Saturday, February 22, 2014

ETHA in Emory

"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. 

Thursday board meeting
The 2014 Spring Meeting of the East Texas Historical Association was held on Friday and Saturday, February 20 and 21, in Emory. Emory is the seat of Rains County, which is the fourth smallest of the 254 counties of the Lone Star State. But this small town (population 1231) boasts a three-story Best Western Inn, numerous historical attractions - and Ted and Gwen Lawe. Ted is a past president of the ETHA, and he and his wife Gwen made all manner of arrangements to bring the ETHA to her home town. 
First Baptist Church
Panel: L to R: Michael Collins, Mary Scheer
Dan Utley, and Light Cummins
We were welcomed with gracious hospitality by Emory's citizens. On Friday morning the spacious First Baptist Church provided meeting rooms for our sessions. The first session I attended was "Writing the Story of Texas," titled after a book recently published by the University of Texas Press. Each of the 14 chapters explores such early Texas historians as Eugene C. Barker, J. Frank Dobie, and Walter Prescott Webb. The session was chaired by Patrick Cox (who served as editor and contributed the chapter on Barker), and included presentations by chapter authors Michael Collins (W.P. Webb), Mary Scheer (Robert Cotner), Dan Utley (Ernest W. Winkler), and former State Historian Light Cummins (Charles W. Ramsdell). I immediately bought an autographed copy of the book - even before I lined up for refreshments! 

After lunch we gathered in the handsome 1909 courthouse, recently restored through the Texas Historical Commission courthouse program. Inside the courtroom we were regaled with a delightful history program about Rains County by Cay House, former mayor of Emory and a descendant of Emory Rains. We toured the nearby A.C. McMillan African American Museum, under the guidance of Ted And Gwen Lawe (McMillan was Gwen's father and a longtime principal).On the outskirts of town we toured the Rains County Heritage Center, a collection of historic buildings from the area. On Friday evening we enjoyed a reception and banquet at our hotel. ETHA Vice President Mary Scheer presided, and Ted Lawe provided the address. 
We met in the handsome courtroom.
On Saturday morning there was a Women's History Breakfast in the hotel banquet room. We assembled for morning sessions at the Emory City Centre building. As vice president of the West Texas Historical Association, I chaired the WTHA session. The first presenter was WTHA board member Robert Hall, who handles the arrangements for each annual WTHA meeting. Robert now lives in Pittsburg, and he spoke on: "The First in Aviation - The Pittsburg Airship" (a replica of which is housed in the local museum). Tai Kreidler, Executive Director of the WTHA, has researched and written on oil and gas history, and he presented a program on an East Texas giant: "The Inventive Genius of R.G. LeTourneau." 

The final event of our meeting was the Spring Awards Luncheon, held at the Emory Civic Centre. ETHA President Gene Preuss presided, and the Lucille Terry Award for historical architectural preservation was given to Grant and Faith Harris, proprietors of the Liberty Bell Wine Bar in downtown Nacogdoches. We departed Emory with memories of an especially delightful Spring Meeting. 
Part of the doll collection at the
A.C. McMillan Museum
Farm house at the Heritage Center
Point cotton gin scales building at the Heritage Center
Ted Lawe speaking at the Friday Night Banquet
Baytown Lee College Webb Society presented a
Saturday session.
The WTHA session was presented by Tai Kreidler,
and Robert Hall, while I presided.

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