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The Great Texas Quiz

Texans the world over are proud to call their home the "Great State." While this refers in part to the physical size of Texas, it is equally applied to the state's natural resources, its diverse beauty, and certainly the "can-do" spirit of the Texas people. The Texas State Historical Association is pleased to present its seventh Texas history quiz, focused on the "greatness" of Texas in its many dimensions.

As in the past, this is an open-book quiz, designed both to challenge and educate, but also to emphasize the fun and excitement of Texas history. We particularly want to encourage the active use of the Handbook of Texas Online, which has received more than 36 million page views since it was launched. You may prefer to consult our printed versions of the Handbook and the new Portable Handbook of Texas . These three sources will be considered authoritative in case of occasional disputes.

One of the unique and exciting elements of the Handbook of Texas Online, with its 23,000 comprehensive articles, is the ability to research topics by key words. For example, if you want to research "great inventors" in the state of Texas, an excellent starting point is an online search of the Handbook for the words "inventor" or "invention."

Indeed, the word "inventor" alone produced 58 separate references, and will introduce you to great people, places, and things that you might otherwise never encounter. Did you know, for example, that Henry Sigler, a free black resident of Galveston before the Civil War, was both a violin-playing barber and the inventor of an improved and safer fishhook?

Using this online search technique, we have researched ten interesting dimensions of our Texas heritage, and have used them as building blocks for our quarterly quiz. We have organized these in five subcategories: Physical Features, Historical Events, Symbols, Culture, and Texans. We are only scratching the surface, and encourage you to launch your own research. Happy hunting!

The Questions

Question 1:

Great Texas Physical Features--Rivers. As noted in our July 2001 quiz, which focused entirely on Texas rivers (see our online quiz archive), the diverse topography of Texas has helped provide our state an abundance of rivers, several of which have played important roles in Texas history. A search of the Online Handbook using the word "river" produces an amazing 1,001 entries! The rivers below are five of the "greatest" in Texas, at least as measured by their length. Which of these is the longest?

Brazos River
Rio Grande
Pecos River
Colorado River
Sabine River

Question 2:

Great Texas Physical Features--Mountains. Although Texas mountains may not reach the heights of those in Colorado and Alaska, there is an abundance of mountains and other peaks to climb and explore. A search in our Online Handbook using the word "mountain" produces 1,000 entries. The eastern ranges of the Rocky Mountain system cross Texas in a general northwest-southeast direction in the Trans-Pecos region. Five of our tallest or best known mountains are listed below. Which has the highest peak?

Mount Livermore (Davis Mountains)
Mount Locke (Davis Mountains)
Emory Peak (Chisos Mountains--Big Bend National Park)
Lost Mine Peak (Chisos Mountains--Big Bend National Park)
Guadalupe Peak (Guadalupe Mountains)

Question 3:

Great Texas Historical Events--Battles. Texas has never been afraid to fight for its beliefs, and there has been no shortage of battles in Texas history. The following are five of the better known. One of these, on October 2, 1835, was the first skirmish of the Texas Revolution. A group of revolutionary Texans, not wanting to give up the town cannon to Mexican soldiers, challenged the Mexicans to "Come and Take It." Which battle was it?

Battle of San Jacinto
Battle of the Alamo
Battle of Gonzales
Battle of Palo Alto
Battle of Sabine Pass

Question 4:

Great Texas Historical Events--Treaties. Great battles, both military and political, often led to great treaties. Five of the more important treaties in Texas history are listed below. One of these treaties, signed on February 2, 1848, ended the Mexican War, recognized the annexation of Texas to the United States (consummated nearly three years before), and ceded to the United States Upper California (the modern state of California) and nearly all of the present American Southwest between California and Texas. Which treaty was it?

