Texas Insights - January 2017

Volume VII, Issue 3

What’s New?

Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission is holding a special Student Essay Contest and Video Contest for students in grade 3-8. In conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s traveling exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, recently on view at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission’s essay contest invites students to contribute an essay exploring propaganda in today’s world. Submissions must be received by January 22, 2017 either electronically or by mail. Students are eligible to win a cash prize for the best submissions in each group. For rules and submission material, visit teachingtexas.org. The Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission is also holding a student video contest for Texas students in grades 6-12.  The theme for this year is “Standing up for others.” Video entries should be 2-3 minutes long and are due by February 15, 2017. Winners will be announced in April. Information about the contest rules, can be found at TeachingTexas.org.


Houston Arts and Media (HAM) merged with The Heritage Society (THS) effective October 1, 2016. The entire production team, including producer Mike Vance, is still involved in producing the same high quality documentaries and short videos about Texas history such as the popular Birth of Texas Series of films. The next title in that series will be San Jacinto, and it will be released under the THS banner within the next few months. All of the Birth of Texas DVDs may be purchased through The Heritage Society. You may learn about all of our work at THS by visiting TeachingTexas.org or learn more about the Birth of Texas Series at TeachingTexas.org.  More Texas history videos and web content are in the works. 


The Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) kicks off 2017 with two Texas Talks in March. Texas Talks is a streaming program that engages Texas history lovers with experts in the field. Viewers are invited to chat with the presenters during the webinar airing. Bruce Winders and Stephen Hardin examine the changing interpretation of the historic Alamo. Filmed at the Alamo complex in San Antonio in February, it airs March 6th. Tune in again at the end of March, when Jessica Brannon-Wranosky, Nancy Baker, and Allison Faber discuss Texas Women in politics. The event was filmed at Texas A&M Commerce in October. Visit TeachingTexas.org to sign up for free and get the news first.

