Sunday, October 22, 2017

East Texas Historical Association Fall Meeting

The East Texas Historical Association held its annual Fall Meeting in Galveston at the luxurious Moody Gardens Hotel and Resort. We met on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, October 12-14, and a crowd of 200 was in attendance.

Chris Gill, the lovely and highly efficient Secretary/Treasurer of the ETHA

Charles Nugent, Adult Education Programs Manager of the TSHA
With Steve Cure, Chief Operating Officer of the TSHA
There were nearly 30 sessions, including joint sessions with the Central Texas Historical Association, the Texas Folklore Society, the South Texas Historical Association, and the West Texas Historical Association. Several graduate students presented papers during various sessions. Four ladies from the Galveston County Historical Commission provided an excellent session on their historic county.
Dan Utley and Milton Jordan
Barbara Holt of the Galveston County Historical Commission
Caroline Castilla Crimm glancing at the camera
On Thursday evening the ETHA was treated to a Welcome Reception at the Bryan History Museum, which is housed in a handsome nineteenth-century structure that was built as an orphanage. J.P. Bryan restored the building and provided 70,000 items  from his superb collection. Bryan's collection especially features artifacts of Stephen F. Austin, as well as wonderful pieces of Western and Texas art. The ETHA presented Bryan the Lucille Terry Historical Preservation Award, and he offered a gracious response. Our visit to the Bryan History Museum was a memorable highlight of the Fall Meeting.

The magnificent Bryan History Museum

Debbie Liles and J.P. Bryan

Friday evening featured the Fellows of the Association Reception, which included the introduction of three new ETHA Fellows: Light Cummins, former State Historian of Texas; James Maroney; and Milton Jordan. The Fellows Reception was followed by the Presidential Address Banquet. The address was delivered by ETHA President George Cooper, who has doubled this past year as President of the South Texas Historical Association.

ETHA Executive Director Scott Sosebee at the Fellows Reception

Fellows Reception crowd
During the weekend I took the opportunity to ride the resort's paddleboat, the Colonel. I love boat rides, and I had a fine time touring our inlet on the comfortable, brightly-appointed Colonel.
The Colonel of the Moody Gardens Resort

On Saturday morning I participated in the West Texas Historical Association Session, along with fellow presenters Leland Turner of Midwestern State University, and Tai Kreidler, Executive Director of the WTHA. My presentation was "Tascosa, Gunfighter Capital of the Panhandle," and the entire session was lively and colorful.
With fellow presenters Tai Kreidler and Leland Turner at the WTHA Session

The Fall Meeting concluded Saturday with the Association Awards and Business Meeting Luncheon. As chairman of the Ottis Lock Awards Committee, I was privileged to present the Best Book Award to editors and contributors Debbie Liles and Anji Boswell for Women in Civil War Texas, a publication of the University of the University of North Texas Press. Jeffrey Littlejohn of Sam Houston State University earned the Higher Education Educator of the Year Award, while Alicia Young of Wylie High School won the Joe Atkins Public School Educator of the Year Award. Research Grants of $500 each were awarded to Richard Orton, Lindsey Drane, and Scot McFarlane.

Awards and Business Luncheon

President George Cooper
James Maroney received the Ralph W. Steen Award from Michael Botson
President Heather Wooten swinging a mean gavel
Michael Botson presented the Ralph Steen Award to James Maroney, while ETHA Executive Director Scott Sosebee presented the Archie McDonald Student Scholarship to Alondra Morillon, an undergraduate at UHD. The Business Meeting featured acceptance of a new slate of officers, headed by Heather Wooten as President. After announcing that next year's Fall Meeting will return to the Fredonia Hotel in Nacogdoches, President Wooten adjourned the meeting with a vigorous swing of the gavel. We all agreed that the Fall Meeting of 2017 was an exceptional event.   

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Big D Plus

A couple of months ago I received a call from Denise Jernigan Ziegler, who was raised in Carthage but has made her career and marriage in Dallas. I coached Denise on summer softball teams (three of my daughters played, so I coached eleven seasons of recreational softball). Later Denise was a student in my Texas and U.S. history classes at Panola College. So when she asked me to speak at a meeting of the Chi Omega Alumnae of Dallas, I was happy to come. My daughter Berri was a Chi Omega member at Texas A&M University-Commerce, and later she was a Chi Omega advisor at TAMUC (and it was pointed out to me at the meeting that I therefore am a Chi O Dad). Berri agreed to attend the meeting with me, and to take photos for this blog.

