BURNET — Even though the state of Texas mandates each county establish a county historical commission, that doesn’t mean those entities put in quite the effort on the level of the Burnet County Historical Commission.
After all, the all-volunteer commission with minimal funding still manages to advocate for historical awareness and preservation on league with counties much larger than Burnet County. Recently, the Texas Historical Commission recognized the Burnet County Historical Commission’s efforts in 2014 and bestowed the Distinguished Service Award on the local group. The state commission looked at each county’s historical commission report before determining which ones deserved such an honor.
“It’s really significant since only 90 counties of the 254 in the state earned the distinction,” said JoAnn Myers, a member of the Burnet County Historical Commission. “And we were judged equally against much larger counties.”
The Burnet County Historical Commission doesn’t have the resources other — mostly larger — counties might have, but they make up for it by pouring their hearts into the recognition and preservation of local history.
“We all love this,” Myers said. “I think that’s one of the reasons we’re so successful.”
The Burnet County Commissioners Court appoints the all-volunteer, 29-member commission. After the appointment process, county commissioners may offer guidance and advice, but most of the efforts fall on the shoulders of the historical commission members.
And they run with it.
In 2014, the commission contributed more than 3,000 volunteer hours. Myers said it’s been a busy year as the commission has worked around the county to preserve historical sites, basically the story of Burnet County.
Some of the 2014 activities included arranging for professional consultants to survey and evaluate the historic old Burnet jail; advocate for historical properties such as the Bluebonnet House (Dorbandt) House in Marble Falls, the Craddock House in Burnet and the Fuch House in Horseshoe Bay; review two successful historical marker applications; identified and researched historical bridges; cleared and fenced the Stringtown Cemetery near Oatmeal; and continued to promote historical and cultural sites to develop heritage tourism.
That’s just a sampling of what the commission volunteers worked on in 2014, not to mention the things they did in connection with other historical organizations in the Highland Lakes.
While the historical commission works to preserve historical buildings and places, they don’t swoop in and place markers on private property without the landowner’s permission or support.
“We need the permission of the landowner,” Myers said. “I think people have this idea we can just put up a marker, but we can’t. We want to work with property owners in protecting and conserving these incredible buildings and places that tell Burnet County’s story.”
And while history might seem like dry and dull facts left to the history books or markers on the side of the road or on buildings, Myers countered that it’s not that at all but something we interact with on a daily basis.
“History really is our story,” she explained. “It’s who we are and where we came from. It’s not just dates in a book; it’s the people who lived here in the past and who live here today.”
For more information the Burnet County Historical Commission, check out its Facebook page.