The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 179
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taking. Texas pioneers hunted for much of their food, and they waste-
fully destroyed other animals and people that threatened their way of
life as they farmed the fertile soils of the Coastal Plains and Blackland
Prairies. A copy of a landscape by Theodore Gentilz entitled The Thing
Whzch Steals the Land [the surveyor's transit] is part of a display by that
same name explaining nineteenth-century surveying techniques and
Native American perceptions of European concepts of ownership. In
contrast, the nomadic life-style of Native American tribes who followed
the large herds of buffalo was disrupted with the advent of the Sharp's
rifle, which in the hands of professional hunters, rapidly decimated the
buffalo herds and thereby the Indian population. The huge stuffed
bison on display at the exhibit gives a close perspective of the lost ani-
mal life; unfortunately, little is mentioned in the exhibit of the humans
who were annihilated.
What attracted people to Texas and what made them stay? Texas,
they assumed, was big and overflowing with resources. Some nine-
teenth-century visitors, however, may have magnified the state and its
possibilities. The writings of Charles Sealsfield, who is cited in the ex-
hibit, are typical of the inflated, ideological portrayals of nineteenth-
century Texas that perhaps set a precedent for modern, larger-than-
life views of Texas. A copy in the exhibit ofJ. T. Hammond's engraving
Road Through a Cane Brake, an illustration in a travelogue Sealsfield pla-
giarized in writing The Cabin Book, depicts men on horseback dwarfed
by cane four times their height; such illustrations, like Gentilz's gentle
landscape, cause viewers today to wonder how much of the record of
that Texas was even then exaggerated, how much was accurate, how
much was memory of other places, and how much was aspiration.
"What a grand home," Mary Maverick is quoted as having written, "for
the toilers of Europe. Tomorrow they will come. Tomorrow the over-
crowded of the cities, the wearied sons of toil, will come, and they will
build up this magnificent country into an empire." These words reflect
hopes of many settlers who, attracted by the purported vast natural re-
sources of the state, thought of Texas as a promised land where failures
and disappointments could be forgotten. Texas is still a land rich in re-
sources both natural and human, but today the human resources hold
the most potential for Texas's future. No longer can Texans look upon
their state as an inexhaustible resource that can be exploited.
Historical exhibits of this kind are valuable because they educate
viewers, reminding us not to lose sight of our "perspective of nature."
This exhibition is one families, especially the children, will enjoy. Most
of what the exhibit offers concerns the region that was the heart of the
Republic of Texas-that area around the site of the museum. But there
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/203/: accessed January 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.