Ep. 104: The Great Pearl Rush

Freshwater pearls have always been valuable finds, but one man found one in 1909 that was said to be worth a ton of money! All of a sudden, East Texas experienced a pearl boom. One person reported watching a thousand people combing lake bottoms hoping to strike it rich. Hear about the East Texas pearl frenzy in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.

EP. 103: A Fair Likeness?

In the early 1920’s, the City of Houston was building what would come to be known as Hermann Park. Its centerpiece was to be a statue of Sam Houston. Enrico Cerracchio won the contract and his creation was lauded nationwide. But one person really didn’t like it…Sam Houston’s son. He hated it so much, a Judge had to get involved. Hear about the story of Sam’s statue in this episode of Wise About Texas.

Ep. 101: The San Jacinto Battle Flag

The victorious Texians only carried one flag into the Battle of San Jacinto. It was a gift from the citizens of Newport, Kentucky to Sidney Sherman. After the revolution, the flag was sent back to Kentucky. But after several decades, the flag found its permanent home. Learn the fate of the San Jacinto battle flag in this episode of Wise About Texas.

EP. 100: The San Jacinto Monument(s)

The San Jacinto monument stands 567 feet over a battleground upon which a ragtag army changed the trajectory of world history. A few hundred Texians surprised the President of Mexico and his army in an afternoon attack on April 21, 1836. Eighteen minutes later, the Texians had won their revolution against the tyrannical Santa Anna, who had run away in fear. The San Jacinto monument, begun in 1936 and completed in 1939, stands as a reminder of this glorious victory. But while it’s the biggest, it’s not the only one. Learn more about the multiple San Jacinto monuments in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.

Ep. 99: A Letter From Goliad

On March 27, 1836, several hundred Texian soldiers were brutally murdered on the orders of Santa Anna. One of them, John C. Logan, left us two letters. The first was written at a time of optimism and victory. The second reflected the hard conditions suffered by many in the Texian army. These two letters provide a quick glimpse into the experiences of the brave men who fought for Texas freedom. Hear the reflections of Texian soldier John C. Logan in this episode of Wise About Texas.

Ep. 98: Writing Texas History with James L. Haley

James L. Haley is one of Texas’ finest writers. He has written a preeminent biography of Sam Houston, an award winning narrative history of Texas called Passionate Nation as well as several works of fiction, also very highly regarded. But we Texans take our history very seriously, so writing historical fiction about Texas can be a risky endeavor. James Haley delivers. His latest work is a naval adventure series featuring American naval officer Bliven Putnam. In the fourth book, Captain Putnam takes on a secret mission for the Republic of Texas during its fight for independence. I talked Mr. Haley into sitting down and discussing his writing process, research process, writing historical fiction versus history, as well as other topics around his work. Enjoy this interview with award winning author James L. Haley in the latest episode of Wise About Texas. 

Ep. 97: Victory or Death-The Travis Letter

From February 23, 1836 through its fall on March 6, the Mexican army lay siege to the Alamo. William Barrret Travis wrote several letters during the siege but one stands above all others.  On February 24, 1836, Travis dispatched a letter “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World.”  This letter would become one of the most famous, inspirational, and heroically tragic missives in history.  Remember the Alamo in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.  

EP. 96: The All-Woman Supreme Court

In 1925, there were only a few women lawyers in Texas. But women still couldn’t serve as jurors and nobody dreamed there would ever be a female judge. Then a real estate lawsuit came to the Texas Supreme Court involving a mutual life insurance company called  the Woodmen of the World.  At the time, every member of the Supreme Court of Texas was a member of the Woodmen of the World, so were disqualified from hearing the case.  That left Governor Pat Neff with a problem.  He had to appoint judges to sit on the Supreme Court but couldn’t find any that weren’t affiliated with the Woodmen.  So he did what Texans have done since 1836, he turned to Texas women.  Hear about the first all-female state Supreme court in American history in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.

EP. 95: Texas Towns: Welcome to Provident City!

