News & Events


Miss Lillie Dobie’s House - Marker Ceremony

Representatives of Texas Historical Commission and Hays County Historical Commission joined Wimberley residents for the dedication of a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark on August 29, 2016.  Receiving the honor was the Miss Lillie Dobie’s House, a charming cottage built in 1921 on River Road.  This is the second Dobie house in Wimberley to receive a historical marker.  The first, in 1990, was that of Lillie Dobie’s father-in-law, John Richard Dobie, who came from humble beginnings in Scotland to own land in Hays County, including Wimberley’s iconic Blue Hole.  His son, John Richard Dobie Jr., married Lillie Josephine Wagner in 1901.  They had one child who died young, so Lillie poured her energy into helping her husband on their dairy farm.  She ran it during World War I while John served his country as a ship’s carpenter in Houston’s Universal Ship Yard.  Soon after his return, their home burned down.  John used his carpentry skills to custom build the present two-bedroom house.  Now part of the new Wimberley thrift-store complex, the little house serves as The Village Store Boutique. 

The ceremony, organized by Cookie Hagemeier, Village Store board member, began with the Presentation of the Colors by VFW Post 6441. Speakers were Hays County Judge, Bert Cobb; mayor of Wimberley, Mac McCullough; Village Store board president, Marcia Sanderson; HCHC chair, Kate Johnson; HCHC marker chair, Marie Bassett; and Leslie Howe, on behalf of her family, the Maurers, who sponsored the marker. Music was provided by Music with Friends and John Kuykendall’s Blue Bottle Band who accompanied a Texas sing-along.  Miss Lillie Dobie’s great-nephew and great-niece, Chester Wagner and Carol Lorenz, unveiled the marker.  Homemade lemonade and cookies were then served.

Miss Lillie Dobie’s House - Marker Ceremony   Miss Lillie Dobie’s House - Marker Ceremony   Miss Lillie Dobie’s House - Marker Ceremony

Wimberley-Hughes House Marker Dedication Ceremony

Wimberley-Hughes House Marker Dedication Ceremony

For a brief period, on Saturday November 5, the sun broke through the mist, lighting up Wimberley’s second 2016 historical marker.  This was a reflection on the village’s rich history, and the will of its citizens to preserve it.

Receiving the accolade of designation as a Recorded Texas Historical Landmark was the Wimberley-Hughes house, affectionately known as the Zach House.  It was built circa 1877 by Zachary “Zach” Wimberley (partner in the milling business with his father, Pleasant) in a classic case of mother-in-law syndrome.  Zach’s young wife, Mary Elizabeth Franklin, had informed him she could no longer live under his mother’s roof.  

The board-and-batten house, still bearing traces of its pink paint with red trim, was home to 11 children before Mary Elizabeth died in 1901.  Zach’s second wife, Rachel Taylor, raised three more before his death in 1913.  A descendant of each of Zach’s wives was on hand for the ceremony.

The house passed to Zach’s sister, Mary Eliza “Lidie,” and her husband, Nathan Emery “N.E.” Hughes.  N. E was rightly described as a Renaissance man by his great-granddaughter, Dr. Annette Newberry who gave an engaging peek into his, and Lidie’s, multi-faceted life.  N.E. could turn his hand to anything.  He was a miller, farmer, engineer, and one of the best stonemasons in Hays County. He was an inveterate rock hound, as evidenced by the walls he built in his front yard.  Of an evening, he could be found on his porch playing the violin he made himself.  In family tradition, 14 of N.E. and Lidie Hughes’ descendants later lined up on the porch for a multi-generational photograph.

Since its acquisition by the Wimberley Institute of Cultures, Claire Billingsley has spearheaded the restoration of the Zach House, ably assisted by her husband Bruce, Richard Adams, Carye McGarity, Curt Busk, Alan Marburger, and Sue Ann IIes. It has been a must-see stop for Wimberley I.S.D. fourth-grade classes since 1999.

Remarks by Claire Billingsley, Kate Johnson (Hays County Historical Commission chair), and Marie Bassett (HCHC marker chair) opened the ceremony. Dr. Newberry then regaled the attendees with stories of the Hughes, many gleaned from letters they wrote while N.E. was off on a job.  The projects he worked on included masonry on the State Capitol in Austin, repairing a bank vault after a burglary, and building custom houses.  Descendant Ken Hughes concluded the ceremony by reading the text of the new marker. Guests toured the house where family artifacts were on show before adjourning to the Wimberley Institute of Cultures for refreshments.

Wimberley-Hughes House Marker Dedication Ceremony   Wimberley-Hughes House Marker Dedication Ceremony

HCHC Celebrates Kyle Railroad Depot and Heritage Center Grand Opening

HCHC Celebrates Kyle Railroad Depot and Heritage Center Grand Opening

An enthusiastic gathering of community historians, railroad enthusiasts, and city and county officials came together September 25, 2016, for the Kyle Railroad Depot and Heritage Center’s grand opening. Hays County Historical Commission Chair Kate Johnson led the celebration, offering her remarks, as did HCHC Kyle Depot Committee Chair Trish Randow, Hays County Commissioner, Precinct 2, Mark Jones, and City of Kyle Mayor Todd Webster, who read an official proclamation from the city on the occasion.

Located at 100 N. Front Street in Kyle, the center will be open for visitors Sunday afternoons, 1-5 p.m.

Click here to view additional photos.

HCHC Celebrates Kyle Railroad Depot and Heritage Center Grand Opening   HCHC Celebrates Kyle Railroad Depot and Heritage Center Grand Opening   HCHC Celebrates Kyle Railroad Depot and Heritage Center Grand Opening

Historical Commission Receives Award at Commissioners' Court

Historical Commission Receives Award at Commissioners' Court

Most members of the Hays County Historical Commission attended Commissioners' Court on September 15, 2015, to receive an award from the Texas Historical Commission in recognition of being a Distinguished Historical Commission in Texas.

