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Along the Texas Forts Trail

Description: The task of providing military defense for the Texas Frontier was never an easy one because the territory was claimed by some of the greatest querrilla fighters of all times—the Comanches, Kiowas, Apaches, and Lipans. Protecting a line running from the Red River southwest to El Paso was an impossible task, but following the Mexican War the federal government attempted to do so by establishing a line of forts. During the Civil War the forts were virtually abandoned and the Indians once again ruled the area. Following the war when the military began to restore the old forts, they found that the Indians no longer fought with bows and arrows but shouldered the latest firearms. With their new weapons the Indians were able to inflict tremendous destruction, bringing demands from settlers for more protection. In the summer of 1866 a new line of forts appeared through central Texas under the leadership of General Philip H. Sheridan, commander of federal forces in Louisiana and Texas. Guardians of a raw young land and focal points of high adventure, the old forts were indispensable in their day of service and it is fitting that they be preserved. In and around the forts and along the route of the Texas Forts Trail, history is abundant and enduring. Historian Rupert Richardson first wrote the travel guide of the fort locations for the Texas Highway Department. B. W. Aston and Donathan Taylor took the original version and revised and expanded it, giving additional historical information on the forts and their role in frontier defense, making this a valuable historical resource as well as a travel guide to the forts and surrounding towns.
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Date: October 15, 1997
Creator: Aston, B. W.

Always for the Underdog: Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War

Description: Louisiana’s Neutral Strip, an area of pine forests, squats between the Calcasieu and Sabine Rivers on the border of East Texas. Originally a lawless buffer zone between Spain and the United States, its hardy residents formed tight-knit communities for protection and developed a reliance on self, kin, and neighbor. In the early 1900s, the timber boom sliced through the forests and disrupted these dense communities. Mill towns sprang up, and the promise of money lured land speculators, timber workers, unionists, and a host of other characters, such as the outlaw Leather Britches Smith. That moment continues to shape the place’s cultural consciousness, and people today fashion a lore connected to this time. In a fascinating exploration of the region, Keagan LeJeune unveils the legend of Leather Britches, paralleling the stages of the outlaw’s life to the Neutral Strip’s formation. LeJeune retells each stage of Smith’s life: his notorious past, his audacious deeds of robbery and even generosity, his rumored connection to a local union strike—the Grabow War—significant in the annals of labor history, and his eventual death. As the outlaw’s life vividly unfolds, Always for the Underdog also reveals the area’s history and cultural landscape. Often using the particulars of one small town as a representative example, the book explores how the region remembers and reinterprets the past in order to navigate a world changing rapidly.
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Date: December 15, 2010
Creator: LeJeune, Keagan

Andersonvilles of the North: the Myths and Realities of Northern Treatment of Civil War Confederate Prisoners

Description: Soon after the close of military operations in the American Civil War, another war began over how it would be remembered by future generations. The prisoner-of-war issue has figured prominently in Northern and Southern writing about the conflict. Northerners used tales of Andersonville to demonize the Confederacy, while Southerners vilified Northern prison policies to show the depths to which Yankees had sunk to attain victory. Over the years the postwar Northern portrayal of Andersonville as fiendishly designed to kill prisoners in mass quantities has largely been dismissed. The Lost Cause characterization of Union prison policies as criminally negligent and inhumane, however, has shown remarkable durability. Northern officials have been portrayed as turning their military prisons into concentration camps where Southern prisoners were poorly fed, clothed, and sheltered, resulting in inexcusably high numbers of deaths. Andersonvilles of the North, by James M. Gillispie, represents the first broad study to argue that the image of Union prison officials as negligent and cruel to Confederate prisoners is severely flawed. This study is not an attempt to “whitewash” Union prison policies or make light of Confederate prisoner mortality. But once the careful reader disregards unreliable postwar polemics, and focuses exclusively on the more reliable wartime records and documents from both Northern and Southern sources, then a much different, less negative, picture of Northern prison life emerges. While life in Northern prisons was difficult and potentially deadly, no evidence exists of a conspiracy to neglect or mistreat Southern captives. Confederate prisoners’ suffering and death were due to a number of factors, but it would seem that Yankee apathy and malice were rarely among them. In fact, likely the most significant single factor in Confederate (and all) prisoner mortality during the Civil War was the halting of the prisoner exchange cartel in the late spring of ...
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Date: October 15, 2008
Creator: Gillispie, James M.

