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Monday, April 30, 2012

Photos from Sugar Land Skeeters' Opening Weekend

Bruce's son-in-law took these pictures when he and his son attended Saturday's game in the Skeeters' debut series with the York (PA) Revolution.  I hope to have some video from the inaugural game ready in a few days.


Right field grass seating.

Children's play area behind outfield wall.
Children's play area behind outfield wall.

Patio seating behind left field wall.

Sky boxes.


Old Whip and the Battle of San Jacinto

Felipe Rodriguez, a student at the University of Mexico's school of veterinary medicine, recently posted a message on the Fort Bend Museum's Facebook page.  He wondered if we knew the story of 'Old Whip,' a horse made famous in the Runaway Scrape and Battle of San Jacinto.  I had to admit that I'd never heard his story and would research it.  I found several sources, including contemporaneous accounts of the Runaway Scrape, and boiled down them down to this abbreviated version.

William Vince was one of Austin's Old 300 colonists. His 3 brothers were also colonists.  Their land grants were in Harris County south of Buffalo Bayou and east of Harrisburg -- roughly where South Houston & Pasadena are now located.  William also possessed a smaller farm near Arcola.  I haven't located it precisely, but he was a neighbor of Francis Marion Fenn, so it was somewhere in the Fresno-Arcola-Rosharon area.

William Vince had a black, high-spirited, fast horse he kept on the farm.  Vince called him Old Whip possibly because he could whip all other local horses in a race.  Horse racing was a big past-time among the colonists.  Churchill Fulshear and (later) Frank Terry were big horse-racing enthusiasts, so fast horses were renown.

I've provided a map that shows the the paths of the various Mexican armies and the Texian army.  The map is missing some details, but it will do for the purposes of this story.  

You can see the path of Santa Anna's corps as it moved from Richmond to Stafford's Point.  From there he moved northeastward to Harrisburg to capture the rebel government. As they made this leg of the journey, Santa Anna passed by Vince's farm and 'requisitioned' Old Whip and Vince's $300 saddle. The situation was chaotic -- fleeing colonists took what they could and left what they couldn't carry or herd before them.  Vince may have been preoccupied with other things, or maybe he was seeing to his main plantation near present-day South Houston -- for whatever the reason, he left Old Whip and his saddle for Santa Anna to plunder.

At this point Santa Anna pranced around on Old Whip and felt pretty good about defeating the rebels even though the provisional government had left Harrisburg before he arrived there. Santa Anna believed the government had fled further eastward to New Washington, so he pranced toward Galveston Bay in pursuit.

Although it doesn't appear on this map, Sims Bayou was a long and relatively wide tributary flowing into Buffalo Bayou from the south.  I believe it meets Buffalo Bayou in Pasadena or Deer Park.  The point is that it was deep and wide and required a bridge to cross.  In fact, William Vince had built a bridge where Sims Bayou bisected his property.

Santa Anna crossed William Vince's Bridge while Sam Houston trailed his army on the north bank of Buffalo Bayou.  Eventually, Houston committed his army and crossed Buffalo Bayou to the south bank and turned eastward also crossing Vince's Bridge, but he ordered Deaf Smith and his scouts burn the bridge once they were all across the Bayou.  When Houston moved his army to the north end of the San Jacinto Battle Ground, he had actually hemmed Santa Anna's army in a trap.  The route west was blocked because Vince's Bridge was destroyed.  The route north (Lynch's Ferry over the San Jacinto River) was blocked by Houston's army.

You know what happened on the 21st of April.  When Santa Anna finally woke up from his nap, he hopped on Old Whip and galloped west, thinking he could get over the bridge and ride to Richmond where a large contingent of his army was camped in reserve.  Well, he found the bridge burned and tried to ride across on Old Whip, but the horse got mired in the muck and couldn't get out.  Some accounts say Old Whip knew where home was and plunged into the Bayou with Santa Anna hanging on for dear life.  Regardless, Santa Anna jumped off Old Whip and ran into the weeds where he hid for a day or so. 

As we all know, he was taken prisoner and ended up visiting Washington before repatriation to Mexico.  Old Whip was pulled out of the mud, cleaned up and celebrated throughout the colony.  Jesse Ziegler says in his book, "Wave of the Gulf," that Old Whip lived a long and happy life.

Felipe suggests we honor him with a statue somewhere in Fort Bend County.


Miscellaneous Old Photos

Beverly Lampson put me onto a Facebook site ("Southwest Houston - Do You Remember When?) with some great pictures of old Houston.  Many of them are personal snap shots of life in the  '50s & '60s.  Here are a sampling of a few things I liked.  

Those of you my age will remember the Fort Bend County Library's Book Mobile.  It made semi-monthly (I think) visits during the school year.  When I attended Sugar Land Elementary, it stopped on the driveway between the circles about where the tennis courts stood.  This won't make sense to youngsters, but it will to old timers.

In early 1962 the Houston Sports Association, owners of the Colt .45s, put up a temporary building by the old Colt Stadium construciton site.  They wanted to promote the club before the season started in April.  They had souvenirs and all types of marketing stuff,  some of it free.  I remember nagging my father into stopping one Sunday afternoon.  I picked up a handful of round, orange-and-blue decals with the Colt logo on them.  Bruce & I put them on the windshield and windows of my dad's work car.  

