November 2015

Bastrop Home Donated to the Historical Society


The Bastrop County Historical Society (BCHS) is honored to announce that local historian Clyde Reynolds, who died in 2000, generously gifted his historic family home at 1108 Hill Street to the Historical Society.  Reynolds’ step daughter, Lena Prokop-Purcell, and her husband, Walter Purcell, have been living in the home for the past 20 years and recently transferred it to BCHS.  The home will be featured on the Historical Society’s Homes Tour on Saturday, December 12, from noon to 5:00pm. 


“The home is a wonderful and important gift to the Historical Society,” said president Sandra Chipley-Kellogg.  “Clyde loved history and made a personal effort to preserve artifacts, stories, documents, and maps from Bastrop’s earliest times.”


Built about 1851 by Dr. Thomas Blackstone Rector, the home was a wedding gift from Rufus Sidney Green to his daughter Marietta, upon her marriage to Albert B. Reynolds in 1874.  In 1912, Marietta deeded the house to her son, Sidney David (Siddie) in exchange for his taking care of her for the rest of her life.  Siddie and his wife, Daisy, had four children: Dan (Rusty), Clyde, Sid, and James Arthur (Hop).  The elder Sidney farmed the land and by 1941 had turned his small dairy farm into the largest retail dairy in Bastrop County. Clyde inherited the home.


“A walk around town with Clyde was fascinating,” said Robbie Sanders, BCHS Trustee.  “He would point to a home or vacant lot and tell a wonderful story from 60 or more years ago.  He was eager to share everything he knew.  He was active in Bastrop sports, became Bastrop Fire Chief after serving as a Navy fireman during WWII, and was County Tax Assessor and Collector for 25 years.  He knew everyone, and everyone knew him.”


Reynolds’ ancestors played a role in the settlement of early Bastrop.  His g-great grandfather, Thomas Christian, was killed during the famous Indian attack upon a surveying party in 1833 in which Josiah Wilbarger was scalped – but survived.  Reynolds’ great grandfather, Sherman Reynolds, built the steamboat Water Moccasin which plied the Colorado River between Austin and Matagorda during the 1850s.


BCHS was founded in 1952 and operates the Museum and Visitor Center at 904 Main Street, Bastrop.  Open seven days a week, the Visitor Center welcomes tourists and provides information about local events, restaurants, and lodging.  Museum exhibits and archives are available to tourists, educators, researchers, and historians.  Donations are welcome. To make a donation, please call the BCHS museum at 512 303-0057.

The photo is of the Piano Bridge, which carries Piano Bridge Road over East Navidad River in Fayette County. It was built in 1885 by the King Iron Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio. It has undergone a complete rehabilitation and is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.   

JUNE 2015

Truss Bridge Open House

July 23, 2015, 4-6 pm

Museum & Visitor Center

of the Bastrop County Historical Society



Sponsors include the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Texas Historical Commission, Historic Bridge Foundation, Bastrop County Historical Society and the Bastrop County Historical Commission.


Own a Piece of History? Share your story! Bring your family photographs, newspaper articles or other items related to Texas’ metal truss bridges to our Open House. We will scan your items for archiving into the history collections of the Bastrop County Historical Society Museum and the Texas Historical Commission!


The BCHS Quarterly Meeting will follow the Truss Bridge Open House event. Mayor Ken Kesselus will address the History of Bastrop County’s Bridges. Open to the public.


Click for more info!




Bruce Lee, the Actor and Martial Arts Instructor, once famously said; “A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”


At BCHS, we have not only aimed, we have reached many of the goals set by our Trustees in a Long-Range Plan 10 years ago.


Our new Museum and Visitor Center opened just two years ago with only one exhibit. In the last year, we have opened six exhibits, under the leadership of Trustee Robbie Sanders, to complete our front gallery. Construction has begun on the walls in the Maynard Gallery. We also presented several temporary exhibits including: “The Grey Ghost;” “Ascension Catholic Church 150 years;” “The Way Things Were: Texas Settlers and Their Buildings, 1860s–1930s;” “The Hispanic Heritage of Bastrop County;” and two quilt exhibits by the Bastrop Senior Center. Look for a new exhibit in honor of Black History Month in February.