Antebellum Jefferson, Texas: Everyday Life in an East Texas Town

Description: Founded in 1845 as a steamboat port at the entryway to western markets from the Red River, Jefferson was a thriving center of trade until the steamboat traffic dried up in the 1870s. During its heyday, the town monopolized the shipping of cotton from all points west for 150 miles. Jefferson was the unofficial capital of East Texas, but it was also typical of boom towns in general. For this topical examination of a frontier town, Bagur draws from many government documents, but also from newspaper ads and plats. These sources provide intimate details of the lives of the early citizens of Jefferson, Texas. Their story is of interest to both local and state historians as well as to the many readers interested in capturing the flavor of life in old-time East Texas. “Astoundingly complete and a model for local history research, with appeal far beyond readers who have specific interests in Jefferson.”—Fred Tarpley, author of Jefferson: Riverport to the Southwest
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Date: March 15, 2012
Creator: Bagur, Jacques D.

Bad Boy From Rosebud: the Murderous Life of Kenneth Allen Mcduff

Description: In October of 1989, the State of Texas set Kenneth Allen McDuff, the Broomstick Murderer, free on parole. By choosing to murder again, McDuff became the architect of an extraordinarily intolerant atmosphere in Texas. The spasm of prison construction and parole reforms—collectively called the “McDuff Rules”—resulted from an enormous display of anger vented towards a system that allowed McDuff to kill, and kill again. Bad Boy from Rosebud is a chilling account of the life of one of the most heartless and brutal serial killers in American history. Gary M. Lavergne goes beyond horror into an analysis of the unbelievable subculture in which McDuff lived. Equally compelling are the lives of remarkable law enforcement officers determined to bring McDuff to justice, and their seven-year search for his victims. “Texas still feels the pain inflicted by Kenneth Allen McDuff, despite the relentless efforts of law enforcement officials to solve his crimes and bind up its wounds. Bad Boy from Rosebud is an impeccably researched, compellingly detailed account of the crimes and the long search for justice. Gary Lavergne takes us directly to the scenes of the crimes, deep inside the mind of a killer, and in the process learns not only whom McDuff killed and how—but why. This is classic crime reporting.”—Dan Rather, CBS News
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Date: July 15, 1999
Creator: Lavergne, Gary M.

Behind the Walls: a Guide for Family and Friends of Texas Prison Inmates

Description: Texas holds one in every nine U.S. inmates. Behind the Walls is a detailed description of one of the world's largest prison systems by a long-time convict trained as an observer and reporter. It spotlights the day-to-day workings of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-what's good, what's bad, which programs work and which ones do not, and examines if practice really follows official policy. Written to inform about the processes, services, activities, issues, and problems of being incarcerated, this book is invaluable to anyone who has a relative or friend incarcerated in Texas, or for those who want to understand how prisoners live, eat, work, play, and die in a contemporary U.S. prison. Containing a short history of Texas prisons and advice on how to help inmates get out and stay out of prison, this book is the only one of its kind-written by a convict still incarcerated and dedicated to dispelling the ignorance and fear that shroud Texas prisons. Renaud discusses living quarters, food, and clothing, along with how prisoners handle money, mail, visits, and phone calls. He explores the issues of drugs, racism, gangs, and violence as well as what an inmate can learn about his parole, custody levels, and how to handle emergencies. What opportunities are available for education? What is the official policy for discipline? What is a lockdown? These questions and many others are answered in this one-of-a-kind guide.
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Date: December 15, 2002
Creator: Renaud, Jorge Antonio