Front row: Ray Whisenant, Linda Coker, Robert Frizzell, Jo Landon, Shelley Henry, Will Conley, Eddie Gumbert. Back row: Debbie Ingalsbe, Mark Jones, Ofelia Vasquez-Philo, Judge Bert Cobb, Kate Johnson, Carmen Imel, SarahAnn Lowther, Dorothy Gumbert, Karen Moore, Jerry T. Moore, Delbert Bassett, Trisha Randow, Ralph Randow. Not pictured: Diana Baker, Marie Bassett, Eric Beckers, Sue Cohen, Jim Cullen, Luanne Cullen, Cathy Dillon, Irma Gaitan, Betty Harrison, Mark H. Jackson, Melody Jaramio, Jeff Fordan, Richard Kidd, Lila Knight, Renee Luna, Charlie Willis.

Historical Commission Releases Latest Documentary on Edward Burleson, Soldier & Statesman

Historical Commission Releases Latest Documentary on Edward Burleson, Soldier & Statesman
Historical Commission Releases Latest Documentary on Edward Burleson, Soldier & Statesman

Another historical documentary has been completed by the Hays County Historical Commission on EDWARD BURLESON, Soldier & Statesman. The premier screening was held April 11, 2015, in Bastrop for the annual Burleson Family Reunion.

This documentary tells the story of General Edward Burleson, who came to  Texas in 1830 and fought Indians, the Mexican Army in the Siege of Bexar, lead troops at San Jacinto, fought in the Mexican-American War, served  as a representative and senator of the Republic and State of Texas and  was a Vice-President of the Republic.

Burleson contemporaries were Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, and  Jack C. Hays.  He fought Comanches almost non-stop for 20 years, helped survey and lay out Austin and San Marcos, formed the Texas  Rangers, and was the first person buried in the Texas State Cemetery in 1851.

Copies of this DVD are available on this website in the Books & DVD section, and you can contact Richard Kidd with the Hays County Historical Commission to arrange a screening for your group meeting at  512-858-4443, email rdkidd44@aol.com.

VISIT TO HOLT GRAVESITE

Jo Landon visits the Holt Family gravesite in Hays County.

(Click image for larger view)

Jo Landon visits the Holt Family gravesite in Hays County      Jo Landon visits the Holt Family gravesite in Hays County

Jo Landon visits the Holt Family gravesite in Hays County

Hays County Art Committee Opens Exhibit

Hays County Art Committee Opens Exhibit   Hays County Art Committee Opens Exhibit   Hays County Art Committee Opens Exhibit

Kate Johnson speaks at the opening of the Hays County Art Exhibit at the Hays Government Center building on October 16. Ten artists from the county had their work displayed on the second level of the building where it will remain for the next four months.

HCHC Entertains Visitors from Jordan

Kate Johnson served as host to visiting photographers from Jordan at the Halifax Ranch who were in Austin on a State Department visit and asked to see a Texas ranch.

HCHC Entertains Visitors from Jordan   HCHC Entertains Visitors from Jordan

Premier Planned for New Documentary on Col. Peter C. Woods

Premier Planned for New Documentary on Col. Peter C. Woods

The Hays County Historical Commission has planned the premier showing of it's latest historical documentary on Col. Peter C. Woods - Country Doctor/ Cavalry Officer/Public Servant for Friday night, May 2, at 7 PM at the San Marcos Activity Center, 501 E. Hopkins.

This is a free screening and the public is invited. The documentary has been in production for the past 6 months and used reenactors to tell the story of Col. Woods and the 32nd Texas Volunteer Cavalry during the Civil War.

This documentary is based on interviews with members of the Woods family, Dorothy Woods Schwartz, Clear Springs and Limestone Ledges, Janice Woods Windle, True Women and Hill Country, and historian Dr. Donald S. Frazier, Thunder Across the Swamp, along with the only published information on the 32nd Texas Cavalry and their participation in the Red River Campaign of 1864, The Dead Men Wore Boots by Laurence A. Duaine.

This is the story of Peter C. Woods, who came to San Marcos in 1851, started a cotton plantation and decided to form the 32nd Texas Volunteer Cavalry, C.S.A. during the Civil War. He was a physician who survived the war and lived the rest of his life as a country doctor and developing San Marcos and Hays County. The only memorial located directly on the Courthouse grounds was erected in his honor in 1907.

reenactors were used to create the life of Col. Woods and his wife Georgia, the Civil War battles of Blair's Landing and Yellow Bayou in Louisiana, and the 32nd Cavalry attack on Union gunboats on the Red River.

Premier Planned for New Documentary on Col. Peter C. Woods   Premier Planned for New Documentary on Col. Peter C. Woods

Committee Tours Abel Ranch Site, Byrd Owen-Payne, San Pedro

Members of the HCHC Cemetery Committee toured the Stringtown/Buddy Abel Ranch site, Byrd Owen-Payne Cemetery, and San Pedro Cemetery recently, the start of a planned series of mini-tours to orient members to the locations and sites of Hays County’s numerous (and many times off the beaten track) cemeteries.

Members Jo Landon , Ida Miller, Jerry Moore, Linda Coker, Dorothy Gumbert, and Jim Cullen—and several guests—met with Texas State University Anthropology Professor Dr. Ana M. Juarez to first visit the Buddy Abel Ranch site and hear Dr. Juarez describe findings and progress to date on the isolated cemetery. A growing number of professionals have visited the site and mapping by a Texas State student is imminent, leading toward completion of a Historical Texas Cemetery designation from the Texas Historical Commission.

The group next visited another Stringtown-area site, the Byrd Owen-Payne Cemetery, which HCHC maintains on an as-needed basis. Access to the third Stringtown site, Pitts Cemetery, proved elusive, but the group finished its tour by visiting San Pedro Cemetery, where Dr. Juarez led an informative walk around a large portion of the cemetery, discussing already completed and ongoing research projects for the cemetery.

