Forest 36, 76 Hill Country 80 Independence 18, 30, 40, 60 Lakes 22, 62, 69 Mountain 26, 46, 52, 60, 64 Pecos 34, 60, 66 Plains 24, 88 Tropical 32, 60, 80

WENDY LITTLE

Departments

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TRAILS MAP THE TEXAS HERITAGE TRAILS program is based on 10 scenic driving trails created in 1968

by Gov. John Connally and the Texas Highway Department (now the Texas Department of Transportation) as a tool for visitors to explore the Lone Star State. The trails were established in conjunction with HemisFair, an international expo that commemorated the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio. In 1997, the State Legislature charged the Texas Historical Commission with creating a statewide heritage tourism program. The THC responded with a program based on local, regional and state partnerships, centered on the 10 scenic driving trails. Today, each trail region is a nonprofit organization governed by a regional board of directors that supports educational and preservation efforts and facilitates community development through heritage tourism.

PUBLISHER

Stewart Ramser ADVERTISING

Julie A. Kunkle, Associate Publisher Christina Olivarez, Advertising Director Senior Account Executives: Macaulay Hammond, Denise Janove, Mike McKee, Tina Mullins, Misty Pennock, Maxine Pittman, Jasmine Allgood Ward Abigail Stewart, Advertising Sales Manager Jillian Clifton, Advertising Sales Coordinator ART DIRECTOR

Martha Gazella-Taylor, Gazella Design EDITOR

Tom Buckley COPY EDITORS

PLAINS TRAIL REGION

Candice Harrell, Frida Trevino, Quinn Vreeland CONTRIBUTORS

Leah Brown, Jeremy Burchard, Mike Carlisle, Jesus F. de la Teja, Susan Floyd, Louis Garcia, Maria Eugenia Guerra, Tyler Hicks, Cassandra Lance-Martinez, Michael Zimmer

LAKES TRAIL REGION FORTS TRAIL REGION MOUNTAIN TRAIL REGION

EDITORIAL BOARD

PECOS TRAIL REGION

BRAZOS TRAIL REGION

HILL COUNTRY TRAIL REGION

FOREST TRAIL REGION

INDEPENDENCE TRAIL REGION

TROPICAL TRAIL REGION

Coleman Hampton, Texas Brazos Trail Region Jeff Salmon, Texas Forts Trail Region Patty Bushart, Texas Lakes Trail Region Robert Alvarez, Texas Mountain Trail Region Bill Simon, Texas Pecos Trail Region Kay Ellington, Texas Plains Trail Region Rick Stryker, Texas Tropical Trail Region EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS OF PARTICIPATING TEXAS HERITAGE TRAIL REGIONS

Andrea Barefield, Texas Brazos Trail Region Margaret Hoogstra, Texas Forts Trail Region Jill Campbell Jordan, Texas Lakes Trail Region Wendy Little, Texas Mountain Trail Region Melissa Hagins, Texas Pecos Trail Region Barbara Brannon, Texas Plains Trail Region Nancy Deviney, Texas Tropical Trail Region

Legend

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Texas Heritage Trails LLC 3702 Loop 322 Abilene, TX 79602 AuthenticTexas.com (325) 660-6774

BRAZOS TRAIL TexasBrazosTrail.com

INDEPENDENCE TRAIL TexasIndependenceTrail.com

FORTS TRAIL TexasFortsTrail.com

MOUNTAIN TRAIL TexasMountainTrail.com

FOREST TRAIL TexasForestTrail.com

PECOS TRAIL TexasPecosTrail.com

Texas Heritage Trails LLC member organizations are participants of the nationally award-winning Texas Heritage Trails Program of the Texas Historical Commission.

HILL COUNTRY TRAIL TxHillCountryTrail.com

PLAINS TRAIL TexasPlainsTrail.com

Texas Heritage Trails, LLC, dba Authentic Texas, is a member of the Texas Travel Industry Association and is a Go Texan partner.

LAKES TRAIL TexasLakesTrail.com

TROPICAL TRAIL TexasTropicalTrail.com

Texas Heritage Trails LLC is owned and operated by seven nonprofit heritage trails organizations.

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LOCAL

TEXAS ICON p. 18 H YONDER p. 22 H CITY LIGHTS p. 32 H FEATURES p. 40

SHIP of

GALVESTON HISTORICAL FOUNDATION

STATE

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LOCAL TEXAS ICON

ELISSA THE

The official Tall Ship of Texas, built in 1877, is still sailing the seas by

I

MIKE CARLISLE

N 2005, Gov. Rick Perry ed Elissa as the official of Texas. She tered as a

designatTall Ship was also regisNational Historic Landmark in 1990. In fact, the Elissa became the first item outside the United States to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, in the summer of 1978. Elissa is more than a treasured artifact of living history; she’s a fully functional vessel starting her 142nd year of sailing annually in the Gulf of Mexico. Elissa reflects the dedication of the Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF) to bring history alive, combined with hundreds of dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain and train each year to sail her, led by Mark Scibinico, port captain in charge of the continued care and repair of the traditional vessels at the Texas Seaport Museum.

PRE-RESTORATION: After finding that Elissa (bottom photo) had lost her sails and had been refitted with an engine in 1918 and a single loading crane, the Galveston Historical Foundation restored the ship back to her 1877 sailing configuration (at left).

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Built in 1877, Elissa is a three-mast, iron-hull barque sailing ship constructed in Aberdeen, Scotland, by Alexander Hall. The 205-foot cargo ship is actually a much smaller vessel for the era but built to compete with steam. “Steam had the advantage in shipping of being able to claim, ‘I will be there on Tuesday,’” Scibinico explains, “while Elissa had the disadvantage of being able to say only ‘I will be there, sometime.’” Peter Throckmorton, a pioneer underwater archaeologist, approached Peter and David Brink of the GHF who were considering a replica vessel for tourism to complement the Strand Texas Seaport Museum & Historic The 1877 Tall Ship Elissa District. Pier 21 #8 “They wanted Galveston, TX 77550 (409) 763-1877 to connect the elissa@galvestonhistory.org water side of Galveston Historical Galveston — Foundation the cargo, the galvestonhistory.org immigration, VISIT GALVESTON all the pieces galveston.com of history critical to an island like Galveston, which was second in immigration only to New York,” Scibinico says. “The ship would tie in the land-side assets with the maritime assets of the Galveston Historical Foundation. ‘You have a lifetime to build a replica,’ Throckmorton argued. ‘Why not save a real sailing ship while you have the chance?’” The Elissa had two major restorations, the first in the 1970s and the second in 2012 after damage related to Hurricane Ike was discovered. In the 1970s, a team went to Greece and spent over $1 million just to ensure the hull was sound. Elissa was then towed to Galveston to foster renewed interest and funding for the rest of the $4.5 million restoration. In July 2011, inspections revealed a corroded hull resulting from Hurricane Ike. The Texas Seaport Museum raised the $3 million that paid for the hull replacement and other maintenance projects. 20 AU THENTIC TEX AS

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ALL PHOTOS GALVESTON HISTORICAL FOUNDATION

WHEN THE SHIP COMES IN: The GHF purchased Elissa in 1975 and began the daunting task of restoring her to her original configuration. Seen at top in a shipyard in Piraeus, Greece, iron hull plating is being removed and new steel plates are being welded into place. By May 1978, the initial stage of the restoration was complete. A team went to Greece and spent over $1 million to restore the hull (middle photo). When completed, Elissa was towed to Galveston to foster renewed interest and funding for the rest of the $4.5 million restoration. Local preservationists led the project and sought to develop an understanding of the maritime heritage and create a new attraction. Eager crowds (bottom photo) await the ship as she arrives at the dock to begin her massive restoration.

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ON BOARD: Thousands of volunteers learn the Elissa’s operations to work as part of the 25- to 30-member crews for daily sails in the Gulf of Mexico. Volunteers (right photo) work the heavy pump jack for lifting the anchors. The bottom photo shows a table in the captain’s office where business was conducted and voyages plotted.

In a salt-water environment, iron hulls and wooden rigging require immense maintenance undertaken by dedicated volunteers. “We see roughly 30,000 volunteer hours per year, equating to about $1 million in labor,” Scibinico says. “Folks put in all that work to participate in the sail training program, so they work as the crew when we get the ship underway.” Since Elissa is a sailing school vessel certified by the U.S. Coast Guard, visitors can now purchase a ticket to serve as a sailing trainee. A ticket provides a six-hour sail on the Gulf of Mexico — lunch included — learning traditional sailing skills. Enthusiasts can also participate as a sailing school student through the free program that spans 20 Saturdays over seven months. The GHF recently held its largest sail-training session, with 193 volunteers in attendance. The Elissa was chosen specifically because of her port of call to Galveston twice in her lifetime, once in 1883 and again in 1886. Elissa brought in a load of bananas and picked up a load of cotton in 1883. “It’s so very cool to stand on the hull of the vessel in 2019,” Scibinico says, “knowing you’re standing in the exact same artifact that was here in 1883.”

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SQUARE DEAL: A crowd gathers to listen to the tunes on the courthouse lawn during Twilight Tunes.

YONDER

Downtown Denton is filled with the magic of music

D

by

TYLER HICKS

from von Trapp territory, but it’s fair to say the Square is alive with the sound of music. The downtown Square, to be exact. The former home of Norah Jones, Meat Loaf and Don Henley of the Eagles, Denton has always been a musical city. But in recent years, the city has experienced a cultural and artistic boom that rivals that of any town in America. As local musician Tim Phillips notes, Denton is a “sort of small town,” a comfy community with big-city amenities and a big-city music scene. The heart of that scene is the downtown Square, an entertainment epicenter where musicians ply their trades, families enjoy free concerts and Denton denizens — aka “Dentonites” — revel in the creative community that has

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become a Texas gem. On any given evening, you can stroll through downtown Denton and hear music flowing from the Square. Some of these tunes are organic, a natural fixture of life in the heart of Denton’s cultural center. Guitarists fill the evening air with covers or their own creations, and passersby stop to admire their artistry in between burgers at local favorite Lone Star Attitude or old-fashioned ice cream at Beth Marie’s. Other times the music emanates from an event on the Square, a musical mishmash like Twilight Tunes. Brought to you by the Denton Main Street Association, this free concert series gives Dentonites and visitors alike the chance to enjoy local crooners, songstresses and beat-makers while chilling in the confines of

Twilight Tunes Spring Series Every Thursday 6:30–8 pm Downtown Denton Square 110 W. Hickory Denton, TX 76201 Now through June 27 FALL DATES

Every Thursday in October 6–7 pm

DENTON

LAKES TRAIL REGION

TAMMI PAUL

Twilight Tunes

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TAMMI PAUL

TAMMI PAUL

downtown. It’s the perfect place for a rendezvous with friends or a calm evening out with the family — and it all comes at no cost. Christine Gossett, a dedicated Main Street Association board member, believes there’s much more than tunes to Twilight Tunes. “Not a lot of cities have a large lawn around a historic courthouse,” Gusset explains, “and our lawn is a relaxing place to sit and listen to the music while having a picnic. It’s a place where you can meet up with friends or run into an old friend.” The courthouse itself has long been a focal point of downtown Denton, and the in-house museum recently celebrated 40 years with an exhibit honoring the numerous historical and cultural artifacts that have been a part of the town’s Courthouse on the story over the last Square Museum four decades. That 110 W. Hickory St. Denton, TX 76201 seamless intersection (940) 349-2850 of history, culture, arts and music makes HOURS Mon.–Fri. 10 am–4:30 pm downtown prime Sat. 11 am–3 pm real estate, and once Denton Welcome you’re there, you Center can enjoy an array 111 W. Hickory St. of fine and delicious Denton, TX 76201 (940) 218-1815 Denton dining. Burgers, ice Denton County cream and upscale Historical Park 317 W. Mulberry St. fare are all available Denton, TX 76201 alongside esteemed (940) 349-2850 coffee shops. In the VISIT DENTON moodforAmericana? discoverdenton.com Try Barley & Board, a brick building brewpub boasting a trendy menu. Fancy a slice of pizza? You can never go wrong with J & J’s Pizza, the no-frills, all-flavor eatery that includes a basement for live music. All of these options and more are within earshot of Denton’s many music venues. “In Denton,” says longtime resident Judy Smith, “you can see music for a $5 cover charge that might cost a fortune at other venues.” And you don’t have to wait for others to make the music, either. In summer 2018, Denton hosted its first ever Make Music Day, an international celebration where Dentonites joined music veterans to learn instruments and create together. After a day of drums, ukuleles, boomwhackers and basses, several local artists took to the courthouse stage for a free Twilight Tunes concert. The sun set on another day of harmony on the Square, illuminating the artists, friends, family and Dentonites that make downtown Denton a vibrant, must-see place.

NIGHT MOVES: The Super Kings perform at Twilight Tunes.

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AN ODYSSEY — IN MINIATURE: TrainTopia features running G-scale trains on a 2,500-squarefoot layout, a custom light show that takes the exhibit from daylight to nighttime, and hundreds of miniature automobiles and people.

19TH-CENTURY COMMERCE: Jerry Carpenter of Quitaque (left) shows some of the comanchero artifacts that have been discovered in the area. Above, this authentic carreta (cart) was donated to the museum by Marisue Potts of Motley County in memory of her husband, Ralph Powell. It’s on permanent display at the Comanchero Canyons Museum.

Comanchero Canyons Museum

200 S. 3rd St. Quitaque, TX 79255 (806) 455-1588 comancherocanyonsmuseum.com

HOURS

Saturdays 10 am–4 pm and upon request

YONDER

Traders of the Caprock

Comanchero Canyons Museum in Quitaque unearths a vital chapter of frontier history MICHAEL ZIMMER

The name elicits a sense of Old West danger and adventure even today, but the popular image of gun-running renegades is more a product of late 20th-century fiction than reality. The word itself refers to the mestizo and Puebloan merchants of the Rio Grande Valley of Northern New Mexico, who once roamed the Llano Estacado in search of trade with nomadic bands of Indians, most notably Kiowa and Comanche. Although the early history of commerce

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850 Caprock Canyon Park Rd. Quitaque, TX 79255 (806) 455-1492 tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/ caprock-canyons

between the buffalo-hunting Plains tribes and the more agrarian settlements of Nuevo México has been lost, it had almost certainly existed for centuries. Journals from Francisco Vázquez de Coronado’s expedition in search of the fabled Seven Cities of Gold mentions the trade as early as 1541: “[P]eople follow the cows [bison], hunting them and tanning the skins to take to the settlements in the winter to sell.” It wasn’t until the signing of a peace

QUITAQUE

PLAINS TRAIL REGION

PHOTOS COMANCHERO CANYONS MUSEUM

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COMANCHEROS!

