Neola

Bethel Cemetery

Bethel Cemetery – This photo shows part of the cemetery where a young girl frequently went while sleepwalking. At the time Bethel schoolhouse and Bethel Methodist Church were located across the road south of the hamlet of Neola.

Drive down State Highway 34 to the traffic light at FM 1570; turn left and in a short time you will be on the north side of the hamlet of Neola. Actually Edgewood Drive marks the entrance to Neola. James Willis Devenport (sometimes spelled Davenport or Devanport) owned the town, named it for some unknown woman, and served as postmaster while the post office was located in one of his buildings.

After the Civil War when cotton became the premium crop in Hunt County about 100 such villages popped up at crossroads. Neola exemplified such communities. Devenport owned a large two-story frame building with two rooms downstairs and a large meeting room for the Woodmen of the World on the second floor. One of the downstairs rooms was a grocery store and the other sold dry goods. The Woodmen of the World Camp # 1088 originated in the building in 1881, giving us a good date to use in determining the heyday of Neola.

Devenport also owned the local cotton gin. Barbara and James Horan’s mother Mary told that her home on the corner of Timberside and 1570 was the site of the gin pool. The pool was vital to the gin as it held water used for steam production.

Motor south on Timberside Drive to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Park set among towering trees that still stand amid homes. A bandstand, campground with fire pit, and picnic tables provided entertainment a five-acre space during the yearly summer picnic. The annual picnic was not held on July 4, as Southerners at that time did not honor that day as a holiday.

The late Don Hayter who owned the last original home in Neola told me that Edgewood Drive was the main street. Homes and buildings sat on the south side. In addition to the cotton gin, two blacksmiths and a gristmill operated in the little town. Peter Inabinette was one of the blacksmiths. South of the village was Mount Bethel Methodist Church, school, and cemetery. Today all that is left is the cemetery, but the school was moved across Highway 34 several years ago. Today it is a Community Center.

Don once told me about a young girl who kept having strange dreams. One morning she told her parents how many tombstones were in the Mt. Bethel Cemetery. When the family counted, she was correct. They began to watch her; she suffered from sleepwalking.

Little is known about James Willis Devenport before the Civil War. He served in the 1st Indian-Texas Regiment, sometimes called the 13th or 22nd Stevens Regiment, CSA. His papers show he enlisted on December 15, 1861 and started out in a cavalry unit that was dismounted. He kept his horse and saddle, though. Returning home unharmed, Devenport traded both horse and saddle for 640 acres of prime farmland. Today a vast majority of those 640 acres lie inside the fence at L-3. Not a bad deal for an old warhorse.

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Celebrating Our Nation

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

On the eve of our nation’s two hundred forty-first birthday, I read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s award-winning biography Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. It is absolutely amazing. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting something to read when the summer gets hot and to anyone concerned about the track our state and federal governments seem to be following.

While set in the background of the Civil War, the book is by no means a shot by shot account of the horrific conflict that created disunion of states and loss of more than 750.000 lives. The tensions began with the Declaration of Independence and climaxed with the election of Abraham Lincoln, a little-known prairie lawyer from Illinois. The elections of 1860 were more chaotic than those of 2016. The Democratic Party split into two groups, both with candidates. The Republican Party was relatively new and full of a few Southern sympathizers and lots of abolitionists. None were without ill feelings. To make matters more complicated for 21st Century Americans, the Democrats of the time were the conservatives while the Republicans were much more liberal. Finally, eleven states seceded from the Union to form what they called the Confederate States of America. Incidentally, Lincoln never acknowledged the name or the country.

Lincoln waited until after his election to choose his cabinet. Amazingly, he chose four men who opposed him at the Republican Convention in the summer of 1860. Lincoln chose his chief opponent William Henry Seward for position of Secretary of State. The two became close friends. Simon Cameron reluctantly accepted position of Secretary of War, but was replaced the following year by Edwin M. Stanton. Both Seward and Stanton served until Lincoln died. Salmon P. Chase agreed to serve as Secretary of Treasury, quite a challenge during wartime. Chase and his daughter Kate continued a campaign for the Chase presidential candidacy. Chase submitted his resignation four times; Lincoln called his bluff on the last one. Edward Bates was another reluctant candidate; Lincoln cajoled him into becoming Attorney General.

