I am a self-proclaimed history buff. I really canít remember when it started. I havenít always been fascinated with history, but at some point in my life, I became a history junkie. I am fortunate to share this passion with my husband. Our favorite channel is the History Channel. We like to go on treasure hunts through the pasture and find artifacts of homesteads long gone. One of our favorite things is to take the kids on country drives through communities that are nearly gone and see parts of the old school houses standing and think about what happened to all the people who lived there. Where did they go? Why did they leave?
We live near a little community called Alexander. Once a thriving community, there isnít much left now - a church, an old barbershop, the old bank vault, remnants of other structures and a lot of rock fences. I have heard the rock fences were built over time from rock unearthed while plowing.
This is from the Handbook of Texas Online: ďAlexander, at the junction of State Highway 6 and Farm Road 914 in southern Erath County, was named Harperís Mill when a post office was established there in 1876. John D. St. Clair was the first postmaster and was still serving in 1881, when the name was changed to Alexander, possibly to honor an official of the Texas Central Railroad Company. The railroad laid out the townsite after buying land from W. C. Keith in 1880. Alexander expanded after the railroad came in 1881, but growth was checked after the railroad reached Stephenville in 1889. Alexander had a population of 381 and twenty-one businesses in 1890.
In 1900, the population was the same, but the number of businesses had declined. By 1940, the town had 200 people, a post office, and five businesses. The post office closed before 1970 - when the population was 40. In 2000 the population was still reported as 40.
I believe history in our schools is so important. When we learn about what has happened in the past, we always look at important figures, important events, important groups, ideas, and movements. History is so broad that it can include everything from what has happened in our rural areas to Latin America, China and Europe. Learning about history is important because some of it should be common knowledge. By knowing a bit about what has happened in our world, we see why things are the way they are now, what will happen in the future, how great minds work, how evil people work and much more. It doesnít hurt to know too much about history.
Through history, you can also understand what it really means to be in someone elseís shoes. We all live our own separate lives and choose to be affected by what we see around us. We can take action or we can remain passive.
When you read about the history of various countries, you can understand the pain, the joy and more that people feel when they do something difficult or amazing. You can understand what it means to have no food, or what is means to be rich and without love. Just like reading a book, history is a volume filled with many real stories. Then you can picture what it is like to live in China during communism or what it means to be an American.
By understanding what has happened in the past and the current situation of today, we can better understand what can happen in the future. By looking at what has happened, we can understand what we should avoid and what we should make better. We live in a country that is strong today because of what past leaders have done.
If we avoid prior problems, such as the Great Depression, we wonít have to deal with that ever again. If we understand the importance of friendship and rights, we can make them stronger than ever. If we have read about a problem that should have been taken care of long ago, then we can help out situations that are happening now. History allows us to make the changes needed to make this a better world.
Lastly, history is so important because each of us are a part of history. We can choose to help out situations that matter to us and avoid ones that we choose not to tackle.
Remember, history does not stop in the textbooks, it merely continues until the end of time. Each one of us is a living textbook of what is to come.
Tracey McMillian works in editorial design at the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-968-2379, ext. 239.