New Exhibits on History of Laredo Showing at Killam Library

New Exhibits on the History of Laredo
On Display at the Killam Library

A statue of the “Father of South Texas,” artifacts from an ancient tomb and books on the history of Laredo and Webb County, now on display at the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library at Texas A&M International University, give Laredoans and South Texans a glimpse into region’s past. The exhibits, part of the Killam Library Special Collections and Archives, are open to the public free of charge.

As patrons walk into the Killam Library, a fiberglass statue of Spanish leader José de Escandón (photo) lets them see what the father of South Texas looked like.

“With all the interest in Laredo’s 250th birthday and events relating to that being held here, it just seemed appropriate to host the statue here so people can come take a look at the ‘Father of South Texas,’” said Jeanette Hatcher, reference/special collections librarian.

The statue is a replica of a bronze statue of Escandón in Alice, Texas. Joe Martínez, owner of the replica, has been leading an effort to introduce South Texans to the man he considers the greatest colonizer in the Western Hemisphere. Hatcher offered to host the statue until a permanent home was found.

A native of Northern Spain, Escandón arrived in New Spain when he was 15 years old and joined a cavalry force in the Yucatan as a cadet. During his military career, he pacified an uprising of 10,000 Indians at Querétaro and was rewarded by being named governor of a large unexplored province that extended from Tampico, México to the San Antonio River in Texas and was later known as Nuevo Santander. In 1755, Escandón granted permission to Tomás Sánchez de la Barrera y Garza to found Laredo.

“The other exhibit contains artifacts from an ancient tomb that was discovered while exploring an old Laredo burial site near the old San Agustin school downtown. I am very grateful to these wonderful ladies for entrusting me with these treasures. Hopefully people in our community will share more exhibits of this nature which enrich our students' academic experience,” explained Hatcher. (photo)

Among the items included in the exhibit are a gold cross, bone beads, antique glass, lead bullets, pearl buttons, ceramics, a small and a large coronet. (photo)

The display is on loan from Lily Perez, who is a member of the Laredo Archeological Society and Elisa Gutierrez, who is a member of Villa San Agustin de Laredo Genealogical Society.

Once the statue and artifacts pique visitors’ interest in Laredo’s history, patrons can read maps and books on Laredo and Webb County history available in the special collections area.

The special collections area is open to the general public. Hours of operation are subject to change so please visit the Web site or call the reference desk at 326.2138.

The University is also hosting the “Laredo: 250 Years of History Conference” Oct. 13-15.  All events are free of charge.  For more information contact the Webb County Heritage Foundation at 727-0977.

For more information on the exhibits or special collection or to lend or donate materials for display to the Special Collections and Archives, please contact Jeanette Hatcher at 326.2404 or e-mail jhatcher@tamiu.edu.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu