North, South, East, West
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What part of Texas is of special interest to you and why? I grew up in Denton, but my main interest is in Central Texas: the New Braunfels area and Guadalupe County, where my paternal ancestors settled.
Hi, margad. Nice ta meetcha. :-)
I'm probably most interested in the West Texas ranches -- the 6666 (Four Sixes), the Pitchfork, the SMS (Swenson), The Espuela Land and Cattle Company, and the XIT.
I grew up in Dickens County, Texas just west of Guthrie where the Pitchfork is located. My little hometown's name is the English translation of La Espuela, Spur.
The maternal side of my family settled in and around Gonzales, Texas, where my great-grandfather was born, circa 1860s, so naturally I'm interested in that part of Texas too. The family was originally from England, though we haven't been able to determine exactly where in England. We know that they spent some time in Bell County, Texas (in or around Temple), but we don't know if they emigrated from England to live first in an eastern state or they came directly to Texas. The family name is a rather common English one, and was the middle name (his mother's maiden name?) of a famous Texan, William B. Travis. We don't know if he was a relative, but some genealogists in our family think it's likely -- the researchers are still trying to find the proof. I merely think it's an interesting possible connection but not particularly important.
I'm also interested in the Texas oil fields, of both East and West Texas, but particularly of West Texas. So many of the once booming oil field towns -- such as Wink in Winkler County -- are little more than ghost towns now. Some are ghost towns, and of some there's barely a trace left -- and these are towns that I remember from when I was a kid in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Welcome, carminowe! We're of the same vintage, though from different parts of Texas. My great-great-grandmother's brother was a rancher. He got started in Medina County, near Hondo, but picked the wrong year, 1885, when one of the worst droughts in Texas history struck. He lost his ranch and went back to Guadalupe County, but kept ranching. I'm from stubborn stock.
Can you recommend any good books on oil in Texas?
margad, thank you for the invite. I'm a Houstonian since 1998. I haven't ever really thought about charaterizing my interests about Texas history. Mostly it's about place, and learning about where I live. That includes geology and oil. It's also about literature.
Good books on oil in Texas:
Oil in Texas has a global context that is hard to avoid. Spindletop leads directly to Texaco, and Gulf (which goes to Chevron and then back to Texaco) and somewhat indirectly to Humble Oil (which leads to Exxon). If you interests go that way read the the Prize by Daniel Yergin, it won a Pulitzer and deserved it.
I would like to hear about more locally focused books on Texas oil. I've found The Last Boom on the discovery of the East Texas oil field, which is an incredible story, and good (but not great) book. Also on this theme, with an odd Jewish focus is: Raisins & almonds -- and Texas oil! : Jewish life in the great East Texas oil field.
edited to add touchstones. They weren't working when I posted... Raisons & Almonds isn't in LT.
I don't have very many actual books about the oil fields. I've read more monographs and stuff on the Internet.
A few that I do have:
Early Texas Oil: A Photographic History, 1866-1936 by Walter Rundell Jr -- fascinating stuff, IMO
Oil in Texas: The Gusher Age, 1895-1945 by Diana Davids Olien
Giant Under the Hill: History of Spindletop by Judith Walker Linsley
A more personal perspective about what it was liking growning up as oil field "trash" in Texas and Oklahoma is Estha Briscoe Stowe's Oil Field Child.
dchaikin, I've read Raisins & Almonds but don't own it. Yes, that is an interesting one!
There seems to be such a paucity of books about the West Texas oil fields that I'm thinking about writing one myself!
Edit: Sorry! I can't seem to get the touchstones to work.
On a personal note -- I hope I don't bore everyone blind! -- my daddy, at eighteen, went out to the oil field in Eunice, New Mexico in 1936 where he was a roughneck and toolpusher until he joined the Army in 1940. When he got out of the Army in 1946, he returned to the oil field, mostly in the Permian Basin, and worked until he was in his mid-fifties. It seems he was one of the few who managed to NOT wind up with crushed toes and fingers and a bashed head. It was brutal work, but he actually loved it and he could tell some interesting stories! One was the drilling of the, at the time, deepest well ever drilled. That was in Pecos County, near Fort Stockton.
My parents divorced when I was ten years old, so I accompanied my mother back to her home county of Dickens -- ranch and farm country where there was very few oil fields, though just to the south in Garza, Kent, and Scurry counties there was a lot. So, I feel like I've always had a foot in each camp -- oil field and ranch history.
margad, I wanted to comment on the German immigrants of Texas. My husband's family were Germans who settled in Marion County (Jefferson is the county seat). One of my grandmothers was, we think, of German/Irish extraction and she often told the story about growing up in Brandenburg in Stonewall County. During World War I, the patriotic citizens changed the name of their town to Old Glory. There was another branch of the family that wound up in Fredericksburg and Gillespie, Kendall and Mason Counties. I love to visit the Fredericksburg and Boerne areas.
What about you? Have you visited many of your ancestors' old stomping grounds?
Thanks, everyone, for the recommendations! Most if not all of these are probably obscure books I would have had trouble finding without the help of my trusty LibraryThingers. And no, nobody's boring me in the least!