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PHOTOS COMANCHERO CANYONS MUSEUM

treaty between the Spanish government and the Comanches in 1786 that these New Mexican merchants began to develop into a distinctive culture. The comancheros flourished for nearly 90 years until the last band of Comanches surrendered to the United States Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1875. Comancheros often traveled great distances in search of customers. Nineteenthcentury writings place them as far north as the Platte River, south to the Davis Mountains and east as far as the Wichita Mountains. But West Texas and the Caprock Canyons — including Briscoe, Floyd, Hall, Motley and Swisher counties — encompassed many of their favorite rendezvous points. In its infancy, trade with the Plains tribes was characterized by small parties or family units venturing onto the plains with a few pack animals, carrying a meager supply of food, cloth and metal such as arrowheads. It wasn’t until the 1850s that the trade developed enough to justify organized caravans regularly crossing the Llano Estacado with an ever-expanding selection of merchandise, the ungreased wooden axles of their lumbering carretas squealing loudly beneath drifting clouds of dust that could be seen for miles. Although myth would have it that the comancheros dealt primarily in guns and whiskey, it appears the New Mexicans never had an abundance of firearms to offer. Instead, more common staples, such as bread, flour and corn meal, were extremely popular with the Indians, whose diet consisted largely of the meat of the bison. Other products included sugar, leather items such as bridles and saddles, blankets, conchos, dried pumpkins, onions, tobacco and dry goods of fabric, needles and thread. In return, the New Mexicans received horses, mules, buffalo robes and dried meat. It was only toward the end that the image of the traders began to change. By the late 1850s, Anglo advancement onto the plains was beginning to complicate an already complex relationship between the comancheros and the Comanches. In an effort to procure better trades with the New Mexicans, the Comanches began raiding settlements in East Texas and wagon trains along the Santa Fe Trail, stealing vast herds of cattle and horses, and, most notoriously, taking captives, generally women and children. Many of the hostages not killed or assimilated into the tribe wound up at comanchero trading sites, where they were offered for ransom to the New Mexicans. When a trader did free

a captive, he expected to be reimbursed for the merchandise used in the barter. This put the comancheros in a seemingly untenable position. Did they ignore the plight of East Texas settlers who, in all likelihood, would have suffered such raids and captures anyway? Or did they attempt to liberate what captives they could, freeing a few but at the same time creating a more lucrative market for the kidnappers? Also, by the late 1850s, unscrupulous Anglo and Mexican traders, sometimes backed by businessmen from Santa Fe and other settlements along the Santa Fe Trail, began to appear on the Llano. Many of these individuals not only encouraged raiding by the Comanches but would also occasionally participate. As time passed, so did the character of the comanchero. Whiskey became a more popular trade item for Indian plunder, and the situation only worsened with the advent of the Civil War and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Texas and New Mexico. In time, firearms became as prevalent as hard bread and decorative silver, while the items sought in trade from the tribes increasingly became cattle and horses rather than buffalo robes and buckskins. Such a trade couldn’t last forever, especially after the Civil War and the subsequent influx of Anglos from the battle-torn East. By the late 1860s, the military had returned to the frontier, and a push was made to stop the illicit trade for stolen cattle. Faced with relentless pursuit, the Comanches were finally forced onto reservations in Indian Territory, their defeat signaling an end to a partnership that had endured since before the time of Coronado. Although comancheros continued to travel to the reservation to barter with the Comanches, decreasing profits and the rapid settlement of the plains soon put an end to their annual treks. In 1880, the last comanchero party left the pueblo of Santo Domingo, traveling to Oklahoma, where the traders discovered the Plains tribes had been unable to procure any buffalo robes or meat during the preceding year. After staying awhile to visit with old friends, the Santo Domingans quietly returned to their pueblo, marking an end to a way of life their ancestors had pursued for generations. This article is copyright © 2015 by the Comanchero Canyons Museum and reprinted here with special permission. SUMMER 2019

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A WORLD AWAY: Visitors say they’ve never seen a place quite like Boquillas — or a border crossing as unusual.

YONDER

A One-Minute Rowboat Ride Across the Rio Grande To enjoy the tiny village of Boquillas, Mexico, you need an open mind and a sense of adventure WENDY LITTLE

AS YOU APPROACH the Boquillas International Ferry, it seems as though you’re traveling back in time. The ferry is actually a small rowboat that takes you from a checkpoint within the southeastern part of Big Bend National Park across the Rio Grande (Río Bravo to the Mexicans) to the banks of northern Coahuila, Mexico. My husband and I, having lived in Alpine for nearly five years, have put off taking the trip to Boquillas del Carmen (or just Boquillas) for no good reason other than we

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just kept putting off getting our passports renewed. It was a beautiful April day, and with passports now in hand, we were excited about our trip to the remote, tiny village in Mexico. After a brief stop at the checkpoint, we hiked to the river, where we were greeted by a man in a boat pleading, “Vámanos” (“Let’s move on”) while I was busy snapping photos. The $5-per-person (free if you swim or wade) one-minute boat ride dropped us at the shore, where our choice of chariot await-

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• MOUNTAIN TRAIL REGION

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TOURIST ECONOMY: The town’s original restaurant, José Falcon’s (at right), opened in 1973. When its owner and namesake died in 2000, his wife, Ofelia, and daughter Lilia took over, serving a small menu of tacos and burritos (above) made with the region’s ubiquitous chewy, fresh tortillas filled with meat, cheese, green salsa and the occasional diced tomato or potato.

ed: burro, horse or the back of a pickup, all for $5 to $10 per person. It’s almost a mile to town, so on a hot day, $5 is a bargain. To get the most authentic experience possible, we both chose the burro. My bumpy ride was provided The Port of Entry by Vicente, May 3–Oct. 31 and my husFri.–Mon. 9 am–6 pm Nov. 1–April 30 band’s burro Wed.–Sun. 8 am–5 pm was a fairly new The Boquillas Port of Entry mama with a within Big Bend National Park, youngster folproviding access to the town of Boquillas, Coahuila, Mexico, lowing along. as well as the protected areas of The mesMaderas del Carmen, Ocampo and Cañon de Santa Elena, quite-lined started 2019 summer hours road that took of operation Friday, May 3. us into town Visitors can cross by foot was almost (during low water) or by rowboat ferry (for a fee). hiding, as if to This crossing doesn’t surprise us with accommodate vehicle crossings or commercial importation what awaited of products. upon arriving Passports, passport cards in Boquillas. or other official travel Situated in documentation are required. the Sierra del Carmen Mountains, and resting on a high bluff above the Rio Bravo at the southwest end of Boquillas Canyon, the village is surrounded by such awe-inspiring natural beauty that at first you can do nothing but look out, long before you even notice the town. Around the turn of the 20th century, Boquillas was a thriving mining town and had a population of approximately 2,000. When the mining ceased in 1919, the SUMMER 2019

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plies to restore their school and properties, and a single telephone line. Just over 200 people live in the village today, with the prime industry again being tourism. Everyone gets a guide. The same guy

SAD MEXICAN SONG: After 9-11, the crossing to Boquillas was closed. When the U.S. sealed this corridor, the small town, which depended almost solely on American tourism, changed overnight. The border reopened in 2013, but residents fear the current U.S. administration may close it again.

who greets you off of the boat and introduces you to your burro stays with you the entire time, if you want him to. Whether for genuine hospitality, tips or to keep visitors in check, we liked having a guide. Ours was Esteban, who told us the history of the village and explained that the nearest town in Mexico is 160 miles away. It was straight up noon and we were hungry, so José Falcon’s Restaurant was our first stop. Falcon’s outdoor patio sits above the Río Bravo looking north into Texas. Awesome view, simple delicious fresh food plus a giant margarita? Yes, please! While we were waiting for our lunch, we listened to a gentleman singing and playing guitar, then Esteban joined in. Maybe it was the music or the margarita or this little slice of heaven — but it was amazing. Esteban was waiting for us when we finished lunch, and we explored the rest of the town. We bought some colorful handcrafted souvenirs from the vendors (set up by

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town’s population rapidly declined as most of the residents moved away for other opportunities. Fast forward to the 1970s, when José Falcon opened a restaurant. Crossing the border was freely done back then with no documentation, so Boquillas again began to thrive. Even though the town still had no electricity and operated on propane, tourism became the main trade from visitors to Big Bend. After 9-11, the crossing was closed indefinitely, and the population plummeted to fewer than 100, as the residents could no longer sustain their 20th-century way of living without tourists. In 2013, Boquillas’ port of entry was officially reopened, with more enforcement but with high hopes for the people of Boquillas to come back, which they did. Wanting the tiny village to succeed, the Mexican government helped Boquillas get back on its feet by supplying funds for a solar farm, a medical facility, building sup-

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The title track of Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen’s Gringo Honeymoon features the narrator and his date crossing the Rio Grande at Big Bend National Park to visit Boquillas del Carmen.

the women of the village) and ventured into the lone bar, where my husband ordered a Tecate and insisted it tasted different from the American brew of the same name. I was still too full from lunch for even one sip of

beer, so I took his word for it. Happy little kids run up offering treasures. There is zero vehicle traffic. Colorful buildings stand as if frozen in time in the constant stillness of the Sierra del Carmen.

This place is remote, rugged and wonderful. The streets are dirt, some of the buildings are dilapidated, and it’s tiny. So if you’re looking for lots of excitement and things to do, you’re out of luck, as the options are delightfully limited. If you need a grande double mocha latte, you won’t find one. If you need air conditioning to be comfortable, there isn’t any. If you don’t speak Spanish, it’s okay, but be prepared to get the side-eye from your husband while attempting to ask the waiter if the beans are vegetarian. (I ate them anyway.) Visiting Boquillas is its own unique event, one that isn’t easily squandered. The people are warm and welcoming, and it’s obvious everyone is working toward a common goal. We left Boquillas different people, feeling grateful for the modern conveniences we enjoy daily and in complete awe and admiration for the determination and spirit of the people who live in the village. As we crossed the river back into Texas, we waved adiós and gracias and said we’d return soon. The people of Boquillas need us for their home to survive. I think we need them, too.

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POINT OF PRIDE: General Sam Houston, depicted here by Stephen Seymour Thomas, led the Texian army at San Jacinto.

San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site 3523 Independence Parkway S. La Porte, TX 77571 (281) 479-2431 tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/ san-jacinto-battleground

San Jacinto Museum of History One Monument Circle La Porte, TX (281) 479-2421 sanjacinto-museum.org

HOURS

Mon.-Sat. 9 am–6 pm

YONDER

VISIT LA PORTE

Texian Valor

VISIT PASADENA

The San Jacinto Monument and Museum of History recall the battle that won Texas its independence

VISIT DEER PARK

visitdeerpark.org/tourism

RICK STRYKER

THERE IS A HUGE struggle underway to create a space in the urban landscape of San Antonio to give the Alamo its due as the most famous and heroic battle site of the Texas-Mexican War. Although the battle was a tragic loss for the Texans, an argument can be made that they were ultimately victorious given that this shrine to Texas independence is surrounded (some say obscured) by the thriving city of San Antonio with its 1.5 million inhabitants.

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A quite different setting can be experienced at San Jacinto, where the battle fought on April 21, 1836, ended the Texas Revolution. A 570-foot tall monument was built a century later to honor those who participated in the battle and all those who played a part in the war to win Texas independence. At the base of the monument is the San Jacinto Museum of History, and at its top, under the iconic Texas Star, is an observation deck. The setting is a state historical park

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that includes the Battleship Texas and nature trails with excellent bird-watching opportunities. The communities most closely identified with this heritage resource are smaller cities: La Porte, Pasadena and Deer Park, “birthplace of Texas freedom.” The monument is visible from Interstate 10 — if you look closely. According to Larry Spasic, president of the San Jacinto Museum, when people come to the monument, “They want to go to the top. It’s one of the best views in Texas. You can see the battlefield, the Battleship Texas, the [Houston] ship channel, the petrochemical industry, the restored marshlands, wildlife preserve … people come here for many different reasons.” The setting of the San Jacinto Monument, with Houston clearly visible in the distance, might be a perfect counterpoint to the urban surroundings that dominate the Alamo. “More people come here because of the monument and the size of the building and what it represents,” Spasic explains. “When they get here, they’re surprised by the scope and depth of our collections.” Spasic hopes visitors can see a straight line from the natural beauty of the park, the site of the battle during which brave men fought for freedom and opportunity, and the industry that surrounds the park. “The people who immigrated here wanted a new life, a new start and a new beginning,” Spasic says, “and they were willing to work hard for it and make sacrifices.” Current generations enjoy opportunities thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit and hard work of those who created the local industries that continue to employ thousands of men and women. The museum has one of the most outstanding Texas history collections, enabling visitors to experience permanent exhibits featuring the heroes who created Texas, such as Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, Lorenzo de Zavala and Mirabeau B. Lamar. But the museum collections and exhibits are also reflective of the foundational Hispanic cultural heritage of Texans with significant pte-Columbian collections. The film Texas Forever! The Battle of San Jacinto shows hourly in the Jesse H. Jones Theatre, providing a fascinating look at the battle itself. Also on exhibit through 2019 is Big Energy: A Texas Tale of People Powering Progress. It’s the story of the Shell Oil Company, which has grown and thrived alongside its host communities. SUMMER 2019

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LOCAL CITY LIGHTS

CORNERSTONE: The precise stonework of the early masons and builders of Laredo is readily visible in this structure in the Azteca neighborhood.

