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American History

American History

A circan 1910 photo of Katy, Texas, which is 126 years old today.  It was on January 23, 1896, that the Katy Post office opened.  As late s the 1820s, Karankawa Indians hunted buffalo at the site where Katy is now situated. Present-day Fifth Street in Katy follows the course of the San Felipe Road. Which was opened to Austin’s colony in that decade. In 1836 Santa Anna used this road in his march toward San Jacinto.

The site of Katy today was in the 1839 land grant of Republic of Texas citizen James J. Crawford. In 1863 at their camp on San Felipe Road, 35 confederate soldiers died and were buried there. Cane Island, the original settlement, was known as a stagecoach stop.

Developers platted the Katy townsite after Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad (‘the Katy Line’) reached this point in 1895. The post office opened on Jan 23, 1896, in the postmaster’s mercantile store. In 1897 William Eule grew a rice crop initiating Katy’s first major industry. Euler’s son Fred dug an irrigation well for the rice fields in 1899. The fierce 1900 hurricane razed or damaged all improvements except two houses in Katy, but the town was soon rebuilt. Beginning in 1927, nearby petroleum developments enhanced the local economy.
When it was incorporated in 1945, the town had 849 people in 1950 and 3800 by 1970. The population today? Roughly 27,000.  They play some pretty good high-school football there.

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American History

American History 📜

The Texas Quote of the Day is a story about Texas beer and comes from T. Lindsay Baker’s OUTSTANDING 1986  “Building the Lone Star,”  which is unbelievably well-documented and needs to be in every Texan’s library:

“Erected in stages between 1883 and 1904, the Old Lone Star Brewery in San Antonio is in fact a complex of industrial buildings. The structures housed a major brewery until the advent of Prohibition in 1919, after which they were used for a variety of purposes.

The Old Lone Star Brewery had its beginnings in 1883, when two San Antonio businessmen, John Henry Kampmann and Edward Hoppe, joined forces to create a stock company to erect a brewery.  Their firm, the Lone Star Brewing Company, officially began commercial beer production in September, 1884.  They built their brewery on a tract located on the San Antonio River upstream from the downtown business district and conveniently near the tracks of the Southern Pacific Railway. The facility included not only the brewery itself but also coopers’ shops, a bottling works, and its own ice plant.

The ties of the Lone Star Brewing Company to the brewing empire of Adolphus Busch of Saint Louis were strong.  Mr. Busch was one of the major shareholders in the Texas company and for several years served as its President. The San Antonio facility was the first outside Saint Louis in which he had any large investment. Because of the link with the Busch enterprises, the brewery buildings were designed by the Saint Louis architectural firm of E. Jungenfeld and Company, with the San Antonio architects James Wahrenberger and Albert Felix Beckman employed as “superintending architects.”  The collaboration between the Saint Louis and San Antonio architects was successful, for the complex grew smoothly through the years, section by section, in an expansion and rehousing of the thriving business.

From the outset, the Lone Star Brewing Company seems to have been a commercial success. An article in the December, 1900, ‘Texas Liquor Distributor’ lauded the operation, which at the time had a capacity for over 250,000 barrels annually. This made it the largest brewery in the entire state. The article reported that the Lone Star Brewery was unable to meet the demand for its products, and that, consequently, the company was planning to expand its brewing capacity through a major rebuilding project.

During the summer of 1900, the expansion project began. Over the next four years, many of the original wooden buildings were removed to make way for fireproof pressed-brick structures. Covering an area of 10 acres, no effort was spared in making the new brewery not only efficient but attractive.

As it operated after the completion of the major expansion in 1904, the Old Lone Star Brewery consisted of a number of brick buildings of various sizes and heights, which retained an architectural unity of form and materials. The main plant consisted of five massive brick sections, which varied from two to five stories tall, each with its own roof line. Among the structures composing the complex were the main building, an icehouse, stables, engine and boiler house, bottling works, washhouse, and general offices. Each building provide its own specific needs and was located according to the demands of brewing technology at the turn of the century.

