Archive for December, 2012

Travis County History Day 2012

The fifth annual Travis County History Day was a success! Thanks to all of you who were able to make it to the event. Held on October 26, 2012, the event celebrated Travis County: Then and Now, by looking at the ways the county has changed over its history. The event took place at 700 Lavaca in the Commissioners Courtroom, with historical displays presented in the Hall of Government. History Day was preceded by a building dedication for 700 Lavaca led by Judge Samuel T. Biscoe, with remarks by Commissioners Margaret Gómez and Karen Huber. We would like to thank Commissioner Margaret Gómez for acting as the Master of Ceremonies for History Day and our two speakers, R.G. Ratcliffe and Dr. Jeffrey S. Kerr. Both Mr. Ratcliffe and Dr. Kerr presented riveting stories of early Travis County history.

This year’s historical displays compared Travis County past and present through photos and descriptions focused on the changes of the county and its government through time. The displays included past and present comparisons of Travis County programs and services, courtrooms and buildings, communities, populations and roads. Photos for the displays came from both the Travis County Archives and the Austin History Center. Also featured were display cases of historical records and photographs documenting Travis County’s history and development. Guest speaker R.G. Ratcliffe provided an interesting account of the rise of William H. Holland, Travis County’s first African American commissioner. For many years, Jimmy Snell, elected Travis County Commissioner for Precinct 1 in 1981, was believed to be Travis County’s first African American commissioner. Mr. Ratcliffe’s research reveals that William H. Holland was elected county commissioner of Precinct 1 more than a hundred years before Mr. Snell in 1878 and served until 1884. Additionally, Mr. Holland was an Austin school teacher and a Texas State legislator who sponsored the creation of The Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institute for Colored Youth in Austin. Thanks to Mr. Ratcliffe’s research and presentation on Mr. Holland, the impact and legacy of African Americans in early Travis County is better known.  Guest speaker Dr. Jeffrey S. Kerr provided a fascinating tale of the scalping of early Travis County settler Josiah Wilbarger by Comanche Indians in 1833.

Special thanks and recognition go out to the sponsors of Travis County History Day: the Austin Bar Association, the Austin History Center, the Travis County Archives, and the Travis County Historical Commission. The support of these organizations has been instrumental in the success of Travis County History Day.

Next year’s Travis County History Day will focus on the history of Travis County Law Enforcement. Please follow the blog for more information on next year’s History Day.

Below are a few photos from the event.

HD12-1

Display Cases at History Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Display boards at History Day

Display boards at History Day

Guest Speaker R.G. Ratclifffe

Guest Speaker R.G. Ratclifffe

Guest Speaker Dr. Jeffrey S. Kerr

Guest Speaker Dr. Jeffrey S. Kerr