In the early 20th century, Texas had room to grow.  Like the empresarios of the early 1800’s, real estate drove efforts to settle new Texans.  But not all developers were honest.  Promises of historically productive land, railroads and pleasant temperatures lured many to the coastal prairie.  Towns were built…and towns died.  One in particular was billed as a farming paradise.  Two crops a year plus a railroad on its way.  Hundreds came to Texas to establish this paradise, appropriately named Provident City.  Hear an all-too-typical tale of early 20th century land deals in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.

EP. 94: The Texas Rangers–East Texas Troubles

San Augustine had a crime problem in the 1930’s. A semi-organized gang was preying on the black community and something had to be done. The problem was compounded by a corrupt governor who had all but destroyed the Rangers. But new Governor James V Allred cleaned up the Texas Ranger force and restored it to its rightful place as one of the nation’s premier law enforcement organizations. Then he sent them to San Augustine. The Rangers cleaned up the town and broke down some Jim Crow barriers. Hear the story of how the Allred rangers cleaned up San Augustine in this interview with one of the premier Texas Ranger scholars in Texas, Dr. Jody Edward Ginn. 

Ep. 93: The Free State of Van Zandt

Texans love their freedom. At the door of a hat, we’ll declare independence and the fight is on! For years, folks have referred to Van Zandt County as the “free state of Van Zandt.” How did this come about? Was it taxes, or was it the civil war? In this episode we’ll look at three of the most common stories about how a certain East Texas county came to be known as a free state.

Ep. 91: The Secret Court of the Republic of Texas

In April, 1836, Texas went to war with the United States by capturing an American ship in the service of Mexico. After the battle of San Jacinto, an international relations nightmare loomed. President David Burnet had to find some way to hold a trial. Without a constitution, laws, courts or judges, Burnet took matters into his own hands and created the Judicial District of Brazos. Judge Benjamin Cromwell Franklin decided the case, then kept the court open! Before the people elected a president or the first congress met, Texas had a judiciary. Hear about the first court of the Republic of Texas in this episode of Wise About Texas.

EP. 90: Cozumel, Texas?

During 1837, the Mexican government was still reeling from the successful Texas revolution. Bent on reconquering Texas, an army massed at Matamoros. The Secretary of the Texas Navy knew that Texas could keep Mexico at bay by attacking its ports and shipping. Sam Houston, however, thought the Texas Navy an unnecessary extravagance. Despite the President’s orders, Secretary of the Navy Samual Fisher ordered the ships to sea. One day, they landed at Cozumel…

Ep. 89: Texas Attacks Oklahoma!

During World War II, Texas played an important role in training pilots and bomber crews.  The city of Dalhart contributed to the war effort by building an airfield.  Practice bombing missions took place over the panhandle by the famous B-17, B-24, and later the B-29.  One night in 1943, a young B-17 crew set out on a 40 mile round trip to bomb a lit square on the practice range.  50 miles later, they bombed Boise City, Oklahoma!  Hear more about the night Texas attacked Oklahoma in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.  

EP. 88: Texas Pandemics

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has been a trying time for Texans.  But we’ve been through much worse.  The harsh climate, tropical ports, lack of medicine, etc. has resulted in Texans enduring several pandemics and epidemics through the years.  From yellow fever to cholera to smallpox, it seems as though we’ve seen it all.  Texas is sometimes a tough place to live, but Texans have always been tougher.  Hear some stories from prior pandemics in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.

Ep. 79: Dorie Miller–A Texas War Hero

On December 7, 1941, Mess Attendant Doris “Dorie” Miller was doing laundry, one of the few jobs available to African American sailors in the U.S. Navy at the time.  When his ship came under attack, Miller rushed to help his fellow sailors.  Though not trained, and not allowed, he manned an anti-aircraft gun and engaged the attacking Japanese planes.  For his bravery and his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty, Miller was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross.  But his heroism affected not only the Navy, but the entire military.  Recently, the U.S. Navy announced yet another tribute to Dorie Miller, a Texas war hero.  Learn more about this brave Texan in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.  