Goodwin shows how Lincoln was able to hear various opinions, to soften the discord with humor and stories, while deciding the venue he would take. Often Lincoln allowed an issue to stall until he felt the nation’s citizens were ready for such a change. The Emancipation Proclamation that led to the Thirteenth Amendment was an example.

Goodwin used many primary source materials; something a great historian does. She used many of the detailed diaries kept by cabinet members. What a person writes at the time of the event is often very realistic, especially if the author believes no one will ever read it. Hence, Goodwin ably created a realistic account.

As I read Team of Rivals, I thought about challenges we face today. While I came to no definitive conclusion, I believe that Doris Kearns Goodwin’s work is an inspiration for all of us. The United States divided before and recovered. There’s hope for us today.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July! Be thankful for the incredible rights we have.

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Peniel, a Separate, Incorporated, and Religious Town

Peniel CollegeSeveral years ago a historical marker relating to the history of the Peniel community northwest of Greenville was destroyed. Rumors floated around that it was stored somewhere in Peniel, but after an intensive search, the Hunt County Historical Commission decided to purchase a new marker to be installed on the northeast corner of North Rees and Alpha Street.

Rev. Eugene C. DeJernett purchased 53.1 acres of woodland a mile and one/half northwest of Greenville on March 5, 1895. He planned to use the property as an annual campground for members of the Holiness faith. Members came in wagons, camped in groves of oak trees for several weeks each summer while attending revivals. On certain days ‘faith healing” occurred.

DeJernett, the son of Dr. Reuben DeJernett, a pioneer doctor in Hunt County, joined with B. A. Cordell and wife Ethel to obtain a total of more that 95 acres for Texas Holiness University, chartered June 17, 1899. Financial support came from Rev. W. G. Airhart also known for his award winning poultry. Airhart paid for the Girls Dormitory. Sales of lots surrounding the college paid for other buildings.

Each deed to new home lots included a most unusual proviso: “While owned by me or in my possession or under my control, I bind myself not to, or allow anyone else, to sell intoxicating drinks, tobacco in any form, morphine, cocaine on said premises, except as medicine, and it is further understood and agreed that worldly amusements or practices which the trustees and faculty of Texas Holiness University pronounce as deleterious to the well-being of the University, shall no be practiced by me or allowed by me . . ., I consent it invalidates the title of the land.”

As a result no ads for no ads for liquor, tobacco, or cards were posted on electric streetcars running from Greenville to Peniel.

The college opened in September 1899 with 27 students, and 108 before the term ended. They came from 19 states. Tuition, room, and board totaled $106 per year with an extra charge of $12 per term for music classes. Students learned Greek, Theology, Latin, Mathematics, English, and Music including piano, voice, and guitar. Elementary and high school students attended the prep school or academy as it was called. Such arrangements were common at the time.

The community grew around the college. The Holiness Post Office opened in 1901, but the name changed to Peniel (Pe NI el) at the request of citizens in 1902. The Texas Holiness University name changed to Peniel University in 1912 after the Holiness denomination merged with others to create Church of the Nazarene. An orphanage and widows’ home opened in 1919 a year before the university was moved to Bethany, Oklahoma. That institution is now known as Bethany Nazarene College and holds most of the old Holiness University and Peniel Univeristy records in the library archives. The archivist gladly answers questions about the college.

After the college closed in 1920 the widows’ home and orphanage remained until the hard times of the Great Depression. Both closed in the 1930s. Peniel existed as a small community with a post office, a few stores, a blacksmith’s shop at one time, and an independent school district. In 1957 Peniel citizens petitioned the City of Greenville to annex them. In April of that year, Peniel became a suburb of Greenville. Stop and read the historical marker sometime. Drive around in the wooded area that was once a charming college. It’s a treasure.

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Vigilantism in an Extremely Volatile Environment

Among the accounts of Civil War-era violence in this book are several that take place in Northeast Texas.

Among the accounts of Civil War-era violence in this book are several that take place in Northeast Texas.

Last week I wrote about an event that occurred in northeast Hunt County in 1844, prior to the creation of Hunt County. After several thefts and at least three murders, settlers in the vicinity took the law into their own hands, formed posses who arrested eight men, and set up a mock court system. All eight were charged with theft; four were charged with murder. The so-called jury found the four guilty of murder and sentenced them to hang. The four not involved with murder were forced to leave Texas after putting nooses around the necks of the murderers and witnessing their compadres hang.

