Powerful Texas History with Ken Wise


In the school days, most of us snored through history class.

But as we get older, we realize the importance of our past. If you ignore history, you miss out on valuable connections… and you risk investing in assets that plummet to zero.

Today’s guest is Ken Wise, a justice on the 14th Court of Appeals. In 2015, he started Wise About Texas, a Texas history podcast. Today, he’s here to show you how you can apply Texas history to improve your quality of life and leave a lasting legacy.

In this episode, you’ll discover how a little Texas history knowledge helps you build a valuable network, get through difficult times, and even become a better investor.

Listen now

Show Highlights Include: 

  • The “when I get around to it” method that lets you build a legacy on the side (even if you’re swamped with work in your day job) ([5:37])
  • Why learning about the early settlements of Texas helps you perform better at your job ([6:55])
  • How a little “irrelevant” history knowledge lets you make meaningful friendships that reward you for decades ([9:57])
  • Why 19th Century investment advice lets you avoid Bitcoin bubbles ([10:36])
  • Two gifts that set your children up for a life of wealth (even though they cost almost nothing) ([12:39])


DLP029 - Powerful Texas History with Ken Wise



Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money. Welcome to retire in Texas, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the state of Texas. And now here’s your host financial advisor, author, and all around good Texan, Darryl Lyons. 


([00:29]): Hey, this is Darryl Lyons CEO and co-founder of PAX financial group. And you’re listening to retire in Texas. Thanks for listening. Uh, retire in Texas is sponsored by PAX financial group. And if you have interest in what we’re doing, you can text texts to the phone number seven four eight six eight. That’s Texas to the number 7 48 68. Before we get started, I have to share with you my legal disclosure. This information contains general information only, and it is not intended to provide specific investment tax or legal advice. Visit PAX financial group.com. Ken, did you appreciate that? Uh, disclosure? Yeah, I love it. We don’t want to be given any legal advice <laugh> Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. So I appreciate Ken wise coming on the show today. He’s the host of retire, not retire in Texas. That’s my podcast wise about Texas, which is literally one of my favorite podcasts. I listen to a lot of podcasts out there and one of my favorites is just learning about the history of Texas. And so I’ve been listening to wise about Texas for a long time now, and I thought, you know what? It’d be great to have Ken come on the show so I can share this treasure with, uh, our audience as well. So, Ken, thanks for coming on the show. Can you tell the audience a little bit more about why Texas? How did you get started with that podcast? 


([01:54]): Sure. Well, thanks for having me today. It’s really a pleasure to be with you. I appreciate the kind words about the show. I started it in 2015 and the real reason that I started it is I was sort of shamed into it. And, uh, by that, I mean, I had loved Texas history. All my life, I studied it in increasing levels of, uh, commitment and seriousness all my life, but all of that is consumption and I wasn’t really producing, giving back to sort of the history community by 2015 had been a judge quite a while here in Texas. And I had learned how important our history was. And I was at a meeting and I met a couple of historians who I really respected and we were having a conversation and one of them looked at me and said, well, what are you working on? And of course what he meant was what, what are you working on in the history realm? And I really wasn’t, you know, I, I did do some talking and a little bit of writing on court record preservation, but I really had no answer for it. And so I thought, man, I really gotta do something to contribute back to the history part of this, um, state. So I looked around and there was really only one podcast that was doing anything related to Texas history. And it wasn’t really a history podcast per se. It was three friends doing a podcast and Texas history’s always fun to talk about. So they did some of that and they did some other stuff. And so I thought, well, I can do that. You know, I can do a scholarly, some scholarly research and just give a little speech, cuz that came naturally of course, being a judge and when judges are elected in Texas, so I’d give speeches all the time. I thought, okay, that’s something I could do. So I tried it and it worked <laugh> now I can’t quit. 


([03:35]): So it reminds me of like going to church and somebody asks you, so what’s God teaching you through the Bible. And you’re like, oh man, you know, I’m not reading the Bible. So what I’m hearing is you went to this history thing and somebody asks you, so what are you doing to promote the history? And you’re, you’re like, oh man, I’m not doing anything. And so that kind of pinged you, huh? Yeah. I mean, I was involved. The meeting was actually spring, Texas spring court, historical society, which I’ll be president of next year. I was involved, but I didn’t feel like I was contributing. And the way I feel is if you’re gonna be serious about something you need to give back. And um, you know, that’s been my whole career with the state of Texas as a judge. And now with my interest in history, I’m trying to do the same thing. So, it turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought it would be. It’s turned out to be fascinating, cuz I hear weekly from people all over the state, all over the world, actually it’s being heard in 152 countries. So I hear from people all over the world who love Texas and it’s enabled me to meet people, get involved in things, you know, do, and, and I’ve ramped up the history activities since I started the podcast. But um, it’s really been a blessing to me. 


