What a Texas-sized battle over state history means

Early Texas history once marched across land owned by the Pinkerton family for four generations. 

On their way into the history books, the famous feet of Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, and other icons first tramped from the Red River down the historic road of Trammel’s Trace. What began as a smuggler’s route became, in the chaotic decades around Mexican independence, a primary causeway for Anglo immigrants (white, English-speaking immigrants) looking to settle beyond America’s southwest frontier. 

The trail passed right through a pasture on Pinkerton land in Rusk County, Gary Pinkerton’s father mentioned one day. Mr. Pinkerton was hooked. 

Why We Wrote This

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What is the purpose of studying the past? A lawsuit against a Texas historical organization was really, both sides say, about how the narrative arc of history will bend in the future.

“I began to feel history rather than just learn about it,” says the retired human resources director.

He spent 10 years driving the back roads of East Texas and combing through historical records. What began as a family history project became a forensic historical investigation. Eventually, it became a book.

“The more I researched, the more I learned things that just weren’t true – myths and legends that had floated around,” he says.

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