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Gone to Texas (1978)

Jay Moore

Sound | 1978

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TAMI Tags
  •  Texas Actor Guich Koock who began his career in Speilberg’s “The Sugarland Express” and starred in TV series “Carter Country.” Koock comes from old Texas familes and also once owned the town of Luckenbach, Texas. Learn more about this fascinating Texan’s life in the tab below! 
  •  Karankawas and Tonkawas 
  •  Cynthia Tannehill Faulk Ryland (left), daughter of Texas folklorist and humorist John Henry Faulk 
  •  Guich Koock’s two sons, Travis and Dobie, also appear in this film as settlers 
 
Transcript
  •  GK: Sure is beautiful out here on this Brazos River. Great climate, Good land. Good for raising cattle, or farming or just good livin’. 
  •  Boy: Boy, your family sure has been livin’ here a long time; you must really know this land. 
  •  GK: You bet, I spent a lot of time on this river. 
  •  Boy: You can’t even see a road, looks almost as man had never even been here. 
  •  GK: Yeah, that’s one thing I like about it best. Sometimes when I come out here, I just imagine what it must have been like before the first settlers came. 
  •  Girl: This where you found the arrowhead? 
  •  GK: Yeah we dug it out of the river bank just awhile back. 
  •  Girl: Were there many Indians in this part? 
  •  GK: Yeah, quite a few. There were the Karankawas along the coast, along the Gulf of Mexico, they came up here sometimes, then the Tonkawas, and they lived around here. They were the ones that raided the settlers when they came 
  •  Boy: You mean the Spanish settlers? Weren’t they here first? 
  •  GK: No, not around here, nuh-uh. Spain was the first one to claim Texas, alright, but this area along the Brazos River was settled by a man from the United States named Austin, Stephen F. Austin. See that spot over by those trees over there? 
  •  Boy: Yeah. 
  •  GK: That’s where the Anglos were given permission to settle in Texas when they first came over a hundred and fifty years ago. Looks the same today as it did back then. 
  •  Surveyor 1: It narrows a little here, Andrew, and the current’s not too strong. 
  •  (Andrew Robinson) AR: If we work fast, I can build a landing here before the others start coming in. 
  •  Surveyor 1: Well, those wagons will be slowed by the rains coming through, we can start cutting timber tomorrow. 
  •   AR: You got a cousin coming on the Lively, right? 
  •  Surveyor 1: Yes. He and his family sailed from New Orleans, they should be landing at the Colorado, maybe next week. 
  •  AR: I know Mr. Austin wants to be down there to meet ‘em when they land. 
  •  Surveyor 1: I hear there’s a wagon train full of families coming in from Missouri. I hear there’s settlers coming all the way from Georgia. 
  •  Surveyor 1: Oh, so much land. And look at the color! So rich! 
  •  AR: Even Pennsylvania! 
  •  GK: Andrew Robinson was the first of Austin’s Colonists to arrive at that spot. Where the old Bahia road meets the Brazos River. He built the first ferry crossing and took all the folks that came with him and their horses and their wagons across the river to settle Texas. 
  •  Boy: Well, how come they came? 
  •  GK: Well ya see, Austin promise them land, lots of land, good land, and cheap land. It was land that would be their new beginning. 
  •   Girl: You mean Stephen F. Austin owned this land? 
  •  Boy: No, no, nuh-uh. I read all about Stephen F. Austin. 
  •  GK: Austin’s what the Spanish called an Empresario. 
  •  Boy: An Empre-what? 
  •  Girl: An Empresario 
  •   Boy: What’s an Empresario? 
