Texas Insights - October 2012

Volume III, Issue 2

What’s New?

The musical voice of Texas presents itself as vast and diverse as the Lone Star State’s landscape.  According to Casey Monahan, Director of the Texas Music office, “To travel Texas with music as your guide is a year-round opportunity to experience first-hand this amazing cultural force…Texas music offers a vibrant and enjoyable experience through which to understand and enjoy Texas culture.” Using Texas music and artists in the classroom, is a great way to share the vast history and culture of our great state.

Building on the work of The Handbook of Texas Music that was published in 2003 and in partnership with the Governor's Texas Music Office and the Center for Texas Music History (Texas State University – San Marcos), the Handbook of Texas Music, Second Edition, offers completely updated entries and features new and expanded coverage of the musicians, ensembles, dance halls, festivals, businesses, orchestras, organizations, and genres that have helped to define the state’s musical legacy. For more information on the Handbook of Texas Music, second edition, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Along similar lines as the Handbook of Texas Music, is the special exhibit, Texas Music Roadtrip, at The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. This exhibit allows viewers to take a journey through Texas and a century of music.  This special exhibition explores the people and places that put Texas music on the map.  From the explosion of ‘30s jazz in Dallas’s Deep Ellum, to the emergence of ‘50s Rock and Roll in the Panhandle, to the rise of zydeco, Tejano, and country rock – Texas Music Roadtrip, takes you past the musical landmarks that compose the Texas landscape.

Guest-curated by Dr. Gary Hartman, the director of the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University – San Marcos, this extensive exhibit; one of the largest ever to focus on the history and impact of Texas music; occupies 7,000 square feet and features more than 150 rare and fascinating artifacts. Objects include vintage photos, elaborate costumes, gig posters, hand-written lyrics, and a variety of historic instruments, including the baby grand piano from the Armadillo World Headquarters and an extremely rare chance to see Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Number One” Stratocaster guitar. 

To celebrate the closing of the Texas Music Roadtrip, on October 14, 2012, join writer, folklorist, photographer, and filmmaker, Alan Govenar, who will present his new book, Everyday Music. This special event and book signing will occur at 1:00 p.m. and is free with admission to the exhibit. A special live performance featuring Wes Westmoreland on the fiddle will follow. For more information on Texas Music Roadtrip, visit TeachingTexas.org. 

Texas History Conference

Celebrate our great state heritage with the Region 6 Education Service Center and the Texas State Historical Association at the Texas History Conference in Huntsville, November 1-2, 2012. Presenters include: The Portal to Texas History, Teachers Curriculum Institute, Texas Council on Economic Education, the Texas General Land Office, Dianh Zike Academy, Texas Archive of the Moving Image, First Day Covers, the Texas State Historical Association, Houston Arts and Media, and Not Even Past. For additional information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker Exhibit

Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker are well-known figures from the frontier days of Texas and the West. Historians have written much about Comanche history, but there have been few public displays from this important period in history. Join the Fort Worth Central Library to view their special exhibit, Comanche Nation: The Story of Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker. This exhibit consists of over 60 historical items and rare objects, and will be on display in the Fort Worth Central Library Gallery from September 20 through December 15, 2012. For additional information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Featured Institution

The Portal to Texas History

Ten years ago Texas history teachers had few options when looking for primary source materials to support their lessons. But now there is a rich reservoir of digital photographs, documents, maps, artifacts, and more that are freely available online through The Portal to Texas History. More than 200 institutions, which include universities, historical societies, private collections, government agencies, and museums, have contributed their collections to The Portal to Texas History. Each day thousands of teachers are discovering ways to use these wonderful resources in the classroom. Among the many treasures in the Portal are photographs of early Texas pioneers and Native Americans, historical maps that document explorers’ routes and Indian trails, the transcribed correspondence of Stephen F. Austin, and historical newspapers providing firsthand accounts of events in Texas dating back to 1820.

Currently, the Portal has more than 220,000 historical materials that can be searched through a simple search interface with the ability to narrow a search by resource type, decade, county, or institution. Photographs, maps, artifacts, letters, and personal memoirs -- all capture students’ imagination and bring history to life. For example, teachers can demonstrate what the newspapers were reporting during the Texas Revolution in the spring of 1836 by conducting a keyword search for “Barret Travis” and limiting it to the decade 1830-39, retrieving 31 issues of the Telegraph and Texas Register. From these newspapers students can read actual accounts of events during the revolution including a letter dated March 3rd from Colonel Barret Travis to a friend describing his dire circumstances at the Alamo. 