Featured Institution

Three Ways to Learn at The National Ranching Heritage Center

by Julie Hodges, Helen DeVitt Jones Director of Education

The National Ranching Heritage Center was established to preserve the history of ranching, pioneer life, and the development of the livestock industry in North America. The Center opened in 1976 and now has 49 authentic, furnished ranch buildings and structures, all but one of which have been relocated to the NRHC from locations throughout the Southwest. These historic structures have been chronologically arranged to exhibit the evolution of ranch life from the late 1700s through the mid 1900s. Educational programs, tours and living history events offer meaningful learning experiences for school groups and visitors of all ages. A mile-and-a-half of paved pathways provides wheelchair and stroller access to each structure. Posted interpretive signs give a history of the structures in both English and Spanish.
Education is a priority at the NRHC.  A wealth of resources are available at little or no cost to educators.  The NRHC has a state-of-the-art mobile app. Android and iPhone users can enhance their tours of the historical park by downloading the official smartphone app of the National Ranching Heritage Center. The app includes an interactive map that allows you to see where you are at all times in the 19-acre historical park and helps you find restrooms and specific structures of interest. It also provides a bird's-eye view of the entire park and the ability to zoom into a particular location or structure. There are photos, audio, and background text for each historical structure. This can be utilized before your visit to give students background information on the history of each structure and how that ties into what they are learning in social studies classes. In addition to providing the most up-to-date information about upcoming NRHC events and exhibits, it includes activities for the young and young at heart. Development of this app was made possible by a grant from the Amon G. Carter Foundation.
Each year, 5,000 to 8,000 school children visit the National Ranching Heritage Center. The NRHC can accommodate groups of various sizes. Tours are usually self-guided or led by teachers and parents. Volunteer docents may be requested for smaller groups. To enhance the field trip experience, the NRHC education team offers printables for students and teachers, the mobile app, scavenger hunts and gallery guides. Another field trip option is to take advantage of the Gone to Texas Program.  The National Ranching Heritage Center and International Cultural Center K-12 Education team partner to offer GONE TO TEXAS! Designed 4th – 8th grade classes, this program features the influence of European cultures on the settlement of Texas. Students explore geographic push/pull factors, cultural contributions of European immigrants from countries such as: Germany, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, and England.  Students see first hand what everyday life was like for pioneers during the 1780’s to the 1870s by visiting historic structures and viewing demonstrations from museum docents dressed in period clothing.  Students participate in hands-on activities and complete a workbook as they learn.
Over a year ago, the NRHC began a relationship with children’s author John R. Erickson, most well-known for a series of books called Hank the Cowdog. The characters in Erickson’s books have been bringing ranching to life since 1981. With over 9 million books sold world-wide, he has created a following while educating people of all ages about life on a ranch as seen through the eyes of a cowdog. Several years ago he wrote, but did not publish, a series of three books simply titled, The Ranch Life Series. After working with the NRHC education staff he shared them with the NRHC. These books cover all the bases of modern day ranching operation while paying homage to the industry’s past.  The decision to partner with Erickson to bring these books to the public was a no brainer. While the characters are the same, they are different from the typical Hank the Cowdog books. They teach readers a full scope of lessons in history, biology, social studies, economics – all tied to ranching. There are learning objectives, quizzes and vocabulary words.  Best of all, they are aligned with what our children are already learning in school, but in the context of ranching. For example readers learn about genetics when reading about cattle breeds and about the conservation of natural resources when reading about water resources and native grasses.  They learn about work ethic and partnerships when reading about cowboys and ranch horses.  
The first book, Ranching and Livestock, was released Oct. 18, 2016.  A generous gift from George Clay provided for publication of this first book and donation of 4,000 copies of the book to area students. Social Studies and Science Coordinators at the Region 17 ESC have designed activities to accompany each chapter of the book that underline concepts for students. Workshops and activities are available by contacting the NRHC.
Each year, the NRHC offers a variety of events for children of all ages. Each April, 4,000 to 6,000 people attend Ranch Day. Over 150 volunteers work to make the NRHC come alive with historical demonstrations and ranch related activities for the whole family. Ranch Day is an annual event geared toward families that immerses guests in ranching’s past and present.  Over 40 demonstrations are conducted throughout the day including spinning wool, horse training, building a saddle, cowboy life in a bunkhouse and more.  In addition to demonstrations, Ranch Day features many activities for the young and young at heart.  Guests have to opportunity to participate in our Ranch Hand Experience program, where visitors can get work cards when they arrive to direct them towards specific activities.  Some of these include historic activities like washing clothes on a washboard, churning butter, horseback riding, learning about pioneer life, or riding a railroad hand car. Other activities will focus on ranch science, for example, building simple machines, learning about steam power, and exploring range science. Once six activities are completed, stamped work cards are brought to the Matador Office where ranch hands receive cowboy pay to spend at the Waggoner Commissary. Other highlights include music, dancing, and a magic show at the 6666 Barn, a ranch horse skills demonstration, a stick horse rodeo and fresh lemonade! Steak Express will be onsite, selling hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch. As always, there is no admission charge to attend, however, donations are encouraged.
For the past 10 years, we have been offering one week of classes with topics related to ranching. Average Enrollment is 75 to 100 children, 30 volunteers and 10 teachers. Each year a variety of summer classes are offered for children in K – 5th grade. Each class is an hour and a half long, with some double classes lasting three hours, for one week every July.  Class topics include: leatherworking, western movie making, wildlife, pioneers, Texas history, and more
In March or April of Each Year, the NRHC hosts an average of 60 children in grades 1 to 6 at an event focusing on wildlife that engages students and faculty from Texas Tech University’s Natural Resource Management Department. In 2015, the topic was Bobwhite Quail.  For many ranchers, the Northern Bobwhite Quail is a treasured rangeland inhabitant. Unfortunately, Bobwhite populations are declining throughout their historic range and populations in Texas.  Dr. Brad Dabbert, TTU professor and member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Upland Game Bird Advisory Committee, along with his graduate students participated to share their knowledge and research on the Bobwhite quail.  Live birds, thermal cameras, and radio telemetry were featured at the event. 
There are also Junior Rough Rider Corral events in the summer, fall, and winter focusing on different aspects of ranching and the west. From the role of the cowboy, to the tools of the ranching trade, activities and guest speakers help explain the history of ranching’s past and present.
To learn more about the NRHC, visit TeachingTexas.org

