It has not been that long since someone pointed out to me that I am an "independent researcher." That apparently is how the work I've done on Trammel's Trace is best characterized from the perspective of real professionals who are researchers who actually get paid to have this kind of fun. Up until that point I really just thought of myself as a guy who turned his curiosity into something tangible.
Some independent researchers get paid, but this project has purely been one of the heart. As a personal interest in which to sink money it's probably about the same as having a serious fishing addiction. I get to be outside occasionally but the equipment costs are so high that each fried fish costs about $845 if a legitimate accounting was done. In this effort, I've put in a lot of miles, but wouldn't trade it for anything.
So as an independent researcher, I've been asked to be on a panel at the upcoming East Texas Historical Association conference in Nacogdoches. The topic is "Living Outside the Ivory Tower: The Unique Role of the Independent Scholar." Turns out there are not nearly enough of us around.
In thinking about what my message will be, what came to mind was the absolute richness of the history of northeast Texas and southwest Arkansas. Maybe you have seen markers like the one below basically saying "Nothing Important Ever Happened Here" as a parody of the real markers. Well in east Texas that is far from the truth.
For anyone like me with any passing interest in a topic of early regional history there is an endless list of events or places about which to become interested. I feel fortunate in having bumped into a couple of subjects where when I pull a thread of interest a whole tapestry comes into view. Whether your subject matter becomes as large as this book project has become or is just a focus on a particular place or time, there is much about which to be curious.
Whatever any of us can do to make history real and present and to tell the stories as much as the facts will be a contribution. Happy Fishing!