Frontier Times Museum
Frontier Times Museum is a museum of the American West located in Bandera in the Texas Hill Country. The facility was opened to the public in 1933 by the author, historian, and printer John Marvin Hunter (1880–1957).
The museum is named for Hunter’s popular Frontier Times magazine, which he launched in 1923. It is located at 510 13th Street across from the First Baptist Church. Hunter acquired a house in 1927 to hold his growing collection of materials on the West. He used native building materials, including stone, fossils, petrified wood, and formations from area caves. On display are some 40,000 Old West relics, western art and antiques, and Indian artifacts. There are Chinese temple bells and posters of Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. Specific exhibits include a printing press, fireplace, cowboy awards, and a small gallery of paintings. Occasional special events are held, such as the "National Day of the American Cowboy" on July 25.
One of the exhibits focuses on Amasa Clark (1825–1927), a native of New York and the first permanent Anglo settler in Bandera County. He was led to the Medina River Valley by friendly Indians, where he reared nineteen children by two wives and lived to be past one hundred years of age. He established fruit orchards on a 160-acre (0.65 km2) farm along Indian Creek. He was among the last living veterans of the Mexican War and later received a pension for his service. A cemetery in Bandera County bears his name.
Another exhibit features José Policarpio "Polly" Rodriguez (January 22, 1829–March 22, 1914) of Bandera. As a boy, Rodriguez was apprenticed as a gunsmith after the death of his mother. During the 1850s, he was a scout on U.S. government road expeditions through Texas. During the American Civil War, he served for a time with Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston and with the Texas Rangers. Converted to Methodism, Rodriguez in 1878 became a circuit-riding minister, having last served congregations in Poteet and Floresville. He died of pneumonia. His museum exhibit describes him as "winning many souls to Christ, he suffered privation, persecution, sorrow; unmoved he went with singing and joy to the very end."
Hunter was born in Loyal Valley in Mason County, Texas, and grew up in such communities as Menard, San Saba, and Mason, where he worked for his father’s newspaper, the Mason Herald. He later worked for newspapers called The Times in both Llano and Comfort, Texas, before plunging into the tasks of a bilingual daily in Mexico City.
Hunter settled in Bandera, where he published the Bandera New Era from 1921–1935 and then the Bandera Bulletin from 1945 until his death twelve years later. During his career, Hunter published sixteen papers, mostly four-page weeklies set by hand. He also wrote western history books and printed brochures and other publications on a contract basis.
He envisioned the museum as a vehicle to help him sell his books and other printed materials. In 1960, three years after Hunter's death, the nonprofit F. B. Doane Foundation purchased the museum from the Hunter estate. The foundation restored the old building, added a gallery, and in 1972 transferred ownership to Bandera County.
Texas Heroes Hall of Honor
In the summer of 2009, the Frontier Times Museum announced its first Texas Heroes Hall of Honor inductees, including three posthumous winners: Hunter himself, Southwestern author J. Frank Dobie, and marksman and bootmaker Joe Bowman (1925–2009) of Houston. The living winners are:
- Ray Wharton of Bandera - 1956 World Champion tie-down calf roper
- Cleo Hearn of Lancaster – co-founder of the American Black Rodeo Association introduced into the genre by Wharton
- Kevin Fitzpatrick of Bandera – 2008 World Champion trick roper
- Terry Boothe of Austin – cultural preservationist and humorist
- Raul Gaona, Sr. of San Antonio – co-founder of San Antonio Charro Association and promoter of Mexican culture in the American West.
Frontier Times Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m.
- "Frontier Times Museum: A Monument to Pioneer Days". frontiertimesmuseum.org. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
- "Frontier Times Museum". Handbook of Texas. Retrieved July 10, 2009.
- Texas Department of Transportation, 2008 State Travel Guide, p. 80
- Amasa Clark exhibit, Frontier Times Museum, Bandera, Texas
- Jose Policarpio Rodriguez exhibit, Frontier Times Museum
- "John Marvin Hunter". tshaonline.com. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
- Genie Strickland, "Frontier Times Museum announces Texas Heroes Hall of Honor", Bandera Bulletin, July 7, 2009
- Frontier Times Museum - official site