Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bookend Propgrams

"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. 

Heritage House
During July my wife and I took an eight-day trip, traveling more than 1,100 miles while I functioned as State Historian. We had stops in Hillsboro and Abilene before attending the annual meeting of the Caprock Cultural Association. I had been invited to provide a program on Texas Gunslingers, the subject of my most recent book. The invitation came from Rosa Latimer, owner of Ruby Lane Book Store in Post, where I’ve had the pleasure of participating in program/signings for certain of my books. Rosa told me that at this event the program for the Caprock Cultural Association usually is presented by an artist or musician. But this year the ladies wanted me to bring my guns and gun rigs and offer a program that their patient husbands would enjoy.

Garza County Museum
The Tuesday evening event was held at the two-story Heritage House which is next door the Garza County Museum. The museum is housed in the 26-room hospital built by C.W. Post in 1911 for the town he founded. The Heritage House is located in the nurses’ dormitory erected by Post. There was an excellent refreshment table, and we had time to visit with old friends such as Linda Puckett, director of the Garza County Museum, and County Judge Lee Norman, a strong supporter of community activities. During my presentation about gunfighting in Texas I emphasized the state’s last blood feud, the Johnson-Sims Feud, which involved a number of local and area participants. The audience enjoyed the program and there was a brisk signing afterward.

Karon and I spent the next four days in Amarillo, site of the 2015 Roundup of the Wild West History Association. There were more than 200 participants and we took a memorable field trip to the remote site of the 1864 and 1874 battles of Adobe Walls. I was privileged to present two programs and to participate in an Adobe Walls panel, and the 2015 WWHA Roundup provided me with material for two blogs in July.

On Sunday immediately after the Roundup, Karon and I drove to Van Alstyne for a visit with my youngest daughter Causby and her family. Causby was of invaluable assistance to me a few years ago when I put together a book on Van Alstyne for Arcadia Publications, which specializes in community books with as many as 200 photos. Causby and I both were aided by Tracy Luscombe, director of the Van Alstyne Public Library, and Tracy staged a well-attended progam/signing to introduce the book to the community.

At Greensville's public library
Library PR

Tracy now is the director of the W. Walworth Harrison Public Library in Greenville, and by coincidence she invited me to speak on the popular Texas Gunslingers topic on Monday evening. Karon and I spent Sunday night with Causby and her husband and our two granddaughters, before leaving after lunch on Monday for Greenville. At the library we were greeted by Danny Puckett, Adult Services Librarian, and we had plenty of time to set up before the six o’clock program. It was pleasure to see Tracy, and her advertising attracted a nice crowd. The program ended early in the evening, and we were less than three hours away from home. After eight days on the road we were ready to drive home. As we drove toward Carthage I thought about the curiosity of beginning and ending more than a week of State Historian appearances with the same program.

With Danny Puckett

With Tracy Luscombe

The Leonard Historic Museum
I should add that prior to arriving in Greenville we experienced an interesting historical adventure in Leonard. When we left Van Alstyne we had most of the afternoon to make the one-hour drive to Greenville. Therefore, when we arrived in Leonard I drove around the big town square to the First Methodist Church, a picturesque Victorian building which I had previously toured. Then we went back to the square and stopped at the Leonard Pharmacy, which advertised an old-fashioned soda fountain. As we enjoyed our ice cream treats, I wandered around looking at the collection of historic photos of the town. When I remarked that I wished the community museum on the square was open, our friendly hostess insisted in calling Rex McCreary, who often drove into town to show the museum. By the time I finished my float and walked across the street Rex had arrived. I handed him a State Historian card, and he eagerly explained the holdings. Housed in two adjacent old commercial buildings, the museum offers an excellent collection of  photographs and artifacts about Leonard. Meanwhile, Karon stayed in the drug store to phone a former student, Kelly Alexander Blackerby. Although Kelly was out of town, her husband Scott soon met Karon at the Leonard Pharmacy, where they were joined by Scott's brother, Mark Blackerby. Both are Leonard community leaders, and they crossed the street to the museum to meet me. I was treated with warm hospitality by everyone, and I told them that I would describe the historical attractions of Leonard in my blog. There is much to experience about this historic little cotton-farming town, and the visit can be topped off by a stop at a delightful old soda fountain.
With museum curator Rex McCreary

An interior view

With Mark and Scott Blackerby

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