Committee Tours Abel Ranch Site, Byrd Owen-Payne, San Pedro   Committee Tours Abel Ranch Site, Byrd Owen-Payne, San Pedro   Committee Tours Abel Ranch Site, Byrd Owen-Payne, San Pedro

Notice of Public Meeting - October 24, 2013

Click here to view agenda.

101 Ranch Documentary Screens in San Marcos

The Heritage Roundup on the Square, co-sponsored by the Historical Commission and the Heritage Association of San Marcos, was a big hit on July 23. Close to 200 attendees packed the house at Texas Music Theater in San Marcos for the free presentation of the documentary 101 Ranch: The Story of the Kuykendall Family.  Following the screening, everyone gathered on the courthouse lawn to enjoy a variety of cobblers prepared on an authentic chuck wagon, provided by HCHC and the Weinheimer family of the Double C Ranch. The Hays Historical Museum inside the courthouse opened its doors for everyone during the social. Representatives of the Hays County Historical Commission and the Heritage Association were on hand to  greet visitors and share information about historical projects.

101 Ranch Documentary Screens in San Marcos   101 Ranch Documentary Screens in San Marcos

Historical Marker Dedication for Cementerio del Rio

Numerous members of the Gregorio and Maria Teresa de Jesus Castilleja family were on hand June 16 to enjoy the official Texas historical marker dedication ceremony for Cementerio del Rio, located on the San Marcos River just one-half mile downriver from the old Camino Real crossing. Many Castilleja relatives are buried in the cemetery, where the oldest inscription is from 1906 and the most recent is from 1941. Four Woodmen of the World tombstones are also among the more prominent monuments. Although the site was abandoned and virtually forgotten until the early 1990's, Cementerio del Rio serves as evidence of an important time in Hays County history as well as an indication of the presence and contributions of the Hispanic community in San Marcos. On hand for the ceremony were Rebecca Ybarra Ramirez, mistress of ceremonies; Deacon Richard Contreras; Kate Johnson, Betty Harrison and Ofelia Vasquez-Philo of the HCHC; the Hon. Bert Cobb, M.D., Hays County Judge; and Castilleja descendent's Rito Ivarra, Epifania Natal and Bertha Demo.

Historical Marker Dedication for Cementerio del Rio   Historical Marker Dedication for Cementerio del Rio

Former 'Southside School' to Receive Texas Historical Marker April 20

Former 'Southside School' to Receive Texas Historical Marker April 20

The 64-year-old building that once provided classrooms for Mexican American children in San Marcos has been awarded an Official Texas Historical Marker.

A dedication ceremony to commemorate the historical landmark designation will be held at 10 a.m. April 20 at 211 Lee Street, now home of the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos.

City, County, School District and Texas Historical Commission officials will be on hand for the event, along with Ofelia Vasquez-Philo, Centro founder, and Kate Johnson, chairman of the Hays County Historical Commission. Frank Contreras, who attended the first wood-frame Southside School at the location of the current building, will also share about the history of the school.  

Former 'Southside School' to Receive Texas Historical Marker April 20

The public is invited to the marker dedication ceremony, sponsored by the Hays County Historical Commission in conjunction with the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos and the San Marcos CSID.

When constructed in 1949 to replace a wooden classroom building, the “Southside School” served Hispanic students and was sometimes referred to as the “Latin American School.” One of the original teachers at the school was Petra Nicola, who was one of very few Hispanic teachers in the district at the time.

In 1965, the school was renamed for James Bonham, a hero of the Alamo, in order to be like the other elementary schools in the district that had already been named for Texas heroes.

A bilingual education program, one of only two in the state of Texas at that time, was initiated at Bonham in 1966. An adult education program for migrant parents of students was also held on the campus, and a Title I pre-school program was offered in the summer. In 1970, a full day kindergarten program began at Bonham.

For the next three decades, the school would be used at different times to house district administrative offices, Early Childhood programs, and the Head Start program. In 2009, the building became the home of the Centro Cultural Hispano, which serves as a community beacon for the preservation, development, promotion and celebration of the Hispanic arts, culture, heritage and values. 

The Southside School building is significant in the history of San Marcos public education for many reasons. Although it was built to provide classrooms for Mexican American children in an essentially segregated setting, it eventually housed programs that were innovative and inclusive, designed to provide all children with opportunities for success regardless of their heritage, economic status, home language, or disability. Although the interior of the building has undergone changes, the exterior remains essentially the same as when it was constructed in 1949.

“It is important for the community to preserve this building, so it can continue to be a beacon and a gathering place in the Hispanic community,” Mrs. Vasquez-Philo said.

Mark Wolfe, executive director of the Texas Historical Commission, added, “The Official Texas Historical Marker program helps bring attention to community treasures and the importance of their preservation. Awareness and education are among the best ways to guarantee the preservation of our state’s history. This designation is a tool that will increase public awareness of important cultural resources.”

Texas has the largest marker program in the United States with approximately 15,000 markers.

Historic Texas Cemetery Sign Installed

Historic Texas Cemetery Sign Installed

HCHC’s Ofelia Vasquez-Philo oversaw a Hays County Road Department crew mounting the commission’s new “Historic Texas Cemetery” marker at Cementerio del Rio recently. She was joined by HCHC members Luanne and Jim Cullen for the event, which culminated an almost two-decade progression at the site from abandoned—and largely-forgotten—cemetery site to the manicured and well-maintained historic site it is today. Vasquez-Philo envisions a dedication ceremony at Cementerio del Rio during the next observance of Dia de los Muertos in the fall.

New Members for Historical Commission for 2013-1015

New Members for Historical Commission for 2013-1015

The rotunda of the Hays County Courthouse was the scene for new members of the Hays County Historical Commission at the swearing in ceremony in January.

HAYS COUNTY COURTHOUSE ROTUNDA WITH SUSPENDED ORNAMENTS & TREE

Christmas Tree in the Rotunda of the Hays Courthouse.

