• At least eight people called the Rayburn House their home from 1916 to 1969. These people ate here, slept here, listened to the radio, and eventually watched TV here. We know the most about Sam Rayburn since he's the family member that has had the most written about him. These writings have told us about the food he likes (onion sandwiches), how he hated small talk, and what he thought about the presidents he served with. Some of these articles and books about Sam Rayburn feature insights from his family about him, their famous relative. However, there is much less written about his family members and their personalities, the little things they did in their lives that made them the main characters of their story rather than supporting characters in Sam's story. Unfortunately, I won't be able to tell you everything about these Rayburns. But I can look through their stuff and together we can try to figure them out. This month, I'm snooping through some Rayburn books (it's alright for historians to snoop) to see what they liked to read.
  • Seventy-seven years after the Battle of Iwo Jima there are very few survivors still living. And now there is one less. Henry C. Myric passed away on May 28, 2022, at the age of 96. In a flag-draped coffin with the famous Eagle, Globe and Anchor logo of the US Marine Corps proudly displayed, he was buried at historic Pecan Grove Cemetery in McKinney, in the company of hundreds of fellow veterans from the Civil War through today.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower stands by a tank - courtesy of Eisenhower Library, National Archives. Join the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site on Thursday, June 9 at 6:00 p.m. as we welcome guest speaker Dr. Hunt Tooley. Hunt Tooley is Professor of History at Austin College. As a historian, he studies war, revolutions, and peace in the modern world. He is the author of three books, including The Great War: Western Front and Home Front. Dr. Tooley will give a special talk, "Doughboys into GIs: From the Great War to D-Day," exploring how the legacies of the War to End All Wars molded the next battle for Europe. Admission is free.
  • North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD), in collaboration with Resource Environmental Solutions (RES), is celebrating the completion of one of the largest environmental restoration projects of its kind in the U.S. After four years of dedicated efforts, North Texas is now home to a new and growing forest of 6.3 million trees, thousands of acres of enhanced wetlands and grasslands and 70 miles of improved streams. This thriving, renewed ecosystem was completed as part of the Bois d’Arc Lake project, the first major reservoir built in Texas in 30 years.
  • This historical marker is on northbound Texas Highway 78, at the bridge over the Red River border with Oklahoma. This marker is a good place to begin the Judith Keene Sowell story.
  • There were many armed skirmishes between Mexico and the Texans between 1836 when Texas declared independence from Mexico and 1843/44 when Texas defeated Mexico in the battle of San Jacinto. One of the most famous incidents during this period was the Mier Expedition into Mexico from Laredo and the following "Black Bean incident." There were three Kentucky Keene boys involved with this incident. Edward Keene, Richard Keene, and George Washington Keene.
  • Martha "Mat" Clementine Waller married a man named William Marion Rayburn on May 14, 1868. With that marriage, the Waller became a Rayburn, but what happened to the Waller name? Although Martha didn’t really “lose” her maiden name, she and many other women throughout time who descended from Anglo-Saxon traditions took their husband’s name after marriage and continue to do so today. More than any of his siblings or his father, Sam Rayburn helped the Rayburn family cement their surname into the annals of history. “Rayburn” is all over the Sam Rayburn State Historic Site, from its name and its historic markers to the cattle brands on some of the posts holding up the tractor shed. You will find portraits of Martha and her father, Judge John Barksdale Waller, in the sitting room but the Waller name is much less prominent than the Rayburn one. Yet, there is something for the Waller side of the family that the Rayburn side lacks: a painting of a coat of arms hanging in the sitting room.
  • New York-based financier Jay Gould, along with his son George, toured North Texas in early 1891. Among his stops was a brief horse and buggy tour of Bonham on April 10. The April 11 Fort Worth Gazette noted that while in Bonham, Gould asked about the location and condition of the Denison, Bonham & New Orleans Railroad roadbed.
  • During a period of unprecedented difficulty, topped by the myriad of challenges presented by a global pandemic, Fannin County managed to complete the most complex and costly project in county history. The names and faces changed through the years, but not the vision, commitment and perseverance it required, because nothing about this project came easy. In the end, Fannin County will have a working 1888 courthouse to admire for generations to come.
  • Here at the Sam Rayburn House State Historic Site, we are constantly learning about the home we preserve and interpret. One of the ways we learn is through our visitors. Whether it's because of their personal connection to the Rayburn family, their historical knowledge, or their own curiosity, visitors provide us with new ways of thinking about the house and the artifacts within it. For example, one visitor asked if a bell, sitting atop a shelf in the sitting room of the house, was used to alert congressional representatives to the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. Doing my best to find the answer, myself and the staff here soon discovered that this chrome-plated bell is actually described in our artifact system as a decanter, and may be more accurately described as a cocktail shaker. The staff quickly agreed that we needed to do some more research into this unusual novelty. It's five o'clock somewhere, so let's partake in this ring-a-ding-ding research about the bell-shaped shaker!
  • In a few short days, the 1888 Fannin County Courthouse will be rededicated and given back to the citizens of Fannin County. As I sit here looking back it doesn’t seem real. 3 ˝ years of working on this and it is hard to put into words what it means. It’s been close to 200 meetings, well over 3,000 emails, if I had to put a number probably well over 20,000 pictures. The Courthouse restoration team has been made up of Turner Construction (Ben, Tony, Linda, and Angel onsite), Architexas (Anne and David), THC (James) and the County (Judge Moore, Commissioner Lackey, Sherry, Michelle and myself).
  • Buried 80 years ago in Bonham, Texas, Charles Henry "Charlie" Christian was an American swing and bebop jazz guitarist and a member of the Benny Goodman Sextet. An important early performer on the electric guitar, Christian was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 as an "Early Influence."
  • Wesley Clark Dodson, the pioneer architect of the Fannin County Courthouse, is considered one of the most important architects of Texas' "Golden Age of Courthouse Construction." In the period 1875-1902, he built fifteen magnificent Texas courthouses.
  • When Gideon Smith moved to Fannin County in the early 1850s, his lead slave, Sam, came to help carve a farm out of the fertile Red River Valley. Gideon knew Sam as his childhood friend and as a valuable and productive worker. What Gideon didn't know was that his lead slave was also his half brother.