Friday, December 29, 2023

What a Texas-sized battle over state history means. (Christian Science Monitor)

We lived in Texas, 1993-1995.  If you've not visited there, put it on your "bucket list."  Fascinating human and natural history.  Brian and I were honored to vote for Governor Ann Richards in 1994.  Cool lady. From Christian Science Monitior: 

What a Texas-sized battle over state history means

Mickey Hammond
  • DEEP READ ( 8 MIN. )

Early Texas history once marched across land owned by the Pinkerton family for four generations. 

On their way into the history books, the famous feet of Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, and other icons first tramped from the Red River down the historic road of Trammel’s Trace. What began as a smuggler’s route became, in the chaotic decades around Mexican independence, a primary causeway for Anglo immigrants (white, English-speaking immigrants) looking to settle beyond America’s southwest frontier. 

The trail passed right through a pasture on Pinkerton land in Rusk County, Gary Pinkerton’s father mentioned one day. Mr. Pinkerton was hooked. 


A story focused on

What is the purpose of studying the past? A lawsuit against a Texas historical organization was really, both sides say, about how the narrative arc of history will bend in the future.

“I began to feel history rather than just learn about it,” says the retired human resources director.

He spent 10 years driving the back roads of East Texas and combing through historical records. What began as a family history project became a forensic historical investigation. Eventually, it became a book.

“The more I researched, the more I learned things that just weren’t true – myths and legends that had floated around,” he says.

For J.P. Bryan, his love of Texas history was sealed with the first two artifacts he acquired as a boy: a Moore’s Patent Front Loading Revolver and a Sharps Patent Four-Barrel Derringer.

The antique firearms formed the basis of the private collection he displays at the Bryan Museum in Galveston. When visitors begin a tour, a framed painting comes to life with a recorded welcome from Mr. Bryan.

The museum, he says, will walk visitors through “one of the greatest events in history ... the settlement of the American West.”

One August morning, the real Mr. Bryan sits in the museum. In a white-and-blue seersucker suit, the multimillionaire and former oil executive explains why he thinks Texas “has the greatest history of any state in the Union.” From the Texas Revolution to the cattle drive era, to oil and gas innovation, the state has been the setting of some of the world’s most compelling stories, he says. Mr. Bryan believes that history should inspire.

“We as historians should be looking for those opportunities,” he says. “But at the same time, we don’t try to hide things, or cover it up and make it mythology or legend.”

Henry Gass/The Christian Science Monitor

Both Texans – retirees who love their state’s history – found themselves on opposite sides this year. The line was what, exactly, history is for.

Texans revere their history, even as some of its defining features have, under scrutiny, moved closer to the realm of myth. Texas exceptionalism draws from wells of historical experience, from its nine years as an independent country to its globally powerful modern economy. So perhaps it’s no surprise that here, as in other parts of the United States, history has become a front in the political culture wars.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ted Cruz is a nut case.