the early days of the Republic of Texas, stagecoaches rumbled across East
Texas, carrying passengers from one distant community to another.|
But passengers who were unlikely to have friends and relatives conveniently living
in certain communities found overnight lodging hard to come by.
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
One such place was the Fanthorp
Inn in Anderson,
today maintained as a state
historical park with many of its original furnishings.
| Houston Chronicle
writer Susan Love Fitts recently called the inn "the Hyatt Regency of its
day, probably worthy of a five-star rating if such designations had been issued
in the mid -19th century."|
Henry Fanthorp, an Englishmen who migrated
to Texas in 1832, and his wife Rachel founded the Inn in the l840s to serve stagecoach
passengers passing the dogtrot log house he built in 1834.
and Rachel Fanthorp|
Photo Courtesy Fantrop Inn State Historic Site
The house was expanded by Fanthorp between 1848 and 1859 to accommodate more guests
and soon became known as the Fanthorp Inn. The Fanthorps' parlor became a room
where travelers could rest on their journey.|
The stagecoaches not only
carried East Texans and the mail, but newcomers seeking new lives for their families
in Texas, where land was plentiful, fertile and inexpensive.
Anderson residents picked up their mail at the inn (Fanthorp was the postmaster)
and received news of other Texas communities from travelers. Visitors could be
seen playing a game of cards or reading one of the two newspapers Fanthorp subscribed
to, including the Galveston News.
The inn also became a community center,
a polling place, the site of dances and community parties, and the founding site
for a Masonic Lodge and a Methodist church.
Business was brisk in the
town, which at the time was known as Alta Mira, meaning high view. An early
victim of annexation, Alta Mira lost its identity in 1846 when Grimes County was
organized and the settlement was absorbed into Anderson.
Fanthorp, a shrewd businessman, served liquor in the parlor, guaranteeing
the return of the men of the community as well as traveling men. Women seldom
traveled in those days.
General Sam Houston, a friend of Fanthorp, was
a frequent visitor. So were Anson
Jones, Ulysses S. Grant, Zachary Taylor, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and
Kenneth Anderson, the last vice president of the Republic of Texas and the man
for whom Anderson was
Just outside the dining room was the kitchen, where slaves prepared
meals. A nearby cistern became a breeding ground for mosquitoes and a contributor
to yellow fever, a disease that killed Henry and Rachel in 1867.
their deaths, the Fanthorps' daughter, Mary Fanthorp Stone, took over the inn.
She turned it into a private home, however, and Fanthorp descendants lived in
the house until it was conveyed to the state.
Today, as a state
historical site, the inn helps modern Texans understand the hardships of life
on the Texas frontier in the 1850s.
Inn Barn |
TE photo, May 2008
TE photo, May 2008