|Nesbitt Memorial Library
November 30, 2009
Art in Colorado County, Texas
by Bill Stein
Click here for biographical sketches of Colorado County artists
In the early 1850s, as the frontier aspects of the area were suppressed and the population increased dramatically, the fortunes of high culture in Colorado County, Texas, rose sharply. Though most of the recently arrived persons had roots in the United States, some had come directly from Europe and had quite well-developed cultural inclinations. Most did not have the wealth to indulge whatever taste for art they possessed, but some did. It is to the patronage of one such man, Robert Robson, who had come directly to Texas from Scotland and whose wealth in those days in Texas was virtually limitless, that the history of art in Colorado County can be traced. In 1848, Robson bought a recently laid off block in an undeveloped area adjacent to the river that, though it was officially on the far northern extremity of Columbus, was isolated from the developed parts of town by perhaps half a mile. He would build his home, an oversized structure which would become known as "Robson's Castle," on the tract. By 1860, he was providing homes in his castle for three local artists, Howal A. Tatum, Gustav August Behné, and Fannie Amelia Dickson Baker Darden, and their families.
Tatum, who had recently sold his plantation south of Columbus for a substantial profit, began advertising his services as a professional portrait paper in the Columbus newspaper, the Colorado Citizen, in October 1857. Tatum's ad is the first known evidence of artistic activity in Colorado County. Behné, an accomplished painter, arrived in Columbus in 1858, and was almost immediately hired as principal at a local school, Colorado College. Darden, who would also later teach at the school, came to Columbus with her husband, an attorney, in 1852. In the late 1850s, all three apparently produced portraits, or pictures with traditional European themes.
This exceedingly brief period of artistic activity apparently came to a near halt when Robson sold his castle in early 1861. Behné and Tatum both joined the same Confederate infantry company; both were discharged before the end of the war because of disease. Though both returned to Columbus after their discharges, neither man remained in the county through 1870. Apparently just after the war, Tatum took a student named Fannie Arnold, who produced four pictures under his tutelage. She seemingly stopped painting in 1868, perhaps signaling Tatum's departure from the county. With Tatum gone and Arnold's career derailed, only Darden was left to paint for what few patrons she could find. Though she taught art at Columbus schools, she turned her principal attention to writing, producing poetry and a few prose pieces.
After Darden died in January 1890, Nora Best, who probably studied under Darden, was left as the most prominent painter, indeed virtually the only painter, in the county for the next thirty years. In those years, the county produced at least two artists of great distinction, Kindred McLeary and Alice Naylor, but both went elsewhere for patronage. When Best died in 1922, the county was virtually denuded of artists. Not until World War II, when the work of an untrained black Columbus folk artist named J. B. Forteson was discovered and exhibited, did any local artist again penetrate the public consciousness.
After World War II, Marie Cockrell Smith moved to Columbus with her husband, who managed the recently constructed veterans hall. Smith turned the building into something of an art center, instructing several Columbus women on its patio and displaying her own and their work inside. In November 1948, in perhaps the first large-scale art exhibit in the county's history, Smith and her students exhibited their works inside the veterans center. A few years later, her students and several other persons from Columbus and Weimar began taking art lessons from Leslie Henson of La Grange. Henson's students began meeting regularly in the kitchen of the Live Oak Hotel, which was partly owned and operated by one of their number, Betty Lee Walker. In 1954, the group organized themselves into a club. Within a year, taking their name from the hotel, they had begun referring to themselves as the Live Oak Art Club. Smith, and her students and successors in the Live Oak Art Club were less ambitious artists than their counterparts of a century earlier. They had no notion of earning substantial amounts of money through their art, and tended to view their work as decorative, producing many pictures of flowers and landscapes. In later years, as interest in the history of the county developed, reflecting the nostalgic, rose-colored, monument-oriented view of the earliest historians, they began turning out pictures of old local buildings, a trend which likely reached its peak in the work of Lee Ruhmann beginning in the mid 1980s.
From the beginning, the members of the art club regularly exhibited their work and entered it in various area contests. In the first year of their existence, they organized an art festival on the courthouse square. Within a few years, they had acquired an exhibit and meeting space adjacent to the Mansfield Memorial Library in Columbus and had begun building a permanent collection. In the 1960s, persons who were not artists began joining the club.
In 1967, the most prolific and accomplished of the art club members from Weimar, Lillian Boettcher, opened a studio, which she called the Sappho Studio, in a downtown Weimar building. A few years later, Marilyn Dannels opened a similar studio in Eagle Lake. Boettcher's and Dannels' studios quickly became the focus of art activity in their respective communities, and remained so into the 1990s. In Weimar, Boettcher's leadership led to the establishment of the Green Hills Fine Arts Club, which from 1967 through 1971 staged annual exhibits similar to those of its Columbus counterpart.
Meanwhile, in Columbus, the Live Oak Art Club had expanded its influence and activities. Their art festival had developed into a major area art show and the city's principal annual event. In 1984, the club became a non-profit corporation. In 1986, it purchased a century-old building in downtown Columbus to use as its new gallery and studio. In 1989, to more accurately reflect its broader grasp and more diverse membership, it changed its name to Live Oak Art Center. Already, the organization's annual art show had turned more and more away from art and toward the more profitable crafts. In 1990, the art center formally opened its newly renovated gallery and began a nearly constant slate of art exhibits. By then, highly successful professional painters like Ken Turner, Charles Ford, James Orellana, Pat Johnson, and Bobbie Kilpatrick, and the potter Paulina Van Bavel-Kearney, all of whom had moved into the area but none of whom could be classified as a local artist, had become associated with the center.
Ammann, Emma (1919-1981): Emma Katherine Mathilda Ammann, the daughter of Everett and Emma M. Ammann, was born near Weimar on November 24, 1919. Stricken with arthritis when she was 15, her condition gradually deteriorated until, when she was 28, she was confined to a wheelchair. In 1942 she moved to San Antonio. Though her illness left her with only severely limited use of her arms and with little or no flexibility in her hands and fingers, she took up painting in the 1950s and achieved some prominence in San Antonio art circles. In April 1967, the Sappho Studio in Weimar mounted a solo exhibit of her work. She died on October 9, 1981 in San Antonio.
Sources: Records of First Methodist Church, Weimar, Register of Baptisms; San Antonio News, September 14, 1960; Weimar Mercury, April 6, 1967, October 22, 1981.
