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Prairies and Lakes History

Wichita Indians

Native Americans lived in this part of Texas for thousands of years. Wichita Falls and Waco are named after the Native Americans who lived here 300 years ago. The Wichita Indians and Waco Indians had similar ways of life. They both lived in villages and made houses out of woven grass, or thatch. They hunted and grew crops such as corn, melons, and tobacco. They traded with other Indian groups, like the Comanche, and with Europeans, such as the French. The Wichita Indians tattooed their faces. In their own language, they called themselves “the Raccoon People” because of the rings tattooed around their eyes. Today, the Wichita Indians live in Oklahoma.


Reading of the Declaration of Independence by Charles and Fanny Norman. Collection of the Joe Fultz estate (Navasota, Texas), courtesy of the Star of the Republic Museum.

The Texas Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Republic of Texas were written in the town of Washington, on the Brazos River. The location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence from Mexico was signed in the town of Washington on the Brazos River. The frame building where the signing took place has been reconstructed within the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Park. Sam Houston signed the Declaration, as well as other patriotic Texans. The town of Washington was never very big and consisted of only a dozen log cabins at the start of the war for independence from Mexico. The town of Washington was under consideration as the capitol of Texas, but Houston and then Austin was established as the capitol. Later, the railroad tracks were moved and by-passed the town. This doomed the growth of the town, as happened to many communities during the 19th century.

The birthplace of President Dwight D. Eisenhower is in Denison. The small, white frame house he was born in and a six-acre park are included within the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historical Park. His father worked for the nearby Katy Railroad. President Eisenhower was born October 14, 1890. He and his parents lived in this house for three years before moving to Kansas. He became a five-star general in the United States Army and led the U.S. and its allies to victory in World War II. Later he was elected President of the United States in 1953.


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