Ep 48: Texans You Should Know-Crazy Ben Dolliver the Pirate

Crazy Ben Dolliver was said to be touched.  Sporting a 6 inch scar from an old sword fight, Crazy Ben circulated around Galveston in the 19th century barefoot, shirtless, and mostly drunk.  He camped on the beach and fished for his sustenance.  But Crazy Ben always paid for his drinks with Spanish Doubloons.  Every now and then he’d sail away from the island and return with more Spanish gold.  Where did the gold come from?  Everyone knew Crazy Ben had served as one of Jean Lafitte’s crew as a pirate.  Did he know the location of some treasure?  Nobody figured it out, though they tried and tried.   Then one day a ship arrived from New Orleans and Ben left….with some cargo.  Hear a true pirate tale in this latest episode of Wise About Texas

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 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!

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 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.

Jean Lafitte (photo Rosenberg library, Galveston, Texas)
Drawing of Champ D’Asile
A scene from Champ D’Asile