Sunday, September 12, 2010


Yesterday I woke up with a major back ache. It has been coming on for several weeks and it finally hit with a vengeance. I've spent most of the weekend in reclining position with either a heating pad or an ice pack on the stubborn muscle that refuses to relax.

I almost decided to pass on the scheduled marker dedication being made by the Baron de Bastrop chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas to honor the only Real Daughter buried in Bastrop County. A Real Daughter is defined as a woman who was a member of DRT and only the first generation away from her patriot ancestor. Bastrop County's real daughter was Mary Turner Billingsley, buried in McDade Cemetery.

At the last minute, I masked the pain with a dose of ibuprofen and headed for McDade.

My recent activity with the DRT and the DAR and the Smithville Genealogy Society and the Bastrop and Elgin Historical Societies means that I am beginning to be recognized by some of the historians of Bastrop County. As soon as I arrived, I had a nice conversation with Audrey Rother, head of the McDade museum and someone who has a lot of knowledge of the McDade Pottery industry founded by my great-great-great-granduncle Mathew Dunkin in the late 1800s. Then I chatted with Evelyn Wolf, our DRT chapter's registrar and who has been heavily involved with documenting Bastrop County history most of her life.

Next, I was surprised to see a distant Mobley cousin, Cathy Smith and her husband Gordon, who not too long ago was a weatherman with an Austin television station. I have visited with Cathy several times in the past, comparing notes on our Mobley connection, but this was the first time I had met Gordon and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him at the reception following the ceremony. We had a nice, long conversation about the growth of Austin in the past 30 years and about their home they built in the country between Smithville and Bastrop. They are both very nice folks and I'm proud to be related to them.

A nice crowd of about 30 attended the dedication ceremony. The Baron de Bastrop chapter had purchased and applied a special medallion to Mary Turner Billingsley's tombstone.

At the end of the dedication, a gun salute was given by members of the Sons of the Republic of Texas.

This group of men were very sweet and very entertaining. After the ceremony, they posed with various of our chapter's members and with the members of the Billingsley family who attended.

The little lady in the center of the photo is the granddaughter of Mary Billingsley. I regret that I can't remember her name, because later on at the church where the reception was held, she walked into the fellowship hall and made a beeline for me. "Now who are you?", she asked me. I tried to decide how far back to go with my local ancestors to find a reference she might know. I started with my great-grandmother Hodge who lived in McDade most of her life. No, she did not know Cora Hodge, but there were some other Hodges she knew. I jumped a generation and asked if she knew Horace and Lucy Hodge. Her face brightened and she said "Yes, I knew them! They had a bunch of smart kids." We chatted another minute or two about exactly how I fit into the picture and then she moved on to charm some of the other folks in the room.

After grabbing a glass of iced tea and a small snack, I chanced to sit down by a couple of ladies who were talking about the local historical society activities. It was not long before I was in the conversation and it turned out that one of the women was the president of the Elgin Historical Society. When I said I was a member, she immediately demanded to know who I was. I jumped yet another generation and found that she had attended school with my Uncle Larry and she knew my cousin Keri. I had a really good time chatting about some of the things the society is working on.

About the time I ran out of conversation, slaked my thirst with 2 or 3 glasses of iced tea, and felt the ibuprofen beginning to wear off, I made my departure and headed home. The ache in my back reasserted itself and Mojo, Coco, Dixie and I spent the remainder of the day lying in bed and applying heat and ice to that stubborn muscle.

I might have been better off spending the whole day in bed, but I am so glad that I made the trip to McDade. These opportunities to mingle with others interested in local history is a rare treat and a true privilege.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

New Project

Many of you are aware that I have a secret hoard of dollhouse kits, not to mention the things to put in them if I ever get the things built. Lately I had begun to feel a sense of hopelessness with regard to those boxes of wood pieces. With the way my life has been going the last few years, I no longer have the time that is necessary to construct my little buildings. (I will have no problem keeping busy in my retirement years. All I will have to do is go to the garage and pull out another dollhouse kit.)

The problem is that I really don't care for the construction phase. I like the finishing and decorating phase. But you have to get the things built before you can get to the fun part. So, when the offer came from a friend of a friend a few weeks back to take on the construction phase of a kit or two, allowing me to jump right to the part of the process I like, I jumped at the chance. Today the first of the dollhouses came back home, ready for decorating.

My fingers are already itching to get to work.

Notice the stained glass?

There is even a bell in the belfry.

What I don't know yet is whether this will contain a church scene or whether I will follow the inspiration I received a couple of years back on a visit to Marion, Kentucky. The historical society in Marion has taken over a historic church and turned it into a museum. Lana and I really enjoyed poking through the museum for a couple of hours and while we enjoyed our surroundings, I kept thinking about the church dollhouse kit that was sitting in the corner of the garage. Maybe I will emulate the historical society and create a mini-museum.

I had never seen this particular kit assembled. I had only seen photos. I had no idea what a great dollhouse was hiding in that box in the corner of the garage. Clapboard siding effect is built into the walls. There is a circular window at the top center of the front and the back walls. The windows that march down the side have curved tops. The interior of the building has a cathedral ceiling. The roof and belfrey are covered in wooden shakes. From bottom floor to tip of the belfrey is almost 4 feet.

There is so much potential here. And my mind is abuzz with possibilities. First of all I have to decide what color this little country church is supposed to be.

Many thanks to Bob for the excellent job in assembling this dollhouse. He still has the Adirondack log cabin kit. I can't wait.