News at the Nesbitt, 2002 to 2005
Summer Reading Program Ends
Williamson Complete 1880 Census Index
New Art Exhibited at Library
Fossil Put on Exhibit
Library Installs New Chairs
Old Bottle of Preserves
Donated to Library
Fletcher Mesmerizes Large Crowd
Muggli Completes Census Index
Live Oaks and Dead Folks 2004
Flowers Presentation Packs Room
Library Gets New Furniture
Wal-Mart Donates Money to Library
Pictures from a Symposium
Texas Historians to Appear at
Dorothy Morrison Donates Books
Santiago Jiménez Jr. Appears
Overflow Crowd Hears Campbell
Austin's Old 300 Donate to Library
Library Volunteer, Dies
Randolph B. Campbell to
Appear at Library
Live Oaks & Dead Folks: A Tour of the Old
Columbus City Cemetery
Wal-Mart Donates to Library
Tex Rogers, Library Board
Six Hours of the Texas Rangers
Utley to Headline Texas
Library Acquires Old Letters
McColloch Completes Eagle Lake
Eagle Lake Newspapers Discovered
Hahn Completes Census Index
Two Dozen Hear Brune
Herman Brune to Appear at Library
Donates Civil War Diary to Archives
Doug Rau Presentation Packs Room
Priest Family Donates
Material to Archives
to Appear at Library
Archives Gets More Items
Symposium Draws Good Crowd
Nesbitt Symposium Set for June 15
Floyd Green Dies
Archives Acquires Unique Items
St. Anthony Students Present Quilt to Library
Descendants of Austin's Old Three Hundred Make
Donation to Library
An Evening with Eric Taylor
Eric Taylor, Texas Musician, to Appear at Library
Barry A. Crouch, Eminent Texas Historian, Dies
Cameron Men Donate Material to Archives
Catherine Dumraese Trust Awards Grant to Library
Library Participates in Archaeological Expedition
Fifty-nine children and thirty-three adults attended the "Go Wild" magic and
puppet show given by Julian Franklin at the library on August 2, marking the
end of the 2005 Summer Reading Program. Franklin has closed the program, to
great acclaim, the last four years. Eleven children were recognized for
finishing the program: Araceli Gonzalez, Abraham Juarez, Sarahi Juarez,
David Kovar, Molly Michalsky, Madalyn Moeller, Justin Sheek, Jenna
Templeton, Isabel Theut, Alexa Zwahr, and Alyssa Zwahr. Many volunteers
helped make the program a success, including this year's storytellers:
Bonnie Meyer, Sharon Johnson, Rhanda Lattimore, Helen Jurries, Rosemary
Creamer, Sherise Lefferd, Amber Hollywood, and Sandy Jones.
On July 20, 2005, the library posted a new index to and partial
transcription of Schedule 1 of the Tenth Federal Census of the United States
(1880) for Colorado County, Texas, to its website. The index and transcription
was compiled by Bill Stein, David Hahn, and Regena Williamson, who worked for
many weeks on the project. Hahn had previously done the 1930 census and Stein
had done or worked on the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses.
On June 28, 2005, Darrell Reider placed his collection of
lithographs, etchings, mezzotints, charcoals, and watercolors by WPA artists and
French artists of the so-called Belle epoque on exhibit at the library. The
collection includes pictures by Camille Pissaro, George Bellows, Rockwell Kent,
Albert Besnard, Marian Greenwood, James Tissot, Felix Buhot, and others. Reider
has been collecting them for twenty-five years.
On June 7, 2005, the fossilized remains of part of an ice-age
megabison were placed on exhibit at the library. The two-million year old
fossils were donated to the library in November 2004 by Walter and LaJuan
Braden. In January 2005, Tracey Wegenhoft, a member of the library board and a
teacher at St. Anthony School, began working with her students to clean and
reassemble the fossils.
11, 2005, the library installed 27 new chairs in the Texas Room, in the
children’s section, and at our public access Internet computers. In the last two
years, with funds granted by the Catherine Dumraese Trust, the library has
replaced all its chairs in public areas.