Big Thicket Legacy

Description: In Big Thicket Legacy, Campbell and Lynn Loughmiller present the stories of people living in the Big Thicket of southeast Texas. Many of the storytellers were close to one hundred years old when interviewed, with some being the great-grandchildren of the first settlers. Here are tales about robbing a bee tree, hunting wild boar, plowing all day and dancing all night, wading five miles to church through a cypress brake, and making soap using hickory ashes. "The book is a storehouse of history, down-to-earth information, good humor, leg-pulling spoofs, tall tales and all kinds of serendipitous gems . . . Readers inclined to fantasy might like to think of two giant Texas folklorists of the past, J. Frank Dobie and Mody Boatright, nodding and winking their approval of Big Thicket Legacy."—Smithsonian
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Date: January 15, 2002
Creator: Loughmiller, Campbell & Loughmiller, Lynn

Bill Jason Priest, Community College Pioneer

Description: There are few things that are purely American. On that short list are baseball and the two-year community college. Bill Jason Priest possessed skill and acumen for both. The better part of his life was spent developing and defining the junior college into the comprehensive community college. His contributions earned him a prestigious place in the annals of higher education, but his personality was not one of a stereotypical stodgy educator, nor is the story of his life a dry read. After working his way through college, Priest played professional baseball before serving in Naval Intelligence during World War II. His varied experiences helped shape his leadership style, often labeled as autocratic and sometimes truculent in conservative convictions. The same relentless drive that brought him criticism also brought him success and praise. Forthright honesty and risk-taking determination combined with vision brought about many positive results. Priest’s career in higher education began with the two-year college system in California before he was lured to Texas in 1965 to head the Dallas County Junior College District. Over the next fifteen years Priest transformed the junior college program into the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) and built it up to seven colleges. He performed major roles in the evolution of nursing education, the founding of a telecommunications center for the production of televised courses, the delivery and acceptance of vocational education, and in greater breadth in noncredit courses. After his retirement in 1981, he continued to serve as Chancellor Emeritus until 2003. Drawing from archives as well as from numerous interviews with Priest and his personal and professional associates, Kathleen Krebbs Whitson presents the life of a giant in Texas education and reveals his lasting influence upon the community college movement.
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Date: February 15, 2004
Creator: Whitson, Kathleen Krebbs

Both Sides of the Border: A Scattering of Texas Folklore

Description: Collection of Tex-Mex folklore and related essays, including papers presented at Texas Folklore Society meetings. The book is organized into four topical categories: I. Remembering Our Ancestors, II. Texas-Mexican Folklore, III. Miscellaneous Memorabilia, and IV. The Family Saga (Cont'd).
Date: November 15, 2004
Creator: Abernethy, Francis Edward & Untiedt, Kenneth L.

Californio Voices: The Oral Memoirs of José María Amador and Lorenzo Asisara

Description: In the early 1870s, Hubert H. Bancroft and his assistants set out to record the memoirs of early Californios, one of them being eighty-three-year-old Don José María Amador, a former “Forty-Niner” during the California Gold Rush and soldado de cuera at the Presidio of San Francisco. Amador tells of reconnoitering expeditions into the interior of California, where he encountered local indigenous populations. He speaks of political events of Mexican California and the widespread confiscation of the Californios’ goods, livestock, and properties when the United States took control. A friend from Mission Santa Cruz, Lorenzo Asisara, also describes the harsh life and mistreatment the Indians faced from the priests. Both the Amador and Asisara narratives were used as sources in Bancroft’s writing but never published themselves. Gregorio Mora-Torres has now rescued them from obscurity and presents their voices in English translation (with annotations) and in the original Spanish on facing pages. This bilingual edition will be of great interest to historians of the West, California, and Mexican American studies. “This book presents a very convincing and interesting narrative about Mexican California. Its frankness and honesty are refreshing.”–Richard Griswold del Castillo, San Diego State University
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Date: April 15, 2005
Creator: Gregorio Mora-Torres