Today we skip ahead almost twenty years to 1862-1863, in the throes of the Civil War. Before Texas left the Union a vote was taken in all counties to determine whether to secede or remain in the Union. The vote in Hunt County was incredibly close, 51% voted to secede while 49% wanted to remain. It created an extremely volatile environment that would continue until 1874 or later. Lack of trust and violence once again led to vigilante justice. Here are some of the stories Judy Fall and the late David Pickering captured in their book Brush Men & Vigilantes: Civil War Dissent in Texas (Texas A&M Press, 2000).

Falls and Pickering relied on early newspapers, oral histories gathered by Judge L.L. Bowman in the 1920s and 30s, along with few legal documents created at the time. Dates and names may be slightly erroneous, but the gist is true.

In 1861 attorney Martin D. Hart of Greenville raised a company of men known as the Greenville Guards. At the top of the roster, Hart wrote, “We are willing to serve on the Confederate side if our home county is invaded, but not otherwise.” Clearly, Hart and his men were part of the 49% of Union supporters in the county.

In the summer of 1862, Hart and thirty-seven others made their way to Missouri where they volunteered in the Union Army. Hart then sent about twenty men back to Hunt County to recruit Unionists. They arrived here in late January, shortly after Captain Hart and his lieutenant, a man from Illinois named Hayes were captured and hanged at Fort Smith by Confederate troops.

News quickly spread in Hunt County and before 1863 was over, at least nine men associated with Hart were captured and executed by vigilantes, or Brushmen.

The first to die were Parson Austin H. Glenn, a Methodist Protestant (Northern) preacher and a man known only as Trace Chain Smith. Glenn lived near Prairie Valley, between Lone Oak and Campbell where arms captured in Arkansas were hidden. Taken by bushwhackers, the two men were held in a barn until a mob overpowered the guards and hanged them on the banks of Cowleech Creek.

Parson Glenn aided the injured Horace DeArman who slipped away and joined four other Hart followers in Jernigan Thicket near Commerce. There they joined several others in hiding. When food stores became desperate, DeArman and three others agreed to surrender. After much negotiation, the four came out of the thicket believing they would be taken to Greenville for a legitimate trial. Instead, the negotiators escorted them to Sulphur Springs, the home of the radical Knights of the Golden Circle, a pro-Confederate group. Colonel Earley (Early) from Fannin County led the prosecution “charging the men with treason and complicity with a company of murderers and robbers.” All four were hanged near White Oak Creek in present day Sulphur Springs. The remaining men managed to escape that time, but many were later caught and hanged.

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Does the End Justify the Means?

blind justiceDoes the end justify the means? This age old question is at the core of today’s article and the one I plan to write next week. Comments are welcome.

By 1839 Anglos hoping to claim land along the Red River of northeast Texas found most of it taken. So they looked farther to the west or south. At least five families settled in what is now Hunt County, including Godfrey Smith, John Nail, Peter Barrow, Miller Green or Greenberry Miller, and Isaac Banta.

Within the next five years other families moved in from Missouri. All of these men were refugees from the law. However, that was fairly common of emigrants from the United States who either escaped from the law, debt collectors, or angry wives. The Missourians wanted everyone to believe they were regular farmers who grew wheat and sorghum. They also traded poultry, cattle or horses, which they had previously stolen.

The Shawnees and the first group of Anglos in the area negotiated a trading license through the Republic of Texas Indian Agent at an earlier date. Led by Loud Ray (Rhea), four of the Missouri group raided a camp of Shawnee hunters and traders near present day Scatter Branch. The Anglos killed two Native Americans, caught and stabbed a young Indian boy, stole twelve horses, a few rifles, chickens and valuable beaver pelts. As a result the Shawnee turned to the first five settlers for help.

Those men turned to Colonel James Bourland and President Mirabeau B. Lamar who refused to assist, both being staunch racists and believers that the “only good Indian was a dead Indian.”

So the good men of Hunt County appointed a judge and jury, heard testimony from the Shawnee witnesses, and convicted Ray and his men in absentia.

About the same time, John Nail and his son returned from Jefferson with a load of goods to sell to neighbors. Arriving home late at night, the Nails stopped the wagon next to the door intending to unload when the sun arose. But the next morning they found only the wagon, relieved of all the goods Nail hoped to sell.