Christmas Tree in the Rotunda of the Hays Courthouse.

KYLE LOG HOUSE CHICKEN DINNER ON SEPTEMBER 22

Plan to attend the annual Claiborne Kyle Log House chicken dinner (that's lunch!) this Saturday, Sept. 22 between 11 AM and 2 PM. The event has been going for the last 30 years, and raises funds for the operation of the Claiborne Kyle Log House that was built in 1850. The charge is $7 a plate, $4 for children.

Plan to attend the annual Claiborne Kyle Log House chicken dinner (that's lunch!) this Saturday, September 22 between 11 AM and 2 PM.  The event has been going for the last 30 years, and raises funds for the operation of the Claiborne Kyle Log House that was built in 1850.  The charge is $7 a plate, $4 for children.

HAYS COUNTY IN WORLD WAR II Screening this Saturday, Sept. 8

Lt. Bill Johnson of the US Marine Corps served on Iwo Jima in World War II.  He will be in attendance at the Screening.

Another free screening of our latest documentary will be this Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Wimberley VFW Hall at 7:30 PM.  All are invited.

The film tells what life was like in Hays County in 1941 and relates the stories of 5 veterans who served in the Marines, Army, Navy, and Air Force in Europe and the South Pacific.

Don't miss your chance to see this informative and interesting documentary.

Historical Commission Receives State Distinguished Service Award

Historical Commission Receives State Distinguished Service Award

The Hays County Commissioners Court Tuesday presented a Distinguished Service Award on behalf of the Texas Historical Commission to the Hays County Historical Commission for its work and dedication in 2011. The award goes to honor local commissions that have gone above and beyond to preserve, protect and promote the history of their county.

HCHC Stagecoach in Wimberley July 4 Parade

HCHC Stagecoach in Wimberley July 4 Parade

Kate Johnson with driver Ben Rogers and a team of four, head out for the Wimberley 4th of July Parade. Inside the coach were HCHC members Dorothy & Eddie Gumbert, and the mayor of Kyle, Lucy Johnson.

Tombstone Returned to Rightful Owner

Tombstone Returned to Rightful Owner

The abandoned, century-old tombstone of a ten-year-old girl, discovered in December, 2011, on a vacant Texas State University lot, was returned to its North Texas cemetery of origin recently. With the help of (Find-a-Grave) research by Texas State graduate student Sarah Marshall , HCHC’s Cemetery Committee was able to make contact with Carrol Alexander, the caretaker for Alexander Cemetery in a rural area of Collin County, near the small town of Weston, Texas. Mr. Alexander gladly accepted the personally-delivered tombstone of Mary Hayes (“Hayse” is actually the family surname)stone in late June and he and HCHC’s Jim Cullen photo-documented the exact match of the stone and its original base.

HAYS COUNTY IN WORLD WAR II documentary premiers on June 6, 2012

HAYS COUNTY IN WORLD WAR II documentary premiers on June 6, 2012

The latest documentary from the Hays County Historical Commission will be shown on the 68th anniversary of D-Day at the Army Air Field Hangar (at the current San Marcos airport) on Wednesday, June 6, at 7 PM. Admission is free.

This film tells the story of what life was like in Hays County in 1941 with interviews from 5 World War II veterans who served in England, Normandy, The Philippines, and Iwo Jima. It also features original photography from the San Marcos Army Air Field Navigation School, along with an interview with a civilian secretary who worked there while 10,000 navigators were trained in 1943 to 1945.

The interviews with stories from their war experiences are from Bill Butts, San Marcos, who was stationed with the 8th Air Force in England. Augustin Lucio, San Marcos, who was in the Normandy Invasion leading an Army rifle platoon. Travis Garnett, Dripping Springs, who was in the Navy and stationed on the island of Samar in the Philippines. Bill Johnson, Wimberley, and Willie Higgs, San Marcos, who were Marines at Iwo Jima. And Wren Giesen, who worked at the San Marcos Army Air Field.

Make plans to attend this interesting film at the World War II hangar and see the collection of historic planes on display.

Your News Now
Wilde About Texas: History takes flight through CAF 
Covered in Your News Now Austin.

Ribbon Cutting for Hays Historical Museum at Courthouse

Ribbon Cutting for Hays Historical Museum at Courthouse

Kate Johnson and members of the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce attend the ribbon cutting by Linda Coker at the opening of the new Hays Historical Museum at the Courthouse.

The Hays County Historical Commission has opened two rooms with historic photos assembled by HCHC member Linda Coker, along with a new Historical Theater to show HCHC documentaries and Voices of Hays County. Please contact Linda at 512-705-5913 to ask what times the new Museum will be open.

Photo: Linda Coker cuts Chamber ribbon as Kate Johnson with plaque looks on.

VOX POP Showing

San Marcos Public Library, 7 PM
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

HCHC January Meeting

Hays County Courthouse, 6 PM
Thursday, January 26, 2012

Buck Winn Showing

San Marcos Public Library, 7 PM
Monday, January 23, 2012

VOX POP Showing in Dripping Springs

First Baptist Church, 7 PM
Thursday, January 19, 2012

VOX POP Showing at Buda Onion Creek Senior Citizens Center

After noon luncheon.
Thursday, January 12, 2012

VOX POP, The Story of Parks Johnson

EVENT SOLD OUT

October 20, 2011

VOX POP, The Story of Parks Johnson

The Hays County Historical Commission has completed another in their series of documentaries on famous folks connected with Hays County, this one about Parks and Louise Johnson and his network radio show, VOX POP. 

Parks and Louise were the parents of Bill Johnson, and Bill and MF have made available their collection of stills and recordings from the early days of radio. Parks started the VOX POP program at KTRH in Houston in 1932 and then the Johnson family moved to New York in 1935 when VOX POP went on the NBC Network.

This documentary traces the history of the program with excerpts from World War II and shows around the country. It gives the audience an insight into that time period with radio program development and then comes with Parks and Louise to Wimberley in 1948 as they "retired" and then proceeded to spend the next 20 years developing the Wimberley community. 

The documentary was directed by Richard Kidd and produced by Kate Johnson. Interviews were shot at the Library of American Broadcasting at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, in Vermont and Maine. Nine interviews are included in the film, along with rescued footage from 1958 showing the only interview with Parks and Louise. 

The Premier showing will include dinner and drinks in a re-created 1940's theater in Johnson Hall at the Wimberley Community Center. Reservations are requested and the cost is $10 a person that can be paid at the door. Please email your reservation to kw1988@aol.com by October 15. 

Plan to see VOX POP, The Story of Parks Johnson, and learn something about early radio and the development of Wimberley.

Work Continues on Old County Jail Restoration

March, 2011

Work Continues on Old County Jail Restoration

New Members of the Hays Historical Commission

February 22, 2011

New Members of the Hays Historical Commission

Newly appointed and re-appointed members of the Hays County Historical Commission posed in front of the statue of Jack C. Hays at the County Courthouse on February 22, just in time for the March 1 anniversary of the founding of Hays County. They were sworn in for a two-year term by Hays County Judge Bert Cobb, M.D., during the regular Commissioners Court meeting. Seven of the Historical Commission members are new to the 24-member commission. Front row: Luanne Cullen, Richard Kidd, Celeste Zygmont, Madeline Van Brunt, Betty Harrison, Ofelia Vasquez-Philo, SarahAnn Lowther, Dorothy Gumbert, Clemmie New, J. Marie Bassett, Jerry Bullock (middle row) Jeffrey Jordan, Adam Wagner, Marianne Moore, Kate Johnson, Richard Gachot, (top) Shelley Henry, Samantha Bellows, Linda Coker, Robert Frizzell, Jim Cullen. Not pictured: Bonnie Eissler, Mary Giberson, Lu Hickey and ex officio member LaMarr Peterson.

Work underway on restoration of Old Hays County Jail in San Marcos

January 20, 2011

Work underway on restoration of Old Hays County Jail in San Marcos

The Hays County Historical Commission has led the way in getting the restoration work started on the 1887 Hays County Jail. Follow the monthly progress here as the building is stabilized, gets a new roof, and the interior/exterior is restored and brought up to museum standards.

LARGER THAN LIFE, The Story of Buck Winn is newest documentary from Hays County Historical Commission

October 28, 2010

LARGER THAN LIFE, The Story of Buck Winn is newest documentary from Hays County Historical Commission

After 8 months of work and travel around the Southwest to film all of the existing artwork and installations of Wimberley artist and architect Buck Winn (1905-1979), the Hays County Historical Commission has announced the completion of a new 60-minute documentary.

LARGER THAN LIFE, The Story of Buck Winn tells the life story of Buck and shows all of his existing artwork, bas-relief sculpture, architectural designs, and inventions. Buck specialized in doing large artwork for building decoration, all of his projects were "larger than life." Buck and Kitty Winn lived in Wimberley from 1941 until her death in 1978 and his in 1979.

This is the first project that includes all of his major work, including those pieces that have been destroyed as buildings were bulldozed. The Hays County Historical Commission visited and photographed 18 locations and interviewed 8 individuals around the southwest.

The documentary was directed by Richard Kidd and produced by Kate Johnson. Generous support was donated by Hays County residents and organizations to cover the production expenses of this project. Music for the documentary was provided by James Dick, The Miro Quartet, and Eugene Rowley. The film was narrated by Bob Michaels.

Plans are being made to schedule showings in Hays County and copies of the DVD will be made available to schools and libraries. Individuals may purchase the HD-DVD for $15. from this web site in the shop order section. If you would like to schedule a presentation of the documentary for your group, please contact Richard Kidd at the following email. rdkidd44@aol.com

HCHC Stagecoach in Kyle 130 Year Celebration Parade

The Hays County Historical Commission stagecoach was in the Kyle 130 year birthday celebration parade with Grand Marshall Barbara Donalson Althaus, the great granddaughter of Fergus Kyle, for whom the city was named. Also Kate Johnson, chair of the Hays County Historical Commission, and Samantha Bellows, a member of the Planning and Zoning Board for the City of Kyle.

HCHC Stagecoach in Kyle 130 Year Celebration Parade   HCHC Stagecoach in Kyle 130 Year Celebration Parade

Historical Commission Leads Parade

July 12, 2010

As the Grand Marshall of the 2010 Wimberley 4th of July Parade, Chairman Kate Johnson of the Hays County Historical Commission is joined by Wimberley Mayor Bob Flocke; Hays County Commissioner for Precinct Two Jeff Barton; Kyle Mayor Lucy Johnson; and Historical Commission member Bonnie Eissler. The group rode in an 1850’s era reproduction stagecoach, and the entry received third place overall as "Best Parade Theme." This is the second year in a row that the HCHC stagecoach, a crowd favorite, has been part of the Wimberley parade. The parade was held this year on July 5. The route stretched from the Wimberley Market Days parking lot, across Cypress Creek, along the town square, and down 3237 to the old First Baptist Church.

The Commissioners Court honors HCHC chair Kate Johnson

The Commissioners Court honors HCHC chair Kate Johnson

The Commissioners Court honored HCHC chair Kate Johnson with a proclamation May 4, recognizing her exceptional leadership of the HCHC and her efforts to promote historical preservation throughout the county. Commissioners and HCHC members on hand for the presentation were Judge Liz Sumter, Jeff Barton, Linda Coker, Kate Johnson, Karen Ford, Ophelia Philo, Will Conley, Richard Kidd and Shelley Henry.

HCHC Chair Kate Johnson to Receive Leadership Award

HCHC Chair Kate Johnson to Receive Leadership Award

With a photo of Jack C. Hays in the background, Hays Historical Commission Chair Kate Johnson greets Sheriff Michael Hennessey of San Francisco during a 2008 trip to California. The trip was an opportunity Johnson planned for Hays County Historical Commission members to retrace the steps Jack Hays took when he left Texas to California, eventually serving as the first sheriff of San Francisco County.