Appelt, Daisy (1915-1988): Daisy Lea Guyon was born in Nursery, Texas on November 26, 1915, the daughter of a Methodist minister. After graduating from Southwest Texas State University, she taught school in Lavaca County. There, on November 26, 1937, she married Weldon Ferd Appelt. The couple spent many years in Houston, where she was active in church organizations and where she developed her interest in art. Around 1980, she and her husband moved to Columbus, where her father had once served as minister. She immediately became involved with the Live Oak Art Club, and served as its president from 1981 through 1982. Known as a master of rosemailing and tole painting, she conducted a number of workshops for both children and adults. In late 1987, she had surgery in a Houston hospital, and never recovered. She died October 26, 1988 in a nursing home in Brenham, having spent the previous eleven months in a coma.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, November 2, 1988.
Arnold, Fannie (1846-1936): Frances Ann "Fannie" Arnold was born in Medon, Madison County, Tennessee, on October 28, 1846. Her father's involvement in Tennessee politics took the family to Nashville, where Fannie and her sister, Cara, were instructed by governesses. When Fannie was twelve, she and Cara were sent away to school. In late 1860, the family moved to Texas, coming to Columbus. Shortly afterward, Fannie and Cara were enrolled to study art under Howal A. Tatum. With at least Fannie's talent evident, the family made plans to send the two girls to Europe for further studies in art. However, on February 13, 1867, Cara rather suddenly married Holman D. Donald, and Fannie's parents would not allow her to go to Europe alone. Over the next few years, Fannie lived at home, and produced the only four pictures she is known to have painted. In 1868, she became engaged to Felix Grundy Mahon, whom she met at a picnic at Miller's Lake. In 1871, she took a job teaching school. She held the position until her marriage to Mahon, on June 4, 1872. Though she had become pregnant, she returned to the school to replace a departed teacher for a few months toward the end of 1872. After that, she never worked again. She died on April 19, 1936.
Sources: Fannie Mahon, Autobiographical Sketch, unpublished manuscript, Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus; Colorado County Marriage Records, Book E, pp. 59, 265; Colorado County Citizen, April 23, 1936.
Behné, Gustav August (c. 1825-1895): A painter of some international note who made his first Texas home in Columbus, Gustav August Behné was born in Germany about 1825. He apparently came to Pennsylvania, then returned to Germany to study art. Upon his return to his home in Reading, Pennsylvania, he was shipwrecked on the New Jersey coast and lost his early paintings. At Reading, he married Julia Meyer Keim, then turned his attention to Texas. In late 1858, newly arrived in Columbus, he was hired by Colorado College as principal. His six months at the head of the school were a disaster. The term opened in January 1859 with about fifty students. Following the departure of his assistant teacher, John Jacob Scherer, in April, so many students dropped out that by the end of the term in June, only three remained. The following August, Behné was notified that he would not be rehired as principal, where after he turned his attention to teaching adults and to painting. More than a year later, on October 18, 1860, he sued the school for unpaid wages stemming from his time as the school's principal. The school's trustees claimed that Behné had agreed to work for less than the amount specified in his contract if tuitions were not sufficient to pay his full salary, and that after Scherer resigned, Behné's inadequacy had prompted the mass departure of the student body and the resulting loss of tuition money. By the time he filed the suit, Behné had moved into the home of the most prominent patron of the arts in the county, Robert Robson. At Robson's home, which was popularly called Robson's Castle, he and his wife lived with two other artists and their families. He spent the time producing, apparently, landscapes and religious pictures. In 1860 and 1861, he secured two important commissions. By April 1861, he had completed a full-sized portrait of David Gouverneur Burnet, a former president of the Republic of Texas. Because Burnet then lived in Galveston, Behné painted and exhibited the picture in a studio there. Shortly afterward, in a meeting at Robson's Castle involving several state legislators, the state commissioned Behné to paint a portrait of another former president of the republic, the then governor of the state, Sam Houston. Behné went to Austin and began work on the portrait, making a number of pencil sketches. Houston's opposition to secession, however, caused a rather serious downturn in his popularity, and though Behné subsequently finished the portrait, the state did not purchase it. On March 31, 1862, Behné joined a Confederate infantry company at Columbus, and was shortly afterward transferred to the intelligence office. However, because of lung disease, he was released from the army on October 20, 1863. He rode out the Civil War in Havana, Cuba, where he continued to paint, producing a picture of Moro Harbor which was apparently somewhat celebrated. He returned to Texas in 1866, and that October dropped his suit against Colorado College. The same year, the state constitutional convention resolved to commission a portrait of the now-dead Houston, a resolution which Behné read about in a newspaper. He notified the governor of the existence of his picture, and, early in the summer of 1866, the state apparently purchased it. Behné went back to Munich, then returned to the United States again in 1874. Shortly thereafter, at Bar Harbor, Maine, while working on a commission, he fell from a veranda and injured his back, leaving him an invalid. Unable to work, he returned to Germany, where he died in the summer of 1895.
Sources: Colorado Citizen, August 20, 1859; Galveston Daily News, June 10, 1866, August 23, 1895; Colorado County District Court Records, Civil Cause File No. 1585: Gustav A. Behné v. Colorado College; Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Schedule 1, Colorado County, Texas; Muster Rolls, Company B, Fifth Texas Infantry, Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus. See also Pauline A. Pinckney, Painting in Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967), pp. 141-145.
Best, Nora (1846-1922): Nora Warner Wells was born in 1846 in Clarksville, Todd County, Kentucky. She married George Best at her mother's home in Columbus on March 12, 1879. The best known Colorado County painter for thirty years beginning in 1890, her pictures reportedly won prizes at the Dallas State Fair. She died June 6, 1922, ten days after suffering a broken bone in a fall on the front porch of her home. For the previous few years, she had been too ill to paint.
Sources: Colorado Citizen, March 13, 1879, June 2, 1922, June 9, 1922; Colorado County Marriage Records, Book F, p. 109; Colorado County Death Records, Book 3A, p. 25; Best Family File, Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus.