An open prairie beside the South Sulphur River called Smith’s Prairie served as a common meeting place. Settlers throughout the area gathered again to determine the sources of trouble. Some had seen Loud Ray and his men with various items lifted from Nail’s wagon. Since the nearest law enforcement was in Bonham, over thirty miles away, the group decided to take the law in their own hands for a second time. A posse formed to find, arrest, and return the criminals was successful.

Ray and all his men were captured, some as far away as Shreveport. Loud Ray testified as state’s witness. The Shawnees objected that they were ignored. The jury heard two cases, one dealing with the three Native Americans killed and the other over the thief of Nail’s goods. Only the four men, including Ray, were tried for murder but the entire gang was tried for robbery.

The first four were sentenced to hang. The thieves were to leave Texas within ten days after they put a noose over the head of each killer. The hanging was held on Ray’s Prairie, named for the leader of the ruthless Missouri emigrants.

NOTE: the word emigrant is used when someone moves from one country to another. Since Texas was an independent nation at the time, anyone from the United States was an emigrant.

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Who Killed Clarence Glass?

Grave of Clarence A. Glass in Lone Oak, Texas.  Glass was killed by a lone robber on the night of December 8, 1916.  Glass was Cashier at the First National Bank in the neighboring community of Point.  Working late auditing the bank’s books, Glass was shot in the back of the neck.  No one was ever charged with the murder.  (From Findagrave.com)

Grave of Clarence A. Glass in Lone Oak, Texas. Glass was killed by a lone robber on the night of December 8, 1916. Glass was Cashier at the First National Bank in the neighboring community of Point. Working late auditing the bank’s books, Glass was shot in the back of the neck. No one was ever charged with the murder. (From Findagrave.com)

On the evening of December 8, 1916, an unknown assailant fatally shot Clarence A. Glass in Point, Texas. More than a century later, the murder still remains unsolved and probably long since forgotten.

The First National Bank of Point employed Glass as cashier. Reportedly he was a responsible young businessman of “worth and promise” according to the December 15, 1916 issue of the Greenville Messenger. Why he was at the bank that night is unknown. Perhaps he went to the bank to write a condolence letter to Rev. S. E. Luker as the Messenger reported or perhaps he went to examine bank records for any misappropriation of funds as his wife believed.

While consumed with his project at hand, Glass realized an armed, masked man stood behind him demanding money. With the time lock on the safe engaged, Glass could only give the assailant petty cash valued at approximately $300. The masked man shot him in the back of the neck three times before vanishing. Glass regained consciousness later and made his way to the nearest residence. There he told what occurred at the bank. Immediately he was given medical treatment and his wife Ray Etter Glass who was in Lone Oak visiting her parents quickly returned. Around three o’clock the following morning Glass succumbed to death, leaving a young wife and daughter.

Downtown Point, scene of murder of Clarence A. Glass.  In the last 100 years, buildings were razed to make room for Highway 69.

Downtown Point, scene of murder of Clarence A. Glass. In the last 100 years, buildings were razed to make room for Highway 69.

Immediately citizens of Point and neighboring towns raised a $1,000 reward as they set off to discover the culprit. Within days authorities, including Will Thornton of Point and Joe Humphreys of Greenville, arrested Chas Carter, a young man who lived near Point. Carter had in his possession a pistol with an empty chamber. Carter claimed he borrowed the pistol to hunt squirrels. It matched the caliber of the murder weapon but the evidence was circumstantial at best. The Rains County Grand Jury did not convict Carter and the investigation began again.

At this point much of the evidence is completely missing. From what is available, it seems that Carter was released for lack of evidence. Then, J. W. Bergen was arrested in Louisiana in December 1916. He was held in Emory until May 31, 1917 when he was transferred to the Greenville jail after the Rains County special grand jury was discharged without a bill of indictment. Bergen stayed in the Greenville jail until tried in Rains County in December 1917.

The trial was continued until May 1918 when most witnesses did not show for various reasons. Bergen claimed to have been in Anderson County on the night of the murder, riding the International and Great Northern Railroad to Shreveport. Another witness was P. R. Schumacher, a detective/manager for Burns National Detective Agency in Dallas who investigated the crime. He was hired by the young widow and expected to testify that some other person committed the crime.

At the trial in May 1918 all but two witnesses were present. Two Point residents were ordered to bring a box found recently in a creek near Point. After a long deliberation the jury found J. W. Berger not guilty as he had pleaded the whole time.

