Friday, December 13, 2013

Radio and Gunfighterology

"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 ( 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 Tuesday, December 10, I appeared before a large, responsive crowd at the Scurry County Museum in Snyder. Museum director Daniel Schlegel had invited me to present a program on “Gunfighterology.” During recent years Daniel has hosted me for two previous programs. One presentation, on my book The Johnson-Sims Feud – a conflict which began in Snyder – attracted such a large crowd that a repeat presentation was arranged to start immediately following the scheduled program. Hoping to generate another sizable audience for “Gunfighterology,” Daniel contacted radio friends of his. Since I already had agreed to a couple of unrelated radio interviews during that period, I was - happily - busier than usual on the air during the week prior to the Snyder event.
Conducting a long-distance radio interview
from my home office

At midmorning on Tuesday, December 3, I received a phone call from Jim Baum, owner-manager of KVMC (1320 AM) and KAUN (107.1 FM) radio stations in Colorado City, south of Snyder. Jim taped a lengthy interview about the anticipated program and about the office of State Historian. In addition to replaying the interview on the eve of the Snyder program, Jim promised to use snippets as news cuts. A couple of hours later Edel Howlin, of KUHF (88.7 FM), the station of the University of Houston, called to conduct a live interview about the office of State Historian. Both Jim Baum and Edel Howlin were experienced interviewers who expertly explored the novel topic of State Historian. Two days later I was the guest on Panola Pride, a half-hour morning program on KGAS (1590 AM) in Carthage. Owner-manager Jerry Hanszen wanted the State Historian to devote the program to a discussion of Pearl Harbor, emphasizing notable Texans (such as Waco’s Doris Miller, the first African-American recipient of the Navy Cross) who were involved in the battle. The following Monday I was called at nine o’clock by Geron Scates of KGWB (91.1 FM), the campus radio station of Western Texas College. Geron is the Radio Broadcast instructor for Western Texas College, where the Scurry County Museum is located. At ten o’clock I was on the phone with “Blue,” a lady broadcaster who conducted a live interview for her morning show on KSNY (101.5 FM) in Snyder. 

Entrance to the Scurry County Museum
Within a week I had appeared on five radio stations, in Houston, Colorado City, Carthage, Snyder, and on the campus of Western Texas College. The interviews ranged from 12 to 25 minutes; three were live and two were taped. In each interview I was introduced as State Historian of Texas, and my activities in that office were discussed. I was gratified to have enjoyed the opportunity to talk about the position of State Historian to so many listening audiences.

Daniel Schlegel has utilized high energy, resourcefulness, and personal likability in his role as museum director of the Scurry County Museum. The museum boasts appealing exhibits and an impressive collection of historical artifacts, many of which are stored and cataloged in the museum’s spacious basement. Daniel offered to bring out antique firearms to supplement my “Gunfighterology” program, an offer I eagerly accepted. For this presentation I bring a varied collection of pistols (mostly replicas), along with holsters and gunbelts, to illustrate the evolution of frontier revolvers. Authentic weapons from the museum clearly enhanced my program.

With Museum Director Daniel Schlegel
and Curator Danica Galbraith , who was
on her first day at the museum
My first book, Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters (University of Oklahoma Press, 1979) is a comparative study of 256 gunfights and 589 shootouts. It is still in print after 34 years, and there have been German and British editions. Life and death conflict in the Old West has proved to be a compelling subject, and I have researched and written a number of other related books. Texas produced more gunfighters than any other state or territory, and there were far more shootouts and blood feuds in the Lone Star State.

During the past few years I have been called upon a number of times to present programs on gunfighters and shootouts, and nowhere did the subject exert greater interest than in Snyder. Despite the freezing temperatures and icy streets, men and women crowded into the Scurry County Museum on Tuesday evening. I had the opportunity to visit with most of them before and after the program. I signed a number of books, answered a lot of questions, and joined everyone in examining the antique arsenal provided by the museum. A grand time was enjoyed by all – starting with the State Historian!

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