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Texas History

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate the Mexican Army’s defeat of the French at Puebla, Mexico on the 5th of May, 1862.

The story begins after Texas won their independence from Mexico in 1836. The Mexican government was deeply in debt. They were unable to pay their national loans to England, Spain and France. The Mexican president, Benito Juarez, was able to negotiate repayment with the English and Spanish governments. However, the French refused to agree to terms and sent in an occupying force.

The French ruler, Louis Napoleon III, wanted to create a new empire in Mexico and Prince Maximilian (who was later excuted) was sent to rule over it. The Mexicans rebelled and gathered a small army to fight the French. The Mexican troops were led by Texas born General Ignacio Zaragosa and Colonel Porfirio Diaz. These Mexican patriots met and defeated the stronger French army about 100 miles from Mexico City at Puebla on May 5, 1862. The town was renamed Puebla de Zaragoza to honor the Mexican General.

Eventually the French did overtake Mexico and there were many more battles to be fought. After the US Civil War, the Americans put pressure on the French to leave Mexico and supported the Mexicans cause. The French finally left Mexico in 1866 and soon after President Benito Juarez was restored to power.

The Battle at Puebla de Zaragoza represented Mexico’s determination to remain a free and independent nation.

Today, Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Texas center on Mexican culture and ethnic pride.

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Texas History

One Ranger : A Memoir by Joaquin Jackson

One Ranger : A Memoir
One Ranger : A Memoir

The great book begins with the Texas legend of a single Ranger sent to restore the peace in a rowdy boomtown. The story goes, it only takes one Ranger to stop one riot.

“That’s one story. There are countless others that belong to the hundreds of men who are part of a proud tradition close to two centuries old. I am only one Ranger out of those who came before me and those who will ride on ahead. Only one story belongs to me.”

Joaquin Jackson shares with us his story and those of the “Desperadoes and Dumbasses” he encounters along the way. The personal accounts range from amusing burglars and horse thieves, to dramatic and tragic stories of criminals in the Big Bend Area.

Considered to be one of the best books about the Texas Rangers, One Ranger is flying off the shelves – as well it should!

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Texas History

Gone to Texas

Gone to Texas, also known as GTT, was a common phrase in the 19th century utilized by Americans moving to Texas, which at the time was part of Mexico. The phrase was often written on the doors or posted as a sign on fences just before abandoning their property. Gone to Texas was particularly popular as americans were looking to escape debt incurred during the Panic of 1819.

The phrase was made famous after Davy Crockett said “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas,” when he was narrowly defeated for re-election in Tennessee. He soon followed through on that pledge.

The Texas Governor’s Office of Economic Development has recently been utilizing the “Gone to Texas” slogan as part of its plan to attract businesses to Texas.

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Texas History

Old Rip – 31 Years in Eastland Couthouse

Have you heard the story of Old Rip, the horned frog?

In 1897 when the courthouse in Eastland Texas was built, Rip accidentally got caught in the construction. Thirty years later the courthouse was torn down and Old Rip was found sealed alive in the cornerstone!

Old Rip Eastland Courthouse
Old Rip Eastland Courthouse

Old timers were fond to recount tall tales that a horned toad could live 100 years without food or water. But this was totally unexpected when Old Rip was found alive.

Old Rip was reported in the news of the day and his fame spread through papers and news reels. Rip even went on a tour of the country and visited President Calvin Coolidge at the White House.

He lived the life of fame and luxury for a year until he finally froze to death during a very cold winter. Old Rip’s body has been preserved in a glass exhibit at the new Eastland Courthouse.

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Texas History

HemisFair 1968 in San Antonio Texas

Hemisfair 1968 San Antonio Texas
Hemisfair 1968 San Antonio Texas

With great fanfare, Lady Bird Johnson along with Governor John Connally and other dignitaries opened the HemisFair in San Antonio Texas On April 6th, 1968. Later on July 4th, President Lyndon Baines Johnson gave an Independence Day speech at HemisFair 68.

