I study colonial Texas and am currently finishing my book manuscript, “Wrangling Pelicans” which describes life as a presidial soldier in eighteenth-century Spanish Texas.
Historians such as Odie B. Faulk, Max L. Moorhead, and Sidney B. Brinkerhoff have written extensively about frontier forts and the resilient troopers who manned them. Their work is invaluable but generally takes a top-down approach, examining how Bourbon reforms like the Regulations of 1772 impacted these strongholds on an institutional level. Their scholarship often revolves around equipment, salaries, and troop numbers. In contrast, my book examines the full spectrum of presidials’ everyday lives—tasks that ranged from watching horses to wrangling pelicans. In other words, I provide a more bottom-up look at presidial life.
Recently, I founded Conceptions Review with Andrew Joseph Pegoda, a website where experts address common misconceptions in their respective fields. CR grew out of a passion for public writing. As scholars, Andrew and I believe that scholarship should not be locked behind paywalls or written in dense jargon. If you’re interested in writing for us, send in a pitch.
When not reading stories about presidials failing to catch Native raiders or editing wonderful articles such as Kendall Dinniene’s “Eat a Salad, Sweetie,” I am likely working on yet another book project—a general history of the Karankawa people entitled Persistent Peoples. Past histories of Karankawas label these Indians as “the meanest, greediest, laziest, most treacherous, lecherous, vicious, cowardly, insolent aborigines of the Southwest, the scourge of the frontier.” A fresh history is needed. My book, besides reorienting the Karankawas’ image, places a spotlight on the Karankawas who are today reclaiming their land and protecting their culture. Instead of being “extinct” as scholars previously claimed, the Karankawas persistently survive.
After spending my day sufficiently clanking on the computer, I go about clanking on rock. My sights are set on multi-pitching Enchanted Rock, a nasty, Elvis-leg-inducing slab jutting out of the Texas Hill Country. Beyond climbing, I enjoy rebuilding and repurposing cheap vehicles. My auction-bought 2001 GMC Yukon with 175,000 miles is currently being ripped apart and recarpeted. The Yukon’s rear axle requires replacing next. Afterward, I will install a sleeping platform for camping trips. At the end of the day, when the Texas heat lowers to a frigid eighty degrees, I pull up a blanket and watch a film. Some of my favorites include Barry Lyndon, In Bruges, and Fargo.
Due to my work on Texas’s first peoples and also on the Spanish in Texas, I frequently give talks for a variety of institutions around the Lone Star State. Last year, for example, I gave around a dozen presentations. Due to the popularity of these lectures, the great deal of time it takes to provide them, and my financial situation as a Ph.D. candidate, I have started to request a modest speaking fee of $300.00 in addition to having my lodging and travel expenses covered. If you’re interested in having me speak for your community’s historical organization or association, send me a message!
Email is the best way to contact me. I have my email address listed in the first line of my CV above.