The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968 Page: 376
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
were a sword in a rusted scabbard, an old cavalry saddle and two leather
holsters containing a pair of old-time flint-lock pistols. He drew these
last named weapons from their receptacles and placed them with seeming
reverence upon a table before him. Then pointing toward them proudly
he said . . . "Judge, you see those pistols. They have been in my family
for 150 years. They were carried by my grandfather and my father in
Braddock's campaign against the Indians and in the war of 1812. They
have never been out of the possession of our family. . . . They were at
the battle of Thames. I was at the battle of Thames. Judge, one of those
pistols fired the ball which pierced the heart of Tecumseh. I will not
answer the inquiry as to who killed Tecumseh. Modesty forbids. But I
ask you, judge, if it is likely that a gentleman would loan his pistols on
an occasion like that?""
The last story is a tall one which proved that Ochiltree could hold
his own with the famous English explorer, Lord Lonsdale. His Lord-
ship, regarded as quite a "society lion," was being entertained at a
club upon his return from an expedition.
Well, Lord Lonsdale told many thrilling stories, and an audible "Ohl"
went around the table when he finished telling of a petrified forest he
had seen in Africa, one in which he had found a number of petrified
lions and elephants. As the Englishman lapsed into silence and the ap-
plause sank to an echo, all looked to Colonel Ochiltree to defend his
nationality and beat this petrified lion story.
"Texas," said the Colonel, after a pause, "has its petrified forests. Al-
though they contain no petrified lions, they are remarkable for having
petrified birds flying over them."
"Nonsense!" said Lord Lonsdale. "That is impossible. Such a phenome-
non is contrary to the laws of gravitation."
"Ah, that's easily explained," responded the Colonel quickly. "In Texas,
you see, the laws of gravitation are petrified too.""
The popular image of a great state is surely more than the
lengthened shadow of a single man. Nonetheless, the impressions made
around the nation and the world by a single man of good cheer are
not necessarily ephemeral because his name does not appear
prominently in the history books and no statues have been erected to
his memory. It may well be, indeed, that a generation came to regard
the tall, erect, ebullient Ochiltree, disarming in his effrontery, as a
typical Texan. As a journalist wrote in 1884, it seemed altogether
fitting that Tom Ochiltree represented a Texas district, for there is
about him "a vastness, an expansiveness, a longitude and latitude, as
it were ... peculiarly fitted to represent that great State.""98
98Chicago Herald, quoted in the Dallas Morning News, March 24, 1889.
97New York Tribune, November o, 19o02.
98Modern Age, quoted in the Galveston Daily News, February 2o, 1884.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968, periodical, 1968; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/m1/426/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.