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, May 27, 2010

Sam Rayburn House Museum Opens “Threaded Through Time” Exhibit

By Anne Ruppert, Sam Rayburn House Museum

The Sam Rayburn House Museum introduced its new exhibit, “Threaded Through Time: The Sam Rayburn Family Quilts,” on May 8. The exhibit opening was held in conjunction with Bonham’s first quilt hop, which featured quilt exhibits and other quilt-related materials in several Bonham locations, including the Bonham Visitor Center, Creative Arts Center, Fannin County Historical Commission, and Fannin County Museum.

The “Threaded Through Time” exhibit at the Sam Rayburn House Museum featured 12 historic quilts from the museum’s collection. With the assistance of Lynn Deal, site manager of the nearby Sam Bell Maxey State Historic Site, the staff examined each quilt to identify its approximate age, fabric composition, and pattern name.

Large color photos of each quilt hung in the exhibit accompanied by fact sheets and a quilting definition of terms. An exhibit case held small artifacts from the house museum including hand-quilted potholders, thread, a pincushion, and a flour sack.

While photos filled the visitor center exhibit, the actual quilts were displayed within the house museum. Two quilts were laid upon six beds within the home, and museum staff provided quilt-themed tours to visitors. The staff members, outfitted with cotton gloves, spoke about the two quilts on each bed within the house. Museum staff carefully turned the top quilt to reveal the second one beneath. This gave visitors the opportunity to view the quilts up close as they were most likely used by the Rayburn family.

The Sam Rayburn House Museum exhibit opening also included music by the Fannin County Civic Band and hands-on quilting activities for children. During the quilt hop, Lynn Deal and Robin Gilliam, site manager of the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site in Denison, gave presentations on quilts and quilting history. Free buses provided transportation to visitors between each of the five sites that hosted the quilt hop. Visitors who attended the quilt hop and visited each of the five participating sites qualified for prize drawings.

** The Sam Rayburn House Museum is located two miles west of Bonham on West State Highway 56 in the Texas Lakes Trail Region.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tomorrow’s Historians are Today’s Inspiration

By Cheryl Dowell, Fort Lancaster Site Staff
Lasly Dowell, a young volunteer from Fort Lancaster, was recently invited by Mrs. Kelly at Iraan Elementary School to share her knowledge and provide a living history demonstration for the 4th graders. Dowell portrayed a young settler from a pioneer family moving out west that may have traveled through Fort Lancaster. She shared information on games kids would have played, along with demonstrating some of the many chores children were expected to complete. She also shared some historic school rules and supplies that the students would have used in the mid 19th century.
The students enjoyed touching and looking at the lye soap, the wool eraser and trying some of the games. After Dowell’s presentation, the class had many questions about the time period and Fort Lancaster.
Dowell was excited to share the information she’s learned about that time period and life at the fort. The students loved the story about Captain Carpenter's two dogs, Coal and Quail, that he brought with him to Fort Lancaster in 1855. It seemed that the students were disappointed to hear the bell ring when class was over — seeing them get excited about history was quite inspirational. Thank you to our young volunteer for sharing information with her peers.
Don't forget about our big event this weekend at Fort Lancaster. Click here for more information on Western
Frontier Days.

**Fort Lancaster is located near Sheffield in the Texas Pecos Trail Region.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Longhorn Calves at Fort Griffin

By Will Cradduck, State of Texas Longhorn Herd Manager at Fort Griffin

Springtime is here and along with it come new baby calves! Fort Griffin State Historic Site announces its latest additions to the State of Texas Longhorn Herd. These calves represent the newest generation of a historic herd of longhorn cattle based at Fort Griffin since the 1940s. New calves are being born all the time, and they sure are cute.
Just watching them is lots of fun. They are just like little children, running and playing and getting into all sorts of stuff. They keep their mothers mighty nervous with how curious they are about investigating everything they see.
It’s interesting to see the mothers with new babies all grazing separately from the main herd. They have firmly established a type of new mothers club and keep their babies separate from everyone else. Maybe it’s just because it is easier to keep track of “Junior” in a small group, or maybe the calves just like playing with their buddies, and “Mother” just has to go along with it.
These calves are the product of one of the best historically preserved longhorn herds in the state, and are sired by bulls on loan from the Cattlemen’s Texas Longhorn Registry (CTLR). Like the State of Texas Longhorn Herd, the CTLR strives for historically correct and genetically pure Texas Longhorns. Many of these calves will become part of the permanent herd as they grow up, and will be at Fort Griffin for visitors to see for many years to come.
Right now, all the new babies are at the lease property remote from Fort Griffin, but we have five young cows at the Fort that will have babies soon, and plenty of big steers to see! Y’all come see us!

**The Fort Griffin State Historic Site is located 15 miles north of Albany on U.S. Hwy 283 in the Texas Forts Trail Region.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Azaleas put on a show at the Starr Family Home

By Megan Maxwell, Starr Family Home Site Staff

We’re fortunate to have had the biggest and best display of azaleas in Marshall right here on the grounds of the historic site.
Mrs. Ruth Starr Blake receives credit for the profusion of blooms, since she began planting azaleas here 50 years ago.
Most of the bushes bloom in shades of pink, which was one of her favorite colors. We had visitors out this year taking photographs surrounded by nature’s show.
** Starr Family Home is located in Marshall on the corner of Travis and S. Grove streets in the Texas Forest Trail Region.

Fiesta Time in San Antonio

By José Zapata, Casa Navarro Site Manager

For the third year in a row, the Friends of Casa Navarro participated in the King William Fair Parade. The parade, part of San Antonio’s Fiesta Week activities, was held on April 24. Many of the Friends that participated are fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth generation descendants of Texas patriot José Antonio Navarro.
This year’s float, a scaled-down replica of Casa Navarro, was designed by Robert and Oscar Alvarado and painstakingly decorated by numerous friends. After the parade, the Friends retreated to the peaceful confines of Casa Navarro, where food and refreshments were served.
The Fiesta medal, featuring a photo of José Antonio Navarro, was created and provided by the Friends as part of a fundraising initiative during the event.

**Casa Navarro is located at the corner of S. Laredo and W. Nueva streets in downtown San Antonio in the Texas Independence Trail Region and Hill Country Trail Region.