"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, February 15, my wife Karon and I drove to Winnsboro for an event sponsored by the Winnsboro Preservation Commission and the Gilbreath Memorial Library. Librarian Vickie Martin invited me months ago, and served as my contact person throughout the planning stages. I was asked to present a program on “The History of the Texas Cowboy.” Karon and I came in costume, and so did a number of our hosts and attendees.
The event was held at Winnsboro’s historic downtown railroad depot. The meeting room of the picturesque old structure was decorated for a Western setting, and a table was provided for my props: saddle, branding irons, spurs, sombreros, and other items. I was asked to bring books, and Karon decorated the book table with a cover she created that incorporates images of my dust jackets, now numbering 42. We were assisted in setting up by Vickie Martin, her husband Morris, and Pam Dumse, assistant librarian and, in 2000, the Ladies’ State Champion of the Texas Mounted Shooting Association. Pam had agreed to provide a saddle, which relieved me from bringing one from Carthage.
After we completed our preparations, Vickie and Morris took Karon and me to lunch a block away at the Double C Restaurant. I was shown around by proprietor Karen Cason, who graciously comped our meal. Everywhere we walked downtown there were color posters advertising our event. In addition to placing these posters, Vickie had arranged publicity with newspapers, radio, and TV news. The result of her PR efforts was a standing-room-only crowd. The room was filled with history buffs, and I tried to meet everyone. The Legends of the Crossroads, a reenactment group (Winnsboro was originally called “Crossroads”) who arrived in period attire and weapons. I was interviewed by Randy Lindsey of KWNS 104.7, and the program was broadcast live to the listening audience.
Guitarist Joe Dan Boyd entertained the arriving crowd with cowboy ballads. A color guard posted the flags of the United States and Texas. Mayor John Pflug welcomed everyone, then presented me a handsome proclamation honoring the participation of the State Historian in this event. Vickie Martin provided a generous introduction, and I expressed gratitude to her, Mayor Plug, and to the audience for coming out on a Saturday afternoon. This large crowd of history buffs was primed for a State Historian’s program on the iconic Texas cowboy and the popular cowboy culture. The audience responded warmly and often with laughter throughout my presentation. Afterward I autographed a great many books and posters, and I posed for photos with a number of new friends. During our drive back to Carthage, Karon and I agreed that our day in Winnsboro had been one of the most exceptional experiences of my tenure as State Historian.
|Reenactor Zane Hartman with Karon|
|With Randy Lindsey of KWNS|
|The Legends of Crossroads reenactor group|
|L to R: Pam Dumse, Bill, Vickie Martin|
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