Sunday, September 11, 2016

Book Review - The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football by S C. Gwynne

I usually review books about Texas history or biographies about Texans who have done something significant or unusually interesting.  When I was asked to read and possibly review S. C. Gwynne’s latest work The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football, I almost begged off, as it appeared at first blush to be neither a Texas history nor a biography of a Texan of note. I certainly had never heard of Hal Mumme.

When the review copy of The Perfect Pass arrived, I deigned to read the introduction since I had thoroughly enjoyed Gwynn’s excellent history, Empire of the Summer Moon. The introduction was very intriguing, so I went ahead and read the first chapter, and after that I voraciously devoured the rest of the book.

The Perfect Pass is the story of how Hal Mumme, a Texas high school coach, tried to figure out a way for his less athletic and less talented football teams to defeat much bigger and better teams. Taking a lesson from the story of David and Goliath, Mumme decided that the only way to defeat giants was by going to the air. Using an entirely new offensive system with an obsessive emphasis on the passing game and by honing techniques that he begged, borrowed or stole from others, Mumme then perfected what would later become known as the “Air Raid.”

His teams began to defeat teams that were much better on paper by lopsided scores on the playing field.  If this were not enough, he began to seek out even bigger and tougher giants to crush with the Air Raid.  As Mumme’s teams racked up unbelievable passing yardage and huge scores, football coaches across the country were forced to take notice of Mumme and his almost mysterious offensive strategy.

I would recommend The Perfect Pass to just about anyone. Though it is very entertaining story for football fans, there is so much more to The Perfect Pass.  It is important to take note of the words “American Genius” found in the full title of the book.  If you are a coach, a manager, an entrepreneur, an executive, an MBA student, etc. looking for a real life example of thinking way outside the box and changing your industry or field completely, then The Perfect Pass is the book for you.  Read it, digest it, and then apply it to your life’s work.

A soon to be inspirational self help classic, The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football has a scheduled publication date of September 20, 2016, and will be available from Scribner. The book should make for a very inspirational movie. We at the Texas History Page can't wait.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Book Review - Texas Ranger, The Epic Life of Frank Hamer, The Man Who Killed Bonnie and Clyde

Texas Ranger, The Epic Life of Frank Hamer, The Man Who Killed Bonnie and Clyde is the best biography of a single Texas Ranger I have ever read.  As my readers know, I am a big fan of historians who rely on primary sources and John Boessenecker has done an incredible amount of research into previously unexplored archival sources.  Usually books on the Texas Rangers are collections of the same well worn stories repeated over and over again. In some of these you might find a couple of paragraphs relating the same old stories about Frank Hamer, but that is about it. From a Texas Ranger on horseback in the Texas Hill Country, to fighting bandits on the Texas border, to the killing of Bonnie and Clyde on the backroads of Louisiana, to Hamer's later years, Boessenecker brings us an incredibly detailed picture of the man who became a Texas and an American legend. Texas Ranger, The Epic Life of Frank Hamer, The Man Who Killed Bonnie and Clyde is the most complete biography of a Texas Ranger ever produced. Boessenecker’s detailed description of the killing of Bonnie and Clyde is also the most detailed description of this event I have ever read and is worth the price of the book all by itself. But there is so much more, lots more! Many hours of fascinating reading about at least two distinct periods in Texas history that are now gone forever.

Published by Thomas Dunne Books and available at Amazon and fine book stores everywhere. Review by Kameron K. Searle

Monday, July 18, 2016

Texas Heritage Society - September 8, 2016 Quarterly Meeting - Featuring Dr. Caroline Crimm

Quarterly Meeting
Thursday, September 8, 2016
6:30 PM

How Bernardo de Galvez helped win the American Revolution
by Dr. Caroline Castillo Crimm is a Professor of History at Sam Houston State University

The Texas Heritage Society will be holding their next quarterly meeting at the Woodlands Community Center located at 2235 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, Texas on Thursday, September 8, 2016. The meeting is open to the public and will feature Dr. Caroline Crimm, Professor of History at Sam Houston State University, who will speak to us about the fascinating story of how Bernardo de Galvez the namesake of Galveston, Texas helped win the American Revolution.  Dr. Crimm has provided the following teaser about her much anticipated talk,

"Everyone has heard of Galveston, but did you know that the man for whom it was named helped George Washington win the American Revolution? Bernardo de Galvez spent 2 years (1777-1779) outwitting the British by sending supplies up the Mississippi in secret to General Washington, then spent the next three years (1779-1781) beating the British soundly on the Mississippi and in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to Washington's victory at Yorktown. It is a fascinating and little known story of a Spanish Patriot who helped create the United States."

