Texas My Texas …

For Christmas I was given a book about Texas, the state I was born and raised in. Although I’ve ventured away for short durations to live elsewhere, those times were little more than an extended vacation because I’ve always returned to the town where I was born. It’s been said that if you ever wear out a pair of shoes in Texas, you’ll never leave. I’m proof of that. I love Texas! And, anybody who knows me knows that I love our rich history and that’s the reason I write almost exclusively about the Texas Panhandle.  I thought I’d share some little known facts about Texas… from a true, blue Texan’s point of view.

Since Spanish explorers first “claimed” us in 1519, six different national flags have flown over Texas.

From 1685 to 1690, Texas was a French territory before reverting to Spain.

Texas was part of Mexico when that country won its independence from Spain in 1821.

We adopted our own Declaration of Independence in 1836 and became a separate republic after a brief war with Mexico.  Did you know that Texas had a Texas Embassy in London and Paris?

In 1845, the United States annexed Texas, making us the 28th state until we seceded to became part of the Confederate States of America.  In 1870, after the Civil War, we were then readmitted to the United States.

So, the six flags of Texas belonged to Spain, France, Mexico, Texas, the United States, and the Confederacy. Now you know where “Six Flags Over Texas” amusement parks got their name.

Here’s a fact, I didn’t know and probably wouldn’t believed it if someone had just told me about it; but, during the Civil War, camels were used in our deserts. In 1855, Jefferson Davis, then the U.S. Secretary of  War, convinced Congress to allocate money to field-test the beasts of burden. The animals excelled in carrying, enduring without water, and traveling long distance through miserable conditions.

By the end of the War Between the States, although camels had proven efficient for both sides, they fell out of favor. The animals smelled really bad, frightened the horses, and had horrid personalities.  Let’s just say, I don’t believe I’ve seen a herd of camels ever in Texas… not that they don’t exist.

The fact that a 10-gallon hat actually holds less than a gallon of water is NOT proof of a Texas braggart. It’s simply a misunderstanding.  It’s not a gallon, but a gallon, the word is Spanish for braid, the standard decoration above the brim of the iconic headgear worn by true Texans everywhere. There is also a theory that the Stetson hat company boasted that the tight weave of most Stetsons made them sufficiently waterproof and could be used as a bucket. Early print advertising by Stetson showed a cowboy giving his horse a drink of water from a hat. The truth, the Stetson company notes that a “ten gallon” hat only holds 3 quarts!

The famous Texas Rangers have a recommended dress code which states, “The Texas Ranger hat will be light-colored and shaped in a businessman’s style … commonly called the Rancher or Cattleman. Brims must not exceed 4 inches or be flat with edges rolled up. Hat excessively crushed, rolled, or dipped are not acceptable. Members of the Ranger Division (of the Texas Department of Public Safety) will own both a quality straw and quality felt hat. The appropriate hat will usually be determined by the weather or assignment.”

Throughout the history of the Republic of Texas, there were no chartered banks in the country.  When the first Texas state constitution was drafted in 1845, it prohibited the incorporation of banks.  Banking functions were performed by financial agents and other business firms.  After the Civil War, banks began to flourish in Texas … as did bank robberies.

In the 1920’s, in order to stop a rash of bank robberies, the Texas Bankers Association established the Dead Bank Robber Reward Program. Anyone who killed a bank robber caught in the act would be paid $5,000. Capturing a bank robber alive would not be rewarded.  Despite a number of cases of murders staged to look like the foiling of a bank robbery, the offer of reward was not withdrawn until 1964.

Our anthology “Give Me a Cowboy” was originally named “Rodeo” and we agreed that all four stories would take place over the 4th of July rodeo in 1890 in Amarillo, which was our setting for our first anthology,“Give Me a Texan”.  But, we quickly recognized a serious problem. The first rodeo, which is the official sport of Texas, was held in 1883 in Pecos. The closest rodeo to our area wasn’t held until 1888 in Canadian, Texas, so to be historically accurate, we changed to the fictional town of Kasota Springs. You might recognize the name from our “A Texas Christmas” because we returned to the town with some recurring characters during the 1887 blizzard.

