find the tranquil and tidy town of Hallettsville just south of I-10
and halfway between Houston
and San Antonio.
1897 Lavaca County Courthouse
Town Square has a beautiful 1897 Courthouse designed by Eugene
Heiner, famed Architect and would-be rival to J. Reily Gordon
if he hadn't died at age 42. Although
several of his courthouses are standing, they’ve been altered over
the years. Today only Hallettsville and Columbus
have representative Heiner structures. The closest example of Heiner's
other work is the Old Jail Museum in Gonzales.
1897 LaVaca County Courthouse detail
Tree in Hallettsville
in a Pecan Shell
The town was named after Margaret Hallett, wife of John Hallett, who
bequeathed the land for the townsite. This woman's life reads better
than a novel.
Married to a seafaring man against her family's wishes, the newlywed
Halletts traveled west with a wagon whose tongue was cut from a ships
mast and the sails serving as the wagon cover. He even brought his
A Veteran of San Jacinto along with one of his three sons, Mr. Hallett
died, as did all the males in the family, leaving Mrs. Hallett alone
with her only daughter. Fluent in Spanish and able to defend herself
in two Indian dialects, she left Goliad
where they had been living and returned to the original grant in Lavaca,
opening a trading post and making friends with nearly everyone.
She once cudgeled an Indian who was making a nuisance of himself.
The Chief paid her a visit and she explained the injury should be
regarded as "a knowledge knot". The Chief laughed. Upon
her death in 1863, local Indians decorated her grave. Her grave is
in the Founder's cemetery, a short distance from the Town Square.
Lavaca County is also the home of "The Archives War"
in which the citizens of Hallettsville rode into Petersburg
to liberate the county records, which had been removed in a disputed
election over the official county seat. The Hallettsville "committee"
rode into Petersburg
where the Petersburgans were celebrating their "victory"
with a barbecue. They not only reclaimed the records, but also ate
the barbecue for their trouble. Petersburg
never recovered from this, the greatest Texan humiliation, and faded
Hallettsville Became Seat of Lavaca County - Eyewitness Account
by Murray Montgomery
Were Welcome at the Fink Hotel by Murray Montgomery
It has been said that Mr. and Mrs. A. Finkelstein always had
a room in their hotel and a home-cooked meal for any who appeared
at the door.
County's Old Brown School by Murray Montgomery
People who were raised in Lavaca County, Texas, are probably familiar
with the old school. This article, which appeared in The Tribune
on Jan. 10, 1933.
Legend of Campbell’s Branch by Murray Montgomery
If you leave Hallettsville traveling on FM 957 towards Breslau,
you will cross over a small creek named West Campbell Branch – known
as just plain “Campbell Branch” to most folks. Recently I came across
a fascinating story, from 1944, about the legend of Campbell’s Branch...
the Dalton boys ever visit Lavaca County by Murray Montgomery
In the year 1895, reports were circulating around Victoria, Texas,
that a member, or members, of the famous Dalton Gang were in the
Victoria and Lavaca County area...
was booming in the early 1900s by Murray Montgomery
With the construction of a new light system in the summer of 1900,
Hallettsville started a nine-year run of development that included
the construction of new buildings, the beginning of new businesses,
and renovations to existing structures...
story of Emil Kreklau's self-propelled fan by Murray Montgomery
If you go online and do a search of “The Industrial Revolution,”
you will be inundated with more information than any normal human
being is prepared to digest. An old newspaper article that I came
across recently prompted me to give it a try and my head is still
spinning as a result...
saloon for every editor in old Hallettsville by Murray Montgomery
By the early 1900s, the town had gained such a reputation that it
would eventually be included in the famous Ripley’s Believe It
or Not. According to historian Boethel, in his book The Free
State of Lavaca, Ripley reported the following: “Hallettsville
with its 1300 people in 1913 had thirteen newspapers, thirteen saloons,
thirteen churches, and an empty jail.”
adventures of John Himes Livergood by Murray Montgomery
In the days of early Texas, Lavaca County had its share of adventurous
pioneers, and a man from Missouri, John Himes Livergood, can be
counted as one of the best among them... Here is a story about him
in an expedition against the Indians who had killed a settler’s
wife and daughter and kidnapped his 8-year-old boy...
Old Iron Bridges of Lavaca County by Murray Montgomery
"In 1891 the county had a total of 19 iron bridges; the paper
referred to them as 'substantial structures' and folks back then
took great pride in their creation." more
and Outlaws Were Common in Early Days by Murray Montgomery
"Folks living in Lavaca County in this day and time might be
surprised to know that back in the 1870’s, 1880’s and 1890’s this
was quite a wild place ..." more
Demise of Bad Man Buckley by Murray Montgomery
During the days of early Texas, there were many a scoundrel packing
guns and causing panic and mayhem amongst the town folk. Hallettsville
had one of the worst of these villains in a fellow known as "Bad
Man Buckley." more
From The Sky by Murray Montgomery
One story appeared first in the Yoakum Times and the Halletsville
Herald printed it on July 16, 1903. This fascinating piece was about
a fellow named Benedict Manning who was witness to several strange
occurrences during his lifetime...
Attractions and Events
Several other noteworthy
buildings on the square includes the one now occupied by the Hallettsville
Florist. This was the photography
studio of H. J. Braunig and offers the absolute best view of a
courthouse anywhere in the state.
Hallettsville is the home of the Lavaca Historical Museum (open
weekends 2-5) at 413 N. Main.
The Texas Championship Domino Hall of Fame (tournament held
every January) shares space with The Texas Fiddler's Hall of Fame
(Fiddler’s Frolic held fourth week of April) at the Knights of
Columbus Hall, Hwy 77 South. Both are open Mon - Fri 9am to 11am.
Hallettsville also is home to the Alton C. Allen Historical Conference,
sponsored by the LaVaca County Historical Commission and the Raymond
Dickson Foundation. Contact the Chamber.
One of the few remaining downtown single screen movie theaters in
Texas, The Cole shows first run movies, just off the north side of
Vol. Fire Dept. Celebration Committee 1910
Courtesy Friench Simpson Memorial Library, Hallettsville,
Chamber of Commerce: 512-798-2662
Website : www.hallettsville.com.
The chamber is just north of town on highway 77. If you're coming
from the North, it's on your left just after you enter the city limits.
The Hallettsville Chamber of Commerce will provide you with an excellent
map showing all points of interest and for visitors interested in
history and/or Courthouses, two pamphlets are for sale (to cover printing
costs). One is Lavaca County Seats and Their Courthouses
(including the "Archives War") and is written by Paul C.
Boethel. The other is a Historical Tour and is written by Dorothy
Bujnoch, Anne Rhodes and Doug Kubicek. Local historian Mr. Doug
Kubicek is an "Investigative Historian" who also teaches
History at the Middle School. It was he, along with the late Dr.
Pat Waggoner who spent years authenticating the Gonzales "Come
and Take It" Cannon.
special thanks to Mr. Kubicek who enlightened us on many historical
details, and to Chamber Director Pat Carr, who represents what an
invaluable asset a dedicated Chamber Director is to a town.
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