On April 13, 2005, while Bill Stein was working with a patron in the Texas Room,
a small sheet of paper fell from one of the family files. That paper contained a
brief typewritten story about a bottle of preserves. According to the story,
Frances Seifert, a good and regular patron of the Nesbitt Memorial Library and a
long-time resident of Weimar who died in 2000, had owned a bottle of preserves
that had been given to one of her ancestors in about 1868. As the story was
related, Mary Coates and her daughter, Alma Coates Hester, did not speak to each
other or have any direct interaction with each other because, on January 1,
1868, Alma had married without her parents' approval. Sometime after the
wedding, Mary Coates wanted to give her daughter a bottle of preserves. She took
it to her friend, Fannie Arnold Mahon, and asked her to give it to Alma. The
daughter however refused the preserves, and the mother would not take them back
either. So Fannie Mahon kept them, never eating them because they did not belong
to her. The preserves remained in the family, passing down to Frances Seifert,
who was Fannie Mahon's granddaughter. Two days after the note fell from the
file, Frances Seifert's two daughters, Julie Hoegemeyer and Frances Helen
Kintzele, brought the bottle of preserves into the library, asking Bill Stein
what he knew about it. Armed with the knowledge he had accidentally acquired
only two days earlier, he was able to relate the story. Julie and Frances Helen
shortly agreed to donate the bottle of preserves to the library, contingent upon
the library's agreement to transfer it to a city museum, should one ever be
created. The fairly-ornate bottle stands about one foot high and is well sealed
with a lead cap covered in melted wax. The preserves are sugared over and
probably inedible. It cannot be determined what kind of preserves are in the
The performance by classical guitarist Peter Fletcher on April 11, 2005 packed
the library's meeting room. Fletcher played pieces that were written for the
lute hundreds of years ago as well as modern guitar pieces. He regularly retuned
his instrument to accommodate the diversity of the pieces. After the
performance, and three encores, Fletcher and much of the crowd remained in the
library for more than an hour, discussing music.
After more than a year of work, Jennie Sue Muggli recently completed an index to
the 1900 federal census of Colorado County. Library staff began the project
three years ago. At a church picnic in Weimar, Muggli casually asked
library-director Bill Stein if the library had a project she could do. Stein
asked her if she would finish the 1900 census index, which was about one quarter
completed, and Muggli quickly agreed. The next week, she picked up the necessary
files at the library and began slogging through the many remaining pages. Muggli
ended up transcribing about 17,000 of the 22,000 names on the census. The index
was posted to the library's website on December 17, 2004.
|The spirits were out at the Odd Fellows Rest Cemetery in
Columbus on November 6 and 7 for the library's second annual Live Oaks and
Dead Folks cemetery tour. This year's tour was even more successful than
last's: more people bought tickets and considerably more income was
generated. Sixteen actors made presentations at fourteen gravesites. The
tour featured artists, writers, and historians, killers and police officers,
a cattleman and a diplomat, a soft drink manufacturer, and a parrot.
On October 5,
2004, approximately 40 people attended a presentation on cut-flower design by
floriculturist Henry Flowers at the library. Flowers brought a variety of
flowers and grasses from the gardens at Festival Hill and demonstrated six
unique arrangements. He used a variety of containers and arrangement methods
for them, each of which was beautiful and unusual. Flowers received his
degree in floriculture from Texas A & M University. He managed the Antique
Rose Emporium for several years before becoming director of the gardens at
Festival Hill. He and his wife reside in Chapel Hill.
Thanks to grants from the Catherine Dumraese Foundation, the Nesbitt Memorial
Trust, and Copano Processing, in September 2004, the library acquired new tables
and chairs for the main reading room. The new, upholstered, solid wood chairs
replaced the chrome and plastic chairs which had been in use in the library
since it opened in 1979. The new tables, solid wood with inlaid veneer tops,
replaced the old metal and veneered particle board tables.
In September 2004, the Columbus Wal-Mart continued its exemplary support of the Nesbitt Memorial
Library by facilitating a donation of $1000 to the library from the Wal-Mart
Foundation of Bentonville, Arkansas. Every year, Wal-Mart donates funds to local
institutions like the library, in recognition of their value to the community.
||Left: Sara Massey displays the original pamphlets. Right:
Doug Kubicek, Henry Wolff, Charles Spurlin, and Jim Smallwood, captured on a
||Left: Patrons line up for Phyllis McKenzie's book. Right:
Allan Kownslar addresses the attentive audience.
On Saturday, June 26, 2004, the general editor
and three of the five authors of the new series of books on the cultural and
ethnic groups which strongly influenced Texas history will discuss their work at
the Fourth Annual Lee Quinn Nesbitt Symposium on Texas History and Culture at
the Nesbitt Memorial Library in Columbus.
The symposium will open with a presentation by the general
editor of the series, Sara R. Massey, at 9:30. She will be followed by Phyllis
McKenzie at 10:45, Allan O. Kownslar at 1:30, and James M. Smallwood at 2:45.
All four will make presentations on their work, answer questions from the
audience, and sign books.
When the Institute of Texan Cultures opened in 1968, it
featured exhibits depicting the various cultural groups that settled early
Texas. The research for the exhibits led to a series of small, well-illustrated,
very popular pamphlets, among them The Afro-American Texans, The German
Texans and The Czech Texans.
