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Author Bob Bowman

Texas History


Formerly "All Things Historical"

A Weekly Look at East Texas History
Syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers

Bob Bowman Obituary 7-15-13
June 3, 1936 - July 13, 2013


The Town with an Alias 2-3-13
Omen, a small community of about 150 souls, may be the only town in East Texas that once went by an alias.

Those strange town names 1-29-13
While some early East Texans named their towns for families, their hometowns or landmarks, othes were a tad more creative...

Fort Brown: A refuge from Indian attacks 1-20-13
In early East Texas, dozens of forts were built by settlers to provide a safe and sturdy refuge from Indian attacks. One such fort stood in north central Houston County where Indian attacks were common.

A Civil War Journal 12-17-12
In early 1861, W.W. Heartsill of Marshall, Texas, marched off to war with W.P. Lane’s Rangers of the Confederate Army. During the four years, one month and one day that he spent at war, Heartsill managed to keep a diary of each day...

Fire Lookout Towers 12-6-12
Long before the Texas Forest Service started using airplanes to spot forest fires, men climbed to the highest pine tree they could find, preferably one sitting atop a hill...

Making music in Sacul 11-26-12
On the fourth Saturday night each month, the Nacogdoches County community of Sacul hosts one of the best country music venues in East Texas--a collection of bands playing mostly bluegrass standards.

The Mystery Man 10-15-12
Daingerfield, the county seat of Morris County, was named for Captain London Daingerfield, supposedly a native of Nova Scotia, but beyond that and a few other facts, Captain Daingerfield remains a mystery man...

Confessions of a Graveyard Junkie 10-7-12
While other people collect antiques, postcards and coffee mugs, I spend much of my spare time in East Texas cemeteries looking for oddball tombstones, unique inscriptions and other reminders of people who left behind more than just a nondescript piece of rock to mark their passing.

Remembering The Colonel 9-30-12
Colonel Homer Garrison, Jr., had one of the most recognized law enforcement careers in the U.S., culminating with his leadership of the Texas Rangers and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Sawmill Supermarkets 9-23-12
Commissary Stores

The Good Old Days 9-16-12
East Texas after Civil War

Jumbo 9-9-12
The forgotten towns of East Texas got their names from a variety of ways--from people, places, events...even geological landmarks. But Jumbo, in Panola County, is the only town to be named for an elephant.

The CCC Parks 9-3-12
During the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) designed and constructed dozens of state parks throughout Texas. The design of the parks was often inspired by the landscape and history of Texas itself...

Two Courthouse Fires by 8-26-12
Some of the most delectable historical desserts of East Texas are found in the yellowed documents of the thirty-plus county courthouses scattered across the pineywoods. One such morsel is the little-known story of two courthouse fires in Trinity County, one of the rowdiest of our early counties.

Three Tragedies 8-19-12
An intriguing family mystery spanning more than 135 years is told by three tombstones lying behind a rusting iron fence in a small East Texas cemetery.

Korley’s Kolumns 8-12-12
Some seventy years ago, a self-educated farmer and justice of the peace in Henderson County starting writing letters to the Athens Daily Review. In a few months, Cicero Witt Corley was so popular that he was given a regular newspaper column he called “Korley’s Kolumn.”

Death Superstitions 8-5-12
In early East Texas, the death of a family member or friend was a serious event surrounded by traditional rituals... Death was also accompanied by a variety of superstitions, some of which are still respected in the homes of our grandparents.

The Cotton Pickin’ Theater 7-29-12
At Point, a small town of some 700 souls in northern Rains county..., a sturdy old gin has found a new life as an entertainment venue that draws crowds from all over East Texas and performers like Mark Chestnut, Pee Wee Walker, and Gary Busey.

Dog Trot Houses 7-7-12
Dog trot houses were built and occupied by East Texas’ earliest settlers. Many of them migrated here in the early 1800s from the Old South and brought southern customs, including the way buildings were constructed with them.

Old Emporia 7-2-12
It is on one of the most enduring mysteries in East Texas. In the early 1900s, an explosion and fire struck the old Emporia sawmill south of what is now Diboll. More than thirty sawmill workers, most of them black, are believed to have perished in the conflagration. Burned beyond recognition, the men were reportedly buried in a mass grave somewhere on the Emporia town site, now a part of Diboll, with no tombstones to mark their final resting place.

The Runestone 6-24-12
"East Texans willing to take the time to drive about 100 miles into eastern Oklahoma will be rewarded with a centuries-old mystery."

