A weekly column syndicated in 70 East Texas newspapers
Bob Bowman &
Archie P. McDonald, PhD
Places / Architecture
oldest town in Texas? 1-18-09
For longer than most of us can remember, Texans have been squabbling
over which community is the state’s oldest. The principal players
in this ongoing feud are a couple of East Texas cities, Nacogdoches
and San Augustine, and a West Texas village, Ysleta. Now, it appears
there may be another contender...
Fawil, it has been said, is a town that got its name by accident...
Houses by Bob Bowman 12-22-08
A reader called the other day with a question: “Do you know anything
about shotgun houses?” You bet I do. I lived in three shotgun
houses as a boy...
Parks by Bob Bowman 12-14-08
Each time I head southeast from Lufkin, a boyhood memory pulls
me into a roadside park beside U.S. 287 a few miles before entering
town of Chickenfeather by Bob Bowman 12-8-08
Except for a rural cemetery, little is left of Chickenfeather
in the once-rolling hills of eastern Rusk County.
names by Bob Bowman 11-19-08
A highway engineer in Nacogdoches County once told me that keeping
a highway sign at Looneyville was an exercise in futility. "Within
hours after we put up a new sign, it disappears," he said...
Blue Hole by Bob Bowman 11-3-08
Deep in East Texas, near the Angelina-Jasper county line, an old
rock quarry has found a place in Texas history...
for sale by Bob Bowman 10-6-08
One of East Texas’ best known bridges is up for sale, but
so far there are no takers. Stretching across the Neches River,
the Texas Highway 94 bridge has been in place since 1936. It is
included in the National Register of Historic Places...
by Bob Bowman 9-29-08
There are four faces of old Lobanillo, which straddles East Texas’
oldest highway less than 20 miles from the Texas-Louisiana border...
story of Cuthand by Bob Bowman 9-22-08
The remains of Cuthand, a town with one of the most unusual names
in East Texas, are scattered around the intersection of Farm Roads
1487 and 916 seven miles east of Bogata in Red River County.
Mystery of Caddo Mounds by Bob Bowman 8-4-08
Caddoan Mounds, a settlement of dwellings and temples, was the
home of a prehistoric group of Caddo Indians, who settled in the
Neches Valley sometime in the late eighth century, A.D. What is
left of the mound-building Caddos is found in stone artifacts
and small tools at the Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site...
Vista by Bob Bowman 7-21-08
Buena Vista is one of my favorite places because it has such a
colorful history, and a few weeks ago we helped dedicate a marker
to its cemetery.
Mary by Bob Bowman 5-5-08
Few town names in East Texas attract as much curiosity
as Weeping Mary, a 140-year-old black community hidden away in
the deep woods of western Cherokee County. Located on County Road
2907, off Texas Highway 21, ... Weeping Mary was first settled
after the Civil War by freed slaves from neighboring plantations....
trot houses by Bob Bowman 3-24-08
Dog trot houses were built and occupied by East Texas’ earliest
settlers. Many of them migrated here in the early l800s from the
Old South and brought southern customs, including the way buildings
were constructed with them.
the red-nosed pumping unit by Bob Bowman 12-17-07
If you drive through Lufkin during the holidays, be sure to take
notice of one of East Texas’ most unusual Christmas decorations...
unique town story by Bob Bowman 12-3-07
... Just how these and other strangely-named communities got their
names is a whole slice of East Texas history. For example, take
Redwater, located twelve miles southwest of Texarkana in southeastern
places by Bob Bowman 10-22-07
A friend once told me his greatest pleasure was driving around
East Texas and looking for oddball places seldom found in tourism
Davy’s Spring by Bob Bowman 10-8-07
An East Texas landmark remembered by motorists from the last century
has been given a long-deserved facelift at Crockett. Anyone over
fifty who traveled down El Camino Real, known today as Texas Highway
21, probably remembers stopping at the Davy Crockett Spring and
sampling its cool water.