Recently, with most of the pamphlets more than thirty years
old, the Institute decided to redesign and update them. The new versions, a set
of five books, The African Texans, The European Texans, The Indian Texans,
The Asian Texans, and The Mexican Texans, were issued in March, and
take the stories of the various ethnic groups up to the present day.
James M. Smallwood, the author of The Indian Texans,
is a Tsalagi/Cherokee Indian. He recently retired from his position as a
professor of history at Oklahoma State University and moved to Gainesville,
Texas. He is one of the important group of historians who reexamined the
Reconstruction period in Texas, both in his award-winning book from 1981,
Time of Hope, Time of Despair: Black Texans during Reconstruction, and in
the book he co-authored with Barry A. Crouch and Larry Peacock, Murder and
Mayhem: The War of Reconstruction in Texas, which appeared in 2003.
He has also worked extensively in local history, publishing
considerable material about Cooke County, Texas and the two-volume The
History of Smith County, Texas. He edited for publication some of the papers
of Will Rogers and issued a book about Oklahoma schoolteachers, and is presently
writing a book on the history of dolphins.
Allan Kownslar, who wrote The European Texans, is a
professor of history at Trinity University in San Antonio. An expert in the
social studies curriculum, Kownslar has authored or co-authored many textbooks
and teaching guides. His other work includes Texas Iconoclast: Maury Maverick
Jr., a collection of material written by Maverick for the San Antonio
Express-News, which Kownslar selected and edited.
Phyllis McKenzie is a research specialist for and designer of
exhibits at the Institute for Texan Cultures in San Antonio. She is the curator
of the five-part Tejano exhibit at the Institute. The research she did for that
project, over the course of twelve years, was the foundation of The Mexican
Texans, her first book.
Sara R. Massey, who designed the series and chose and worked
with its authors, was an education specialist at the Institute for Texan
Cultures until her recent retirement. Her other work includes the landmark
photography book, Turn of the Century Photographs from San Diego, Texas,
which she co-authored with Ana Carolina Castillo Crimm and which sold out its
first printing in less than a month. She also was the editor of Black Cowboys
of Texas, an anthology of articles about black cowboys which won the Texas
State Historical Association’s T. R. Fehrenbach Award in 2000. She is presently
preparing a book on female trail drivers from Texas, which is to be entitled
Texas Cattle Queens.
The five books in the new series, and other books by
Smallwood, Kownslar, and Massey, will be for sale at the symposium, all at
prices considerably lower than retail. Admission is seven dollars, but every
admission ticket is good for five dollars off the purchase price of any one
In May 2004, Dorothy Morrison, a third degree Wiccan high priestess of the
Georgian tradition and an award winning author, donated copies of ten of her
books to the library. The books, which Morrison donated in memory of her
parents, Ed and Laura Belle Potter, were:
Needlework: 35 Original Projects and Patterns
(1998); Everyday Magic: Spells and Rituals for Modern Living (1998);
In Praise of the Crone: A Celebration of Feminine Maturity (1999); Yule:
A Celebration of Light and Warmth (2000); Bud, Blossom & Leaf: The
Magical Herb Gardener’s Handbook (2001); The Craft: A Witch’s Book of
Shadows (2001); The Craft Companion: A Witch’s Journal (2001);
Enchantments of the Heart: A Magical Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life
(2002); Everyday Tarot Magic: Meditation and Spells (2002); Everyday
Moon Magic: Spells and Rituals for Abundant Living (2003). Morrison,
a 1973 graduate of Columbus High School, is a two-time winner of a Coalition of
Visionary Resources book award. Her book, In Praise of the Crone, was
voted one of the ten best books of 1999 by Amazon.com. Editions of her books
have been published in Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Czech.
|Distinguished Texas conjunto musician Santiago Jiménez Jr.
discussed his career, influences, and musical style, and played some fifteen
to twenty songs, at the library on May 11, 2004. Jiménez, whose appearance
was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Texas
Commission on the Arts, and facilitated by Texas Folklife Resources, also
played several numbers with local musicians, among them Jim Kearney on
guitar, Sioux Sanders on several hand-held rhythm instruments, and Marion
Henkhaus (pictured at right with Jiménez) on piano accordion.
||More than sixty persons crowded into the library's meeting
room on April 26, 2004 to hear Randolph B. Campbell discuss Texas history.
Campbell, author of the recently issued Gone to Texas: A History of the
Lone Star State, of the classic An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar
Institution in Texas 1821-1865, and many other works, outlined his view
of Texas as a southern rather than a western state and fielded several
questions from the audience.
