The Angora Chronicles being almost 7 years old, I thought for the ones that are newer to this group I’d explain how it all came about.
I started writing stories about growing up and the people I have encountered in business and throughout my adult life, more than 25 years ago. These stories were just something that I could leave behind for my kids and grandkids. Occasionally I would email one to a friend, especially if they were involved or knew the participants.
A little over seven years ago I started a FaceBook Group that is called – “and then there were Three Thousand“. That name was taken from a book about my mother’s family that was published back in 1975. The 3000 refers to the total family members that started out as 2 sisters, the Miller Sisters as they married, left Kentucky in the early 1800s, and came to Texas. They settled around the Smithwick area and had large families. Eventually they, along with some of the family members, moved on to California and the family continued to grow.
The lady that put the book together, Donna Hull, was part of the California bunch. Madolyn Frasier, of Burnet County was a great aid in supplying information for the Texas contingent, as she was the local unofficial area historian and family archivist.
This book became the major resource for most of us to connect to our relationships with others. Almost everyone in Smithwick and many around Burnet Co. and Texas has a connection to the 3000, by blood or marriage.
I thought by getting a FB Group together there was a possibility of doing a 40 plus year update to the book to see if it has become “and there were 4,000 or 6,000 or 10,000”. People became interested in the project and now things are moving forward for an update to the book in the coming months.
To help stimulate the group and keep it moving I wrote some stories that I had been told about the meager circumstances that my mothers’ family lived through back in the depression and beyond.
Several people told me how much they enjoyed me telling those stories. That started to feed my ego I suppose. I remembered all the past stories that I had written and we’re just sitting on the hard drive of my computer. A few but not many of those stories fit the 3000 book, but they needed another outlet I thought.
One day standing in line at Luby’s in Corpus Christi I decided to start another group and selected the name The Angora Chronicles. That was the name suggested by friend and classmate (and a distant relative) Grant Ray Thompson. It fit well because angora goats had been very much a part of my upbringing. The “Musings of an Old Goat” seems to also be a great byline to go with the title, as suggested by Grant.
As the cafeteria line moved forward that day, the group was created before I reached the salads. I pushed the POST button before I reached the cashier and The Angora Chronicles was born. I invited everyone on my friends list that I thought may want to read and participate and also asked others to invite their friends.
Now the group has grown to more than 2400 members and continues to pickup new members.
I had between 40 and 50 stories that I used to seed it with to start. Knowing that wasn’t going to carry it for long, I started asking others (it was more like begging at times) to add stories. I went on a story writing binge myself, adding 4 or 5 daily. I had, besides writing stories for years had also compiled a list of possible stories. Every time I’d think of one I’d write a title down. Many times writing a story would cause me to think of another and another. Now there are over 1500 stories that I’ve submitted.
The pace of those submittals have slowed with time. There are only so many things that happen in a lifetime that can be written about.
I decided to supplement the stories with historical news items from around the area and beyond. Some would be old newspaper clippings or “who remembers when this building in town was whatever”. Pictures started being added of things Marble Falls and Burnet Co. We would also add stuff about Austin, where many of us migrated to and visited often in our earlier days.
Nothing historical in nature is off limits. We have a show and tell that resembles the variety of stuff kids would bring to show off to their classmates. In fact anything entertaining is welcome. A good, fairly clean joke is good at times.
We have vowed to stay away from current political and religious topics that seem to become inflamed at times. Vulgar profanity is shied away from, but the talk here is not so sanitized as to make it boring.
A while back I was entrusted with the many many boxes of pictures, letters, research and old newspapers that Madolyn Frasier and her mother had accumulated over decades of collecting. I started scanning and sharing that stuff as well.
What we found out that by having this open forum of exchange, there are mysteries solved, other mysteries raised and family connections made that no one had an idea about. While genealogy sites are great for tracing family roots, this forum is giving us a chance to peel back many layers that otherwise would be lost forever.
It is not known how the information collected here will benefit future generations or how we should leave it. While the information contained here is not easy to catalogue, it has at least given us currently a better look into our past generations. I have the feeling the information here will be an archivists dream or nightmare. I just don’t know which.
Friends have been made and old acquaintances have been renewed as a result of “The Group”. As a way to further connect, back on April 25th and 26th of 2015 we had our 1st Annual Goat Gathering down at Smithwick. It was a 2 day event that gave many people an opportunity to connect. It was piggy backed onto the Boultinghouse – Evans (3000) reunion that was held earlier in the day on the 25th. We had around 300 people on Saturday and 200 on Sunday. The whole affair was reminiscent of a big family reunion or a community homecoming. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way it all came off.
My hope is to see The Angora Chronicles continue on as long as it is beneficial and being enjoyed. Who knows, maybe a 2nd Goat Gathering will be in order sometime in the future. We had hoped it could be a yearly thing, but like so many things in our lives, it’s easier to talk about than to actually pull off.