Originally established in 1721 along the banks of the Guadalupe river, Presidio La Bahia was moved to its present location along the banks of the San Antonio river in 1749. Since then it has been a critical location for worship, trade, protection, battle and commerce. The presidio has been taken and re-taken as Texas has earned its reputation as one of the most contested places in North America. Perhaps it’s best known as James Fannin’s headquarters before his ill-fated attempt to reach Victoria, resulting in the Goliad massacre. The chapel has hosted church services since 1749, and still does today. Fort, community center, and even graveyard, there are few places in Texas as historic as Presidio La Bahia. Join me as I interview site manager Scott McMahon and explore the Texas revolution at Presidio La Bahia.
In 1629 a group of Jumano Indians suddenly appeared at a New Mexico mission, eager to learn more about Christianity. The excited and grateful Franciscan priests wondered what motivated this sudden interest. The tale the Indians told seemed unbelievable. A “lady in blue” had appeared to them instructing them to seek out the priests and teaching the Indians the sign of the cross. That sounded incredible enough but what really stunned the priests was that they had just received a letter from Spain relating the story of a nun telling the exact same tale…half a world away. Is the Lady in Blue a myth…or a miracle? You decide in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
Brian Kilmeade, best known as a host of Fox & Friends and the Brian Kilmeade show, is also a lover of history. In his latest book, Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers, Kilmeade takes on the story of Texas independence. As a Texan, I couldn’t resist finding out why a New York author might want to write about Texas independence. In this interview, you’ll learn why he loves history and how his love of history has shaped his values. Kilmeade also shares why he believes the fight for Texas independence is so important to the American story. I hope you enjoy this interview with TV personality and author Brian Kilmeade. ADVISORY: Because this interview was conducted by phone, the audio is a little loud.
Award-winning author Stephen Harrigan visits Wise About Texas to discuss his new book–a history of Texas titled Big Wonderful Thing. Mr. Harrigan talks about how, as a journalist and novelist, he approached the colossal task of writing an entire history of Texas. Among other topics, he discusses his favorite Texas stories, the impact of our history on Texas, and a writer’s view of the Texas history we all love. Learn how one of Texas’ greatest writers approached Texas history in this episode of Wise About Texas.
This bonus episode features an interview with Dr. Jody Edward Ginn, Ph.D., who was a consulting historian on the new Netflix movie The Highwaymen. The movie stars Kevin Costner as former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and Woody Harrelson as former Texas Ranger Maney Gault. The movie tells the story of the chase and killing of two of the most vicious killers in American history. In the interview, Dr. Ginn talks about historical movies, the myths surrounding Bonnie and Clyde and what its like to take Texas history to the big screen. Enjoy this bonus episode of Wise About Texas.
The great depression was hard on everyone everywhere, and Texas was no exception. People couldn’t work, could barely eat and just needed a break. The people wanted excitement, they wanted romance, they wanted something to cheer for…even if it was evil. That’s when a petty chicken thief met a beautiful wanna-be movie star, both from the poor side of town. They set off on one of the most wide-ranging, violent, notorious, and legendary crime sprees in American history. Pretty soon, everyone knew their names…Bonnie & Clyde. Meet two of America’s most notorious outlaws in this episode of Wise About Texas.
In the early 20th century Japan sought to extend its relations around the world. Texas made imminent sense. A Japanese professor saw the Alamo as a perfect companion to one of ancient Japan’s most famous battles. The Emperor saw Texas as a perfect place to relocate some of his brightest farmers. Learn about the early connections between Japan and Texas in this latest episode of Wise About Texas.