  •  GK: An Empresario’s just a land contract, someone who made a contract with the Spanish government to settle the land. See the Spanish had been in Texas for almost three hundred years at that time. They came to Christianize the Indians. They had a governor over in San Antonio, San Fernando de Bexar they called it then. The other major settlements were around Nacogdoches and Goliad. You see what Texas is like today, but back in oh…1819-1820…this whole area was empty territory. Most of Texas from the Sabine to the Rio Grande was empty wilderness. And I mean wilderness. This allowed room for lots more people to come in, but they hand their problems. For one thing, the Indians were always trying to drive them out. But after all, it was their land. Then back in East Texas, there were some American frontier types coming in giving the Spanish trouble. There was a big dispute as to where the U.S. ended and Texas began. Finally in, oh, uh, 1819, I think it was, the Spanish made a treaty with the United States. They said the U.S. boundary stopped right at the Sabine River. But even that didn’t settle the argument. They couldn’t even agree which river was the Sabine River. 
  •  Girl: So what did they do? 
  •  GK: They knew that if they were to hold onto Texas and keep the Indians back, they’d have to bring in new settlers to populate the country. 
  •   Girl: Oh, so that’s when Stephen F. Austin came. 
  •  GK: Well not yet. You see, at first Spain wanted to bring in its own people, but she didn’t have much luck getting them to colonize Texas. And she didn’t want the American fortune hunters. 
  •  Girl: How did it begin then? Who started it? 
  •  GK: Well let’s just begin right at the beginning. 
  •  GK: It began with a Connecticut Yankee by the name of Moses Austin. He was a man who went west seeking his fortune. He ended up in Missouri before 1800 when Spain still owned it. Moses did well in Missouri where he found his fortune, and then he lost it. 
  •  GK: So, in 1819 they had a great depression in the United States, caused a great panic. All the banks closed, a lot of people lost everything. But Moses Austin also lost everything too. But he was man of courage and great vision. He was determined to start again and figured that Spain was about to grant land in Texas at a fraction of what it cost in the United States. So he looked at Texas for his new beginning. Late 1820, Moses Austin rode into San Antonio, he didn’t expect the reception that he’d received. 
  •   Governor Martinez (GM): Senor Austin, we have had trouble enough with the North Americans in the recent rebellion against the Spanish. You’ve got to understand why my government has no interest in bringing more Anglos into Tejas. Because of this, leave Bexar, please, and be gone before sundown. 
  •  GK: That’s when accident took a hand in Texas history. Moses walked out of the governor’s palace tired, discouraged, sick, really. He met an old friend, the Baron de Bastrop. The Baron knew the Governor well and he spoke his language, and the governor trusted him. So he agreed to go to the Governor on Austin’s behalf. 
  •  Baron de Bastrop (BB): Mr. Austin’s petition is a reasonable one, sir. The Indians will continue to be a menace, unless you can bring in settlers to be a buffer against them. Mr. Austin is responsible, once a Spanish citizen, for many years. 
  •  Moses Austin (MA): The Baron has explained my petition: to bring in only colonists of high character; industrious people, tradesmen, farmers who will be well recommended. And I will personally be responsible for their conduct. 
  •  BB: There’s so much valuable land lying unused, surely the government might reconsider if they knew Mr. Austin’s serious intent. 
  •  GM: Baron de Bastrop, I can tell you only this: On your recommendation I will present Mr. Austin’s petition. We will have to wait and see what my government’s response may be. 
  •  GK: So with the Baron’s help and Governor Martinez’s recommendation, Moses Austin got his grant. He was about to become an Empresario with the responsibility of bringing 300 settlers into the Texas Wilderness. But once again, accident stepped into Texas History. During his 800 mile ride back to Missouri, Moses met bitter cold weather, Indian attacks, near starvation and he arrived home only to die of pneumonia. So the task of setting Austin’s land grant was passed to his son, Stephen, who Governor Martinez accepted as his father’s successor. All along the Texas-Louisiana border the word went out, by hand-bills, newspaper, word of mouth, Austin was swamped with requests by people hungry for the land that Spain was offer at a 10 thof the cost of what it was in the United States. 
  •  Boy: Why did he come here? What made him choose this part of Texas? 
  •  GK: Well, the first thing they looked for was water; they had to have that, of course. This river right here was one of the boundaries of the Austin Grant. Between the Brazos River and the Colorado River. See the Spanish used rivers as a landmark, at first Stephen F. Austin rode out into the wilderness to look at the land, the first of many Empresarios. 