Beauty and history combine in the architecture of the San Agustín de Laredo Historic District

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the Texas border with Mexico will visitors experience so accessible an inventory of Spanish Colonial architecture than in the heart of Laredo’s old central business district — buildings of families who came to this outpost of New Spain before the formation of the United States, Texas statehood and the Republic of Mexico. The San Agustín de Laredo Historic District is a 12-squareblock swath of downtown that encompasses the original town site established in 1755 by Don Tomás Sánchez de la Barrera y Gallardo. Many of its buildings

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of adobe and quarried blocks of precisely hewn sandstone formed the pivot that turned commerce and cultural exchanges with its neighboring regional settlements. Some structures were built as residences and some were mercantile enterprises, and those that are in use today have weathered wars, including that of Mexico’s independence from the Spanish Crown, the U.S.-Mexican War, battles to establish and end the short-lived Republic of the Río Grande, and the American Civil War. Bound by Water Street

and the Rio Grande to the south, Iturbide Street to the north, Santa Úrsula to the east and Convent Avenue to the west, the San Agustín Historic District was surveyed by the Texas Historical Commission and nominated to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Among the most significant Spanish Colonial structures in the district is San Agustín Church, established in 1778. Now a cathedral in Gothic revival style with a five-story spire, the imposing structure dominates the area and faces historic San

1005 Zaragoza St. Laredo, TX 78040 (956) 727-3480 webbheritage.org

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Tues.–Sat. 9 am–4 pm

Villa Antigua Border Heritage Museum 810 Zaragoza St. Laredo, TX 78045 (956) 718-2727 webbheritage.org

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Tues.–Sat. 9 am–4 pm

Laredo Travel Information Center 15551 I-35 Laredo, TX 78045 (956) 417-4728

VISIT LAREDO VisitLaredo.com

LAREDO

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Spanish Colonial

Republic of the Río Grande Museum

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Agustín Plaza, today a welcoming venue for local events, festivities and cultural exchanges with the sister city of Nuevo Laredo. Within the district, Zaragoza Street, running between international bridges east to west from the Juárez-Lincoln Bridge to the Gateway to the Americas Bridge, is rich with buildings evocative of the influences of the Spanish Colonial period. Among them are the stone and adobe structures that house American Legion Post 59, Casa Ortiz and the Webb County Heritage Foundation’s (WCHF) Museum of the Republic of the Río Grande on the grounds of La Posada Hotel. The original part of Casa Ortiz was built by merchant José Reyes Ortiz in 1830. It was enlarged with a wing and a second story in 1872. The beautifully preserved home on its bluff above the river features a carriage house, a courtyard that faces Mexico and a threetiered garden that drops toward the river. The WCHF’s Museum of the Republic of the Río Grande was once the home of Bartolomé García, a prominent rancher and former mayor of Laredo. The adobe and stone structure, built in 1830, served as the capitol of the legendary and short-lived Republic of the Río Grande in 1840. It’s one of the most visited historic sites in Laredo. Along the block of Flores Street that fronts the Plaza are homes built after early colonization but that still bear architectural details of Spanish influence, including Casa Vidaurri, built in 1865 by Confederate Army Col. Santos Benavides. Just north of the San Agustín Historic District at San Bernardo and Iturbide is the Juan Francisco Farias Home, constructed in 1840 and predating the creation of Webb County. East of the district and Interstate 35 lies the Azteca neighborhood, another treasure trove of architectural antiquities, once connected to downtown but now truncated by the construction of the highway. The prevalence of Spanish as a language of choice in Laredo is evidence of the cultural persistence the first settlers brought with them to New Spain. The walls of their first buildings, too, resonate — not only with their purpose of shelter and elegant craftsmanship despite a scarcity of building materials but also with an enduring beauty that gives voice to the historical narrative for the colonization of the area.

FACE VALUE: Though built 75 years after the establishment of Laredo, Casa Ortiz and other structures on Zaragoza Street reflect Spanish building traditions. Beneath their stucco veneers are buildings of quarried sandstone blocks.

María Eugenia Guerra is a Zapata County rancher and the publisher of LareDOS, A Journal of the Borderlands at www.laredosnews.com. SUMMER 2019

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CITY LIGHTS

RICH HERITAGE: Housed in four vaulted galleries — augmented by a research library — the African American Museum offers an impressive collection of African and African American art, featuring one of the largest folk art collections in the nation (right photo).

SERVICE CENTER: The newly renovated building (at left) — still displaying its postal past — was reopened in December 2017. When a new postal facility opened in 1964, the structure was converted for use as a public library (above).

One for the Books

100 years, an imposing white building near the downtown area has served Eagle Pass as a post office, customs office and library. Following a recent multimillion-dollar renovation project, the library is now considered the crown jewel of the town’s historic district. Located on the Rio Grande about 140 miles southwest of San Antonio, Eagle Pass traces its roots back to a simple river crossing used by nomads, traders, settlers and outlaws. FOR MORE THAN

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In the late 1840s, a settlement at this crossing was known as El Paso del Águila, named for the abundance of migrating Mexican eagles along the river. As the Anglo presence grew, the name Eagle Pass stuck; the city is considered to be the first American settlement on the Rio Grande. In 1849, the U.S. Army established Fort Duncan just north of the settlement. Concurrently, immigrants bound for the California gold

Eagle Pass Public Library rush established a stopping place above the post. Increasing trade and traffic shifted the settlement pattern from the old river crossing area to just above Fort Duncan. Landowner John Twohig surveyed and laid out a townsite that he named Eagle Pass. When Maverick County was organized in 1856, Eagle Pass became the county seat. The Eagle Pass post office was established in 1849 and had a variety of locations until

589 Main St. Eagle Pass, TX 78852 (830) 773-7323 eaglepasslibrary.org

Fort Duncan

310 Bliss St. Eagle Pass, TX 78852 (830) 758-1445

VISIT EAGLE PASS eaglepasstexas.com

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PHOTOS COURTESY JEFF TAYLOR

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The former Eagle Pass post office now offers modern-day library services

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were transitional in style with modern colors and features to blend with the old but satisfy the current patron needs. The basement was converted into a large computer center with more than 50 computer stations plus a computer classroom. The second floor was split into a large children’s library, conference room, meeting room and administration area. The main floor became an historicalstyle reading room with ornate ceilings, period-appropriate hanging light fixtures and mobile book shelves.” In December 2017, the city celebrated the grand opening of the renovated and

expanded $3.5 million Eagle Pass Public Library. “I have many fond memories of this building,” noted Main Street manager Joe J. Cruz during a recent tour of the building. “I’m proud the architects worked hard to keep the original historic elements of the building while providing patrons with modern library capabilities.” Melissa Hagins serves on the board of directors for the George W. Bush Childhood Home in Midland and on summer weekends can be found as a Summer Mummers cast member.

PHOTOS COURTESY JEFF TAYLOR

a federal building was constructed in 1912. Designed by U.S. Postal Service supervising architect James K. Taylor, the building is an excellent example of the Renaissance Revival architecture style. The postal service operated on the first floor, and for many years a U.S. Customs Office was on the second floor. Fifty-one years later, a new post office opened. The historic structure was donated to the City of Eagle Pass and was converted into a public library. Fast forward another 51 years, to 2015. Recognizing the need for renovation and expansion, city officials commissioned a historical restoration architectural firm to redesign the interior and build an adjoining tower for an elevator and restrooms. Renovations included restoring the historic wood floors and installation of periodappropriate wood paneling, molding and marble floors. Interior and exterior painting used 1911 historical colors. Trinity Library Resources, the San Antonio firm that furnished the new facility, describes its interior: “The library shelving was custom designed with wood and metal shelving with end panels that matched the ornate detail of the historical molding on the walls and baseboards. The tables and chairs

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STONE FORT: For more than 100 years, Antonio Gil Y’Barbo’s stone house on el Camino Real de los Tejas (above) was the center of town life in Nacogdoches. Built between 1788 and 1791, the house served as a public building, housed a variety of businesses and was the headquarters of three filibustering expeditions. In the mid-1800s, the stone house became the home of a new business, the Old Stone Fort Saloon. By the time of its demolition in 1902, the name of the saloon had become synonymous with the building. A statue of Antonio Gil Y’Barbo (left) honors his contributions.

Digging Deep

Experiencing Spanish Nacogdoches begins with archaeology conducted in trash pits

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itself Commission and a leader of the as the “oldest town in Texas,” research effort, the story of early having received its designation Nacogdoches has been uncovered as a pueblo in 1779. It’s a vibrant through archeology done in the and beautiful 21st-century city trash pits found largely under and showing community pride with around downtown buildings. It’s not uncommon that an active Texas Main Street the material culture of previous Program since 1998. inhabitants is buried, destroyed Its Spanish roots or even forgotten. No visit aren’t immediately visible, to Nacogdoches to but historians and NACOGDOCHES investigate its Spanish archeologists have • cultural history would been researching be complete without a that story for decades. stop at Caddo Mounds According to Dr. State Historical Site Morris Jackson, a longtime member — just 30 miles down FOREST of the Nacogdoches the road — to learn TRAIL REGION County Historical the history of Native

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Americans who predated the Spanish in East Texas and were, in fact, the contemporary reason Spanish missions were established in the area. (At present, the site is closed as a result of tornado damage. See announcement on page 6.) The aforementioned road, State Highway 21 to current travelers, was historically called the Old San Antonio Road and earlier El Camino Real (meaning “the Royal Road”) during Spanish Colonial times. Of course, this route followed by the 17th-century Spanish entradas was a wellestablished Native American

Charles Bright Visitor Center Charles Bright Visitor Center 200 E. Main St. Nacogdoches, TX 75961 (888) 564-7351 visitnacogdoches.com

Stone Fort Museum Stephen F. Austin State University 1808 Alumni Drive N. Nacogdoches, TX 75961 (936) 468-2408 sfasu.edu/stonefort

HOURS

Tues.–Sat. 9 am–5 pm Sun. 1–5 pm

Mission Tejas State Park 120 State Park Road 44 Grapeland, TX 75844 (936) 687-2394 tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/ mission-tejas

VISIT NACOGDOCHES visitnacogdoches.org

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MAIN STREET NACOGDOCHES

FROM LEFT: COURTESY NACOGDOCHES CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU; COURTESY EAST TEXAS RESEARCH CENTER, STEEN LIBRARY, SFA

trade route even before the Spanish arrived. In present-day Nacogdoches, the signs call it Main Street. Remnants of the original El Camino can be seen at Caddo Mounds State Historical Site and further down the road at Mission Tejas State Park. Let’s start with the Nacogdoches Plaza. Spanish towns in the Western Hemisphere were planned around a principal plaza surrounded by key public buildings. Incongruously, the plaza is home to a 1917 post office building now used as a visitor center. But with this piece of information, you can recognize that the layout of the town conformed to the 1576 Spanish “Laws of the Indies.” A statue of Antonio Gil Y’Barbo, founder of Nacogdoches, stands at the edge of the plaza. He was lieutenant governor of the Pueblo Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Nacogdoches and Indian Agent for the Spanish Crown. Although no Spanish buildings remain around the plaza, one historical marker at 215 E. Main St. tells the story of the Old Stone House built in 1779 by Antonio Gil Y’Barbo that once stood there. When it was torn down in 1902, the stones from the building were saved, and it’s been reconstructed on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University. It now houses the Stone Fort Museum, which interprets the pre-history and history of East Texas prior to l900 with special emphasis on the Spanish and Mexican periods. To learn the story of Spanish Nacogdoches, the local County Historical Commission has conveniently placed a significant number of historical markers at pivotal locations around town. Begin your entrada by walking down the hill from the Plaza to Festival Park alongside Bonita Creek. There, historical markers are grouped to tell the story of Captain Domingo Ramón, Governor Martín de Alarcón in East Texas, Governor Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo of Angelina and Franciscan Friars in East Texas. That’s just a start. Continue following the Nacogdoches Spanish storyline from the convenience of your vehicle. On your smartphone, access the Texas Historical Sites atlas (https://atlas.thc.state. tx.us/Map). According to Jackson, a museum telling more of the story is in the works. But Nacogdoches has seized upon this fun way to explore its city and its history in the interim.

MARKING TIME: Near downtown Nacogdoches, historical markers line Bonita Creek and Festival Park.

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CITY LIGHTS

CONCRETE HISTORY: Louis Garcia (at right in left photo), chairman of the Waco Hispanic Museum, surveys the unearthing of a fountain that once served the Calle Dos neighborhood. The neighborhood is shown in an aerial photo from the 1960s (below). The fountain is by the river, to the right of the main street running through the center.

La Pila

Waco’s watering hole is a reminder of the too-often-neglected Hispanic contributions to the city LOUIS GARCIA

PICTURE IN YOUR mind a watering hole … people gathered around, laughing, chatting and enjoying each other’s company. The water is cold and refreshing and would relieve a hot Texas day. That’s exactly what those who lived in the Waco area known as Calle Dos felt from the 1920s to the 1960s as they gathered around La Pila, which, translated, means “the basin.” When the neighborhood was leveled during a time of ur-

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ban renewal, this centerpiece of social life was almost lost. But with the work of some local archeologists, a community school and the grit of Waco city council member Alice Rodriguez, La Pila was rediscovered and has become an anchor of Hispanic heritage in Waco. “My aunt used to live in a shotgun house right across from La Pila,” Rodriguez says. “Our families would go to visit, and my cousins used to throw

me into the fountain when we played.” Rodriguez says there were lots of fountains in the area since many folks didn’t have indoor plumbing. Fountains were thus used for cooking, fresh drinking water and bathing. A conversation about times past spurred an impromptu visit to the area. “We went over,” Rodriguez says, “to look at the area that was our home, our community.” She and Louis Garcia, who is now the director of the

Waco Hispanic Museum South Waco Community Center 2815 Speight Ave. Waco, TX 76711 (254) 548-9730

VISIT WACO wacoheartoftexas.com

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PHOTOS COURTESY WACO TRIBUNE HERALD

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Waco Hispanic Museum, recall the rich culture of the neighborhood and how different this community was. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the neighborhood was home to a growing Hispanic population, from landowners like Tomás de la Vega to the thousands of Mexicans who were brought to the area to work on Rich Field Air Force Base, where WWI pilots were trained. Both Rodriguez and Garcia say this history, however, wasn’t being told about Hispanic contributions to Waco, and the idea of the Waco Hispanic Museum was born. The museum opened in 2016. “I started the museum because there was never mention of any Hispanic people, their work or organizations that built this city,” Rodriguez says. “I wanted our kids to know there were Hispanic efforts and work that went into making this city what it is. No one ever mentions us.” Community leaders put words into action and began devising a plan to share stories and history of Hispanic people in Waco. The unearthing of La Pila is one of their biggest projects. “It was buried by urban renewal, as was the Calle Dos area in the 1950s and ’60s,” Garcia says. “Our goal is to one day have a small park at the fountain area where the story and history of this area can be told. Today, the museum houses artifacts that allow a look back at Waco history that many don’t get to see — or even know to look for.” SUMMER 2019

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River Runs Through It

CARMEN TAFOLLA, FORMER POET LAUREATE OF TEXAS, REFLECTS ON HER HOMETOWN OF SAN ANTONIO AND ASKS THAT WE EMBRACE THE PAST

NORMA MARTINEZ/TEXAS PUBLIC RADIO

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Sometimes the best guide to our shared history is a poet.