The West of the Pecos Rodeo is now an annual event; however, the shebang lays claim to being the descendant of that first rodeo.  Legend has it that the whole thing came out of a contest between two ranch hands … Trav Windham and Morg Livingston.  Both had good professional reputations and people challenged them to see who was best cowboy.  Eventually, other talented cowboys who had originally come from all over the territory just to watch found themselves involved in contests of riding broncos and roping cattle.  Bullriding was considered dangerous; therefore, there was no official bullriding event in early rodeos.  But, there was a lot of money won and lost on the renegade event we now know as bullriding.

I hope you enjoyed my tour of some little known facts about Texas, and since I mentioned several of our anthologies, I will give away one commenter’s choice of an autographed copy of any of the six anthologies.

I’d love to hear about any of your favorite Texas experiences, if you’d like to share with us today?

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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at phylissmiranda.com

28 thoughts on “Texas My Texas …”

  1. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting the vaststate of Texas.

    I will always associate Texas with President Kennedy’s death, the Dallas Cowboys rival of my Green Bay Packers, (coaches Tom Landry in the Ice Bowl vs Vince Lombardi), The TV shows: Dallas & Austin City Limits, Lady Bird Johnson’s road beautification program with the bluebonnet flowers, The Alamo and oil.

    I know it’s a huge state. I do hope to visit one day.

    I love books that feature Texas Ranger heroes!!

  2. Thanks, Laurie, for stopping by. You mentioned some of the culture that most people think of when they think of Texas. Much of it pop culture. It is a huge state and folks who haven’t been here have no idea that from my home in the Panhandle to the coast is a twelve to fourteen hour trip. And, everyone loves those dern Texas Ranger (law enforcement and baseball team)!!! The one thing that I’m really sad is that people will always associate Kennedy’s assination with Texas. I really hate that. Hope you get a chance to come see us one of these days. Have a great day. Hugs, P

  3. Loved all the “Texas facts”, Phyliss! The information about the camels was extremely interesting, and could make a great story.

    I’ve never been to Texas, although I see that changing in the near future. One of my closest friends moved to Texas and has been begging me to visit. Since I’m from Wyoming we tease each other about who’s from “the real Cowboy State.” :o)

    –Kirsten

  4. Phyliss,
    GREAT POST! I didn’t know that about the ten gallon hat–very interesting. I DID know about the camels, but only by accident. When I worked at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum here in OKC, one of the pieces on display during the Prix de West art show and sale one year was a picture of that very thing. I can’t remember the artist, but I was so intrigued by that painting I had to look up the info about it. It was a picture of several men, clearly somewhere in our west, wearing uniforms and standing beside their … CAMELS. LOL Anyhow, just wanted to say how much I thoroughly enjoyed your post. My ancestors came to Oklahoma by way of TX and some of them are still there, the rest moving just barely north of the Red River into Bryan County. So I’m still “sort of” Texan…LOL
    Hugs,
    Cheryl P.

  5. Fun stuff! I’m a Texan by marriage, and though I call this marvelous state home, I’m still learning. My kids take Texas history in school, and I eat up all I can while helping them with their homework.

    My daughter was the first person to correct me on the proper pronunciation of Jim Bowie’s name. I had always called it Bow (like tying a bow)-ee instead of Boo-ee. I’m doing my part to educate the rest of the world on this important distinction by naming one of the characters in my next book after the famed frontiersman and having his brothers tease him about his name sounding like a pig call. Soo-ee. 🙂

    Thanks for the juicy tidbits to add to my mental library.

  6. Kristen, I hope you can make it to Texas one of these days to see your friend. Where do they live? Many people forget that Texas is really, really big. We’re approximately 800 miles wide by 800 miles long, equaling something like 268 thousand plus square miles. I think there’s a justifiable questions as to whether Texas or Wyoming is more “Cowboy”! I love Wyoming. Thanks for stopping by today. Hugs, P

  7. Hi Phyliss! Loved the Texas trivia. I didn’t know about the Texas Rangers’ hats or the camels, but the camels didn’t surprise me. They were also used at Fort Tejon in California at about that same time. They didn’t work out there, either. Try as I might, I just can’t see John Wayne on a camel!

