Fact is More Fascinating than Fiction… at Spindletop…

July 11, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

“Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed;
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
Then one day he was shootin at some food,
And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.
Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.”

I can’t be the only one who grew up watching the Beverly Hillbillies, and for those of you who did, now that it has taken root, I dare you to get that tune out of your head.

This rags-to-riches story may have been a bit outlandish, however, on a chilly day in January of 1901, in the town of Beaumont, Texas, a real-life Jed Clampit was born. Unlike the shotgun produced trickle from the TV show, this one was a gusher. Thankfully, after 8 days of the uncontrolled spew of oil, what we now know as Spindletop would finally be capped and America was off and running as a major oil producer. Along the way we have hit a few bumps in the road, however, “… the Capacity of It Is the Greatest in the World”, can still be used to describe the current state of America’s oil producing potential.

Juneteenth Revisited – “The rest of the story”…

June 27, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Roughly a week ago we were observing the most recent addition to our list of Federal Holidays: Juneteenth, which commemorates the day when Union troops marched into Galveston, Texas and Major General Gordon Granger informed the people of Texas that all enslaved people were now free. His General Order (No. 3) stated: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free…”. However, what is that at the end? Dot, dot, dot? There’s more?

His full order reads as follows: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” In other words, “You are free, but if you think the government is going to support you if you leave your new ’employer’, think again.” For many, this would be analogous to someone who was bound, kidnapped, and being transported by airplane to some horrible location having their bindings removed and told they were welcome to leave any time they want (albeit, at 10,000 feet without a parachute). While this Order is quite historic, and the day does deserve to be celebrated, there is a whiff of Hotel California in the air: “You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

Am I exaggerating – misrepresenting the circumstances? One might think so, but an article I recently discovered within a July 16, 1865 issue of The New York Times which printed a follow-up Order by General Granger given approximately one week later begs to differ:

Even when granted with good intentions, freedom needs to be embraced – and the “doing so” is often fraught with hardship. However, while the struggle continues, taking time to celebrate this momentous occasion (along with the many victories which have occurred since June 19, 1865) is worthy of our unified, citizen-wide efforts – regardless of our racial, social, political, religious or economic differences. The intrinsic hope of “We The People!” must ever be before us.

“Texas Made A Nation” was the result of Operation Longhorn…

August 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Occasionally an “odd-ball” newspaper comes into our inventory, and our “Lampasas Dispatch” is certainly one. With a dateline of “Juvember 33, 1969” (not a typo on our part) and a banner headline announcing: “TEXAS MADE A NATION” we knew this wasn’t a legitimate newspaper. The masthead also includes: “For Maneuver Purposes Only—This Publication Created for Operation Long Horn–Not Intended For General Distribution.” So with a bit of searching on the web we soon learned of the story behind this newspaper.

See this website for much more on “Operation Longhorn“. The site begins: “In the spring of 1952, as Cold War tensions heightened, Lampasas Countians’ worst fears seemingly materialized, as “enemy troops” stormed the area, “captured” Lampasas and declared martial law. The U.S. military simulation, dubbed “Operation Longhorn,” was just a test…One of the largest peacetime military exercises ever implemented in the United States, Operation Longhorn took place in March and April 1952, and cost an estimated $3.3 million“.

This is just a single sheet with the reverse being page 8 of the “Lampasas Dispatch” April 3, 1952, coinciding with the date of Operation Longhorn. A fascinating fictitious newspaper from a long-forgotten event in American history.

The Traveler… senseless tragedy…

August 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-8-1-2016-Texas-SniperToday I traveled to New York City by the way of The New York Times dated August 2, 1966. There I found tragedy had stuck the campus of University of Texas. “An architectural honor student who had been undergoing psychiatric care carried an arsenal of rifles and pistols to the top of the 27-story University of Texas tower today and shot 12 persons to death before the police killed him. The student’s wife and mother were later found dead in their homes… The police identified the man as Charles J. Whitman…”. In all, he had shot an additional 34 people.

~The Traveler

You’re Now Free – so get to work and don’t expect help!

November 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Major General Granger’s General Order #3, which appeared in the July 25, 1865 issue of Flake’s Daily Bulletin, provides contrasting news for the newly freed slaves. Good News: You are now free!  Bad News: Get to work and don’t come crying for help! I wonder how we would handle this same situation if it were to happen today???Blog-10-27-2014-General-Order-No-3-Granger

Where has all the time gone?