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COVER STORY: The cover of Tafolla’s first book, 1972’s Get Your Tortillas Together, pictures (l-r) Cecilio Garcia-Camarillo, Reyes Cardenas and Carmen Tafolla. Garcia-Camarillo, a poet and journalist, published the volume of poetry.

combination of English and Spanish that could express the realities of our bilingual, bicultural experiences.” I’m a fan of Tafolla’s richly layered poems, spangled with lyrical images and non-English vocabulary. So I knew that when she was plied with questions about Texas’ multicultural heritage, her answers would flow with a rhythm and wisdom that shouldn’t be subjected to paraphrase.

You hail from a city that just celebrated its 300th birthday. What is it about this city that’s most special to you? I can tell you in two words: the river. It’s what has always been the heartbeat of this city. It’s not just a river; it’s a stream of life, full of millennia of our stories. Our shards and our bones for the last 12,000 years are in its silt. And its slow, rippling water, under mesquite trees and cypress, sings the song of our history. From its origin story as a place where the young Indian leader Yanaguana gave her life to save her people and made water

CESAR AUGUSTO MARTINEZ

Carmen Tafolla was born and rasied in the West Side barrios of San Antonio, among what she terms “the forgotten people,” and has devoted herself — in her writing — to telling their stories. Tafolla earned a Ph.D. from UT-Austin in 1982, then returned to her hometown, where she’s now a professor of bicultural-bilingual studies at UT-San Antonio. Along the way she’s published more than 20 books, including her seminal collection of poems, This River Here: Poems of San Antonio. She served as the first Poet Laureate of San Antonio from 2012–14 and was Poet Laureate of Texas for 2015–16. “In a lot of ways, I’ve lived my life in the vanguard — of the Chicano movement, the women’s movement, bilingual education,” Tafolla told the San Antonio Express-News. “And right now is as relevant a time as ever for seeking to liberate and empower people who are living in the shadows.” Tafolla reminds us, when she discusses the Hispanic roots of Texas, that this part of the country “has been Englishspeaking for a little more than a century and a half. But it was Spanish-speaking for almost three centuries, and it was filled with the rich sound of indigenous languages for about eight centuries before that.” Tafolla describes her own native language as Tex-Mex, “a code-switching AU THENTIC TEX AS

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STATELY: Tafolla (second from left) at the ceremony honoring her as State Poet Laureate (2015–16) at the Texas House of Representatives. With her are State Musician Jimmie Vaughn (third from left) and State Artists Vincent Valdez (far left) and Margo Sawyer.

Tell us a bit about growing up in San Antonio. I grew up in a low-income neighborhood where we knew the meaning of “Canta y no Llores” [“Sing and Don’t Cry”]. For more than a century, our ethnic group — and

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: COURTESY CARMEN TAFOLLA: COURTESY CARMEN TAFOLLA: SAN ANTONIO BOOK FESTIVAL

CESAR AUGUSTO MARTINEZ

sprout from the ground at the now-headwaters of the San Antonio River to the early indigenous settlements that lived and loved and raised their families here; from the Españoles, the Mexicanos, the Germans and Polish; from the early bathhouses here all the way to its urban rediscovery as a Riverwalk and later its world discovery during HemisFair, this river is what represents the gentle, life-giving kindness of this city and its stubborn insistence on survival.

WORDSMITH: Tafolla has been a familiar voice at the San Antonio Book Festival — held the first week in April annually since 2013 — since its inception. The author of more than 20 books, she’s shown here speaking at the 2014 festival.

the entire West Side it inhabited — had been the poor side of town, discriminated against and ignored, except at election time, when buses rounded up the inhabitants, handed out tamales, took them to the polls to vote for the candidate and dropped them back in their barrios. When longterm congressman Henry B. González, for whom our convention center is now named, ran for office against a Mr. Goode,

EXCERPTED FROM

The Storykeeper: Instructions from an Historian

one of the many beer-and-tamales politicians, he used a slogan: “Drink Goode’s beer and eat Goode’s tamales, but go to the polls and vote for González.” González won and became a congressman noted for his character, his courage and his longevity in political office. In my neighborhood, González was a hero, and people bragged about him like they would a favorite cousin. Why does Texas’ multicultural past matter today? If we don’t know where we came from, how can we know where we’re going?

... Look in the places where ink does not show. In the breaking voice between the lines of a song. Our history is written in that song, written on the voice, sometimes written on the heart. … Look in the footwells of our steps, the tablecorners rubbed smooth, the marks on the walls where we have lived, the fine and tired stitches in the clothing sewed and mended, the careful fold of the shuck on the tamal, the thumbprint curves of crepe paper flowers trying to make “Canta” out of “Llores.” Learn to read the eyes, the hands, the spine. You must be like a detective, or a spy … For they are out there. Our stories. To be read in the tracks of tears now made into wrinkles on the face, in the scars we carry with pride, … Unveil our treasures from the attic. Go find it, hear it, touch it, write it down. This is how we keep our history. This is how we also keep our soul. — CARMEN TAFOLLA SUMMER 2019

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VOICE OF HER PEOPLE: “She honors the rich material of locality and ancestry,” poet Naomi Shihab Nye says of Tafolla, shown here sharing her art at the Alamo. “One could think of her as the voice of San Antonio, truly an indelible voice among voices.”

CA RM E N TAFO L L A’S

San Antonio

COURTESY CARMEN TAFOLLA

Our past is always inside us. If we embrace it, we become full, rich and authentic. If we attempt to hide it, we lose spirit, lose personal power. All of that cultural wealth weaves into a stronger fabric, explains much of who we are and who we yearn to become. It gives us deep roots, and that gives us options and resilience. I like to remind people that the corn tortilla taco they’re crunching into, the aroma of the tamales warming their smile, will all be enhanced and taste better if they remember that people have been eating those delicacies here on this land for at least seven millennia! It makes your food taste better and your life feel more important if you know you’re tasting history in every bite. There’s another facet of knowing heritage goes deeper here than just the battle of the Alamo. When people and their history are ignored, they are, in effect, “disappeared.” Their voice is stolen, and their existence is depreciated. When our history is recognized,

Mission San Jose

• La Villita, where the handcut stones go back to the early 1800s, is one favorite. It’s

an entire little town of former homes, now artisan shops, galleries, a plaza and a tiny stone church. • An absolute have-to are the missions on the south side of town. Built, farmed and lived in by the native Indians of this area, they represent the blending of two worlds — European and indigenous. I encourage folks to attend the Coahuiltecan festivities that

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are hosted by the native peoples here, especially the mission tours told from the Indian point of view and conducted by the American Indians of TexasSpanish Colonial Missions (AITSCM) and the Pecan Harvest and Cactus Blossom events.

Following the Mariachi Mass at Mission San José, go eat a pecan paleta from El Paraíso Original on Fredericksburg Road, right next to the Woodlawn Theater marquee. They blend real fruits to make these icy treats.

FROM LEFT: JOHN PETER/WIKIPEDIA; NPS.GOV

“I LIKE PLACES THAT SHOW THE MARK OF HUMAN HANDS,” SAYS CARMEN TAFOLLA, “OR THAT REFLECT THE POWERS OF NATURE AT WORK.” HERE, IN HER OWN WORDS, ARE A FEW OF HER FAVORITE PLACES.

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kind state — the land of the Tejas Indians, the friends. The Alamo is at the center of a great deal of discussion and debate today, as it has long been. How would you define that iconic place and its meaning for visitors today? We need to see San Antonio as a center of civil rights and human justice, as a place bent on multiculturalism, surviving because of multiculturalism … in spite of oppressive forces. How does a big city like San Antonio preserve its distinctive character in the face of needs for increased housing, transportation, goods and services? For many decades, major national statisticians said it was impossible for a city our size to survive on the amount of industry we didn’t have. It’s ironic now that our biggest industries are tourism and health, with a good measure of proceeds coming in from the arts. People flock here to breathe in the peaceful, festive spirit of this river and the loving welcome it has always given strangers. It opens its arms and becomes the equalizer in a mestizaje of diverse human experience. It’s good medicine.

• To work off the calories, go to “Devil’s Bend,” an old authentic swimming hole under giant oak and cypress trees, just south of town by the missions and right next to where General Santa Anna crossed the Medina on his way to the Alamo.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: COURTESY EL PARAISO ORIGINAL; MLHRADIO/FLICKR; SEAN DAVIS/FLICKR

FROM LEFT: JOHN PETER/WIKIPEDIA; NPS.GOV

we gain in social and personal value. And Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, or watch it becomes a more honest telling of his- a play like Las Nuevas Tamaleras. tory. When a people’s history and arts Our music is an extension of those document their lives and emotions, they’re poetic lyrics, and the corridos are our history empowered to bloom and books, told via music. Go to feel fully a part of their to the Tejano Conjunto San Antonio Missions world. Given that Latinos Festival and hear the National Historical Park 6701 San Jose Dr. are a huge part of every songs that dance between San Antonio, TX 78214 state and major city in this two languages and 100 (210) 534-8875 nation, this is an American cultures. And celebrate a nps.gov/saan story. It’s how America 7,000-year-old delicacy came to be here. by joining in on La Gran Guadalupe Cultural Arts Tamalada and the Tamales Center What aspects of heritage Institute. Guadalupe Theater 1301 Guadalupe St. are most central to appreci But especially, rememSan Antonio, TX 78207 ating the real San Antonio ber the essence of Indo(210) 271-3151 — and the real Texas? Hispanic culture — that Poetry! It goes back in we treat others with Galeria Guadalupe everything from our correspect, that when we see 723 S. Brazos St. San Antonio, TX 78207 ridos and our ballads to others who are different our legends … something or think different or act taught to us when we different from what we do, La Villita San Antonio, TX 78205 were tiny, in the laps of we shrug our shoulders, lavillitasanantonio.com grandmothers, and oral litsay “Es su modo” [“It is your erature, in stories that are way”] and value diversity San Anto Cultural Arts now 500 years old, like La as the rich treasure of pos2120 El Paso St. Llorona. sibilities that life offers us San Antonio, TX 78207 sananto.org The arts are crucial to select from. to reclaiming voice — We are, historically and so catch an event at the culturally, a kind city and a

• Or if you can swing being in San Antonio during the Days of the Dead, plan well ahead to secure a ticket for La Catrina Ball, which transforms the beautiful downtown public library (which we affectionately call the Red Enchilada) into a giant fiesta with Los Muertos! • My beloved West Side, so full of heritage and vibrant colors, is home to 22 murals done by San Anto Cultural Arts,

as well as home to the historic Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and its many art exhibits and performances. And if you go straight west from there, to the Our Lady of the Lake campus and Elmendorf Lake, you might even hear — if you’re lucky — La Llorona wailing on the breeze.

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AUTHENTIC PLACE

SISTER

CITIES, ONE

HERITAGE IN ALL ITS VIBRANCY, EL PASO’S COLORFUL HISTORY IS ON DISPLAY by BARBARA B RAN N ON

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WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

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L

ONG BEFORE THERE WAS A CITY called El Paso,

or even a transnational border, there was a river. The Navajos and the Apaches and even the British had their own names for it, but the Spanish explorers who rode up toward the mountain ranges gave it their own: Río Bravo del Norte, the wild and turbulent river at the Pass of the North. For years, the Río Bravo formed a barrier between the Spaniards to its south and the native Indian populations on its north, but shifting land claims and boundaries over the centuries imbued the entire region with the culture and language of the Iberians who’d come first, and in force, to this part of the continent. El Paso thus sprang from a Spanish town founded south of the

WE’LL START AT THE CITY CENTER,

where downtown El Paso is handily divided into five memorable districts, safe and readily walkable. Park your car at the Convention Center garage (or at one of the outlying transportation centers and take the streetcar downtown).

In the Pioneer Plaza 3, across West Mills Avenue from the 1930 Plaza Theater and the Henry Trost-designed Anson Mills Building (where the district’s main streets converge to form a “Y” on the map) stands the Fray Garcia Monument,

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a 14-foot bronze by John Sherrill Houser, honoring the Spanish priest who founded the region’s first mission. To learn more about Fray Garcia and early Hispanic El Paso, head for the El Paso Museum of History — with a few stops along your leisurely stroll.

FROM TOP: TEXAS MOUNTAIN TRAIL; EL PASO HISTORICAL SOCIETY; VISIT EL PASO

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Rio Grande, where it in due time became part of an independent Mexico; split through the mitosis of settlement on lands north of the river; and coalesced as a twin on the U.S. side when pioneer Anson Mills renamed the fledgling town El Paso as well. The double El Paso spanned a fluid border during the American Civil War and beyond, until the Mexican city adopted the name of its republican hero Benito Juárez in 1888, and El Paso, Texas, retained its name. The Spanish influence on both sides of the Mexico–United States border still flows richly, however. Visitors today wanting to appreciate this vibrant intermingling of art, life and commerce might start the way the earliest natives did: on foot, exploring the city center at ground level. (El Paso’s recently revitalized streetcar loop gives them another easy alternative to driving, and the closest thing to approximate the conquistadores’ horseback travels! An all-day pass good on streetcar and buses is $3.50.) AU THENTIC T EX AS

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At San Jacinto Plaza (114 W. Mills Ave. at the corner of Oregon Street), a fiberglass sculpture by El Paso native son Luis Jiménez (1940–2006) honors the city’s colorful past, when real-life lagartos graced the plaza’s fountain. Soon after the city of El Paso acquired land in 1881 that had been Juan María Ponce de León’s rancho, the parks commissioner introduced alligators into the fenced pond. Fondly named gators populated the pond into the 1970s, when the tradition was transferred to the El Paso Zoo. The 1968 El Paso Main Public Library (501 N. Oregon St.), features a mural 3 by El Pasoan Tom Lea depicting the various cultures that have contributed to the region’s history. Lea’s masterwork,

CULTURE FIX: Tom Lea’s Southwest (top photo) is housed at the Main Public Library; the Museum of Art (above) has an impressive collection of contemporary Southwestern and Mexican art; and the Museum of History (below) covers 400 years of border events.