On April 17, 2004, the Descendants of Austin's Old 300, a group composed of
descendants of Stephen F. Austin's original 300 colonists, made a donation to
the Nesbitt Memorial Library in Columbus. The donation was in recognition of the
library's continuing attempts to collect, preserve, and promote the history of
Austin's Colony. Pictured from left to right are Bettie Utter, Shirley Stedman,
Carolyn Marble, Bill Stein, Kay Anderson, Harry Howell, and Barbara Warnock.
Stein accepted the donation on behalf of the library; the others are directors
of the Old 300 group
On April 17, 2004, Elizabeth Schoellmann, who worked at
the library as a volunteer faithfully every Friday for years, was found dead in
her Waco home. Elizabeth Cecelia Leopold was born January 3, 1917 at Nada,
Texas, in far southern Colorado County. She married Henry "Ted" Schoellmann on
her twenty-third birthday.
The couple had four children, though the first was stillborn
and the fourth, Thomas, was born with severe mental and physical problems.
Doctors gave Thomas only two years to live, but he lived to celebrate his
eighteenth birthday. His care occupied much of his mother's attention and energy
from 1951 until his death in 1970.
In 1978, Elizabeth Schoellmann took a job as the
librarian at St. Mary's School in Nada. That job led her to become active in the
local history field. Two years later, she was named to the committee to produce
a 100th anniversary book for the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in
Nada, and she taught herself how to do research at courthouses and in
archives. The book came out in 1982 and sold out.
Her husband died in 1989. When, shortly thereafter,
Bill Stein, then archivist at this library, issued a call for volunteers to work
on historical projects at a meeting of the Colorado County Historical
Commission, she was the only person who responded. She was not then a member of
the commission, and had been induced to attend the meeting as a prospective
member. For the next seven years, she diligently worked on projects for the
library, helping to locate and catalogue cemeteries, arranging for and helping
to effect the microfilming of the records of Nada's Catholic church, pouring
through countless old newspapers and extracting obituary information, and many
other things. She was certainly the most faithful and effective volunteer the
library had during the 1990s.
She had to abandon her volunteer activities when her
kidneys failed and she went on dialysis in early 1997. A few months later, she
moved to Waco, where one of her daughters lived and where she could undergo her
treatments more comfortably. In Waco, she produced two books. She was principal
compiler of Christian Leopold: "Der Swithe Boob", a book of family
history which was published in 2000. In 2002, she completed an autobiography,
Randolph B. Campbell, author of the new history of
Texas, Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State, will speak at the
library about his work on Monday, April 26, 2004, at 7:30 p. m. After his
presentation, he will take questions from the audience and autograph copies of
his books. Copies of Gone to Texas will be available for purchase at the
Campbell, whose work has won many awards, is perhaps
the preeminent living Texas historian. His other works include An Empire for
Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821-1865, Grass-Roots
Reconstruction in Texas, 1865-1880 (which contains a long chapter on
Colorado County), Sam Houston and the American Southwest, and A
Southern Community in Crisis: Harrison County, Texas, 1850-1880.
| On October 28 and November 1, 2003,
the library will sponsor and conduct tours of the old Columbus City
Cemetery. At some fifteen sites, actors, illuminated by torches and lanterns
and in period costume, will tell the stories of persons buried in the
Entitled "Live Oaks & Dead Folks," the tour will
feature William B. Dewees, the founder of Columbus, Dilue Rose Harris, whose
reminiscences made her well-known, and many other early Columbus characters.
Tours begin at 7 p. m. each evening and embark every
twenty minutes. The last tour will leave at 9 p. m. As groups move from
gravestone to gravestone, guides will amplify the stories and relate other
information about the cemetery.
Tickets may be purchased in advance at the library. No
more than ten advance tickets per tour will be sold. Adult tickets cost $5.
Children under twelve will be admitted for $3. Individuals may purchase all ten
advance tickets for one tour for $40.
On September 5, 2003, Columbus Wal-Mart associates presented the Nesbitt
Memorial Library with a $500 grant. The donation was made by Wal-Mart
associates as part of the company’s Bonus Grant program. The Bonus Grant is
part of the company’s Community Matching Grant Program and is funded by the
The grant is to be used to help support the library’s summer
reading program. This year, 204 children registered for the program, and
more than 100 people attended the closing event, a reading-oriented magic
“Our associates were excited to make this donation to such a
worthwhile cause,” said Danny Olds, manager of the Columbus Wal-Mart. “This
is just a small part of Wal-Mart’s ongoing commitment to the communities in
which we operate.”
Bill Stein, director of the library, said “Of course, we are
delighted to get this grant. With it, we can make next year’s summer reading
program even better than this year’s was. The entire community should be
grateful to Wal-Mart for supporting the library.”
