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.

No comments:

Post a Comment