This past August we were able to host our second year of the Living History Daycamp, thanks to both the wonderful children attending and our fantastic volunteers. Because of them it was a great success!
A big thank you to Eugene & Dorothy Hanzelka, Mayo Walker, Linda Little, Marie Chernoch, LaNel Filip, Liz Kouba, and Marvin Peterson for giving of their time and talents.It is very much appreciated!
During the month of September, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage. We share so much of the food and culture of our neighbors to the south. It wasn't that long ago that Texas was a part of Mexico.
Some of today's Hispanic families living in Lavaca County have deep roots in Texas. There are descendants of Juan Segin right here in Hallettsville.
As I was talking to other locals who share a love of history, the name Lee Salazar came up. Mr. Salazar was a Mexican stone laborer who worked on the county courthouse in Hallettsville during it's construction. In December of 1898, some of the workers found out that Mr. Salazar had knowledge in assembling fireworks and asked if he would consider putting a show together for Christmas. Mr. Salazar began receiving support from business owner around the square for the show. Sponsors for the show raised enough funds to allow Salazar to rent the building of A. Schwartz on the square where he worked after hours on the fireworks.
On Christmas eve 1898 a large crowd turned out to witness the fireworks and see the many explosions of different colors. The crowd was not disappointed and before they cleared out were heard exclaiming that Lee would give them another show on New Years Eve.
After the show on New Years Eve, Lee Salazar was known as Hallettsville's own personal fireworks man.
Once again Mr. Salazar was planning a firework display. This time to be held during the dedication ceremony of the courthouse in 1899. As soon as he received the go ahead from the Commissioner's court he set about renting the building across the street from Devall's store. He worked for months creating and elaborate display to wow the crowd. He even created art pieces to accompany the fireworks, such as a monkey which slid down a pole from the bell tower when the rockets went up. On July 4, 1899, Lee Salazar lit up the night on the square with his beautiful firework show.
excerpts taken from"
"Grand Complete, & Perfect, the Lavaca County Courthouse, Hallettsville, Texas" by Dough Kubicek
Mr. Moore and Billy the Alligator
Moore's Swimming Pool was located on the east side of town near the current public school. Rumor had it that Mr. Moore would let Billy swim in the pool when it was closed to the public.
Hallettsville Public School
In 1908 the Hallettsville Independent School District planned the construction of a new two story red brick school house.
February 1910 the new Hallettsville School opened. The school cost $16,100 to build.
The Hallettsville boys and girls and their teachers formed a line in the yard of the school building and marched to the new building. Some later called the school the "penitentiary'.
February 26, 1919 the two story brick school house burned. Losses included all the contents of the building including seats, desks, manual training & domestic science equipment, library and many school books belonging to the students.
The fire was first noticed by Mr. & Mrs. Edward Timm who resided a short distance from the school.
Sacred Heart Academy
Sacred Heart Academy was opened in 1882 as a motherhouse, novitiate, and boarding school for girls, as well as a day school for both boys and girls. It was run by 3 sisters from the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament.
They taught primary and intermediate grades. They also taught music, Latin, Spanish, French, and German along with the regular high school curriculum.
Cheryl Walker discussing wildflowers with students from Sacred Heart Catholic School.
Every spring Mrs. Klimitchek's seventh graders learn about the native wildflowers that grow in our county. For the last 2 years they have brought fresh picked wildflowers and their project boards to be displayed at Lavaca Historical Museum. They are displayed for 3 days for both the public and for the other students at Sacred Heart. The 7th grade students put a lot of effort into this beautiful project and we very much enjoy showing their work. Keep an eye out for next spring so you can come enjoy the wildflowers!
Fresh picked wildflowers
Don't forget our very own Bob Zumwalt's new book, Trapped By A Mouse, available at Lavaca Historical Museum for $15.00.
An engineering career rich with interesting experiences, people and travel inspired Bob Zumwalt to write many of the stories in this collection.
The stories cover growing up in Hallettsville, dealing with girls, serving in the US Army, getting married, working in the global oil refining business, and retirement.
Some are fantasy stories, such as those day-dreamed by young Bob while hiding up a hackberry tree from his Mom to avoid work.
The title story, “Trapped by a Mouse”, relates how Bob met his wife, Doris, and includes her memorable opening line.
Museum loses Director
On March 16 of this year the museum lost a friend and supporter.
