Saturday, October 17, 2009

Being a Social Butterfly

The welcome relief of some cooler temperatures has brought with it the desire to get out and do things again after a summer of hiding inside to avoid heatstroke. This week has been rich with opportunities to socialize.

On Thursday night I attended the quarterly meeting of the Bastrop County Historical Society. This time we met in the older portion of the county courthouse, in the second floor courtroom, for a presentation on the outlaw activity in and around McDade during the mid to late 1800s. I had not been to one of their meetings in quite some time and it was nice to be back. The speaker was someone with whom I had been exchanging emails for several months and had not yet met. Lisa is a native and current resident of Ontario, Canada, but has adopted McDade as a second home. A dozen years ago she read a book about the infamous 1883 Christmas murders which inspired a passion to research that era in McDade's history. She has spent an enormous amount of time digging in the archives at the courthouse, unraveling the facts of who was involved and what really happened.

The program was well attended and it became quickly evident that a lot of us local historians have personal reasons to be interested in this particular subject. (My Mobley line has a connection to a man who was murdered by the McDade vigilantes.) It was a very enjoyable evening and it was nice to finally meet my email pen-pal.

This morning, I headed to the Oak Hill Cemetery in the Camp Swift area of McDade for the dedication of a memorial marker honoring the Confederate service of great-great-granduncle Hezekiah Madison Mobley. A chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans group out of Kerrville was involved in the dedication and brought a half-dozen or so of their members in full Confederate dress, along with their guns and cannons.

These cannons and guns were fired at various intervals during the ceremonies and never failed to make me jump.

Just before the ceremonies began, we had an unexpected additional entertainment. The National Guard was apparently running some maneuvers over at Camp Swift. Large troop helicopters would fly over and then drop out a group of para-jumpers. About three large clusters of parachutes floated through the sky just before we started. It was an impressive display.

The dedication ceremonies included participation by great, great-great, and great-great-great grandchildren of Hezekiah and Sarah (Jones) Mobley. One of his great-great grandsons, Scott Dunbar, a member of the SCV group in attendance, gave a detailed biography of Hezekiah and an overview of the battles he would have experienced. Of the five sons of Reason and Lucretia Mobley, Hezekiah and his brother Joseph (my great-great grandfather) survived the war. Their three brothers perished in battle.

At the close of his talk, two great-grandchildren unveiled the new monument that has been added to Hezekiah's gravesite.

The ceremonies ended with the tolling of a bell and the playing of "Taps". In addition to the participation of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, two ladies from the Order of the Confederate Rose placed roses on the graves of both Hezekiah and Sarah. Hearing Hezekiah's story and experiencing these tributes to his military service was most moving and it was a privilege to be present and a part of the occasion.

This event brought another opportunity to meet some fellow researchers I had known only via connections on the Internet. I enjoyed a brief conversation with two Dunkin researchers and we patted each other on the back for our respective genealogical websites. (Hezekiah's mother was Lucretia Dunkin, sister of Matthew Dunkin who began the McDade pottery.) I also had the pleasure of visiting again with two Mobley cousins who have helped me in the cause of my research in that line.

The morning alone would have made for a great day, but I wasn't done just yet. From there I went on to the annual Cattlemen for Cancer Research fundraiser in Hills Prairie where I got to visit with kinfolks on the Hodge side of the family (the Pattons and the Pekars) and eat some barbecue. Finally, about 3 o'clock, I ran out of steam and headed home.

Nothing suits me better than a chance to pursue my interest in history and a chance to mingle with family. This has definitely been a good week and next week I'm scheduled to visit another cousin who is as big or bigger a genealogy nut than I am.

It's nice to get back into action.


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