Boettcher, Lillian (1911-2002): Lillian J. Vacek was born March 6, 1911 in Schulenburg, Texas. As a young woman, she taught dancing. She married Frank Oscar Boettcher of Weimar, Texas, on July 4, 1926. In Weimar, she opened a flower shop (Lillian’s Flowers), and became a partner in her husband’s Pepsi Cola bottling operation. She also took up oil painting. She was among the group which organized the Live Oak Art Club in Columbus in the summer of 1954, and was named a charter member of the club on July 6, 1959. In March 1967 (the formal opening house was April 22 and 23, 1967), a little more than three years after her husband was killed in an automobile accident, she opened an art studio, which she called the Sappho Studio, in a renovated building on Jackson Square in Weimar. The studio immediately began to host art classes taught by James Campbell and Gloria Geldmeier, both of whom had been conducting classes elsewhere in Weimar for a short time. She was instrumental in establishing the Green Hills Fine Arts Club, which from 1967 through 1971 staged annual exhibits. She died December 24, 2002, and was buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Weimar.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, July 1, 1954, October 21, 1954, December 9, 1954, January 16, 1964, Weimar Mercury, March 23, 1967, April 20, 1967, January 2, 2003, Houston Post, December 8, 1954, May 17, 1973
Campbell, James: James Campbell quickly became prominent among Colorado County artists when he moved to Columbus in 1964. The Live Oak Art Club sponsored an exhibit of his work from February 21 through March 7, 1965 and again from December 5 through December 19, 1965. In 1967, he taught art classes at Lillian Boettcher's Sappho Studio in Weimar. He had left the county before the end of the decade.
Sources: Houston Chronicle, May 20, 1964; Colorado County Citizen, September 24, 1964, January 28, 1965, February 18, 1965, December 9, 1965, September 29, 1966, May 25, 1967, Weimar Mercury, April 20, 1967
Dannels, Marilyn (1923-2008): Marilyn Corrine Scogin was born in Moline, Kansas, on August 26, 1923. After high school, she attended design school in Kansas City. She moved to California to pursue her career in design, working for a time for the legendary Hollywood costume designer Edith Head. She married Gene Mitchell and moved back to Kansas. Following a divorce, she taught ballroom dancing at an Arthur Murray school, then took a job as a draftsman for Boeing Aircraft in Wichita, Kansas. She met Jack S. Dannels, a crop duster pilot, and, on July 19, 1953, married him. Shortly afterward, the couple moved to Eagle Lake. She started painting seriously in the early 1970s, taking lessons in Houston and Cloudcroft, New Mexico. Beginning in 1974, when she opened a frame shop and art studio in Eagle Lake, which she called Dannels Designs, she taught art to numerous nearby residents. She also conducted classes in dancing, bridge, and sewing. All the while, she produced paintings of her own. Her work was characterized by its extreme diversity, and by bold, vibrant colors. Her choices of media, style, and subjects reflected her own diverse interests, and those of her students. Though most of her work was done in oils, she also often produced watercolors and pastels. Most of her pictures were in a classic, representational style, but she experimented with impressionism, pointillism, and other styles. She painted landscapes, buildings, still lifes, portraits, flowers, animals, and nearly everything else. After years of producing pictures in relative obscurity, her first solo exhibit at the Live Oak Art Center in Columbus, from March 8 through April 15, 1996, greatly boosted her career. She died on March 30, 2008.
Sources: Interview with the artist, May 31, 1996, Eagle Lake Headlight, April 3, 2008.
Darden, Fannie (1829-1890): Fannie Amelia Dickson Baker was born in Autauga County, Alabama, on September 13, 1829. Her father was Mosely Baker, who escaped from an Alabama jail and went to Texas to avoid prosecution for embezzling a large sum of money from a bank, and who became an officer in Sam Houston's army during the Texas Revolution. On January 26, 1847, when she was seventeen, she married William John Darden. In 1851 her husband ran a Houston newspaper, The Beacon, which apparently failed before the end of the year. In 1852, he opened a law practice in partnership with John H. Robson in Columbus. In later years, he served as the town's mayor, then in the army (where he was wounded) and the government of the Confederate States of America. She had two children, both sons. One of her sons died when he was four years old, and the other, of yellow fever, in 1873 at the age of 23. She began a career as a painter and writer before the Civil War, and was one of three Colorado County artists who lived for a time, with their families, in the large Columbus home of art-patron Robert Robson. Her husband died on May 29, 1881, after which she sold his library of more than 350 law books and pursued her career in earnest, at various times teaching art in a local school and submitting articles and poems to her hometown newspaper, the Colorado Citizen, and to other publications. She sold her undivided half interest in a 600 acre plantation southeast of Columbus (her husband had been forced to forfeit the other half in 1878) on January 24, 1883 for the low price of $300. She pursued, and on April 10, 1883 received, a headright certificate to replace one secured by her father many years earlier. In early 1883, she was hired to write for an Austin magazine, American Sketch Book, but in less than six months she quit and became a contributor to a magazine published in Corsicana, Texas Prairie Flower She was extremely active in St. John's Episcopal Church in Columbus, where memorials to her remain even today. She was devoted to the early history of Texas, and to the Confederacy, both during and after the Civil War. In November 1882 she had surgery for breast cancer, but survived another seven years. In December 1889, her health suddenly broke. Probably, she had a stroke. When she drew up her will on December 11, 1889, she noted that a substantial debt she had incurred at least thirty years earlier was still outstanding. She died on January 4, 1890, leaving a library of at least 150 books, including works by Joseph Addison, John Keats, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Milton, Plato, Edgar Allen Poe, Alexander Pope, Walter Scott, Percy Shelly, William Shakespeare, and Noah Webster. She also owned copies of Henderson Yoakum's and Homer Thrall's histories of Texas, Edward Gibbon's history of Rome, lengthy biographies of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, plus Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man, and books on phrenology, hydropathy, and the witches of Salem, Massachusetts. Her earliest known published works were poems. Ten poems dated between 1858 and 1870, and published, presumably, in those years, have come to light. Between 1872 and 1889, she published thirty-three poems in the Colorado Citizen. Her poetry was also included in various issues of Texas Prairie Flower, in Sam Houston Dixon's Poets and Poetry of Texas, in Ida Brigand's Southland Writers, in Ella Hutchins Steuart's Gems from a Texas Quarry, in Davis Foute Eagleton's Texas Literature Reader, and in Evelyn M. Carrington's Women in Early Texas. In all, Darden is known to have published 58 poems. Her best known prose piece, "Dillard Cooper's Account of his Escape from Fannin's Massacre," was first published in the Colorado Citizen on July 30, 1874. It was reprinted in American Sketch Book in 1882. From 1883 through 1885, Texas Prairie Flower, published a series of her reminiscences and a series of her short stories, some of which certainly have been lost. More of her prose appeared in these three publications, and in Texas Siftings and Steuart's Gems from a Texas Quarry. Her written output was catalogued, and much of it was reprinted in the Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal in 1999. None of her paintings are known to be extant. St. John's Episcopal Church in Columbus owns a painting, The Good Shepherd, which is attributed to her. Another picture at St. John’s, said to be her self-portrait, almost certainly is not. It bears the date “1891,” which was the year after she died.