March 13, 2010

For her leadership in the preservation of Texas’ heritage, Kate Johnson, chair of the Hays County Historical Commission (HCHC), will receive one of the Texas Historical Commission’s most prestigious awards.

Johnson will receive the John Ben Shepperd County Historical Commission Leadership Award at the THC’s annual Historic Preservation Conference in Houston April 23.

The award recognizes outstanding leadership by a county historical commission chair in carrying out an aggressive and well-balanced preservation program. Several members of the HCHC, who nominated Johnson, will join her when she receives the award at the THC Preservation Awards Dinner.

During her three appointments as chair of the HCHC, Johnson has established a record of vision, research, and support of a wide range of historical preservation activities in Hays County. Most prominent in the past year was her campaign to educate the public about the life and times of county namesake Jack C. Hays. That effort resulted in a 30-minute documentary about Hays, along with a curriculum guide, which has been distributed to schools and libraries across the county.

Also a high priority on Johnson’s agenda is the restoration of the 1870’s-era Hays County jail, one of the county’s most threatened public (National Register) buildings. The now-progressing rehabilitation of the jail is due in large part to Johnson, who has devoted countless hours working with the Hays County Commissioners Court and Hays County Preservation Associates, as well as other grant-funding sources, to secure the necessary funds for such an undertaking.

Among other activities Johnson inspires members of the HCHC to pursue are a county-wide oral history project, cemetery restoration and documentation, and identification of potential historic marker topics and locations. Research and planning is also underway for the production of a documentary about Texas muralist and sculptor Buck Winn.

Hays Historical Commission Donates DVD’s to Wimberley ISD

Hays Historical Commission Donates DVD’s to Wimberley ISD

Wimberley ISD will have a new resource for teaching about the life and times of Jack C. Hays thanks to a recent donation from the Hays County Historical Commission. Chairman Kate Johnson (middle) donated 18 copies of the “Captain Jack: the Story of John Coffee Hays” DVD to the school district for distribution to their various campuses. Accepting the gift were Superintendent Dwain York and Assistant Superintendent Dee Howard. The documentary was produced by the commission and is being distributed to schools and libraries in the county. The DVD is also on sale through the HCHC Web site.

Captain Jack DVD's Given to School District

Captain Jack DVD's Given to School District

Superintendent Mard A Herrick, Phd of Drippings Springs, accepts DVD's of the Captain Jack documentary from director Richard Kidd (left) and producer Kate Johnson (right) on behalf of the Hays County Historical Commission. All of the schools and libraries in Hays are being given copies of the documentary.

Captain Jack DVD's Given to School District

HCHC Chairman Kate Johnson presents a copy of the “Captain Jack” DVD to Amy Nighbert, librarian at San Marcos Academy Dec. 9. Looking on are (far left) Gwen Hanna, chairman of the history department, and (far right) Malyna Miller, curriculum director and English instructor.

HCHC Treats Sheriff's Department

Photo by Jim Cullen

Hays County Historical Commission members brought good thoughts and goods eats to more than 130 Hays County Sheriff's Department employees at the Law Enforcement Center this week. An HCHC contingent arrived at shift change just before the crack of dawn bringing mountains of donuts, breakfast tacos, and Starbucks Coffee to law enforcement officers. Representing both groups were (left to right) Larry May, Judge Bill Henry, Linda Coker, George Rosales, Brad Robinson, Marianne Moore, Sherman Brodbeck, HCHC Chair Kate Johnson, and Josh Alba.

San Pedro Cemetery 100th Anniversary

Everyone is invited to come celebrate the 100th anniversary of the San Pedro Cemetery, located at the corner of Posey Road and Old Bastrop Hwy (21/El Camino Real) in San Marcos on Saturday, November 7 from 2 to 4 pm. Unlike many cemeteries in Hays County, its park-like setting is popular with families today, full of colorful blooming plants and lush greenery.

San Pedro Cemetery 100th Anniversary

Over the past hundred years families have been marking the graves of their loved ones at San Pedro with living plants. For some, plants were the only markers left to indicate a burial. Maybe the trauma of the loss was so great... or maybe it was the cost, but the end result is beautiful, a landscape of crosses interspersed with drifts of flowers. And when the wind is just right, coming over the rise, through the trees, you can almost hear the faint sound of a baby crying, giving San Pedro Cemetery the nickname "Crying Baby Cemetery." There are many small graves in the cemetery, and for some the only marker is a drift of bright yellow, Mexican Mint Marigold flowers set within a small, narrow concrete coping.

Mexican Mint Marigold and red Cramoisi Superior and Eutin roses are in full fall flush now, along with other pinks and lavenders, just in time for La Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) or All Souls Day on November 2 and All Saints Day on November 1. Dia de los Muertos is traditionally the day Mexican-American family members visit cemeteries to remember relatives who have died and spruce up their graves.

Crosses, saints and virgins, which are a defining characteristic of Mexican-American cemeteries, cover the San Pedro Cemetery landscape and come in many forms and materials. Some crosses are the Spanish 'clover', while others are made in straighter lines with stone cement and tile. The most colorful and common is the mosaic tiled cross. The mosaic tiled cross memorial, El Madero, built in 1933 in the center of the cemetery, has a stepped pyramid shaped base constructed of stone and cement with shells embedded along the edges. The most popular saint depicted in this cemetery though is the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is considered to be a national symbol of Mexico.

Local Mexican-Americans established the San Pedro Cemetery Association in 1909 when most cemeteries in Texas were segregated by ethnicity. Luis Rosales and others helped collect money to purchase approximately two acres of land at the corner of Posey Road and Old Bastrop Highway. The cemetery by-laws list forty-seven men as founders and stated that persons of all means and all faiths had the right to bury their loved ones. Records from 1915 indicate the association had grown to almost three hundred members. With their numbers still growing, another two acres was purchased in 1933.