HemisFair 68 commemorated the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio. The theme of the expo was the shared cultures of both the U.S. and Latin America. It was also officially recognized as a “World’s Fair” by the Bureau of International Expositions.

Countries from all over the world had exhibits in the “Las Plazas del Mundo” where over 20 pavilions represented individual nations. The exhibits were wonderful and there was a busy market place of international shopping.

The main structure that towered above the fair was the 600+ foot Tower of the Americas. Glass walled elevators took you up to the rotating restaurant and observation deck at the top. The lines were very long to go up to the top. Instead of waiting, my friend and I chose to go see a movie about insects taking over the world, lol.

Though only open from April 6 through October 6, 1968 – the HemisFair made quite an impact on San Antonio. In the immediate area of the expo, 24 historic homes were renovated and restored to former glory. It was also responsible for the beautification and expansion of the now famous River walk.

Today HemisFair Park still features the Tower of the Americas. Visitors to the park can enjoy 15 acres of gardens, water features, shops and a children’s play ground. There are 2 museums – the Institute Texan Cultures and Instituto De Mexicano. Nearby is the original United States Pavilion of the fair, which has been converted into a Federal Courthouse.

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Texas History

The History of Dublin Dr Pepper

Dublin Dr Pepper
Dublin Dr Pepper

Dr Pepper, one of the first major soft drinks, was invented  in Waco, Texas by Charles Alderton in 1885. While working at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store, he experimented making new drinks for the soda fountain customers. By blending the 23 available flavors, he came up with a unique soft drink formula. Dr Pepper quickly became a bit hit.

In 1904 Dr Pepper was featured at the World’s Fair Exposition in St. Louis. It has been promoted with many slogans through the years from “King of Beverages” to the “wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too” commercials.

No one knows for sure but legend has it that Dr Pepper was named for the father of a girl he had once loved. Another legend is that it contains prune juice – this is not true.

The oldest Dr Pepper bottling plant is in Dublin, Texas. In 1891 S.H. Prim bought the franchise rights and began bottling Dr Pepper. About fifty cases a day came from the plant in the beginning. You can still get the original formula there made with pure Imperial Cane Sugar. (the flavor is different and in my opinion, better) Other bottling plants changed to corn syrup in the 1960’s.

Due to an unfortunate legal battle with Plano, Texas based Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, the Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Company will no longer manufacture Imperial Pure Cane Sugar Dr Pepper at its bottling plant as of January 2012.

For more information visit Old Doc’s Soda Shop in Dublin Texas and the Dr Pepper museum in Waco Texas.

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Texas History

The History of Saint’s Roost

Back in 1878 the Reverend Lewis Henry Carhart had an idea to establish a town where Christian values would be promoted. Activities such as drinking and gambling were looked down upon and there were no saloons allowed. The local cowboys nicknamed the town “Saint’s Roost.”

Named for his wife Clara, Clarendon sprang to life along the banks of Carrol Creek. This Panhandle town was promoted by the Rev. Carhart and his brother in law to settlers back east and was backed by an English Investment and Land agency.

Clara Carhart never really took to her namesake and spent most of her time living near Dallas. The Reverend also didn’t stay long in Clarendon. He served as a Methodist Minister in Dallas, left and went to England, lived in Arkansas and finally moved California.

Saint’s Roost town moved in 1887 to be closer to the railroad and have the advantages of a railroad town. Clarendon prospered and eventually became the county seat of Donley County. In it’s heyday Clarendon boasted the first newspaper in the panhandle, a college, public school, photography studio, many business and even a 2 story hotel.

When the Greenbelt Reservoir was built in 1868, the original townsite of Saint’s Roost was flooded by water. The original cemetery was moved.

If you plan on visiting nearby Palo Duro Canyon, stop by and visit Clarendon. You will love seeing the 1894 stone courthouse and be sure to visit the Saints Roost Museum! There is a lot to see and do in the Clarendon area and the people are very friendly.

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Texas History

Where is Needmore Texas?

Where is Needmore Texas?
Where is Needmore Texas?

Most of us have seen the Bluebell Ice Cream commercial – where in Needmore they need more Bluebell Ice Cream. So I got to wondering, just where is Needmore, Texas?

