Fire Near San Jacinto Battlefield Causes Indefinite Closure

The San Jacinto battleground, along with the Battleship Texas museum, has been closed for an indefinite period of time following an ITC chemical fire that occurred in March of 2019. While fighting the fire, some of the fire suppressant foam along with toxic chemicals leaking from the tank flowed down into the Houston Ship Channel which lies between the battleground and the ITC chemical plant. Because of this, celebrations for the annual celebration of the Battle of San Jacinto were canceled. This is only the second time in thirty five years that the festivities have had to be canceled. This was a rather big letdown for many people as this remembrance celebration takes many months to plan. The Battle of San Jacinto was the last big battle of the Texas War for Independence which famously saw the Texan forces route the Mexican soldiers under the command of Santa Anna. Texan troops also ended up “capturing” Santa Anna’s prosthetic leg after the battle was over. At the end of the battle Santa Anna surrendered to Texan forces however this was not officially recognized by the American government. Battleship Texas is a famed battleship that sailed in both World Wars and was converted into a museum after being decommissioned.

Public History in the Wild – Manuel Musquiz Ranch Home

The author standing outside the ruins of the house, across the highway stands the plaque dedicated to the home.

These are the ruins of a ranch home built by Manuel Musquiz who was a pioneer who settled down in between Fort Davis and Alpine, TX in 1854. Due to the frequency of Native American raids during that period Mr. Musquiz eventually abandoned his home and moved elsewhere. From 1880 to 1882, the Texas Rangers used it as a Ranger station while they were clearing out Native Americans and marauding bandits in the surrounding area. After the Rangers abandoned it, the home eventually fell into disarray until it became as it is today.

Public History in the Wild – Jeff Davis County Jail

The author outside the entrance to the jail

The Jeff Davis County Jail, located in Fort Davis, TX, was constructed at the start of the 1910’s to replace an older jail that was deemed inefficient due to its adobe construction. The jail took on a castle like appearance because it was what was popular for most jails in the 19th century. The jail remained open until 1978 where new inmates were transported to Marfa, TX. The jail was funny to observe as it is seated next to the intricate Jeff Davis County Courthouse and the remainder of the small town is mostly brick and mortar buildings.

Public History in the Wild – Terlingua Cemetery

This is a plaque inside the Terlingua Cemetery which is located by the US-Mexican border in Terlingua, TX. Terlingua was once a mining town at the end of the 19th century into the early parts of the 20th century but is now a ghost town with a small population that consists of local artists. The cemetery mostly holds the remains of older residents of the town but there are also graves from as recently as 2018. It was amazing to see how some of these plots had withstood the test of time and continue showing the local traditions.The Author by a plaque inside Terlingua Cemetery

Saving Syria: Syrian Refugee Project in Germany

Since 2013, Germany has taken in over 700,000 Syrian refugees due to the Syrian Civil War. These refugees are dispersed among Germany’s population of over 82 million people. Although this is still less than 1 percent of Germany’s population, Germany prioritized preserving Syrian culture, while facilitating a smooth assimilation process.

Syria has a rich culture and history that has been endangered due to the Syrian Civil War. Germany wants to make sure that Syrian artifacts and collections are preserved, as many sites have already been destroyed due to ISIS treatment of this particular places. ISIS views Syria’s historical sites as a threat to the Islamic religion – and it sells ancient artifacts to produce revenue. Recently, the city of Aleppo was leveled by ISIS forces and the ancient Roman theatre has become the chosen site for ISIS beheadings.

In order to keep record of Syria’s historical sites, especially those that are at risk, the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin and the German Archeological Institute reached an agreement with the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs to begin a program that would preserve Syria’s threatened artifacts.

The project aims to weave together present day viewpoints with digital records of Syria, including an online data base which already stores 200,000 photos and documents. Another goal is to build 3D models of the UNESCO sites that were destroyed, so that one day Syria can rebuild these ancient treasures.

Ancient City of Aleppo
Digital interface of the Syrian Archive Project. The collection currently houses over 200,000 items.

As public historians, the Syrian Archive Project raises several questions:

When accepting refugees from war-torn countries how can we preserve their history?

If we are holding these artifacts, who is the true owner? When should the artifacts be repatriated?

How, as public historians, do we handle this situation? What is our role?

Work Cited

“Ancient City of Aleppo”UNESCO. Retrieved 17 August 2011.

The Museum für IslamischeKunst (Museum of Islamic Art) belongs to Staatliche MuseenzuBerlin–Stiftung PreußischerKulturbesitz(State Museums of Berlin–Prussian Cultural Heritage Foudation), http://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/museum-fuer-islamische-kunst/home.html.

THE PUBLIC HISTORIAN, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 107–128 (November 2018). ISSN: 0272-3433, electronic ISSN 1533-8576. © 2018 by The Regents of the University of California and the National Council on Public History. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Reprints and Permissions web page, http://www.ucpress.edu/journals.php?p1⁄4reprints. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2018.40.4.107.

The Curious Case Jim Thorpe’s Remains

 

The brown granite tomb of Jim Thorpe, flanked to the right by a statue of him, on a bright and sunny fall day.
The tomb of Jim Thorpe, flanked by a statue depicting him.

