Notes and Documents
The Significance of Frontier Forts to Texas
JOE B. FRANTZ*
T O A GREAT EXTENT THE STORY OF AMERICA IS A STORY OF FORTS-
Frontenac, Ticonderoga, D)uquesne, McHenry, Sumter, Leaven-
worth, Vancouver, and Fort Laramie in Wyoming; Fort Griffin in
Texas, Fort Esperanza on Matagorda Island, Fort Anahuac, Fort
Ramirez on the west bank of the Nueces, LaSalle's Fort St. Louis, Fort
Moritas in the Big Bend; French forts, Spanish forts, English forts,
Mexican forts, Confederate forts, strictly Texas forts, United States
forts, private forts; Texas forts with wonderful names-Fort Phan-
tom Hill, Fort Spunky, Fort Defiance, Fort Concho; forts that are
still active-Fort Hood, for instance.
Forts represent this country and this state in their attempts to
settle up and then settle down. In an area in which the savage fought
to hold on, nothing reassured a pioneer more than the sight of a stock-
aded fort with armed representatives of his government behind its
palings. While the fort did not remove all the hazard from early life,
it did signify that help might arrive in time in case of attacks by
Indian or other marauders. The fort in effect issued invitations for
the restless and the questing to move into a region. Equally it issued
invitations for those already present to remain. Forts then were pro-
tectors, and forts were colonizers.
Frontier forts had their economic and social effects also. The
government, usually federal, poured money into underdeveloped re-
*On September 29, 1966, an exhibition of the original paintings by the western artist,
Melvin Warien of Fort Worth and Valley Mills, was opened at the Texas State Library.
Warren had prepared these paintings as illustrations for the Texian Press book, Frontie
Forts of Texas. Several of the authors of chapters on individual forts were present as
well as historically minded individuals and a large group of top administrative officials
of the State of Texas. Besides the presentation of the paintings, three speakers were on
the program. Governor John Connally appropriately represented the state; General
Thomas S. Bishop, then adjutant general of Texas, represented the military forces; and
'Texas State Historical Association director Joe B. FrantL represented the history pro-
fession. Although all remarks were extemporaneous, Dorman H. Winfrey, director of
the Texas State Library, had the forethought to tape record the occasion. The remarks
by Frantz represent his desire to place the significance of frontier forts in context with
their existence both in 'Texas and in the United States.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/. Accessed January 29, 2015.