FROM TOP: WIKIPEDIA; THOMAS HAWK/FLICKR; SUSAN BARNUM/WIKIPEDIA

FROM TOP: TEXAS MOUNTAIN TRAIL; EL PASO HISTORICAL SOCIETY; VISIT EL PASO

the 11-by-54-foot “Pass of the North” mural, can be viewed at its original site in the 1936 R.E. Thomason Federal Building and Courthouse at 511 E. San Antonio St. Plan an hour or more for the El Paso Museum of History (510 Santa Fe St.), depending on how many of El Paso’s four-plus centuries of Spanish heritage you’d like to ponder. The twostory museum provides a comprehensive overview of the region’s role in both state and national history. Visitors may explore exhibits and programs that reflect the robust multicultural and multinational character of the state’s far western border region. Step into the future by leaving a digital memory tagged in the museum’s 3-D Digital Wall, an outdoor interactive exhibit that brings El Paso history to life on a giant, colorful screen. Turning back south, stop in at the El Paso Museum of Art (1 Arts Festival Plaza), whose watchword is “Unbound by borders, discover the world of art.” While this major museum is best known for its Kress collection of 12th–18th-century European art, it’s developed a major collection of contemporary Southwestern United States and Mexican artists. The rooftop terraces of the 1912

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CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: CMH2315FL/FLICKR; COURTESY VISIT EL PASO/ INSTAGRAM; KENT KANOUSE/FLICKR

SHARED HISTORY: The historic Hotel Paso Del Norte (above) is located a mile from the international border, while the “Sister Cities” mural (above right) symbolizes the bond between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The two sisters are separated by a river.

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Trost & Trost masterpiece Hotel Paso del Norte 3 (South El Paso Street at East San Antonio Avenue) were a popular place for guests and locals to watch firefights between revolutionaries and the Mexican army. Presidents, performers and Pancho Villa once stayed here, reveling in luxurious decor that includes a 45-foot-diameter Tiffany stained-glass dome. The hotel is currently undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation by Marriott Autograph and is slated to reopen in March 2020. From there, walk five blocks or so down El Paso Street to the El Centro shopping district. Open-air market-style shops line the streets of this commercial district that hugs the border of Mexico. Cultures have blended here, bringing Lebanese, Korean and Mexican immigrants together, among others, to create a multicultural American atmosphere. Colorful signs in Spanish and other languages are a hallmark of the district, as are storefronts and murals. Stop by to see the “Sister Cities” mural by Los Dos at Father Rahm and El Paso Streets. At the Sun Metro station (601 S. Santa Fe St.), catch the streetcar, returned to service with modern-day conveniences in 2018. It will make a

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BUS ROUTES from the Downtown Transit Center reach many other destinations of Spanish heritage in El Paso, including: Concordia Cemetery. On the 1840s Concordia estate of Chihuahua, trader Hugh Stephenson and his wife, Juana, El Pasoans in the 1880s began to establish a burying ground. By 1890, various groups had purchased sections and designated them Catholic, Masonic, Jewish, Black, Chinese, military, Jesuit, city and county. El Paso Missions. In El Paso’s Lower Valley, the 1682 Ysleta Mission,

cornerstone of the Ysleta del Sur Indian Pueblo, the Socorro Mission and the 1789 San Elizario Chapel anchor a historic district that embodies El Paso’s intercultural past. The World’s Largest Equestrian Bronze, at El Paso International Airport. Sculptor John Sherrill Houser’s monumental bronze,

“Don Juan de Oñate, Founder of the Hispanic Southwest, 1598” was installed here in 2006. And finally, if you’re interested in visiting the historic center of downtown Juárez, free tours led by

El Paso’s first lady, Adair Margo, are slated for summer 2019 with the aim of reintroducing tourists to a city they may not have visited in decades or ever. Walking tours meet at the U.S. entrance to the Paso Del Norte International Bridge (Santa Fe bridge) and include closein destinations such as the Juárez Cathedral, the Mission of Guadalupe, the old Municipal Palace and the Museum of the Revolution in the Border — as well as margaritamaking legends Tommy’s Place and the Kentucky Club.

FROM TOP: COURTESY VISIT EL PASO/INSTAGRAM; WIKIPEDIA; ALYSSA BLACK/FLICKR

CLOCKSIE FROM FAR LEFT: CMH2315FL/FLICKR; COURTESY VISIT EL PASO/ INSTAGRAM; KENT KANOUSE/FLICKR

4.8-mile figure-eight loop heading north across I-10, passing through the Sunset Heights historic neighborhood (where wealthy refugees resettled during the Mexican Revolution and Pancho Villa once lived) and out to the UTEP campus. Coming back toward downtown on the streetcar as you cross I-10, you’ll see the bustling Hispanic community of El Segundo Barrio, “the Ellis Island of the Border,” named to the National Trust’s 2018 list of the 11 most endangered places in the U.S., to the south and east. As you ride, continue to spot murals evocative of the city’s Spanish heritage, and enjoy the vista across the Rio Grande to Ciudad Juárez.

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CALERA CHAPEL BALMORHEA

The town of Balmorhea serves as a gateway to the nearby Balmorhea State Park and the ghost town of Calera. Calera Chapel, better known as Mission Mary, a small adobe chapel built for the people of Calera, is what remains of this small community.

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AUTHENTIC THING

Wonder MUD BRICK

THE HUMBLEST OF BUILDING MATERIALS — ADOBE — IS READILY AVAILABLE, INEXPENSIVE AND REMARKABLY RESILIENT

PHOTOGRAPH BY ANGI ENGLISH / FLICKR

by

CASSANDRA LANCE-MARTINEZ

FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS, adobe brick structures have

painted the arid desert landscape of the Southwest. The arrival of the Spanish to the region in the mid-16th century brought a tradition of adobe construction that was then combined with the adobe building method of Native Americans that occupied the land long before the arrival of the Spanish. The confluence of the two styles created the iconic mission-style adobe brick architecture synonymous with the area today. SUMMER 2019

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practiced a similar style of using brick made from dry mud as a building material as far back as 1,000 years ago. The word “adobe” has existed for roughly 4,000 years without much change to the pronunciation or meaning. Adobe originated as a word translating to “mud brick” in the Ancient Egyptian language around 2,000 bc, making its way into the Arabic language, then integrated into Spanish and later adopted into English in the early 1700s — a linguistic voyage of the word that simultaneously followed the geographical journey of the construction method. The Spanish were introduced to adobe during the 8th century when the Moors in

TON OF BRICKS: In this photo dated from the 1920s, Native Americans in Texas prepare adobe bricks for the construction of missions.

northern Africa made their way across the Strait of Gibraltar, where only nine miles separate the two continents, bringing along with them the early brick-making method. The colonization of the Americas by the Spanish Crown began with Columbus arriving in the Caribbean in 1492, then voyaging into present-day South America, Central America and parts of North America. The missions built around Texas beginning in the 1600s served to convert Native Americans to Catholicism, with many of the buildings later serving as fortresses in battle. In the following centuries, the merging of the two cultures contributed to the amalgamation of Spanish and Native American methods of making adobe brick and dispersion of

make brick is among the oldest techniques discovered by archeologists in almost every part of the world. Historical evidence traces adobe construction methods to as far back as 4,000 years ago with the ancient Egyptians, where structures out of brick can be found along muddy riverbank areas. Another area where sun-dried adobe structures have been found is Middle Eastern regions of the Arabian Peninsula and Mesopotamia, which date to as far back as the beginning of modern human history. Native inhabitants of the Americas also 54

the unique architecture that can still be found in those regions today, including in Texas. Found in traditionally arid climate regions around the world, adobe brick is created by using ample amounts of sun and dry air in desert areas to bind the substances used in transforming the mixture into a stable building material. Depending on the location and environment, the specific soil material used to make adobe will vary; but the process of creating the brick has remained relatively unchanged for thou-

COURTESY UNDERWOOD ARCHIVES

“Adobe brick is found in several parts of the world,” says Quentin Wilson, director emeritus of Northern New Mexico College’s Adobe Construction Program and a specialist in adobe design and construction. “It stands forever if it has a good foundation.” While adobe structures can be found around the globe, most relatable to Texans are the adobe buildings found in the southwestern and central regions of the state as well as upwards toward the Panhandle. Although associated with colonial Spaniard settlements in the Americas, the history of adobe brick spans long before the 16th century. The building method of erecting structures using sun-dried mud to

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ANGI ENGLISH/FLICKR

sands of years. Adobe is a brick made essentially out of dried mud. To make the brick, one combines natural elements of earth materials — such as clay, sand or other dirt-textured substances — with water and a stabilizer of either grass or straw. The amount of water needed to create the adobe is a vital component that lends to the resilience of the material: an over-abundance of water will transform the mixture into a combination too wet to hold, yet if there isn’t enough

water, the mixture won’t properly join to create a stable brick. From there, the mixture can either be left to naturally bake in the sun until completely dried or can be fired in an oven or kiln. Kiln-fired brick is a popular modern-day method to mass-produce commercial adobe bricks, although purists may refer to this type of product as “clay bricks” to distinguish between the two types. The most common way of making adobe brick used in the southwestern part of Texas — and the world — is the sun-drying

INDIAN

LODGE FORT DAVIS

During its construction phase, the Civilian Conservation Corps molded adobe blocks from a mixture of water, straw and soil, and muscled tens of thousands of 40-pound blocks into place to form the 12- to 18-inchthick walls.

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HUDSPETH COUNTY COURTHOUSE SIERRA BLANCA

method. Traditional adobe bricks require anywhere from two weeks to a month of sun to completely dry and be dependable for use. The custom of building with adobe brick in Texas was most popular beginning in the 1600s and lasting through the 1800s. Some buildings are still standing due to the resilience of the brick withstanding the test of time when maintained properly. Adobe served as the ideal material to construct edifices and is still praised today for its many positive attributes. As loadbearing structures, adobe brick walls carry their own weight evenly into the foundation. Along with being reliable and composed of inexpensive materials, adobe is a remarkable regulator of temperature that moderates the building throughout the harsh, blistering heat of the scorching days and the crispness of the desert nights. The thermal insulating capabilities of adobe brick allow the structure to absorb heat during the daylight hours, cooling the interior of the building, then slowly disperses the heat as the temperature drops while time passes. Adobe brick also has a low carbon footprint given that there’s no need to use natural resources, such as natural gas or coal, nor any energy expenditure to produce the final product. “The largest energy input is solar,” Wilson says, “followed by human metabolic energy.” Adobe brick possesses a natural propensity to constantly deteriorate over time when exposed to excessive moisture, animals or plants. When correctly maintained, adobe brick serves as a long-lasting medium of construction. Guidelines established by preservationists at the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior to maintain adobe brick can be found in the Preservation of Historic Adobe Buildings (Preservation Brief 5). The brief, published in August 1978, states that, “Cyclical maintenance has always been the key to successful adobe building survival.” A keen eye, along with continuous upkeep, is what’s kept the numerous surviving adobe brick structures in Texas resem-

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CLARK HOTEL VAN HORN

Van Horn’s oldest building is an adobe saloon and post office built in 1901. Today, the Clark Hotel Museum features a massive antique bar, in addition to early farm and ranch implements, a century-old kitchen and an ore car from the Hazel Silver Mine.

FROM TOP: H2315FL/FLICKR; COURTESY TEXAS MOUNTAIN TRAIL

The historic 1920 Hudspeth County Courthouse in Sierra Blanca, Texas, is the only adobe courthouse in the state.

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FORT

LEATON

STATE HISTORIC SITE PRESIDIO

FROM TOP: EMMANUELLE BOURGUE/FLICKR; TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION

This historic adobe construction, built in the 1800s by trader Ben Leaton and now serving as a museum and western gateway to Big Bend State Park, functioned as both home and trading post — first for the Leaton family, then for former business partners — until the early 1900s.

bling when they were first built. One example of a well-constructed adobe brick establishment still in service is the Ysleta Mission in El Paso. Originally founded in 1682, the mission is recognized as the Lone Star State’s oldest continuously operating religious building. The parish is located in the Ysleta community, which was established by members of the Tigua tribe that followed Spanish colonists retreating southward from the Pueblo Revolt in Ysleta Pueblo, now known as Albuquerque. The community and the mission derived its name from the original ancestral home of the tribe. The Tigua people built a permanent structure out of adobe brick and dedicated it to Bishop Salpointe of Tucson, named La Misión de Corpus Christi de San Antonio de la Ysleta del Sur — after their patron saint, Saint Anthony. In 1829, the Rio Grande flooded, washing away the church, which was then remodeled in 1897 and again in 1908 after a fire incinerated much of the building, including the bell tower used at the time to store chemicals to repel bats. After the final restoration of the Ysleta Mission in the early 20th century, the adobe brick structure appears much how it looked back then and is listed in the National

CASA NAVARRO

STATE HISTORIC SITE SAN ANTONIO

Casa Navarro is the original 1850s adobe and limestone home of José Antonio Navarro, a leading advocate for Tejano rights and one of only two native-born Texans to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence.

Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. Earth, grass, water and sun — four common elements that have been used to lay the foundation of societies around the globe for millennia. The 16th century saw the onset of the adobe brick construction method with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, who learned their technique from the Moors of Northern Africa who’d invaded Spain in the 700s. Adobe brick is one of the most antiquated building materials discovered by archeologists and serves as a physical representation of the beginnings of Texas history that people can still experience. Attentive care and unremitting restoration efforts have kept many of the adobe brick structures around Texas and the world alive. The structures continue to educate individuals about Texas’ history and contribute to architectural discovery and cultural preservation. Adobe brick is intertwined with the heritage of the southwestern region of the state, showcasing a mixture of Native American and Hispanic cultural identities that many Texans have proudly claimed for centuries. SUMMER 2019

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LIFE

TRAIL DRIVE p. 60 H EATS & DRINKS p. 62 H DEEP IN THE ART p. 66 H LIVE SHOW p. 69

Straight to the

MUSEUM OF THE BIG BEND

POINT

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LIFE TRAIL DRIVE

REST IN PEACE: The nowclosed Padre’s of Marfa was housed in a historic adobe building that was once a funeral home.

Sands of Time

Sun-dried structures dot the Texas landscape

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PATTY BUSHART

SAN ELIZARIO

• • FORT STOCKTON

MARFA

PRESIDIO

SAN ANTONIO

GOLIAD

McALLEN

PHOTOS TEXASESCAPES.COM

is an attractive destination for vacationers and retirees seeking the allure of the desert with a laid-back atmosphere. The city is also home to one of the largest inventories of early adobe homes in the state. In fact, adobe structures have become so trendy and in demand that city officials have established an appraisal category specifically for adobe. Although more prevalent in the western parts of the state, adobe construction can be found all across Texas. The following list recognizes some of these enduring structures.