My father grew up in the tiny railroad town of Kingsbury, Texas, now essentially a ghost town, but with a few lingering residents. I'm in the early stages of researching a book I'm planning to write about the history of Kingsbury. It was founded by William Kingsbury, a dentist who accompanied a Texas regiment to the Mexican War, practiced in San Antonio, and later became an immigration agent for the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railroad. It was in the latter capacity that he founded the town of Kingsbury. The economy, while it lasted, was based on cattle, cotton and sometimes oil.
Wm. Kingsbury spent his last years in Boerne. In the late 1880s, a promoter to the end, he wrote a short book about the glories of Boerne and Kendall County, with the rather cumbersome title of A description of the belt of country in south western Texas as traversed by the San Antonio & Aransas Pass railway ... -- at least, that's the title it's catalogued under in the interlibrary loan system.
Want to thank margad for the invite! I'm a Texas native, born in the Rio Grande Valley, but grew up in the Dallas area. Now that I'm all grown up, I work at a history museum--so I have a lot of TX history books. I wouldn't define my interests by regions, but rather by topics. Lots of women and race stuff.
As part of my museum job, I also run a book club--we read mostly books with a Texas connection, but I sometimes branch out to national history too.
thanks for the invite margad! I'm descended from Germans in Fredericksburg through my mothers paternal grandmother. my mother has a cousin who had the distincition of being the great-niece (on her "other" side of the family) of John Wesley Hardin..
Welcome, misajane and 49shelves! Misajane, I notice you have True Women in your collection. What did you think of it? I quite enjoyed it, but more for the Texas history than as a novel, I think. I almost wish she had written it as nonfiction. My favorite Janice Woods Windle book is Will's War, about the discrimination against German-Americans during the WWI period.
49shelves, you seem to have a little bit of everything in your family tree, from German-Texans to Wild West desperados! It's no wonder you gravitated toward history.
**Texas Oil Books**
I wandered into the River Oaks Book Store today (3270 Westhiemer, Houston, 713-520-0061) and noted a modest "Texas Oil/Gas/Petroleum Industry" collection in the Texana section.
For those unfamiliar with the RO Book Store, it's a tiny independent with an -- uh -- eclectic(?) selection of both new and used books.
No website, of course. Non-Houstonians: give them a call. They'd probably read you the entire list of whatever they've got in your interest area over the phone.
On a completely unrelated note, I picked up a hc/dj/1/1 of Windle's Hill Country at the Houston Catholic Charity Guild resale shop last week for $9. Yahoo!
I've never seen that store, and I used to drive that way all the time. Now I'm so far away...
Give 'em a call. Better yet, stop in next time you make a pilgrimage 'inside the loop' to visit Brazos. They're in the little shopping center right across the street from Lamar High School. (They have a poetry section, too). ;-)
Well, my areas of interest follow my job and my friends. Primarily Galveston early history and the 1900 Storm is my first love, includes parts of Galveston County. I'm slowly becoming well-versed in NASA history.
I like women's stories, biographical, correspondence, letters, primary sources printed heavily using Archives throughout Texas.
Are you BOI? I'm a native Houstonian/Rice grad ('73).
Half of my Texian ancestors were Dallas pioneers. We don't usually admit this in polite company (tee hee) unless you're "horse people," in which case I'm proud to state my great, great grandad on my mother's side, Middleton Perry, brought the famous quarter horse foundation sire, Steeldust, to Texas in the 1850s.
My other great grandad (name: Loose) jumped ship in Galveston in the late 1800s (he'd had enough of whatever war was going on in Germany at the time), ended up in Marble Falls, and worked on construction of the state capitol in Austin.
I'll never forget my grandfather's tale of how he and one of his buds jumped the train from Marble Falls to Galveston back in the early 1900s. . . they brought their own bucket (for beer) and went to the beach (they'd never seen the ocean before).
All this talk about Galveston brings back loads of memories.
I'm a native of Galveston. I grew up heaing of the 1900 storm and the solution, a masterpiece of enginering, to keep the disaster from being repeated.
As an interesting side note: did you know that the same "Robert" who was involved in in raising Galveston's land-level and building the sea wall after the storm was the guy who wrote "Robert's Rules of Order?"
I was IBC for a number of years, loved the island, though it's getting a little too developed/commerial "resort" for me now. My older daughter is BOI. I like to say I've got sand between my toes.
Native Texan, Native Houstonian, a bit younger than you Bestine. :-) So I still have LOADS to learn and experience and discover.
Yep, Henry M. Robert of Robert's Rules of Order, was one of the key engineers on the Seawall and Grade Raising.
As far as I know the definitive work on that has yet to be written. (hmmm....) though there are a few dissertations or thesis that touch the subject. Patty Bixel is one of the better. Her book, Galveston & the 1900 Storm with Elizabeth Hayes Turner has several GOOD chapters about the greatest US Army Corp of Engineering feat in US history. You just have to get past a few chapters of social history that I don't entirely agree with.
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