The brewery continued operating until the beginning of national Prohibition in 1919. Its owners then shifted production to a short-lived nonalcoholic drink called ‘Tango,’ but it proved unsuccessful. By 1921, the Lone Star Brewing Company had become the Lone Star Cotton Mills, but entered into receivership within about a year.  By 1924, the former brewery complex was occupied by the Lone Star Ice Company, which maintained operations in at least some of the structures as the Lone Star Ice Food Stores until the early 1970s.”

—– T. Lindsay Baker, “Building the Lone Star,”  1986.  The book is not just about Lone Star beer but about the building of structures all around Texas. It’s something of a bible for folks like me.

A portion of the brewery grounds (the main building etc..) now house the San Antonio Museum of Art.

Photo of the brewery circa 1970 and courtesy the Texas Historical Commission.

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American History

The Arcane Texas Fact of the Day:

On the courthouse square in Goliad, Texas, one will find this tree,  known as the “The Hanging Tree.”  During the 1800s, It was here that justice was handed out very quickly (“Texas Style”) in the form of hanging, often within an hour of the verdict of the court.   It was also the scene of hangings during the 1857 “Cart War.”   Some background:

The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 officially ended Texas’ war with Mexico; however, isolated outbreaks of bitter resentment between Mexicans and Texans continued for years.

One notable example of this animosity erupted into open strife in the vicinity of Goliad in 1857. Texan teamsters, who had been hauling freight from the port at Indianola to San Antonio and other interior towns, became increasingly bitter toward competing for Mexican cartmen. The latter charged much lower rates and were driving the Texans out of business.

The Texans began attacking the Mexican cartmen as they passed through Goliad with their loaded wagons. In a short series of attacks, about 75 Mexicans were murdered, their carts destroyed, and their freight stolen. Authorities at Goliad remained indifferent to the criminal acts. Mexican cartmen began using a new route, one which bypassed Goliad twelve to fifteen miles to the east.

Deprived of their easy source of revenue and noting the apathy of local citizens, the “cart-cutters” began robbing them.
The entire disgraceful situation had been brought to the attention of the Legislature. But it was an outraged local citizenry and “Judge Lynch” that ended the careers of the “cart-cutters.” Those guilty of crimes were speedily brought to trial.

And now, today, 160 years later, you can still go and eat your lunch under the branches of this magnificent tree, which remains a silent witness to a lot of bloodshed.

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Ben H. English

Ben H. English Texas

Like many other parents, Cathy and I are blessed by our offspring and in their many achievements in life. We raised them with a strong belief in God, toughness in physical strength as well as character, hard work, and in being proud to be an American.

Benjamin Levi and Ethan L’Amour were Eagle Scouts, State UIL champs, high school valedictorians and were accepted into the Navy Academy at Annapolis, a first for the little town of Ozona, Texas. Both graduated with Mechanical Engineering degrees, Benjamin Levi was a Harrier pilot in the Marine Corps and Ethan a skipper on a Navy Mark VI Patrol Boat. Now both are out of the service and doing well in civilian life.

I have written before about Ethan L’Amour and some of our adventures together, and a bit of his work while in the Navy. Not much has been said about Benjamin Levi and for good reason. You see, Levi graduated 29th in his class at Annapolis and was immediately sent to Texas A&M for a master’s in aerospace engineering.

His specialty? Hypersonic Flight.

Following his Marine Corps hitch, Levi was hired by Sandia Labs and is now a projects manager for them. By and large this is highly classified and he often cannot say much about it. Besides, all I can tell anyone about rockets was my experiments with bottle rockets as a kid, and the statute of limitations on that may still be in effect.

But with the recent global uproar and international concern over the Red Chinese launch of a hypersonic rocket, the U. S. Government has decided to release some of the bigger results of our own hypersonic research to mass media sources. At Ground Zero in all this is Ben English, the fifth Ben and the name he goes by at work. A news release from Sandia Labs follows below, which in turn was picked up by media sources around the world. That release follows below.

