Texas History Influenced by Myth and Folklore

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The Texas State Capitol at night.

Through tradition, folklore, and Texan culture most native Texans are Texans first, and Americans second. For many citizens who adopt Texas as their homeland, they too become caught up in this Texas identity through its rich culture, folklore, and territorial pride.

Some People Ask, “Is Texas America”?

Some say living in California is a state of mind. In Texas, living is a state of tradition and culture through a folkloric past. While others hold on to the remembrance of the past Mexican Territory through folklore, all Texans share the experiences of being surrounded by Texas folklore.

Although the birth of Texas certainly occurred through historical fact, at least in part, the most interesting and substantial components of the birth of Texas comes from myth and lore. Texas and its people are tied to their history through mediums not usually found in historical records. In the early 19th century a phenomena occurred in Texas that would set it apart from any other State or Country, and that is the birth of Texas identity, as it relates to myth and lore. Much of the Anglo-Texan myth and lore has found its way into Texas history books as fact. While at the same time, there is more to the story of the creation of Texas.

Gone To Texas

It is not just a story of the “white man who GTT (Gone to Texas).” The motto “Gone to Texas” is used in a patriotic way, but back in the days prior to the Texas Revolt, GTT was what an American would say to another who needed to “get out of Dodge.” Anglo-American men who were fugitives of all sorts were on the way to Texas. Up to 1846, all Anglo Texans had one important thing in common; they were all ex-patriots. This led to an important concept, in that these immigrants to Texas not only left their home and country for an unknown wilderness, but would rise up against their new Nation (Mexico) and claim National Independence. This in its self sets the Texas Identity apart from any other.

While America was still receiving her “sick and poor”, Texas was becoming a country infested with pirates, banditti, and “wild” Indians. Of course Native Americans inhabited Texas long before any other group of people, and during the Spanish period, they were administered to through the Mission System. Local Texas Native lore, Spanish lore, Mexican lore, and lore of the Black Texan experience should all be dually noted. As the sum is only as strong as its parts, it is important to include lore and myth from all Texan groups in order to truly understand and appreciate the influence and impact of what it is to be Texan.

Pride in Texas Nationalism

It is not until the 20th century that historians addressed these other Texans and their stories. While at the same time, it is interesting that the National Identity of the Texas that the Anglo-Texan of the Texas Revolution created, not only still exists, but is worn proudly by Texans of all backgrounds. Even those who have followed the bumper sticker, “I wasn’t born a Texan, but got here as soon as I could!” have adopted the identity of Texas and that of being Texan.

In investigating the identity of Texas through its folklore, tradition, song, dance, food, language, and the blending of cultures come together in creating the Texas story and Texans themselves. The Spanish Missions were crucial in Texas’s early development and identity. Therefore, the missions directly contributed to Texan culture, heritage, socioeconomic fiber, and in the development of the unique identity of Texas and its people. A major Spanish influence can still be felt and experienced throughout the state today. Although Mexican Texas and the Republic of Texas both experienced short lives, they are both instrumental in the creation of Texas.

Lore and myth of savage Indian raids, bandits, pirates, slave traders, heroes of the Republic, and even a little Texas-style manifest destiny are alive in Texas. Texas carries a national pride, separate from the rest of the United States, and it holds onto the fact that Texas could technically secede. The current battle cry of Texas is known throughout the Republic “Don’t Mess with Texas.” These seem to be the words of a State that would prefer to be left alone. It is after all the “Lone Star” state.

References:

  1. Almaraz, F., Thompson P., Reyes-Johnson C. Eyewitnesses To Texas History. University of Texas. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque Iowa. 2007.
  2. De La Teja, Jesus Francisco. Land and Society in 18th Century San Antonio De Bexar: A Community on New Spain’s Northern Frontier Austin: The University of Texas at Austin, 1988.
  3. Haynes Sam and Wintz Cary, ed. Major Problems in Texas History: Documents and Essays. Houghton Mifflin Press, Boston, 2002.
  4. Texan Cultures Museum and Archive. Personal letters, Government documents, and Land title records. San Antonio Texas, March 10, 2009.