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President’s Message – September 2015

Written by Brazos Heritage President on . Posted in Blog

The Stars and Stripes boldly flared, driven by a strong July breeze, while The Star-Spangled Banner rang out acapella from the bandstand. Softly singing along, tears came to my eyes as they usually do when I see the flag raised and sing our national anthem.

My love for this musical tribute to our American flag was deepened back in September 2014 when I learned the story of how the anthem came to be written. In 1814 (during the War of 1812), Francis Scott Key was tasked to make a POW exchange with the British. Shipboard during the negotiations, he was informed that the British planned to end the war with a massive bombardment of Ft McHenry, which was full of non-combatants as well as soldiers. The British demanded that the Americans strike the colors or face the wrath of the entire British Navy. They declined. After a hellish night of heavy shelling, including multiple direct hits on the flag, when dawn finally came Key saw that the flag miraculously remained. Shredded, canted at a weird angle, it yet stood – because men physically held it in place. Throughout the night, as defenders died others took their place. Our flag still flew, a symbol of our determination, because it was held in place by the bodies of dead American patriots.

The flag raising and anthem that so touched me this particular July morning officially opened the Brazos Heritage Society’s 29th annual Independence Day in Heritage Park. The day turned out quite beautiful, warm but with that strong breeze, and no rain. After the incredibly wet spring we just endured, that was a blessing. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, if you didn’t mind chasing a few papers. Reverend Ross Hooks, husband of long-time member Fran (Lamb) Hooks, started us off with a wonderful invocation, followed by the flag raising, anthem, and a tribute to the flag by The National Sojourners.

As President, I added a few of my own thoughts about the significance of the day, sharing some of the history of what their bid for Liberty cost our Founding Fathers, followed by a reminder that our freedom is dearly bought by the service and blood of our soldiers, past and present.

After the opening ceremony, I lined up a large group of children of all ages near the bandstand where Sheila Fields, our parade mistress, quickly passed out colorful red, white and blue leis. We actually started a couple minutes early because if I didn’t let the kids run, they were going to mutiny! While the band played, they made multiple laps around on the park on their gaily decorated bikes, scooters, skates, wagons, and strollers. This colorful, joyful parade of youngsters is always the highlight of the event!

For the remainder of the time our visitors enjoyed wonderful popular music by Proud Country, a group that has played the event for a number of years. They munched on hotdogs, popcorn, and watermelon while strolling among the different exhibitor booths under the shade of the park’s tall trees. This year’s exhibitors included the A & M Garden Club, Brazos Spinners and Weavers Guild, Brazos Valley African American Museum, Brazos Valley Farmer’s Market, Central Texas Historical Association, NS Daughters of the American Revolution, The Brazos Bluebonnet Quilt Guild, The Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History, and The James C. Taylor Association (a local veteran support group).

Along the street, the Bluebonnet Streetrodders displayed a variety of gorgeous vintage cars. The antique cars were joined by a 2.5 ton LMTV (Light Medium Tactical Vehicle) and the well-known High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), or Humvee, provided by our local U.S. Army Reserve 420th Engineer Brigade. Being able to climb around on the military vehicles was a big hit with our visitors! In turn, we were delighted to share the day with a few of our soldiers.

For a second year, we were also joined by local radio station KORA, who broadcast live from 9 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. I personally want to thank Fran (Lamb) Hooks for her wonderful help again this year in coordinating our pre-event advertising with KORA and the broadcast. KORA’s presence was made possible by donations from Mervin and Annette Peters, Bookman and Florence Peters, and Tom and Caroline McDonald.

All of this Independence Day fun was made possible thanks to the support of BSA Troop #383 (St. Joseph Catholic Church), Dent Magic, Dixie Chicken Inc., HEB, Kroger, Saint-Gobain Norpro, The Downtown Bryan Association, and The Farm Patch. We are very grateful for their continuing support of this free community event.

We could not possibly host this event without the help of all our fabulous volunteers. My deep personal thanks to Cathy and Alice Cox (Children’s Games), Shirley DuPriest (Setup/Rover/Cleanup), Sheila Fields (Parade Mistress/Silent Auction booth), Tim Gray (Setup/Cleanup), Samantha and Natasha Gray (Setup/Face Painting booth/Cleanup), Zachary Gray, BSA Troop #1114 (Children’s Games/Cleanup), Daniel Hilliard (Setup/Cleanup), Nat Hilliard (Setup/Silent Auction Booth), Fran (Lamb) Hooks (Public Relations and Advertising), Reverend Ross Hooks (Invocation), Dena Kahan (Exhibitor Setup/Ticket Booth/Cleanup), Homer and Beverly Myers (Setup/Watermelon Booth/Cleanup), Ulrike Smith (Ticket Booth), and Helen Wise (Setup). Last but not least, I want to thank my husband, Randy Hilliard, who always does such an amazing job as our Events Chair. Without his logistical skill, this event would never get off the ground.

