a Sunday Drive that will clear up the origin of the hamburger, carry
you through a countryside that is half-East Texas and half-Central
Texas, and enable you to visit several communties with interesting
histories. For good measure, we've thrown in a couple of excellent
Mexican food restaurants.
Start your tour
in Athens, home of the hamburger and the world-famous black-eyed
had its beginning on Athens' interesting courthouse square in the
l880s when Fletcher Davis, who owned a downtown cafe, invented the
sandwich. The delicacy was so popular that in l904 a group of Athens
businessmen raised enough money to send the inventor to the St.
Louis World's Fair, where the hamburger was introduced to the world.
For many years,
the growing, processing, canning and eating of black-eyed peas was
a major part of life in Athens--so much so that Athens became the
black-eyed pea capitol of the world, eventually spawing an annual
jamboree each July.
seat of Henderson County, was founded in l850, four years after
Texas was annexed as a state by the U.S. The county was named for
J. Pickney Henderson, the first governor of Texas, and Athens was
named for the Grecian capital by the step-daugher of one of the
town's founders in the hope that it could become the cultural center
of Henderson County.
are a number of things to see in Athens, including:
- The B&B
Cafe, established in the l930s and named for owners Walter
and Clyde Barrow. Clyde's girlfriend, Bonnie, often accompanied
him to the backdoor for a meal while the sheriff, Jess Sweeten,
ate in the front.
- A wealth
of interesting old homes along East Tyler Street, one of
the town's earliest streets. Architectural designs here range
from Victorian to Colonial to Old English. The homes date back
to the early 1800s.
- The Henderson
County Historical Museum, housed in the l896 Faulk-Gauntt
Building. the second floor of the museum is a recreation of a
turn-of-the-century law office, parlor, bedroom, bath, kitchen,
and schoolroom. The museum is open to the public and is located
on Prairieville Street.
- The Henderson
County Courthouse, which dominates the town square.
- The Old
Fiddlers Reunion, held each year in May. The festival dates
back to the l930s when the Bethel Comunity, near Athens, held
a fiddlers contest to climax a farmer's study course. The event
was moved to Athens in l933 and is now held on the courthouse
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Athens, continue your Sunday Drive by heading in a southeasterly
direction on U.S. 175, and stop at the settlement of New York
From New York,
continue on 175 to the community of LaRue. The settlement
was founded in l853 when George W. Stephens built a log cabin near
the present day. The village began to develop when the New Orleans
Railroad designated it as a railroad station and named it for Joe
T. LaRue of Athens, who was helpful in building the railroad.
turn north on Farm Road 607 through the scenic countryside and continue
to Brownsboro, which was settled in l849 by John (Red) Brown,
who operated a toll bridge across Kickapoo Creek on the road to
Jordan's Saline and Tyler. Norwegian immigration between l849 and
l857 brought new families into the community, and the town began
to grow after building a railroad depot, a cotton gin and sawmill.
take Farm Road 314 to Edom, a small village known for its
arts and crafts exhibitors. The Edom Arts Festival each year is
one of the most popular rural events in East Texas. A number of
artists and craftsmen from Dallas have settled in the community
in recent years and produce many unusual products for metropolitian
Turn west at
Edom on Farm Road 2339 until you come to its intersection with Farm
Road 1861, and take l861 until it intersects with Farm Road 316
near the Purtis Creek State Park. ( website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/purtis/purtis.htm
) Continuing on 316, go to Eustace, a town settled in l874
and named for W.T. Eustace, who helped make the town a railroad
turn north on U.S. 175 to Mabank. This town, founded about
l846 as a stop on the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, was named
for two early settlers, Dodge Mason and Tom Eubanks.
take Texas 198, which will carry you south through several communities
on the eastern side of Cedar Creek Reservoir, including Gun
Barrel City, Payne Springs and Caney City.
Cedar Creek lake was filled in l964 as a water reservoir for Tarrant
County, and has about 328 miles of shoreline. In l988, the Rand
McNally Retirement Places rated the lake as 14th in the nation for
Follow 198 and
you'll end up in Malakoff,
which dates from l850 when Dr. John Collins applied for a post office
and named it for a Russian town that was prominent during the Crimean
War. Silver suppposedly was mined along Wild Cat Creek as early
as l830, but most of the town's later day propserity has come from
lignite, brick clay deposits, and other resources.
At Malkoff, you
should pick up Farm Road 3441, which heads south to the Cross Roads
settlement. Here, take Farm Road 59 and you'll end up in Athens again.
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Excerpt by permission of author Mr. Bob Bowman.