San Antonio was founded 300 years ago in 1718. From day one, the residents, priests and soldiers faced a constant and menacing threat from the Apache Indians. Raids from the indians and retaliatory campaigns from the soldiers made life in early San Antonio stressful and difficult. Attempts at peace never seemed to work. But all of a sudden, in 1749, the Apache wanted not only to make peace, but also to enter mission life and convert to Christianity. The reason for the Apache’s sudden change of heart is a matter of perspective. But rather than look a gift horse in the mouth, the Spanish held a grand peace ceremony in San Antonio’s main plaza, the likes of which has never been seen in North America. Learn about this unique event in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
In late 1800’s San Antonio, the plazas were busy marketplaces during the day. But at night, the Chili Queens took over. These ladies brought the exotic flavors of Mexico to the population of San Antonio. Music, laughter and the pungent aroma of chili con carne filled the air. From the greatest to the least, every citizen and tourist had to make a pilgrimage to see the Chili Queens and sample the food that would later become known as Tex-Mex. Learn more about this scene in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
Every fall, the most feared cavalry the world has ever known, the Comanche Indians, would leave their home on the great plains and raid deep into Mexico taking horses, and humans, back with them. They followed an ancient trail that came to be known as the Great Comanche war trail. The Comanche were not prosperous until the Spanish introduced the horse which turned around the fortunes of an entire people. The Comanche Indians managed to convince the Spanish to help them defeat the Apache, which then opened up unfettered access to Mexico via the war trail. From the panhandle to the Rio Grande, the raiders followed a well-defined trail almost a mile wide at points. Famous springs and river crossings were used for centuries. Even today, you can drive the same trail used by traders, Indians, stagecoaches and travelers. The Great Comanche War Trail.
William Ranney was one of the first American artists to capture the legendary characters, events and spirit of the American west. One critic pointed out that he was the only artist who had the first hadn’t experience to paint scenes of the west. Where did he get that experience? Texas of course! Ranney had served in the Texas Army from May through November of 1836. After this time in Texas, Ranney returned east and became a prolific painter of the things he had seen. he also produced a large body of genre paintings that began to shape the collective identity of America. He painted the American revolution as its history was just being formed in the minds of his audience. He painted the early trappers and mountain men that blazed the trails for western expansion. He captured many scenes of the pioneer families that truly settled the west and fulfilled the manifest destiny of America. Learn a little about William Ranney and the shaping of the American identity in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
One of the greatest example of resilience in Texas, indeed United States, history was the building of the Galveston seawall and the raising of the city. After the Great Hurricane of 1900, the easiest thing to do would have been to abandon Galveston Island. But that wouldn’t be the Texan thing to do. Instead, the people of Galveston appointed three engineers to figure out how to defeat the next big hurricane. The 3-member board suggested the construction of a 3-mile seawall to protect the city against a storm surge. But they went even further. They proposed raising the city as much as 17 feet in some places, houses, buildings an all. So the citizens of Galveston went to work and created the Galveston we know today. Buildings as large as 3000 tons were raised one-half inch at a time! It worked. For over 100 years, the Galveston seawall has been a center of tourism in Texas as well as a barrier against destruction. It passed its first test in 1909 and its first big test in 1915–with flying colors. Tune in to this latest episode of Wise About Texas and get ready for hurricane season!
In 1914, San Antonio beer magnate Otto Koehler was killed by his mistress, Emma. His former mistress, also named Emma, was present. Was it self defense? Was it planned? Did she get him before he got her? What became of his wife named, yes, Emma? Some said it was murder, some said self defense. Some said Otto attacked his killer, some said he would never have done that. One Emma claimed Otto was desperately in love, another Emma advised he was just desperate. What did the jury say? Hear the strange story of the death of one of Texas’ most prominent citizens in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
In 1818, one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s top generals, and many of his former officers, tried to establish a French colony in Texas. They said it was for agriculture, but they brought a ship full of weapons and built a fort on the Trinity River. Were they going to incite revolution in Mexico, or did they have their sights set on Spanish Florida? Why was the infamous pirate Jean Lafitte so eager to offer them help? Somehow they were going to free Napoleon and use Texas to establish his empire! Learn about the failed French colony of Champ D’Asile in this episode of Wise About Texas.
Merry Christmas to all! In this episode we take a light look at some of the traditions that make a Texas Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and Merry Texas Christmas!
