What do you do if you’re black and find out one of your ancestors was a white slave owner?
If you’re Larry Callies, you share it with anyone and everyone who will listen.
And Callies has a captive audience. He’s the founder of the Black Cowboy Museum, located at 1104 Third St. in Rosenberg.
Callies uses his position to educate patrons about the history of slavery in Texas.
Juneteenth (June 19) is a holiday once unique to Texas, but now observed in communities across the country.
“Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, so Confederate slaves were freed, but no one told the slaves in Texas,” Callies revealed.
“They finally found out two years later when Union soldiers came to Texas.
“Each year we celebrate with feasts, song and dance because that’s what the very last slaves in Texas did when they learned they were free.”
On June 19, 1865, two months after the war’s end, a ship bearing Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston.
Ganger announced the end of the conflict and read “General Order No. 3,” which proclaimed that all slaves were free.
The following June, freed slaves in Texas began celebrating the proclamation, and gave the anniversary of Granger’s proclamation the name Juneteenth.
“When I opened this museum, I didn’t mean for people to think it was going to just be a black cowboy museum,” Callies explained. “This is about showing stories about slavery and the past.
“Though opening this museum, I learned that I am kin to the Old 300, namely James K e r r.
“My ancestors were slave owners. That’s just what it was, you know? That’s just what life was back then. Slave owners had kids with slaves.
“But I’m proud of (Kerr) for putting it in the books instead of hiding it. He didn’t hide his black kids from history.”
According to Callies, The Black Cowboy Museum is unique.
“The people who come here have never heard or seen this part of history,” he said.
The museum holds more than 100 photos featuring black cowboys from the 1890s to the 1960s. Along with the pictures, there are saddles from the 1890s and other cowboy artifacts of the era.
Admission to the museum is $7.