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PostWest Texas Historical Association Meeting, Lubbock (Richard Hancock, USA, 04/19/17 3:37 am)
Nancy and I attended the annual meeting of West Texas Historical Association from April 6-9. I have driven around Lubbock many times but I have never spent any time there. Lubbock has a population of 230,000, the largest city in the Texas panhandle. It has an altitude of 3,195 feet and an annual precipitation of 18.82 inches. It is the center of a large ranching and farming district in northwest Texas and eastern New Mexico. On our drive to Lubbock, we passed through many famous ranches in Texas such as the 6666, the Pitchfork and the XIT.
Lubbock is also the home of Texas Tech University. We visited the Ranch Heritage Museum on the Texas Tech campus. It consists of 23 acres with about 30 ranch structures scattered amongst small grassy hills. We followed the path that wound around these hills, viewing ranch structures that had been brought there from all over Texas beginning with an adobe house constructed in 1740 and ending with a five-room Victorian home that had been unbelievably transported whole from its original ranch site. We found this museum to be astounding, and were told that the next Saturday after our visit, the museum was scheduled to host 1,000 school children.
I gave a PowerPoint presentation on the Casas Grandes ruins of northwestern Chihuahua, consisting of two maps and 14 photographs. The Casas Grandes or Paqimé as the natives called it, consist of ruins that housed some 3,000 people and was a center of trade between Indians in Chihuahua and the US Southwest with the Mesoamerican populations of southern Mexico. A great many more of these people lived in the Western Sierra Madre cave-dwellings, of which there are probably 300 different sites. These sites are accessible only by arduous hikes or travel by mule or helicopter. In my work for the governor of Chihuahua from 2001-2004, my photographer, Bill Williams, and I visited several of these sites in a state helicopter and Bill took pictures for the eight books that we published. The maximum development of these prehistoric people came in 1250 AD.
We also presented information on the "Miracle of Mata Ortiz," which consisted of the work or a young man, Juan Quezada, who came to Mata Ortiz in the 1970s from further south in Chihuahua as a farmer and rancher. He became interested in the ceramics of Casas Grandes and decided to try to emulate them. He finally succeeded in making this pottery by trial and error and started an industry in Mata Ortíz that has several hundred people making ceramics and selling them mostly in the US but in other nations as well. In 2004, he gave us a demonstration of his primitive method of firing these pots.
I enjoy our visits to the WTHA because Texas shares about six hundred miles of border with Chihuahua and the attendees are interested in that state. I couldn't give these presentations to the Oklahoma Historical Association because it is a state-financed organization and rarely includes information on out-of-state phenomena. The WTHA is funded by its membership and therefore includes presentations on New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Mexico. Its meetings are also usually close to Norman and don't involve long 12-hour drives. This was my sixth presentation to them, all of them having to do with Mexico.
JE comments: Congratulations on a splendid conference, Richard! If you send some images from your PowerPoint, I know WAISers will be interested in seeing them.
Texas Tech (our colleague Randy Black's Alma Mater) has set up a full-blown "skansen" in its Ranch Heritage Museum. Such open-air, walking museums are irresistible. Poles love their skansens. WAISer Bert Westbrook and I visited a fine example in Fairplay, Colorado, two summers ago.
Cora Montgomery; Texas Adventuress and Literary Icon; from Gary Moore
(John Eipper, USA
04/23/17 12:13 PM)
Gary Moore writes:
Richard Hancock's great posts (April 17th and 19th), on archival arcana revealing the history of Texas,
remind of a rich vein. As he told of the insights to be had in hard-to-find memoirs by his ancestors,
my mind went back to the friendly jumble of the Eagle Pass Public Library, hunkered only a few blocks
from the border, and lost more widely in the great, beautiful sea of the rolling Texas brush country--in a vastness where tourists, let alone archivists, rarely go.
There I fell in love--or at least I found "Cora Montgomery," Eagle Pass's own long-aago memoirist,
who wrote in the rambunctious days of the nineteenth century. Mrs. William Cazneau (to use her
other name) was part of the great unsung army of popularizers and local-colorists who have preserved
flashes of what real life was like in obscure times and places. Her husband doesn't get mentioned much
(I think the Texas plagues may have gotten him), but the wife or widow wound up on the Eagle Pass frontier
when it was a land out of time, owning a modest-sized ranch, before the Civil War.
In her day, Cora Montgomery wasn't an unknown but a briskly selling commercial voice, evocative even
in her 1852 publisher: Putnam's Sons Monthly Library for Travellers and the Fireside. Two insights that
grabbed me had to do with the culture in which she was immersed, though technically the Treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo had confined it across the river: the Mexico of the Santa Ana era. The insights
(quite the balance for our imperialism discussions) had to do with the treatment of animals, and,
in the peonage dimension, the treatment of people, especially women.
A note from this horsewoman, who herself took long rides, remarked on:
“that barbarous implement of horse torture, the Mexican bridle, which fills the poor animal’s mouth with a load of jagged iron, to such an extent that he cannot drink with it... The worst trait I have observed in them is this almost universal wont of feeling for animals.”
Imperialist bosh? We take half their country (1848), and then still can't resist throwing rocks?
On a personal level, Mrs. Cazneau seems to have gone out of her way to shelter Mexicans fleeing across
the river from peonage, of which there was no shortage, including women, and sometimes apparently rather
high-born women, whom, in that milieu (at least according to the voice) could suddenly be reduced by the death
of a husband to being the virtual property of a son--who could then sell them, and sometimes did. Cora was writing
in the same year that Harriett Beecher Stowe (of Cincinnati and Massachusetts) produced Uncle Tom's Cabin,
and her neighbor Stephen Foster chimed in with the Swanny River song.
Mrs. Cazneau couldn't have known, however, that there was a deeper resonance in her tacitly comparing Mexican
peonage to American slavery. There would be another obscure voice in 1901, a backwoods federal magistrate,
who was seeing a lot of kidnapping, and apparently murder, as white southern landowners turned to peonage to
replace abolished slavery. He thus dug back through the record books and found an obscure law, from 1866 in
New Mexico, addressing former Mexican landowners who remained so fond of chasing down peons that they
were demanding the US Army help them--an army by that point rather scarred from fighting on the other side
of the bondage issue. In response, an indignant Congress passed an obscure anti-peonage law in 1866.
a half century later, Fred Cubberly, dredged it up, used it as a test case on southern labor kidnappings, got it pushed
through the US Supreme Court, and then, as Cyatt v. US, it became a bedrock pillar for a coming century's federal
interventions in civil rights. Far away in Eagle Pass, Mrs. Cazneau was foreshadowing future thunder,
in her remote crossroads between two forms of bondage.
The "adventuress" would finally hang up her pen appropriately, in a shipwreck off Cape Hatteras,
bound from the Caribbean. At her 1878 death she was said to still own a thousand acres of Texas.
JE comments: A perfect Sunday-afternoon read. Thank you, Gary! There is a biography of Mrs Cazneau titled Mistress of Manifest Destiny (2001), by Linda S. Hudson. I'll look for it.