Posts Tagged ‘ texas ’

Slow Travels-Oatmeal, Texas

Oatmeal, Texas (5.6 miles southwest of Bertram on FM 243)

A German family reportedly named Habermill came into the area in 1849 and spent a season or two in the vicinity of the headspring of the stream now known as Oatmeal Creek. The town name is either an alteration of the name of a Mr. Othneil, who owned the first gristmill in the area, or a supposed translation of the name Habermill (Haber is a German dialect word for Hafer, “oats”). An Oatmeal post office was established in 1853, and the first schoolhouse was built in 1858. A second school, marked by a state historical marker and still used as a church in 1990, was erected in 1869. The first orchard in the county was located in the community, and the first and only cheese press in the county operated there. A gin built by George Naguler in the 1870s served as a local landmark until 1907, and the community at one time had a general store. A cemetery plot was deeded in 1871, though burials had occurred there as early as 1854. After the American Civil War a colony of former slaves settled in the eastern part of Oatmeal. They built homes along a straight lane, constructed a building for use as a church and school, and established the only all-black cemetery in the county. The settlement, known as Stringtown (among other names), ceased to exist by the 1920s. TSHA Online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elijah Bullion was born Oct. 24, 1809, in Franklin Co., Georgia, and died October 19, 1888, at Oatmeal in Burnet County. He was buried in Oatmeal Cemetery. On January 29, 1839, he was married in Itawamba Co., Mississippi, to Elizabeth Mariah (Betsy) Bumgardner.

 

 

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American Trails Revisited–Texas’ Chisholm Trail (Spanish Fort)

Spanish Fort, TX

Spanish Fort Vicinity Today

Google Maps 7/26/2015

The present site of the community of Spanish Fort was the scene of one of the decisive battles of early Texas history. As early as 1700, the French were active along the Red River, and in 1719 Bernard de la Harpe established on the south bank of the river, on the site of the principal village of the Caddoes, an outpost which he called Fort St. Louis de Carlorette. It served as a traders’ and trappers’ supply station but was abandoned after a few years. In 1759 Colonel Diego Ortiz Parrilla, advancing from San Antonio and San Saba, came upon Indians entrenched behind a stout stockade, over which flew the French flag. His report described the fort as consisting of high oval-shaped structures, surrounded by a ditch and a log stockade. Armed by the French, the Indians soundly defeated Parilla and sent him back in hasty retreat. Under the treaty of Fontainebleau in 1762, the French ceded Louisiana Territory to Spain, and abandoned their western outpost. Spanish exploration parties and patrols visited the site from time to time until as late as 1800. Then all reports of the old post ceased until its ruins were found in 1859. The description of the ruins of that date correspond remarkably with the data of Parrilla 100 years before. Today, hardly discernible mounds are all that remain.

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Spanish Fort Vicinity

Railroad Map of Texas 1884

American Trails Revisited–Texas’ Chisholm Trail (Introduction)

The following is a portion from a new travel guide, Texas’ Chisholm Trail, in my American Trails Revisited series (available for the Amazon Kindle and other eBook formats).   In the coming months, I will post portions of this guide as I develop it for publication.

Background from Texas-A Guide to the Lone Star State (published in 1940 by the Federal Works Agency, Work Projects Administration, and Texas State Highway Commission):

“The first cattle known to have entered Texas were 500 cows brought by Coronado in 1541. Many of the explorers, fearing a food shortage in an unknown land, brought livestock. Some of these cattle escaped and wandered through the wilderness, to become the nucleus of vast wild herds. The Spanish colonists found a natural pasto, or pasture, covering southwest Texas. Reynosa, in 1757, with a population of 269, had 18,000 head of cattle. De Mezieres (1779) reported that a fat cow was worth only four pesos, yet the ranches flourished. Herds were driven to market in Louisiana by Spanish ranchers in defiance of customs laws. Thus, probably the first smuggling in the State was that of cattle. Owners marked their stock when possible, but most of the cattle were unbranded. The wild herds were not molested by the Indians, who preferred the meat of the buffalo.

