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Murray Montgomery
Texas History - Column

Murray Montgomery

Email: lonestardiary@gmail.com

Lavaca County Old Photos
Photos courtesy Friench Simpson Memorial Library
Submitted by Murray Montgomery
Austin Old Photos
Murray Montgomery Photo Collection

  • The wreck of the "Don Milo" and other Hallettsville R.R. History 2-13-24

  • Victor Espinoza posthumously awarded Medal of Honor 11-22-23

  • Vaquero: The First Texas Cowboy 9-28-23

  • Unearthing the story of Dugout Homes 7-24-23

  • Lavaca County pioneer from the beginning of Hallettsville 4-4-23

  • The Brave Female Pilots of WWII 1-6-23

  • Recollections of Early Texas: The memories of John Holland Jenkins 9-20-22

  • The Bad Boys of Somer's Thicket 7-25-22

  • The day slavery ended in Texas 6-22-22

  • James Kerr: Life and Times of a Texas Pioneer 5-17-22

  • The sad story of Alabama's Red Rovers 2-22-22

  • The Great Flatonia Train Robbery 1-14-22

  • Alfonso Steele: Last Survivor of the Battle of San Jacinto 7-7-21

  • Chipita's Ghost 12-14-20

  • Remembering Marion 10-7-20

  • John Henry Brown 7-11-20

  • Memories of old Saluria 5-19-20

  • Epidemics Flourished in Old Texas 3-31-20

  • Lavaca County and the Raw Frontier 2-13-19

  • George West, Cattleman and Town Founder 1-22-19

  • The Story of Richard J. Clark - Lavaca County Cattleman 12-5-18

  • The USS Lexington is a true historic treasure 8-28-18

    Visiting The Blue Ghost
  • Old Mass Grave at Gonzales 3-3-18

  • Lavaca County violence from back in the day 3-22-17

  • The Endless Search for Texas Cannon 4-6-16

  • Longhorn Branded Murder 1889 12-4-15

  • Elijah Cox - Fighting Indians on the Texas Frontier 2-2-15

  • Booger Red - ugliest man living or dead 12-15-14

  • Moravia – When Texas Was Young 11-22-14

  • It's that time again in Gonzales - Come & Take It 10-2-14

  • The great flood of 1940 hits Moulton 9-18-14

  • How Hallettsville Became Seat of Lavaca County - An Eyewitness Account 7-28-14

  • Moravia Store celebrates 125 years and is still going strong 5-19-14

  • Captain Barnett's Traveling Whale Show 4-18-14

  • Eyewitness to the Council House Fight 3-23-14

  • Rest in Peace, Son of the South - William Riley Byas 2-16-14

  • Death at Goliad 1-13-14
    A letter written by J.G. Ferguson to his (Ferguson’s) twin brother on March 2, 1836. This document gives a real insight into the final days surrounding the tragedy at Goliad as seen through the eyes of a man who lived and died there.

  • James Butler Bonham 11-2-13
    The Alamo's brave messenger
  • From Successful Cattleman to Man Burner 10-4-13
    Print Olive could have been highly successful in life if he would have stayed on the right side of the law.
  • Sam Houston's trusted friend was born a slave 8-27-13
    The man who was born into slavery and went on to become a trusted friend of Sam Houston died in Belton on April 3, 1941. He is honored by two Texas historical markers...
  • Wreck of the steamship Mary Summers 7-29-13
    Listed on National Register of Historic Places, beneath the waters of the Navidad River rests the wreckage of the Confederate iron-hulled steamship known as Mary Summers.
  • What became of Jim Bowie's famous knife? 6-13-13
    When we read stories about the heroes of the Alamo, namely Crockett, Travis, and Bowie, it’s very hard to separate fact from fiction. Legends about the lives of these men are numerous, and when the legend is more romantic than the fact, it seems fiction takes center stage.
  • Last President of the Republic 5-13-13
    Like so many other men who came to Texas during those trying times proceeding war with Mexico, Anson Jones had a colorful past. At times he was successful but, more often than not, failure seemed to follow this man who would end up being the last president of the Republic of Texas.
  • Wild Willie's Picnic 4-15-13
    Willie Nelson, for many years, has been regarded as an outlaw in his music and his lifestyle. No doubt, he attracts many fans — but he also stirs up feelings in some folks that are somewhat negative to say the least. Such was the case in Gonzales County in July of 1976. Because you see, Ol’ Willie was coming to town.
  • Small Texas newspaper reports: U.S. declares war on Japan 3-5-13
    President Roosevelt’s message to a joint session of Congress, asking for a declaration of war against the Empire of Japan
    From the front page of The Gonzales Inquirer, December 8, 1941 issue
  • When Camels Came to Texas 2-7-13
    Some Texans may not be know that once upon a time the Lone Star State was home to not only longhorns and buffalo, but another ornery and smelly beast — the North African camel.
  • Sugarland Express 1-18-13
    Movie star Goldie Hawn and actor Ben Johnson were in Belmont, Texas, in March of 1973, filming portions of the movie, "Sugarland Express."

