Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bookend Propgrams

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 


Heritage House
During July my wife and I took an eight-day trip, traveling more than 1,100 miles while I functioned as State Historian. We had stops in Hillsboro and Abilene before attending the annual meeting of the Caprock Cultural Association. I had been invited to provide a program on Texas Gunslingers, the subject of my most recent book. The invitation came from Rosa Latimer, owner of Ruby Lane Book Store in Post, where I’ve had the pleasure of participating in program/signings for certain of my books. Rosa told me that at this event the program for the Caprock Cultural Association usually is presented by an artist or musician. But this year the ladies wanted me to bring my guns and gun rigs and offer a program that their patient husbands would enjoy.

Garza County Museum
The Tuesday evening event was held at the two-story Heritage House which is next door the Garza County Museum. The museum is housed in the 26-room hospital built by C.W. Post in 1911 for the town he founded. The Heritage House is located in the nurses’ dormitory erected by Post. There was an excellent refreshment table, and we had time to visit with old friends such as Linda Puckett, director of the Garza County Museum, and County Judge Lee Norman, a strong supporter of community activities. During my presentation about gunfighting in Texas I emphasized the state’s last blood feud, the Johnson-Sims Feud, which involved a number of local and area participants. The audience enjoyed the program and there was a brisk signing afterward.

Karon and I spent the next four days in Amarillo, site of the 2015 Roundup of the Wild West History Association. There were more than 200 participants and we took a memorable field trip to the remote site of the 1864 and 1874 battles of Adobe Walls. I was privileged to present two programs and to participate in an Adobe Walls panel, and the 2015 WWHA Roundup provided me with material for two blogs in July.

On Sunday immediately after the Roundup, Karon and I drove to Van Alstyne for a visit with my youngest daughter Causby and her family. Causby was of invaluable assistance to me a few years ago when I put together a book on Van Alstyne for Arcadia Publications, which specializes in community books with as many as 200 photos. Causby and I both were aided by Tracy Luscombe, director of the Van Alstyne Public Library, and Tracy staged a well-attended progam/signing to introduce the book to the community.

At Greensville's public library
Library PR


Tracy now is the director of the W. Walworth Harrison Public Library in Greenville, and by coincidence she invited me to speak on the popular Texas Gunslingers topic on Monday evening. Karon and I spent Sunday night with Causby and her husband and our two granddaughters, before leaving after lunch on Monday for Greenville. At the library we were greeted by Danny Puckett, Adult Services Librarian, and we had plenty of time to set up before the six o’clock program. It was pleasure to see Tracy, and her advertising attracted a nice crowd. The program ended early in the evening, and we were less than three hours away from home. After eight days on the road we were ready to drive home. As we drove toward Carthage I thought about the curiosity of beginning and ending more than a week of State Historian appearances with the same program.

With Danny Puckett

With Tracy Luscombe


The Leonard Historic Museum
I should add that prior to arriving in Greenville we experienced an interesting historical adventure in Leonard. When we left Van Alstyne we had most of the afternoon to make the one-hour drive to Greenville. Therefore, when we arrived in Leonard I drove around the big town square to the First Methodist Church, a picturesque Victorian building which I had previously toured. Then we went back to the square and stopped at the Leonard Pharmacy, which advertised an old-fashioned soda fountain. As we enjoyed our ice cream treats, I wandered around looking at the collection of historic photos of the town. When I remarked that I wished the community museum on the square was open, our friendly hostess insisted in calling Rex McCreary, who often drove into town to show the museum. By the time I finished my float and walked across the street Rex had arrived. I handed him a State Historian card, and he eagerly explained the holdings. Housed in two adjacent old commercial buildings, the museum offers an excellent collection of  photographs and artifacts about Leonard. Meanwhile, Karon stayed in the drug store to phone a former student, Kelly Alexander Blackerby. Although Kelly was out of town, her husband Scott soon met Karon at the Leonard Pharmacy, where they were joined by Scott's brother, Mark Blackerby. Both are Leonard community leaders, and they crossed the street to the museum to meet me. I was treated with warm hospitality by everyone, and I told them that I would describe the historical attractions of Leonard in my blog. There is much to experience about this historic little cotton-farming town, and the visit can be topped off by a stop at a delightful old soda fountain.
With museum curator Rex McCreary

