History, Horns and Heat: Part One

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

By Louise Clare
George Ranch Historical Park Intern

Hello everyone, I’m Louise and I’m the 2017 intern for the George Ranch Historical Park. Before I delve into all the exciting things I have been getting up to here on the Ranch, I wanted to introduce myself a little. I was born and raised in England and have been passionate about history for most of my life. I love to travel and see new places, cultures, and experiences. I have an MA in Cultural Heritage and enjoy cooking for a hobby. I have been in Texas for seven months now and definitely feel I have come to know and understand Texas history far better than I did before.

So what have I been getting up to?

Being an interpreter for the 1830s Jones Stock Farm site and getting to hold a chicken.

Since being here, I have had the pleasure of being involved in a wide range of activities and events, from fleeing the Mexican Army at the Runaway Scrape to helping clean up the Visitor Center after flood damage from Hurricane Harvey–and everything in-between.

My main projects have been divided between site interpretation/educational programming and the treasure trove that is our collections.

For the educational team, I have had the great enjoyment of researching and creating a Jones-Ryon-Davis-George family tree for the staff members. Much of the basic research had been conducted by previous interns and my task has been to conduct further research and assemble information into a user-friendly format that the staff can use to further their understanding of the individuals they portray.

Additionally, I have been given the opportunity to be an interpreter and work on school programs during the school year. This has been a very enjoyable experience and it has helped me to develop my skills in interpretation and interaction with the public at historic museums.

But what about the collections?

Installing the dress in the master bedroom of the 1890s Davis Victorian Mansion.

My work in collections has seen me catalogue family archives and papers owned and used by Mr. and Mrs. George. Some of the most exciting papers have been a selection of maps of Fort Bend County used by the Georges as blueprints for land ownership and their growing cattle ranch.

I have also conducted a condition and inventory report of the large clothing and textile collection owned by the family. The completion of this project enabled me to select and list the items that are in the best conditions for display in the two original historic homes.

The Davis Victorian Mansion, being set in the 1890s, had fewer choices of clothing in a good condition, but I decided to go with a beautiful wine-coloured two-piece ladies’ dress that was owned by Mrs. George when she was a teenager. You can see this dress and other clothing pieces on display in the 1930s George Ranch Home and 1890s Davis Victorian Mansion.

Life outside the Ranch:

Sunset over the back pasture by the Intern house.

Moving from England to Texas has definitely been an experience, and one of the hardest adjustments has been getting used to the heat and humidity. Everyone knows that Texas is hot but I was not expecting it to be as humid as it is. Despite the heat, though, one of the perks of being the intern is that you get to live on the property. There have been many nights where I have admired the Texan sun setting over the prairie and Longhorn cattle that live in the pasture behind my house.

I have also enjoyed exploring the Houston area and getting to know the city. One of my favorite spots has been Brazos Bend State Park, which is just 15 minutes down the road from the Historical Park. It is a great place for evening walks or to see some of the very diverse wildlife that Texas has to offer.

On to the next project…

I have been lucky enough to have been granted an extension on my internship and will be staying with the George Ranch Historical Park until the end of December. I have been working on designing an exhibit for the 1930s George Ranch Home on canning and preserving, which was installed in mid-October. I also was really enthusiastic to be a part of the team during the Texian Market Days festival, where I was at the 1930s George Ranch House helping to coordinate volunteers and give house tours. Finally, I have also been working on and designing the Christmas in the Park workshop activities which will take place over the upcoming festive holiday season.

I hope you come out to the Ranch to explore all that it has to offer and come and see me before I head back home!

Part two coming in December…!