Thursday, January 10, 2013


"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 ( 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.

Hubbard Museum
On January 2, while traveling to Waco for a speaking engagement, my wife Karon and I stopped in Hubbard for a visit to the city museum. The Hubbard Museum is housed in the 1914 high school building. Indeed, for those interested in historical architecture, the museum is worth a tour to view the handsome exterior and the interesting interior layout and architectural features.

Librarian Linda Jordan and Bill
I've been familiar with the building since it served as a high school, and after it became a museum I've toured it twice. But it has been several years since my last visit, and I'd heard that there have been considerable improvements. Karon and I were greeted by Librarian Linda Jordan and museum volunteer Sue Leathers, who attended Hubbard High School in the museum building. Linda and Sue informed us that the museum indeed had obtained grants which fostered the conversion of various rooms into display areas. 

There is a spacious library on the main floor, while the basement now houses an excellent genealogical library and museum. There is a superb antique doll display, from the extensive collection of Berta Leon Hackney, a former mayor of Hubbard. The dolls are arrayed in cases that Berta purchased at Neiman Marcus in Dallas. Other former classrooms on the three levels exhibit aspects of the past of "Hubbard City."

Karon with Sue Leathers
There had been a rural community in the vicinity for two decades before Cotton Belt Railroad tracks appeared in 1881. A townsite was laid out, and with former Texas governor Richard Hubbard present, it was decided to name the new town Hubbard City. Another railroad soon made a connection, spurring the growth of Hubbard City. Victorian houses were built all over town, and a large number still stand. Ornate commercial buildings were erected, but a tornado felled the best turreted structures in 1973.  

Karon and Sue in the Genealogy Library
By the 1920s the population exceeded 2,700, but there was a sharp decline during the Depression of the 1930s. J. Frank Norris was raised in Hubbard City, before leaving in 1898 for Baylor and a controversial career as a fundamentalist Baptist preacher. Hiram Wesley Evans also graduated from Hubbard High School in 1898, and he later achieved notoriety as the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. 

The 1914 Study Hall boasted a pressed tin ceiling.

The old Hubbard City Barber Shop
Karon in the Children's Library

Hubbard's most famous native son is Tris Speaker. Born in 1888, by the time he was a teenager he was playing on Hubbard's town team. When he was 18 he was signed as a pitcher by the Cleburne Railroaders of the Texas League. He was ineffective on the mound, but as an outfielder he showed exceptional speed, while hitting the ball with power. With Houston in 1907 he won the Texas League batting title, and soon he was in the big leagues. During a 22-year major league career he compiled a .345 batting average. He was a spectacular center fielder, and he was the American League's Most Valuable Player of 1920 with a .388 average. That year he was player-manager of the Cleveland Indians, leading them to the pennant and a World Series triumph. Speaker's record for doubles in a career, 793, still stands as a lifetime mark, along with several fielding records. Tris Speaker was the seventh - and first Texan - inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he was the first athlete voted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Following his death by a heart attack in 1958, Speaker was buried in Hubbard's Fairview Cemetery. 
Tris Speaker's gravestone is
marked by the flagpole.
Part of the Tris Speaker display

Speaker's career is chronicled in the Hubbard Museum, and his niece Tris Speaker Scott, frequently serves as docent. This excellent museum is open on Wednesdays 10-4, and Saturdays, 10-5.

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