Texas by Archie P. McDonald 9-24-07
It is strange how my life has intertwined with Newton County,
the long, slender eastern twin of Jasper County located in southeast
Texas just north of Orange and Beaumont, Texas...
by Bob Bowman 8-27-07
The only visible reminders of Old Fairmount, an early East
Texas community in southern Sabine County, are a well-kept graveyard
and a church founded in 1887...
Christian College by Archie P. McDonald 8-20-07
Obtaining a collegiate education presented a problem for African
Americans in Texas prior to court-ordered racial integration which
began in the 1950s... In Texas, especially East Texas, Wiley College
in Marshall and Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins were about
the only options for undergraduate instruction...
to readers by Bob Bowman 7-2-07
One of the pleasures of writing this column is hearing from readers
all over East Texas, especially when they offer suggestions or
ask questions. Over the last year or so, we have accumulated dozens
of questions, and it’s about time that we tried to answer some
Texas Bapist University by Archie P. McDonald 6-18-07
East Texas Baptist College, now University, began and remains
in Marshall, Texas...
Chief's Sons by Bob Bowman 5-28-07
Natchitoches and Nacogdoches
"It is a story that has been told and retold in Texas and
Louisiana--one that almost every school child has learned in the
Gallows" by Bob Bowman 4-2-07
The names of some East Texas towns can be downright confusing.
And much of the confusion arises from mispronunciations which,
during the passage of time, have become actual names.
Emporia Mystery by Bob Bowman 3-29-07
In the early 1900s, an explosion and fire spread throughout the
old Emporia sawmill in south Angelina County. An estimated 30
sawmill workers, most of them black, are believed to have perished
in the conflagration...
Those Pleasant Hills by Bob Bowman 3-29-07
Could Pleasant Hill be the most popular name for towns in East
Texas? With nine communities named Pleasant Hill in the more than
40 counties that constitute East Texas, it certainly qualifies--and
that doesn't include cemeteries.
by Archie P. McDonald 12-18-06
"This story is about Alto, a town originally known as Branchtown
located on El Camino Real, or the Old San Antonio Road, where
US Highway 69 and State Highway 21 intersect south of Rusk, north
of Lufkin, west of Nacogdoches, and east of Crockett. Once upon
a time, those places might have been described as near Alto, for
it was nearly as large as any of them."
Why did they name it that? by Archie P. McDonald 10-23-06
Everyone wonders why some cities and towns in East Texas
are named as they are but never really make a effort to learn
the secrets-except Fred Tarpley, long-time professor of English
at East Texas State University, nee Texas A&M at Commerce. Fred's
curiosity led him to compile 1001 Texas Place Names, published
by the University of Texas Press...
Em Down by Bob Bowman 10-2-06
Anyone who listened to the radio in the l930s and 1940s
remembers Lum and Abner, the mythical storekeepers invented by
Chet Lauck and Norris Goff. From their Jot 'Em Down Store in Pine
Ridge, Arkansas, Lum and Abner evolved into one of the nation's
most popular radio series.But if you ask old timers in Delta County,
Texas, they'll tell you with pride that they remember when the
Jot 'Em Down Store was in East Texas...
Neck by Bob Bowman 9-18-06
Granny's Neck is one of the oddest names ever given to
a piece of East Texas real estate. Also known as Old Granny's
Neck and Harper's Crossing, the small community was six miles
southeast of Cooper, where the Old Bonham-Jefferson Road crossed
the Suphur River in Delta County...
Burning House by Bob Bowman 8-21-06
Motorists traveling along U.S. Highway 59 in Polk County
are often startled to see what appears to be flames pouring from
the windows of old sawmill house...
Moving History by Bob Bowman 8-7-06
"...Bill Daniel is best remembered by some admirers
for one of the strangest events in East Texas--the move of an
entire town from Liberty to Waco, a distance of more than 200
miles, in October of 1986 during the Texas sesquicentennial celebration..."
Camino Real by Archie P. McDonald 7-30-06
In 2004, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison succeeded in persuading
Congress to designate El Camino Real, at least the Texas and Louisiana
portions, a national historic corridor. We Texans, especially
we East Texans, knew it all along...
