Texas Insights - August 2016

Volume VII, Issue 1

What’s New?

Professional Development from TSHA’s Exploring Texas Workshop Series

TSHA’s 2016–2017 Exploring Texas Workshop Series provides timely and accessible historical content and resources from renowned scholars, and organizations with expertise in the fields of history, geography, economics, civics, and skills-building for fourth and seventh grade Texas history teachers with tracks for new and American History teachers.
• Attend presentations by noted historians and experts in the field
• Earn CPE credits and GT Hours
• Receive resources and access to repositories of primary sources that will transform your classroom
• Get specific advice on instructional activities and techniques
Texas History Workshop • Focus: 1682–Present
• Oct. 5, 2016 • El Paso

Energizing Texas History Conference • Focus: 1835–1900 • Nov. 14–15, 2016 • Dallas

Discovering Texas History Conference • Focus: 1900–Present • Feb, 6–7, 2017 • Austin
For more information and to register, visit www.TSHAonline.org/education/teachers/exploringtexas
TSHA will be conducting one day workshops in Alpine (October 4) and San Angelo (October 7th).  These workshops are free and include an academic speaker and breakout sessions on student program opportunities (including multiple sessions on implementing and improving a campus Texas History Day program, the archives of the General Land Office, digital resources of the TSHA, and local history offerings.  For more information or to register contact Charles Nugent at Charles.Nugent@TSHAonline.org.

Behind the Tower

The University of Texas at Austin's History Department has published a new resource available for teachers and anyone looking to teach complicated histories, and those seeking to highlight how to write public history using primary records. This is a Public History project researched and written by 11 graduate students who worked on for the past 7 months under the direction of Dr. Joan Neuberger, professor of History at UT Austin. It is a well-researched resource aimed to both commemorate, and remember the 50 year anniversary of the hard but important history of the UT Tower tragedy. The project was based on archival sources found at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, and the Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, among other places. For more information visit TeachingTexas.org


Houston History Alliance Conference

“The History of Houston’s Musical Soul” is the theme of the sixth annual Houston History Conference, which brings together historians, both professional and lay, to dive deep into the different stories of the people and events that built this amazing, sometimes frustrating, but always surprising, city, Houston, Texas. The conference will focus on music, and more specifically the past and present, community events, the economic standing of a particular group, gender conflict, racial divisions, oppression, global events, pain, loss, and joy. Music gives voice to something that finds no other expression. Everything goes into the mix and what comes out on the other side is richly nuanced and unique to a particular place, time, culture, and community. Learn more at TeachTexas.org

Featured Institution

Houston Arts and Media (HAM) enters its eleventh year as a non-profit that creates documentary films, short videos and web content to teach both children and adults about the history of Texas and Southeast Texas. The goal of every HAM project is to present history topics in the most complete and compelling way possible. The Birth of Texas Documentary Series is HAM’s most ambitious undertaking, an eight-part series of feature length documentaries that chronicle the journey from Spanish Texas, along the road to Revolution, through the days of the Republic and on to statehood. Taken together, it is 20 hours of top-quality video that not only explores the complete stories of the famous military actions at the Alamo, Goliad, and San Jacinto, including recent breakthroughs in scholarship and archaeology, but also the roles played by Tejanos, American settlers, filibusterers, enslaved African-Americans, European immigrants, and foreign governments in shaping the story of our state.

Each high-definition video, running between 90 minutes and three hours in length, tells these stories through the voices of the top historians in Texas. They are broken into segments for easy use in class. The backdrop of each installment is an historic location as it appears today. Renowned author, Stephen Hardin, leads the viewer to important “tour stops”. Following each location stop is a mini-documentary in which historians discuss a related topic with the aid of period drawings and photographs, video, voice acting, re-enactors, maps and tone-setting music. The expert historians are a veritable who’s who of early Texas history that includes two former Texas State Historians, the longtime history advisor to TSHA, and dozens of academic storytellers who literally wrote the book on these early Texas topics. Several of them have found the finished product worthy of use in their Texas history college courses.