  • The changing face of Texas from 1860-1960 12-3-12
    What Texas was like just prior to the Civil War
  • One piece at a time 11-16-12
    Oliver Albert, a resident of Gonzales, and his hand-built Longhorn II automobile
  • Dr. Pat Wagner and the "Come & Take It" Cannon 10-16-12
    "He was determined to prove that the cannon he purchased from Robert Vance of Refugio was truly the little gun that had started the Texas Revolution at Gonzales on October 2, 1835."
  • The Deadly Tower 9-18-12
    One of the saddest days in Texas history occurred August 1, 1966. On that day a crazed man started firing from the observation deck at the University of Texas tower — picking random human targets on the ground and hitting them with deadly accuracy...
  • Born to be a Texas Ranger, the life of John Coffee (Jack) Hays 8-27-12
    It seems that from the day he was born, Jack Hays was destined to be a Texas Ranger – when you consider his roots, it shouldn’t have been any other way.
  • Remembering Lavaca County's old Grieve School 7-27-12
    Not long ago, I was going through files from the Lavaca County Tribune... I came across an old article about the Grieve School which was located in the Novohrad community in Lavaca County.
  • Gonzales County Courthouse 6-18-12
    From the original April 23, 1896, issue of The Gonzales Inquirer, on the front page.
  • Slave Ada Stone 5-28-12
    109-Year-Old Ex-Slave Recalls Days Long Past
  • The War to End All Wars 4-7-12
    A Gonzales County boy, Courtney C. Buchanan, served with the 36th Infantry Division in World War I and some of the letters that he wrote home to his family and friends were published in The Gonzales Inquirer.
  • A Texan by Choice 3-17-12
    A story about James Charles Wilson who was born in England and became, “by choice,” a Texan and patriot from Gonzales County.
  • Stealth Weapon of the Confederate Navy 2-10-12
    H.L. Hunley, world's first combat submarine
  • Step back in time at Gonzales' Pioneer Village 1-13-12
    I’ve often been surprised at the number of folks living in Texas who have never paid a visit to a historic treasure located in Gonzales County. The treasure that I am referring to is Pioneer Village...

  • John Clayton: Rebel with a Cause 12-10-11
    Dialogue from an old movie came to mind when I read the obituary of John H. Clayton. The film depicted an intense battle and many men were being killed. One of the actors said, “Where do we find men such as these? Men who will charge into combat and die for a cause, without any regard for their own life.” Apparently, Clayton was that type of man.
  • Top dollar paid for Texas cattle in 1870s 11-9-11
    A newspaper becomes an eyewitness to history as it documents the story of those cattle drives and markets in 1874.
  • "A River, A Town, and Memories" 10-10-11
    Remembering Tillie McGill Bright
    "I met her one time and I will always cherish those few hours that we spent together — talking about the memories of her childhood in Gonzales, Texas..."
  • Mystery of Lavaca River cannon remains unsolved 9-9-11
    "I’ve written about the cannon more than once, the first time being some 14 years ago when I was working for The Gonzales Inquirer – that original column brought folks out of the woodwork providing me with more information than I could ever have imagined..."
  • Gallant Texas Ranger killed in Mexico 8-12-11
    This story was found in an old Hallettsville Herald from 1893 and describes a fight between Rangers and smugglers on the Rio Grande...
  • Lavaca County's Old Brown School 7-25-11
    Recently, I came across this article describing the history of the old Brown School near Hallettsville. People who were raised in Lavaca County, Texas, are probably familiar with the old school... in hopes that it would stir some memories and perhaps more information would come forth.
  • Lives of two Texas Rangers Lee Hall and John Barclay Armstrong 6-27-11
    There’s not many times when people are doing research on the history of Texas that they don’t come across that illustrious group of lawmen known as the Texas Rangers...
  • The Revenge of 'Devil John' McCoy 6-3-11
    John McCoy, called “Devil John” because of his bravery and daring, lived near Concrete in DeWitt County. One of his neighbors was killed and horribly mutilated. Suspicion rested upon a tribe of friendly Lipan Indians in the neighborhood...
  • Recalling the lesser-known heroes of the Alamo 4-11-11
    Texas history contains much information about the famous men who died at the Alamo, but what about the others; the messengers?
  • Rev. Marcus Valenta achieves longest active-duty record in U.S. history 2-4-11
    Of all the chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces, one has seen longer continuous combat-theatre duty than any other...

