Thursday, March 28, 2013

President’s Message

 At the end of February Nat Hilliard completed her second term as President of the Brazos Heritage Society.  During her two terms in this leadership position she created energy and enthusiasm within the organization, she caused the delivery of a number of successful programs and activities, and she was, without a doubt, a good steward of all that which she was entrusted.  We owe her a debt of gratitude for her remarkable service to the Society, both in the past and continuing. 

During the year I serve as President, and with the help of a very able Executive Committee, I intend to continue on the course set by Nat and build on it.  Elected and appointed members of the Executive Committee include:

Isabel McPartlin, Vice President
Kyle Kovel, Secretary
Beverly Myers, Treasurer
Nat Hilliard, Immediate Past President
Tom McDonald, Of Counsel
Sheila Fields, Research Chair
Randy and Stephanie Hilliard, Special Events Co-Chairs
Linda Roberts and Lee Davison, Eastside Historic District Co-Chairs

Over the past several weeks members of the Executive Committee have been meeting and have created two new committees to better serve the membership and the resources of the Society.

The first is the Events Committee, responsible for coordinating the signature event of the Society – the Independence Day festivities in Heritage Park.  In addition, this committee will work with other committees to produce activities, such as the Christmas Stroll and the Victorian Tea.  Further, this committee will take the lead in representing the Brazos Heritage Society, along with other members of the Executive Committee, at various community events.  Finally, this committee will develop and host “day trips” for Society members to historic sites and will explore the development of programs of interest to our members.  I am grateful to Randy and Stephanie Hilliard for co-chairing this vitally important committee.

The second new committee created is the Eastside Historic District Committee.  The mission of this committee is to promote and preserve this historic district of Bryan by: developing an annual plan for the district; identifying areas for improvement and enhancement; providing stewardship of Heritage Park; with the assistance of the Events Committee, conducting activities that favorably highlight the Society and the district; and advertising events in the district and park.  We are indeed fortunate that Linda Roberts and Lee Davison have volunteered to co-chair this committee.

While our plans are to continue to mail out a paper newsletter to the membership, much more information may be found on our electronic newsletter – Heritage Brazos.  On a monthly basis, or when time sensitive information needs to be disseminated, we will send out notices to the members’ emails we have on hand.   

Members interested in serving on any of the committees or becoming more involved in the activities of the Brazos Heritage Society are encouraged to contact me or any member of the Executive Committee.

                                                                                                Dan Beto, President

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cenotaph Dedicated for Richardson Perry

On Wednesday, March 27, 2013, members of the William Joel Bryan Chapter No. 14 of the Sons of the Republic of Texas and a number of interested community members dedicated a cenotaph to the memory of Richardson Perry (1817-1836) at the historic Steep Hollow Cemetery located a few miles east of Bryan.

Blair Fannin, the Chapter Publicist, welcomed those in attendance and served as master of ceremonies for the dedicatory ceremony.  George Nelson, Chapter President, provided an invocation and John Hick, Chapter Vice President, lead those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Pledge to the Texas Flag.  That was followed by the singing of “Texas, Our Texas.”  Mervin Peters, the Chapter Secretary, provided remarks on the historical significance of Richardson Perry to Brazos County and to the Republic of Texas.  Following these brief remarks, the Cenotaph was unveiled and the ceremony concluded with a benediction.

The Steep Hollow Cemetery is located on land that was originally part of the Richardson Perry League.  Perry, born in Hancock County, Mississippi, in 1817, came to Texas with his father, Burwell Perry, an early settler.  The younger Perry was single and received a land grant in Brazos County on October 10, 1835.

Perry took part in the siege of Bexar and later served in the Alamo garrison as a private in Captain William R. Carey’s artillery company.  He died in the battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836.

The Steep Hollow Cemetery has been designated a Historic Texas Cemetery by the Texas Historical Commission.  According to the historic marker provided by the State of Texas:

This burial ground was part of the Steep Hollow community, named for the valley of the Steep Hollow Branch, a tributary of Wickson Creek.  Residents were ranchers and farmers, and the community had a general store, cotton gin, gristmill, and schoolhouse.  Saint’s Rest Baptist Church (later Steep Hollow Baptist Church), organized in 1873, was associated with the cemetery, which first served as a private family burial ground.  In 1874, Charles and Evaline Peters conveyed property for the cemetery and surrounding land to the church.

The earliest interments were those of James Peters, (died 1870) son of Charles and Evaline, and Robert Martin (died 1871), son of Sarah Ann (Cheshire) and Rev. Samuel Crawford Martin (died 1902), the first pastor of Saint’s Rest Baptist Church.  The Martins are also buried here with four other ministers of the church.  Other burials include teachers, businessmen, farmers, ranchers, and veterans of military conflicts dating to the Civil War.  The cemetery is located in a naturalistic setting and features curbing, interior fencing, vertical stones, obelisks, and Woodmen of the World grave markers.

