FROM STAFF REPORTS
BURNET — When it comes to history, we think of the big events and the big places, the ones that had the largest impact on the country and the world. But history doesn’t just happen on the “big stage;” it happens all around us in our communities and counties.
Our history — our story — is how Grandma hung up her apron 70 years ago and learned to weld in a factory that made supplies for American and Allied forces during World War II. It’s the churches and businesses — some have come and gone, others have stayed — that helped build and foster a community.
Much of this local history would fade away if not for the work of members of historical commissions such as the Burnet County Historical Commission. Members volunteer their time and effort to find, protect, and preserve Burnet County history.
The county historical commission recently added another notch to its belt: the Texas Historical Commission recognized it with the Distinguished Service Award for the 2017 year of service. It’s the seventh year in a row the Burnet County commission has earned that honor.
“We’re very proud to be one of 80 recipients of this annual award from the state,” said JoAnn Myers, chair of the Burnet County Historical Commission. The 39 county historical commission members provided more than 3,100 volunteer hours during 2017, which, Myers pointed out, is an in-kind donation of $76,797 to Burnet County.
Across the state, county historical commissions reported more than 417,000 volunteer hours in 2017. According to the Texas Historical Commission, that’s worth more than $10 million.
In Texas, each county has a historical commission charged with finding and preserving local history. The state commission uses the service award to acknowledge and honor these county commissions.
The Burnet County commission members are very active in collecting and preserving local history.
“We had a very busy and productive year in 2017,” Myers said. “Nine members launched an oral history project to capture local history and preserve memories from aging citizens who were part of that history. The project continues in 2018, with 20 interviews completed and many more on the waiting list.”
Another committee worked on celebrating local women who have made an impact in Burnet County. During the Women of Note program, the committed recognized 13 women with biographies and certificates during a luncheon.
“We researched historic businesses in the county, which resulted in the county’s first Texas Treasures Award, presented to First State Bank (during a Burnet County) Commissioners Court (meeting) for (the bank’s) continuous presence in Burnet for over 50 years,” Myers said. “Members are researching more historic businesses for awards this year.”
The local commission’s education committee began developing a curriculum last year to go along with artifacts at Fort Croghan Museum and Grounds that teachers can use in their classrooms or on field trips to the Burnet museum. In 2017, the commission also hosted a regional training workshop that brought in 84 people from across Texas.
One of the commission’s most recent preservation efforts was purchasing and dedicating historical markers for the two remaining iron bridges in county hands. The bridges were part of a 1890s bond project that helped connect communities and open up economic development. Most of these bridges are gone, but through the commission members’ efforts, people can learn about all of them as well as the two still standing.
“Burnet (County Historical Commission) has continued its successful preservation projects, not only through the dedicated commitment of our appointees but, in large part, because of the support of County Judge James Oakley and county Commissioners Jim Luther Jr., Russell Graeter, Billy Wall, and Joe Don Dockery,” Myers added. “Their encouragement and financial support have enabled us to plan and complete important projects for the county.”
The Burnet County Historical Commission is part of county government, composed of volunteers appointed by the commissioners court for two-year terms. A new two-year term begins in January 2019, and new volunteers are always welcome. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the commission’s Facebook page for more information.