F

of years, man has been compacting dirt, water and other materials into shapes used to construct shelters and buildings. Typical of arid regions where timber and stone are scarce, Native Americans used the mud composite for construction in desert southwest regions of the state long before the word adobe, Spanish for mud brick, became part of the vernacular. Popular in the construction of missions, fortresses, commercial buildings and dwellings, properly maintained adobe brick can survive centuries. Take the West Texas town of Marfa as an example. This artists’ community

FOR THOUSANDS

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Spanish Governor’s Palace Spanish Governor’s Palace San Antonio

Landmark remnants of the original Presidio San Antonio de Béjar, known as the Spanish Governor’s Palace, showcase Texas’ earliest history under Spanish rule. 105 Plaza de Armas San Antonio, TX 787205 (210) 224-0601 spanishgovernorspalace.org

HOURS

Tues.–Sat. 9 am–5 pm Sun. 10 am–5 pm

Quinta Mazatlan Quinta Mazatlan is a historical adobe mansion serving as visitor center and a bird, wildlife and butterfly refuge. 600 Sunset Dr. McAllen, TX 78503 (956) 681-3370 quintamazatlan.com

Quinta Mazatlan McAllen

HOURS

Tues.–Sat. 8 am–5 pm

Fort Leaton State Historic Site

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: FLICKR; QUINTAMAZATLAN.COM; COURTESY TEXAS PARKS & WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT; MLHRADIO/FLICKR; COURTESY JACK PARSONS

PHOTOS TEXASESCAPES.COM

The western visitor center for Big Bend Ranch State Park offers docent-led and self-guided tours of the fort and its historic exhibits. FM 170 East Presidio, TX 79845 (432) 229-3613 tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/fort-leaton

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Daily 8 am–4:30 pm

San Elizario Historic District The restored Los Portales Museum and Information Center is the first stop on the San Elizario Walking Tour. 1521 San Elizario Rd. San Elizario, TX 79849 (915) 851-1682 visitelpasomissiontrail.com

Fort Leaton State Historic Site Presidio

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Tues.–Sat. 10 am–2 pm Sun. 12–4 pm

Goliad State Park and Historic Site One of several Goliad area historic sites, the reconstructed Zaragoza State Birthplace Historic Site honors General Ignacio Zaragoza, the hero of the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Hwy 183 South Goliad, TX 77963 (361) 645-3405 tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/goliad

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San Elizario Historic District San Elizario

Goliad State Park and Historic Site Goliad

Daily 8 am–5 pm

Fort Stockton Historic Site Four original buildings are featured in the 75-acre historic Fort Stockton site, where historic re-enactments highlight Living History Days. 301 E. 3rd St. Fort Stockton, TX 79735 (432) 336-2400 historicfortstockton.org

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LIFE EATS & DRINKS

Enchiladas or Fajitas

A thorough trip to Joe T. Garcia’s is as much a lesson in Mexican American culture as it is a dining experience

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IT’S HARD TO miss Fort

Worth’s iconic Joe T. Garcia’s when driving through the north side of town — you can usually see the line from all the way down the street, sometimes stretching and meandering to amusement ride-like proportions. It wasn’t always that way, mind you, but with word-of-mouth marketing since 1935, Joe

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T. Garcia’s growth from a 16-seat hole in the wall to a more than 1,000-seat Texas staple is a truly impressive feat. The restaurant serves more than 350 tables from three kitchens and has a staff that takes incredible pride in its work — in fact, more than 400 applicants try to snag just 15 or so server spots every year. The

dinner “menu” famously doesn’t exist (you’ve got two options: enchiladas or fajitas), and the restaurant still doesn’t take credit cards. There are stories of celebrity visits galore, from Elvis to Tiger Woods to Hillary Clinton. But behind the impressive statistics and lore, there’s a story of heritage and perseverance, strong women

outweighing tilted scales. “We should probably be closed actually,” says Jody Lancarte, who’s worked at Joe T.’s since marrying into the family at 17 years old in 1970, “because no restaurant could do what we’ve done.” Joe T. Garcia and wife Jessie (aka “Mama Sus”) first opened Joe’s Place in 1935, steadily

Joe T. Garcia’s 2201 N. Commerce St. Fort Worth, TX 76164 (817) 626-4356

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Fri.–Sat. 11 am–11 pm Sun. 11 am–10 pm Mon.–Thurs. 11 am–2:30 pm, 5–10 pm

VISIT FORT WORTH fortworth.com

FORT WORTH

LAKES TRAIL REGION

COURTESY JOE T. GARCIA’S

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HOME COOKING: This Fort Worth institution has a clientele (left photo) so devoted, it can command cash only. Joe T. and wife Jessie (at right in above photo) opened the restarurant as part of their home on July 4, 1935 — as Joe’s Place.

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COURTESY JOE T. GARCIA’S

COURTESY JOE T. GARCIA’S

A LOT ON ONE’S PLATE: You won’t leave hungry after enjoying the fajita special.

growing and acquiring dilapidated nearby buildings to renovate and fold into the restaurant. “He was a really political man, and he knew all the attorneys and bankers in town,” Lancarte says, “so there wasn’t a problem expanding.” But in 1953, Garcia passed away from an aneurism. “It was not expected at all, and he had bought all that land,” Lancarte says. “When he passed away, suddenly the restaurant and surrounding property was all controlled by two Hispanic women — Mama Sus and her daughter, Hope.” In 1950s Texas, the idea of two minority women controlling blocks of property didn’t sit well with the establishment. All of a sudden, the banks started calling their notes. “I think it was the banks and town telling them they didn’t think they could do it,” Lancarte says. But Mama Sus and Hope kept the operation running, paying the banks for the land Joe bought every day to prevent them from seizing the restaurant and shutting it down. “They were never afraid of hard work,” Lancarte says. As the restaurant developed and flourished, so too did its nod to Hispanic heritage. In 1970, Lanny Lancarte (Jody’s husband, who runs much of the daily operations to this day) and brother David began developing the patio area of the restaurant. Nowadays you’ll find patio seating across the country, even in strip mall restaurants. But in the 1970s, the concept wasn’t nearly as prevalent — and certainly not to the extent of Joe T. Garcia’s. “We traveled quite extensively in Mexico with the grandmother and the mom,” Jody Lancarte says. “You always had patios in Mexico, and in the middle of the houses there were gardens.” The family brought the Mexican custom back to the restaurant, also putting in a pool that was originally intended to entertain the children but soon became a popular dining fixture. Nowadays, the “patio” is more like an oasis, with nearly a thousand potted plants, hundreds of trees, multiple fountains, doves and meandering paths around the restaurant that have been renamed as roads or “calles” to honor members of the family. Adorned with the original neon sign, Joe T.’s still proudly celebrates its heritage, from preserving the original window Mama Sus used to serve from to keeping (and still using) one of the original stoves.

But when honoring the restaurant’s heritage, it always comes back to the food. There’s something to be said about carrying on a family tradition for eight decades, teaching fourth and fifth generations of children how to make the exact same taco Mama Sus served to hungry workers in the 1930s. And to this day, everybody in the family has their first job working the restaurant — whether

it’s rolling silverware when you’re 8 years old, serving dozens of hungry customers every hour or facilitating catering across the country. Of course, many of the Garcia and Lancarte ilk go on to professions outside the restaurant industry, but the lessons they learn in their early days at the restaurant stick with them whichever route they take.

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LIFE EATS & DRINKS

BURIED TREASURE: “The Old Place by the Graveyard” (left photo) is a uniquely flavorful link between El Paso’s past and present. USA Today named it the best Tex-Mex restaurant in Texas.

Four Generations of Tex-Mex Goodness

El Paso’s L & J Cafe remains a landmark of Spanish and Mexican heritage

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queso and shredded beef tacos. As the L & J Cafe fast approaches its centennial celebration — the restaurant was originally founded in 1927 as Tony’s Cafe — it remains a steadfast point of pride for a city whose Spanish and Mexican heritage predates much of the United States. There is

perhaps no better (or at least certainly no tastier) modern symbol of lineage than a familyowned business that’s as welcoming to daily regulars as international celebrities. Antonio and Juanita Flores opened Tony’s Cafe on the outskirts of town, thanks in part to the not-so-secret home-

L & J Cafe brew and slot machines that defied the waning regulations of Prohibition. Throughout the next 40 years of operation, El Paso grew up around the cafe, which became an increasingly important local haunt. In 1968, John and Lilian Duran took over for their parents, changing the name to L & J Cafe

3622 E. Missouri Ave. El Paso, TX 79903 (915) 566-8418 landjcafe.com

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Mon.–Wed. 9 am–9 pm Thurs. & Fri. 9 am–10 pm Sat. 8 am–10 pm Sun. 8 am–9 pm

VISIT EL PASO visitelpaso.com

EL PASO

MOUNTAIN TRAIL REGION

PHOTOS COURTESY L&J CAFE

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LET’S GET THE obvious out of the way: when you’re voted El Paso’s best Mexican restaurant and the best Tex-Mex in Texas, you’re doing something right. And while the food at L & J Cafe speaks for itself, “The Old Place by the Graveyard” is worth a stop for its history as much as the chile con

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PHOTOS COURTESY L&J CAFE

PHOTOS COURTESY L&J CAFE

THUMBS UP: Scrumptious food (above) awaits those who venture here. Celebrities frequenting L&J have included actor Ethan Hawke (top right), who was promoting his movie Blaze, and singer Faith Hill (bottom right), shown with her server, Chris James. No word if the celebs tried the recommended combination plate.

and operating it for 20 more years before Leo and Francis Duran became the third generation to take over. Leo was recently inducted into the Texas Restaurant Association’s Hall of Honor, just the fifth El Pasoan in the organization’s storied history. Now general manager Vanessa Duran represents the fourth generation to carry on the family’s legacy. The restaurant’s kitchen has tripled in size since the original days, and the staff now exceeds 100 people. There’s also a gift shop, which began almost exclusively to sell the restaurant’s famous Tombstone Salsa. But besides the growth and singular name change, L & J Cafe has remained fastened securely to its Mexican American roots — an identity no doubt fortified by its proximity to the Mexican border and a culinary culture renowned for authenticity. The restaurant won USA Today’s Best Tex-Mex contest in 2018. “A lot of the recipes were actually handed down through my great-grandparents and through one of our cooks, Polita,” Vanessa Duran says. “Polita passed away several years back, but I do fondly remember being here while she was in our kitchen. A lot of our recipes are her doing, and my mom [Lilian] is the other head honcho when it comes to the food. That’s her baby.” It’s part of the reason countless celebrities make an effort to go to the restaurant whenever they’re passing through town, from Miranda Lambert and Faith Hill to Ethan Hawke and Tony Hawk to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sam Elliott — and the entirety of Earth, Wind & Fire. The restaurant also shows a commitment to those in need. When more than 2,000 refugees sought shelter at temporary shelters in El

Paso and Las Cruces in late 2018, Leo Duran and other local restaurateurs rallied the food community. Soon, L & J Cafe and several others were feeding thousands of Central American asylum-seekers fleeing violence in their home countries. “I bear witness to the great desperation of these families,” Leo Duran told the El Paso Times. “They are very humble, in-need individuals. And I, for one — our business for one — cannot and will not let them go hungry or anyone else who seeks help.”

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LIFE DEEP IN THE ART

The Flintknapper of Big Bend

SPEARHEADING: Coyan shares his art (both photos) at living history events across the state. Today, flintknapping is undergoing a revival, with the greatest number of practitioners in the U.S., where the craft is most strongly associated with Native Americans — some of the last people to use stone tools.

Kinley Coyan continues a Native American tradition dating back more than 10,000 years Kinley Coyan MELISSA HAGINS

INLEY COYAN is known as a father, a rancher and a flintknapper — more specifically, the Big Bend Flintknapper. For more than 10,000 years, the indigenous peoples of North America created countless stone tools and weapons such as spear and dart points, arrowheads, knives, scrapers and blades. Modern-day flintknappers continue this age-old craft. The process of chipping

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away and shaping flint, chert, obsidian or other silica-based stones to create sharp points or tools is known as flintknapping. As a youngster, Coyan hunted for arrowheads with his stepfather and grandfather. Attending second grade in Kerrville, Coyan recalls a particular “history day” when a local jeweler did a show-and-tell presentation on flintknapping. “That’s when I decided,” he recalls, “that I wanted to be a flintknapper.”

HOURS

Tues.–Sat. 9 am–5 pm Sun. 1–5 pm

VISIT BIG BEND NP visitbigbend.com

VISIT ALPINE visitalpine.com

MUSEUM OF THE BIG BEND

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Since that first exhibition, Coyan has been asked to participate in a variety of events. Now living in Sanderson, he’s shared the art of flintknapping at living history events at Fort Chadbourne, Fort Lancaster, Fort McKavett and Fort Stockton. Visitors to these events can observe him working and talk with him; some are lucky enough to purchase one of his arrowheads as a souvenir. Since most of Coyan’s works are Texasstyle points, he likes to use the local West Texas agates and cherts but also uses materials from the Hill Country. He says it wouldn’t be authentic to have rock from another part of the country. Today, Coyan’s pieces are available for sale at exhibits and online. He’s pleased to have a following and appreciates having customers from across the world. Sometimes his points will sell within an hour of posting. A year or two ago, Coyan determined to track his sales; in 365 days, he sold 428 pieces. One customer in Maryland has over 100 of Coyan’s pieces as part of a larger collection. Some buyers hunt wild game with his arrowheads just as the Indians did over 100 years ago.

MUSEUM OF THE BIG BEND

Following high school graduation, Coyan studied archeology, but, he says, “I was told I’d have to stop picking up the artifacts I found.” Coyan attended Angelo State University in San Angelo for two years before transferring to Southwest State University in San Marcos. While in San Marcos, Coyan began experimenting with flintknapping. He found it relaxing and enjoyed creating pieces of art. However, flintknapping can also be quite dangerous, and he learned from experience that cuts are common and can be severe. (Modern flintknappers are advised to wear hand and eye protection as well as dust masks.) He met a flintknapper who had a new method of knapping that was easier and safer, and he continued to hone his talent. While in graduate school at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Coyan was asked to do a presentation on flintknapping. With several of his pieces on display, a gentleman approached him and asked, “How much are you selling these pieces for?” Coyan remembers thinking, “Wait, I can make money at this?” It had never occurred to him that his hobby could produce income. He quickly arrived at some prices and sold two of his pieces that day.

