Remembering Goliad ~ Again

 

If you’re a native Texan, you’re already laughing. If you’ve adopted the state as your own, or know some Texas history, you’re probably laughing, too. This adaptation of one of our most well-known state symbols — the so-called “Come and Take It” flag — is flying free these days: amusing, yes, but also a cheeky bit of inspiration for those who remember its history.

Only last month, I visited a site intimately connected to the original “come and take it” event. About a mile east of the unincorporated community of Cost, the first shot in the war for Texas independence was fired on October 2, 1835. Alongside the highway, an impressive monument commemorates the event. Dedicated by Governor James Allred on March 14, 1937, its inscription summarizes the tale:

Near here on October 2, 1835, was fired the first shot of the Texas Revolution of 1835-1836, the shot heard round the world. At Gonzales, the Texians defied the Mexican government and refused their demand for the Gonzales cannon with the Come and Take It challenge, until reinforcements arrived from other parts of DeWitt’s colony and from the colonies on the Colorado and Brazos. They then pursued the Mexicans from Gonzales to near this point and fired upon them with this cannon, driving them back to Bexar.

If, after admiring the monument, you were to take the road winding away from the highway into the country, you’d first pass some local ranches paying their own tribute to local history.

Then, in the midst of live oaks and pecans, you’d find another monument to that “shot heard round the world.” Funded by Gonzales school children in 1908, it’s thrilling in its simplicity, and a fine reminder of a story that’s assumed mythic proportions over the years.

Long before the 1835 skirmish broke out between Mexican soldiers and Texian militiamen at Gonzales, tensions among various factions in the area — Spanish royalists, Mexican revolutionaries, Anglo settlers, and waves of independence-minded and land-hungry immigrants — had led to remarkable changes.

Before formalizing Mexican independence with the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba on August 24, 1821, Spain granted Moses Austin permission to found a colony of Anglo settlers in Texas. Austin died on June 10, 1821, but before his death he charged his son, Stephen, with the task of continuing the work of colonization.

Reluctantly, Stephen agreed, only to find himself  himself embroiled in a series of complex events.

First, Agustín Iturbide, chosen by the Mexican revolutionaries as a military leader, celebrated independence from Spain by dissolving the Mexican Congress and declaring himself August I, Emperor of Imperial Mexico. Despite reaffirming the legality of Austin’s colony on January 4, 1823, Iturbide was forced into exile on March 19 by a group of army officers, including Antonio López de Santa Anna.

After Iturbide’s abdication, the colony law was annulled, but Austin once again managed to have it reinstated, and his three hundred family colony became a reality. By 1832 Austin’s colonies included 8,000 people, despite Mexico’s imposition of immigration limits in 1830 after hearing rumors that the United States was considering annexation of the region.

In 1835, a caretaker government headed by Valentín Gómez Farías eliminated the law limiting immigration to Texas, and lifted restrictions on land speculation. As the number of new settlers increased, so did the level of discontent. Taxes and tariffs were a point of contention, and the re-opening of customs offices at the ports of Velasco and Anahuac was particularly offensive.

The history of the battles, surrenders, retreats, and trickery at both ports is complicated. When Mexican General Martín Perfecto de Cos made known his intention to arrest William Barrett Travis for his role in the Anahuac Disturbances — an uprising of settlers — in June of 1835, and asked the Texans to hand Travis over, they were unwilling to do so. Needless to say, their refusal irked the Mexicans.

Two months later, Stephen Austin returned to Texas from his own stint in a Mexican jail.  After presenting President Santa Anna with a proposal to grant Texas separation from Coahuila, he’d been imprisoned for inciting insurrection among the colonists; he was able to return to Texas via New Orleans only after being freed by a general amnesty in July, 1835.

Upon his return, he found many had come to favor a clean break with Mexico, partly because of Santa Anna’s annulment of Mexico’s 1824 Constitution. Federalist in nature, it had guaranteed certain rights to the states, and its annulment caused many to believe their rights would be further curtailed.

On August 20, the the citizens of the Jurisdiction of Columbia circulated a broadside calling for a Consultation to be held at Washington-on-the-Brazos on October 15, 1835 to discuss the escalating friction with Mexico, and consider options for more autonomous rule for Texas.

Fully aware of restlessness among the Texians, Mexican authorities began taking steps to prevent further trouble, including the reclamation of armaments which had been made available to the colonists.

On January 1, 1831, Green DeWitt had written to Ramón Músquiz, political chief of Bexar, requesting a means of defending Gonzales colonists against hostile Indians. On March 10 of that year, James Tumlinson, Jr., a DeWitt colonist at Bexar, received and signed for a bronze cannon meant for Gonzales, given with the stipulation that it would be returned upon request. When the Mexicans asked for the return of their cannon in September, 1835, the colonists declined.

This either is, or isn’t the actual “Come and Take It” cannon, displayed at the Museum in Gonzales ~ Opinions differ.

After learning that Gonzales refused to surrender the cannon, Domingo de Ugartechea, military commander in Texas, dispatched Francisco de Castañeda and a force of a hundred men to retrieve it. Castañeda’s meeting with the Texans was less than successful. When he requested the cannon be returned, the Texans pointed to the gun, about 200 yards behind them, and said, “There it is. Come and take it.”

After a few days spent maneuvering, the Mexican forces skirmished with the local militia, led by John Henry Moore. Though Castañeda and his men retreated, the event was reported across the country as the first battle of the Texas Revolution. While hardly a significant battle (two Mexicans were killed, and one Texian suffered a bloody nose after being thrown from his horse), the encounter did serve as a potent symbol of the final break between American colonists and the Mexican government.

For their battle flag, the Texians adopted a design created by Cynthia Burns and Evaline DeWitt: a single black star, an image of the disputed cannon, and the phrase “Come and Take It.” There are suggestions the flag may have been carried by Stephen F. Austin’s volunteer army to the siege of Bexar. As DeWitt colonist Creed Taylor recalled:

About this time, on the tenth, I think, Stephen F. Austin arrived at our camp and was given quite an ovation. All looked upon the great man as a wise councilor and a safe leader, and so he was unanimously chosen as our commander-in-chief with the title of general.
To heighten the excitement and arouse further enthusiasm, at this juncture the general received a message from Colonel Cos, at Bexar, saying that he was coming to Gonzales with a large force to recover that cannon. When this news was circulated among the boys their enthusiasm was raised to the highest pitch. “Let them come and take it,” became the cry.

