Story by Marisue Potts with photos by Kayla White.
Like days of old, many different tribes, allies, and kinsmen gathered at Quitaque for a rendezvous on June 30, 2018, at the Comanchero Canyons Museum. This modern day gathering celebrated the colorful history of many cultures along the Caprock, that rugged escarpment that provided wood, shelter, and water and relief from the seemingly endless plains. While today’s tribes came from local villages of Briscoe, Swisher, Hall, Motley, and Floyd, outlanders dropped in from Lubbock, Plainview, Amarillo and more distant campsites in Oklahoma and even New York.
The Rendezvous or gathering is an annual fund raiser for the museum but also provides an opportunity to promote the history of the area and share the growing collections and exhibits ranging over the five Caprock counties of Briscoe, Swisher, Hall, Motley and Floyd. Approximately 175 people toured the museum and watched Cotton Elliott of Quitaque hammer out Indian-type bracelets; Vyrl Keeter of Muskogee, Oklahoma, flint-knapp arrow heads; Dr. Paul Katz identify artifacts and Rick Day identify fossils for collectors; and last, but not least, Henry Crawford of Lubbock who impersonates the Comanchero character that is the name sake of the museum.
Naming a Comanchero Canyons Museum Honoree of 2018 was a new feature of this year’s Rendezvous. The late Clyde Dudley was spotlighted by a display and video for his work as an educator, park interpreter, buffalo hunter reenactor, and civic leader. Dudley’s family attending included his wife Renee’ Dudley of Quitaque and their daughter, Lisa and husband Jimmy Kanetzky, Jonathan and Frances of College Station. Also enjoying the day were Mrs. Dudley’s sisters and families: Devorah and Melvin Justus of Slaton; Gwen and Eldon Martin and sons, Chuck and Kim Martin of Lubbock, and Kirk and Caren Martin of Syracuse, N.Y.
Comanchero Canyons Museum board members and workers cooked and served hamburgers; talked about exhibits, displays and history about the Comanches, Kiowas, and Comancheros; the Valley of Tears; the Texan Santa Fe Expedition of 1841; the Red River War of 1874; Charles Goodnight and the JA and F Ranches; and many other topics. The day was filled with renewing acquaintances with old friends and making new ones.
The museum is a grass-roots effort funded by local donations and some grants, including the CH Foundation of Lubbock and the Amarillo Foundation. Among the projects the volunteers have tackled include remodeling the donated building that was the former Church of Christ, on-going chores such as re-roofing, rewiring, and painting, reworking display cases, designing exhibits, creating videos and signage, building outdoor displays, and often giving up a Saturday to keep the museum open for visitors. Through collections, exhibits, and history, the museum has created kinship among the counties (our modern-day tribes) involved and broadened the circle of friendship as evidenced by The Rendezvous of 2018.