I recall putting one on the front windshield where it obstructed the driver's (Dad's) view.  When he got back from work on Monday afternoon, I saw the crinkled remnants of the offending decal clinging to the windshield.  My dad gave us/me a mild lecture on the importance of an unobstructed view through a car's windshield.  Here's a picture of the building where we got the decals.

One last baseball-related item since baseball is the theme of the week.  The Facebook site had this picture & article about a game between Ellington Field and Hughes Tool at old Buff Stadium.  I don't have a date, but it must be from the early '50s.  My guess is this game was not part of the Post's semi-pro baseball tournament played each summer until 1952.  I assume the teams played in Buff Stadium while the Buffs were on the road.  I'll bet the Fort Bend Jaybirds played both teams.


Monday, April 23, 2012

History in the Making at Constellation Field in Sugar Land

Many thanks to my sister-in-law and brother for inviting me to the gala opening of Constellation Park, home of the Sugar Land Skeeters. I am very impressed with the ball park, and the fundraising gala was a big success, as you'll see in the article on the Skeeter's Web site.  My only regret is that I didn't meet Bob Aspromonte, who was in the audience that night.

The first game played in the park was Dulles vs Clements on Saturday, April 21st.  (I never heard the score until now, but I've just received 'late breaking news' from Pat Pollicoff.  The final score was Clements 9 - Dulles 2.)  I've cribbed these photos from Tommy Laird who attended the game and posted them on Facebook.


Pittsville, Texas A Forgotten Corner of Fort Bend County

I've been busy videoing different events over the past few weeks.  This 19-minute video records the State Marker Dedication Ceremony for Pittsville, a small community north of Fulshear.  It no longer exists and much of its history was nearly forgotten until the Fort Bend Historical Commission sponsored this Marker.  

Link to video of State Marker Dedication Ceremony
Unfortunately, the Pittsville exhibit at the Fort Bend Museum is over, but it recounted the interesting history of this small community on the northern border of Fort Bend County.  Here is a link to a brief article on Pittsville in the Handbook of Texas.
Here's another link to a famous, but forgotten citizen of Pittsville. Laura Krey is Fort Bend County's equivalent of Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With The Wind." 

2012 Children's Day at the Fort Bend Museum

I made this 8-1/2 minute video of Children's Day (March 24th) at the Fort Bend Museum in Richmond.  It was a free event they do annually for local children.  They have similar events (not free) in July & August, so take your kids or grandkids if you want a local diversion to break up the summer monotony.  (Check their Web site later this summer for a schedule, or call 281-342-6478 for detailed information.)


Arbuckles' Ariosa Coffee, the Starbucks of Texas Cattle Drives

During this year's spring break, I went to the George Ranch Historical Park south of Richmond and videoed some of the special programs they presented to visitors.  (I posted several videos last week.)  

This week I made an 8-minute video about the fascinating story of Arbuckles' Ariosa Coffee.  As the interpreter explains it, Arbuckles could be considered the Starbucks of cattle drives.  They found a way to keep the coffee fresh, plus they offered coupons and treats to their buyers.  There's nothing new under the sun.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

1940 Census Records for Sugar Land Area

Those of you who are interested in genealogy have probably heard that the US Census Bureau has put the 1940 Census records online.  Ancestry.com is preparing a name index, but that's a big project involving lots of volunteers.  It may take quite a while to complete.  

The only search method at the moment is by enumeration district.  Once you find the number of the district you want, you still have to look through the records one by one to find your family of interest.  It can be a tedious process, but experienced genealogists know the drill.

If you go to the Web site, you'll see instructions for finding enumeration district numbers and searching the records.  I've provided the link below.

I've also included a link to the page covering my mother's family, who lived at the Humble Camp south of town.  Their entries begin on line 25.  My mother is Sally Ann.  You should be able to magnify the image, so you can read the headings.

This census recorded interesting information about incomes, work histories, housing and relief aid.  None of that was recorded before the '40 Census.  I've spent some time looking at both sets of records that cover the Sugar Land area.  I've found many people I know.  I've found people I didn't know lived in Sugar Land as early as 1940.  

I've also got a reasonably good idea of the relative financial position of residents, but who can guess the accuracy of the income figures?  I'm sure the census workers didn't verify the figures.  Some people probably guessed or exaggerated; others probably had no bank account or pay stubs and didn't know how much they made in 1939.

Link to 1940 Census Web site.

A logistical note: I've upload a copy of my family's census page, but Google reduces the resolution to the point you can't read the small print. I left the uploaded page anyway. I've added a link (below) to the same page on the Census Web site. You can see the full image there, but it's very awkward. They don't give you zoom and shrink widgets. If you want to do effective research, the best bet is to bite the bullet and download the zipped file for the enumeration district you want. It may take a while, but you'll be able to manipulate each image and do a reasonably good review to find your family. I think searching the records online is near impossible, but they'll probably develop a more sophisticated portal later.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Peter Schwalbe

I want to thank Linda Hagler Mosk (DHS '68) for the following image.  She's been organizing her sister's and mother's archives and came across this obituary for Mr. Peter Schwalbe.  As Linda said, he led an interesting life.

Dulles High Class Favorites, 1965

My thanks go to Linda Hagler Mosk (DHS '68) for sending me this clipping from the Viking Shield.  I'm not sure of the exact date, but it was sometime in the spring of 1965.  Dian Hagler (DHS '65) was Linda's older sister.  Dian was elected Dulles Olympian that year.