Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Up Next...

We're working on our next exhibit entitled Picturing the Past. During our summer history camps, students were given the chance to write exhibit labels for images from our historic photograph collection. The results are fun, interesting, and unexpected.

Here's a sneak preview. Below is a detail from one of the photographs with the text written by a couple of students.

In this picture you see the circus parading past the courthouse. As the circuses of old, they used horse-drawn carriages to get around. Every year when the circus came, people were crowding around the streets to watch. Some people paid a lot of money to watch. Everyone in the city (almost) comes to watch. Let's go!

The exhibit opens on Saturday, August 30, at 2:00 pm. Stop by!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Our own little History's Mystery

I'm working on updating one of our older exhibits-- new labels, new images, new maps. Instead of just rewriting the old labels, I started to do a bit of research and quickly ran into a small mystery. In our exhibit as well as in THE history book for the county, it says that the citizens of the western portion of Milam County distributed and signed a petition to create a new county. The petition was supposed to have been circulated in February 1848. Then, in March 1848 (a mere month later) the Texas legislature voted and passed the creation of Williamson County out of that portion of Milam County.

So, as any good historian would, I wanted to see the original petitions. I went online to the Texas State Library and Archives website to conduct a search for the documents (the petitions and the original Act to create the county). But, I couldn't find anything. Thinking that I had just not figured out the correct grouping of words to find what I was looking for, I sent an email to the reference staff.

Surprise, surprise, I received an email back that they located two petitions, BUT they're not dated 1848...they're dated 1840. Very interesting. Of course, I've asked to have copies of the petitions so that I can see for myself.

This is a very interesting situation and brings up some questions. How could a group of people whose main complaint about the traveling distance through Milam County get two petitions circulated and signed, delivered to the Legislature, and voted on in a month? I just can't imagine that anything in any government could get done that quickly, especially in the 1840s when it took days to travel anywhere on horseback or wagon. How did we get the information wrong (if it is wrong)? And, if someone knew the date was off, why hasn't that information been passed on? Hmmm.

So, I'm waiting for the copies to see what the real story (or rather, date) is.

I'll keep you posted.