The Town of Twin Groceries 6-19-12
A recent caller from Bowie County had an intriguing question: “Does East Texas have a town named Twin Groceries?” The answer is yes and no.

A Steamboat's Tale 6-9-12
Lying in the Trinity River at Parker’s Bluff, near Palestine, a cluster of remnants from an old sidewheeler steamboat serve as reminders of an era when cotton was king in much of East Texas.

Good ol’ boy expressions 5-28-12
The good ol’ boy expressions and idioms for which we are famous seem to be proliferating and keeping pace with today’s times.

Restoring Davy’s Spring 5-20-12
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.

Pass the Biscuits, Pappy 5-13-12
Older East Texans who remember W. Lee (Pappy) O’Daniel will find a special appeal in a book by Bill Crawford. Daniel, a song-writing flour salesman who launched the musical careers of Bob Wills and the Light Crust Doughboys, was a politician unlike any we’ve seen in Texas.

Casablanca’s East Texan 5-6-12
When you talk to East Texas movie buffs about their favorite all-time films, the one everyone places near the top is Casablanca... Few know that an East Texan, Dooley Wilson, played a significant role in the film.

A Unique Landmark 4-29-12
Travelers who take the time to wander down Farm Road 31 between Deadwood, Texas, and Logansport, Louisiana, will find a one-of-a-kind historical landmark. A granite shaft set into the ground on April 23, 1841, marks the only international boundary existing within the continental United States.

The Chief’s Sons 4-22-12
Twin sons were born to an old Caddo Indian chief living on the banks of the Sabine River. Natchitoches was swarthy with black hair and flashing black eyes. Nacogdoches was fair with yellow hair and blue eyes...

Pistol-packing Preacher 4-15-12
Licensed to preach in 1897, and coming from peaceful communities like Malakoff and Beaver Valley, Jesse Lee was appalled at the lack of law enforcement and the rampant sales of liquor in Trinity County despite prohibition elections.

A song inspired by John Wayne 4-8-12
Hamblen, the son of an itinerant preacher, wrote hundreds of songs during his lifetime, but his most enduring composition was the gospel classic inspired by, of all people, John Wayne.

Washington’s East Texas Cousin 4-1-12
Alexander Hamilton Washington, a cousin of George Washington, cut a wide swath through Polk and San Jacinto counties before and after the Civil War, but finding any physical reminder of his 28 years in East Texas is almost impossible...

The Biscuit and Cornbread Whistles 3-25-12
The siren was likely blown for loftier reasons such as personnel shift changes and fires, but Dibollians came to know the sounds as “the biscuit whistle” and the “cornbread whistle.”

Country Graveyards Here and There 3-18-12
After a lifetime in East Texas, I have grown to prefer cemeteries where the tombstones stand high against the sky, where tall trees shade the graves most the time, and where people get together once a year for a graveyard working and homecoming.

Regional expressions 3-11-12
Having written a couple of books on East Texas expressions, I thought I knew them all...

An Affinity for Place Names 3-4-12
When settlers from the U.S. poured into Texas following its independence and later statehood, they starting slapping names on the places where they put down roots. Most of the names are still around and just as colorful as they were decades ago.

Centennial of an irony 2-27-12
Heavyweight champ Jack Johnson’s arrest for boxing in 1903 in Galveston

Sawyers and Flatheads 2-22-12
In the Northwest, they were called lumberjacks, but in East Texas they were called “sawyers” or “flatheads.” A hardy breed with a broad streak of independence, they were as colorful as they were hard working.

Ghosts in East Texas 2-19-12
To paraphrase a quote by the Marquise de Deffand in 1774, I don't believe in ghosts, but I have a healthy respect for them. You would, too, if you've ever stood on the banks of Bouton Lake when the fog rolls in from the Neches River bottomlands.

The Carnegie Libraries 2-10-12
When Tyler’s historic Carnegie Library building celebrated its anniversary, the event reminded East Texans of the legacy Andrew Carnegie left before his death in 1919.

Rusk’s Capitol Role 1-23-12
Over one hundred and thirty years ago Texans celebrated the completion of the Texas Capitol in Austin. But, as in past observances, there will be little acknowledgment of the role that East Texas, especially the town of Rusk, played in the capitol’s completion.

A 1912 road trip 1-17-12
"In 1912, roads were often impassable and ran across farms and ranches. The Nash-Smith party stopped frequently to open and close gates, some of which were made of barbed wire..."