When Levi sent this to me, he added a personal note:

“Dad, We stuck it to the Chinese and now we’re going to go do it again. Love and Respect, Levi”

Rest easy, America. The best that I can give you is on the job.

God bless to all,

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
Proud Parent Extraordinaire

===========================================

SANDIA LABS NEWS RELEASE
October 22, 2021

1 DAY. THREE ROCKETS 23 EXPERIMENTS

SANDIA LABS CONDUCTING HYPERSONIC WEAPONS RESEARCH AT BLISTERING PACE

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One year to design, build and test three rockets. Six weeks to unpack, assemble and test them at the flight range. One day to launch them.

Sandia National Laboratories launched three sounding rockets in succession for the Department of Defense on Wednesday. The triple launch was conducted at NASA’s launch range at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to hasten development of 23 technologies for the nation’s hypersonic modernization priority, including the Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike and the Army’s Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon programs.

This was the first mission for the High Operational Tempo for Hypersonics rocket program, funded by the Department of Defense. Experiments were supplied by Sandia, entities within the Defense Department and partner institutions. Other collaborators included Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University and several defense contractors.

“Hypersonic vehicles include components and materials from a wide array of cutting-edge technologies,” Sandia program manager Ben English said. “And because all those components come from a broad number of sources, all of them presumably can benefit from a reduced-cost, high operational tempo, flight-testing environment.”

A sounding rocket carries instruments that collect scientific data high up in Earth’s atmosphere. Wednesday’s rockets measured how experimental materials, sensors and communications devices contained inside the rockets — developed for hypersonic missiles — fared during launch and reentry.

Sounding rockets gather more accurate data than ground-based, mechanical flight simulators, and they can be launched more frequently and at a lower cost than fully fledged hypersonic vehicles, speeding up development of hypersonic technologies, English said.

“Our purpose is to generate a rapid testbed tempo at reduced cost to the taxpayer for future hypersonic weapons systems development and upgrades,” English said. “We are the technological steppingstone between ground-based lab testing and simulations, and a full weapons test. Sandia does both, currently, and this program is the middle ground between the two of them.”

While hypersonic vehicles like the Sandia-developed common hypersonic glide body, by definition, cruise for long distances at speeds of Mach 5 and above, the rockets that were launched Wednesday experienced these speeds for a comparatively brief time during their 260-mile ascent and subsequent reentry. Sandia is planning another launch in 2022 that will increase the amount of time payloads spend in hypersonic flight conditions.


Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.

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Ben H. English

Ben H. English ~ Alpine Texas

“There are places in the lower Big Bend where the voices of those from time immemorial speak out to the sojourner wandering into their environs. Shaman Cave comes to mind, along with Persimmon Gap, Comanche Crossing, Payne’s Waterhole, Manos Arriba and Apache Canyon.

Glenn Spring surely belongs to that list, though like the others the name has been changed repeatedly even from languages that no longer exist. Human activity in these spots go far into the past beyond the era of the Comanche, Kiowa and Apache, who were in truth very much latecomers to this desert.

The site was known as Jordan Spring before a surveyor was killed on the east side of the Chisos, done in by the last remnants of Apaches who once called those mountains home. His last name was Glenn and the spring was renamed in his memory.

But no matter the name, this site has figured large into the tapestry of mankind since he first came to this region. According to those who know far more than I, that is estimated to be more than 12,000 years ago.

Those are the voices in now unknown tongues you occasionally think you hear as you explore the immediate area of Glenn Spring.

Tread lightly and leave nothing in your passing, my friend. For the ghosts of countless others are watching you.”

