Stories That Shaped a Landscape and a People
By Myra Hargrave McIlvain
A collection of tales about Texas characters, from the famous to the unknown, who created the sprawling collage that is Texas.
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These tales trace the Texas story, from Cabeza de Vaca who trekked barefoot across the country recording the first accounts of Indian life, to impresarios like Stephen F. Austin and Don Martín DeLeón who brought settlers into Mexican Texas. There are visionaries like Padre José Nicolás Ballí, the Singer family, and Sam Robertson, who tried and failed to develop Padre Island into the wonderland that it is today. There are legendary characters like Sally Skull who had five husbands and may have killed some of them, and Josiah Wilbarger who was scalped and lived another ten years to tell about it. Also included are the stories of Shanghai Pierce, cattleman extraordinaire, who had no qualms about rounding up other folks’ calves, and Tol Barret who drilled Texas’ first oil well over thirty years before Spindletop changed the world. The Sanctified Sisters got rich running a commune for women, and millionaire oilman Edgar B. Davis gave away his money as fast as he made it. Sam Houston, Jean Lafitte, Antonio López de Santa Anna, Lucy Kidd-Key, Minnie Fisher Cunningham, all these characters and many more—early-day adventurers, Civil War heroes, and latter-day artists and musicians—created the patchwork called Texas.
Myra Hargrave McIlvain is a teller of Texas tales. Whether she is sharing the stories in her books, her lectures, or her blog, she aims to make the Texas story alive. She has written Texas historical markers, travel articles for newspapers and magazines such as Texas Highways, and both nonfiction and historical fiction books about Texas. She lives in Austin with her husband Stroud. She is also the author of The Doctor’s Wife, Stein House, and Texas Auto Trails: The Southeast.
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