Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Save Texas History Symposium

Mark your calenders for the inaugural Save Texas History Symposium in Austin, Texas on Saturday, November 6, 2010. The topic of the symposium will be "Discovering Spanish and Mexican Texas." The Save Texas History Symposium will be hosted by Commissioner Jerry Patterson and the Texas General Land Office. The symposium will be held at 1700 North Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Save Texas History Symposium is only $25 per person. To register, call 1-800-998-4GLO or email: .

There will be plenty to do at the symposium:
  • Survey downtown Austin with a real-life survey team
  • Learn tips to research your family tree
  • Visit the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
  • Tour the Texas General Land Office Archives - See original signatures of Stephen F. Austin and other Texas heroes
  • Make handcrafted paper from old fashioned materials
  • Print your own map on an antique iron hand printing press

Guest speakers will include Texas State Historian Dr. Light Cummins, former Texas State Historian Dr. Frank de la Teja, and Dr. Felix D. Almaraz. Click here to read more about the Save Texas History Symposium.

The Texas General Land Office Archives was created after the Texas Revolution when Sam Houston directed the first land commissioner, John P. Borden, to collect all available land records defining the new Republic. These valuable documents, now housed in temperature- and access-controlled vaults, are used daily by genealogists, historians, archeologists, surveyors and anyone interested in Texas history. For more information about the Texas General Land Office Archives go to . For more information about what you can do to help save Texas history, go to .

Monday, March 29, 2010

Memorial to General Carroll A. "Curly" Lewis, Jr. of the Texas Army

The following is from the memorial service brochure for General Carroll A. “Curly” Lewis, Jr. held on January 20, 2010 at the San Jacinto Monument at 2:00 p.m.

GENERAL CARROLL "Curly" LEWIS, JR. left this world January 7, 2010. Born February 3, 1924 in Houston, Texas, he was known at an early age as the Poet Laureate of Poe Elementary School. This was not the end of his literary career for he late wrote numerous magazine and newspaper articles, a definitive history of Fort Anahuac (The Birthplace of the Texas Revolution), enjoyed the fifth printing of his popular book The Treasures of Galveston Bay and is included in the American Diaries of WWII

Also excelling in art, when attending Lanier Junior High School, he won a four year art scholarship at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. At Lamar Senior High School he formed his own twelve-piece dance band and was the founding president of the MAC (Make Action Count) Club – a quasi fraternity. While studying chemical engineering at Rice Institute, he continued his musical activities with the Rice Band and the Knight Owls dance orchestra.

When World War II interrupted, he flew twenty five missions as a B-17 bomber pilot in the Eighth Air force; being shot down twice over Nazi Germany

Returning to Rice he was founding president of the Rice Veteran’s Association, Student Council chairman, re-organized and led the Knight Owls dance orchestra, ansd was of the Rice Owl band where his outrageous innovations created a spirit that was thereafter adopted by the MOB (Marching Owl Band). There is a legend at Rice University, that one Friday afternoon, before a Rice / A & M football game, Lewis secretly flew an airplane from Houston to College Station and dropped a large stink bomb and one hundred pounds of rice on an Aggie pep rally. The 1947 Rice yearbook shows photos of the mission.

Before graduating from college he began investing in land; eventually developing the following subdivisions in the Houston Area of Memorial Estates, Shady Oaks, Karankawa Pines, Richmond Road Farms, Shamrock Estates, Battleground Vista, Belknap Acres, Braeburn Gardens, Pinegrove Valley, Lomax Gardens, Greendale, Richmond Road Estates, Skyview Farms, Captains Retreat, Pirate’s Grove and Battleground Estates.

A former Eagle Scout, he served as scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop l1 Airscouts and Girl Scout Troop 116 and as a council director of Sam Houston Area Council Boy Scouts of America. He was a Sunday School teacher, officer and choir member of First Presbyterian Church of Galveston, and the United Church of Idaho Springs, Colorado, and chairman of the Greater Houston Presbyterian Extension committee of the Brazos Presbytery. A 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason, he played in the Arabia Temple Shrine Drum and Bugle Corps. Band. Early in his life, he served on the Board of Directors of the YMCA camps.

A business degree from the University of Houston guided him to other interests such as building and operating the Post Oak Twin Drive-in Theater, a Giant Slide, and Movie land Golf – a 36-hole miniature golf course where each hole represented a famous movie. He was president of the Southwestern Historical Exploration Society and in 1968 directed its recovery of many Civil War artifacts out of the Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston. Leading another exploration in 1968, he discovered Puritan Pilgrim fortifications on the Caribbean Islands of Santa Catalina that had been lost from history for over 300 years. He wrote many articles for True West, Treasure World, and Treasure magazines, and had a weekly shooting sports column for Citizen newspapers.

In1969, he convinced Governor Preston Smith to reactivate the Texas Army, which had been inactive since 1845, and was appointed Commanding General in which capacity he served for 40 years. He was well known for his impersonation of General Sam Houston on television, the news media and at public events. Curly was dedicated to perpetuating the memory of early Texas heroes; as one journalist put it, “The General keeps Texas’ past alive!” A consummate hunter, fisherman and sailor, his large Texas flag mainsail was frequently seen on Galveston Bay – Curly loved all things Texan. Since retirement, he enjoyed monthly meetings with his Lamar ’41 classmates and singing and playing drums every Wednesday night with the jazz group known as the Over The Hill Gang.

He is survived by his wife Candace Frazier, daughter Marsha Blake, grandchildren Jordan and Sawyer Ross.

The service will be at 2:00 p.m. on January 20, 2010 at the San Jacinto Monument (Auditorium) the General Staff of the Texas Army will conduct a public ceremony of remembrances and celebration of the General's life. Dressed in 1836 attire, the Texas Army will perform full military honors; firing a 21-gun salute using cannon and flintlock rifles. The United States Air Force Funeral Detail will also fire a salute and execute its flag presentation ceremony. Officiating will be Rev. Joe Hause and Rev. John W. Lancaster will close with the benediction. The family has requested donations to the Texas Army War Chest in lieu of flowers. For Information, please email Col. John Martin at .

Photo of of Governor Preston Smith reactivating the Texas Army in 1969 (l. to r. unknown Texas Army soldier, Governor Preston Smith and General "Curly" Lewis). This photo is from the collection of K. K. Searle.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Houston: 1860 - 1900 (Images of America)

Review of Houston: 1860 - 1900 by Ann Dunphy Becker
Review by K. K. Searle

Another wonderful pictorial history from Arcadia Publishing and their Images of America Series. This history takes the City of Houston from the period just before the Civil War to the beginning of the 20th century. The book's author, Ann Dunphy Becker, has illustrated Houston: 1860-1900 with hundreds of rare old photographs taken during this unique period in Houston's history. Many of these photographs are from private collections.
Between 1860 and 1900, Houston developed into a major railway center and an international port of call that would allow Houston to eventually become the fourth largest city in the United States of America. With every photograph, author Ann Dunphy Becker has included many fascinating anecdotes and historical details. Houston: 1860 - 1900 is a wonderful visual feast that will transport you back in time to when the City of Houston was young.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

2010 San Jacinto Day Ceremony

You are invited to the official San Jacinto Day Ceremony commemorating the 174th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. This ceremony is celebrated on April 21st every year. This year's ceremony will be held on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at the San Jacinto Monument on the San Jacinto Battleground beginning at 11:00 a.m.

This year's Principal Speaker will be James L. Haley author of the acclaimed biography, Sam Houston. Ron Stone, Jr. will be the Master of Ceremonies. There will be a prelude by the Deer Park High School Orchestra. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Sons of the Republic of Texas will be presenting the winners of DRT and SRT Scholarships.

The San Jancinto Chapter and the Sam Houston Chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas will be presenting their Sailor of the Year Awards. Sam Houston's report of the Battle of San Jacinto will be read. The Texas Army will will fire ceremonial black powder rifle salutes and there will be a wreath laying at the foot of the San Jacinto Monument to honor the memory of those Texian soldiers who fought and died to win Texas' independence from Mexico.

Please R.S.V.P. to help them plan at 713-516-3429.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Paper Republic - The Struggle for Money, Credit and Independence in the Republic of Texas

Review of The Paper Republic - The Struggle for Money, Credit and Independence in the Republic of Texas by James P. Bevill
Review by K. K. Searle

James P. Bevill had let it be known several years ago that he was working on a book about the money and finances of the Republic of Texas; and frankly, I was not sure what to expect. Having seen a number of catalogues geared towards paper money collectors, I was not prepared for the groundbreaking scope of Bevill's finished book, The Paper Republic - The Struggle for Money, Credit and Independence in the Republic of Texas.

Almost everyone who has read The Paper Republic has been completely awestruck by what James Bevill has accomplished. What he has done is nothing short of extraordinary. In an era of endless hashing and rehashing of secondary sources by revisionist historians, Bevill went out and dug into a mountain of private Texana collections locked up in dozens of safe deposit boxes across the state - primary sources of new information. Working with other collectors to tell the previously untold story of Texas money, he discovered documents that no one had ever looked at before by looking where no one had thought to look before. What makes this tour de force all the more amazing is that Bevill is not a historian by vocation.

Bevill is a wealth management advisor at UBS in Houston. He is also a numismatist who got interested in collecting Republic of Texas currency as a hobby. Later, he decided to learn everything he could about the Republic of Texas currency that he was collecting but initially found only a vacuum of information on the subject. While trying to learn more about the money of the Republic of Texas, he meticulously researched the Texas Treasury Papers - transcripts of original correspondence from the treasury of the Republic, and compared these letters to the original monetary instruments which were imaged from numerous private collections. While doing so, he began to discover things about the history of the Republic of Texas from primary sources that simply could not be found in any of the previously published histories of Texas.

By researching the money and economy of the Republic of Texas and sharing these findings in his book, Bevill has added a whole new dimension to our understanding of the overall history of the Republic of Texas. The last person to do something like this was another avocational historian, Gregg Dimmick. As you will recall, Dr. Gregg Dimmick is a pediatrician who relied on several overlooked primary sources (diaries and books written by Mexican Army officers who participated in the Texas Revolution). Based on these primary sources, Dimmick began an archeological dig in pasture near Wharton, Texas. His research and discovories presented in his book, Sea of Mud - The Retreat of the Mexican Army after San Jacinto, An Archeological Investigation, added a whole new dimension to everyone's understanding of the Texas Revolution.

Just as Gregg Dimmick's research, his discoveries and his book forced everyone to rethink what they thought they knew about the Texas Revolution; Bevill's book, The Paper Republic, is forcing everyone to rethink what they thought they knew about the social and economic history of the Republic of Texas. Many Texas historians knew the "what" and the "when" concerning many of the events surrounding the Texas Revolution and the history of the Republic of Texas. Now, The Paper Republic explains the "why" of many of these events for the first time.

At 352 pages, The Paper Republic is huge. In addition to the whole new economic dimension he adds to the history of the Republic of Texas, Bevill keeps the reader interested and entertained with many interesting anecdotes and details about early Texas history that are simply found nowhere else.

Richly illustrated with hundreds of high quality digital photographs and scans, James Bevill's book is also one of the most beautiful Texas history books we have ever seen. The Paper Republic is destined to become a classic on the history of the Republic of Texas and is already being widely recognized as such. As an example, the Sons of the Republic of Texas just announced that The Paper Republic is the winner of the 2009 Summerfield G. Roberts Award for Texas historical literature.

I am a huge fan of this book. If you only read one Texas history book this year, get The Paper Republic and read it cover to cover. I promise that you will learn things about the history of Texas that you have never read before. I know I did!

The Paper Republic - The Struggle for Money, Credit and Independence in the Republic of Texas is published by Bright Sky Press, copyright 2009, and is available from

Friday, March 12, 2010

Battle of San Jacinto Symposium - April 17, 2010

The 2010 Battle of San Jacinto Symposium will be held Saturday, April 17, 2009, 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center at the University of Houston. This year's theme is Skulls, Slaves, and Sex: Secrets of Early Texas Tickets are $50.00 and include lunch and parking.

This year's symposium will feature the discovery of six skulls of Mexican soldiers slain in the Battle of San Jacinto. In 1837, American naturalist, John James Audubon, visited the San Jacinto battleground. He picked up four skulls of Mexican soldiers and sent them to his friend, Dr. Samuel Morton, in Philadelphia. These, plus other skulls from two other collectors, became part of Morton's world-wide collection of 1500 crania. In 2009, the six Mexican skulls were discovered at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, virtually unknown to Texas historians for 170 years. Last January, internationally renowned anthropologist Doug Owsley conducted a forensic examination of the Mexican skulls on behalf of the Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground. His findings will be presented publicly for the first time at the 2010 Battle of San Jacinto Symposium.

This year's speakers are: Dr. Ron Tyler will be speaking about Audubon's visit to Galveston, Houston and the San Jacinto Battleground; Dr. Douglas Owsley will discuss Crania Injuries in Mexican Soldiers at San Jacinto; Dr. Andrew J. Torget will discuss slavery and its impact on revolutionary Texas; Professor James W. Paulsen will discuss Sam Houston's legal problems following the break up of his marriage to Eliza Allen in Tennessee and subsequent romance with Anna Raguet of Nacogdoches during the Texas Revolution; and Lael Morgan will discuss Revolutionary Sex: Texas' Philandering Founders.

This year's moderator will be Dr. James E. Crisp, Associate Professor of History at North Carolina Sate University. There will also be a special luncheon presentations by the Hon. William P. Hobby, Jr., Lt. Governor of Texas, 1973-1991; and Dr. Frank de la Teja will comment on his new book, Tejano Leadership in Mexican and Revolutionary Texas.

The Battle of Sam Jacinto Symposium is sponsored by the Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground as a forum for promoting public awareness of the events of the Texas Revolution. For additional information, call (713) 237-8997 or email .

You can visit the Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground web site:
You can also register online for The Battle of San Jacinto Symposium by clicking here.

Photograph: San Jacinto Monument; Courtesy of David Melasky

Are You a Descendant of a Signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence?

At the celebration of Texas Independence on March 2, 2010 at Washington-on-the-Brazos, it was announced that the Star of the Republic Museum is searching for the descendants of the 59 signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

The announcement reads: "The Star of the Republic Museum is launching a long-term genealogical project to identify living descendants of the 59 men who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence here at Washington on the Brazos in 1836. Descendants will be recognized in March 2011 in commemoration of the 175th Anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration. If you are a descendant, please fill out a descendant card at the Museum's information desk or the Park Visitors Center."

The Star of the Republic Museum needs your ancestor's name, your name, mailing address, telephone number and email address. For more information contact:

Shawn B. Carlson, Ph. D.
Curator of Collections and Exhibits
Star of the Republic of Texas Museum
P.O. Box 317
Washington, Texas 77880

Office: 936-878-2461, ext. 241
Fax: 936-878-2462


Below is a complete list of the names of the 59 delegates who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence:

Richard Ellis, President of the Convention
Charles B. Stewart
Thos. Barnett
John S. D. Byrom
Francis Ruis
J. Antonio Navarro
Jesse B. Badgett
Wm D. Lacy
William Menifee
Jn. Fisher
Matthew Caldwell
William Motley
Lorenzo de Zavala
Stephen H. Everett
George W. Smyth
Elijah Stapp
Clairborne West
Wm. B. Scates
M. B. Menard
A. B. Hardin
J. W. Burton
Thos. J. Gazley
R. M. Coleman
Sterling C. Robertson
James Collinsworth
Edwin Waller
Asa Brigham
Geo. C. Childress
Bailey Hardeman
Rob. Potter
Thomas Jefferson Rusk
Chas. S. Taylor
John S. Roberts
Robert Hamilton
Collin McKinney
Albert H. Latimer
James Power
Sam Houston
David Thomas
Edwd. Conrad
Martin Parmer
Edwin O. Legrand
Stephen W. Blount
Jms. Gaines
Wm. Clark, Jr.
Sydney O. Pennington
Wm. Carrol Crawford
Jno. Turner
Benj. Briggs Goodrich
G. W. Barnett
James G. Swisher
Jesse Grimes
S. Rhoads Fisher
John W. Moore
John W. Bower
Saml. A. Maverick
Sam P. Carson
A. Briscoe
J. B. Woods


Are you a Descendant of a Signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence? Fill out a Lineage Worksheet for Descendants of Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence.  Mail completed lineage worksheets to Shawn Carlson, Star of the Republic of Museum, P.O. Box 317, Washington, Texas 77880. If you have question, Ms. Carlson's can be reached by email at .  Fill out the lineage worksheet and get your name added to the list of the Descendants of Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence on file at the Star of the Republic Museum.  You will then receive notification of upcoming events involving the descendants of the signers.  Events are already being planned for the 180th anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence in 2016. 

Albert Sidney Johnston Camp #67 - SCV Meeting March 17, 2010

The Albert Sidney Johnston Camp #67, Houston, Texas, will be holding their monthly meeting Wednesday, March 17, 2010. Charles Duke will be making a presentation about "Civil War Boatworks and Confederate Naval property on Galveston Bay."

The Albert Sidney Johnston Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans meets at The Briar Club located at Westheimer and Timmons Lane in Houston, Texas. There will be an Executive Board meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. (all camp members in good standing are invited to attend the Executive Board meeting). A happy hour-cash bar will follow at 6:30 p.m. The dinner and Camp Meeting will follow at 7:00 p.m. Please R.S.V.P. to Ev Gardner at 281-980-9054 or Dodd Eastham at

Image of "The Johnston Journal" masthead courtesy of Albert Sidney Johnston Camp #67. All rights reserved.

Masonic Oak Picnic - May 16, 2010

The annual Masonic Oak Picnic will be held May 16, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. Masonic Oak Park is located at 100 Pleasant Street, Brazoria, Texas. See map here. The cost of the meal is $9.00. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.

In March of 1835, several Master Masons met under an oak tree (that would later become known as the "Masonic Oak") to undertake the establishment of the first regularly formed Masonic lodge in Texas. An application was made to the Grand Lodge of Louisiana for a dispensation to form and open a Masonic lodge. Under a special dispensation, Holland Lodge No. 36 was opened on December 27, 1835 in Brazoria, Texas with Dr. Anson Jones presiding as Worshipful Master. The formal charter granted to Holland Lodge #36 by the Grand Lodge of Louisiana was delivered to Anson Jones just before the Battle of San Jacinto. The charter was in Jones' saddlebags in the Texas camp while Jones fought as a private in the infantry during the Battle of San Jacinto.

For more information about the Masonic Oak picnic, contact Vernon or Fay Burke at 979-297-8986 or