History of the Bosque County Historical Commission

In 1954, the year Bosque County celebrated its 100th anniversary, County Judge George H. Brooks formed the Bosque County Historical Survey Committee. The main objective of the Committee was to survey and list all historic sites in the county. Mrs. Sadie Swenson Hoel served as chairman of this group. Other appointed members included Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Rogers of Morgan and Mrs. George Brooks and Clinton E. Stewart of Meridian.

After a few years, the Bosque County Historical Survey Committee became the Bosque County Historical Commission. Members representing urban communities of the county were appointed by the Commissioner’s Court to serve on the Commission.

In 1979 the Commission celebrated its 25th anniversary. Mrs. Sadie Hoel, Clinton E. Stewart, Mrs. George (Martha) Brooks, Rebecca Radde, and Dula Bonds served as chairmen during the years from 1954-1979. Listing historic landmarks and placing historical markers honoring people and buildings were accomplished by the Commission during this period.

Reading the cemeteries of Bosque County was originated by Rebecca Radde and carried on by members of the Historical Commission. Volume I Cemetery Records of Bosque County was published in 1985. Volume II was published in 1987.

Dula Bonds, chairman from 1979-1983, started two very important projects:
1. Publishing county history book — Bosque County: Land and People. Nell G. Jenson was appointed chairman of the History Book Committee. It was published in 1985.
2. The Bosque County Collection, research center for local Bosque County history. Founded in 1983 by Dula Bonds, Chairman of Bosque County Historical Commission, and Elizabeth Torrence, Chairman of the Archives Committee of the Bosque County Historical Commission. Its mission is to collect and preserve historical material of all of the people of Bosque County for researchers. The Collection was modeled after the Texas Collection at Baylor.

Unfortunately, Dula Bonds died in June of 1983 just as the Collection was being established in two rooms on the third floor of the Bosque County Courthouse. At that point Elizabeth Torrence took over as director of the Collection with the help of Frances Johnson and Palmer Olsen. 

The Collection was on the third floor — with no elevator — until 2001. During this time, the archives grew from one small safe (which was all the historical material that had been collected during the 25 years the Commission had existed) to completely filling the two rooms in the courthouse. Dula Bonds (1979-1983), Edwin Olsen (1983-1986), and Elizabeth Torrence (1986-present) served as chairmen of the Commission.

In 1992, the Lumpkin Building — the oldest rock commercial building in Meridian, built in 1884 — was purchased by the county to house the Bosque County Collection on the condition that the Commission would repay them the $40,000 paid for the building. 

It was agreed that the Commission would raise the money to renovate the building and the county would pay for the utilities and insurance. It took the Commission nine years to completely rehabilitate the building. 
During this time the Commission applied for and received a certificate to place the Lumpkin Building of the National Register of Historic Places.

The Collection received the ISTEA grant in 1996 and during the following years we received grants from Summerlee, Meadows, and Bosque Foundations, and large and small donations from many people interested in preserving the history of Bosque County.

Finally in June 2001, the Collection moved from the third floor of the courthouse — where for 17 year members had climbed three flights of stairs to reach the Collection — to the beautifully restored Lumpkin Building — two stories with an elevator.

From 1979 to the present, Texas Historical Markers honoring buildings, persons, and sites have been placed in all areas of the county. 

In 1989 the Commission established a Preservation Award Program. An annual preservation Award Luncheon is held honoring buildings, houses (rural and urban), and barns in all sections of the county.

To celebrate Bosque County’s Sesquicentennial in 2004, the Bosque County Historical Commission’s main project was the rededication of Pool Park, the site of the Election Oak under which the county was organized on Aug. 7, 1854. Doug Stockton, curator of the Bosque County Collection, directed the project, working with the schools of the county, Boy Scouts, 4H Club, and other groups.