find the tranquil and tidy town of Hallettsville just south of I-10 and halfway
between Houston and San
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
The Hanging 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 anchor.
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
the Petersburgans were celebrating their "victory" with a barbecue.
They not only reclaimed the records, but also ate the barbecue for their trouble.
recovered from this, the greatest Texan humiliation, and faded into oblivion.
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.The
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...Hallettsville
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... The
story of Emil Kreklau's self-propelled fan by Murray Montgomery
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... One
saloon for every editor in old Hallettsville by Murray Montgomery
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.”The
adventures of John Himes Livergood by Murray Montgomery
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... The
Old Iron Bridges of Lavaca County by Murray Montgomery
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."
and Outlaws Were Common in Early Days by Murray Montgomery
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
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 EventsSeveral
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 the square.
Vol. Fire Dept. Celebration Committee 1910|
Courtesy Friench Simpson Memorial
Library, Hallettsville, Texas
Tourist Information 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.
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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