Captain John H. Rogers, Texas Ranger

Description: John Harris Rogers (1863-1930) served in Texas law enforcement for more than four decades, as a Texas Ranger, Deputy and U.S. Marshal, city police chief, and in the private sector as a security agent. He is recognized in history as one of the legendary “Four Captains” of the Ranger force that helped make the transition from the Frontier Battalion days into the twentieth century, yet no one has fully researched and written about his life. Paul N. Spellman now presents the first full-length biography of this enigmatic man. During his years as a Ranger, Rogers observed and participated in the civilizing of West Texas. As the railroads moved out in the 1880s, towns grew up too quickly, lawlessness was the rule, and the Rangers were soon called in to establish order. Rogers was nearly always there. Likewise he participated in some of the most dramatic and significant events during the closing years of the Frontier Battalion: the Brown County fence cutting wars; the East Texas Conner Fight; the El Paso/Langtry Prizefight; the riots during the Laredo Quarantine; and the hunts for Hill Loftis and Gregorio Cortez. Rogers was the lawman who captured Cortez to close out one of the most infamous chases in Texas history. Unlike the more gregarious Bill McDonald, Captain Rogers had a quiet manner that kept him from the public limelight; nevertheless, he, John Brooks, and John Hughes shared the same experiences as McDonald during the almost two decades they led the Ranger companies. Unique to Rogers’ career was his devout Christian faith that was on display on almost all occasions. Rogers was wont to use the Bible as often as his six-gun, both with dramatic effect. That and his constant devotion to his family set him apart from the usual lawmen of that era. He was ...
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Date: March 15, 2003
Creator: Spellman, Paul N.

Captain John R. Hughes: Lone Star Ranger

Description: Captain John R. Hughes, Lone Star Ranger is the first full and complete modern biography of a man who served as a Texas Ranger from 1887 until early 1915. He came to the attention of the Rangers after doggedly trailing horse thieves for nearly a year and recovering his stolen stock. After helping Ranger Ira Aten track down another fugitive from justice, Hughes then joined Company D of the Texas Rangers on Aten’s recommendation, intending to stay for only a few months; he remained in the service for nearly thirty years. When Sgt. Charles Fusselman was killed by bandits, Hughes took his place. When Captain Frank Jones was killed by bandits in 1893, Hughes was named captain of Company D. As captain, Hughes and his men searched the border and identified every bandit involved in the killing of Jones. They all received justice. Toward the end of his career Hughes became a senior captain based in Austin, and in 1915, having served as a captain and ranger longer than any other man, he retired from the force. His later years were happy ones, with traveling and visiting friends and relatives. He became a Texas icon and national celebrity, receiving more awards and honors than any other Texas Ranger, before or since. Due to Chuck Parsons’s extensive research, we now know more about Hughes than ever before. This biography of one of the “Four Great Captains” sheds light on his life prior to becoming a Texas Ranger and on his love interest, though he never married. From joining Company D in 1887 until retirement, Hughes served the state honestly and proudly, earning the respect of all he met. Zane Grey dedicated his most popular novel, The Lone Star Ranger, to Hughes and his Rangers.
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Date: February 15, 2011
Creator: Parsons, Chuck

Celebrating 100 Years of the Texas Folklore Society, 1909-2009

Description: The Texas Folklore Society is one of the oldest and most prestigious organizations in the state. Its secret for longevity lies in those things that make it unique, such as its annual meeting that seems more like a social event or family reunion than a formal academic gathering. This book examines the Society’s members and their substantial contributions to the field of folklore over the last century. Some articles focus on the research that was done in the past, while others offer studies that continue today. For example, L. Patrick Hughes explores historical folk music, while Meredith Abarca focuses on Mexican American folk healers and the potential direction of research on them today. Other articles are more personal reflections about why our members have been drawn to the TFS for fellowship and fun. This book does more than present a history of the Texas Folklore Society: it explains why the TFS has lasted so long, and why it will continue.
Date: December 15, 2009
Creator: Texas Folklore Society

Cold Anger: a Story of Faith and Power Politics

Description: "Cold Anger is an important book about the empowerment of working-class communities through church-based social activism. Such activism is certainly not new, but the conscious merger of community organizing tactics with religious beliefs may be. The organizing approach comes from Aul Alinsky and his Industrial Areas Foundations (IAF). . . . The book is structured around the political life of Ernesto Cortes, Jr., the lead IAF organizer who has earned recognition as one of the most powerful individuals in Texas (and who has been featured on Bill Moyers' "World of Ideas"). . . . Cortes fashioned a hard-ball Alinsky approach onto the natural organizing ground of church-based communities. The experiment began in San Antonio . . . and was successful in the transformation of San Antonio politics. Such dramatic success . . . led to similar efforts in Houston, Fort Worth, El Paso, the Rio Grande Valley, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and New York, to mention only a few sites. Expansion beyond San Antonio meant organizing among Protestant churches, among African American and white, and among middle-class communities. In short, these organizing efforts have transcended the particularistic limits of religion, ethnicity, and class while maintaining a church base and sense of spiritual mission. . . . Rogers's clearly written book will be of great value to the scholar, student, and layperson interested in urban politics, ethnic relations, social movements, or church activism." Southwestern Historical Quarterly
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Date: January 15, 1990
Creator: Rogers, Mary Beth

Death Lore: Texas Rituals, Superstitions, and Legends of the Hereafter

Description: Death provides us with some of our very best folklore. Some fear it, some embrace it, and most have pretty firm ideas about what happens when we die. Although some people may not want to talk about dying, it’s the only thing that happens to all of us–and there’s no way to get around it. This Publication of the Texas Folklore Society examines the lore of death and whatever happens afterward. The first chapter examines places where people are buried, either permanently or temporarily. Chapter Two features articles about how people die and the rituals associated with funerals and burials. The third chapter explores some of the stranger stories about what happens after we’re gone, and the last chapter offers some philosophical musings about death in general, as well as our connection to those who have gone before.
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Date: December 15, 2008
Creator: Texas Folklore Society

The Diaries of John Gregory Bourke: Volume 2, July 29, 1876 - April 7, 1878

Description: John Gregory Bourke kept a monumental set of diaries beginning as a young cavalry lieutenant in Arizona in 1872, and ending the evening before his death in 1896. As aide-de-camp to Brigadier General George Crook, he had an insider's view of the early Apache campaigns, the Great Sioux War, the Cheyenne Outbreak, and the Geronimo War. Bourke's writings reveal much about military life on the western frontier, but he also was a noted ethnologist, writing extensive descriptions of American Indian civilization and illustrating his diaries with sketches and photographs. Previously, researchers could consult only a small part of Bourkes diary material in various publications, or else take a research trip to the archive and microfilm housed at West Point. Now, for the first time, the 124 manuscript volumes of the Bourke diaries are being compiled, edited, and annotated by Charles M. Robinson III, in a planned set of six books easily accessible to the modern researcher. This volume opens as Crook prepares for the expedition that would lead to his infamous and devastating Horse Meat March. Although Bourke retains his loyalty to Crook throughout the detailed account, his patience is sorely tried at times. Bourke's description of the march is balanced by an appendix containing letters and reports by other officers, including an overview of the entire expedition by Lt. Walter Schuyler, and a report by Surgeon Bennett Clements describing the effects on the men. The diary continues with the story of the Powder River Expedition, culminating in Bourke’s eyewitness description of Col. Ranald Mackenzie's destruction of the main Cheyenne camp in what became known at the Dull Knife Fight. With the main hostile chiefs either surrendering or forced into exile in Canada, field operations come to a close, and Bourke finishes this volume with a retrospective of his service ...
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Date: October 15, 2005
Creator: Bourke, John Gregory, 1846-1896 & Robinson, Charles M. III

