Cowboys, immigrants, farmers, roughnecks: Texas has a history as large as the state itself! Explore the unique roles that Texas has played: as a Spanish colony, as part of the Mexican Frontera, as an independent Republic, and as the 28th state to join the Union.
Discover Texas’ rich legacy of perseverance, determination, diverse heritage and unique spirit through the stories of its central events and famous icons.
Legendary Texas Icons
- Legends live large in Texas; these are just a few of the people you’ll meet in the exhibition.
- René Robert Cavelier de La Salle, French explorer who established the first European colony in Texas – by accident.
- Stephen F. Austin, the first of 23 empresarios to build a colony within Mexican Texas. His Old Three Hundred started a population boom that would lead to the Texas Revolution.
- Davy Crockett, famed frontiersman and United States Congressman, he was one of nearly 200 men who stood for Texas independence against impossible odds.
- Sam Houston, Commander In Chief of the Texas Army, he led the state to victory in the Battle of San Jacinto, where just 18 minutes of battle secured our independence.
- Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the Mexican general who overthrew his government before leading an army to Texas.
- E. E. Townsend, Texas Ranger and founder of Big Bend National Park.
Fascinating Texas Artifacts
- Experience the most significant moments in Texas’ history through artifacts collected from around the state, including:
Artifacts from the 1686 shipwreck of the La Belle, one of René Robert Cavelier de La Salle’s fleet.
- The cannon believed to be the “Come and Take It” Cannon, the spark that ignited the Battle of Gonzales, the first in the war for independence from Mexico.
- Stephen F. Austin’s 1830 ‘Tanner map’ of Texas and adjoining states.
- The decree granting Mexican citizenship to James Bowie, Sept. 30, 1830 – and his famous Bowie Knife, found at the Alamo.
- Col. William Barret Travis’ “Victory or Death” letter, a rare original printed broadside of Col. William Barret Travis’ desperate plea from the Alamo.
- Battle Standard #4, the flag that flew over the decisive Battle of San Jacinto and Sam Houston’s report on the Battle, which includes the phrase “Remember the Alamo,” dated April 25, 1836.
- The Juneteenth Order, from General Robert S. Granger’s June 19, 1865 declaration of Emancipation Day in Texas, the date when all slaves were officially set free.
Historic Texas Events
- An epic history and a diverse geography shaped this wild republic. Explore these and many more historic events in Texas’ history:
- In 1519, Alonzo Alvarez de Piñeda, explored the Gulf Coast from Florida to the Rio Grande. With his four ship fleet, he became the first European to map the Texas coast.
- The Battle of Gonzales launched the Texas Revolution on October 2, 1835 when Mexican forces arrived to take possession of a cannon and Texas residents hoisted a flag bearing the words “Come and Take It.”
- After a 13-day siege, Texan forces – including William Travis, James Bowie and Davy Crockett – are overwhelmed at the Battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836.
- On April 21, 1836, Santa Anna is captured at the Battle of San Jacinto and forced to sign the Treaties of Velasco, ending the war.
- In 1953, the remains of the oldest human skeleton ever discovered in the Western Hemisphere are found near Midland, TX – recent studies indicate the skeleton may be much more than 10,000 years old.
- March 2, 2011 – The 175th Anniversary of Texas Independence!
This special exhibition was organized by the Houston Museum of Natural Science with assistance from The Heritage Society, Houston, The San Jacinto Museum of History, the Dallas Historical Society and The Torch Collection, Houston.
Guest Curator J.P. Bryan. Consulting Curator James Bevill.