An interior view

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Children of the Republic of Texas

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

Most Texans are familiar with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The DRT adopted its name at an organizational meeting in Lampasas in 1892 and the first president was the widow of Dr. Anson B. Jones, last president of the Republic of Texas. The Sons of the Republic of Texas date from 1893, although there were predecessor organizations. My sister and my daughters are members of the DRT, and I am a proud member of the San Jacinto Chapter of the SRT. As State Historian I’ve provided various programs to DRT and SRT chapters. But I’ve had little contact with Children of the Republic of Texas – until weekend before last.

The CRT was organized in 1929 to foster the study of Texas history among Texans to young to join DRT or SRT chapters. There is a special focus on fourth- and seventh-grade schoolchildren, who study Texas history in the classroom. Today CRT boasts more than 2,000 members statewide.

With L to R: Jodi, Joseph, Jacob,
and their mother, Arlene Lopez
On Sunday, August 16, I attended an afternoon reception for the new President General of the CRT, Sarah Elizabeth Funderburk of Carthage. The previous day, at the 202nd celebration of the Battle of Medina at Pleasanton, I met two other state officers of the CRT, brothers Joseph and Jacob Lopez. Their mother, Arlene Lopez, asked me to pose for a photo with her children. She explained that Joseph recently had been elected Corresponding Secretary General of the CRT, while Jacob was the new Historian General. Furthermore their sister, Jodi, is an officer in the Alamo Courier Chapter. The Lopez family home is in Bulverde, and husband-father Jose was a re-enactor at the Medina Battlefield. A few years ago Jose told his children that a direct ancestor had fought at the Battle of Medina. The family began to investigate their ancestor and his descendants and their background, which provide material for requisite CRT projects. Each of the Lopez children joined CRT and became officers in the Alamo Courier Chapter. Joseph and Jacob have become state officers, and their parents are to be commended for encouraging their Texas history efforts.
Arlene and her husband Jose Lopez (at far right)

The day after I met the Lopez family, I was back in Carthage. Following church I went to our Old Jail Museum, where a reception was being held for the CRT President General, Sarah Funderburk. Sarah is the granddaughter of a longtime faculty colleague of mine, Liz Hedges, and Sarah’s parents are former students of mine – Jason and Kim Hedges Funderburk. Following her retirement from Panola College, Liz became active in family genealogy research, as well as in Daughters of the Republic of Texas and Daughters of the American Revolution. Indeed, through the years Liz enlisted me to provide an occasional program for chapters that she led.

Old Jail Museum in Carthage
President General Sarah Funderburk and the CRT
Grandmother of the Year Liz Hedges
Her activities piqued the interest of her granddaughter, and Liz guided Sarah into membership, and soon, leadership roles. Sarah is a member of the Mary Jane Lyday CRT Chapter of Longview, and she has developed excellent research projects. Leadership in her local chapter soon led to state offices: chaplain general, second vice president general, and last year first vice president. In June, at the 2015 CRT State Convention in Brenham, Sarah was elected President General.

 “This year was one of our biggest conventions,” related Sarah, “and I was very honored to be participating in it and being elected as president general for the upcoming year.”

President General Funderburk has ambitious plans, and her senior year at Carthage High School will include a great deal of travel. And as Sarah has advanced to the presidency general, her grandmother has become a member of the DRT Board of Management, while also serving as CRT Registrar General for the DRT. Furthermore, at the state convention in Brenham, Liz was selected as the Grandmother of the Year. While I was learning about these matters from Sarah and Liz, I received an invitation as State Historian to deliver the keynote address at the 2016 State Convention of CRT in Castroville. I eagerly accepted, and I’m already looking forward to my first CRT event on June 25, 2016.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Battle of Medina, 2015

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

Bugler John Thompson
Barbara Westbrook and Tom Green
On Saturday morning, August 15, a crowd of Texas history buffs gathered on a country road about 20 miles south of San Antonio near the site of the Battle of Medina. We assembled beneath oak trees in the vicinity of the bloodiest battlefield in Texas. On August 18, 1813, a Spanish royalist army of 1,800 soldados led by General Joaquin de Arredondo, clashed with a revolutionary force of 1,400 Anglo adventurers, Mexican rebels, Spanish deserters, and Indian warriors. A revolution to free Mexico – and its northernmost province, Texas – from Spain was launched in 1810. In 1812 rebel leader Jose Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara raised an insurrectionary band under the command of Augustus Magee, a young U.S. Army lieutenant who resigned and was commissioned a colonel by Gutierrez. The Gutierrez-Magee Expedition marched into Texas from Louisiana, capturing Nacogdoches, withstanding a winter siege in Presidio de La Bahia, then seizing San Antonio and declaring the independence of Texas, on April 6, 1813.

Grenadier re-enactors
During the campaign Colonel Magee died and Bernardo Gutierrez was displaced by an ambitious politician, Jose Alvarez de Toledo. In August, when Arredondo’s Spanish column approached, Toledo led his largely victorious but outnumbered force out of San Antonio for a decisive confrontation. But the wily Arredondo set an ambush and lured his poorly-led opponents into an exposed position. The revolutionaries fought desperately, but finally were overwhelmed, and only 100 or so survived. Most of the corpses were left on the field of battle. Arredondo lost only 55 men, who were buried with military honors. A participant in the victorious slaughter was an aggressive young officer, Lt. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

Tom Green, of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, San Jacinto Chapter, has been instrumental in organizing the annual celebrations of the Battle of Medina, and he served as emcee throughout the day. There was an invocation by Rev. James Taylor, Chaplain General of the Texas Sons of the American Revolution. A color guard made up of re-enactors presented the colors, including the Lone Star Flag, the Green Flag of the Gutierrez-Magee revolutionaries, the U.S. Flag (of the War of 1812 era), and the Flag of Spain. Tom Green introduced a number of guests, including the Texas State Historian and Bill McWhorter, Military Sites Director of the Texas State Historical Commission. Reverend Taylor provided a memorial statement and prayer on behalf of the men who died at the Battle of Medina. A salute of three volleys was fired by the re-enactors, followed by “Taps” played by John Thompson, Former President of the Fredonia Sons of the American Revolution Chapter.

Following a lunch break, we convened at the First Baptist Church of Pleasanton for an afternoon of programs. We were greeted at the spacious Fellowship Hall by Atascosa County Judge Robert Hurley, and by Barbara Westbrook, Chairman of the Atascosa County Historical Commission, which sponsored the event. There were delicious refreshments and interesting displays, as well as two re-enactors of Spanish Grenadiers – “Granaderos.” Tom Green introduced Judge Hurley, who offered a welcome, and then I was introduced.

Judge Robert Hurley
Bill McWhorter of the THC
It was my second year in a row to attend the celebration of the Battle of Medina. Last year I provided a program on the Gutierrez-Magee Expedition, which I researched for my master’s thesis. This year I developed a presentation on “Spanish Influence on Texas History and Culture.” The recorded history of Texas dates back five centuries, to the beginning of Spanish explorations, in the second decade of the 1500s. The Spanish flag flew over Texas for three centuries, until just seven years after their victory at the Battle of Medina. Therefore there was Spanish dominance over Texas for 60 percent of our existence. The resulting Spanish imprint upon Texas was deep and prominent - a subject I lectured on for decades in my Texas history classes. I enjoyed developing the subject more deeply for this occasion, and the audience of nearly 100 was quite complimentary. Soon after returning home from Pleasanton, I taped another radio program with host Johnny Rowland, and the subject of much of the interview was the Battle of Medina celebration and the topic of my address. Johnny provided a link for this program, which we have included below.