Babe Ruth in East Texas 1-10-12
Imagine, if you can, baseball slugger Babe Ruth walking around a field and shoveling cow manure. In 1923...

A historical link is severed 1-6-12
When the Houston Chronicle decided to stop delivering its daily editions to homes in Lufkin and Angelina County, it severed a connection that reaches back more than a century...

Sam's Home 12-14-11
Most East Texans under forty know little about Sam Rayburn, the man whose name is attached to a giant reservoir on the Angelina River. But in his heyday, “Mister Sam” helped the nation through the Great Depression, World War II, and into the prosperity of the 1950s.

Creating a Gospel Classic 11-28-11
Songwriter Stuart Hamblen, the son of an itinerant East Texas preacher, wrote hundreds of successful songs during his lifetime, but his most enduring composition was a gospel classic inspired by, of all people, John Wayne.

Town names with a twist 11-16-11
When it came to naming their towns, East Texans were not shy about their selections. Consider these examples. Jumbo, in Panola County, got its name from an elephant in P.T. Barnum’s circus...

The man who killed Lincoln 11-7-11
"Painted inside on one wall in the restaurant is a drawing of John Wilkes Booth. I’ve often wondered why the drawing was there until I read a book, “Unsolved Mysteries of the Old West” by W.C. Jameson..."

Storm Cellars 11-6-11
In the midst of a recent tornado outbreak, an oldtimer called and asked if I remembered storm cellars...

Three-Legged Willie 10-23-11
Three-legged Willie limped into Texas in 1827, a young man in his early twenties, already a capable and respected lawyer. Born Robert McAlphin Williamson, his reputation as a judge became legendary in East Texas....

Place names 10-2-11
When settlers from the U.S. poured into Texas following its independence and later statehood, they started slapping names on the places where they put down roots. Most of the names are still around and just as colorful

Centennial Monuments 9-25-11
In 1936, as Texas marked the centennial of its fight for independence from Mexico, hundreds of granite monuments were placed throughout the state to recognize significant events, people, buildings and communities...

A sawmill ghost town 9-12-11
Aldridge is perhaps the most isolated and desolate of East Texas’ ghost towns--a somnolent cluster of weathered concrete and brick ruins wrapped in the growth of a Neches River forest...

A Historic County 9-5-11
One of my favorite rural counties in East Texas celebrated its 140th anniversary this year. Named for the 1836 battle which ended the Texas revolution against Mexico, San Jacinto County...

Hardin’s East Texas Roots 8-22-11
Most of us associate John Wesley Hardin--the man often called Texas’ most famous gunfighter--with regions beyond East Texas, but the truth is that Hardin had deep roots in the pineywoods...

Town Names II 8-15-11
Origin of East Texas place names.

The boy with X-ray vision 8-8-11
Every now and then, an old story about a Texas boy who had X-ray vision, and could locate underground water, surfaces in one of the fifty-plus East Texas newspapers I read every week.

Pure Gospel 8-6-11
Throughout East Texas are hundreds of gospel music venues where people gather on weekends to hear songs that you’ll hear only in churches...

Things here and there 7-24-11
Of biscuits, apple peel, and more

The short life of Sam Bass 7-17-11
For more than four years, we have been working on a new book, “Bad to the Bone,” a collection of outlaws who left their imprint on East Texas. One of the best known outlaws was Sam Bass...

The Murdered Sheriff 7-10-11
Angelina County Sheriff William Reed (Bill) McMullen was one of the men who was killed during a feud between the Gilley and Windham families at Homer, the county seat of Angelina County in the 1860s...

Legalizing noodling 7-5-11
In the midst of a session that dealt with taxes, Medicare fraud and other serious issues, the Texas Legislature finally dealt with an issue of concern to East Texans--noodling...

Bowie and his knife 6-26-11
Texas historians have written volumes about Jim Bowie, who died at the Alamo, but what people remember most about him is a big hunting blade he carried--a weapon known in history simply as the Bowie Knife.

Science Hill 6-19-11
Sitting atop a scenic hilltop in southwestern Henderson County, Science Hill lasted only a few decades, but its reputation as a center of education is well-remembered by descendants of its founders and builders...

Reforesting the Texas National Forests 6-12-11
President Theodore Roosevelt established four Texas National Forests in 1936. By 1937, the federal government had acquired more than 613,000 acres from private landowners at an average price of $4.62 an acre...