Virginia Point was a transportation hub, civil war fort and cotton producing town on the shores of Galvesston Bay. It was part of Austin’s “coast colony” and was considered as an early port of the Republic. The Confederate forces launched the attack that recaptured Galveston from Virginia Point. Learn more about this Texas town in the latest episode in the Texas Towns series of Wise About Texas.
In honor of the one-year anniversary of Wise About Texas, I take the show professional. I conducted an interview with professional historian Dr. Jody Edward Ginn, PhD. Dr. Ginn discusses his varied career in museums, books and even movies. His insights into why Texas history is important will educate and inspire your love of Texas history. Pull up a chair and listen to a professional discuss how to preserve and promote Texas history.
For over 50 years, Texans gathered at the Walls Unit in Huntsville Texas to watch the toughest convicts compete in the Texas Prison Rodeo. The rodeo was a fixture of Texas Octobers until budgets and changing times brought an end to the roughest rodeo around. In this episode, you’ll relive those days and hear the story of the Texas Prison Rodeo.
The first man to fly a powered aircraft was a Texan named Jacob Brodbeck. History credits the Wright brothers but it’s time to correct the record! Learn about German immigration, a fascinating Texan, and the first airplane flight in this episode of Wise About Texas.
One hump or two? Camels came to Texas in the 1850’s and the ships of the desert proved themselves great Texans! There might even be one or two still wandering around! Learn more about the great camel experiment in this episode of Wise About Texas.
The worst natural disaster in American history occurred on September 8, 1900 when a massive hurricane hit Galveston, Texas. At the time, Galveston was the largest city in Texas and one of the most prosperous in the country. Weather forecasting was not keeping pace with prosperity, however, and the folks in Galveston had no way to know what was about to hit the island. In part 1, you’ll learn about victorian-era Galveston and the weathermen who thought they understood hurricanes. This episode will take you through the morning of September 8, a day that changed Galveston, and Texas, forever.
In 1837, John James Audubon needed a trip to Texas to complete his legendary Bird of America. He came to Galveston and collected many wonderful specimens. But the story is about a lot more than birds. We have rattlesnakes, sawfish, secret agents, soldier skulls and Sam Houston. Hear about Audubon’s visit in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
In the middle of a hot Texas summer, let’s head for the beach! San Jose Island is bordered by Matagorda to the north and Mustang to the south. Texas barrier islands all have their unique stories and San Jose is no different. It has seen explorers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and soldiers. These islands together hold the last of an endangered species as well as the first private space flight. Learn how San Jose island, and its neighbors, played an important role in U.S. political history.
Merry Christmas…that’s Cowboy Christmas of course. July 4 is called Cowboy Christmas because of all the great rodeos held around the 4th of July holiday. In this episode we take a look at the history of rodeo going all the way back to the 16th century. Learn how the modern sport of rodeo evolved from old Mexico to modern day Texas. It all seemed to happen on and around July 4! Saddle up and hang on for a great ride through Texas history and learn about the surprise 1843 rodeo that led to an indian peace treaty!
In the first of a new series on Texas Towns we take a look at the town of Texana, once a booming Texas port city, now claimed by the water she once commanded.
Crush, Texas was the second largest city in Texas for a few hours in September, 1896. Learn about a Texas-sized publicity stunt that was the biggest and, unfortunately the deadliest in Texas history. It was a train wreck in more ways than one. Travel back to the glory days of rail travel and learn about the great “Crash at Crush!”
In Episode 8, you learned how Bob Fitzsimmons won the heavyweight championship on a sandbar in the Rio Grande. In this bonus episode, learn how Fitzsimmons’ next fight cost the legendary Wyatt Earp his gun…and his reputation!
In 1896, the biggest sporting event in the nation was to be a fight for the heavyweight championship. But its location was a secret! Armed Soldiers from Mexico, Arizona, and the Texas Rangers had it stopped, until the “Law West of the Pecos,” Judge Roy Bean managed to take it international–sort of. Learn about Texas ingenuity in Episode 8 of Wise About Texas.