BEN McCULLOCH – Texas Hero

by Julia Robb Ben McCulloch was a hero, but most of us don’t know who he was. Yet Ben McCulloch fought in the Texas revolution (barely missing dying at the Alamo), he fought the Comanches, he was a Texas Ranger, a U.S. marshal and a Confederate brigadier general. McCulloch was born in Tennessee in 1811 and David Crockett eventually became one of the McCullochs’ neighbors and closest friends. In 1835, Ben and his brother Henry decided to follow Crockett to Texas. They planned to meet in Nacogdoches on Christmas day. Ben and Henry didn’t get there on time and Ben […]

The Ghosts In My Life

by Julia Robb Reading one of my novels will take you on a ride through a supernatural theme park. That might seem odd because neither novel is about the supernatural. Scalp Mountain is an historical novel set on the Texas frontier in 1876. Saint of the Burning Heart is about relationships between Anglos and Hispanics in 1960’s Texas (and an obsessive romance). But in Scalp, Texas Ranger Captain William Henry witnesses the angel of death, and in Saint, a character watches his dead parents fight. My characters experienced these events for one simple reason. Because supernatural events happen to me. […]

The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

Gregorio Cortez and his brother Romaldo were working as ranch hands at the W.A. Thulmeyer ranch in Karnes County one day when they saw County Sheriff W.T. Morris and his deputies riding toward them. It was June 12, 1901, and life for Cortez would never be the same. Within five minutes Cortez, 25, became a martyr, folk hero and central figure in a corrido (Hispanic folk ballad), one famous to this day. The sheriff and his deputies, John Trimmell and Boone Choate, were at the ranch searching for a horse thief. Sheriff Morris questioned the Cortez brothers and Choate acted […]

The Voters “can go to hell and I will go to Texas.” David Crockett

by Julia Robb   . . David Crockett Don’t call him Davy. David’s political enemies called him “Davy” to make him seem boyish. They never convinced anybody. Dying at the Alamo was just the final scene in David’s dramatic and impressive life. David Crockett was six-foot and handsome, an expert shot with his rifles (he always named them “Betsey”), a three-term U.S. congressman and an American folk hero who wrote a popular memoir titled A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, of the State of Tennessee. He grew up in the wilderness, could hit a target at two hundred […]

Jack Hays and The Wild Texas Rangers

by Julia Robb In 1840, Texas Ranger Captain Jack Hays and twenty of his men tracked down two hundred Comanches herding stolen horses. Hays said, “Yonder are the Indians, boys, and yonder are our horses. The Indians are pretty strong. But we can whip them. What do you say?” The Rangers charged, killed the Comanche leader and the rest of the warriors ran. That’s a typical Ranger story. The nineteenth century Texas Rangers were special to Texas and there’s a reason. The Rangers were quick-shooting, hard-drinking, brutal, aggressive men, “just this side of brigands and desperados,” who fought a “war […]

When Congressmen Carried Guns

by Julia Robb In 1832, Sam Houston stood in the U.S. of Representatives, on trial for attacking Ohio Representative William Stanbery. It was a headline trial. Sam Houston, a six-foot-two, good-looking Tennessean, was already famous. While Houston defended himself, a woman in the balcony threw him a bouquet of flowers and cried “I would rather be Sam Houston in a dungeon than Stanbery on a throne.” We think we know about Sam Houston; general of the Texas armies, hero of San Jacinto, president of the Republic of Texas, senator of Texas, governor of Texas. But Sam Houston was bigger than […]

Texas Feuds flourished on the lawless frontier: The Regulators and the Moderators and The Mason County War.

