Last night at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, we welcomed back a distinguished alumnus, Donaly Brice, for a very interesting and informative lecture on his book, The Governor’s Hounds: The Texas State Police, 1870-1873. Donaly worked for TSLAC for 37 years as Historian, or, as we thought of him, our walking encyclopedia of Texas history. We estimate that during his tenure, Donaly answered more than 50,000 reference questions–many of them by mail–about concerning the archives and Texas history.
The Governor’s Hounds recounts the short but controversial history of the Texas State Police, created in 1870 during Reconstruction by Governor Edmund Davis. The Texas State Police were intended to restore order to what was largely a lawless state. Murder was rampant and crimes against African-American Texans were particularly widespread, heinous, and mostly unpunished. But the Texas State Police were despised by many Texans who accused the Republican Governor of creating an expeditionary force of blacks to take their toll on whites. The Governor’s Hounds is a revisionist history that dispels many of the stories that surround the Texas State Police. This is a fascinating read and one that resonates with themes that have echoed through Texas history such as race relations, violence, uses of authority, and individual rights.
The Governor’s Hounds was meticulously researched over 20 years by Donaly and his late co-author, Barry A. Crouch, a professor at Gallaudet University. The book reminds us why it is so important preserve, maintain, and make available the resources in the State Archives as well as other public archives and libraries across Texas and the nation. And we are reminded why it is so important to have scholars, writers, and researchers like Donaly Brice to examine the historical records and to reveal to us the importance of these resources in understanding our past and our present.