Saturday, June 14, 2014

ETHA Lock Committee

"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.

With ETHA Executive Director Scott Sosebee and
Joe White, who is the sole remaining charter member
of the Lock Awards Committee
Among the most significant annual awards presented by the East Texas Historical Association are the Lock Endowment Awards. Philanthropist Ottis Lock established the generous endowment which funds awards for the Best Book (or Books) on East Texas History, research grants involving East Texas history, and Educator of the Year. In past years I was privileged to receive several Lock research grants for book projects, as well as an Educator of the Year award. For the last several years I have been a member of the Ottis Lock Endowment Committee, and last year I became committee chairman.

ETHA Sectrary-Treasurer Chris Gill (left) and
Dr.Beverly Rowe, committee member and
ETHA past president
The committee held its annual meeting on the first Saturday in June. Traditionally we have a lunch meeting in Nacogdoches, because committee members must travel from all over East Texas. In the weeks prior to the meeting, we receive detailed research grant applications from ETHA Secretary-Treasurer Chris Gill, who also sends us copies of nominated books and nomination forms for Educator of the Year. By the time we meet in Nacogdoches, each member has evaluated all of the nominations and applications. We discuss each applicant and each book, along with an occasional special award. This year we were pleased to grant a total of $7,000 in awards, along with handsome plaques. The awards will be announced and presented at the Saturday Awards Luncheon of the ETHA Fall Meeting, in Nacogdoches on October 4. 

During the meeting we expressed fond remembrances, along with a moment of silence for longtime committee member Fred Tarpley. Dr. Tarpley was an author and professor of English at Texas A&M University in Commerce; indeed, he taught me at East Teas State College (in Commerce) during the 1960s. With his vast experience and kind temperament, Dr. Tarpley was an invaluable member of our committee. He was a gifted educator and a fine Christian gentleman. 

As mentioned in a recent blog, I’m in the finishing stages of a book titled Texas Gunslingers for Acadia Publishing. One of my final photo needs was for the grave of Rev. James Truitt, who was slain at his home in Timpson in 1886. His murder was a revenge killing for trial testimony he had delivered 12 years earlier in Hood County. I was given directions to the grave at City Hall, I got a good photo, and my trip home from Nacogdoches was enlivened by a bit of historical detective work in the field. 

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