New book release – Staggering: Life and Death on the Texas Frontier at Staggers Point

Dear Trailhead readers,

I’m happy to announce the release of my latest book, Staggering: Life and Death on the Texas Frontier at Staggers Point

247 pages


Here is the back cover blurb:

“In 1829, recent arrivals from Ireland began moving to a patch of wilderness near the Brazos River in Mexican Texas. They came seeking freedom and fortune. What they found was malaria, war, the constant threat of gruesome Indian massacres, wolves, panthers — and an abiding happiness that has kept many descendants there to this day. At Staggers Point, near modern-day Bryan, Texas, they collided and coexisted with four other cultures: Americans, American Indians, Mexicans, and enslaved African Americans. These families bore witness to the greatest political upheavals of nineteenth century America, and their lives spanned the full range of human experience — from scratching out a living on a primitive frontier; to fleeing and fighting bands of Comanches and other American Indians, the Mexican army, and common criminals; to the joys and sorrows of raising children beyond the reach of civilization. Though they were common pioneers, to us their experiences, their feats, and their very survival are staggering.

“Driven by a desire to understand his heritage, essayist Avrel Seale has unearthed nuggets of little-known history from diverse sources and blended them with social commentary to produce a revealing and fast-paced history of nineteenth century Texas.”

This has been a fantastic journey of discovery about what life was like for those living here in Texas in the not-so-distant past. I hope that readers of this book will learn something and enjoy the ride. The book is available in print for $14 at:

and the Kindle eBook is available for $4 at:

12 comments on “New book release – Staggering: Life and Death on the Texas Frontier at Staggers Point

  1. Avrel, we’ve never met, but I suppose we are distant cousins. I am also a descendant of Elizabeth and Robert Henry. My dad father was Robert Henry Seale II. My brother, Robert Henry “Hank” Seale III, lives near you in Dripping Springs. I live in California and make my living as a writer.

    My dad’s first cousin (Betty Westbrook Trant in Bryan, TX) sent me a copy of your book today. Though I have a huge deadline looming, the resemblance of the woman on the cover of your book to my father captivated me, and I went ahead and read a few pages.

    Your book is very well done and is oddly haunting because I’ve heard bits and pieces of some of the early history from word of mouth, primarily from my father. My dad often described his longer second toe as the ‘O’Hara’ toe. Not knowing that we came from the O’Hara line, I never understood why others called it anything else. My dad was also a staunch Presbyterian. I used to tease him and say that acted as if he’d lived through the Protestant Reformation by the level of rigidity he had about any denomination other than Presbyterian.

    I look forward to reading on after I meet my deadline. I am the keeper of our family bible, and most of our family history. A lot of the photos have been divided up through the years. I scanned quite a few from the WWI era and sent the originals to Betty Trant, as she has most of the knowledge of our family history. She still refers to Columbus Seale as “Uncle Columbus.” My cousin, Hugh Seale, taught me in sixth grade and is part of your branch of the family. I’m going to send the book to his son, Allan, as well.

    I had made it my goal to, at some point this year, try to gather up photos from my brother and others and scan them and try to capture some of the family stories to record our history before the “stories” are lost. Thank you for your work.

    • Avrel Seale says:

      Cousin Allison, what a treat, and thank you for writing! And thanks for the kind words about the book. I have spoken to Hank a couple of times by phone over the past year, and I’ve become good friends with Betty Trant through the process of writing this book. I’d love to know more about you, your work, and your interest in the family. I’ll email you offline so we don’t have to correspond in public. Looking forward to chatting with you more! Warmest, Avrel

  2. Jane Stevenson Chandler says:

    I was delighted to run across your new book. Amazon alerted me because I had bought the history of James and Margot O’Hara Henry. I also am a cousin. My grandmother was named Eva Ellen McMillan King. Her father was William Henry McMillan whose mother was Margaret Henry, the daughter of Robert and Bettie Henry. My mother, Marguerite King Stevenson attended a couple of the Henry family reunions at Bryan. I’ve always been fascinated by her stories of the “Irish Colony” at Staggers Point. I’m so glad you wrote this excellent history. I’ve ordered copies for my kids and grandchildren!