Like Goliad garrison commander Phillip Dimmitt’s “bloody arm flag,” raised in the quadrangle of Presidio La Bahia in December, 1835, both the “Come and Take It” flag and the cannon eventually gave way to other symbols of the new Texas Republic. Even so, the spirit they represent lives on; in Texas, it’s hard to escape the battle cry, or the symbols of that early history.

Over the bar at Frank, Austin, Texas ~ Photo by Seth Anderson
As a personalized Texas license plate
The speckled sea trout, Texian style
I wasn’t born Texan, but I got here as fast as I could ~ with the help of Come and Take It Movers
A yard sign of solidarity during the great Blue Bell ice cream disaster

And now, Texans are defending their stashes of toilet paper with the same verve and determination that once marked their defense of a cannon. It’s hard not to wonder what heroes like Austin, Fannin, Travis, Seguín, Houston, and Bowie might think about this new adaptation of their revolutionary symbols.

On the other hand, those of us who’ve come to love HEB, that most Texan of grocery chains, and who also love Davy’s Crockett’s famous declaration after his election loss in Tennessee — “Y’all can go to hell, and I will go to Texas!” — easily can imagine him saying to his pals, “Toilet paper? Y’all can go to Costco, and I will go to HEB!”

 

Comments always are welcome.

139 thoughts on “Remembering Goliad ~ Again

    1. The history of HEB’s as interesting in its way as the history of Texas.When Florence Thornton Butt established Mrs. C. C. Butt’s Staple and Fancy Grocery in 1905, a one-room store on the ground floor of the family home in Kerrville, she couldn’t have imagined what it would become. A young man sacking groceries at a League City store once told me he’d actually been able to visit the Kerrville store. You’d have thought he’d made a pilgrimage; I guess in a way, he had.

    1. Every state has its history, of course, but I’ve always found Texas history particularly interesting. Most people know the phrase “Remember the Alamo,” but don’t realize that the second half of that is “Remember Goliad,” with its connection to events at Gonzales. The story of the cannon’s great, but the story of the people is inspiring.

  1. This is one of the most Texan things I have ever read! And I love it! Beautifully written, as is the hallmark of all your writing.

    I am not a native Texan (but got here as fast as I could) and I love my adopted state with all of the fervor that most Texans love their state. I even have a T-shirt with Davy Crockett’s saying on it.

    I drive through Gonzalez sometimes on the way back to Dallas from the coast every summer, though I’m always in too big of a hurry to get back home and so never stop. However, next time I think I may just stop there since your post has inspired me!

    1. If you enjoyed this, you probably would enjoy my series on the Presidio at Goliad, too. Here’s one to get you started. If you want something different for a vacation, a stay at the Presidio would do it — once the current unpleasantness is over, of course. Being able to stay in such a place is an indescribable experience. The Alamo’s great, but it’s slowly taking on the feel of a theme park. Gonzales and Goliad haven’t succumbed.

  2. You’re on a roll with this post. So says someone who shops at Costco and HEB, which are diagonally across US 183 from each other in my neighborhood. Costco does have better deals on large multi-roll packages.

    What a coincidence that you arrived here with the help of the cleverly named Come and Take It Movers.

    Iturbide and Santa Anna are two more examples of a common occurrence in history. A revolutionary who claims to be acting to free the people sooner or later reveals himself to be just another dictator. Further examples are Napoleon, Mao, and Lenin.

    1. My initial arrival in Texas involved a VW Beetle pulling a small U-Haul trailer. Somewhere in Oklahoma’s Arbuckle mountains I realized it wasn’t all downhill from Iowa to the Gulf, and that was the end of economizing for the sake of a move. “Come and take it” became my go-to slogan after that.

      Out of curiosity, I took a look at the Wiki entry for Costco, and found this tidbit buried in the middle of the article: “Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the first Costco store in Perth, Australia unexpectedly opened on March 19, 2020 without an opening ceremony — and earlier than its planned time of 8:00AM — due to high demand, especially for toilet paper products, to ease panic buying in mainstream supermarkets in Australia.”

      Honestly, I don’t get the obsession with tp (or several other phenomenon associated with this current disease), but I was raised among people who were well acquainted with the use of newspaper, or the Sears catalog. Of course, if you’re riding the range, there’s always common mullein, aka ‘cowboy toilet paper.’ Native plants to the rescue again!

      1. Don’t know if I’ve ever heard mullein called cowboy toilet paper, but the leaves certainly are pleasantly soft. (One note: while mullein is common in Texas, it came here from the Old World.) Online I found that large-leaf aster has been known as lumberjack’s toilet paper.

    1. Unfortunately, things got a lot more serious before Texas emerged as an independent entity. As much fun as we have with our adaptations of the ‘come and take it’ slogan, people’s use of it also is a way to remember the sacrifice of those who fought for independence.

  3. Texas has such a rich storehouse of stories and myths and you make whatever you write about come alive. Another good read.

    1. Thanks, Jean. I do love Texas, and I can’t get enough of its stories. I have a few more that I’d like to share, but they’d profit from a few photos. The close-to-home I can manage, but I’m going to have to wait a while to make those overnight trips.

    1. Whenever I think of Texas history, I remember the famous line from Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Our society seems to consider the ‘past’ to be anything before last Tuesday, so it’s quite an experience to live among people for whom events like those at Gonzales and Goliad still are alive.

      I once stayed at the Presidio in Goliad, site of the massacre of Fannin and his men. You can rent the old Fort and have it all to yourself, which I did. There’s a typical journal there where visitors can leave their handwritten impressions, and it was fascinating reading. For example:

      “On June 3, 1836, my gr-gr-gr-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Rusk, arrived in Goliad in command of the Army of Texas. The resulting actions of Rusk and the men of Texas reflect brightly in the history of Texas…”

      And this:

      “Our ancestor was William Scurlock, who was a survivor of the Goliad massacre of March 27, 1836. He survived as a medical orderly treating the wounded inside La Bahia. On this day we honored his memory by visiting numerous Texas Revolutionary sites, including San Patricio, Refugio, the Battle of Agua Dulce (which he also survived) and Coleto Creek, culminating with a celebration of his 205th birthday — born October 22, 1807. Happy 205th, Wililam! and many more!”