  8. Hi Cheryl, I absolutely love the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in OKC! The story about the artist is cool. I knew nothing about the camels until I read about it recently (and I do a ton of research about Texas!). They were called the Camel Corp. and actually went back further than the Civil War, I think. Believe it or not last night when I was talking to one of my best friends, who is also an author, and I told her about the camels she wasn’t surprised at all. She loves to visit forts, as I do, and had seen a couple of them in one of the old forts way south of us! She even had pictures, but I already had my post up, so didn’t have time to dig them out to be used. Dang it. You are definitely “sort of” Texas … and definitely have the Texas mentality!!! Big hugs, P

  9. Great post, Phyliss! I really enjoyed reading all the interesting info about Texas. Love learning these little-known historical tidbits. I’ve never been to Texas, but sure would like to visit someday.

    No need to include my name in the drawing as Be My Texas Valentine is on its way to me (Thanks Phyliss!) and I own all the other anthologies in this collection. And, may I add, they are absolutely terrific! 🙂

  10. Phyliss, Thanks for another interesting post.
    We went to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for a reunion a couple of years ago, then headed down to San Antonio. We enjoyed our trip, but discovered we only scratched the surface of what is Texas. The state is so vast and varied. We want to go back and explore the panhandle, the coast, the Big Bend area, and everything in between. We didn’t see all the areas we did visit had to offer. Retirement isn’t too far off, so maybe we will get the chance.

    I have read Most of the Texas anthologies. I am currently half way through GIVE ME A TEXAN The only one I have left to read is GIVE ME A COWBOY. I look forward to it. I have enjoyed them all.

  11. I really enjoyed my two trips to Texas! I think the time spent at the missions and the Alamo and then the trip to the River Walk were favorite places although the majority of our time was spent in McAllen visiting friens who lived there at the time.

    I also love reading about Texas and Texans so always look forward to reading your books.

  12. Fun post Phyliss! I live in NW Louisiana less than thirty minutes from the Texas border so I get over there fairly regular. Always fun to learn new bits of trivia about my neighbor 🙂

  13. Elizabeth, thanks for the link. I’ll check it out. Sounds like something fun. Thanks, Karen, for stopping by. I think of you as a Texan, although you had to marry into it LOL The pronounciation of names is really something, isn’t it? I cringe sometimes when a news reporter on the national news slaughters some of the names of our towns. Houston is one. I’ve never figured out where people get the pronounciation if house-ton, but oh well. I love your part of Texas.

    Hi Victoria. You make me laugh at the thought of John Wayne on the back of a camel! Too funny. The whole idea of camels really amazed me. I had no idea how widely they were used. Interesting to know they were used in California, too; and probably didn’t work out there any better than Texas for the same reasons. I could have done a blog on camels and the war, if I’d only known more about them. Thanks for stopping by, ladies. Big hugs, P

  14. Karen, I just thought about something involving pronounciation differences; and how I used it in my very first book. Years ago a girl I worked with tried to correct the way we say Peabody (almost like two separate words) in Texas, while up North they say Pea-beedy. I’ll never forget this girl when she told the other one, “Well, it might be Pea-beedy in Boston, but it’s Peabody in Texas.” When I wrote “Give Me a Texan” my heroine is from Boston and was sent down to Texas. I used that little ditty in the story because it stuck in my mind. Thanks for reminding me about it. Hugs, P

  15. My only Texas experience was to travel through when I was moving… Enjoyed reading the little tidbits you had to share… I had heard about the camels on some documentary quite awhile ago… can you imagine what people thought back then when they saw them!

  16. The first time iI visited Texas I went to a convention in San Antonio.. I noted how friendly all the Texans were and really enjoyed talking to them.

