2018 Greatest Hits # 8: Jacob deCordova – Founding Father of Waco

(During these last few weeks of December we will be reprising the Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts for 2018 from the Act Locally Waco blog. I couldn’t possibly pick my favorites – so I used the simple (cop out?)  approach of pulling up the 10 blog posts that got the most “opens” according to our Google Analytics.  It is an intriguing collection that gives at least a little insight into the interests and concerns of Act Locally Waco readers. I hope this “Top 10” idea inspires you to go back and re-read your personal favorites.  There have been so many terrific ones… If you would like to see the Top 10 according to Google Analytics, here’s the link: Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts of 2018.  Merry Christmas! — ABT) 

By Monica Shannon

National Hispanic Heritage Month starts September 15 and continues through October 15 and we have several events in Waco to help celebrate the month long recognition of Hispanic and Latino heritage and culture. Friday night, September 14, the Centex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Fine Artists group are hosting a Hispanic Heritage Art show and Celebration.  The event will include performances by El Folklorico las Estrellas de Waco and Mariachi Azteca de Waco among others, and one particularly special guest… Vann deCordova.

If you are familiar with Waco history, you will recognize the name “deCordova.” Vann deCordova is the third great grandson of Jacob de Cordova.  Jacob deCordova was one of the founding fathers of Waco.  He was a man of warmth and he had strong friendships with other founding fathers of the city – men whose names you may also recognize such as Neil McLennan, Jr., George B. Erath, and Captain Shapley P. Ross.

Here is a little of his story.

Jacob deCordova was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, near Kingston.  His parents were British Jews of Spanish descent. He moved to the United States in his late twenties and, among several other endeavors, he became a successful land agent.  Through scrip and direct purchase, deCordova acquired large amounts of land to sell to settlers.  At his peak, he owned and/or controlled over 1,000,000 acres of Texas land. To attract settlers to Texas, he made speeches about Texas in London, England, New York, Philadelphia and other U.S. cities.  His lectures were published on both sides of the Atlantic and were widely read.

In the mid 1840’s, deCordova was engaged to divide and sell the land on the banks of the Brazos that would eventually become Waco.  He hired his friend George Erath to work with him on the project. George B. Erath was a surveyor by trade and did occasional work for deCordova.  They had a mutual respect for each other.  Erath was deCordova’s most respected surveyor, and George often referred to Jacob as “The Big Man.” Upon seeing the land they had been hired to sell, they agreed that it would make a great location for the city.  DeCordova procured the title to the land himself, thend he, Erath, and two other men set about staking out the town on March 1, 1849. Town lots of 1 acre sold for $5 and nearby farmland brought $2-$3 an acre.

When McLennan County was established in 1850, deCordova successfully lobbied for Waco to become the county seat.  He sweetened his case by donating roads and tracts for public use.  He also recruited prominent Texans to move to the town.  One of his most successful recruits was Captain Shapley P. Ross of the Texas Rangers.  DeCordova lured Shapley from Austin with the promise of business concessions (Ross was given a monopoly on running the only ferry across the Brazos) and several free tracts of land.   Jacob deCordova was quoted saying, “Waco was the most beautiful location for a city in all of Texas.”  “Most of all,” he said of the future community, “she will be my daughter, and a beautiful daughter she will be.”

In the 1840s, deCordova resided in Houston and helped create the Houston Chamber of Commerce.  He also served as an alderman on the early Houston City Council. In 1847, deCordova was elected a state representative from Harris County to the Second Texas Legislature.

In 1849, deCordova and Robert Creuzbaur compiled and published one of the first definitive maps of Texas, a map Sam Houston praised on the floor of the US Senate. Today, the map is registered in the US Library of Congress and is highly praised by scholars and sought by collectors. In 1856, de Cordova published the “Texas Immigrant and Traveler’s Guide Book” to provide complete information for potential settlers.  He printed and distributed more than 50,000 copies. Some scholars have credited deCordova with being responsible for bringing more settlers to Texas than Stephen F. Austin.  Yet, sadly he gains almost no attention in contemporary Texas history school books.

We are looking forward to hearing a bit more of Jacob deCordova’s story from Vann deCordova Friday night.  Hope to see you there!


