Every year, the Texas Historical Commission honors county historical commissions that have gone to extraordinary lengths to preserve the local history in their communities. Liberty County is among 84 Texas counties to be recognized this year with a Distinguished Service Award.
Being recognized with a Distinguished Service Award is becoming a tradition for the Liberty County Historical Commission, which most recently received the award in 2019 and 2020. LCHC is led by County Chair Linda Jamison.
“This is a big deal for our Commission. Every year in January, we file a report with the Texas Historical Commission for the previous year’s work. THC goes through a report we submit that logs the number of volunteer hours worked, how much funding we get from commissioners court, in-kind assistance from the county such as our office space and the projects we are working on,” Jamison said.
According to Jamison, 2020 was much more difficult than previous years because of the obvious challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was difficult to keep our preservation programs going in Liberty County and to keep on keeping on,” Jamison said. “The Commission managed to get a lot of things accomplished even with all of the drawbacks that were presented by the pandemic. I am very excited that we received a Distinguished Service Award this year with all of the challenges. It was a hard year.”
Due to the pandemic, the Commission’s quarterly meetings, which are set early in the year, had to be rescheduled, and marker dedications that were planned for 2020 had to be pushed back until 2021.
“There were months when we had high numbers of COVID cases in the county so we couldn’t hold our meetings. When we finally went back to having in-person meetings, then we had to work within all these protocols. It wasn’t an easy year for the Commission just like it wasn’t an easy year for anyone else,” Jamison said.
Despite the pandemic, the Commission kept pushing forward with its countywide cemetery survey, which involves surveying local cemeteries, researching the history of these cemeteries and compiling a complete list of who is buried at each one. The goal is to have all of the County’s historical cemeteries compiled into a book form once the Commission finishes its work.
During 2020, the Commission also worked on its county marker program that honors local niches of history that would otherwise be overlooked by the Texas Historical Commission. One example, said Jamison, is the Texan Theater in Cleveland, which unveiled a county historical marker in May 2021.
The unveiling of the historical markers at the Texan Theater and the Annie Colbert-Rosenwald School in Dayton, the latter of which received a Texas Historical Commission designation, were based on work performed during 2020, said Jamison.
The Liberty County Historical Commission is now working on markers for more sites – the 1937 City Hall in Dayton that has future use as a police and fire museum, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Dayton, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Raywood, Zbranek Law Building on Trinity Street in Liberty, the Lovett House on Webster Street in Liberty and the W.C. Abbott house on Fannin Street in Liberty.
Both churches and city hall will receive county markers while the two homes and the law office have been approved for markers with the Texas Historical Commission.
“It’s a very competitive process to get the THC markers. They only approve about 150-160 per year, so for Liberty County to have three this is pretty good. We are competing among 254 Texas counties,” she said.
Jamison does most of the research and then compiles the history, which is submitted with the marker application.
“It’s a labor of love,” she said.
The Liberty County Historical Commission will be honored at a commissioners court meeting in the coming weeks.