Honoring a bull riding legend 6-4-11
Myrtis Dightman has finally received the attention he should have had decades ago. Born in Crockett in 1935, Dightman was a legendary bull rider who set all types of records for riding raging bulls in rodeo arenas across the United States.

McMahan Chapel 5-30-11
The news that San Augustine businessman Jack Maund has contributed $100,000 for a museum and events center at McMahan Chapel Methodist Church has focused new attention on one of East Texas’ most historic churches.

Caddo Lake 5-22-11
East Texas has some of the most beautiful lakes in Texas. If anyone ever asks me to pick the lake I like most, Caddo Lake would be high on my list, largely because its mystical nature is captivating.

A well-used phone book 5-15-11
I’ve received a telephone book adorned with telephone numbers from the 1980’s scribbled all over the cover, the back, and dozens of inside pages.

Remembering two doctors 5-8-11
When doctors W.D. Thames of Lufkin and Joe Dickerson of Jasper died recently, East Texas lost two unique physicians--men who made house calls, kept up with the babies they delivered, and cared for whole families....

A Historic County 5-1-11
One of my favorite rural counties in East Texas, San Jacinto County, celebrated its 140th anniversary this year...

Here, there, everywhere 4-25-11
KMOO of Mineola may have the most memorable radio station call letters in East Texas...

End of the Hanging Era 4-17-11
From the inception of the Republic of Texas in 1836, the method of punishing criminals was usually by hanging at the county level. But in 1924, the State of Texas took the responsibility for capital punishment and changed the method from hanging to electrocution.

Preserving Forest History 4-10-11
The Texas Forestry Museum, Lufkin.

The Gift of Hannah 4-4-11
"Hannah was Hannah Collie of Alto, a brave little girl who touched the hearts of thousands of people while her own heart struggled to keep her alive."

East Texas Traditions 3-28-11
One of the hottest controveries that ever erupted in East Texas occurred in the sixties when several cities decided that dogs ought to be stopped from running loose on the streets.

Remembering Columbia 3-20-11
On February 1, 2003, as the world followed the return of Space Shuttle Columbia, something deadly went wrong with the flight over East Texas. In seconds, the shuttle and its crew plummeted to the ground in Sabine County.

A Newspaper’s Centennial 4-14-11
In the early days, newspapers carried down-to-earth news that you seldom read in newspapers today. Some examples...

Old Bevilport 3-6-11
History laid a heavy hand on Bevilport. But you won’t find it on many road maps or marked by highway signs.

Is Quantrill buried in East Texas? 2-28-11
One of the most intriguing legends in East Texas claims that William Clarke Quantrill, the guerrilla leader from the Civil War and the mentor of the Younger and James brothers, is buried in Angelina County.

An Outspoken Man 2-20-11
Many towns and cities in East Texas have in their history individuals who ascended to greatness, but fell to earth when they opened their mouth at the wrong time. Such was Medford Bryan Evans, a college professor, author and editor...

Reading Newspapers 2-13-11
I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. But I am addicted.
Give me a stack of East Texas newspapers, and I’ll be hooked for hours.

The sculptress and a paper mill 1-31-11
When the first paper mill to make newsprint from southern pine trees was built near Lufkin in the 1930s, Tennant was commissioned to develop a plaque bearing the likenesses of Charles Holmes Herty and Francis Patrick Garvan, who developed a method for separating the pine resin from the tree’s pulp.

Town names 1-25-11
If you’ve ever wondered how some East Texas towns got their names, you may be surprised at some of the origins.

A Frenchman at San Jacinto 1-16-11
In 1893, the Galveston Daily News printed a reporter’s interview with Charles Cronea, a Jean Lafitte pirate who fought at the Battle of San Jacinto, where Texas won its independence from Mexico...

The origin of blue jeans 1-10-11
A few friends and I were sitting around drinking coffee a few days ago, and the subject of blue jeans came up, and we starting comparing notes on how old our jeans were...

A Historical Marker for Lightnin' 1-3-11
The news outlets from Houston reported recently that a Texas Historical Marker has been dedicated to Lightnin' Hopkins, whose blues music became famous between 1946 and the 1970s...

George Washington’s Execution 12-26-10
When the Texas prison system plugged in its electric chair in 1924, would you believe that George Washington was one of the first four men to be executed? ...

Pittsburg’s Hot Links 12-19-10
Few East Texas foods are as well-known as those spicy sausages, better known as “hot links,” served at Pittsburg (the one in East Texas).