Monica Shannon’s leadership in arts has been instrumental in the developing and emerging presence for the visual arts in Central Texas. Monica has worked with over 100 artists and continues to work in the newly designated Cultural Arts District in downtown Waco. Monica loves travel, but mostly in helping people achieve their goals.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

 

2018 Greatest Hits #10: Want to have a great time in Waco? There’s an app for that!

(During these last few weeks of December we will be reprising the Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts for 2018 from the Act Locally Waco blog. I couldn’t possibly pick my favorites – so I used the simple (cop out?)  approach of pulling up the 10 blog posts that got the most “opens” according to our Google Analytics.  It is an intriguing collection that gives at least a little insight into the interests and concerns of Act Locally Waco readers. I hope this “Top 10” idea inspires you to go back and re-read your personal favorites.  There have been so many terrific ones… If you would like to see the Top 10 according to Google Analytics, here’s the link: Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts of 2018.  Merry Christmas! — ABT) 

By Karen Rios

I became a Wacoan in January. Before that I literally only knew the Fazoli’s off of 35. I excitedly used my phone to explore my new home. However, I quickly got frustrated at all the articles and blogs that popped up on my search. Most revolved around Magnolia Market, and I knew that Waco had more than just the Market.

I really want people to know about an app that helped me learn about my new town. It’s called Waco & The Heart of Texas, and it’s free for Apple and Android. The Waco Convention & Visitors Bureau put together it together mostly for tourists, but I decided to give it a try anyway.

Savor

I love food! So, the first area I explored was the “savor” category. The app lists 141 food options. Through this, I discovered World Cup Cafe & Fair Trade Market, a locally owned business where you can eat with a purpose. I love their club sandwich. It’s a double decker with ham, turkey, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and your choice of condiments. Did I mention it comes with fries?

Next, the app’s food list led me to Butter My Biscuit. If you see day old biscuits still available, just go ahead and buy them. They sell out fast! The two main biscuits to choose from are Buttermilk and Texas, which has jalapeño and cheddar cheese. They also offer the biscuit “of the day”, which was Rosemary when I went. Every day is something different. You can’t go wrong with these biscuits!

Finally, I enjoyed Moroso’s options for Neapolitan wood-fired pizza and other Italian dishes. A good margarita pizza is hard to come by, but Moroso’s hits the mark. The crust is crunchy and light. They put the right amount of sauce and cheese, and the basil tastes like they just picked it from the garden. It’s a good size pizza, most people share, but I think it’s a perfect personal size. I normally go during lunch to take advantage of their margarita pizza special. My mouth is watering just thinking about all this food.

Waco offers a variety of food options with Wacoan pride. As a local you may already know of the restaurants listed, but it’s always good to have something to reference in case you forget or need to share with friends or family from out of town. The app provides all the information you need. The hard part– deciding where to eat.

Other categories to explore

Perhaps you want something other than food. The app offers 15 different categories to help you show off Waco.

In the “See” category I discovered Cameron Park Zoo. My niece and I watched the lioness chase her cub around trying to bathe her. It looked like the scene from “Lion King” when Simba was trying to get out of his “bath time.”

One of their unique exhibits includes The Brazos River Country.  The exhibit shows you the journey of the early Spanish explorers who searched for gold along the Brazos. Throughout the exhibit you see different species that they could have encountered along the River. My niece enjoyed it because the river runs through Waco and we even walked around to see if she spotted anything.

Another of my go to categories is “Events.” You can see what events happen around Waco. For instance, on May 4th I saw First Friday Waco. That is an event on the first Friday of every month, where business in downtown offer discounts, live music and extended hours. I even learned the Dr. Pepper Museum has free admission on First Friday.

There are at least 300 listings, you just pick a category and go through the options. The app provides a brief description of the place, their website, other media outlet platforms, a contact number, and the address. If you come across an event you like you can add that event to your Google Calendar or iCal. The app is easy to navigate.  They did all the work for us, so all we Wacoans have to do is plan out the day.

Specials

I love being able to save money anytime I can, but I absolutely hate having to give my email address in exchange for coupons! I liked that Waco & The Heart of Texas didn’t make me input my email address to get their Specials. On their app they provide at least 54 different coupons that Wacoans can use. (Side note:  If you prefer paper coupons, you can find them at the Visitors Center at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Museum, or at the Convention Center.

When my niece and I went to Cameron Park Zoo we used the coupon at least twice. The coupon gives you a free child admission with a purchase of an adult admission. I saved $7 dollars. You can keep using the coupons until December 31, 2018. Sure, it’s meant for tourists, but Wacoans can save money too.

Why should tourists have all the fun?