On Nov. 13, 1843, Peter Whetstone walked from a store located on the square in Marshall, Texas and met his death. Whetstone donated the land Marshall was built on. Didn’t help. A “Regulator” leader who believed Whetstone was a “Moderator,” followed him outside and shot him in the back. Whetstone–one of my multiple-great uncles–entered the record book. The Regulator–Moderator feud was the bloodiest in American history and Whetstone was one of the victims. Most Americans have heard about the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoy’s. Only ten men were killed in the Kentucky shootouts. More than thirty men were […]

HOW TEXAS WENT DOWN IN FLAMES

by Julia Robb . Sam Houston told us not to do it. And Houston was the sitting governor when he opposed Texas joining the Confederacy, as well as hero of San Jacinto, twice President of the Republic of Texas and a former U.S. (TX) senator. Joining the Confederacy would ruin the state, Houston warned, then ordered Texan Rangers to guard the federal arsenal in San Antonio. Texas secession leaders, Houston said, should “learn to respect and support one government before they talk of starting another.” Texas didn’t listen. In February, 1861, the state legislature appointed a special Texas “Secession Convention” […]

When Are We Going to Forgive?

by Julia Robb I’ve been writing about Texas history for the Heart of Texas Blog because it’s important for Texans to know how the past shaped our culture. If you stick with me in the coming weeks, I’ll tell you all I can about the good, the bad and the ugly. In the meantime, I’m a little discouraged because some readers are taking up the old fights. Rather than picking up a gun, or a fist, however, they’re verbally slugging it out It’s not just one side. Some Hispanics are angry with Anglos for taking Texas away from Mexico and […]

Texas and the Comanche Nation

by Julia Robb Matilda Lockhart’s nose may not have started the Comanche wars in Texas, but it’s fair to say the condition of Matilda’s nose escalated the Comanche war from skirmishes to a furnace of death and destruction. And the Comanche wars created Texas culture. If we are a tough-minded people, it’s because Texans fought the Comanche for more than 35 years. Briefly, here’s what happened. Comanches raided in Texas from the time settlers began arriving in the 1820’s, but it wasn’t full-blown warfare. Then in March, 1840, Penateka Comanche leaders said they wanted peace. (Comanche bands included, among others, […]

My dear fellow Texans: A personal letter to everyone who reads this website

by Julia Robb I’m writing this message to you in the form of a letter because it is very personal to me. My blog, “The Real Reason Texas Rebelled Against Mexico,” was printed yesterday in the Heart of Texas Blog. In the last paragraph, I wrote Hispanic Texans fought with Anglo Texans against dictator Santa Anna and his army. I should have put that paragraph at the beginning of my piece because some Hispanic Texans did not read the entire blog and their feelings were hurt. They thought I was attacking them, rather than Santa Anna and his government. I […]

William Barrett Travis and his Critics

by Julia Robb   Texas has a problem. The wimps of this world hate courage. And because so many intellectuals are wimps, they pour contempt on Texas, on Texas heroes and our history. Small people tear down big ones, especially when the bigger souls are dead and can’t fight back. Faced with the Mexican army, those same wimps would run. I’m going to tell you about our Texas heroes in coming weeks, but this blog is about William Barrett Travis, commander of the Alamo when it fell on March 6, 1836. Travis was born in South Carolina in 1809 and […]

The Angel of Death

by Julia Robb Elroy Camp died at midnight, while Beulah held his bony hand and prayed. Mr. Elroy took a trembling breath. He never breathed out. “I might have known,” Mr. Elroy’s daughter said when Beulah called. “Ma’am?” “You heard me. Families in this community hire you to take care of their loved ones and two months later they’re dead.” “If you had ax Mr. Elroy, he would have tole you I was taking good care of him.” “He’s dead, isn’t he?” “I cook good. You cain’t get them meals in a restaurant.” “Estella Washington’s family hired you in December […]

SCALP MOUNTAIN (an excerpt)

By Julia Robb Chapter Thirteen Report to Major Lou Phillips, Austin headquarters, from Texas Ranger Capt. W.E. Henry Sir: I have the honor to report the death of Mage Higgins, the man who shot down Sheriff Dell Rogers. After Higgins, we also trailed the gang stuck up the Round Rock bank and recovered the money. Events preceding Sheriff Rogers’ death are as follows: Ranchers took a prisoner from Rogers’ jail in Parker, Cottonwood County, and lynched him. The prisoner was a cow thief. Higgins, the prisoner’s half brother, believed Sheriff Rogers’ responsible for his brother’s demise and swore revenge. Higgins […]