The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995

Book Reviews

bygone landings as Travis Wright's on the Red River, Caspar Escher's on the Bra-
zos, and Peter Swanson's on Caddo Lake. Guthrie, who possesses an uncanny
ability to bring the obscure to light, does not limit his narrative to rivers. He suc-
cinctly describes the valuable contributions of Buffalo Bayou and Galveston Bay
to the economic growth of antebellum Texas. He also offers interesting tidbits of
local history and folklore. The reader learns, for example, that "The first shot of
the Revolution may have been fired at Gonzales, but the first fist fight between a
Mexican soldier and a Texan occurred at Tenoxtitlan" (p. 173)-
Hobart Huson: A Texas Coastal Bend Trilogy, edited by Huson's daughter Kath-
leen Huson Maxwell, is an entertaining book on the coastal region from Refugio
to Rockport. The first portion of the book consists of an interview with Peter A.
Johnson, a former Refugio County sheriff and lifelong resident of the area. The
second portion is an account of El Copano, an abandoned port in Refugio
County. Huson discusses the rise and decline of El Copano as a port; the Power
and Hewtson empresario grant; prominent figures who lived in the vicinity; and
events that occurred there during the Texas Revolution. The third portion con-
sists of digested material on another abandoned port, St. Mary's of Aransas. It
details the ill-fated attempts by visionary businessmen to construct a railroad in
the Copano Bay area; the boosterism associated with the port's establishment;
and a list of public officials in Refugio County.
The two books are commendable contributions to state and local history.
They provide a wealth of information on communities, individuals, families, and
elected officials that will be helpful to historians and genealogists.
Victoria College CHARLES SPURLIN
Oil, Taxes, and Cats. By David J. Murrah. (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press,
1994. Pp. xii+245. Preface, index. ISBN o-89672-332-1. $25.00.)
David Mantz Devitt came to Texas in 188o and put together the Mallet Ranch
and Cattle Company in 1895. While he was a major stockholder, David DeVitt
had several minority partners through the years, including at the last two broth-
ers, W. D. Johnson of Kansas City andJ. Lee Johnson of Fort Worth. The heirs of
DeVitt and these men still own the West Texas ranch today.
DeVitt managed the ranch until his death in 1934, having "parlayed his origi-
nal $25,000 investment into a million dollar corporation" (p. 97). During the
Mallet's first half-century, its main business was cattle, but during its second half-
century, its main business has been oil. Texaco drilled the first oil well on the
ranch in 1938; by 1947 the income from oil reached two million dollars a year.
In September 1949, Miss Christine DeVitt, David's daughter, leased the surface
land from the other partners.
In January 1972, production from the Mallet's wells peaked at fifty-five thou-
sand barrels a day. Oil revenue reached two million dollars a month in the early
1980s; at one time the ranch had 1,267 producing wells.
Meanwhile, Christine DeVitt operated the working ranch, and was more
thrilled by profits from its cattle operation than by the oil revenues. Her sister

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/. Accessed November 25, 2014.