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The Historical Story
of Bee County Texas By Camp Ezell
BILANCONIA (DARK CORNER)
The settlement of Blanconia dates back to 1834 when John and Michael Keating acquired half a league of land from the State of Coahuila and Texas. Their heirs deeded this property to J. E. Coleman in May 1874, who in turn conveyed portions of this survey to J. Weed, William W. Holbrook, P. E. Dugat, Jonathan Newman, J. A. Williams, Timothy Williams, S. P. H. Williams, and A. C. Williams. This land was in Refugio, County until 1857, when Bee County was created. Blanco Creek formed the eastern boundary of Bee County, and since that time the settlement twenty miles east of Beeville, has been part of Bee County.
Blanconia derived its name from Blanco Creek, the letters "nia" having been added when application was made for a post office by Thomas McGuill. According to Hobart Huson's "Refugio County History,'' the village had several sobriquets. including Kyms, its original name: Pull Tight, and Dark Corner. The latter name referred to the shade provided by the numerous Post Oak frees that adorned the area.
Among the early families who settled there were those of Thomas McGuill, Levi Williams, Henderson Williams, Hugh May, Hugh Rea, N. R. McDaniel, Michael Fox, the Wests, Sheltons, Huddlestons, Barbers, Doughtys, Mannings, Lamberts, and Maleys. Another early‑day resident of Blanconia was Sallie Scull, who became famous as a pistol‑toting horse trader. A short biography of her Is given in the chapter entitled Historical Fragments, in this book.
A public school was established early, and then came the Baptist Church h and the Catholic Church. The Refugio Masonic Lodge was moved to Blanconia in the 1880s, a grist mill was operated by Hugh May, Coffin Brothers of Refugio, opened a store during the 1870s, and the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company operated a commissary or store in the 1880s. Thomas McGuill and son, Martin, bought this store and three acres of land and moved the business they had on their farm and consolidated it with the store in the village. Also they established a gin and a blacksmith shop in Blanconia.
The Blanconia Baptist Church is older than Bee County. It was established on April 22, 1855, when Robert Martin, Celeta Martin, J. M. Doughty, C. P. Miles, Martha Miles, Sarah Maples, and S. R. and Martha Patterson met at what was then known as the Doughty schoolhouse. They called upon Elders John H. Thurman and Mansfield Barlow to confer with them and constitute a church. Elder Thurman preached the first sermon. Coming forward for baptism at that time were James Ballard, E. C. Harris, Zeptha Williams, Mary Ives, and Mary Franklin. They were given the ordinance of baptism the following day. Most of the early baptisms were performed in the Mission River. (Bee -Picayune, October 16, 1958.)
L. D. Young became pastor of the congregation in 1859. Meetings were held in the Doughty schoolhouse, but ''due to so much drinking, gambling and cursing at the schoolhouse, they moved over to the pecan bottom on Blanco Creek to an old log house and remained there until after the Civil War.'' In 1865 the members built a church on land that was owned by L. D. Young. Later it was purchased by A. H. Barber. N. R. McDaniel paid more than half the amount needed to construct the house of worship, and in recognition of this gift the members called the church "N -2," which was Mr. McDaniel's cattle brand.
A. H. Barber was converted at a meeting in the N -2 Church and was the first preacher to be ordained there. His ordination occurred in 1870. He served the church as pastor in two different periods, and worked with the Blanco Baptist Association more than fifty years.
S. B. Kimball and Floyd Kimball also were ordained to preach by the N -2 Church and both served as pastors of this congregation.
In 1879 or 1880 the church was moved to two acres of land donated by Richard (Dick) West. This location was near the center of the settlement. The building also was used as a schoolhouse until 1888 when It was destroyed by fire. It was at this location that Dave Wilson was ordained a minister. The members then met once a month in the schoolhouse on the Hugh May ranch. In 1890 or 1891 S. P. H. Williams gave the land on which was built a two -story structure. The lower floor was used by the Baptists and the upper floor was occupied by the Masonic Lodge. (Later the Masons moved to Woodsboro, the present location of the fraternity.)
In 1927 the Rev. W. S. Gibbs, as missionary, led the congregation in rebuilding the church in the form it now stands.
In 1920 the name of the denomination was changed from the Refugio Baptist Church to Blanconia Baptist Church. Rev. N. F. Phillips was pastor at that time, and Miss Ada Williams was clerk. The Rev. A. H. Barber served as missionary for the Blanco Association eleven years and rode over the area in a two‑wheel cart or on horseback until he had to resign because of ill health.
Among other pastors not mentioned were: G. H. M. Wilson, D. A. Wilson, B. F. Tatum, J. C. Thames, E. J. Smith, F. M. Logan, W. A. Myers, D. C. Smith, J. E. McKenzie, John T. Burns, E. Donaho, S. H. Culpepper, E. E. Smith. Carroll R. Jones, and Dan Sanford.
Because of ill health, the Rev. Paul Bremerman resigned as pastor in November 1971, and since that time the congregation has been without a pastor. However. Mrs. Branch Williams was placed in charge of the celebration of the church's 118th anniversary, which was held on April 20, 1973. There are now only seven members of the church.
The history of the Catholic Church in Blanconia starts at an unknown date prior to 1885 when an Irish settler, Thomas 0. McGuill, donated land and built at his own expense a log house of worship near the bank of Blanco Creek. He also made all of the church furniture.
The one‑room church was dedicated as Our Lady of the Rosary, and there is in the present church a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary which is all that is left of the original building. A small plot of land also was given to the church for a cemetery, and many years later Mr. McGuill, the donor of the property, was the first person interred there.
The following Irish settlers were members of the original congregation: Thomas 0. McGuill, John Sullivan, Michael Fox, Dan Murphy, William Weir, John Dorsey, John McGrew, Solomon West, and Nicholas and Patrick Lambert.
The membership grew rapidly, and within a short time Mr. McGuill built a second church close to the original log house. This building was enlarged on two different occasions, finally becoming a long, narrow frame structure about sixty feet in length. Although the first two churches were built in Goliad County, they served the parishioners of Blanconia in Bee County, just across Blanco Creek to the west.
The churches at Blanconia were missions served by priests from Our Lady of Refuge in Refugio, fen miles eastward. The original pastors serving Blanconia Catholics were: Father E. A. Antoine, until about 1890; Father T. J. Flynn, until 1893; Father Joseph Gilman, for one year, 1893; and Father H. A. Milmo, until 1898. The last two years of the century Refugio was without a pastor, and Father A. J. Ylld of Goliad served the church on Blanco Creek.
At the beginning of the twentieth century the well‑known Father B. J. Donaho, who later was elevated to the rank of Monsignor, became pastor of the Refugio parish and also served Our Lady of the Rosary at Blanconia. There were times when swollen creeks and impossible roads prevented the Refugio priest from making the trip to Blanconia, and services were held only when conditions would permit.
Prior to 1912, Blanconia was under the jurisdiction of the Vicariate Apostolic of Brownsville. In 1912 the Diocese of Corpus Christi was created and Blanconia was included in this jurisdiction.
During the 1920s, because of the growing membership of the church, a third house of worship was erected on land donated by Michael Fox, located closer to the center of the community. A gift of $3000 from Mrs. Catherine Barnard of Detroit through the Catholic Extension Society of Chicago made this project possible. Mrs. Barnard also donated a statue of Saint Catherine valued at $325, and at the donor's request the new building was called Saint Catherine of the Angels, the present name of the Blanconia Catholic Church. It was dedicated by the Most Rev. E. B. Ledvina. D.D., LL.D., the second Bishop of the Corpus Christi Diocese.
When Saint James Church was built in Refugio to accommodate the Spanish‑speaking Catholics, the mission church at Blanconia was assigned to the care of Saint James Church. Among the pastors who served both churches were: Father Michael Puig, 1929‑1933; Father Anthony Easing, 1933‑1936; Father John Lucassen, 1936‑1948; Father Theodore Kaiser, until 1949; Father Ferdinand P. Strueder, Father Stephen Devine, Father Donovan, and the Rt. Rev. Msgr. William Hennel. who died April 4, 1973. The Rev. Father Chilen, assistant pastor at Refugio, now has charge at Blanconia.
Saint Catherine's Church was remodeled at a cost of $2.700 in 1957, and this money was given by the members of the congregation.
Pleasant Grove Methodist Church was organized in 1863 or 1864 by the Rev. Charles Cook, father of John W. Cook, a pioneer citizen of Beeville, under a Post Oak free near the bank of Neddy Creek. Preaching services were held under this free during daytime. and in homes at night.
Charter members were Mr. and Mrs. Henderson Williams, their daughters, Harriett, Mary, Eliza Jane, and Adeline, Grandma Campbell. Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Williams, and the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Uzzell. Mrs. Harriett Brightman and Mrs. Mollie Dunn united with the church shortly after it was organized.
Other people of the community who attended the services included George Maley and family, Pete Dugat and family, Levi Williams and family, and Jack Kimball and family.
The house of worship was built in August 1872 and was dedicated the following September by the Rev. J. W. DeVilbliss. Worship services were held there until early 1951, when the church as an organization ceased to exist. At that time Mrs. Mattie Jackson was a member of the Board of Trustees, and she furnished the foregoing information for this book. Another trustee at that time was Charley Jones, father of the Rev. Dr. Carroll Jones, a refried Baptist minister of Beeville.
The building remained standing for two years, then It was torn down and the lumber was taken to Corpus Christi to be used by the Methodists of that city,
The once busy settlement of Blanconia (or Dark Corner) which had three churches, a store, gin, grist mill, and quite a number of prominent families, has now diminished to the size of a neighborhood of four or five families.
CLAREVILLE (Clareville - Bee County, Texas)
John 1. Clare came to Bee County in the early 1870s and purchased a large tract of land ten miles west of Beeville. He divided part of the pasture into small farms, and the settlers who purchased the property formed the nucleus of a village that was named Clareville, in honor of John 1. and other members of the Clare family. This acreage today is considered as some of the best farm land in Bee County.