The 4th of July celebration is not a fundraiser, but our annual silent auction helps offset the costs of putting on the event. This year we raised over $700 thanks to a variety of great items donated by sports teams from around the state including Dallas Stars Hockey, FC Dallas Soccer, the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation (Dallas Cowboys), the Houston Rockets, the Texas Rangers, and Texas Stars Hockey. Local donors include the Benjamin Knox Gallery, Blue Baker, Patty Clark, Brazos Glassworks, the Brazos Valley Bombers, Jim.n.i, Kwik-Kar, Lady Camo, Beverly Myers, Steve Miller, Old Bryan Marketplace, Southern Grace, Texas Rose Boutique, The Chocolate Gallery, Harvey and Helen Wise, and Studio Yoga. We also received a monetary donation from Fran (Lamb) Hooks. Due to July 4th being on a Saturday, and part of a long weekend, it seemed like our turnout was not quite as high as last year, but the feedback has been uniformly enthusiastic, which is all we ask. While we are busy wrapping up the after-event paperwork, rest assured we are also already making plans for our 30th annual Independence Day in the Park for July 4, 2016. Our 30th year coincides with the 175th anniversary of the founding of Brazos County and the 150th year of the founding of Bryan, so it will be a time for celebrating some auspicious anniversaries.

Moving on from the 4th of July event, I wanted to discuss a few other items of business. First, our next event will be Boonville Days on October 10. We’ve had a booth at the event multiple years and we always enjoy getting to share local history with visitors. We also offer a butter-churning demonstration, complete with snacks. We showcase vintage school books, a Brazos County timeline, and antique pioneer items loaned to us by Dr. Lou Hodges. I hope you’ll think about attending the event, which is always a wonderful look at our pioneer period. If you do, be sure and stop by our booth and say “hi!”

As you can see, we’ve been working on the look and content of the newsletter. As well as the new features, we also plan to start publishing quarterly in order to make our newsletter a more useful tool for sharing what is going on with BHS. The changes in our newsletter would not be possible without the help of Stephanie Snyder, a BHS member in San Antonio who stepped up and offered to do much of the production. Don’t forget, however, that if you are a social media user, we also post regularly on our Facebook page at Not only do we share BHS events and information, we also share both local and national items of historical interest. It is a great way to stay in touch in between newsletter issues.

In separate articles, I provide updates on the Turner-Peters Dogtrot Cabin project and the revitalized effort to restore Temple Freda, Bryan’s first synagogue, located on Parker Street just off downtown behind Old Bryan Marketplace. If you would like more historical information, you can visit our website at under Projects.

Finally, if you are a newsletter subscriber but not a member, I would like to encourage you to formally join the Brazos Heritage Society. Memberships are as low as $10/individual or $15/family. We are only as strong as our membership, and we truly value your support and your ideas.

2015 Annual 4th of July in Heritage Park

Written by Brazos Heritage President on . Posted in Events

SATURDAY, July 4, 2015

9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Corner of East 30th Street and Hutchins in Bryan (see map below)

Come join us for a FREE community event hosted by the Brazos Heritage Society with a flag raising, patriotic music, a children’s parade, and refreshments at “old-fashioned” prices.

We also offer face painting, children’s games, and a number of local, non-profit exhibitors. Browse booths devoted to gardening, quilting, spinning and weaving, and historical societies.

For the big “kid” in all of us, come enjoy antique automobiles presented by a local car club.

For those who have served our country, past and present – or for those who support our soldiers and veterans and are interested in all things military – we will host exhibitors from veterans’ support associations, military museums, and our local Army Reserve unit.

2015 Annual 4th of July in Heritage Park

Written by Brazos Heritage President on . Posted in Blog

It’s that time of year again when we start planning to host the annual Old-Fashioned 4th of July in Heritage Park! This free community event will be held on Saturday, July 4 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

One thing that makes our 4th of July event a continuing success each year is the participation of local individuals, businesses, and organizations. In the past we have been blessed with everything from monetary donations to support KORA doing a live broadcast to the free watermelons we serve to the guests. Many of our donors also provide items for our silent auction. Additionally, each year we have a wonderful group of exhibitors who set up booths and share their organization’s unique message/function with our attendees.

Based on prior years, I estimate that the 4th of July will cost between $2,200 and $2,500 for us to host. These are draft numbers; I will not have finalized numbers until May or June. The past few years we’ve been able to about break even or come out a little ahead solely due to the generosity of our sponsors and donors.

While last year’s event was very successful, we are always looking to improve and make this an even better community experience. We would like to call on all our supporters to help expand our list of sponsors/donors/exhibitors for the 2015 4th of July event.

