Milam County map showing Big Lump|
(E of Rockdale.
Under "LA" in "MILAM")
Courtesy Texas General Land Office
in a Pecan Shell|
Big Lump was a lignite coal mining town on the International-Great Northern
Big Lump had a post office from 1912 until 1924. The town's
high water mark came around 1914 when nearly 400 Big Lumpites called the place
With the demise of the lignite market in the 1920s, Big Lump dissolved.
No evidence of the community remains, and it stopped appearing on county maps
Big Lump, TexasBig
name for a community, but then knowing how it became named like that, it isn't
such a mystery. Back in the late 20's and early 30's, a strip coal mine was located
just north of the U S Highway 79 and about a mile west of the "roadside park"
and just west of the current Sandy Creek church. The name "Big Lump" came about,
apparently named after the lumps of coal that was being mined. In the immediate
area around Big Lump, the Sandy Creek Church, cemetery and Sandy Creek two room
schoolhouse and an old "country store" adjacent to a "open field" baseball playground
where adults and children alike gathered on Sunday afternoon to "visit" and fill
time between morning and evening church services, was the center of the community.
My grandfather, Ira R. Touchstone owned a large house that sat about
half a mile due north of the "roadside park." Actually the "park" consisted of
a single concrete picnic table that has long since gone away. Directly across
the highway was a dirt road that led to our house and to Sipe
Just inside the open field behind the picnic table where
the baseball diamond was located, two "covered benches" and a soda pop stand was
in evidence. Every Sunday after church, the young men and older boys met on the
field for an evening of baseball. People in the community came to watch the game
and usually brought a picnic lunch to enjoy before going back to church Sunday
evening. I remember as a child, sitting on our (Touchstone) front porch watching
the games because I was not old enough to play in the games.
worked at the mine and one day when my mother was walking through the small frame
houses near the mine, delivering his bucket lunch to him, she was attacked and
mauled by a bulldog belonging to one of the workers at the mine. She still bares
the scars on her arm and shoulder. All this occurred before my time but I remember
my grandfather telling about how he shot the dog while it was being held by its
owner and had it's head sent to Austin to check for rabies. Fortunately, the tests
were negative, sparing her the dreaded rabies shots. Having gone through a series
of rabies shots later in life due to a cat bite, I am well aware of what she missed.
Coming from a broken home (1931) I alternated between my grandparent's homes (Scott
and Touchstone) when I went to Sandy Creek and Sipe
Springs two room schoolhouses. My teacher at Sandy Creek was Mrs. Lumpkin
and at Sipe Springs
it was Mrs. Dee. Strange as it may seem, those are the only teachers' names I
remember until I got up into Junior High school. The grades were divided by rows
with grade school in one room and high school in the other. We all had chores
to do at school as well. The girls helped sweep the floors and the boys cleaned
chalkboards, erasers and brought in firewood (when needed). During recess and
lunch the girls usually played jump rope and the boys played marbles, spun tops
or chased horned toads.
During summer months, most all the boys either
hunted or trapped animals for their skins when we were not working in the fields
or clearing "new" ground. Living in the country always provided something for
us to do. Mainly we were learning how to be responsible and dependable. Kids now
days marvel at their fine cars, fancy clothes and such items but I bet none were
any more proud than I was when I got my own horse and saddle - for which I worked
to earn money to buy. I rode many "trails with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hoppy,
Tom Mix and Buck Jones" while riding through the countryside. At night we would
crank up the old Super Heterodyne Radio and listen to shows like The Shadow,
Green Hornet, Capt. Midnight, Lone Ranger, and I Love a Mystery to name a
few. Back then a radio ran on an "A" battery and a "B" battery - one was merely
a car battery and the other a small higher voltage battery. Since Dad was the
only one in the family that could drive and he was off to war, we used the car
to recharge the car battery for the radio. I guess I joined every club that was
advertised by these adventure programs by sending in cereal box tops for which
we usually received a "secret coded" badge and membership in their fan clubs.
I have no idea what happened to all the treasures I had back then but know that
they would be priceless in today's world. Oh if I only knew then what I know now!
Every Saturday morning my grandfather Scott would hitch up a team to
hiswagon, head into the pasture to soak the wheels in the old slough (stock tank)
then he and I would start to Rockdale
with my grandmother's butter and eggs, which were sold, to the local grocery stores.