  •  Stephen F. Austin (SFA): You ought to see the Texas land, grass up to your stirrups, crystal clear water, timber in abundance, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Texas is laced with rivers and streams that run parallel to each other that stretch from its north border’s to the gulf. Forests give way to rolling prairie, rich grasslands, and the color is deeper than any green I have seen. It all seems still, solemn, beautiful beyond description. I can see the advantages of its climate and soil. The possibilities for farming and cattle, ports and trade, I can see this great wilderness settled with industrious, intelligent, respectable colonists. 
  •  GK: And so after that, the colonists really started to move. Stopping first at Washington-on-the-Brazos, next at San Felipe de Austin, where Stephen F. Austin had set up his headquarters. 
  •  SFA: Listen, here’s a good example: “we are part of a considerable company of farmers who wish to be moved to your grant. If you were to write up word on how this can be effected, and how much of a settlement is already formed, we’d wish to be informed of the Indians in that corridor and whether friendly or hostile. You will please to give us a good description of the country, how you have concluded to charge the land and the quantity that you expect.” Let me acquaint you again with the conditions the Spanish have set: the order reads: the colonist must take an oath of allegiance to be faithful to the Spanish King. He must be an honest, industrious farmer or tradesman. I will be held responsible for your conduct and so forth. 
  •    Settler 1: I understand we must also profess to be Catholic. 
  •   SFA: That’s right. 
  •   Settler 2: We have met those conditions and now about payment. 
  •  SFA: I am authorized to charge 12 ½ cents per acre, for services, but if you have no money you can take care of that when your first crop comes in. 
  •  Settler 1: You understand! 
  •  SFA: The administration of this colony is my responsibility, but I am here to help you with your problems. 
  •  GK: So Austin’s job as an Empresario was tough, and it was made tougher when Mexico wanted its independence from Spain. Just like in this country, there were a lot of problems in setting up a new government, so Austin had to go to Mexico City to have his grant approved by the new Mexican government. He was gone from Texas for over a year, while he was gone, his colony really settled. There were illnesses with little medical attention, Indians attacked, and all the crops were ruined by the drought. 
  •   Settler’s Wife: This is the last of the corn, Jason! 
  •  Jason: New crop’s nearly gone; I knew it’d happen, we didn’t get rain. 
  •  Settler’s Wife: Well, pray God you’ll find game when you go out huntin’ tomorrow. 
  •  Jason: Game’s been scarce now. Makes my heart sick seein’ the children eatin’ nothing all day, watching me return at night, how’d she bear up on all of this, the loneliness, terrible lack of comforts, only her looks show her real feelings. Sometimes I think we should have never come. 
  •  GK: It was bad times for the colonists; remember they had no way of keeping in touch with the outside world out of Texas. And some of them did give up and go back, and with all their other troubles didn’t yet have title to the land. They were farming it alright, but they weren’t sure how much of it was theirs. 
  •  GK: But finally, Austin got back to the settlers and they did get title to their land. 
  •  SFA: Here’s your grant Mr. Williams, confirmed, finally, after all these months. 
  •  Mr. Williams: The oath that I took back there, in the cabin, is that all that will be required? 
  •  SFA: Yes, and the certificate as to your character, which I have signed as well. 
  •  Mrs. Williams: Those are easy terms for such good land! 
  •  Mr. Williams: Thank your sir! 4,428 acres! I must get more stock immediately! 
  •  Settler 3: Thomas told me that I could trade some seeds for some of that new calico you brought in from Missouri. 
  •  Settler 4: That’s good and the Coopers are giving us their new calf for one of their mules. 
  •  Settler 3: Colonel Austin said that he received a letter from Bexar; the Priest will be here next week. 
  •  Settler 4: We must arrange to have the young one Christened, I’m grateful he’ll be here before our first year is over. 
  •  Mrs. Williams: Is this small cabin Mr. Austin’s only home? 
