“Freethinkers,” from page 7 correct. They had a belief in a higher being…. What the people are doing, that have contributed to this project, is distorting the true history.” Naturally, this is disputed by the supporters of the project, one of whom can be found right around the corner from Perkins’ grandmother’s house, in Ingehuett’s original store. It remains a general store to this day, owned and operated by Greg Krauter, another descendant. Krauter is Perkins’ cousin, as well as a past chairman of the Comfort Heritage Foundation. He’s been in Comfort all his life, save for the years 1969-1978 when he lived in Austin, majoring in philosophy at U.T. and later working for the Lower Colorado River Authority. He has longish hair and tinted eyeglasses; he wears a silver ring with a Navajo emblem on it, but no watch. “I’m one of a few locals, amateur historians, who’ve been involved [in the cenotaph project] from the beginning,” he says, sitting on a bench outside the store. “Mr. Scharf contacted us several months before the Treue der Union rededication, with the idea. We thought it was a good idea. I’ve also considered myself a Freethinker. I’m descended from Freethinkers.” By calling himself a Freethinker, he says, “basically it means I prefer to use reason and an open mind to come to conclu sions.” The nineteenth-century settlers, he says, “weren’t active churchgoers. I’m not saying they were atheists.” Krauter suspects his cousin’s opposition to the project may have stemmed from “some problems we’ve had in the past couple years. He found out I was involved, that may be part of the reason for his opposition. Of course that’s just speculation. But there’s got to be some other reason. They’ve completely ignored the facts…. No one takes one person’s entries on the Internet and draws these kinds of general conclusions.” Though Perkins officially belongs to the Heritage Foundation, Krauter says he is not an active member, and may be jealous of that organization’s success in restoring the Treue der Union monument and involving community members. Perkins is president of the Comfort Historical Society, a smaller group that operates the Comfort museum. The museum is rarely open. At fter receiving the anti-atheist petition, he Kendall County Commissioner’s Court decided it would prefer to let the town resolve the issue on its own, according to County Judge James Gooden. So on September 24, the Comfort Chamber of Commerce, after a crowded, three-hour comment session, voted to remove the existing rock and appointed a committee to determine what will replace it. According to Pam Duke, a member of the Chamber and editor of the Comfort News, the Chamber’s action resulted from a general sentiment that the rock, which is almost twice as large as what Scharf originally proposed, did not suit the park. \(Scharf, who says the rock looked a lot smaller when it was at the bottom of the quarry, had offered to trim it not aesthetically pleasing,” says Duke. “That was the main problem.” “We’re not bigoted; we don’t care if atheists come to this community,” says Duke. The issue has been blown out of proportion in news reports, she says. “All the to-do in the press, most people think it’s outrageous. We’ve always been live and let live.” And, she adds, buy and let buy: Comfort is one of a cluster of Hill Country towns that have been cashing in on their history over the past decade. The town’s newest settlers are a half-dozen antique shops, whose proprietors don’t exactly appreciate the kind of publicity the cenotaph controversy has brought Comfort. \(“No, uh-uh, I don’t have anything to say about that,” one of them told me. “That’s just a Meanwhile, the rock has remained in the park. Apparently it’s a lot easier to vote to remove a 36-ton object, than to actually get rid of it. It’s what’s inside that counts. Read about it in the Observer. I want to subscribe to The Texas Observer. Student 1 year Check 1 d Bill enc_ose_ Bill me Name Address City/State/Zip IFIrfool NOVEMBER 6, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15.
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