With Jana Beth Eidson and President Nancy Williams
The meeting was held on Monday evening, October 10, at the Highland Park residence of Jana Beth Eidson. Berri and I arrived a bit early, and we were greeted most cordially by the hostess, by Chapter President Nancy Williams, and by other members. I was pleased to see Connie Manly Dragolich, a former student of mine in an early admission class of Panola College held at Marshall High School in 1981-82. Connie was one of a group of students who arranged a tour for our class of the plantation house near Karnack where Lady Bird Johnson was born. The house is the oldest brick residence in Harrison County, and we were treated to an Old South lunch during our tour.

With former student Connie Manly Dragolich

A crowd of close to 50 women attended the Chi Omega event, and we had a delightful time enjoying refreshments and socializing for half an hour beforehand. My program was about "Sam Houston's Three Wives," and the ladies were quite responsive to Sam's Soap Opera.


With Denise Jernigan Ziegler and her mother, Debbie Jernigan

Being introduced by Denise

I drove to Dallas earlier in the day, because Berri and I wanted to tour the George W. Bush Presidential Museum, which is located only a short drive from the home of Jana Beth Eidson. Neither Berri nor I had ever visited this impressive facility, and we met at the Visitor Parking Lot. The displays were state-of-the-art, and the efforts of the staff on our behalf were most helpful. Berri, whose second major was history, and I spent nearly two hours before closing time, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. We had time for dinner before going to the meeting.

Seated in the Oval Office

At the entrance

A few days before traveling to Dallas I addressed a weekly meeting of the Carthage Rotary Club. I was invited by Carson Joines, a longtime mayor of Carthage and a former football player at Panola County Junior College. The Rotarians meet every Friday on the Panola College campus, and it's always a pleasure to participate in one of their lunch sessions. A sizeable crowd included a strong contingent of women - indeed the club president is Cindy Deloney, Carthage Main Street Manager. In my presentation I tried to put a historical perspective on some of the most troublesome political controversies that roil our society today, emphasizing that we don't understand who we are until we know who we were.  

With Carson Joines and President Cindy Deloney

Monday, October 2, 2017

San Augustine County Historical Society Fall Meeting

San Augustine is one of the oldest and most historical communities in Texas, known during the Republic period as the "Athens of Texas."  Despite a population today of only 2,100, San Augustine maintains a large and active historical society. I've had the pleasure of speaking in San Augustine a number of times through the years, most recently on the evening of Tuesday, September 29. Marshall McMillan, who owns two businesses on the square and who is a strong presence in civic affairs, called me a few months ago with an invitation to provide a program at the Annual Fall Meeting of the San Augustine County Historical Society. When we discussed program possibilities, I mentioned that my most recent book was a biography of Sam Houston, who had a law office at San Augustine and numerous connections with this key early community.
The restored theatre entrance now leads to the San Augustine Museum

Marshall embraced the idea of a program about Sam Houston.  The Historical Society provided excellent publicity. There was a front-page story in the San Augustine Tribune, and a color flyer was widely distributed. The meeting was held in a downtown museum which located in a former movie theater. I arrived half an hour early to set up a few props, and a large crowd already was present. As the crowd grew, more chairs had to be brought out, which is always a pleasant problem. I encountered a number of old friends and, as often happens, some former students at Panola College.
With Betty Oglesbee, a driving force behind the numerous history projects of San Augustine
There was 100 percent participation in the Pledge of Allegiance
Marshall McMillan introducing the State Historian

I provided a lively account of Houston's adventurous life, featuring the most dramatic event of a highly dramatic career: the campaign of March and April 1836 and the climactic Battle of San Jacinto. Of course I also featured Houston's presence in San Augustine.
Afterward light refreshments were served, and numerous members of the audience wanted to talk more about the iconic Houston. I had brought a dozen copies of my book about Houston, in case anyone wanted an inscribed copy. To my surprise I sold every copy, and Marshall McMillan got contact information from me about the publisher so that he could stock a downtown store with Sam Houston, A Study in Leadership. The Fall Meeting of the San Augustine Historical Society was a delightful occasion for the State Historian.

Three days later on a trip to Paris I stopped by the Lamar County Historical Museum. I've driven by on previous trips but this was the first time I've caught it open. The museum is located in a cultural complex that includes the superb 1912 Union Station, which is always worthy of inspection and photos. The museum is excellent, featuring a profusion of images of the splendid structures that Paris has boasted. I can't wait to catch the Lamar County Historical Museum open again! 

Bust of George Washington Wright, founder of Paris
Postcard of the old Federal Building

The 1912 Union Station stands across a parking lot from the Lamar County Historical Museum

The General Sam Bell Maxey home is a State Historical Site. Maxey also served two terms in the U.S. Senate, and his superb home is one of the finest historical sites in Paris.