A story of two homes 12-12-10
Two historic buildings in East Texas made news recently. One story was sad; the other joyous...

The Sheriff Posses 12-8-10
In early East Texas, it wasn’t unusual for a local sheriff to recruit a posse of men and horses to run down outlaws and fugitives...

A great old map 11-28-10
Most historians love old maps. They squint at them for hours, often finding places they never knew existed...

Frontier Rifles 11-17-10
Early pioneers and explorers such as Crockett and Daniel Boone probably depended on Kentucky rifles and a successor, the Plains Rifle, for survival on the expanding American frontier.

Texans Honored at Shiloh 11-7-10
Texas troops who fought in the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi, in 1862 were honored with a monument at Corinth Unit of Shiloh National Military Park last month...

The Perfect Haunted House 10-17-10
With Halloween upon us, it’s time to remember the old Bonner house west of Lufkin, which has been called the perfect haunted house. But it had also has a rich history...

The mayor and the lion 9-26-10
Years ago, when Pitser Garrison was the mayor of Lufkin, a young African lion was born at Ellen Trout Zoo.

Reading the papers 9-19-10
Once a week, I sit on my couch at home and read the weekly newspapers sent to me by the folks who are kind enough to carry this column. By the time I’m through, I have learned a lot more about East Texas than I knew last week. Here are some examples...

Memories of growing up 9-12-10
Before she passed away, Opal Young sat down with a pencil and a tablet and left for her family the recollections of growing up in rural East Texas...

Mystery Solved 9-5-10
They solved a big mystery near Grapeland, in Houston County, a few weeks ago. Yep, the lingering mystery of the purple deer droppings has been unraveled...

Graves of the Famous 8-22-10
A reader called a few days ago, asking where John Wesley Hardin, one of East Texas’ most famous outlaws, was buried. His call brought up the question of where other famous people are buried in Texas and elsewhere...

A Tour of Dog-Trots 8-15-10
If you’re a fan of dog-trot houses--and know what they are--here is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. The SFA Gardens of Stephen F. Austin State University will host a tour of two historic Shelby County dog-trot homes on Saturday, Sept. 1, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Looking for Hidden Treasures 8-8-10
Fortune-hunters have been searching for buried and hidden riches for as long as there has been a Texas. The Spanish often hauled silver and gold bars, coins, and jewelry long distances to reach their destination, but often without success...

Texas’ Lone Stars 8-1-10
A reader from Gladewater called a few weeks back with an interesting question: “How many towns named Lone Star are located in Texas?”
At my last count, there were ten, and six of them are in East Texas...

Landing a B-17 7-25-10
A day in the 1940s when the pilot of a B-17 plane ran out of gas and decided to land on a dirt road at the McQueen farm at Keltys, a sawmill town near Lufkin...

Unique Town Names 7-18-10
Sadly, we’re losing much of the history of East Texas--the small communities that sprouted and faded away as East Texas grew and much of our population was congested in larger cities and towns. Many of our small communities had unique names that gave them a flavor...

The Circuit Rider 7-11-10
Beneath the pulpit of an East Texas country church, far from the saddle-sloped mountains of his beloved Kentucky, Littleton Fowler lies at rest...

Here and There 7-4-10
Here and there in East Texas..

Ivory Joe Hunter 6-27-10
When historians in Southeast Texas unveiled a Texas State Historical Marker for Ivory Joe Hunter at a cemetery near Kirbyville, they stirred memories of one of America’s greatest musicians...

Moon Pies 6-20-10
A friend sent our family a couple of Moon Pies a few days ago. Our first reaction was: “Are Moon Pies still being made today?’

The First Millionaire 6-13-10
Texas’ first likely millionaire wasn’t from Dallas or Houston. He came from East Texas--and he didn’t make his money from oil. Frost Thorn, an early storekeeper from Nacogdoches, had a worth of more than a million dollars after Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836...

Joe Tonahill of Jasper 6-6-10
When Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy in 1963, an East Texas lawyer soon found himself thrust into history.

Living in sawmill towns 5-30-10
While some sentimentalists may disagree, living in East Texas’ early sawmill towns was no bed of roses. My parents lived in four such towns in East Texas and western Louisiana, and I still remember those days vividly, but not always pleasantly.

Lum and Abner 5-23-10
If you’re an older East Texan, the chances are good that you remember Lum and Abner, the lovable proprietors of the Jot ‘Em Down Store in Pine Ridge, Arkansas...

