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Journey's Reward

Renaissance Man Robert Runyon, Pioneer Aviator P.A. Newman, and Entrepreneurship in the Borderlands

 By Doug Perkins
From La Rama Press

Intriguing Stories about the History of Conservation, Aviation and Photography Technology; insight into Military Battles, Risk Management during times of Personal Turmoil; and examples of Entrepreneurial Success and Succession in the 20th Century Mexico-Texas Borderlands

Available Online Now!
Journey's Reward Traces The Legacy of Innovation in South Texas and Northeast Mexico 

Each year close to 400,000 ecotourists travel to the borderlands between Texas and Mexico to observe, conserve,  and photograph the region's native plant life and the wildlife it supports.

Other visitors seek to monitor activities of modern entrepreneurs who test rocket technology on the border's coastline--including rocket ships that someday may transport humans to Mars.

The values that made possible this heritage of  the borderlands' unique flora diversity and  advanced space flight have their origins more than a century before with separate arrivals in Brownsville, Texas, of two individual entrepreneurs . Over the next six decades, these men took turns introducing science and technology innovations during a dynamic era marked by personal, political, and military turmoil.

Journey's Reward presents a fast-paced, captivating examination of these two men who lived entrepreneurial lives of risk and reward in the borderlands as masters of innovation.





  • producing his own line of postcards

  • earning fame as one of America's first war photojournalists

  • becaming recognized as a highly successful commercial/portrait photographer


  • identified more than two dozen rare plants

  • championed preservation of Texas' only native palm

  • saved from extinction Texas' rarest tree

  • spearheaded beautification efforts in borderlands' parks, resacas, and homes

  • built a world-renowned herbarium and botanical library.









  • the first motorized flight in the Southwest U.S.

  • architecture and construction of America's first monoplane

Kentucky native Robert Runyon became a self-taught creative master in photography soon after


Beginning in 1918, Runyon branched out into a new intellectual area and taught himself the science of botany. He set out to catalog all native flora in

PA Newman_lowres.jpg

Native Texan Prentice Alexander Newman on January 3, 1909, in San Antonio became the first person south of Kitty Hawk, NC,

arrriving in Brownsville. His accomplishments included:

the Texas-Mexico borderlands.  Fifty years later, he had:

to fly a heavier-than-air machine. Three weeks later, he moved to the lower Rio Grande Valley,  convinced a pool of Brownsville investors to finance his challenge to the Wright brothers, and proceeded to make aviation history during a year of intense personal turmoil. His borderlands' aviation accomplishments in 1909 included: 

aeroplane_Gilhousen foto.jpg
My Books

Photo Credits: Sabal texana photo by Robert Runyon; Runyon 1909 portrait by Charles Gilhousen, Echinocactus setispinus photo by Robert Runyon, all from Runyon Family Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin; P.A. Newman portrait circa 1900, Lorraine Owens Family Papers; Newman aeroplane in flight photograph by Charles Gilhousen, 1909, The Brownsville Historical Association.

The Collaboration
FPO_coffee at jacal_RUN00063.jpg

Although Newman and Runyon followed independent entrepreneurial paths, their careers merged briefly during the height of Mexican Revolution's entry in Tamaulipas.


Journey's Reward tells how the two innovators in November 1913 collaborated on a week-long entrepreneurial assignment during critical juncture of the Revolution.


On this dangerous journey, Runyon and Newman relied upon unique entrepreneurial skills to complete a battle-zone mission filled with danger.

Robert Runyon took this photograph of a Carrancista military convoy in November 1913 en route to the conflict near Ciudad Victoria. P.A. Newman, a driver on the trip, is in the front row, second from right.  Photo credit: RUN00065, Robert Runyon Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Next Event
Dec 05, 2019, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Historic Brownsville Museum,
641 E Madison St, Brownsville, TX 78520, USA
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