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The soil and climate are best adapted to the growth of Cotton, Sugar, Corn, potatoes &c, which grow very luxuriantly. Fruit peculiar to this climate or latitude can be raised without any difficulty–the peach, pear, plumb, fig, grape, pomegranite, quince, apricot, orange, lemon, banana &c. &c. are at present growing in the colony and I am informed do remarkably well–for melons, pumpkins, squashes, cucumbers, and all vines it surpasses any country I ever saw–you have but to plant them and you have almost a certainty of a plentiful harvest…

Whether you came to Texas at the behest of the first impressario of Anglo settlement of the most unusual spot under the heavens, at the beginning of the 20th century to turn a dessert into a garden in west Texas or in the 21st century to escape the taxes and madness of the blue states the one thing you may be very sure of is than between the promoters and speculators you have been lied to about the land you bought. Either the fire ants have replaced the Comanches, the crops that grew last year wither in this year’s drought, your oil and gas reservoirs have been depleted by slant drilling or that special slice of paradise you found is being split by TXDOT for another highway for another factory. The most amazing thing is that people keep coming and keep succeeding and keep making this the best place on earth to live!

 

Wife of Texas tenant farmer. The wide lands of the Texas Panhandle are typically operated by white tenant farmers, i.e., those who possess teams and tools and some managerial capacity

Wife of Texas tenant farmer. The wide lands of the Texas Panhandle are typically operated by white tenant farmers, i.e., those who possess teams and tools and some managerial capacity

Land of bright promise : advertising the Texas Panhandle and South Plains, 1870-1917 Jan Blodgett Austin : University of Texas Press, 1988 Hardcover. 1st ed. 153 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Bibliography: p. 135-146. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Stratford, Texas. Oil and wheat storage in the Panhandle

Stratford, Texas. Oil and wheat storage in the Panhandle

Land of Bright Promise is a fascinating exploration of the multitude of land promotions and types of advertising that attracted more than 175,000 settlers to the Panhandle-South Plains area of Texas from the late years of the nineteenth century to the early years of the twentieth. Shunned by settlers for decades because of its popular but forbidding image as a desert filled with desperadoes, savage Indians, and solitary ranchers, the region was seen as an agricultural and cultural wasteland. The territory, consequently, was among the last to be settled in the United States.

Sherman County, Texas. Roughnecks on core drilling crew for the Phillips Petroleum Company

Sherman County, Texas. Roughnecks on core drilling crew for the Phillips Petroleum Company

From 1890 to 1917, land companies and agents competed to attract new settlers to the plains. To this end, the combined efforts of local residents, ranchers and landowners, railroads, and professional real estate agents were utilized. Through brochures, lectures, articles, letters, fairs, and excursion trips, midwestern farmers were encouraged to find new homes on what was once feared as the “Great American Desert.” And successful indeed were these efforts: from 13,787 in 1890, the population grew to 193,371 in 1920 with a corresponding increase in the amount of farms and farm acreage.

Texas panhandle, Moore County, Texas. Freight train

Texas panhandle, Moore County, Texas. Freight train

The book looks at the imagination, enthusiasm, and determination of land promoters as they approached their task, including their special advertisements and displays to show the potential of the area. Treating the important roles of the cattlemen, the railroads, the professional land companies, and local boosters, Land of Bright Promise also focuses on the intentions and expectations of the settlers themselves.

Working cowboy

Working cowboy

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