Was the culprit found and punished? No, although Ray Etter Glass would spend the rest of her life trying to find the murderer. She believed that someone in the bank guilty of the misappropriation of funds hired the young man who killed her husband. She believed her lawyer and the detective knew more than they told her. Unfortunately, the assailant was never found and Ray Etter Glass found no earthly peace.

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Death at Bastogne

2nd Lt. Carlton Sheram, from Greenville, was killed in a tank battle in Bastogne, Belgium, in January 1945.

2nd Lt. Carlton Sheram, from Greenville, was killed in a tank battle in Bastogne, Belgium, in January 1945.

Fighting around the Belgian town of Bastogne was furious the first two weeks of January 1945. The German Army was determined to push through on their way to the harbor at Antwerp. Standing in the way was United States’ Third Army under General George S. Patton and the 101st Airborne Division. Among others units supporting the Third Army was the 15th Tank Battalion of 6th Armored Division. One of the tank commanders in Co. D was a young second lieutenant from Greenville, Texas.

Carlton A. Sheram, Jr. graduated Cum Laude from Greenville High School in 1939. He was a member of the debate team, business manager of the yearbook, and a member of the GHS band. A woman who remembered Carlton brilliantly described him with two words, VERY SMART. While in high school he and his father lived with Carlton’s aunt Laura Pollard.

Carlton attended Texas A&M University where he graduated in January 1943. Ironically he lived in the American Legion House while at A&M. Newspaper clippings state he was a quiet young man, studious, and a devout member of the Baptist Church wherever he lived.

With a brief stopover in Greenville to visit his father and aunt he headed to Fort Riley, Kansas, for training in the Tank Corps. Second Lieutenant Sheram served in England, France, Belgium; all part of the European Theater. By January 1945 the 15th Tank Battalion of 6th Armored Division was positioned just east of the town of Bastogne. Following is a portion of an e-mail I received in April of this year from Ruud Huijts, a resident of The Netherlands.

This is what I know about the circumstances of Carlton’s death: 2nd Lt. Sheram served in the 15th Tank Battalion, 6th Armored Division. In the first two weeks of January 1945, the 6th Armored Division was positioned just east of Bastogne adjacent to the famous 101st Airborne Division. There was some heavy fighting taking place at that time:

Vision was poor and foggy, they (armored tanks) were coming in leap frog style, one group would move then the other, GI style. When they go close enough I had no doubt they were Germans. I waited for the second group to come closer, when I had them in a concentrated group I began to fire. I had them down to three men when Lt. Sheram tried to come into where I was, he got two of them but the third one got him.

The arrow on the map below shows the approximate location of his death. At the left of the map is Bastogne.

The arrow on the map below shows the approximate location of his death. At the left of the map is Bastogne, Belgium.

The info above came from Sebastian Fiacco. Rob Fiacco, Sebastian’s son says that the fact that his father mentions Carlton’s name in the story above means that his father must have thought very highly of Carlton, Rob would like anybody that knew Carlton, or is related to Carlton to know that his father considered Carlton to be a hero.

Carlton A. Sheram, Jr., United States Army was awarded the Silver Star for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving with the 6th Armored Division during World War II.” (General Orders No. 23, 1945). He also was awarded posthumously the American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, two stars, and Purple Heart. Today he rests in Grave 81, Luxembourg American Cemetery, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. He should be remembered.

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One of My Favorite Places

The friendly staff at the Archives of Gee Library at Texas A&M University Commerce.  Those smiles are real; they love helping patrons find unique information and relics.  I once found a fiddle there that Ruby Allmond of Bonham used when performing at the Greenville Municipal Auditorium.

The friendly staff at the Archives of Gee Library at Texas A&M University Commerce. Those smiles are real; they love helping patrons find unique information and relics. I once found a fiddle there that Ruby Allmond of Bonham used when performing at the Greenville Municipal Auditorium.

A few weeks ago, I slipped off to Commerce to one of my very special places, the archives at Gee Library on the campus of Texas A&M University Commerce. On the fourth floor with windows on the north and west sides of the Reading Room, one can see for miles and miles and wonder what that part of the world looked like back in the early 1840s when first settlers arrived.

I have been researching in the Bowman Papers and what a treasure. L. L. Bowman came to Texas around 1900 from Mississippi and Tennessee where he received a law degree at Cumberland Law School in Lebanon, Tennessee. The young man joined the law firm of Ben F. Looney, a prominent local attorney. Bowman served as City Attorney, District Attorney, on the Greenville School Board for sixteen years, and was appointed Judge of the 8th District Court in January 1931 after practicing law here for more than thirty years.