Local Mexican-Americans established the San Pedro Cemetery Association in 1909 when most cemeteries in Texas were segregated by ethnicity. Luis Rosales and others helped collect money to purchase approximately two acres of land at the corner of Posey Road and Old Bastrop Highway. The cemetery by-laws list forty-seven men as founders and stated that persons of all means and all faiths had the right to bury their loved ones. Records from 1915 indicate the association had grown to approximately three hundred members, so in 1933 another two acres was purchased.

If you have never visited San Pedro, now is the time. Put November 7 from 2 to 4 pm on your calendar. Family members with relatives or friends buried there are encouraged to bring photos to share as well as stories of loved ones. In case of rain, the ceremony will take place November 14, same time... same place. For more information call 512-557-0274.

Hays Historical Commission to Screen New “Captain Jack” Documentary

Captain Jack C. Hays and his Texas Rangers are riding again in Hays County, and the public is invited to watch the action unfold.

After months of planning, filming and editing, the Hays County Historical Commission has completed a new documentary on Hays, entitled “Captain Jack, The Story of John Coffee Hays.” The 30-minute film tells the story of Hays County’s namesake from his arrival in Texas in late 1837 to his death in Oakland, California, in 1883.

    Several screenings of the documentary are being offered to the public free of charge at various locations throughout the county. All will be at 4 p.m. The schedule includes the following:
  • Oct. 11 at Jack C. Hays High School (4800 Jack C. Hays Trail in Buda)
  • Oct. 18 at the Alkek Theatre at Texas State University (The theater is located on the first floor of the Alkek Library, which is situated behind the LBJ Student Center. Parking is free on Sunday afternoons, and the closest parking will be in the Alkek Parking Garage just off Comanche Street or the Wood Street Parking Garage by the Student Center)
  • Oct. 25 at the Wimberley Playhouse (450 Old Kyle Road in Wimberley)
  • Nov. 1 at Thurman’s Mansion in Driftwood (Located near the Salt Lick at 17900 FM 1826)

“Captain Jack” features historical re-enactments of Jack Hays meeting with Sam Houston, recruiting Texas Rangers in San Antonio, patrolling south Texas, surveying land, and meeting his future wife, Susan Calvert. Additional scenes cover Hays and his Rangers fighting Comanche Indians on Walker's Creek, leading a wagon train west to California, becoming the first sheriff of San Francisco, and founding the city of Oakland.

The project was directed by Richard Kidd and produced by Kate Johnson with period music from the Celtaire String Band and The Gillette Brothers. The Celtaire String Band will be featured at the San Marcos showing to perform a short set of their songs. The Gillette Brothers will be on hand for the Driftwood screening.

Support for the project came from many citizens, foundations, and companies in Hays County, along with the County Commissioners. 
Groups interested in scheduling a showing of the documentary may contact Richard Kidd atrdkidd44@aol.com .

Jack C. Hays Documentary

Ingalsbe Funds Cementerio del Rio Project

Ingalsbe Funds Cementerio del Rio Project

On hand for the $1500 check presentation that funded the professional righting and leveling of four massive Woodmen of the World tombstones at Cementerio del Rio were (L-R) LaMarr Petersen, Linda Coker, Hays County Commissioner Debbie Inglasbe, Jim Cullen, Ofelia Vasquez-Philo, and Dorothy Gumbert.

Hays County Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe graciously funded the full cost ($1500) for a special cemetery restoration project. Ingalsbe’s funds enabled HCHC to secure the professional stone conservator services of Wimberley’s Don Hudson in righting and leveling four large Woodmen of the World tombstones. Those stones had fallen over the many years of neglect at Cementerio del Rio, where HCHC restoration efforts continue.

Earlier this year, Richard Gomez of San Marcos contracted to complete the fencing of the over four acre site, deeded to Hays County in 1873. Prior to the fencing project, cattle from adjoining property had freely roamed the historic old Hispanic cemetery on their way to and from the San Marcos River. The site sadly shows too many scars from almost a century of neglect, though HCHC work in the 1990s brought it back from the edge of extinction.

Ofelia Vasquez-Philo video gets public debut

Ofelia Vasquez-Philo video gets public debut

HCHC Vice-Chair and host Shelly Henry presented Ofelia Vasquez-Philo with flowers and a corsage provided for the evening by Betty and Jack Harrison.

San Marcos Academy was the site for a delightful HCHC-hosted July evening debuting the video history of Ofelia Vasquez-Philo. The second production from the studio of Richard Kidd offered to the public in the summer of 2009, the instant classic is the latest in the “Voices of Hays County History” series.

More than sixty people enjoyed the beautiful Academy library setting, among them a sizable contingent of longtime HCHC member and community leader Vasquez-Philo’s family. Commission Vice-Chair Shelly Henry served as the site host and welcomed the enthusiastic crowd that included friends and supporters from across the county. Chairman Kate Johnson offered her welcome, as well, updating the group on HCHC’s other current projects that include producing a documentary on the life of Jack C. Hays…and restoring the 19th Century Hays County Jail.

The “Voices of Hays County History” is a continuing project of the HCHC oral history committee. More than a dozen Hays County “Voices” have been videotaped, with Richard Kidd handling production, Bonnie Eissler providing technical support, and several members, including Shelly Henry, Betty Harrison, and Jim Cullen interviewing.

Hays County Historical Commission Commemorates Jack C. Hays in California Trek

HCHC Shows Barton-Johnson Video

HCHC Shows Barton-Johnson Video

Almost 60 appreciative Kyle-Buda area residents gathered at Hays High's Burdine Johnson Theatre recently to enjoy HCHC's latest “Voices of Hays County's History” show, a Richard Kidd-produced video of friends Bob Barton and Moe Johnson. Seen at the event were (L-R) Barton, Johnson, HCISD's first board president, Red Simon, and the district's new superintendent, Dr. Jeremy Lyon.