  •  Mr. Williams: Yes, he said it is sufficient since he has no family he doesn’t require larger quarters. And it sets an example for the other settlers. We are all poor in this country and we’re all equal. As long as the continues, we’ll get on well. 
  •  Mrs. Williams: Does he supervise all the land grants himself? 
  •  Mr. Williams: Yes, he goes around with all the families so they know what they are buying, just as he did with us. 
  •  Mrs. Williams: It has been a hard year, but I’m glad we stayed. 
  •  GK: And that’s how it all began. In 1825 passed a law that opened this whole area up to colonization. The next five years, Mexico issued 25 to 30 new land grants to bring Empresarios in to settle Texas. Wavel, Vehlein, Zavala, these all went to the Northeast areas. In the South and West, there were some Irishmen who brought colonists. Power and Hewetson at first, they settled around Refugio. McGloin and McMullen came in right next to them. They actually brought over people from Ireland. Well not every grant was given to a single man; some groups did try to come in as a business venture like the Nashville Company for instance. It began with a man named Leftwich as its head. After his death, it was turned over to Sterling Robertson and it became known as the Robertson colony. That grant was about 100 miles wide and 200 miles long. The most successful Mexican Empresario was Martin de Leon to the South and West of Austin. De Leon was a rancher; he moved up from Northern Mexico with 40 families and settled them along the grassy coastal plains along the Guadalupe River. He founded the town of Victoria, but there was a lot of trouble with the Indians. You see they came in after de Leon’s horses and cattle. 
  •  Vaquero: Senor de Leon, they made off with 5 horses and 11 head of cattle last night. 
  •  De Leon (DL): The second raid this week! Get together the Vaqueros and be prepared to ride. We may be able to overtake them. 
  •  Vaquero: Si, senor 
  •  GK: De Leon had other problems. Green DeWitt had been petitioning for a grant for years, finally got permission to settle near De Leon’s colony. They had Indian problems too. 
  •  Vaquero: There is talk that Senor DeWitt will move his colonists to avoid Indian attacks. 
  •  His colonists are already trespassing on our territory. I will go to his colonies and tell him they must move. If that fails, I shall appeal to the government. 
  •   GK: Well the real problem was that so many of the boundaries were so uncertain. Not only de Leon and DeWitt, but the Irish, Sterling Robertson, they all had problems with the boundaries. You see, at that time, there were no official surveys, just broad general descriptions that used rivers as boundaries. That caused a lot of problems. 
  •  Girl: How’d it work out between de Leon and DeWitt? 
  •  GK: Remember, de Leon was a native of Mexico and his colonists were Mexican. And they were ranchers. The Mexican government wanted ranchers; they saw Texas as cattle country. Since de Leon was a native of Mexico and a rancher, Mexican law provided so that he had first choice, so DeWitt’s colony had to move. 
  •  Girl: I can see why some of it had to be cattle country, 4500 acres. 
  •  Boy: Boy! That’s a lot of land! 
  •  Girl: How much land is it? 
  •  GK: Well, that’s a big chunk. Think of it in terms of football fields. Now a football field is almost an acre, so 4500 acres would be nearly 4000 football fields. 
  •  Girl: How much did it cost? 
  •  GK: Well Mexico was very generous at first; she didn’t even tax the land for awhile. The colonists were supposed to pay 12 ½ cents per acre to the Empresario, for surveying the land, and getting the leagues, and administering the colony. Some didn’t even want to pay that. 
  •  Boy: I suppose 12 ½ cents seemed like a whole lot more money back in 1825 than it does now. 
  •  GK: You bet. And remember, some of the colonists that came were pretty hard-pressed to pay that, lots of them had lost everything back in the United States. 
  •  Boy: Yeah but still it must have taken a lot of nerve just to pick up and move down here, not knowing whatcha find or how you’d make out. 
  •  GK: You’re right, they did. But these people had hope and they wanted land. Land was the lure. And the Empresarios, those that were successful, did all they could to help their colonists. 