With a location-based backbone, these documentaries educate adults and students about the early history of our great State of Texas. They also serve as a powerful vehicle for history tourism, motivating people to visit these hallowed locations for themselves.
The first six Birth of Texas documentaries are completed and available on DVD. Five of those have already won major awards, and the sixth title, Goliad, was released on DVD only in late July 2016. Four of the films have garnered top awards in documentary from the acclaimed WorldFest/Houston International Film Festival.  
The final two documentaries in The Birth of Texas Series revolve around San Jacinto and Austin during the Republic period. Each will follow the same pattern of telling not only the stories of what happened there, but exploring the broader themes that existed in Texas of the early nineteenth century and grounding them in solid and recognizable historical context.
In addition to the documentaries, HAM has created a stand-alone website at www.birthoftexas.org with more information about each film and links to primary and secondary source materials. Eventually, there will be teaching guides and activity suggestions for each of the eight titles in order to support their use in seventh grade classrooms. All of that material will be available free of charge.
The resulting DVDs will be made available for purchase by individuals, schools and libraries. Currently, The Birth of Texas films are being utilized in roughly 80 school districts and private schools around the state. As each installment is released, it will air on local television stations in as many Texas markets as can be arranged. PBS stations in Houston and the Panhandle are already airing the films, and HAM is working to get the widest coverage possible in all areas of Texas. It is a perfect educational tool to meet curriculum needs, celebrate our state’s diverse past, and create new generations of Texas history buffs.
You may visit HoustonArtsandMedia.org and BirthofTexas.org to learn more. Go to TeachingTexas.org for more information. 


Historian's Corner 

Cherokee Women in Texas and Indian Territory During the Civil War 

By Nakia Parker
Doctoral Student, Department of History
The University of Texas at Austin

    On May 20, 1863, Sallie Watie, a wealthy slave-owner and wife of a Confederate general, wrote to her husband from a refugee camp in Rusk, Texas about the deprivations and hardships she had experienced while he was away at war. Tired, depressed, and overwhelmed, she begged him: “I do wish you would leave the service…it greaves [sic] me to think we are so far from each other…I would like to feel free once in life again and feel no dread of war or any other trouble.” Some seventy years after the Civil War, Ellen Coody Robinson recounted to an interviewer how the trials of the war years required resourcefulness on the part of her family and friends. She wistfully reminisced, “even the dark tragedies of war didn’t quite kill the spirit of the young folks. There were parties, dinners and balls...Getting party dresses was the problem. One girl took her mother’s lace curtains, dyed them, and made a beautiful party dress that was the envy of all of us.” 
    Textbooks, historical monuments, and popular culture such as the film Gone with the Wind praise the ingenuity, loyalty, and courage of the women in the Confederate states. Sallie and Ellen, however, differ in one major aspect: Both women were Cherokee. In fact, Sallie’s husband was Stand Watie, a famous Cherokee leader, and the last general to surrender in the Civil War. Furthermore, their stories are not atypical accounts, for there were many “southern” Cherokee slaveholding women who faced the horrors of war just like their Southern Euro-American counterparts, who waited for men, brothers, and sons to come home, who endured the destruction of their property and subsequent loss of wealth, and who weathered the uncertainties of refugee life.  Nonetheless, despite these similar experiences, Cherokee women usually find themselves effaced from the history of the antebellum South, the Civil War, and Texas.

    Approximately ten percent of individuals in the Cherokee Nation owned slaves. Nevertheless, the coming of the American Civil War still divided the Cherokee Nation. One faction, under Stand Waite, sided with the Confederacy in part because of business ties to white Southerners and the shared institution of slavery, in addition to the anger and resentment felt toward the federal government’s pushing them out of their homelands and suspending their annuity payments during the Civil War.   Another group led by Principal Chief John Ross, decided to side with the Union and freed their slaves in 1863. Partly to this infighting, Cherokee residents occupying Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) became closely familiar with the terrors of combat. Although the western theater of the war was the site of fewer battles, bloody conflicts still occurred there. Some Cherokees, like white slaveholding families, decided to refugee in Texas to escape the fighting and chaos in Indian Territory. The majority of these refugees were women, since many of the men enlisted to fight with either the Confederate or Union Army.