      Also:

      “We came to Goliad to honor the memory of Robert Fenner, my gr-gr-great uncle. He came from Alabama with Dr. Shackelford’s Red Rovers to aid in the cause of Texas independence. He died imploring his fellow soldiers ‘to die like men.'”

      That sort of thing can make an impression.

    1. It’s probably as remote to you as Maine’s history is to me, Laurie. Until I found your blog, I’d never even heard the word “Mainer.” I did know maple syrup comes from trees, though, so there’s that.

  4. You are making me smile. That’s good – and restful. Do you pronounce Texian in two or three syllables? Yes, I googled and found out more than I want to know. So, ask Linda, says I. She’ll give you a straight up Texan answer.

    1. Tex-i-an is three syllables: TEX-ee-un.You probably already know that it refers to residents of Mexican Texas and the Republic of Texas. Now that Texas is a state, most of us call ourselves Texans, although Tejano also is used to refer to Texans of Mexican descent. There’s a nice, short article about that word here. I do love Tejano music. Many of the guys I work around are Mexican, and they’re given to singing along with their tunes: very well, I might add.

    1. Oh, my gosh. You always have the best take on things, GP. If we can get hand-washing down, can turn signals be far behind? Of course, we might want to work on that social distancing thing first. The inability of some people to grasp that one means closed beaches all up and down our coasts now, not to mention city and county parks, Nature Conservancy sites, state parks, and so on. Whatever the intent, I feel like a sixteen-year-old who’s been grounded. Weird.

  5. What a wonderful history lesson that is soooo instructive for our times. I think you’ve managed to roll with the times on this one. Thanks for the laugh.

    1. Well, I’ve got the hand-washing down, and I’ve never been given to hand-wringing. Rolling with it seemed the best option.

      “When life is too much, roll with it, baby;
      Don’t stop and lose your touch, oh no, baby.
      Hard times knocking on your door,
      I’ll tell them you ain’t there no more,
      Get on through it, roll with it, baby.”

  6. A very informative post. I am a Yankee Transplant, as the native Texans called me when I arrived. It took quite a few years to feel the Texas spirit, but I surely do now. I have now spent over half my life here. It always amazes me to learn about the people in history who stepped up to fight for their cause until the end.

    1. When I first moved here, it was to inside-the-loop Houston (before the loop was completely built!) and that was one kind of experience. But later, when I returned, and especially when I lived in a more rural, ranching and farming community, I began to really appreciate the Texas spirit. Today? When I cross the state line into Texas I always feel as though I’m coming home, and I’ve been known to break into “The Yellow Rose of Texas, I’m so happy.

  7. I picked up a bit of Texas history when I lived there, but over time I’ve forgotten many of the details. Thanks, Linda, for an amusing refresher course. I read somewhere that this TP obsession stems from herd-mentality. Similar to what happens when a big storm is on the way and folks raid the grocery stores for bread and such, it’s put a decided crimp on the supply-and-demand chain. Also, the companies manufacturing the stuff make different batches (in both softness and roll size) for home use vs. institutional use, yet the latter isn’t being used much during this lockdown. I imagine companies returning after the pandemic might be surprised at how much TP they have on hand.

    1. I was reminded yesterday that tp used to come in lovely, pastel decorator colors: pink, green, blue. Do you remember that? We had one of those pink and gray late-50s or early 60’s bathrooms, with a pink tub and sink, and sure enough, there was pink tp, too. When I looked it up, I found that the colors were discontinued because of concerns over the dyes that were used, so the last colored paper was produced in 2004. There’s some news you can use!

      I don’t understand the hoarding. I always have a little extra around, but that’s usually because I tend to buy the big packages when they’re on special. What I really don’t understand is tp-caused family violence.. As I learned to say when I moved to Texas, there just ain’t no accountin’ for folks.

    1. Can’t you just imagine Patrick Henry saying, “Give me toilet paper, or give me death?” What about Nathan Hale saying, “I regret that I have but one roll of tp to give for my country”? I think I’ve found a new way to amuse myself — and I’m glad your shopping expedition was a success!

  8. On a more sober thought: way more Americans are buying guns these times, and I don’t think they only want to defend their toilet paper.
    Take care, and stay well.
    Pit

        1. Well, well, dear Pit
          Funny folks. Here the society is split: most of the people are very friendly and help each other but there is a minority which gets quite agressive. And it’s amazing how stupid people are. There was a fake news that G5 waves are producing this virus. That caused some radicals to destroy quite some G5 masts. It’s unbelievable what people believe – even your stupid president.
          We just came home from shopping. Now lots and lots of toilet paper is around but unfortunately not our dear Master’s favourite Belgian Trappist Beer.
          Take care
          The Fab Four of Cley

          1. Well, Klausbernd, it’s really funny what people believe: some here stopped drinking Corona beer because they were afraid they would get the virus.

            1. Oh, beer has not been sold out here – not at all. It’s only that you can’t get it delivered to your home because they leave the goods ordered just in front of the door, and to be able to recive any alcoholic beverage you need to show a picture identity. That’s why you can get alcoholic beverages only either in the stores themselves or for pick-up at the curb. But I’m still well-provisioned.

            2. That’s funny, dear Pit. Here you get everything delivered: beer, gin and all alcoholic beverages. The problem right now is with special beers. The beer I like is a Belgium white beer brewed in Trappist monastries. The Trappists don’t seem to be able to export now.
              We are well-provisioned with wine as our direct neighbour is a wine merchant. This has a great advantage, so we get quite often a special bottle given to try.
              Love from the sunny sea
              The Fab Four of Cley

            3. Well, dear Klausbernd, it’s strange herebouts: even I, at around 70 years of age, have a few times been asked for my driver’s license, to prove that I’m old enough to buy alcohol.
              Best,
              Pit

            4. P.S. talking of wine: in the last few days I had that Bordeaux Mary gave me for my birthday and I can only say “SUPERB”!

            5. Aren’t people funny? Of course, there are better beers to drink, so perhaps some of those people will get introduced to something new and good.

