Monday, November 24, 2014

Montgomery County Historical Marker Program

Example of Montgomery County Historical Marker on Pole
Example of Montgomery County Historical Marker on Building
The Montgomery County Commissioners Court has approved a new Montgomery County Historical Marker Program sponsored by the Montgomery County Historical Commission to recognize historical structures and sites throughout the County and which will commemorate diverse topics of local and regional interest, including: the history and architecture of houses, commercial and public buildings, religious congregations, and military sites; events that changed the course of local and county history; and individuals who have made lasting contributions to our state, county, community organizations, and businesses.

Larry Foerster, chairman of the County Historical Commission, explained that the marker program will complement and supplement the ongoing state historical marker program sponsored by the Texas Historical Commission. This county marker program will feature structures and sites that have historical significance at the local level, but may not otherwise be significant enough to qualify for a Texas historical marker. Foerster went on to explain that presently the Texas Historical Commission staff is overwhelmed with requests for state markers, and it is getting increasingly difficult to get an application approved for a state marker. As a result, more and more Texas counties are developing their own county historical marker programs. Walker County has had such a program for years, and Harris County recently started its own county historical marker program.

The Montgomery County Historical marker will feature the County Historical Commission’s emblem which incorporates the Texas flag on a dark blue background. It will be produced by the Southwell Company in San Antonio, the same company that produces the Texas historical marker along with numerous other county historical markers. Once the application is approved by the County Historical Commission, it is expected that the marker can be produced within four to six weeks after Southwell Company receives the approved order. Prices will start at $515.00 and will vary depending on the requested size and whether a post is requested.

Foerster emphasized that this marker program in not designed to replace the Texas historical marker program. The Montgomery County Historical Commission will continue to encourage applications for state markers when they are historically significant to the State and our region. Furthermore, just like state markers, the applications for the county markers will still require supporting primary and secondary sources to accurately document the historical significance of the topic, and will be critically reviewed by the County Historical Commission.
Any property owner can get more information about the Montgomery County Historical Marker program by going to the Historical Commission’s website at www.montgomerycountyhistoricalcommission.com or by contacting marker committee chairperson Sharon Russell at 281-296-0905.

This press release was submitted to the Texas History Page by the Montgomery County Historical Commission, Larry L. Foerster, Chair, 414 West Phillips, Suite 100, Conroe, Texas 77301



Wednesday, June 04, 2014

K. K. Searle Receives San Jacinto Award and Appointed to WOB Park Association Board


Left to right: Kameron K. Searle,  
San Jacinto Descendants President General Robert "Scott" Patrick, 
and Executive Board Member  Russell Cartwright

Texas History Page editor, Kameron K. Searle, was awarded the San Jacinto Award by the San Jacinto Descendants on April 21, 2014. "The San Jacinto Award is presented to an adult citizen of the State of Texas who has demonstrated a commitment to preserving Texas history and who possesses the highest level of patriotism, leadership, and service to the State of Texas and their local community." Past recipients of the San Jacinto Award include Ray Miller (Eyes of Texas), Dr. Gregg Dimmick (Sea of Mud and General Vicente Filisola's Analysis of Jose Urrea's Military Diary), and James L. Haley (Sam Houston and Passionate Nation: The Epic History of Texas).

In May 2014, Searle was appointed to the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association Board of Directors. The Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association is the non-profit 501(c)(3) support group for the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site which includes Independence Hall, the Star of the Republic Museum, and the Barrington Living History Farm.  The Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association was chartered in 1955 by the State of Texas and is a statewide volunteer organization dedicated to generate support to facilitate preservation projects, celebrations, and educational programming at Washington-on-the Brazos. Searle is very excited about his appointment as the Washington-on-the Brazos State Park Association is about to begin promoting the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site with the brand new campaign: Washington-on-the-Brazos - Where Texas Became Texas!.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Death of a Texas Ranger by Cynthia Leal Massey


Death of a Texas Ranger is a wonderfully researched and entertaining history about the killing of a Texas Ranger named John Green.  Sergeant Green had been a successful Indian fighter on the Texas frontier for many years prior to his death. What makes this history even more fascinating is that John Green was killed by another Texas Ranger in his own company named Cesario Menchaca.

Why would one Texas Ranger kill another Texas Ranger? Cynthia Leal Massey does an excellent job of answering this puzzling question in her new book, Death of a Texas Ranger: A True Story of Murder and Vengeance on the Texas Frontier.  Death of a Texas Ranger reads like a Western mystery novella with a twist that you will not see coming.  Death of a Texas Ranger would make an excellent Coen brothers’ movie.