([04:48]): Tell me a little bit more about what you do full time. Well, I’m a justice on the 14th court of appeals. So Texas has, uh, three levels of courts, trial courts, which are called district courts. And I was a district judge in Harris county for 10 years and then have been on the court of appeals for nine. The court of appeals is kind of the middle layer. 90% of the cases stop at the court of appeals; only about 10% go to the Supreme court for the court of criminal appeals. So we are a very, very busy appellate level court. There are 14 in the state. My district consists of 10 counties, including Harris county and is the largest by population. So it’s very busy, we hear all the appeals from all the courts, any kind of case, criminal civil doesn’t matter. And uh, so that definitely keeps me busy during the day. How are you managing the research, the podcast production and your full-time job? Well, uh, any of your, as you know, and, and if any of your listeners tune into the podcast, they don’t come out as often as I would like them to. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, and that’s a function of time, you know, I don’t wanna put out a podcast that isn’t a good podcast by my definition, that is well re interesting story, well researched and that takes time. And so it’s hard to put ’em out very frequently, but uh, so I don’t know how I’m managing it. Probably not very well <laugh> I wish I had more 


([06:11]): Time. The reality is, is a lot of people are just jumping on like me, you know, I still have a lot of content to go back to. So there’s a lot of episodes that, you know, you don’t have to produce anymore for new listeners. They have plenty to choose from <laugh> that’s good. But I appreciate the work that you do in it. You can tell there’s a high level of detail. And so frankly, I, I can’t imagine the challenge that exists, but I’d imagine a lot of it has become a little bit of a hobby or am I, uh, being presumptuous there? No, it’s definitely, uh, a hobby. I mean, well, more than that, I mean, I think it’s more of a passion. I mean the research there’s never, I will never know enough about Texas and you constantly discover fascinating people, places, events, and it really ties into my judicial service and, which is a strange thing to think about. But, you know, Texas is more connected to its history really than probably any other state. I’ll just say that any other state and what has happened in the past, we are a product of what has happened in the past. And so studying the past informs the present a funny story for you. If I might, I had a case several years ago regarding a closed road in Brazoria county, Texas in one of the, what was one of the earliest settlements of Austin’s colony. And so I had an opportunity, not only did I get to go into my own library and learn about the roads and all of those and the people involved and all, and the maps, I learned a lot about maps and locations and all that, but I had done an episode on the area. 


([07:47]): So I had an opportunity to cite my own podcast in a judicial opinion now to give your listeners some comfort, but I did not do that. I thought that might have been a little too cocky, but, uh, my point is that as you study, Texas has passed, it informs our everyday existence. We’re still dealing with issues that they dealt with in the 1820s. You know, I, I appreciate you saying that. So my father-in-law who’s retired, Colonel he’s, um, taught history and has been a history buff for his whole life. He really turned me on to the appreciation of history prior to that. I just, you know, something I took in class and I didn’t think much of it now. It’s fascinating to me and I can’t get enough of it. Can you tell the listeners the, and maybe even the younger listeners, the value of learning history and how important that is today? Oh gosh. Well, one thing I’d say that’s been on my mind recently is there is a tendency and I suppose it’s a tendency of every generation to think that we are smarter and wiser than those that came before because we’re living later and we’re living now. That’s just not the case. We’re not wiser than George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, not at all. And so it’s important to study, uh, what has come before and has been recorded to get that wisdom and to understand that, uh, people really haven’t changed that much. And, uh, I don’t think, and human nature, I mean, and so issues of the past are still issues of the present. Now they may, uh, they may look a little different. Obviously our technology, et cetera, is very, very different, but uh, people aren’t different. And so in some issues you can, uh, look at the issue and the beginning, middle end of the issue and how it affected wherever it occurred and turn around and apply it to our present day. 


([09:35]): And when I say issue, I mean, just generally could be good, bad, difficult, easy, whatever immigration comes to mind. You know, that’s an issue that Texas on our very soil has experienced beginning, middle, and end. And you can learn about that and turn around and confront the same difficult choices today. So I think it is really, really important for younger listeners. I’ll just tell you this. One of the things that really struck me about Texas history in particular is I spent a lot of time with the legislature during the session discussing issues of related to the judiciary sort of lobbying, but obviously we don’t get paid and all that, but you know, forming relationships from people all around the state of Texas, because I knew something from my Texas history, reading about every area of the state, you know, I had something in common really, or something to talk about with everybody and those relationships all because of history. So it’ll sneak up on you. You may not think it’s relevant, but it really is. 


