1943 Library Stamp, POWS, and SHSU’s Country Campus

#TBT – In recent months the Newton Gresham Library has started to weed through the collection of books in the library.

This 1943 library stamp found in a book called, Stories for Men an Anthology by Charles Grayson, 1925, played an important part in the history of Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, and Walker County.

The seventy-four year old library stamp was used to identify books that were from the library of the Station House Hospital in the Enemy Alien Internment Camp, Huntsville, Texas. Commonly known as the Huntsville Alien Internment Camp or the Huntsville Prisoner of War Camp. Built in 1942 the camp held German POWs and later on Japanese prisoners of war. POWs and servicemen who were there were allowed to borrow books from the library while they were in the hospital.

In 1946, the camp was closed and then SHSU President Dr. Harmon Lowman acquired the camp, later reopening it to house returning veterans who would receive the G.I. Education Bill that enabled them to go to college or vocational school. Renamed, “Country Campus,” in 1946 the camp became a small city and housed classes for the Josey Vocational School. The “CC” had its own post office, church, baseball diamond, and food facilities.

The University owned the, “Country Campus,” until 1993. Country Campus was than purchased by a SHSU alumnus whose family was one of the original landowners who sold the land for the internment camp to the US government in 1942. A small plot of land donated by this same family to SHSU holds the university’s observatory used by students to observe the stars and night sky events. #SHSULibrary

Moving History: The Roberts/Farris Cabin, Sam Houston Memorial Museum, and a few thoughts….

Standing by the Reynolds/Farris cabin on the grounds of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.

Standing by the Reynolds/Farris cabin on the grounds of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.

Putting together the pieces of the Cabin on the Square

SHSU students help in putting together the pieces of the Cabin on the Square, The Houstonian, 9/11/2001

On Sunday, my daughter, granddaughter, and your SHSU University Archivist headed to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum Park to run off some of my 2-year old granddaughter’s energy.

Heading up the driveway by the Steamboat House there in front of us on a trailer was the Roberts/Farris Cabin; also known as, “The Cabin on the Square.” Fighting the crazy wind blowing I immediately walked towards the cabin and realized two things: I never knew just how small the 176-year-old cabin was and how sad I felt for the little cabin. Taken apart in pieces in 2001, than put back together by history students from Sam Houston State on the square where it finally found a new home only to move again 15 years later. Thankfully, all in one piece this time. Sitting there on a trailer besides the Woodland Home, Bear Bend Cabin, and the old Exhibit Hall, the cabin just looked tired and unhappy.

Not to worry little cabin, you are in BearKat country now. Here we take our motto seriously, “The Measure of a Life is It’s Service.” The people, who work at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, know how to treat historic buildings big and small. They will have you settled in no time and once again, there will be all kinds of visitors to come visit you to ooh and awe over your simple beauty.

To see more history about the Roberts/Ferris cabin come and visit the Special Collection Department in the Newton Gresham Library.  You can also read, Cabin Fever: The Roberts-Farris Cabin: A Campus, A Cabin, A Community.” A brief account of the Life and Times of the Builders and Residents of a Small Log Cabin in Walker County. This title is available at call number: F392 .W24 C75 2002.

It is World Photography Day!

Sam Houston Normal Insititute rooftop

This photograph of the Sam Houston Normal Institute with Huntsville, Texas, in the back ground was shot in the early 1920s. Judging by the view this image must have been shot from the top of the Old Men’s Gym.

The Old Men’s Gym was a wooden building that was built by the students. Because the building was made out of wood the students had to rebuild the old gym more than once due to fires.

In the foreground is what they called at the time the Demonstration School (later the Wood Buildings) roof. In front of the Demonstration School is the Science Building (now Bobby K. Marks Administration Building), then the Women’s Gym, (where the Dan Rather Communications is now) across from that was the Agriculture Building, Austin Hall, with the 3rd floor still attached, and finally in the back, the Old Main Building.