Everyone is welcome. The motto of the Texas Heritage Society is "Discover, Understand and Preserve." The Texas Heritage Society, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of Texas' rich and unique history.  It is based in The Woodlands, Texas.

Woodlands Community Center
Room 109
2235 Lake Robbins Drive
The Woodlands, Texas 77380


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lake Creek Settlement High School - Montgomery Independent School District

Recently, the Montgomery Independent School District Board of Trustees began seeking input from the general public with regard to nominations for school names for the 2nd High School, 2nd Junior High School, 5th Elementary School, and the renaming of Montgomery Intermediate School. The MISD Board policy for the naming schools provides that “High Schools shall be named after geographical areas.” The first high school is of course named Montgomery. Local historians, community leaders and students are hopeful that the new high school will be named for the geographical area in which the Town of Montgomery was originally founded in 1837 – the Lake Creek Settlement.

Over the last decade, new historical research has uncovered many significant and previously forgotten facts regarding the town and the county’s earliest history. Most notable among these was the rediscovery of the Lake Creek Settlement. The Lake Creek Settlement was a settlement of Anglo-American settlers in Austin’s Colony located between the west fork of the San Jacinto River (now dammed to form Lake Conroe) and the stream known as Lake Creek. These settlers from the United States received land from Empresario Stephen F. Austin in 1831 as an incentive to leave the United States and settle in his colony which was then located in the Mexican State of Coahuila y Tejas.  Heads of households in Austin’s Colony at this time each received a League of land (4,428.4 acres). By 1833, the area these colonists had settled had become known as the Lake Creek Settlement.

In 1835, W. W. Shepperd established a store in center of the Lake Creek settlement near the intersection of three important roads or traces.  During the Texas Revolution, a number of the men from the Lake Creek Settlement volunteered to fight for Texas’ independence from Mexico (1835-1836). One of these men, John Marshall Wade, manned the famous Twin Sisters canons during the Battle of San Jacinto when Texas won her independence on April 21, 1836. Wade would later publish the first newspaper in Montgomery appropriately named the Montgomery Patriot.

In the year following Texas independence, W. W. Shepperd founded the town of Montgomery at the site of his store in the center of the Lake Creek Settlement.  Five months later, Republic of Texas President Sam Houston signed the act creating Montgomery County on December 14, 1837. On March 1, 1838, the county government was organized in the town of Montgomery and the town of Montgomery was selected to be the first county seat of Montgomery County.

It is important to note that the Lake Creek Settlement comprised almost exactly the same geographic area as the Montgomery Independent School District does today.

Historians and many others believe naming the new high school after the Lake Creek Settlement would be a wonderful way to remember the area’s history and honor the memory of the those brave colonists and settlers who left the comfort and security of their homes in the United States to seek an uncertain but potentially better future in Austin’s Colony in Mexico and later the Republic of Texas.  Their efforts, struggles, and battles laid the very foundation upon which Texas is built today.  Billy Ray Duncan, President of the Montgomery Historical Society supports the idea to name the new high school after the Lake Creek Settlement, “Before there was a school district, before there was a county, before there was a town; there was the Lake Creek Settlement - a truly unique naming opportunity for MISD.” The school’s mascot would be easy enough – “Patriots.”

On January 29, 2016, the Texas Historical Commission approved a Texas Historical marker for the Lake Creek Settlement which will be dedicated in late 2016 or early 2017. 

