Prior Programs

Presented to the Fort Worth Westerners.


May 21, 2024
Sylvia Gann Mahoney

May 21, 2024: Sylvia Gann Mahoney, "Weaving West Texas History to see the Big Picture: Great Western Trail"

"Weaving West Texas History to see the Big Picture: Great Western Trail"

In 2024, the Great Western Trail is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Looking back from the perspective of 150 years by connecting historical events happening at the same time in the same location, the panhandle of Texas, history becomes more focused, more understandable. The root causes of the socioeconomic volatility on the high plains gives apparent answers to why south Texas rancher John T Lytle initiated the Great Western Trail in 1874 to drive 3,500 longhorns to Nebraska for a humanitarian purpose to Sioux Chief Red Cloud and his tribe of 10,000 with General George Armstrong Custer signing for the herd.

Why did John T. Lytle trail through the Red River War area, toxic panhandle area of Texas where buffalo hunters, Comanches, Kiowa, Cheyenne, and the US military were destined to stage the last stand of the Lords of the Plains? The big picture comes into focus answering many historical questions.

Meet Sylvia Gann Mahoney

Sylvia Gann Mahoney is the author of two books: Finding the Great Western Trail (TTU Press) and College Rodeo: From Show to Sport (Texas A&M Press). She was the 2023-2024 president of the West Texas Historical Association, the second oldest Texas historical association; a founder and the first executive director of the Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame; NMJC rodeo coach; and Western Junior College Athletic Hall of Fame inductee. She was co-chair of "Marking the Great Western Trail from Mexico to Canada" for Rotary, and taught literature, research, and writing for 33 years in public schools and colleges in New Mexico and Texas.


April 16, 2024
Dr. Colt Chaney

April 16, 2024: Dr. Colt Chaney, "Quanah Parker: Divided Loyalties"

"Quanah Parker: Divided Loyalties"

Quanah Parker provides an example of the changing times in which many Native American tribes lived and how they were able to adapt. Parker was influential and learned how to move between Comanche culture and the white culture that swept in from the east. He refers to Indians as "his people," yet embraces the white way and encourages other Indians to do the same. What we find in studying Parker is a person who was able to thrive in two different worlds, maintaining loyalties to both. Parker raided Mexican and American settlements and fought encroachment on his land. Yet, he later worked hand in hand with outsiders to provide the best deal moving forward, for himself and the tribe, against the same people he had fiercely fought years before. Examining his past and Comanche culture provides clues to his success in navigating the new reality he faced.

Meet Dr. Colt Chaney

Dr. Colt Chaney is a history professor at Dallas College Mountain View Campus. He is an Oklahoma native. In his college days, he trained horses and participated in team roping events at the amateur and professional levels. He received his Masters and PhD degrees in US History from Oklahoma State University. His areas of interest are Native American, US West, and Public History. His dissertation is on Native American representation in film (Westerns primarily) from 1950-1970. Dr. Chaney taught history at Murray State College in Oklahoma and Tyler Junior College prior to his current position at Dallas College.


March 19, 2024
Dr. Deborah Liles

March 19, 2024: Dr. Deborah Liles, "William, Marcellus French, and the Alamo Texans"

"William, Marcellus French, and the Alamo Texans"

In the spring of 1855, one of America's most notorious filibusters, William Walker, invaded Nicaragua to capitalize on that country's civil war. Two years later, the San Antonio Ledger reported "a large and enthusiastic meeting of the friends and sympathizers of Gen. Walker was held in front of the Court-House on this evening." Shortly thereafter, the "Alamo Rangers" headed to Nicaragua to assist Walker's colonization efforts. Led by Capt. Marcellus French, the foray explains much about Texans during the antebellum years, and about French, whose role in multiple arenas firmly connects him to Texas and American history during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Meet Dr. Deborah Liles

Deborah Liles is an Associate Professor and the W. K. Gordon Chair of Texas History at Tarleton State University. She is the author or co-editor of five books, including Women in Civil War Texas: Diversity and Dissidence in the Trans-Mississippi (2016 Liz Carpenter Award for best book on Texas Women's History and the Ottis Lock Award for book of the year); Texas Women and Ranching: On the Range, At the Rodeo, In the Community (Liz Carpenter Award), and African Americans in Central Texas History: From Slavery to Civil Rights. She is the author of multiple book chapters and articles in scholarly publications and has been a guest on public television documentaries in the US and Europe. Current book and online projects examine the history of slavery and of the antebellum and Civil War livestock industry in Texas.


