Texas Roots: Agriculture and Rural Life before the Civil War

Texas Roots: Agriculture and Rural Life before the Civil War

Texas Roots: Agriculture and Rural Life before the Civil War

Texas Roots: Agriculture and Rural Life before the Civil War


In today's Texas, with its growing urban populations and big-city lifestyles, it is worth remembering that in 1850 only 10 percent of Texans lived in towns with as many as 100 people. The rest-of many ethnic and racial groups-lived off the land, which was blessedly suited to a profitable variety of crops and livestock and also provided an abundance of wildlife free for the taking.

In Texas Roots, C. Allan Jones reminds us that the economic wealth of modern Texas arose from its agricultural heritage, a rich mixture of practices and traditions including:

-Caddo hunting, gathering, gardening, and farming

-Irrigated agriculture at Spanish missions

-Hispanic ranching

-Slave-based plantations

-Small-scale farmers and ranchers

Through time, people adapted the agricultural technologies, laws, and customs of New Spain, Mexico, Europe, and the South to their own practical, institutional, and legal needs. The result was a particularly Texan system that would serve as the foundation for the state's economic strength after the Civil War.

Texas Roots shines a bright light on our relationship and connection with the land, bringing alive an aspect of the Texas history that contributed immeasurably to the state's identity and prosperity.


Texas is a land of great natural beauty, enormous human and natural resources, and proud people. Texans have been marked by their state’s Hispanic heritage, the war for independence from Mexico, the state’s survival as an independent republic, and a frontier ethic defined by over two hundred years of conflict among Native American, Hispanic, Anglo-American, and other ethnicgroups. Because of their state’s colorful history, great size, and fruitful yet sometimes harsh landscape, Texans have maintained a strong, personal relationship with both their state and its lands. That relationship often begins in childhood, is cultivated in the public schools, and matures in adulthood. As a result, many Texans have a strong sense of place and take great pride in their state and in being Texan.

The objective of this book is to bring alive a part of Texas history that is rarely addressed: the relationship of Texans to their land before the Civil War—the time when the foundations of Texans’ identity were forged. This approach focuses on how Texans used the land, including hunting, cultivating crops, producing livestock, and constructing homesteads—activities that occupied, directly or indirectly, the great majority of Texans prior to the Civil War. I have used numerous quotations from primary sources to give the reader a better sense of Texas and Texans in the eighteenth . . .

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