Marples: Jasper, Toad and Texas statehood

This year 2020 marks 175 years since a bill was passed in Congress and signed into law by then-President John Tyler in 1845, admitting Texas to the Union. Thus, Texas became the Lone Star State, and the 28th admitted to the United States of America.

Previously, it was the Republic of Texas and encompassed a much wider swath of land, including parts of present-day Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and even a thin strip of modern-day Wyoming. Many people are astonished when they learn that. As a native Kansan, I learned early in school that part of Kansas had Texas origins.

It’s hard to imagine the Texas Rangers patrolling such a wide expanse of territory, but they did. Americans in other states feared Texas statehood would expand slavery further in the nation. Others countered that it wouldn’t. Many Texans favored statehood; many didn’t. Even President Tyler had mixed emotions on the subject. He agreed to the proposition because he feared potential War with Mexico much more than his own private opinions.

Ultimately, President Tyler, along with a supermajority of Americans and Texans, agreed it was proper for Texas to enter the Union, to help fulfill the notion of Manifest Destiny, meaning it was America’s destiny to stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

In looking at history, the Texan Spirit has always been closely tied to the American Dream of a better life. Everyone wants their own life enhanced by safety and security in their home and in their person; along with peace, prosperity, and overall happiness.

This doesn’t just apply to humans. People have always loved their animals —whether it be dogs or cats or in the early years oxen, mules, horses, cattle, goats, sheep, bison and a whole variety of other species.

My dad, granddad, myself and other relatives have almost always had pets and livestock at various points in our lives.

January is generally the coldest month for Longview and environs. I’d urge people to be mindful of their furry friends. Some seven years ago in 2013 a pair of twin kittens were born under a neighbor’s shed. The mother cat was killed. I befriended the first little orphaned kitten brave enough to venture out. I named it “Jasper,” which means jewel. It fits. My cousin Carole named its twin “Sharona,” yet it never really responded to the name. Since the kitten hopped like a toad: I called it “Toad” and the nickname stuck.

I call them little cats even though they are now seven years old. A veterinarian spayed them a bit too prematurely. Although both are female, Jasper paws the sod like a dog, even clawing out clods of dirt if you pat its back. Its front paws are larger than normal, too. The twins look almost identical, except for the orange-stripe down Jasper’s nose.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Longview. Our city’s founder, Ossamus Hitch Methvin Sr., had dogs and cats, although they tended to stay near his house (along modern-day Marshall Avenue), well away from the railroad tracks. He was a wagon maker and land speculator by trade. A few of his cats stayed in the loft of his livery stable, which was located where the downtown post office now sits.

Let me return to the average modern-day Longview homeowner. January is typically our coldest month (followed closely by February), it’s vitally important to enable pets access to fresh food, thawed water bowls that are full, as well as adequate shelter if they stay outside any period of time. Pets are like people: they need a safe and secure environment.

I am mindful that our cats Jasper and Toad, and others nationwide, deserve freedom of life and breath. It is akin to the statehood rights of human government. Even the Holy Bible in Genesis 1:26 notes that God made man in His own image, and that Man shall have dominion over the fish, birds, cattle and everything that walks over the earth. Humans and animals depend on each other.

Today's Bible verse

“You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call on you.”

— Psalms 86:5

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