Happy Preservation Month!

Happy National Preservation Month! All month long, THF will celebrate the historic places that connect Texans to their past and encourage our friends to find ways to engage with local preservation efforts across the state. This week we look to our organization’s own past in this 2013 Texas HERITAGE magazine article that chronicles the 60-year history of THF.

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Ima Hogg (pictured above) is seen at an early board gathering.

Image courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Click image to link to article.

Southwestern University Celebrates 175 Years

Southwestern UniversityMethodist clergymen founded some of the earliest colleges and universities in the Republic of Texas. However, in the 1860s, Francis Ashbury Mood overcame competing interests among the religion's regional leadership and successfully established one of Central Texas' premier institutions of higher education. Read the full article by clicking on the Texas HERITAGE cover to the left.
Texas HERITAGE Magazine, Volume 4 2014

Historic Manuscript Acquired with Grant from the Texas Historical Foundation

Reverend Santiago Tafolla. 
Photograph courtesy of the Wittliff Collections

A grant from the Texas Historical Foundation allowed the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University to acquire the only known memoir of a Mexican American who served in the Civil War. Reverend Santiago Tafolla took pen to paper in 1908 and chronicled the first 39 years of his life, from his birth in 1837 through his service as a Mexican Confederate in the Civil War and up to his swearing-in as Justice of the Peace in Bandera County in 1876.

“Reverend Tafolla’s manuscript is a rich learning tool,” said David D. Martinez, THF president. “Our organization is pleased to support the Wittliff Collections and to help make this manuscript widely available for educational purposes.”

The acquisition includes Tafolla’s handwritten manuscript and related photos, maps, and other historically significant archival material. As part of the Wittliff Collections, the Tafolla Papers will be available to the Texas State University community and the general public for viewing and research.

Writing in his native Spanish, Tafolla recounted his extraordinary adventures, a journey that led him from an orphaned childhood to his position as a beloved public figure in Texas. Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he was a citizen of Mexico who witnessed the U.S.-Mexico war that brought the United States to power in New Mexico. After his parents died, he was sent to live with an abusive older brother and later ran away.

He and a cousin wandered for days in the mountains east of Santa Fe. Half starved, they spotted a U.S. wagon train heading east along the Santa Fe Trail. Tafolla leapt aboard with the strangers. His travels led him to St. Louis, New York, and Washington, D.C. He went to school, learned English, and became educated. He worked as a cobbler and later as a tailor. In Washington, D.C., Tafolla arranged to meet with Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, who helped him enlist in the 2nd United States Calvary, which brought him to the front lines of the Indian wars in Texas. Later he joined the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Tafolla encountered ugly racism in Texas, which led him and some of his Tejano colleagues to abandon their regiment. After the war he became active in politics and participated in the birth of the livestock industry in Texas. He was elected justice of the peace in Bandera County and, soon afterward, had a religious conversion and became a Methodist. He spent the last 35 years of his life as a circuit-riding preacher, well known as one of the first Methodist preachers of Hispanic descent and a very prominent citizen of the San Antonio area. Tafolla died in the pulpit at age 73.

For generations, his family members passed along his handwritten memoir. One of his grandsons attempted to transcribe and translate the memoir in the 1960s but was unsuccessful in finding a publisher, as there was little interest in early Mexican American writings at the time.

In recent years, two of Tafolla’s great-granddaughters worked on the memoir. One, Dr. Carmen Tafolla, is the first-ever Poet Laureate of the City of San Antonio. Working with her cousin, educator Laura Tafolla, the two women completed transcribing and translating Santiago Tafolla’s memoir, which was published by Arté Público Press in 2009.

“We are grateful to the Texas Historical Foundation for the group’s support of this important addition to the Southwestern Writers Collection,” said Dr. David Coleman, director of the Wittliff Collections. “It furthers our work in preserving and sharing the culture and history of Mexican Americans in Texas.”

José Antonio Navarro Cenotaph to be Erected at the Texas State Cemetery

NavarroportraitOnly  persons  that  have  made  significant  contributions  to the  State  of Texas in history  and culture are  eligible  to  be  buried  in  the  State  Cemetery. The  State  Cemetery  was  established  in 1851. It’s  the  resting  place  for  Governors,  senators,  legislators and  legendary  Texans  who  have made  the  state  what  it  is  today. Many  important  stories  telling  the  founding  of  Texas are found  in  this  historic  cemetery for  visitors and for the many generations  to  come!

