Hometowns Celebrate Native Authors with Festivals and Museums

Beyond textbooks and historical tomes, we experience life across time and Texas through the fictional works of the Lone Star State’s writers. For those who are drawn to the stories of real people, not just dates and battles, honest voices are shared through old screen doors to the slow cadence of a swelteringly still summer afternoon around the kitchen table.

Texas towns take pride in the literary works of their native sons and daughters. Some go to great lengths to display their admiration, as we featured in our September 2019 Wanderlist, “Literary Texas.” In our Under the Texas Sky Wanderlist podcast by the same name, we learn about a few of those towns and visit one in person.

The Robert E. Howard Home

Pulp fiction writer and Conan the Barbarian creator Robert E. Howard has a museum and festival in his hometown of Cross Plains, while Old Yeller Days in Mason is an homage to native son Fred Gipson. There’s a Hollywood-type star in the Fort Worth Stockyards for Western novelist Elmer Kelton and Austin boasts an O. Henry (William Sidney Porter) Museum with an annual pun-off.

Just south of Austin in Kyle, a distant relative of O. Henry, Katherine Anne Porter, first made her name with the 1930 Flowering Judas and Other Stories; her 1962 novel Ship of Fools was a bestseller. Porter later received both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. We toured Porter’s childhood home in Kyle, a literary center on the National Register of Historic Places, with writer-in-residence Jeremy Garrett.

The Katherine Anne Porter House

To celebrate the center’s 20th Anniversary An Evening with Hilton Als on September 18 at 7 p.m. He will discuss her life via Zoom To RSVP, email

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Mammal Monday - Javelinas of Texas

Don't call them pigs just because the nose looks similar. In this week's Mammal Monday our Editorial Intern, Landry Allred, explains the history of our own native rooter.

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Out in the Texas prairies, woodlands and brush country, almost anything that’s small and stout can look like a pig. But everything is not always what it seems.

Certain pig-looking animals — peccaries — are spread throughout the southwestern U.S. to South America, occurring in three different species. The collared peccary, or javelina, is the only species of peccary that can be found in the United States. An estimated 100,000 javelinas occur in Texas rangelands, living mostly in arid areas.

Despite the common misconception of being a type of swine, peccaries are classified in a family of their own. The most recent shared ancestor with swine is estimated to be around 40 million years ago.

While pigs were developing in the Eastern Hemisphere, javelinas were developing the Western Hemisphere. Early Spanish explorers found them in the New World, naming them jabeli, an Arabic-Spanish word for wild boar, or jabalina, Spanish for “spear” as the animals have sharp teeth. The first documented sightings of javelinas in the New World occurred in the 18th century, and archeological evidence puts their earliest appearance in 1700.

Many people often confuse feral hogs and javelinas, though they are not in the same family. Javelinas are much smaller than feral hogs. They also have three hoofed toes instead of four, an unnoticeable tail, fewer teeth and a scent gland near their tail base. Javelinas are also much more social, herd-like animals.

The well-known negative impacts from feral hogs may lead people to have negative associations with javelinas. Feral hogs destroy habitats by digging and wallowing, but javelinas rarely dig deeper than a couple of inches when looking for food. Additionally, while feral hogs often compete with native species for resources, javelinas feed mainly on prickly pear cacti and other succulents.

Aggressiveness is another characteristic typically associated with javelinas, but javelinas are pretty defensive and will usually retreat from danger. The only time they will act aggressively is if they are cornered or when interacting with dogs, as dogs resemble the javelina’s typical predator, the coyote.

Some people claim that javelinas will charge toward them; however, they are most likely running from a perceived threat. Javelinas have poor eyesight, so when they are scattering from danger, they may look as if they’re charging. All things considered, aggressive encounters between javelinas and humans are rare.

The hunting regulations for feral hogs and javelinas are completely different, so it’s helpful to be able to recognize one from the other. One way to identify javelinas is by the white stripe of hair around their neck, resembling a “collar.” 

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