Eleven Days in Hell: the 1974 Carrasco Prison Siege in Huntsville, Texas

Description: From one o’clock on the afternoon of July 24, 1974, until shortly before ten o’clock the night of August 3, eleven days later, one of the longest hostage-taking sieges in the history of the United States took place in Texas’s Huntsville State Prison. The ringleader, Federico (Fred) Gomez Carrasco, the former boss of the largest drug-running operation in south Texas, was serving life for assault with intent to commit murder on a police officer. Using his connections to smuggle guns and ammunition into the prison, and employing the aid of two other inmates, he took eleven prison workers and four inmates hostage in the prison library. Demanding bulletproof helmets and vests, he planned to use the hostages as shields for his escape. Negotiations began immediately with prison warden H. H. Husbands and W. J. Estelle, Jr., Director of the Texas Department of Corrections. The Texas Rangers, the Department of Public Safety, and the FBI arrived to assist as the media descended on Huntsville. When one of the hostages suggested a moving structure of chalkboards padded with law books to absorb bullets, Carrasco agreed to the plan. The captors entered their escape pod with four hostages and secured eight others to the moving barricade. While the target was en route to an armored car, Estelle had his team blast it with fire hoses. In a violent end to the standoff, Carrasco committed suicide, one of his two accomplices was killed (the other later executed), and two hostages were killed by their captors.
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Date: August 15, 2004
Creator: Harper, William T.

First Timers and Old Timers: the Texas Folklore Society Fire Burns On

Description: The Texas Folklore Society has been alive and kicking for over one hundred years now, and I don’t really think there’s any mystery as to what keeps the organization going strong. The secret to our longevity is simply the constant replenishment of our body of contributors. We are especially fortunate in recent years to have had papers given at our annual meetings by new members—young members, many of whom are college or even high school students. These presentations are oftentimes given during sessions right alongside some of our oldest members. We’ve also had long-time members who’ve been around for years but had never yet given papers; thankfully, they finally took the opportunity to present their research, fulfilling the mission of the TFS: to collect, preserve, and present the lore of Texas and the Southwest. You’ll find in this book some of the best articles from those presentations. The first fruits of our youngest or newest members include Acayla Haile on the folklore of plants. Familiar and well-respected names like J. Rhett Rushing and Kenneth W. Davis discuss folklore about monsters and the classic “widow’s revenge” tale. These works—and the people who produced them—represent the secret behind the history of the Texas Folklore Society, as well as its future.
Date: December 15, 2012
Creator: Untiedt, Kenneth L.

Fort Worth Characters

Description: Fort Worth history is far more than the handful of familiar names that every true-blue Fort Worther hears growing up: leaders such as Amon Carter, B. B. Paddock, J. Frank Norris, and William McDonald. Their names are indexed in the history books for ready reference. But the drama that is Fort Worth history contains other, less famous characters who played important roles, like Judge James Swayne, Madam Mary Porter, and Marshal Sam Farmer: well known enough in their day but since forgotten. Others, like Al Hayne, lived their lives in the shadows until one, spectacular moment of heroism. Then there are the lawmen, Jim Courtright, Jeff Daggett, and Thomas Finch. They wore badges, but did not always represent the best of law and order. These seven plus five others are gathered together between the covers of this book. Each has a story that deserves to be told. If they did not all make history, they certainly lived in historic times. The jury is still out on whether they shaped their times or merely reflected those times. Either way, their stories add new perspectives to the familiar Fort Worth story, revealing how the law worked in the old days and what life was like for persons of color and for women living in a man’s world. As the old TV show used to say, “There are a million stories in the ‘Naked City.’” There may not be quite as many stories in Cowtown, but there are plenty waiting to be told—enough for future volumes of Fort Worth Characters. But this is a good starting point.
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Date: October 15, 2009
Creator: Selcer, Richard F.

Grace: A Novel

Description: In the east Texas town of Cold Springs in 1944, the community waits for the war to end. In this place where certain boundaries are not crossed and in a time when people reveal little about themselves, their problems, and their passions, Jane Roberts Wood exposes the heart of each of four families during the last year of World War II. Bound together by neighborhood and Southern customs, yet separated by class, money, and family, they are an unforgettable lot, vibrantly brought to life in this “delightfully perceptive and unabashedly romantic” novel (Sanford Herald). As the war grinds to an end, it becomes the catalyst that drives the inhabitants of Cold Springs across the boundaries that had once divided them, taking them to places both chaotic and astonishing. “A rare novel: intelligent, lyrical, devoid of coyness and manipulative plot turns—a book for old and young.”—Austin American-Statesman
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Date: October 15, 2009
Creator: Wood, Jane Roberts

