Historic Lockhart Library hosts annual Plum Creek Symposium


By Fletcher Clark

The historic Dr. Eugene Clark Library will again host the Plum Creek Symposium on Saturday, Aug. 12, from 9 a.m. to noon.

This is the sixth in the series which focuses on Texas history. Held in the Library’s Lyceum, symposiumPresenters will be Donaly Brice and Jan Devereaux. After a brief greeting and introduction, there will be two presentations (with short break), concluding at noon, the theme being women in Texas history. No advance registration is required and the public is welcome, with doors opening at 8:30 a.m. A suggested donation of $15 will support the event and afford an honorarium for each of the presenters.

Devereaux’s presentation will focus on a little known – or under-reported – aspect of Lone Star State history: ‘The Petticoat Rangers.’ During the so-called gangster era of the 1930’s, the state was plagued with rampant crime and some notorious homegrown desperadoes, including Bonnie and Clyde. In response to this lawlessness and the wide-open flaunting of the law the Texas Governor and the Chief of the Texas Highway Department’s law enforcement division formulated a distinctive strategy for combating such illegalities. The story of the Petticoat Rangers is not only fascinating, but their contribution to Texas policing efforts set the stage — built a platform — for women with aspirations of making their career contributions to law enforcement. In short, the Petticoat Rangers were forerunners and prototypes for today’s female Texas Troopers and Rangers.

Arguably the most significant historical event in Lockhart and Caldwell County was the 1840 Battle of Plum Creek. Brice’s first book, ‘The Great Comanche Raid’, is considered the definitive work on this last great move by this most powerful tribe against the inexorable advance of white civilization. This date in 2023 is the 183rd anniversary of that battle. The focus of Brice’s presentation here will be ‘The Women at the Battle of Plum Creek.’ Several women were captured along the route that the Comanches used during their raid to the Texas

coast, and rarely have accounts told what happened to them when the Indians were finally defeated by the Texans at Plum Creek, nor the subsequent part these women played in the settlement of Texas. “It’s about time that the women are recognized as more than just names on the pages of our history books,” Brice said.

After a 30-year career with Baylor Scott & White Health Care in Waxahachie, Devereaux, now retired, devotes her time to researching and writing. She is a Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum laureate and docent, as well as being a sitting board member with The Friends of Fort McKavett. Two of her journal pieces have received national recognition as Best Article of the Year, and she is also the author of the hardcover ‘Pistols, Petticoats and Poker,’ biography of noted frontier era female personality Lottie Deno.

Brice, Senior Reference Archivist emeritus for the Texas State Library, has written/co-written several books on Texas history and a number of historical articles. He is a founder and continuing member of the Caldwell County Historical Commission. Having earned his BS from Southwest Texas State College (now Texas State University) and his MA from Sam Houston State University, he is a Fellow of the East Texas and Texas State Historical Associations, and is also member of the West Texas, Central Texas, and Southern Historical Associations.

Lockhart songwriter Fletcher Clark acts as producer of the Plum Creek Symposia. He and Brice began a collaboration in 2014 presenting events in Texas history in lecture, song, verse, and characterization. It was at Brice’s instigation that Clark first created the Plum Creek Symposium in 2016. “Donaly has been my mentor and source for what has become an intense interest in early Texas history,” said Clark.

This 6th Plum Creek Symposium is presented at Lockhart’s historic Dr. Eugene Clark Library Lyceum (the oldest continually operating library building in Texas) through the efforts of Library Director Bertha Martinez and her dedicated staff. “Our previous Symposia have attracted scores of enthusiastic followers, many traveling a great distance to nourish their hunger for Texas history,” said Clark. “It is a pleasure to welcome Texas history enthusiasts for this series.” Devotees gather on the Plum Creek Symposium Facebook page.


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