December 2010


Galveston, Texas (1 December 2010) – Mr. Serrato’s tamale cart, part of the collection of the Galveston County Museum, has been restored to its original color with the help of two men who knew the tamale business personally: Nicho Serrato, Mr. Serrato’s son, and Louis Balderas, who worked for Mr. Serrato. Mr. Balderas repaired old wood, scraped, painted, and returned the cart to its bright blue color. Thank you to everyone who supported the project through funding and donating supplies, as well as sharing memories, photographs and artifacts

“Several people who were related or knew Mr. Serrato contacted us, including grandson Daniel Serrato, who donated a lamp that once hung on the cart,” said museum director Jodi Wright-Gidley. “When Mr. Balderas and Mr. Serrato volunteered to fix the cart, we were so grateful because if anyone knew what the cart looked like years ago, it would definitely be them.” The cart will be featured in future exhibits. The museum remains closed awaiting repairs from Hurricane Ike damage.

Louis Balderas and Nicho Serrato                                                                        Finished tamale cart

August 2010


The Galveston County Historical Museum is collaborating with Hotel Galvez & Spa, A Wyndham Grand Hotel, to create a new history exhibit for the hotel’s centennial celebration. Items donated to the County Museum will become part of its permanent collection.

“Our museum collects anything related to Galveston County history and at this time we are focusing efforts on getting new donations of materials related to Hotel Galvez,” says Galveston County Historical Museum Director Jodi Wright-Gidley. “The hotel already has several postcards but we are looking for additional unique items such as personal photographs, invitations to events, guest books, or other items that may have been original to the hotel but lost over the years.” Those interested in donating items should contact the museum at (409) 766-2340. Donated items are tax deductible.

When Hotel Galvez opened in 1911, Galveston had finished building its 17-foot Seawall to protect the Island and its grade raising project which raised the grade of land to make buildings less susceptible to flooding in the event of future storms. The Causeway had been completed, now connecting Galveston Island to the mainland. All of these accomplishments were part of the Island’s recovery following the Great Storm of 1900.

The Hotel Galvez originally opened on June 10, 1911. This elegant beachfront hotel was immediately proclaimed “Queen of the Gulf” and within a year of opening, it was deemed the “best arranged and most richly furnished seaside hotel in America” by Hotel Monthly. Hotel Galvez still stands as a symbol of Galveston Island’s resilience in the face of disaster.
August 2010


The Galveston County Historical Museum is seeking photographs of the tamale cart used by Daniel Serrato at 25th and Broadway from about 1930-1950. The cart, now in the collection of the museum, will soon be restored. Work will include returning the cart to its original color and stabilizing loose parts. Galveston County History, Inc. is requesting donations to help fund the costs of restoration.

For about 30 years, Mr. Serrato, with his wife’s help, made hot tamales by hand and sold them from the pushcart near the Sealy home (Open Gates) and the Texas Heroes Monument. Thousands of locals and visitors to Galveston regularly purchased the homemade tamales. Mr. Serrato died in 1978 and the cart was given to a local Catholic church. Eventually, the cart became a part of the museum’s artifact collection.

Any one who has photographs of the tamale cart are asked to share them with the museum. “We know that the cart was originally blue. Paint samples from the cart, along with photographs from the public will ensure the restoration is accurate,” said museum director Jodi Wright-Gidley, “Also, we hope to get more information and first-hand stories that will further our research.” The tamale cart will be used in future exhibits at the museum once it reopens. The museum remains closed awaiting repairs from Hurricane Ike damage.

Donations are needed to fund the restoration of the cart, which will total $2400. The work will be done by a conservator who specializes in wood and metal artifacts. “I bet a lot of Galvestonians remember buying tamales from Mr. Serrato. If you do, please consider donating any amount, large or small, to help cover the costs of getting the cart restored,” added Wright-Gidley. Donations can be made to Galveston County History, Inc. at 123 Rosenberg, Suite 4157, Galveston, TX 77550. If you have photographs of the tamale cart as it looked in the 1930s-1950s, call the museum at 409-766-2340.
Galveston County Historical Museum Director Jodi Wright-Gidley (left) and Curator Jennifer Marines with the tamale cart.
July 2010

The Galveston County Historical Museum is pleased to announce its upcoming partnership with the Satori School for the 2010-11 school year. This unique collaboration combines research-based practices with hands-on activities in order to provide the Satori students the opportunity to study their past and connect it with their present and future learning. Teachers and the museum director, Jodi Wright-Gidley, will work together on integrated units, utilizing artifacts and activities provided by the museum.