It was in east Texas that modern ranching began. James Taylor White, the first real Anglo-American cattleman, established the first ranch of the modern type near Turtle Bayou in Chambers County.  Other ranchers followed White to east Texas. They drove their herds to New Orleans to market, using the Old Beef Trail and others. Hides and tallow still had more value than beef. The most important event to pioneer Texas cattlemen was the introduction of Brahma or Zebu cattle from India, a variety scientifically designated as Bos Indicus and differing radically from the European variety of Bos Taurus. It was not until after the Civil War that Brahmas were secured in large numbers. The first record of a successful crossing of these cattle with native stock was in 1874 when Captain Mifflin Kenedy experimented with his herds. Fever ticks had been a barrier to the introduction of Hereford, Shorthorn and other beef breeds in the coastal and southern area. The Brahmas and cattle produced by crossing them with other breeds proved to be immune from tick fever, and were also better beef cattle. As ticks have never been eradicated from some sections, Brahma blood is still essential to the State’s livestock industry.

By 1860, there were more than three million head of cattle in Texas. The Union blockade prevented the shipment of large herds to supply the Confederate army, and at the close of the Civil War the State was overrun with cattle, many of them wild. Longhorns were almost worthless in 1866. Range animals sold for $3 and $4 a head, although in the North butchers were paying from $30 to $40 a head for beeves. Everyone had cattle and nobody had wealth.

And in Texas, especially in the brush country, wild native stock had flourished. Here the Texas cowboy had emerged. There also were    (cowpunchers, from vaca, meaning cow), who were Mexicans. Both of these classes of cowboys had learned to pursue “strays” through the densest thickets. The term “maverick” had come into being as a synonym for unbranded cattle, and there were countless herds of longhorns, too valueless to be branded. Obviously, the thing to do was to drive the herds to shipping points. Yet the nearest railroads were in Kansas and Missouri, 1,000 to 1,500 miles distant.

A few adventurous spirits led the way across those untried miles to the railheads, in the late sixties. Trails, some of them bearing the names of the men who blazed them, came into being, such as the Chisholm Trail. Abilene, Kansas, became a roaring cowtown, followed by Dodge City and other shipping points that sprang up in the wake of the mighty movement of cattle. No other industry in the Southwest had such economic significance or such picturesque aspects. The driving of herds caused towns, customs, and a distinct type of people to grow up beside the trails. About five million Texas cattle were driven to market during the 15 years of trail driving, yet when the railroads reached Texas and the drives were no longer necessary, there were more cattle in the State than when the drives began.”

1873_Map_of_Chisholm_Trail_with_subsidiary_trails_in_Texas

Forgotten Landmark–Tracks of Mineral Wells Lakewood Park Scenic Railway, Mineral Well, TX

Tracks of Mineral Wells Lakewood Park Scenic Railway (NW 2nd Avenue, between NW 4th and NW 7th Streets)

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The gasoline-powered “Dinky cars” of the Mineral Wells Lakewood Park Scenic Railway provided service from Mineral Wells to Lake Pinto. There were four cars used, including “Ben Hur” and “Esther”. This railway operated from 1905 until 1909. (Current track photos below text)

The Mineral Wells & Lakewood Park Railway was chartered on March 1st, 1907, and began operating on May 12th, 1907. The railway operated on 2.5 miles of track, with a gauge of 4 feet and 8 ½ inches, using electricity.

The Mineral Wells Electric System operated two electric street cars in the city of Mineral Wells from 1907 to 1913; one on Hubbard Street from NE 17th Avenue to SW 6th Avenue (later part of the Bankhead Highway), and one on Oak (now NW 2nd) Avenue from NE 17th Street to SE 11th Street, thence Southwest to Elmhurst Park. However, two gasoline-powered 70 passenger (all-passenger) motor cars were operated by the Weatherford, Mineral Wells and Northwestern Railroad (WMW&NW) between Graford, Mineral Wells, Ft. Worth and Dallas from 1912 to 1935. An electric interurban line was not built.