To the far left you see the smoke stack and building of the West Plant which fronts a dirt road now known as Sam Houston Avenue. The current West Plant is built on the foundation of the original West Plant.

The gates in the back of the Administration Building and Women’s Gym are placed on what it now Ave J. This gateway was considered the entrance to the Normal before the entrance we have now on 20th and Sam Houston Ave.

To see more photographs come visit the SHSU University Archives in the Newton Gresham Library, Room 400. We are open from 8-5, M-F.

Powell Family Papers, 1910-2007

powellprogram

 

The Powell family were early East Texas residents that moved to Huntsville in 1896.  Benjamin Harrison Powell II married Eleanor Inez Meachum Powell and they had seven children.  Benjamin H. Powell II was a Montgomery County judge that later worked for the Huntsville law firm, Powell, Ball, & Randolph.  The youngest of the seven Powell children was Anna Irion Powell who later went on to receive the Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Texas and taught High School in Brownwood and Cleburne, Texas from 1914 until 1918.  Anna Irion Powell then began teaching for North Texas Normal Institute and later in 1923 completed her Master’s degree at the University of California, Berkley.  In 1929 Anna Irion Powell received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Texas.  Anna moved back to Huntsville to live with her sisters Inez and Louise in the Gibbs-Powell home in 1963.  Louise Powell died in 1963 and Inez Powell died in 1971.  Anna Irion Powell died in 1983 and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas.

The Powell Family Papers (1910 – 2007; .5 box) include family correspondence, newspaper clippings, biographical information, Sam Houston State Teachers College materials, and documents concerning the Powell family of Huntsville.  The correspondence in the collection is between SHSTC (Harry Estill and others) and Mrs. Ben H. Powell.  The Powell Family Papers also include the obituaries of several Powell family members and their funeral programs.  The collection contains the autobiography of Anna Irion Powell and documents relating to conferences and programs with which she was involved.  Much of the collection relates specifically to Anna Irion Powell.  The collection also includes a roster of Walker County men serving military service to the United States to be transported to San Antonio.

View a detailed finding aid of this collection at Sam Houston State University’s Finding Aids Online page and see just what materials are in the collection.

https://archon.shsu.edu/?p=collections/findingaid&id=89&q=

Alton Keefer Farris collection, 1907-2003

 

Selection from an Alton Ferris ledger

Selection from an Alton Ferris ledger

Alton Keefer Farris was born on November 6, 1931 to Alton Boone Farris and Erma Keefer Farris in North Zulch, Texas. He graduated from Huntsville High School and moved on to receive a degree in education from the Sam Houston State Teachers College. Mr. Farris served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was also a teacher and principal at the Pine Prairie and Huntsville school districts. His last job was as a Recreational Consultant for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He served as a deacon at the Chapelwood Missionary Baptist church and was a supporter of the Shriners organization. Mr. Farris also worked as a Notary Public and Justice of the Peace for the Huntsville area. He married Naomi Voyles and they had two children, Ruth and Alton Keefer Farris, Jr. Mr. Farris died on June 1, 2006.

The Alton Keefer Farris Collection consists of various financial records including checks, receipts and invoices. Also included are legal documents including subpoenas and property records.

View a detailed finding aid of this collection at Sam Houston State University’s Finding Aids Online page and see just what materials are in the collection.

https://archon.shsu.edu/?p=collections/findingaid&id=93&q=

Scenes from the Texas Prison Rodeo

 bryd001

The Texas Prison Rodeo was one of the biggest events every October in Huntsville, TX. It drew people from all around to see inmates participate in the rodeo as well as national acts like Johnny Cash and Ricky Nelson. With changing views on prisoner treatment  and the cost of repairing the stadium, the rodeo was phased out in the late 1980s. Several attempts were made to bring it back, but they have failed so far. As of today, only Angola Prison in Louisiana maintains a prison-based rodeo.

bryd002bryd003

These images come from a set of collectable cards from the Bryd Family Collection that could be purchased at the rodeo we think sometime during the 1950s.