Virginia Rae King Smith served on the Board of Directors and shared a love of Lavaca County history. She was there to lend her help in any fundraising projects the museum would take on. She worked side by side with us to develop plans for the new museum.She was especially fond of the Texas State Championship High School Rodeo exhibit due to the fact that she served as official time keeper for the rodeo for five years.
We will dearly miss Virginia.
Margaret Dornak spent years nursing folks back to health as her profession, she had a strong faith, loved animals, and history. She just loved to help as we see by the many organizations in which she volunteered her time. Luckily, the museum was one of these organizations.
Margaret was our photographer on many occasions. She loved taking pictures and preserving them for the future.There are many pictures of Hallettsville and Lavaca County that were taken by Margaret that will be viewed long into the future.
When the time came for us to move the contents from the old museum to the new one, Margaret worked with Janice Saunders painstakingly packing every item in that museum to be moved.We owe her a debt of gratitude we will never be able to repay.
She was instrumental in creating the replicas of the Domino Hall of Fame and the Fiddler’s Frolics Hall of Fame here at the museum.She undertook weeks of duplicating the scrapbooks and pictures and helping us to arrange the exhibits.
Margaret left this world for a better place on March 20, 2017. She will always have a special place in our hearts here at the museum.
The Tradition of Victorian Hair Art
The practice of using human hair to create art began in the 1500’s in England.
In the days before photographs were readily available, people would share locks of hair as a way to remember someone with love and devotion.Girls would keep elaborate autograph books where their friends could write a passage and then leave a lock or braid of hair to be affixed to the page in the book.
Victorian ladies grew their hair for most of their lives, hence the term, “crowning glory”. Many husbands went to work carrying watch fobs braided with their wives hair.
Locks from the dearly departed were crafted into beautiful works of art such as mourning wreaths and jewelry. Rings and brooches made of hair became really popular from the 1850’s to the 1880’s. These provided an appropriate accessory to wear with mourning clothes. Wreaths crafted from family hair was something you would see hanging in the parlor of the home. It gave a personalized feeling amongst the many mass printed lithographs of the time.
Many of these heirlooms are still around today at antique shops and estate sales.Here at the museum we showcase a wreath made with the hair of the Kotzebue family of Moulton and another wreath and corsage that was created for a bride and groom on their special day.
3 cups flour
1 can (8oz.) crushed pineapple
2 cups sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup oil
3 eggs, beaten
4 ½ oz. creamed cheese, softened
1 cup butter
1 ½ powdered sugar, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
Combine flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Add eggs and ail, stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overbeat. Stir in vanilla, crushed pineapple, pecans and bananas. Pour batter into 3 well-greased, floured cake pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes at 350 or until cake tests done. Cool in pans 10 minutes, removed from pans and cool thoroughly before frosting.
Frosting: Combine cream cheese and butter and cream until smooth. Add powdered sugar slowly, beat until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Spread between layers and on the top and sides of cake. Serves 16.
On February 26, 1990 a group of local residents met to discuss the possibility of a museum to preserve the rich local history of Lavaca County.In attendance were Dorothy N. Walters, Doug Kubicek, Mary Devall, Christine Devall, Lillian Miller, Bob Pesek, Mildred Rouse, Karen Renger, Gene Drozd, Nancy Braus, Kent Sobotik, Shirley Blundell (from the Yoakum Museum), and Evelyn Dixon.
These people were the organizing force that made the Lavaca Historical Museum possible.With the help of local attorney, Wilbur Baber, they were able to attain nonprofit status, which allowed them to start public fundraising.Mr. Don Kasper of Kasper Wire works was the first major contributor to the museum effort.
By the fall they had raised enough funds and on November 30, 1990 the H. J. Heye house located at 415 North Main Street was purchased.They held an open house on December 13, 1990.It was a two day event that showcased the house to the public.
The grand opening was on August 31, 1991.It was a grand affair with upwards of 200 people in attendance.Among them were several members of the H. J. Heye family and State Representative Tim Von Dohlen along with several other county, district, and state officials. The Czech Heritage Singers provided the entertainment for the event, singing songs both in Czech and German.Mary Devall and Dorothy N. Walters cut the ribbon signaling the official opening of the Lavaca Historical Museum.
For almost twenty years the museum operated at this location.After a time it became apparent that a new location would be needed.The museum had outgrown the house on Main St. and had no room for expansion.Board members began looking for a new location and found it in the property of the late Anita Bludau Jajovsky Drabek at 1205 N. Texana.This property had everything that the board wanted; Room for a large building with room to grow, ample parking, and great visibility.
After the purchase of the location in 2011, it was decided to build a new single story, open concept building.This would allow for wheel chair access and be better for artifact display, including the permanent exhibit of the High School Championship Rodeo Hall of Fame & the South Texas Semi Pro Baseball Hall of Fame.
On September 13, 2014 the Grand Reopening of the Lavaca Historical Museum was held.Many people showed up to help celebrate the occasion.On display inside were slide shows in both the Rodeo & Baseball exhibits as well as a display of memorabilia of local military veteran’s.Outside on the back lawn there was tractors and farm equipment that were loaned by South Texas Wheel Spinners & Crank Twisters Antique Farm Equipment Club.Refreshments were provided by Hallettsville Nursing & Rehab.At the end of the ceremonies a check was presented by Jerry Robertson, Mark Hermes, Kevin Prause, and Clayton Mueller from the Lavaca County Tractor Pullers Association to board members Jesse Allen & Cheryl Walker representing the Lavaca Historical Museum.
Since then the museum has continued to live up to its mission statement:“To preserve and exhibit artifacts for use in educating the public, inspiring a greater understanding and appreciation of the history of Hallettsville and Lavaca County.”, because we, like our founding members believe that the rich and varied history of our community is worth preserving.
123-Year-Old Zumwalt House Gets Facelift
Three generations of Zumwalts have lived in this old house at 505 N. Ridge St. in Hallettsville, since T. R. Zumwalt built it in 1893 from old, durable virgin pine boards and cypress siding. Some of the lumber, salvaged from the Lindenberg Hotel and from Indianola, is even older than the house’s 123 years. The cypress siding had warped, cracked, and split under the prolonged onslaught of the hot Texas sun and the elements, allowing water leakage into the interior.
We stripped the old siding from the pine boards, made minor rot repairs, added new plywood sheathing, covered it with plastic house wrap, and replaced the siding with cement fiber planks. Amazingly, the original cypress siding under the front porch is still in pristine condition, protected from the elements. We left this in place. We replaced all the windows with easy-to-clean tilt versions. With a new face on its old bones, the house now smiles at onlookers — its bright paint gleaming!
Visit the Museum’s new picture display of Old Hallettsville, to see how the old Zumwalt house looked in 1900, and to flash back to many interesting scenes from bygone times.
To Loan or Not to Loan
The museum houses hundreds of artifacts for the public to view. These artifacts help us to learn about the people and communities that came vefore us in Hallettsville and Lavaca County. What you night now know, is that many of these items are loaned to us by families and individuals.
For many people, this is a solution for something that is special to them or their family, but have no idea what to do with it in the future. When you loan an artifact to the museum, you or your heirs may have it returned with written notice and a copy of the contract. So the next time you find yourself in this kind of situation, please call us.
We love for people to bring in their old photos (family, business, military, rodeo, etc...). We are able to scan your photo while you wait & return your photo back to you for safe keeping.
South Central Texas Baseball Hall of Fame
Baseball has always been one of America's favorite pastimes. We all love to root and cheer our favorite team on and now days it's as easy as turning on the TV. In the not to distant past it was a lot harder to see your favorite major league team. Distance and cost was a major issue making radio the only real option for most people. However, as we all know, istening to a radio broadcast was not nearly as exciting.
The solution to this was the advent of semi pro baseball. Most towns had a team of volunteer players who played for the love of the game with a few of the better players, usually pitchers, getting paid by donations by local merchants. These games were major entertainment for the communities in which they took place. Entire families would come out on Sunday afternoon to support their local team.
While traveling to baseball games, former players Robert Pesek & Charles Straus, Richard Malec from the Hallettsville Tribune and former team sponsor G. H. Gerdes began talking about how all of the information about the semi pro teams would one day be forgotten. Out of these conversations that the idea was born to create an association to honor the participants who contributed so much to semi pro.
The first annual meeting of the South Central Texas Semi Pro Baseball Hall of Fame was held at Blase's Place in 1972. It was at this first event that a large group of former players were first inducted into the hall of fame.
Lavaca Historical Museum houses the South Central Texas Semi-Pro Baseball Hall of Fame. The exhibit displays uniforms, photos, as well as other artifacts. It also keeps binders with application information on the players who were inducted into the hall of fame that are accessible by the general public.