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Live Show S U M M E R 20 1 9

Best Southwest Juneteenth Celebration

Food, music, education and living legends highlight this year’s Best Southwest Juneteenth Celebration June 15, 2019 • 5–10 p.m. Valley Ridge Park 2850 Park Ridge Drive Cedar Hill, TX 75104 (972) 291-5141 cedarhilltx.com/juneteenth

ALTHOUGH ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S Emancipation Proclamation became official Jan. 1, 1863, it wasn’t until General Lee’s surrender in 1865 that Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived at the port of Galveston to free the last remaining enslaved people in Texas. That date, June 19, 1865, became recognized as Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in Texas and throughout the

United States. Four Dallas County cities — Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville and Lancaster — formed the Best Southwest Partnership (BSW) in 1986. DeSoto was the first BSW city to present Juneteenth, and each year thereafter the four cities have taken turns hosting the event. This year the celebration returns to Cedar Hill’s Valley Ridge Park overlooking nearby Joe Pool Lake. The afternoon and evening event, the largest Juneteenth celebration in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, is free for guests to enjoy. Children’s educational activities include a performance by Oba William King, whose poetic stories celebrate diversity through song and traditional African drums. Toni Simmons, a Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Artist, emcees the event, which includes living legends of the BSW from professional sports to Tuskegee airmen, and stories of African culture and history performed throughout the show. To kick off the evening activities, the Bandan Koro African Drum & Dance Ensemble will get the crowd on its feet for a group participation dance, then guests can relax and enjoy the sunset with live musical performances featuring jazz bands, R&B and more before the glistening six-part vocals of headliners ConFunkShun are featured on the amphitheater stage. As tribute to this year’s Peace, Love and Unity theme, organizers have planned a social impact project to benefit BSW nonprofit charities. For more information on the social impact project and the Best Southwest Juneteenth Celebration, visit the event’s website.— PATTY BUSHART

PATTY BUSHART

PEACE, LOVE AND UNITY: Valley Ridge Park in Cedar Hill is the site of the largest Juneteenth celebration in the DFW Metroplex.

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LEGACY PRESERVATION p. 72 H PERSONALITY p. 76 H ARCHIVES p. 80 H HISTORIES p. 84

Test TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION

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LEGACY

FRONT AND CENTER: The Bosque County Courthouse is located in the center of the public square — and near the geographical center of the county.

TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION

MERIDIAN’S

Victorian Centerpiece The Bosque County Courthouse, built in 1866, has undergone dramatic reconstruction since 1934

TODAY Bosque Texas, he diverted from the regular route County is known as the and wandered north, where he camped near Norwegian capital of Texas, the Brazos river and a major tributary. He many are surprised to dis- named that tributary Bosque, the Spanish cover the Spanish roots of word meaning woods, or forest. one of the oldest Although setTexas courthouse tlement began in ICONIC: The courthouse in structures in con1825, the county 1929, more than six decades after its construction. tinuous use. wasn’t officially A 1721 expeformed until neardition by Marqués ly 30 years later, when officials setde San Miguel tled on Bosque as de Aguayo, a the county’s name Spaniard who and Meridian as established many the county seat missions in Texas, and future location was the first of its proud cenrecorded traveler terpiece, the 1886 in the area known Bosque County today as Bosque Courthouse. County. This stately On one trip three-story limefrom San Antonio stone building, de Béxar to East HILE

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PHOTOS TEXASCOURTHOUSES.COM

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by LEAH BROWN

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RESTORATION: Constructed in 1886, the courthouse (left photo), built in Victorian Gothic style, was reconstructed from 2005 to 2007, returning the building to its original

design, including the reconstruction of the signature roof, corner turrets and bell tower. The structural steel and ornamental sheet metal for the new clock tower (above right) and corner cupolas were fabricated in Paris, Texas.

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Texas has more historic courthouses than any other state – 242 still in active government use. The Texas Historical Commission’s nationally recognized and awardwinning Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program has reversed the trend of disrepair and has begun restoring these treasured landmarks. To date, the program has funded 70 Texas courthouse restorations, and another 26 courthouses have received emergency or planning grants to complete small projects. In addition to saving important historic structures, restored historic courthouses have proven to be economic boosters for local economies and the state. Counties with restored historic courthouses see an impact in the form of increased safety, accessibility, energy efficiency, tourism and more. For more information, see thc.texas.gov/preserve/projects-andprograms/Texas-historic-courthousepreservation

PHOTOS TEXASCOURTHOUSES.COM

designed in high Victorian Gothic Revival ceiling reduced the two-story district courtstyle with an off-center Italianate clock tower room to half its original height and lowered and corner turrets, was restored through the ceilings in most spaces to accommodate the THC’s Texas Historic Courthouse mechanical and electrical installations. With so many changes over the Preservation Program (THCPP) in 2007. The county was awarded a years, the 2005–07 resto$3.5 million grant as part of ration proved challengBosque County the THCPP’s fourth round ing. Reconstruction of the Courthouse of preservation grants for original clock tower and the 110 S. Main St. historic courthouses. four corner roof turrets was Meridian, TX 76665 Fifteen years later, the the most dramatic change VISIT MERIDIAN accomplished. These large restoration is considered one meridiantexas.us meridian-chamber.com elements were fabricated of the most dramatic in the in Paris, Texas, trucked to program’s history due to the Meridian and craned into severity of previous makeposition with hundreds watching. over attempts. Completing the restoration, historic In 1934, the county renovated the courthouse into what was considered to be reproduction wood windows and entry a modern building for the time, removing doors were installed; the district courtroom, many of its Victorian Gothic Revival fea- halls and public spaces were reopened to tures, including the clock tower and entire their full height; the original concrete floors roof structure. Steel windows replaced wood rehabilitated; and wood wainscot paneling windows, and a small one-story edifice was reconstructed. Today, the original Victorian beauty of added to the west facade. A flat concrete roof and cast stone parapet incorporating a the Bosque County Courthouse has been reclaimed, along with 69 other fully restored single clock face completed the remodel. By the 1970s, a contemporary lowered courthouses across the state. AU THENTIC TEX AS

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PHOTOS TEXASCOURTHOUSES.COM

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LEGACY TEXAS ORIGINAL

Family

ROOTS

Freedom AND

Colonies

Lareatha Clay has dedicated her civic life to historic preservation

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by JILL CAMPBELL JORDAN

early age the importance of heritage and community. What she’s come to understand is that family history is often part of a larger story. As Clay grew up in Beaumont, her mother, Larutha Odom, nurtured her daughter’s love of family. Trips back to Larutha’s childhood home kept that family history alive. Homecomings and family reunions were held in the Shankleville community, located in Newton County between Burkeville and Jasper. Clay became familiar with the stories of an ancestor who was born a slave in Mississippi, ran away from his owner to find his wife (owned by another man), became a landowner and founded Shankleville. While a student at Prairie View A&M in the 1940s, Larutha began research on this family story. Her father, A.T. Odom, spearheaded the effort to obtain a historical marker for the community. The marker was awarded in 1973 and tells the story of Jim and Winnie Shankle.“That is when I first thought this is more than just family stories,” Clay says. “It fits into a larger view of what history is about.”

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LAREATHA CLAY grew up knowing her history and understanding from an

PAPER TRAIL: Clay holds the research papers written by her mom — while at Prairie View A&M — about Shankleville.

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Upon graduation from the University of Texas, Clay went to work for Southwestern Bell. Transferred to Orlando, Florida, in the 1980s, she became a member of the city’s preservation board; here, Clay’s love of history would be employed on a larger scale, and she’d become involved in historic preservation. As part of her board duties, Clay attended the National Trust Conference. She realized there were careers in preservation, and she met people interested in

humanities festival was developed to save Eatonville from being wiped off the map by development. Being part of the festival was a turning point for Clay. She began thinking about having a festival in Shankleville that would entertain, educate and make an economic impact in the region. Clay returned to Texas in 1995 with the goal of being appointed to the Texas Historical Commission so she could continue to learn about historical preservation through connections she’d make. Achieving

Freedom Colonies: Independent Black Texans in the Time of Jim Crow (Jack and Doris Smothers Series in Texas History, Life, and Culture) Publisher: University of Texas Press Publication Date: March 2005 Zora Neale Hurston Harlem Renaissance Novelist and Anthropologist Their Eyes Were Watching God Publisher: J. B. Lippincott & Co. Publication Date: Sept. 18, 1937 Shankleville Historic Marker 3.5 miles southwest of Burkeville via SH 63 west to FM 1415 S. Across from cemetery in Shankleville.

Clay at home with family photos.

preserving both the natural that goal in 2001, Clay travAya Symposium and the built environments. eled the state visiting comEducation: THE Foundation for Clay knew Shankleville munities where heritage tourCivil Rights in Texas Freedom had historic fabric; now ism is a recognized part of Colonies June 19 she began thinking about the economy. Many places Prairie View A&M University how she could preserve this were off the beaten path, like Prairie View, TX 77446 community and tell its story. Shankleville, which only fed ayasymposium.org That conference prompted her desire to bring people CPE credits available Clay to work on obtaining a there. for Texas educators National Register designa In 2005, Thad Sitton and tion for the Odom Family James H. Conrad authored TexasPurple Homestead; that designaFreedom Colonies: Independent Hull Pea Festival Saturday, June 29 tion was eventually awarded Black Texans in the Time of Jim Live music, walking tours, in 2012. Crow and coined the phrase food and games Additionally, Clay “freedom colonies.” After gained firsthand knowledge reading the book she realized VISIT SHANKLEVILLE of historic preservation as that there was a name for A historic freedom colony in Newton County, Texas a volunteer at the ZORA the community she grew up shankleville.org/txphpfest Festival in Eatonville, with: a freedom colony. Clay Florida. Eatonville is condescribes a freedom colony sidered the first African American city in as, “a settlement or a town, but basically a the U.S. and was the home of author place where African Americans owned their Zora Neale Hurston. The annual arts and land, had a church, school and cemetery. It 78

doesn’t have to be on the map, just a collective belief that it exists. The communities know what the boundaries are, but they can change.” That set in motion plans for developing the Texas Purple Hull Pea Festival and the Aya Symposium. The name of the festival comes from the purple hull peas grown all over East Texas. It’s also a tribute to Clay’s fond memories of planting, picking and shelling peas with her grandparents. The first festival and symposium were held in 2014 in Shankleville at the historic Addie L. and A.T. Odom Homestead. Clay’s mother and siblings plus local volun-

JOVELYN RODEN

LIVING HISTORY:

Named for Jim and Winnie Shankle, known as the first Newton County blacks to buy land and become local leaders after gaining freedom by emancipation. Both were born in slavery: Jim in 1811, Winnie in 1814. After Winnie and her three children were sold to a Texan, Jim ran away from his Mississippi owner. He traveled by night, foraged for food, swam streams (including the Mississippi River), walking out of sight the 400 miles to East Texas. At dusk one day he found Winnie beside her master’s spring. After slipping out food for several days, Winnie told her master, who arranged to buy Jim. The couple worked side by side, bringing up Winnie’s children and six of their own: Wash Rollins, Tobe Perkins, Mary McBride, George, Henry, Houston, John, Harriet (Odom) and B. M. (Lewis). In 1867, they began buying land, and with an associate, Steve McBride, eventually owned over 4,000 acres. In their neighborhood were prosperous farms, churches, a cotton gin, grist mills, sawmills, schools — including McBride College (1883-1909), built by Steve McBride. Jim and Winnie Shankle are buried in Jim Shankle Cemetery. A great-grandson, A.T. Odom, has been guardian of this heritage. Annual homecomings have been held since 1941.

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teers were on hand to help. The next year, Clay teamed up with Andrea Roberts, an assistant professor at Texas A&M and the founder of the Freedom Colonies Project. Together, they began working on the festival and introduced freedom colony activities into the symposium. In addition to food-centered presentations, the symposium began to offer sessions exploring the histories, social foundation and people connected with the more than 500 freedom colonies in Texas. This year the newly named Aya Symposium will be held at Prairie View A&M a few days before the festival. Aya refers to the Adinkra “fern” symbol that connotes endurance and resourcefulness – the epitome of Texas freedom colonies. Historians, authors, preservationists and archeologists come from across the state and nation to be presenters. The Texas Purple Hull Pea Festival continues to grow in attendance and programming. It’s still a family affair and includes music, seminars and, of course, pea picking, pea shelling and pea eating! Clay dreams big and hopes that attendees will recognize the importance of family history, freedom colonies and heritage preservation.

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LEGACY TEXAS STATE LIBRARY & ARCHIVES

WINDOW

Texas Spanish TO

The Laredo Archives, discovered by a custodian in the Webb County Courthouse, shed essential light on the development of the city

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N 1768, the Spanish Crown granted a charter to a fledgling settlement on a ford of the Rio Grande in the colonial frontier province of Nuevo Santander. The village had been founded 13 years earlier by Tomás Sánchez de la Barrera y Garza, a former soldier in the Spanish royal army who’d established a ranch on the south side of the river. In 1755, he was granted permission to establish a town on the north bank by José de Escandón, the first governor of the colony stretching from the Pánuco River in present-day Mexico to the Guadalupe River in presentday Texas. Within three years, Laredo was the most popular crossing point between Nuevo Santander and Coahuila/Nuevo León. Over the next 250 years, the small river town would develop into a robust administrative center for many governing interests — first for the distant royal court in Spain, then

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by SUSAN FLOYD

Texas State Library and Archives Commission 1201 Brazos St. Austin, TX 78711 (512) 463-5455 tsl.texas.gov

HOURS

Mon.–Fri. 8 am–5 pm Second Saturdays 9 am–4 pm

St. Mary’s University Louis J. Blume Library 1 Camino Santa Maria San Antonio, TX 78228 (210) 436-3441 lib.stmarytx.edu/home

University of North Texas Portal to Texas History texashistory.unt.edu Follow @TSLAC on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for daily updates on the agency’s work to ensure Texans have access to the information they need to lead informed, productive and fulfilled lives.

for a succession of state governments in independent Mexico; for the short-lived Republic of the Rio Grande, the border zone claimed by both Mexico and Texas from 1837 to 1848; and, after the Mexican-American War and the resulting 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, for the State of Texas in the U.S. This long and complex history is one of both agricultural growth and urban expansion, cotton and cattle, rail and oil, border violence and hybrid identities. Much of this engaging history is quintessentially that of Texas as a whole and is recorded in the Laredo Archives, formally the Spanish Archives of Laredo, which span 1749 to 1896 and include nearly 3,500 individual handwritten documents. The Spanish-language portion of the archives documents the early colonial period and continues through the end of Mexico’s governance of Laredo, providing an array of

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PROCLAMATION: A printed royal edict from the Marques de Croix, dated 1769, concerns deserters from the Spanish Army. Anyone harboring deserters, the edict declares, will be prosecuted; those who turn in such deserters will be remunerated.

