Customs and traditions—historically significant



Well, another Día de los Muertos has passed and, as a historian, I am extremely happy to see as many traditional as well as commercial celebrations of this very important event take place within our county. We applaud the school teachers who introduced the significance of the day to the very young, and the community who took the initiative to create a communal event to continue the tradition of honoring those we have lost.

The CLG (Certified Local Government) Committee of the Atascosa County Historical Commission launched its first Día de los Muertos celebration by creating a teaching moment for the county through the “Recuérdame” (Remember Me) immersive ofrenda exhibit. While many may know the what, it is particularly important to understand the why and how. The exhibit ran in advance of the official Día de los Muertos dates, Nov. 1-2, to offer ideas in the construction of ofrendas. The exhibit created an ambience of respect, presented detailed individual ofrendas (altars) and copious signage explaining every detail of the ofrendas.

Día de los Muertos is a tradition. There are many others in Atascosa County, and we are committed to identifying and celebrating them all. Customs and traditions give us a sense of place, space and self. They give us selfworth and understanding. They are the fabric of our communities. They are part of our history and a large part of the mission of the CLG Program. The CLG program was created by Congress in 1980 as an amendment to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 to encourage participation in preservation at the local level. This includes the process of nominating properties to the National Register of Historic Places, providing educational events, programming for a variety of ages and sharing information on the county’s website and social media platforms. The CLG program also maintains a system for the survey and inventory on local historical properties.

The program is administered by the Historic Preservation Officer, who is also the committee chair. In Atascosa County, the program is part of the Atascosa County Historical Commission.

The survey of local historical properties is an ongoing process. We are currently working on completing the nomination of Hooge Hill in Poteet to the NRHP; providing signage on the Camino Real trails within the county; updating our website; and preparing a series of Heritage Lunches for 2022. Long-term,we look forward to introducing a Heritage Festival in Atascosa County to feature our diverse ethnic cultures.

This spring, we also will be holding a series of symposiums throughout the county, “In Search of History,” to discuss participation in historic events with local residents. We encourage the public at large to contact us to schedule a date at 210-846-1728 or message us on our Facebook page, Atascosa County Historical Commission.

Lastly, we would like to again thank the families who participated in the Recuérdame exhibit: the early settler families: LEAL, who formed the community of Leal in the 1800s; NAVARRO, who donated land for our first county seat; ESPARZA, descendants of defenders of the Alamo; Civil Servant families of: LONNIE GILLESPIE, a cabinet maker who served as County Commissioner; PERCY MEDINA, businessman who served as Constable and established a scholarship fund for local youth pursuing higher education; DAVID PRASIFKA, who devoted his life to serving at the JVFD and then as Emergency Management Coordinator; ACHC families of NORMAN PORTER, SR., who served as long-term chair of the commission and wrote the ultimate book on Atascosa County; LOUIS RODRIGUEZ, long-term member of the commission; GLORIA JENKS, longterm member of the commission and impetus for the ofrenda exhibit; and SUSAN LEVY, my younger sister who loved Atascosa County and is the reason for my living here now.

MARIE LEVY is the Historic Preservation Officer/CLG Chair of the Atascosa County Historical Commission.

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