Sources: Colorado Citizen, April 24, 1858, June 2, 1881, July 7, 1881, January 12, 1882, November 9, 1882, December 7, 1882, January 4, 1883, March 8, 1883; Weimar Mercury, January 11, 1890; Texas Monument, March 5, 1851, June 4, 1851, September 22, 1852; Paul Carl Boethel, Colonel Amasa Turner The Gentleman from Lavaca (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1963), pp. 5-6; Eighth Census of the United States (1860) Schedule 1, Colorado County, Texas; Hans Peter Nielsen Gammel, comp., The Laws of Texas 1822-1897 (Austin: The Gammel Book Company, 1898), vol. 9, p. 518; Colorado County Deed Records, Book U, p. 349, Book Z, p. 41; Colorado County Probate Records, Minute Book I, p. 446, File No. 1143: Fannie A. D. Darden; Darden Family File, Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library; Fannie A. D. Darden, "Only a Trip to Houston," Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 2, August 1883, and vol. 2, no. 3, September 1883; Fannie A. D. Darden, "Autobiography of Childhood: The Journey to Texas," Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 5, November 1883; Fannie A. D. Darden, "Reminiscences of Early Childhood in Texas," Texas Prairie Flower, vol. 2, no. 9, March 1884, and vol. 2, no. 10, April 1884, Sam Houston Dixon, The Poets and Poetry of Texas (Austin: Dixon, 1885), Bill Stein and Jayne Easterling, comp., "The Writings of Fannie Amelia Dickson Darden," Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, vol. 9, no. 3, September 1999.
Flatt, Don (1944-1995): Donald Ray Flatt was born in Berkeley, California on December 17, 1944. He was raised in Houston, Texas. He moved to Columbus in the early 1970s with two close friends, Douglas Cook Luther and Kemp Strother Dargan. Together, the trio became known in Columbus by the derisive nickname "The Three D's." Flatt spent his Columbus years painting and sketching, often producing pictures of the many old houses in town. In the late 1980s, he left Columbus, only to return in 1992. Afflicted with AIDS, he died in a Houston hospital on February 22, 1995.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, May 17, 1973; Houston Chronicle, February 24, 1995.
Forteson, J. B. (1914-1991): James Ben Forteson was born on December 29, 1914. Though he had no formal training in art, he began painting and drawing portraits of his friends and of scenes from photographs. In 1944, while working as a ranch hand at the Cullen Ranch, his artwork came to the attention of Samuel K. Seymour, Jr. For three days that May, Seymour exhibited some of Forteson's work in his Columbus store's window. Shortly afterward, Forteson enrolled in Prairie View College to study engineering drawing. Nonetheless, he continued to work at menial jobs in Columbus, serving for some years as a janitor at a local school. He also painted murals for Greater Smith Baptist Church in Columbus and for Weimar churches. In the 1960s, his remaining pictures were placed on display at a Columbus motel. When the motel was sold, the pictures were removed to unknown locations. He died on November 2, 1991.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, May 11, 1944, June 15, 1944, November 13, 1991.
Fountain, Lucy K. (1908-1995): Lucy Kate Rogers was born July 18, 1908 in Oklahoma, the daughter of John Otto and Cora (Hicks) Rogers. She moved to Eagle Lake with her parents before 1930. Later, she moved to Columbus and took a job in the county clerk’s office. She married Roscoe Fountain. She took lessons from Marie Cockrell Smith in the late 1940s, was among the group which organized the Live Oak Art Club in the summer of 1954, and was named a charter member of the club on July 6, 1959. Around 1960, she and her husband moved to East Texas. She died on October 13, 1995 and is buried in New Boston, Texas. She painted mostly still-lifes.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, June 10, 1948, July 1, 1954, December 9, 1954, November 7, 1957; The Church Register of the (Eagle Lake) First Presbyterian Church of Eagle Lake, Texas.
Grodhaus, Marguerite (1914-1999): Marguerite Bueché was born on March 31, 1914 in Palestine, Texas, but moved to Houston when she was nine. She was twice married, first to a man named Sandell, then, on March 5, 1949, to Clarence Otto Grodhaus. She moved to Colorado County, taking up residence near Weimar, in 1976. She was an avocational artist and became a member of the Live Oak Art Center. She specialized in small pastel depictions of animals, particularly of furry animals. She died on November 14, 1999.
Sources: Weimar Mercury, November 18, 1999.
Hahn, Lizzie (1889-1968): Elizabeth Burford was born on March 8, 1889 in Osage. She moved to Columbus with her family in 1898, when her father was elected sheriff. She married Albert William Hahn on October 21, 1909. In the late 1940s, she began taking art lessons from Marie Cockrell Smith, and exhibited her work in Smith's student shows. Though she was not one of the Live Oak Art Club's original members, she was certainly involved with it in its earliest days, and was named a charter member of the club on July 6, 1959. An avocational painter, she specialized in still lifes. On November 30, 1968, while en route to Austin from Columbus, her automobile collided with a light truck near Bastrop and she was severely injured. She was hospitalized, first in Bastrop then in Austin, but died later that night.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, June 10, 1948, December 5, 1968.
Henry, Leora (1912-1994): Leora Leonard Chandler was born on February 11, 1912 in Weimar. She married Louis Henry on September 13, 1931 and lived with him in Weimar for the rest of her life. She was active in many local civic organizations, but spent her spare time painting and making crafts. She won a third place prize in the Green Hills Fine Arts Club's 1967 art show, the first known public recognition of her art. She died on November 11, 1994.
Sources: Weimar Mercury, April 20, 1967, November 17, 1994.
