TexasEscapes.com  
HOME : : NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : TEXAS HOTELS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : BUILDINGS : : IMAGES : : ARCHIVE : : SITE MAP
PEOPLE : : PLACES : : THINGS : : HOTELS : : VACATION PACKAGES
TEXAS TOWNS
Texas Escapes
Online Magazine
Texas | Columns | Bob Bowman's East Texas

Dog Trot Houses

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman

A 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 baths.

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 Texas.

Ben Anderson of Angelina County called our attention to a well-preserved dog trot house near Ratcliff 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 was erected.

In 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 East Texas.

Gaines-Oliphint House oldest standing hand hewn log structure in Texas
Gaines-Oliphint House - "Oldest standing hand hewn log structure in Texas"

A two-story log structure, was built by ferry owner James Gaines on the west bank of the Sabine River in the 1830s. When Toledo Bend Reservoir was built, the old house was moved, and remains an important landmark in Sabine County.

Another dog trot, built before 1842, is known as the Trammel Trace Cabin and is a recorded Texas historic landmark at Marshall, where it was moved in 1938 by the Hobart Key family.

Dog trot houses are a unique part of our East Texas heritage, and hopefully other buildings of the same style are alive and well in the pineywoods.


© Bob Bowman March 24, 2008 Column, Updated 7-7-12
More Bob Bowman's East Texas >
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers

Log Cabin, Stephen F. Austin State Park
Dogtrot cabin replica in San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site
TE photo, 2013

Related Topics:
Texas Buildings | People | Columns | Texas Towns | Texas

Custom Search
TEXAS ESCAPES CONTENTS
HOME | TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE | HOTELS | SEARCH SITE
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES

Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | FORTS | MAPS

Texas Attractions
TEXAS FEATURES
People | Ghosts | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Texas Centennial | Black History | Art | Music | Animals | Books | Food
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Rooms with a Past | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Stores | Banks | Drive-by Architecture | Signs | Ghost Signs | Old Neon | Murals | Then & Now
Vintage Photos

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | USA | MEXICO

Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
Website Content Copyright Texas Escapes. All Rights Reserved