  • The Legend of Campbell’s Branch 12-9-10
    If you leave Hallettsville traveling on FM 957 towards Breslau, you will cross over a small creek named West Campbell Branch – known as just plain “Campbell Branch” to most folks. Recently I came across a fascinating story, from 1944, about the legend of Campbell’s Branch...
  • “Law West Of The Pecos” 10-11-10
    You will look in vain for Eagle’s Nest on the map of Texas today, for the town of Langtry has taken its place. But in the old days of 40 years ago Eagle’s Nest was famed for just one thing – a saloon. On the front of this building was a sign which read “Judge Roy Bean, Justice of the Peace, Law West of the Pecos.”
  • Old Moulton: The Queen of the Prairies 9-1-10
    In his book, The History of Lavaca County, well-known local historian Paul C. Boethel has several pages describing some of the towns in the county, including a location known for years as Old Moulton...
  • Claude Hinton’s Great Pencil Collection 8-1-10
    Back in 1969, The Gonzales Inquirer ran a feature story about a man named Claude Hinton and his somewhat unique hobby. You see, Claude collected pencils — over 5,000 of them...
  • List of Dead in WWII 7-3-10
    Back on June 27, 1946, the War Department released a booklet with a list of the war dead and those considered missing in action. According to authorities this was the first consolidated listing of Army dead and missing in World War II...
  • Did the Dalton boys ever visit Lavaca County 6-4-10
    In the year 1895, reports were circulating around Victoria, Texas, that a member, or members, of the famous Dalton Gang were in the Victoria and Lavaca County area...
  • 'Kid Mendoza' and the Battle of the Bulge 4-19-10
    The story of Medal of Honor recipient Jose Mendoza Lopez.
  • Rocks From The Sky 3-9-10
    One story appeared first in the Yoakum Times and the Halletsville Herald printed it on July 16, 1903. This fascinating piece was about a fellow named Benedict Manning who was witness to several strange occurrences during his lifetime...
  • All were welcome at Fink's Hotel in Hallettsville 2-6-10
    It has been said that Mr. and Mrs. A. Finkelstein always had a room in their hotel and a home-cooked meal for any who appeared at the door...
  • G.W. Fly: Confederate soldier and Texas statesman 1-1-10
    The Fly name is very prominent in the history of Gonzales...

  • This Wild Bill Was No Hero 11-20-09
    The Legend of Bill Longley
  • The Adventures of Spencer Houston Jack 10-6-09
    Students and researchers of Texas history are inundated with information about the heroes of the Texas Revolution. But more often than not, the history books don’t tell us much about ordinary soldiers who also served Texas in the cause of freedom. One such man was Spencer Houston Jack...
  • Texas outlaw Sam Bass inspired tall tales 8-24-09
    He was only 27 years old when he met his maker, but during his short life he became the subject of cowboy songs and tall tales which were told around many a campfire in Texas...
  • Early Cattlemen saved Texas from financial ruin 7-10-09
    After the Civil War, Texas and the rest of the South were in a bad economic situation. The war had drained the resources of the defeated states and when the soldiers returned home, they found it extremely hard to make a living. But Texas had an untapped resource roaming wild on the open range – longhorn cattle provided an industry that grew to become the largest in the state.
  • Hallettsville was booming in the early 1900s 3-17-09
    With the construction of a new light system in the summer of 1900, Hallettsville started a nine-year run of development that included the construction of new buildings, the beginning of new businesses, and renovations to existing structures...
  • Hazel's Whip 2-13-09
    I came across several articles in the old Hallettsville Herald that I found to be very interesting, if not downright hilarious...
  • Recollections of a Mier Expedition Survivor 1-18-09

