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Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Texas Tales - First English-Speaking Europeans In Texas - #TidbitThursday

Howdy!

Welcome to Historical Tidbit Thursdays. The next few weeks I'll be sharing some interesting tidbits I found while researching Texas treasures and tales. Hope you enjoy!

David Ingram may have been the first English-speaking European to enter Texas

David was from the village of Barking, England in the county of Essex just east of London. In October 1567, David and a crew of 114 sailed with Sir John Hawkins on his ship The Minion from Plymouth, England to Africa's slave coast along with 5 or 6 other ships. Being they were English, trading with Spain or Spanish America or Spanish colonies was strictly forbidden, but they did it anyway and one item they paid dearly for were slaves. Hawkins sold the slaves in a Spanish colony and as they sailed home, they ran into a storm near the Caribbean.

English ships were not welcome in Spanish waters, including the Gulf of Mexico or parts of the Caribbean. Their six ships were badly damaged from the storm and they stopped in enemy port Vera Cruz for repairs. Someone tipped off the government there about the English and the ships were attacked. Two ships escaped - The Judith under Francis Drake who sailed home and The Minion under Hawkins.

The Minion was overcrowded and under provisioned, so 114 men (including David Ingram) were set ashore 30 miles north of Tampico, Mexico (which is over 300 miles away from Texas).



David and his men headed north further into this unknown world. For 11 months, they headed north-east into Texas, through native lands, and into Canada ending up at Cape Breton, Newfoundland, a distance of over 3000 miles. Along the way, he lost 111 men to disease, accidents, relations with natives (an interesting result were a lot of blue-eyed native babies whose recessive gene passed down through the generations).



Quite an amazing journey on foot!

Source:
"Texas Tales" by C.F. Eckhardt; ISBN#1-55622-141-X


Western Word of the Week - Dark Horse - #WesternWordoftheWeek #WesternWednesdays

Howdy!

Thanks for returning to our Western Word of the Day column. The next few weeks I'm drifting a little bit away from what we think of as truly "western" words to focus on some other vocabulary term that I've learned and wanted to share. Since we're in the midst of presidential campaigns and races, it seemed like a good time to talk about some of the terms we hear in those all the time...

Dark Horse - an unknown or little known horse (or candidate) enters the race

Source:
History Channel, "America's Secret Slang" video series
www.history.com/shows/americas-secret-slang

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Texas Tales - Ancient Chinese Explorers In Texas - #TidbitThursday

Howdy!

Welcome to Historical Tidbit Thursdays. The next few weeks I'll be sharing some interesting tidbits I found while researching Texas treasures and tales. Hope you enjoy!

Did ancient Chinese Explorers find their way to Texas?

A Chinese book called "Sun-Hai Ching" (or "Shun-Hai King")(translated literally as "Classic of Mountains and Seas"), written before the 4th century BC, contained short snippets of myths, geography, and creatures. It describes over 550 mountains, 300 rivers and 277 animals.

According to the "Texas Tales" book, the route described in a particular section computer-matched one strip of land between 10 and 20 miles wide from central Wyoming to the mouth of Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park in western Texas. The detailed descriptions seemed to describe topography, minerals, waterflows, plants and animals in these regions.


One particular animal that was described, the peccary (a small pig) or javelin with its gray hair and collar are native only to the American southwest and Mexico.

It's known that Chinese had extensive trade routes with a place they called "Fusang" where they claimed people "barked like dogs". These people could possibly be the Apaches whose language sounds like barking to foreign ears. Trading lasted 300-500 years and ended in 1000 AD.

Interestingly, ancient Chinese recipes contained references to pepper pod or chili pepper and the legumes (which we call the peanut), both of which are native to the Americas. Some of these recipes have been found in Chinese tombs over 4000 years old!

Source:
"Texas Tales" by C.F. Eckhardt; ISBN#1-55622-141-X


Picture Source: https://www.britannica.com/animal/peccary

Western Word of the Week - Throw Your Hat In the Ring - #WesternWordoftheWeek #WesternWednesdays

Howdy!

Thanks for returning to our Western Word of the Day column. The next few weeks I'm drifting a little bit away from what we think of as truly "western" words to focus on some other vocabulary term that I've learned and wanted to share. Since we're in the midst of presidential campaigns and races, it seemed like a good time to talk about some of the terms we hear in those all the time...

Throw Your Hat In the Ring - to compete in a race

Origin of this term: Boxers would throw their hat into the boxing ring for a chance to compete

Source:
History Channel, "America's Secret Slang" video series
www.history.com/shows/americas-secret-slang

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Texas History - Lottie Deno, The Angel of San Antonio - #TidbitThursday

Howdy!

