Saturday, January 22, 2005

U.S. History they don't want you to know

When I was in the Air Force, I served as an instructor at Goodfellow AFB, which is in San Angelo Texas. If you want to know how to get to San Angelo, and you've never been, take I-10 west from San Antonio (or East from El Paso) and drive for about 5 billion Texas Highway Years (which equates to about 2 Hours of standard time) until you are out of reach of EVERYTHING. Then you turn north and drive another hour and a half.
While taking a history class, I was given the assignment of researching the history of the city. San Angelo is located in the Concho Valley, which is right smack in the middle of Texas; it's east of the Llano Estacado and west of the Hill Country. The Native Americans who lived in Texas at the time would hunt in the area, but wouldn't establish any settlements out there because they considered this area with no trees, little water, and even less shrubbage uninhabitable. The spanish explorers who explored the area pretty much listened to the Native Americans, and decided that this (rather large, about the size of Rhode Island) area was not something they wanted to settle in.
Then come the Americans. The Americans were told "don't try to settle this area, it's uninhabitable." And the Americans said, essentially, "Yeah, right." They first established an army post a little north of San Angelo, Fort Chadbourne, to protect against Indian Attacks, but they abandoned that after a while. Undaunted by common sense and probably suffering a little hurt pride by the "I told you so's," the Americans decided to build another fort, Fort Concho, at the confluence of the North and Middle Concho Rivers. And to prove that this was indeed an inhabitable location, they sent the 9th Cavalry, buffalo soldiers (the Black Army Cavalry) there to live. Given the typical military and social perception of African Americans in the 1870's, you can imagine what a vote of confidence this was to the area.
Of course, every post has to have it's boom town nearby, and very soon, there were gambling halls, bars, and brothels all ready to take the money of the military folks who lived there. That is the birth of San Angelo.
Looking back through the history of the founding of the city, it really appears that San Angelo was founded basically on a "Trading Places" type of dare... What a wonderful, colorful city history.

1 comment:

English Professor said...

LOL. Great travelogue.