in a Pecan Shell
Big Lump was a lignite coal mining town on the International-Great
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 sometime ago.
Remembering Big Lump, Texas
Big Lump, Texas
Strange 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.
My grandfather 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.
All 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
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 church family.
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,
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
Subject: 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 25, 2010
|Old farm in Sipe
Springs near Big Lump
Photo courtesy Jeanne Diver Goff
I 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
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