Historian's Corner

Tejanos and the Rise of Commercial Ranching in Texas, 1848-1920 
by Dr. Armando Alonzo
Texas A&M University
While Tejanos founded towns and started ranchos (as did the Franciscan missionaries) in the colonial era, they had a more significant role in the development of a ranching economy after 1848.  Initially, there were small numbers of livestock producers along the San Antonio River, the Nacogdoches district, Victoria, Refugio and San Patricio.  In the Lower Valley, originally the northern district of Nuevo Santander known as the Villas del Norte, the first ranchers arrived in the 1730s and 1740s.  There were 365 Spanish and Mexican land grants in the Lower Valley, a greater number than any other Tejano district, meaning the settlers to the region were more numerous and became productive for generations.  A long tradition in stockraising, excellent grasslands, and ideal weather fostered a ranching economy for a considerable period, with farming being much less important.  Coinciding with the rapid commercialization of the livestock industry of Texas after the Civil War, Tejano ranching peaked during that era. Although, conflict with Anglos and other factors had displaced some Tejanos from their ranchos since the Texas War of Independence.  My objective here is to quickly survey key aspects of this history.
With the adjudication of their rights to the land grants in the Trans-Nueces district under state agencies, Mexicans returned to the land and restarted the ranching economy in the 1850s.  It was a slow recovery that involved local sales of livestock and some overland drives to Texas packeries along the coast and to New Orleans.  Ranchmen and women herded on a moderate-scale of a few hundred horses and cattle.  Limited marketing opportunities prevailed on account of revolutions, political disorders in Mexico, and the effects of the Civil War on the region, which restricted the expansion of stockraising.  Ranchers also herded sheep and goats, usually in conjunction with the raising of horses and cattle. Wool, hides, and skins were profitable because the merchants in the countryside and the more important ones in Laredo, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, and San Antonio had connections to buyers at New Orleans, New York, and other places.  
Landowners of the extensive grazing lands were either the original grantees, their children, or grandchildren.  In some cases, Tejanos were new buyers of land from those who had obtained confirmation of title.  By 1865, some rancheros raised larger herds and the prospects seemed good and limitless, as the trail drives to Kansas and other places commenced slowly at first, and then expanded rapidly by the early 1870s.
The 1870s saw a proliferation of Tejano ranchers as market demands in the North for horses, mules, and cattle rose.  Production was steady.  For example, in Starr County horse herds in the range of 200 to 500 were common.  A few ranchers claimed over 500 horses, including Jesús Garcia Ramirez in Marcelo Ynojosa’s Palo Blanco grant, Jacinto and Pioquinto Olivares, Rafael Lopez, and Alejandro Garza.  The size of the cattle herds was in this same range, though a few stockmen claimed 800 to 1,000 head.  By 1872, three ranchers had herds of 1,000 cattle, namely Antonio Yzaguirre and his brother Jesús in Santo Domingo de Arriba, and Matias Ramirez in Agua Nueva de Abajo with 1,500 head.  The Yzaguirres reported two herds of horses and cattle, with a total of 478 horses and 1,450 cattle. Also, in the same year, Jesús G. Ramirez and Antonia Hinojosa claimed 908 horses and 1,236 cattle in Ynojosa’s Palo Blanco grant. Hipolito Garcia, one of the major Tejano ranchers, reported livestock in Starr and Zapata counties where he owned about 100,000 acres. In the tax assessment of 1873 for Zapata County, he claimed ownership of 1650 horse stock, including 1100 brood mares and 50 stallions.  He also owned 30 mules, 40 saddle horses, and 600 cattle.  Based at Rancho Randado, Garcia became wealthy, driving livestock to the Indian Territory.  Of course, these men and women were exceptional producers who were in the business for many years.  Most rancheros operated at a small-scale, producing a few hundred horses and cattle and one or two thousand sheep and goats.
A sharp increase in livestock during the 1870s reflected the boom in the marketing of livestock. The Trans-Nueces in effect, served as a one of Texas’ vital links to the growing national livestock industry.  Buying and selling of herds occurred in key places or transactions sites such as Banquete, Santa Margarita, and Nuecestown in Nueces County.  Sites in the Lower Valley included Rancho San Antonio Viejo and the McAllen Ranch, with others scattered throughout the region.  These sites usually had bedding grounds and/or enclosed pastures to pen the livestock temporarily before they were “sent up the trail.”  Both the King Ranch and Mifflin Kenedy purchased livestock from Tejanos to complete their own herds sent North or to add to their breeding stock.  Some other rancheros commonly drove herds to San Antonio, where the Western Trail began, and to Santa Margarita and Nuecestown on the Nueces River, key staging points for the Chisholm Trail.
