young man called, asking if I knew what a “dog trot house” was.
He had heard the phrase from one of his grandparents and had conjured
up visions of dogs trotting through a house day and night.
He wasn’t far from the mark.
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.
A dog trot house (also called a dog run house) was simple in construction.
Made either of logs or rough-sawn lumber, it consisted of two separate
living areas under one roof, but separated by a wide gallery that
divided the two family areas. One of the living areas consisted
of sleeping accommodations; the other was where the family cooked,
ate and entertained visitors.
There were no bathrooms or toilets in the building. Outhouses,
well separated from the house, met the family’s hygiene needs. Large
washtubs, filled with water from wells or springs, were used for
The family’s dogs slept on the gallery and instead of running around
the house, they trotted from front to back by using the gallery.
The dog trot
also served as a porch of sorts, but most houses had a separate
porch on the front of the house.
Few of the old-time dog trot homes are left in East
Anderson of Angelina
County called our attention to a well-preserved dog trot house
in Houston County.
It was a beauty to behold, framed by crepe myrtles and cedar trees.
It was built by a pioneer family in the Mount
Vernon community, where Henry Warren Payne and W.M. Conner gave
land for a church and a cemetery.
In 1871 a church house used as a school was erected. The custom
of fencing cemetery plots began in 1872 with the burial in the first
marked grave of the son of James E. and Ann Payne Ashby.
After a fire, Payne rode door-to-door raising money for a new church
house built in 1884. The Mt. Vernon Baptist Church was officially
organized in 1888. Land from the Louisiana and Texas Lumber Co.
enlarged the cemetery and in 1960 the church’s present building
our family, my great-great grandfather, Joel Harrison Bowman, built
a dog trot house near Sardis in Cherokee
County, but the building rotted away after he died in 1936.
Doris’ grandparents, the Robert L. Davis family, also lived in a
dog trot house on Virgil Street in Lufkin,
but it, too, vanished as progress overtook Lufkin.
Other dog trot houses, fortunately, still stand elsewhere throughout