Welcome to Think, Texas a weekly column about Texas history.

Now it’s your turn.


Recently I shared my hope to hit the history trail again at some point in the future. I laid out some travel itineraries for trips across the state, all ready for the other side of the pandemic.


Some readers kindly steered us to some other prime Texas history spots, while others shared their personal memories of sites mentioned in my original story.


In fact, Brian Christian passed along a lot of advice about history stops along the way. The only one I haven’t visited is Fort Chadbourne, which is on private land, but I’d visit that in good time and revisit all of the others, too.


I’ve trimmed and lightly edited some of the reader responses I received.


Fred Bothwell: An hour from St. Augustine on the east side of the Sabine in Louisiana stands the nicely restored and historic Fort Jesup State Historic Site. The U.S. Army garrison there played a key role in supporting Sam Houston and the War for Texas Independence. In the Handbook of Texas, read about how a young U.S. Army lieutenant was dispatched from Fort Jesup to support Houston in the days leading up to the Battle of San Jacinto.


Margaret Cox: See Panna Maria, established in 1854 and the oldest permanent Polish settlement in the U.S. Find it near Karnes City on Texas 123 toward Seguin. There are Catholic churches and some old stores. I did the tour in September 2019.


Brian Christian (eight entries): Fort Lancaster State Historic Site (Sheffield). Established in 1855, it’s part of the line of Trans-Pecos forts protecting the Western frontier. It is nestled in a valley surrounded by mesa country that is otherwise unseen from Interstate 10. The fort is located along old U.S. 290 and also features a stunning overlook as you descend into the valley.


Fort Chadbourne (Bronte). Another Western fort, this one was partly established to protect the Butterfield Overland Mail through West Texas. Privately owned, the fort has a fantastic museum and well-preserved or restored ruins. My great-great-grandfather Adam Rankin Johnson owned stations along the mail route from relatively nearby Arden all the way to Van Horn.


McDonald Observatory (Fort Davis). Established in 1933 on Mount Locke in the heart of the Davis Mountains, it features a world-class visitors and educational center, the design of which was inspired to an extent by Anasazi sites such as Chaco. The 107-inch telescope was once the largest in the world, and the site's lunar laser ranging program is one of the last vestiges of the Apollo program. Fort Davis, Davis Mountains State Park and Indian Lodge are also nearby and worth visiting.


Fort McKavett (Menard). Established in 1852, it eventually became a station for the famed Buffalo Soldiers. Ranald Mackenzie, later to gain fame opposing Quanah Parker, was once a commander. It is operated by the Texas Historical Commission and features tastefully restored ruins and a museum


Presidio de San Saba (Menard). Located along the San Saba River and established in the mid-1750s, it is more famous for being near the site of the massacre by Comanches of the mission, including Father de Terreros. Though a Civilian Conservation Corps reconstruction, the mission is of vital importance to early Texas history.


Seminole Canyon State Park (Del Rio). Located along U.S. 90 near the confluence of the Pecos and Rio Grande rivers, this canyon features astounding Pecos River-style rock paintings that may be fading away.


Boca Chica and the mouth of the Rio Grande (Brownsville). Accessible only by driving or walking along the beach at low tide, you can stand on the toe of Texas, about 10 yards from Mexico.


Panhandle Plains Historical Museum (Canyon). A top-notch history and art museum, it's where you can learn fun facts such as: There is a mountain range buried underneath Amarillo. It also contains an excellent collection of Western art.



Richard Robertson (three entries): Texas Centennial-Fair Park: As an 8-year-old from Oak Cliff, I boarded the streetcar by myself with my 3-cent fare and rode it all the way to Fair Park to see the Centennial. With my 40-punch ticket, I went inside and looked for my Uncle Leroy, who was a "Centennial Texas Ranger," and when I found him, mounted his horse. We rode all around his chosen route and I got off at the Dr Pepper plant, where Dr Peppers were 5 cents. All over the rest of the grounds, soft drinks were 10 cents.


Dr Pepper Museum in Waco: The May 1953 tornado in Waco did very severe damage to the Dr Pepper plant there. Our daughter, Jeannie Robertson, and (her) husband, David, were traveling folk singers for about 20 years. Their friend Joe Cavanough was the manager of the museum and in the early ‘90s had them entertain on the top floor that was still not completely restored from the tornado damage. He later was put in charge of the Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg and is retired.


Rockport: My wife’s family began going to Rockport at the Cedars Courts on Water Street in 1933 as part of their annual three-week vacation there. She and her father, John McCurdy, took me with them in 1952, and our family has been going there ever since. In 1973, we and seven other families formed a group and bought the Cedars, which is now identified by a state historical marker as a rare remaining example of an old-style tourist court.


Marian McCurdy Robertson (granddaughter of Dr. A.H.P. McCurdy): On the Fulton Mansion in Rockport: In the late 1890s, Dr. McCurdy came to Rockport to reorganize the First Presbyterian Church and thereafter spent many years vacationing with his family in the Shell Hotel, located a short distance southwest of the Fulton Mansion, which stood vacant for some years after 1895.


The children of the McCurdy family often wandered over to the mansion, attracted by the ghostly tinkling sounds of the crystal pendants hanging from the ornate chandeliers and ringing in response to the strong coastal winds blowing through a broken window. They spent endless happy hours playing on the grounds and many years later, Jim Bigger, a great-grandson-in-law of Dr. McCurdy, was the Texas Parks and Wildlife architect appointed to supervise part of the Fulton Mansion restoration.