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evidence of the development of the town, including: boundary surveys and land allotments; church and school censuses; Spanish royal decrees; local laws and ordinances; records of civil and criminal litigation; tax and trade statistics; wills and probate records; documentation of Indian raids; and more. A few later documents, from 1846 through 1896 and written mostly in English, further document the development of the City of Laredo and Webb County. For years, the whereabouts of these records was unknown. In 1934, after an order was given for the old papers stored in the basement of the old Webb County Courthouse to be destroyed, a custodian, Pancho Ramírez, working in conjunction with Webb County court reporter Sebron Sneed Wilcox, identified and removed the archives. Wilcox then enlisted the help of Florencio Andrés, a priest at San Agustín Church. Working together over many years without payment, Wilcox and Andrés diligently cleaned, identified and arranged the papers, which had long been neglected and had, in addition, been exposed to fire, flooding and humidity, resulting in damage to many of the documents.

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The original papers are now in the legal custody of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, but they’re physically held at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio per the terms of a 1972 settlement between those two entities and the City of Laredo. In the 1970s, St. Mary’s filmed the entire collection of manuscripts on 16 rolls of 35mm microfilm; copies, along with partial typescript transcripts created by the federal Works Progress Administration between 1936 and 1942, are held at the State Archives in Austin. These records are open and available for research. Seven comprehensive indexes to St. Mary’s microfilm copies were created by Robert D. Wood, S.M., between 1993 and 2005 and are available online through the University of North Texas Portal to Texas History. The Laredo Archives were digitized and made available on the Portal website in 2017 through a U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services grant, awarded by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission TexTreasures program, greatly expanding access to this major collection that documents some of the earliest recorded history of Texas.

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LEGACY HISTORIES

Land INGrants

Early

TEXAS

Though uninterrupted Spanish occupation of Texas began in 1716 and lasted about a century, the Hispanic hold on locale and language has indelibly marked place names and lifeways of Texas

H

by JESÚS F. DE LA TEJA

OW DID ASPIRING landowners come to the future Lone Star State? One of the state’s most respected historians helps readers and visitors appreciate the earliest transfers of land title to immigrants, and the forces driving them, that have yielded the distinctive character of Texas. Land grant characteristics — shape, area, location, legal status — evince the nature and extent of settlement on Mexico’s northeastern frontier. Understanding the differences and similarities in the sizes, uses and legal forms of Spanish and Mexican land grants — and the process by which these grants were recorded — is important to fully appreciate Texas’ development from the time it was first settled in the early 18th century through Texas independence and beyond. Despite a persistent misconception that Spanish and Mexican frontiersmen were lacking in drive and resourcefulness, it was economic incentives, geographic and geological attractions, and the human resources to fully occupy a vast and remote region of North America that prevented the full development of Texas.

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Ironically, given the importance that oil would play in the development of 20thcentury Texas, the region lacked the mineral wealth that might attract large numbers of Spanish colonials. Climatic conditions made farming possible only under irrigation. Ranching, the one economic activity for which the area was best suited at the time, was ubiquitous to most of northern New Spain, and important cattle and sheep operations closer to colonial markets made this activity less profitable in more remote areas. Mountain ranges, broad stretches of desert and semi-desert, and unnavigable rivers and limited water resources formed natural barriers to Hispanic advance. Limited demographic growth and resistant indigenous populations meant a lack of people with which to fill the empty spaces.

Land distribution in Spanish and Mexican times

In the absence of economic, water or demographic pressures, Texas remained a buffer zone throughout the 18th century. Consequently, land distribution in the Spanish province of Texas — an area which in Spanish and Mexican days did not include far-southern and far-western present-day Texas — was often haphazard and imprecise. Only a handful of rural land grant documents survive, most along the San Antonio River valley and in East Texas around Nacogdoches. These grants took up long stretches along river and creek banks and ranged in size from approximately 5,000 to more than 60,000 acres. This isn’t to say there were no conflicts; in 18th-century San Antonio, numerous disputes erupted between missions and civilian ranchers over property and cattle rights. In the 1730s, conflicts centered on water rights in the San Antonio River; the following decade over mission Indian labor and the proximity of missions and town; and in the 1760s and 1770s over ranch land and cattle ownership. However, in the isolation of the frontier, with the constant threat of Indian attack and the costs of legally establishing ownership, compromise and accommodation were the normal results of disputes. Then, in the early 19th century, the period following Louisiana’s sale to the United States was one of furious activity on the part of Crown officials in promoting settlement of the border province. New settlements were founded on the Trinity and San Marcos rivers, ranch titles were issued to a number of Bexareños and Nacogdocheans, 86

and the province’s population was reinforced by the introduction of military forces from neighboring jurisdictions. This spurt of growth, between 1801 and 1812, was interrupted and, in fact, reversed, by the Gutiérrez-Magee invasion during which a largely American force captured the province. After Commandant General Joaquín Arredondo retook Texas in August 1813, the province was marked by a prolonged period of Indian hostilities, crop failures and economic stagnation. At independence, Texas was no better off than it had been a generation earlier. In that section of the Rio Grande that today separates Texas from Coahuila, land grants weren’t of great importance during the Spanish period. The settlement and missions of San Juan Bautista del Río Grande — today’s Guerrero, Coahuila — enjoyed use of lands on both sides of the river without reference to legal title for much of the 18th century. As far as is known, only two grants on the left bank of the Rio Grande in what is now northern Webb County were made before the founding of Palafox (halfway between Laredo and San Juan Bautista Presidio) in 1810. In the 1810s, a handful of grants were made surrounding the new town, established as part of an effort to more fully settle the frontier, but only three have survived. For the most part, the region between the Rio Grande and the Medina River remained vacant until the 1830s. Matters were similar in the El Paso region, which until the Mexican War belonged to New Mexico/Chihuahua. Grants to the towns in the Rio Grande Valley downstream from El Paso rested upon titles supposedly issued by the king of Spain in the mid-18th century. An original grant to Fray Joaquín de Hinojosa in 1692 covered the entire region but was vague as to its purpose. Until Mexican independence, farming and ranching took place within the bounds of the town tracts, approximately four leagues (18,000 acres) each. Land use to the north of these tracts was informal and, apparently, communal. Interestingly, although Ysleta, Socorro, and Senecú claimed lands under an unlocated Royal decree of 1751, there is no evidence at all of a grant to the town of El Paso del Norte, present-day Ciudad Juárez. It was only in 1820 that a legal matter came up in the area that led to the discovery of this fact. Throughout the Spanish colonial period, then, the western Rio Grande settlements developed without much thought to the legal character of their lands, and no

thought was given at all to claiming the lands that today constitute northwestern Texas and the Panhandle. In the lower Rio Grande valley, matters were considerably different. José de Escandón’s colonizing efforts brought large numbers of settlers into a region of sparse water supplies and marginal lands. Largescale farming in this area was limited by the difficulty of establishing gravity flow irrigation works on the Rio Grande. However, ranching, largely dependent on the river as a stable water supply, the need for common defense against Indian hostilities and the relatively large colonizing population combined to create greater pressures for secure titles. The granting of porciones, long narrow tracts of land encompassing from 5,000 to 12,000 acres, assured the valley settlers of access to river water on an equal basis. In all, some 200 porciones were surveyed in 1767. Land occupation followed a natural and logical, if slow, pattern in the Valley. Between the distribution of porciones and the end of the 18th century, only eight grants were made north of the Rio Grande, all to the east of the established settlements except that of José Vázquez Borrego. These grants were huge — the smallest being more than 53,000 acres and the largest over 600,000 — both because there was limited competition for lands away from the river during the early years, and because the quality of the land was poor. In the first decade of the nineteenth century Crown officials made another twenty grants, including land in all the counties later to form the triangle between Corpus Christi Bay, Laredo and Brownsville. These later grants, made after the introduction of limits on the amount of land one individual could obtain, were typically 17,000 to 18,000 acres in size, the two largest grants (101,000 and 78,000 acres, respectively) being made to families and not individuals. Yet here, too, the outbreak of the Mexican War of Independence brought a halt to territorial expansion and the granting of titles. Mexico’s independence carried radical changes to Texas’ development. As Anglo Americans and Mexicans from the interior began arriving in Texas in large numbers after 1821, governments national and local took steps to properly organize the land system, which retained elements of Spanish law and continued to rely on local recordkeeping and generous amounts of acreage. The steady rise in land values brought on by increased competition for good land led the old families to seek validation of land occu-

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pied for half a century or more. Beginning in the mid-1820s, many Tejano families cleared titles to land previously held extralegally. It was also during this time period that the mission system disappeared and with them the only community land grants that existed in the province. At final secularization — 1793 for San Antonio de Valero, the 1820s for the other Texas missions — the farmland was parceled out to individual mission families, both Indian and Spanish, and the extensive ranches reverted to the public domain. A number of local families took advantage of the situation to add to their own holdings, as did land speculators from Coahuila. Impresarios in the Refugio, Goliad and Victoria areas also incorporated mission ranch lands into their enterprises.

able land mitigated against any impresario enterprise. The sorting out of land rights in the region, the records of which remained in the possession of Mexican authorities south of the Rio Grande, would remain the sources of lawsuits until the end of the 20th century. The story of how the Republic and State of Texas dealt with its Hispanic land legacy is beyond the scope of this overview. Despite the dramatic transformation of the landscape, both in its use and ownership, that transpired after 1836, much remains to remind us of that earlier history in the place names, the terminology and the customs of Texas’ rural culture. Indeed, we don’t need

to go any further than the word “ranch” to remind us of how much Texas owes to its Spanish Mexican history. Jesús F. (Frank) de la Teja, who began his immersion in Texas’ past as a researcher for novelist James Michener while a graduate student at the University of Texas, retired in 2017 as professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of the Southwest at Texas State University-San Marcos. Since 2018 he has served as CEO of the Texas State Historical Association. This article is adapted from the author’s earlier essay on the subject.

Land records in early archives

Because of the decentralized distribution system adapted from colonial law, land records were maintained in over 11 different archives in Texas alone. San Felipe de Austin, Stephen F. Austin’s headquarters, housed the records for all five of his impresario contracts as well as individual grants made within the contracts’ boundaries. Nacogdoches was the site of a local land archive as well as headquarters for the Burnet, Vehlein and Zavala colonies, and for special commissioners Charles Taylor, George W. Smyth, José Antonio Padilla and Juan Francisco Madero. The ephemeral town of Viesca was the site of Sterling Robertson’s land office. Green DeWitt was headquartered at Gonzales and Martín de León at Victoria, both towns founded by the impresarios. San Antonio and Goliad maintained local records, the latter’s ultimately winding up at San Antonio after the war. Power and Hewetson petitioned for and received the secularized mission of Nuestra Señora del Refugio as their headquarters, site of the present town of Refugio. And San Patricio was founded by the Irish impresarios McMullen and McGloin, as the principal town of their colony.

Texas after Mexican independence

In the Trans-Nueces, Mexican independence brought renewed interest in land grants. The empty spaces left between the old Spanish grants were quickly swallowed up in new grants that Tamaulipan authorities continued to make until the time of the Mexican War. Tamaulipas land law — based on that of Coahuila y Tejas — also called for impresario development; however, the quality of availSUMMER 2019

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STATE HISTORIAN

PRESERVING

History THE OF

Those Who

LIVED IT DR. MONTE MONROE Texas State Historian

by

MARGARET HOOGSTRA

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to Texas State Historian, the Stories of People Who Lived History are What Matter,” by Glenys Young, Texas Tech Today, Dec. 17, 2018. Read the story online at: today.ttu.edu/posts/2018/12/Stories/monte-monroe

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LEGACY

N SEPTEMBER 2018, Monte Monroe, Ph.D., became the first archivist and the first West Texan selected to serve as Texas State Historian, appointed by the governor upon the recommendation of both the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas State Historical Association. As noted in Gov. Greg Abbott’s official statement, “[Monroe] is responsible for increasing public knowledge about the rich and diverse history of the state, encouraging the teaching of Texas history in public schools, consulting with state leaders to promote Texas history, and making presentations on Texas history topics.” Monroe serves as the archivist for the Southwest Collection/ Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University. He earned a bachelor’s in literature and history from Stephen F. Austin University and a master’s and doctorate in history from Texas Tech. He’s a former board member of the East Texas Historical Association, the West Texas Historical Association and the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board. He currently serves as chair of the Texas State Historical Association Archives Committee, which supports the mission of the Texas State Library and Archives, as well as educates state leaders about the importance of keeping state records open for public research and educational use. A profile of Monroe, “For a Man Who Went From School Janitor to Texas State Historian, the Stories of People Who Lived History are What Matter,” was published in December 2018 in Texas Tech Today. A link to the full article is at the bottom of this page; however, an excerpt follows. Through his position with the Southwest Collection, Monroe has interacted with many interesting people and has become well known in Texas historical circles. When asked about his favorite records in the Southwest Collection, Monroe shakes his head. “All you have to do is hold a letter or a diary,” he said. “You hold these things in your hands, and you’re hooked on history. They’re just priceless nuggets; they put flesh on the bones of history.” Texas Tech That’s what makes it especially galling Southwest Collection/ to Monroe when such treasures are lost. Special Collections “To me, history from the ground up – Library from average people up – is important,” 15th St. & Detroit Ave. Lubbock, TX 79409 Monroe said. “We’ve got presidents’ papers (806) 742-3749 in the national and other archives. At the swco.ttu.edu Southwest Collection, we even have many congressmen’s papers, including George Mahon, Kent Hance, Larry Combest and Randy Neugebauer. We have all those leaders’ papers, or what’s left of them. What we don’t have are the stories of those common people who lived history, too.” In his newest role, as Texas State Historian, Monroe will have numerous opportunities to talk to people around the state and encourage them to preserve their nuggets of history. In fact, that’s one of his key duties. “I want to talk about average people and how they lived history, their experiences,” Monroe said. “I want to help them preserve that history … For scholars to document history, they have to have these nuts and bolts. My job is to try and preserve history, care for it and make it accessible for research purposes.” Excerpt reprinted with permission: “For a Man Who Went from School Janitor

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