Gus Clare, brother of John I., built one of the first residences in the community. Among the early settlers were Joseph Gustave Rountree, W. H. Ross, J. J. Anderson, Alfred Cready, J. C. Thompson, John Stillwell, John H. Impson, A. J. Handly, Ernest Caldwell, Will Connally, and others. Mr. Connally was the father of Dr. L. N. Connally, retired dentist of Beeville.
In 1906 the E. B. Hall family arrived from Hope, Ark., and added considerably to the business and social life of the community. Mr. Hall established a general merchandise store and sold dress‑making materials, groceries, hardware, and farming implements.
The road from Beeville to Clareville was crooked and sandy. When the Halls arrived the town had a post office, seven stores. two churches, a meat market, and a dance hall and cold drink stand combined.
The town of Dinero (Spanish word for money) was fen miles west of Clareville, in Live Oak County. Clinton Dewitt (Dee) Johnson drove the mail hack from Dinero through Clareville to Beeville, a distance of twenty miles, twice a week. He was the grandfather of Mrs. Ned Everett and Mrs. W. H. Whitenton of Beeville and an uncle of Mrs. Agnes Mae (Johnson) Nichols, also of Beeville.
Mr. Hall and his brothers, J. Sid and Colie of Beeville, built their first cotton gin at Clareville. Later they erected gins in a number of South Texas towns. Many years later, E. B. Hall sold his store and moved to Beeville, where he operated a dry goods store for a number of years. His daughter, Ivah, married Grover Impson. Mrs. Impson and her brother, J. T. Hall, and the latterís wife, Dorothy (Chambliss) Hall, were killed in an automobile accident several years ago.
,During World War 11, Mr. and Mrs. Impson used their home and the contiguous ranch houses to fake care of Navy men and Waves at Chase Field who were experiencing difficulties in making adjustment to military service. After these men and women regained their composure and went info action, Mr. and Mrs. Impson received letters from them from various parts of the world expressing gratitude for the kindness that had been shown. Chase Field officials praised this couple highly.
The early Clareville store buildings were made with high fronts and some had board walks. All stores had hitching posts for the accommodation of the farmers and ranchers who came to town In wagons, buggies and on horseback.
Traditional history of the old village relates that during the early 1900s when a customer was in a store at lunch time, he either ate a lunch of canned food and crackers, or he went home with the merchant. And nearly always, the latter custom was observed.
Medical doctors who practiced at Clareville at different times were Dr. J. L. Nunnelly, Dr. J. N. Lightsey, Dr. T. C. Whitehead, and Dr. Uel Keith. The first store in the community was owned by J. H. Bell in 1886. Later came Jim Hatcher's Store, Dr. J. N. Nunnelly's Drug Store, Ernest Kinkier's Meat Market, Tom Gill's Store. and Hicks' Ice Cream Parlor. There was a two‑story frame schoolhouse, and the teachers were Mrs. Edwin Kinkier and Miss Lenna Lockett, and the town had two churches, Baptist and Methodist.
With the coming of good roads to the county seat, Beeville merchants attracted a greater portion of the rural people's trade, and the business houses at Clareville gradually were closed. When farmers, who at first planted practically nothing but cotton, began to diversify and plant grain crops to feed livestock, the gins in Clareville also went out of business. The Clareville Common School District was consolidated with the Skidmore‑Tynan School District.
All of the foregoing operations served to reduce a once‑active community to a status of Ghost Town, but there are many families living in the Clareville area on progressive farms and ranches.
(FOREWORD: Dear Camp: I want to thank you for inviting me to write a short history of the Mineral community for your history of Bee County. I have sought help from several of my contemporaries. I also referred to the Bee County Centennial by Grace Bauer and History of Bee County by J. G. Rountree H. I was nine years old when my father settled eight miles west of Mineral in December 1900, and have had considerable contact with Mineral and its people since that date. Father had a brother, Porter Sparkman, and Mother had two sisters, Mrs. B. L. Archer and Mrs. Jesse Billingsley, who reared their families in the Mineral community. I have gathered considerable information, some recorded and some from the experiences of those interviewed; also much from tradition. I listened to the stories of old-timers during my boyhood days. The information does not all agree. So I have attempted to digest it all and use what seems to be the most nearly accurate account.)
The first Anglo man's personal title to the region where the town of Mineral City was located dates back to 1845 when President Anson Jones of the Republic of Texas granted a large tract of land to the heirs of Henry Coley, who sold part of their domain to Thomas Malone and Robert Ricks in 1874. Incidentally, Malone and Ricks left many descendants in Bee, Karnes, and Live Oak Counties.
In a short time Ricks sold some small tracts to John McChesney, Hannah Winn, L. S. Hatch, and William Sanford. Many others were establishing homes In and around Mineral in the 1870s.
Soon after the Civil War, Thomas Howard and his son‑in‑law, Lyman Blackman, moved to Refugio and began a freight route from Saint Marys, hauling lumber and other supplies info this area, then returning to Saint Marys with hides and other products for export.
Howard later lived at Mineral with his son, Sid Howard. On one of those trips they hauled lumber for Rev. S. B. Kimball to build his residence in which he and his bride began housekeeping in 1882. Part of this lumber is still in use today in Jack Kimball's tenant house. They also hauled the dining table which was assembled under Live Oak frees. No metal nails or screws were used. It was fastened together with wooden doweling pins and was of such high‑grade material and such perfect craftsmanship that if is being used today in the elegant modern home of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Kimball.
Some time in this period Sam Clark Sr., who was brother‑in‑law to Rev. S. B. Kimball, moved to Mineral and started a freight route to San Antonio, hauling produce up and returning with supplies for Mineral merchants. On one such trip he failed to return. So, after several weeks the Rev. Mr. Kimball took a man with him and went in search of his brother in‑law. The Bexar County sheriff told them a man had been murdered and robbed in the camp yard. As they could find no identification, the man had been buried. The sheriff took the Mineral men to the dead man's horses which they were keeping in a pasture. They were Clark's horses. The assassin was never apprehended.
To supply wafer for domestic and livestock use, wells were dug by hand. Wafer was drawn either with a bucket on a rope pulled by hand, or with a ten or fifteen‑gallon keg pulled by a horse. The Sanfords dug a well under some Live Oak frees about three hundred yards west of the present Mineral store and post office which are operated by Mr. and Mrs. Wiley Williams. They struck a vein of hot mineral water.
Susan Sanford had a vision which she shared with her husband: The wafer might have great healing power. They sent a sample of the water to San Antonio for testing. Sure enough, the water contained sixteen different minerals.
The report went out that bathing in this wafer would bring healing to those suffering from rheumatism and many other ailments. The boom was on.
Sanford fenced the well, built bath houses and erected an eight‑room ''Sanford Hotel,'' with a huge underground cistern to store rain water for hotel use.
People flocked in from far and near 'in search of health. For lack of accommodations they camped or lived in tents. In 1877 Mineral was a Tent City. There were three stores, operated by F. B. Malone, J. T. Byus, and J. L. Archer; a stone gristmill‑, post office (Mineral City), with Porter Neal as postmaster and W. Rush as Beeville‑Mineral‑Oakville mail carrier‑, Dr. T. B. Brashear established the first drug store and opened a school in the building in 1877 with J. E. Malone as teacher. Later George Freeman and H. W. Hunter taught around sixty pupils as the boom continued.
Some time during this period a saloon was in existence. Name of the owner is unknown.
In spite of the fact that the water was loaded with minerals, it proved to have no medicinal value. As the truth began to dawn, the health seekers started to drift away‑poorer but wiser people.
Tradition says the Sanfords were once offered $85,000 (a considerable sum in those days) for their property but they refused the offer. They, too, left poorer than when they came.
This period also marked the beginning of an influx of sturdy pioneers who were coming to build homes and tame the wilderness. This trend continued for the next two decades, Some time in this early period Jack Stovall also was a general merchant. Tradition says he returned to Tennessee.
I will here list the names of those early settlers that I was able to obtain, without attempting to give the order in which they came: S. B. Kimball Sr., T. C. Williams, L. S. Hatch, John E. Maley, J. A. Burdett, J. H. New, Paul and Henry Baxter, William Finch, T. W. Jones, Buck, Demp and Santa LeBleu, Mrs. M. J. Cryer and sons, Dan and William, J. H. Parchman, W. P. Vaughon, Mr. Billingsley, Duff and Doff Hale, Will Rutledge, A. B. Fuller, C. W. B. Young, D. S. Calliham, Will Marshall, Jesse Borrourn, Pete Borrourn Sr., W. J. Powell, W. H. (Gum) Smith, S. J. Ellis, T. L. Miller, Will Nance, Mrs. Lucy Thomas, Mrs. Garner and son, Jesse, M. A. Skidmore, Alex Dugat, Will Dubose, Will O'Neal, Belton O'Neal, Jack Looney, Mrs. Caroline Page and sons, Charley and Sidney, and Mr. Voss.
In about 1895 or 1896 some ''foreigners'' came to Mineral: Jim Harris, Center Harris, Edd and Cam Harris, Perry Wolfe, Mac and Pete Wolfe and their mother, Mr. Talley and Porter Sparkman. These were all Tennesseeans. Also Wiley and W. A. (Tuff) Boothe from DeWitt County.
Prior to 1900 Mineral City had four resident doctors: Dr. Davis, Dr. Brashear, Dr. Moore, and Dr. Charley Reagan (father of Doctors Tom, John and Lawrence Reagan who now practice in Beeville). Since that time four other physicians practiced in the Mineral community: Dr. Clinton Toy. Dr. Henry Becker, Dr. Will Irwin, and Dr. John W. McMahon.
The ''City'' was dropped from the Mineral City Post Office in 1897.