Herder, Florence (1897-1962): The painter who became known as Florence Herder was born Nora Reed, a daughter of Gano and Fanny Reed, on June 26, 1897. Shortly afterward, her mother died, and she was adopted by Ernest and Sarah Goeth. Her new parents named her Florence. In 1907, she moved with her family to Weimar, where, in 1915, she married George Herder. An avocational painter, she was among the group which organized the Live Oak Art Club in the summer of 1954, and was named a charter member of the club on July 6, 1959. She died on August 11, 1962 in Weimar.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, July 1, 1954, October 21, 1954; Weimar Mercury, August 16, 1962.
Hoppe, Louis: A widely celebrated folk artist, little is known of Louis Hoppe. He is known to have painted four pictures, all during the Civil War. All four pictures are watercolors on small sheets of commonly available paper. Three of the four were apparently painted in Colorado County, at the home of Johann Leyendecker. Hoppe is presumed to have been an itinerant laborer. Despite diligent searching, no record of his birth, his arrival in the United States, his presence in Texas or any other state, or of his death, has been located. All of his pictures are now a part of the collection of the San Antonio Museum of Art.
Sources: No primary sources, other than his paintings, have been located for Hoppe. For the best discussion of his work, and photographs of his four pictures, see Cecilia Steinfeldt, Art for History's Sake: The Texas Collection of the Witte Museum (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1993), pp. 131-134.
Jordan, Barbara (1935-2001) Barbara Lou Schulenburg was born in Houston on July 23, 1935. She studied commercial design at the University of Houston. On April 27, 1956, she married James E. Jordan. The couple lived in Houston, where she worked as a sales representative in the oil and gas division of Rockwell International for 32 years. After an earlier interest in decoupage, she took up painting in 1963. Working mostly with acrylics, she honed her skills by painting picture after picture of birds. Later, she painted many pictures of English country houses with thatched roofs. In 1989, after her retirement, she and her husband moved to Columbus, where her family had owned land for many years. She was a descendant of the man for whom the nearby town of Schulenburg was named. Shortly after moving to Columbus, she became active at the Live Oak Art Center, where she painted with the group of artists who met at the art center on Wednesday mornings. She produced a number of delicate watercolors before her early death, from cancer, on November 24, 2001.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, November 28, 2001; interview with James E. Jordan, September 15, 2008.
Lester, Willie (1874-1960): Willie Ellen Tooke was born on a farm near Weimar on November 11, 1874. She married William Heil Lester, a railroad employee, on July 22, 1897 in Schulenburg. After a few years in Rosenberg, the couple returned to Weimar, where they resided for the rest of their lives. She died on June 7, 1960, leaving behind her, six oil paintings which she apparently executed before or just after she got married. She is not known to have manifested any interest in art, nor to have been involved with arts organizations, in her later years.
Sources: Weimar Mercury, June 10, 1960; Interview with Elizabeth Shatto Massey, a niece of Willie Lester and the owner, in 1996, of her six paintings.
Litzmann, Margaret (1902-1995): Margaret Elizabeth Trojan was born on June 10, 1902 in Columbus. After graduating from Columbus High School, she taught school at two rural schools, Willow near Bernardo and St. Joseph's near Frelsburg. She married Edgar Lee Litzmann on June 23, 1925 and retired from teaching. She took lessons from Marie Cockrell Smith in the late 1940s, was among the group which organized the Live Oak Art Club in the summer of 1954, was named a charter member of the club on July 6, 1959, and served as its president from 1960 through 1961. In addition to numerous oil paintings, she produced a number of hand worked Afghans. She died on March 17, 1995 in Columbus.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, June 10, 1948, July 1, 1954, October 21, 1954, November 15, 1956, November 7, 1957, March 22, 1995; Colorado County Marriage Records, Book R, p. 24.
Loper, Trudy: Trudy Loper came to Columbus with her husband, Ross, who was employed as an engineer with Superior Oil Company. She became active in the Live Oak Art Club and served as the club's president from 1961 through 1963. In that year, her husband was transferred to a position in Canada, and she left the county. The Lopers returned to Texas in 1965, moving to Sinton, and, from November 7 through November 26, 1965, the Live Oak Art Club sponsored an exhibit of her paintings and ceramics.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, November 2, 1961, October 28, 1965, November 4, 1965
Mahon, Grace (1883-1918): Grace Meriwether Mahon was born May 13, 1883. She was the daughter of the painter Fannie Arnold. She married Willis Evans Adam on June 25, 1913, and died less than five years later, on December 14, 1918, a victim of the Spanish influenza epidemic. She produced several fine pen and ink drawings in the few years before her marriage.
Sources: Colorado County Marriage Records, Book N, p. 243; Colorado Citizen, December 20, 1918.
Mattern, Virginia (1916-1995): Virginia Estes was born in Luling, Texas, on February 28, 1916. The daughter of a minister, she moved with her family to Columbus in 1933 and graduated from Columbus High School the following year. On November 29, 1934, she married Eddie Mattern. She and her husband remained in Columbus until 1961, when they moved to San Antonio. Thirteen years later, they moved to New Braunfels, where she died on September 13, 1995. During her years in Columbus, she was active in the local music club and in the Live Oak Art Club. Though she had not been an original member, she was named a charter member of the art club on July 6, 1959.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, November 24, 1958, September 20, 1995.
McCane, Rena (1896-1962): Rena Bell Chapman was born in Ohio on August 20, 1896. After an earlier marriage to a man named Poplin, she moved to Colorado County, where her sister, Ida Finley, lived. She married Lonnie McCane on September 28, 1930. Artistically inclined, she thoroughly redecorated the family home south of Columbus and renovated its furniture. She also provided decorations and place cards for many Columbus social affairs. She took painting lessons from Marie Cockrell Smith in the late 1940s, was among the group which organized the Live Oak Art Club in the summer of 1954, and was named a charter member of the club on July 6, 1959. Diagnosed with cancer in 1960, she died in a hospital in Dumas, the town in which her son lived, on March 24, 1962. She had amassed a large inventory of paintings, however, she regarded many of them as inferior. Before leaving for Dumas, she burned those.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, October 2, 1930, June 10, 1948, July 1, 1954, October 21, 1954, May 19, 1955, November 7, 1957, November 24, 1958, March 29, 1962; Colorado County Marriage Records, Book R, p. 356, Twelfth Census of the United States (1900) Schedule 1, Ashtabula County, Ohio; interview with David McCane, the artist’s son, November 10, 2007.
