Celebrating a State of Mind
by Jeff Carroll
Jeff Carroll tells the tale, history comes to life. His popular
"Legendary Texas" radio series made his distinctive voice and his
genial, informative storytelling style, as well as his unrivaled
knowledge of Texas people, places, and events, known to and beloved by
many. In Being Texan, he distills that knowledge and style into
more than one hundred chronologically ordered individual stories that
take the reader on a fascinating journey through the history of Texas
and the people who created it.
sometimes meet the people who made history, but more often Jeff will
introduce you to the people who lived that history and give you the
opportunity to walk a mile-or a thousand miles-in their boots,
moccasins, or slippers. Attend the first Thanksgiving in North America,
held on the Rio Grande River more than 20 years before the Pilgrims
celebrated it in the Plymouth Colony. Make a desperate ride with the
"Paul Revere" of the brasada and compare the differences
between tales told by the survivors of the siege of the Alamo. Ride a
nitroglycerine delivery car to an oil-drilling site with Ma Thornton
and fly on the silver wings of Queen Bess, the first African-American
woman to become a licensed aviator. Find out who really built Dallas
and learn how the Gospel came to Mobeetie, the wildest town in the Wild
West. Meet the slave who became a Senator, the hero of the Texas
Revolution for whom no street or school has ever been named, the Apache
who was one of the most famous Texas Rangers of the Republic, and
Two-Gun Sallie Scull, one of the toughest and most dangerous of the
In Being Texan,
you'll sit beside a Paleo Indian artisan as he-or she-delicately chips
a spear point from a chunk of Alibates chert, and you'll consult with a
man named Borden on the secret formula for the "Marvelous Meat
Biscuit." You'll fight a duel over a poker game in which the stakes are
a plantation and the fealty of a new bride, and you'll build a railhead
in the middle of nowhere, knowing that if you build it, the cattle will
come. You'll fight battles in dusty buffalo wallows and ancient
fortresses. You'll ride the trail with Rangers and renegades and
Comanche warriors, with soldiers and priests and martyrs, empresarios
and tricksters and scholars, scientists and gamblers and explorers, and
just plain folks who came together on the frontier to build a nation, a
state, a people.
look into the "Eyes of Texas" in the many period photographs and modern
and historical illustrations that illuminate the book. If you're just
fond of a good story, Being Texan offers you more than 100
great stories to delight, inform and amuse you. If you're a serious
researcher or an educator, it offers you an unprecedented source of
information and enlightenment in the Texas experience.
And when you come to the last story
and reluctantly close this book, you will have discovered just what
Jeff Carroll means when he speaks of Being Texan.
Being Texan also includes a
complete set of appendices that contains lesson plans and teaching
guides for educators who wish to use it as a text or supplement for
academic courses in Texas history.
foreword to this revised edition of
Being Texan ...
"The legends of our people rise like smoke.
Sit beside me and learn,
For I am Keeper of the Flame."
"Walks Alone, "Tickanwatic shaman
Being Texan has almost nothing to do with where one was born or lives today. Being
Texan is, as many authors have written, "a state of mind." It has
something to do with an outlook on life that suggests that, no matter
what the hardship, there was, is, or will be a way to work it out. It
has something to do with accepting responsibility. It has something to
do with recognizing flaws and failures and rising above them. It is
simply the process of living well, despite what the world throws at us.
this uniquely Texan? Of course, it is not. Many scholars argue that
Texans are no different from other people and the "Texas Mystique" is
no mystery at all, simply a matter of egocentrism. So be it. They are
entitled to their opinions just as I am to mine. Although I think a
book like this could be written about any other state, I also think the
flavor would be somewhat different. Try inserting any other state name
in the title-it just would not have the same ring to it.
Being Texan is a collection
of stories about people. Some of them are people that you already know,
and some are not. Whoever they were, wherever they came from, and
whenever they arrived makes little difference. They all contributed
something toward making Texas what it is today-good, bad, or
indifferent. They all became a part of the much larger story of Texas,
just as you who read this today are living your part of the story.
of these stories have appeared before in some form. Some come from my
newspaper column "Legendary Texas," some from the scripts of my radio
program by the same name, some from my first five volumes of the Legendary Texas series of books, and some from the published notes for my Texas History
classes at Texas A&M University and at Blinn College.
Some stories may not appear to be
politically correct by modern standards, but we do the past a great
disservice if we judge them in that light. This is "Folk History," a
history of the people. The people and the stories should be judged, if
at all, in light of what was common and acceptable in their time. Good
anthropologists realize that when dealing with different cultures, one
should never judge things as "good" or "bad," but simply recognize them
as being different.
Readers frequently ask if the stories
are true. Ultimate truth is a concept argued by theologians,
philosophers, and historians. This is not a scholarly work with
footnotes to justify everything I say. I have edited all of these to
make them as factual as I can, but I will not claim an absence of
errors. After all, these are stories of people reacting to changing
situations; no one will ever know exactly what they were thinking about
at the time, unless they tell us in some way. If someone believes
something to be "true," acts upon it in that belief, and then writes
about it in a letter or journal so that others' lives are influenced by
it, it then becomes its own version of "truth" for those people.
History is a matter of perspectives, not an exact science.
arranged these stories in chronological order so that they flow in a
single line, like chapters in a continuing story. In this revised
edition, I have added a few more stories to fill some of the gaps in
the time sequence. Those who read them for pleasure may find the
sequence easier to follow than it was in the five Legendary Texas volumes. Those who use these stories to illustrate and supplement
material in accredited textbooks will find it easier to correlate the
material. For these students and teachers there are appendices dealing
with the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS) required in
Texas schools, as well as suggested strategies, activities, and
references to aid the learning process. This revised edition also
contains an Index to help folks find particular people, topics, etc.,
and a rather limited Bibliography of sources for further reading.
does not happen in a vacuum. No matter what is happening in Texas,
there are other things going on in the world. I preface each story with
a few comments to try to put things in context. Who knew, for instance,
that while Texans and Tejanos fought for Texas independence, other wars
in Europe would send thousands of newcomers to the Texas frontier? Who
knew that what we call the "French and Indian War," that took place
mostly in upper New York State and the Ohio River Valley, would
ultimately lead to the abandonment of Franciscan missions throughout
Mexico and the American Southwest? The
more we know about history, the more we are able to put the pieces of
the puzzle together, until a much larger picture begins to appear.
Look around you. All of the folks you
see going about their everyday affairs are, in their own way,
contributing to the story. I urge each one of you to keep some kind of
record of your life. That way, your part of the story will not be lost.
Think about it for a minute. What are some things that you remember
from when you were younger that you just don't see or hear about today?
What new things are taking place in your life? How do you react to the
You are a part of the story. By living your life, you, too are Being Texan.