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Mr. Will B. Traveling

Olney Enterprise Columnist

Fort Belknap, Texas

I recently had the opportunity to take a relaxing drive south of Olney to Fort Belknap, just on the other side of Newcastle. I went to check out the spinning and weaving class. I was taken back in time to a charming era when work had to also be a social event. You could work from dawn to dusk and still have plenty to do the next day. The ladies I observed weaving were very friendly and proud of their work. They were more than happy to let you sit in to show exactly how this long-ago craft is done. It could take up to eight hours to set up the weaving loom.

I was surprised to learn that the weaving was generally a maledominated occupation. A weaver would come in to a village or town from time to time and was put up by a local pastor or town folk while he was here to work. The ladies of the town would spin up their materials and be ready for when the weaver was to be in town.

I got so much more than I expected when I ran into the director/ historian of Fort Belknap, Jim N. Hammond. Fort Belknap was established November 1851, by Brevet Brigadier William G. Belknap. Fort Belknap served as a base of operations rather than a fortified point. It was the northern most fort in a line from the Rio Grande to the red river. The base was established to protect the Texas frontier against raids from the Kiowa and Comanche. When the fort was later abandoned the settlers in the area were set upon viciously. At times the settlers would hold up in the buildings of the fort during hostilities and winter months.

The fort was designated a national historic land mark in 1960 in recognition of its key role in securing the Texas frontier in the 1850s and 1860s.

If you have the time, I highly recommend a trip there. On the second Saturday of each month they have an event from their Living History Program. August 11th will be Folk music, with demonstrations of period music and musical instruments.

I look forward to returning to Fort Belknap to enjoy and learn about the many customs, crafting, and entertainment from their living history programs. There is also an excellent museum at Fort Belknap. For further information please visit their Facebook page at The Friends of Fort Belknap for a complete list of days and times.

The Olney Enterprise

213 E. Main St.
PO Box 577

Olney, Texas 76374

Phone: (940) 564-5558

Fax: (940) 564-3992