Two Baptist ministers established homes here in the early 1880s and spent the remainder of their lives ministering to the spiritual needs of the people, marrying the living and burying the dead. They were: Rev. Jim Barnes, who preached for more small churches and performed more marriage ceremonies than almost anyone during that period, and when ''Uncle Jim Barnes,'' as he was affectionately called, fled a matrimonial knot, it usually held for life; and Rev. S. B. Kimball, who pastored a number of small churches as well as some larger ones. His pastorates included churches in Beeville, Kenedy, Odem, Robstown, Lapara, Mineral, Salt Branch, and Saltillo. The Rev. Mr. Kimball was a great singer who taught a number of singing classes and could sing any part, but when he sang a solo he sang in the first tenor range. Personally I never heard but one man who had as wonderful a voice as the Rev. Mr. Kimball, and that man was Robert Law of Beeville.
Rev. G. H. M. Wilson also built a home here but he remained only a few years.
The Baptists were the first to organize a church in Mineral City. They first held services in the two‑story school building, some years later building their own house of worship. This church was organized in 1882 with the following charter members: Francis Ricks, W. J. Ricks, Lethal Malone, W. J. Massengale, Cassey Massengale, Candacy Angermiller, W. E. Wright, W. J. Wright, and J. C. Wright. Rev, R. B. Thames served as moderator. S. B. Kimball Sr., father of Rev. S. B. Kimball Jr., was church clerk.
In 1902 the Blanco Baptist Association met with the Mineral church for several days. There were more visitors than could find accommodations in the homes, so some of them camped and neighbors furnished them food. Some notable Texas Baptists attended that meeting. Among them was the Rev. R. C. Buckner, founder of the great Buckner Orphans Home near Dallas.
The Blanco Baptist Centennial, which has been written by Mrs. Cora Jones and is due to be published soon, Will give a complete history of the Mineral Baptist Church, as well as all Baptist Churches in the Association.
The Methodists were the first to build their own sanctuary. They maintained a church for many years. About 1910 the Church of Christ built their own house of worship here. Today both of these churches are inactive.
In the early 1950s the Mexican Baptists built their church here. Today only the two Baptist Churches are active in Mineral.
A two‑story schoolhouse was built in Mineral some time before 1882. If was also used for religious services. In 1895 members of the school board were L. M. Smith, R. L. O'Neal, and T. A. LeBleu. Teachers were W. S. Gardner, superintendent; R. C. Yates and Miss Annie O'Neal. They taught 106 pupils. There was no bus trouble in those days. Students came in a buggy, rode a horse, or sometimes a donkey, or walked. But they got there from as far as six miles away. They got along without a class in physical education, too.
In the 1930s there was a five‑teacher schoolhouse that burned down. It was replaced with a modern brick structure. Now Mineral is consolidated with Pawnee. The children ride a bus as far as twenty miles to school.
To the first settlers the entire region seemed suited to livestock raising, especially cattle and sheep, which was practically the sole source of income. It was ideal except for one drawback‑the costly and uncertain water supply.
About 1890 Ike Powell came from Beeville and began drilling wells with a drop auger, then puffing up Eclipse windmills on sturdy wooden towers to pump the wafer. When he finished a job the wafer problem for that ranch would usually be solved.
By 1885 the settlers were experimenting with cotton. George Cook installed the first gin. Since cottonseed at that time had no known commercial value, some of if was mixed with wood for fuel to heat the gin boiler. It made a very hot fire. Farmers were required to haul the remainder of the seed away from the gin. It was not known then, but cottonseed is a very rich cow food.
By 1900 the cotton industry was booming. An oil mill was in operation in Beeville and the seed were bringing farmers considerable cash. That was a bumper crop year. Almost everyone made a bale or more of cotton per acre. The gin ran twenty‑four hours a day, six days a week.
I will digress here to say that 1900 was the beginning of two decades of perhaps the greatest prosperity the village of Mineral ever experienced.
There were four grocery stores, operated by R. J. Bradford, Ben O'Neal, Perry Wolfe and son, and B. L. Archer. who was also postmaster. And there was one general mercantile store owned by Will Smith. Henry Brashear had taken over his father's drug store and continued to operate if until he refried in the 1930s. He did not have a doctor's license to practice, but in minor illnesses he would often fake a patientís temperature and pulse beat, then phone that information, as well as the patient's symptoms, in to a regular physician in Beeville, who would then fell ''Doctor Brashear" what to give the patient.
In 1903, Barber and Cryer opened a general mercantile, and Buck LeBleu and Mac Wolfe each owned a barber shop and confectionery. Someone owned a poolhall, Demp LeBleu operated a meat market, and Lew Amon was the owner of a blacksmith shop. About 1905 Enoch Martin opened a blacksmith shop, specializing in horseshoeing and repairing farm machinery.
This was also the period of disasters. Will Smith's store was destroyed by fire of unknown origin. One day while Mr. Bradford's son, Lee, was taking care of the store the powder keg (which most merchants kept to supply their customers) somehow ignited and literally blew the store apart.
Then it caught fire and was destroyed. Lee was badly burned but recovered.
The year 1903 was the time of Mineral's great flood. High water destroyed a small house with a Mexican mother and four children in if. Some men rescued two of the children with a boat they improvised from a new wagon bed. They couldn't locate the mother and other two children in time to save them.
Dale Walker was operator of the gin in 1900. Later, Cas Cook, Will Copeland, and Walter Barnes each had their turn in operating the gin until about 1925 when, due to the depletion of the soil and boll weevil damage, production had dwindled to such a low figure that Barnes moved the gin to Pawnee.
Beginning about 1910 and continuing into the 1920s, broomcorn was an important crop. Then it gradually dwindled away.
Starting 'in the 'teens, milking cows and selling cream was practiced on many farms in the community. A few hogs and a flock of hens for egg production went with dairying. But the depression in the thirties killed this industry also. Now, most people living on farms buy their bacon, lard, eggs, milk and butter at the grocery store.
In the late thirties and early forties peanuts were grown extensively for oil and meal production. Farmers would swap work harvesting, thereby holding their expenses to a minimum.
In 1930 oil was discovered in the area, which was a help to many landowners through leases and royalties sold, even though they got no oil production. But many struck oil. Many younger farmers stacked their fools and went to work in the oil fields or other 'industrial *jobs in town. Today there is very little farming in the Mineral community. The land has been turned back to grass (a large part to Coastal Bermuda), and is no doubt feeding more high‑grade beef cattle than at any time in Mineral's history.
In 1880 some land could be purchased for 25 cents an acre. Any amount could be had for 50 cents an acre. Rev. S. B. Kimball Jr. paid Sid Howard 50 cents per acre for the Kimball farm. According to the record, in one early‑day deal, Mr. Dugat paid $17 for a section of land. Today there is not much land for sale. But non‑residents will sometimes buy it and pay $200 or more per acre, when they can find it for sale.
About 1950 another woman had a dream of great possibility at Mineral; a dream which she also shared with others. It was not a dream of what she could get from suffering humanity, but rather what she could give to them.
Mrs. Laura Boothe gave her home, comprising a section of beautiful rolling land, upon which to build a home for unfortunate children. And with the cooperation and untiring efforts of Rev. Jess Lunsford (Who has been administrator from the beginning), Rev. Dr. Carroll Jones, R. A. Hall,
Jack Kimball. Mrs. Mattie Freeman (now Mrs. Jack Forgason), and Dr. Howard Lancaster, the South Texas Children's Home came info being in 1952, located about three miles northeast of Mineral.
I will not attempt to describe the home in this short story, but will lust say there is no way to calculate the benefits unfortunate boys and girls receive by coming to this institution where they have an opportunity to develop info trained, useful Christian men and women.
Mineral's fame began with the report that health could be gained within its borders. The means of obtaining health as first advertised was wrong, while the report that health could be found here was true. Some who chose to disregard the teachings of the Bible and failed to mind their own business haven't found the climate at Mineral very healthy.
Many who have endeavored to follow the teachings of the Bible have experienced good health and happiness to a ripe old age. Some living examples are: Mr. Pete Wolfe celebrated his ninetieth birthday anniversary June 3, 1972; (Editor's note: Mr. Wolfe died in March 1973 after this article was written); Mr. and Mrs. Walter Cook (Mr. Cook observed his ninetieth anniversary July 7, 1972.) 1 visited him recently and he remarked: ''After living at Mineral for seventy years I kind of like if. Think I'll lust stay here.''
The town of Normanna, ten miles north of Beeville, was known as Walton Station in 1874. It was a small community of farmers and ranchmen in the rolling hills of North Bee County.
However, the first settlers in that area established claims where the San Domingo and Medio Creeks join, a short distance toward the west, before 1848, Grace Bauer relates in her history of the county. "Uranga's eleven leagues, largest single Mexican grant in Bee County, covered much of the community,'' Mrs. Bauer said. The settlement was called San Dominqo, and some of the settlers were Ruben Holbien, Mat Nolan, Virginia O'Neal Hernandez, and John Young.
Among the early residents at Walton were the W. B. Roberts. W. T. Roberts, S. G. Davidson and the John Smith families. E. D. Roberts and his bride, Louvina, came in 1874 from San Marcos ''by way of horseback and wagon. They drove their hogs, cattle and sheep in front of them.'' (Bee‑Picayune's Centennial Edition, 1958.)
In 1876, the T. P. Brundretts arrived from Saint Joseph's island. Others who came at this time were the Jed Brundretts and Mrs. Hannah Gaston Trom the Gulf Coast area. T. P. Brundrett's son, Edward, was one year old when the family arrived in the village.
At that time the town had one store, owned by Robert Yoward, and the only dwelling in the Townsite was built and owned by John Nutt. Many years later the home was owned by Mr. and Mrs. S. R. Bridge. Mrs. Bridge was a granddaughter of John Nutt.
The Bill Bridge family arrived in 1884, and they made their home a mile east of the present townsite. Mrs. Alba Shelves, Mrs. Mary Wright, and S. R. Bridge were the children of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Bridge.
A schoolhouse, built by Mrs. John (Sallie) Pettus in 1859 on the west side of the Dry Medio 'Just below what was later known as the Copeland Ranch and moved in 1867 to between the Medio and Dry Medio Creeks, was moved again (in 1870) to the bank of Toro Creek. Miss Gussie Kitchens was the first teacher. Later she married John W. Flournoy and moved to Beeville, where she taught until she retired in 1908. In the late 1870s the schoolhouse was moved to the San Domingo community about two miles west of the present Normanna townsite.
