Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Galveston's white ruling class.
Toward the end of his life Ballinger became what we would now call a corpo-
rate lawyer, employed by big business (he counted Jay Gould among his clients)
and specializing in railroad law. He developed particular proficiency in the area
of tort and negligence claims against railroads whose equipment injured and
killed bystanders, passengers, and railroad company employees. When Ballinger
died in 1888 he was memorialized by judges and lawyers throughout the nation
as one of the leading lights of the Texas bar.
Moretta found much to admire in Ballinger's life and career. When pressed
with conflicts between the demands of his practice and the demands of his con-
science, Moretta argues that the latter usually won. "Ballinger took the moral
high ground, whether it was in law or politics," Moretta writes (p. 7). But
Moretta does not hesitate to point out Ballinger's shortcomings: his racism, his
elitism, and the fact that he did sometimes allow the pursuit of legal victory and
fame to override his scruples. Moretta tried to present a balanced view of
Ballinger and he largely succeeded. Well written and researched, his biography
of Ballinger should appeal to Texas historians seeking to learn more about life
in the Lone Star State during the nineteenth century.
Anderson Unzversity BRIAN R. DIRCK
Indzanola and Matagorda Island, z837-1887. By Linda Wolff. (Austin: Eakin
Press, 1999. Pp. 166. Bibliography, about the author, index. ISBN 1-57168-
340-2. $15.95, paper.)
In her subtitle, Linda Wolff states the purpose of her book: "A local history
and visitor's guide for a lost seaport and a barrier island on the Texas Gulf
Coast." In line with the subtitle, the author spends the first half of the book
relating the history of Indianola and Matagorda Island and the second half of
the book creating a visitor's guide.
The book begins a bit oddly; the first city mentioned in the book is not
Indianola but Galveston. Nevertheless the book is about Indianola, and Wolff
identifies three activities that formed the lifeblood of this port city: "land grants
in the Hill Country, forts on the Texas frontier, and efforts to establish trade
with Mexico and even the Pacific Coast" (p. 3). Having established the three
activities, the author stays focused. One can pick almost any page of the history
portion of the book and find examples of them. Indianola became a major ter-
minus for immigrants coming into Texas, the frontier forts were supplied
through the port of Indianola, and carts from Mexico and gold seekers headed
for California also came to Indianola.
This is not to say that Wolff's history of Indianola and Matagorda Island is a
definitive one; it is not even a thoroughgoing one, but that was not the
author's purpose. Instead the reader is given a snapshot view of history. Each
year of the city's existence is presented through a series of entries of important
events. In this manner one gets a sense of how the city developed over time.
What one does not get is a detailed look at the city. For example, city govern-
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/. Accessed March 15, 2014.