([10:34]): Wow. Yeah. You said a couple things there. So first of all, just to recap, I mean, obviously the lessons learned from the past, you know, I think also honoring some people that came before us and of course the relationship building, you know, me growing up in various cities, uh, you know, Bernie a and Castroville, it’s easier for me to communicate with people from those communities. Cause I understand the culture and the history and then relative to the lessons learned, you know, I, I look at from an investment perspective, I look at Bitcoin as the example to consider where it’s, you know, a new product and a new solution and a there’s a lot of rally about around the innovation and the thought leaders there. And, I think there was a missing component and that’s honoring, respecting and acknowledging history, which hasn’t changed that in investments, fear, and greed’s still prevalent <laugh> and that’s gonna dictate the outcome of any investment product. And so I think that was discounted, uh, quite a bit. And then people got a rude awakening when it went the other direction. That’s a great point. Yeah. <laugh>, that’s a great example. 


([11:34]): So take me back a little bit. Are you from Texas? Yeah, I was born and raised in Houston on the west side of town back when we were in a subdivision that backed up to a ranch, which is now probably the geographic population center of the entire community, but it’s changed a lot. I had a little bit of an interesting, uh, background. We spent a lot of time in Montgomery, Texas where my earliest Texas ancestor settled. So I got a little bit of a dual urban, rural experience because we’d go up there a lot and I got to be in the country a lot and this is the seventies. And, you know, it has not changed a lot in Montgomery. It’s totally different. Now of course, being more of a suburb. The importance of that to me was I got to sort of experience rural Texas, that in a time when it had not changed a lot for decades and Houston changes constantly. So I had the big city experience and then I had a little bit of the rural experience. And so it turned out to be really nice. What did your parents 


([12:39]): Do you think so? Well, my dad started as a CPA and, uh, was a corporate executive with several Houston companies in the energy space and became an entrepreneur later in his career. And uh, also energy. My mom stayed home and raised my sister and I, and is the consummate volunteer and, uh, was very, they were very involved and I, I can’t, you know, they gave me an education, which is the greatest gift any parents can give in addition to great set of values and just being lovely people. So wonderful. Well, I, I can’t help, but ask, since this is a money podcast, did they teach you anything about money or did you just observe things going up? Tried? I learned the lesson very well. I, but yeah, my dad, you know, he was a CFO of those companies. And so he’s a wizard when it comes to that. In fact, since you gave me the opening, I’m gonna brag on him. He was at, uh, Transco during a time where a big pipeline company during a time where they sort of invented the master limited partnership, which I presume still used today. And, uh, so he was up and we had actually had an apartment in New York. He was in New York all the time. I got to go up there a lot and spend a lot of time up there, which made me appreciate Texas so much more. He was there on wall street working with all those guys in the eighties, you know, when everybody had white collars on their shirts and suspenders and Michael Milkin. Yeah. All that, all the, he knew he knew all those guys. 


([14:04]): Yeah. Wow. Yeah. That is, that’s a fascinat. I mean, I know a lot of that rich wall street history in the eighties and fascinating, good and bad. But you know, for somebody with Texas values, I’m, I’d imagine that they had an interesting perspective, So, well you ought to get him on the podcast. Cause it’s a pretty interesting story to think about. I would love to have him on that would be, I would probably exhaust the time limit on that. <laugh> that conversation. So what, is there a city or town that really you haven’t had a chance to, that you really want to cover in your wise Texas podcasts? Oh man. Yeah. I’ve got a list. I keep a running list of topics. It’s probably 300 items long. I get new ones from listeners all the time. I think they occur to me all the time. I do do some, I do focus on towns occasionally. And uh, on the town side though, I did one early on, on Texana, which is a town that’s no longer there, but it was actually a very significant town. The Allen brothers who started Houston, tried to buy it to make it their town, which would’ve ended up being Houston. And they were turned down by the city fathers. But um, there’s always good stories in all these towns. So there’s not one that I’m focused on right now, but uh, there’s plenty on my list for sure. 


