The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001

Book Reviews

Museum. Elzssa is berthed here most of the time, unless she's out on one of her
rare sailing voyages that thrill all aboard.
Patricia Bellis Bixel has thoroughly researched the multifaceted career of this
vessel. Constructed at the shipyards in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1877, Elissa led
many lives-and even had assumed several other identities and names-before
becoming a hulk facing the scrapper's torch about a century after her christen-
ing. Although constructed well into the steamship era, Elissa proves that there
was a place for sailing vessels up until the end of the nineteenth century and well
into the early twentieth. She was continually modified over the years, so exten-
sively, in fact, that by her career's end she was barely recognizable as a sailing
vessel. That she was saved from almost certain scrapping adds another level of
drama to her remarkable story.
Bixel's research is thorough and her writing style is engaging. This book will be
of interest to both maritime historians and historic preservationists. It is about
equally divided between the technical history of the vessel during her active life,
and the story of her preservation-rebirth, if you will-as a restored sailing vessel.
The former is nicely researched, the author having consulted primary documents
pertaining to Elssa's original construction and her subsequent life as a merchant
vessel. That story is covered in the first half of the book, while the Elzssa's preser-
vation is covered in the second half. The latter story involves a concerted effort.
The entire community, actually the entire Lone Star State, supported the restora-
tion. This part of Elissa's story is well researched and presented. Throughout this
book, the style of documentation is nonacademic. The sources that were consult-
ed are briefly noted in a bibliographic essay at the end of the book.
Published as part of Texas A&M University Press Centennial Series of the
University's Association of Former Students, this book is handsomely illustrated.
It contains original images of the Elissa as well as more recent photographs of
her under restoration and triumphantly restored and sailing. This reviewer's
only complaint is that several of the book's beautiful black-and-white pho-
tographs appear a little murky as the publisher chose dull, rather than glossy,
paper stock; the latter would have made them sparkle as they deserve to. This,
however, is a minor complaint, and a minor detail, considering how nicely the
material in this book is presented. All told, Sailing Shzp Elissa is a welcome addi-
tion to the growing literature on Texas maritime history.
University of Texas at Arlington Richard V. Francaviglia
The Oldest Ranch in Texas: Rancho de la Purisima Concepcidn. A Ranch on the Road to
History. By Joe Wreford Hipp. (Austin: Eakin Press, 2000. Pp. xiii+lo5.
Illustrations, preface, acknowledgments, appendices, glossary, endnotes,
bibliography, index. ISBN 1-57168-322-4. $18.95, paper.)
This book tells the story of the oldest ranch in Texas owned and operated by
the same family for seven generations. Chapter one starts with the departure in
1729 of the two teenaged Perez brothers, Philipe and Jos6 Antonio, from
Tenerif in the Canary Islands, where they signed on as crew members for the Dos

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed April 27, 2015.