When the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad came through Bee County in 1886, the town of Walton experienced considerable growth. The first schoolhouse was built in Walton in 1889 by Bill Bridge and John Nutt. One of the first teachers was the Rev. John McCain, father of Mrs. Bill Bridge.
In 1892, a Norwegian colony moved to this area and settled about two miles east of Normanna. The community is still called the Colony.
The following year a post office was established at Walton. Previously the mail had been brought by horseback from Beeville to Helena, and Walton residents went to Beeville to get their mail. It was this year (1893) that the name of Walton was changed to Normanna, when it was found that there was another town in Texas by the name of Walton. Normanna is a Norwegian word meaning ''far north, or one from the far north; a Northman.'' Since the town was given the name a year after the arrival of the Norwegians at Colony, it is assumed that ''the Norsemen'' had something to do with selecting the new appelafionzzz for the former town of Walton, which was named in honor of Captain D. A. T. Walton, who served as Bee County sheriff eighteen years.
A. Peterson was the first postmaster. Succeeding postmasters were Jim Lockhart, John Swan, Irving Swan, Robert Eeds, Mrs. Bonnie Thayer, Mrs. T. S. McMurray, Mrs. James (Idella) Chandler, Mrs. Lora Lee Jensen, J. W. Brundrett, and Mrs. C. W. (Irene) Murphy, the incumbent.
In 1898 Mr. and Mrs. C. 1. Swan and family moved from Pike County. Illinois, to Normanna, and for many years they were leaders of the community. Mrs. Swan taught in the Normanna public school. She organized the Normanna Country Woman's Club, the first country woman's club to be federated in Texas. Mr. Swan served as county commissioner from Precinct 2 for several years. He was known as ''the father of Normanna," because so many people sought his advice on personal problems. He died August 18, 1918, and Mrs. Swan died May 9, 1935.
George Atkins, for more than half a century publisher of the Picayune and Bee‑Picayune in Beeville, started his publishing career in Normanna in 1903. He published the Normanna Nugget. a weekly newspaper, for one year.
Two doctors lived in Normanna during the early days of the community and practiced medicine there. They were Dr. W. G. Ponton and Dr. H. W. Blackburn.
The Baptist Church was built in the early 1900s and was used by all denominations. A storm in 1916 damaged the building and it was completely rebuilt. In 1956 an educational building was added. The Rev. John Caraway is the pastor.
The first school building was used as a church, community center, and for other purposes. In the 1900s a two‑story schoolhouse was erected. and in 1926 a new schoolhouse was built. The following year the old one was destroyed by fire. In the late 1930s the Normanna school was consolidated with the Pettus and Tuleta schools.
Grocery store owners have been: Robert Yoward. T. P. Brundrett, Mrs. Evans, Bill Bridge, Jim Lockhart, John Swan, R. J. Bradford, Henry Torgerson, Joe Kirkpatrick, L. L. Buffs, K. Smith (drug store), Dewey Sinclair, Leon Robinson, and Mrs. T. S. McMurrey.
The late Dewey Sinclair served as county commissioner for Precinct 2 for a number of years and following his death Mrs. Sinclair was appointed by the court to finish his unexpired term.
The story of Normanna would be incomplete without a narration of the coming of a colony of ''Norsemen,'' a group of Norwegians who were brought to Bee County by 0. M. Peterson. a land agent from Chicago, in 1893. In fact. when it was found necessary to change the name of Walion, Mr. Peterson and John Jacob Beck suggested that the village be called Normanna.
Mr. Peterson purchased 10,000 acres of land from Tom McCampbell, and he also bought land from Mr. Campman and Tom Brundrett. The price paid was $10 per acre, according to "Becks of Normanna," a book written and published by Magnus Beck Sr. in 1964.
J. J. Beck, his wife and eight children, Magnus, Harald, Anna, Karolina, Jensine, Erika, Valborg, and Offar, came to the United States from Jagfsftand. Norway, in 1893. Arriving in New York, they proceeded to Chicago, where Mr. Beck contacted Mr. Peterson and became interested in the Texas colonization project. Four more children came to bless this family after they settled in Bee County. They were Jacob, Odin, Toralv, and Ruth.
J. J. Beck bought one hundred acres facing Medic, Creek and built a house on the land. Mr. Beck planted the first broomcorn seed in Bee County and encouraged others to do likewise. He established the Fortuna Broom Factory on his farm in 1902, and shipped brooms to various cities in Texas. In 1909 the people of Beeville offered him $1,500 to move the factory to Beeville, and he accepted the proposition. When Mr. Beck retired he sold the business to his son, J. L. (Jake) Beck, who is still operating the factory.
Bee County farmers had been operating on a one‑crop basis, and cotton was the product. Mr. Beck urged them to diversify and grow broomcorn, felling them that the soil and climate here were ideal for this moneymaking crop. As a consequence, Bee County became the center of broomcorn production in South Texas. J. L. Beck invented a broomcorn drying plant, which fakes the moisture out of the product and prevents mildew. This machine proved to be a boon for the farmers who grow the straw.
Among the Norwegians who settled around Normanna and the Colony were the families of: Jornas J. Berkeland, Hans C. Olsen, A. A. Siveley, Hans K. Thompson, Jonas J. Selgelid, Peter Travland, Aanen Marines, Lars Halling, T. A. Torgerson, N. E. Thompson, Mathias Olsen, Luis Travland, Mr. Fagsvold (a bachelor), Henry Hansen (a bachelor), Ben Chelman, B. P. Strand, Mr. Miller (a teacher for the Norwegian children), Tobias Arno, Mr. Nilsen, Emil Peterson, Johan Storjarke (a bachelor), Martin Kingsfed. Mr. Edidson, Mr. Danielson, Mr. Christinsen, Ivar Mehus, Eivind Tangen. R. C. M. Nelson, Mr. Bridsen, Mr. Berqval, Thormod Fosan, Hans Helland, lonas Selgelid, and perhaps others. (From Magnus Beck's book.)
Our Saviour's Lutheran Church was built for the people of the Colony in 1912. It was under the sponsorship of the Norwegian Lutheran Synod. If was damaged by the 1942 storm, but was repaired and served as the house of worship for the Norwegian people until a few years ago when the Rev. Arthur W. Almquist, the pastor, resigned and the church was without a leader. Vandals invaded the beloved old church, knocking out window panes, turning pews upside down, and otherwise desecrating the sanctuary.
Many families have moved away from the Colony, and a number have died, including Magnus Beck Sr., but the area is still a productive farming section of Bee County.
The history of Papalote families and the record of Papalote Creek both date back to the Texas colonial days, with the first landowners in the Papalote area being Power and Hewetson colonists holding Mexican land grants. These grants were actually made between 1826 and 1828, but they were placed on record, or patented, in 1834.
Among the land grantees whose property touched the south bank of Papalote Creek were Patrick and William Quinn, Brigicla (spelled Bridgett in all later records of the grant) Quinn, Robert Carlisle, Benjamin Dale, and John Toole. Those grantees whose land lay along the north bank of the stream included Timothy Hart, James Douglas, Felix Hart and Isaac Robinson.
Papalote Creek, sixteen miles in length, was designated as Papalote Creek (Papalota Bayou in the instance of the Brigida Quinn grant) and the stream was listed as the boundary line between the above‑given early grants of land.
In at least one of the early grants facing Papalote Creek the Aguilla Creek was given as a tributary to Papalote Creek. In later deeds mention was made of the Rata Creek (now occasionally referred to as the gully) and Dale Creek (which is better known to Papalote residents of today as Dale's Hollow). Bull's Head Creek also shows up in the later deeds.
Papalote Creek, with its double fringe of land grants, lay within the territory of the Power and Hewetson colony, and was definitely within the boundaries of Refugio County when that county was named as one of the original twenty-three counties of Texas. But when the Texas Legislature passed what is known as the Act of April 18, 1846, all that portion of land in Refugio County which lay between the Aransas River and Nueces River was placed within the new boundaries of San Patricio County, thus placing the Papalote area in San Patricio County.
The earliest petit and grand jury lists and official rosters in San Patricio County date back to 1848. The names of Papalote men appeared on these lists between 1848 and 1857, the year that Bee County was created. When Bee County was organized in 1858, the names of these same Papalote men began to appear on the jury lists and official rosters of the new county, indicating that these men were living in Papalote at or prior to the time Bee County was created.
There are two traditions as to how Papalote came by its name. One legend has if that the word Papalote is of Mexican origin and means windmill or powered‑by‑air. The story goes that the town took its name from a gristmill located on the old Clark place a mile north of Papalote Creek. It is said that this gristmill was the first in the Papalote area that was powered by air. The other tradition, which IS Supported by both historical research and logic, says that the word is of Indian origin and that its meaning is kite‑shaped, or wing‑shaped. The Karankawa Indians are said to have given Papalote Creek its name from the kite‑shaped pebbles found in the stream many years ago. Albert Gatschef, author of ''The Karankawa Indians, the Coast People of Texas,'' refers to the name of Papalote as ''an Indian dialectic term carried over info present‑day usage.''
In its beginning, Papalote was three separate and distinct settlements strung close together along the lower course of Papalote Creek. One of the settlements, Upper Papalote, was located on the south bank of the creek, while Central Papalote, better known as Cravenville, and Lower Papalote, which is known also as Steenís Neighborhood, were located on the opposite bank of the stream. It is established through recorded documents and private papers that all three settlements were in existence to some degree prior to the time that Bee County was created.
There is little physical evidence to indicate that Upper Papalote ever was more than a settlement whose residents did their trading elsewhere. There is no record of this neighborhood ever having had a church, school, community center, or store. The location of the settlement is better known to Papalote people as the Murdock Place and the Spangle Field. (Calvary Droddy sold land, including the field, to Henry Spangle in the spring of 1857 before Bee County was created in December of that year. Incidentally, that deed reads in part: ''In Papalote, located in San Patricio County.'')