Welcome to one of my favorite columns of this blog - Historical Tidbit Thursdays!

I'm really excited to be able to share my research, my favorite reference books, shows or movies I've seen that inspire, as well as my passion for history with you in a quicker and more regular way. My focus will be on my current WIP (Work in Progress) - a western romance fiction novel. So I hope you enjoy!!

This post we will take a look at Carlotta J. Thompkins, known as Lottie Deno, "The Angel of San Antonio" who was one of the most notorious gamblers in the Old West.

Carlotta J. Thompkins was born in Warsaw, KY on April 24, 1844 to a family that owned race horses and participated in gambling. When her father died, as the eldest daughter, she went to Detroit to find a wealthy husband to take care of her family. Instead, she used her beauty and charm to get into the private gambling clubs and soon her winnings supported her mother and sister. She took on the alias Lottie Deno.

Lottie met another gambler, Johnny Golden, and together they worked riverboats. Former slave, Mary Poindexter, became Mary's body guard standing over seven feet tall. Eventually, Lottie made it to New orleans and made enough off the casinos to pay for her sister's education and to see them both to San Antonio, Texas in comfort.

June 1, 1865 she arrived in Alamo City and soon made the rounds in the gambling clubs - the Cosmopolitan Saloon, the Comanche Club, the Jockey Vlub, the Jack Harris Saloon, etc. She became known as "The Angel of San Antonio" for her beauty and skills. She was hired as a dealer at the University Club, owned by Frank, Bob and Harrison Thurmond. She remained there for three years until her ex-partner Johnny Golden showed up. Lottie disappeared and later appeared in Fort Concho as "Mystery Maud".

After several months, Lottie arrived at For Griffin on the banks of the Cler Fork River. She never drank or cursed. She rented a small shack on the edge of town. For Griffin was rough - more people were killed on the streets of "The Flat" as it was known than in the history of Dodge City or Tombstone. There were over a dozen saloons, gambling parlors, dance halls and houses of ill-repute despite having only 400 residents. The town became known as the "Town of Babel" for its wickedness. She played cards with men in her home before becoming a house dealer at the Beehive Saloon.

Evenytually, Johnny Golden was arrested for horse thievery and died on the way to the stockade. Lottie paid for his coffin and a new suit to bury him in.

Lottie moved to Kingston, a small village in southwest New Mexico where Frank Thurmond waited for her. They opened the Gem Saloon in Silver City. They married DEcember 2, 1880.

After an incident where Frank murdered a man in self-defence, they gave up gambling. Frank died June 4, 1908 and Lottie died February 9, 1934.

Source:
Book - "From Angels to Hellcats" by Don Blevins; ISBN#0-87842-443-1

Western Word of the Week - Slush Funds - #WesternWordoftheWeek #WesternWednesdays

Howdy!

Thanks for returning to our Western Word of the Day column. The next few weeks I'm drifting a little bit away from what we think of as truly "western" words to focus on some other vocabulary term that I've learned and wanted to share. Since we're in the midst of presidential campaigns and races, it seemed like a good time to talk about some of the terms we hear in those all the time...

Slush Funds - to funnel funds to shady politicians

Origin of this term: Navy cooks on ships would save aside the oils ("slush") from boiled meats/foods and they would then sell the oil to candlemakers or soapmakers on the sly for a profit.

Source:
History Channel, "America's Secret Slang" video series
www.history.com/shows/americas-secret-slang

Western Word of the Week - Flash in the Pan - #WesternWordoftheWeek #WesternWednesdays

Howdy!

Thanks for returning to our Western Word of the Day column. The next few weeks I'm drifting a little bit away from what we think of as truly "western" words to focus on some other vocabulary term that I've learned and wanted to share.

Flash in the Pan - something that is very short-lived; something with a lot of "flash" but no lasting result

Term came from Revolutionary times dealing with muskets which often would not fire properly or would malfunction. When a soldier pulled the trigger to fire his weapon, the fire would often flare up in the pan as the prime was ignited but the bullet would not be shot out. So the ignition was a success but the actual shooting of a bullet was a failure.

Source:
History Channel, "America's Secret Slang" video series
www.history.com/shows/americas-secret-slang

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Texas History - Francisca Alavez, The Angel of Goliad - #TidbitThursday

Howdy!

Welcome to one of my favorite columns of this blog - Historical Tidbit Thursdays!

I'm really excited to be able to share my research, my favorite reference books, shows or movies I've seen that inspire, as well as my passion for history with you in a quicker and more regular way. My focus will be on my current WIP (Work in Progress) - a western romance fiction novel. So I hope you enjoy!!

This post we will take a look at a another brave woman in Texas history, Francisca Alavez, also called "The Angel of Goliad" for her role there.

