"Lone Star Historian" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas. 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 (www.panola.edu) 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 almost 40 books, half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine.
|Bill addressing the History Club of East Texas on September 13, 2012|
Dr. Norman organized a trip in a rented bus to a re-enactment of the Battle of Mansfield. When Nick Holly closed his cafe, the group moved to a meeting room made available by the Citizen's National Bank of Kilgore. After a time the Roundtable moved to a restaurant in Longview, where membership increased.
After a time the Roundtable moved again, to Jason's Deli in Longview. Members enjoyed the menu, and a meeting room could be closed off during the program. By this time the membership decided that they would enjoy a greater variety of programs, and there was a name change: History Club of East Texas. Modest dues were assessed -- $10 at first, $15 annually now -- so that speakers could be offered an honorarium.
Monthly meetings begin each September; there is no meeting in December; and there is a hiatus each summer. Meetings are scheduled for the second Thursday in the month. Members begin arriving at six o'clock to eat and visit, and the program begins at seven. David Stroud traditionally opens the year with a dynamic September presentation. I was penciled in as the November program, and Bobby Nieman provided a program each year. Bobby became the Official Historian of the Texas Rangers. Bobby also compiled numerous interviews with survivors of the tragic New London school explosion, but his projected book fell victim to his untimely demise.
|Bill and current club president Richard Ash|
But aside from a few professional historians, the membership consists of men and women who simply love history. The History Club of East Texas is not a county historical society. It is not a DRT chapter, nor is it an SCV chapter. But for a quarter of a century its members have met regularly for the sole purpose of enjoying history programs with depth and color, while associating with kindred spirits. It's a privilege to meet with them.