The Past We Have Buried

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August 15, 2010 -

What will your neighborhood look like a century from now?  What did it look like a century ago?  Wouldn't it be interesting to have some way of standing on a spot and viewing its appearance over time?  I suspect that in 2110 those living in my suburban Austin enclave will lead lives not all that different from my own.  Barring a nuclear or environmental holocaust, they will be city-dwellers dealing with the vicissitudes of urban life.  Area residents in 1910, however, experienced a vastly different rural lifestyle that I can only imagine.  And the indiginous people that were in 1810 or 1710 led lives utterly foreign to anything I have ever encountered.  A primary reason for these observations is landscape.  Landscape shapes lifestyle.  A century from now my neighborhood will likely consist of homes similar and perhaps identical to those here now.  A century ago there were few permanent dwellings; a century before that, none.  As in my neighborhood, waves of change have repeatedly obliterated the landscape of Austin's Allendale neighborhood, save for isolated remnants visible primarily to trained archeologists.  Except for the Davis Cemetery.  Even I spotted that one.

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Book Release: The Republic of Austin

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August 10, 2010 -

Good news!  Waterloo Press currently plans to release my book The Republic of Austin October 1, 2010.  The book relates 24 exciting and true stories about Austin during the days of the Republic of Texas.  Austin artist Ray Spivey has beautifully illustrated the book as well as produced both the front and back cover art.  There will be a reception celebrating the book's release on October 6, 2010 from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM at the Texas State Capitol (Room 3N.6, which is the office of Congressman Edmund Kuempel).  I hope to see you there!

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The Boat That Saved Texas

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July 24, 2010 -  

By the time it arrived in a New Orleans dry dock in November 1835, the steamboat Yellowstone had already made history.  Built in Louisville, Kentucky in 1831 for use in the fur trade, the vessel steamed out of St. Louis on April 16th of that year and headed up the Missouri River.  No ship had previously navigated the upper Missouri successfully but on June 19, 1831, Captain B. Young steered the Yellowstone into anchorage at Fort Tecumseh near present-day Pierre, South Dakota.  A year later the ship traveled even farther, steaming past Fort Tecumseh all the way to Fort Union at the mouth of the Yellowstone River and the headquarters of the American Fur Company.  Along for the ride was artist George Catlin, who sketched and painted many scenes of an American landscape about to be destroyed.  After a successful return trip to St. Louis, Americans rejoiced at the edge the steamboat had given their country in the competition with British traders for Indian-supplied furs.

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"We exterminated what we did not bring back"

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July 22, 2010 -

Colonel Ranald MacKenzie ordered his men to form platoons and prepare to charge.  Seeing they had done so, he turned in the saddle to Company A commander N. B. McLaughlen and said, "Mr. McLaughlen, you have the honor of opening the ball."  Soon 400 United States cavalrymen charged down a slope to rain fire on the Kickapoo.

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The Republic of Austin

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July 20, 2010 -  

I haven't been able to post an article so far this week as I've been busy putting the finishing touches on my upcoming book The Republic of Austin.  It is being published by Waterloo Press with a planned release this October.  I'm very excited about this project.  The book is a collection of true stories set in and around Austin during the days of the Republic of Texas.  Photographs of each site as it appears today accompany the chapters, as do beautiful watercolor paintings of the sites in olden days by Austin artist Ray Spivey.  If you enjoy reading about Texas history I believe you will enjoy this book. 

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Cuttin' Out the Cussin': How Margaret Houston Tamed her Barbarian Husband

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July 11, 2020 -  

As she wrote the news in an 1842 letter, Margaret Houston feared most that her husband Sam, President of the Repbublic of Texas, would lose his newfound cool upon reading it.  Since marrying the man many still referred to as "The Big Drunk" two years earlier, Margaret had worked hard to smooth the rougher edges of her mate.  Her greatest achievement had been to obtain a pledge of abstinence from liquor from Sam, a promise friends and enemies alike doubted the president would be able to keep.  She accomplished this not with threats or nagging, but by letting her husband know how much his drinking caused her pain and harm.  This gentle method of persuasion worked throughout the marriage, for by all evidence Sam Houston passionately loved his wife and worked hard at remaining in her good graces.  His letters to her indicate consistantly that her pain would be his pain; this was motive enough for him to remain sober.

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