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Historical commission in overdrive

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Anyone who thinks grass grows under the feet of the Bandera County Historic Commission should have attended the Thursday, March 10, edition of commissioners court. Led by Chairman Roy Dugosh, several members of the commission offered up-dates on important new and longstanding projects.
Before discussing the quarterly magazine, The Historian, editor Merry Langlinais noted, “I thought ‘The Historian’ was the most significant outreach for the county, but it pales in comparison to Mr. Fitzpatrick.” Minutes before, World Champion Trick and Fancy Roper Kevin Fitzpatrick had received the 2016 Distinguished Service Award from commissioners court.
‘The Historian’
Since its inauguration in 1978, the historical commission has archived 107 issues of the Historian; however, as Langlinais noted, “I am continually surprised to learn that many local residents have never heard of the Historian.” The softbound magazine was designed to preserve the history of Bandera County and its families, as well as share that history on a wide scale.
According to Langlinais, the prestigious mailing list of the Historian includes the Library of Congress, Texas Historical Commission, American History Center in Austin, San Antonio Conservation Society, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, the University of Texas at Austin and the Catholic Archives of Texas.
“It’s also sent to the Allen County, Indiana Library and the Clayton Library in Houston, two major research sources for genealogy records,” Langlinais said.
In addition to individuals, other Texas libraries and genealogical societies and local schools, she recently received a request from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
“I was especially pleased that a representative of the UTSA Special Collections Archives, housed at the Institute of Texas Cultures, requsest copies of the entire collection,” Langlinais told the court.
Publication of the Historian is underwritten, in part, by a grant from the Bandera County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). Printing costs vary from $160 to $185 per issue. “While the Historian is distributed free of charge, we suggest an annual donation of $10 to cover postage,” Langlinais said. Copies are provided to the CVB and are also sold at the Frontier Times Museum for $2 each.
“It’s difficult to judge just how much the county benefits from the Historian but from the requests and comments I receive, I believe the benefit is considerable,” Langlinais said. “It helps with cohesiveness and gives newcomers a glimpse of who we truly are.”
Langlinais as archivist
In addition to her work with the Historian, Langlinais also serves as archivist for the historical commission, which, she said, contain “a treasure trove of documents and especially photographs.” Although preservation is plowing ahead, Langlinais said she lacks archival sheets and storage materials.
“I also scan and digitize documents and save them on an external hard drive, CDs and DVDs and various flash drives,” she said. “Periodically I provided the chairman of the historical commission with the latest scans.”
“You do a good job and we appreciate it,” said Judge Richard Evans.
In other business to Elenora Dugosh Goodley said a historical story marker for Bandera Pass has been approved by the state and will be installed at a later date. The marker will offer a précis of a battle between Comanches – or Apaches or both – and a contingent of Texas Rangers, led by the legendary Capt. John Coffee “Jack” Hays, that occurred sometime in the early 1840s.
Black cemetery update
A longtime project of the historical commission is the restoration of the Bertha Tryon-Hendrick Arnold Cemetery or Colored Burial Ground on Old Medina Highway. However, completion is near, according to Chairman Dugosh. “It’s been a challenge but it will be nice,” he noted.
“The metal entrance gate has been completed and postholes have been dug to enclose the cemetery,” he said, adding that Boy Scouts have created the grave markers. “We’ve identified 28 graves, but have extra grave markers in case we find more.”
Dugosh anticipated a dedication on Juneteenth, which is June 19. African-Americans in Texas consider June 19, 1865 as their emancipation day.
Old jail complex
Rebecca Norton, executive director of the Frontier Times Museum, gave an update on the rehabilitation of the Old Jail House History Complex on 12th Street.
“This is being done through the auspices of the Friends of the Old Jail House committee – a joint effort between the historical commission and the museum – and members of public and private sectors,” Norton said.
Two issues that need to be addressed include availability of public parking and the inclusion of the CVB into the long-term plan. The CVB currently rents a historic house on Highway 16 in Bandera as their headquarters.
“Committee Chairman George Sharman and member Johnny Boyle are working to solve both problems,” Norton said. “After a solution is found, a final proposal for the complex will be submitted to commissioners court for approval.”
Another issue is the finalization of plans for use of both the jail and historic courthouse and the physical restoration work necessary for both buildings. “Once completed, a budget will be submitted on the total cost of the project,” Norton said. She added, “I am currently working on a funding plant to identify potential funding sources and donors.”
??? about HOT funds
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jordan “Jody” Rutherford, who had called for a certified audit of the CVB, asked if HOT funds (Bandera County Hotel Occupancy Tax) could be used for restoring the buildings. This fiscal year, the CVB’s budget from the HOT funds was $480,000. Next year, Rutherford anticipates the budget will top half a million dollars.
In an interview on Wednesday, March 15, Evans noted that it appears a portion of the annual HOT funds collected could be used to restore and rehabilitate a “bricks and mortar” visitors’ center, “without legislative modifications.” Evans added, “Of course, this is all subject to a legal opinion. However, the complex would be suitable to house the historical commission, CVB, Chamber of Commerce and even a museum.
“However, we have to come up with a plan to use non-taxpayers’ money to revitalize the old courthouse and jail and even turn the area into a park.”
Murals & statue
Local historian Dave Burell updated the court on the mural project currently underway in the City of Bandera. A second mural, depicting cattle crossing the Medina River by artist Bill Stevens, will be installed on the south side of the municipal building on the fire station. So far, the project has been funded by the City of Bandera Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
Dugosh then spoke about a bronze statute of a cowboy and horse to be placed in Western Trail Heritage Park on Main Street in lieu of a non-working fountain. The bronze sculpture will be a joint project between the city council and the city economic development corporation.
“Frederic Remington’s ‘Bronco Buster’ was commissioned by Teddy Roosevelt and is in the White House,” Dugosh said. “This reproduction will cost less than $20,000 and the EDC is onboard with the project.”
He continued, “A lot of people took the energy and time to lockdown the title ‘Cowboy Capital of the World.’ This sculpture will enhance a desire to visit Bandera. Tourists will take photos in front of the statue and they will go all over the world. Besides, it will be a good swap for the fountain.”
As more information information becomes available, the Courier will publish updates about the various projects.