give a more accurate account of what happened when they moved the
County Site of Lavaca
County, Texas, from Petersburg
than any account I have ever read. And I have more first-hand information,
on the early history of Hallettsville,
than any printed information I have ever seen.
When a “teen
age” boy some seventy to eighty years ago, I lived near neighbor
Danridge Bradley, who was born in Richmond
or in Fort Bend
County, but was an early resident of what was later Hallettsville.
He delighted in telling interesting things that happened in those
They used post oak logs and clapboard shingles to build the first
store, and when the walls were finished, they had no planks for
building a door, so they used a dry cowhide for a door and called
it Hidesville. When a post office was established they called it
The Ives Post Office, until the Halletts took over, and then they
changed the name to Hallettsville.
After Mr. Hallett’s
death, his wife, daughter and two living sons had charge of the
store and Post Office. The two sons went with their wagons and teams
to get supplies to replenish their stock in the store. They disappeared
and no one ever knew what became of them. Sometime after they had
gone the Indians made a raid on the store and robbed it of everything
they could get away with. Mrs. Hallett and daughter heard them coming
and ran, fearing the Indians might kill them.
After Lavaca County
was organized in 1846 and the village had grown to considerable
size, her citizens called for a county-wide election, asking for
the County Site to be moved from Petersburg,
about six miles north of its present location. The majority of votes
favored the move, but the people of Petersburg
refused to give up the records and threatened to shoot anyone who
tried to move them.
The citizens of Hallettsville
organized a force of about 200 men and sent word they were coming
on a certain day to take the records. They were armed and ready
to fight if necessary to get them. The opposing force organized
about 200 men, butchered several yearlings, and barbecued the meat,
the night before the other force were to come, aiming to have a
real barbecue feast when they had destroyed or driven the other
force away. When the Hallettsville
force came near enough to see a part of the opposing force were
inside the Court House walls, and they were almost surrounded by
men in other hiding places, they said, “Let’s see if we can’t talk
them into giving up the records without any bloodshed.”
They chose one man, who tied a white handkerchief around a pole
and he went on foot to where the leaders of the other force were.
And said: “Let’s not have any bloodshed over this matter. The majority
of voters have voted to move the records, now let’s abide by the
After hearing his plea, the leaders of the other force called their
men out from their hiding places. And after discussing thoroughly
what they should do, they decided to give up the records, and the
amazing act was to invite the Hallettsville
force to come and help them eat the barbecue they had prepared.
When they had eaten their fill, and thanked the good Petersburg
people for their kindness, they went on their way rejoicing back
rendered eight years of service in the Sheriff’s
Office in Lavaca County,
from 1902 through 1910. Back in horse and buggy days when roads
were muddy and times were rough, I traveled every public road and
“cow trail” in the county.
There was a time when I knew every man in the county, where he lived,
and whether he owned a home, or was a renter. I talked with men
who had grown old, but were members of those armed forces, and each
one told practically the same story about what happened when the
records were moved. They certainly deserve credit for settling without
bloodshed and the friendly way by which they settled the matter.
Another interesting thing, relative to the Hallett family, happened
while I was living at Hallettsville.
The firm of Rheinstrom & Greenabaum, were using teams and scrapers
to fill a gully, where they intended building a “mule barn” – the
workers were scraping dirt out of the same gully, down near where
it ran into the Lavaca River. And after scraping up quite a bit
of dirt, they uncovered two human skeletons. It seemed that no one
could account for them being there. The thought came to me; those
are the remains of the two Hallett boys.
I have reason to believe, those boys came in while the Indians were
robbing the store, and they killed these men, stripped them of all
their possessions and pitched their dead bodies in the muddy waters
of this gully and escaped with their horses and wagon loads of supplies
for the store.
It’s reasonable to believe this accounts for the disappearance of
the two men and their possessions.
Star Diary July
28, 2014 column