Pictured are Mike Rasbury, assistant manager of the Columbus Wal-Mart, Bill
Stein, and Danny Olds, Wal-Mart manager.
||Maynard Livingston "Tex" Rogers, a member of the library
advisory board since April 1, 2000, and former secretary and vice chairman
of the board, died in the early morning hours of June 30, 2003. Rogers, born
December 7, 1942, was sixty years old. He was admitted to the local hospital
with a severe case of pneumonia on March 17, had a seizure there two days
later, and remained in a coma until he died. He was the founder of the
library's Community Celebrity Series and was active in many other library
projects. He loved all things Scottish. He is pictured at left, in his days
as editor of the Colorado County Citizen.
Speakers at the Third Annual Lee Quinn Nesbitt Symposium on Texas History and
Culture, May 3, 2003, clockwise from above left: Robert M. Utley, Paul N.
Spellman, Harold J. Weiss, James C. Kearney, Chuck Parsons, Allen G. Hatley.
The Third Annual Lee Quinn Nesbitt Symposium on Texas History and Culture,
set for May 3, 2003, will be the biggest ever such event at the library. It will
feature six speakers, and all six presentations will deal with the Texas
Robert M. Utley, the distinguished historian of the American
West whose most recent book is Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the
Texas Rangers, will make the symposium's closing presentation, "Images of
the Texas Rangers." Utley, whose many books include The Lance and the Shield:
The Life and Times of Sitting Bull, Custer: Cavalier in Buckskin, and
Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life, is scheduled to begin his
presentation at 3 o'clock.
Paul N. Spellman, whose new book Captain John H. Rogers,
Texas Ranger was published in January, will talk about Rogers at 2 o'clock.
Spellman is also the author of Forgotten Texas Leader: Hugh McLeod and the
Texan Santa Fe Expedition.
The symposium will begin at 9:30
that morning with "The Rangers and
Violence in Texas, 1870-1890" by Allen G. Hatley. He will be followed by Chuck
Parsons, who will make a presentation on Leander H. McNelly at 10:30. Hatley is
the author of several books, including his recent Bringing the Law to Texas:
Crime and Violence in Nineteenth Century Texas. Parsons too has published
many books. His most recent book was the biography Captain L. H. McNelly—Texas
Ranger: The Life and Times of a Fighting Man.
After a break for lunch, the symposium will resume at one
o'clock with James C. Kearney's presentation "Everett Ewing Townsend, Father of
the Big Bend." At 1:30, Harold J. Weiss, Jr. will speak on "Captain Bill
McDonald in Fact and Fiction."
Books by Utley, Spellman, Hatley, and Parsons will be
available for purchase, and each author will be available to sign their books
after their presentations. Tickets to the symposium will cost $7, but each
person who buys a ticket will be given a coupon good for $5 off the purchase of
On February 28, 2003, the library acquired eight letters written by David C.
Neer to his relatives in Virginia between 1857 and 1861. Neer, with a partner,
Thomas H. James, established a store in the fledgling Colorado County town now
known as Oakland, but then called Prairie Point, in early 1857. The letters
refer to the opening of the store and describe business practices and living
conditions in Prairie Point/Oakland, as well as other community activities and
developments. One of the letters had three dried leaves, sent sent from Oakland
in 1857, folded into it.
Willie Ann McColloch of Fort Bend County, surely one of the most dedicated
and productive history and genealogy oriented volunteers in Texas, has completed
a surname index to the book, A History of Eagle Lake Texas. Her index
will surely make that 591 page volume, which appeared in 1987 without an index
of any kind, far more useful and accessible. McColloch's index is 87 pages long.
McColloch earlier compiled a similar index for the 1973 book
Weimar, Texas First 100 Years 1873-1973.
When the back issues of the Eagle Lake Headlight, a newspaper which
will celebrate its 100th year of operation in 2003, were microfilmed about 25
years ago, the issues from 1937 and 1947 were not included. Until recently, the
issues from both years were thought to have been lost. Now, both have been
Earlier this year, thanks to the persistence of Leslie Carey,
the issues from 1947 were discovered in an unlikely place in the archival vault
at the Nesbitt Memorial Library. This summer, those issues were turned over to a
document imaging company, which provided the library with images of the old
papers on microfilm and CD.
Now the 1937 issues have emerged. On November 18, William H.
Harrison of Eagle Lake donated a number of old newspapers to the library. Among
them was the bound volume of the Eagle Lake Headlight from 1937. Before
the back issues were put on microfilm, Harrison had systematically borrowed them
from the newspaper's office for his work on the book A History of Eagle Lake
Texas. He believed he had returned them all, but, when cleaning out his
office at his home, he discovered the 1937 newspapers.
| Thanks to the efforts of David Hahn (pictured at
right in the library's Texas Room), Colorado County historians and
genealogists now have a powerful new tool. In October 2002, Hahn, a native of
Columbus who lives in Fort Bend County, completed an index of the
recently-released 1930 United States census of Colorado County. Hahn
transcribed the names and some relevant information about each of the 19,129
people who lived in the county in 1930. Hahn sent the index to the library.
