Some years ago, Sallie and I visited an area museum and picked up a tourist flyer for “South Texas Museums.”
We found out the Grace Armantrout Museum was not in it, nor was any museum east of a line drawn south of Pleasanton.
We began discussing how we could produce a flyer to promote the “left out” museums. A few months ago Sallie and I were discussing how we needed to create an association with area museums to share ideas, problems, and solutions and to jointly advertise our museums.
We had discussed it with some other museums and earlier this year that association formed and is growing.
Most of the associated museums are local “community” museums like ours. One of the things we discussed in our last meeting was acquisitions, items we take in.
Some hold the belief they should only take in and display items with local connections. I don’t hold the same view.
I do understand the limitation of space and that we are really the ones primarily interested in saving our own local history, and as such, that should be a primary focus of the museum.
I also realize, outside of the school, we are the primary teacher of history to our community, therefore we should do more than just save and present local history.
After all, the lives lived in our community were lived in a larger context. We need to be able to show our history, in that context. What follows is an example of Live Oak County’s history in a bigger context.
What was going on in the state, the nation and even the world affected the people of Live Oak County from its origins.
The reason the land that would become Live Oak County was settled by Irish Catholics was because Spain, and then Mexico, allowed only Catholic settlers.
It is well known that Austin’s Colony was made up of many “paper” Catholics, as they were Catholics only on paper.
The reason the land that became Live Oak County was so “wild” and dangerous was because it lay largely in the Nueces Strip, and at least marginally disputed territory with Mexico.
In reality Santa Anna never really planned to give up any land to Texas or the United States when he was freed by Sam Houston. He was planning to return to Mexico and come back with another army, but matters in Mexico prevented that from immediately occurring.
Later, when Texas joined the United States in 1846, Mexico would go to war with the United States over Texas, trying to reclaim the territory they never intended to give up.
Even after the United States Army marched victorious into Mexico City and dictated the terms for peace, and the border was set at the Rio Grande, it was not accepted by some in northern Mexico.
Maybe their refusal to accept the Rio Grande border was just so they could justify continuing their actions against the settlers in the strip of land between the Nueces and the Rio Grande rivers.
It was partially because of that, it was difficult to live in the Strip and to keep what you owned.
It helped if you could live like a king and finance an army of your own. Life and law in the Live Oak County area of the Strip, except for a brief time of the U.S. Army’s presence at Fort Merrill, and the periodic presence of Texas Rangers, was found in how quick you could get to a holster or to a saddle scabbard.
The Civil War had it affect on Live Oak County, too. I have presented some of it already.
Alex Coker was AWOL from the Confederate Army when he was elected as sheriff of LOC. He returned to get his release, to come home to do his elected duties, but when the war was over, “carpetbag laws” of “reconstruction” required an oath of allegiance of all ex-Confederates to hold office. The laws put Coker out of office, and when the laws were rescinded, he took up the office of sheriff again.
Live Oak County was active in the events of the nation following the Civil War and into reconstruction with the cattle trail days and when Kansans blocked the trail, it was felt in Live Oak County.
Large ranches in Live Oak County began to break up into small farms as the railroad would make connections to the outside world much easier.
The railroad would bring the breaking up of portions of the Hamilton Ranch and portions of the West Ranch to form new towns.
Live Oak County would take a part in the Texas oil and gas boom, which gave rise to the Three Rivers Glass Company, which would in turn put them in confrontation with the east coast and northern glass companies.
Anyone that produced a product in Texas that needed a container, soda, milk, or otherwise, would come to know the small town in LOC and wherever the bottles went, the bottles carried the name of Three Rivers with them.
The factory helped LOC survive the Depression a little better off than much of America, but then the factory and workers would become one of the last casualties of the Depression and a crooked competitor.
Today, Live Oak County still moves in context to the world around us. To understand history, just like to understand LOC today, requires we look at LOC in its context with the world around us.
As such, the Grace Armantrout Museum seeks to teach history in its displays and in the stories we tell. Come share with us what you know of the context of LOC history.