Think, Texas kicks into high gear by sharing some reader tips and by answering some reader questions.
Let’s begin with reader tips:
Margaret Cox wrote to share some research sites related to her hometown of Eden in Concho County. She also sent me a copy of a paper she has written about John Wilkes Booth, the 19th-century presidential assassin.
“Eden’s legend is that John Wilkes Booth may have been Eden’s first school teacher in 1885 under the name of W.J. Ryan,” Cox writes about folklore that suggests that Booth was not shot by a Union soldier 12 days after he killed President Abraham Lincoln. “He survived and hid out in Texas for many years. Curious thought.”
Kathleen Bryson sent via PDF a whole slew of information about her Texas socialist family, who hid their political roots during the McCarthy era. Fascinating stuff.
Kathleen Bergeron wrote about several subjects, but also told us that she is in North Carolina doing research for a book about Texas’ first governor, James Pinkney Henderson, who was born in that state. We look forward to it.
Kay Hutto directs us to the Buggy Barn Museum in Blanco, which we somehow have missed every time we’ve tooled through town. Next time. And, oh, visit the tap room at Real Ale Brewing Company there.
Lisa C. Self wanted us to know more about her Van Zandt ancestors. In a sweet turn of events, I was able to connect her to a leader of the Van Zandt Society, which recently held its reunion in Austin. They had lunch at the Van Zandt Hotel.
And now for the reader historical questions:
Jan Whiteley: “I recently bought an old crock with ‘Price Booker Mfg. Co. San Antonio, Texas’ stamped on it. Can you find information about this company?”
With the help of Charles Peveto from the Texas Historical Commission, I were able to draft the help of Charlie Morin, an art dealer and Texas pottery expert in San Antonio.
“Mostly what I know about the company is that they sold pickles and possibly liquor,” Morin writes. “I have seen many pieces of pottery with ‘Price Booker’ on them.” Morin also shared an article about Chriesman, an unincorporated area in Burleson County: “In 1904, a cucumber salting station was established in the community by Price-Booker Manufacturing Company of San Antonio.”
Linda Piefer writes: “My husband’s father, Wiburn Piefer, graduated from Hearne High School in 1941-1942. He graduated early to enlist in World War II. I am trying to locate a copy of his high school yearbook — just to find photos — I have no idea where to locate one.”
I contacted Kaitlyn Gonzalez, director of the Smith-Welch Memorial Library in Hearne.
“The years closest to the one you mention I currently have are the 1936, 1938 and 1944 yearbooks,” Gonzalez writes. “Sorry I do not have the exact yearbook you were looking for, but please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.”
I relayed this bit to Piefer, who was delighted and plans to reach out to Gonzalez. Photos of Wilbur will likely appear in one of those volumes.
Beth Grayson writes: “I was reading the Sept. 17, 1937 — 50th anniversary — edition of the history of Bartlett when I came across an article about a seventh flag flying over the state of Texas. ... The flag was from the Comanche tribe who controlled vast portions of land across the state of Texas.
“According to the article, the Comanche flag was made from buffalo hides tanned to the consistency of parchment adorned with ‘holy sun rays’ and was flown in the villages across the territory of Texas.”
“You are onto something,” I responded. “Texas actually flew many flags. Robert Maberry’s book, ‘Texas Flags,’ records dozens, including quite a few variations on the Lone Star. The flags have traditionally been reduced to six in order to make a point about the major powers that have exercised sovereignty over the land.
“Since the Comanches did control wide swathes of Texas for centuries, it would make some sense to add theirs. The modern Comanche flag, however, does not resemble the one that you describe and I have not yet located a copy of the image that the Barlett history describes. But I will keep an eye out. What a neat idea for a column.”