Tuesday, November 5, 2013

To Lone Star College and Points Beyond

"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.

Lunch at Tommy Bahama's
Introduction by Donna Smith Burns

Over a period of several days there was a flurry of varied events for the State Historian  On October 23 there was a program at Lone Star College in Montgomery, arranged by Donna Smith Burns for the Academy of Lifelong Learning. Before the afternoon event, however, I was treated to lunch at exotic Tommy Bahama's by a charming lady, Nancy Caldwell, and her pastor, Dr. D. Green, who is an enthusiastic history buff. The lunch came about as part of a college fundraiser: the State Historian was auctioned off as a lunch partner, while Tommy Bahama's contributed the meal. 

After lunch I was welcomed on campus by by the genial and efficient Donna Smith Burns. My program was presented in a large arena-style lecture room, which was filled by Lifelong Learning participants, as well as  by the history students of Dr. Craig Livingston. There had been considerable publicity, and the audience warmly received my program on "Gunfighterology." After an hour there was a refreshment break, after which I was asked to inform the crowd about the role and activities of the State Historian. 

With Pastor Charkey Marquis
Following a delightful time at Lone Star College, I was scheduled to provide the Sunday morning program for the Lone Star Cowboy Church in Corsicana.  Karon and I arrived in Corsicana on Saturday evening and drove out to the church, which my wife had not yet seen. Every light on the campus was bright, and the riding arena was filled with pickup trucks - and great numbers of costumed children  It was the weekend preceding Halloween, and the church staged a community-wide "Trunk or Treat." Pastor Charkey Marquis informed me the next morning that more than 800 little goblins and spooks had turned out. There was a lively Sunday morning crowd; attendance averages 250, and the church is experiencing growing pains - a welcome problem. A 12-piece band serenaded the congregants for half an hour, after which I presented a "Religious Western" program. An "Eatin' Meetin'" provided a delicious lunch with an opportunity for fellowship. 
The Lone Star Cowboy Church Band

Introduction by Trey Powers, TMRA Executive Director
Karon and I returned to Carthage late in the afternoon, but the next afternoon I set out for Bastrop. East of Bastrop is the beautiful Hyatt Lost Pines Resort, where the Texas Mining and Reclamation Association held its annual meeting on Saturday through Tuesday. Months ago Trey Powers, Executive Director of the TMRA, invited me to be the lunch speaker on Tuesday; he hoped that the State Historian could offer something "a little different." Of course, I'm eager to spread the presence of the State Historian outside the usual historical sphere. But I felt a bit of pressure, so I worked hard to prepare an address that would entertain and inform a large lunch crowd. Within an hour after my arrival I had encountered four of my former students at Panola College, which was a delightful surprise. And during my presentation there was laughter and, at an unexpected point, spontaneous applause. As I drove home I pondered how I could work the applause line into other programs

With Linda Pitzer, DAR Regent
On Friday I was in Waco at a meeting of the Daughters of the American Revolution  My first program of 2013 was on January 3 - in Waco at a meeting of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. I spoke to the DRT members about "Frontier Women of Lampasas," excerpted from my recent book, Lampasas, 1855 - 1895. A member of the DRT also belonged to the DAR, and upon her recommendation I was invited to deliver the same address to Waco's DAR chapter. My sister, Judy O'Neal Smith of Lampasas, gave me a special treat by driving to Waco for the program. Following a half-hour of refreshments and socializing (I brought two recipes home to my wife), the customary DAR opening commenced the meeting. Presiding was DAR Regent Linda Pitzer, who graciously permitted me to present my program prior to the business meeting, since I had a 200-mile drive home. The audience was most receptive, and for the second time in two weeks the State Historian had a very enjoyable trip to Waco. 
Introduction by Dorothy Bates

Addressing the DAR

At the end of the week, on Saturday morning, I assisted with the re-dedication of the Gary Family Cemetery south of Carthage  The Gary clan began farming in Panola County during the 1840s, and an acre of land was dedicated for a private family cemetery. Bro. E.J. Adams, the subject of a previous blog, supervised the reclamation of the overgrown cemetery - the 22nd pioneer cemetery he has reclaimed in Panola County  After family members gathered, Bro. Adams made introductory remarks and I provided historical background. Rev. Dale Reed, a longtime friend of the Gary family, made a brief consecration address, then offered a closing prayer. Although the morning temperature was chilly, the consecration ceremony provided warmth to all of us. 
Bill, Bro. E.J. Adams, Rev. Dale Reed

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