J. B. (Red) Dunn’s “Perilous Trails of Texas” gives us a unique perspective of the lawless 1870s in the Nueces Strip. Dunn was a participant in bloody encounters between Anglo South Texans and Mexican-Americans in the rough times after the Civil War. It was a time when general lawlessness pervaded the land, darkening the days and threatening the nights. Dunn was a Texas Ranger and hard-riding vigilante. In Dunn’s time violence was ubiquitous. It was a time of undeclared warfare, a war of random encounter, with raids by bandits from across the border, with hide thieves roaming the cattle ranges and killing at will, followed by the punitive lynchings by minutemen vigilantes who were quick with the rope and the gun and left a trail of dead. In the wake of the most notorious outrages of the era, such as the robbery at Peñascal and the Nuecestown Raid, John Dunn was there, armed and in the saddle, pistols ready and rifle loaded and heart full of vengeance.
It is finally here. For years readers have been asking of a collection of Murphy Givens history articles. Columns 2009 – 2011 is a compilation of nearly 100 newspaper columns written by Murphy Givens about the history of Corpus Christi, the Nueces Valley and South Texas. The columns document the people who strove to make South Texas their home. Adventurers, outlaws, settlers, cowboys, ranchers and entrepreneurs from the United States, Europe and Mexico all came to the Coastal Bend of Texas, struggling against nature and their fellow man to make their homes and livelihoods. Columns includes 138 photographs and maps and a full index.
“Recollections Of Other Days” is a compilation of memoirs of early settlers of Corpus Christi and the Nueces Valley of South Texas. The great value of their accounts, both written down and told-to, lies in the fact that they lived through the times they recalled. Some had first-hand knowledge of Corpus Christi in the 1850s when it was a struggling frontier outpost. Robert and William Adams tended their flocks in the early years of the great sheep industry of South Texas. Anna Moore Schwien, daughter of a slave, Andrew Anderson, son of a bay pilot, and Eli Merriman, a doctor’s son, shed light on “what it was like” during the dark times of the Civil War. Thomas Noakes wrote about the famous Noakes Raid of 1875 while he retained a vivid memory of the sight of his burning store. E. H. Caldwell, W. S. Rankin, Annie Marie Kelly, Mrs. Delmas Givens, and Roy Terrell provide unique accounts of Corpus Christi at the end of the 19th Century and early years of the 20th Century. Ruth Dodson and J. Frank Dobie offer fascinating pictures of their own ranch lives in the valley watered by the Nueces River. Louis Rawalt describes the long white island where he came to die but found a new life. They bore the heat and burden and violence of the frontier. They endured hard times. Their legacy is the Texas we know today. Their stories are part of our history. And part of ourselves.
The history of the Old West has deep roots in South Texas where the Wild Horse Desert was a lawless land controlled by no authority. This western region of South Texas, from San Antonio to Corpus Christi, stretching west and south to the Rio Grande, was the birthplace of the big cattle ranches, the cattle barons, rustlers, hide thieves, outlaws, and bad men operating on both sides of the border. Murphy Givens brings the stories of the Old West to life in “Great Tales From the History of South Texas”
A Soldier’s Life is delightful and will have appeal to general readers, and I know that scholars will find it extremely useful. Murphy Givens, Jim Moloney and the Nueces Press have done a tremendous service in making this long-lost manuscript available. Daniel P. Whiting’s commentary on his experiences in the Second Seminole War, the war against Mexico, the Mormon expedition, and most particularly the relationships between soldiers and civilians in the antebellum United States offer invaluable insights into the nation’s military experience. It also offers a unique perspective on a widowed father’s attempt to raise his children. A Soldier’s Life has some unique insights into mid-nineteenth century America, and deserves a broad audience. I know that I would have benefited from it in writing my last book, and hope to be able to use it as I continue working on the present one. Dr. Robert Wooster, Regents Professor of History, Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi – A History documents the stories of the people who strove to make South Texas their home. Adventurers, outlaws, settlers, cowboys, ranchers and entrepreneurs from the United States, Europe and Mexico all came to the Coastal Bend of Texas, struggling against nature and their fellow man to make their homes and livelihoods. Corpus Christi nearly disappeared during two wars, but grew and prospered in another. In this account, the tales of its growth are combined with the stories of its residents to reveal the intriguing history of the city and South Texas. Included are the contributions of Henry L. Kinney, Zachary Taylor, Richard King, Mifflin Kenedy, Uriah Lott, Ben Garza and Roy Miller. All left their indelible mark on South Texas.
A powerful hurricane devastated Corpus Christi on September 14, 1919. It left an official death toll of 284 with estimates of up to 500 more uncounted dead. Low-lying sections of the city were inundated by up to twelve feet of storm-driven tides. In the downtown, known as the beach section, buildings lining the bay were destroyed or heavily damaged, while the rest of the downtown was flooded with oil-slicked waters. On North Beach, Corpus Christi’s first suburban neighborhood of substantial residences, more than 220 homes were demolished by the storm tide. Those residents unable to reach the safety of high ground were swept into Nueces Bay to battle the storm and debris for their lives. Many died, but some survived the 14-mile struggle across the bay to come ashore at White Point or the Turner Ranch on the back side of Nueces Bay.