Moseying: History of the Southern Llano Estacado
Judge John Hyde to speak July 27th at noon at Sibley Nature Center
July 24, 2011
Concho Resources is the sponsor of the brown bag series at the Sibley Nature Center. The board of directors and staff are deeply appreciative of Concho Resources’ support. Judge John Hyde will speak on the history of the Midland County Courthouse.
Judge Hyde is a modern incarnation of other regional jurists and dedicated historians. Judge Hyde has given many programs to audiences about early day Midland. Judges are called to make decisions based on gathering as much information as possible, and being knowledge of any and all precedent. Historians also sift through every available source of information and seek a similar fairness in judgment. The best judges and historians do not let their decisions to be swayed by any varying political perspectives – activist judges and revisionist historians are properly challenged by the mainstream.
Two judges significantly contributed to the preservation of history in West Texas.
Judge O.W. Williams of Fort Stockton wrote extensively of early history in the Trans-Pecos (and of his early surveying on the Llano Estacado. His son, Clayton Williams Sr., extensively mined his father’s journals and produced several books on Trans-Pecos history. The Handbook of Texas notes, “O.W. Williams was reelected county judge in 1892 and continued in office for eight. Turning to scholarly pursuits, Williams wrote Route of Cabeza de Vaca in Texas. The article was published in the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association in 1899. He joined the Texas State Mineral Survey from the University of Texas to conduct a field study of minerals and plant and animal life in the Big Bend region in 1901. Two new species of ants were discovered by Williams, one of which was named for him.“
Judge R. C. Crane of Sweetwater was a significant force behind the creation of the West Texas Historical Society. The Handbook of Texas reports, “He was an energetic promoter of West Texas. He started a newspaper, the Call, at Roby; in Sweetwater he served two terms as mayor and worked to keep the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway shops. He also led efforts to obtain a proposed West Texas A&M College. In the 1930s he acquired $200,000 from the Texas Centennial Historical Advisory Committee to mark historic spots in West Texas. He was an avid document collector and knowledgeable historian. In 1923, with Rupert N. Richardson of Simmons College (now Hardin-Simmons University), he developed the idea of a West Texas Historical Association and recruited for leadership J. M. Radford, Jewel Davis Scarborough, and B. E. McGlammery of Abilene, W. C. Holden of McMurry College, and L. G. Kennamer of Abilene Christian College. On April 19, 1924, an organizational meeting convened in the Taylor County Courthouse, the association was given form, and Crane was elected president, a position he held until 1950.”
Also on display before and after Judge Hyde’s talk will be scans of historical photographs of the different versions of the courthouse. What will be done with the now empty courthouse on Wall Street? Public discussion and input is proper and necessary when the future use of specific public buildings is involved. Judge Hyde’s presentation will help folks interested in becoming involved in the decision about the courthouse’s fate will be well served by Judge Hyde’s talk on the history of the location.
Judge Hyde has a bachelor degree from Hardin-Simmons and a law degree from the University of Texas. He is a Vietnam veteran, having served in the U.S. Army. He has been a district judge since 1990. He and his wife, Sharon, have lived in Midland since 1970, and have two adult daughters, one granddaughter and one grandson.
It may be because our society does not teach local history, or significantly involve students in searching out the stories of how our society evolves and changes over time that few people know the names of R.C. Crane or O.W. Williams. I deeply admire the efforts Judge John Hyde has made in recent years to engage the public with tales of early day Midland. I hope younger adults come to his talk – history should be part of everyday life. I hope representatives of the Midland Historical Association, Permian Basin Historical Association, and West Texas Historical Association can also arrange to be present with membership information.