Ep. 65: Welcome to Progress City! (It’s around here somewhere…)

 The late 19th century saw Texas industry expanding west.  The railroads were laid and towns were springing up everywhere.  That quintessential Texas opportunity was knocking once again. One railroad entrepreneur gave one aspiring town builder the idea to layout a new town near the Big Bend called…what else…Progress City.  He surveyed, he platted, and he sold.  He sold thousands of lots.  Deeds were filed and taxes were charged and paid.  The problem was…it never existed.  Hear the story of Progress City in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.  

Ep. 64: Texas and the Great War Part 3: Service to Country, Service to Texas

Over 5000 Texans served in World War One.  Many returned to Texas and continued their service to their home State.  Here are just a few stories of men who returned from war and continued their service.  A tribute to all our men and women who served so bravely in the Great War.  

Ep. 63: Santa Claus is Coming to Town…and Robbing the Bank!

December 23, 1927 was a typical day in Cisco, Texas.  People going about their Christmas shopping, ready for holiday time with family and friends.  The kids even saw Santa Claus walking down Main Street!  He engaged with the kids, wishing them Merry Christmas.  Then he walked to the First National Bank, and into history, in what would be one of the most sensational gunfights and manhunts in Texas history.  Hear the story of the Santa Claus Bank Robbery in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.   

Ep. 62: Texas and the Great War, Part 2–Training Our Finest

Before they can fight, our soldiers must be trained.  General Sherman decided that the dwindling U.S. Army would be consolidated into two garrisons, one being based in San Antonio, Texas to protect the frontier and conduct the Indian wars necessary to western expansion.  When war in Europe beckoned, San Antonio was ready.  But the Army was running out of room.  So the Army began buying ranches until San Antonio became the huge military city it remains today.  Learn about San Antonio’s role in equipping our troops for world war in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.  

Ep 56: Texans You Should Know: Pamelia Mann

What is it about Texas women?  Independent, smart, strong, spirited, they can do it all!  Ask any Texas man and he’ll tell you, the ladies run the show!  But this is nothing new.  Back before the Texas revolution, the women of Texas formed the spirit of Texas.  Some were because their husbands moved the family to this new land of opportunity.  These women did their best to build a household in the harsh Texas frontier, and they did it well.  But some came on their own, and brought their spirit with them.  That was Pamelia Mann.  She was a Houston entrepreneur, hotelier, rancher, businesswoman, forger, possibly a thief, and willing to be a killer.  She was even sentenced to death…but slipped the noose.  During the Texas revolution she handed Sam Houston himself the only defeat he would suffer in command of the Texas Army.  Celebrate the spirit of Texas women in this latest episode of Wise About Texas.

Ep. 52: Basil Muse Hatfield, The First Admiral of the Trinity

The Trinity River flows from roughly Fort Worth to Trinity Bay in Chambers County.  For several years boats navigated the river but never all the way.  Several attempts were made to promote the Trinity River as a commercial asset but none were more enthusiastic than the 2-year, 9000 mile, yes 9000 mile, journey of Basil Muse Hatfield.  The grandson of a San Jacinto veteran and steamboat man, Hatfield boasted a family that not only had many “Basil Muse’s” but also one of the most famous “Devil’s” in American history.  He fought wars in South Africa, South America and China, hunted ivory and mined diamonds in Africa, mined silver in Mexico and even studied with Tibetan Lamas.  Or so he claimed.  He did find oil in Texas.  One of the great characters of Texas, meet Basil Muse Hatfield, the First Admiral of the Trinity, in the latest episode of Wise About Texas.

BONUS EPISODE: A Second Helping of Chili

I received some great feedback on the San Antonio Chili Queens episode so I thought I’d share a couple of stories that didn’t make it into the main episode and answer some questions.  I also try a diplomatic (and historically correct) solution to the bean controversy!  So bring your bowl and spoon up a second helping of chili in this bonus episode of Wise About Texas!

EP 44: Josiah’s Vision

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.

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 history.  Pull up a chair and listen to a professional discuss how to preserve and promote Texas history.



