• Weird History

13 Facts We Just Learned About Texas That Made Us Say 'Whoa, Pardner'

List RulesVote up the most surprising Texas facts.

Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes its history. The Lone Star State has been a territory ruled by four different countries, its own country, and ultimately a state that boasts a wild history full of gunslingin' and rootin'-tootin' adventure that's made its mark in the history books. And while we all remember the Alamo, there's a lot of Texas history yet to be uncovered.

Just scratching the surface of the state's history yields some truly weird Texas facts, ranging from wild details of the Texas Revolution to a modern Hollywood icon. So hang tight to your hats for a handful of facts that may just merit a "yeehaw!" or two.

  • Among the many settlers who came to Texas in the 19th century, Germans were some of the most numerous, and their descendants still live there today. In a small community between Austin and San Antonio, the residents still speak German as their primary language. And while there are a few pockets of German speakers throughout the US, this group speaks a unique dialect called Texasdeutsch, or "Texas German," which can't be found anywhere else.

    Texas German gets its distinctiveness from a variety of sources. When the settlement first began, the German immigrants came from all over the country, with varying accents and dialects. These all merged into one "melting pot" accent; then the immigrants borrowed words from the "Texas English" being spoken around them to craft a highly individualized version of German. Unfortunately, the two World Wars greatly reduced the amount of German spoken in homes across the US, including Texas German. According to the Texas German Dialect Project, the dialect may be extinct within the next 30 years.

  • Photo: Federal Bureau of Investigation / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Not every bill that goes through the gamut of legislation gets a thorough reading, and one cheeky representative in Texas decided to see just how much his fellow representatives were paying attention. On April 1, 1971, Rep. Tom Moore, Jr., of Waco sponsored a resolution to honor Albert de Salvo for his selfless work for the country. His proposal for a day to honor de Salvo read: 

    This compassionate gentleman’s dedication and devotion to his work has enabled the weak and the lonely throughout the nation to achieve and maintain a new degree of concern for their future. He has been officially recognized by the state of Massachusetts for his noted activities and unconventional techniques involving population control and applied psychology.

    Any true crime fan, of course, would know that de Salvo was more well known as "The Boston Strangler," who had been investigated for his role in the murders of 13 women. And, just like Moore expected, no one took a good look at the resolution, and it passed unanimously. He did withdraw the proposal just after it was passed, explaining that he'd simply meant to prove a point.

  • Photo: Henry Arthur McArdle / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Between October 1835 and April 1836, the settlers in Texas fought for independence from Mexico. While there were plenty of dramatic clashes between the two forces - including the never-forgotten Alamo - the war came to an end in the anti-climactic Battle of San Jacinto, which was over in less than 20 minutes. The Mexican troops, led by General Santa Anna, were feeling confident on the morning of April 21. The rebels hadn't shown in two days, they had 1,100 men ready to fight, and Santa Anna was feeling bold after the recent victories at the Alamo and Goliad, so the soldiers elected to take a siesta in the afternoon.

    But while the massacres at the Alamo and Goliad left Santa Anna confident, the settlers were only spurred on by the recent tragedies. So, while the Mexican army rested, General Samuel Houston rallied his men to strike, running across the prairie with cries of "Remember the Alamo!" and "Remember Goliad!" They took out 600 Mexican soldiers in the ambush, while only losing 9 of their own men. By the end of the fight, they took an additional 700 men as their prisoners, including Santa Anna himself.  He was released when he agreed to Houston's terms to end the war, and thus the Republic of Texas was born.

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    Sam Houston – The Namesake Of Houston – Was Ousted As Governor For Opposing Secession 

    Photo: National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Samuel Houston was one of the biggest names in Texas history. He led the crushing defeat against Mexican forces during the Texas Revolution, he was the final president of the short-lived Republic of Texas, and he was the first governor of Texas after it joined the US. But his role as a Texas leader ended with the start of the Civil War.

    While serving in the Senate, he vehemently opposed bringing slavery to any new states to join the Union (despite owning slaves himself), and he was the only Southern governor to oppose leaving the Union. During the 1861 Secession Convention in Austin, he continued to oppose seceding even as the rest of the state seemed determined to join the Confederacy.

    His warnings that the imminent Civil War would end in a crushing Southern defeat went unheeded, and the Texas legislature voted to remove Houston from office. Afterward, the Union offered the former war hero a chance to lead Northern troops during the war, but he declined, instead withdrawing from the public eye until the end of his days.