    1. Thinking about it, I do know someone who picked up some new guns recently, but they’re for his ranch hands. They’re getting serious about their hog problem. Justified purchase, I’d say. I worry less about the people who buy guns that I do about the ones who steal them, or get them off the black market. Besides, anyone wants my tp, they can have it. Paper towels? That’s a different matter. I need those for work!

        1. I know a couple old ladies who are pretty darned good shots, but they’re country gals who still go out to ride the fences, and dispatch the occasional rattlesnake. My own shooting’s been limited to the country, too. Give me an unmoving tin can atop a post, and I can do all right!

          1. Well, being a German and not having been drafted for the army, I was never taught to shoot. At one time as a child, I tried my cousin’s air gun, but didn’t hit anything. I used to joke that, if the animal Iwas shooting at just sat still, it would be safe. I would only hurt it if it moved into my shot.
            Much later, in Karnes City, I tried to learn how to shoot Mary’s father’s shotgun, to be able to kill rattlers myself, so we wouldn’t always have to call the cousins, if one sat too close to the house. I needed that shotgun, a Remington-Browning semi-automatic with a magazine of 5 rounds, because I was pretty sure that not even with a shotgun I would kill a rattler with my first shot. Well, I never needed to prove my “abilities” in earnest. Maybe the rattlers must have gotten the news that “Wild Bill Pit” was around and stayed away.
            More here, from my previous blogs:
            https://wp.me/p4uPk8-1Vg
            https://wp.me/p4uPk8-1ZN

            1. I love the thought of Wild Bill Pit riding the range and keeping the ‘baddies’ at bay! I’ve noticed that the lizards and alligators are beginning to come out now, and I hear the guys who’ve been cleaning up hunting camps talking about the rattlesnakes beginning to move now, too. That’s one of the best reasons to stay off the dunes at the beach. It was some years before I learned they’re filled with snakes, too.

            2. Talking of “Wild Bill”: did we ever tell you that Mary is really related to him, albeit distantly? But strangely enough, she still can’t sit, in a restaurant e.g., with her back to the door. You will remember that Wild Bill was shot in the back, when he had his back to the saloon door.
              As to the rattlers in the dunes: Mary already warned me at our very first visit to Port A. And during our last two visits, when we stayed in Condos immediately behind the dunes and had to use the boardwalks, there were warning-signs and I was really leery to walk along there.

            3. That’s interesting about Mary’s relationship to Wild Bill. It raises the possibility that more than eye color can be passed genetically — even tendencies like sitting to face the door might be passed along! If nothing else, it would make for a great story. And, yes: care about the snakes is good. Even in your area, they’re around. I’m much more careful around tall grasses since stepping right on a snake in a ditch outside Willow City. I have no idea what kind of snake it was — neither of us hung around long enough for me to know. It was coiled up, hidden, and I think it had been napping. We both were quite surprised.

            4. Mary’s relation to Wild Bill is not that of a distant descendant, so that subconscious fear is not inherited. But it surely is an interesting trait and makes for some great musical chairs whenever we are in a restaurant with more people than just the two of us.
              As to snakes: of course there must be some around here, and especially our dry creek with those rocks, that can provide warmth as well as shade, are an ideal spot for rattlers. Luckily, I’ve never yet seen – or heard – any.
              Glad your close encounter ended up well. I had one like except for the fact that the snake wasn’t coiled up but just slithered across the path in front of me – that in Palo Duro Canyon.

  9. Hi, dear Linda,
    thanks for your entertaining lesson in history. We knew a bit about it as Pit & Mary gave us a beautiful special edition of Michener’s book about Texas when they visited us.
    Great, the loo paper sign! Funnily enough, loo paper is hard to get here as well.
    Take care and stay healthy
    The Fab Four of Cley

    1. Hello Klausbernd,
      as far as the historical facts go, Michener’s accounts of the events around Goliad are quite correct, even if his work basically is a fictional text. As I just found out, the slogan “come and take” [or some phrase quite close to it] was first used by Spartan King Leonidas at the battle of Thermopylae.
      Take care, and stay healthy,
      Pit

      1. Now, there’s a slogan that’s been picked up by a different subculture.Texans associate “Come and Take It” with a particular cannon, while the Molon Labe folks usually show a decal of a different sort of weapon on their vehicles.

      2. Hi, dear Pit,
        it’s amazing how meticiously all historical facts facts are researched in all of Michener’s books, as far as I can judge.
        “come and take” goes back to Leonidas. I know of him only because of battle of Thermopylae against Persians. He help the Greek and died as a hero there, I darkly remember.
        You stay healthy as well
        Klausbernd and the reast of the gang

        1. Dear Klausbernd,
          long before I got to know Mary and even longer before I moved to Texas, I learned a lot about this great state from Michener’s book. Before that, btw, I learned something from reading Karl May.
          Whenever I cross the Pecos River, I keep looking down trying to see Winnetou and Old Shatterhand riding there.
          Have a good one, as we say here in Texas, and stay healthy,
          Pit

          1. Dear Pit,
            I never connected Karl May with Texas but I was never a real Karl May fan as my parents saw Karl May as trash literature and so they didn’t like me to read his books. One of their argument was that Hitler was a Karl May Fan.
            Have a good one as well
            The Fab Four of Cley
            :-) :-) :-) :-)

            1. This exchange has been fascinating. I’m one of the Americans mentioned in this New Yorker article that never has heard of Karl May. It was intriguing to me that he never visited the American west, and I laughed at the description of him as a ‘confabulator.’ Very polite, that!

            2. Yes, dear Linda, Karl May was a very strange and quite vain person. He wanted to be Old Shatterhand but never went to America. We think he didn’t want his picture of America having been destroyed by reality.
              We read this article of the New Yorker that’s only partly correct about German literature of the 19th c (in this way like May’s literature half-right). But I agree that May was a confabulator and a very successful one.
              Happy Easter days
              The Fab Four of Cley
              :-) :-) :-) :-)

            3. Dear Klausbernd,
              I used to devour Karl May’s books. Where exactly Old Shatterhand is supposed to have roamed about in Texas [I believe it is mentioned in “Winnetou II”] I still have to look up again, but I belive it wasn’t too far from here. If I remember correctly, La Grange [ca. 140 miles from here] is mentioned, and travelling by steamer up the (Texas) Colorado River.
              As a child I liked Karl May’s novels simply as adventure stories. Later in my life I became very interested in the underlying mind-set of German chauvinism, religious bigotry, and racism.
              I didn’t know that Hitler was a Karl May fan. Thanks for that information.
              Take care, and all the best from the Apacheria, ;)
              Pit
              P.S.: From Karl May it is that I – in my youth – got the wrong information that the “Llano Estacado” [translated as “Staked Plains”], part of which is located in north-west Texas, was named that because there in the waterless wild plains, the paths were marked with stakes in the ground so as travellers wouldn’t get lost and die.
              P.P.S.: Karl May is also mentioned in “The Handbook of Texas Online” [https://is.gd/49rvXV]

            4. It’s amazing, dear Pit, when I read Karl May for a seminar about popular literature just at the beginning of my studies, I never ever thought that the landscapes he describes are real. Actually, I never thought about it but for me that all was fiction. You, dear Pit, made me aware that he used real geography in his books. I only knew, that he read travel guides during his prison-time.
              Lots of love, stay healthy & happy
              The Fab Four of Cley

            5. I agree, Klausbernd, it’s amazing how well he knew the landscapes. I keep thinking when travelling in the more arid regions of the US and seeing a line of green trees at the horizon that that is a sign of a creek or river – just as Kalr May describes it.
              But what de didn’t seem to get are distances. It’s my own experience, too. To really get to know how vast this country is you have to travel here yourself. I just re-read a passage from Winnetou II again, in which his alter ego Old Shatterhand travels on the Texas Colorado by steamer from just above Matagorda to La Grange, a distance of about 110 miles and upriver at that, in just about half a day, from morning to early evening.
              As I said, La Grange is not too far – at least for Americans – from Fredericksburg. His further trip takes him quite close past San Antonio, nearly but not exactly along the western part of what in previous times was called “El Camino Real de Los Tejas”, the (Spanish) “road” from Mexiko City to Natchitoches in Louisiana. The description of that route and it;s landscape is definitely very close to reality. He must have had some very good accounts of travellers to that region.
              I’m wondering, though, if he ever heard or read about the German settlers to the Texas Hill Country, who came here from 1846 on. There was – as far as I know – quite a bit of advertising for emigration to Texas in Germany at that time.
              It’s interesting, btw, to compare the place names he has with those of today.
              All the best and stay healthy,
              Pit

    2. Michener’s book was the first one I read about Texas, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Another good one is Lone Star: A History Of Texas And The Texans by T.R. Fehrenbach. One of my favorite publishing houses is Copano Bay Press, a small, independent publisher that’s committed to bringing back out of print books about Texas in beautiful editions. I have only three of their books, but they’re gems, with wonderful fonts, substantial paper, hand-cut pages, and that indescribable smell that says, “Book!”

      It’s really quite astonishing that we not only share the virus, but also the shortages. I think panic spreads like a virus, and once people began to panic over an assumed toilet paper shortage, there was no stopping it. We may have more luck containing the virus!

      My best to all of the Fab Four!

      1. Dear Linda,
        we very much love real books with beautiful fonts and handcut pages too. From the modern editions we only own two books with handcut pages, although we like it very much. One is a special edition of John Irving’s “Until I Find You”. The other is “Parzival” by Wolfram von Eschenbach. This book is printed with lead types in dark reseda green.
        Here we have the Folio-Society that produces real books, really nice editions – but unfortunately not with handcut pages. We’ll have a look at the Copano Bay Press website. Thanks for letting us know.
        Now the panic has changed its object here. It always seems to find an object with the help of mass hysteria. It’s normal white flour. There is plenty of toilet paper in the shops now but no flour and – unfortunatly – the Belgian Trappist beer, our dear Master’s favourite, is sold out.
        With lots of love from the North Norfolk coast to Texas
        The Fab Four of Cley

    1. It’s quite a tale, and the flag’s symbols are so deeply embedded in our communal consciousness you just never know where they’re going to emerge.

      In fact, I haven’t written specifically about how I came to be in Texas, but a quick browse reminded me that I have written several posts about how I came to be a Texan. I might even re-write this one and repost it at the new year.

  10. As a newcomer, I appreciate the education, and I had to laugh at the new versions of that famous flag! I like everything I’ve ever heard about HEB, but the one near me is enormous and always crowded, so I gave it up for a measly little (wonderfully manageable) Kroger after a few short months in town.

    1. HEB is on a par with Gibson’s Discount Center for me. Gibson’s is nearly gone, but there’s still one in Kerrville, the home of HEB. In fact, the history of HEB is as interesting as its current role in our life. Florence Thornton Butt established Mrs. C. C. Butt’s Staple and Fancy Grocery in 1905, in a one-room store on the ground floor of her family home in Kerrville. There’s much more in Handbook of Texas Online . Now, Buc-ee’s is replicating HEB’s growth. Their Beaver Nuggets are available on Amazon, now — what a world. (You have had the Beaver Nuggets, right?)

      While I love HEB, and will visit from time to time, I much prefer the small Arlan’s on the other side of the Lake, on NASA I. It doesn’t have the variety and it’s a bit higher on prices, but it’s the cleanest store I’ve ever been in, and they have the freshest produce. Their staff is polite and well-mannered, and they hire high school kids and old people to do the checking and bagging. It’s like an old-fashioned store, in many ways, and I do like supporting independent/local enterprises.

      1. Love the sound of your little store. I left a teeny tiny, but amazingly wonderful, hometown grocery in my small town outside Chicago and still miss it more than anything else! Oddly, I do love Buc-ee’s! Maybe because I don’t actually shop there – just zip into the gold star bathrooms and grab a snack (Beaver Nuggets once or twice, but usually a sea salt caramel!)

        1. In these days of closed ‘facilities’ in all the parks, refuges, and nature centers, Buc-ee’s wonderful restrooms have become even more important. I never imagined I’d keep a list of their locations with me, but it’s a useful tidbit these days. Now — sea salt caramels? I had no idea. That’s another good reason to make a stop!

  11. Thanks for teaching me so much about the history of Texas..and I had never heard of the “come and take it” flag! Who knew the day would come when we’d be willing to fight over toilet paper? Loved this post!

