Texas Insights - January 2016

Volume VI, Issue 3
 

What’s New?

TSHA's Annual Meeting (March 3-5, 2016)
 
Join the Texas State Historical Association at its Annual Meeting in Irving, Texas this spring. The program is now available to view for the 120th Annual Meeting. If you love Texas history and want to learn more, please plan to attend the meeting held March 3-5, 2016 at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving. 
 
TSHA’s Annual Meeting presents a unique opportunity to choose from 40 sessions on Texas history, exhibitors of both new and rare books, a silent auction, and a live auction hosted by Heritage Auctions. Teachers are able to register to attend all three days of the meeting for the educator rate of only $25.00 per teacher. Teachers can also earn CPE hours, each day, including a special session just for educators. To join, click here to register.
 
Sessions focus on a variety of Texas history topics, including Texas in the Civil War, Soldiers and Settlers in West Texas, Texas Food and Legends, Cotton and Wheat in Texas, Mexican American Influences on HemisFair in 1968, Chicano Agency in Secondary and Higher Education, Slavery in Texas, Women in Texas, Black Texas Activists in the Modern Civil Rights Movement, and Tejano Spanish-Indian Relations before 1821, and many more! More information is available on TeachingTexas.org
 
 

New Humanities Texas Teacher Workshopsbit 

Humanities Texas will hold professional development workshops throughout the state for Texas social studies and language arts teachers this spring on Slavery, Secession, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. In February 2016, Humanities Texas will hold five one-day teacher workshops in Corpus Christi, Edinburg, Lubbock, San Angelo, and San Antonio focusing on these important topics. Go to TeachingTexas.org to learn more.
 

Exploring Texas Workshop Series

Join the Texas State Historical Association and the Region 10 Education Service Center for this year’s Energizing Texas History ConferenceFebruary 1-2, 2016 in Richardson. This Texas history educator event focuses on the history of Texas from 1900 to present day. The cost is only $35 for educators to learn from distinguished scholars and experts in Texas history, strategies, and resources. Learn more and register at TeachingTexas.org. 
 
 

 

Featured Institution

Landmark Inn State Historic Site from the Texas Historical Commission
By Brandon Anioł, Historic Site Educator

Landmark Inn State Historic Site is developing a robust menu of interdisciplinary student programs designed to complement any curriculum. Recently reopened after a substantial historic preservation project, the Landmark Inn is committed to putting students and teachers first.

Located in historic Castroville, Texas, Landmark Inn has roots reaching back to the 1840s and the Republic of Texas. A state historic site since 1974, the Texas Historical Commission began managing the site in 2008 and started major renovations in 2014. On December 5, 2015, the site re-opened to the public. Situated along five acres of the Medina River, the Landmark Inn provides an immersive historical experience as an eight-room bed & breakfast. The Texas Historical Commission has preserved many of the 1840s and 1850s limestone structures original to the site.
 
(Pictured above: Landmark Inn State Historic Site as it appeared around 1900 during peak production at the Gristmill.)
 
In 1844, Henri Castro and his group of European settlers crossed a natural limestone ford in the Medina River and established the colony of Castroville. This river crossing now forms the southeastern edge of the Landmark Inn site. The first permanent European colony in the Republic of Texas, Castroville quickly gained prominence as a connection between San Antonio and all points west. The Landmark Inn is a reflection of the industrial and commercial changes that shaped Texas in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
 
The 1849 Vance Hotel building was initially constructed as a tavern and store along the Old San Antonio Road. In the 1850s, the store operation was expanded and the structure swelled to include additional guest rooms and Castroville’s first post office. Castroville’s first newspaper was also printed on-site beginning in the 1870s. The hotel is now home to Landmark Inn’s bed & breakfast operation with rooms sympathetic to the 1870s era. Landmark Inn’s future museum exhibit will be prominently housed on the main floor of the hotel building in mid-2016.
 
Behind the main hotel building stands the Monod Kitchen and the Wash House. Built in 1849, the Monod Kitchen served as the commercial kitchen for the hotel. The kitchen is now reconstructed to how it appeared in the mid-nineteenth century and interpretive programs in nineteenth-century cookery are presented regularly. The Wash House, originally constructed as a residence in 1847, provided laundry and bathing facilities for hotel guests. The structure will also feature interpretive programs in nineteenth century health and hygiene beginning in 2017. Other structures on site highlight efforts made towards archaeology and preservation. Perhaps, no other building represents this work more than the Gristmill.
 
Constructed in 1854, the Gristmill is the only surviving building of an industrial complex that included a cotton gin, steam boiler, grain elevator, and much more. A limestone dam continues to provide water power to the mill through a four-hundred foot underground millrace. In 1927, the mill was converted into a hydroelectric power plant that supplied Castroville with water and electricity utilities.
 
