It’s a late afternoon at Club Westerner, an 84-year-old dance hall in Victoria, and musicians with The Scott Taylor Band are setting up their instruments for the night’s show. The sounds of tuning guitars and microphone checks bounce off the walls, just as they have for decades. In the hours to come, dancers will fill the historic hall, absorbing the country music and skimming across the shiny oak dance floor in a counterclockwise motion. It’s a ritual that has taken place at dance halls across Texas for more than a century, and judging by the diversity of halls and their fans, it’s a tradition that shows promise to persevere as a hallmark of Lone Star culture.
The newest addition to Galveston’s shoreline, the $60 million Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is futuristic by boardwalk standards, with 16 rides, various carnival games, and dazzling LED light displays. But the history of the island’s seaside amusement park dates to the 19th Century.
The memory of battle held strong in Texans’ minds as Seguín and others from San Antonio honored the Alamo heroes. Though conflicts between Texas and Mexico began as early as 1826, the Texas Revolution’s most decisive events took place between October 1835 and April 1836. Those seven months tell a story of tragedy, courage, and larger-than-life participants as bold and dramatic as any in human history.
Bose Ikard, one of the first African Americans to be inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners by the National Cowboy Museum, served as a scout on the early drives with Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving. After Loving's death, he continued trailing cattle for Goodnight for several years.
Houston’s Museum of Natural Science pays tribute to the famous 1912 shipwreck
A century ago in April, the British passenger ship RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on its maiden voyage en route to New York, killing more than 1,500 passengers. While the wreck of the Titanic remains on the seabed even today, in 1987 crews began to recover artifacts from the debris field, fueling a number of exhibitions at museums worldwide.
In honor of the shipwreck’s 100th anniversary, the Museum of Natural Science in Houston welcomes Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition through mid-September. The more than 200 pieces on display include jewelry, china bearing the ship’s White Star Line logo, perfume bottles, currency, and interestingly, many personal effects made of leather.
Theresa Nelson, a member of the education team entrusted with interpreting the exhibition, explains: “Our conservation team preserves these items, but we don’t restore the items. As the ship broke in half and sank, it traveled 2.5 miles to its final resting place, and many items were ripped from the ship. As you can imagine, in many cases, the items are very worn. But some of the best-preserved pieces, such as currency and jewelry, were found in leather suitcases, trunks, or wallets. Why is this? Well, in the early 1900s, the process used to tan leather included chemicals that repelled microorganisms at the bottom of the sea. And with the pressure of the water at the bottom of the sea, these suitcases and such were sealed shut. When we bring up a leather suitcase or trunk, it’s like a time capsule.”
Call 713/639-4629; www.hmns.org. —Lori Moffatt
Before I met Cedric Fletcher, the man who would become my husband, I had never heard of the East Texas town of Grapeland. Our courtship led me there for the Peanut Festival every October. The sweet Pennington Farms watermelons that make the summer heat bearable brought me back. And in the decade or so of visiting, I’ve learned of hidden historical treasures in the rich, red land surrounding the town, especially the Freedom Colonies.
Most weekends of the year, crowds flock to Fredericksburg to enjoy the Hill Country ambiance, shop along historic Main Street, or savor impromptu wine tastings. As they wander among the shops and galleries, many visitors may inadvertently miss one of the town’s jewels: The National Museum of the Pacific War.
When the 34th Texas legislature established the Texas Forest Service in 1915, there were few guidelines in place to direct the management of Texas forests. The legislation mandated that the new agency “assume direction of all forest interests and all matters pertaining to forestry within the jurisdiction of the state.” This was an important step in sustainably managing Texas natural resources, and one of the key proponents was W. Goodrich Jones (1860-1950).
Few Texans have left a greater mark on the history of the United States than Lyndon Baines Johnson. (photographed above in 1965 at the "Texas White House.") Serving as the nation’s 36th president, from November 22, 1963, to January 20, 1969, Johnson guided the country through a tumultuous era of social unrest and cultural change.
They appeared to walk around aimlessly, looking innocent until the right opportunity presented itself. Then, moving as quickly as they could, they struck. Soon, the unguarded flying machine’s two linen wings had been ripped to shreds—an airplane that had cost Uncle Sam $5,465.
When Empresario Stephen F. Austin, known today as “the Father of Texas,” received permission in 1821 to bring colonists from the U.S. into Mexico, he set into motion a dramatic chain of events that would lead to the formation of the Lone Star State. By 1830, the Mexican government had forbidden further immigration into Texas by U.S. settlers. In the following tumultuous years, bloody battles for such towns as Gonzales, Goliad, and San Antonio eventually led 59 delegates of the Convention of 1836 to gather at Washington, Texas, on March 2, to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence.
Born in San Antonio in 1924, Bette Clair McMurray dreamed of becoming an artist, but World War II changed her plans. She left high school and married her sweetheart; when the war ended, her marriage did, too. Bette Nesmith was on her own, a single mother with a son to support.