It was while he journeyed throughout his judicial district of Hunt, Hopkins, Delta and Rains Counties that he developed a deep interest in the history of Northeast Texas. At every courthouse he visited with local citizens, with other attorneys, and with anyone who had a story to tell. However, he wanted true stories so he used his time in the various courthouses to look through probates, land records, criminal and civil cases. His notes recorded old roads throughout the counties with precise reasoning why the road went that way.

One of my favorite items in his collection is Twenty-Seven Years on the Texas Frontier, or Fifty Years in Texas by William Banta, an early settler in Hunt County. Less than a dozen copies were printed, and one is in Commerce at Gee Library Archives. It was exciting to hold it and read it.

As I dug around this past week I found notes that a grand jury in Sulphur Springs convicted Reconstruction outlaw Ben Bickerstaff. I co-authored The Devil’s Triangle: Ben Bickerstaff, Northeast Texans, and the War of Reconstruction. My co-authors and I believed that most of those individuals were never brought before a grand jury. Since we want to release a new edition, I think a drive to the Hopkins County Courthouse is in order. Thanks to Judge Bowman, I now have the volume and page numbers.

I now know that the first attempt at prohibition in the county occurred on July 15, 1854 when an election was called to abolish the sale of liquor in less than a quart. In 1858 the city of Greenville was one-half mile square around the courthouse. In the same year a Board of Executive was appointed to license teachers. Many such tidbits lie hidden in those acid free boxes.

Why am I interested, you ask? Good point. Just like an exceptional seamstress can sew colorful scraps of cloth to create a quilt, or jigsaw puzzle fanatic can put tiny pieces together to create a scene, or a composer puts notes in the right line or space to create a musical score, I want to use these ideas to create a history of very early Greenville and Hunt County History. One that will reveal the earliest settlers, their stories, and the lessons learned. Few people will know all the stories, but with the help of people like Judge Bowman I can write that book.

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World War I Projects

The ladies of the Mayflower Club presented this monument to Hunt County officials in 1919.  On either side are the names of those who lost their lives during World War I.  All forty-one men were residents of Hunt County when they enlisted.

The ladies of the Mayflower Club presented this monument to Hunt County officials in 1919. On either side are the names of those who lost their lives during World War I. All forty-one men were residents of Hunt County when they enlisted.

I think we all know that we are in the midst of the 100th Anniversary of World War I, the war that was supposed to end all wars. I know that I have written many words about it. But I want to share with you a way that each Hunt County resident can help remember those involved in the war and those who gave their lives in the service of their countries. Remember the United States was not the only participant.

The Hunt County Historical Commission members dedicate themselves to the preservation of local history. We assist with historical markers, we answer numerous questions about the history of Hunt County and its many communities, we locate and keep an eye on cemeteries, and one of our members gladly indexes old Greenville newspapers. Sometimes we have such a meaningful event we need to have a public observance of its importance.
On April 13, 1996 the Hunt County Historical Commission entertained the county with the 150th Birthday Celebration on the Courthouse Square. Now we have another important date to commemorate and we want input on ways to share our respect for those whose lives were drastically changed a century ago.

Next Thursday, May 25, we will have our bi-monthly meeting at the Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum beginning at 7:00 P.M. Everyone is invited, and the good new is that it is free. We may have a few leftover items on the agenda, but the primary purpose is to discuss ways to celebrate November 11, 2018.

At exactly 11:00 A.M. on the eleventh day of the eleventh month guns came to a halt. All high-ranking military men in the war signed the armistice. As the news spread, tears of joy and sadness flowed around the world.

John Byrd and John Armstrong have collected over 600 names of men who registered for the draft, enlisted here in Hunt County, died either in action or from the dreaded Spanish Influenza, or returned home to continue an new life, and were buried in one of our county cemeteries. The two Johns did a tremendous job, but as John Armstrong asked, “What’s next? How do we honor these men?”

There is a national movement to place flags on the grave of each of these men as well as a special World War I flag. We plan to do our part. There is a monument in front of the courthouse with the names of the forty-one who gave their lives. On one of the memorial walls at the Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum are the same names, I believe. Other communities may have similar memorials for the men from there who died and maybe even those who served. On May 28 I am speaking at Brigham Cemetery in Campbell. I’ll tell what I know about some of their veterans.

