SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - A lifelong dedication to historic preservation led to a prestigious award for Betty Oglesbee of San Augustine.
The lifelong resident of the Cradle of Texas received the Governor's Award for Historic Preservation, the top honor presented by the Texas Historical Commission. Oglesbee met the selective criteria.
When a person strikes up a conversation with Oglesbee, he or she should be prepared to learn some hometown history, particularly if Oglesbee's in the restored San Augustine County Jail, which is now a museum.
"We saved this building the best way we could," Oglesbee said while pointing to a "Wall of Sheriffs."
Oglesbee's leadership saved a lot of San Augustine buildings - a library, a theater, a mission, a courthouse, and a jail at no expense to the county.
The Texas Historical Commission's leaders know that when Oglesbee calls, it may end up costing them.
"When Betty wants a project, I tell you, you have your choice," John Crain, Vice Chairman for the Texas Historical Commission, said, causing laughter from the people attending a presentation and luncheon in Oglesbee's honor. "You either give or you move out of the way."
Oglesbee's friends are well aware of the numerous grants the determined woman has written with the help of the San Augustine Garden Club and local historians.
"Everything we do is free. We pay our own postage and if we go to Austin we travel at our own expense. And we want to," Oglesbee said.
The historian was nervous about her last trip to Austin. She met the governor thinking she was one of many receiving a Governor's Award. She was horrified to find out she is the only Texan to receive the honor, which isn't always presented annually.
"I'm just one of many," the humbled community leader said. "I hate being singled out when so many helped."
"It takes a lot of people to make a project successful", acknowledged Mark Wolfe, the executive director of the Texas Historical Commission. "But sometimes, it takes one person with the passion and the interest to step forward and suggest that a project needs to happen, and Betty has done that."
Oglesbee's leadership makes a difference in San Augustine, but it also resounds across the state.
"She sets an example for historians in communities everywhere to set and reach a goal," Wolfe said.
When Oglesbee finishes one project, she begins another. The Texas Parks and Wildlife awarded a grant for a children's park to be built on the original San Augustine townsite.