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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Everyone was GTT: Gone to Texas

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
A special treat awaits historical readers who purchase the book "Going To Texas - Five Centuries of Texas Maps" by the Center For Texas Studies at Texas Christian University. It is published by TCU Press, Fort Worth.
Five centuries means 500 years and that's a long time. The state's boundaries changed so many times during this span of time more than 50 maps were needed to show all the changes in the evolution of our Grand State. The text describing the maps alone is worth the price of the book.

During one span from 1800 to 1900, the most famous initials in America was GTT, which stood for "Gone to Texas." It seemed that no matter where you lived, where you were going or the route you took part of your journey would probably go through Texas.
BOOK

Whether you were seeking "The Promised Land" or were just curious about "The Great Space of Land Unknown," travelers listened to the land promoters and read the newspapers as they sought a better life for themselves and their families.

No doubt many were dedicated to seeking a better life and fortune for their families as they broached the Great Unknown. However, many were merely struck with wanderlust, bored with their drab, harsh lives and responsibilities. Like the earlier Gold Strike Days in California or the later Great Land Run in Oklahoma, they were easily lured with vague promises of a pot at the end of the rainbow. When they left, the excuse was left written somewhere ... GTT.

This pattern of wanderlust is not surprising. Talk to almost any newcomer to Texas and you will learn they wandered into our State much by chance.

Early settlement of Texas was slowed by the continued threat of Indian attack. Most early settlers found homes along the coast and river banks near the Gulf. As their offspring matured, learned to live off the land, acquired adequate weapons and finances the settled areas grew by leaps and bounds. There was no holding back the tides of settlers seeking a new home.

A study of the maps in the book always shows the actual coastline accurately as the ships plied their trades. When the maps started inland, it was a different story. Details and trails were few and far between. Only after serious settlement and land owners desired distinct land boundaries and clear titles did the inland mapping improve.

At one time a traveler could start at the Gulf and travel clear into the Colorado mountains and never be out of Texas. The process of finalizing the Texas boundaries of today requires hours of reading just to understand. No wonder our State is so unique.

When I try to imagine living in that time, deciding to make a journey to new lands in hope of finding a new beginning for my family, laying down my chopping hoe and plow, saddling my favorite horse and heading for Texas, I can feel a little of that excitement as I scratch the initials of GTT on my barn door and wave goodbye.


Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" March 17, 2008 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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