There, staff examined it for mistakes and omissions, and added names and
other information Hahn could not read. The library posted the audited index
on its website on November 4.
At first, Hahn worked only from copies printed from a
microfilm version of the census. As he proceeded, the Nesbitt Memorial
Library Foundation, Inc., paid to get the census put onto a CD and posted on
the Internet. Now, with both Hahn’s index and the manuscript version of the
census on the Internet, researchers can easily locate an individual and view
the page on which he appears, and they never have to leave their homes
Dozen Hear Brune
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Two dozen people came to the library to hear Herman Brune discuss his career
as a wilderness guide in the northwestern United States, Mexico, and
elsewhere. Brune described the psychological, emotional, and physical
benefits of time in the wilderness, and showed photographs of campsites and
hunting trophies. After his presentation, he answered numerous questions
from the audience.
Herman Brune to Appear at
Return to Top of Page
Wilderness guide and award-winning outdoor writer Herman Brune will appear
at the library at 7 p.m. Monday, October 21, 2002. Brune, a Columbus native, is
best known locally for his outdoor column in Colorado County
Citizen, and his Saturday morning radio show "News from the Camphouse"
on KULM radio. His stories and photos have also appeared in Texas Parks
and Wildlife magazine as well as several national hunting and outdoor
publications. A professional guide since 1990, Brune escorts hunters and
photographers into wilderness areas throughout the Rocky Mountains, spending
considerable time in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. He has used his time
outdoors to become an accomplished action cameraman, filming several
episodes for the television series "Hunting the World," hosted by Larry
Weishuhn, another Columbus native.
Beginning on February 12, 1862, James T. Pettus
recorded the events of his military career as a sergeant in Terry's Texas
Rangers, a unit of the army of the Confederate States of America, in a small
pocket diary. On October 1, 2002, Julia Ann McDonald, on behalf of her family,
which has owned the diary seemingly since the war, donated it to the
When Pettus filled up the diary, on June 27, 1862, he
switched to another. Two months later, on August 29, 1862, he was killed in
action. His current diary was probably in his pocket, and may have been
buried with him or taken from his body by unknown parties. His first diary,
however, was returned to Texas. Probably, he had placed it on the pack
train, where it was found when he was killed.
Before the war, Pettus had lived in Colorado County in
the same household as another member of his company, Oliver E. Herbert.
Herbert probably returned the diary to Texas. Julia Ann McDonald, who is
seen holding the diary at left, is a descendant of Herbert's brother.
|The library's meeting room was packed on August 15 to hear Doug Rau's
presentation on his baseball career. Rau told of his years on the sandlots
and in the organized youth leagues of Columbus, went through his years at
Columbus High School and Texas A & M University, and through his
professional career in the minor leagues and as a regular starting pitcher
for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The audience also got to see Rau pitching for
the Dodgers, on a videotape of a game from 1976. After his presentation, Rau
answered a few questions and signed numerous autographs.
||On August 13, 2002, Helen Priest donated the scorebooks and other
material kept by her husband, Henry O. "Hop" Priest during his career as
baseball coach at Columbus High School. The series of scorebooks detail the
team's seasons from 1953 through 1968. Because of sporadic coverage by local
newspapers, the scorebooks provide the only record of many games. Priest,
shown at left in a photograph from 1967, coached the Columbus Cardinals to
numerous championships, and was instrumental in the development of what were
arguably the town's two greatest pitchers, Kenneth Pate and Doug Rau.
|Doug Rau, who pitched in the major leagues for the Los
Angeles Dodgers and the California Angels from 1972-1981, will appear at the
library to discuss his career at 7 p. m. on August 15, 2002. Rau, who was born in
Columbus, was a star lefthanded pitcher for both the Columbus High School
Cardinals and the Texas A&M Aggies before his major league career. In
the major leagues he won 81 games and lost 60 while compiling an earned run
average of 3.35. He spent five full seasons as a member of the Dodgers'
starting rotation and pitched in three World Series games. A shoulder injury
curtailed his career with the Dodgers in 1979 when he was only 31 years old.
He attempted a comeback with the Angels in 1981, but retired after starting
just three games.
The archives received four more significant donations recently. On May 29,
2002, John O'Leary, former Columbus High School baseball coach, donated two large
boxes of material regarding the CHS baseball program and other local athletic
programs from 1968-1985. On June 20, Jon Loessin donated a letter written by an
officer of the Stafford Bank and concerning bank business in 1907. The same day, Ernie and Willie Mae Smahlik and family donated a map. made about 1920,
which shows details of land
ownership and oil activity in the north half of Colorado County at the time. The
map was printed on linen and so has remained in very good condition throughout
the years. It is the second major donation made to the library by the Smahliks this year.