First of all, if you know an individual or organization who might be wiling to sponsor some aspect of the event, or donate to the event or the silent auction, please contact them. We can provide you with a fundraising request letter as well as an electronic version of the IRS 501(c)(3) letter, our EIN letter, and our bylaws if your contact needs or requests any of these supporting documents. If you are not comfortable contacting them, we would at least appreciate an introduction so that we don’t have to “cold call” on anyone.

Second, if you know any non-profit organizations in Brazos County who might like to be an exhibitor, please extend them an invitation. Inviting non-profit exhibitors highlights the wonderful and varied services provided by these organizations in our community. For-profit groups are welcome as long as their purpose is to provide some type of free activity or educational message to the community, rather than advertising or selling their products (e.g., Home Depot’s craft activity booth). Interested exhibitors are welcome to contact me with any questions.

Below is a list of last year’s donors and exhibitors to give you an idea of who has supported our event in years past. Any sponsors/donors or exhibitors will be acknowledged in our program, on social media, on our 2015 4th of July webpage, and with a written thank you letter acknowledging their contribution for tax purposes. The Brazos Heritage Society is a 501(c)3 organization for purposes of donations.

Sponsors/donors and exhibitors from last year:

BSA Troop 383 (St. Joseph Catholic Church)
Dent Magic
Saint-Gobain NorPro
The Downtown Bryan Assn.
The Farm Patch

Sheila Fields
John and Keith Halsell
Catherine Herrin
Dan and Nat Hilliard
Fran Hooks
Henry Mayo
Tom and Caroline McDonald
Homer and Beverly Myers
Bookman and Florence Peters
Mervin and Annette Peters

Baylor Athletic Department
Benjamin Knox
Brazos Glassworks
Brazos Valley Bombers
Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History
Dallas Stars (Hockey)
Disneyland California
FC Dallas (Soccer)
Gene and Jerry Jones Family Charities (Dallas Cowboys)
Lady Camo
Steve Miller
Beverly Myers
Southern Grace
Texas Rose Boutique
The Chocolate Factory
Helen Wise

A & M Garden Club
American Red Cross
Bluebonnet Streetrodders
Brazos Spinners and Weavers Guild
Brazos Valley Veterans
Daughters of the American Revolution
Habitat for Humanity
Home Depot
Museum of the American GI
The American Legion Earl Graham Post #159 Auxiliary
The Brazos Bluebonnet Quilt Guild
The Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History
The James C. Taylor Assn.

Gerald Garcia

National Sojourners
Proud Country

FINALLY, we cannot truly put on a good community event without the help of volunteers. This is a labor-intensive project and we can use help in the following areas:

Setup (active position in the sun)

Children’s Games (active position in the sun)

Face painting (sitting under canopy)

Ticket Sales (sitting under canopy)

Silent Auction (sitting under canopy)

BHS Booth (sitting under canopy)

Concessions – 2 booths (active under canopy)
Clean up (active position in the sun)

Thanks for your help!

Stephanie Hilliard, President and Randy Hilliard, Events Chair

Report on a meeting with the Director for the Central Texas Historical Association

Written by Brazos Heritage President on . Posted in Blog

One of my goals as President of the Brazos Heritage Society has been networking with other historical groups in the area. In particular, I hoped to make some connections with the Blinn and Texas A&M history departments.

Yesterday, I had a meeting with Dr. Kenneth Howell, a history professor at Blinn and the recently hired Director for the new Central Texas Historical Association. This is a non-profit organization that will cover the central part of our great State, joining the already extant Western, Eastern, and Southern Historical Associations.

We discussed at some length ways in which CTHA and BHS might be able to collaborate in the future, including cross-advertising for each others’ events and even gaining access to potential speakers for future talks. We also talked about CTHA utilizing the wonderful historical resources (our people!) that can be found in Brazos County. We have multiple folks who are a treasure trove of local historical information.

While it may be a bit before we see any active collaborations, given that CTHA is just getting started, I wanted to let everyone know that I am making good on my goal to network and start connecting BHS into the larger historical community in order to further our ability to pursue historical preservation and education.

On a side note, Dr. Howell is heading up the Webb Society, a school-based historical student group that was recently re-instituted at Blinn. One of their projects is capturing oral histories. This is something originally suggested by my VP, Isabel, and it would be a fantastic resource for visitors to the BHS website. It would be even better if we can provide a link to a video archive rather than having to do this work ourselves. I will try to keep up with the progress of this project.

With the help of Stephanie Snyder who joined BHS in the past year, we are also working on taking the newsletter to a quarterly publication schedule and including what I hope will be informative articles/information on a number of topics.

Last but not least, I hope to post some photos in the near future that Randy took of the work in progress on the Turner-Peters Dogtrot Cabin.

Until next time.

Stephanie Hilliard


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