    1. I suspect every state has important symbols of its history. Many of them show up on automobile license plates, or in state slogans. But the ‘Come and Take It’ flag has become more than a memory, and it’s fun to see it re-emerge in new circumstances.

      There’s some fighting over tp, for sure, but there’s a lot of staring at that stash and wondering: how long will it last? Now, there’s a website that you can use to calculate an answer!

    1. I do love Texas history, although it can be complicated to sort out the various battles, treaties, leaders, and such. That’s one of the best reasons to keep reading and researching — eventually the details start fitting together and making sense. So much of Texas history is hidden in plain sight, as the saying goes — like the remains of pirate Jean Lafitte’s house in Galveston. Now — if only I could find his buried treasure!

      1. Tales around Port Aransas is Lafitte buried treasure on Mustang Island as well. So far no one has found it and I’m betting he was the one who started the rumor just to throw others off. It would be fun to try and track down a few leads though. Thanks, Linda.

        1. I know someone who’s convinced beyond reasoning with that it’s in the middle of the Aransas Wildlife Refuge. If only those rangers would let him dig the place up, he could find it!

  12. TP or not TP: The rallying cry of the age of coronavirus.
    I took out most of the mullein plants on our property. Maybe I acted too fast. But not to worry, there is a vacant field nearby where it grows in abundance. We shall not go without. Also, a bit more on mullein, hummingbirds use the tiny hairs on the leaves for their nests.
    Have to confess, Linda, when the President declared gun stores essential, the ungenerous thought passed through my mind that he did it so people could protect their TP stashes! –Curt

    1. Or, as Shakespeare might have put it: to pee, or not to pee? That is the question…

      Between the mullein and thistles, you must be kept busy around there. I love that hummingbirds make use of those hairs that we mostly don’t notice; the plant/critter relationships all around us are fascinating. Speaking of birds and nests, I happened to catch a starling carrying a dried palm frond the other day. It was about five times the length of the bird, and reminded me of the weaver birds in Liberia.

      I don’t know anyone who’s taking extraordinary measures to protect their stash, but there was that little incident between a mother and son that turned nasty. At least he only punched her. Ah, people.

      1. I loved those weaver birds, Linda. Unfortunately, so did my cat Rasputin but for a slightly different reason. He was all Liberian when it came to that. As for your Shakespeare interpretation, I’ve used that line a few times. That’s why the TP comment came to mind. I wonder if future generations will include the TP stories when they think about the virus? –Curt

  13. This famous saying joins rank with that other famous saying (Don’t Mess with Texas). Yes, we are a friendly lot, but we are also inclined to draw a line when it comes to what we feel is most important. (Did you see what I did there?)

    1. I do love those ‘Don’t Mess With Texas’ commercials — particularly the older ones, with Willie and Stevie Ray Vaughn and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. I didn’t realize until quite recently that Willie’s son has done one of the spots, too. Some lessons need to be re-learned from time to time.

  14. As neither a native nor an adopted Texan I knew nothing about “Come and Take It”. That is until now. A great and informative read. I guess the whole world has adopted the Texan way at looking at things, these days…

    1. It’s an odd time, for sure. One of the little ironies I’ve noticed first was pointed out by a health care worker I know. She mentioned that even though older people are considered to be among the most vulnerable to the disease, they seem to cope better with the fact that it’s around. I’ve wondered whether the experience of living through other troubles, personal or societal, might not help to explain that. One thing’s certain — an appreciation for history can broaden our perspective.

  15. A lot of great writing here, but my favorite line is “I wasn’t born Texan, but I got here as fast as I could”.

    Sadly, we bailed out of Texas and headed home as fast as we could when the “stay at home” orders started to fly.

    1. It’s a shame your time here had to be cut short, but you made the right decision. RV resorts and campgrounds have closed here and there, as have the beaches — and parks, and historical sites, and so on, ad nauseum. Still, Texas is a big place, and a little study of its history and landscape can help a person stay both socially distant and entertained. Cemeteries are especially good. As a fellow said to me recently, “If they don’t want us to hang out with the living, at least we can visit with the dead.”

  16. First of all, “Come and Take It” is a great name for a takeout restaurant or food truck! I wonder if it’s copyrighted! As you might expect, I knew none of this history before. It’s really interesting. And HEB. I haven’t heard of HEB, as you probably haven’t heard of some of our regionals. I’m down to five rolls. Well, I think Rick has extra…

    1. I’m not sure “Come and Take It” could be copyrighted. I can’t imagine a more in-the-public-domain slogan in the world. It would be like copyrighting “God save the Queen,” although I can’t imagine a good Brit setting up anything like “God Save the Queen” deli and grocery, either. There probably are laws preventing that, now that I think of it.

      I’ve noticed here that supplies finally are stabilizing — somewhat. It’s an interesting study to notice what’s on the shelves and what’s not. Some missing problems may be due to supply chain problems, but there’s information to be gleaned about people’s food preferences, too. I did find my favorite Blue Bell ice cream yesterday: Southern Blackberry Cobbler. Yum! And the dewberries are getting ripe, too. I had my first taste last weekend, right off the vine, and they were delicious.

  17. Excellent post, Linda–true to your form! When I grew up and learned about the ‘Come and Take It’ canon, it was always thought to be this big, manly thing. In reality (the canon was found in the ’80s (?), as I recall), it’s a teeny little thing–about 18-24 inches, if I remember. Anyhow, ‘come and take it’ works with so many things, doesn’t it?

    I used to drive through Goliad, when I took the scenic route to Corpus to visit family. A charming town!

    1. It is amazing how small that cannon is. It’s also interesting (as I just learned this morning) that there were TWO cannons at Gonzales. The one with the reputation (the ‘come and take it’ cannon) was the larger of the two, and made of bronze. According to the Handbook of Texas Online:

      “The bronze Gonzales cannon was buried with other captured Texan cannons inside the Alamo compound. It was unearthed by Samuel Maverick in 1852, and sent to New York by his widow Mary Maverick in 1874, where it was recast into a bell that hangs in the belfry of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio.”

