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Texas | Columns

"Cannonball's Tales"
by W.T. Block, Jr.

SE Texas and SW Louisiana

W.T. Block Jr.


  • Napoleon Bonaparte Wiess 11-23-07
  • Early River Boats of Southwest Louisiana 9-6-07
  • Capt. William E. Rogers: Beaumont Steamboatman 8-18-07
  • Fostoria Once Was Prosperous Sawmill Town 8-2-07
  • Dr. Edward Arrel Pye, A Texas Medical Hero 6-16-07
    Whenever the virulent yellow fever plague came to town, the townsmen who were cautious packed up their families and belongings and fled elsewhere. Sometimes a town’s physician did not leave; they stayed to treat their patients and occasionally died...
  • Great-grandpa wasn’t popular in the South 6-2-07
    My great-grandpa Duncan Smith was about as popular among his slave-holding neighbors as a skunk in church.
  • Killer's Trail of Thread 5-15-07
    Some Alamo Heroes Fought Twice for Texas
  • Sally Scull: Texas' Pioneer "Bad Girl" 5-1-07
  • Alamo Hero 4-16-07
  • Some Notes on Our Texas Germanic Heritage 3-30-07
  • Catherine Magill Dorman: Confederate Heroine of Sabine Pass 2-1-07
  • New Braunfels, TX: Pearl of the Comal-Guadalupe Valley 1-1-07
  • The Last Voyage of the Hotspur 12-16-06
  • The 1862 Hangings at Gainesville Texas 12-1-06
  • Thomas Deye Owings of Maryland, Kentucky and Texas 11-15-06
  • The Conroe, Byspot and Northern: A Tram Railroad That Time Forgot 11-1-06
  • Flight from ghosts helps stomp some berry juice 10-16-06
  • Some Notes on the Civil War Jayhawkers of Confederate Louisiana 10-3-06
  • Rev. John August Tubbe 9-25-06
    An Immigrant Farmer, Sawmiller, and Preacher
  • Tulip Transplants To East Texas
    The Dutch Migration To Nederland, Texas, 1895-1915
  • Bolivar Peninsula: Scene of Slaving, Smuggling, Filibustering and Farms 9-4-06
  • Rev. Vitalus Quinon: Early Catholic Church Builder of Southeast Texas 8-28-06
  • Depression was depressing, except brother's paddling 8-21-06
  • Ghost of Nicaragua Smith Still Haunts Graveyard 8-14-06
  • The Case of Beaumont's Missing Marble Corpse 8-7-06
  • First Iron Smelting Attempt In Texas Ended In Ashes 7-30-06
  • The Big Thicket Bear Hunters Club of Kountze
    "They Dream Of Killing the Bears"
  • A Brief History of Pioneer Entertainment in Beaumont, Texas 7-17-06
  • Jack Cross Texas Killer 7-10-06
  • The Legend of the Olive Ghost Train 7-3-06
  • Olive, Hardin County, Texas 7-3-06
    An Extinct Sawmill Town and the Olive-Sternenberg Partnership That Built It
  • The Story of our Texas' German Pilgrims: or Death March to Comal County 6-26-06
    "Of the first German Pilgrims to Texas in 1845... only one in four survived the walk from Indianola to New Braunfels"
  • The Hanging Tree of Orange Texas 6-19-06
  • The River Rat Boys 6-11-06
    "He had just made his promise to me, and I knew it was as good as gold. Pa's like that--he always said his word was his bond...."
  • I Remember "The Lucky Stiffs" 6-5-06
    "...The day before, the 309th Infantry had jumped across the Roer River, making a lightning advance into the weakly-defended Rhineland, but several of our 78th Division soldiers had died during the onslaught..."
  • Demise of Reptilian 'Big Tooth' drew crowds 5-29-06
    Eastland, Texas may have had Ol' Rip, but Southeast Texas had 'Big Tooth.'
  • Former slave's death in 1889 attracted rare news coverage 5-22-06
    In February 1889, Beaumont Enterprise published an obituary about a Black centenarian, nicknamed "Old Sock," in an age when Black obituaries were usually printed only in Negro newspapers...
  • Mill manager paid big price by dismissing 'untouchable' 5-14-06
  • The Legend of Ann Eliza's Grave 5-8-06
    "It soon became a byword among the Sabine River boatmen that no other grave ever received more attention than that of Ann Eliza Pavell."
  • Skull Island on Mermentau River, A Slave Ship's Inhumanity 5-1-06
    "... It was the story of 200 starving African slaves abandoned on a marsh ridge on Mermentau River, where they were left to die horrific deaths..."
  • The Legend of the Headless Yankee Cannoneer of Sabine Pass 4-24-06
    "I already foresee that some character will accuse me of stealing this yarn from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but I'm going to tell it anyway..."
  • Seth Carey's Escape from the Murderous Yocum Gang 4-15-06
    "... Carey not only survived his slated assassination and dismemberment in Yocum's alligator slough, but he lived instead to finger the gang and account for its destruction."
    The Devil's Own Lodging House
    "A gentleman's life... held no attraction for Squire Yocum, a man who literally was nursed almost from the cradle on murder and rapine, and for many years Yocum's Inn was actually a den of robbers and killers."

    Column begins April 2006

  • W.T. Block WWII Portrait

    William Theodore Block, Jr.
    7/29/1920 - 12/15/2007

    Self-described as "an old infantry dogface from the Battle of the Bulge," W.T. "Cannonball" Block was born in Port Neches and raised in Nederland, Texas. He graduated from Chenier Radio College in Beaumont, earning both a marine radio operator's license and a Broadcast or Radiotelephone license. He operated an amateur radio station (and repair shop) from his home until he enlisted in the Army in August of 1942. Assigned to Camp Wallace at Hitchcock, he put his radio experience to work teaching radio operation and repair. When Camp Wallace closed in 1943, he was transferred to the 78th Signal Co. of the 78th Inf Div. His unit crossed Belgium under fire, crossed the Rhine and after intense mortar and artillery fire, saw the end of the war on German soil.

    After surviving the war, Mr. Block returned to deal with the perils of SE Texas - including a near-fatal boiler explosion at a tire plant and three hurricanes. In 1964, he began night classes at Lamar University toward a degree in history. He received his BA in late 1970 and his MA in January of 1974. His passion for history was demonstrated when his advisor suggested that he stop his thesis with the end of the Civil War. At that point it was already 300 pages in length.

    Between 1972 and 1995 Mr. Block published nine books and has several unpublished manuscripts. He began writing East Texas and Louisiana history columns for the Port Arthur News, and later the Beaumont Enterprise. His column was also picked up by the Midcounty Chronicle, DeQuincy News and the Cameron Pilot. His final article was published Dec. 31, 2005, at his request.

    In April of 2003, Mr. Block became Sir Block. In a ceremony in Nederland, Texas he was appointed Knight of the Royal Order of Orange-Nassau by order of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

    His dedication to East Texas history and his inclusion of Louisiana History is an inspiration. It proves that no one can beat a passionate native-born historian for detail and research. Mr. Block has stated that he only writes "for the dissemination of knowledge" and he has graciously allowed Texas Escapes to republish his columns. We are proud to be able to share his wide-ranging articles with a Texas-wide audience. The setting may be SE Texas, but the themes and characters are truly "universal."

    Mr. Block's website is www.wtblock.com

    Related Topics:
    Columns | Texas History | Texas

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