Tuesday, May 31, 2016

From Tyler to Marshall to Carthage

"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. 

The month of May has been quite busy for the State Historian, and there have been three appearances that I’ve been unable to fit into my weekly blogs. On May 3 Karon and I drove to the Tyler Civic Theatre Center for a meeting of the Smith County Historical Society. The occasion was the Society’s annual ice cream social – there were brownies and cookies and cake and lots of ice cream. A large group was in attendance, including Foster and Mary Murphy and their history-minded granddaughter, Ryan Murphy. Through the foundation they created for an annual history lecture at Panola College, Mr. and Mrs. Murphy generously have provided funding for my State Historian travels. It was a pleasure for Karon and me to socialize with the Murphys, and when our Power Point would not display, Ryan lent her considerable expertise.

With Foster and Mary Payne Murphy
and granddaughter Ryan Murphy

The program was on “Musical Traditions of Texas.” Prior to most of my programs I emphasize that Texas boasts the richest history and culture of any of the 50 states. Our cultural achievements are special because Texas is made up of an unusually broad collection of ethnic groups. Texas has provided gifted artists in every musical genre, and Texans have been dominant in the field of Country and Western music. It seemed especially fitting that a program on Texas culture was being presented in a community theater-in-the-round.
Ice cream social
We met in a theater-in-the-round.

Karon with our former colleagues,
Carl and Liz Hedges

Karon and I returned from an evening program in Austin early on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 17. I unpacked the car, then re-packed for a different program, to be delivered that evening in Marshall, 30 miles away. The Marshall chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans meets quarterly, and I had agreed to provide a program on Sam Houston’s military exploits, especially during the historic spring of 1836 – 180 years ago. Of course, at the end of the program I threw in information about how Houston, as U.S. Senator and as Governor, tried to avert the Civil War, as well as Texas participation. Most of the members brought their wives, and we had a congenial time over an excellent catfish meal. The group seemed intensely interested in the program, afterward asking questions and purchasing a number of my most recent book, Sam Houston, A Study in Leadership.
Sam Moseley, chapter president,
provided my introduction.

Carthage Lions Club

On May 26, the Thursday prior to Memorial Day weekend, I attended the weekly meeting of the Carthage Lions Club, the largest service club in town. Lion Eric Lawrence, music director at Central Baptist Church where I am a member, asked me to present a program appropriate to Memorial Day. At the time of Eric’s request I was developing a program for Audie Murphy Day in Greenville on May 14. I could think of nothing more fitting than to relate the military exploits of America’s most decorated soldier of WWII. The all-male Carthage audience seemed to agree with me, and I resolved to be alert to other opportunities to tell the story of this heroic Texas icon.
With Lion Eric Lawrence. The Lions meet at
Panola College's new Student Center.

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