  •  Boy: How many were successful? 
  •  GK: Of all the men that were granted land contracts, only about 3 or 4 really were successful. 
  •   Girl: Why was that? 
  •  GK: Well some of them didn’t have money to advertise and get the colony started in the first place. Others couldn’t get along with their settlers or the Mexican government, and some saw it just as a get-rich-quick scheme. And they soon learned better. It takes money and wisdom to be a successful Empresario and more. 
  •  Girl: It must’ve worked. A lot of the colonists stayed. 
  •  Boy: Boy I sure am glad I wasn’t around then, sounds like a lot of hard work. 
  •  Girl: Didn’t they ever have good times? 
  •  GK: Well sure, they had dances and celebrated weddings and sometimes they made a party out of building a house for a newcomer. 
  •  Settler 1: I believe your place went up faster than any cabin we’ve raised, Caleb. 
  •  Settler 2: You’ve been at it for a long time, now. And the people of the colony have really learned to be good neighbors. Now that I’ve got my cabin built, I can get my crop in. 
  •  Settler 3: The calico I traded for has made clothing for all our girls. 
  •  Settler 4: You’ll be ready for the wedding of the William’s daughter! 
  •  Settler 3: These young ones are really enjoying themselves. 
  •  Settler 4: Yes, things really are going well here now. 
  •  Settler 3: Our cotton crop will be the largest since we came. Mr. Bell says it’s better than the cotton in Louisiana! But ya know, he’s worried about the duty that Mexico about to levy on our exports. 
  •  Settler 4: Look there’s Mrs. Robinson, I must ask her about the goods they just brought in from Louisiana. 
  •  Settler 5: Hey Jason! I hear you have some word from San Antonio. 
  •  Settler 6: The government’s decided to send General Teran to verify the United States and Mexican boundary between Texas and Louisiana, that is. Seems they’ll be looking at all our colonies too. 
  •  Settler 5: Seems there’s a little bit more to it than that. They’ve been worried Texas ever since the Fredonian Rebellion. 
  •  Settler 6: Haden Edwards is a hothead. Even Austin couldn’t calm him down and those old settlers around Nacogdoches. They couldn’t be expected to pay him for their lands. 
  •  Settler 5: I couldn’t blame Mexico for canceling his Empresario contract, he was wrong to stir up so much trouble. And now it’s reflecting on all our colonies. 
  •  Settler 7: If our crop is as good as we hope, we should be able to build a larger house. 
  •  Settler 8: I have hopes for that. Have you heard the talk of a school in our area? 
  •  Settler 7: Yes, several have mentioned it, but I hear even more talk of this inspection tour that Mexico is undertaking. Government in Mexico City’s in such a turmoil. They must feel that things are getting out of control. 
  •  GK: Things were changing in Texas, by 1830 there were about 20,000 American settlers and they were prospering. They were a proud, independent population who saw their hard work suffering to conquer wilderness finally payin’ off. Indepedence was their inheritance from the United States. And Mexico, struggling with their constantly changing government, the Texas Colonies were just another unpredictable force. Mistrust and suspicion finally took over. 
  •  Settler 9: And General Teran has begun an inspection! 
  •  Settler 10: Well the word I got is that the United States was making an offer to buy Texas. 
  •  Settler 9: Buy Texas?! No wonder Mexico is so uneasy. I mean with so many Americans moving into the colonies now. 
  •  Settler 10: Well we work so hard and were prospering, maybe they should give us more independence now. I don’t like this “inspection!” 
  •  Settler 11: Well Williams is talking more independence. I think we outta be cautious with such talk. 
  •  Settler 12: You’re right, Mexico has been more than generous with Texas. We have little to gain by breaking away now. 
  •  Settler 13: But their attitudes seem to threaten our freedom. It appears they want more control now. 
  •  Settler 11: At the rate we going, Mexico may give us our own state government. My feeling is, we outta wait and see. Why stir ‘em up just when times are good. 