As a way to save teachers time, The Portal to Texas History team created a companion website, Resources 4 Educators, which has more than sixty lessons that incorporate primary source materials from the Portal. (Also available through TeachingTexas.org) All of the lessons are aligned to Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards and provide links to additional resources and background information. Most of the lessons include a PowerPoint lecture and interactive learning activities for 4th and 7th grade classes. Teachers have claimed different lessons as their favorite, but one popular lesson that may be timely now is Early Explorers: Race for Empire. This lesson helps students understand the urgency that European countries had in claiming new lands for their empires and provides links to historical maps in the Portal that shows how territories changed over time.

The Portal to Texas History itself is constantly growing and each month there is something new to discover. At the request of teachers, University of North Texas digitized and added more than 5,000 items for its Texas Cultures Online project sponsored by the Amon Carter Foundation. This project reveals the many ethnic cultures of Texas through photographs and other historical items belonging to seventeen organizations. As part of the project, the Institute of Texan Cultures contributed its Texas Folklife Festival collection of photographs that depict folk dancing and food ways of Czech, German, Cajun, Polish, Scandinavian, Lebanese, Mexican and Native American cultures.

Whether looking for a rare photograph of pioneer’s sod house or a letter from a Civil War soldier, there is a good chance that one can find it in the Portal. Many have said that when browsing The Portal to Texas History it is easy to lose track of time because there is something for everyone, especially Texas history teachers.

Historian's Corner

Included in the Revolution
By James L. Haley

During the summer of 2012 I was given the job of rewriting the so-called “Hero Tour” of the Texas State Capitol, which the corps of docents will give next spring in the weeks surrounding Independence Day on March 2. While making the tour livelier, I was also instructed to make it more “inclusive.”  The telling of Texas history, as it evolved over generations, has become a largely white story. In early Texas, of course, Anglos were the majority population and held the larger part of the stage of events. But later decades of racism and Anglocentrism made the story even whiter. Thus over time, African-American and Hispanic Texans have become disengaged from the story, unless they come to it with a degree in “revisionist” history and are intent on indicting Anglos in the Texas of old, or vindicating a (perhaps even exaggerated) ethnic narrative.

My job was relatively easy when it came to African-Americans.  When the revolution opened on October 2, 1835 with the firing of the “Come And Take It” cannon, the Texians suffered no casualties when routing Lieutenant Castañeda’s company of dragoons. They did meet resistance when they pushed on to Goliad, and one of their number, Samuel McCulloch, Jr., was grievously wounded by a musket ball in his shoulder. Not many people know that the first casualty of the revolution was a black guy, a free man of color from South Carolina.

