Due to coronavirus concerns, the Harrison County Historical Commission has refrained from monthly meetings, but continues to remain active with preservation projects in motion.
“We are still active even as we are ‘alone/together,’” said HCHC Chairman Thomas Speir, Chairman.
“I want to thank everyone for their continued efforts to preserve, protect, and promote Harrison County history,” he said.
Speir noted that the HCHC’s mission is to assist the commissioners court and the Texas Historical Commission in preservation of the county’s historical and cultural resources and to protect and preserve the county’s historic and pre-historic resources for the use, education, enjoyment and economic benefit of present and future generations.
Giving an update on current activity, Speir noted that Barbara Cox is working on the history fair for the fall semester. The education committee is exploring ways to bring local history, specifically the Republic of Texas into the local schools.
The committee is also working on ways to increase participation in the county-level history fair and revising the contest rule book.
Regarding historical markers, Speir noted, as of June 16, historical marker applications still active in Harrison County include First State Bank of Hallsville, C.G. Lancaster, Fred Lewis and Pope Cemetery.
The marker for First State Bank of Hallsville was ordered on March 31, but production on it has been slowed down due to the pandemic. According to the THC, the foundry has been working with a skeleton crew in order to social distance themselves, as they continue to work on the production of markers.
Inscriptions have been drafted for the C.G. Lancaster and Fred Lewis markers.
“Additionally, we have received the historical marker for Young’s Mill Pond, located north of Hallsville,” Speir said, noting that it’s in storage until arrangements can be made with current property owners for a dedication ceremony.
“Also, the congregation at the New Canaan Church tried to apply for a historical marker for the new and old churches, but the Texas Historical Commission timeline for submissions prevented submitting an application this year,” Speir advised. “However, they now plan to submit an application for a marker for 2021. They also intend to apply for a possibly both a Historic Texas Cemetery designation as well as a Cemetery marker for the Canaan Church Cemetery off of U.S. Hwy. 43 south of I-20.”
Regarding the upkeep of cemeteries, volunteer Bill Elliot reported that the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp No. 2042 met at Greenwood Cemetery in April and May to clean around CSA and Union soldiers’ graves.
At the Hebrew cemetery, he noted that they’ve flagged six CSA soldiers and three Union. At Scott’s Cemetery, they reflagged 32 CSA vets in June. Elliot said they also flagged for all vets at St. Joseph’s cemetery, which included four CSA and four Union soldiers.
Ann Brannon noted she’s been working on getting markers for some unmarked vets in Greenwood Cemetery.
Volunteer Mary Magrill reported that she’s been working with a couple of others on the history of Karnack. She’s written more than 400 pages, so far.
Becky Palmer with the Harrison County Historical Museum and Inez Hatley Hughes Research Center reported that the museum has been busy with its annual membership drive as well as the upcoming Harleton “Places In the Heart Exhibit,” which will premiere later this summer.
Regarding the preservation of the county’s Rosenwald school history, Gerry Gibson said he’s located and documented 20 of the 21 Rosenwald Schools in Harrison County as identified on the Fisk University Rosenwald School site.
Gibson is working on an expanded file of data and information on the schools to be used at the museum’s research center and for the historical commission.
“In another matter, our six-foot tall HCHC collapsible banner with pictures of historic Harrison County sites has been erected just inside the front door of Central Perks restaurant in the Weisman Center, along with a selection of historic venue brochures nearby. It seems several visitors have already seen the banner and we have received complements on how it promotes Harrison County history,” noted Speir. “Our thanks go out to Tom and Deb Sorich for their help and assistance on this project.”
Giving an update on museums, Robert Wood reported that the Texas and Pacific Depot Museum is now open only on Friday and Saturday. Masks are required, and only two people are allowed in at a time.
At the Starr Family Home State Historic Site, manager Barbara Judkins reported that the site is only allowing five people to visit at a time in Maplecroft for self-guided tours. Free masks will be provided to guests who do not have one. Tours must be scheduled in advance.
Susan Spears, director at Michelson Museum of Art, reported that the museum will not reopen until September.
The museum is, however, making and distributing craft kits to children as an effort to keep them active in art.
At other sites, Pemberton Heritage enter remain closed due to quarantine restrictions. Glenda Clay advised they hope to reopen by 2021. Helen Murray reported that Sabine Farms has a new tourism brochure in the works.
Marty Vaughn with the historic T.C. Lindsey Store in Jonesville said the store remains closed due to COVID-19, however, customers can place online orders by Wednesday of each week on the T. C. Lindsey & Company General Store Facebook page.
Orders can be picked up on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and noon at the loading dock
“There are daily Facebook posts which not only highlight some of the popular items for sale but also share some of the history of the business that was founded in 1847 and show pictures of some of the antiques on exhibit,” said Vaughan.