Highlighting onetime “Buda Boys” Bob Barton and Moe Johnson, the Hays County Historical Commission recently presented its latest “Voices of Hays County History” installment on the longtime friends and Goforth-Buda-Kyle civic pioneers. The occasion was a gathering of Hays CISD, Kyle, and Buda residents at Hays High School’s Burdine Johnson Theatre. Retired HCISD administrator Betty Harrison interviewed Barton and Johnson, assisted by HCHC member Bonnie Eissler, with the entire piece, as always, professionally produced by Richard Kidd. An appreciative crowd of almost 60 attended, among those in the audience HCISD’s first board president, Red Simon, and its newly-arrived superintendent, Dr. Jeremy Lyon.

Hays Historical Commission Honored

Hays Historical Commission Honored

Shelley Henry, vice chairman of the Hays County Historical Commission (HCHC), accepts the Distinguished Service Award on behalf of the HCHC from Mark Wolfe, Chief Deputy Executive Director of the Texas Historical Commission. The award recognizes the HCHC for their dedication to historical programs and preservation efforts. (courtesy photo)

The Texas Historical Commission recently recognized Hays County with the 2008 Distinguished Service Award. The honor was presented during a special reception April 16 at the THC's Annual Historic Preservation Conference in Lakeway.

The award recognizes county historical commissions that have demonstrated a dedication to several of the THC's programs as well as preservation efforts that lead to a greater understanding of state and local history.

"The commitment of Hays County's preservation efforts demonstrates an enthusiasm for saving the real places of Texas," said THC Executive Director Larry Oaks. "Your service has helped to enrich the lives of others through history, ensuring the preservation of our state's past into the future."

The Hays County Historical Commission has a number of ongoing projects including cemetery research and preservation, recording oral histories, and planning the renovation of the old county jail. The group meets monthly at historic locations throughout the county. More information can be found on the HCHC website, www.hayshistoricalcommission.com.

Cemetery Committee Visits Driftwood

Land-owner Scott Marshall (left) discusses the history of the Reaves Cemetery with HCHC Cemetery Committee members Dorothy Gumbert and Bob Flocke during the committee's recent visit in Driftwood. Linda Coker and Jim Cullen also joined the group.

HCHC Cemetery Committee members Bob Flocke, Dorothy Gumbert, Linda Coker, and Jim Cullen enjoyed a March 23, 2009, visit to a pair of isolated Hill Country cemeteries near Driftwood. Following the unfailing directions of the Hays County Cemetery Inscriptions, Vol. I book written by Jo Ann Hearn and Dorothy Kerbow, the group contacted Scott Marshall for a successful visit to the Reaves Cemetery, then sought out the site of Driftwood’s Old Community Cemetery.

Marshall has contained the Reaves Cemetery with a chain link fence to protect the gravesites from livestock, for which he is to be thanked, and he continues periodic maintenance at the site. As described by Hearn and Kerbow, the Old Community Cemetery—not far from Reaves Cemetery as the crow flies—contains only one stone, that of a mother Darthula and daughter Nettie, marking their same day, October 1, 1883, deaths.

Burns Sons’ Hill Country Gravesite Re-Consecrated

Following the March 7, 2009, re-consecration of the Burns Sons’ Gravesite, attendees appreciatively take in the young brothers’ Hill Country gravesite.

Hays County’s most recently recognized (the first in at least 15 years) and documented Historic Texas Cemetery, the Burns Sons’ Gravesite, was officially re-consecrated in a Saturday, March 7, 2009, ceremony on the Rocking P Ranch south of Dripping Springs. Luther Ulmer Burns (March 2, 1878—August 5, 1879) and Carl Sydney Burns (February 15, 1881—February 16, 1881) share a tombstone enclosed by a small rock fence on the ranch currently owned by Scott and Pam McAfee.

Scott did the research on the Burns Sons’ Gravesite, a history rolling back to the site’s early Hays County landowners. The Texas Historical Commission has officially designated the site as historic and the official state marker will soon be placed at the site. Approximately 35 people attended the re-consecration, the Hays County Historical Commission represented by Jim and Luanne Cullen.

Newly appointed members to the Hays County Historical Commission

Newly appointed members to the Hays County Historical Commission

Newly appointed members to the Hays County Historical Commission met recently at the Hays County Courthouse in the County Commissioners Court Room in San Marcos for an organizational meeting. Chairman Johnson told them they would become "the arms and legs for the county, state and nation historic trusts. That the commission members would know everything about how to apply for any historic designation." It's a tall order, but newer members were cheered by long-term members like Ofelia Vasquez-Philo, who have served ably since the commission's inception.

Front row L-R: Mary Mattis, Opelia Vasquez-Philo, Mary Giberson, Helena Goodson-Hauk, Chairman Kate Johnson, Bonnie Eissler and Betty Harrison. Back row L-R: Lu Hickey, Linda Coker, Bob Flocke, Linda Keese, Jim Cullen, LaMarr Petersen, Richard Kidd, Robert Frizzell and Marianne Moore. Not pictured are members Stephanie Cruz, Richard Gachot, Dorothy Gumbert, Shelley Henry, SarahAnn Lowther, Clemmie new Zeke Palacios and Gary Rush.

“Journey to California” Documentary Completed and Available for Group Showings

The Hays County Historical Commission has just finished a documentary about Capt. Jack C. Hays and his 1849 trip to California and becoming the first sheriff of San Francisco. Members of the Historical Commission recreated this trip west and traveled the same trail to San Francisco, visiting the Hays burial site in Oakland and with the current San Francisco Sheriff, Michael Hennessey. It's a great opportunity to learn more about the famous Texas Ranger that Hays County is named after.

This documentary is available for free showing to your group or meeting. Please contact Richard Kidd at 512-858-4443 to make arrangements.


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