My dream for the Dickinson Historical Society spawned five years ago is becoming a reality.
The first of three statues representing and honoring the founding fathers of our beautiful community — a rancher, a farmer and a shop keeper — is finished and will be erected soon. The road leading to this realization has not always been easy, but we have selected and approved a site by the Dickinson Library, hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the foundation, the rancher statue is finished, and we started the first phase of our History in the Making Capital Campaign Fund Drive for the other statues.
The original project and idea was placed in the hands of Dickinson High School’s talented art teacher, Colleen Steblein, who recruited four of her senior students — Abbie Laird, Heather White, Tabitha Butler, and Leah Hunt — to help sculpt the original models. Supplies were purchased, different teachers posed as models, and work began.
The school year ended, and the four young ladies left to pursue their higher education. Steblein assured me that she would finish the statues. Now, I understand the old cliché, “Never rush a true artist.”
My weekly visits to the Dickinson High School art department made people wonder if I was about to take up sculpting in my spare time. What looked great to me would not suit her, and she would tear into what I thought was a beautiful piece of art and redo the arm or leg or shoe. Finally, she said they were finished. Three beautiful 18-inch clay models of the rancher, the farmer and the shop keeper were complete.
With my undying thanks to her, I loaded them into my truck, packed them tightly with blankets and carefully drove to the Dickinson Museum at 20 mph. Bill Bonham, the Historical Society president at that time, had diligently researched and located a brilliant and renowned artist, Eric Kaposta at the Fine Arts Foundry of Texas in Houston, who agreed to convert the statues into life-size pieces of art. This is not something that happens overnight. The mold was made, and the first of the three was finally cast.
The Historical Society has undertaken a huge financial task in implementing this historic project and has already provided $30,000 for the first phase of the project with a goal to raise $50,000 more. As mentioned earlier, the Capital Campaign Fund drive is divided into phases. First, we want every Dickinson resident and business to have an opportunity to be part of this History in the Making Campaign. After that, we will include surrounding businesses who are always generous with community events and who we support.
Many communities have statues that enhance the beauty of their city, and without a doubt, these three statues will help beautify Dickinson. As the saying goes, “Most of us can see but few have vision.” It is so fortunate that our small community of Dickinson has residents with such vision. We welcome any and all contributions — your generosity is always appreciated.
Dickinson resident Ernie Deats is an author and historian.