  17. Phyliss, I loved this blog! It’s so full of interesting facts. I’ve lived here for almost 45 years and some of this I’ve never heard. Very interesting about the 10 gallon hat and why it was called that. But I laughed at the Dead Bank Robber Program. How hilarious, but not for anyone who robbed banks and got caught. I’m sure it cut down on bank robbery. And I wonder how many men claimed a person robbed a bank when they didn’t just to get the reward.

    You’re always finding the neatest things, Filly sister and friend.

  18. Phyliss, what a great post! I love learning about the TRUE origin of the ten gallon hat! I know I’ll be looking back to this post when I need information. I’m doing a short contemp right now set outside Bandera.

    BTW, I’m going back to Bandera in October and will get to meet you and Linda in the flesh somehow! I promise. oxoxo I promise! Love to my filly sister!

  19. Lori, I hope you make it to Texas one of these days. Thank you for the kind compliment, and “Be My Texas Valentine” is in the mail. I hope you enjoy it as much as you did the others. Appreciate your stopping by today.

    Hi Patricia. You are so right about the vastness and variation of the regions of Texas. I live up on the Caprock where it’s flat, but only 20 miles south is the beautiful Palo Duro Canyon or the mini-Grand Canyon, as it is sometimes referred to. I love every part of Texas for its own reasons, but not necessarily the humidity in lots of the parts. I’ve spent a lot of time in San Antonio and there’s so much to do there. You can’t see it clearly, but the picture of the camel and soldier was taken in front of the Alamo. Thanks for going back and reading our older anthologies. We’re very happy to say that after nearly five years, all six of the anthologies are still in print; and it’s thanks to readers like you. I hope you and Lori both have a great day. Hugs, P

  20. Connie, thanks for dropping by today. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve spent a lot of time in San Antonio and love the River Walk … especially at Christmas when it’s all decorated. McAllen is way too hot for me, but really not all that much more than San Antonio. I love to write about Texas and Texans!

    Winnie, I love Louisiana. As a matter of fact, my mother and her family came to texas from there. My Granny was born on a plantation and there’s still a little town there by its name, Womack, Louisiana … or it was on the map the last time I looked. Unfortunately, they are all gone except for one uncle. I have some very fond memories of many, many vacations in Louisiana. I love our neighbors! Big hugs, P

  21. I love everything about Texas, For a Canadian girl. I have been to Texas once, to South Padre Island. But I have always wanted to go back and see The Alamo and visit San Antonio, go to Houstan, Austin, Dallas. I have always had a thing for Cowboys… I remember hearing that bit about the camels, and thanks for clearing up the HAT fact…
    Thanks for sharing these historical facts about Texas with us.

  22. Colleen, glad you enjoyed my little Texas tidbits. I bet the cowboys weren’t all that happy to see camels! But wouldn’t it make a fantastic, fun story? Thanks, Joye, typically Texans are known for their friendliness, but of course like any place, not everyone is having a good day and show it! We truly pride ourselves on being friendly.

    Hi fellow filly Linda. I knew you’d like the Dead Bank Robber Program. Another story percolating, huh? I’d heard some of the ten gallon hat stories because of my research on the Texas Rangers, and can hardly wait to research and write a blog on the Texas embassy in London and Paris. Big hugs to all, P

  23. Hi Filly Tanya, can hardly wait for you, Linda and me to get together when you come to Texas. We’ve got all kinds of ideas on places where we can meet between San Antonio and our neck of the woods. We’ll have fun. Glad you liked the story about the ten gallon hat. I’d always heard that and of course didn’t think it really held ten gallons, but have to admit that I come under the people who thought it was just a braggart thing with a Texan! You know bigger in Texas!!!! Big hugs, P

  24. Hi Kathleen. I think I tell you this every time, but my oldest daughter’s name is Kathleen, so I really, really love the name! I hope you’ll have the opportunity to get back some day. Padre Island is a great place to vacation! Glad you enjoyed the post, my Canadian friend. Hugs, P

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