Gone to Texas

Heroes You Long For . . .

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 Tessa is giving away an e-copy of Castillo’s Fiery Texas Rose and a signed, print copy of Tejas Conspiracy Incident at Cold Creek. So be sure to leave a comment!

In the vast canvas of my imagination, nothing stands larger than the western landscape. The endless horizon provides a home for the thousands of wandering stars just waiting for a cowpoke or a cowgirl to lasso and dream large. The magic of the west seems to palpitate from its borders, drawing in all who will listen. Of course, I’m talking about the great state of Texas.



Long ago its siren song called to a young Virginian from Wythe County named Stephen Austin. Armed with a ‘sitio’a grant to colonize for mining from the Spanish government, he made his way to the area between San Antonio and Brazos River. After exploring the land all the way to the Gulf Coast, he returned and let his elegant words describing the golden land speak for themselves. For just twelve and a half cents an acre, a family of four could receive 1280 acres, farmers a mere 177 acres, and ranchers 4,428. This was the stuff of dreams, considering the wave of foreclosures and bank failures that plagued our burgeoning nation. As lands failed because of lack of crop rotation, farmers seeking to avoid debtors’ prison packed up and carved three letters into the doorway, fence posts, or barn doors. Those letters would lead to colonization of Tejas and later a revolution – GTT – Gone To Texas.



As the years progressed, many residents of the Lone Star State complained about the newest residents. In 1857, Fredrick Law Olmstead wrote in his book, A Journey Through Texas, that, “….residents of other states appended the initials to name every rascal who stepped out, and that in Texas, many newcomers were suspected of having left home for some ‘discreditable reason.’ ” These reasons are the stuff dreams and romance are hung on. Even today, if you can prove to be a direct descendant who came to Texas prior to 1886, you can apply for a certificate appropriately called, Gone To Texas Pioneer.


I love setting my stories in the years between the early Texas Republic and the heyday of the cattle drives, when men dreamed big and threw a wide loop around the raw land, carving out empires, many still visible today. For where there were men, women followed, and romance was born. So, if you see me pop up on Facebook, or Twitter with the letters – GTT, you’ll know where I’ve gone- even if only in my mind.



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37 thoughts on “Gone to Texas”

  1. I would LOVE to say I’ve GTT!!! 🙂 And I’m SO glad you’re on this blog, too. Great post and wonderful book, too!

    I’m looking forward to more books like this one, too. You’re a wonderful storyteller!

  2. I love me a western with cattle drives….just like John Wayne moving em out tho he wasn’t a love story kinda guy!

  3. Hi Ashantay,

    Texas has so many great stories. It truly is a place where you can forget your past troubles and begin again. The beauty of the state in contrasts of green to desert is stunning. The people are worth character studies on their own. I’m so glad you made it to the post today. Thanks for welcoming me.


  4. Hi, Faith,

    Oh, don’t we all wish that we could get land at that price. I’m sure the early settlers felt it was quite expensive with the failure of banks back east. Glad to see you here today. Thanks so much for stopping by.


  5. HEHEEHE Melody, what a great observation. John Wayne embodied what be see as the ‘Great American Cowboy’. As for a romantic lead, perhaps in his youth. His movie, Angel and a Badman is still one of my all time favorites. He really lit up the screen with his costar,Gail Russell. So nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment.


  6. Thanks for posting today on this site. It’s fun to hear about the GTT, which was, apparently, a big part of Texas history. I’d love to start reading your books!

  7. Hi Linda,

    It was. I guess you could almost say it was the first twitter slang. Instead of posting on line, the barns, fence posts, and even houses sported the letters. I’m pretty sure the population of Texas swelled with so many needing new beginnings. I think it still does. There is a draw to wide open horizons and the freedom of the west. I’d love to have you as a reader too. Welcome.


  8. Were you given a deed to the land? Did you have coordinates so you knew where and how far your land went? How did one go about arranging all this? A lot to think about when starting a new. Thanks Tessa and welcome!

