The problem with history is that there is too much information, but at the same time there is too little information, according MC history professor William Morris at the second annual West Texas History Symposium.
The symposium series was started last year by the Henry family. They endowed Morris as the Henry Chair of history to organize the symposium and publish a journal for the papers that are presented.
“The word history comes from the Greek word historia, which means to inquire,” Morris said.
Morris said that history is revision. He used the example of a picture from a textbook that he uses. Between two editions of the book, the caption on one of the pictures had been changed to the opposite of what it was before. The caption changed because someone had found new evidence on about the photo.
Morris delivered the first presentation on the ranking U.S. presidents.
Morris then talked about how to compare the presidents. His said he looks who the presidents’ advisers were and what significant things their administrations accomplished.
A poll that Morris took in the history department at MC ranks the top three presidents as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin, D. Roosevelt. Morris said the reason they were the top three is because they are all remembered for dealing with crises.
The second presentation was by Sara Peterson and Katanna Zachary of the MC English department. Their topic was the Warren Commission report and the Kennedy assassination.
They presented new evidence on the assassination that was not taken into account by the Warren Commission.
The new evidence included personal testimonies by people associated with the events surrounding Kennedy’s assassination. Some of the witnesses had not been able or willing to talk about what they saw until recently.
Among the testimonies was one by James C. Jenkins, who was present when the autopsy on Kennedy was performed. He was in charge of recording the information from the autopsy. He said that some of the documents were altered after he had filled them out and the information had been changed.
The presenters said that they referenced 150 books on the topic of the Kennedy assassination.
They also invited interested people to sign an online petition to un-seal the documents from the Warren Commission investigation before the release date of 2039.
The third presentation was by MC government professor Terry Gilmore and MC director of alumni relations and development director J. Don Wallace. Their topic was a pictorial history of architecture in Midland with a focus on works of Frank Welch.
“There is a lot of remodeling and building going on in Midland, and that is not a good thing,” Gilmore said.
They had taken pictures and made a sideshow of the houses Welch built while he was in Midland. Along with their research of the houses, they were able to interview Welch and talk with him about his time in Midland.
They used photos to illustrate the designs that Welch houses are known for, such as hidden front doors and carports, which Wallace said Welch used because they were cheap.
The fourth presentation was by MC history professor Damon Kennedy over the story of Samuel Burk Burnett and the 6666 Ranch.
The presentation followed the Burnett family and their move west during the 1800s. The Burnett family bought land and settled in Texas and started ranching cattle.
To fatten the cattle before selling them, Burnett worked out a deal to lease land from the Indian reservation next to his land for grazing.
Kennedy said around 1900, Burnett knew that the deal with the Indians was going to end, so he obtained more land in the Texas Panhandle.
After that, oil was discovered on the property, which has since become the business of the ranch instead of cattle.
Over 120 people attended this year, up from the 30 people who attended last year. Morris said, that a bigger room will be needed next year.