  •  Settler 12: I think it’s the taxes coming due now that are stirring up some of the colonists. 
  •  Settler 11: We knew we couldn’t remain tax free forever. 
  •  Settler 14: I don’t like it! 
  •  Settler 15: Cartwright says Mexico should allow the United States to buy Texas. 
  •  Settle 14: They’ll never allow it. Not now, Texas is too valuable. 
  •  GK: Mexico was concerned that the colonists were becoming too strong and too many. And as a result, on April 6 of 1830, Mexico closed Texas to colonization. The time of the Empresario was over. 
  •   Mexican Officer (MO): In exercise of the right, reserved for the General Congress, the citizens of foreign countries, lying adjacent to the Mexican Territory are prohibited as settling as colonists, in the states or colonies of the Republic adjoining such countries. Those contracts of colonization shall consequently be suspended. 
  •  GK: Stephen Austin worked hard to try and avoid an open break between Mexico and the colonies she’d supported so generously for about ten years. In the five years that followed the differences between the Mexicans and the Americans were too great to mend. Finally, it was too late and even Austin, the first Empresario began to realize that. 
  •  SFA: Let the general consultation of the people of Texas be convened, to be composed of the best and most calm, intelligent men in the country. And let them decide what ought to be done in the future. 
  •  Girl: What did he do then? 
  •  Boy: Yeah what happened? 
  •  GK: Haha, well that’s another story. 
 
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This educational film made by the Texas Education Agency portrays a man telling the story of early Texas to his two children as they ride horses along the Brazos River. The narrator, played by Texas actor Guich Koock, tells the story of the first Texas settlers and how both Moses and Stephen F. Austin worked to bring the first colonists, the “Old Three Hundred,” to Texas and distribute land grants. The film describes the struggles of the Anglo settlers and the role they played in early politics between the Spanish, Mexican, and United States governments.
Guich Koock, born William Faulk Koock, is a sixth generation Texan whose mother was Mary Faulk, sister of Texan author and famously blacklisted radio entertainer, John Henry Faulk. Koock grew up on 23 acres in a Victoria home just south of Austin, which his mother turned into the well-known Green Pastures restaurant in 1946. Consistent with the Faulk family's progressive values, Green Pastures was open to all races beginning on its opening day, 18 years before the Civil Rights Act. The Koock family lived above the restaurant, enjoying constant visits from friends and extended family and an ideal combination of urban and rural life as they raised animals on their 23 acre property.
 
In high school, Koock worked as author and folklorist J. Frank Dobie's driver. His access to Dobie influenced his intellectual interests and led to his acquaintance with many prominent Texans, including Tex Robertson, who hired him to work at Camp Longhorn. At Camp Longhorn, he befriended Cactus Pryor and Hondo Crouch, with whom he remained friends into adulthood. Koock studied history and English at Texas A&M. His Master's thesis was a history of slavery in East Texas, compiled by Koock from an extensive series of interviews with the children of former slaves in the region. Koock was later awarded a Lomax Fellowship from the University of Texas to collect Texas folklore from South Texas ranches.
 
In 1970, Koock teamed up with Hondo Crouch to buy the town of Luckenbach, Texas. With the help of its owners, Luckenbach became a major tourist attraction in Texas and hosted five World's Fair celebrations. It was in Luckenbach that Steven Spielberg's casting director spotted Koock and recruited him for a supporting role in The Sugarland Express (1974).
 
Koock spent the next two decades traveling between Texas and Los Angeles, where he perfected the part of the "good ol’ boy" in movies such as Piranha (1978) North Dallas Forty (1979), American Ninja (1985), and Square Dance (1987) and television shows such as "Carter Country" (1977-79), "Lewis & Clark" (1981-82), and "She's the Sheriff" (1987-89). He also made recurring appearances on "Good Morning America," "The Tonight Show," and "The Merv Griffin Show." 
 
Koock has 3 children, Travis, Dobie, and Jennifer. He continues to occasionally appear onscreen and is currently working in green technology development with his partners.
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