Similarly, at the end of the siege of Bexar, Ben Milam may have been inspirational when he yelled, “Who will follow old Ben Milam into San Antonio?” But in fact his men delayed assaulting the city until Hendrick Arnold, another free man of color (and Deaf Smith’s son-in-law), returned to the camp, and he led the attack. (Now, just because he was brave does not necessarily make him a nice man. I doubt we will discuss that although he was himself free, he owned his daughter Harriet, and sold her for $750. Some aspects of history are probably best left to the classroom!) 
An inclusive but still balanced history becomes trickier when dealing with the Mexican component.  During one of the regular (that is, non-revolutionary) tours, a New England academic asked me, “So, who was the aggressor in the Texas revolution?” I answered, that that is not so easy.  American colonists in Texas swore loyalty to Mexico. But what did that mean when, for the entire period of Mexican sovereignty over Texas, the central government bounced like a pinball among democracy and emperor and dictator, and firing squads were ever busy? If they swore loyalty to any government that should be thrust upon them, then revolution would not be justified anywhere on earth.
One place where I can perhaps meaningfully address this question is in the senate chamber, in the monumental Henry McArdle painting, “Dawn at the Alamo.” Pictured there sheltered beneath the north wall, are Susanna Dickinson and her fifteen month old baby, Angelina. Many of us were raised on the story that Susanna and the baby were the only survivors of the Alamo, but that is not true. Apart from a couple of slaves, whose lives were spared, there were also about twenty Latinas and their children who survived the battle. They were the wives, children, and other relatives of Mexicans in the Alamo who fought on the Texian side.  Usually, tourists’ eyebrows fly up at mention of this; most people have never heard about them. But, there were ten Tejanos who died fighting as federalists, on the Texas side. There would have been a lot more, but they were already out scouting under Captain Juan Seguín, shortly to be given the crucial job of protecting Sam Houston’s rear as he retreated.
Susanna herself and her baby were hiding in the sacristy of the chapel (not where McArdle chose to picture her) with Ana Esparza and her four children. Ana’s husband, Gregorio Esparza, was the only Alamo defender to be given a Christian burial. This circumstance arose because his body was found by his brother, Francisco, who was a soldier in Santa Anna’s reserve. Just as in the American Civil War, with families divided and brother fighting brother, this iteration of Mexico’s long internal discord was no different.
Two other Latinas who were hiding in the Long Barracks had significant stories to tell. They were Juana Navarro Peres Alsbury and her sister, Gertrudis Navarro. They were hiding very quietly, first because their brother, José Antonio Navarro, had signed the Declaration of Independence, secondly because Juana was married to Horace Alsbury, a doctor in the rebel army, and thirdly because both girls’ godmother had been Ursula de Veramendi, wife of Jim Bowie. The Mexican and Anglo communities were in fact intimately interconnected, and there was significant opposition to the Santanista dicatorship. One of the Navarro descendents told me recently there was a fourth reason that the women were hiding so quietly—that Santa Anna had tried to get his hands on Juana, and the family gave him the cold shoulder. The dictator was a notorious womanizer, and families hid their daughters from him.
Last but not least, Santa Anna is the key.  In my months of giving Capitol tours, I have noticed that it is, by and large, Tejanos, perhaps imbued with years of chicano activism, who view the Texas revolution as an imperialist, blue-eyed North American land theft. Visitors from the Mexican interior are more likely to shake their heads and testify that Santa Anna was the worst thing that ever happened to their country. For them, I can point across the senate to the portrait of Texas’ first vice president, Lorenzo de Zavala.  He had been a Mexican senator, governor and ambassador. Liberal and high-minded, he was everything that Santa Anna was not, and when Santa Anna abrogated the constitution and began personal rule under the siete leyes, de Zavala returned from Europe to fight him, in Texas, because it was the last place left.
Four states rebelled against the dictatorship, and by the time de Zavala returned Santanista armies had crushed three and a half of them. The Texas revolution cannot be seen as a stand-alone event, and there should be no doubt that the rebellion, which succeeded only in Texas, was a struggle for democratic government of which all ethnicities can be proud.

Featured Lesson

As you plan instruction on the Texas Revolution and Republic, make sure to include, The Saga of Sam McCulloch, from the Texas General Land Office. Sam McCulloch was the first person wounded in the Texas Revolution, and fought not only for an independent Texas, but also, as an African-American, for citizenship and land rights. This lesson plan includes an autobiography of McCulloch, various primary sources from the Texas General Land Office Archives, document analysis and other useful handouts, and extension activities that your students are sure to enjoy. To see more of the lesson, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Texas History News

Several opportunities for Texas history educators and students are available or are on the near horizon:

The Texas State Historical Association is accepting nominations for the Mary Jon and J.P. Bryan Leadership in Education Award. This annual award is to recognize and honor an outstanding history teacher in Texas. This award is open to any teacher who teaches history in Texas. The winner is presented with a cash award of $5,000. For additional information, visit www.tshaonline.org. Nomination deadline is December 14, 2012.


Humanities Texas is accepting nominations for the Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award. This award is open to any teacher who teaches a Texas History course. The winner is presented with a $5000 cash award and an additional $500 for their school to purchase instructional materials. Nomination deadline is December 12, 2012. For additional information, visit www.humanitiestexas.org.

Join Hood’s Texas Brigade Association for Plowshares into Swords: Hood’s Texas Brigade in 1862, October 26-27, as they trace the history of Hood’s Texas Brigade. Friday evening enjoy a tour of the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin, and hear the incomparable Susannah Ural as she presents letters and diaries from the soldiers of the Brigade. On Saturday, speakers, Jack Waugh, Dr. Rick McCaslin, Dr. Danny Davis, and Rick Eiserman will discuss the major battles and brigade leadership. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


Visit with Caddo Indians and experience the lives and real stories of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma during Caddo Culture Day at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in Alto, on October 6, 2012.  Learn how the Caddo Indians lived centuries ago by taking part in clay bowl making, creating corn husk dolls, making natural dyes, flint knapping, atlatl throwing, participate in a bow and arrow demonstration, guided tours, American Indian exhibits, and other family fun activities such as a live performance of Caddo Indian cultural music. Visit TeachingTexas.org for additional information.

