"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.
The 90th Annual Meeting of the West Texas Historical Association was held April 5 and 6 on the beautiful campus of Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. An enthusiastic crowd exceeding 200 attended, providing large numbers for programs, the WTHA banquet and luncheon, and the display room of booksellers. In between sessions clusters of attendees staged their own lively discussions.
The Friday-Saturday meeting actually began on Thursday, with several activities for early arrivals. More than 20 WTHA members gathered in Henrietta, where the Clay County Historical Commission proudly opened the superb museum they have created in the old county jail, as well as the handsome domed 1884 court house. In the evening there was a large informal gathering at a barbeque restaurant near the Best Western University Inn.
Friday morning began with two nine o'clock sessions: "Tracking the Nineteenth Century Texas Rangers" and "Buffalo Hunters and West Texas Trails." Experts explored these two exciting topics, and for the next day and a half, highly regarded authors and researchers presented the latest findings on a broad array of West Texas historical topics. Each presentation period was an hour and 15 minutes in length, and there were two or three sessions featuring at least three speakers during each period. Sometimes an attendee would listen to the opening speaker in one session, then scurry to another session in hope of hearing a later speaker.
Bill Neal and President
On Friday evening at the downtown Kemp Center for the Arts, a reception was held in honor of President Marisue Potts. A banquet followed, and the featured speaker was the eloquent John Miller Morris, Professor of Geography at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The 90th Annual Meeting climaxed at noon on Saturday, with the Awards and Business Lunch. Two new WTHA Fellows were announced, past presidents David Murrah and Darlene Bilinghausen. It was announced that another Fellow, accomplished author Paul Carlson, was not in attendance because on this weekend he was being admitted to the prestigious Texas Institute of Letters. The Rupert Richardson Best Book Award was presented to Pat Dearen for Devil's River, while Clint Chambers received the Ruth Leggett Jones Best Article Award. There were other awards, followed by the election of officers. J.T. Tillapaugh of Odessa College was named the new president (and I was honored to be elected vice president). The final event was a delightful presidential address by lifelong rancher Marisue Potts, "Don't Bring a Mare to the Roundup: The Cowboys' Unwritten Rules." Afterward participants lingered to say goodbyes, and everyone already is looking forward to the 91st Annual Meeting in Odessa.
|All WTHA sessions were held at Midwestern's|
Clark Student Center.
|In the Exhibitor's Room Ron Chrisman, |
Director of the UNT Press, examines a book
while Dr. Harold Weiss looks on.
|Large crowd at the Saturday luncheon.|
|New President J.T. Tillapaugh|
|Allen Anderson presents |
book award to Pat Dearen
|WTHA Executive Director|
|Gary Nall with new Fellow David Murrah|