When American Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe passed away in 1953, his remains were sent across the country in an odd series of events directly out of a movie.

When he died in California, Thorpe’s body was sent to Oklahoma for funeral services. It was to be then returned to California with his wife and son for burial. The problem was, Jim was essentially broke at the time of his death, and his wife had no way to transport the body again. The citizens of Shawnee tried to raise the funds for the transport, but couldn’t get them together. Fearing that Jim would be buried in a porter’s grave, she spirited away the remains to, of all places, a town in Pennsylvania he had never been to.

The towns of East and West Mauch Chunk were financially strapped in the 1950s, and looking for a way to diversify the economy of the former mining town. Precilla Thorpe, Jim’s wife, heard about this and made them a deal: Jim’s body and rights to his likeness for an undisclosed amount. The town agreed, and that same year merged and renamed into what is now Jim Thopre, Pennsylvania.

Some sixty years later, Jack Thorpe, Jim’s son, wanted to see his father buried in his homeland in Oklahoma, as did the majority of the Thorpe family. In 2010, he sued the city of Jim Thorpe for his father’s remains, citing the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act as grounds. Ultimately, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals would rule in favor of the city, citing the town receives no direct state of federal aid that would designate the whole town as a museum, and that Priscilla sold the remains in good faith to the city as Jim’s direct beneficiary and proxy.

As painful as it is not honor a loved one’s wishes, the positive thing to come out of all of this is the fact Jim’s legacy is forever enshrined in a little town in Pennsylvania, and the fight for his remains provided publicity about the greatest athlete you never knew.

You can read more about the legal battle in Supreme Court Ends Fight Over Jim Thorpes Resting Place and Fight for Jim Thorpe’s Remains Continues 62 Years Later, or about the man himself with Encyclopædia Britannica’s Biography

 

Gyeongbokgung Palace

 

photo of palace
Photos by: Louie Diaz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gyeongbokgung Palace is situated the middle of Seoul, South Korea.  The original palace was constructed in 1395 under the Joseon Dynasty and served as their main royal palace. The original palace was severely damaged during the Imjin War (1592-1598); however, it was reconstructed during the 19th century. The palace was destroyed once more during the early 20th century while under Japanese occupation. As of 2014, less than half of the buildings have been restored.

 

 

Survivor Tree

photograph of Survivor Tree from the World Trade Center Memorial in NYC
Survivor Tree at World Trade Center Memorial Park in New York City | Courtesy of Tyler Sleeter

Found burnt and damaged in the rubble of the World Trade Centers, Survivor Tree survived the terrorist attacks on 9-11-2001 and later survived Hurricane Sandy.  The tree was removed, nursed back to health, and returned to Trade Center complex as part of the memorial.

Standing near the two memory pools, the tree serves as a symbol of life and strength in the wake of all the death and destruction of that day.   It is a reminder of the strength of all those affected by that day.

141st Infantry Regiment

 

 Historical marker, San Antonio, Texas, 141ST infantry Regiment, Bexar county
141st infantry Regiment historical marker located in San Antonio, Texas

“ To the men who died at the Alamo: All Texans a claim both and song and in the story the days of our youth – the days of your glory may they also remember, wherever they go, the man left behind at some far Alamo”

   The  state  of Texas has a long history of  military affairs.   When it comes to military affairs the 141st infantry Regiment has the title of the oldest militia unit in Texas for the United Stares Army.  The 141st infantry Regiment has a long history of military  involvement by being able to trace its lineage back to the Texas revolution of 1836.  In  addition to the Texas revolution the 141st infantry Regiment can trace its involvement back to the Spanish American war of 1898, the Cuban occupation of 1898, the Mexican border service beginning in 1916, World War I in 1918, and World War II from 1941-1945.  The 141st  infantry division’s  military history continues on now as part of the 72nd Birgade  Combat Division.

This is  historical  marker, dedicated to the 141st infantry division, does not do the history of this military division justice.  This military division has such an extensive history that we can’t fully see the whole picture of the significance of this division  from what is shown on this historical marker.  Much like you may have been, I was also very surprised of the extensive military lineage of the oldest militia unit in Texas.  What stands out most to me is the infantry units motto, “Remember the Alamo.”  What surprised me most about this motto is that it is still said to this day. The history behind this motto is something that is deeply rooted into all Texans.

Competing Narratives in History

Because there are many different people and cultures throughout the world it is not uncommon for different individuals to have different beliefs on certain topics. History is no exception to this as often time’s different cultures or groups of people perceive certain events or important figures in history differently. In a modern society that has placed an emphasis on making sure unheard voices are listened too, competing narratives and how to address them has posed a problem for public historians and those interested in history alike. One example of this is the Western Wall in the city of Jerusalem and the fact that it is renowned and viewed as sacred by three different religions in the area; Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. I think that it is definitely a difficult problem to come to terms with because if executed wrongly it can lead to one group feeling marginalized and unimportant. One of the best things we can do is just make sure that everyone is heard and has a chance to tell their story too an audience. It is also our responsibility as students of history to ensure that we let people know that we want their experiences to be told and to go out on our own and look for stories we may not have been aware of before.

A picture of the Western Wall in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM – DECEMBER 15: The Western Wall in the night with a praying pilgrims on December 15, 2013 in Jerusalem. It’s located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount.