Nacogdoches is known for many things, from it’s famous Blueberry Festival to being the “Oldest Town in Texas,” but there are many things not known about this town. Former SFA professor, Dr. Linda Thorsen Bond, wrote “Saving the Oldest Town in Texas,” which gives a look into the town’s history through the eyes of a former Nacogdoches mayor.
Based on a true story, Bond’s book is a piece of historical fiction that tells the story of Col. Benjamin Wettermark, who emptied his own bank, skipped town in 1903 and left his wife, his children and his mansion in Nacogdoches behind. The search for the former East Texas mayor made headlines in every newspaper in the United States, as he broke the economy of the Oldest Town in Texas and the hearts of his family. She combines history with a modern-day tale of restoring a deteriorating mansion.
Bond is a former resident of Nacogdoches and has won two Telly awards this year for a TV production of her work. She has also written and produced historic events for the Old University Building, as well as scripts for living history tours at the Oak Grove Cemetery and was on the board of Friends of Historic Nacogdoches. She has also taught in the SFA Mass Communication Department.
Bond’s interest in the former Nacogdoches mayor’s scandal sparked her to write the story.
“In 1902, people called Col. Benjamin Wettermark, mayor [and] banker, one of the most important people in Nacogdoches,” Bond said. “By 1903, he was called the scoundrel, the embezzler, the man who betrayed the town and his family. That intrigued me and made me want to know more. Fortunately, there are hundreds of newspaper articles available online, so I could follow the story as it was reported.”
Before writing her book, Bond wrote academic articles and a book about collaborative learning, and she also produced historic plays about Nacogdoches, which got her into the history of Nacogdoches.
“Nacogdoches is very interesting to me because it is truly the oldest town in Texas, but a lot of that history is mysterious,” Bond said. “I believe we might pave over our best stories and lose them unless someone reaches out and preserves them.”
Even for someone as experienced as Bond, she said she also has times where she goes through rough patches in her work.
“Computers are great for writer’s block. You can just write anything to get yourself going, then delete or rearrange,” Bond said. “Sometimes I think we should be writing down our best stories, those we tell at parties or family gatherings, and have them ready to pop into our writing. You’re much more interesting than you give yourself credit for.”
Bond’s advice to those who want to write is to stay true to themselves and their interests.
“I make computer files on my computer and save lots of things I find interesting,” Bond said. “That way I can look through the files and find information when I’m ready to write about them. My best advice would be to write about things you think are interesting, not things other people want you to write.”