Each quarter, B.C.H.S. invites its members to a meeting to enjoy a program related to Bastrop County's History.

Edward Burleson.​

Oct 22, 2020

Bastrop Christian Church - 125 Year History

October 22, 2020

          Hammers were pounding and saws were buzzing 125 years ago this fall when the sanctuary of the Bastrop Christian Church at 1104 Church was under construction in downtown Bastrop.

          The structure’s construction and New England Victorian architecture, as well as the church’s roughly 170-year history, are the subjects of a talk by church historian Earl Ellisor as the Bastrop County Historical Society resumes its regular quarterly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22 via online livestreaming.

To watch live: sign up for the Zoom link (click here) or visit Bastrop Christian Church's Facebook page (click here).

Not Really a Casino, But a Fun Place to Be

January 23, 2020

Pass over the railroad tracks at the corner of Farm and Fayette Streets and on the northeast corner, the driver will see a beat-up old building of faded red bricks with a corrugated sheet metal roof – not all that remarkable, unless you know what it was in the Nineteenth Century.


It’s still called “Casino Hall,” although its past isn’t about gambling. When constructed around 1848, it was early Bastrop’s primary location for concerts, banquets, stage plays, and all forms of cultural diversions in the community’s early days.


For Austin Statesman columnist Michael Barnes, who wrote his dissertation at the University of Texas at Austin on early dancehalls and entertainment venues in old-days Texas, it’s almost a shrine – the oldest surviving theatre structure in the state.


Barnes, whose frequent history pieces on old Austin have been published in the 3-volume “Indelible Austin” books, will discuss the background of Casino Hall and other places where early Texans enjoyed performances and social get-togethers in a talk at the BCHS quarterly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, January 23rd at the Bastrop Opera House, 711 Spring Street in Bastrop (and yes, he will talk about the Opera House as well).


Having written for the Statesman for three decades, Barnes recently initiated a newsletter/column series called “Think Texas,” a weekly digital newsletter that he described as “about Texas history: from the arrival of indigenous people to the rise of the republic and the never-ending evolution of a state like no other.”

Learn History's Real Facts at Office of County Clerk

October 24, 2019

If you're doing historical research, every county sports a reliable, fact-based source that rivals any local library or museum archives - the office of county clerk. 

Since the state began, that office is where people are certified born or dead, get married, register the sale of land, borrow money on that property, probate a will, record official actions of commissioners court, document election results or even register their personal cattle brands.

On Oct. 24 our quarterly meeting will feature Bastrop County Clerk, Rose Pietsch who will speak in the Courtroom of Court at Law Judge Benton Eskew at 804 Pecan Street. Ms. Pietsch will detail the range of facts that can be found in her office and explain how the public can access those records for their own use.

6:30 p.m. - Bastrop County Courthouse, 804 Pecan Street, Bastrop

    (There will be directional signage.)

We hope to see you there.

Jul 25, 2019

Toys of Yesteryear - Fun for the Whole Family

July 25, 2019

Visualize a time way back before children began playing by clicking the "on" button and waiting for the blinking colors and whirring sounds to engage their minds with the interactive ingenuities of game designers and software engineers. And think back before our own generation, when we got our playthings at the five-and-dime or at the big toy emporiums that offered plastic figurines or wheeled wonders and only a minor demand for double-A batteries In a break from the traditional informed-speaker-explains-our-past format, the July 25 BCHS quarterly meeting will feature a hands-on, collaborative approach to engage Bastrop children and parents to recreate what made for fun back during pioneer times. 


PLEASE NOTE: The meeting will be at the Bastrop Opera House. Starts at 6:30 p.m.


Apr 25, 2019

Calvary Espiscopal Church, 150 Years Old

April 25, 2019

Founded in 1869, Calvary Episcopal Church became one of the first four congregations in Bastrop. Its ups and downs through its first hundred years was highlighted by construction of an 1883 building that became the first structure in the county to receive a Texas historical medallion. Its growth in recent decades followed the pattern of change in the wider community.


Ken Kesselus, who served nearly 20 years as its minister, will narrate its story.

6:30 p.m. April 25 at Calvary Hall, 1020 Main Street in Bastrop.


We hope you will join us.

"Success Stories" Highlight Archives Talk

BCHS Archivist Carol Kysar is adept at maintaining up-to-date data on the extent of the collections maintained in the basement beneath the Bastrop County History Museum – it doesn’t take long for her to identify the current population of 7,310 archival documents within the collection, plus the 4,508 photos, 1,860 objects and 538 reference books that have been donated.


