Each Texan has a story to tell. Each story comprises one thread in the special tapestry that is the Lone Star State. Some threads seem to sparkle especially bright, glowing with special passion. Following are eight such Texas stories. Though not household names, these Texans are respected in their fields. By virtue of talent, good luck, and fortitude, they have done extraordinary things. Each story is unique, yet together they reflect an enduring commitment to sense of place.
Most families start with a love story, but not many start like Lareatha Clay’s. Two centuries ago, in Kentucky and Tennessee, her great-great-great-grandparents, Jim and Winnie, were born into slavery. They ended up on a Mississippi plantation and fell in love. When a Texas farmer bought Winnie and the two were separated, Jim ran away to find her, trekking 400 miles under cover of night. After weeks of searching, he found her at a spring gathering water. Winnie convinced her owner to buy Jim, and after Emancipation Jim and Winnie Shankle became prominent landowners in the Newton County freedman’s town of Shankleville.