By the 1870s, important producers in Starr County included Felipe Guerra Hinojosa, Ramón Guerra Barrera, Lino Ramirez, Camilo Saenz, and others.  Marcela Garcia de Villarreal and her sons Eduardo and Francisco were also steady producers.  They were located on the productive Garcia’s Las Animas grant. 
With the long cattle drives in full swing, David Magnum, J.J. Ellison, F. Lemond, and Halff and Bishop were some of the out-of-county buyers.  For instance, in August 1877 Lino Ramirez and other Tejano ranchers sold 1,342 steers to Ellison at San Antonio Viejo. Another large sale occurred in March 1878, when Saenz, Ramirez, Guerra Hinojosa, and Guerra Barrera sold 1,300 cattle to livestock contractors Halff & Bishop.
There were, however, some producers who did take their own herds to Kansas, such as John McAllen, John Ballí Young, and neighboring Tejano ranchers, such as Macedonio Vela, all of Hidalgo County, and Mauricio González of Palito Blanco, among others. 
In the 1870s prices for livestock varied as a result of very high levels of cattle production in Texas.  At times, an excess of cattle drove prices down.  The giddy times probably made producers unsuspecting of a potential downturn that would later dampened their fortunes.
In the 1880s, stockmen throughout the region continued to engage in the consolidation of landholdings that led to a sharp rise in the size of herds.  Some Tejanos claimed cattle herds that numbered in the one, two, and three thousand head.  For example, in Starr County, Lino Ramirez at San Antonio Viejo, Felipe Guerra Hinojosa at Cuevitas, the Martinez brothers in Santo Domingo de Abajo, the Villarreales in Las Animas, Jesús Yzaguirre in several land grants, and Manuel Guerra, who acquired multiple tracts.  Not surprisingly, ambitious stockmen purchased land from local individuals and increasingly public land from the state (the so-called sections), a common practice in districts where vacant land still existed. For instance, Zapata County has two bound volumes and records of many surveys in a third unbound file.  In one volume, Record Book “A,” Hipolito Garcia registered fifteen surveys and Pedro Flores fourteen, with others claiming four, five, six, or seven surveys. Profits in the good years were often used to acquire land and to make ranch improvements, such as housing, wells, and fences.
Additional consolidation in landholding among the larger landowners occurred in the 1890s as a result of social, economic, and environmental factors.  The persistent division of inherited lands and a colonial inheritance, displaced small producers.  At the same time, a drop in livestock prices and wool due to world-wide overproduction and distressful weather conditions, including the harsh winter of 1890-’91 and a multi-year drought, combined to create havoc for stockraisers.  Tejano rancheros who had previously grazed sizable herds reported very small numbers of livestock.  In effect, many became poor because of the harmful effects of low prices in the marketplace and a capricious Nature that the settlers were all too familiar with.  Few could afford to drill artesian wells to help them get through this difficult period.  Ranchers who had bought into the commercial ranching economy and borrowed capital form brokers and bankers in San Antonio and other towns now saw a loss of status as foreclosures took their toll.  While ranching went on, it was a very different scenario from the furious activity of the good years, as a markedly grave and persistent decline set in for all producers during the same time that the ranching business had become much more capital-intensive.  Those who survived the harsh times added to the woes of Texas’ depressed agricultural economy.
Tejanos were important to the commercialization of the ranching economy in a number of ways.  They raised significant herds of cattle, horses, sheep and goats.  Their economic activities improved and made ranching more valuable locally and beyond the region.  Tejanos were the dominant horse producers in Texas, raising about eighty percent of all horses. Several larger producers made profits during the good years from about 1865 to the 1880s.  Rancheros used a variety of strategies to sell their livestock and their so-called “products of the country.”  When prices were good for livestock and wool, production tended to increase.  While a few larger producers “went up the trail,” most trailed herds to San Antonio and key transactions sites in Nueces County.  Small producers sold their livestock to local rancheros and buyers who travelled the countryside for livestock contractors to the Kenedy and King ranches.  
In many ways, Tejano ranching followed the national trends after the Civil War.  Consolidation of land ownership occurred in the good years, hundreds of small producers were displaced, and ranching became more capital-intensive.  By the 1890s, complex social, economic, and environmental factors reversed their fortunes.  Some survived the hard times, but ranching remained a depressed industry for a considerable time in the early 20th century.  

