1891 the Hallettsville Herald called itself “the official organ
of Lavaca County” and the paper took a lot of pride in keeping the
residents of this area up to date on local news.
Recently, while researching the May 7, 1891, issue, I came upon some
information that was quite fascinating to me leave it to the
world’s best history book, a newspaper, to provide little-known information
about the past.
The article that caught my eye was a report concerning the old iron
bridges located in Lavaca
County. Calling them “old” at that time would have been incorrect,
for they were not aged back then; fact is they were some of the most
modern of structures. In 1891 the county had a total of 19 iron bridges;
the paper referred to them as “substantial structures” and folks back
then took great pride in their creation.
| The old iron
bridge located on County Road 172, over Rocky Creek, near Worthing
in Lavaca County.
It was removed around 1999.
Photo courtesy Friench Simpson Memorial Library (Hallettsville).
Buchanan, county clerk at the time, prepared a report which was published
in the Herald and it contained some very interesting information
about the bridges. His report showed the location of the structures,
the precincts they were in, and the cost to build each one. The paper
reported, “This statement shows a progress in the facilitation of
travel and commerce between the different sections of the county not
surpassed by any other in South Texas.”
However, there were some complaints from folks in the northern section
of the county who didn’t think the bridges were as equally distributed
as they might have been. Buchanan’s report didn’t show any bridges
in Precincts 6 or 7. According to the paper, Precinct 6 was a large
tax-paying portion of the county.
We must remember that this newspaper article was written over 114
years ago. So far, I haven’t found anyone in the area who knows of
all these bridges. But chances are some of the old timers have heard
stories from their ancestors about the structures. Another interesting
piece of information that the old article reveals is the existence
of eight precincts back then, compared to the four we have today.
print in the article was not very legible, but I am including here
what I could read. As previously mentioned, Buchanan’s report included
the locations and cost of construction for each bridge. In Precinct
1 the bridges were listed as follows: Hallettsville,
Lavaca River, $3,800; Moulton
crossing, Lavaca River, $2,608; Rocky crossing, Lavaca River, $3,040,
and Hinkley crossing, Lavaca River, $2,276.
In Precincts 1 and 4 the report included: Neeld crossing, Rocky Creek,
$2,900, and Perry crossing, Rocky Creek, $2,137. Also Precincts 1
and 3 showed another Rocky Creek crossing on the Hallettsville
to Cuero route.
The cost of that structure was $2,900. Again, some of the names of
the crossings may be incorrect due to my inability to read a portion
of the print in the old article.
Continuing, Precincts 1 and 8 showed a crossing on the Navidad for
road, that bridge cost $2,755 to build. In Precinct 2 were the following:
Navidad crossing, Hackberry
road, $2,391; Navidad crossing, Hallettsville
$3,800, and Rocky Creek on the Hallettsville
In Precinct 3, the following were listed: Ponton Creek, Shiner
$2,384; Mustang Creek, Sweet
Home to Flatonia,
$1,733; Rocky Creek, Sweet
Home to Flatonia,
$3,690, and Rocky Creek near Shiner,
$2,965. Precinct 4 showed these: Brown’s crossing, Lavaca River, $2,888,
and Wallace Mill, Lavaca River, $6,500.
The last one listed was Precinct 5 and these were shown: Navidad crossing,
Mixon Mill, $3,000, and the Hallettsville-Boxville Road, $4,091.
According to the report, the total cost to build the 19 bridges was
are a valuable resource when we seek to recover information from bygone
days. Just as the old article from 1891 revealed the in-depth information
about the iron bridges once located in Lavaca County. Perhaps the
data from that aged story will jog a memory, and maybe more information
about the structures will be forthcoming.
In this particular case not only did the story provide interesting
data, the reporter indicated the obvious pride that Lavaca
County took in maintaining its roads and creating new bridges
to span the rivers and creeks. The article ended this way, “We doubt
if any county in our state can boast of more bridges than Lavaca County.”