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2. An Unhappy Marriage

Joseph E. Early, Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF




RECONSTRUCTION HAD BEEN DIFFICULT in Texas. Even though the state had been largely spared the scarred images of battlefields, the economy was in ruins. The financial problems that devastated the entire country had their roots in the overexpansion of the railroads. After the Civil War, the railroad added some

33,000 miles of track and employed tens of thousands of workers.

A problem, however, occurred in 1873. Because it was unable to market the bonds for the Northern Pacific Railroad, the Banking

House of Jay Cooke and Company had failed in early 1873. The failure of the Northern Pacific was a major factor in bringing on the Panic of 1873. Industries that depended on the railroad for cheap transportation feared they could not get their goods to market. Industries such as steel and cotton were forced to lay off thousands of workers and close hundreds of plants. By 1878 more than 10,000 companies had failed.1

Texas, too, experienced hard times, as jobs were lost and the price of cotton and other agrarian staples plummeted. This deep economic depression affected everyone, including the state’s

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18. Economics and the Cowboy

John R. Erickson. Photographs by Kristine C. Erickson University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Eighteen

Economics and the Cowboy

If the economics of cattle ranching are gloomy, it should come as no surprise that the economic picture of cowboying will wear the same hat. Indeed, the surprise might be that cowboying has survived into the twenty-first century and that any horseback jobs remain at all in an industry so beset with economic woes.

During the time span that has seen cowboying emerge as a profession, roughly from 1880 to the present, other industries have bloomed and faded, first creating jobs for skilled practitioners and then leaving them unemployed. One thinks of the textile industry in New

England and the coal mining industry in West Virginia and Kentucky, enterprises that once thrived and around which whole towns were built.

Today, very little remains of those once-vibrant industries except songs, folklore, memories, and sad little towns. The cattle business, for all its problems, has at least managed to cling to life and continues to provide jobs for a small pool of skilled laborers.

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Chapter 7

Edited by Kenneth W. Howell University of North Texas Press PDF


When the Klan Rode: Terrorism in Reconstruction Texas by

James M. Smallwood


n Texas during Reconstruction terrorist groups and outlaw gangs were legion, and they kept the state bathed in blood from 1865 to the mid-1870s. They wrapped themselves in the Confederate flag, bespoke the “Lost Cause,” and claimed to be taking the field against

Texas’s enemies: native white Unionists, who were willing to cooperate with federal authorities; the ex-slaves whose leaders demanded true freedom and wanted all the rights whites enjoyed; and the “Yankee” forces of occupation, including regulars and officers on detached duty as agents for the Freedmen’s Bureau. Indeed, for former Confederates in Texas, the war did not end in 1865; rather the “Second Civil War,” also called the “War of Reconstruction” was really a holocaust fought in a new guise. Generally in the first phase of Civil War (1861–1865), professional armies fought each other until 1865 when the Northern forces prevailed on the fields of battle. In the second phase (1865–1877), former Confederates, including those living in Texas, were victorious and by 1877 the second phase ended in the South with the region returned to the white supremacist Democratic Party. In the Texas effort, terrorist groups formed in more than sixty counties, and at least a dozen large bands of outlaw guerrilla raiders flourished, all the while claiming to represent the continued fighting spirit of old Dixie. Together the

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12. A Rural Mail Carrier

Edited by Kenneth L. Untiedt University of North Texas Press PDF


A RURAL MAIL CARRIER by Milt McAfee (as told by Ben Mead)

About February 1, 1954, Ben Mead, a former Texas Folklore Society member, rode with rural mailman Leroy McAfee on his last round of

Route 5 in Navarro County, attempting to capture the essence of

Leroy’s nearly fifty years of postal service. This is Ben’s story:

On May 1, 1907, the postmaster at Corsicana, Texas, hoped that one of his problems had been solved. He needed a reliable mail carrier for Route 5, a rough-and-rugged twenty-four-mile route that sprawled around, between, and through the blackland, creek-bottom farms east of town.

During the year past, a young substitute carrier named Leroy

McAfee had occasionally delivered the mail on Route 5 when the regular man had been unable to make the trip. Now the twentytwo-year-old McAfee had received the appointment as the Route 5 regular carrier. The postmaster hoped the young man would be able to handle the route well—and Leroy hoped that at last he had found a permanent position.

Just how “permanent” the position would be was shown nearly half a century later. Six different postmasters in turn had administered the affairs of the Corsicana Post Office before it became necessary to replace Leroy McAfee on Route 5. In January 1954, Leroy reached the age of seventy, and postal regulations required his retirement. For forty-eight years he had delivered the mail along Route 5 to the friends he made there . . . and to their children . . . and their children’s children. Other men have spent such a span in the postal service, of course. But so far as is known, no other man has ever retired after such a period of serving the same route with which he started.

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Faces at a Play

Amy M. Clark University of North Texas Press PDF

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