Bigfoot in East Texas 5-15-10
For years, people have claimed sightings of a large, human-like creature in the thick woods of East Texas...

A life of hardships 5-9-10
When you start worrying about the hardships life has thrown at you, consider the plight of the Clyde Thurman Owens family of Henderson County.

Honky Tonks 5-1-10
“How did the term “Honky Tonk” come about?”

Honoring Lightnin' 4-4-10
Earlier this year, Lightnin’ Hopkins, the late legendary blues musician, was awarded a Texas Historical Marker to be placed in Houston, where he moved in the 1920s and lived until his death in 1982...

Roaming Around East Texas 3-28-10
Some things we’ve learned by roaming around East Texas...

The Wrong Grave 3-21-10
In East Texas, where John Alexander Greer spent his life, there is the lingering question if his bones really lie beneath the Texas State Cemetery tombstone...

Hanging a Dead Man 3-14-10
George Hughes of Sherman may have been the only man in East Texas to be lynched while he was dead...

Random Notes from East Texas 2-23-10
A half-dime and other coins, The Holy Oak in Buffalo, and an East Texas link with Canada.

Leagueville 2-21-10
Leagueville, an isolated community in eastern Henderson County, owes its beginning to a land certificate that originated in 1850 by Aaron York, surveyor of a league of land west of the Neches River...

Bringing back cowboy music 2-15-10
Musicians today seldom play the music older folks remember best. But, thankfully, I was able to recommend at least one place where the old cowboy music is still played with enthusiasm. At the Camp Street Cafe and Store in Crockett, brothers Guy and Pipp Gillette perform traditional cowboy songs in a downtown building once owned by their grandfather...

A “tough ol’ bird” 2-8-10
By Gertie Lacey’s own description, she is a “tough ol’ bird” who grew up in a family of 15 kids, endured the rough days of the East Texas oil boom, picked cotton, endured crop failures during the Great Depression...

Patroon’s Story 2-5-10
It’s a shame that Patroon didn’t last. But in a way, it may have been best. Its stern, no-nonsense college would have never survived in modern times...

Remembering Skin Tight 1-24-10
In the early 1830s, when cattle buyer Henry Reeves and his partner, a man known only as Ball, built a store on the Rusk-Henderson road, visiting customers started calling the settlement “Skin Tight”...

Laughs with a Lawman 1-18-10
I suspect that the best-read column in the Buffalo Press, a weekly newspaper in East Texas, is Sheriff Ralph Billings’ report on criminal activity in Freestone County...

Naming Arp 1-10-10
Few towns have a name as simple and short as Arp, which sits on a railroad line and Texas Highway 135 eighteen miles southeast of Tyler in Smith County...

Remembering Eliza 1-3-10
When she passed away in December, East Texas lost one of the most competent and aggressive historians.

How a town was born 12-27-09
Reading old newspapers, particularly those of the early 1900s, can be illuminating.

There’s Hope in East Texas 12-21-09
Someone once noted, “There’s a lot of hope in East Texas.” But he didn’t know the whole story. The Handbook of Texas lists seven East Texas communities with the name of New Hope, two known as Little Hope, four Hopewells, and two Mount Hopes. Let’s begin with their stories...

The Epidemic at Grand Bluff 12-13-09
Few remnants exist from Grand Bluff, a community once considered as the seat of government for Panola County. One of the remnants is an isolated cemetery containing a hint of why the town died...

Collecting ghost stories 12-6-09
It’s time to put the ghosts into a new book. If you have a favorite story, here’s your chance to see it in print, whether you beleive it or not...

The Story of Concord 11-29-09
The countryside around Montalba, north of Palestine in Anderson County, is among the most beautiful in East Texas with its small mountains, winding roads and scenic streams...

The Longview Cannibals 11-22-09
Over the years, East Texas have given their hometown baseball teams some oddball names. But none of them had the flair of the Longview Cannibals...

The Quebe Sisters 11-15-09
If Bob Wills were around today, the chances are good that he would be delighted with three teenage sisters from Burleson. Listening to the Quebe Sisters play the western swing music pioneered by Wills in the 1930s and l940s, you realize they are special musicians who love what they’re doing...

Antlers Hotel 11-8-09
"The afternoon the building burned, hundreds of Dibollians stood watching the fire, tears streaming down their faces. Older Dibollians still recall “the day the town cried.”

The Roads of Upshur County 11-2-09
Most East Texas counties name their county roads with numbers or the names of people. But not Upshur County.