Adams–Onís Treaty
Treaties of Velasco
Treaty of Bowles Springs
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Treaty of 1884

Question 5:

Great Texas Symbols--Ranches. The world's image of Texas often begins with sprawling ranches, ranging from J. R.'s Southfork Ranch from the TV show Dallas to the much larger Riata ranch in the movie Giant. The following are five of the state's most important historic ranches, all of which are described in separate articles in the Handbook of Texas. The land sale for one of these ranches provided the capital ($3.2 million), mostly from British investors, to finance the current state Capitol. The three-million-acre tract of land in the Texas Panhandle was so vast that the original surveying party traveled 950 miles over 36 days during its inspection. The ranch's land covered all or parts of ten West Texas counties. Which ranch is it?

King Ranch
XIT Ranch
Lambshead Ranch
Waggoner Ranch
JA Ranch

Question 6:

Great Texas Symbols--Rangers. Perhaps in the same way that the Canadian Mountie has become a symbol of northern Canada, the Texas Ranger has become an enduring symbol of early Texas. In 1823, Stephen F. Austin hired ten experienced frontiersmen as "rangers" to defend against Indian attacks. In November 1835, the Texas Rangers was formally established. Listed below are five well-known Texas Rangers. One of these men followed Davy Crockett to Texas from Tennessee. At the battle of San Jacinto, he commanded one of the famed "Twin Sisters" cannons. He served for many years in the Texas Rangers, including during the Mexican War, in which he served as Zachary Taylor's chief of scouts. He was a brigadier general in the Civil War and was killed in the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas. Which Texas Ranger is it?

John Coffee "Jack" Hays
William A. A. "Bigfoot" Wallace
John S. "Rip" Ford
Benjamin McCulloch
John R. King

Question 7:

Great Texas Culture--Literature: Texas has achieved its fame in part from great books and literature, going all the way back to Cabeza de Vaca's 1542 classic, Relación, which details the explorer's experiences among Texas Indians. Listed below are five other great titles in Texas literature. One of these, by a Texas-born writer, won the Texas Institute of Letters award and was the first Texas book to win the National Book Award. It described a year in the life of a tenant farmer. Which book is it?

Mary Austin Holley, Texas (1833)
Katherine Anne Porter, Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939)
George Sessions Perry, Hold Autumn in Your Hand (1941)
John Graves, Goodbye to a River (1960)
Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove (1985)

Question 8:

Great Texas Culture--Songs. Texas music has been an essential part of the Texas culture. Many great songs have captured Texas pride; five are listed below. The Forty-first Texas Legislature made one of them the state song in 1929, following a statewide competition. After Alaska joined the union in 1959, the lyrics needed to be changed from "largest and grandest" to "boldest and grandest." Which song is it?

"The Eyes of Texas"
"Will You Come to the Bower?"
"Texas, Our Texas"
"The Yellow Rose of Texas"
"That’s Right (You’re Not from Texas)"

Question 9:

Great Texans--Inventors. Our word search of "inventors" produced a number of fascinating entries. Five of the more interesting are listed below. One of these, born in San Antonio in 1924, was the inventor of Liquid Paper, a very successful way to correct typing errors. After initially using tempera paint in 1954, the formula was fine-tuned at home with the help of a local chemistry teacher. The Liquid Paper Corporation was producing 500 bottles a minute by 1975, and was sold in 1979 to the Gillette Corporation. Who was the inventor?

Bette Clair McMurray Graham
Ned Eastman Barnes
Gail Borden, Jr.
Robert Creuzbaur
James Field Smathers

Question 10:

Great Texas Heroes. Texas is also known for its great heroes, including notably Davy Crockett, William Barret Travis, and Sam Houston. Wanting to identify other great Texas heroes, we searched the words "medal of honor" in the Handbook and found 122 entries. A total of 41 Texans won the Medal of Honor in World War II alone, five of whom are listed below. One of these, a native of Kingston, Texas, was the most decorated combat soldier in United States history; he received 33 awards and citations. Subsequently he was a successful movie actor, appearing in 45 motion pictures, including To Hell and Back, based on a best-selling book he wrote about his military service. He was also a writer of country and western songs, an author, and a poet. Which hero is it?

Raymond Lee Knight
Jack W. Mathis
Cleto L. Rodríguez
Audie Leon Murphy
Samuel David Dealey

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