Thursday, April 22, 2004

Today@Sam: Gibbs Students Become A Part Of History

"You'll be a part of history," Sam Houston IV, great-grandson of Sam Houston, told fourth graders from Gibbs Elementary School Thursday afternoon.

Four classes of students and Houston helped plant a "Stephen F. Austin" live oak tree that was grown from acorns found on land Austin led in settling in West Columbia, Texas, also the site of his death on Dec. 27, 1836. A friend of Houston's purchased the land and grew approximately 600 trees from the acorns that were confirmed by the Texas Forestry Service as having been on Austin's land while he was living. Trees have been planted for the past nine years on every courthouse square in Texas, all schools bearing Austin's name, Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas A&M University, and now at SHSU in the front yard of Houston's Woodland Home on the Sam Houston Memorial Museum Grounds. "I can't think of a better person to have a tree named after on the Sam Houston grounds," Houston said.

For more on the Sam Houston/Stephen F. Austin relationship, see Today@Sam's Houston & Austin: The Men.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Today@Sam: Governor Perry Commemorates 125th Anniversary

Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a document April 21 commending Sam Houston State University for 125 years of educational service to Texas and the nation. "You highlight the best of the Lone Star State," the document stated. Perry participated in an afternoon ceremony attended by hundreds on the SHSU quadrangle near Austin Hall.

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Houstonian: Archaeologist digs for artifacts on SHSU Riverside grounds

From the Houstonian:
An archaeologist and alumnus of Sam Houston State University is conducting an archaeological dig on 345 acres of SHSU property near Riverside.

President [James] Gaertner hopes to turn the property into a university camp or retreat area like many other universities have. Before any developments can be made, however, a review is needed because of laws that protect pieces of land containing historical artifacts. Jenkins said that in the past, there were many Native American tribes in this particular area that had sites that they frequented along the Trinity River.

Mac Woodward, curator of collections at the Sam Houston Museum, said most of the tribes were Caddoan and there were different subgroups or bands within that group. Hasanai is another tribe that possibly inhabited the area.

"It's possible these sites could go back five or 10,000 years," Woodward said.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice originally owned the land and transferred it to SHSU. Sandra Rogers, an archaeological steward with the Texas Historical Commission, said there was a site identified within the property as a possible archeological landmark in the 60s or 70s.

"That's by virtue of someone who had found some artifacts that showed there might have been some Native American activity at some point. Potentially, something is there," Woodward said.

The Texas Historical Commission has only designated a portion of the 345 acres of SHSU property as having historical significance, but Jenkins said they are still reviewing the entire piece of property just to be careful.

Moore has yet to complete the archaeological dig. Once the dig is finished, Moore will submit a report to the University Camp Committee at SHSU and the Texas Historical Commission, followed by a final report to the University Camp Committee.

Houstonian: Sam Houston clears path for bell tower

From the Houstonian:
The demolition of the brick planter box located near the Bobby K. Marks Administration building is to make way for a bell tower.

The bell tower will stand approximately 50 feet tall with either a base of 12 by 12 feet or 14 by 14 feet. Four gothic arches will open the bell tower to the surrounding walkways. [Frank Holmes, vice president for University Advancement,] explained that four medallions will be placed on each side of the tower. "Two sides will bear the 'SH' logo, and the other two sides will bear the traditional 'Sam Houston' logo," said Holmes. The bell tower will be constructed of the same brick used across campus; Holmes said the brick is known as Sam Houston State brick. "It will be a very traditional-looking bell tower," Holmes said.

The bell tower won't contain any cast bells at this time. New Caroline bells will be placed in the bell tower and will be computer controlled. "The New Caroline's will provide a great deal of flexibility," said Holmes.

The bell tower will be underway once the design plans are finalized. Holmes explained that Parker wanted the site prepared so that as soon as the plans are approved, the base of the tower can begin being constructed immediately.

The bell tower could be completed in as quickly as 120 to150 days, Holmes said. "A lot of the framework can be assembled off-site while the base is being built on campus," said Holmes. The cost of the bell tower has not been determined yet, due to an un-finalized design concept. However, Holmes said that they hope the cost will be well under $200,000. "The desired amount would be around $170,000," said Holmes.

The bell tower would not have been possible without the generous gift from an alumnus. Kevin Hayes, the director of Alumni Relations, said, "a generous gift was given to the university by Ruth and Ron Blatchley." The bell tower will be synchronized with the clock in the alumni garden, also a gift from the Blatchleys. "They feel very confident with what we are doing, and what we want to do," said Hayes.

Holmes explained that in the future there are plans to expand the area next to the Lowman Student Center to include more planter boxes and meandering pathways. In regard to the bell tower at this time, Holmes said, "I think it will add a great deal of warmth to the campus."

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Today@Sam: SHSU Awarded For Cabin Preservation

SHSU University president James F. Gaertner accepted the Annual Preservation Award for SHSU's part in the restoration of the Roberts-Farris Cabin at a ceremony on Tuesday (April 6) morning. Cheryl Patton, representing the Walker County Historical Commission, also presented the awards to Maggie Farris Parker, owner of the Roberts-Farris Cabin, and Linda Pease, cultural services coordinator for the City of Huntsville. Also in attendance were Maxie Farris, Maggie's brother, and Dr. Caroline Castillo-Crimm, SHSU associate professor of history whose two Texas history classes moved the cabin to its present location and helped rebuild it. The award is given by the Texas State Historical Commission to honor those who make contributions to preservation for their efforts. The cabin, believed to be the oldest in Walker County, is located just east of the Walker County Courthouse.

Thursday, April 1, 2004

Today@Sam: April Fool at the 'Normal' - 1885

When students at what was then Sam Houston Normal Institute decided to have a little fun with the faculty on April 1, 1885, they planned a smashing "April fool."

But when it came to having fun back then, the Normal students were a bit timid--the result perhaps of strict standards of conduct. Dancing, drinking, and card playing were all grounds for suspension.

The April fool incident, and other details of campus life, are described by Ty Cashion in a soon-to-be-completed history of Sam Houston State University, being written for this year's celebration of the university's 125th birthday.

Cashion, associate professor of history, uncovered the April fool story in letters written by J. J. Rushing, a student from the Shelby County community of Tomday on the Sabine River in deepest East Texas.

Rushing wrote that "almost every student in school"--which was about 300 most semesters--decided that when they marched out of morning chapel services that April 1 they would "march on home" instead of going to class.