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, December 30, 2010

Farming Heritage Day at the Sam Rayburn House Museum

By Anne Ruppert, Sam Rayburn House Museum

Sam Rayburn House Museum hosted Farming Heritage Day on Saturday, October 2, 2010. The event offered visitors the opportunity to take part in farming activities, farm chores and dairy foods preparation, games, coloring activities, and hands-on demonstrations. Visitors also enjoyed free dairy treats such as cheese and ice cream.

Farming Heritage Day was developed to share Sam Rayburn’s love of farming and rural life with members of the contemporary community. The event included programs for both children and adults.
In tribute to Rayburn’s farming heritage, the event featured a cattle judging activity. As a Jersey cattle breeder, Rayburn had to know how well a cow could produce milk and reproduce offspring just by examining it. His cattle were considered some of the best in the region and known to give milk with a very high butterfat content, making them highly coveted at auction. In his later life, Rayburn began raising Polled Herefords for meat production. During Farming Heritage Day, participants learned about the traits that determine a good quality beef cow. Visitors then judged the cattle for themselves and entered their cattle score card for a chance to win movie tickets.
Farming Heritage Day activities included stations where visitors could learn to play lawn games, such as horseshoes and croquet along with Rayburn’s favorite game, dominoes. In his spare time, Rayburn preferred the simple aspects of rural country living, such as fishing, riding his horse throughout the nearby fields, and spending time with his family. One of the Rayburn family’s favorite activities was playing dominoes. They often gathered together in the home’s sitting room to play a domino game.
After Rayburn installed electricity in his home in 1935, the family eagerly added modern conveniences. A freezer was added and Lucinda Rayburn, Sam’s sister, was highly enthusiastic at the prospect of being able to make and easily keep frozen ice cream at home, something that they were unable to do previously. To add flavor to her vanilla ice cream, Lucinda often added Grape Nuts cereal to it to mimic the flavor of actual nuts. Visitors to Farming Heritage Day assisted in making homemade, hand churned ice cream and sampled it.
The Bells High School FFA from Bells, Texas gave a demonstration of the parliamentary procedure, something that Sam Rayburn was well-versed in. Other hands-on activities included farm chores, cornhusk doll-making, soil and water conservation, vegetable gardening, cotton seed planting, harvesting, and ginning along with demonstrations regarding popcorn and chickens.
For more information about Farming Heritage Day or the Sam Rayburn House Museum, contact Marion Wilson at 903.583.5558 or email marion.wilson@thc.state.tx.us or visit the museum’s website.

** The Sam Rayburn House Museum is located at 890 W. State Hwy. 56, two miles west of Bonham, in the Texas Lakes Trail Region.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Landmark Inn and Casa Navarro Join Forces at San Antonio’s Founders Day

By Jose Zapata, Landmark Inn site manager and Maureen Brown, Casa Navarro site manager

On Saturday, October 23, Casa Navarro and the Landmark Inn were among the many exhibitors celebrating San Antonio’s Founders Day on the grounds of the Alamo. In its seventh year, San Antonio Founders Day serves to celebrate the area’s rich cultural heritage through live music and dance, historical reenactments, educational displays, and loads of fun for the little ones. This was a free family-oriented event and we had plenty of local visitors, others from throughout the U.S., and international visitors. Event organizers recorded more than 11,800 visitors to the event at the Alamo that day!
The Landmark Inn booth featured a “wheel of history,” which depicted several key elements of the historic inn. Assisting this year were Glenn Nuytten and his son Levi, Sadie Torres, and Libby Tschirhart. Libby wore a traditional Alsace dress and produced the wheel’s artwork. Visitors young and old had a great time spinning the wheel and winning prizes.
The Casa Navarro (and Friends) booth featured a hands-on activity that allowed visitors to sign their names with quill feathers and ink on parchment. The aim was to provide a fun activity that connects the past with the present and to provide an awareness link to the fact that Jose Antonio Navarro was one of two native Texans to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence. He spent much of his life writing and advocating for Tejano rights in Texas. Assisting this year included Sarah Salinas, Mark and Ceira Kohnitz, Robert Alvarado, and Rosemary and Jerry Geyer. Visitors of all ages practiced signing their names, including Dr. Felix Almaraz, noted historian of Tejano history and UTSA history professor (shown in photo wearing a robe). We are looking forward to participating in the event again next year.
**Casa Navarro is located at the corner of S. Laredo and W. Nueva street in downtown San Antonio in the Texas Independence and Hill Country Trail Regions

**Landmark Inn is located in Castroville, one block west of the Medina River bridge at the corner of Florence Street and Hwy. 90 in the Texas Hill Country Trail Region.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Young Stars in Marshall, TX

By Whit Edwards, Starr Family Home State Historic Site

Junior Docents underwent collection preservation training on October 16 at the Starr Family Home. The high school girls are receiving training so they can assist with the packing and care of the artifacts in the Starr Home. The training was conducted by Megan Maxwell, Jeff Campbell, and Adella Jackson of the Starr Family Home staff.
The Junior Docents that participated in this training exercise were: Amanda Warwick, Estrella Calderon, Samantha Herman, Catherine Mottershaw, Jessica Smith, Miranda Green, Aisha Thomas, Ellen Bray, and Anna Craig.
The girls learned about different methods of care required for the artifacts based on the composition of the artifact. Glass, paper, cloth, and leather all have unique features that require unique ways of handling. Each item was documented with a written description before being carefully wrapped and boxed away for safe keeping.
** Starr Family Home is located in Marshall on the corner of Travis and S. Grove streets in the Texas Forest Trail Region.