of Christ Church Episcopal in San
Augustine, Christ Church in Nacogdoches,
and St. Cyprianís Church in Lufkin,
all Episcopal congregations, remember George Louis Crocket as the
leader or founder of their group. But even Baptists and Methodists
know about Crocket. He wrote the first real history of East Texas
and founded the East Texas Historical Association.
Crocket was born in San
Augustine on June 3, 1861, and educated liberally and for the
ministry at the University of the South and the Theological Seminary
in Sewanee, Tennessee. Crocket was graduated in 1886 and returned
to his home town to commence a ministry that continued formally until
his retirement in 1929, but really did not end until his death on
January 3, 1936. That ministry included refounding the Episcopal congregation
and founding one in Lufkin.
The Rev. Crocket contributed more to his congregations than homilies
and pastoral care. An artist with wood, he also sculpted ornate altars
and other furnishings for his churches that are still in use. He also
involved them in community improvement activities.
Anyone who knew Crocket understood his deep love for the history of
East Texas, so they were
not surprised when he accepted a position at Stephen F. Austin State
Teachers College in Nacogdoches in 1929. Crocket was hired by President
A.W. Birdwell, also a historian, who supported Crocketís interest
in the history of the collegeís service region.
Crocket invited those with similar interest to attend an organizational
meeting on the campus of the East Texas Historical Association. Papers
were presented by Crocket and other distinguished historians such
as Eugene C. Barker, history department chairman at the University
of Texas. For a few years members met on the campuses of Stephen F.
Austin, Sam Houston, and East Texas teachers colleges, and published
a "bulletin," or journal, which included the papers they presented
at meetings and other writings. The first East Texas Historical Association
became a victim of the Depression. When a successor group was organized
in 1962, only a few old bulletins and three $100 government bonds
bore testimony of its predecessorís existence. Crocket also published
Two Centuries in East Texas, a history of this region that focuses
on San Augustine,
in 1932. Crocket ended the book with the Civil War era. Evidently
he judged that nothing of importance had happened in East
Texas during his lifetime, so he left out one of the really important
happenings of that era:
For the "rest of the story," the reader needs to see San Augustine:
A Texas Treasure, by John and Betty Oglesbee, number five in the
Ann and Lee Lawrence East Texas History Series. The publisher
is the second East Texas Historical Association, still hosted
by Stephen F. Austin State University and following the leadership
of the Rev. George Louis Crocket.