Wacoans can all benefit from this media platform. It provides a lot of options that you may know but not necessarily remember. You can plan a family outing and even save money. You can go on new bike trails. You can discover Waco history. You can provide more options to your friends and family. You can explore Waco in a different way. You can take advantage of the bus routes. You can try going to a winery. With over 300 listings, you are bound to find at least one new activity. Waco & The Heart of Texas might have been created for tourists, but Wacoans will know how to use it better!  (Free for Apple OR Android )


Karen Rios is a new Wacoan. She is currently attending MCC studying Digital Media. Although she is new to Waco, she is not new to the “small town” living. She loves exploring new towns and cities. She’s a sucker for hole-in-the-wall eateries. “Every day I discover something new about Waco, I realize how much beauty is here,” she says. “I like to brag about the scenery to all my city friends and family. I’m loving every minute of being a Wacoan.”

2018 Greatest Hits #9: Faith in Action Initiatives provides medical supplies & equipment for non-profits

(During these last few weeks of December we will be reprising the Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts for 2018 from the Act Locally Waco blog. I couldn’t possibly pick my favorites – so I used the simple (cop out?)  approach of pulling up the 10 blog posts that got the most “opens” according to our Google Analytics.  It is an intriguing collection that gives at least a little insight into the interests and concerns of Act Locally Waco readers. I hope this “Top 10” idea inspires you to go back and re-read your personal favorites.  There have been so many terrific ones… If you would like to see the Top 10 according to Google Analytics, here’s the link: Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts of 2018.  Merry Christmas! — ABT) 

By Matthew Hoffman

Faith In Action Initiatives (FIAI) is the medical missions and humanitarian aid arm of Baylor Scott & White Health. FIAI is a source of medical supplies, equipment and furniture donations to nonprofit charitable organizations. My name is Matthew Hoffman.  I am the FIAI strategy coordinator in Waco who established the center following the merger of Baylor Health Care System and Scott & White Healthcare in 2013.

FIAI offers many programs, but one of its primary initiatives is its Second Life Resource Center at 3000 Herring Avenue in Waco. FIAI receives items from nonprofits, for-profit businesses, and members of the community. Items include wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and basic medical goods. Each week, shipments of medical supplies, equipment and furniture are processed, sorted and shelved by staff and volunteers for donation to local and international non-profit charitable organizations. Donation recipients include medical clinics, medical missions, churches, transitional living facilities, educational institutions, and humanitarian aid organizations. Our Second Life Resource Center serves the Waco, College Station, Temple, Austin and Hill Country regions.

Why does Faith In Action do this? We do this, first and foremost, because we care about people and we want to see people cared for. It is our hope to help elevate access to health care by coming alongside these nonprofit organizations and supplying their resource needs as we are able. When there are so many good nonprofit, charitable organizations within our communities who are bringing loving, compassionate care to others, we want to help resource their needs. By doing this, these nonprofits are better able to reallocate their funds to other projects and expand their own work when they aren’t having to pay for items that we are able to freely give to them. The end result of this is that we hope to help create healthier communities.

My hope is that Faith In Action – Central Texas will become increasingly recognized as a “one-stop shop” for resourcing nonprofit needs in the area. In its first year, FIAI’s Central Texas division was able to give away more than $250,000 worth of goods to local and international humanitarian aid efforts, and is on target to exceed $1 million in total donations.

The initiatives also help reduce waste. If we can give to a homeless shelter or a transitional living facility a perfectly good bed, or a pregnancy help center baby formula and diapers, or a charitable clinic basic goods that serve low income areas, instead of throwing these items away and filling up our landfills, we will give it away to good people every time.

Beyond serving local communities, FIAI also is heavily involved internationally. FIAI sends, on average, a 40-foot shipping container each month full of supplies to medical missions, hospitals or humanitarian aid efforts located worldwide.

If you would like to be part of FIAI by either donating goods or volunteering your time at our Second Life Resource Center, or if you are a nonprofit in need of resources, please contact me by phone at (254) 227-2640, or by email at Matthew.Hoffman@BSWHealth.org.  


Matthew HoffmanMatthew Hoffman has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit leadership and development with community, health care, and faith-based organizations. He currently serves as the Strategy Coordinator for Baylor Scott & White Health’s Faith In Action Initiatives – Central Division, which he sees as a dream come true to be able to link larger organizations with the needs of the poor both here locally and abroad. He holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences (emphasis on sociology and international relations) from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in theology (emphasis on community development and ministries to the poor) from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has two children and has been married to an incredible human being and best friend, Anna, for 25 years.  

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.