Culture

Ep. 113: The Travis County Dog Wars

Shortly after the civil war, Appalachia came to Austin.  Known as the cedar choppers, migrants from the mountains moved into the limestone hills of western Travis County.  They kept to themselves, didn’t like outsiders, and loved a good fight.  But the city dwellers loved to hunt in the hills.  Hunting their game and shooting guns…

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EP. 111: The Easter Fires of Fredericksburg

Every Easter Eve, the hill country around Fredericksburg comes alive with huge bonfires. Some say this tradition came from Germany, some say the Indians started it, and some say the Easter Bunny is doing some cooking. Hear about the Fredericksburg Easter fires in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.

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EP. 105: The Indian Trial Part 1: People, Places, and Policy

The western frontier of Texas moved backwards during the Civil War. Indian raids pushed the settlers toward safer ground. After the war, the raiding had become so bad that something had to be done. The federal government thought leading with diplomacy would solve the problem but the Texans wanted military action. An 1871 attack on…

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BONUS EPISODE: The Juneteenth Legacy Project with Sam Collins III

Galveston native Sam Collins III had a vision to bring Texas history and the Juneteenth story to its home in a grand way. Enlisting the help of a team of artists, technology experts, and the Galveston community, the Juneteenth Legacy Project came to life at the very site where General Granger issued General Order No….

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Ep. 102: Juneteenth and the Celebration of Freedom

On June 19, 1865, union general Gordon Granger landed in Galveston and issued some general orders. His General Order No. 3 informed the people of Texas that all the slaves in Texas were now free. Since then, “Juneteenth” has been celebrated in Texas as the anniversary of emancipation. Juneteenth became an official Texas state holiday…

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EP. 85: Exploring the Texas Revolution–Presidio La Bahia

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…

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Ep. 78: The Lady in Blue

 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…

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BONUS EPISODE: More Writing Texas History-An Interview with Brian Kilmeade

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…

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Ep. 75: Writing Texas History- An Interview with Author Stephen Harrigan

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…

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Bonus Episode: Wise About Texas goes to the movies with The Highwaymen

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…

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EP. 67: Bonnie & Clyde Part 1: The Outlaws

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…

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Ep. 60: Japanese 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…

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Ep. 58: Burying the Hatchet in San Antonio

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…

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Ep. 53: Texas Takes the Triple Crown

Bob Kleberg, Jr. had an eye for good horses.  When he did something, he did it big.  He also managed one of the largest and most storied ranches in Texas, founded by his grandfather Richard King.  When Kleberg decided that the King Ranch would race thoroughbreds, he bought and bred the best.  In 1943, a…

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Ep 47: The San Antonio Chili Queens

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…

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Ep. 46: The Great Comanche War Trail

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…

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Ep 45: Artist William Ranney and How Texas Shaped the American Identity.

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…

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EP. 40 Raising Galveston and Walling Off the Sea

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…

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EP. 33- Beer, Love and Murder: A Tale of 3 Emmas

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…

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Ep. 32, Napoleon’s General Comes to Texas: The Story of Champ D’Asile

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…

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Ep 31 A Texas Christmas

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!

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Ep. 30: Texas Towns: Virginia Point

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…

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EP 28: Professional Texas History

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…

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Ep 27: The Texas Prison Rodeo

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…

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Ep. 26: Texas Takes Flight

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.  

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Ep 25: The Texas Camel Corps

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.            

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Ep. 23: The Great Storm of 1900, Part 1: A Storm Brewing

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…

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Ep. 22: Birds, Skulls and Secret Agents: John James Audubon Visits Texas, 1837

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…

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Ep. 20: Island Time: San Jose, Mustang and Matagorda

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…

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Ep. 19: Cowboy Christmas: Rodeo in Texas

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…

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Ep. 18: Texas Towns: Texana

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.

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Ep. 15: The Crash at Crush!

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…

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Bonus Episode: Wyatt Earp’s Low Blow

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!

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The Secret “Fight of the Century”–Episode 8

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…

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