It all started in the Spring of 1901. The Texas Legislature decided it was time to declare a “State Flower”. This led to a (polite) war that lasts to this day, and caused the State of Texas to end up with five (maybe six) “State Flowers”. All of them, however, are Bluebonnets!
Anyway, back to the Texas Legislature. Some legislators were in favor of naming the “cotton bowl” as the “State Flower”, since cotton was a very valuable cash crop, and was considered “king” in those days.
One interesting character was named John Nance Garner, a vocal and ambitious legislator from Uvalde, Texas. Mr. Garner was in favor of naming the cactus as the “State Flower”. He reasoned that the cactus was extremely hardy, and often had beautiful blooms in many vivid colors. And besides, they were everywhere you stepped in those days. Never mind that they were a menace to cattle and bare feet. Mr. Garner was so determined in his support that he became known as “Cactus Jack”. This name stuck with him for the rest of his life – even when he became Vice President of the United States.
(To be continued…)