Central Papalote was better known as Cravenville because of the major role played by David Craven Sr. and his wife, Catherine Hart Craven, in the history of that settlement. David Craven Sr. was born in New York in 1806. He was known to have been in San Patricio County in 1836. His name appeared on jury lists in that county during the 1848‑1857 period, then showed up on the first official roster of Bee County in 1858, indicating that he was living in Papalote (Cravenville) prior to and at the time Bee County was established. He served as Chief Justice (County Judge) of Bee County from October 1869 to May 1870. He served as Justice of the Peace and County Commissioner in the early days of Bee County and was Mayor of Papalote at one time.
Names familiar to the history of Cravenville are Craven, Hart, Carlisle, Quinn, Hatch, Luclue, McFall, Kring, Ryan, Stroman, West, Cornett, Fleming, Miller, Dee, and Thomas.
Cravenville is known to have had a church, a school, community center known as Chattam Hall, several stores, a doctor's office, drug store, saddle shop, blacksmith shop, and at least two saloons.
The records indicate that Lower Papalote had at least one store, and recorded documents and private papers show that a church and a school made up ''the heart and soul'' of this community. Lower Papalote also has the distinction of having had the first post office to serve the Papalote area. The postmaster was William B. Burdett Jr. The spelling of the name of the post office was Papalota, the same as found in the Brigida Quinn land grant which gave ''Papalota Bayou" as the boundary stream. This post office was established February 29, 1860, and was discontinued on November 5, 1866.
The next post office to serve Papalote people was located at Cravenville. If was spelled Popolote. This office was established April 8, 1870, and George Craven was the first postmaster. Other postmasters were David Craven, 1877: Walter E. Johnson, 1879; William B. Hatch, 1882: Daniel P. Haviland, 1898; Ida Saye, 1900; Barfley S. Cornett, 1901; William M. Long, 1902; William B. Hatch Jr., 1916; Annie L. Uehlinger, 1920; Maude Borland, 192 1, appointment declined*, Harvey Bobbitt, 192 1 ; Powell F. Baker, 1926; Haffle Gilliam, 1927; Ann Gilliam, 1947.
In 1883, during the time W. B. Hatch was postmaster, the name of the post office was changed from Popolote to Papalote. There were those who advocated changing the name to Hatchville or Hatchburg in honor of the postmaster, but he insisted that the name be changed back to the original spelling of the community of Papalote, and this was done.
In 1898 Mr. Hatch sold his general mercantile store to L. N. Scofield of Sinton and resigned as postmaster. Daniel P. Haviland, who was Scofield's bookkeeper, was appointed to the position. After serving in that capacity for less than a year, the postmaster‑bookkeeper mysteriously disappeared one Sunday afternoon. His records in the post office and store were in perfect order, and the only clue left was a discarded page from a letter in Haviland's handwriting which revealed that the girl to whom he had been engaged had broken their engagement. Thinking that perhaps Haviland had decided to commit suicide as a way out of the evident heartbreak he was experiencing, the residents of the community dragged a deep water hole in Silver Creek, but no trace was found there or elsewhere of the unhappy man.
On October 15, 1923, the Papalote post office was discontinued following the unexpected death of Postmaster H. L. Babbitt. The Papalote residents were served from the Skidmore office until September 1, 1926, when the Papalote post office was reestablished with Powell E. Baker as postmaster. He was a school teacher and when he left the community to accept a position elsewhere, the post office job again was vacant. Mrs. Hattie Gilliam. who with her family had moved to Papalote from Duncan, Okla., in the summer of 1927, was appointed postmaster.
Mrs. Gilliam has the distinction of holding the postmastership for a greater number of years than anyone else. She served from December 9, 1927, until March 1, 1947, when she resigned, and Ann Gilliam was given the post. The Papalote post office was discontinued under a postal law change on December 31, 1953. Since that time the residents have been on a rural route out of Sinton.
Among the mail carriers who brought the mail info the Papalote area before the railroad was built were D. C. Stroman and his brother, John Stroman. Old-timers recall that one particularly cold winter while D. C. Stroman was acting as mail carrier he froze to his saddle on more than one occasion while trying to get the mail through to its destination during blinding snow and sleet storms.
It is not known definitely when the three settlements. Upper Papalote, Cravenville (Central Papalote), and Lower Papalote, merged to become one community. But it is believed that the merging took place gradually and was completed in the middle eighties.
The Papalote school system had its beginning in two little schools‑one in Cravenville and the other in Lower Papaiote. The school at Cravenville started first in a log house, Mrs. Julia Luque McCollom of Beeville recalled. (Mrs. McCollom was born in Papalote in 1871, the year that the first church‑Roman Catholic‑was built at Cravenville. The school in that community was established about the same time.)
Among the teachers in this early school were Mrs. Julian Priour‑Pye, C. C. Chatham, R. B. Ransom, and Joseph Vale.
There are school records showing that the school at Cravenville was listed as Central School District No. 7. The school in Lower Papalote was designated as Lower Papalote School District No. 8. Teachers employed in this school were H. M. Feds (later spelled Eads) and H. W. Hunter. The last record of this school was dated 1881, the year in which the Lower Papalote settlement lost many of its residents, who moved to Mineral City where a mineral well had been drilled and its water was highly advertised for its medicinal value. The school was established in 1876 and probably was discontinued at the close of the 1880‑1881 school term.
Central school (Cravenville) was located between the Catholic Church in that settlement and the bank of Papalote Creek. Oldtimers recall that the older girls in this school learned the art of dipping snuff during recess and noon hour periods at this school. One of the girls, whose father was a merchant, provided bottles and cans of snuff. The girls took turns ''standing guard'' while the others acquired this habit (which was not unusual for the young ladies of that era).
Some time during the eighties the three settlements began moving in more closely and by the time the railroad had been built in 1886‑1887 a Townsite had been laid off by W. B. Hatch, merchant and civic leader. In November 1888 he sold a site for a public school in the Townsite to Judge W. R. Hayes and his successors in office for the sum of twenty‑five dollars. But before the school building was erected the school was taught for one or more years in the Hatch home, which had been moved from Cravenville to its present location, on Highway 181.
Mr. and MKs. Joseph Vale taught the school during the time the Hatch home was in use as a schoolhouse.
A small frame building was erected on the new site. The school district became known as Papalote Common School District No. 14, and the centrally located school brought in pupils from the three early settlements into a unified school.
The building was equipped with a home‑made desk for the teacher, a number of double desks supplemented by two long benches for added seats, two home‑made "recitation" benches, a blackboard, a water bucket, and a common tin wafer dipper. Wafer was carried from a well across the road from the schoolhouse. The boys vied with each other in getting permission to bring the wafer to the school. At the close of a recess period or noon hour, two of the larger boys would each bring a bucket of water which would be passed down the aisles for each child to drink his fill from the community wafer dipper!
Among the teachers for this school were Joseph Vale, P. B. Peterson, W. S. Campion, C. A. Betz, Albert Hart, and Misses Eva Adams, Lela West, Ina Adams, Ora Adams, Mabel Sturdivant, Julia Norment, Bonnie Carroll, Hortense Dinn, and Margaret Borroum.
By 1912 the school had outgrown its building and a new ten thousand dollar brick structure was erected on the northwest corner of the original site. Misses Margaret Borroum and Rosa Fadden were the first teachers in the new building. The previous year the primary classes had to use the old dance hall because of the crowded condition of the little schoolhouse. Until 1911, when the dance hall was pressed info service as a classroom and a second teacher was added, one teacher had taught all the grades from beginners through the ninth grade.
Although the Papalote school at no time reached a higher rating than a second‑class high school, the community was proud of its educational institution. And when, under a new ruling, the grouping of smaller schools info one rural school made if possible for Skidmore to set an election for faking the Papalote school district into its territory, the Papalote people fought the measure with its entire voting strength of thirty‑nine votes. The canvass of the election returns showed the results were ninety‑four for consolidation and forty against it. Papalote picked up one extra vote from Skidmore. The Papalote school gave twenty‑one scholastics to the Skidmore school, and a district with property valuations of approximately one half million dollars.
The Papalote schoolhouse was sold after the merger, and the structure burned to the ground in 1956 when hay which was stored in the building ignited.
B. S. Cornett was one of the strongest advocates of education that Papalote ever had. He served as a trustee for the school more than thirty years.
The spiritual side of Papalote was not neglected. Three little churches (Roman Catholic, Christian, and Baptist) have served as ''beacons in the night'' and as a guide to the spiritual life of the community.
The first church In Papalote was the Catholic Church built in Cravenville in 1871. The site for the church was sold to Bishop C. M. DuBuls and his successors in office by Mrs. Bridgett Hart Smith, Timothy Hart David Craven and his wife, Catherine Hart Craven, and Luke Hart and his wife. Ann Hart. The site contained four acres fronting on Papalote Creek and the purchase price was fifty dollars. The deed specified that the land was to be ''used for the good of the Catholic community'' (Cravenville was predominately Catholic). A church was erected at one corner of the land and a burial ground took up the remainder of the property.
In 1910, when the German American Land Company opened a subdivision in the Papalote Townsite, the Catholic Church was moved from the acreage on Papalote Creek to a lot donated by Mrs. Mary Ann Thomas in the east side of the Papalote subdivision. During the early thirties the membership of this church was merged with the membership of the Skidmore Catholic Church, and several years later the Papalote Catholic Church was razed and the lumber sold.
Among the priests who served the church while it was on *its original site were a Father Toomer, Father Joseph, and Father Goebels. No list of the priests was available. Neither could a definite date be determined for the merging of the Papalote church with the Skidmore church.
As Cravenville was predominately Catholic, Lower Papalote was lust as solidly Protestant. Names familiar to the Protestant community included Billingsley, Page, Burdett, McKinney, Kirchner, Archer, Steen, Williams, Calliham, and many others.
On record in Bee County is a deed in which Jesse F. Burdett ''in consideration of the love I (Jesse Burdett) bear for the cause of Christ and education and a desire to promote His heritage on earth'' gave to the trustees of the Christian Church in Papalote, and their successors in office, four acres Of land in the James Douglas grant facing on the Papalote Creek for ''church, school and burial purposes.'' William G. Burdett, George McKinney and J. L. Billingsley were the first trustees of the church.