You can view more prison rodeo pictures here.

Citation A L’Ordre De L’Armee

Image

s02b08f03_001_2013s009_poster_circa1919

This WWI poster comes from the collection of John Warren Smith. Smith’s uncle Boyce O. Smith was a solider in WWI and served in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany and took part in the St. Michael Offensive and Meuse-Argonne Offensive as part of the 5th regiment. He received this citation for his service. After being discharged, he returned to Huntsville and worked as a teacher until his death in 1933.

The poster reads : 

Citation in the Order of the Army

5th Regiment of the Marines, American (Under the orders of Colonel Logan Feland)

“This regiment took a glorious part in the operations engaged in by the 4th (French) Army in Champagne, in October 1918. On October 3, 1918, it participated in the attack on the strongly intrenched German positions between Blanc Mont and the Medeah Farm, and pushing forward as far as St. Etienne-a-Arnes, made an advance of 6 kilometers. It took several thousand prisoners, captured cannon, machine guns and important war material. This attack combined with that of the French Divisions resulted in the evacuation of both banks of the Suippe, and of the Massif(high ground) of Notre-Dame-des-champs.”

Order No. 14.712 “D”-March 21, 1919

At General Headquarters

The Marshall

Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the East

Petain

View more of the John Warren Smith Papers, 1836-2009 : here

View Finding Aid for the John Warren Smith Papers, 1836-2009  : here

Jim Willett talks about the History of the Walls Unit

Jim Willet talks to the crowd about the history of the Wall (Huntsville) Unit

Jim Willett talks to the crowd about the history of the Wall (Huntsville) Unit

On November 5, 2014, Director of the Texas Prison Museum and Former Warden of the Walls Unit Jim Willett spoke in the Thomason Room at Newton Gresham Library on the history of the Huntsville Unit a.k.a. the Walls Unit. Students, faculty members, and residents of Huntsville were regaled with stories that reflect the complex nature of the oldest prison in Texas. As an example, some escapees dug a hole under the Walls only to run into the wife of the warden who shot at them, leading to their capture. In another story, a judge gave directions that a prisoner be kept in solitary confinement in a cell painted black on the inside and outside without provision for exercise. Notably, the prison officials noticed that the prisoner’s health was deteriorating and made provisions to move the prisoner out of isolation. Willett did a wonderful job presenting the complex history of the Walls, giving the audience a better understanding of a building that looms large in the history of Huntsville, TX.

After his talk, Willett fielded questions from the audience that ranged from asking about his experience overseeing executions, the relationship between prisoners and his family, and the history of property owned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The event unfortunately only lasted an hour with Willett still having more stories and facts to detail. Hopefully we can have him back soon. If you could not attend, but would like to know the contents of the talk, you can view our Twitter account at @SHSUArchives or search #WallsTalk.

 

 

View the gallery:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Huntsville Newspapers react to D-Day

Gallery

This gallery contains 5 photos.

  On June 06, 1944, the largest amphibious landing in history occurred off the beaches of Normandy, France. News of the landing traveled throughout the US in radio broadcasts and newspaper headlines. This is how people in Huntsville, TX received … Continue reading

Sam Houston Memorial Museum Digital Collection

 

Sam Houston circa 1859

Sam Houston circa 1859

We here at Newton Gresham Library enjoy partnering with other historical institutions in the area. One of those institutions is the Sam Houston Memorial Museum. The museum is dedicated to the life and times of  General and Texas Governor Sam Houston. They house numerous documents, photographs, and artifacts related to Sam Houston.

We have worked with the museum to make some of their digitized materials available through our digital collections. The digital collection has a small sampling of everything you can find at the museum.

Take a look!

Sam Houston Memorial Museum Digital Collection