Kate James was born Martha Catherine Jones in Tennessee in 1851. She and her family of (at that time) a mom, dad, 4 sisters and 4 brothers moved to Texas in a horse drawn wagon in 1855. After they settled in Dallas County, 2 more brothers were born, so Kate was one of 11 children in her family! Kate and her family endured a great deal of hardship, and experienced many adventures in their move to Texas, including a sister who was almost lost on the trail, dangers crossing the Mississippi River, and the fear of encountering Indians. After settling in Texas they lived new adventures including prairie fires, life in a log cabin, school in a one room school house, and three brothers who went away to fight in the Civil War. In the course of her life, light bulbs, cars, telephones, the phonograph and many other things that helped create the world we know today were invented. Kate passed away in 1931 at the age of 79 leaving scrapbooks, photos and journals for her family and future generations as a legacy of a time she knew few of us would be able to imagine.


Define Pioneer. What made Kate a Pioneer? Who are some other Texas Pioneers from Kate‘s era?

Are there still Pioneers today? Who are they? And what makes them Pioneers?

Can you be a pioneer? What could you do to be a pioneer in your community?

Kate preserved valuable stories and artifacts from her family and from her early days in Texas. What can you do to keep your family heritage alive? How can you help preserve your community’s heritage?

Talk about what you would have liked/disliked about the pioneer years.


Start keeping a journal. Record not only your personal thoughts, dreams and wishes, but also facts about your family and community. How large is it? What is special about it?

Find out more about your family by interviewing your parents and grandparents. Where did they come from? How long has your family lived in Texas? Why did they originally come to Texas? What were the hardships they encountered along the way?

Create a family tree on poster board. Include photos or drawings of family members or special things about your family.

Write a fictional story about what it might have been like to be a child crossing the country in a covered wagon in the 1850s.

What inventions were there from 1850-1900? Find out and research one of those inventions. How did that invention benefit the community or the world?

Write a fictional letter to a family member or friend who is away fighting in the Civil War. Or write a fictional letter FROM a relative or friend fighting in the war. What might it have been like to be in that situation?

Build a model of a log cabin.

Write a poem about wild flowers.

As a class (or individually or with a partner) build a model of a small town in the 1800s in Texas. Talk about how towns have changed and why.

Please feel free to have your class send letters to Peyton Hayslip care of thistlemouse productions regarding Kate James: Portrait of a Texas Pioneer. We love the feedback, and the insight of the students is very helpful in planning and developing future shows.

Thank you!

thistlemouse productions

PO Box 50522

Austin, TX 78762-0522

(512) 374-1485



Kate James: Portrait of a Texas Pioneer Classroom Supplement
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