Counties are where history happens. While we can get a basic appreciation of important historical events from a worldwide, nationwide, or statewide view, we can never fully understand them until we zoom in more closely. When we study an area about the size of what a historical person could travel on horseback in one day, we begin to understand how the terrain, climate, and natural resources of an area all shape what took place there. For example, everyone knows how important the Battle of the Alamo was, but only by studying the history and geography of Bexar County, going all the way back to 1691, when Domingo Terán and Damian Massanet befriended some Payaya natives at a river they named San Antonio, can one fully appreciate why both sides in Texas' war for independence considered the Alamo to be worth fighting over. By the same token, it is doubtful that man's first word on the moon in 1969 would have been "Houston" had Harris County officials not decided in 1910 to improve the Houston Ship Channel, setting Houston on course to becoming the largest city in the South. National and world history turned out the way it did as the result of decisions affecting areas you need a county map to locate.
Counties are also where history happens on a personal level. While few Americans ever visit Washington, D.C. or their state capital except as tourists, nearly everyone has to go to the county courthouse occasionally, either to take care of personal business, answer a jury summons, or, on a bad day, defend one's self against a criminal accusation. And even when we don't go there in person, our county courthouses are dutifully recording the milestones of our lives, such as being born and dying, getting married and divorced, buying and selling property, and starting a business. These records provide researchers with a wealth of information that often cracks the case on a historical mystery.
This web site is here to help you learn more about Texas, its 254 counties, and the things that happened in them. Our goal is not just to tell you what happened, but to take you there with maps, photographs, driving directions, coordinates, and markers. And to bring it all together, we also give you data in the form of tables, statistics, and lists. We hope you will leave feeling a lot more informed, and maybe even a little more inspired.
Directions: The best way to give directions and describe locations is often to refer to roads and highways. Sometimes it can be confusing, however, when the actual direction of a road in a certain place differs from its official, marked direction. For example, U.S. Highway 59 is marked as a north-south route, so the signs along this highway always read "north" and "south", even through the center of Houston, where it runs east-to-west for seven miles. On this web site, we tend to use the posted "road directions" rather than actual directions, so in the above case, we would write "3.6 miles south on US 59" even if the actual direction is west. Most of the time, the reader will intuitively grasp this usage without us belaboring the point in every instance. If we feel a certain instance may be unclear, however, we will supply the actual direction in parentheses: e.g. "3.6 miles south (west) on US 59."
Metric units: English units of measure, such as miles, pounds, and degrees Farenheit, are the standard in Texas, so those are the units of measure used in our articles and our tables by default. We do, however, offer the convienience of viewing our tables in metric units. This is customizable on our Preferences page. Please remember that when you view our tables in metric units, you are seeing values that were measured in English units, rounded off, converted to metric, and rounded off again. Because of this double rounding, the metric units in our tables will often be a little less accurate than the English units. Our articles always use English units, but we do offer a handy converter tool.
Special characters: Spain and Mexico controlled Texas for 300 years, so many of our historical figures had Spanish names. Likewise, the names of many of our counties, towns, rivers, and other places are of Spanish origin. Unlike English, Spanish makes frequent use of accent marks and tildes to indicate pronunciation. Since this site is written in English, we do not use these non-standard characters in general, but we do include them when writing the name of a person who used them in his or her name. For example, Mexican empresario Martín de León used accent marks in his first and last names, and therefore so do we when writing about him, but not when writing about Leon County, which was named after him.
Information about using material on this site, and our use of materials from other sources, is provided on our copyright page.
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The webmaster, David Carson, can be contacted at davidc (atsign) texascounties.net.