Ancestral Lands

Since I have been visiting my parents, where much of my personal library is located, I have had a chance to read a book that I got many years ago when it was withdrawn from circulation by the Gonzales Public Library, an establishment that was a regular haunt of mine in my college days.

In what has been one of the more popular posts on this blog, I talked about my Uncle George Littlefield. The book I am reading is George Littlefield: Texan by J. Evetts Haley, published in 1943 by the University of Oklahoma Press. At the time I acquired it, I knew that I was related to Uncle George – and he was always referred to as Uncle George Littlefield by my mother’s family – but I hadn’t made the exact genealogical connection. I just knew that he had put my great-grandmother through college.

Since, as you might expect, the first chapter of the biography covers his family background, it has been very interesting to read about my great-great-great-grandparents (his parents) in a real book (not a self-published genealogy-driven tome) with real footnotes referencing a wide range of primary source materials. The book details both real and personal property they possessed, acquired and sold. Through my genealogical research, I knew where some of this land was.

The personal recollections of former slaves continues to confirm my understanding the positive relationship they shared with my family. Because that is relevant to the novel I am intending to write, this has been particularly helpful.

During the years I lived in Gonzales County, I had thought it would be a nice place to settle. River bottom being the most desirable and fertile real estate, I had always wanted to own the land at the confluence of the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers. I figured if one river made for good land, two must be so much the better.

Having never read that book I bought from the Gonzales Public Library, I had no idea my great-great-great-grandmother thought the same and not only acquired that land, but also moved there from the original plantation where she had settled with my great-great-great-grandfather located about 15 miles up the Guadalupe.

Were I to someday win the lottery or perhaps become a wildly successful writer – though the lottery win is the more likely of the two – I might yet buy that land.

How Times Have Changed

When I was Republican County Chairman of Gonzales County, Texas, we were definitely the minority party. Way in the minority. This was at a time with the only winnable statewide race for Republicans was the governorship. Pockets of GOP support on a more local level were beginning to emerge in places, but for Gonzales County, as well as most other rural counties in South Texas, to win the Democratic primary was to win the general election.

So imagine my surprise when I was going through one of the regional daily papers online and learned that the candidates for District Attorney are both Republicans. Whoever wins the Republican primary will be unopposed in the general election.

I’m not particularly surprised that both candidates are women. Texas has a long history of electing women, including the second woman governor in US history in Ma Ferguson. Ferguson would have been the first woman governor in US history, if Nellie Ross hadn’t been inaugurated two weeks earlier to finish her husband’s unexpired term. Ferguson’s husband had also been governor, but had been impeached and removed from office eight years before.

That’s why I won’t be surprised if Hillary wins the Democratic presidential primary. I would, however, be very surprised if she were to win the state in November. No Democrat has carried Texas since Jimmy Carter barely did so in 1976.

But it’s local politics where things have changed. This is the proof that Texas has really become a Republican state. I just wish I was there to enjoy it.