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Book Review: The Spirit of Texas, The Astonishing Story of a Pioneer Rancher's Family and Their Mighty State by Winston Menzies

Texas Rangers Museum Waco, Texas

I love history. I can't remember a time when I did not love to hear stories from my own family as well as stories from others about life in the past. I was always amazed when my maternal grandmother "mamaw" would tell me about the uncomfortable clothing she had to wear as a young girl. She wore petticoats, scratchy underwear, black stockings, stiff leather shoes. I'm told my maternal grandfather "papaw" loved to pick cotton as a young man. He would head to west Texas and could pick cotton all day. I even have a photograph of him leaning up against a wagon loaded with cotton. Papaw was a hard working man, most of his working life he held at least 2 to 3 jobs. My maternal grandmother never learned to drive a car, or ride a bicycle. She never stepped foot in a grocery store until she'd been married several years. She was though an excellent homemaker, mother, gardener, there was not a lazy bone in her body. Another story I've often heard is mamaw would bake papaw a chocolate pie from scratch every morning for breakfast, at least till they had children. Life was certainly different for them as opposed to their grandchildren.
I was anxious to read The Spirit of Texas by Winston Menzies because in many ways his story of his family is my family's story. It gave me an education on how my grandparents and previous generations lived.
My papaw next to a cotton wagon, 1924. This was a photo he mailed back to my mamaw when they were courting.

The Spirit of Texas by Winston Menzies
Published by Creative Publishing Company 2011
B and B Media Group 
Hardcover 29.99 through the publisher
Christian Non-Fiction/Texas History/Biography/Pioneer
270 pages

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William Menzies was born in Scotland in about 1855. When just a young child he and his family immigrated first to Canada, then later moved to New York state. William apprenticed in both brick mason and carpentry trades. At the age of 21 he traveled to Galveston, Texas carrying only a wooden carpentry box. Eventually William traveled farther in to western Texas settling near Menard, Texas on the San Saba river. William began his ranching life with owning sheep, then later horses and mules, and then cattle ranching. When he was 33 years of age he married Letha Ann, the sister of a neighbor and friend. Together they had 8 children, ranched, farmed. They were hard working faithful independent determined people that define The Spirit of Texas. They also loved the Lord and never forgot that it was He that had provided for them.  
The author Winston Menzies is the great grandson of William and Letha Ann Menzies. His family and his Texas heritage has inspired him to write the story of the Menzies clan. Included in The Spirit of Texas are stories of other Texas pioneers that to him define The Spirit of Texas.
Winston Menzies writes about farming, ranching, living a solitary life on the western frontier, and family life. He also writes about the Boll Weevil outbreak during the late 1800's, The Great Screwworm Plague that forced ranchers to always be on the defense, and other diseases that affected animals and even people.
He told the story of a flood that caused the San Saba river to over flow and flood the land.
He tells of cattle feuds, and hunting wild game, and of the Native American's that lived in Texas.
The author concludes his book with his feelings about our current economy, dependence on government, and bankrupted government programs.

I enjoyed reading this book. It is full of black and white photograph's. Both his story and photo's were an education to me on my home state of Texas. Menzies story also parallels in some ways the story of my own family, and in this I was most interested in learning all I could about how people lived during the early years of Texas establishment.
Even though I am not usually a reader of livestock, farming, ranching, and hunting. I found these subjects interesting.
The characters that Winston Menzies wrote about inspired me, and kindled pride for being a Texas. 

Thank you to B and B Media and Creative Publishing Company for my free review copy

Blissful Reading!