Monday, September 11, 2017

Lubbock Cowboy Symposium and Celebration - Plus Historical Bonuses

On Friday and Saturday, September 8 and 9, I participated in the 29th annual Cowboy Symposium and Celebration. Programs, entertainment, and special events were staged in Lubbock's big civic center. And on the field north of the civic center was an array of chuck wagons, plus a few tepees. There also was outdoor entertainment and a parade. On Sunday, September 10, there was a Cowboy Church Service, with live music and appropriate cowboy poetry and a devotional message. As always, Lubbock's Cowboy Symposium and Celebration provided a splendid event built around the iconic Texas cowboy.

Vendor Aisle

Monica Hightower, the lovely and highly efficient boss wrangler of the Symposium, invited the State Historian to provide a program for the fifth consecutive year. She wanted me to continue the theme of Western outlawry which has attracted large audiences during these five years, and I developed "Cow Country Outlaws." Of course, most Cow Country Outlaws were rustlers, and I began the presentation by tracing the Regulator (later Vigilante) movement in America back to the colonial period. By the time open range ranching in the Old West began, rustlers preyed on the livestock. I detailed the methods of theft, as well as the violent retaliation by cattlemen (lynching, lynching, lynching!).
With Monica Hightower, Boss Wrangler of the Cowboy Symposium

Alvin Davis, the Founding Father of the Cowboy Symposium, attended my first presentation shortly after the Friday lunch event celebrated his 90th birthday. I acknowledged Alvin in front of the large crowd that had gathered to hear about Cow Country Outlaws, and the audience responded with an enthusiastic round of applause. Alvin's charming wife announced that she had brought the remaining portions of Alvin's birthday cake, which we all enjoyed.

Alvin Davis, Founding Father of Lubbock's Cowboy Symposium

I presented "Cow Country Outlaws" on both Friday and Saturday afternoons. Also on Friday I emceed a writer's panel. The other author/presenters were Karen Fitzjerrell and Nathan Dahlstrom. The three of us have worked together before, and our hour passed rapidly.
Author Panel: State Historian, Karen Fitzjerell and Nathan Dahlstrom

Two recent former presidents of the West Texas Historical Association,
the State Historian and Marisue Potts

Part of the Friday audience

On my way to Lubbock from my home in Carthage I experienced several historic sites. I departed Carthage on Wednesday so that I could do some research in Midland's Haley Library and Museum. The Haley Library and Museum features the immense research collections of legendary rancher and author J. Evetts Haley. About 20 years ago I visited the Haley Library in search of material about Pink Higgins, and I found excellent sources. On last Thursday I was aided by museum director Pat McDaniel, who assembled a vast array of materials for me to examine for my biographical project about cattle king John Chisum.

It was a long drive from Carthage to West Texas, so on the first night of the trip I stayed in Stanton, which is less than 20 miles from Midland. Fortunately I arrived in time for a visit to the Martin County Museum in Stanton. The museum director, Ruthie Billett, welcomed the State Historian and pointed out all kinds of historical treasures that are on exhibit in this fine museum.
Martin County Historical Museum Director Ruthie Billett
On Thursday afternoon, as I drove from Midland to Lubbock, I took a break in the little town of O'Donnell, where Dan Blocker (the future Hoss Cartwright) graduated from high school. Blocker was born in DeKalb in northeast Texas, but the family later opened a business in O'Donnell. Blocker became a football star at Sul Ross State Teachers College. He taught and coached and served in the army during the Korean War, before pursuing an acting career. In a downtown city park a statue and a historical plaque proudly make the connection between O'Donnell and Hoss from the TV series Bonanza.
Statue of Dan Blocker

On Friday morning, before going to Lubbock's civic center, I visited the Ranch Heritage Center Museum. I'm a member of the Ranch Heritage Association, and I recently published an article on Shanghai Pierce in the RHC publication, the Ranch Record. I had learned that there was a new exhibit on cattle rustling, which I wanted to visit. before delivering my program on "Cow Country Outlaws." While there I visited the gift shop, where I had the pleasure of autographing several of my books on display. And before leaving I could not resist walking through the superb collection of ranch buildings that have been assembled outside. Touring the Ranch Heritage Center Museum is perfect prep for attending the National Cowboy Symposium. 
The Ranch Heritage Center longhorn herd
1838 Pioneer cabin

XIT Bunkhouse

JAs Water Tank

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