Fredericksburg Texas has a very interesting history. Created during the massive German immigration to Texas in the middle 1800’s, Fredericksburg was not intended to be the city it soon became. A treaty with the Comanche Indians and the California gold rush made Fredericksburg a prosperous place to set up a store. John Hunter did just that. Hunter supplied his patrons with everything they need, including whiskey. He was also the county clerk. But Hunter’s temper got the better of him, his store, and the entire early history of Fredericksburg. Learn more in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
In June of 1865, Texas was in chaos. Robert E. Lee had just surrendered the Army of Northern of Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War. But without a government or functioning economy, it was every man for himself. Many former Confederates were heading for Mexico, while others tried to bring order to chaos. A few dozen men decided they’d get their money the old fashioned way–they’d steal it. But they weren’t satisfied with small potatoes, they were going big. The were going to rob the Texas treasury.., Learn more about the coldest case in Texas in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
The Flash was a schooner built in Connecticut for a new enterprise in Texas. She came to Texas in possession of James Morgan to support his new endeavor, a town and community called New Washington. But as war clouds gathered, Morgan mounted an 18 pounder on her foredeck and commissioned her Captain into the Texas Navy. From commerce to combat, rescuing refugees to carrying cannon, the Flash did it all during the Texas revolution. Her noble service ended quickly after her Captain was replaced with someone who apparently couldn’t find the largest harbor in Texas. The Flash carried some of the most important cargo in Texas history, presidents, cannon, even important groceries. Hear the story of the schooner Flash in this latest episode of Wise About Texas.
In early 1853, Jane Wilson and her new husband James set out with 62 others to strike it rich in California. They never made it. After two months of traveling they reached El Paso where successful thieves ruined their dreams of fortune. They decided to return to East Texas but what seemed like the end of a dream was just the beginning of a new nightmare. Hear tales of murder, torture at the hands of Indian captors, rescues by comancheros and friendly Indian tribes, starvation, thirst, and ultimately survival. Join Jane Wilson on her incredible journey and learn what tough really means 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.
Josiah Wilbarger was one of the earliest Anglo settlers of Texas. He also settled way outside the safe boundaries of the frontier. He chose a league of land in the hostile territory of the Comancheria, near present-day Bastrop. He eventually gained a neighbor in Reuben Hornsby but things were still very, very dangerous. One day he and others were attacked by Comanches. Josiah took a musket ball to the neck and was paralyzed. Unable to move or speak, but still conscious, he felt himself being scalped by an Indian. Still alive, he dragged himself to a tree where he had a vision that saved his life. But was it a vision, or a visit from the spirit world? Learn more of this ghostly tale in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, as a category 4 storm. It was only the second Cat 4 to hit that area of Texas in recorded history. The track of Hurricane Harvey also resulted in a rain event in the Houston area, the likes of which has never been seen in American history! up to 50 inches of rain fell right on top of Wise About Texas world headquarters. Listen to this bonus episode to hear a bit about what it was like as well as the positive side of this historic disaster.
Asa Borger was a town builder with an eye for opportunity and a nose for the Texas oil fields. He came to the panhandle in 1926 and made millions establishing the boomtown of Borger. But the thousands of residents weren’t all of the best sort. Drinking, gambling, prostitution and violence were rampant. “Booger Town,” as it came to be known needed law enforcement. Unfortunately, the towns chief law enforcement officer as well as the mayor encouraged the crime and profited handsomely. Even the famous Texas Rangers Frank Hamer and Tom Hickman couldn’t control it. After the District Attorney was murdered because he wasn’t corrupt, the law and order Governor Dan Moody brought in the National Guard and declared martial law. Even after the dust settled there was one more shooting…find out the rest in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
The Mexican invasion of San Antonio gave rise to two expeditions against the Mexican army that had disastrous results. Nicholas Dawson led a group of men from La Grange to San Antonio into battle on Salado Creek only to be massacred when they tried to surrender. A group of men under William Fisher attacked Mier only to be imprisoned and every tenth man executed after drawing a black bean from a jar. The bones of the Texas fighters languished on the banks of Salado Creek and in Mexico until they were returned to Fayette County in 1848 and buried on a bluff overlooking LaGrange, Texas. The tomb’s builder bought the land on the bluff and turned it into a thriving community center. How did he do it? Well, he did the most German thing possible–he built a brewery. The brewery brought folks that honored the heroes and the folks honoring the heroes bought beer. Life on Kreische’s bluff was good. Learn more about this beautiful and sacred site in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
After the battle of San Jacinto, it wasn’t certain just how victorious the Texians were. Several Mexican generals commanded several thousand Mexican troops west of the battleground. Santa Anna indeed ordered them to leave Texas but if they could get resupplied, who knows what could happen? Enter Issac Burton and his horse marines! After failing out of West Point, Issac Burton commanded a company of Texas Rangers charged with patrolling the Texas coast near Refugio, looking for Mexican warships. It didn’t take long before he found one. Through a series of clever maneuvers, a few Texas Rangers managed to capture a total of three ships bound to supply the Mexican Army. Issac Burton’s Texas Rangers may very well have saved the Texas republic as they coined a new term that would be used by the U.S. military for over a century…the Horse Marines.
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!
Built in 1831 for John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company, the steamboat Yellowstone was the first steamboat to travel past the Council Bluffs. She reached parts of the upper Missouri River previously unreachable by other boats. After conquering the fur trade, she was sold to Thomas Toby & Brother of New Orleans and registered under an American flag. But she was secretly at work in Texas. Sam Houston happened upon her on the Brazos river and commandeered her for his army! After saving the Texas Army, the Yellowstone raced full speed past the Mexican Army (avoiding bullets, cannon and over-eager ropers) and onward to Galveston. She later carried Sam Houston and Santa Anna–at the same time! Her last errand for Texas brought the Father of Texas to his final resting place. Author Donald Jackson called Yellowstone “the engine of manifest destiny.” Hear more about the exciting service of the Steamboat Yellowstone in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.
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!
An 1818 map was used to negotiate a boundary treaty between the United States and Spain, then Mexico, then the Republic of Texas, then the State of Texas. The only problem was, the map was wrong! Learn about a boundary dispute between Texas and Oklahoma that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court and beyond!
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.
When faced with the most destructive hurricane to date, the city of Galveston faced an unspeakable tragedy with extraordinary resilience. As the city struggled to recover, the citizens were already planning to rebuild. As it turns out, they would go farther than anyone ever they thought possible. Hear about the incredible spirit of Texas as expressed in the recovery from the Great Storm of 1900.
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.