The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000 Page: 310
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
one important point varied from telling to telling-half the time
Confederate troops burned the horse and barn, not Yankees.2
After the war the Coxes and Thompsons moved from Alabama and
Mississippi westward to Texas. They kept moving west sometimes on one
side of the Red River and sometimes on the other until soon after 1900
they crossed the caprock in covered wagons and settled north of
Lubbock in Hale County. Their stories and their migration pattern lead
to the first of three important points about Texas and the South. All of
Texas is connected-each region to the other and each region to the
South. The second point is remember the Alamo, but forget the time
period from the Alamo to the end of Reconstruction. The third is allow
By way of introduction to the need for benign neglect of the mid-nine-
teenth century and the importance of recognizing that Texas culture
evolved over time in an intricate, often contradictory pattern, let me
expand on the theme of connectedness. Most historians of the South
include the eastern third of the state in their work but exclude South
Texas and West Texas. Having become an article of faith, historian after
historian unquestioningly accepts this division. More accurately political,
social, cultural, and most especially economic characteristics entwined
the most southern and the least southern counties of Texas. Each influ-
enced the other.
In his study of a closed southern labor market, Old South, New South,
Gavin Wright made the important point that the postbellum South
enjoyed modest economic growth, especially between 1900 and 192o, but
its regional labor market stifled wages and kept them well below the
national average. Southerners remained in the low-wage South instead of
migrating to the high-wage North. Wright then highlighted the relation-
ship between wages and farm productivity. In the North high wages drew
labor from the countryside, leaving fewer workers per acre. The process
raised farm wages and skill levels and sped the mechanization of agricul-
ture. Because of the high price of labor, farmers substituted machines for
labor and paid a premium for fewer, but more highly skilled hands. In the
South the opposite happened-larger numbers of less skilled workers
farmed fewer acres for less pay, and levels of mechanization remained little
2 William Humphrey, The Ordwrays (New York: Knopf, 1964), 36; Owens, "Regionalism and
' For a recent example of dividing Texas into southern and non-southern regions see Kyle
Grant Wilkison, "The End of Independence: Social and Political Consequences of Economic
Change in Texas, 1870-1914" (Ph.D. diss., Vanderbilt University, 1995), 1-54. For a demonstra-
tion of the benefits of ignoring this conceptualization of Texas see Neil Foley, The White Scourge:
Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in the Texas Cotton Culture (Berkeley: University of California
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000, periodical, 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/m1/356/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.