A frame building 22x4O feet and costing $250 was erected for a church school on the site given by Burdett. Unfortunately, no list of the ministers who served the church in its brief history could be found. But since the sanctuary was for other Protestant denominations when not in use by the Christian brotherhood, it is safe to surmise that Rev. Amos Barber and Rev. S. B. Kimball, early Baptist ministers, each preached at the little church on more than one occasion.
When came the exodus of Lower Papalote to Mineral City, the Christian Church building was sold and moved to Skidmore, where it was used as a community house of worship for several years.
For nearly a quarter of a century after the Christian Church was sold, Papalote had no organized Protestant church of any denomination. But Sunday School was held at the schoolhouse, and itinerant preachers came occasionally to minister to the people of the community.
In 1907 a group of seven Baptists met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Ellis and began plans for a Baptist Church. Within a matter of a few weeks the organization of First Baptist Church was completed with the Rev. J. M. Sallee of Beeville assisting with the organization. The Rev. W. J. Hampton was the first pastor. Charter members were Mr. and Mrs. B. S. Cornett, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Ellis, Miss Cora Stroman, Miss Annie Cornett, and Miss Susie Cornett.
Miss Cora Stroman and Mrs. A. J. Hayes served on the Finance Committee when plans for building a sanctuary were formulated. The building was under construction within a matter of months after plans for the structure were made in 1909. The church was dedicated August 14, 1910.
The Rev. J. M. Sallee delivered the dedicatory message. His daughter, llvlhss Hannah Fair Sallee, who later spent many years as a missionary to China, provided the special music and played the organ accompaniment for the congregational singing. Harvey Lee Bobbittzzz had presented the organ to the church and W. F. Key gave the bell. The land for the church site was donated by W. B. Hatch Sr. and the German American Land Company gave d lot for the parsonage site.
Among the early pastors of the church were Rev. A. J. C. Knowles, Rev. Mr. Allen, Rev. W. D. Bowen, Rev. W. S. Gibbs, and Rev. George Coltrin. Early evangelists who held revivals in Papalote, both before and afar the Baptist Church was organized, were the Rev. G. H. M. Wilson, Rev. J. M. Sallee, Rev. S. F. Baucom, and Rev. D. B. South.
The 1919 hurricane demolished the Baptist Church, but it was rebuilt in 1920‑21 on the same site. In 1949 the church was moved to a site near the railroad and highway, putting it on an all‑weather road. Rebuilding of the church was completed in 1950, with Sunday School and church services being held every Sunday while the building was under construction with ]he exception of one Sunday.
Sunday School rooms were added to the sanctuary, almost doubling the size of the original building. During World War 11, two young sailors stationed at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi. who had dedicated their lives to the cause of Christianity, became interested in the little church in Papalote. One of the two, the Rev. Charles Swaggerty, was ordained by the church and became its pastor. Later when this young minister had completed his tour of duty with the U. S. Navy, his companion, Bill Henderson, was ordained as a minister by the church and became its pastor. By the time Mr. Henderson had completed his assigned time with the Navy, the University of Corpus Christi was providing ministerial students for pastors of the small Baptist churches in the Corpus Christi area. Four of these students have been ordained as ministers by the Papalote church and served as pastors of the church.
PAPALOTE has always had its social side also. Chattam Hall stood in Cravenville as a community center. The young blades of the eighties pooled their dollars and built an octagon hall in the new townsite of Papalote. W. B. Hatch furnished the site for the building. The schoolhouses have served educational, church and civic purposes and homes have always been open to the young people of the community.
The mode of entertainment has shifted through the years. Croquet and Tournaments were in vogue following the era of quilting bees, community picnics, horseback riding, and ''just walking in the moonlight." Dancing provided entertainment for many of the young people, with the square dance, the polka, the schoffische and the two‑step flavoring the dances of the first half‑century of Papalote community life.
Papalote has given its full quota of men for armed service duty. The community even had its ''Minute Men'' back in 1916 when Pancho Villa was making raids along the Mexican border and dashing across info Texas towns. One night when d long‑distance telephone call Came sounding the warning that a group of Mexican men on horseback had been seen riding toward Papalote from the south, the entire community sprang info action. Pete Kring served as the Paul Revere of the hour and spread the warning. Women and children were placed in the brick schoolhouse and W. M. Long, who had served with General Robert E. Lee, was in charge of the guard of younger men and boys gathered around the schoolhouse. The other men of the community, armed and ready for any eventuality, were posted at strategic points, prepared to repulse an invasion by Villa and his men.
But it was a group of Mexican cowboys riding from one ranch to another, and not the notorious bandit and his outlaws, who rode toward Papalote that night. Even so, Papalote was not taken unaware, and perhaps there was some of the spirit which makes a hero of an ordinary man steeling the nerves of the little band of men who had prepared to ''fight to the last man'' had if been Pancho Villa and his banditos riding for another raid.
Papalote men have fought in at least four wars, and these men have followed the colors around the world in World War 11, fighting in every theater of the global conflict and enlisting in practically every branch of [he U. S. armed services. Several of the Papalote boys came home from war wearing decorations for gallantry in battle.
Each quarter‑century of Bee County history has seen new families come into Papalote. Some stayed; others left. Among those who came during the second quarter of the century were the Longs, Murphys. Halls, Singlers, Linneys, Curbellos, Obermans, Gregorczyks, and Piegzas.
Perhaps Papalote had its last flurry of growth during the land boom of 1910. Families moved in from the north during that period. Few of them stayed more than several months, or two or three years at most. During that time new businesses cropped up. A canning factory was operated for a short while. A tinshop and blacksmith shop were among the new business ventures. A hotel was built and the rooms were kept reasonably well filled throughout the duration of the land boom. Later the hotel was converted info apartments. Finally it fell into disuse and eventually the building was torn down and the site is now occupied by the Papalote Baptist Church.
Of the grocery and general stores established in Papalote. those owned and operated by W. M. Long, George Gilliam, and W. B. Hatch Sr. were of longest duration. Mr. Hatch was one of the earlier merchants and he operated a store in Cravenville before moving to the present townsite of Papalote. Mr. Hatch and his partner, S. G. Borden, owned and operated a store in Sharpslourg and had a branch store in Papalote. In 1873 when the two men found that the man who was operating the Papalote store was paying off horse race debts with suits of clothing from the store, Mr. Hatch moved to Papalote and took over the management of the business. Later he sold his interest in the Sharpsburg sore for full ownership in the Papalote business. He operated the store until 1898 when he sold it to L. N. Scofield, who in turn sold if to W. M. Long in 1901.
Mr. and Mrs. Long operated the store until his death in 1929, then Mrs. Long and her son, W. C. Long, continued ‑to operate the store and service station, which had been added to the business after the advent of the gas buggies. In 1946 the business was closed for about three months, when Mrs. Long decided to retire so that her son could devote more time to the cattle industry, into which he had branched out some years earlier. However, upon the insistence of friends, Mrs. Long reopened the store and operated if until 1951 when she went to Sinton to make her home with her son‑in‑law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Jones.
Mr. and Mrs. Gilliam moved to Papalote in 1927 and opened a grocery store and service station. After her husband's death, Mrs. Gilliam and her son, Leet Gilliam, continued operating the business.
Papalote is proud of its heritage and its record. It has given Bee County three native sons as county judges‑Luke Hart, Albert Hart, and Felix Hart. David Craven, though a native of New York, made part of Papalote history, and he, too, served as county ;judge during the early days of Bee County. School teachers, ministers, railroad officials, bankers, office executives, career military men, world champion rodeo performers, and just good solid citizens in many towns, cities, counties and states can find within their circles sons and daughters of Papalote.
Pawnee is the community located in the northwestern corner of Bee County, which is on the south part of the old Wilson Ranch.
John E. Wilson bought the ranch in 1877 from the Sullivan family who became owners of the land In 1849, before Bee County was created.
In 1881 W. A. Pettus bought a portion of the ranch. In 1889 W. J. Lott became a partner of Mr. Pettus. The old ranch house is located about three miles north of Pawnee and is still occupied.
The first family to move to Pawnee was Fred Hoff. He purchased the west part of the ranch from Lott and Pettus. In i890 his family settled on the land he purchased about three miles southwest of the site of Pawnee. Mrs. A. W. Hoff and Mrs. Annie Hoff still live on their farms.
In 1900 D. C. Benham purchased a tract of land from R. F. Thornton. Some of the descendants still live on the land. Mrs. Mayme Benham, Mrs. E. H. Perry, Werner Benham and A. L. Benham continue to farm this land.
In 1907 Sam Wernli and Henry Welkener bought land from the Faint Ranch joining the Hoff land. The following still live in the Pawnee area: Alfred Welkener, W. H. Welkener, Mrs. Ida Werrill, Wesley Wernli, and Alvin Wernli. In 1907 the H. H. Franke family purchased acreage and Walter Franke is living on his parents' farm.
In 1912 Theodore M. Plummer, purchased acreage from his father. The land was divided into one‑mile sections, and the sections were cut into 80‑acre tracts or larger. He sold his first land to a group of families from Arkansas: J. H. McCarn, W. G. McCarn, Eugene Elliott, Isaac Elliott J. M. Elliott and James Elliott. Some of the other families were: R. K. Carnes, C. C. Carnes, T. J. Carnes Jr., T. J. Carnes Sr., and C. 0. V. Carlson of Central Texas, who bought land from Mr. Plummer in 1913. Still living in Pawnee are: 0. B. Elliott, Richard S. Elliott, C. B. McCarn and Fred McCarn. The Carnes families moved away. Mr. Carlson opened the first store which was destroyed by fire in 1910. He soon sold out and left.
I have a story to tell about Mr. Theodore Plummer. When I was a small child, each year at Christmas he would bring a large truck filled with oranges, apples, nuts and candy. The bags were given out from a huge decorated Christmas tree and you should have seen the children's eyes light up. Mr. Plummer made sure that each child had a bag of goodies. And if there were any left, the rest was given to the grown‑ups and they enjoyed it as much as we did. I have been told when Mr. Plummer passed away, he requested his ashes be scattered over Pawnee. He was a wonderful person.