But if you really want to get her talking, bring up the “success stories” in which Kysar and the eight volunteers she supervises put together facts and relevant information to answer the random inquiries that may come in on any given day. As many as 150 individuals or organizations communicate with the Archives Department or search its files each year.


“What’s rewarding is piecing together answers to people’s questions by searching here and there through all the likely sources of solid information,” said Kysar, who will recount some of the more interesting anecdotes that highlight the work of the department at the upcoming BCHS quarterly meeting.


6:30 p.m. January 24 at Calvary Hall, 1020 Main Street in Bastrop.


We hope you will join us.

Oct 25, 2018

Genealogy Meets DNA

Until recently, the primary way to discover one’s family heritage was through genealogy – painstaking research conducted in libraries, museum archives, courthouses and even graveyards to match family names and fill in historical gaps.

            Two decades ago, along came readily available DNA testing, with late night commercials promising amazing historical details by mailing off a little spittle in a test tube (along with a check) so scientists can send back an analysis of centuries of genetic history.

            Only if it were so easy. Often, test results are difficult to understand and modified by complicated scientific disclaimers.

            But two respected, local genealogists, Holly Marie Howard and Carol Brown, have made the leap from the old way to the new technology and are prepared to explain how DNA testing and genealogy can be understood to complement each other. They will present an explanation of the two specializations at BCHS quarterly meeting.


Thursday, Oct. 25 at Calvary Heritage Hall, 1020 Main Street in Bastrop, 6:30 p.m.

Jul 26, 2018

Sayers Family Stories to Highlight Talk - July Quarterly Speaker Meeting

Ever since DeLea Sayers, great grandnephew of Texas governor Joseph D. Sayers, was in first grade he has been fascinated by his ancestor's achievements. As our quarterly speaker he will discuss these achievements, focusing on "family stories that haven't yet made it into the public domain."

Calvary Heritage Hall, 1020 Main Street, Bastrop

6:30 p.m.

Apr 26, 2018

Tejanos in Austin’s Colony - Topic of new TSHA CEO

The important role that Tejanos played in the success of Stephen F. Austin and his colony will be the topic of a talk by Dr. Jesus “Frank” de la Teja, recently named chief executive officer of the Texas State Historical Association.


“Stephen F. Austin and the Tejano Leadership from Exploration to Revolution” is the title of de la Teja’s presentation at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 26 at the Calvary Heritage Hall, 1020 Main in Bastrop.


 “As they worked together to launch Anglo-American settlement in Texas, Austin and leading men in San Antonio formed bonds of friendship as well as ties of business and political interest,” Dr. de la Teja said. “My talk discusses this much neglected aspect of development of Texas during Mexican rule.”


After retiring from Texas State University, de la Teja was named the interim Chief Executive Officer of the TSHA by the board of directors effective Feb.1. He served as TSHA president 2007-08 as he concurrently served as the inaugural Texas State Historian (2007-09).


For 17 years, , de la Teja was the book review editor of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, responsible for hundreds of reviews of scholarly books on Texas and the Southwest. He has published extensively on Spanish, Mexican, and Republic-era Texas and participated on the content development team for the Bullock Texas State History Museum, among other achievements.

Jan 25, 2018

The Social and Legal Significance of the Delgado vs. Bastrop (1948) Case in the History of Texas Civil Rights  

BCHS is proud to welcome the Honorable Gonzalo Barrientos, former Texas Senator and State Representative and Dr. Gene Preuss, Associate Professor of History, University of Houston-Downtown, in a discussion of the Delgado vs. BISD (1948) case at the upcoming January BCHS Quarterly Speaker’s Meeting. Senator Barrientos, who attended Mina Ward School before it closed in 1949, will speak to his memories and personal experiences.  Dr. Preuss will speak to the social and legal aspect of the case in the Texas civil rights movement. Dr. Preuss’ work on the case appears in the book titled Texan Identities, Moving Beyond Myth, Memory, and Fallacy in Texas History.


Be certain to stop by the Museum today and pick up a copy of Delgado vs. BISD and the Mina Ward School, the story of the case as excerpted from Bastrop According to Ken: Vol. III, by Ken Kesselus.

The program, chock full of interesting information as only former Mayor Kesselus can write,

is available for $2.


