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Tempers flare at BCHC meeting

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

The Bandera County Historical Commission passed a motion at its July 25 meeting to form a committee to review verbiage for historical markers before submitting the text to the Texas Historical Commission in Austin, and before making and installing historical markers locally. This committee will be responsible for verifying historical details for accuracy, thus avoiding the frustration and expense of mistakes. The committee will also review existing markers for accuracy, and if errors are found, pursue a means to correct markers. Until now, there hasn’t been a formal, local approval process for historical markers.
Before members of the committee are chosen, another group will meet to discuss and define the parameters of the committee, including its responsibilities and procedures.
Susan Jenkins, one of the owners of the Flying L Hill Country Resort, discussed many very interesting things she is discovering about the significant cultural and architectural history of the Flying L, including the pilot’s lounge and other buildings at the resort. But she also expressed anguish and disappointment over certain aspects of the BCHC’s involvement with a historical marker installed on her property in December 2016.
Jenkins complained specifically that commissioner Ray Carter went directly to the Texas Historical Commission with his concerns about historical details of the pilot’s lounge, which prompted the Texas Historical Commission to require Jenkins to remove the marker within 45 days from the date of Carter’s complaint.
“Not only did you stab me in the back, but you stabbed me in the heart,” Jenkins said.
According to Jenkins, the BCHC had agreed to give Jenkins a year to look for and find more substantive backing to claims that link Frank Lloyd Wright to the Flying L.
Carter’s rebuttal and frustration has been and continues to be the BCHC’s lack of transparency among commissioners. To paraphrase Carter, if the only way he can see and read the verbiage before it becomes a marker is to contact the Texas Historical Commission — then so be it. He mentioned several specific markers with preventable inaccuracies, including one with a date typo, as examples of results of procedural flaws.
The commissioners expressed compassion for Jenkins and batted around conciliatory ideas, including drafting a marker using less specific words, such as “legend” in the verbiage. But that won’t change facts, such as the fact of who designed the building. According to several reputable sources, Harvey P. Smith and DeHaven Pitts, two prominent architects out of San Antonio, designed the pilot’s lounge at Flying L Resort in 1947.
In similar matters, Roy Dugosh, president of the BCHC, apologized to a resident for an error in the text regarding her ancestors, which had been intended for another proposed marker. Once again, Carter caught the mistake after obtaining a copy of the text from historians at the Texas Historical Commission, instead of from his fellow commissioners on the BCHC.
BCHC historian Merry Langlinais made the motion that will require a committee of no fewer than 4 people to thoroughly vet the facts, and will, within practical limits, prevent these kinds of errors from happening in the future.
In other matters, Ray Carter reported that the national committee for the Great Western Cattle Trail Association will not be coming to Bandera; Roy Dugosh reported that the BCHC is waiting on a letter of permit for another mural to be painted by Bill Stevens; and the Commissioners Court and Friends of the Old Jail are making headway with plans to make the historic building relevant and useful for community events.
Dugosh also reported that he has found an additional 21 graves using a divining rod at the Bertha Tryon-Hendrick Arnold Cemetery, bringing the total number of graves to 49. The Boy Scouts have made wooden cross markers for all of the unmarked graves and they are waiting for the weather to cool off before placing them.