In its early years, family members cared for grounds.  By 1926, the Steep Hollow Cemetery Association (SHCA) had formed to maintain the cemetery.  In 1966, the church officially transferred ownership of the burial ground to the cemetery association.  Today, Steep Hollow Cemetery continues to serve the area and persists as a reminder of the pioneering men and women whose hard work and sacrifice contributed to the establishment of the Steep Hollow community.

Found in the accompanying Smilebox are photographs of the ceremony and parts of the cemetery.

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Additional information about Richardson Perry and the Steep Hollow Cemetery may be accessed at the following links:;

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Texas Insights

The Texas State Historical Association, in cooperation with its partners, offers Texas Insights, an electronic newsletter designed to share opportunities for Texas teachers and students while promoting effective instructional practices.

The March 2013 (Vol. III, Issue 4) edition of this electronic publication may be read by going to:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Membership Chair Solicitation

The Brazos Heritage Society is seeking a member to serve as Membership Chair; the job description follows:

Membership Chair
Job Description


The Membership Chair is responsible for all activities involving the solicitation and maintenance of the active membership; the Chair also performs various administrative and support duties for the organization.

Specific Tasks and Duties:

This position is responsible for: 1) maintaining the master membership list in a spreadsheet program; 2) keeping an updated address book for label preparation; 3) keeping all membership forms updated; 4) maintaining a file for membership applications and paper backup for all pertinent additional information; 5) writing and sending thank you notes to all new members; and, 6) forwarding any money received for membership fees to the Treasurer.


The Membership Chair is a member of the Executive Committee.

The individual filling this position must obtain prior approval of the President or the Board for any expenditures.


Persons interested, and those requiring additional information, are encouraged to contact Dan Beto at 979-822-1273 or

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Brazos Valley African American Museum

Persons interested in the history of Brazos County would do well to visit the Brazos Valley African American Museum (BVAAM) at 500 East Pruitt Street in Bryan.  As found on the museum’s website, the “BVAAM chronicles the tragedies and triumphs of African Americans from the past and present, while focusing on the history of local churches, families, and schools.  The primary goal of the museum is to portray the struggles and accomplishments of African American history in attempt to build strong cultural foundations in our youth.”

Particularly fascinating is a video presentation – “We grew up in the Brazos Valley” – which features the stories of a number of Brazos Valley residents in their own words, all of whom were 90 years or older when the video was created.

At present there is a special exhibit on “A Tale of Two Sides: African Americans in the Civil War.”

Velma Spivey is the Director of the BVAAM, and if she is available she will be more than happy to spend some time with you and point out and expand on some of the interesting exhibits found in the museum.

Found below is a smilebox presentation of photographs taken inside the museum.

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To learn more about this wonderful historical resource, visit the following link:  Or better yet, visit the museum.  It is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Sunday from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM.  Admission is $5.00 for adults, $4.00 for seniors, and $2.00 for students; children under the age of five are admitted free.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Exploring History Lunch Lecture Series

The College Station Historic Preservation Committee and the Senior Advisory Committee have developed an outstanding Exploring History Lunch Lectures Series for 2013.  Please join them on March 20, 2013, at the Aldersgate Church, as they present:

Bigmama Didn’t Shop at Woolworth’s
Featuring Sunny Nash, Award Winning Author and Columnist

Additional information about the author may be found at her blog – Sunny Nash: Race Relations in America – at:

The luncheon is $5.00 per person, payable at the door, and begins at 11:30 AM in the Aldersgate United Methodist Church at 2201 Earl Rudder Freeway in College Station. 

Parking is available in the main lot to the south of the building.  Enter through the main double doors, take a left, and you will be directed to the meeting room.   In case you are not familiar with this facility, it is located just north of Academy, Gander Mountain, and Dickey’s, on the frontage road between Southwest Parkway and Harvey Road. 

Reservations are required and must be made with Marci Rodgers, Senior Services Coordinator, College Station Parks & Recreation Department, at or by calling 979-764-6351.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Saving Texas History

The latest quarterly issue of Saving Texas History has been published by the Texas General Land Office.  Saving Texas History is the official newsletter of the Texas General Land Office Archives and the Save Texas History program; it features scholarly articles about Texas history and the historic documents of the Archives.  The primary focus of the Spring 2013 (Vol. 10, No. 1) issue deals with Col. William Barret Travis’ “Victory or Death” letter and the Alamo.

This informative newsletter may be read by visiting the following link:

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Camp Hearne Newsletter Available

An interesting historical resource in the Brazos Valley is Camp Hearne, a World War II prisoner of war camp located on the north side of Hearne.

Camp Hearne has just sent out the March 2013 issue of Roll Call, its e-newsletter.  Featured in this newsletter is information about scheduled activities at the camp and elsewhere.  This publication may be read by visiting:

To learn more about this historic site, visit the Camp Hearne website at: