Texians are white immigrants to the state of Texas and Tejanos is the terminology used for Hispanic immigrants. Both were in the state in the early days and fought together in the Texas Revolution against Spain/Mexico. Many nations of indigenous people predated them. George Fulton the builder and owner of Fulton Mansion became a Texian when he arrived to fight in the Revolutionary War. He didn’t see much action but for his service he was given 1,280 acres of land in Texas and worked as a draughtsman for the General Land Office in Houston.
His next position was as a tutor to the children of Henry Smith and thus began their alliance. He married Smith’s daughter Harriett at age 17. They had 3 native born children and moved to Washington DC for a time. When he returned to Texas he started a Meat Packing company with the livestock from the land in Aransas that Harriet inherited. He invented a form of refrigeration when preparing the meat and then shipped it up and down the coast, all over the American mainland and even to England. This astonishes me because I live in the south east of Texas, it’s sub-tropical, about 100 degrees for three months solid. I can’t even get my popsicles home from the supermarket (literally 5 minutes away) in the summer without them starting to melt.
Fulton’s innovation in his meat packing business and in animal husbandry (he grew corn and sorghum to feed the animals better), allow his business to flourish. His wealth and ingenuity allowed him to build a house that was almost futuristic in design. Firstly, he had his own gas plant to fuel the house and lights. Then he used a 16,000 gallon double cistern water tank to supply the Mansion with endless hot and cold water, using rainwater that was trapped from the roof. Finally he created a central heating system.
I grew up in a metal house with no central heating (in the Scottish Arctic) so I was truly in awe when I read about the house. They didn’t even need central heating because they live in the south and every room had a magnificent fireplace! In Egypt our water tank was so small that I could only the fill the bath with 3 inches of water. There was no air-conditioning in Fulton Mansion but each room had plantation blinds to let the sea air cool down the house in summer.
The building construction of the Mansion was even more fascinating. It was insulated with discarded oyster shells (big business down here) between planks of pine. Sustainable and green, all back in the day. This was and still is a relatively remote place. When I was working, I did a Fisheries tour of Texas and was amazed by the giant mountain of oyster shells outside one the companies. I did wonder what they did with them – I know they use them in landscaping. Fulton Mansion has survived numerous hurricanes so it was built to last.
When we visited the home, we went in the basement first – knowing our place as Celtic peasants. When there, we chatted to another couple that looked our age. There was a hand whisk on the table, with a handle to turn it. I remarked to the lady that I got one as a wedding present. She looked at me in astonishment. Maybe America was much more advanced that the UK, back in the day, or she was younger than I thought. I daren’t mention Nana’s mangle…
The house really wasn’t that big despite all the innovations and that makes it more sustainable, too. They had a limited staff and couldn’t keep them for some unknown reason. I wonder if it was just too remote for the servants? But look at the view they had –