Drive By History in Matagorda County

Matagorda County Historical Commission (CHC) is a recent recipient of a 2012 Distinguished Service Award, recognizing CHCs for managing preservation programs that educate citizens and generate interest in the history and character of Texas. Congratulations Matagorda CHC for all your work to preserve and promote Matagorda County history, and thank you for submitting your Drive By History project via the Tell Your Story form! Drive By History is a fun initiative that utilizes Matagorda CHC's extensive online information compiled for historical markers and National Register listings to educate and inspire residents and students about the places that tell the story of Matagorda County. Read on to learn all about this project that helps to achieve Goal 5: Learn and Experience History through Place, and then visit the Tell Your Story page and share your local projects to be featured on our website.

 

Project Name: Drive By History
Location: Matagorda County
Region: Independence Trail

Project Description
Matagorda County has more than 100 historical markers including Texas State Historical Markers, 1936 Texas Centennial Markers, Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks, and National Register listings. The Drive By History project was created to acquaint the members of the Matagorda CHC and Matagorda County residents with the history that is available to them at all times through the historical markers scattered throughout the county. The list of markers was arranged chronologically by the date of the subject and once a week a Drive By History topic was emailed to the Matagorda CHC members, various teachers, and others interested in history. The weekly emails included a link to pages referenced on our website, which included a picture of the marker, the marker narrative, and pictures related to the marker subject.

What community needs and issues did your project or program address?
Some of the markers have been in the county since 1936, but are often overlooked as present-day residents go about their busy lives. The purpose of the project was to call attention to the markers and encourage residents to "drive by" and take time to read the history to better educate themselves on the history of their home.

Who were all the partners involved? How did they contribute to the project's success?
Matagorda CHC members and those receiving the weekly emails would forward their messages on to family and friends who would be interested. The website and postings on our Facebook page allowed everyone to have access to the information. The most advantageous partnership was with the educators who shared the markers with their students, thus teaching Matagorda County history once a week to the next generation.

How did you fund this project? Please list the types of funds involved and how you were successful in securing them (e.g., grants, donations, or city and county funds).
This project required no funding other than fuel to drive to different marker sites to take additional pictures. Most of the information was in place on our website before the project began. Any funds needed were donated.

What challenges did you encounter? How did you overcome them?
The challenges were few due to the dedicated research of previous historians who gathered the information that was posted on the website. It was difficult to find narrative information on the earliest acquired markers as little documentation was required at the inception of the marker program.

What is the future of this project? If applicable, what are the next steps?
It is possible that the project will be continued in some form by weekly emails and posts on Facebook about other Matagorda County history topics that are of interest.

Based on your experience with this project, what tips or pieces of advice can you share with the preservation community?
Our goal was to make Matagorda County residents more aware of the markers that they pass every day in hopes that they would stop to read the marker, and having read the narrative in the Drive By History email, could understand the impact the subject made on the county’s history—their history. A list of more than 100 markers for someone to access and read is intimidating, but by breaking the list up into one subject a week, readers are more likely to take the time to occasionally read about the county history.

The Drive By History project allowed the Matagorda CHC to make use of the work of previous county historians to draw attention to the rich history of Matagorda County, which began before the founding of the Republic of Texas. The historical markers chronicle that history from the inception of the settlement to the present day.

For more information:
Project Website: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txmatago/historical_markers.htm
Contact Name: Carol Sue Gibbs
Email: carolsgibbs@yahoo.com
Organization: Matagorda County Historical Commission
Website: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txmatago/mchc.htm

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