Hide, Horn, Fish, and Fowl: Texas Hunting and Fishing Lore

Description: What would cause someone to withstand freezing temperatures in a cramped wooden box for hours on end, or stand in waist-high rushing waters, flicking a pole back and forth over and over—in many cases with nothing whatsoever to show for his efforts? Why is it that, into the twenty-first century, with the convenience of practically any type of red meat or fish available at the local supermarket, we continue to hunt game and fish on open waters? The answer is that no matter how sophisticated we think we are, no matter how technologically advanced we become, there is still something deep within us that beckons us to “the hunt.” This desire creates the customs, beliefs, and rituals related to hunting—for deer, hogs, and other four-legged critters, as well as fish and snakes, and other things that perhaps aren’t physically alive, but capture our interest as much as the prey mentioned above. These rituals and customs lead to some of our most treasured stories, legends, and practices. This volume of the Publications of the Texas Folklore Society includes serious, introspective articles on hunting and fishing, as well as humorous tall tales and “windies” about the big ones that got away—all lore that reminds us of that drive that calls us to become predators again.
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Date: December 15, 2011
Creator: Untiedt, Kenneth L.

Houston Blue: The Story of the Houston Police Department

Description: Houston Blue offers the first comprehensive history of one of the nation’s largest police forces, the Houston Police Department. Through extensive archival research and more than one hundred interviews with prominent Houston police figures, politicians, news reporters, attorneys, and others, authors Mitchel P. Roth and Tom Kennedy chronicle the development of policing in the Bayou City from its days as a grimy trading post in the 1830s to its current status as the nation’s fourth largest city. Prominent historical figures who have brushed shoulders with Houston’s Finest over the past 175 years include Houdini, Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, O. Henry, former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, hatchet wielding temperance leader Carrie Nation, the Hilton Siamese Twins, blues musician Leadbelly, oilman Silver Dollar Jim West, and many others. The Houston Police Department was one of the first cities in the South to adopt fingerprinting as an identification system and use the polygraph test, and under the leadership of its first African American police chief, Lee Brown, put the theory of neighborhood oriented policing into practice in the 1980s. The force has been embroiled in controversy and high profile criminal cases as well. Among the cases chronicled in the book are the Dean Corll, Dr. John Hill, and Sanford Radinsky murders; controversial cases involving the department’s crime lab; the killings of Randy Webster and Joe Campos Torres; and the Camp Logan, Texas Southern University, and Moody Park Riots.
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Date: November 15, 2012
Creator: Roth, Mitchel P.

The Johnson-sims Feud: Romeo and Juliet, West Texas Style

Description: In the early 1900s, two families in Scurry and Kent counties in West Texas united in a marriage of fourteen-year-old Gladys Johnson to twenty-one-year-old Ed Sims. Billy Johnson, the father, set up Gladys and Ed on a ranch, and the young couple had two daughters. But Gladys was headstrong and willful, and Ed drank too much, and both sought affection outside their marriage. A nasty divorce ensued, and Gladys moved with her girls to her father’s luxurious ranch house, where she soon fell in love with famed Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. When Ed tried to take his daughters for a prearranged Christmas visit in 1916, Gladys and her brother Sid shot him dead on the Snyder square teeming with shoppers. One of the best lawyers in West Texas, Judge Cullen Higgins (son of the old feudist Pink Higgins) managed to win acquittal for both Gladys and Sid. In the tradition of Texas feudists since the 1840s, the Sims family sought revenge. Sims’ son-in-law, Gee McMeans, led an attack in Sweetwater and shot Billy Johnson’s bodyguard, Frank Hamer, twice, while Gladys—by now Mrs. Hamer—fired at another assassin. Hamer shot back, killed McMeans, and was no-billed on the spot by a grand jury watching the shootout through a window. An attempt against Billy Johnson failed, but a three-man team shotgunned the widely respected Cullen Higgins. Texas Rangers and other lawmen caught one of the assassins, extracted a confession, and then prompted his “suicide” in a Sweetwater jail cell.
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Date: August 15, 2010
Creator: O'Neal, Bill