For more information about the Lake Creek Settlement, see or visit the Lake Creek Settlement page on Wikipedia. Also see The Early History of Montgomery, Texas.  Or click here to read the Historical Narrative in support of the Texas Historical Commission marker for the Lake Creek Settlement which was approved on January 29, 2016.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Confederate Memorial & Ben Thompson Book - Saturday, April 16, 2016

On April 16, 2016, at 10:00 am at Oakwood Cemetery, in Austin, Texas, SCV Camp Littlefield #59, will unveil a Memorial for all Confederates buried at Oakwood Cemetery. Following the cemetery light refreshments will be served at the Austin History Center. At the Austin History Center, there will also be a book launch for Austin’s Confederate, gambler, gunfighter, and City Marshal Ben Thompson - Life and Adventures of Ben Thompson: The Famous Texan. There will be a book panel with author Major Buck Walton’s great-granddaughter and Ben Thompson’s great-granddaughter and authors Chuck Parsons and Lisa Lach.

Files for all the Confederate Veterans including Civil War Records are being donated to the Austin History Center.

Hope everyone can make it.

See for more information.

Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 Confederate Memorial Day Ceremony - Montgomery, Texas

Frank Johnson has forwarded an invitation to the 2016 Confederate Memorial Day  ceremony being conducted by the Capt. Thomas J. Peel Camp #2268, Sons of Confederate Veterans, being held in conjunction with Maj. General Patrick Cleburne's 7th Texas Infantry Camp #2182, Sons of Confederate Veterans; Montgomery Rose 47, Texas Society Order of Confederate Rose; and The Woodlands Rose 53, Texas Society Order of Confederate Rose.

All members of the public interested in Texas and Confederate history are welcomed to attend the 2016 Confederate Veterans Memorial Day Ceremony to be held at the Old Baptist Church Building (currently the Church of Christ), at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, April 16th, 2016, located at 301 Pond Street, Montgomery, Texas (corner of Caroline and Pond Streets).  The ceremony will be followed by the chartering ceremony for the new Capt. Thomas J. Peel Camp #2268, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Monday, February 29, 2016

For Want of a Texas Education

When I was a kid growing up in Texas in the 1960’s and 70’s, every Texas school student was taken on one or two “field trips” to historical sites around Texas.  Throughout the school year, buses loaded with children from all over Texas headed for these sites sacred to the history of Texas. We went to the Alamo, we went to the San Jacinto Battlefield, and we went to Washington-on-the-Brazos.  Schools don’t seem to do that anymore.  I guess it’s not on the STAAR test, so it must not be deemed important enough to teach. Not one of my four children was ever taken to visit any of these historic sites by their schools in order to learn those aspects of their history and their culture which are so distinctly Texan.

As my children’s education was found lacking, I made sure that they visited all of these sites and knew who James Bowie, William Barret Travis, David Crockett, Sam Houston, and the 59 signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence were and how they laid down the foundation upon which the Texas of today was built.

Texas Independence Day, March 2, used to be a holiday in Texas and every school child in Texas was given the day off to visit these sites revered in Texas history. Texas Independence Day marks the anniversary of the day that Texas declared its independence, ceased to be part of Mexico and became an independent nation – The Republic of Texas.  Alas, Texas Independence Day has not been celebrated as a school holiday for many decades.

If you are a brand new Texan or a 7th generation Texan and would like to further your education of what it means to be a Texan, then you, your children, and your grandchildren should go out to Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site on Saturday and Sunday, March 5 and 6, 2016, for the Texas Independence Day Celebration.  Learn your history at The Star of the Republic Museum, the only museum in Texas dedicated exclusively to the study of the Texas Revolutionary and Republic of Texas periods (1830’s-1840’s).  Visit Barrington Living History Farm and walk through the original plantation home of Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas and the man most responsible for the annexation of Texas by the United States of America. Then, go to Independence Hall and stand on the exact spot where the founding fathers of Texas bravely and unanimously adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836 while the battle of the Alamo was still raging. 

Independence Hall, the Star of the Republic Museum and Barrington Living History Farm are all free on March 5 and 6, 2016 during the Texas Independence Day Celebration.  There will be plenty of music, food, historical re-enactors, artisans, vendors, etc. Located between Brenham and Navasota, it’s a short day trip. Don’t wait for a bus. Go and stand on the exact spot where Texas became Texas and be proud that you are a Texan!

Kameron K. Searle