Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bevill Recieves Summerfield G. Roberts Award for Paper Republic

On Saturday, April 10, 2010, at the 88th Annual Meeting of the Sons of the Republic of Texas held in Tyler, Texas, James P. Bevill received the prestigious Summerfield G. Roberts Award for his book, The Paper Republic: The Struggle for Money, Credit and Independence in the Republic of Texas. The Summerfield G. Roberts Award is awarded by the Sons of the Republic of Texas for excellence in Texas historical literature and also includes a cash award of $2,500.

The Son of the Republic of Texas describe the Summerfield G. Roberts Award as follows:
"The purpose of this award is to encourage literary effort and research about historical events and personalities during the days of the Republic of Texas, 1836-1846, and to stimulate interest in this period. The judges will determine which entry best portrays the spirit, character, strength and deeds of those who lived in the Republic of Texas."
Because of his use of so many new primary sources, we are huge fans of Bevill's book. Click here to see our review of The Paper Republic. The first printing of The Paper Republic in September of 2009 was such a huge success, Jim Bevill has advised us that The Paper Republic is already being prepared by his publisher Bright Sky Press for a second printing.

The photo above was taken at an earlier time when Bevill presented a signed copy of The Paper Republic to former First Lady Barbara Bush. Left to right: James P. Bevill, Barbara Bush, and Jodie Bevill.

David Hill San Jacinto Veteran Memorial Ceremony

On Saturday May 29, 2010 at 2:00 p.m., the San Saba River Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Family of David Hill will be conducting a veteran memorial ceremony for David Hill's service at the Battle of San Jacinto. The ceremony will be held at Bluffton Cemetery in Llano County, Texas. The speaker will be historian, Karylon Halmark "Bitsy" Russell. The ceremony will be presented by the San Saba River Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT). There will be light refreshments and visitation from 1:00-2:00 p.m.

Directions: From Llano take TX 29 E to RR 2241, Bluffton Cemetery on your left about 11 miles. From Burnet take 29 W 13 miles to CR 261-Lakeshore DR. 8 miles to Bluffton stay on 2241 2.5 miles cemetery on right.

For more information contact Louise Barton Sanders at 512-752-3400 or email at lsanders8@wildblue.net .

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rolling Thunder

Fred Mead has been kind enough to share some of the history of the famed Texas cannon, Rolling Thunder, with the Texas History Page. He writes:

The historic Texas cannon, Rolling Thunder, has changed handlers recently. Rolling Thunder is a 3/4 scale firing replica of an 1841 Mississippi or Tennessee field cannon. There is some argument as to which state claims the design. But no matter, it is more often referred to as a "field piece" and was usually towed by horses way back then together with a following "limber box" with its own axle. Today, the "limber box" is much smaller and contains all the supplies that the multiple members of the gun crew use: large gloves, friction primers, and all the multitude of miscellaneous items that it takes to make the gun charges as well as the special effects often used and safety items.

Rolling Thunder was made about 20+ years ago, machined from a solid piece of oilfield steel by a local machinist working at home in his off-hours. Some friends from San Jacinto Chapter #1 of the historic organization, The Sons of the Republic of Texas, formed a partnership among the 3 or 4 of them: Richard (Dick) Reese, Jr., Sam Clark, Tom Houston, and Leonard Cloud. They purchased the gun barrel, then had the wooden carriage built to fit the barrel and found some antique wagon wheels, which were at the time, about 130 years old and that had been used on overland wagons carrying settlers West to explore America.

These gentlemen put all this together and had themselves a great field piece and began carrying it around Texas to help celebrate the anniversaries of Texas holidays and other important historic dates and events in Texas history. Rolling Thunder was also used to help teach Texas history which is one of the cornerstones of the mission of the Sons of the Republic of Texas. While the SRT does not sponsor Rolling Thunder, all these men are members of the SRT and have displayed and fired Rolling Thunder to celebrate Texas history as individual members of Texas Volunteers or Texas Army. They took Rolling Thunder all over the state for various purposes, parades, displays, and firing demonstrations for more than 18 years.

The individual owners of Rolling Thunder decided that based upon their personal activities and the demands on their time from family, professions and age that they would look around for a new generation of men to step forward and take on the tasks and traditions they began. The Conroe area Chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, Lone Star Chapter #58, had three members who stepped forward and took on the ownership and responsibility of carrying on these important traditions already begun for Rolling Thunder.

Charlie Fogarty from the Steamboat House Restaurant, Mike Wilson from a local energy company, and Fred Mead from his own construction related business, stepped up to the plate and took on the task. They called upon additional friends from their Chapter and the San Jacinto Chapter of the SRT to become members of their Rolling Thunder gun crew and have begun displaying and firing the cannon. They had their first chance to learn to fire Rolling Thunder three weeks ago when Dick Reese and Sam Clark took them out to some vacant land and ran through some safety drills and the proper handling of the cannon. They also learned how to make the charges that are the ammunition for the cannon. This past weekend, a special cannon school was held at the George Ranch to get the gun crew certified as "Cannoneers." This is a State and Federal requirement to display and fire the cannon on the lands belonging to State and Federal parks.

In its career, Rolling Thunder, has been in parades all over Texas in many communities. It has fired at ceremonial activities at Washington on the Brazos, the Alamo, the Presidio La Bahia at Goliad, the San Jacinto Battleground, and many other historic and civic locations around Houston and other areas too numerous to list here. Rolling Thunder is a true Texas native and part of our history. It might be relatively young but it represents over 150 years of Texas history and spirit. Look for Rolling Thunder when you next go to a historic place or event in Texas.

