September 5, 2024 6:00 pm - September 5, 2024 7:30 pm

Life and Death on Texas’ Antebellum Frontier: From the Red River to El Paso

“A Taint on the Wind” by Frederic Remington (1906), courtesy of the Sid Richardson Museum, Fort Worth, TX


This is the story of Texas’ antebellum frontier, from the Red River to El Paso, a raw and primitive country, punctuated by chaos, lawlessness, and violence. During this time, the federal government and the State of Texas often worked at cross purposes, their confused and contradictory policies leaving settlers on their own to deal with vigilantes, lynchings, raiding Native Americans, and Anglo American outlaws. Before the Civil War, the Texas frontier was a sectional transition zone, where southern ideology clashed with western perspectives, and where diverse cultures with differing worldviews collided.

This is also the tale of the Butterfield Overland Mail, which carried passengers and mail west from St. Louis to San Francisco through Texas. While it operated, the transcontinental mail line intersected and influenced much of Texas’s frontier history. Through meticulous research spanning a quarter century, including visits to all the sites he describes, Glen Sample Ely uncovers the fascinating story of the Butterfield Overland Mail in Texas.

Presenter: Glen Sample Ely is the award-winning author of The Texas Frontier and the Butterfield Overland Mail, 1858-1861 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016) and Where the West Begins: Debating Texas Identity (Texas Tech University Press, 2011) which received sixteen honors and awards combined. His third book, Murder in Montague: Frontier Justice and Retribution in Texas (University of Oklahoma Press, 2020) won the Lowman Memorial Book Prize from the Texas State Historical Association. Ely is co-author of Confederates and Comancheros: Skullduggery and Double-Dealing in the Texas-New Mexico Borderlands (University of Oklahoma Press, 2021), which won first place book awards from Westerners International and the Will Rogers Medallion Awards. Ely earned his Ph.D. from TCU. His work has won the Award of Excellence in Preserving History from the Texas Historical Commission as well as Gold and Silver Wilder Awards from the Texas Association of Museums. In 2018 Ely was inducted as a Fellow in the Texas State Historical Association.