From Gristmill to Power Plant is a new student program platform that combines standards in both science and social studies. The Landmark Inn offers an 1854 dam and gristmill on site that shares a stretch of the Medina River. This program will explore how this industrial operation changed over time from a nineteenth century cotton gin and gristmill to a twentieth century hydro-electric power plant. Each program platform will include leveled sections that group together grades 2nd & 3rd, 4th & 5th, and 6th & 7th.
 
Rivers, Dams, and Mills is the 2nd & 3rd grade section of From Gristmill to Power Plant. This section will explore Social Studies standards that use primary sources and chronology to teach concepts like natural resources and the physical environment. This section also incorporates Science standards that connect concepts like complete ecosystems with force, motion, and energy. Rivers, Dams, and Mills helps 2nd & 3rd grade students discover how technology impacts their community and environment. 
 
Each program section will feature downloadable Educator Guides available on the Landmark Inn website. Pre- and post-visit lesson plans are designed to dovetail into student classwork. Different levels of activities are included with each Educator Guide to ensure optimal fit within scope and sequence. In addition to lesson plans and standards, Educator Guides come with pre-visit video modules that identify the key concepts for each program section. All student programs at Landmark Inn are available for on-site field trips or in-classroom workshops.
 
On-site field trips at Landmark Inn provide students an opportunity to discover the past through interactive programs and exhibits. From Gristmill to Power Plant guides students through the natural landscape of the Medina River habitat while exploring how engineering and technology changed over time. Students will engage in hands-on activities that encourage understanding how dams and mills harness the force of gravity to redirect energy for work. 
 
In classroom versions of Landmark Inn student programs are available in the event an on-site visit proves difficult. These in-classroom workshops encourage deep learning through primary source analysis. Students then engage in research and development as they design and construct waterwheels that they then put to the test in a working diorama of the Landmark Inn Gristmill. 
 
The Landmark Inn student program From Gristmill to Power Plant will be available for booking beginning in the spring 2016 semester. The 2nd & 3rd grade section, Rivers, Dams, and Mills, is currently available for on-site field trips and in-classroom workshops. The 4th & 5th grade section and 6th & 7th grade section of From Gristmill to Power Plant will be available for the fall 2017 semester. Accounts and Ledgers, a 2nd through 7th grade program connecting financial literacy concepts to the Vance Hotel in the 1870s, will also be launching in 2017.
 
The on-site field trip group rate for Landmark Inn student programs is a flat $1.00 per head. In-classroom workshops are free and available at no-charge within a 30-mile radius to the site. For student program booking and information on all other programs, check out Landmark Inn’s website at visitlandmarkinn.com, email the site at landmark-inn@thc.state.tx.us, or call (830) 931-2133.

 

Historian's Corner

Women in Early Southeast Texas Oil Fields 
By Judy Linsley, Curator of Interpretation and Education at the McFaddon-Ward House

Historically, the oil industry has been dominated by men, but a closer look reveals that women have played an important part.

The modern oil age began with the Lucas Gusher, which brought in the Spindletop field near Beaumont, Texas, January 10, 1901. The discovery of huge quantities of oil where none was supposed to be triggered a frenzied search for more. Within two years, gushers were found in nearby settlements of Sour Lake, Batson, and Saratoga, and spread in all directions from there. 
Boomtowns, much like the gold mining boom towns of the Old West, sprang up quickly around the oil fields; but while the mining towns were populated mostly by single men, oil field workers often brought their families. Boomtowns were described as “rough, uncomfortable, unhealthy, and dangerous.” Residences usually consisted of tents or flimsy shacks built of one-by-twelve inch vertical boards with one-by-four inch boards nailed over the cracks (called board and batten) and were often built next to oil derricks because that was the only available space. 
 
Life in the oil fields was primitive even by early twentieth-century standards. In spite of the large amounts of cash that circulated, there were chronic shortages of basic food staples, household goods, and health supplies. Oilfield wives not only kept house without electricity or indoor plumbing—utilities available only in cities at that time—they also lived with dust, mud, sand fleas, mosquitoes, poisonous snakes, and, in the Big Thicket of Southeast Texas, alligators. They were also exposed to many of the same hazards as the men, such as blowouts, fires, poison gas that could blind or kill, and subterranean gas that sometimes caused the earth to undulate. Still other dangers came from the human element, such as gunfights and other violence that broke out in the many saloons and gambling halls.
 
One Batson housewife described the mosquito control of the time:
 
We had to have a mosquito bar over our bed…and then at night before we would go to bed, we would put a smoke under the bed and let it smoke good and shake the mosquito bar good before we pulled it around the bed and then usually we would use just a little kerosene and rub it all over our bodies and then about midnight, we’d get up and smoke again and get all the mosquitos out from the bar.
 
