Happy Texas Independence Day, y’all! On this day 181 years ago, Texans met at Washington-on-the-Brazos (we’ll get to that later) and signed the Texas declaration of independence. It’s the document that declared Texas free from Mexico. In 1836, the struggle for the Alamo was in full swing and would continue for four more days. In 2016, we get to bask in the glory in the eventual victory of the Texas forces.
To celebrate, here are 15 Texas trivia facts to impress your friends with when y’all get to talking about Texas Independence Day.
15. The Republic of Texas had five other capital cities before settling on Austin. In order, they include Washington-on-the-Brazos, Harrisburg, Galveston, Velasco and West Columbia. Sorry, San Antonio – you were capital during Spanish and Mexican Texas, not the independence period.
14. Austin was formerly known as Waterloo, and has since been the only capital since Texas became a state. This name is especially ironic because in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, European conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte was embarrassingly defeated. Sound similar to the defeat of Santa Anna at San Jacinto?
Sam Houston led the Texan army in the defeat of the Mexican troops after only 18 minutes of fighting. Houston went on to become the official President of the Republic of Texas, until Texas joined the United States.
13. If you plan on visiting the Washington-on-the-Brazos, get ready to hear this popular and infamous saying: “There are two places where a nation was born: Philadelphia and Washington, Texas.”
12. Texas is the only state to enter the United States by treaty, because it was already an independent nation after the Texas revolution. Congress admitted Texas into the Union in 1845 as part of the Tyler Texas Treaty. The most common misconception about that treaty is that Texas is the only state to fly its flag at the same height as the American flag. That is 100 percent false.
11. Heard of the Texas Giants? The Shields brothers from Texas who performed in P.T. Barnum’s circus claimed to be just under eight feet tall, but that’s still undetermined.
10. The state mammal of Texas is the armadillo! So if you don’t like them, then get outta the Lone Star State. Try not to hit one as you drive away.
9. Brazoria County has more species of birds than any other area in North America, making it a bird-watchers paradise.
8. The oldest tree in Texas is The Big Tree in Rockport, part of Goose Island State Park, which is estimated to be around 1500 years old. That’s 500 years older than the first Crusades campaign.
7. It’s true that the first rodeo took place in Texas, but no one can quite figure out where it was. Most people say Pecos, Texas, but while Pecos celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first rodeo in 1983, they also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the West of the Pecos rodeo in 1979. Meanwhile, Prescott maintains all along that they held the first rodeo in 1888. Can someone explain this?
6. Country music radio, however, is most certainly Texan as the first country music radio broadcast was on Fort Worth’s WBAP, aired in 1923.
5. The first major Texas oil well was struck in Beaumont, Texas on January 10, 1901 in Spindletop Oil Field, and the rest is Texas history.
4. Popeye, everyone’s favorite sailor, first appeared in Victoria, Texas in 1929 on the pages of the Victoria Advocate. Just think of how many kids would never eat spinach if Popeye didn’t exist!
3. Speaking of characters, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was partially based on a true story, but not a Texas one. The story’s infamous villain Leatherface was loosely based on Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein, who was also the inspiration for Norman Bates in Pyscho.
2. As for the Waco-born soda champion, there is no period in Dr Pepper. Dr. Pepper is so very wrong because that little period was dropped in the 1950s.
1. Did you know the governor of Texas can name Honorary Texans? Here are a few surprises: Bob Hope, Bob Dylan, Phil Collins, Russell Crowe, and General Douglas MacArthur.