Cutoff and Mistletoe by Bob Bowman 7-24-06
There is an old Texas saying that goes something like this, "Every
time the Legislature meets, keep a close watch on your wallet
and your wife." In the case of Trinity County--a lovely East Texas
landscape dotted with pine trees and bordered by two rivers--the
Legislature grabbed more than the county's wallets and wives...
College Among the Pines by Archie P. McDonald 6-19-06
We who give "All Hail to SFA" think of our University by one of
its earlier nicknames, "The College Among The Pines." That also
described another excellent institution headquartered in Carthage,
Texas, named Panola College after its host county...
Due And Ancient Form 2-27-06
Masonry in Texas
Runestone by Bob Bowman 2-19-06
"East Texans willing to take the time to drive about 100
miles into eastern Oklahoma will be rewarded with a centuries-old
of an Oldtimer by Bob Bowman 2-5-06
Alvin Burchfield remembers logging town Fastrill
Cemetery by Bob Bowman 1-24-06
"Cemeteries are not just resting places for the dearly departed;
they are also repositories of a community’s history -- from its
beginning to the present. Such is Fairmount Cemetery, a well-kept
graveyard nestled among the pines and oaks of southeastern Sabine
County, near the Texas-Louisiana border."
and Nine Acres by Bob Bowman 1-9-06
"With luck -- and an infusion of funds -- a historic Kilgore
home built in the 1930s could be on its way to regaining its stature
as one of East Texas’ most interesting homes. Set in sylvan splendor
in the middle of the East Texas Oil Field, the home of oilman
Tom Potter is best known as Nine Acres, a place where President
Franklin D. Roosevelt probably visited in the thirties."
Christmas Treat by Bob Bowman 12-19-05
"Stars top the sixty replica derricks, helping Kilgore
maintain its title as the state's official "City of Stars." Kilgore
is also among the stops on the Holiday Trail of Lights, which
includes Marshall and Jefferson in East Texas and Natchitoches
and Shreveport in Louisiana."
Bell Tower by Bow Bowman 11-15-05
The bell will soon ring again across Mount Pleasant’s courthouse
Tyler Depot by Bow Bowman 10-31-05
a National Historic Landmark
by Archie P. McDonald 9-28-05
"Twenty-three Reasons Why The Stephen F. Austin State Normal Ought
to be Located at Nacogdoches."
Supermarkets by Bob Bowman 8-29-05
"You can find a model of sorts for today’s Wal-Mart
superstores by looking back to the 1880s and early 1900s in East
of a Town by Bob Bowman 6-14-05
"In the 1960s, Camden -- a sawmill town tucked away in the
tall pines of northern Polk County -- held a special place in
history. It was the last company town in East Texas..."
Neches River by Bob Bowman 5-15-05
Tragedy's Museum by Bob Bowman 3-14-05
New London Museum
Did They Name It That? by Archie P. McDonald 3-9-05
Cut and Shoot, Texas
Arthur Temple School of Forestry by Archie P. McDonald 2-22-05
Unique Landmark by Bob Bowman 2-1-05
A granite shaft set into the ground on April 23, 1841, marks the
only international boundary existing within the continental United
Carnegie Libraries by Bob Bowman 1-25-05
Colonel’s Home by Bob Bowman 1-12-05
Myrtle-Vale, one of the most magnificent pre-Civil War homes still
standing in East Texas.
in East Texas by Bob Bowman 1-1-05
POW camps in East Texas
Rayburn's Home by Bob Bowman 12/13/04
"A visit to Bonham should start with a stop at the Sam Rayburn
House Museum on U.S. Highway 82 on the west side of town."
