The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 47, July 1943 - April, 1944 Page: 59
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Many striking parallels and comparisons between then and now
could be drawn. The inorganic factors of an environment
should always be taken into consideration by an historian who
aspires to completeness. A highly worthwhile example of this
is contained in a recent communication from Professor Samuel
Wood Geiser of Southern Methodist University, Dallas.
As a strictly amateur historian, who has to earn his bread by teaching
Embryology and Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy to unwilling students,
I can be, by avocation, the gadfly to authentic historians. I enclose a
calendar which I fear will look at first blush like an excursus into as-
trology-but is not. Several times in my uneventful life as an amateur
historian, I have had to date undated occurrences by their relation to
the full moon-as in one journey of Dr. J. L. Riddell into Early Texas,
when his party stayed on guard all night for fear of the Indians (it
being the time of the full moon). By getting the date of the full
moon for April, 1839, from Greenwich, I was able to date the narrative,
by counting backwards and forwards in the itinerary. Indian depreda-
tions in early Texas very often centered around the full moons, and it
would be interesting to check through Wilbarger and see how high the
correlation is between attacks and full-moon dates. Frontiersmen also
regulated many of their activities by the full moons.
Generally speaking, the calendar here will fit the astronomical full
moons by a range of not more than 24 hours; so I believe it will be
moderately useful. In any case where exactness for a given year is
imperative, the British Almanac, or the American Ephemeris and Nautical
Almanac (begun with year 1853) will give this. The column of "Epacts"
at the left shows the age of the moon, in days, at the beginning of the
year [Epact "*" is when the New Moon falls on the first of January],
and the full moon follows 14 or 15 days later. The synodic revolution
of the moon is about 291 days (29d. 12h. 44m. 3As.), which gives 12
lunations or moon-cycles in 354 days (one solar year less 1114 days).
Since the year of 12 lunar months is about 11 days shorter than the solar
year, in a succession of years the moon is in its cycle always 11 days
"older" at the beginning of any year than it was at January 1 of the
year preceding. Thus, on January 1, 1939, the moon in its cycle was
already 10 days old; and on January 1, 1940, it was 21 days old. This
fact is observed with the greatest regularity.
An abbreviated or schematized table of dates of full moons over a
period of years is, of necessity, only approximate. The astronomical
full moons fall, however, fairly closely into a 19-year cycle. Thus (fide
"World Almanac" for 1876 and 1895-I do not have access to the
Nautical Almanac for those years) the dates for the full moons are as
follows: 1876-Ja 11, F 9, Mr 10, Ap 8, My 8, Je 6, Jl 6, Ag 5, S 3,
O 3, N 1, D 1, 30; 1895-Ja 11, F 9, Mr 10, Ap 9, My 8, Je 7, J1 6, Ag 5, S 4,
O 3, N 2, D 2, 31, which is a very close approximation. Leap years com-
plicate a synoptic table; and it also should be remembered that "Dec.
31, 23h." and "Jan. 1, 1h." would be only two hours apart.
I wish someone interested in the weather would gather all the data
he can on Texas weather in the early days and summarize it by months.
Of course, this would be a lot of work, as diaries, ships' logs (American,
Texan, British, French) off the Texan coast, weather records kept by
post-surgeons at the diverse forts, etc., in Texas would all have to be
collated. Certain years were notably wet (or notably dry). The weather
in different parts of Texas would vary greatly. Thus, I have reason to
believe (from tree-growth records) that the year 1833, which was so
markedly a "wet year" in Austin's Colony and the whole Mississippi
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 47, July 1943 - April, 1944, periodical, 1944; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146054/m1/63/: accessed March 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.