McLeary, Kindred (1901-1949): Kindred McLeary was born in Weimar on December 3, 1901. After his early school years, he studied architecture at the University of Texas. After his junior year, he went to study at a school in Fontainebleau, then followed his teacher there, Jacques Carlu, to another academy in Rome. He returned to Texas and graduated from the university. After two years doing various architecture and illustrating jobs, in 1927 he took a position as an associate professor of architecture at the University of Texas. In 1928, he was dismissed from the faculty for violating the constitutional provision, then in effect, against the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages. He then joined the faculty of Carnegie Institute of Technology at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. All the while, he painted, at first exclusively in watercolors, then expanding into different media. In 1935, he entered designs for three murals in a federal government contest, and won a commission to paint a mural in the court room of the federal building in Pittsburgh. In 1937, he was commissioned to paint a mural in the Madison Square Postal Station in New York, New York. He completed the mural, which was widely celebrated, in 1939. Two years later, he won the competition for the commission to paint a mural in the lobby of the new War Department Building in Washington, D. C. He completed it in 1943. He also produced murals for the post office in Norwalk, Connecticut, the library in Somerset, Pennsylvania, and a church in the very small community of Harnedsville, Pennsylvania. Some of his later murals were produced during a two-year leave of absence from Carnegie which began in 1943. In the fall of 1945, he returned to Carnegie, having spent the previous summer in Colorado County. On May 29, 1949, while working on the roof of his mountain cabin near Confluence, Pennsylvania, he fell to the ground and was killed. Five months later, on October 24, 1949, the Columbus Study Club sponsored a retrospective exhibit of his works at the McLeary home in Columbus.
Sources: Kindred McLeary, "Painting as Structure," Magazine of Art, vol. 32, no. 9, September 1939, pp. 501-507; Colorado County Citizen, April 17, 1941, June 2, 1949, October 27, 1949; Weimar Mercury, June 2, 1949; "War Department Mural," The Carnegie Magazine, vol. 15, no. 3, June 1941, pp. 79-82; Virginia Mecklenburg, The Public As Patron (College Park: University of Maryland, 1979), pp. 85-86; Alice Martin McLeary Kitzinger, Kindred McLeary—His Murals (n. p., 1957).
McMahan, Liza (1906-1993): Elizabeth McLeary, a sister of Kindred McLeary, was born August 8, 1906 in Weimar. She moved to Columbus in 1917 when her father, a physician, relocated his practice. She and a partner, Leigh McGee, purchased the Columbus newspaper, the Colorado County Citizen, on September 1, 1941, and named McGee's wife editor. Three years later, McLeary purchased McGee's share of the paper and became editor. On February 2, 1946, she married Truman McMahan, who was then employed by the Houston Post. Together, the pair edited the Citizen until 1968. In the intervening years she had also owned a dress shop in Columbus. After her retirement from the Citizen, she opened a small cafe and antique shop which she called the Hodgepodge, on the Colorado River in Columbus. In 1983, she moved her antique shop to Glidden and specialized in refinishing old trunks on commission. In the course of her professional life, she established a reputation as one of the most capable businesswomen in the county, and as a solid and staunch supporter of cultural activities. Though she was not among its organizers, she was an early advocate of the Live Oak Art Club, and, on July 6, 1959, was among those named as charter members. She was also heavily involved in the establishment and development of the Magnolia Homes Tour, and, in her spare time, collected and fed stray dogs and cats. She died July 24, 1993.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, May 17, 1973, May 20, 1982, June 9, 1983, July 28, 1993; Houston Post, November 3, 1975
Moeller, Isabel (1914-1996): Isabel Fehrenkamp was born on November 27, 1914 in Columbus. She became interested in art at an early age, and on June 4 through 6, 1931, she and Annie Mattern exhibited watercolors at the Style Shop, a dress shop in Columbus. On June 13, 1932, shortly after her graduation from Columbus High School, she married Henry Charles Moeller, a Columbus dentist. After World War II, she took art classes from Marie Cockrell Smith, and exhibited with her fellow students at the landmark veterans center exhibit in November 1948. She was among the group which organized the Live Oak Art Club in the summer of 1954, and was named a charter member of the club on July 6, 1959. She was active in many Columbus organizations, and served as the organist at St. Anthony Catholic Church for thirty years. She died on July 28, 1996, having spent the last few years of her life severely afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and other ailments.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, July 1, 1954, December 9, 1954, July 31, 1996.
Moore, Thelma (born 1908) Thelma Maureen Rickert was born in Morrowville,
Kansas, on October 12, 1908. She exhibited an aptitude for art while a very
young girl. She attended three different high schools, graduating from Benjamin
[Texas} High School as valedictorian in 1927. After briefly attending Mary
Hardin Baylor College, she took a job teaching school in Benjamin. In 1932, she
began teaching the fourth grade at Megargel. There, she met Ernest Houston
Moore, a young coach and teacher at Megargel High School. They married in 1933.
Between 1938 and 1946 they had five children, all born in Graham, Texas. In
1948, her husband became superintendent in Troy, Texas. She returned to Mary
Hardin Baylor, earning a degree, and then returning to teaching. She earned a
master's degree at the University of Texas in Austin in 1954. She became a
teacher at Temple, and it was in Temple that she first entered a painting in a
competition. She won best of show for her picture of a chuck wagon. The family
moved to Colorado County in 1958. She taught one year at Columbus, then at Eagle
Lake until her retirement in 1973. She and her husband moved to Columbus in
1974. She became active in the Live Oak Art Club (later Live Oak Art Center),
taking lessons and becoming a member of the art center's Wednesday morning
painting group. In 1981, she and Marguerite Obenhaus had a two-person show
sponsored by the art center at the Mansfield Building in Columbus. Ten years
later, she had a one-woman show at the art center. She was also very active in
the Columbus Garden Club. On October 15, 2008, the art center and garden club
co-sponsored a celebration of her one-hundredth birthday.
