Most of my posts to date have been related to history of the Colonial Era in New England, and to my first two novels, The Heretic’s Daughter and The Traitor’s Wife. But, as I’m nearing the completion of my third novel set in Texas during the Reconstruction Era of post Civil War America (and have spent the last year researching the topic) I’ll be posting some discovered revelations about this little known period of Texas history.
One northerner visiting Texas in 1869 said that Texans were like the weather, “a perpetual enigma, a tissue of contradictions” and that its citizens did “everything for honor and nothing for justice.” The time in which this “damn yankee” made his observations was one of the most violent periods in the Republic’s past. In 1869 Texas led the country in homicide rates. Recognizable man-killers like Cullen Baker, Elisha Guest, Wild Bill Longley and Ben Griffith walked openly in the streets and the home-grown law keepers had been effectively gutted, disarmed and disenfranchised, by the still-present Federalist forces. A year later, in 108 counties there were 2,790 known petty and violent criminals at large. There was general and open hostility towards the immigrant population flooding into Texas, which had been left at least physically untouched by the Civil War battles raging farther to the East; border disputes still flared with Mexico, Native Americans were being shot first and questioned second, and gun control was a hot button issue.
Struggling to rise from the chaos, and often volunteering at great risk to themselves to restore order in their towns and fields, were men and women of the soil, settlers and cowboys who were often the real, unsung heroes of this battle to regain peace and civility to a savage place.
The above photo is of my dad, John Hickman, who, in an earlier time, would have been happy to have been called a cowboy.