  9. Love the post, Tessa. GTT is my motto. I get lost in Texas, in my books, everyday and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    When my dad bought land in the 1930s in Texas, he paid ten dollars an acre. I can remember the stories he told about how he had to do without a lot of stuff to save that money. But it was important to own land. Love the stories. Love Texas.

  10. Hi Jennifer,
    Land was indeed surveyed in thin strips mostly along the rivers which provided easy transportation of goods as well as for agriculture, which was extremely important. These were then sold and finalized a few months later by an act of judicial possession. The transactions were recorded in documents known as Acts of the Visit of the Royal Commissioners (Autos de la general visita). Many of these can be viewed on line at http://www.glo.texas.gov/what-we-do/history-and-archives/
    As for arranging it, I am going on a limb and saying, you’d visit a federal office and apply for it. I’m sure there was a fee for that as well. Many of the original maps and grant papers were moved and scattered when Texas won its independence. Right now, the historical centers house over 45,000 maps and nearly 200,000 documents.


  11. I’m in! Drop my name in the ole’ Stetson. I would love to receive your new book. As a Californian, I read a lot about Texas. Can’t say why–just do.

  12. Hi Linda,

    Oh wow, how cool is that. I’d love to have land at 10 bucks an acre. Yes, in the 30’s that was nearly a weeks salary if not a bit more. But there is something special about Texas soil. I know a native born Texas woman who’s husband was stationed at the military base. She refused to give birth until they placed the box of Texas soil beneath the birthing chair so she could claim the child was a native born Texan.


  13. Hi Barbara,

    I have forgotten where I first came across it. I think I was doing research on a paper for a Virginia history class in college and it intrigued me. Thanks for the good wishes.


  14. Enjoy all western-themed books especially with historical events and facts. A great way to find new things out about states never visited or lived in. That’s really cheap for an acre of land.

  15. hi Linda Lou,

    Yes, it is cheap for land. In 1968, we purchased our small farm for 500.00 an acre. Its over 13,000 now or at least last I looked. I suppose money is relevant to time. I remember purchasing gas for 25 cents back when you worked for $1.50 an hour. LOL. Who knows in ten years, what seems high to us now might be low. I love books with historical facts sprinkled in too.


  16. Texas has such a rich history. I live here and love to read about the history of our great state. My best friend lives on the 100+ year old farm that her family settled. The stories those old buildings tell…..

  17. OH Wow Michelle,

    I’d love to hear some of those myself. I’m fascinated not only about cowboys but the early oil days. I want to do an novella about wildcatters. Thanks so much for stopping by.


  18. It’s getting close to that midnight hour here on the east coast. I have to thank the lovely fillies here at Petticoats and Pistols for the best day of this author’s life. I’ve enjoyed meeting and talking to the ladies who stopped by today. I can’t wait to see who will get the special copies. Be sure to stay in touch with me on facebook and twitter. http://www.facebook.com/tessa.berkley.7

    My new website is: http://tessaberkley.wix.com/tessaberkleyromance

    My thanks to everyone,


  19. Thanks for the quick little lesson on a part of Texas history. I had no idea Austin was from SW Virginia. The generous land offering was certainly a magnet for those looking for a new start.

  20. Texas still calls to those who live elsewhere. I have traveled several times to Texas and still have only seen a tiny part of what I would like to. Someday I will return!

    Thanks for adding to my Texan history knowledge.

  21. My ancestor arrived in Texas in 1833. He was Doctor, Surveyor, Geologist and Botanist. He was given land by the Mexican Government for surveying-one of the land grants is known as Spindletop. He also served as a Texas Ranger in 1837-1838.

  22. I should have coffee before I type numbers-he served as a Texas Ranger in 1847-1848. Sorry for the multiple postings.

  23. What a wonderful bit of history for us to learn about Texas. Love your books and look forward to reading your newest!!

  24. We lived in Texas for two years as a young married couple with no extra money. I’m hoping we can return sometime soon and learn more about the lone star state.

  25. I’m a native Texas and I love all the stories about my state. I would sure love to read your book about it too.

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