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The Invisible Track Highway

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Texas only had 100 miles of paved road in 1923, the same year that the Texas Highway Department (now the Texas Department of Transportation) assumed responsibility for the maintenance of the state’s roads through an act of the 35th legislature. Gov. Jim “Pa” Ferguson signed the legislation creating the highway department in 1917, and for the rest of his public life he milked the department like it was his own cash cow — which it actually was.

Prairie Dog Lawyers

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We don’t usually mention lawyers when we talk about the hardships our pioneer ancestors endured on the Texas frontier, but we should. Being a pioneer anything meant doing without the civilities of civilization, at least in the short term. Frontier lawyers had to ply their trade without the luxury of, well, law.

Pardon Me: The Reign of Ma and Pa Ferguson

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It’s easy to make fun of Ma and Pa Ferguson in today’s enlightened times, when politicians allegedly can’t be bought and rarely if ever say or do anything stupid (again, allegedly). The Fergusons were different. They were friends of the farmer, the downtrodden and the convicted, but they were always loyal, first and foremost, to the highest bidder. We just don’t see elected officials like that anymore.

John Wesley Hardin and the Death of Jack Helm

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Jack Helm was at a blacksmith shop in the small Texas community of Albuquerque in 1873, working on an invention to rid the world of the boll weevil when two men, including notorious badman John Wesley Hardin, shot him to death.

The Complex Life of the Father of Texas

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We don’t hear as much about Stephen F. Austin as we do some of the others who helped found Texas, especially Sam Houston, who has about as many biographies as Abraham Lincoln. Houston was colorful and unpredictable. All Austin did was work, and for most of his short adult life he labored to create Texas out of thousands of miles of wilderness and a few land grants.
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