Streetcar Tracks at NW 7th Mineral Wells P1010306 P1010305

 

Forgotten Landmark-Taylor & Howard Building, Leigh, TX

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Leigh (10.6 miles north of U.S. 80 on FM 134 at FM 1999)

Leigh, also known as Antioch, is on a site said to have been the location of a large Indian village. In the early 1840s, J. J. Webster built a plantation home, Mimosa Hall, a mile southwest of the site; Webster’s descendants occupied the house until 1984, when the property was sold. The community of Antioch, which had a predominantly black population, was founded before 1900 and was centered on the Antioch Baptist Church. In 1900, the forerunner of the Louisiana & Arkansas Railway was built through Antioch, and Reverend James Patterson built a restaurant and a general store on land adjoining the railroad. Residents of Blocker, three miles to the northeast, moved to the railroad community. Antioch was renamed Leigh in 1901, after the wife of John W. Furrh, who owned much of the land on the railroad, and that same year the Leigh post office opened. In 1904, Leigh had one school with five white students and four schools with 297 black students. By 1914, the community had a population of fifty, three general stores, two cotton gins, a drugstore, a blacksmith shop, and telephone service. After attaining a peak population of 126 in the 1920s, Leigh declined to 100 in 1930, when it had a church, two schools, and three businesses. The railroad was rerouted to the north in the 1950s. By 1978, Leigh had two churches (St. Paul’s Episcopal and Antioch Baptist), a community center, the Antioch Cemetery, and a number of dwellings.[i]

[i] Leigh, TX; Texas State Historical Association; https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hll33

Taylor&HowardBldg_LeighTX

Point of Interest:

Mimosa Hall (9.4 miles north of U.S. 80 on FM 134) (Private)

Virginia-born John Johnston Webster (1796-1854) brought his family to the Republic of Texas, petitioning for land on which to establish a home in 1842.  Built in 1844, Mimosa Hall was part of a 3,000 acre plantation. The estate and one-hundred and fifty acres that went along with it was deeded to Douglas V. Blocker within a partition deed in 1932.  Blocker continued to own the property until 1984 when he sold it to Michael Howard. At some point, Michael Howard deeded the property to his son Nicholas Leon Howard III, who then deeded it to his mother, Virginia Dyke Hamilton in 1989.  Virginia sold the home in 1993 to the present owners, Andrew and Katherine Ann Hirsch. The Hirsch family have maintained the home and kept it in pristine condition. The front façade remains in its original state but the remainder of the home has had many changes throughout the years as well as a rear addition which was built on in 1932.[ii]

In 1844, Webster’s son-in-law, the Reverend George F. Heard, became the first person to be buried in the cemetery at Mimosa Hall Plantation. He was followed by Mrs. Mirriam (Brown) Webster. Other notable graves include those of the Reverend William Moore Steele and five Webster slaves or ex-slaves. Veterans of several wars also are interred here. The wall surrounding the oldest graves was constructed by plantation labor.  The cemetery is located southwest of the house on private land.

[ii] Mimosa Hall; Stephen F. Austin University Center for Regional Heritage Research; http://www.sfasu.edu/heritagecenter/4992.asp

Forgotten Landmarks–Phillip Brin House, Terrell, TX

Phillip Brin House (302 W. Brin Street)

 

Phillip Brin constructed his residence in 1895, four years after the loss of two daughters, Hattie and Bessie, to illnesses within ten days of each other[i]. Brin owned the First National Bank, whose building still stands at Catherine Street and Moore Avenue. The Financier noted in 1902 that Phillip Brin attended the New York Bankers Association Conference[ii]. Across the street is the building which once housed the Brin Opera House. It was constructed in 1895, but was closed by Phillip Brin in 1903 due to the fear of disastrous fires which had plagued other theatres and opera houses throughout the country.

Phillip Brin House 1895

Phillip Brin House 1895

Phillip Brin House 1895

Phillip Brin House 1895

First National Bank

First National Bank

Brin Opera House

Brin Opera House

[i] Terrell Times-Star; Terrell, TX; March 8th and March 14th, 1891.

[ii] The Financier, Volume 80; American Bankers Association, Publisher Financier Company, 1902

American Auto Trail-Texas’ U.S. Highway 67 Update

American Auto Trail-Texas’ U.S. Highway 67 has just been updated for the Amazon Kindle, adding reference maps, in-text navigation, and additional historic points of interest in the Dallas area.

This travel guide has also been released through Lulu Press for the iBookstore and Nook Store.  Until it is available on those sites, you can purchase it as a PDF from Lulu Press at http://www.lulu.com/content/e-book/american-auto-trail—texas-us-highway-67/14228259.14228259_cover

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