      The smaller cannon, made of iron, “was mounted on a crude carriage made with sawn cross sections of a tree trunk. Both guns left Gonzales with the Texian army headed for San Antonio, but the small gun’s carriage failed and it was abandoned at Sandies Creek. A major flood in 1936 uncovered the small gun leading to its rediscovery; it is now on display in the Gonzales Memorial Museum. ”

      What’s interesting about all this is that the smaller cannon displayed in the museum has been touted by local promoters as the ‘come and take it cannon.’ In fact, it was at Gonzales, and was part of the skirmishes, but it wasn’t the cannon that gave rise to the slogan. That one’s living life as an interesting variation on the swords into plowshares theme!

    1. Some of it’s stupidity, and I think some of it’s just that an unfocused fear somehow got focused on that mundane household supply. I understood it down here on the coast. People were buying as much water as tp — they were stocking up as though a hurricane were coming. Everyone has their routine for that kind of event, and it just kicked in. Now, I almost never see anyone with water in their cart at the store. People have figured out that they still can turn on the faucet — and that this is a very different kind of storm.

  18. Interesting and well-told history, Linda! And I’m glad to know this, because I’ve been seeing this slogan for years, without having any idea of its back story. NYS has some of the most stringent gun control laws, by U.S. standards, and when the latest controls became law, these signs and flags appeared in greater numbers – – usually a pistol or automatic rifle, with “Come and take it” superimposed. Sometimes the Confederate battle flag is also part of the compound image.

    The Wikipedia article is very short, and mentions the Spartans at Thermopylae, and a Revolutionary War fort in Georgia, which said the same thing to the British, who then did take the fort, twice.
    I hadn’t known the slogan’s Texas history, though, and today’s fun variations! I haven’t read a history of the state, or the Michener book – – the only one of his I’ve read so far, is “Chesapeake,” which I read just before going off to college, in that region, and then darned if the college didn’t tell every incoming freshman to read it, before coming to school. I loved it, and it’s only forty or fifty pounds, not like some of his other works I’ve seen. :)

    There’s a lot of interesting stories tied to cannons – – like Henry Knox dragging huge cannons all the way from Lake Champlain to Boston, in the middle of the winter, so Washington could threaten the British, and get them to leave Boston

    And believe it or not, I grew up hearing about some other Texas cannons! One of my great-uncles took a job in Texas years ago, and when people learned his name, they’d ask if he was related to Captain Trevanian Teel, of Civil War fame. The captain was born in Pennsylvania, as was my uncle, so he thought it was possible, and it served as a good icebreaker. And then visiting relatives near Albuquerque, I saw Trevanian’s name on an historical marker about the 1862 capture of the city. There are a couple of little brass mountain howitzers, like the ones the Texans buried, when they evacuated.

    Well, here’s a cannon story from my hometown! When General Lafayette took a tour of all 24 U.S. states 1824-25, he came through here, and the local militia fired their cannon in his honor. It had been removed from a seized slave ship, and was just a rusty old swivel-gun. And it blew up, taking the militia captain with it. Lafayette didn’t realize this had happened, but when he learned of it, and that the state had refused the widow a pension, since it wasn’t wartime, he sent her a small fortune from his own money. The Marquis really was the real deal, a hero.

    Well, we’ve getting a bit of sunshine today in Milwaukee, and I’ll be glad to get out, hard to believe it’s been weeks already, working from home, and this apartment seems to be shrinking! I’m sure you’ll be out & enjoying the spring flowers, your pictures are always a treat.

    1. It occurred to me while reading your comment that, while I often see the “Come and Take It” symbol here in Texas, I almost never see a confederate flag. I haven’t seen many of them in Louisiana, either. There may be the occasional decal, or someone wearing a tee shirt with the confederate flag, but the flag itself doesn’t seem all that common. That makes some sense, since most of the people I know with deep Texas roots don’t consider themselves ‘southerners.’ They’re Texans, thank you very much!

      Michener’s an interesting guy. I dug out an article called “The Michener Phenomenon” from my files, and really enjoyed reading it again. He’s a fine author, but that research staff really helps.

      I spent some time browsing your family’s genealogy and was intrigued to see that Captain Teel — Trevanion Thaddeus-Theodore (T. T.) — eventually moved to San Antonio, the “Bexar” in the story above. There’s quite an article about him in the Handbook of Texas Online. It’s interesting that he fought on the Confederate side; I wouldn’t have expected that. Eventually he died in El Paso, but he’s buried in the IOOF cemetery in San Antonio. I happen to know where that cemetery is — the next time I’m actually in San Antonio rather than skirting around it, I’ll look him up!

      That’s a great story about Lafayette. And here’s another connection, from that same online source of Texas history: “On December 14, 1837, upon petition of the citizens, the Congress of the Republic of Texas established the county of Fayette, named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette. La Grange, the name of the chateau to which Lafayette retired, was designated the county seat.”

      You may know La Grange from ZZ Top’s song about its most famous establishment: the Chicken Ranch — source of the Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. It was the longest-running establishment of its sort in the state, and I was around when it closed. There are stories.

      1. I’ll bet there’s stories about Chicken Ranch!
        Well, I do hope you’ll drop in on Trevanion, but I have to tell you, we checked and he’s not related – and all my Penna. relatives were definitely Army of the Potomac,
        But I’ll be interested to read about him in that Handbook, and the Michener article.
        The town south of mine is named Fayette, too, and there’s a Lafayette over near Syracuse. The Marquis certainly made a big impression on this country.

  19. I’m pretty ignorant of Texas history, so I appreciate your post. And to learn that mullein is ‘cowboy toilet paper,’ and see the ‘come and get it’ hot dog. On shortages, yeast is the thing I’d love to get, and I’m not going to get it very soon. It’s curious to see how masses people of people converge on acquiring a thing so the supply chain is drained.

    1. Texas history’s fascinating, and part of that’s due to the fact that so many of the people who played important roles in the fight for independence came from quite a mix of places: Tennessee, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, and so on. After statehood, the influx of immigrants with roots in other countries increased, too. Germans and Czechs are common in central Texas, but in Galveston the Italians, Irish, English were part of the early mix.

      It is fascinating to see what disappears off the shelves. You can’t find yeast, and a friend mentioned today that she can’t find flour. In general, things have stabilized, though, and it’s possible to find basics like milk, orange juice, produce, and eggs fairly regularly.

