Soldiers of the Wooden Cross: Military Memorials at Baylor

Walking across the Baylor campus, you may have noticed that your way is marked by distinctive lampposts, some of which bear plaques honoring Baylor men and women killed serving their country. These memorial lampposts are said to serve as honor guards by day and to illuminate the campus by night and are part of a tradition that began in 1946.

Walter Davis Gernand plaque on a memorial lamppost at Baylor UniversityOne day, Frank Jasek, a preservation specialist for the Baylor libraries, paused to read one of the plaques, and he recalls that “I felt as though that plaque was a portal to a friend that I was to meet.” Thus began the project that would become Soldiers of the Wooden Cross, a book compiling information, stories, and photos on each of the men and women memorialized by the lampposts. “It is my hope that after reading what is presented on the pages you will gain some insight into who this hero was.”

Jasek started his research at The Texas Collection, but he also used government documents and even reached out to the families of the deceased, who in some cases were able to provide photos, letters, and other valuable artifacts. Soldiers of the Wooden Cross: Military Memorials of Baylor University is available at The Texas Collection, as is the Frank Jasek papers, which feature the research files compiled in the process of completing the book.

Soldiers of the Wooden Cross, edited by Frank JasekThe Waco Tribune-Herald and the Baylor Lariat also have done articles on Jasek’s labor of love. Visit the University Development website for information on campus memorials and tributes.

Working with the Waco Foundation, Jasek started the Soldiers of the Wooden Cross Scholarship Fund for veterans, family members of veterans, ROTC cadets, and active duty military. All proceeds of book sales will benefit this scholarship fund.

Research Ready: November 2013

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for November:

Broadside, decree from Jose Gomez de la Cortina, following Santa Anna's capture, 1836
Decree by Mexican Secretary of War Jose Maria Tornel, via District Governor  Jose Gomez de la Cortina, regarding Mexico’s response to Santa Anna’s capture at San Jacinto: while Santa Anna remains in prison, a bow of black crepe was to be placed on all flags and standards, and the national colors were to be flown at half mast. Jones Texas Broadsides, box 1, folder 11.
Program, Woodrow School of Elocution and Physical Culture presentation, 1916
A program from a 1916 presentation by the younger girls attending the Woodrow school. The school used the White system of expression, a noted methodology to teach students how to best utilize gesture, emotion, and voice in public. Woodrow School of Expression and Physical Culture, box 1, folder 1.