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.
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.
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...
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...
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.
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
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.
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.
Good Old Days 9-16-12
East Texas after Civil War
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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
recent caller from Bowie County had an intriguing question: “Does East Texas have
a town named Twin Groceries?” The answer is yes and no.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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.”
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.
Having written a couple of books on East Texas expressions,
I thought I knew them all...
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.
of an irony 2-27-12
Heavyweight champ Jack Johnson’s arrest for boxing
in 1903 in Galveston
Sawyers and Flatheads
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..."
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...
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...
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.
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,
Town names with a twist
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...
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
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....
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
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...
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...
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...
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...
Names II 8-15-11
Origin of East Texas place names.
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.
Throughout East Texas are hundreds of gospel music venues
where people gather on weekends to hear songs that you’ll hear only in churches...
here and there 7-24-11
Of biscuits, apple peel, and more
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...
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...
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...
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.
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...
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
Honoring a bull riding
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
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.
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.
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.
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
of my favorite rural counties in East Texas, San Jacinto County, celebrated its
140th anniversary this year...
there, everywhere 4-25-11
KMOO of Mineola may have the most memorable radio
station call letters in East Texas...
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.
Forest History 4-10-11
The Texas Forestry Museum, Lufkin.
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."
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.
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
In the early days, newspapers carried down-to-earth
news that you seldom read in newspapers today. Some examples...
History laid a heavy hand on Bevilport. But you won’t
find it on many road maps or marked by highway signs.
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
An Outspoken Man
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...
I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. But I am addicted.
me a stack of East Texas newspapers, and I’ll be hooked for hours.
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
Town names 1-25-11
ever wondered how some East Texas towns got their names, you may be surprised
at some of the origins.
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...
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...
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...
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? ...
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).
story of two homes 12-12-10
Two historic buildings in East Texas made news
recently. One story was sad; the other joyous...
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...
great old map 11-28-10
Most historians love old maps. They squint at them
for hours, often finding places they never knew existed...
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.
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...
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...
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.
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...
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...
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...
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
Looking for Hidden Treasures
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
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...
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
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...
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
and there in East Texas..
Ivory Joe Hunter
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...
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
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
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
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...
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...
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
Honky Tonks 5-1-10
“How did the
term “Honky Tonk” come about?”
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...
Around East Texas 3-28-10
Some things we’ve learned by roaming around East
The Wrong Grave 3-21-10
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
Hughes of Sherman may have been the only man in East Texas to be lynched while
he was dead...
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, 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...
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...
“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...
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
Remembering Skin Tight
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”...
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...
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
Remembering Eliza 1-3-10
she passed away in December, East Texas lost one of the most competent and aggressive
How a town was born
Reading old newspapers, particularly those of the early 1900s, can
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...
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...
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...
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...
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
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...
"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.”
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.
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
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...
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
A country legend
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.
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...
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...
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.
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.
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.
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
Audrey Dean Leighton passed away in mid-2005, East Texas lost one of its most
entertaining and colorful characters.
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.
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.”
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?
Mysterious objects supposedly visiting Texas aren’t new. In the late
1800s, several towns in East Texas experienced aerial phenomena.
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...
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...
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...
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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
Some of the earliest blues pioneers lived and played in
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.
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...
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.
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...
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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...
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...
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, it has been said, is a town that got its name by accident...
Bobo and Blair
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.
Things Historical" > Bob Bowman's archived columns