Friday, January 23, 2015

A Day in Lubbock

"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. 

Entrance to the Southwest Collections
A few months ago I was invited by John Wolf to address the Llano Estacado Corral at their annual banquet. The Westerners International is a far-flung organization which celebrates and studies Western history through 145 “Corrals” and “Posses” in the United States and overseas. Of course, I was delighted at the opportunity to participate in an event with fellow Western history enthusiasts.

WTHA headquarters
Also in Lubbock is headquarters of the West Texas Historical Association, located on the campus of Texas Tech University at the Southwest Collections/Special Collections Library. I have the privilege of serving as president of the West Texas Historical Association, and the Executive Director of the WTHA is Dr. Tai Kreidler. Tai is also the Co-Director of the Southwest Collections/Special Collections Library, and he has secured office space for the WTHA at the SWC/SCL building. The WTHA annual meeting this year will be held on April 10 and 11 in Amarillo. While I was in Lubbock I had the opportunity to meet with Tai and his staff to work out details of the WTHA meeting and to deal with committee appointments and other matters. 

With Tai Kreidler
During the course of our time together, I was escorted to various sites where Southwest Collection work is ongoing. Tai Kreidler travels a great many miles adding miscellaneous historical items to the collections. The SWC/SCL employs cutting edge technology. I was especially impressed with a project which has brought more than 50,000 copies of West Texas newspapers to the SWC/SCL to be scanned and digitized so these newspapers may be researched online. Study is facilitated by the application of Optional Character Recognition (OCR), a keyword search of more than 90 characters. From the Baird Star to the Hansford Headlight, from the Matador Tribune to the Slaton Slatonite, newspapers from 25 West Texas towns are being made available for online study. Many of these hardcopy newspapers are quite fragile, but staff members are scanning upwards of 50 per day. I was highly impressed with this important work.
Student assistant Kaitlin Dickson digitizing a newspaper

Newspaper scanner

Approach to the Ranch Heritage Center

While in Lubbock I drove to the Ranch Heritage Center, an internationally famous tourist attraction. I am a longtime member of the RHC, and this museum and collection of historic ranch structures was one of the highlights for participants of the Traveling Texas History courses which I conducted for 20 years at Panola College. I viewed the current exhibits, took a quick look at the ranch buildings, and visited the gift shop – Cogdell’s General Store – where I gratefully autographed several of my books that were offered for sale.

Cogdell's General Store

XIT bunkhoue

More than 50 Westerners attended the banquet.
Late in the afternoon I drove to the historic Women’s Club building, located on Broadway in downtown Lubbock. The Llano Estacado Corral had secured this fine venue for the banquet. The Westerners movement originated in Chicago in 1944, and the next year the Denver Posse was organized, followed in 1946 by Corrals in Los Angeles and St. Louis. The Llano Estacado Corral was established in 1969, and is one of eleven Texas Corrals. The Llano Estacado “Sheriff” (President) is the lovely and gracious Sara McKee. Other Corral officers include: Deputies (as many as needed with specific duties – i.e., vice-presidents); Ink Slinger (editor of any publications); Recorder of Marks and Brands (secretary); Keeper of the Chips (treasurer); Trail Boss (sergeant-at-arms, if needed); Rep (Corral/Posse representative for contact with other groups and Westerners International). Westerners International publishes the quarterly Buckskin Bulletin.                                                

John Wolf met me at the Lubbock Women’s Club and helped me carry in program props and books. He had asked me to speak on “Texas: Gunfighter Capital of the West.” I already knew many members of the Llano Estacado Corral, and met a number of new kindred spirits. I greatly enjoyed socializing with everyone, the catered meal – beef, of course – was excellent, and the program on Texas Gunfighters suited the Llano Estacado crowd. I had a grand time, and the evening with the Corral was a genial conclusion to a fine day in Lubbock.

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