A dead man’s poker hand, lust for Spanish silver, hard tack and kid’s toys at a military fort established to drive Indians from the land, acequias of beautiful water, a German sundial lost in an attack on a mission, and the fading visions of church men holding crosses aloft in air filled with smoke and blood. These are a few of the memories encountered by the second Museum Tour Day sponsored by the Mason County Historical Society and organized by Charles Plueneke.
Members of historical societies in area counties, Kimble, Menard, Concho, San Saba, Llano, and Mason were invited to meet at the Menardville Museum in the old depot in Menard. Members of the Menard historical society received the visiting local historians amid the displays and provided commentary on the artifacts and exhibits throughout the building. A saloon "girl" in costume welcomed the guests to cookies and punch served on the large carved oak bar, a relic from a long past tavern. A winning, but deadly, poker hand lay exposed on a nearby table.
From the Menardville Museum, Historical Society members moved on to the Presidio, where they were met by Ray Rickard, director of the Presidion de San Saba Restoration Corporation, who described not only the history of the Presidio, but the plans for reconstruction which include detailed archeological studies for accuracy. Rickard’s talk included the legends and probable truths of the San Saba silver mines.
After a break for lunch, Rickard accompanied Mason County Historical Society members to the Menard library to see the mural depicting the Indian attack on the mission near Menard. Rickard then took the Mason group into a bank to see a German sun dial found at the San Saba mission site, an instrument which predates the mission by several hundred years. Archeologists speculate that the sun dial, a pocket-sized device, was the private possession of one of the Spanish missionaries.
In the afternoon, the tour groups reunited at McKavett, where they were met by re-enactors in period costume who not only presented the stories of the frontier fort, but took the visitors through the restored rooms and buildings, which have been furnished with historical accuracy.
Friday, May 7, is the next tour date for the participating historical societies. Groups will tour the Don Freeman Museum in Eden that morning and will move on to Brady to see the McCulloch County Historical Museum in the afternoon. Contact Charles Plueneke, (325) 347-5581, for further information on the upcoming tour. The last of these planned tours will be on Thursday, May 20, 2010, when the group will visit the San Saba County Museum in the morning and the Llano County Museum in the afternoon.