    Cherokee women of the planter class, like white Southern plantation women, fled to Texas to escape the hardships of the conflict. Indian women faced transportation problems and economic hardships during the journey. For example, the Adair women, whose husbands served in the Confederate Army, rolled up their valuable art onto broomstick handles and left them with friends in Arkansas in an attempt to save their valuables. Still, by the time they arrived to their refugee camp, they were practically destitute. Many women also endured the economic and psychological trauma of seeing their homes burned and property stolen in raids. As the war dragged on, some grew tired of the privations they experienced and begged their husbands in letters to desert the army.  One Cherokee woman reminisced that when her father did not receive furlough, he abandoned the Confederate troops and united with his family in Parker, Texas. To hide him, his mother dug a hole big enough for him to lie on his back and placed a door over him. He hid in that uncomfortable position for several weeks.
    Even before the war ceased, the Cherokee Nation sustained heavy losses: by 1863, one-third of adult women were widows and one-fourth of the children were orphans. Commenting on the devastation to the Cherokee nation after the Civil War, William P. Ross, grandson of Cherokee leader John Ross recounted in The Cherokee Advocate:
          Every thing [sic] has been much changed by the destroying hand of War…but few men remain
    at their homes…nearly all the farms are growing up in bushes and briars, houses abandoned or
    burnt… Some idea of the great and melancholy change…which has come over our once prosperous
    and beautiful country…We have not a horse, cow, or hog left that I know of…The wolves howl
    dismally over the land and the panther’s scream is often heard.

    Cherokee women helped rebuild their Nation after the Civil War. Those who refugeed in Texas returned to Indian Territory, people like Sallie Watie, who oversaw the Watie family farm and business interests when her husband returned to Cherokee political life. Although no statues exist in honor of the sacrifices made by Cherokee women during the Civil War, their experiences merits the same kind of consideration in the historical narrative as their white Southern counterparts.


Confer, Clarissa A. The Cherokee Nation in the Civil War. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007.

Johnston, Carolyn Ross. "The Panther's Scream Is Often Heard": Cherokee Women in Indian Territory During The Civil War." Chronicles Of Oklahoma 78, no. 1 (March 2000): 84-107. America: History & Life, EBSCOhost.

Parins, James W. “Sallie Watie and Southern Cherokee Women in the Civil War and After.” Native South 2.1 (2009): 51-67. America: History & Life, EBSCOhost.


Featured Lesson

As you plan to teach early Texas history, consider Texas Indians: Pueblo and Plains Cultures from the Portal to Texas History, which utilizes primary sources and highlights Native American cultures including the Jumanos, Tiguas, Tonkawas, Apaches, Comanches, and Kiowa. As a primary source set, this lesson, provides teachers with a list of primary sources from The Portal to Texas History on specific topics. Each primary source set provides at least one engaging learning activity based on the list of sources. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org.

Native Americans in Tejas: An Overview at TeachingTexas.org.
Native American Cultures: Southeastern, Gulf, and Plains at TeachingTexas.org.

Texas History News

Several opportunities for Texas history educators and students are available or are on the near horizon:

The 2016 Save Texas History Symposium: The Alamo, Keystone of Texas History: Past, Present and Future, hosted by the Texas General Land Office, takes place on September 17, from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. The Symposium, celebrating its seventh year, examines the Keystone of Texas History -- the Alamo. Speakers take a look at the history of the Alamo, as well as work that is happening today and planned for the future. The symposium will feature Drs. Paul Hutton, Andres Tijerina, Jay Harrison, Mariah Wade, Bruce Winders and Andrew Torget, as well as presentations by Lee Spencer White, Suzanne Cottraux, James Steely, preservation professionals Kim Barker and Pam Rosser, and Land Office surveyors. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org.  

UNT’s Teaching of History Conference (TCON) for Fall is titled “Reconstruction and Restorations.” It is intended for grades 4-12 educators and will take place on Saturday, October 1, 2016, 8 am to 1 pm at the University of North Texas University Union. Historians have written countless books on great events such as the French Revolution and the American Civil War. However, virtually all such cataclysms were followed by some type of restoration or reconstruction that also had tremendous historical significance. The 2016 Teaching of History Conference focuses on these restorations and reconstructions in the modern world. Register and learn more at TeachingTexas.org.

The Amon Carter Museum's current exhibition titled “Identity” explores how identity in American culture is often as much about how people present themselves to the world as it is externally determined. Exploring community, celebrity, and individual identity through portraiture from the Amon Carter’s permanent collection, the exhibition highlights the exciting new acquisitions of Sedrick Huckaby’s The 99% and Glenn Ligon’s print series Runaways. These portraits represent the fluid and constantly shifting role of identity in society from the twentieth to the twenty-first century. The exhibit is open to the public at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, on display now through October 9, 2016. Visit TeachingTexas.org to find out more.

