Monday, February 20, 2017

ETHA Spring Meeting

On Saturday, February 18, the East Texas Historical Association held a one-day spring meeting in historic Marshall.  ETHA President George Cooper called the conference to order.  There were three morning programs. ETHA Executive Director Scott Sosebee spoke on, "The Five Most Transformational Events in Texas History, According to One Texas Historian."  Lila Rakoczy presented the research project which she heads:  "No Man's Land: East Texas African Americans in WWI." And Jessica Wranosky delivered, "Regulating the Personal: A Texas Legislative Tradition."

Our morning programs were held at the Marshall Visual Arts Center.

Following a lunch break we assembled again at the Marshall Visual Arts Center.  A great many well-published historians were attendees, along with four San Jacinto College students brought by Eddie Weller. Eddie has been a San Jacinto Webb Society advisor since 1989, and he regularly escorts history students to ETHA and to TSHA meetings.

Eddie Weller (rear), Webb Society sponsor at San Jacinto College since 1989 with four of his students he brought to the meeting.

With Chris Gill, the ETHA's efficient and cordial Secretary/Treasurer.

Scott Sosebee, Executive Director of the ETHA, presented the opening program.

George Cooper, President of the ETHA, concurrently is serving as President of the South Texas Historical Association.

Ty Cashion, professor of history at Sam Houston State University, is a distinguished Texas historian and author.


Barbara Judkins, site manager of the Starr Family Home State Historic Site

With Robert Hall, a fellow member of the West Texas Historical Association. Robert recently has assumed the role of Executive Director of West Texas Trails.


Active in the program (L to R): Perky Beisel, Jessica Wranosky, Scott Sosebee, Lisa Rakoczy, George Cooper

Barbara Judkins, site manager for the Starr Family Home State Historic Site, offered a PowerPoint presentation, "They Don't Build Them Like They Used To." Dr. James Starr, a prominent figure in the Republic of Texas, along with his son Frank, established the first bank in Marshall in 1870 and acquired 52 acres on the southwest outskirts of town for a family home complex. The centerpiece of the Starr family complex was - and is - Maplecroft, a two-and-one-half-story frame house built by Frank and his wife Clara in 1871. At Maplecroft Frank and Clara Starr raised six daughters (four other children died young). A tall cistern tower at the rear of the home provided water for the household. One of the buildings, a single-story frame structure, was used as a school, with the Starrs employing a series of well-educated tutors for their children. The six Starr daughters married and most of the couples made their homes at the family complex.

Maplecroft, built in 1871

Tutors were employed to teach the Starr children and grandchildren in this little school on the grounds.

 A large tower at the rear of Maplecroft supported a cistern which provided water for the household.

Eventually the site was donated to the state of Texas and was opened to the public in 1986. By that time I was teaching night classes in Marshall for Panola College, and one evening each semester I arranged a field trip to the Starr Home. The furnishings and decorations at Maplecroft are original, and restoration work is conducted regularly.

Central Hallway

Front Parlor

Upstairs Front Bedroom

Historian Debbie Liles in the spacious suite added to Maplecroft for the Starr mother-in-law

Dining Room

After Barbara Judkins concluded her PowerPoint, our ETHA group was invited to tour the Starr Family Home Site, about one mile away. I had not been to Maplecroft in years, and eagerly joined the tour. It was a most enjoyable climax to a fine day with ETHA friends.

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