It should be added that when I arrived in Pleasanton the day before the Battle of Medina event I stopped – as I did last year – at the Longhorn Museum, which styles itself the “Birthplace of the Cowboy.” Docent Jolynn Casias showed me around the displays of the Cattle Industry, Spanish, Indians, Exotic Wild Game, and, outside, a railroad exhibit that features the old Pleasanton depot and a Union Pacific caboose. Any history buff who travels to Pleasanton will enjoy the Longhorn Museum.
Docent Jolynn Casias
The Old Rock School was built in 1874.
Pleasanton's first schoolhouse.
For more information:
Interview by Johnny Rowland with Bill O'Neal

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cross Timbers Library Collaborative

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

Last week I had the double pleasure of returning to the campus of Texas A&M University – Commerce, where I’ve received three degrees, to address a conference of librarians, to whom I owe a deep and collective debt of gratitude. Megan Beard, Metroplex Library Coordinator for TAMUC, issued an invitation to me as Texas State Historian to provide a keynote to open the Third Annual Conference of the Cross Timbers Library Collaborative.

The CTLC was founded a few years ago to foster partnerships among the librarians of the North Texas region for resource sharing, innovative programs, and cooperative staff development. Dr. Martin Halbert, Dean of Libraries at the University of North Texas, is the president and a founding father of the CTLC. An excellent, varied program was arranged for the day-long conference at TAMUC, and more than 200 participants attended. Megan Beard was program chair, and she greeted me on Friday morning, August 7, amid a busy registration scene. I was also greeted by Dr. Halbert, and by Dr. Adolfo Benavides, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at TAMUC. When the participants had assembled in the large ballroom where we met, Dr. Benavides offered a welcome on behalf of TAMUC, and he graciously announced me as keynote speaker.


With Megan Beard
I entitled my presentation, “From Ephesus to Cooperstown to a Score of Carnegies: Library Adventures of an Author/Historian.” I explained to the assembled librarians that I fell in love with my first library as a first-grader in Corsicana, when my mother began driving me to the local Carnegie Library, which was built in 1904 at a cost of $25,000. The Corsicana Public Library was presided over by Miss Kate Holman, who noted my reading preferences and guided me to similar books, then showed me how to explore the shelves.

Dr. Martin Halbert
When I transferred from Navarro Junior College in Corsicana to East Teas State College (future TAMUC), I embraced the new James Gee Library, with what seemed like miles of book shelves. I spent my time between classes and evenings until closing time, 10 o’clock, in that library. I majored in history and English – and library, and my informal reading program was a tremendous learning experience.

Dr. Adolfo Benavides
As a young teacher I began to write non-fiction books, and now more than 40 have been published. Many titles have been about the frontier, several have been on various Texas subjects, and six have been official histories of baseball minor leagues. The baseball books have taken me to city libraries across the nation, while the other books have brought me to Texas and Western libraries large and small. I’ve worked in state archives in Wyoming, Arizona, and Texas, as well as the research library at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Everywhere I’ve received willing and resourceful help from librarians. Recently my State Historian office on the Panola College campus was moved to the library, which I’ve relied upon for countless interlibrary loan services through the years.

I recounted special adventures, such as visiting the magnificent library ruin in the ancient city of Ephesus, and gazing upon the Book of Kells, Ireland’s greatest national treasure, in the Trinity College Library in Dublin. I also mentioned my visits to each of the 13 Carnegie Library buildings which still stand in Texas. Four continue to fulfill their original purpose (Ballinger, Franklin, Jefferson, and Stamford). The old Carnegie in Palestine houses the Chamber of Commerce, the Carnegie at Wiley College was converted to an administration building, and most of the others serve the public as museums. A total of 34 Carnegie libraries were built in Texas, from Pittsburg in 1898 to Vernon in 1915. The audience responded graciously to a historian’s view of libraries and librarians, and to the sincere gratitude of a researcher/writer to librarians who have made my work possible.
Jefferson's Carnegie library
Library at Ephesus
















Not long after returning home from Commerce, I engaged in a radio interview with Johnny Rowland. I had met Johnny the previous weekend, when he attended my “Gunfighterology” presentation at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame. Johnny is a firearms expert and radio host who talks about guns and shooting and current events to an audience that recently measured 160,000. Johnny interviewed me for half an hour, introducing me as the State Historian of Texas. We had a lively conversation, focusing on gunfighting in Texas, and Johnny asked me to return for a future program.