Sources: Eagle Lake Headlight, October 9, 2008
Naylor, Alice (1892-1974): Mary Alice Stephenson was born in Columbus on January 5, 1892. As a child, she studied art under Nora Best. She attended several colleges and universities, among them Southern Methodist University, and augmented her art studies with training in Mexico and Europe. She is credited with picking the name Mustangs for the SMU athletic teams, and with picking the school colors. She achieved her first major recognition for her art at an exhibit in Wichita Falls in 1918. The following year, she married James Kirby Naylor of Wichita Falls in Dallas. She spent most of her adult life in San Antonio, painting, and teaching and promoting art. In addition to her many solo shows in the United States, she had solo exhibits in New Zealand, England, France, and Italy. She was one of the organizers of San Antonio's River Art Group and the Texas Watercolor Society. She taught first at the San Antonio Art Institute and later at Incarnate Word College. Her art won numerous awards and citations. For instance, the Witte Memorial Museum named her artist of the year in 1945, and she was chosen San Antonio's Woman of the Year in Art in 1953. From March 13 through April 1, 1960, the Live Oak Art Club conducted an exhibit of her work in Columbus. Thereafter, she was heavily involved with the club, routinely attending their annual art shows and serving as judge for the show in 1972. She also routinely exhibited her work at the art shows sponsored by the Green Hills Fine Arts Club in Weimar. She died in San Antonio on April 6, 1974.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, November 17, 1955, May 4, 1961, April 11, 1974, July 25, 1974; San Antonio Light, April 7, 1974; San Antonio Express-News, April 7, 1974; North San Antonio Times, April 11, 1974.
Pendergraft, May: The wife of William Lewis Pendergraft, and perhaps a more accomplished painter, she was among the group which organized the Live Oak Art Club in the summer of 1954, and was named a charter member of the club on July 6, 1959. She may have departed the city after her husband's death, for no further notice of her has been found.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, July 1, 1954, October 21, 1954, November 10, 1955, November 15, 1956, May 7, 1959.
Pendergraft, William Lewis (1890-1960): Born on July 18, 1890, in Bowie, Texas, William Lewis Pendergraft was living in Aline, Oklahoma, when, early in 1918, he purchased the newspaper published in Columbus, the Colorado Citizen. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Columbus. For three years, he was both owner and editor of the paper. His first edition as editor was issued on April 5, 1918; his last on August 26, 1921. In the summer of 1921 he hired two men to publish his newspaper and took a job as a traveling salesman for a Columbus company. He finally sold the newspaper in January 1924 and moved to Houston, where he worked as a copyreader on the Houston Post. He later owned or worked on three other Texas newspapers, the Brownsville Herald, the Baytown Sun, and the Sherman Democrat. In September 1945, he moved back to Columbus and began writing a column for the Citizen. Later, he also contributed to the Weimar Mercury and the Eagle Lake Headlight. He and his wife, May, became involved in painting, and were among the group of persons who established the Live Oak Art Club in 1954. Though he apparently served as the organization's first president, curiously when the club designated its charter members on July 6, 1959, he was not listed among them. He served a second stint as the club's president from 1958 to 1959. In the 1950s, he produced a number of amateurish watercolors, most of which are now lost. On April 11, 1960, his wife drove him to a Houston hospital for a routine checkup of his heart condition. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, he died. He was buried in Columbus.
Sources: Colorado [County] Citizen, April 5, 1918, August 26, 1921, January 11, 1924, July 1, 1954, October 21, 1954, April 21, 1955, November 15, 1956, November 7, 1957, May 7, 1959, April 14, 1960; Eagle Lake Headlight, September 10, 1921; Houston Post, April 11, 1960.
Pinchback, Jon Joseph (1916-1989): Jon Joseph Pinchback was born in Columbus on January 14, 1916. He left town during World War II, to serve in the military in Europe. After the war, he moved to Houston, where he became a window decorator, interior designer, and painter. He worked as a commercial artist for several Houston department stores, finally retiring from Sears. In 1973, he volunteered his services to design and create the sets for the Columbus Sesquicentennial Pageant. After his retirement, he moved back to Columbus, where he became active in the Magnolia Homes Tour and a benefactor of the Live Oak Art Center. He died on May 11, 1989.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, October 16, 1980; Eagle Lake Headlight, May 17, 1989.
Redus, Jean (1928-1968): Beverly Jean Kent was born August 9, 1928 in Shreveport, Louisiana. She married Charles Levine Redus on November 28, 1947. Together, the couple moved to Columbus in the 1950s, where her husband became a well-known and popular biology teacher at Columbus High School. She joined the Live Oak Art Club in 1962 and served as its president from 1963 through 1965. She died September 4, 1968, having just turned forty years old.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, October 18, 1962
(1932-2008) Dolores M. McKinney was born August 12, 1932 in Dallas, Texas. She
married Ervin A. "Babe" Reitz, a native of Colorado County, on September 6,
1952. She taught first grade in Houston for many years. She and her husband
retired to the small community of Altair. She produced a number of oil
paintings, mostly landscapes on small canvases. She developed Alzheimer's
disease, which, after her husband died on May 12, 2006, progressed rapidly. She
died in Stafford, Texas, on June 14, 2008.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, June 18, 2008.
Ruhmann, Lee (born 1934): Leona Frances White was born January 27, 1934 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. After an earlier marriage, she married Allen Emil Ruhmann on July 5, 1970, and quit her job in a Fort Worth pediatrician's office. On July 20, 1980, she moved to Frelsburg, her husband's home town. On May 31, 1981, she woke up with severely impaired vision, the result of acute glaucoma. Her vision has continued to decline. Though she had only public-school art lessons, she began painting as a hobby in the 1970s. In 1985, she joined the Live Oak Art Club and started painting professionally. The approaching state sesquicentennial spurred her interest in history, and she began painting scenes from Colorado County history. In June 1986, the art center sponsored an exhibit of her paintings. In 1989, she was selected to paint an ornament that, with one ornament from every county in Texas, was displayed on the Christmas tree at the governor's mansion in Austin.
Sources: Banner Press Newspaper, December 14, 1989; Interview with the artist, January 27, 1997.
