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THE LIBRARY OF BEN E. PINGENOT
The only known nineteenth-century photograph of the
Black Seminole Scouts mounted on their horses
From Lot 111: Form & Lang's original photograph of seven soldiers
in a studio setting with painted backdrop. Fort Clark, ca. 1895
AUCTION CATALOGUE NINE
THE LIBRARY OF BEN. E. PINGENOT
TEXAS · SOUTHWEST · BORDERLANDS ·
MILITARY HISTORY · NATIVE AMERICANS
Friday, September 22, 2000
Part I: 11:00 a.m.
Part II: 3:00 p.m.
Awt Ceremony Hall
On the Campus of Sri Atmananda Memorial School
4100 Red River, Austin, Texas 78751
A Selection of Books from the Pingenot Library
A Selection of Military Classics from the Pingenot Library
A Selection of Books in Dust jackets from the Pingenot Library
BEN E. PINGENOT
A Biographical Sketch
Historian · Bookseller ·
Husband · Father · Gentleman
Cherished Friend & Colleague
Texas Renaissance Man
Ben E. Pingenot (1926-1999), former president of TSHA, died on July 7 in San Antonio after a valiant battle with cancer. A widely respected bookseller and collector of rare Texana, Ben was also a serious historian who published several outstanding scholarly books and many articles in the field of Texas and Southwestern borderlands history. He rendered long and effective service to the TSHA, serving on the Executive Council, on book awards committees and the Texana auction committee, and as president in 1980-1981. He was also honored with election as a Fellow and as a Life Member of the TSHA.
Born in Galveston on December 20, 1926, Ben was a descendant of pioneer Alsatian settlers of Castroville. He moved with his parents to Eagle Pass in 1930, graduated from Eagle Pass High School in 1945, and was immediately inducted into the military and sent to Europe to serve with the Army of Occupation in Germany. In 1950 he graduated from Texas College of Arts and Industries (later Texas A&I and now Texas A&M University-Kingsville) and for five years was a high school teacher in Eagle Pass. Ben later recalled, "It was during this period that I developed a keen interest in history that became first an avocation, and later a vocation."
In 1957 Ben founded Eagle Office Supply in one of the late-nineteenth-century buildings on Main Street in Eagle Pass, and for 27 years he maintained his business while actively participating in local civic affairs and various historical and preservation organizations, including the Maverick County Historical Society and the Maverick County Historical Commission. At the same time, he assembled a superb collection of rare Texana and avidly pursued sources on local and regional history. "I often found that my business got in the way of my historical research," he admitted. One of his most selfless contributions came in his crucial assistance to Robert S. Weddle, resulting in Weddle's landmark book San Juan Bautista: Gateway to Spanish Texas (1967), which triggered renewed interest and archaeological work on the Spanish Colonial mission complex and presidio in Coahuila, Mexico.
Portraits of Ben Pingenot
As a historian and author, Ben will remain best known for his carefully annotated edition of the excellent personal memoirs of Jesse Sumpter, a mid-nineteenth-century Maverick County pioneer, titled Paso del Aguila: A Chronicle of Frontier Days on the Texas Border (1969); and an extremely well-researched and crisply written biography of the colorful Texas cowboy and Pinkerton detective Charlie Siringo, aptly titled Siringo: The True Story of Charles A. Siringo (1989). He also published a brief local history monograph, titled Historical Highlights of Eagle Pass and Maverick County (1971). Ben contributed regularly to the Southwestern Historical Quarterly and other journals, and he wrote several articles for the New Handbook of Texas. His wide-ranging knowledge and scholarly ability made him a popular speaker at historical meetings and gatherings of civic groups.
In 1984 Ben decided to sell his business and concentrate more fully on history by working for the Jenkins Rare Book Company in Austin, where he specialized in buying, selling, and appraising Texana, Western Americana, and Latin Americana. Meanwhile, his wife Rozetta moved from Eagle Pass to Fort Clark, where they acquired a nineteenth-century officer's quarters, a large stone structure which they carefully restored to its original splendor. In 1987 Ben entered the rare book business for himself, operating at his historical home at Fort Clark until his death. Wearing several "historical hats" at once, Ben made his way back and forth easily between the apparently conflicting worlds of practical businessman, civic leader, sophisticated collector, forthright bookseller, and first-rate scholar. In this regard, he was a true Texas Renaissance man, setting a sterling example for others with his relaxed and polite manner, his refreshing humor, his levelheaded attitudes, and his honest yet humble wisdom.
Greatly beloved by many friends and colleagues, Ben Pingenot is survived by his wife of fifty years, Rozetta Howard Pingenot of Brackettville; his daughter Polly Alexis Pingenot of Uvalde; and his grandson William Dalton Pingenot. T. Michael Parrish Reprinted with permission, from Southwestern Historical Quarterly (CIII:2, October 1999)
T. Michael Parrish
Reprinted with permission, from Southwestern Historical Quarterly (CIII:2, October 1999)
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