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  • Treasure of the Month
    command of John S RIP Ford In February 1861 these men sailed to the mouth of the Rio Grande River onboard General Rusk and two other ships to seize military supplies from the U S Army They successfully secured the Federal arsenal in what was the first real action of the Civil War in the state of Texas The presentation pitcher was given to William Scrimgeour following this military triumph In April 1861 intelligence reached Galveston that Federal vessels were stationed at Indianola a major port on Matagorda Bay for the purpose of picking up seven companies of U S troops who had marched there from San Antonio to be transported to the North A plan was devised by Confederate Colonel Earl Van Dorn to intercept and capture these troops as well as the Union steamship Star of the West On April 17 1861 the captain of General Rusk approached Star of the West and stated that he was carrying Federal troops onboard who were waiting to be transported The unsuspecting captain of Star of the West invited sailors from the General Rusk to board his ship before they identified themselves as the enemy and demanded custody of the ship As they were caught off guard and outnumbered the crew of Star of the West surrendered without resistance and the vessel was peacefully overtaken by the Confederates Meriden Britannia Company The presentation pitcher remained in the possession of William Scrimgeour throughout his life and was passed down to his daughter Jean Scrimgeour Morgan and later to her son William Manning Morgan who gifted it to the library as part of the Morgan Memorial Collection In addition to its significance in terms of Civil War history the pitcher is important in terms of its manufacturing history It was produced by the Meriden Brittania Company in Meriden Connecticut Britannia a metal similar to pewter is a type of silver plate that was developed in the early 1800s Britannia was thinner and stronger than pewter was more affordable to manufacture and was more resistant to tarnish This combination made it extremely popular in America Brittania is derived through a technique known as electro plating which involves depositing a thin layer of silver onto a base metal and using an electric current passed through a conductive liquid to fuse the two together This offered a significantly less expensive alternative to pure silver while possessing the same exterior luster and durability The pitcher presented to William Scrimgeour was specifically for ice water and would have been a luxurious and highly specialized type of ware in the mid 19th century It featured a double wall design that was patented just a few years earlier This innovative technique allowed for better insulation to prevent the ice from melting and to keep the water colder for an extended period The pitcher consists of a metal inner lining with a hollow space between it and the outer body of the vessel much like a thermos The patent date for

    Original URL path: http://rosenberg-library-museum.org/displays/treasure/2016/03-rusk/rusk.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Treasure of the Month
    a business and later became an alderman for the Galveston city council Grover narrowly escaped death while onboard the steamship Louisiana which caught fire off the coast of Galveston in 1857 More than forty lives were lost during this tragic event Grover managed to escape the burning vessel and washed ashore on the west end of the island He later credited a guardian angel for keeping him out of harm s way His disabled left hand prevented Grover from military service during the Civil War When the mayor and remaining aldermen left Galveston during the war Grover chose to remain and assume mayoral duties Harriet Lane and the Battle of Galveston Built in 1857 United States Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane was named for the niece of President James Buchanan who acted as First Lady for the unmarried head of state Originally a revenue cutter for the U S Treasury Department the formidable steamer later became part of the federal naval squadron during the Civil War On October 4 1862 Harriet Lane and several other Union steamships commanded by William B Renshaw blockaded the port of Galveston and placed the island under federal control Three months later on New Year s Day 1863 Confederate Major General John B Magruder led a surprise attack against federal troops from both land and sea During the battle Harriet Lane was struck and damaged by the Confederate vessel Bayou City Members of the Bayou City s crew boarded Harriet Lane and engaged in hand to hand combat on deck the vessel This skirmish resulted in the deaths of five members of Harriet Lane s crew including her captain and executive officer The remaining officers and crew surrendered and were taken prisoner At the conclusion of the battle 26 Confederate soldiers had been killed Casualties for the Union totaled 150 The island remained under Confederate control until the end of the Civil War George Grover and the Lea Family One of an untold number of family tragedies to occur during the Civil War took place during the capture of Harriet Lane Lt Edward Lea second in command on the captured Union ship was shot and mortally wounded on deck His father Major Albert Lea was stationed in Galveston with Confederate troops The war had created a deep rift between this father and son with one maintaining a strong loyalty to his native South and the other regarding Confederate sympathizers to be traitors against the United States government When Major Lea learned of the events that had unfolded onboard Harriet Lane he was encouraged by Confederate General John B Magruder to go to his son s aide despite his alliance with the enemy Lt Lea found great comfort in his father s presence as he lay dying and his final words which are inscribed on his gravestone at Galveston s Episcopal Cemetery were My father is here It was George Grover who arranged for the burial of Lt Edward Lea as well as Union Captain J M