  • Pearl Harbor attack teaches a valuable lesson 12-11-08
  • The story of Emil Kreklau's self-propelled fan 11-1-08
  • Terrible Memories of Hurricane Carla 10-13-08
  • One saloon for every editor in old Hallettsville 8-29-08
  • All Veterans Should Be Honored 8-8-08
  • Former slave recalls memories of old Lavaca County 7-7-08
  • The life and times of F.W. Neuhaus 5-8-08
  • Warrior’s Weekend at Port O’Connor, Texas 4-10-08
  • The adventures of John Himes Livergood 3-20-08
  • Black Cowboys 2-3-08

  • Mystery Creatures 12-24-07
  • A time to honor our military veterans 11-9-07
  • Is Jesse James really in that Missouri grave? 10-4-07
  • Old Tunes Bring Back Memories 8-8-07
  • Deaf Smith - Eyes of the Texas Army 7-5-07
  • Letters from the Alamo 3-27-07
  • Yoakum's Soda-Pop War 1-24-07

  • It's a Wonderful Life 12-6-06
  • "The Grand Old Lady On The Square" Lavaca County Courthouse 10-18-06
  • The Demise of Bad Man Buckley 9-1-06
    During the days of early Texas, there were many a scoundrel packing guns and causing panic and mayhem amongst the town folk. Hallettsville had one of the worst of these villains..
  • A True Texas Woman 7-20-06
  • The Most Distinguished Tramp 6-21-06
  • Murder of Local Doctor During Reconstruction 5-22-06
  • The Half-breed Savage 4-20-06
    Quanah Parker
  • The First Shot May Have Been Second 3-18-06
    'Come and Take It' and the Battle of Velasco
  • Texas Rangers and the Battle of Plum Creek 2-19-06
  • The Old Iron Bridges of Lavaca County 1-19-06

  • Christmas is a special time 12-20-05
  • Hallettsville Photographer Left a Legacy of Memories 11-18-05
    Henry Jacob Braunig
  • Black Soldiers in the Confederate Army 10-17-05
  • Wild Woman of the Navidad 9-13-05
    "The Navidad isn’t really much of a river, as rivers go – it’s not very famous and can’t be compared to the stunning Guadalupe or majestic Colorado, when it comes to beauty. But the little old Navidad just might have a claim to fame that the others can’t equal. You see, the Navidad has a past of mysterious and wild creatures, of the two-legged variety, living along its winding path...."
  • The Man From Nickel: Leslie Jones Askey 8-19-05
    The classic example of an entrepreneur.
  • Rustlers and outlaws were common in early days 7-19-05
    "Folks living in Lavaca County in this day and time might be surprised to know that back in the 1870’s, 1880’s and 1890’s this was quite a wild place..."
  • Bunting Family Cemetery 6/15/05
  • Richard Gaertner's Story 5/14/05
    Every town needs a storyteller and Moulton is fortunate to have a mighty good one in a feisty fellow named Richard Gaertner.
  • Thomas Lenz 5/2/05
    "All three of the high-school pals saw action in Vietnam – two survived and one, Tommy Lenz, would die a month after his 21st birthday and just a week before he was due to come home. He had volunteered to go on a mission to replace a man who was ill..."
  • Old Turner Hotel Uncovered by Hallettsville Fire 3/21/05
  • Macario García, Veteran of D-Day 2/16/05

  • The Lost Treasure of Padre Island 12/11/04
  • Remembering Leesville 10/15/04
  • Survivor tells of dreadful ordeal... A captive of the Comanche 9/8/04
  • The Horrors of Bataan 7/17/04
    The story of one survivor...
  • Brazoria County brothers make guns for the South...
    The Dance boys and their guns
  • The Angel of Goliad 5/19/04
    "A tenderhearted Mexican lady who will forever be remembered for her many acts of kindness during those dismal days of the Texas Revolution."
  • Richard Kimble and Almaron Dickinson, Heroic hat makers at the Alamo 5/12/04
  • Savior of The Alamo... Remembering Adina De Zava 4/20/04
    "If it hadn't been for her efforts, the Alamo might well have been replaced by a parking lot."