November 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Fifty years ago this week my older sister and I came in from carving Matchbox-car-sized roads through the previously well-manicured turf of our backyard to find our mother staring at the semi-snowy, partially visible screen of our black and white television with tears streaming down her face.  Not being prone to such outward displays of emotion, her anguish screamed to us that something tragic had happened.  This moment was emblazoned in our minds for life… and was reinforced days later when she took us by the hand to lead us on the long trek to the railroad overpass a few miles from our home to peer over the edge to watch a train draped with a flag pass under our feet. President John F. Kennedy was dead!  While at the time my sister and I had no idea whether or not he was a good president (for to a child, all presidents are good), one thing we knew for sure, something vanished from people’s eyes which has yet to return – American innocence.

As we reflect on this snap-shot of innocence lost, we wonder where it all began – that is, the overwhelming common-man devotion which inspired many to “Ask not what your country can do for you…”.  When did the admiration of the crowd begin? Was it when he was proclaimed a WWII hero as the Captain of PT-109, or did it spring-forth from his impact as a Massachusetts Representative with his first political election victory? While it may be hard to sort out how he had become so beloved, one thing is certain: a split-second in time along a Dallas street changed everything.

Feel free to share your “memory” of November 22, 1963.

To commemorate this historic moment (November 22, 1963), we’ve assembled a host of “assassination-report” newspapers from all over the country. They are viewable at: JFK Assassination.

The Traveler… Texas declares independence… Fort Miegs…

July 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today my journeys took me to Baltimore, Maryland, by the means of The Weekly Register dated July 17, 1813. The front page features the headline “Republic of Mexico” which was announcing the Declaration of Independence of Texas. “We, the people of the province of Texas,…declare, that the ties which held us under the domination of Spain and Europe, are forever dissolved; that we possess the right to establish a government for ourselves; that in future all legitimate authority shall emanate from the people to whom alone it rightfully belongs and that henceforth all allegiance or subjection to any foreign power whatsoever, is entirely renounced… We feel, with indignation, the unheard of tyranny of being excluded from all communication with other nations, which might tend to improve our situation, physical and moral, We were prohibited the use of books, of speech, and even of thought — our country was our prison… We conceive it a duty we owe as well to ourselves as to our posterity, to seize the moment which now offers itself, of shaking off the yoke of European domination, and of laboring in the cause of the independence of Mexico; taking the authority into our own hands, forming laws, and of placing the government of our country upon a sure and firm basis, and by the means assume a rank among the nations of the world.”

Also within the issue is a full page map (which are rarely found in this title): “Map of the Rapids of Miami, Shewing the situation of Fort Meigs, etc”, accompanied by supporting text: “Interesting Topography of Ohio”.

~The Traveler

The first newspapers in Texas…

October 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Texas had a fascinating history, with flags of six nations having flown over some portion of the present state: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, United States of America, &  Confederates States of America.

It was during the time when the Mexico flag flew over its land that a periodical titled “El Mejicano” was reportedly printed in Nacogdoches in May , 1813, as noted in Oswald’s “History of Printing In The Americas”. One report, from the “Southwestern Historical Quarterly” notes that a newspaper was printed from the same press at about the same time, titled “Gaceta de Texas” with a date of May 25, 1813. Some years later Horatio Bigelow and Eli Harris put out the first issue of the “Texas Republican” on Aug. 14, 1819. When Nacogdoches was captured by the Mexicans two months later the printing office was destroyed.

Milton Slocum, a printer from Massachusetts, established the “Mexican Advocate“, a newspaper in both English and Spanish, in Nacogdoches in September, 1829. Unfortunately no copies have survived.  Outside of Nacogdoches a weekly paper titled the “Texas Gazette” was begun on Sept. 25, 1829 in San Felipe de Austin. This paper then moved to Brazoria in July 1832 and ultimately was sold to the publisher of an existing newspaper titled the “Texas Gazette & Brazoria Commercial” which had begun just two years earlier. The combined enterprise became the “Constitutional Advocate and Brazoria Advertiser“.

Beginning in the 1830’s a multitude of newspapers sprang up in present-day Texas, continuing in the 1840’s and beyond.

Warnings of climatic changes…

June 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

With much attention today given to climatic change and how mankind is affecting weather patterns around the globe, it was interesting to find this article in the  “Daily State Journal” newspaper from Austin Texas, May 10, 1871. The article paints a rosier picture in terms of mankind’s affect on climate than most environmentalists do today…