February 1836, Mexican soldiers under General Jose Urrea (one of Santa Anna's best officers) crossed the Rio Grande river. Francisca Panchita Alavez accompanied Captain Telesforo Alavez (she shared his last name but there's no evidence they were truly married). She was 20 years old and a real beauty.

February 27, Urrea surprised Francis W Johnson at San Patricio. All volunteer soldiers except for Johnson and a handful of escapees were killed or captured. He then attacked James Grant at Agua Dulce and all but Grant and 6 others were killed or captured.

upon hearing of the defeats, James Walker Fannin Jr, in charge of a contingent of men, decided to return to Goliad and prepare the site for defense against the oncoming army. He dubbed the presidio "Fort Defiance". Sam Houston sent him several directives. On March 19, just 13 days after the fall of the Alamo, Fannin moved his men out of the fort toward Victoria. Their escape was slow as he had 9 massive cannons pulled by oxen and no true road. Less than 20 miles out of Goliad, the enemy came upon them. By morning, the Texians were completely surrounded and their ammunitions cart had broke down. The small group of soliders faced over 1000 Mexicans. Fannin and his men surrendered. 240 men were marched back to Goliad as prisoners. 80 men were injured and would be transported to Goliad later. General Urrea asked Santa Anna for clemency for the men who surrendered but he refused. Fannin and 40 other injured men were executed at the Fort in Goliad. 28 men managed to escape. 20 people (physicians, nurses, interpreters, mechanics, etc) were spared to serve the Mexican army.

At a small settlement called Copano, a ship from New Orleans carrying 68 volunteers led by William P Miller docked in the bay and swam to shore where the Mexican army waited. They were tied up and left in the hot sun without food or water. Francisca raged at the guards and ordered them to be untied. Eventually, her insistency wore the guards down saving these men's lives.

They then escorted the prisoners to Goliad. She became friendly with the AMericans along the journey. When they arrived, the prisoners were added to the "Black Hole" a tiny space with over 400 prisoners and no room to lie down. She begged Colonel Portilla to let the captives get fresh air, food, and medical treatments. She convinced Portilla not to execute the men from Copano Bay as they hadn't been part of the actual rebellion and had never fired any shots. He agreed and shipped the men to a prison in Matamoros.

Under cover of darkness, Francisco smugged 12 captives onto the mission parapet to hide. She saved young Benjamin Franklin Hughes (only 15 yeard old) by claiming she needed him in the hospital to help with the injured. She saved William Hunter who'd been left for dead on the San Antonio River bank and dressed his wounds.

7 escapees were found by the Mexican soldiers. They killed 3. Francisca and another woman threw themselves in front of the firing squad and saved the other 4.

April 21, 1836, General Urrea moved across the Rio Grande into Matamoros. Telesforo (whom Francisca had accompanied all this time) headed back to Mexico City and left Francisco (supposedly he had a wife and two children back home).

Francisca had 2 children - sn Matias who went to work with Captain Richard King and daughter, Dolores. Francisca is buried at the King Ranch in an unmarked grave.

Source:
Book - "From Angels to Hellcats" by Don Blevins; ISBN#0-87842-443-1

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Texas History - Susanna Dickinson an Alamo Survivor - #TidbitThursday

Howdy!

Welcome to one of my favorite columns of this blog - Historical Tidbit Thursdays!

I'm really excited to be able to share my research, my favorite reference books, shows or movies I've seen that inspire, as well as my passion for history with you in a quicker and more regular way. My focus will be on my current WIP (Work in Progress) - a western romance fiction novel. So I hope you enjoy!!

This post we will take a look at a very brave woman named Susanna Dickinson who survived the Battle of the Alamo (one of the most famous battles in Texas history).

Susanna Wilerson was born in HArdeman County near Memphis, Tennessee in 1814. She met Almeron Dickinson (who was born in Pennsylvania) when she was 15 years old and rejected his affections. He courted her best friend and proposed. The day before her friend's wedding, he decided he waned to marry Susanna instead (I assume the feeling was mutual) and rode to her family's farm to get her. They stopped at a county court clerk's office to get a marriage license and were married that day (May 24, 1829).

It seems the situation became awkawrd for they moved to Gonzales, Texas two years later where Almeron established a blacksmith's shop.

On December 14, 1834, their daughter, Angelina Elizabeth, was born.

Almeron volunteered with the Texians (the growing rebellious group) and was appointed lieutenant of artillery. Eventually they end up at the Alamo in San Antonio with a small force of men.

February 1836, he sends a letter to Susanna asking her and the baby to join him at the Alamo.