    Original URL path: http://rosenberg-library-museum.org/displays/treasure/2015/01-capture/capture.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Treasure of the Month
    s permanent collection in 1986 During the month of February Rosenberg Library exhibited a vintage Mardi Gras gown originally worn by Lise Darst longtime curator of the library s museum collection Ms Darst passed away December 29 2014 Born on the Island Elisabeth Fontaine Darst was born in Galveston on New Year s Day 1933 Her interest in local history came naturally as both sides of her family were early settlers in Texas and on Galveston Island After graduating from Ball High School she enrolled at Gulfpark College in Mississippi and studied art During the 1960s and 1970s Darst exhibited her work at a variety of local and national venues She received accolades for her paintings in oil and in watercolor and examples of her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum and of the Rosenberg Library 25 Years at Rosenberg Library Ms Darst was appointed Museum Curator for Rosenberg Library in 1979 She organized and catalogued thousands of objects which had been acquired by the library since its opening in 1904 In addition she planned numerous art shows and exhibitions related to the history of Galveston During the mid 1990s Ms Darst collaborated with author and professor Edward Simmen to produce With Bold Strokes a biography of early 20th century Galveston artist Boyer Gonzales After a twenty five year tenure at the library she retired in 2004 Galveston Mardi Gras 1952 The Galveston Mardi Gras celebrations in 1952 garnered statewide attention Debutantes from various Texas cities participated in pageants parties and coronation balls on the island that year Nineteen year old Elisabeth Fontaine Darst was among several young ladies selected for the Royal Court of King Frivolous XVI A coronation ceremony was held at the City Auditorium followed by a ball at

    Original URL path: http://rosenberg-library-museum.org/displays/treasure/2015/02-darst/darst.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Treasure of the Month
    and Annie Bell He attended Texas A M University where he became the school s first All America athlete In 1931 he played centerfield for the Southwest Conference champion Aggie team and also served as captain He earned his baseball letters from 1929 1931 and was voted into the Southwest Conference teams in 1929 and 1931 He also played basketball for the Aggies and won letters in the 1930 and 1931 seasons Roy Chester Beau Bell when he played for the Cleveland Indians 1940 Beau Bell 1940 Play Ball Card by Play Ball Cards published by Bowman Gum While at A M scouts took notice of the 6 2 185 pound right hander By 1932 he broke into the Texas League with the Galveston Buccaneers The year before Shearn Moody purchased a Waco ball club and moved to the island Bell had a solid first season with the squad but had a propensity of getting hit in the head with the ball leading the Texas League in this inglorious distinction He told a reporter When a pitcher chunks at my head the ball seems to hypnotize me until it is right on me When it starts to break I snap out of it but is usually too late Despite the setback Bell s game developed nicely with the Buccaneers In 1933 scouts saw him as one of the best prospects in the league He was great at fielding threw nicely and was able to hit the curve ball but he needed to add a few points on his batting average before being called up His manager said Beau Bell has been slow in developing but I predict he will be a real big league star in a short time During the next spring training Secretary of the Galveston Baseball Club Sam Jack Evans told reporters 1934 is going to be Beau Bell s discovery year He was correct By August the Buccaneers sold Bell to the St Louis Browns which is today the Baltimore Orioles for 17 500 but he finished out the season with the Bucs It was a good thing he did as he helped lead the team to the Texas League Championship That year he set two Texas League records with 330 total chances in right field with 328 of them resulting in putouts He also tied a record by playing every inning that season The move to the majors started off slowly for Bell but he improved quickly He had three home runs and a 250 batting average the 1935 season but improved to 11 home runs and a 344 batting average next and he belted 14 homeruns and a 340 average in 1937 In 1936 he finished 13th in voting for the American League MVP award The next year he was 17th in the MVP race and was also selected to the American League All Star Team His 51 doubles in 1937 are still the most in one season in franchise history Bell mostly played

    Original URL path: http://rosenberg-library-museum.org/displays/treasure/2015/03-ballchampring/ring.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Treasure of the Month
    monuments in the city These included public drinking fountains as well as a monument honoring those who fought during the Texas war for independence from Mexico some 57 years earlier Rosenberg instructed that 50 000 be used for the erection of an appropriate monument in the city of Galveston to the memory of the heroes of the Texas revolution of 1836 It was decided that the monument be placed at the intersection of Galveston s two widest thoroughfares Broadway Avenue and 25th Street also known as Bath Avenue In March 1898 25th Street was renamed Rosenberg Avenue as a tribute to the city s greatest benefactor and plans for the great statue moved forward Nationally renowned sculptor Louis Amateis designed granite and bronze structure composed of a 72 foot vertical edifice upon a 34 square foot base The base includes four bronze panels with figures which tell the story of Texas s struggle for sovereignty A bronze female figure of Victory projects 22 feet toward the sky Souvenir ribbon badges worn during the unveiling of the monument April 21 1900 Amateis carved the granite sections of the sculpture on site in Galveston while the bronze pieces were cast in Rome and shipped to the island for assembly The columns and base were crafted in Washington D C from the same New Hampshire granite quarry used for construction of the Library of Congress The Unveiling Ceremony April 21 1900 was selected as the date for the unveiling celebration This date marks the anniversary of the Texian victory at the Battle of San Jacinto which ended the war The Sidney Sherman Chapter of the Daughters of the Texas Revolution issued invitations statewide for those interested in attending the celebration Federal state county and city courts all closed for the day as did