Observatory - An Orphan’s Gift by Bob Bowman 11-29-04
Standing atop Mount Locke in the Big Bend area, McDonald
Observatory is far removed from East Texas, but without the interest
and generosity of an orphaned Confederate soldier from Clarksville,
the world-famous astronomy center might not exist today. William
a Courthouse by Bob Bowman 8/17/04
"[I]n the l950s, many Texas counties threw aside history,
tradition and elegance and replaced some of our finest courthouses
with modern buildings -- many of them with little character or
appeal. That happened in my home town of Lufkin."
of the Cardinals by Archie P. McDonald 7/29/04
by Bob Bowman 6/16/04
"Grass grows over the ground where more than 550 homes once
stood and bitterweeds cover the site of the town's business district.
But Wiergate, somehow, lives on as many of the community's 300
or so residents still make their living from working in the woods."
Lookout by Bob Bowman 5/26/04
Perched atop a scenic forested ridge beside U.S. Highway 69 north
of Jacksonville, Love's Lookout offers perhaps the grandest view
in East Texas.
St Louis by Archie P. McDonald 5/5/04
The life and death of La Salle.
Store Centennial by Bob Bowman 4/27/04
The San Augustine Drug Store celebrates (May 2004) a hundred years
of doing business at the same location in downtown San Augustine;
and fountain drink "the Grapefruit Highball."
Cabin by Bob Bowman 3/17/04
The still-standing log cabin of Juan Antonio Badillo, one of a
handful of Tejanos who died at the Alamo on March 6, 1836
Teran by Bob Bowman 2/20/04
Hidden deep in the woodlands bordering the Neches River are the
last remains of what may be the earliest fort built in East Texas.
And, perhaps, a buried treasure.
Editor's Home by Bob Bowman 2/12/04
The Standard was one of Texas' foremost newspapers, largely because
DeMorse not only recorded Texas history; he was one of the principal
makers of it.
Boggy State Park by Bob Bowman 1/29/04
Texas' first new state park in six years.
Bend Reservoir by Archie P. McDonald 1/04
Church Lights by Bob Bowman 12/1/03
When the church decided to phase out the old kerosene lights for
safety reasons, Clark went to Jefferson Lighting Company of Ann
Arbor, Michigan, and told them what he wanted. The reproduction
fixtures were custom-made for the church down to the ornate decorations
and adapted to electricity.
Outhouses by Bob Bowman 9/03
The only existing East Texas outhouse ever built by the
Work Projects Administration
Sallie's Home by Bob Bowman 8/03
Today, more than a few Hemphill townspeople are convinced Sallie's
prayers 95 years ago have protected her house from the wrecker's
ball and will lead to its eventual restoration.
by Bob Bowman 6/03
"The old-fashioned outhouse, which served thousands
of rural East Texans before indoor bathrooms became affordable,
has again become fashionable, but not as a working privy. It is
showing up in historical displays, as art and in advertisements."
Frontier Hotel by Bob Bowman 5/03
"During the early days of the Republic of Texas, stagecoaches
rumbled across East Texas, carrying passengers from one distant
community to another... Some roadside homeowners saw the need
and opened their homes to the passengers. As a result, many pioneer
homes evolved into some of East Texas' best known stagecoach inns."
Thicket Founder by Bob Bowman 5/03
"If the Thicket, with its riches of woods and swamps, orchids
and deer, was famous in Southeast Texas, and perhaps known in
the rest of the state, it was utterly unknown elsewhere."
Corn Crib by Bob Bowman 12/02
"In early East Texas, corn cribs were as essential to farmers
as their plows and mules. Used to store corn on the floor and
peanuts in the rafters, the cribs enabled families to store food
for themselves and their livestock for the winter months."
Chapel by Archie P. McDonald 7/21/02
Star Highways by Bob Bowman 4/ 21/02
First Roadside Park by Bob Bowman, 3/16/02
Pioneer Hotel by Bob Bowman, 6/17/01
Old Stone Fort by Archie P. McDonald, 5/13/01
Starr Family Mansion by Archie P. McDonald, 4/1/01
Two Old Reds by Bob Bowman, 2/11/00
Castle Builder by Bob Bowman, 12/3/00
Building Temples in East Texas by Archie P. McDonald, 9/24/00
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