Paper: Houston Chronicle
Date: WED 05/13/98
Section: adp
Page: 1
Edition: tw

Hunting for history / Pasadena author hopes donationmakes Pasadena history accessible

By KAROLYN GEPHART, ThisWeek Correspondent

Historian and author C. David Pomeroy recently presented his work - a collection of diaries, interviews, photographs and additional historical documents on the history of Pasadena and the surrounding communities - to the San Jacinto College Central Library for the new Pomeroy Archives.

Fourth-generation Pasadenan Pomeroy 's interest began more than 14 years ago when the lawyer and his wife moved to Ohio with the oil and gas industry.

When he arrived, he noticed something about the state. "Everywhere we went, we were bombarded with the state's history," Pomeroy said. "And, every weekend seemed to offer some type of historical festival."

"When we moved back to this area, I asked my wife, `where is our history?'" Pomeroy visited a local museum and was told it had a room filled with historical objects.

"I was very excited about seeing the items, but was told that I couldn't go in or touch anything," Pomeroy said. "I understood how fragile items could be, but what good was a collection from our past when no one had access to it?"

"That day I set two goals in my life. I wanted to preserve our city's past and to make that history accessible," he said.

Pomeroy has examined hundreds of diaries, thousands of pictures and miles of archival material. He worked with more than 2,000 families on family genealogies and collected every history book about the area ever published.

He put together and published his first book, entitled Pasadena: The Early Years.

"I had collected so much stuff I decided to look around and see who would help me make it accessible to everyone. I contacted the Metropolitan Research Center and representatives there did not want all of my collections, but asked for one book and one letter and then told me to discard the rest. This was something I just couldn't do," Pomeroy said.

"I had friends helping me and after one talked for more than a year to officials at the San Jacinto Central Library about a commitment, they agreed to organize, preserve and make accessible the collection."

The college intends to convert much of the collection into digital form and make it available on the Internet. Doing this would enable the material to be more accessible to high school and intermediate school children doing research. Pomeroy continues to bring items to the college when he comes across significant pieces and plans to visit once-a-month to answer questions and help librarians locate items.

"His gift was a significant one," said Floretta Bush, San Jacinto College public relations official. "If these papers were stacked on one another, they would be over 60 feet tall. The collection includes hundreds of individuals that played a significant role in building Pasadena."

The archives describe how a farming community grew into an urban center with one of the world's largest petro-chemical complexes.Pomeroy has added a third goal to his life. Pomeroy wants to educate people about their history and heritage in order to gain an appreciation for historical people and events.

He is writing his second book about Texas in 1836. It will include daily routines, issues the people faced, events that occurred and the roles of women and children.

"I decided to take a break from just Pasadena-area research and broaden my scope a bit. After this book, I plan to do a third one concerning Pasadena during the war years," Pomeroy said. "That was a very transitional period in the city's history and I can still find and interview people who were here."

Both Pomeroy and his wife have become involved in historical re-enactment groups and perform with large groups or as a couple for area events, groups, and civic organizations.

The two recently re-enacted typical frontier Texas living conditions for a nursing home group in Houston.

"I walked around cleaning my gun, looking at my knife and tomahawk and talking about how it was to live in Texas back in the early 1800s," Pomeroy said. "My wife spins and weaves and holds a baby doll while she talks about life for women. People really enjoy it and seem to learn about early Texas."

When not writing or performing, Pomeroy works to add information to his website.

Once San Jacinto Central Library has its archives on a website, it will link to Pomeroy's site, http://EarlyTexasHistory.com/ptey, and e-mail address.

"I thought a long time about what to call my website, but with a career in oil-and-gas which people have to dig down to get, and then with my research always finding me digging, I decided digger would fit just fine," Pomeroy said.

Permission has been granted by the Houston Chronicle for the displaying of this article.

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