Heritage, Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 1992 Page: 28
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people who engineered and built the lights,
as well as those who tended them are
illuminated in Baker's account. He draws
on documents and photographs from the
National Archives along with the logs and
personal diaries of the keepers to depict the
usually dull but often dramatic and occasionally
tragic chronologies of ten lighthouses
and two lightships that signalled
shore along the Texas coast.
Lighthouses became a priority for the
maritime industry shortly after Texas
statehood and were built from the 1850s
onward. Their beginnings were often crude
lard oil lamps and reflectors, but many of
these were replaced by kerosenes lamps
and Fresnel lenses by the 1860s. While the
first keepers were required to frequently
attend to the signal, automation eventually
replaced them and the difficult lifestyle
required for the job. While the isolation
was possibly the most difficult problem,
the keepers bemoaned the swarms of insects
attracted by the lights, and the mosquitos
along the coast that were so bad that one
keeper had to swat them off his children
with towels as they entered the house for
the night. Those that survived the mosquitoes
endured also the hurricanes and tropical
storms that scoured the coast.
"Lighthouses of Texas" is well-written,
carefully researched, and visually appealing
with its historical photographic documentation
as well as illustrations by Harold
Phenix. This book will be a basic reference
on the subject for historians as well as an
entertaining read for the general audience.
History of the Cattlemen of
Texas: A Brief Resume of the
Live Stock Industry of the Southwest
and a Biographical Sketch of
Many of the Important Characters
Whose Lives are Interwoven
Introduction by Harwood P. Hinton, Texas
State Historical Association, Austin.
No author took credit for this volume
when it first appeared in 1914, and few
copies survived from the original printing
of fewer than a hundred copies. Nonetheless,
it has been one of the few original
sources for biographies of Texas ranchers
since its publication. The Texas State Historical
Association has rescued the book
from obscurity by reprinting it in facsimile.
It is a partial and flawed account, but
joins the ranks of Texas cattleman literature
such as J. Marvin Hunter's "Trail Drivers
of Texas" and earlier biographies from
the 19th century. It conveys the sense of
ebullience and regional smugness inherited
from that period, whose cowboys were
"physically perfect, and from a moral
standpoint, as clean and wholesome, if not
more so, than the men engaged in any
other industry..." The true cowboy "rode
his horse in an easy, graceful, natural way;
in fact the rider and animal were one, and
rarely indeed could 'daylight' be seen between
the two. This makes a most favorable
contrast when compared with the
Eastern style, with its crouching, monkeylike
attitude, the continual rise and fall of
the rider and his habit of perching in his
stirrups. The cowboy rested his entire body
on the saddle, and the sway of horse and
man were in unison."
The problem with the west was not the
noble cowman, but the riffraff brought in
by the railroads. The attendant thieves,
drunks, prostitutes, and gamblers immortalized
in our western lore were the jetsam
of civilization who were inflicted on the
cowboy in "bad" towns such as Dodge City,
Abilene, and Hays City, "where the unruly,
the vicious and the depraved in
frontier life congregated." In contrast, the
cattlemen portrayed in these biographies
were honorable family men and women
who were adept at horsemanship as well as
This book is a useful reference for historians
who work with ranking history and
will augment some of the other biographical
sources available. However the self-promotion
of the industry, which was by the
early 20th century seeking respectability as
well as recognition, is somewhat unnerving
to read. It's all a wonderful life here, where
the deer and the antelope play, and seldom
is heard a discouraging word, and the skies
are not cloudy all day.
John Peterson is a professional archaeologist
and the book review editor of HERITAGE.
28 HERITAGE * WINTER 1992
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 1992, periodical, Winter 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45418/m1/28/: accessed April 27, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.