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 story of the Texas Prison Rodeo.


BONUS EPISODE: The Great Storm of 1900–A Night of Horror

On September 8, 1900 a monster hurricane slammed into Galveston Island, resulting in the largest natural disaster in American history.  In this bonus episode, learn what it was like for the residents of the island as they struggled desperately to survive the storm.

After the storm (Texas State Library photo)
After the storm (Texas State Library photo)





Map showing the destruction from the 1900 Storm. (Houston Daily Post photo)
Map showing the destruction from the 1900 Storm. (Houston Daily Post photo)

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 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.

Galveston about 1881
Galveston about 1881

The track of the Great Storm
The track of the Great Storm

Ep. 17: A Duel for Command of the Texas Army, 1837

Two generals decided to fight a duel to decide who would command the Texas Army.  Find out what happened and whether a wound suffered in the duel eventually affected the outcome of the Civil War!


Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, CSA

felix huston
Gen. Felix Huston


Dueling pistols belonging to Mirabeau B. Lamar
Dueling pistols belonging to Mirabeau B. Lamar

johnston death ravine
Ravine where Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston died at Shiloh

Ep. 12: The Alamo Survivors

180 years ago, every Alamo defender lost his life.  But not everyone who was in the Alamo died.  Learn some stories of the folks who survived the battle and a little about the effect of the defeat on the government of the young Republic of Texas.


angelina dickinson
Angelina Dickinson, the “Babe of the Alamo”

enrique espaarza
Enrique Esparza was 8 years old at the time of the battle.

A drawing of Travis’ servant Joe identifying bodies for Santa Anna

susanna dickinson
Susanna Dickinson, perhaps the most famous Alamo survivor

Episode 11: The Siege of the Alamo

180 years ago, the Mexican army surrounded the Alamo.  For 13 days, the defenders worked on the fortifications, sheltered some townspeople, entreated their fledgling government for food and supplies, and plead for reinforcements.  Learn who took shelter in the Alamo and follow the course of the siege through the letters of the garrison commander William Barrett Travis, including one of the most stirring and inspirational letters in world history.

Ep. 10: The Road to the Alamo–February, 1836

Texas was in a state of confusion in February, 1836 and Santa Anna was on the march to quash the rebellion.  The government was split and the military command was in disarray.  But time was running out.  Learn how things stood in Texas 180 years ago this month as events started to concentrate around San Antonio de Bexar–and the Alamo.

The Alamo in 1849, 13 years after the battle



William B. Travis, drawn 3 months before the battle of the Alamo

Alamo commander James C. Neill

James Bowie

David Crockett, of Tennessee

santa anna
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, circa 1853


Bonus Episode: Texas Thanksgiving

The story of the first thanksgiving is not the one you might think.  Before the pilgrims, Texas already had a thanksgiving–and now we have two!  Learn more in this bonus episode of Wise About Texas.  Happy thanksgiving!


p h bell
Governor Peter H. Bell proclaimed in 1850 that Thanksgiving in Texas be celebrated on the first Thursday in March. That proclamation stands.

1959 marker site
A crossing on the Prairie Dog Fork of the Red River in Palo Duro Canyon. Did Coronado celebrate thanksgiving here in 1541?

Capitals of Texas, Part 1 (Episode 4, pt. 1)

There are several lists of the capitals of the Republic of Texas but they are incomplete!  Come travel with the provisional government of Texas from the declaration of independence on March 2, 1836 onward as it flees the advancing enemy and tries to conduct the business of the new republic.  Part 1 covers the period through the election of the first congress and one of its early votes–to move the capital again!


Jared Groce’s Bernardo plantation house

The first capitol building at Columbia

A view of the former location of Fort Point in Galveston from across the channel

Old Velasco

Wise About Texas Episode 000 Introduction

Welcome to Wise About Texas, the podcast about Texas history and culture.  This introductory episode tells you about the show, the host, and the goals of this podcast.  Subscribe to the show and enrich your knowledge of the Texas history stories you know and learn some Texas history you don’t know!