In some of my recent talks and presentations, I have encouraged Texas historians, both vocational and avocational, to look for the hidden jewels of Texas history waiting to be discovered in the sea of unexplored primary source documents in courthouses, archives and private collections all over Texas. Death of a Texas Ranger: A True Story of Murder and Vengeance on the Texas Frontier is the latest example of a Texas historian getting into previously unexplored primary source documents to bring readers something new and interesting as well as factual.  Cynthia Leal Massey has indeed found several jewels of Texas history that no one else had uncovered before her. 

I highly recommend this very entertaining history book to anyone interested in Texas history, the Texas Rangers, or the life and culture along the Texas frontier between the 1850's and the early 1900's.  Death of a Texas Ranger: A True Story of Murder and Vengeance on the Texas Frontier  by Cynthia Leal Massey is 208 pages, $16.95, Paperback, published by Two Dots an imprint of Globe Pequot Press. Death of a Texas Ranger (978-0-7627-9305-1) has a release date of June 3, 2014.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Despu├ęs de un tiempo en Texas - Review of Magnolia City by Duncan Alderson

In some of my other book reviews, I have suggested that more fiction writers would do well to set their short stories and novels in Texas with its unique history, sites and blends of cultures. Texas appears often in the mostly mythologized Westerns, but the real Texas has remained virtually untapped by serious novelists.

In his novel, Magnolia City, Duncan W. Alderson has not only chosen Texas of the 1920's as the backdrop in which to develop his entertaining story, but the history of Texas and its mixed cultures are essential to his development of almost every single character in his novel, especially the protagonist, Hetty Allen. Duncan Alderson obviously did years of research in preparation for Magnolia City and it shows on almost every single page. Magnolia City is wonderful historical fiction.

I recommend Magnolia City to anyone looking for an enjoyable read as well as a wonderful trip back to a time and place you have never been before. Magnolia City is 448 pages and published by Kensington Publishing. Magnolia City is available at Amazon.com.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

San Jacinto Day Ceremony - April 21, 2014

This year's ceremony commemorating the Battle of San Jacinto will be held on San Jacinto Day, April 21, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. at the foot of the San Jacinto Monument.  The Principal Speaker will be Texas State Historian, Bill O'Neal, Ph.D.   Ron Stone, Jr. will be the Master of Ceremonies. Rolling Thunder and the Texas Army will be present.  The Deer Park High School Orchestra will perform. DRT and SRT Scholarship winners will be recognized. USS Texas Sailor award winners will be recognized.  The public is invited.  The DRT, SRT, and San Jacinto Descendants will lay wreaths to honor the soldiers who fought in the Battle of San Jacinto 178 years ago when Texas won her independence from Mexico. Please RSVP to San Jacinto Day Ceremony organizers to help them plan. 713-468-6771 or alfred_davis1947@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Alamo Cannon - Bronze Four-Pounder

A four-pound bronze cannon that may have been used in the Texas war for independence was placed on permanent loan for display at the Alamo by the San Jacinto Battleground Conservancy.  The cannon believed to have been cast in Mexico in the mid-eighteenth century, could be the only known bronze, Spanish cannon used by defenders that has been recovered.  Like other known Alamo cannons seized and disabled by Mexican troops after the 1836 Battle of the Alamo, its cascabel and trunnions---parts used to elevate and mount the cannon---are broken off.

Researchers believe the cannon may have been given by the Samuel Maverick family to a Philadelphia family named French after the Civil War as payment for a debt.  For many years, the cannon was displayed on the lawn of Howard B. French's country estate in Pennsylvania.  A Confederate artillery general, Samuel French, a relative of the Philadelphia Frenches, lived in San Antonio for a short time.  His brother, John C. French, was a longtime San Antonio resident and is known to have served on a railroad  line board of directors with Sam Maverick.  The Philadelphia French family had a factory that dealt in building goods and may have accepted the cannon as a partial payment by the Mavericks or someone else in San Antonio.

A history advocate, J. P. Bryan, bought the cannon from a collector in 1986.  It was then resold to John McRae of Dallas, who had a wooden carriage built for it.  McRae's daughter donated the cannon in 2008 to the San Jacinto Conservancy, who then had it restored at Texas A & M University's Conservation Research Laboratory.  It was placed on Permanent loan to the Alamo by the San Jacinto Battleground Conservancy in 2010 with stipulations that the cannon be kept safe and indoors.

The 21 cannons at the Alamo in 1836 are said to have included several brass cannons and a variety of iron guns, from two-pounders to the compounds storied eighteen-pounder.  Historians believe the four-pounder may have been used at the wooden palisades by the chapel, on a platform in the chapel, or near the main gate on the compound's south end.

The conservation of the cannon has been paid for by donors listed below who asked that the following inscriptions be placed on a commemorative plaque at the Alamo.  The donors and inscriptions (in parenthesis) are as follows:

  • Beth and Pat Aucoin (Paschal & Elizabeth Aucoin)
  • Louis F. Aulbach (Louis F. Aulbach)
  • Roger E. Beeler (Roger E. Beeler)
  • Randy Billingsley (Randy Billingsey)
  • Thomas E. Brents II and Melinda L. Brents (Tom, Melinda, Sarah, and Emily Brents)
  • Elizabeth Coon-Nguyen (The Nguyen Family --- Elizabeth, Tu, Catherine & Julian)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Galen Coon (Cathlyn & Galen Coon)
  • Cecilia Davidson (Cecilia Driscoll Davidson)
  • Dr. Gayle Davies (Dr. Gayle Davies)
  • Jan DeVault (Bryan, Arlette, Nicholas & Mark DeVault) (Chris, Chelsey, Maddie, Jackie, Alex & Vivi Devault) (Scott, Mirta, Tomas & Emily Monette) (Jeff, Natasha & Sophia Monette) (Lee Miller) (S. T. "Buddy" & Ruth Miller)
  • Gregg Dimmick (Madison Pearl Dimmick) (Audrey Rehe Dimmick) (Benjamin Russell Kacer) (Brooklynn Rehe Kacer)
  • Ron and Lin Drees (Rona and Lin Drees)
  • Barbara Eaves (Barbara Eaves)
  • Charlie Fogarty (Charlie Fogarty, KSJ)
  • Colonel Richard & Linda Gorski (Colonel Richard & Linda Gorski)
  • Judy and Mike Habermehl (Judy and Mike Habermehl)
  • Sharon Hanan (Sharon Lyon Hanan)
  • Randal Allen Hankla (Randal Allen Hankla)
  • Houston Archeological Society (Houston Archeological Society)
  • Cecil N. Jones (Cecil N. Jones)
  • Matthew J. Jurick (Matthew Jurick & Vesna Mohorovicic)
  • David L. Martin (David L. Martin)
  • Steven and Melissa (Marrs) May (Steven and Melissa (Marrs) May)
  • Melissa May (The Churchwell & Roddy Families)
  • Melissa May (Keenan and Brandon May)
  • Roger Moore (Roger G. Moore)
  • Joe Edd Nelson / Gerold Reimondo (Joe Edd Nelson / Gerold Reimondo)
  • E Dwight Osteen (Dwight, Maria, Mia, Evan and Ben Osteen)
  • E Dwight Osteen (The Ennis and Osteen Family)
  • Robert E. and Dorothy E. Pledger (Robert E. and Dorothy E. Pledger)
  • Jay and Stacey Roussel (Roussel Family)
  • Kameron Kent Searle (Kameron Kent Searle)
  • Mildred Stelzig (Mildred Lymberry Stelzig)
  • Mildred Stelzig (Chris G. Thodos)
  • Fenner and Darcel Weller (Reese Weller) (Graham Weller) (Will Weller) (Riley Weller)
  • Fenner Weller (Tom Horan Family)
  • Fenner Weller (Russell Gordy Family)

Source: See San Jacinto Battleground Conservancy affidavit, Bexar County Deed Records, Book Type OPR, Book 16524, Pages 806-808, filed January 23, 2014.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From Martin to Despallier - Book Review


From Martin to Despallier - The Story of a French Colonial Family is an extensively researched family history of Alamo hero, Charles Despallier, his ancestors and relatives written by Rasmus Dahlqvist.  With the exceptions of William Barret Travis, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett, little has been written about most of the other Alamo defenders. This book focuses on one of the less known defenders.  Charles Despallier was in the Alamo at the beginning of the battle but was sent out as a courier.  He returned and is listed among the "Immortal Thirty-Two" Gonzales men who came to the aid of the Alamo defenders on March 1, 1836. Dahlqvist's book contains scans and transcriptions of a myriad of primary sources that document the Despallier's activities. This book includes extensive historical research of the Despallier family living on frontiers of the Louisiana Territory under Spanish and French rule and Coahuila y Tejas [Texas] under Spanish and Mexican rule. There are also genealogical charts to show family relationships. I hope Dahlqvist's excellent book, From Martin to Despallier - The Story of a French Colonial Family, will encourage other historians to do more research into the other men who fought and died defending the Alamo. This 428 page book is available from Amazon.com.