    Original URL path: http://rosenberg-library-museum.org/displays/treasure/2015/04-monument/monument.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Treasure of the Month
    ship This task was absolutely critical to the smooth function of the cotton and shipping industries By the mid 1880s improved farming techniques and increased exports eventually outpaced the draymen s ability to keep up with demand for their services Four wheeled wagons called floats overtook the drays in the transportation of cotton Floats were much larger and able to haul 10 bales of cotton in one load However the draymen kept their trade alive by hauling incoming merchandise from the wharves to storage facilities This undated photo shows a team of draymen at the Mallory Line terminal at 24th Street courtesy of the Galveston and Texas History Center Early floats were designed to be pulled by two mules but inclement weather and poor roads forced drivers to employ a third mule ahead of the others This spike arrangement as it was called was very difficult for drivers to control so they switched to having all three abreast The new arrangement coupled with improved construction of the floats made it possible to carry up to 15 bales of cotton in one trip thus drastically improving the efficiency in loading and unloading cotton By 1913 Galveston began to see yet another shift in transportation patterns with the rise of the motorized vehicle Chris Murray a reporter for the Daily News mused How long until the float is phased out It might be a decade but surely will the historic picturesque dray disappear from the streets of the Oleander City The mule will haul his last load cut his last caper and pass into oblivion with a final kick of his heels and a farewell bray Mules pull an ice cart down 25th Street in this 1920 photo courtesy of the Galveston and Texas History Center While he was off by a

    Original URL path: http://rosenberg-library-museum.org/displays/treasure/2015/05-plates/plates.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Treasure of the Month
    degree in Social Work from Louisiana State University While a high school student in the 1950s Houston first began working for St Vincent s House Established in 1954 St Vincent s House started out as a small outreach ministry of St Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church a historically African American congregation located at 41st Street and M ½ in Galveston St Vincent s House was a community center located north of Broadway and west of 25th Street a neighborhood in which residents faced numerous challenges including high rates of poverty and lack of basic health services Alfreda Houston grew up near this area and continued to live there as she raised her family of eight children in the Palm Terrace public housing complex She was employed as a social worker at the Early Childhood Learning Center and also worked at Maggie s Restaurant in order to support her household In 1975 she became the Executive Director of St Vincent s House and worked to provide affordable high quality child care health services and emergency assistance to underserved residents She remained in this position for more than two decades finally retiring in 1999 In addition to her responsibilities at St Vincent s House Ms Houston served on numerous boards and committees including the Palm Terrace Tenant Council Galveston Housing Authority Clean Galveston Parks and Recreation and Galveston Partnership for Better Living She was also involved with the Galveston Race Relations Committee and the annual Juneteenth celebrations Alfreda Houston s long and distinguished record of service was recognized by many organizations over the years Awards bestowed upon her included the Zeta Psi Beta Sorority Award for Distinguished Achievement the Delta Sigma Theta Award for Outstanding Community Service and the NAACP Juneteenth Image Award She was inducted into the Galveston Women s Hall

    Original URL path: http://rosenberg-library-museum.org/displays/treasure/2015/06-alfreda/a_houston.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Treasure of the Month
    1943 Upon his passing his wife Fridea s family the Schapers took up the family business While the ownership changed the Schapers continued to work in the dairy business for many years One of their decedents Steve Schaper recently donated some fascinating photos of his great grandfather and grandfather working as milk delivery men and other objects related to the Star Dairy These items along with other historic memorabilia made up this July s Rosenberg Library Treasure of the Month In 1929 Star moved to a new building at 21st street and Ave H Twenty years later it moved again this time to 1816 45th Street The iconic ice cream shop is fondly remembered by many as a special treat for the island s children In the following years the company operated eight delivery routes serving 3 200 local residents In 1958 Star merged with Kobarg Dairy but changed ownership in 1962 In addition to milk Star sold cottage cheese cream 4 milk and ice cream Most of the company s milk came from the west end Algoa and Arcadia Consolidation within the industry forced many small and mid sized dairies out of business and by 1964 Star ceased operations One of the most enduring images of the dairy industry from the period Star operated was that of the milkman Usually seen as friendly punctual and reliable the milkman was a mainstay in popular culture making appearances in early sitcoms lauded in songs like 1934 s My Very Good Friend the Milkman written by Johnny Burke Star milkmen like most wore a distinct uniform of white slacks cap and dress shirt The clean white outfit conveyed purity and cleanliness Star further emphasized its sanitary facilities by allowing school students and medical classes to visit their processing plant One of the

    Original URL path: http://rosenberg-library-museum.org/displays/treasure/2015/07-star/dairy.htm (2016-04-26)
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