The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959 Page: 315
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The Intellectual Climate of Houston
trusted the guardianship of public and private morals. Their influ-
ence is more patent than even that of legislators upon the moral
character of a state. They can bid tumult and rapine stalk abroad
over the land; or, with a breath exorcise the malignant spirits which
are the bane of society, and bid virtue and peace exert a controlling
power, diffusing on every side the blessings of genuine freedom."4
Moore's pen was wielded especially in opposition to banking
and to Sam Houston. Years later, Houston, then governor, for-
gave him and appointed him state geologist in place of an eminent
scientist.'" In Houston at this time, Moore was an amateur geolo-
gist."' A contemporary, Edward Fontaine, the first Methodist
Episcopal minister in Houston, after a stint as President Lamar's
private secretary, became both a priest of the Episcopal church
and an amateur ethnologist.?'
An amateur astronomer of some stature, Elijah Hinsdale
Burritt, brother of the learned blacksmith, Elihu Burritt, was an
early settler in Houston, but he died of yellow fever almost imme-
diately after his arrival in 1837. In his baggage was a number of
copies of his small, published book, Geography of the Heavens.'"
The Great Comet of 1843, visible in Houston for almost two
months, caused many an amateur with a telescope to fix his glass
on the heavens."' Much of the scientific interest in the community,
however, was frittered away on such absurdities as phrenology.
In 1839 John Hunter Herndon and some of his friends cut off
the heads of two executed murderers and examined the bumps.20
14bid., May 15, 1839.
15Ibid., June 16, 1838; September 15, 1838; November 17, 1838; March 20o, 1839;
March 27, 1839; April 24, 1839; May 1, 1839; January 1, 1840; July 8, 1840; October
14, 1840; October 21, 1840; October 13, 1841; December 29, 1841; February 26, 1845;
Moore, Map and Description of Texas, Containing Sketches of Its History, Geology,
Geography, and Statistics .. . (Philadelphia, 1840).
'eGeorge P. Merrill, "Contributions to the History of American Geology," Annual
Report of the Smithsonian Institution, 19o4, pp. 486-488, 508; State Gazette (Aus-
tin), November 1o, 1860; Dallas Herald, November 21, 1860; Executive Record Book,
Houston and Clark, 1860-1861 (MS., Archives, Texas State Library), 138.
17"Texas Collection," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XLVII, 181-183.
1sProbate Records of Harris County (MSS., County Clerk's Office, Houston), B,
247; S. W. Geiser, "Racer's Storm (1837), with Notes on Other Texas Hurricanes
in the Period, 1818-1886," Field & Laboratory, XII (June, 1944), 60o.
loMorning Star, March 21, 1843; April 4, 1843; Telegraph and Texas Register,
March 22, 1843; April 5, 1843-
20"Diary of a Young Man in Houston, 1838," Southwestern Historical Quarterly,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959, periodical, 1959; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/m1/378/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.