  • The history curse... It's got to be true or I'm not interested! 9/1/03
    "It seems to me that these moviemakers should strive for authenticity when it comes to portraying history. Anyone who studies Texas history can tell you that these "true" stories are an adventure all their own."
  • This family tree has roots made of cedar 8/03
    The early cedar choppers didn't really maintain a home - many lived out of a wagon, sleeping in tents and traveling from one cedar brake to another ... Living off the land, they hunted their meat ....
  • The story of Gregorio Cortez 7/03
    He was considered a hero by the Mexican people; to the Anglos he was the "sheriff killer" and needed to be hung.

  • Eyewitness to the Battle of the Alamo -
    An Unidentified Mexican Soldier's Personal Account of the Historic Struggle
  • Midget sub commander tells of his role in the attack on Pearl Harbor 7/17/01
    Glad to be first Japanese prisoner of war!
  • The Killing of John Wesley Hardin 5/6/01
    "...There are several different versions as to how Hardin was killed. ... Regardless of which version is true, the fact remains that John Wesley Hardin died as he had lived - violently. ..."
  • The Battle of San Jacinto, April 21, 1836 4/19/01
    Saturday, April 21, 2001, will mark the 165th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. Because of the eventual consequences of this encounter, the battle is considered, by many historians, as one of the most important in world history.
  • 1st Lt. Loye James Lauraine, Jr. 4/8/01
    "He was young, only 26 years old, when he gave up his life to save others...... He was a hero and was posthumously awarded this nation's second highest honor, the Distinguished Service Cross. ....."
  • Life and Times of a Goliad Survivor 3/24/01
    "..... the young man could have avoided all the misery he endured at Goliad because the Mexicans offered all captured Germans the opportunity to join their cause - Ehrenberg refused the offer saying that he considered himself a Texan......"
  • A Survivor's Account of the Goliad Massacre 3/11/01
    "There is a day in Texas history that quite possibly could be considered one of the most tragic. On that day, March 27, 1836, General Santa Anna ordered the execution of some 380 Texas army soldiers - they were prisoners of war. ....."
  • Life on the Trail 2/12/01
    "The cowboy legacy is very much alive in Texas and it has been that way for a long time. After the Civil War, times were tough in Texas and throughout the South. Men returning from that devastating conflict found it hard to make a living. Texas, it seemed, was short on everything; everything that is, but cattle. ....."
  • The Crusty Old Baptist 1/29/01
  • "Little Butch" Comes to Gonzales, Texas 1/15/01
  • The Great Elephant Stampede 1/8/01

  • The Lost Cannon of Lavaca County 12/18/00
  • Riding the Stage, in Old Texas - Stagecoaches from Gonzales to Galveston 12/6/00
  • The Wreck of the Acadia - This blockade runner sleeps with the fishes just off the coast at Surfside 11/21/00
  • Wild Times in Old McDade - Outlaws and vigilantes in McDade
  • Dogs in Church - Vintage wit from Gonzales County 10/27/00
  • Mass Grave in Gonzales (1905) - Still a mystery today 10/10/00
  • From Cost, Texas to Normandy Beach - A World War II hero 9/26/00
  • Bailey's Light - A Brazoria ghost tale 9/15/00
  • The Alcalde Hotel, Gonzales, Texas - Rooms with a past 9/3/00

  • Dilworth
  • Hackberry
  • Hallettsville
  • Old Moulton
  • Speaks
  • Vienna
  • Vsetin

  • Published with author's permission since September, 2000

    Murray Montgomery is a photographer and writer based in Hallettsville.

    Lone Star Diary also appears regularly in these Texas newspapers:
  • The Hallettsville Tribune Herald,
  • The Moulton Eagle,
  • The Shiner Gazette, and
  • The Yoakum Herald Times.






































































































































































































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