not asked, it's not answered." - Lee Bennett
How History is Conducted in Marfa
Mrs. Bennet's advice to anyone interested in history is
"Leave Tracks" so that others may follow where you left off.
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has had it's own History Club for 101 years. The Current President
is Mrs. Lee Bennett. Mrs. Bennett, in a telephone interview, provided
us with answers to all our questions and some we forgot to ask.
History for many years and oversaw the Junior Historians
for 13 years. During this period, Marfa High School students
interviewed just about everyone in Marfa older than themselves.
They even dared to ask the one question that no one asks in Texas:
"How many head of cattle do you own?"
from this mass-interview yielded 24,000 sheets of text and 7,000
photographs. Enough to fill five file drawers. When Mrs. Bennett
asked Happy Godbold how his interview was going, he replied; "that
girl knows more about my business than the IRS."
Bennett was placed in a saddle at the age of six by "Uncle Billy."
When he wasn't Uncle Billy, he was William Dudley Connell
who organized a group of West Texas ropers into a Wild West Show
that toured South America in 1905-06.
go where Sailors fear to tread
The roping went well, but their ship (The S.S. Philadelphia)
caught fire on the return trip to San Francisco. The sailors
were about to abandon the ship, but the cowboys wet their bandanas,
tied them over their mouths, entered the hold and put the fire out.
It was later discovered that the ship was carrying hundreds of tons
of explosive cargo. They weren't just lucky on this trip; they were
blessed. Their ship left San Francisco just 18 hours before
the devastating Earthquake and Fire.
in Chile, a gun from Marfa
Mrs. Bennett is investigating the story of a gun trade her uncle
made with a man who was then going by the name Jim Lowe who
periodically worked for the W.S. Ranch in Alma New Mexico.
Uncle Billy's gun later turned up in Chile, used by this man who
became a reluctant suicide. Besides being named Jim Lowe,
the man who killed himself also used the alias "Butch" Cassidy.
known as the Marfa Study Club, the organization which Mrs.
Bennett currently presides over, was formed a mere 17 years after
Marfa's founding, in 1899. They were certainly far-sighted (but
you have to be able to see far in West Texas). They insured that
the former Marfa Opera House (currently the former Palace
Theater) was on the Chautaqua circuit and that self-improvement
and philanthropy were very much alive and evident in early Marfa.
Today the Marfa
History Club continues to support various organizations and
contributes toward scholarships for Presidio County students.
the information we received from Mrs. Bennett and her invitation
to share Marfa's History with our readers.
advice to anyone interested in history is "Leave Tracks"
so that others may follow where you left off.