February 20, 2024
Dr. Michelle M. Martin

February 20, 2024: Dr. Michelle M. Martin, "A Trail Bride: Mary Taylor Olivette Bunton on the Chisholm Trail"

"A Trail Bride: Mary Taylor Olivette Bunton on the Chisholm Trail"

"A Trail Bride" explores the experiences of several women who made the arduous trek from Texas to Kansas on the famed Chisholm Trail during the late 19th century. Martin's program shares multiple women's experiences but focuses primarily on the first-hand account of Mary Taylor Olivette Bunton. Bunton made the trip up the Chisholm Trail with her husband shortly after their marriage, and she later chronicled her adventure and published her experiences.

Meet Dr. Michelle M. Martin

Dr. Michelle M. Martin is a Michigander by birth and a Kansan and Okie by choice. Martin is a historian who earned her doctorate at the University of New Mexico in May 2022. Her research probes interracial marriage, gender, race, and power in the Mvskoke Nation in the Indian Territory from 1870-1897.

She earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in history at Western Michigan University. After graduating, Martin embarked on a nearly twenty-year career in academic and public history. For nine years she taught full and part time at the two and four year college level in Kansas and Oklahoma. She also worked in the television and film industry for nearly ten years as a researcher, script writer, and field producer. Projects she has contributed to have aired on PBS, A&E, History Channel, Investigation Discovery, and at National Park Service units in Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas. For several years Martin worked as a museum director, and she has served on numerous museum boards and has provided consulting services for small museums in Kansas and Oklahoma. Martin has also lectured on various historical topics across the country for museums, state and national historic sites, and educational institutions.

Her research interests include the intersections of gender, race, and ethnicity in the U.S. West from 1800-1900, the history of Indigenous-Euro American relations in the Indian Territory (in the Mvskoke and Semvnole Nations specifically) from 1840-1925, interracial marriage and families in the United States during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and gender and race based violence in the West.

She is currently an Assistant Professor of History and the Coordinator of the Public History Certificate in the Department of History at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee.

Martin lives in Tahlequah and is a proud cat mamma to Josie. Her husband, Dr. Donald Fixico (Mvskoke/Semvnole/Shawnee/Sac and Fox) is a Distinguished Foundation Professor and Regents' Professor of History at Arizona State. The couple travel back and forth between their two homes. When not working, Michelle enjoys hiking, travel, photography, documenting severe weather, watching college and professional football, and volunteering as a living history interpreter at various state and national historic sites.


January 16, 2024
Tom Ashmore

January 16, 2024: Tom Ashmore, "The Concho Mail Station"

"The Concho Mail Station"

The Concho Mail Station was the headquarters of the Concho Division of the San Antonio to El Paso Stage Line from 1869 to 1882. The stage line was also nicknamed the Ben Ficklin Stage Line, after the primary owner and founder of the line, Benjamin Ficklin. It was located three miles south of Fort Concho, San Angelo, Texas. The station ended in 1882 when a great flood swept through the area of the mail station and the nearby town of Ben Ficklin, wiping both off the map. This new archeological study identified the entire station layout, including a military camp, two corrals, a blacksmith shop, wheelwright and paint shops, harness storage and maintenance building, sheds for coaches, a commissary, a mess hall, a large stone home for the manager, and multiple picket houses for the employees.

Meet Tom Ashmore

Tom Ashmore spent 22 years in the Air Force as a special intelligence analyst. After retiring from active duty, he taught intelligence skills for another 20 years for the Air Force Intelligence School at Goodfellow AFB, Texas. He headed up avocational archeological investigations for the Concho Valley and Iraan Archeological Societies and worked closely with the Texas Archeological Society over the last 15 years. He completed a book in 2019 on his Butterfield Trail investigations, The Butterfield Trail Through the Concho Valley and West Texas. He is currently president of the West Texas Archeological Society and a board member of the Southwest Federation of Archeological Societies.

Prior programs, 2023

Prior programs, 2022

Prior programs, 2021

Prior programs, 2020

Prior programs, 2019