–Ben H. English, ‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’

God bless to all,
Ben

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008

UPCOMING BOOK SIGNINGS:
-November 5-6 Hico, Texas

Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

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Ben H. English

Ben H. English Texas

“And we…sometimes forget the Lonesome Gods of the far places, the gods who live on the empty sea, who dance with the dust devils and who wait quietly in the shadows under the cliffs where ancient men once marked their passing…”
–Louis L’Amour ‘The Lonesome Gods’

These words from a novel read long ago came back to me, fresh as the crisp early morning on all sides. I was working my way up a small canyon where some of those ancients once lived, the markings of their passing plainly evident to those with a discerning eye.

When rain comes to the lower Big Bend, it is an event for celebration no matter how little or scattered. One can never fully appreciate such a gift unless your livelihood, or your very life, has depended on God’s Grace and His attending liquid manna from heaven.

No man ever prays more fervently for rain than a needy cowman does. It was the lack of such that ultimately forced my family to sell off our ranching operations in this country, and that still remains one of the saddest memories of my life.

But paradoxically, when the big rains come as they have so recently, that time is more for personal reflection and speculation. More so, that mood seems to be shared with the land itself. It goes back to where it was in times past, and what it must have looked like when water was in far greater abundance.

The mind as well as the spirit drifts back five centuries and before, prior to the first Conquistador, Mexicano, Tejano or Norteamericano. Neither was the Apache, Kiowa or Comanche present, for they were relative latecomers and no more native than the others.

Yet there were people here, native to this land and the end product of those who came a long time before. Little to nothing is known about them; their customs, cultures, stories and lives long since reduced to dust and then forgotten. We do not even know what they called themselves, as their tongue has not been spoken for centuries. Not one single memory has survived, it seems as if even their ghosts have gone away with the passage of time.

All that is left are their metates and mortars, their arrowhead chippings, an occasional pictograph or petroglyph, or a secreted gravesite. Those things still remain, scattered about in seldom-visited spots now so dry as to defy the mere presence of the modern sojourner, much less of a primitive people who lived and died here through the ages.

That is, until the big rains come and this desert turns back to what it once was, albeit briefly. The lonesome gods rise from where they have been banished to, and scan from the highest peaks and mountains for those who worshipped them so long ago.

This essay is dedicated to the ancient ones who came before, and those lonesome gods who still wait for them to return…

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas

UPCOMING BOOK SIGNINGS:

September 21 Sutton County Library, 1-4 pm, Sonora Texas
September 23 El Progreso Memorial Library, 12:30-6 pm, Uvalde Texas
September 25 Kerrville Public Library, 2-4 pm, Kerrville Texas
October 5 Ozona Texas
November 4 Horseshoe Bay Texas
November 6 Hico Texas

USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com
‘Graying but still game’

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Ben H. English

Ben H. English

Good morning, folks!

This shot was taken near the end of a sixteen mile loop along the lower fringes of Burro Mesa. I had been conducting some ‘boots on the ground’ research for an upcoming historical novel about the Cristeros War in Mexico, picking a route for a fast-moving cavalry column.

You can see Burro Mesa in the foreground, its reddish tints mixing with the shades of gold from the fading vestiges of sunlight. The Chisos Mountains rise majestically above it all. A man could spend the rest of his days prowling this mesa, and never see it all. It is rough, it is rugged and it is full of surprises. Humankind has lived in and around here since first coming to this region thousands of years ago.

The evening was still and quiet, so quiet that one could hear their own boot steps in the dirt. The sun was gently caressing the horizon, the closing act to what had been a long, hot day.

Some refer to this as ‘The Golden Hour,’ and I can think of no more apt description.

For there is more than one kind of gold in this world, and especially in the Big Bend Country of Texas…

God bless to all,
Ben

UPCOMING BOOK SIGNINGS:
September 21 Sonora Texas
September 23 Uvalde Texas
September 25 Kerrville Texas
October 5 Ozona Texas
November 4 Horseshoe Bay Texas
November 6 Hico Texas

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008

Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

Billy the Kid Museum
El Progreso Memorial Library
Sutton County Library
Chris Ryan
Kerrville Public Library

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Ben H. English

Ben H. English ~ Texas

“Todavía estoy aquí, I am still here.
Todavía estoy aquí, my soul is dancing in the moonlight.
I mingle with each grain of sand, in the land that is my birthright.
I am still here, todavía estoy aquí”…
–Dave Stamey, ‘The Vaquero Song’

Rock Spring is one of those spots in the lower Big Bend that most have never heard of, even if they are fairly familiar with the area. Once accessed by a trail that led off to the north through the small canyon, or a wagon road that ran west toward Reynold’s Well, this place was the site of camps of different eras and cultures from the time of the ancients.

