Thursday, August 7, 2014

Totally Texas Teacher Event

"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 Buck Cole
Several months ago Buck Cole, Education and Outreach Director of the Texas General Land Office, invited me to speak at the “Totally Texas Teacher Event” of August 5 and 6. This two-day event provides professional development credit for Texas history teachers of fourth- and seventh-grade students. Especially targeted are teachers who are in a Texas history classroom for the first time, either as new teachers or as veteran instructors who have just been reassigned to Texas history. Utilizing the superb facilities of the Bob Bullock State Museum of Texas History, the Totally Texas Teacher Event offers a crash course in Texas history, featuring substantive information and useful resource tools.

I was asked to close the first day with a one-hour presentation on the Alamo (the General Land Office oversees the Alamo, in conjunction with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas). I was delighted at the opportunity to offer a program on the Shrine of Texas Liberty. I became fascinated with the story of the Alamo as a boy. For more than three decades at Panola College I looked forward every semester to delivering lectures on the Alamo, and twice per summer it was a special pleasure to take the students in my Traveling Texas History classes to the Alamo and to Alamo Village in Brackettville. Since I was allotted an hour, I decided to spend the final fifteen minutes on the Runaway Scrape and the spectacular victory at San Jacinto.

My wife Karon and I arrived at the Bob Bullock Museum at midday on August 5 and lunched at the Story of Texas Café. A number of young ladies with name tags soon came in for a lunch break, and I learned that they were participants in the Totally Texas Teacher Event. I had an opportunity to talk with several of the participants at lunch and during the break prior to my program. They were bright and focused, and I came away feeling that Texas history in Austin is in good hands. A couple of teachers told me that they have been teaching Texas history for several years, but that the Totally Texas Teacher Event offers so much that it is valuable for veteran teachers. I felt that such a statement it is quite a compliment for Buck Cole and his staff, and for the quality event they have assembled. I tried to provide an action-packed presentation with useful anecdotes and interpretation, and I was proud to be a part of the Totally Texas Teacher Event of 2014.

With Santiago Sanchez-Hernandez, who chose
my skunkskin cap

With Carl Hedges, SAR Chapter President
A day after returning to Carthage, Karon and I drove to Longview to provide a program on a different revolution – the American Revolution. A former Panola College colleague, Carl Hedges, is president of a Sons of the American Revolution chapter. A few months ago he asked me to provide an after-dinner program to SAR members and their wives. Carl wanted to know if the Texas State Historian would make a Texas connection with the American Revolution. I told him I could, but it would be more entertaining if I focused directly on aspects of the American Revolution for the SAR group. It’s okay if the State Historian delivers a program occasionally on a non-Texas subject, even though the American Revolution mindset inspired the revolutionary impulse among Texians in the 1830s. Indeed, Sam Houston’s father was an officer during the American Revolution, and throughout the Runaway Scrape campaign of 1836, Sam fashioned his hat into a tricorn – purposefully reminiscent of American Revolution headwear.

The SAR dinner was at Johnny Cace's, which meant that we had an excellent meal. Members of the crowd were proud of their heritage and seemed quite interested in the information about the Revolution I shared. It is always a pleasure to meet with people who hold our heritage dear.

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