Friday, March 21, 2014


"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. 

Karon at the book table
My program on "Gunfighterology" has been in considerable demand during my tenure as State Historian. I've presented "Gunfighterology" all over Texas in a variety of settings, including the First Baptist Church of Graham, to a men's group. I always point out that nothing is more dramatic than life and death conflict, and when that conflict is in a frontier setting, I've learned through the years, that strong  appeal is generated among Westerners in general and Texans in particular. Indeed, there were more blood feuds in Texas than in any other frontier state or territory. The revolving pistol evolved in Texas by Rangers as a weapon to battle horseback warriors, Comanches and Kiowas. Soon Texans were using Colt revolvers against each other. More gunfighters were from Texas than any other state, and there were far more shootouts during the long frontier period of the Lone Star State than anywhere else. Gunfighting therefore is a legitimate as well as a compelling subject of Texas history. I've written a number of books and articles on this topic, beginning with my first book, Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters (University of Oklahoma Press, 1979). The Encyclopedia remains in print after 35 years, and it has been released in German and British editions, which suggests the popular appeal of the topic. 
With Ruth Crawford
Introduction by Dr. George Larson

Several months ago I received two invitations to present "Gunfighterology" on dates that were just a week and a half apart. On Sunday afternoon, March 9, my wife Karon and I arrived at the Bosque Museum in Clifton. The seat of Bosque County is Meridian, 12 miles away, but Clifton is the larger town. The superb 1886 court house in Meridian has been beautifully restored by the Texas Historical Commission. Year before last I was privileged to speak in the handsome court room on Texas Independence Day, an event spearheaded by R.G. Joy, a civic leader and Texas patriot. Afterward there was a reception and book signing across the street at the Bosque Collection, a museum and county archival repository located in a two-story stone building erected in the 19th century. Ruth Crawford is the director of the Bosque Collection. Ruth was a veteran clerk in the court house when the Bosque Collection was established. She was selected to preside over the museum/archive, a position unique in Texas for a county employee. 
With Sue and David Megarity

Dr. Larson with bust of Horn Shelter Man, 11,200 years old

Ruth was present for the Clifton event, and so were Mr. and Mrs. R.G. Joy, along with Sue and David Megarity, who were school mates of mine in Corsicana. Among the large crowd were a number of people who had attended my program in Meridian. It was good to see them again, and to meet new history-minded friends. After the program Dr. George Larson, the museum's genial director, gave me a tour. The Bosque Museum is a remarkable facility, and soon will be expanded. Any history buff will be richly rewarded by a visit.

Matinee crowd in the 1916 ClifTex Theater

On our way out of town, I stopped by the ClifTex Theater. Opened in 1916, the ClifTex is the oldest continuously-operating movie theater in Texas. A matinee was in progress, but management graciously showed me around and permitted me to take the photographs. 

On Thursday evening, March 20, I presented the "Gunfighterology" program at the Longview University Center, where courses are offered by the University of Texas at Tyler. The LUC director is Dr. Van Patterson, who was a longtime colleague of mine at Panola College. Dr. Patterson was selected last year to head the Longview University Center, which has been in operation for more than a decade. He learned that there had never been a public lecture offered at LUC, and I happily agreed to inaugurate the center's University Lecture Series. We decided that "Gunfighterology" would be both informative and entertaining. Dr. Patterson launched a publicity campaign which involved the Longview Daily News, 30-minute interviews with three area radio stations, and an interview over KETK-TV. Responding to the publicity, more than 130 attendees came to the LUC, including a number of old friends and prominent citizens. The State Historian was privileged to be part of a strong start to the new lecture series. 
Dr. Patterson, Karon, and Bill

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