February 23, 1836, a large Mexican army of thousands arrived at the Alamo for battle. Susanna, her daughter, 2 black slaves of Travis and Bowie, and 12 Mexican women and children were placed in a small room in the chapel. Susanna took on the role of nurse ripping her own clothing for bandages.

After the battle, Susanna's family friend, Ramon Musquiz beseeched Santa Anna to spare Susanna and her daughter. They were the only Anglo survivors of the battle. Any other Anglo survivors were killed and/or burned. While she approached Santa Anna, someone shot her in the leg (it's not clear whether it was on purpose or by accident). Musquiz took her to his hacienda to be cared for. Santa Anna came and was so enchanted by Angelina that he offered to adopt her and take them both to Mexico. She refused. He released her so that she could spread the news that any rebel who opposed Mexico would be killed and she was to take a letter stating the same to Sam Houston in Gonzales.

Susanna eventually moved to Houston. December 1837 Texas passed a law to give 640 acres to heirs of Alamo defenders. August 1839 she received her land grant.

Susanna went on to have several failed marriages. Her daughter also found herself in several relationships.

April 27, 1881, Susanna visited the Alamo. It was reported in the San Antonio Daily Express news.

Susanna died October 7, 1883. She was 68 years old.

Source:
Book - "From Angels to Hellcats" by Don Blevins; ISBN#0-87842-443-1

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - The Indian Tipi - Etiquette - #TidbitThursday

Howdy! Welcome to Tidbit Thurday!

Although Native Americans were called "savages", they actually had pretty strict rules they lived by and guide their manners.

Etiquette regarding entering someone's home was simple enough - if the door was open, friends could walk right in. If the door was closed, the visitor would call out or shake the door covering. They would wait to be invited inside.

A pretty funny joke was that if someone heard knocking, it was a government agent.

If a visitor found two sticks crossed over a door, that indicated the owners were away (or really didn't want company). Usually the smoke flaps would be crossed over the smoke hole to close it (and not allow smoke to escape).

In some tribes, inside the tipi, men typically sat on the north side and women sat on the south side. When entering, a man moved to the right walking behind anyone who was seated until they reached their spot. The seated person would lean forward. If the guest needed to walk between a seated person and the central fire, they would pardon themselves.

Typically, men would be served first starting with the oldest. The host would wait until all the guests had eaten before partaking of the meal. Guests were encouraged to eat everything they were given or else carry it home.

When the host cleaned his pipe and set it aside, that was the signal for guests to leave. They did not waste time on lengthy goodbyes.

Source:
"The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use" by Reginald and Gladys Laubin
ISBN#0-8061-2236-6

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - The Indian Tipi - The Fire Keeper - #TidbitThursday

Howdy! Welcome to Tidbit Thurday!

In some Native American tribes and cultures there is the concept of the Fire Keeper. Not unlike the Olympic Torch Bearer, this person carries a live coal in a special container (like a prepared horn slung over the shoulder) to the next camp to light the fires. In some tribes, the coal came from a sacred fire place and would like the next sacred fire.

Once the Fire Keeper kindled a fire, women would light their own tipi fire from it. The fire was kept alive until it was time to move again.

Every night, the fire was allowed to die down. The coals would be covered in their own ash. In the morning, the cold ashes would be scraped aside to reveal the live coals.

Source:
"The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use" by Reginald and Gladys Laubin
ISBN#0-8061-2236-6

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - The Indian Tipi - The Tipi Fire - #TidbitThursday

Howdy!

Today we're going to take a look at the tipi fire, the very central necessity that provides warmth and, in colder weather, a means to cook food.

A typical tipi fire consists of a ring of stones containing wood and burning material. In more permanent homes (such as a winter home or a summer home that will remain in place for several months), a shallow put would be dug.

The size of the ring varied by the tribe and the size of the tipi. Cheyenne and Arapaho built there ring 12"x25"x3". Comanches, Kiowas, Blackfeet, and Sioux built theirs 18-20" across.

The type of wood used to burn varied by the location and season. Wood that burned longer, threw less sparks and omitted less smoke were preferred. Hardwood (such as Willow, Cottonwood, Service berry, Chokecherry, Mountain maple, River birch) was best. Maple and Ash were good choices. Evergreens gave off too much smoke and sparks. Aspen gives off a lot of sparks but not a lot of smoke and smells sweet. Pine gives little heat. Burning Birch also has a sweet fragrance. Alder was known as "stinkwood".

Wood gathering was a community effort. Stacks of firewood were stored inside the tipi to the left of the doorway.

Sticks were used as pokers. Pipestem were used to fan coals. Narrow saplings were used as tongs.

Little chunks of greasy fat were tossed into fire for additional light.

Source:
"The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use" by Reginald and Gladys Laubin
ISBN#0-8061-2236-6