“Learning through objects, namely artifacts from the museum’s collection, is going to bring the classroom lessons to life,” said new Satori Director Claire Wilkins. “We are very excited about this unique opportunity for our students.” This program is modeled after several successful museum schools including the Fort Worth Museum School at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the New York City Museum School.

“Since the museum remains closed while we await repairs from Hurricane Ike damage, our staff has concentrated on ways we can take the museum out into the public. One of those ways has been to go into local classroom to show artifacts and historic photographs to reach about local history,” said Wright-Gidley. “This new partnership with Satori is an exciting extension of that idea. Students will learn in a real hands-on setting where they can study historic photographs, see artifacts up-close, do interesting research projects.”

July 2010


 The Galveston County Historical Commission is accepting applications for state historical markers. The deadline is August 20. Applications are reviewed by the local historical commission, then submitted to the Texas Historical Commission in Austin for processing. If you are interested in applying for a historical marker, contact Jodi Wright-Gidley at 409-766-2340.

“The Official Texas Historical Marker program helps bring attention to community treasures and the importance of their preservation,” said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the Texas Historical Commission. “Awareness and education are among the best ways to guarantee the preservation of our state’s history. This designation is a tool that will increase public awareness of important cultural resources,” Wolfe said.

A subject qualifies for a marker if two basic criteria are met: historical significance and age. Historical significance is established by reviewing its role and importance in local history, and the age requirement depends on the topic. The THC’s Official Texas Marker Policies are outlined in the Official Texas Historical Marker Guidelines and Application Form, which may be obtained by contacting the History Programs Division, Texas Historical Commission, at 512/463-5853 or visiting the web site at

There are two types of Texas Historical Markers. Subject markers are posted solely for educational awareness and awarded more frequently than the Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
(RTHL), which is a legal designation for historic structures and comes with a measure of protection. Unlike subject markers, the RTHL must also meet a third criterion--architectural integrity.
Texas has the largest marker program in the United States with over 14,000 markers. Seventeen states have used the Texas program as a model; the THC reviews more than 200 marker applications each year.
April 2010


Are you a veteran that served in World War II? Did you serve in the WACs or WAVES? Or work at the Todd Shipyards? Do you have photographs, documents, or artifacts relating to the time period of World War II? If so, please share them with the County Museum. The museum is actively collecting these materials, either through donation or loan.

Although the museum has not reopened – at least not in the traditional sense of a museum with artifact exhibits for the public to view – the staff of the County Museum has been very busy since Hurricane Ike. Current projects include research, photographing artifacts, scanning photographs and transcribing documents. “All of this work is in preparation for future exhibits, but more importantly, it is simply our mission,” said Director Jodi Wright-Gidley. “People throughout the county suffered many losses from the hurricane, including precious pieces of history like photographs or other artifacts. There will be more storms, and I would hate to see more history lost to the flood waters. I encourage everyone to consider donating or allowing the museum to scan historic photographs and documents.” The museum has a new storage facility that is secure, above flood levels, and large enough to allow the museum’s collection to grow.

Although the museum collects any photograph, document or artifact that pertains to the history of Galveston County, we are currently concentrating on collecting items that relate to World War II. In Galveston County, a wide range of activities took place during the war at area bases like Fort Crockett and Camp Wallace. The Hotel Galvez was occupied by the Coast Guard, WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), and the Women’s Army Corp. “We are hoping to obtain a wide range of materials that will help us understand all the things going on around Galveston County during World War II. The more diverse museum collection we can build, the more complete history we can preserve and pass on to future generations,” adds Wright-Gidley.

Some people may not be willing to part from their heirlooms yet. In those cases, the museum asks for permission to scan photographs or documents which may be used for research and in future exhibits. In many cases, museum staff can scan your images and documents while you wait.

If you are interested in donating to the museum, or allowing their staff scan in photographs or documents, please contact the museum at 409-766-2340.