Monday, April 11, 2016

WTHA - 2016 Meeting

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College ( in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce.

Early Bird Dinner crowd
During the past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 93rd Annual Meeting of the West Texas Historical Association in Abilene. I had the honor of serving as WTHA president last year, and I was succeeded by the gracious and highly efficient Diana Hinton of Midland. WTHA Executive Director Tai Kreidler was everywhere during the weekend, attending to countless details. Program Chair Troy Ainsworth and his able committee assembled a superb lineup of speakers, while Robert Hall arranged bus tours before and after the scheduled programs. We headquartered at the MCM Eleganté near the Abilene Mall. The combination of noted speakers, excellent field trips, and luxurious facilities attracted well over 200 attendees, one of the largest crowds in WTHA history.
Showing the San Jacinto battle flag replica

I was scheduled to speak on Saturday morning about “Sam Houston, Texas Icon.” My session partner was Jerod Haines, an undergraduate history student from Wayland Baptist University in Plainview. It was Jerod’s first conference presentation, and he chose the rich topic, “The Filthy `50s: The 1950-1957 Drought and Its Impact on the Queen City of the South – Plainview.” Troy Ainsworth inventively titled our session A Titanic Personality and a Time Never Rained. All WTHA sessions traditionally have been presented on Friday and Saturday. But a few days ago Troy and Tai Kreidler decided that they would like to experiment with a “Lead-Off Session” that would coincide with our traditional Thursday evening Early Bird Dinner. Jerod and I were asked to move our session from Saturday to Thursday evening. The banquet room was filled, and with Jerod late in arriving, I gave the inaugural Lead-Off address to a large audience of Texas history enthusiasts. Jerod arrived soon after I finished, and his program also was well-received.
Dr. Light Cummins, the second Texas State Historian

WTHA Executive Director Tai Kreidler (right)
at the  registration table
Friday was busy. Session rooms were overflowing because of the near-record crowd, and we were happy to bring in extra chairs. The third annual Women’s History Luncheon had a record attendance. Past president Marisue Potts originated these luncheons, and afterward she conducted an excellent panel, The Challenges of Writing and Publishing Women’s History. That evening there was a President’s Reception in the hotel, and afterward we ventured across Abilene to the beautiful campus of Hardin-Simmons University for banquet at the Johnson Building. The keynote speaker was Dr. Glen Ely, distinguished historian and documentary producer. His latest book was recently published by the University of Oklahoma Press: The Butterfield – A Lifetime of Tracking the Trail Across West Texas. Glen has spent 25 years exploring sites of the historic Butterfield Stagecoach Trail, and he regaled us with stories of his extended adventure. His exciting presentation was complemented with striking PowerPoint images. It was a presentation none of us would have missed.
Ken Howell is Executive Director and Founder of the
Central Texas Historical Association.

Saturday featured nine more standout sessions. The Awards and Business Lunch began at 12:30. The Ruth Leggett Jones Best Article Award was presented to H. Allen Anderson of the Southwest Collection. Sylvia Mahoney was presented the Rupert N. Richardson Best Book Award for Finding the Great Western Trail, published by Texas Tech University Press. The R.C. Crane Heritage Service Award went to the Motley County Jail, a two-story rock structure erected in 1891 north of the courthouse square in Matador. And three new Fellows of the WTHA were announced: Preston Lewis, Glen Ely, and Tai Kreidler.
Back of the table decoration photos, designed by Marisue Potts
for the Women's History Luncheon.

In her presidential address, Diana Hinton discussed “Ladies in the Jazz Age Oil Patch.” The new president, John Miller Morris (author and Piper Professor from U.T. San Antonio, and a native of Amarillo), invited everyone to the 2017 meeting in Lubbock. And immediately after adjournment a Saturday Afternoon Tour of Abilene commenced.

For more information:
Marisue Potts holding one of the table photos.

Women's History Luncheon

Women's History Panel: Barbara Brannon,
Rosa Latimer,  Leland Turner

Program Chair Troy Ainsworth presenting
a paper on early college football in West Texas

Popular speaker and award-winning
author Bill Neal

Executive Director of the East Texas
Historical Association, Scott Sosebee
(a native of West Texas)

Standing in front of the Johnson Building at HSU

Dinner line in the Johnson Building

President Diana Hinton

Keynote speaker Glen Ely

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