The first school was built in 1910, with 13 pupils. Miss Grace Wales was employed as their teacher. In 1936 as the community grew, a new modern brick school was completed with eight classrooms and an auditorium. The curriculum was enlarged and improved, and full eleven‑grade accreditation and affiliation were acquired. My father, Caesar Boldt, helped build the school. Peter Marecek has been superintendent of the school for many years, but is retiring in June 1973. Douglas Arnold will succeed him.
After the first families moved to Pawnee many others came from various parts of Texas. Some lost their farms during the depression. I can remember when people from Beeville, Kenedy, and other small towns came to cur farm to get fresh vegetables, eggs, milk, 'butter and fruit. My father raised white grapes, plums and peaches in the low part of our field. There was always a lot of moisture. The ones who came drove nice cars, but they did not have any money. My father never asked for money. If it was offered he accepted it.
The people of Pawnee were deeply religious. For many years Pawnee has held the distinction of having more (seven) churches per capita than any town its size (225) in Bee County. The churches were: Church of Christ, Methodist, Swedish Lutheran, Baptist, German Lutheran, Catholic. and Pentecostal.
The first cotton gin was built by J. Parker in 1916. There were three gins operating at one time. The Parker gin later was sold to D. G. Mixon. The second was built by J. J. Pogue Sr. in 192 1 and was known as the Pawnee Gin Company. The third was the Carnes & Booth Gin. Today the gins are gone. They were destroyed by fire.
J. J. Pogue Sr. built the first store in the Pawnee Townsite. Later stores were established by Isaac Elleoffzzz, J. A. Mixon. J. M. Lllioft and Charley Carnes.
In 1925 there were the following businesses: Grocery stores operated by Isaac Elliott, Charley Carnes, J. M. Elliott. and J. J. Pogue Sr.; a doctorís office occupied by Dr. J. B. Hinkle‑, wafer‑well drilling business, owned by Josh Moses and sons, Albert, Leslie, Charley and Bill; drug store operated by E. P. Fechnuer‑, cafe and meat market, Grover Wolfe‑, garage, John and George Moses; blacksmith shop, Luther Vaughn who now lives in Floresvilie.
The settlement remained small until oil was discovered nearby in 1930. In 1940 Pawnee had five churches, twelve businesses, and a population of 300. In 1950 the community reported five businesses and a population of 225. In 1970 the population was 249 and three businesses.
Today, when I visit my home town and see the quiet streets, with the children playing, I can still hear the hustle and bustle in the distance. Yes, time marches on . . .
The years from 1820 to 1830 may be known as colonization years for the country now known as Texas. It was during this time that some 26 empresarlos were given land grants to colonize, and among this group was Moses Austin of Missouri. Unfortunately, before he could put his plans into operation he died. His dying request was that his son, Stephen F. Austin, carry out his commitments. This, Stephen was happy to do.
His first obligation was to settle 300 families in Texas. Stephen chose for his colony the region lying south of the old San Antonio road and between the San Jacinto and Lavaca Rivers. It was an ideal choice.
As an inducement to get people interested, Stephen Austin offered every single man over 21 years of age 640 acres of lands if he were married he would get 320 more; each child brought his father 120 acres and each slave 80 acres.
Among the first 300 colonists was a man by the name of John Freeman Pettus from Virginia. He was of Scotch‑British descent and was an extensive cattle and horse breeder and he also owned slaves.
Mr. Pettus's land grant was near what is now known as Goliad. When his herds needed more grazing land, he followed Horace Greeley's famous saying, ''Go west, young man,'' and bought thousands of acres of land in the vicinity of where the present community of Pettus is located. The price paid ranged from 25 cents to $1.25 per acre. It was ideal grazing land. Grass was knee high; there were no fences and the dry creeks we know were running streams. There was little brush and roads were mere animal trails. The only shade frees were Live Oaks. Some grew in motts and others singly. Many of the single frees were later used as boundary marks and even now some have historical value. He came ''west'' in 1855.
Since his stock needed constant care to keep from straying too far, if was necessary for Mr. Pettus to ''stand by,'' so about one‑half mile from the southern boundary of the present townsite he built an adobe one‑room cabin with chimney. Here he lived for approximately twenty years. Weekends he would spend with his family which consisted of his wife, four sons Jim; William Albert, familiarly known as ''Buck''; Milam, who was named for his father's favorite war hero, Col. Ben Milam; and Thomas. His three daughters were Virginia, Martha, and Sarah.
One cold rainy evening when Mr. Pettus had returned from his weekend visit with his family he was preparing for bed. When he turned down the cover, snugly coiled underneath was a huge diamond‑back rattlesnake. He quietly disposed of it, and then enjoyed a good night's rest. It took more than a mere rattlesnake to disconcert one of those old-timers.
Not far from his cabin, which was on the west bank of the Medio ''River,'' was an alligator. If had a home in a hole near the bank. When a big rain came it sometimes washed sand into this hole. The alligator would clean if all out by swishing his fall this way and that. He was a good housekeeper.
Following the marriage of his daughter, Miss Sarah Pettus, to John Sutherland Hodges, the young couple came to live near her father, John Freeman Pettus. They built a five or six‑room cottage on the exact spot where the G. A. Ray Jr. home now stands. In fact, some of the portions of the cottage were used in the building of the two‑story home. The lumber for the cottage was brought by wagon train from Saint Mary's. The wagons were pulled by oxen. Here the Hodges family lived until the land was purchased by the late G. A. Ray Sr. in 1895.
Following the war with Mexico for Texas independence, Mexico refused to abide by the Treaty of Velasco and threatened an invasion in 1836. But the United States, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Holland and some of the German states recognized the Republic of Texas. Then in 1857 parts of Karnes, Goliad, Live Oak, Refugio and San Patricio Counties were taken to form Bee County. It was organized in 1858.
The first combination dwelling and general store was built by J. T. Byus and Company on the south side of what we know as Main Street. Its ad read: ''Gilden and Hash Steel Barb Wire; agents for all kinds of Furst and Bradley farming implements. We will pay cash prices for hides, cotton, wool, and country produce. Anything that we have not in stock we will buy on short notice, charging 10 per cent on what it actually costs, landed at Pettus City."
A Mr. Vaughn was the first blacksmith and Rowland and Lestern operated the first gin. It was located near the Medio Creek just east of the bridge on F.M. 623. The first hotel was built by a Mr. New.
The first physician to take residence in Pettus City was Dr. Thomas F. Austin. It Is not known if he was related to Stephen F. Austin. He was followed by Dr. E. T. Gazley, then Dr. G. S. Beaty and last by Dr. J. A. Bell in 1917.
The first garage was built by G. A. Ray Sr. in 19 14. It was operated by John Thomas. The first auto was seen in Pettus in 1906.
In 1888 W. T. Roberts moved his family from San Domingo to Pettus City. He bought the hotel from Mr. New and on April 6, 189 1, he opened a store. This store burned in 1901. He rebuilt. In 1929 or 1930 a disastrous fire burned the hotel and some seven business houses. Mr. Roberts' store did not burn‑if was located about a block from where the fire was. One unknown man lost his life.
In 1932, W. T. Roberts Company built the first brick business house in the community. It continued to operate until February 1, 1965, making 74 years of continuous operation by this family which was handed down from father to son to grandson.
In the store built in 1903 was the first telephone in the area. Several years later a switchboard was installed in the Roberts Hotel with Miss Lula Roberts as operator. Gradually nearly every home in the area had a telephone. The local switchboard was discontinued in January 1969.
In the spring of 1886 when it became evident that the railroad would come through this area, John Sutherland Hodges had a 25‑acre tract surveyed for a townsite. He gave the land for the streets, and 50 acres toward the roadbed for the railroad. Mrs. Hodges donated lots 1, 2, and 3 to be used for church facilities. She stipulated that all denominations should be welcome to use them, but the church was to be called the Christian Church.
The name of the community was to be Pettus City in honor of John Freeman Pettus‑the first land owner.
Before the coming of the railroad the few residents went to what we now know as Mineral for their mail. If was a community about 10 miles west of Pettus City that came into being almost overnight. Texas President, Anson Jones, in 1845 had granted six labors of land in the present Mineral area to the Tennessee heirs of Henry Coley. Some of them sold part of their land to Susan and William Sanford. Mr. Sanford dug a well and when they found water they rushed some of it to San Antonio to be analyzed. It was found to contain 16 minerals, and the report was that they contained great healing powers. Almost overnight the community became a city. That was in 1877. An eight‑room hotel was built by the Sanfords. Several stores, churches. a grist mill, and a drug store were added. In 1878 a post office with Porter M. Neal as postmaster, was an important addition. Dr. T. B. Brashear, owner of the drug store, opened a school in the store. Not only did Pettus City get its mail in Mineral City, those who had children of school age sent them there.
On May 17, 1886, the first passenger train backed into Pettus City. A depot and a section house had been built; a well was dug. and a cedar tank had been erected just north of the depot, where the train got wafer. This well also furnished water for the stockpens.
The conductor on this first train was J. E. Barker and the engineer was W. M. Barrett. It was difficult to know who was the prouder‑the conductor and engineer or the few inhabitants of the community.
When the roadbed for the railroad was completed to Beeville June 14, 1886, and the passenger train made its first trip, among those who took the ride were Mr. and Mrs. Hodges. Then about a month later some 125 citizens of Beeville decided to take what was to many of them their first ride on an ''iron horse.'' a distance of some IS miles to Pettus City. Among that group was W. 0. McCurdy, editor of the Bee, the county newspaper, who wrote: ''On Tuesday a party of about 125 composed of townspeople and parties from the immediate neighborhood, fortified with baskets and boxes of edibles, boarded the regular passenger train for Pettus‑the yet to‑be town 15 miles north of Beeville. The trip was quickly made‑only a short stop was made at Walton (later to he known as Normanna) to wood up. Upon arrival at our destination, we found the genial and courteous owner of the place, John Sutherland Hodges, in anticipation of our coming, had selected as a picnic ground a mott of Live Oak trees some little distance from the station, and had killed the fatted calf that had been barbecued in such style that would please the most fastidious 'Epicurean' . . . Of course we did not expect to see much‑it being a new‑born place with the country around very sparsely settled, but the immigrating farmer will not pass the rich soil unnoticed, and we expect to see it advance with other places along the line of the railroad.''