      1. Last, milk was gone from store shelves, and at the same time, dairy owners are dumping milk because the food service business has dropped off, and truckers can’t get retail milk to shelves fast enough. The supply chain is out of whack.

        1. I did notice yesterday that snack food shelves were nearly empty, while there was plenty of produce and dairy products. On the other hand, there still was no flour, orange juice, or yogurt. Odd.

          1. Flour is back in stores here, yogurt is spotty. The big grocery stores are the ones that get outages, I’m thinking about using smaller, local stores instead.

            1. I do, and it works out well. Not only are the crowds smaller or non-existent, “my” store always has been extraordinarily clean and friendly, and I’m glad to support it.

            2. I’ve been mixing deliveries from big stores with using a local store. Arranging deliveries is so difficult now, I’m going to rely on local stores instead.

  20. I remember visiting friends in San Antonio some years ago and laughing at variations of “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could.” There’s a certain pride Texans have for their state that I don’t really sense in California.

    1. There is a difference, and I’m not sure I can pinpoint it. In the years I lived in Cali, it was clear that people appreciated the state, especially for its natural wonders, but it wasn’t quite the same. On the other hand, when I was spending time in Rio Vista, in the Delta, it was much more like what I eventually found in Texas. I suspect that the rural/urban dynamic played a role there, just as it does here. My memories of Houston life from nearly fifty years ago are quite different from the impressions people form today.

  21. Interesting bit of history I had no knowledge of. And the whole switch from a cannon to T.P. is pretty funny. The way people have filled their shopping carts with the stuff you’d think they were afraid of bad food. It’s a stinkin’ respiratory disease. Nothing GI about it. As a furniture finisher who hasn’t worked for three weeks and is washing his hands multiple times a day you can just imagine they are the cleanest they’ve been in years…even under the nails. Tom mentioned yeast above. Nobody, almost, has any and it’s going for ridiculous prices. I found some on Amazon and paid the premium. Flour too. Mary Beth makes a lot of lentil and split pea soup…that’s two different not a combo. I couldn’t find any for weeks. I know people like split pea and ham but I was shocked that lentils were so popular.
    Okay, enough of that. Thanks for a humorous tale of history with your usual thorough research and good writing..

    1. What was especially funny here were the carts filled with cases of water — at least, in the beginning. After a little thought, it made sense. We’re so used to hurricane prep that I suspect most people picked up the water reflexively. After a hurricane, it’s critical. For a virus? Not so much. Eventually, everyone figured out they still would have water coming out of their taps, and eased off on the water. On the other hand, try to find Oreos or various kinds of chips, and you’re going to be out of luck.

      I do think that a lot of the split peas and lentils were snapped up after people found the rice and beans missing. And frozen veggies? Good luck with that. Now, things have settled down some, and even though the choice of the frozen can be iffy, there’s plenty of fresh produce to be had.

      Despite all the explanations and assurances, the tp still is in short supply. I don’t understand it, but I’m glad I have plenty. I’ve sent some off to my aunt in the Kansas City area and a friend in Charleston. It makes great packing material!

      1. No problem with milk here but yogurt is spotty if you want other than just plain fatty sugary stuff. There is OJ and like you plenty of produce. Meat is thin also People are stocking up on water here as well. Fortunately Bentley’s frozen french cut green beans have consistently been available. And I luckily found a 5 pound bag of brown rice a few weeks ago.Of course paper products are still in short supply and cleaning supplies mostly absent as well. There’s a meme going around about “George” who in 2040 finally used up the last of his inherited TP that his parents left him from the pandemic.

  22. I had no idea Texas had this icon of “Come and Take It”, even in a flag. I’m glad so I’ll know what it is if I ever encounter it.

    I was reading that gunpowder was invented in 9th-century China as one of the Four Great Inventions. Yes, the Chinese invented the Four Great Inventions: 1) Compass, 2) Gunpowder, 3) Papermaking, 4)
    Printing. I couldn’t believe it.

    1. I knew about gunpowder, but paper surprised me. Of course, I tend to think of papyrus as ‘paper’ even though it was made somewhat differently. I wondered, and then confirmed, that our word ‘paper’ is rooted in ‘papyrus.’ As for the compass, I thought this was interesting, from National Geographic: “The Chinese first used compasses not for navigation, but for spiritual purposes. They used the magnetic devices to organize buildings and other things according to feng shui, the ancient practice of harmonizing an environment according to the “laws of Heaven.” I’d never come across that connection.

  23. I had never seen or heard of, “Come and Take It”, but I am glad to be educated about it now in case I should run across it on travels south. I love the Central Market (HEB) store at Plano, TX. I usually hit that on the way back to Oklahoma from Rowlett. As for toilet paper, we can get it here but not the brands we are used to seeing at any of the stores here in town. I guess now is as good a time as any to sample different brands!!

    1. I just saw a new one yesterday — the Come and Take It Trash service! That’s one business where the slogan really makes sense, and will stand the test of time. If you see any other examples, do let me know.

      HEB is a wonderful store. They’ve just expanded their hours; they were open 8-8, but now have gone to 7-10. One reason is that people have stopped panic-buying, and they don’t need a full twelve hours to restock empty shelves; at least, that’s my supposition. They’ve reopened their bakery and deli, too. I don’t buy much from the bakery and almost never buy from the deli, but I do enjoy one of the whole-grain breads they bake, so I’ll be glad to be able to get that again. Oddly enough, one of the hardest things to get has been yeast. I mailed some around the country, and the postal clerk told me she hadn’t been able to find any, and her cousin mailed some to her — from Oklahoma!

  24. Thanks for the Texas history lesson. I’ve never heard of this bit before. I did get a chuckle out of the TP version of the slogan.

    The “Come and Take It” cry reminds me a bit of Gen. McAuliffe’s attitude about the Germans’ request for his surrender during the Battle of the Bulge: “NUTS!”.

    1. I saw another play on the slogan last weekend. A fellow unloading his kayak was wearing a tee-shirt with the outline of a kayak across an outline of Texas, and the words, “Come and Paddle It.”

      I’d not heard of General McAuliffe’s response to the Germans, but it has that same panache. It also reminds me that I recently heard someone described as ‘nutty as squirrel poop.’ Not only was the remark amusing, it was true.

      I found this account of the McAuliffe episode, and it was great reading.

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