Smith, Marie Cockrell: Marie Cockrell Park was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Though she exhibited early talent as an artist, she nonetheless studied elocution, music, and dancing rather than painting. She took her first art classes at the art institute in Chicago, a city to which she moved as a young adult. After 18 months in Chicago, she and her family moved to Houston. There she married Clarence P. Smith and had two sons. She did not begin painting again until her second son had reached his teens. Then, she enrolled in classes at the University of Houston and at the Museum of Fine Arts. After World War II, she and her husband moved to Columbus, where he managed the local veterans center. She decorated the building with her paintings, and, in 1948, began conducting art classes twice a week on its patio. Her students included many of the people who would later establish the Live Oak Art Club, including Lucy Fountain, Lizzie Hahn, Katherine Hancher, Margaret Litzmann, Rena McCane, and Isabel Moeller. The group had an exhibit at the veterans center in November 1948, perhaps the first full-scale public exhibition of art in the county's history. Though she moved back to Houston in or around 1950, she continued to teach classes periodically in Columbus, and exhibited her artwork regularly at the Live Oak Art Club’s annual show.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, June 10, 1948, November 11, 1948, March 31, 1955, May 21, 1964
Note: An artist named Marie Cockrell exhibited work at the Artists of Southeast Texas Exhibit in 1937 and the Annual Houston Artists Exhibition in 1940, 1942, and 1943 (see Paula L. Grauer and Michael R. Grauer, comp., Dictionary of Texas Artists, 1800-1945 (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1999).
Tatum, H. A. (c. 1814- ? ): Howal A. Tatum, who was born in Tennessee in or around 1814, probably arrived in Colorado County in 1853, for on December 6 of that year, he purchased a plantation of just over 500 acres on the river just south of Columbus. With the help of ten or eleven slaves, he evidently cultivated his plantation for three years. In the summer and fall of 1856, he became heavily involved in the white response to the supposed Colorado County slave rebellion, serving on the committee which drafted the report on the incident that was sent to a Galveston newspaper. On November 8, 1856, about two months after the supposed rebellion was quashed, and apparently shortly after he married Jane Ware, he sold his plantation for more than twice what he had paid for it and divested himself of all but one of his slaves. Probably shortly thereafter he began a career as a professional artist. In October 1857, just two months after a newspaper was established in Columbus, Tatum took out an advertisement for his portrait painting business. In later years, he also conducted art lessons, probably privately. In 1860, he and his family moved into the Columbus home of the art patron Robert Robson. The same year, he became a dedicated member of the Knights of the Golden Circle, and promoted that organization widely inside the county. His marriage, however, had begun to disintegrate. He left his family at Robson's home in October 1860 and moved into a Columbus hotel. Apparently at Robson's behest, his wife, by then eight months pregnant, moved out in December. She had her baby, a boy, on January 14, 1861, and moved to her father's home in Jackson County in April. By then, Tatum had built a new home in Columbus. Four months later, on July 10, 1861, he enlisted in a Confederate infantry company that was raised at Columbus. He was discharged because of chronic rheumatism on September 22, 1862. He returned to Columbus, found his wife visiting friends there, reconciled with her, and resumed living with her. They remained together only a few months. Their final break was precipitated at least in part by the death of their infant son on May 23, 1863. He filed for divorce on October 7, 1864, and his petition was granted May 11, 1866. At the same time, several suits for debt, both filed against him and by him, were pending. The last of the suits was decided on March 18, 1870. He apparently left the county immediately thereafter, for he does not appear on the 1870 census. Thereafter, his whereabouts are unknown.
Sources: Colorado Citizen, October 10, 1857, March 2, 1861, March 30, 1861; Colorado County Deed Records, Book H, p. 677, Book J, p. 276; Galveston Tri-Weekly News, September 11, 1856; Colorado County Tax Rolls, 1855, 1856, 1857; Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Schedule 1, Colorado County, Texas; Ninth Census of the United States (1870), Schedule 1, Colorado County, Texas; Fannie Mahon, Autobiographical Sketch, unpublished manuscript, Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus; Muster Rolls, Company B, Fifth Texas Infantry, Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus; Colorado County District Court Records, Civil Cause File No. 1790: H. A. Tatum v. Jane Tatum, Minute Book C2, p. 575, Minute Book D, p. 295; Colorado County Bond and Mortgage Records, Book E, p. 546.
Walker, Betty Lee (1903-1992): Betty Lee Castles was born on January 1, 1903 in Anson, Texas. She married Henry Tanner Walker on December 25, 1925. By the 1950s, she and her husband were operating the Live Oak Hotel in Columbus. There, in the hotel's kitchen, a group of local residents began to informally meet and paint. In the summer of 1954, the group decided to organize themselves into a club, and named the new association the Live Oak Art Club after the hotel. Walker served as president of the club from 1965 through 1966. She died February 8, 1992. She had produced watercolors and oil paintings since the 1940s at least.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, July 1, 1954, October 21, 1954, November 10, 1955, November 15, 1956, May 23, 1957, November 7, 1957, February 12, 1992.
Wegenhoft, Nora (1908-1985): Nora Adams was born September 29, 1908 in Somerville. She married William Lavo Wegenhoft of Columbus on May 25, 1928. She taught school for one year each at Leesville and at Ramsey, then taught art in Hull-Daisetta for two years. Moving to Columbus, she and her husband owned and operated the Columbus Cafe for four years. Later, she became a bookkeeper for Harbert's Garage and a cashier at the Columbus State Bank. Beginning in 1949, she taught art at, in succession, Sheridan High School, Columbus High School, and Flatonia High School. She retired from teaching in 1963, moved to Schertz in 1978 after the death of her husband, and died in a Seguin hospital on October 15, 1985. She was an early supporter and member of the Live Oak Art Club, and was named a charter member of the club on July 6, 1959. She served as club president from 1956 through 1957.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, February 10, 1955, May 19, 1955, October 13, 1955, November 10, 1955, December 15, 1955, October 24, 1985.
Willms, Hilda (1899-1985): Hilda W. Willms was born October 18, 1899 in Vincennes, Indiana. Having come to Columbus as a girl, she studied architecture at the University of Texas. In later years, she worked as the office manager of the Columbus Lumber Company and did some architectural work. Though she had painted all her life, she began in earnest in 1953 when she enrolled in Leslie Henson's Columbus art class. Later she took lessons from other painters, among them Frederick Taubes. She was among the group which organized the Live Oak Art Club in the summer of 1954, and served the club as president from 1954 through 1955. In November 1961, the art club sponsored an exhibit of her paintings in the art room of the Mansfield Memorial Library in Columbus. Though most of her work was realistic, she experimented in cubism, abstraction, and other styles. She died on January 22, 1985.
Sources: Colorado County Citizen, July 1, 1954, October 21, 1954, December 9, 1954, November 10, 1955, December 15, 1955, November 15, 1956, November 7, 1957, May 7, 1959, October 26, 1961, November 9, 1961, January 31, 1985; Houston Post, December 8, 1954