Laundry was an ongoing, backbreaking task, especially since available water at the oil field was often polluted with sulphur and other minerals. Wives washed their husbands’ oil-soaked clothes by boiling them in a big cast-iron kettle over an open fire in the yard, then scrubbing—hard—with lye soap. Men wiped the oil from their skin with burlap bags, then washed in the hottest water they could stand. 
 
Some women supplemented the family’s income by opening restaurants or boarding houses. Polly Shockley, whose husband owned a livery stable at Spindletop, operated a restaurant on the ground floor of their house, serving the oil field workers on tables made from boards resting on nail kegs. When there were too many to feed inside, they ate on the porch or even in the yard. Later Polly placed as many army cots as she could fit into the single large room on the second floor and rented them to oil field workers.
 
Life for children in the oil fields was both exciting and dangerous. Their hardworking parents couldn’t keep up with them, so their playground ranged over the entire oil field. The usual children’s games of hopscotch, hide-and-seek, and baseball were set among abandoned boilers and oil rigs.  Alice Shockley, Polly’s daughter, around five when her family moved to Spindletop, boasted that she could climb a derrick “faster than” the roughnecks who worked there. She and her friends scrounged scraps of wood and metal and played at drilling wells with her friends. They swam in the bayous and rice canals near the field; according to Alice, “snakes took for…high ground when we kids got in there.”  
 
In the midst of the chaos, violence, and lack of amenities, many women tried to create a clean and orderly life for their families. They sponsored parties, dances, and other entertainments, prohibiting alcohol and strictly chaperoning participants’ behavior, evicting violators. At Batson, considered one of the roughest boom towns, upstanding residents built a wooden dance platform and served ice cream and lemonade. At Spindletop, the Thomas and Winfred Confectionary provided children and adults with ice cream and other suitable refreshments. 
 
In addition to a sweet shop, pharmacist Ryman Thomas owned a drugstore and in fact often provided limited medical services, earning the nickname “Doc.” Alice Shockley recalled that he was “pretty good.” Housewives depended on such informal medical care and on their own skill and ingenuity to take care of their families. Childbirth in particular was usually handled by local women, particularly in remote boom towns such as Batson. By the time a doctor was summoned from another town, the baby had arrived.
 
Schooling was especially important but not always easy to come by. School houses were usually one-room affairs with a single teacher and were quickly overwhelmed by the number of new students. Often school would be held in a spare room above a store or in one of the early church mission buildings. 
 
Social and cultural institutions ranked with education in importance. Evangelists and other reformers came first, answering the call to speak against the rampant vice and violence in the oil field. Soon established denominations, usually Baptist and Methodist, built missions, often sharing facilities until congregations became large enough to justify separate buildings. 
 
Single women in the oil field often led an even more difficult life than those who came with their families. Single women worked in the saloons and gambling halls and were thus exposed to greater danger. They also usually lived in a separate part of the oil field and did not socialize with the wives of workers.
 
Racial segregation prevailed at the oil field, just as it did in all aspects of Southern life. African Americans were restricted to living in a designated area in the oil field and were not allowed to eat in the white restaurants or boarding houses, though African American women worked in those establishments as well as gambling houses and saloons. A few aspired to own their own businesses, however; a month after the Lucas Gusher came in, Lissie Mitchell, an African American woman from Beaumont, wrote Anthony Lucas, the mining engineer who was in charge of drilling the well, asking him to “get a place to build or stretch a tent for a place of eating.” She had been asked by some of the African American men working at the field to open a restaurant that they would be allowed to patronize.  (Spindletop photo: courtesy of the Library of Congress.)
 
Although she didn’t live at the oil field, a woman contributed to the success of the Lucas Gusher, which began the oil boom. Caroline Lucas, wife of Anthony Lucas, staunchly supported her husband’s efforts, even when success looked doubtful and the drilling crew encountered one difficulty after another. She sold her furniture to provide money for the family to live on, substituting apple crates. At a depth of 870 feet, the crew struck oil but were unable to produce any quantity before it sanded up. They considered abandoning the well, thinking it would do no good to go deeper, but Caroline Lucas reminded them that the contract called for drilling to 1200 feet, saying “I think that every effort should be made to carry this well down to [that depth]. We need to know what is down that far.” They honored the contract, and the Lucas Gusher blew in on that cold January day in 1901; the rest is history. 
 
More information on women in early oil fields can be found in the following: 
Judith Walker Linsley, Ellen Walker Rienstra, and Jo Ann Stiles. Giant Under the Hill. Austin, Texas. Texas State Historical Association, 2002. 
Pioneers in Texas Oil Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas, Austin, Texas.