But we would like to have a countywide memorial.

So if you are the descendent of a World War I veteran from any part of the country, if you are interested in the past, or if you interviewed a veteran or a relative who was on the Homefront, please join us. We need your input. We need to honor our past. For more information feel free to contact at my email below.

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Traipsing Through Texas

Fort Richardson (1867-1878) is located on the south bank of Lost Creek in Jacksboro, Texas.  It was the northernmost frontier fort in Texas after the Civil War.  The post hospital (shown), officer’s quarters, powder magazine, morgue, commissary, guard house and bakery that once produced 600 loaves of fresh bread each day are all on the grounds.  Today a Texas State Park, the grounds also include nature trails and park ranger talks.

Fort Richardson (1867-1878) is located on the south bank of Lost Creek in Jacksboro, Texas. It was the northernmost frontier fort in Texas after the Civil War. The post hospital (shown), officer’s quarters, powder magazine, morgue, commissary, guard house and bakery that once produced 600 loaves of fresh bread each day are all on the grounds. Today a Texas State Park, the grounds also include nature trails and park ranger talks.

Over the past few months I have had opportunities to travel in many parts of central Texas; up along the Red River, eastward to Marshall and Nacogdoches, and south the Brenham and Navasota. All areas are often similar but definitely individual.

I grew up in Jacksboro, about three hours west of Greenville on Highway 380. It was early last month when I went to a funeral there. As I drove out in a rainstorm, I knew the next day would be a beautiful spring day. It was! The rain had filled the rivers and stock tanks, the word for places created to hold water for cattle and other livestock. Grass was tall and green, every indication of a fine season.

Jacksboro is unique. It grew around a post-Civil War Indian fort, Fort Richardson. The stone buildings surrounding the courthouse square date back to the late 1800s. People in Jacksboro are proud of their heritage and that heritage is visible everywhere.

Denton County Courthouse located in the center of historic downtown Denton.  Designed by W. C. Dodson in 1895 the structure cost $150,000 and opened in 1897.  The county and town were named in honor of John B. Denton, frontier preacher, and lawyer buried on the east lawn.

Denton County Courthouse located in the center of historic downtown Denton. Designed by W. C. Dodson in 1895 the structure cost $150,000 and opened in 1897. The county and town were named in honor of John B. Denton, frontier preacher, and lawyer buried on the east lawn.

I also drove through Denton and Decatur, both becoming suburbs of Dallas and Fort Worth. But they are working hard to remain unique. Many cattle came through Decatur after the Civil War on their way to railheads in Kansas.

Last summer I went to Jefferson to a Civil War conference. Jefferson is not really a great place to visit in the heat of summer. But like other old towns in Texas it has preserved it antiquities in the forms of homes, stores, and the bayou where steamboats stopped for cotton and passengers on the way to New Orleans. The next boat might come from New Orleans and carry goods for the interior of Texas, such things as sugar, coffee, lumber, and furniture. The respect for the past is evident throughout town.

Trying to find the route of Jefferson Road, I drove back roads one spring weekend. Every time I thought I knew where the road had been, I came to a steep hill or creek too deep to cross in a wagon pulled by multiple yokes of oxen. Jefferson Road brought supplies and goods to all the communities in this part of Texas long before there were railroads.

In my travels I have visited Marshall, Denison, Palestine, Jacksonville, and Longview. These were railroad towns that developed after the Civil War. They all have beautiful old homes and churches. But the most evident feature is the railroad tracks, switches, depots, and hotels. There is an obvious similarity in all.

This past weekend I went to Brenham to a history conference. I always avoid interstate highways if at all possible, and this was no exception. I was absolutely swept away with the beauty of Navasota. I understand some of the lavish homes were really summer homes for wealthy families in Houston. It is evident that some one or some group had deep pockets to finance the great restorations.

Anderson is the county seat of Grimes County. As you come around a curve there is an incredibly gorgeous courthouse. Anderson is the center of the county and therefore was chosen as county seat and not Navasota.

Brenham is, of course, known for Blue Bell Ice Cream. I splurged on a delicious piece of buttermilk pie, but was very impressed with the way the downtown area has been preserved.

On my latest venture I saw a peacock farm, a saw mill, and crossed the Brazos River, the Trinity River three times, and the Sabine River. I am here to tell you there is always something to see in Texas.

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