Now the trail has been washed away and the wagon road is all but gone, lost in a sea of prickly prayer, creosote and sotol. The only way remaining for the curious and adventuresome is by foot these days, and I was passing through enroute to the head of Pine Canyon.

Standing above what remained of the old rock house, I surveyed the scene of solitude before me. The spring that once flowed freely is now more of a saturated bog, with traces of surface water intermingled with thick green undergrowth.

The stone walls, fence posts and rusting wire for the goat pens were half demolished, having fallen over to partially cover the far older metate holes. An obvious Indian camp sat upstream, bordered by two piles of rocks that could be the resting spot for someone’s pet, or perhaps someone’s child.

Then there was the casa itself, facing forward to look across the small canyon and up to the craggy heights of Pummel Peak, which in turn was crowned by God’s own majestic blue sky. The crumbling supports for what had been a home was near overrun by large patches of prickly pear, decorated with multitudes of purple and red pears as if ready for Christmas.

And while taking this all in, I could feel down inside the pushing against that thin veil that separates one plane of existence from the next. Their voices whispering the words through the cottonwoods both alive or decaying:

“Todovia estoy aqui…”

And I moved on, leaving their spirits to their individual rests in this peaceful, quiet place.

God bless to all,
Ben

To hear the song containing the lyrics above, please click on this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh0DQ80kZoY

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008

Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com
‘Graying but still game.’

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Ben H. English

Ben H. English Texas America

Mysterious Red Buffalo
Catherine Eaves July 29, 2021

Staring back at us, this traveller over time, left us in curious wonder. If only it would speak and reveal its origin, our curiosities would be settled. Instead, we are left to wonder, hypothesize and discuss its symbolism with others who have been here before us and who asked the same questions.

Was it Apache, Comanche, or perhaps Jumano passing through the area on the way to La Junta to trade their buffalo hides?

Why is it there? Was this the site of a successful buffalo hunt? Or was it simply a form of ancient graffiti?

Trying to assign a date to it depends on who did it. More than likely, we believe it is about 300 -400 years old.

Can we ever really understand what the thoughts and the world were like for aboriginal people living in a very different time with a different understanding of the universe around them?

This mysterious Red Buffalo of Big Bend National Park has yet to reveal its secrets. It only serves as a reminder that we are not the first to visit this land, others have come before us, and others, God willing, will come after us

Ben English accompanied me on my first journey to see the Red Buffalo. Once I learned the route, it was my privilege to guide Matt Walter to it, where the Red Buffalo calls to us through time, stoking our curiosities and connecting us to others who have come before us and witnessed the majesty of this land which we now call Big Bend National Park.

Matt Walter is a curator at The Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine which should be anyone’s first stop when visiting the area

Ben English has written several 5 stars reviewed books and is as close to an expert as you will find for the area (although he doesn’t like to admit that). Ben’s information is as follows:
Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
TCP: 1986-2008
Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

Special thanks to Tom Alex, of G4 Heritage Consulting and retired Big Bend National Park Archeologist, who took the time to give me his insight on the origins of the Red Buffalo

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Peace Truth

Texas positivity rate climbs as delta variant sparks concerns of new wave | The Texas Tribune

With less than half of Texans vaccinated and the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus spreading, the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive in the state has climbed to a rate unseen since winter. As of this weekend, Texas’ positivity rate is over 10% — a level that Gov. Greg Abbott and the Trump administration […]

Texas positivity rate climbs as delta variant sparks concerns of new wave | The Texas Tribune