On June 21, Laura Ann Rau gave a small collection of documents relating to the
Brandon family, including several documents from the first decade of the 20th
century relating to the Stafford Bank and to the Simpson Bank.
On Saturday, June 15, Texas authors Robert Flynn (above
left), James L. Haley (center), and Jean Flynn (right) addressed audiences of
between 25 and 40 people at the library. All three ended their sessions by
signing copies of their books.
Jean Flynn, noted for her biographies for young adults,
opened the symposium with an excellent presentation on the craft of writing for
a young audience. She described some of the less agreeable circumstances of the
lives of William B. Travis, James W. Fannin, Annie Oakley, and others she has
written about, and then described how she presented those circumstances in her
Haley followed with a presentation on Sam Houston, the
subject of his latest book. He detailed his searches through archives and
libraries for new material, and explained why he thought another biography of
Houston was warranted.
Robert Flynn then got the audience laughing, with remarks
about his Baptist upbringing, and passages from his latest novel, Tie-Fast
Country. Flynn related how he mixed fact and fiction to create his humorous
books with serious points.
The Second Annual Lee Quinn Nesbitt Symposium on Texas History and Culture
has been set for June 15, 2002. This year's symposium will feature the top Texas
novelist Robert Flynn, the historian and novelist James L. Haley, and the author
of biographies aimed at young adults, Jean Flynn.
Robert Flynn, the symposium's keynote speaker, is the author
of seven novels, including North to Yesterday, Wanderer Springs, and the
recently-published Tie-Fast Country. Flynn has won the Texas Institute of
Letters' Distinguished Achievement Award and many other awards. He also has
published numerous short stories and essays, an oral history, and a nonfiction
book about the Vietnam War, and has written a television
talk, entitled "Is It Fiction or Nonfiction? Truth or Fact? Prejudice or
Considered Opinion?" will deal with the relationship of fiction to history, and
will close the symposium. Flynn is widely known for his sense of humor, and for
his entertaining presentations. He also appeared at the library in 1997.
James L. Haley, who will deliver his address "Sam Houston:
The New Discoveries" in the early afternoon, is the author of the just-released
new biography Sam Houston, as well as four other books of Texas history (Apaches:
A History and Cultural Portrait, The Buffalo War, Texas: An Album of History,
and Texas from Spindletop to World War II), and three novels. Haley,
who has been praised for the grace and accessibility of his writing style,
worked on the biography of Houston for eleven years.
Jean Flynn will open the symposium with a paper entitled "Why
NOT Tell All." Flynn is the author of nine biographies for young adults, eight
of which deal with Texas subjects, including Stephen F. Austin, William B.
Travis, James B. Bonham, Jim Bowie, and Lady Bird Johnson, and of a series of
biographical sketches published in 1999 as Texas Women Who Dared to be First.
Her paper will deal with the craft of writing books for young audiences.
All three authors will answer questions from the audience and
autograph books. Copies of some of their books will be available for purchase.
Persons interested in attending should contact the library for more details.
The symposium will open at 10 a. m., with the presentation by
Jean Flynn. James L. Haley will take the podium at 1 p. m., and Robert Flynn
will follow him at 2:30.
Floyd L. Green of Columbus died on May 18, 2002 at the age of 81. He was an
enthusiastic early supporter of the Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, and
its first paid subscriber. He was interested in Colorado County history in part
because one of his ancestors was Rowan Green, an important figure in the county
in the late nineteenth century.
On April 25, 2002, the library received the only-known extant copy of any issue of
the Columbus Plaindealer, a newspaper published in Columbus in 1879 and
1880. The newspaper was purchased for the library by the Nesbitt Memorial
Library Foundation, Inc. It was acquired through the agency of City Manager
David Stall, who learned that it existed and that it would soon be auctioned.
Backed by the foundation, on April 10, Stall entered the winning bid of $103.50.
The price was unusually high because the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist
University had also been determined to acquire the newspaper. The newspaper was
published on January 6, 1880.
A day earlier, Ernie and Willie Mae Smahlik and family donated a copy of the
1914 Columbus telephone directory to the archives. It is the oldest local
telephone book known to exist, and like the copy of the Plaindealer, is
almost certainly the only copy left in the world. Willie Mae Smahlik found the
telephone book among her father’s papers in Atascosa County. It was first owned
by George Becker, her grandfather, who lived at Mentz and moved to Atascosa
County in 1915.