This past spring our Visitor Center hosted the Texas Geocache Challenge including a Spit off the Bridge event, making it one of the top tourist attractions in Bastrop. We hosted 10 tour groups of all ages from 4th graders through Seniors; made presentations to Rotary, DAR, Texas Downtown Association, and LCRA; sponsored the Texas Ranger Cross Ceremony at Fairview Cemetery; and hosted the Texas Historical Commission Oral History Program. Our location and advertising initiatives, including a new website, increased Museum visitors by 400 percent, and tourists by 15 to 20 percent. We have successfully held garage sales and Historic Homes Tours and Rendezvous to help fund our programming. Our financial health is strong with six months of operations expenses in reserves. And, Nancy Scott and her army of volunteers are planning for our next garage sale in March.


We cannot rest on these laurels, so in 2014 we refreshed our long-range plan to take us through the next five years.  Our areas of focus are:

  • Exhibits and Archives

  • Programs

  • Awareness and Promotion

  • Resources

  • Tourists and Patrons


For 2015 we have established some challenging goals:

  • Raise $150k to complete permanent exhibits

  • Plan to hire Executive Director by April 1

  • Plan and install at least two temporary Exhibits

  • Develop and implement archive and artifact acquisition program focused on Bastrop history since 1950

  • Develop marketing programs to raise awareness of our research and museum exhibits, and Visitor Center

  • Offer historical/tourism programs to target students and families

  • Add at least one more fundraising activity


It has been my great pleasure to serve as your President for the last two years. I will continue to serve as a Trustee with Sandra Chipley as our next President. If you have some time to volunteer in 2015, let us know. We will need leaders, volunteers and help to accomplish these goals, which are more than just something to aim at!




BCHS participated in “America Recycles Day,” on November 15, an initiative of Keep Bastrop County Beautiful. First place, along with a check for $2,000, went to Serenity Star Recovery. Second place and $1,500 went to BearTecs – FRC Robotics Team 4610 while the BCHS "Sweepers" captured third place, receiving a check for $1,000. 


America Recycles Day is the only nationally-recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the U.S. Each fall, thousands of communities across the country participate on and around November 15 to promote environmental citizenship and encourage action. The event inspires communities to directly engage their residents to recycle more and recycle right 365 days a year. KBCB hopes this event will generate awareness in Bastrop County as to the value and benefits of recycling. Thanks to all who participated in this very worthwhile event! 





The Bastrop County Historical Society (BCHS) held a ceremony on November 8, 2014 to honor Texas Rangers buried in Fairview Cemetery in Bastrop, Texas.  Fairview Cemetery is located in the 1100 Block of State Highway 95. The Historical Society, Sons of the Republic of Texas and the Former Texas Rangers Association hosted the event.


Texas Rangers are the oldest state law enforcement body in the United States. The Rangers have taken part in many of the most important events of Texas history. Early “ranging companies” secured a safe place for early settlers and their families, and assisted in the struggle to gain Texas’s independence from Mexico.


BCHS is aware of 15 Texas Rangers buried at Fairview. Known Texas Rangers are:

  • George Allen (1818-1907)

  • Theodore Bissell (1800-1876)

  • Charles Martin Brooks (1891-1925)

  • William Dunbar (1819-1855)

  • John L. Foster (1797-1872)

  • Daniel Grady (1822-1892)

  • Robert Henry Grimes (1814-1863)

  • William Thomas Grimes (1877-1936)

  • Jesse Holderman (1801-1850)

  • Malciajah Benjamin Highsmith (1827-1893)

  • John Holland Jenkins (1822-1890)

  • James Nicholson (1815-1885)

  • William Rehum Reding (1807-1858)

  • Campbell Taylor (1812-1888)

  • James P. Wallace (1819-1855)


JULY 2014



Many are aware the city and county of Bastrop, Texas are named in honor of Felipe Enrique Neri, otherwise known as the Baron de Bastrop – a tax collector from Holland named Phillip Hendrick Nering Bogel, the son of a foundry owner who, for some mysterious reason, gathered up his wife and children, changed their last name to “Bastrop” and moved to America.


After Phillip’s hasty departure from what was then Holland, the Nering Bogel family lost track of Phillip, and the foundry continued under the direction of his brother.


In 1826, the foundry was officially established as the Nering Bogel Company and a machinery factory  was added, manufacturing parts for municipal sewer pumps, steam powered machinery and even lighthouses.


The Nering Bogel Company is still in operation and has been purchased by  a gentleman named Richard Janssen. When contacted, Richard was very skeptical as most people in the Netherlands had never heard of the Baron de Bastrop and didn’t know what an important role he played the creation of Texas. But after repeated emails containing links to official Texas history websites, Richard was finally convinced and became enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge of the man we know as the Baron de Bastrop, replying with an historical account of the Nering Bogel Company from the time the foundry was first built through present day. This was a fantastic piece of evidential research that has added great insight to the man behind the name.


Today, the Nering Bogel Company develops products in the field of municipal sewage systems and wastewater treatment, including manhole covers. Following a reception at the Museum & Visitor Center July 22nd, Richard presented to the City Council drawings of stainless-steel manhole covers with a special relief honoring the Baron, which he will have manufactured and shipped to our city as a gift. So, at some point in the future when you look down and see one, you’ll know they were made by a company originally owned by the family of the Baron de Bastrop himself. 

JUNE 2014



On June 25, the Texas Historical Commission (THC), in conjunction with the Bastrop County Historical Society, conducted a World War II Oral History Workshop at the Museum & Visitor Center.


The presenter was William A. McWhorter, Program Coordinator, Military Sites Program of the History Programs Division of the Texas Historical Commission.


The Military History Oral History Training Workshop series highlights the real places telling the real stories of Texas’ involvement in the military and is designed for people to learn how to conduct and record oral histories pertaining to WWII and the Cold War. The program honors and preserves the memories of Texans who served in the armed forces during WWII and the contributions made on the home front.

Our thanks to Carol Kysar, museum archivist, for coordinating the workshop, which was well attended. (The photograph is by San Deigo-based photographer John Riedy, who has been documenting and taking portraits of U.S. WWII veterans on their battlefields.) 

JUNE 2014



The Kennedy assassination. Texas and the Confederacy. The Texas Revolution. Governor Ann Richards. These are stories that resonate with Texans, stories that some of us remember, others that have been passed down through generations. Books can offer valuable insight into historical and current topics, and book club discussions enhance the reading experience.


The Texas PBS Online Book Club offers even more. Members participate in online discussions with authors and other experts, watch and discuss online documentaries and gain a profound understanding of many varied topics. It is the first online book group dedicated to Texas history.It is the first online book group dedicated to Texas history. Read more...

FEBRUARY 24, 2014



The Museum & Visitor Center's Grey Ghost exhibit ended February 24, 2014. Roosevelt Thomas "Grey Ghost" Williams (December 7, 1903 – July 17, 1996), of Bastrop, was an African American blues pianist, with a 70-year career spanning from the 1920s to the 1990s. The exhibit included information about his life, Kerr Hall (now the Kerr Community Center), where he performed, and offered visitors the rare opportunity to listen to his music.

FEBRUARY 8, 2014




The Bastrop Chamber of Commerce named the Bastrop County Historical Society Nonprofit of the Year during its annual banquet held February 8, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa.The Society was selected from the nominees by a Selection Committee comprised of Chamber Board Members. The Historical Society was nominated by Cindye Wolford, Visitor Center Director.


Susan Wendel, Chamber president, made the announcement to the audience and spoke of the Society's work with the community. She read, in part:


The mission of the Bastrop County Historical Society is to preserve and promote the history of Bastrop County.

  • From 2003-2006, BCHS sponsored the Fairview Cemetery Preservation Project, an enhancement of the City of Bastrop’s picturesque and historic cemetery grounds. The project culminated in the construction of a memorial wall and stone gazebo to display histories of early pioneers and lists of war veterans buried there. As a result, Fairview Cemetery is now designated as a Historic Texas Cemetery.

  • In 2006, BCHS founded and continues to manage the Bastrop Visitor Center, now part of the new Museum & Visitor Center of Bastrop County Historical Society. The visitor center was previously in a leased space – the 1889 First National Bank building – in downtown Bastrop. Its primary role is to support tourism in Bastrop and Bastrop County. More than 8,000 visitors to Bastrop have registered since its opening.

  • In 2007, BCHS led the Kerr Community Center Restoration Project, which involved the renovation and revitalization of the 1914 building which was a gathering spot for the African-American community during the time of racial segregation in the United States. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, the building was once a USO post for African-American soldiers assigned to nearby Camp Swift during World War II. The Kerr Center is now a nostalgic meeting place for YMCA and the entire community.

  • In 2013, BCHS opened the Museum & Visitor Center at 904 Main Street, the old city hall building. The building is centrally located in downtown Bastrop with access to the Colorado River and has, after a significant renovation and new construction, doubled the museum’s current capacity to more than 8,500 square feet. The space accommodates the museum’s exhibits, offer humidity- and temperature-controlled storage, plus provides room for a visitor center, a library and genealogy center and offices. The facility will enable BCHS to more fully educate the public regarding the amazing history of Bastrop County. BCHS is serving the community in preserving, protecting, portraying and promoting Bastrop County history in an environment that will ensure its long-term availability for generations to come.


The Bastrop County Historical Society Board is comprised of volunteers who care very much about the preservation and presentation of Bastrop County history and ensure its history is portrayed both accurately and professionally. The BCHS staff helps individuals in the community to trace their roots while the visitor center provides a warm welcome and supplies information regarding shopping, dining and recreation. BCHS has accomplished great things for the community of Bastrop. With BCHS opening its new Museum & Visitor Center in January 2013, we felt it fitting for BCHS to receive recognition as this year’s Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit of the Year. 




It has been said that no dream comes true until you wake up and go to work. And that is just what we have been doing at the Bastrop County Historical Society this past year. It is hard to believe that last year at this time we had just completed the construction of our new Museum and Visitor Center and had opened our doors with one complete exhibit. Our new Museum and Visitor Center at 904 Main St. is the result of the work of many, and now our dream is a reality!


Perhaps the most visible of our many accomplishments for 2013 is the fact that we have completed the exhibits in our first gallery, and they are fabulous! But much has been accomplished behind the scenes as well.The MVC is operating smoothly with our superb staff and volunteers. Our volunteers are critical to our success. We thank 2013 weekly volunteers: Dee Bristol, Shevonne Castro, Duncan Charlton, Barbara Clemons, Belinda Goertz, Rick Gullikson, Shane Hook, Bob Malerk, Pat Muller, Gloria Perkins, Jan Shrode, Ann Tankersley, Bryan Whitten III, Jeannie Weigl, A.J. Woehl and Deborah Zoda.


Our new facility requires more administrative discipline, so we now have employee and volunteer policies and a budget in place. We have increased our ability to reach our members and the community through the use of technology. BCHS redesigned its website, which can be accessed at or Video displays are operational for Bastrop visitors and locals and our new email marketing tools are in place, as well as social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). If you are not receiving your newsletter via email, please send us your email address at


Four successful quarterly meetings were held with great speakers, and we’re currently lining up great speakers for 2014. We hosted several groups in our facility with interests aligned to our mission. We reconnected with other historical societies plus hotel operators and tourism entities. The number of visitors has increased substantially with over 8,000 registering at the MVC in 2013, so our new location is fulfilling its promise. We have met or exceeded all of the requirements of our building lease with the City of Bastrop.


We had two very successful events (Garage Sale and Rendezvous/Homes Tour) involving hundreds of volunteers representing every facet of our community. And, we received a slight increase in HOT funds from the City, so we are starting next year with the funding required for operations for 2014. We will have applied for grants to fund the installation of the remainder of our exhibits in the Maynard River Room. When this is complete, we will have achieved all of our objectives in our current Strategic Plan, and will soon begin work on a new Strategic Plan to take us out 3-5 years.


BCHS thanks our staff, trustees, members, business and event sponsors, our many volunteers and the City of Bastrop for contributing in many ways to our outstanding year at our new facility! Together we have accomplished so much.




BCHS thanks all who sponsored, contributed, volunteered and purchased items at the 2013 4th Annual Community-wide Garage Sale held November 2, 2013. Major sponsors included the Ray and Don Long Families and Bobby Harriman of Lone Star Storage.


A complete list of volunteers, donors and Leadership Committee members can be found under "Special Events" on this website.Unsold items were donated to: Bits & Pieces, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Goodwill of Bastrop, Ladies of Charity, Primera Baptist Church and to ReClothing Project.**A percentage of their sales goes to Bastrop Children's Advocacy Center (CAC).


You are all our Heroes! Thank you! We thank ALL the volunteers, donors and the hundreds of buyers!

JULY 2013



BCHS thanks the Bastrop Senior Center for coordinating the first temporary exhibit at the new Museum & Visitor Center.


The exhibit which was titled, “Bastrop County Quilt Exhibit,” ran from the Yesterfest event through May. Hundreds came to view more than 30 quilts with popular patterns ranging from  an 1800’s intricate sawtooth design to “Sunbonnet Sue” to “Grandmother’s Garden.” Newly made quilts were also on exhibit, several of which were made to memorialize the trees lost in the horrific fire of September 2011. 


We wish to thank Pat Barnes,  Fran Ellis, Terry Groeneveld, Nina Guinn, Carol Hanna, Judy Harding, Barbara Harp, Mary Lucas, Becky Peebles, Minifred Trigg, Barbara Vana, Kay Wesson and Cindye Wolford for bringing their beautiful quilts for others to enjoy. In addition, we thank Naseem Khonsari and KKG Bastrop Investments for donating 12 professionally built quilt racks. Special thanks to Betty Weaver and to Barbara Harp for coordinating this event for BCHS.

JULY 2013



More visitors registered at the new Museum & Visitor Center this quarter than have registered in any past quarter – ever! For the second quarter of 2013, 2,844 people visited our facility and signed in, and year to date we have welcomed 4,790 visitors. We are now collecting email addresses of our visitors so that we can reach out to them with announcements of our upcoming exhibits and events.


A few years ago we had a dream and a daunting challenge. We wanted to build a Museum & Visitor Center to assure that Bastrop’s history remains relevant and exciting for future generations of residents and visitors. Our City made it possible for us to renovate and expand the old city hall building, but we would need to raise additional money to complete the project.


Since relocating to our new facility at 904 Main Street, the Bastrop County Historical Society continues to experience a significant increase in the number of visitors and patrons. This fulfills the vision shared by the trustees of the Society that combining our assets would not only greatly benefit the Museum & Visitor Center, but would also benefit the City of Bastrop.


Here is a snapshot depicting the annual counts of both the Museum and Visitor Center from 2006 through December 2012, and the Museum & Visitor Center from January through June 2013. 


We are not finished yet! The sale of the old museum building will allow us to finish the installation of exhibits in the front exhibit hall. We will continue fund raising so we can also install planned exhibits in the Maynard Room. Thanks to all who helped to make this shared vision a reality.


JUNE 2013



Many thanks to Adena Lewis, Bastrop County Tourism Coordinator, for spearheading the first quarterly meeting with individuals associated with the various museums located in Bastrop County. The team’s mission is to work together to promote the history of Bastrop County. The first such meeting was held at the Museum & Visitor Center June 4.


Attendees included Libby Sartain, Carol Kysar and Barbara Vana of the Bastrop County Historical Society; Carol Snyder, David Herrington of the Smithville Heritage Society; Bruce Blalock of the Smithville Railroad Museum; Minnie Bartsch, Gerri Martinez and Marian Nelson of Rockne; Ann Helgeson and Sandy Murphree of Elgin;  and Clyde Porter and Betty Buchanan of the Sayersville Historical Association. Emily Lutz of Texas Brazos Trail and Seneca McAdams of the Texas Independence Trail also attended. The next meeting will be October 1 at 2 pm in Elgin. The exact location will be confirmed later, but the meeting will include a tour of the Railroad Museum.

Adena Lewis

JANUARY 26, 2013

Leveling of the Corner Stone and Ribbon Cutting


History was made when more than 300 people came out Saturday, January 26, 2013 to celebrate the opening of the new museum and visitor center. 

The ceremony began with comments from Robbie Sanders, president of the historical society, who noted the process to build the new museum started seven years ago as part of the society’s strategic planning process. She said the project really got under way through the hard work and dedication of Mike Helmick, who was then serving as president of the historical society.

Helmick, who was present Saturday and spoke at the event, said he was very pleased with the two-story, 8,500-sq. ft. building on Main Street. The building houses the museum and offices on the ground floor and a library and archives downstairs.

“This is our baby and we’re real, real proud of it,” Helmick said of the building which still bears some remnants of its old purpose through bars of the former Bastrop City Jail visible downstairs. “Calling the new facility “the anchor of the anchor” of downtown Bastrop, Helmick described the newly-completed facility as “a win-win-win situation” for Bastrop.


The Laying of the Cornerstone ceremony was conducted by dignitaries from the Mina Masonic Lodge and the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas. The ceremony was punctuated by remarks from Past Grand Master of Masons, T.E. “Gene” Carnes, who then presided over the leveling ceremony. The ceremony included symbolism dating back to the Masons’ beginnings in Europe, including the collection of items and the use of certain tools of each officer’s office, such as the square, the level and the plumb.

After the ceremony, the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce conducted a Ribbon-Cutting and the crowd made its way into the museum to enjoy refreshments and see the museum’s first exhibit, “The Colorado River, Life Source of Bastrop.”