Rolling Thunder is a 3/4 scale cannon. It was built from specifications of what is called a 6 pounder cannon, so Rolling Thunder is actually a 4 pounder with a 2.25" bore. It is about 4' long, 4' tall, has 4' tall wheels, and 6' trail piece. It has its own trailer it rides on from place to place. When it is not being displayed or fired somewhere, Rolling Thunder is on display at the Steamboat House Restaurant in Houston, Texas along with other beautiful and historic items and artifacts of Texas history for visitors to view and enjoy. It is referred to as a "black powder" cannon. It is fired using a "friction primer" so it can be fired with a lanyard rather than lighting it with a fuse which is much safer for all. It has been used to fire projectiles 3/4 of a mile or further. Rolling Thunder has fired many different types of loads, including some for fun (such as colored smoke) and some for special tasks. These types of cannons are very powerful, quite loud and produce a lot of smoke.

In the photo above, left to right, Fred Mead and Mike Wilson stand with Rolling Thunder. Photo courtesy of K. K. Searle. In the video above, Rolling Thunder is fired by a cannon crew composed of Charlie Fogarty, Fred Mead, Mike Wilson, John Homman and K. K. Searle. Instructor, Jerry Tubbs has placed a steak over the fuse hole to show the dangers of being near the fuse hole when the cannon is fired. Video courtesy of Linley Johnson.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Master Mason Degree - Battleship USS Texas

All Texas Master Masons are invited to observe a unique and historic Master Mason's Degree aboard the battleship USS TEXAS BB-35 on April 23, 2010. Frontier Lodge No. 28 has been given the opportunity to present this historic Masonic event. This will be joint degree conferred by Frontier Lodge No. 28 and Garden Oaks Lodge No. 1306.

The date and time again: Friday, April 23, 2010, 7:30 p.m. Please note that you may want to arrive early as chairs are limited. Click here for more information on the Battleship Texas.

See maps and directions to the Battleship Texas here.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Re-Dedication of 1936 Madam Powell Historical Marker Set for May 1, 2010

The public is invited to attend the re-dedication of the Texas State Historical Marker originally placed where the Mexican Army met at Madam Powell's Tavern after learning of the Texian victory at San Jacinto. After learning of the defeat of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, General Vicente Filisola, second in command of the Mexican Army, ordered the other Mexican Generals all to meet him at Madam Powell's Tavern for a council of war, which was held from April 24 through April 26, 1836.

Instead of moving the remaining two or three thousand man army on across the Brazos River and attacking General Sam Houston's Texian Army, the Mexican Generals decided to fall back to the west side of the Colorado River and wait for orders from their government. If these Mexican Generals had decided to attack the Texian Army instead of withdraw, our history might be considerably different. As the huge Mexican Army began their retreat, the rear guard is believed to have burned Madam Powell's Tavern.

The San Jacinto Chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas believes this is an important event in Texas history and they will host a ceremony starting at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 1, 2010 to re-dedicate the marker that was placed at the site of Elizabeth Powell's home as part of the massive state wide project in 1936 to mark all historic sites in the state. Dr. Gregg Dimmick will be the featured speaker, and Bob Brinkman with the Texas Historical Commission will tell us about the history of the 1936 marker program. Everyone interested in Texas history is invited to join them.

The marker is located near the crossing of Turkey Creek in the middle of Mr. Jack Wendt's cattle ranch, and was knocked down by cows some years back. Mr. Wendt uprighted the 1936 marker and the San Jacinto SRT Chapter has replaced the missing lone star on the marker and cleaned the years of grime from the granite marker. Mr. Wendt has also greatly improved the road through his farm to the marker, and has vounteered the use of his onsite ranch building for a reception after the re-dedication ceremony.

Directions and Contact Information-

To reach the site of the ceremony, proceed southwest from Houston on Highway 59 to the town of Kendleton, Texas. As you exit at the Kendleton exit, make a "U" turn and drive back toward Houston on the access road for about one mile to Darst Road, where you turn right and continue until you cross the bridge over Turkey Creek. The next farm entrance on the left is the entrance to Jack Wendt's farm and ranch, where signs will direct you to the ceremony. For other details, contact Tom Green at (281) 922-1118 or his cell phone at (832) 687-3474.

Photos showing Elizabeth Powell marker on ground missing lone star at the beginning of the preservation process are all courtesy of Dale Williamson.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Julia Ideson Library - Archival Wing and Reading Garden Opening April 5, 2010

On Monday, April 5, 2010, the new archival wing and reading garden of the Julia Ideson Library in Houston, Texas will be opening.

The Julia Ideson Library has been undergoing extensive preservation and extension during the past year. The Julia Ideson Library Preservation Partners thanks the City of Houston/Downtown Redevelopment Authority TIRZ #3 and the hundreds of individuals, foundations, and corporations who have helped them raise more than $30.1 million to date.

Phase I of the expansion and restoration of the Julia Ideson Library, the construction of the new archival wing for the invaluable holdings of the Houston Public Library's Houston Metropolitan Center, will open on April 5, 2010. Please come and visit the HMRC as well as the adjacent palm-shaded reading garden and open-air loggia (entrance at the corner of Smith and Lamar Streets). For hours of operation call 832-393-1313. For more information on the Houston Metropolitan Research Center and its archives visit http://www2.houstonlibrary.org/hmrc/index.html .

Phase II of the $32 million project, the restoration of both the exterior and the beautiful and architecturally significant interiors of the original 1926 building at 500 McKinney designed by Ralph Adams Cram, is now underway and expected to be complete by Summer of 2011. For more information on the project, or to make a tax-deductible contribution to Phase II, visit http://www.ideson.org/ or call Julia Ideson Library Preservation Partners executive director, Margaret Lawler, at 713-660-0772.