My grandfather would give me a quarter to see the matinee at Matson's theater,
usually consisting of a comedy or cartoon, a serial and a western movie. There
was also enough money to buy a bag of popcorn and a candy bar or soft drink and
still have a few pennies left over. After the movie was over, I'd head to the
local domino hall, where my grandfather would be waiting after he did his "shopping".
We'd then go to the livery stable back of the hardware store, hitch up the team
and make our way to pick up his purchases, if any. Next we'd go by way of the
ice plant and get a 100 pound block of ice, wrap it in canvas, then sawdust or
cotton seed and more canvas then make one final stop at a small grocery store
which was run by an elderly Black man (I can still remember how nice and friendly
he always was) where he would buy each of us a large peanut patty to eat on the
way home. Of all the trips I made with him, the list of events never changed.
With my Touchstone grandparents, the events were just a little different,
we'd go to town in a Model T pickup but other than that, it would be the same,
except he didn't play dominos as I remember. On Saturday night, we'd all gather
at some house in the community and listen to the Grand Ole Opry from Nashville.
Back in those days, country music was Country Music, not what we call country
today. All the greats were eventually presented on either the Louisiana Hayride
or the Grand Old Opry, and after the Grand Old Opry went off the air about midnight,
the musicians would head across the street to the Ernest Tubb Record shop and
play as long as anyone would care to listen - or at least it seemed that way.
Of course us "youngens" would play out long before that time anyway.
too soon, school would come around again. To get to school, we all walked, one
or two rode a horse as I remember at Sipe
Springs. I jokingly tell my grandchildren about having to walk all that way
to school in the snow and ice (usually ice every winter but snow was a novelty).
There does not seem to be as many ice storms now as we had back then. I do remember
how cold the houses were because they were not insulated as they are today - in
fact I don't believe there was any insulation in the walls or ceiling. When I
got up to high school age (after a year or two at Mart, Missouri City, Angleton
and Houston while living with my Mother) all the "country" schools were closed
and combined with either Rockdale
or Milano High School. Therefore, off to the "big school" we all went. I remember
that Rockdale had a
"bad" football team and we at Milano,
were not allowed to play (school policy). Our school played baseball, basketball,
track and boxing. I can only remember one multi school boxing event (Rockdale
and Milano) where I got
my ears pinned back real good - oh well one can't expect to win at everything.
Early in 1942 my dad, Ervin Scott, joined the Army as a member of the 1st Armored
Division and became a half-track driver. He came home in December 1945 and I joined
the Army in January 1946 to retire in 1968. I then went on to retire from the
Security Alarm industry and later, my own Business and Computer Consultant Company.
There is an old saying, "You can take the boy out of the country but you can never
take the country out of the boy." That is especially true in my case. I have traveled
all over the world - seventeen countries, been to some of the largest cities in
the world, including London, Berlin, Tokyo and nothing can compare to "country
living" or "home folks." My wife of 54 years, coming up on 55, and I finally quit
retiring and just quit on a five acre tree covered piece of land just south of
San Antonio where we enjoy our
peace and quiet days with our two small dogs. One cat, several grandkids and our
Health problems keep me pretty close to these military hospitals
here in San Antonio but my "home"
is still there in Milam County, torn between Rockdale,
Milano and Big Lump.
Times will never be like they were back then, but then I guess we wouldn't want
them back would we - OR WOULD WE? Personally I don't think it was so bad in that
era. We never had much of the finer things in life but then we didn't want or
need much either.
- Dan Scott, "Just South of San Antonio", June 21, 2006
Dan Scott on Big Lump and Sipe Spring
I want to thank Dan Scott for his
article about Big Lump and Sipe Spring. I'll be watching for any more information
on these areas. For me, the best place in the world was the little farm of my
Grandparents. Arthur "Pete" and Urilla Diver. They lived just down the hill from
Sally Scott and the old school house. - Sincerely, Jeanne Diver Goff, September
farm in Sipe Springs
near Big Lump|
Photo courtesy Jeanne Diver Goff
Lump Texas ForumBig
am writing to you in regard to the Texas ghost town named Big Lump, Texas in Milam
County. Although Big Lump is no longer around, I have a flower and vegetable farm
named Big Lump in the area that was once known as Big Lump. I also have a flower
shop and nursery in the town of Rockdale
called the Big Lump Flower Shop. Anyone who would like to stop by and talk to
me about Big Lump or tour my farm can certainly do so by calling me at my shop
at 512 446 5867. We are trying to keep the name of Big Lump alive. - Thanks,
Jim Gober, January 16, 2005
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos of their town, please contact