On Saturday, October 17, it was my pleasure to participate in the Nineteenth Annual Alton C. Allen Historical Conference in Hallettsville. Indeed, it is always a pleasure to visit Hallettsville, with its superb Victorian courthouse and the historical architecture around the square. The annual conference began two decades ago as a genealogical workshop. After a few years attendance remained static, and historian Doug Kubicek spearheaded a move toward a day-long historical conference, featuring speakers on history topics. The annual event is supported financially by the Dickson-Allen Foundation, and it is named for Alton C. Allen, a notable citizen of Hallettsville and a vigorous proponent of this event.
I was invited several months ago by Roger S. Raney, a fellow member of the East Texas Historical Association and fellow attendee of various other history meetings around Texas. Roger and Doug were most gracious in making arrangements for the speakers. Rooms were provided for us at a local Best Western, sound and video systems met our needs, and we were hosted to a Friday night dinner. We each were given book tables, and when I arrived on Friday afternoon I went to the American Legion Hall to set up my table. The next day many in attendance generously bought autographed copies of our books, including numerous volumes for gifts.
The first hour-long session was split by Dr. Kevin Wooten of the University of Houston, and by Kenneth Grubb, who spent a decade working aboard the Battleship Texas moored at San Jacinto. Dr. Wooten gave a presentation of the first U.S.S. Texas, of Spanish-American War fame, while Kenneth Grubb shared his up-close expertise on the 1914 battleship which saw service in both world wars. The second hour of the morning was a beautifully illustrated presentation by Dr. Robert Maberry, author of the superb Flags of Texas.
|Roger and Paul Rainey|
The final presentation by Kevin Fontenot, “Texas and Western Swing,” was enhanced by music clips and images – and by lively commentary. Each presentation was well-received, and the audience peppered each of us with questions. It was a terrific day for Texas history buffs. And before we departed the Legion Hall, Doug Kubicek began asking for themes and topics for next year – the Twentieth Alton C. Allen Historical Conference.