Friends of the Fort Bend County Historical Commission is a non-profit organization which raises funds to support County Historical Commission projects. The Fort Bend County Historical Commission is part of our county government and is, therefore, prohibited from raising funds from the public. The Friends and its board of trustees are enthusiastic about our county’s history and are committed to preserving our historical and cultural heritage.
The Historical Commission routinely approaches the Friends board about projects which merit funding. For example, the Friends are currently funding a project to excavate an 1850s cistern in Richmond. The Fort Bend Commissioners Court has provided funds for the project, but the Friends have provided supplemental funds to ensure a thorough analysis of the historical site.
The Friends have raised funds to finance reprinting two replica books: A. J. Sowell’s History of Fort Bend County and Pauline Yelderman’s The Jaybirds of Fort Bend County. These books are helpful resources for persons interested in exploring our county’s past. Proceeds from sales of these books have funded the Historical Commission’s extensive effort to collect oral histories from a comprehensive cross-section of county residents.
The Friends have recently provided seed-funding for a digital tour guide, called DiscoverFortBend.com. This app will serve as a unique geographical portal into events and locations of historical interest. Using a mobile device like a smart phone or tablet, a ‘time traveler’ can stand on the spot where Santa Ana’s army camped in Richmond in April 1836, or the location of Walter Burton’s grave in Morton Cemetery, or the site of Jane Long’s boarding house and access images, video, audio and textual resources that explain the historical significance of the ground on which they stand.
Possibly the most signifcant donation to date were funds to purchase a ground penetrating radar unit, which allows the Historical Commission to search for lost cemeteries, abandoned grave sites, and other historical assets lying belowground. Fort Bend is one of the few, if not the only, county whose historical commission owns a ground penetrating radar device.
The Friends fully support the wide array of projects and activities the County Historical Commission pursues as part of its mission. The breadth of these projects and tasks are evident in the 7 principal committees within the Commission:
- Archives, which curates documents and objects from the past, as well as those generated by the historical commission in its effort to preserve local history.
- Cemetery, which researches and monitors historic cemeteries and relocates burial sites lost over time.
- Cultural Resources, which ensures historic assets are not damaged by modern development.
- Historic Preservation, which identifies and protects historical above-ground structures.
- Oral Histories, which records personal histories of Fort Bend County citizens.
- Public Affairs, which promotes the activies of historical and cultural organizations in Fort Bend County.
- Research & Markers, which assists organizations and private citizens in their requests to the Texas Historical Commission for state markers.
The Friends of the County Historical Commission appreciate generous opportunities like this one to raise funds for the preservation and promotion of Fort Bend’s history to generations of residents and visitors.