On April 8, 2002, the fifth grade class of St. Anthony School
presented the Nesbitt Memorial Library with a handmade, patchwork quilt which
includes depictions of various tribes of Texas Indians. Each student picked a
Texas Indian tribe and painted a scene which showed the mode of dress and other
aspects of the daily lives of the Indians. The scenes were then sewn into a
quilt. The students completed the quilt by knotting it with beads and buttons,
and adding beaded fringe-work. The new quilt will hang at the edge of the
children’s section of the library, adjacent to another Texas history quilt
honoring the settlement of Colorado County which was made by St. Anthony School
eighth graders and donated to the library on May 21, 1997.
|On April 6, 2002, the officers of the Descendants of Austin's Old
Three Hundred met in the library, and presented the library with a
donation of $500. The money, like earlier donations made to the library by
the same organization, was made in recognition of and to further the Nesbitt
Memorial Library's continuing efforts to preserve and document the history
of Austin's Colony. The organization's officers frequently meet in the
|On April 4, Eric Taylor appeared at the library to discuss
his musical career, and tell the stories which inspired some of his
critically-acclaimed songs. Taylor told the crowd about the bar-shooting
which inspired "All the Way to Heaven" (the victim wore alligator
shoes), the musical instrument which
inspired "Blue Piano," and the debate over the nature of an albino child which inspired "White Bones."
All three songs are on his new CD, Scuffletown. His 1998 release, Resurrect, was recently named one of the top
100 Texas records of all-time by Buddy Magazine. That album contained
the song "Strong Enough for Two," which Taylor wrote for a documentary film
about a critically-ill Mexican child. Taylor's appearance
was the first in a planned series of appearances by local celebrities.
Eric Taylor, acclaimed singer-songwriter, will appear at the
library at 7 p. m. on Thursday, April 4, 2002, to discuss his music and career.
Taylor, who lives in Columbus, has been featured on the television programs
Austin City Limits and Late Night with David Letterman, at the
Newport Folk Festival and the Kerrville Folk Festival, and on National Public
Radio, and has performed in venues around the world. His fourth album,
Scuffletown, was released to great acclaim in 2001. Admission is free, but
copies of Scuffletown and his 1998 release, Resurrect, will be
available for purchase. Taylor will not perform at the appearance.
Barry A. Crouch, eminent Texas historian, professor at Gallaudet
University in Washington, D. C., and good friend and benefactor of the Nesbitt
Memorial Library, died in his Washington-area home, March 13, 2002. In addition
to his more substantial work, Dr. Crouch wrote three long articles for the
Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, donated the Colorado County material he
had collected from the records of the Freedmen's Bureau to the library, and
appeared at the library as a speaker. He was the author of many books and
articles, notably The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Texans (Austin:
University of Texas Press, 1992), and, with co-author Donaly E. Brice, Cullen
Montgomery Baker: Reconstruction Desperado (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1997). He had nearly completed three other books, all of which
likely will be published soon. At least one of the three, "The Governor's
Hounds": The Texas State Police, a new book on the
Reconstruction-era State Police Force co-authored with Brice, promises to be a
landmark work. He was one of a handful of historians who revolutionized
the way Texas Reconstruction history is approached, pointing out the laudable
goals of both the Freedmen's Bureau and the state police and the struggles they
had to endure in attempting to achieve them, and stripping away the romanticism
from often-celebrated killers like Baker. His death at the early age of 61 is a
great loss to Texas.
|On March 5, 2002, Mark Elmore and Clyde Huff of Cameron, Texas,
donated a nineteenth-century school register and other documents to the
archives. Elmore discovered the documents in the attic of a house, now torn
down, five or six years earlier. The school register details the activities at a
school in Glidden in 1886. The photograph at left shows Elmore and Huff in
Elmore's home on the day they donated the papers to the library.
On March 4, 2002, the library received a grant for $4408 from the
Catherine Dumraese Trust to purchase two new computers and the software needed
to manage this web page, and to institute a collection of films on DVD. With the
funds, the library was able to purchase 63 DVDs. The new format supplements the
library's large collection of videotapes. The grant was the third received by
the library from the Dumraese Trust. Ms. Dumraese, a Colorado County resident,
had earlier directly benefited the library. Her sizable bequest allowed the
library to amass its excellent collection of Texas history material.
On February 2, 2002, Gregg Dimmick, Joe Hudgins (this area's state-appointed
archeological steward), and Terry Kiefer conducted an archeological survey of a
ranch south of Columbus in hopes of finding artifacts left behind by the Mexican
army in 1836. Though documents firmly establish that the Mexican army crossed
the Colorado River at a site on or very near the ranch, no artifacts were found.
Library staff helped set up and participated in the expedition. The photograph
above shows Kiefer, Hudgins, Dimmick and other expedition members studying a map
before proceeding to the supposed Mexican army campsite.