In the 21st century, it's easy to forget that underneath the steel and concrete Space City has deep agricultural roots. Familiar places like Piney Point were on the map in 1824, a dozen years before Houston was founded. German farmers settled Spring Branch in 1839, cotton fields bloomed Uptown in the mid-1800s and post-Civil War cattle drives started near today's Shepherd Drive.
On Tuesday, August 8, hear stories of Harris County's pioneer beginnings when Dan Worrall, the author of Pleasant Bend: Upper Buffalo Bayou and the San Felipe Trail in the Nineteenth Century, explains how a sluggish body of water and a rugged trail stirred an economic engine. Roughly following the route of today's San Felipe Road, the trail carried cotton from plantations along the Brazos and Colorado rivers across seemingly endless tallgrass prairie to Houston's port on Buffalo Bayou for shipment to the wider world. After Emancipation, African American families from those same plantations made their way east on the San Felipe Trail to begin new lives in Houston's Freedmen's Town.
The author will discuss his research for the book, speak about the surviving elements of west Houston's largely forgotten agricultural past and share some of the historic photos that provide a clearer view of Harris County in the settlement era.
Worrall is a member of the Harris County Historical Commission and worked to preserve the antebellum Morse-Bragg Cemetery near the Galleria. He is a fifth-generation Houstonian whose ancestors lived in several locations along the San Felipe Trail. A retired exploration geologist, he holds a bachelor's degree from Rice University and a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Texas at Austin.
The author will be signing his book after his presentation. Pleasant Bend: Upper Buffalo Bayou and the San Felipe Trail in the Nineteenth Century will be available for purchase at the event.
Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the program will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Proler Chapel at Congregation Emanu El, 1500 Sunset Boulevard.
Admission to History in Print is free for Preservation Houston members and members of Congregation Emanu El. Admission is $5 for the general public.
Free parking is available in the garage located behind the synagogue (enter from Sunset using the driveway on the east side of the building). Congregation Emanu El is also a short walk from the Hermann Park/Rice University station on MetroRail's Red Line.
If you have any questions, please e-mail or call (713) 510-3990.
History in Print is part of the Bart Truxillo Program Series, which honors the memory of pioneer preservationist and Preservation Houston co-founder Bart Truxillo. The Bart Truxillo Program Series is made possible by the generous contributions of Preservation Houston's members and friends.