  General Houston's Little Spy: A Texas Revolution Story, written by Cara Skinner and published in 2015, is a romantic, historical novel that will peak your students' interest in Texas history. Skinner is a certified elementary special education teacher. She also served in the military as a radio transmitter repairer at the Husterhoeh Kaserne in Pirmasens, Germany. Her inspiration for writing this historical novel “was to inspire interest in Texas history in the next generation of young Americans and provide educators with a teaching resource that will make this history relevant to young people. Find out more at TeachingTexas.org.

Step back in time with the Brazoria County Historical Museum as it presents the Tenth Annual Austin Town, November 4, and 5, 2016. A living history re-enactment, Austin Town, recalls and celebrates the lives of those pioneers who settled Colonial Texas from 1821-1832. A field Trip Day, underwritten by Phillips 66, will be on November 4 for pre-registered schools only. Saturday, November 5, the event will be open to the general public from 10 am to 5 pm for fun for the whole family. The purpose is to provide an educational and entertaining experience for all. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more. 

The Texas Art Education Association Annual Conference takes place November 17-19 in Dallas with are exhibits that educators depend as tools to enhance their teaching skills. Exhibitors have the chance to display their products and services to those who influence purchasing, and will be reaching an exclusive education audience. Teachers, supervisors, department chairpersons, and administrators are searching for new and innovative products for use in schools and universities throughout Texas and some nearby states. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org.
Texas Teachers have a rare opportutnity to join a regional workshop hosted by Mount Vernon and Bayou Bend this September in Houston. Learn about the past through objects, from famous Americans like George Washington to the practices of everyday life. Explore this perspective on American history with Amanda Isaac, Associate Curator at George Washington's Mount Vernon; Lily Carhart, Archaeological Field and Lab Technician at George Washington's Mount Vernon; and Education Department staff from Mount Vernon and Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. Register at TeachingTexas.org.  

The Portal to Texas History at the University of North Texas is accepting applications for its Rescuing Texas History Mini-Grant program. Each grant will provide up to $1,000 of digitization services to libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, and other groups that house historical materials. All of the materials will be scanned at UNT Libraries and hosted on The Portal to Texas History. Both newspapers and archival collections will be considered for digitization. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org.

The University of Texas at Austin kicks-off 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month on Thursday, September 15th with anchor, John Quiñones.  Sponsored by the Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS), Univision-TV, KLRU-TV, ¡Que Paisano!, and the University Federal Credit Union (UFCU), th event will take place in the Student Activities Center Auditorium, SAC 1.402 at The University of Texas at Austin from 6-8pm. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org. .  

Book review and signing event sponsored by the Brazoria County Historical Museum held on August 4, 2016 at 6:30 pm for Roger Wood's Texas Zydeco. This book is a definitive account, in words and pictures, of how the most formative players and moments in modern zydeco history developed in Texas, especially Houston. The Brazoria County Historical Museum exists to discover, preserve and make known the history of Brazoria County. Discover more at TeachingTexas.org

The Texas State Historical Association offers two FREE eBooks this fall from the Handbook of Texas Online. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the TSHA will offer Tejanos Through Time, which includes thirty entries focused on prominent individuals, organizations, and events that highlight the influence of Tejanos in the Lone Star State. To honor the 98th anniversary of Women's Equality Day on August 26, 2016, the TSHA encourages everyone to download Women Across Texas History.  This free eBook includes over one hundred pages of biographical entries for influential women in nineteenth-century Texas. Download Tejanos Through Time at TeachingTexas.org and Women Across Texas at TeachingTexas.org.


The Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco’s “Indians and Rangers in 19th Century Texas” virtual exhibit examines the pervasive myth that Rangers have always been Anglo males.  Since 1823 Rangers have counted Hispanics, African Americans, and especially in the early years, American Indians in their ranks. Take a look at the various native groups, including the Karankawa, Tonkawa, Comanches, Waco, and Lipan Apache, living in the Texas frontier who worked with Texas Rangers and other settlers. For more information on this exhibit, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Texas Insights is a publication of the Texas State Historical Association
in cooperation with The University of Texas at Austin.

Texas State Historical Association
3001 Lake Austin Blvd., Suite 3.116  Austin, Texas 78703

Stephen Cure - Editor
Esther Rivera - Associate Editor


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