Visit Fort McKavett State Historic Site on November 3 – 4, 2012 to participate or view the living history event, Fort McKavett, ca. 1853. Interpreters representing the soldiers of Company H, 8th US infantry will be drilling on the parade ground, carrying out fatigue details, and living the life of a soldier stationed at Fort McKavett in 1853. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


The Museum of the Big Bend is proud to announce the opening of a new exhibit, Removing the Shroud of Mystery: Archaeology in the Big Bend. The exhibit, open now till February 3, 2013, tells the story of the “First Texans”, using the clues left behind and found across the vast area of the Big Bend region of Texas. Visit TeachingTexas.org for additional information. 

The San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, the San Felipe United Methodist Church, and the Stephen F. Austin State Park will team up to present San Felipe Colonial Heritage Day (Father of Texas 2012) on Saturday, November 3, 2012. Participants will be given the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of activities such as a county store, silent auction, speakers, and other activities. This marks the 175th anniversary of the Methodist Church congregation and the Father of Texas celebration has occurred for over 80. Don’t miss being a part of this historic event. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information.
  Houston Arts and Media, Story Sloane’s Gallery and the Houston Metropolitan Research Center are proud to present the Houston History Book Fair and Symposium. This event will take place at the Historic Julia Ideson Building on November 10th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Activities will include meeting the authors of many publications, door prizes, speakers, dozens of local history books will be available for purchase, and participants will have the opportunity to have many of their book signed by authors. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.
The Texas Archive of the Moving Image is proud to present their newest addition, the Orris Brown Film Collection. Seven restored films from the Orris Brown Collection at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, featuring rare footage of the 1935 flood, President F. D. Roosevelt’s visit to the San Jacinto monument, Sam Houston’s former slave and servant Jeff Hamilton, and 1930’s advertisements for Houston-based businesses. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.
  Step back in time with the Brazoria County Historical Museum as it presents the Ninth Annual Austin Town, November 2-3, 2012. A living history re-enactment, Austin Town recalls and celebrates the lives of pioneers who settled Colonial Texas from 1821 to 1832. Set just north of Angleton, the fictitious “Austin Town” features character interpreters, demonstrators, sutlers, militia drill units, and period games. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information
Humanities Texas has given one of their most popular traveling exhibitions, Citizens at Last: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas, a makeover. Based on the book of the same, this freestanding version presents the earlier exhibition’s wealth of photographs, documents, and narrative text within an elegant new design. Citizens at Last, is currently on display at the Fort House Museum in Waco through December 15 and is available to rent for your community. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.
  Join the Region 10 Education Service Center and the Texas State Historical Association at the Energizing Texas History Conference, January 24 – 25, 2013. The event will be held at the Old Red Museum in Dallas and will combine experts from the fields of social studies and education, with breakout sessions focused on Texas history, geography, economics, civics, and teaching methods and skills. The conference focus is 1900 to the present, and will include tours of the Old Red Museum, Dallas Holocaust Museum, and the Sixth Floor Museum. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.
Join the San Antonio Living History Association as they present battle re-enactments and historic demonstrations. The first, the Battle of Concepcion re-enactments will occur in Conception Park, the first at 11 a.m. and the second at 3 p.m. The historical exhibition features demonstrations of food, crafts weaponry, clothing, military life and 1800’s living skills of both Texian and Mexican forces. Visit TeachingTexas.org, for more information. The Battle of Bejar re-enactment will occur December 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Maverick Plaza and the Cos House in historic La Villita. During this event, participants can watch the storming of San Antonio de Bejar (now the City of San Antonio) by Texian and native Tejano volunteer that laid siege and drove out the Mexican garrison from the town and Alamo fortress in December 1835. Two historical walking tours though La Villita will precede the December events. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.
  Join the museum staff at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza for three upcoming Meet the Museum events. The first, on October 12, 2012, will spotlight the Museum’s fascinating collection of Kennedy-related home movies and the people who filmed them. On November 9, 2012, learn and discuss living history with Bill and Gayle Newman. The Newman family was the closest civilian eyewitnesses to President Kennedy at the time of the fatal shot, as they were on the north side of Dealey Plaza and Mr. and Mrs. Newman shielded their small children after the shots were fired. They were interviewed on live television approximately fifteen minutes after the assassination. Then, on December 14, 2012, learn about the Online Collections Database, which helps researchers and student learn more about the Kennedy assassination. Find out which images, films and oral histories have comprised the “greatest hits” and learn how to access the database from your home or business computer. For additional information on the Meet the Museum Series, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Texas Insights is a publication of the Texas State Historical Association
in cooperation with the University of North Texas.

Texas State Historical Association
1155 Union Circle #311580
Denton, TX 76203-5017

Stephen Cure - Editor
Kim White - Associate Editor
JoNeita Kelly - Associate Editor


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