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Judge Joshua Wilson McCown (1804-1896)

As I get ready to hit the road for Houston, I am reminded of early settler Joshua McCown who once thrived by establishing a horse-and-buggy goods delivery service between Houston and various parts of central Texas. It was like Amazon Prime. McCown was the Bezos of early Texas.

One of his deliveries was most special. President Sam Houston had requested a Presidential mansion from the city of Houston and he was denied. The legendarily hot-headed hero of San Jacinto decided to get his toys and go home. In this case, his “toys” were the Republic of Texas archives. That’s where McCown comes into the story. Houston had successfully used McCown’s Primesque services before so he sent a secret letter of request. McCown arrived in the dead of the night to smuggle both President Houston AND the archives out of the city.

The wagon departed bound for Washington-on-the-Brazos with one key stop just outside of the city of Houston. It was brief but purposeful.

As the dust settled, President Houston hopped off the wagon and angrily knocked the mud off his boots(the 1840s equivalent to a Texan middle finger). Houston then, according to McCown’s memoirs, put a curse on his namesake city before getting back on the wagon and continuing into the dark night and legacy as a President of both Texas and the Spiteful School of Petty.

And so, as I make the three hour drive from Waco to Houston and ruminate on the peculiar fact that it also takes Houstonians three hours to drive to other parts of Houston, I contend that Old Sam Jacinto’s curse on his legacy city is responsible for the traffic hell to which I am about to subject myself.

And Texans should ever remember while they themselves are cursing traffic on IH10, Loop 610, or any of the other God-forsaken Houston paths that have the nerve to call themselves “roads,” we are participating in a tradition begun by Sam Houston himself 177 years ago.

God bless Texas! And Sam curse Houston!!

Here’s the rest of Joshua McCown’s early Texas stories: