Copperas Cove Historical Society holds first meeting
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Historical Society held their first-ever meeting Wednesday afternoon at the Copperas Cove Public Library to discuss the creation of an organization dedicated to telling the history of Copperas Cove and Ogletree Gap.
The inaugural meeting was led in part by John Gallen, with the Friends of the Library, and Library Director Kevin Marsh, with input from interested residents such as local historians Linda Ledger and James Powell.
“The purpose [of the meeting] is hopefully the creation of a Copperas Cove Historical Society,” Gallen said.
Although there have been organizations that have collected historical items and kept written or oral record of Copperas Cove history, there has never been an official organization dedicated solely to Copperas Cove history, according to Ledger.
The idea for such an organization started with a conversation between Gallen and Marsh but “the gauntlet was thrown down” by Ledger during the city’s 140th birthday celebration, according to Gallen.
With Ledger’s articles in a local publication as well as the dedication of the reading room to Joe and Marion Palumbo and the revealing of the mural of the stagecoach stop at Ogletree Gap by the Five Hills Art Guild, there was a lot of talk about history and the possibility of losing it, Gallen said. Gallen also mentioned that there has also been talk about the heritage festivals that used to be held at Ogletree Gap years ago.
Wednesday’s meeting would “hopefully get the ball rolling” to where the Copperas Cove Historical Society becomes its own entity that people want to be involved with, Gallen said.
Ledger said she was very interested in the written history of Copperas Cove. She had built up a collection of Copperas Cove writings and was concerned about where those would be left behind, she said.
Powell said he had been active in the oral history of Copperas Cove, getting involved with reenactments and working with civic organizations and schools in the past.
Resident Sandy Vegh revealed that he wanted to find out what was going on with the old post office at Ogletree Gap, which he said has become more closed off from the public.
Ann Richardson, who has lived in Copperas Cove for 27 years, shared that she was interested in Ogletree Gap and the Native American history associated with that location.
Marsh shared about his experience working on digitizing collections and putting resources on the internet, specifically regarding Texas history. This included working on a database that shared information about the original 300 Anglo-settlers of Texas, their ancestors and their descendants.
“I think something like that could easily be done with local history photographs,” Marsh said. Photos will emerge once there is a system and plan in place for how to collect, digitize and share them, he added.
“But we also have to be aware, the Copperas Cove Public Library is set up to be a public library,” Marsh said. “We are not a historical archive. We don’t have the facilities and staff that it would take to run a historical archive. We’re not a museum. We’ve got a couple of artifacts because somebody would take them here, so they came here, but we’re not set up to be a museum or to put on public displays beyond the size of our little display case.”
Marsh brought up the Allin House, located at 401 N. Main St and built in 1913 by the first mayor of Copperas Cove, Jouett Allin, as a possible location for a museum. The house is currently listed for sale. Also mentioned was the Ogletree house.
“That really gets you back to the more interesting era of history for a lot people,” Marsh said. “Again, I mean, it’s great and it’s valuable that you have some people whose family lines go back to that time and are in this community still, but there’s also a much larger audience of people who are interested in Texas history, who may be living here at the moment, because the Army brought them here and they’re going someplace in three years because the Army’s going to take them away.”
Conversation moved to festivals held at Ogletree Gap, like the Heritage Festivals, which featured Civil War reenactments and demonstrations by different organizations and clubs about pioneer life.
After each participant shared what they wanted from the Historical Society, the group identified possible stakeholders, to include the city of Copperas Cove as well as other entities such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Corporation and the Copperas Cove Independent School District, as well as local residents. Other stakeholders could include civic organizations, local Boy Scouts, Junior Historians, local newspapers, Fort Hood and local businesses.
Other discussion dealt with ideas ranging from a possible museum and place to store collected historical items to holding an activity or festival to generate interest in local history.
The latter portion of the meeting was dedicated to selecting a day and time that would work for the next meeting, which would ideally have a larger number of people present and have representation from entities previously mentioned.
“I was really excited by the number of people we had that came out and then the level of ideas and different kinds of experiences we bring together,” Marsh said.
The next meeting for the Copperas Cove Historical Society is scheduled for June 11 at 5:30 p.m. in the Library meeting room.