Texas Grape Man

Texan, Thomas Volney Munson (1843-1913) of Denison saved the vineyards of France from phylloxera in 1868. The disease destroyed most of the grapevines in France, decimating their wine industry. Munson known as T.V., was a renowned horticulturist with expertise in viticulture. The French government requested his help. He developed a phylloxera-resistant rootstock from native Texas vinifera. He shipped cuttings to France, which were grafted onto French vines. The hardy rootstock of Texas grapevines thrived in the French soil, therefore saving the vineyards of France.

The French government sent a delegation to Denison to present T.V. the “French Legion of Honor” in 1888. Cognac, France and Denison, Texas became sister cities. In France, monuments were erected in his honor. One hundred years later, the T.V. Munson Viticulture and Enology Center was established on the campus of Grayson College at Sherman, Texas.

For more information on T.V. Munson I recommend Grape Man of Texas, Authors Roy E. Renfro, Jr. and Sherrie S. McLeRoy.


Cowboy Dad

Malcolm Bowles was born June 24, 1912, on the family ranch located on the east side of the Pedernales River at the confluence of the Colorado River. The nearest community was Mudd, which Lake Travis covered after completion of the Marshall Ford Dam. The area is now known as Spicewood and Briarcliff.

Dad always had cows to tend. He raised cattle like his father, grandfather and three brothers, all Travis County pioneers. Yet, I never heard him referred to as a cowboy by anyone, until his funeral. I remember the neighbors seeking his guidance with calving, parasite control and fencing. He enjoyed working his herd well into his eighties.

Today, he would have been 104 years old, the 13th year since his death. He passed away one minute after midnight, June 24, 2003. His service ended with Willie Nelson’s song “Mamma’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.” He is buried beside his wife of 46 years, Ida, at the Live Oak Cemetery in Manchaca, Texas.

Missed, but not forgotten.

Happy Birthday Great Grandmother!

One hundred seventy-five years ago today, Austin’s first recorded birth of a female child took place in a small cabin on Pecan Street. Elnora Van Cleve was born on the 14th day of April 1841. Parents Margaret Smith and Lorenzo Van Cleve married in July; one of six marriages in the first year of Austin’s existence.

Lorenzo made a canopy bed for his bride; adding a small trundle bassinette which pulled out from underneath. The bed is on display in Anson Jones’ restored home at Barrington Farms, Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park.

Her maternal grandfather, Thomas W. Smith, would be killed by Indians before she was four months old. Her mother died when Elnora was nine. She helped her father raise five brothers. In the census of 1860, three of her siblings still lived with her and Dan Brown, who she married September 13, 1859. Elnora and Dan Brown had 14 children, the last my grandmother Lilly Brown-Bowles born December 19, 1880.

Elnora was truly a Daughter of The Republic of Texas; born just blocks from the first permanent capitol, five years after the Battle of San Jacinto.

Great grandmother, Elnora Van Cleve-Brown, died January 2, 1900 at home on the family ranch at Spicewood, Texas. She is buried on private property near Pace Bend Park Road (FM 2322), Spicewood.

Great Grandmother

Golden Shore

Home is where the RV is parked; the mantra of a full-time RVer. Today’s post is about where full-time RVers park their home on wheels. There are RV resorts where one rents a spot on a weekly or monthly basis. Campgrounds provide daily camping where tents are allowed. Then there are trailer parks, which will be another post. Costs vary by location and the amenities offered, just like hotels.

After 10 years of the RV lifestyle, I’ve had the opportunity to stay in some of the worst and the best! One of the best was Golden Shore RV Resort in downtown Long Beach, 101 Golden Shore. This is a small boutique 5 Star Resort that is nestled on the water’s edge with a view of the Queen Mary, only blocks from the Catalina Ferry. I spent a fun-filled two weeks there in June of 2012. If you go, don’t be surprised to be parked next to a million dollar custom motor coach of the rich and famous.

David's Toys


Savior of Austin

In downtown Austin, Texas near Congress Avenue and Sixth Street, stands a bronze statue of Angelina Eberly holding a torch, igniting a canon. From where the monument stands, the Tennessee native fired the opening shot in the short-lived “Archives War” and earned the innkeeper the title of “Savior of Austin.”

Sam Houston ordered the Capitol of the Republic of Texas moved to Houston on March 10, 1842. The estimated two hundred remaining residents of Austin knew if the national archives were removed, Austin would never again be the Capitol. They formed a vigilance committee and loaded the cannon with grape shot in anticipation of a raid of the national records.

On the morning of December 30, 1842, twenty-six men in three wagons, on orders of President Sam Houston, arrived to take the national archives. Land Commissioner, Thomas William Ward or “Peg Leg” as the locals called him, directed the loading of eleven boxes. By noon the wagons were ready to roll, angry vigilantes’ shook their fists at Ward and the soldiers, as Angelina fired her famous shot. Shrapnel hit the Land Office, but no one was injured. The wagons took off north toward Kenny Fort on Brushy Creek. The vigilantes caught up with them, a short gun battle ensued. Houston’s men surrendered and the records were returned to Austin.

angelina eberly statue2

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