Tuesday, February 9, 2016


"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. 

During the first week of February I had the pleasure of presenting Texas historical programs to two diverse groups. On the first day of February I was in Richardson to participate in a two-day event for Texas history teachers, mostly fourth- and seventh-grade instructors. The event was sponsored and arranged by the Texas State Historical Association, with the cooperation of the Region 10 Education Center in Richardson. The sessions were put together by Charles Nugent, TSHA Adult Program Manager. Charles spent 17 years as a public school teacher before joining the TSHA staff. With his long background in the public schools, Charles has a special feel for the instructional needs of teachers, and he has demonstrated an excellent touch at organizing events for Texas history teachers which stress content over methodology. Charles lined up numerous presenters, experts in various fields of Texana who would offer rich information for attendees to take back to their classrooms. In addition, participants would be credited with two days of professional development (the requirement for professional development has been increased from three days per school year to seven days).
Vendors room

I was asked to lead off the conference with a program on a favorite subject of mine, “Musical Traditions of Texas.” I opened with my conviction that Texas has the richest and most colorful history and culture of any state, emphasizing that a program on Texas music would combine important elements of both history and culture. Music, like any art, is a reflection of life, and since schoolkids like music – granted, their music – it is relatively easy to interest them in musical heritage. Of course, Texas has produced a parade of talented musicians in every genre: Scott Joplin, King of Ragtime; Jack Teagarden, King of the Jazz Trombone; Broadway star Mary Martin; classical pianist Van Cliburn; pop star Jessica Simpson; Hispanic musicians Selena and Johnny Rodriguez.
With Charles Nugent

But for all of the gifted Texas artists in various genres, Texans have dominated Country and Western Music. Marion T. Slaughter of Jefferson – popularly known as Vernon Dalhart – was the first artist to record popular C&W, and to record a million-seller (Wreck of the Old `97” – country people loved train songs). Ernest Tubb of Ellis County became a fixture at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. Fiddler Bob Wills created Western Swing. Two of the top three Singing Cowboys – Gene Autry and Tex Ritter – were Texans, and the third – Ohioan Roy Rogers – was married to Texan Dale Evans. Willie Nelson is a Texas icon. George Strait has released his 60th Number One C&W hit. And with the aid of a PowerPoint I quickly indicated more than a score of other C&W stars from Texas.
By the time I began the opening address at
Region 10, 115 teachers had gathered.

The TSHA conference took place on Monday and Tuesday, February 1 and 2. On Saturday I was in Nacogdoches for a luncheon address to a regional meeting of ICE. Not an acronym, ICE indicates the Packaged Ice Industry. Indeed, I picked up a copy of ICE World Journal, the international publication of the Packaged Ice Industry. The regional meeting in Nacogdoches was open to industry members from New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.

Meeting room of  ICE
A former student of mine, Connie Browning Dorsett, felt that this predominantly male crowd would enjoy the change of pace that my program on Texas Gunslingers would offer. I was delighted at the opportunity to provide a dose of Texas history to any group, and I brought a bag of vintage weapons and gun rigs. For 45 minutes I presented the point that Texas was the “Gunfighter Capital of the Old West.” The audience enjoyed the program, eagerly examined my history toys, and bought a great many inscribed books. We ate a catered lunch together, and I had a grand time with a new group of history friends.
With James and Connie Browning Dorsett

1 comment:

  1. This place is perfect for any kind of night you're looking for. In the downstairs area at these event venues, you can enjoy a lounge setting while talking over drinks with a small party. Or, if you're looking to mingle or have a bite to eat, you can head upstairs.