BCHS Quarterly Speaker’s Meeting

Thursday, January 25, 2018

6:30 PM

Calvary Hall, 1020 Main Street

Oct 26, 2017

Exploring Historic Sites in Texas, a Photographic Tour

Noted local photographer, John Chandler, will showcase a collection of beautiful photographs from some of the area’s most intriguing historic sites, including Kreische Brewery and Kreische House; Fanthrop Inn; Saur-Beckman Farm, and LBJ Historic Site; Mission Espiritu Santo, and other important historic sites in Texas.  Seeing these photographs just might inspire you to plan your next road trip close to home!

As a special treat, also attending will be Dr. Cynthia Brandimarte, Director of the Historic Sites and Structures Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Angela Reed from the Texas Historical Commission. Both will be available to answer your questions.

Come learn how an enjoyable day trip to one of your nearby historic sites can be a fun and enriching experience.

Make your plans now to attend: Thursday, October 26, 6:30pm, Heritage Hall, 1020 Main St., Bastrop, Texas.

Jul 21, 2017

The Bastrop County Historical Society Quarterly Meeting featuring Professor Andrew J. Torget

Andrew Torget 19th century historian and professor at the University of North Texas, will give a lecture based on his new book, Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands. The book tells the remarkable story of how the cotton revolution of the early nineteenth century transformed northeastern Mexico into the western edge of the United States, and how the rise and spectacular collapse of the Republic of Texas as a nation built on cotton and slavery proved to be a blueprint for the Confederacy of the 1860s.

Book Review


Museum Reception at 5:30 PM Preceding the Lecture

RSVP Online

Apr 27, 2017

The Heart of the Museum, An Evening with BCHS Archivist Carol Kysar

Some might say the BCHS Research Library is the very heart of the museum. Indeed, the Library is the source of information behind the beautifully-executed exhibits for which the museum is known. The Library collection includes more than 6,000 archival documents, 4,000 photographs, and 230 maps – all logged into the museum’s searchable database and available to Bastropians, visitors, historians, students, researchers, and genealogists. 


The Library also houses the  StoryCorp oral histories of some of our local citizens and original copies of the Bastrop Advertiser, the oldest continuously published weekly newspaper in Texas. The archives continue to grow as patrons donate documents from their personal collections and the estates of family members.


Over 150 individuals patronize the Library each year, and Museum Archivist Carol Kysar and her team of dedicated volunteers assist with the individual requests. Come learn more about the Research Library at the Society’s next quarterly meeting on April 27th , when Ms. Kysar and members of her volunteer team share highlights of recent research projects and discuss the archives’ relevance for all citizens of Bastrop County. 

 Thursday, April 27, 7:00 P.M.,

 Calvary Heritage Hall, 1020 Main Street

Jan 26, 2017

The Windows of Bastrop’s Methodist Church


Come Hear about an Inspiring Legacy: The Windows of Bastrop’s Methodist Church One of the most beautiful churches in the Bastrop area is the First United Methodist Church on Main Street! The exterior of the structure itself is elegant and simple, much like so many Methodist churches of its era. Yet you haven’t walked into the inspiring interior of the building. There you will find a collection of beautiful stained glass windows that is a testament to our forbearers love for their God and their community. Some of the windows resided in the original church built approximately 150 years ago. They were moved to the present church when it was built in 1925. As the new Sanctuary had more space for windows, additional stained glass was created at that time. Each window holds a rich and inspiring history, which, when combined with its companion windows, reflects the early days of our City and State. The Society’s next quarterly meeting, on January 26th, will showcase these beautiful statements to our ancestors’ faith. Current Trustee and former President of the Society, Robbie Sanders, will talk about the stories behind the windows and those former church members whose memory they commemorate and who are long since gone. These are rich and inspiring stories. Come hear Ms. Sanders talk about the treasures of Bastrop’s First United Methodist Church! 


Jul 28, 2016

How can YOU help preserve history!


Have you heard about StoryCorps? Well, come to the Bastrop County Historical Society quarterly meeting on Thursday, July 28, and learn about this unparalleled project, the Society’s involvement in it, and how you can assist in this valuable effort to preserve history for generations to come.


Founded in 2003, the nonprofit organization StoryCorps, based in Brooklyn, New York has given 100,000 people the chance to record interviews about their lives, pass wisdom from one generation to the next, and leave a legacy for the future. It is the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered.


StoryCorps states that its “mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.  We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters. At the same time, we are creating an invaluable archive for future generations.”


StoryCorps shares edited excerpts of these stories with the world through popular weekly NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books. These powerful conversations illustrate our shared humanity and show how much more we share in common than divides us.

Apr 28, 2016

Copy Of -Seat Of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas


“The founding of Austin sparked one of the Republic’s first great political battles, pitting against each other two Texas titans: Lamar, who in less than a year had risen to vice president from army private, and Sam Houston, the hero of San Jacinto, and a man both loved and hated throughout the Republic."


Come hear award winning author, Jeffrey Stuart Kerr, as he describes the pivotal conflict between these two epic Texans, at the Historical Society’s next quarterly meeting on Thursday, April 28th, during Bastrop’s “Yesterfest.”

Jan 28, 2016

The C.C.C. - A Pictorial Program


A pictorial program on the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) focusing on Bastrop and Central Texas is the topic of the next quarterly meeting of the Bastrop County Historical Society on January 28th at 7 p.m. at Calvary Heritage Hall, 1020 Main Street in downtown Bastrop. John Chandler, photographer extraordinaire, will present the story of the work of the CCC and its legacy in this region along with his photographs which documents the work. John has been a long time contributor to the Texas Parks and Wildlife’s publications.

Oct 22, 2015

Rosenwald Schools

FALL 2015

Rebekah Dobrasko, a historic preservation specialist with the Texas Department of Transportation, will make a presentation on the Rosenwald Schools, some of the most endangered historic sites in the South. Over 5000 of these segregated schools were built in the late 19th and early 20th century. The brain child of Booker T. Washington, and partially funded by Rosenwald, head of Sears Roebuck, they represented a better educational opportunity for African Americans in the South.

Jul 23, 2015

Historic Bridges of Bastrop County


After attending the Truss Bridge Open House at the Museum & Visitor Center, please join us at our next BCHS Quarterly Meeting. Bridges connect people, communities and places, past and present. The historic bridges of Bastrop County will be the topic for the next quarterly meeting of the Bastrop County Historical Society on July 23rd at 6:30 pm at Calvary Heritage Hall, 1020 Main Street in downtown Bastrop. Mayor Ken Kesselus, our own central Texas historian, will discuss the historic bridges in our area, both past and present, and the role they played in the growth and development of Bastrop County.

Apr 23, 2015

Historic Home Interiors of Central Texas


The meeting will focus on the interiors of historic homes in Central Texas and will be presented by Candace M. Volz, a decorative arts historian living in Austin, TX.  Candace’s work includes period interiors ranging in date from the 1840 to 1950’s for private clients, house museums, and historic sites including several projects for the National Park Service, the Texas Historical Commission and the Ancient Oaks Plantation in Bastrop County.  Candace’s presentation for the April 23rd meeting will look at the original and restored interiors of a number of historic homes and buildings in central Texas and several from outside the state. Street parking is available on Main and Spring Streets and behind the Calvary Episcopal Church.

Jan 22, 2015

An Overview of TxDOT's Agricultural Theme Study for Central Texas: A Guide for Identifying and Understanding Agricultural Properties


Historian David W. Moore, Jr., is President and co-founder of Hardy-Heck-Moore, Inc. (HHM), an Austin-based historic preservation firm established in 1983.  Moore will discuss a recently completed study he prepared for the Texas Department of Transportation that describes how to document and assess agricultural properties in Central Texas. The project encompassed a 17- county region that included Bastrop County. The report identifies repositories that contain materials describing the history of agriculture in the region, historic maps that depict cultural landscape features associated with agricultural activities, and types of resources and patterns of development that provide a tangible link to the past. Although the study was prepared primarily for consultants who submit reports and studies for TxDOT-related projects, it contains a wealth of information, methods, and techniques that will allow members of the public to learn more about the history and culture of any rural setting in the region.  Click on the Courthouse photo to view the complete study.

Oct 23, 2014

St. John History: From the Past to the Present

FALL 2014

Janet (Telee) Roland Weiss was born and raised in the Caldwell County Freedman’s Settlement known as St. John Colony. Her great-grandmother, Jane Roland, was one of the first settlers in the area.  As an amateur genealogist Roland Weiss has accumulated much information on the history of the settlement and the families who contributed to that rich history. She is currently in the process of compiling the community’s stories into a book. Well known for sharing her stories and photo collection at reunions and Juneteenth Celebrations, she has graciously agreed to share the stories, biographies, and photographs, which form the history of St. John Colony, with the Bastrop County Historical Society since some of its settlers were also born and reared in Bastrop County.

Please reload