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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Scalp Mountain (an excerpt)

by Julia Robb Mission San Jose Texas Ranger Capt. W.E. Henry’s prayer, at Mission San José, in San Antonio, 1876 Lord, I’m a Methodist and talking to you here in a Catholic church, but I guess you don’t mind, this place has been here one hundred years and folks has offered up a lot of prayers. I might not be in this old world much longer, I’m sixty-five and headed for my long home, but I got it in mind to explain myself. I don’t expect you to overlook nuthing, but I want you to know there was reasons for […]

How the Old West Bad Men Did or Did Not Get to Midland, Texas

by Julia Robb I’m standing in the Midland County (Texas) public library basement staring down at six plaster of paris death masks. Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, Bill Dalton, Robert Ford, Wild Bill Hickok and Clay Allison lay in a waist–high glass display case, with their eyes closed. Bill Dalton’s tongue is stuck between his lips, Bob Ford is wearing a half smile, as if he’s not really happy at the company he’s keeping but wants to be polite. Butch Cassidy is sneering with swollen, cruel lips and broad, flaring nostrils, and Jesse James looks fast asleep. In case you don’t […]

The Little Girl Who Wrote the Waltz

The Little Girl Who Wrote the Waltz By Julia Robb Certain kinds of people do not believe in coincidences: They believe everything is planned, that unseen forces coordinate life. I’m one of those people, although it’s not always clear who’s in charge of the non-coincidence department­­­–God, guardian angels, or whatever. Maybe the dead do their part. Here’s what happened a few months ago. I flew to San Angelo for a writer thing and one of the lovely people from Stephens Central Library gave me a ride to my bed and breakfast. I didn’t like the B&B. Traffic was its only […]