On my way to Fredericksburg, I spent Thursday night in Lampasas, visiting with my sister, Judy O'Neal Smith, and other relatives in the area. Judy is an active member of the local DRT chapter and of the Lampasas County Museum Board. I've visited the museum on numerous occasions - Lampasas was the home town of our mother and grandparents - and there are many historical treasures on display there. But the museum has been closed for the past several months, undergoing renovations by museum professionals. When Judy and I entered the recently re-opened museum, which is housed in a venerable commercial building in downtown Lampasas, I was astonished at the transformation. Always worth seeing, the Lampasas County Museum now is markedly improved and is a treat for history buffs and other visitors.
|Lampasas County Museum|
|Museum Gift Shop|
|With my sister, Judy O'Neal Smith|
Departing Lampasas for Fredericksburg, I reached Llano at mid-day. I stopped to tour the superb courthouse, built in 1892. Indeed, on the Traveling Texas History Courses I conducted for 20 years out of Panola College, I always toured my students through Llano, so that they could see the courthouse, the impressive old jail, and other excellent examples of historic architecture. As I looked around the courthouse, I examined the historic photographs displayed along the walls of the main floor. A security guard, who turned out to be a native of Llano, cordially inquired about my visit. When I told him I was the Texas State Historian, he immediately marched me into the office of the County Judge, Mary S. Cunningham, introducing me as a visiting state official.
|JoAnn McDougall, Director of the Llano County Museum|
|Pioneer cabin on the museum grounds|
|Historic Llano jail|
The Llano County Courthouse boasts a fine collection of historic photos
After arriving in Fredericksburg later on Friday afternoon, I paid a quick visit to a fine local museum, Fort Martin Scott, which is the only one of the original line of Texas frontier forts which still stands. Established in 1848, the fort is well-maintained and stands just west of the Texas Rangers Heritage Center.
|Entrance to Fort Martin Scott|
|Texas Rangers Heritage Center Pavilion|
Other impressive weapon collections were displayed beneath the handsome pavilion where the conference took place. More than 120 attendees included retired Rangers, Ranger descendants, and current Texas Rangers, and it was a privilege for me to meet these men and women.
|Fellow presenters Donaly Brice and Chuck Parsons|
Jody Ginn introduced the first of six speakers, Donaly Brice, retired state archivist and author of The Great Comanche Raid. Each speaker was allowed 40 minutes, and Donaly spoke with great authority on the dramatic 1840 event. I was up next, presenting a program on "Texas Rangers and the Evolution of the Revolving Pistol." I focused on the period from 1844 through 1875, when Rangers were defenders of the Texas frontier. During this era Texas Rangers served as horseback warriors against Comanche and Kiowa raiders, as well as against Mexican bandidos along the Rio Grande border. Not until the frontier was secured did the Texas Rangers become a law enforcement body. I used a number of replica pistols and gun rigs to illustrate this program. The audience was ideal for my topic, and I greatly appreciated the response during and after my presentation.
|Celebrated Texas Ranger Ray Martinez and Joe Davis, |
President of the Former Texas Rangers Foundation
|With Dr. Jody Ginn|
I was followed by Dr. Richard McCaslin with a program on famed Ranger leader John S. "Rip" Ford. After a delicious catered lunch of Bar B Q, programs were presented by Chuck Parsons on Ranger Captain John Hughes, by Dr. Harold Weiss on Captain Bill McDonald, and by Dr. James Kearney on the Stanford-Townsend Feud. A panel concluded the conference.
|Speaking with Ranger historian Harold Weiss|