Concordia Cemetery in central El Paso doesn’t look like much at first sight. The disparate collection of headstones, crosses, and mausoleums stakes out a 52-acre expanse of dusty desert in the shadows of residential neighborhoods, a carpet wholesale warehouse, and Interstate 10.
It could be worth another look through that musty box of family records before packing it into the corner of the attic, or worse yet, sending it off to the shredder.
Most Texans with deep roots in the state treasure the contributions their ancestors made to its unique history. But there may not be a clan with a keener appreciation of its role in this immense and storied land than the Guerra family of far South Texas.
It’s a year of milestones for the Burton Cotton Gin Festival (April 25-26), which marks its 25th anniversary of celebrating the area’s cotton farming heritage.
When Houston Businessman Jesse H. Jones approached the federal government for money to help build the San Jacinto Monument in La Porte, it took a little ingenuity to get Uncle Sam to open his wallet.
After crossing the Red River into Texas in December of 1832, Sam Houston’s first stop was the city of Nacogdoches, the gateway to Mexican territory and home to some of the region’s most influential residents.
Earlier this winter, an ice storm swept across the state, arriving in full force along an imaginary line that once served as the western boundary of the Texas frontier. The cold front’s freezing drizzle loaded power lines along the storm’s leading edge with icicles, weighing the cables downward until their wooden crossbars snapped, collapsing poles and lines and wiping out the power grid for much of West Texas. The storm might as well have wiped away the last hundred years of modern advances with it. Without electricity, I was capable of only limited communication beyond my small rural community of Marathon, cut off from the Internet, and reliant on wood for cooking and warmth.
Historians have studied the Dust Bowl era from many angles in the years since the infamous drought racked the Southern Plains in the 1930s. Here is a sampling of resources that provide more information about one of the most fascinating periods of Texas and American history. There are more resources out there, to be sure, but these will get you off to a good and comprehensive start.
The view from High Lonesome Lane is remarkably empty. The narrow dirt road cuts through the southern High Plains, traversing the Rita Blanca National Grasslands in the northwest corner of the Texas Panhandle. An occasional hackberry tree or windmill breaks the prairie’s distant horizon. Grazing pronghorn, startled by the rarity of a passing car, dart along broken stretches of sagging barbed-wire fence. It’s conceivable to imagine what this territory would have been like in decades past, including when drought-ravaged settlers left their homes to escape the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
I was sitting at the lunch counter of Coots’ Drugstore, at the corner of Marsh Lane and Walnut Hill Road in Dallas. We had been let out of school that Friday so that we could follow President John F. Kennedy as he and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy landed at Love Field and then rode in a motorcade through downtown. But the excitement turned to anguish and confusion as news came over the radio that the president had been shot and killed.
It’s a late afternoon at Club Westerner, an 84-year-old dance hall in Victoria, and musicians with The Scott Taylor Band are setting up their instruments for the night’s show. The sounds of tuning guitars and microphone checks bounce off the walls, just as they have for decades. In the hours to come, dancers will fill the historic hall, absorbing the country music and skimming across the shiny oak dance floor in a counterclockwise motion. It’s a ritual that has taken place at dance halls across Texas for more than a century, and judging by the diversity of halls and their fans, it’s a tradition that shows promise to persevere as a hallmark of Lone Star culture.