For more information:  https://www.ct-lc.org/















To hear radio interview with Bill:  http://toginet.com/podcasts/johnnyrowlanddailyshow/JohnnyRowlandDailyShow_2015-08-10.mp3?type=showpage






Thursday, August 6, 2015

Texas Ranger Hall of Fame

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

On Saturday afternoon, August 1, I was privileged to present a public lecture at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, one of the most popular museums in the Lone Star State. Several months ago I was contacted by Bob Alexander, a retired U.S. Treasury agent and a superb researcher/writer about lawmen and outlaws of the Old West. A few years ago Bob staged a Friday-Saturday conference at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame about outlaws and peace officers and shootouts of frontier Texas. With the cooperation of the Ranger Hall of Fame, Bob was able to offer this conference free of charge. There was a large, enthusiastic crowd, and it was my pleasure to be one of the speakers. (Bob is planning another one of these conferences for next April 29-30, and I’m scheduled to speak at the Saturday night banquet.)
With Bob Alexander and Doug Dukes
Working in concert with Casey Eichorn, Education Director of the Museum, and with Museum Director Byron Johnson, Bob created an event that could feature the State Historian of Texas. I was delighted at the opportunity to provide a public lecture at this prestigious venue, which I have visited regularly for four decades. The Ranger Hall of Fame opened in 1968, and a few years later I began conducting Traveling Texas History classes twice each summer across the Lone Star State.  On our seventh and final day on the road, we explored Waco, with our final stop at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame. For several years I often encountered Gaines De Graffenreid, a nationally famous gun collector, as well as curator of exhibits for the Ranger Museum, who told me how he had traded for this or that historic firearm. After we left the museum, we drove to Fort Parker, then loaded up for the last time to head for Panola College in Carthage. Among other things, I always asked the students to list their three favorite places, and most of them included the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame.
With my sister and brother, Judy Smith and Mike O'Neal

Casey Eichorn felt that the most attractive program for the Ranger Museum crowd would be “Gunfighterology.” Since the December 2014 publication of my book on Texas Gunslingers, I have been asked to provide a number of programs on “Gunfighting in Texas.” But “Gunfighterology” covers gunfighters and shootouts across the Old West – Wild Bill Hickok and Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp, as well as such deadly Texans as Wes Hardin and Killin’ Jim Miller and Ranger Captain John Hughes. I also demonstrate the evolution of revolving pistols and gun rigs with replica weapons and various holsters and gunbelts. I told Casey that I lacked a Patterson Colt five-shooter and a big Walker Colt, and he graciously loaned me the needed weapons from the vast collection of the museum. My props were arranged on a table beside the speaker’s stand in the big, new assembly room.
Casey Eichorn welcoming the crowd
Bob Alexander
Casey arranged excellent publicity, including a Waco Tribune interview by telephone with journalist Carl Hoover. Carl’s story, complete with photos, came out on Saturday morning, and a number of attendees told us they came to the museum because of the story. There were 220 chairs in the room, but as the parking lot overflowed another 100 seats were set up. I got to talk with former students, old friends, and fellow authors, as well as many new acquaintances. My brother Mike came from Carrollton, and my sister Judy and her daughter Molly, drove over from Lampasas.

Bob Alexander welcomed the crowd of 300-plus, then he introduced Doug Dukes, retired police lieutenant from Austin and an expert on frontier firearms. Doug spoke for 15 minutes, before Bob introduced me. I had been asked to speak for more than an hour, and the audience remained attentive and responsive. The life and death conflicts of men of the West, clad in big hats and boots and wielding sixguns and Winchesters, continue to generate compelling appeal.

The museum gift shop had stocked up on my first book, Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters, and on Texas Gunslingers, and I signed books for more than an hour. During the signing I enjoyed many animated conversations. As Karon and I finally drove out of Waco, I told her how grateful I was to the people who arranged the event and to those who attended. It was a grand day for the State Historian.


For more information: http://www.texasranger.org/
Doug Dukes
Brandishing a Walker Colt
Book signing line