Featured Lesson

Texas Archives of the Moving Image released a new lesson plan called Texas in Transition: Social, Political, and Economic Issues in 1920s Texas. The lesson has a project-based learning approach to improve retention and develop personal ties between students and history. It focuses on the changing era of the 1920s, during which time Texas experienced economic expansion and growth in urban centers throughout the state with the invention of industrial-scale agriculture and ranching, and the increase in oil production. Students will gain knowledge about civil rights, immigration, the role of women in politics, the use of natural resources, and enforcing a national moral standard through learning about culture and politics. In addition to audio/visual materials, this lesson also provides worksheets and an annotated list of resources. Visit TeachingTexas.org to view more about this lesson.

Texas History News

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

Humanities Texas offers several workshops this spring across the state. Westward Expansion focuses on the United States in the nineteenth century and will be on February 1, 2017 in San Antonio at the Witte Museum, and on February 2, 2017 in Austin at the Byrne-Reed House.  Innovations in transportation and communication, Manifest Destiny, the Mexican War, and Native American resistance are all topics that considered during this analysis of America's westward expansion. On February 15th and 16th, they will offer Slavery, Secession, the Civil War, and Reconstruction workshop in Dallas on the 15th at the Old Red Museum, and Houston on the 16th at Bayou Bend Collections and Gardens. Attendees can interact with scholars, view primary sources, and develop strategies and resources to use in the classroom. Both of these workshops offer TEKS aligned content and CPE hours, and provide books and instructional material. For details and registration about Westward Expansion, visit TeachingTexas.org, and for information about the Slavery, Secession, the Civil War, and Reconstruction workshop, visit TeachingTexas.org.

The new temporary exhibit at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum will be Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865. The exhibit will use first-person testimonies and more than 75 original artifacts to examine enslaved persons and their role in America’s pre-Civil War economy. The displays also include ship manifests, “Lost Friends” ads placed after the Civil War by newly freed people, and an interactive display with a database tracking more than 70,000 people to New Orleans from U.S. ports. Purchased Lives is on loan from The Historic New Orleans Collection and will be on view from February 11, 2017- July 9, 2017. In conjungtion with this exhibit, the museum is hosting a Professional Development Workshop for Teachers February 11, 2017 from 8:30am - 4:30pm. This free workshop provides an opportunity for teachers to explore the exhibit and receive content and resources from The Historic New Orleans Collection. For more information about the exhibit, visit TeachingTexas.org and to learn more about the workshop, see TeachingTexas.org.

Legacies is a biannual publication devoted to the rich history of Dallas and North Central Texas as a way to examine the many historical legacies-social, ethnic, cultural, political-which have shaped the modern city of Dallas and the region around it. This January, the 18th Annual Dallas History Conference will exhibit the unique history of Dallas through a variety of speakers. The theme for this year is Dallas Rediscovered. The event is Saturday, January 28th, 2017 from 8:00am 12:30pm in the Hall of State, Fair Park. For registration information, go to TeachingTexas.org.


The Texas State Historical Association invites teachers to its final Exploring Texas Workshop Series professional development offering of the 2016-2017 season.  Our Discovering Texas History Conference will be held on February 6th at the Thompson Conference Center on the University of Texas at Austin Campus and the Bullock Texas State History Museum on February 7th. Noted historians and experts in the field give presentations, learn instructional activities and techniques, while receiveing CPE credits. For registration and details, visit TeachingTexas.org.
March 2-4, 2017 marks the 121st Annual Meeting of TSHA at the Hyatt Regency Houston Hotel in Houston, Texas. With over 40 sessions and more than 100 historians in attendance, participants can attend workshops and view the exhibit hall filled with Texas treasures. Attendees can indulge in optional special events and excursions at historical sites around the area. TSHA offers a discount for teachers, and opportunities for CPE credit. Join TSHA in Houston for one of the largest events about Texas history in the nation. For more information, go to TeachingTexas.org.


Region IV hosts their 10th Annual Social Studies Conference on January 28, 2017 at the McKinney Conference Center in Houston, Texas.  The theme is, “Reflecting on the Past Through Today’s Lens,” and will feature presenters, vendors, and product demonstrations. General grade level and content-specific practices for your classroom will be available. Major social studies themes, instructional strategies, differentiation, technology applications, and sound assessments are areas that will be covered as you learn best practices to take back to your classroom For registration information, visit TeachingTexas.org
The Museum of South Texas History began the Sunday Speaker Series of the New Year on January 8 with a talk by Joseph Fox about Lone Star beer’s 1970s marketing campaign. The Sunday Speaker Series features talks that span various aspects of Texas history and culture. The series is free with regular admission into the museum. The Museum of South Texas History was founded in 1967, and preserves and presents the borderland heritage of South Texas and Northeastern Mexico. It is located in Edinburg, Texas and is open from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sundayand 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org.


The Institute of Texan Cultures presents the 2017 Asian Festival. Displaying the culture and traditions of several Asian communities, this event began as a family reunion for the Chinese New Year. This event is open to all ages. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear music, see performances, engage in crafts, and various other activities. Vendors include Asian-American food from various cuisines including Japanese, Korean, Thai, Laotian, Philippine and others. Three stages will be set up for music and dance performances. Demonstrations include cooking, henna, palm reading, craft sales, and other gift items. Find out more at TeachingTexas.org.

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

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

Stephen Cure - Editor
Esther Rivera - Associate Editor



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