Heritage, 2009, Volume 2 Page: 6
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By Tom C. Doell
This issue of HERITAGE magazine contains some great articles
about firearms and the part that they played in Texas history. If you
were an early Texas settler, you needed a dependable pistol and rifle.
In addition to requiring firearms for hunting purposes, there was a
genuine need for self-defense from Indian attacks and lawbreakers.
My two great, great-grandfathers were killed by cattle rustlers, so I
know for certain that Texas was a dangerous place. Finally, and most
importantly, Texans used their firearms to establish and protect their
It seems to me that the importance of firearms to Texans is
reflected in our tradition of passing them down from one generation
to another. My brother and I divided up my father's guns when he
passed away. My uncle still has my grandfather's and great-grand-
father's guns, and we will have to wait and see who gets them after
he is gone. Oftentimes there are great stories that also get passed
down with the guns. My great-grandfather's Colt revolver is a
case in point. He got the pistol off a cattle rustler who was hung
on the courthouse square in Mason County. I don't know if my
relative caught the thief or if he helped with the hanging. Maybe
he was just the one who ended up with the pistol. I feel pretty
certain that he had little regard for cattle thieves since his father
was killed by one.
In addition to the Colt revolver, my uncle has the musket that was
used by another great, great-grandfather in the Civil War. It is fitted
with a bayonet and has been passed down for many generations. This
tradition of handing over firearms from one generation to the next
seems to have little regard for the collectability value of the gun or
the gender of the recipient. My wife has her grandfather's .22 rifle
that is stamped "Sears, Roebuck & Company." She wouldn't trade
that gun for anything.
The tradition of conferring firearms continues with many World
War II veterans leaving the weapons they used in the war to their
descendants. My brother has his father-in-law's .30 caliber carbine
that he carried as an Army paratrooper in Europe. Someday my
uncle will pass down the .45 caliber pistol he carried in the Pacific.
I don't think our government allows troops to keep their guns any
more when they are discharged from the service, so these World War
II guns may be the last to be conveyed.
I am sure that many of you also have firearms that were passed
down from generation to generation. When you consider the abso-
lute importance of being able to hunt for your next meal, defend
yourself from Indian raiders, protect your life and your property
from lawless thieves, and defend your liberty, you can see why we
continue this tradition of keeping our ancestors' firearms. For
Texans, this is a tangible connection to our past.
Tom Doell is a businessman from Dallas. Send comments about this
column to P.O. Box 50314, Austin, Texas 78763.
HERITA GE Volume 2 2009
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 2, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254213/m1/6/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.