  3. Polly Westbrook Olson says:

    My mother, Betty Westbrook Trant, gave your newly published book to me for Christmas.I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your history of members of the Henry and Seale families. As a child, I spent much time with my great-grandmother, Annie Lee Seale, and my grandmother, Bessie Seale Benbow, in Benchley at the Robert Henry Seale home. My busband, Carl, and I live in San Antonio and would welcome the opportunity to visit with your and your family sometime.

  4. Harold Brian Seale says:

    Cousin, this book is great! I am ashamed to admit that I had no idea of this history. All the times we drove right past Benchley and down OSR we didn’t know we where on old stomping grounds of our kinfolk.
    This book gives me and my family a new perspective of this part of Texas and our connection to it. I would like to thank you for all of your hard work and this wonderful gift to all of the Seale and Henry families.
    PS please give me an email so I can order more
    books for Easter gifts.

  5. James L. Henry says:


    My name is James Henry and I live in Bryan, Texas. Thank you for writing this book! I, too, trace my lineage back to Robert Henry. Robert was my great-great-great grandfather; his son, Hugh, my great-great grandfather; Hugh’s son, George, was my great grandfather; George’s son, W.H. (Bud), was my grandfather; Bud’s son, Billy George, was my father.

    My great-aunt, Ola Mae Henry (George’s daughter), whom you reference in your book, gave me a copy of the family history she contributed to some decades ago entitled AMERICAN DESCENDANTS OF JAMES AND MARGOT O’HARA HENRY OF COUNTY ANTRIM, IRELAND. It’s a priceless treasure in my family and is affectionally referred to as the big green book. Your work now sits beside it on my bookshelf, held in equally high regard.

  6. Rusty Adams says:

    I am also a Henry descendant. I learned of your book through the Wm. Joel Bryan Chapter, Sons of the Republic of Texas, and was sad that I had to miss your presentation. I ordered the book and devoured it in a few days. I also had heard many of these stories passed down through the family’s oral history, but there were plenty of interesting discoveries and information I had never heard. What a great read! Thank you for preserving this remarkable story for future generations. I live in Brazos County and have never been to the Henry reunion. I would love to meet you and visit some time.

    James Henry (the son of James Henry and Margot O’Hara and the brother of Robert, William, and Hugh) was my fourth great-grandfather. The line to me is as follows: James Henry –> Margaret Henry Mawhinney –> Esther Mawhinney Higgs –> Will S. Higgs –> Ida Belle Higgs Adams –> E. V. Adams, Jr. –> Me.

    Recently, in reviewing the headright certificate of my third great-grandfather George Higgs, I noticed Robert Henry’s signature, apparently as an “Associate.” Do you know anything about this? It’s issued in Robertson County, Republic of Texas, but the land is currently in Leon County.

    Again, thank you for your work!

    Incidentally, I had never heard of the “O’Hara toe,” but upon inspection, my second toe is significantly longer than the others!

    • Avrel Seale says:

      Rusty, thanks so much for the nice note. I’m delighted you found the book. I think “Associate” must be short for “Associate Justice of the Peace.” As for it being in current Leon County, yes Robertson County was much larger in the early days of the Republic, then was broken up in the subsequent years, so that makes good sense. Thanks for reaching out, and let’s stay in touch. I seem to come through Bryan once or twice a year, so I’ll try to let you know next time that happens and maybe we can get lunch. All best! Avrel

  7. I was looking for mention of Edward McMillan, veteran of Battle of San Jacinto and one of the first settlers at Staggers Point. He was related to the other McMillan’s : Ann, James, Andrew, George and Elizabeth , probably a nephew of Ann’ s husband James. I recognize other names from our genealogy research. Edward was our three times removed grandfather. I am sure your book is interesting.

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