East Texas Ghosts 10-25-09
So, you don’t believe in ghosts? Well, read on and we may make a believer of you, especially since this week brings Halloween...

The Settlement of Cuthand 10-21-09
If Marvin Nichols Reservoir is built by Dallas on the Sulphur River in northern East Texas, dozens of small communities will be inundated, ending a rich part of the region’s history. One of the communites is Cuthand...

The Schools We Knew 10-11-09
From the 1800s to shortly after World War II, East Texas was made up mostly of farming communities--small in size, but big in community spirit. Some communities had a small general store and a church, but almost every community had a school which acted as the glue that held each settlement together...

A country legend 10-4-09
Someone once asked country singing legend Ray Price to name his favorite singers. Price paused a minute and finally said, “I have too many to name, but Gene Watson would be right at the top.” But Watson--who was born in Palestine and raised in Paris--is such a low-keyed individual that he considers singing “just something I like to do,” like working on cars in his shop.

The wooden-tracked railroad 9-27-09
It wasn’t the longest railroad in East Texas. And it certainly wasn’t the most profitable. But it taught its builders, the good people of Rusk, how not to run a railroad...

Unique Forest Areas 9-20-09
In the late l980s, a Connecticut-based forest products company launched a program that triggered the protection of some of East Texas' most unique forest areas...

Music in an Old Gym 9-13-09
On weekend nights at Lovelady, a small town south of Crockett in Houston County, it’s not unusual to hear country music wafting through the rafters of an old school gymnasium.

Where did John Wilkes Booth die? 9-6-09
When John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln in 1865, he not only found a dark corner in American history; he may have became a part of Texas history, too.

Davy In East Texas 8-30-09
Now, a new book has captured the details of Davy's journey to Texas and the Alamo, where, as every schoolchild knows, he died on March 6, 1836, with more than 180 other defenders.

Ferries in East Texas 8-23-09
Long before modern bridges were built to span rivers in East Texas, ferries were maintained at places where roads crossed streams that were not fordable.

The Twirler 8-21-09
When Audrey Dean Leighton passed away in mid-2005, East Texas lost one of its most entertaining and colorful characters.

Lick Skillet 8-9-09
Lick Skillet is a name that courses through the history of rural East Texas. For more than a hundred years or so, it has been attached to communities, creeks, roads and anything else where people have a sense of humor.

Making history 8-2-09
In August of 1945, when the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Charlie Kimble of Lufkin was part of the American landing party that toured Japan’s shambles and helped free 4,500 Korean prisoners of war.

Ghost Road in Hardin County 7-26-09
The best time to visit the Ghost Road in Hardin County is late in the evening when nightfall descends over the Big Thicket and your imagination begins to push aside conventional thoughts like, “There’s no such thing as ghosts.” Skeptical, solid-thinking men and women have driven down the arrow-straight stretch of woodland road between Saratoga and Bragg--and emerged from the Thicket convinced they “saw something.”

A new museum in Rusk 7-12-09
An old grocery store in Rusk now houses memorabilia telling the rich history of Rusk and Cherokee County--one of the oldest counties in East Texas.

Visitors from space? 7-5-09
Mysterious objects supposedly visiting Texas aren’t new. In the late 1800s, several towns in East Texas experienced aerial phenomena.

Bonnie and Clyde 6-29-09
During their Depression-era crime wave between 1931 and 1934, Bonnie and Clyde were suspected of killing at least twelve people, including nine peace officers. Their victims fell in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana...

A gunfight in Hemphill 6-20-09
With deep roots in East Texas, John Wesley Hardin was our most famous outlaw and gunfighter, but many of his raids and shootings in the pineywoods have remained unchronicled. A little-known incident in which he won a gunfight with a Sabine County deputy sheriff at Hemphill...

A cotton gin gets a new life 6-14-09
Thanks to the Depot Museum at Henderson, a cotton gin has now taken its place among other relics of the past...

The Darby-Holcomb Home 6-7-09
An East Texas landmark celebrated its 150th birthday this year, and it still looks as good as it did when it was built.

Country Stores 5-31-09
A friend who lives near Trawick was bemoaning the loss of country stores a few days ago. “When I was a kid, you could drive all over East Texas, and every little town had one or two stores and did a good business because the hometown folks always traded with them...

Jim Reeves and Cheyenne 5-24-09
As a one-time reporter, I covered the funerals of numerous East Texans, but the one I remember the most was that of Jim Reeves, the iconic country singer who grew up at Galloway in Panola County.