([15:19]): Can I sell you in Castroville? Yes, actually that’s on my list. I have spent some time there and I need to do it honorary Castro and the settlements and, and it figured into a movie recently with Tom Ang. So that’s right. You know, it came out right at the middle of COVID and so, uh, you know, no one really got a chance to see that movie. Neither. I haven’t either. Have you seen it? Yeah. It’s called the news of the world. It’s a wonderful, wonderful movie. And Yeah, I’m gonna put that on my list And uh, written, uh, based on a book written by a lady who lives in utopia, not far away. So yeah, definitely worth seeing, you know, Tom Hanks is wonderful, but the little girl in the movie is a fairly young girl from Germany. Just did a fantastic job. Yeah, I really enjoyed it. Thanks for the reminder. We’re here with honorable kin wise. Who’s the host of podcast wise about Texas. And as I mentioned early in the show, one of my favorite podcasts to just get a glimpse of the rich history in Texas, that’s uh, not talked about enough. So we’re kind of closing out this show, but wanted to continue to, to ask a few more questions to Ken. One of which is what’s your favorite episode so far? 


([16:29]): Oh man. That’s like a favorite child. I’ve got a lot of music, friends, and I’ve learned that songwriters and podcasters are very similar when you’re doing this kind of storytelling stuff, because you sort of put it out there and hope people listen, but you can’t, you love ’em all. <laugh>, they’re all your favorite. I’ll tell you though. Some of the, couple of the very interesting stories that I love, one is the time that we bombed Oklahoma, that’s one, you know, listeners will need to look up Texas bombs, Oklahoma. Okay. Uh, the other involves a gentleman named Jacob Broeck and in 1865, he flew an airplane in Bernie, Texas. Uh, we think it was in Bernie and that’s a fascinating story, unfortunately, and I’m still in the process of, and it’s gonna be years to try to find records of this event, but it clearly happened. And uh, aviation historians work really, really hard to discount it, which tells me that there’s something there as a trial lawyer. And judge, I can tell when someone’s working a little too hard. So the Jacob Broeck episode, I think it’s episode 26, it’s called Texas take flight. Fascinating story. 


([17:42]): I haven’t checked. I, I haven’t seen, I haven’t heard either of those. So now, uh, that that’ll be the first place I go. Thank you for that. Now what’s the future of the podcast look like in an ideal scenario, are you doing that full time or what is It? Oh, no, I don’t. No, I can’t sit still long enough to do one thing. Full-time I think, um, you I’m gonna keep doing it. I’m gonna do a few more interviews. I think I’ve got some, uh, well known folks. I’m gonna say their names now, but they’ve agreed to do it and want to do it. And I wanna do some more interviews. I wanna talk in those interviews about how T history has influenced Texans. And so I will never go away from the history storytelling a hundred percent, but I do want to kind of capture some great Texans and how Texas history plays into their lives and into their work. I have tons of ideas and I wanna do big subjects. I wanna do something big. I wanna do the towns that you mentioned. I’m always looking for a good story. There’s there’s tons of ’em and I want to put episodes out there for people to listen to. 


([18:43]): I gotta tell you I’m well over a million listeners. And I just warms my heart to have people come up to me, especially if I don’t really know ’em and say, my family listens to ’em or my kids listen to ’em on road trips or something like that. Cuz that’s really what it’s about. If we, we as Texans, what makes T Texas so great is all the great things in our history. And we need to focus on the fact that it really is good. I mean, you live here for a reason and the reason is it’s a great place to live and it’s a great place to live because all of the good that has occurred in our past. And that doesn’t mean you ignore things that you don’t ever wanna repeat. You need to learn those two, but um, we need to really focus, especially these days on, uh, what our, for bears built. Oh, that’s well said. And uh, that’s a good note to finish this, uh, conversation on, but I do have to ask you the final, most important question. What is your favorite salsa? 


([19:40]): Oh man, I better not say a brand name. There’s a couple of small brands that are made around here in Houston that I really, really enjoy. So I will say I’ve rarely met a salsa. I don’t like <laugh> do you like it hot? Is it spicy? I, Yeah, sometimes. I mean, I don’t like it. Distractingly hot. I don’t think it’s a contest to see how much you could tolerate, but I like it. You know, I want you to know that you’ve had it. I mean, I like spicy. Yep. I’m with you. Makes sense. Well, thank you very much again for being on here and taking for out. Thanks for have your busy day. Thank you to those that have been listening again. You’re listening to retire in Texas and for those that would like to have that 15 minute consult with one of our advisors, it doesn’t cost you anything. And it’s a way to just get acclimated to our culture. You just have to text 7, 4, 8 68 and put in the text, Texas, and we reach out to you. And again, I wanna remind everyone that you think different when you think long term have a great day. 


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