The  Friends  of  Casa  Navarro  made  the  formal  announcement  of  a  Navarro  Cenotaph  at  the  Casa  Navarro  State  Historic  Site.  On  hand  for  the  celebration  were  city  officials,  descendants  and  Friends  of  Casa  Navarro.  It  was  held  on Saturday,  February  22,  2014 at Navarro’s  219th birthday  celebration. The  historic  site, an  1850’s  adobe  and  limestone  structure  was  Navarro’s  homestead and  is  located  in  downtown  San Antonio.

The  cenotaph  will  be  engraved; listing  Navarro’s  many  contributions to  the  founding  of  the  State of  Texas.  The  monument  will  serve  as  a teaching  tool  for  the  thousands  of  visitors  and  school  children  that  visit  the  Texas  State  Cemetery. There  are  approximately,  5,000  visitors and 15,000 – 20,000  school  children  that  tour  the  cemetery.

The  Friends organization  plan  to  have  the  monument  erected  and  installed  as  soon  as  possible. A  bronze  bust  of  Navarro  is  being  sculpted by Gilbert  Beall,  well-known  artist  of  Austin,  Texas. Initial  funds  have  been  generated  and  those  wanting  to  learn  more  about  the project  and to participate  in  the  special  ceremony and  celebration  being  planned  for  the  installation ‐ please  contact  Friends  of  Casa  Navarro at www.visitcasanavarro.com

The  Friends  of  Casa  Navarro  is  a  nonprofit  501(c)3 organization  dedicated  to  preserving  the  memory  and  legacy  of  José  Antonio  Navarro. The  Casa  Navarro  State  Historic  Site  is  located  in  downtown  San  Antonio  at  228  South  Laredo  St  and  is  overseen  by  the Texas  Historical  Commission.

Texas HERITAGE Magazine Volume 4 2013

Texas Heritage vol. 4 2013 cover
On the Cover: An ornate cup used to drink mate, an herbal tea favored by South American cowboys. See page 25 to learn how this artifact found its way to a Texas museum. Photograph by Ansen Seale."

Texas Heritage Magazine is a quarterly publication of the Texas Heritage Foundation and is free to members. Interested in joining? Click here.


  • Saving the Icons of the Lone Star Legacy by Pamela Murtha

  • Cattle Drives, Cowboys, and Cuero by Margaret Nicklas

  • Departments

    • President's Message: 60 Years...and Counting!

    • Texas Families: Enduring Character - the Frost Family by Hannah Curry-McDougald

    • Picturing Texas

    • Teaching Texas History: Once Upon a Time in Texas by Kyle Gregory

    • This Old Gun: The Blunderbuss by Tom Power


    • Contributions and Special Memorials

    • New and Renewing Members

    • Texas Historical Museums

San Jacinto Museum of History Launches New Website

Visit the freshly redesigned home of the San Jacinto Museum of History

Revolution changes the world. The Battle of San Jacinto stands as a shining example of that very idea. Now, we’d like to direct your attention to another important historical change — the San Jacinto Monument and Museum’s new website. Like the battle along the bayou in 1836 that helped open up the West to expansion, our new site has opened up a tremendous educational opportunity to teachers, students, researchers, history buffs and all Texans near and far.
Watch history come alive again as you march with one brave Texian soldier toward a free Texas. Then join faithful reenactors as they recreate the famous 18-minute battle that changed the world.
The interactive new online experience includes:

Visit the San Jacinto Museum of History new website and rediscover the online home of the battle that shaped Texas, the world and maybe even the Internet itself (time will tell).

Design by BrandExtract
One Monument Circle, La Porte (Houston), Texas 77571-9585
Phone 281.479.2421

TSLAC to Open for Research on Second Saturdays

Family historians, scholars, students and others interested in what is behind the ornate brass doors of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building just east of the Capitol will soon have more opportunities for discovery.

Beginning January 11, 2014, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) will expand its hours of operation to better accommodate researchers. The agency’s three public service areas – the Texas State Archives, Texas Family Heritage Research Center, and the Reference and Information Center – will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the second Saturday of each month.

To learn more about TSLAC’s collections and agency operations, please visit www.tsl.state.tx.us. Questions concerning Second Saturdays may be addressed to reference.desk@tsl.state.tx.us.