From western forts to Victorian mansions and pivotal battlegrounds, the Texas Historical Commission's 20 state historic sites exemplify a breadth of Texas history. Come explore the real stories at the real places.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Everything Old is New Again

By Joni Lee, site staff at Sam Bell Maxey House
We are so fortunate here at the Sam Bell Maxey House State Historic Site to have actual items used by the Maxey and Long families who lived in this house for 99 years. Last May, we received an unexpected gift when several pieces of furniture were donated back to the museum.
The dining room now houses a table and 10 chairs that were purchased by Maxey’s son and daughter-in-law in New Orleans. The chairs feature detailed carved roses on them, and we know from historic photographs that the chairs have been reupholstered several times. Also, a beautiful crystal candelabra with five candles graces the table.

Today, we can listen to music on our cell phones, Ipods or MP3 players, but in a bygone era music filled the home via a Victrola. Instead of using a touch screen to pull up a selection, listeners had to crank a handle to wind up the player. We recently received a wonderful Victrola and numerous records that are now located in the parlour.
We also received an Eastlake-style side table with a beautiful inlay top owned by Senator Maxey and his wife, Marilda. It has a hummingbird and flowers in the center of the table made from various woods. This is also in the parlour next to the sofa and is a nice addition to the room.

**The Sam Bell Maxey House is located in Paris at the corner of Church and Washington streets in the Texas Lakes Trail Region.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Historic Sites Spring into Action

By Sarah Tober, Senior Marketing Specialist for the Historic Sites

Springtime in Texas is full of activity with everyone eagerly heading outdoors to enjoy beautiful landscapes and ideal temperatures. This period of fresh flowers and foliage seems to be particularly robust with all the rain Texas has received, making it a perfect time to get out and experience the mystique of these real places. The Historic Sites are not only covered in buds of beauty, but they’re springing to life with reenactments, living history events, Victorian teas, trail rides and croquet tournaments.

Recently, Fort McKavett participated in the annual West Texas Heritage Days event in March. The staff and living historians hosted more than 500 students on Friday (the education day) and the general public on Saturday.

Throughout the event there were cannon demonstrations, cavalry, artillery and infantry action drills, Native American living history performances, Buffalo Soldiers, Buffalo Hunters, chuckwagon delectables, the Texas Camel Corps and a number of frontier skills activities.
Although the list of event details may be impressive, I was lucky enough to attend the education day and experience this historic fort come to life. Walking through the site was like moving through a portal in time, where I could see the pages of history in action — what it must have been like to watch the soldiers and horses move through the fort, or the officers’ wives bustle through their day.
My favorite story that I took away from West Texas Heritage Days was told by one of the living historians of Cathay Williams, a brave female Buffalo Soldier. To read more about this exceptional woman click here.
Plan your next historic adventure today by visiting Be sure to keep up with our upcoming events by subscribing to our quarterly Historic Sites Events Update below, be sure to click the State Historic Attractions button.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

An Artifact to Treasure

By Bryan McAuley, site manager of San Felipe de Austin

As part of the ongoing site development at San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, recent archeological investigations uncovered a unique artifact that provides some insight into colonial San Felipe de Austin.
The artifact in question is a one-bit piece from a Spanish milled pillar dollar coin. These coins were accepted as currency all over the world, including in the American colonies. They are popularly collected today, and the below image of a full 1746 pillar dollar was posted by a seller at a coin collectors’ web site. Note the “M” with the small circle above it. This mark denotes that the coin was minted in Mexico City.
The one-bit piece discovered during testing at San Felipe de Austin (below, with an image of each side of the coin) includes the mint mark (Mexico City), but no evidence of the date of manufacture or of the Spanish monarch at the time of minting (three Spanish kings reigned during these years — Philip V, Ferdinand VI and Charles III).
As was typical in the Americas and along the frontier, including in Texas before the Revolution, coin money was in short supply. Additional analysis is under way and future research may help us better understand how artifacts like this one came to be at San Felipe de Austin. In some ways, with Mexican Texas a place where the United States and the New World formerly controlled by Spain collided, it seems only natural that this multi-cultural artifact would turn up at San Felipe de Austin.
Our thanks to the team from the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University for their hard work. Below, paying their respects to the Father of Texas after a day of fieldwork are, (left to right): Sarah Scogins, Carole Leezer (assistant director), Drew Sitters, Josh Hamilton and Amy Benton. **San Felipe de Austin is part of the
**The San Felipe de Austin is located west of San Felipe on FM 1458 in the Texas Independence Trail Region