"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.
On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 12-14, I was one of the presenters at the 22nd annual retreat of the Texas Mountain Trail Writers. The 2013 retreat was held in Fort Davis, “Where Wild Things Write.” I was initially contacted by the president of the organization, Reba Cross Seals. A retired teacher, Reba is an avid writer, and she is highly organized. Other members also are former teachers who played important roles in setting up the event. Reba’s key assistants were the two “Retreat Jefes” and the seven members of the “Retreat Posse.” For weeks before the event, I was frequently contacted by Reba or one of her capable assistants. Everyone was enthusiastic and helpful, and every detail was carefully planned.
I arrived at Fort Davis early enough to spend a couple of hours at the fort, which I first visited as a college student in 1963. A decade later I began bringing students from Panola College to the Davis Mountains and Big Bend as part of my Traveling Texas History Course, and the East Texans always enjoyed the old fort and two nights of camping in this magnificent country.
|1904 Presbyterian Church|
Checking in on Friday afternoon, I soon drove through the mountains to Alpine, where an opening reception was held at the Front Street Book Store. It was a delightful evening, with delicious refreshments and warm company. More than 40 men and women attended the retreat. Many were from Alpine or Fort Davis, but some came in from other parts of the state, and others came from Colorado, New Mexico, and California. There were fiction writers, poets, and non-fiction writers.
|Reba Cross Seals opening the first session|