Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fort Croghan

"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 (www.panola.edu) 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 Carole Goble and "Jesse,"
the uniformed Dragoon
I spent a week in January traveling throughout southwest Texas, as far as the Davis Mountains, and along the Rio Grande, from Del Rio to Eagle Pass and from Laredo to Brownsville. The purpose of this trip was to gather photographs for an Arcadia Press book, Frontier Forts of West Texas.
1852 ballot box was used for decades.

The first fort I visited was Fort Croghan in Burnet. An early outpost on the Texas frontier, Fort Croghan was established in 1849 on 1,600 leased acres just west of Hamilton Creek and including Post Mountain. A sentry hut was erected atop Post Mountain, and lookouts kept a watch for war parties. With soldiers providing manual labor, other buildings were built, including officers’ quarters (four dog-trot cabins), several small structures for enlisted men, officers, and a hospital. Within four years, however, the Texas frontier moved far enough westward for a new line of forts to be built. Most of the original line of outposts were abandoned, including Fort Croghan, decommissioned in 1853. A village, modern-day Burnet, had grown up east of Hamilton Creek. When the military moved out, citizens from the community and from the country side visited Fort Croghan for “midnight requisitioning.” Doors, windows, shingles, timber – even entire buildings – were hauled away for civilian use.
Blacksmith shop with Noah Smithwick tools.

In the 1960s the Burnet County Heritage Society began to collect pioneer buildings from the area, arranging them on the site of the old post. The collection includes the sentry hut from Post Mountain and the former adjutant’s office. Citizens donated artifacts large and small, including a great many pieces of farm equipment. Venerable farm machinery is displayed throughout the grounds, and many other items are displayed in the Fort Croghan Museum, housed in a modern building at the entrance to the old parade ground.
Post Mountain sentinel hut.
For years I stopped by the old fort for a quick look with Panola College students I was taking to the Davis Mountains and Big Bend. But it had been quite a number of years since I had stopped to see Fort Croghan, and now I needed photos and fresh information. Except for “Christmas at Old Fort Croghan,” a living history event held the second Saturday night each December, the fort is closed most of the winter. But I phoned the museum and connected with curator Ann Nelson. I identified myself and explained the nature of my proposed visit, hopefully just after lunch on Friday, January 22. Ann graciously assured me that someone would be on hand to show me the museum and grounds.
My guide, Milli Williams.

One-room school interior.
When I arrived a delegation was present to welcome the State Historian to Fort Croghan Museum. I was privileged to meet several key members of the local historical community. Ann Nelson introduced me around, and it was a special pleasure to meet Carole Goble, whose family came to Burnet County in the 1870s. Carole is the author of the Arcadia book, Burnet, a 2009 publication, and she long served as director of the Fort Croghan Museum. I told her of my Burnet County family connections and of my admiration for her book, and she showed me treasures of the museum.

Dog-trot cabin.
It was a frigid day, but I was conducted around the grounds by Milli Williams. A member of the DRT, Milli attended a public address that I delivered in nearby Lampasas and that was sponsored by the DRT. Despite the cold temperature, Milli took me from building to building, sharing with me a stream of information about the museum she serves as director.

My visit to Fort Croghan was fruitful and most enjoyable. Any fan of military or agricultural history will find Fort Croghan Museum well worth a visit.

For more information: www.fortcroghan.org
Memorial to soldiers who died at Fort Croghan.

Pioneer cabin.

Community well.

Post headquarters.

Stagecoach Inn interior.

Part of the vintage farm equipment display.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you've had an amazing trip! I'm blown away by your pictures of historical structures

    Heidi Sutton @ Ag Source Magazine