 

Featured Lesson

As you begin to plan your lessons on Texas oil, utilize Boomtowns: A Result of Oil Discovery from the Texas Council on Economic Education focusing on "boomtown" experiences following the discovery of oil in Texas communities. 4th and 7th grade students will look at the various factors of increased demand on the limited supplies of goods and services to examine the relationship between price and quantity with oil. Students will also analyze photographs of early oil communities to understand the enormous growth that the oil industry produced in Texas. See TeachingTexas.org for more. 
 
 

Texas History News

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

The Oral History of the Texas Oil Industry Records collection documents the development of the Texas oil industry from the turn of the century to 1950. These unique archives are held at the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin. The collection includes 218 taped interviews of oral reminiscences recalled by pioneers in all phases of oil fields and oil booms--roughnecks, drillers, promoters, financiers, contractors, lease men and law officers. Interviewers recorded the memories of persons who had first-hand knowledge of Texas's early oil industry in. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more.
 
 
It's almost competition time! The Texas State Historical Association's Texas Quiz Show is an online competition and live gameshow for 4th-8th graders designed to promote interest in Texas history. Texas public schools are required to have activities that promote awareness of Texas History Month in March, and the Texas Quiz Show provides a fun, engaging way to meet this requirement in a digital format. Students win prizes and a chance to play in the live show in Austin on April 30, 2016 at the Bullock Museum. Enroll your classes to play today at Texasquizshow.org and visit TeachingTexas.org for more.  
 
Lamar University brings the Lucas Gusher Re-enactment to the public for special water demonstrations held on Saturday, January 9, 2016 at 10:30 am and 4:00 pm. To commemorate the oil discovery on Spindletop Hill that changed the economy of Texas and helped to usher in the petroleum age, the event re-creates the gusher using water and visitors can watch how high the water will blow and what direction the spray will take. It is free to enjoy the gusher re-enactment. Regular admission fees apply to the museum entrance. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org.
 
 
Whether you are teaching about the Texas Revolution or the modern Texas state since World War II, the Institute of Texas Cultures' Teaching with Stuff: Architecture in the Classroom brings the museum experience to you! An easy to incorporate activity that is designed to inspire inquiry-based learning helps teach students how to analyze and interpret historic buildings. Beyond teaching students about preservation and historical buildings, this lesson utilizes the 4th-8th grade Social Studies TEKS. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org.
 
Looking for meaningful content to teach and celebrate African American History in your Texas history classes this February? Visit the Handbook of African American Texas that features more than 850 entries about all aspects of African-American life and history in Texas. Additionally, on February 1, 2016, the Texas State Historical Association will offer a FREE promotional eBook, “Struggle and Success: African Americans in Texas,” on the TSHA website.
 
 
Texas Oil Boom Lesson Plans from the Portal to Texas History examine the 1901 natural gas eruption that was followed by a stream of crude oil that reached 60 meters known as the "Lucas Gusher" at Spindletop Hill in Beaumont, Texas. This gusher which produced 100,000 barrels of crude oil a day and transformed the industry. In this Texas history lesson, students use online newspapers to learn about the Texas Oil Boom. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org
 
GeoTech 2016 offers a unique staff development opportunity that allows teachers to explore the most cutting edge technologies available in education today. Industry and classroom leaders will provide hands on training and workshops that use the latest tools in education to enhance curriculum and stimulate students' imagination. Join GeoTech to explore Earth – its structure, societies, environments, and their interplay, using a wide range of technologies. To register and learn more, visit TeachingTexas.org.
 
Join the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in Austin on Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 7:00 pm for an evening with author and historian Donaly E. Brice as he shares excerpts from his book, The Governor’s Hounds: The Texas State Police, 1870-1873. Drawing upon a wealth of previously untouched resources from the Texas State Archives, this book offers an engaging assessment of the much-reviled Texas State Police and its role in maintaining law and order in the years following the American Civil War. Visit TeachingTexas.org to learn more.
 
Social Studies courses improve students’ critical thinking and writing skills. Have students respond to any of the following ten engaging document-based-questions from The DBQ Project about Texas history, which includes “Remembering the Alamo: A Personal Journal,” “Texas Oil and Social Change: What Story Should be Told?,” “Politics or Principle: Why Did Lyndon Johnson sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964?” and more. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more.
 
 
 
The TSHA is partnering with the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum for a special live event. Dr. Jean Stuntz will discuss Texas Pioneer Women at the museum to celebrate Texas History and Women’s History Month in March.  Please join the live audience on March 24, 2016 at the museum or the rebroadcasted Texas Talk with Dr. Stuntz answering your questions live on March 31, 2016. To learn more, 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. Ste. 3.116
Austin, TX 78703

Stephen Cure - Editor
Caitlin McColl- Associate Editor  


 

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