Jesse James in Texas 5-17-09
The recent hit movie, “The Assassination of Jesse James,” stirred more than a passing interest in East Texas, especially in Collin, Grayson, Hood and Leon counties. In 1863, during the Civil War, William Clark Quantrill led his guerillas from Missouri to winter quarters in north East Texas. Among the men who rode with him were Jesse and Frank James.

An Unlikely Partnership 5-10-09
They were an unlikely business partnership--a German immigrant, an Irish storekeeper, and two Jewish brothers. But in 1900, Joseph Kurth, Simon W. Henderson, and Sam and Eli Wiener pooled their resources and created the Angelina and Neches River Railroad...

Finding Dextra 5-4-09
Doris, my wife of more than 51 years, loves researching old East Texas communities as much as I, but driving down muddy county roads frightens her as much as a growling bear.

Frontier Jails 4-26-09
There are a lot of jails like the old Tyler calaboose all over East Texas and, thankfully, jailhouse restorations are happening with increasing frequency these days in East Texas.

A forgotten town 4-20-09
Deep in the woods of southeastern Angelina County, a few miles from the brown-watered Neches River, the settlement of Philistine lies in eternal slumber. Little has been written about the old community; the morsels of information available have come from word of mouth passed along from generation to generation.

More Blues Brothers 4-12-09
Some of the earliest blues pioneers lived and played in East Texas...

Remembering Fastrill 4-11-09
Some time in the distant future, if Dallas has its way, a new reservoir could be built on the Neches River in Cherokee and Anderson County. If the proposal ever becomes reality, the lake would inundate a landmark in the history of the forest products history--an old logging camp known as Fastrill.

The President for a Day 3-29-09
Barack Obama isn’t really our 44th President; he is actually the 45th. As it turns out, a little-known politician born in Kentucky in 1807 served as President for a single day back in 1849, but he is rarely mentioned in presidential histories...

A grand old library 3-22-09
Most historians spend a considerable time in libraries and, invariably, many of them gravitate to the Jefferson Library, which has a unique history of its own.

A letter from Mark Twain 3-15-09
When William H. Hamman, a two-time candidate for Texas governor, was murdered on the streets of New Birmingham in 1890, he left a legacy as an enterprising businessman and investor. But often overlooked was his friendship with Samuel Clemens...

Pistol Packing Mamma 3-8-09
One of the most popular songs in the U.S. during the mid-1940s was “Pistol Packing Mama,” which became Billboard Magazine’s most played jukebox favorite in 1944. But few know that the song came from East Texas and was written and performed by an Cherokee County musician Al Dexter.

The Bravest Man 3-2-09
Those who lived in Lufkin during the Depression years knew Homer Garrison, Sr., as a kindly, genteel man who gave away pennies to children and felt he had cheated them “because I always got a two-bit smile.”

100-year-old Aggie 2-22-09
When William B Holsonbake of Hughes Springs celebrated his 100th birthday last May 15, someone asked him how he had managed to become a centurion "Well," he said with a twinkle in his eyes, "it could have been because I was an Aggie." And, indeed, he was quite an Aggie.

Bright and Early Coffee and Tea 2-16-09
Once upon a time, Bright & Early Coffee and Tea signs, usually painted on the sides of barns and country stores, could be found in most Southern states, including Texas.

A county seat’s troubles 2-8-09
As Hopkins County’s first seat of government, Tarrant had more troubles than most frontier communities in East Texas. In the end, the misfortunes converged to cause the town’s demise after 24 years of tenuous existence.

Nazis in East Texas 2-2-09
During World War II, German soldiers who had been captured in Europe were brought to the U.S. and conscripted as loggers...

The Wisdom Table 1-25-09
In towns across East Texas, big and small, there’s usually a place where elderly men gather each morning to have a cup or two of coffee--and solve the world’s problems. Well, maybe some of the problems...

The 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...

Who? Hoo Hoo. That’s Who 1-12-09
Separated by more than 200 miles, Gurdon, Arkansas, and Lufkin, Texas, share a unique legacy: the Concatenated Order of the Hoo Hoo, an international fraternity of lumbermen...

Fawil 1-5-09
Fawil, it has been said, is a town that got its name by accident...

Bobo and Blair 12-30-08
Two Shelby County, Texas, communities might have passed into history without as much as a footnote if a singing cowboy had not popularized a marching and dice playing chant by East Texas soldiers.

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