According to the Handbook of Texas, there are 4 Needmore towns in Texas. There is also Needmore Creek in the far north county of Hemphill.

The oldest Needmore was established in 1850, Delta County. They couldn’t quite decide what to call their town, which was also known as : Jernigan, Pecan, Pecan Branch, and Eureka. The town officially became Needmore when the post office was named in 1886.

Our next Needmore appeared around 1900 in East Texas, Nacogdoches County. This was followed closely in 1904 by a Needmore in Terry County. The last Needmore came in 1920 Bailey County.

All of these communities were apparently named because they needed more settlers. None ever grew to be large towns and today only a few homes mark the spot of once hopeful settlement.

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Texas History

Six Flags Over Texas History

The Six Flags Over Texas is used to describe the six nations that had sovereignty over portions of the territory of the U.S. state of Texas.  The “six flags” are also shown on the reverse of the Seal of Texas.

 

Spanish Flag over Texas

Spain: 1519 – 1821
The first explorations into Texas were by the Spanish. The first was a map making expedition in 1519 led by Alfonso Alvarez de Pineda and Cabeza de Vaca. Soon after came explorers Francisco Vasquez de Coronoda in 1540 and Jaun de Onate in 1601.

 

Flag of France over TexasFrance: 1685 – 1690
French explorer Robert La Salle established Fort St. Louis on Matagorda Bay. He was hoping to start a settlement in the French Louisiana Territory at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Not realizing he was so far off, 150 people landed on the banks of the Garcitas Creek. Life was extremely hard and their numbers slowly dwindled to about 40 by 1687. La Salle left for the Great Lakes for French re-enforcements but was killed by his own men on the journey. The few remaining inhabitants of Fort St. Louis were all killed by Karankawa Indians in 1689.

 

Flag of Mexico over TexasMexico: 1821 – April 21, 1836 – San Jacinto Day
In 1821 Mexico gained independence from Spain and the region of Texas became part of Mexico. The Austin family received a grant to settle 300 US citizens in the new territory. These settlers were led by Stephen F. Austin. Many more soon followed. Santa Anna was elected governor of Mexico in 1832 and soon after sent troops into Texas to force martial law. The Texans first rebelled at Goliad in 1835. A troop of Mexican soldiers had come to get their cannon and the Texians refused – making a flag that said “Come and Take it!” The Texians then took over the city of San Antonio. On March 2, 1836 at the town of Washington on the Brazos, a group of 59 representatives voted to declare Texas independence. Just 4 days later, on March the 6th, Santa Anna led his army to the Alamo where he had all survivors executed. He marched on to Goliad and had everyone shot there as well. General Sam Houston and his army of Texians faced their final battle with Santa Anna along the banks of Buffalo Bayou. They fought and won independence for Texas at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.

 

Republic of Texas Flag over TexasThe Republic of Texas: 1836 – 1845
Sam Houston was elected the first president of the Republic of Texas. The small town of Waterloo was chosen to be the capitol and it was renamed Austin – in honor of Stepehen F. Austin. The last president of the Republic of Texas was elected in 1844 – Anson Jones. He ruled just 1 year before Texas joined the United States.

 

Confederate Flag over TexasConfederate States: 1861 – 1865
When the Civil War broke out in 1861, The State of Texas decided to join with the Southern Confederate states. Governor Sam Houston resigned and refused to swear allegiance with the Confederates. The news of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation did not reach Texas until June 19th, 1865. The last battle of the Civil War was fought at Brownsville on May 11, 1865 – a month after the formal surrender of General Lee at Appomattox. Texas was readmitted to the Union on March 30, 1870.  Anson Jones was the last president of the Republic of Texas. In the changing of the flags ceremony he said, “The final act in this great drama is now performed, the Republic of Texas is no more.”

 

United States Flag over Texas

United States: 1845 – 1861 and 1870 – present

In 1845 Texas became the 28th state of the US. The US president at the time was James K. Polk. In a special ceremony J. Pinckney Henderson became the first governor of the State of Texas.