in the Pendleton Harbor Subdivision on Hwy. 21 (Highway 6 on the Louisiana side)
near the Pendleton Bridge, the Gaines-Oliphint House has been acknowledged by
the Texas Historical Commission as the oldest standing hand hewn log structure
in the state. The building is a double pen planked log story and a half building
with a dog trot. |
House - "Oldest standing hand hewn log structure in Texas"|
Gaines-Oliphint House was given to the James Frederick Gomer Chapter of the Daughters
of the Republic of Texas in 1999 by the SRT (Sabine District Chapter 33 of the
Sons of the Republic of Texas). As of May, 2008, the DRT received a master plan
for the restoration of the house and stabilization was completed in the fall of
2008. The Texas Historical Commission requires that in order to preserve the house
we must replace the existing roof with a historically correct roof which is a
fire retardant cedar shake roof. Funds for this project are actively being sought
at this time.|
Chartered on March 8, 1984, the Sons of the Republic of
Texas, Sabine District Chapter 33 were gifted in December, 1984 with the Gaines-Oliphint
House by Mrs. Tom Foster of Center.
Oliphint House is one of the earliest Pre-Republic, Anglo-American structures
in Texas. This house is the only surviving structure of the early settlement of
Gaines Ferry. It was located on James Gaines' large plantation and ferry-tavern
enterprise on the Sabine River crossing of the El
Camino Real. James was born Richard T. Gaines in 1776 in Culpepper City, VA.|
Many historians say the 2-story, double pen log structure was built about 1818
by James T. Taylor Gaines; Tree ring dating done as part of the master plan in
2007 indicates the house might have been constructed as late as 1849. Identical
to the Gaines Ferry house that he built for himself around 1815 by slave labor
at the Sabine Crossing, the Oliphint House was apparently built for his teenage
wife's parents, the Edmund Norris', so they might live in the vicinity. Later
his cousin Susan Jackson lived with her family in the house. The Gaines Ferry
site was inundated by waters of the Toledo
Bend Reservoir in the late 1960's and the Oliphint House, an exceptionally
fine example of early Texas
architecture, is all that remains of this early nineteenth century settlement.
of Texas' first Anglo settlers, Gaines first came to what is now Texas
in 1812, crossing the Sabine
River and traveling to Nacogdoches.
This was prior to Stephen
F. Austin's first 300 Angle colonists in 1812. Speculating that other settlers
would choose to colonize west of the Sabine
River, Gaines purchased an existing ferry in 1819 on the river in Sabine County.
From this grew a mercantile establishment and later the town of Pendleton. Gaines
lived in the home at Pendleton from 1819 to 1843. The property on which the Gaines-Oliphint
House stands was sold to Wilford Oliphint by James Gaines about 1840; the bargain
seems to have fallen through. The deed validly conveying the house and 61 acres
of land was made by James Gaines and his son, John B. Gaines, to Martha A. Oliphint
on February 17, 1843. |
James Gaines’ influence on Texas’
development is significant, for he built a large plantation on the edge of the
frontier and was continually involved in Texas’ growth.
After participating in two Mexican expedition, he held office as the first judge
(Aildae) of the municipality of Sabine in 1823 or 1824 and operated a post office
at the ferry for a time in 1863. Like his grandfather, Edmond Pendleton, who inspired
Henry Lee to author a Virginia resolution calling for American Independence in
1776, James Gaines participated in the creation of the new Texas Republic as a
delegate from Sabine County to the Convention of 1836. He was placed on the committee
to draft the Constitution of the Republic of Texas and went on to serve as Senator
in the 4th, 5th, and 6th Texas Congress. Further, he was a signer of the Texas
Declaration of Independence.
Several architectural features of the house
indicate the carpenter to have been from the tidewater areas of the Carolinas
and Virginia; the logs having square notched gravity corners and the house is
built on high piers, both being features of early southern building in the U.S.
Built of longleaf pine logs which were shaped into planks with an adze and broadax,
the house was completely stacked before the windows and doors were cut into the
walls. Archeological findings indicate the bricks for the chimney were manufactured
on the site from native red clay.
The Gaines-Oliphint house provided lodging
for Sam Houston, Davy Crockett,
and Stephen F. Austin,
among others. According to legend, it is the site where pirate Jean
LaFitte held his auctions to sell slaves and goods he had taken from captive
Texas (junction Highway 21 and Highway 87) - Go East on Highway 21 for 6.4
miles to Pendleton Harbor Subdivision (Cedar Grove Road). Turn North on Cedar
Grove Road and go 0.1 mile to the STOP sign. Turn East (right) on Harbor Blvd.
and go 0.1 mile to Ensign Drive. Turn North (left) on Ensign Drive and proceed
0.2 miles to the Gaines-Oliphint House on the right.
by Nina Gooch, President, "James Frederick Gomer" Chapter, Daughters of the Republic
Oak Tree (over 325 years old) at the Gaines-Oliphint House|
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