Frontier Outposts of the Texas Kind

It all started when I, a 6th grader, ordered a book. Not just any book, but one that featured the missions of Texas, historic Texas homes and…the early forts of Texas…Texas Sketchbook by E.M. Schiwetz.

Texas Sketchbook cover

My family had recently visited the Alamo and I was hooked! My first step into the old mission entrance was electric! Standing where Jim Bowie once stood was almost a religious experience. And it’s really hard to explain, especially to those unfortunate enough to be born somewhere besides Texas!

A reverence.

A quietness.

A hush.

A stillness.

Time frozen in the damp, dark air.

Yeah. I looked and looked for John Wayne, but he wasn’t there. Just lots and lots of Alamo visitors.

I adored the Alamo. My imagination went berserk there! I could almost hear “The Greensleeves of Summer”.  I wondered…where did Bowie die? Did the bell still work? Where was the kitchen? Where were all of those Texas heroes buried?

But, real life smacked my 12 year old self and reality took over again as I headed to school. Imagine my excitement when I had the chance to order a book…a Texas Sketchbook featuring historic Texas sites! Including the Alamo!!

Drawing by E. M. Schiwetz, 1955.

Drawing by E. M. Schiwetz, 1955.

Being an art freak and a novice history buff, my little grade school heart pounded the day the book, Texas Sketchbook was dropped off by our mailman. Much to my mom’s dismay, I sat down and went through the entire book. Then I looked through it again…slowly. Then again even slower. The drawings of the missions captured my full attention.

I was mesmerized by the art work from E. M. Schiwetz! The way he drew his trees was nothing short of miraculous. And his buildings were so…perfect!

That book has moved with me throughout my adult life and I recently drug it out again…about the time I took my granddaughters to Fort Larned last summer.

And there I saw what I had NOT seen as a kid…the frontier forts of Texas!! Why hadn’t I seen that before and why didn’t I know anything about the forts of which there were many!

Fort Chadbourne, by E. M. Schiwetz, 1955.

Fort Chadbourne, by E. M. Schiwetz, 1955.

Lo and behold, one…Fort Chadbourne sat in the very county Big Boss and I had lived in years ago. WHY had I never heard of it?!!!

Long story short…I did a search via Google, called the Fort Chadbourne Visitor’s Center up and discovered that Fort Chadbourne had been restored and opened as a privately funded center in 2012. Up to that point, Fort Chadbourne was just part of a pasture in West Texas.

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THAT was why I had never heard of it!!! During our years in West Texas, Fort Chardbourne was a ghost residing amongst cactus and mesquite trees. And probably snakes. Rattlesnakes.

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I called the fort center and promised the nice lady at the Visitor’s Center that I would stop by. SO…on our trip last month to celebrate another State Champion Team reunion, we visited Ft. Chadbourne. Love, love, love that place! We couldn’t stay long but we were there long enough for some quick photos.
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I can’t wait to go there this spring when the pastures are greening up, the bluebonnets are blooming (please tell me Fort  is blanketed by bluebonnets?!!) and maybe even a random cactus bursting into bloom.

If you’re looking for a new historical site…in West Texas…check the place out. They’re still renovating, excavating, building…and the fort is privately funded.

By the way…Happy Texas Independence Day!!!

Flags

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One Response to Frontier Outposts of the Texas Kind

  1. Pingback: Fort Griffin: A Frontier Oasis | Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Country Life

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