The stockpens located at the northern end of the townsite were commodious with a loading chute and plenty of drinking wafer for the stock. They were a boon for the cattlemen who heretofore had been driving their cattle to northern markets. Making use of the facilities were stockmen from Live Oak, McMullen, Karnes, Goliad, and Bee Counties. If has been said that as many as eight cattle owners would bring their herds to ship at one time. Each would fake his turn to use the facilities. Many friends were made at this stock yard.
The first depot agent was R. M. Sylvester and the last one was Miss Evelyn Holt. She locked the depot door Friday, January 15, 1960, at 5 p.m. after if had been in use for 74 years. It was sold to W. F. Carter and moved.
In 1892 a one‑room schoolhouse I 8x24 was built east of what is now the Christian Church. If had two windows on the north side and two windows on the south. The boards on the inside of the east end were painted black to be used for a blackboard. The only door was to the west. The benches were home‑made and the children brought their own lunches and wafer to drink. Miss Evelyn Harcleman was the first teacher and she had 13 students. She taught the first four grades. As the community continued to grow the school was classified as a third‑class high school In 1912. In 1917 or 1918 a stucco building was erected on the hill overlooking the town. Around 1930 the first high school building was erected on land donated by G. A. Ray Sr. north of the townsite. The spacious gymnasium that was built was named the Ray Gym in honor of Mir. Ray. The school has continued to grow. It now has a high school. a *junior high and elementary departments. There are also homemaking and vocational agriculture departments. If is now an independent consolidated district with a faculty of approximately 46 teachers, and a scholastic enrollment of around 625. The school has an active Parent‑Teacher Association, a Band Booster Club, and an Athletic Booster Club.
On September 29, 1886, a post office was established in Pettus City.
The first postmaster was David W. Hodges. He was succeeded by George W. Fore on January 12, 1887. He remained postmaster until October 19, 1887. On July 6, 1896 the name of the post office was changed from Pettus City to just plain Pettus. According to the Official Register of the United States the compensation for the postmaster from October 6, 1886, to June 30, 1887, was $94.17. Other local postmasters were Frank O'Neal, Mrs. Frank O'Neal, Tom Cook, E. E. Green, L. W. Massengale, R. J. Bradford and James Oliver Bradford. The late R. j. Bradford served approximately 30 years. A new post office building was built and dedicated Saturday, January 17, 1970. Because of inclement weather the dedication was held in the elementary school cafetorium.
The first residential building to be erected in Pettus City was that of J. F. Ray in 1890. It was a two‑story frame building situated in a mott of Live Oak frees. It has been sold and torn down. One of the oldest settlers in the community was Mrs. Caroline Page. She served as a combination mid‑wife and home‑remedy doctor. She made her rounds in a one horse buggy. She had living with her a little grandson, Warren Downing. When he grew to manhood he held a responsible position with the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad. He died recently in Corpus Christi. When he was small and ''Granny'' Page was called out on an errand of mercy, she would tuck Warren between her knees and go 'Jolting along. She lived in a one‑room house with a chimney and a lean‑to. In her garden she had peach, plum, and fig trees and grape vines. This was probably the first orchard in the area. She was generous with her fruit. She had no license to practice medicine but she knew many household remedies that she used with remarkable success. (If more home remedies were used today the doctors would not be so overworked),
The early settlers of the Pettus City community used the school building for religious services. In the summer time a brush arbor was erected in front of and joining the schoolhouse. Lanterns were used for light‑they were hung on the arbor posts. Pallets were made on the ground for the children when they became sleepy. The pitch of the song was given with a tuning fork and the people came from far and near by horseback, wagon, buggy and sulky. Often these sermons would extend far info the night. On August 20, 1906, the First Christian Church was organized with a membership of 25. Mrs. Margaret Moore is the only survivor of that group. The first building was completed in the summer of 1905.
On June 28, 1906, the First Baptist Church of Pettus was organized with a membership of eleven. For a number of years they met in the Christian Church and later in the school building while their building was being completed. Their building was occupied July 3, 1921. ,
In 1938 Mrs. W. D. Walton and Mr. and Mrs. G. A. Ray Sr. gave land for a building site for a Methodist church. On July 24, 1938, the first Methodist Church in Pettus was opened with the Rev. E. Y. Seale as pastor. Pettus also has a Catholic church, a Church of Christ, and a Negro Baptist Church.
The Pettus Municipal Utility District came into being by an act of the Texas Legislature February 16, 1962. Construction of a water well was begun In 1964 and went Info production in 1965.
On July 1, 1948, a group of interested citizens. encouraged by the Rotary Club of Beeville, met in Ray Gymnasium for the purpose of organizing a civic club. After a brief discussion a Rotary Club was formed with E. N. Jones as president. It continues to serve, sponsoring the Pettus Welfare Association, the Little League Baseball, and oversees the Pettus street lighting. Much attention has been and is being given to scouting. It sponsors the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Explorer Scout units. L. C. Parks is the current president.
The Pettus‑Tuleta Volunteer Fire Department is the pride of the town. Among its members is a retired man who is ''Johnny on the spot'' when the whistle blows for an emergency. If could use more members.
On December 2, 1948, a Pettus Masonic Lodge was chartered. It is known as Pettus Lodge No. 1308, A.F. and A.M., and had a chartered membership of 30. For many years it met upstairs in the W. T. Roberts Company building. The first elected officers of the lodge were W. E. Fox. Worshipful Master‑, W. C. Meneley, Senior Warden, and A. A. Ware, Junior Warden. This lodge was sponsored by the Masons of Kenedy. Just recently a new Masonic Temple was erected on what is known as the A. Hartzendorf gin land.
A Mr. Leary, section foreman, was the first man in Pettus to be murdered. If was done by some robbers. The first man to die a natural death was J. T. Byus. He was buried in a cemetery that was where the Mineral Heights addition now is. Later G. A. Ray Sr. gave land on the east side of Pettus to be used for a cemetery. It contains only a few graves.
Pettus has a Home Demonstration Club that has been in operation for about fifty years. Mrs. Mae Click was the first agent. Mrs. Susan Neuenschwander is the present agent. The club meets monthly.
In 1929 the first oil well was brought in on the J. J. McKinney land east of Pettus. The discovery brought a rush of people to the community. In the 1930 census 1,500 names were registered. They found lodging in tents, shade trees, crowded homes, empty barns, and out on the streets. The finding of oil relieved the pressure of depression. Businesses of many kinds sprang up almost over‑night. The sidings on the railroad tracks were congested with cars waiting to be unloaded. If was a new day, but like all oil town stories it had an ending. Now Pettus is almost a ghost town empty store buildings, fallen‑down houses. grown‑up streets, and a population of possibly 300. Among the present businesses are two stores, three filling stations, a garage, an oil well supply house, Brown Insurance Company, Leggett Welding & Construction Company, Pennzoil United Inc., The Permian Corporation, Staples Pump & Service Co., a beauty salon, a magneto shop, and Amoco Production Company.
Following the turn of the century Pettus was the victim of three disastrous floods.
The one in 1903 seemed to have involved the whole county, for it was reported that all bridges had been swept away. The roadbed for the railroad was inundated and the train service was delayed for hours.
On October 25, 1960, at around 10:30 p.m. if was thought to have been a cloudburst that hit the divide between Kenedy and Pettus that sent a wall of water approximately four feet deep in the business section along Highway 181. Boats were used for transportation, and people worked long and hard evacuating those who were in the wake of the water. The damage ran into thousands and thousands of dollars, but fortunately no lives were lost.
On September 27, 1967, down came another deluge. People in the lower section of the community climbed atop their homes for safety. Again the damage was extremely high but when the wafers subsided no time was lost getting things back in shape for business. This time some of those who had homes on the west side of 181 moved their dwellings to Mineral Heights to escape high wafer‑should it occur again.
Pettus is proud of the fact that the official flag of Bee County was designed by the late Gentry Dugat and was made by Mrs. Gentry Dugatboth of Pettus. Gentry was chairman of the Bee County Historical Commission. The flag is based on the Texas flag. 11‑ has a blue field with a white star, white map of Bee County, and the digits '1858" for the year of the county's organization, in white. On the white upper strip appear the words, ''Bee County, Texas.'' The bottom strip is red, lust as is found on the Texas flag. If measures 3x3 feet and is made of Indian‑head cloth. If was officially adopted by the Bee County Historical Commission and also by the Bee County Centennial Inc. as the official Centennial Flag. A very limited number of other counties in Texas have flags.
Pettus has two historical markers. One is for the First Christian Church, officially dedicated February 20, 1966, and [he other is the marker for the town of Pettus, which was erected in the park at Tulsita where it was thought more people would see if and enjoy it.
What was truly a boon to the economy of [he Pettus area was the coming of electricity.
"And the half has not yet been told.''
The fluctuating richness of the history of Skidmore had its beginning in the nineteenth century and was culminated in sweat and toll, plans and visions, growth and progress, fires and defeat, and is today proudly aware of its place in the pioneers' dream of a great America.
The early part of the nineteenth century found Ireland oppressed by a stern English government. A number of Irish families, failing to help themselves through rebellion, decided to embark for America. These Irish settlers, together with immigrants from Scotland, received land grants from the government. In this clawing wilderness that abounded. the courageous pioneers tenaciously hewed a civilization and built their first homes. The houses were built of straight poles placed side by side, the cracks being filled with grass or moss. The dirt floors were covered with white creek sand and the roofs were made of split boards cut from large trees.
Years before there was a Bee County, the community of Aransas arose near the juncture of Poesta and Aransas Creeks. Patrick Fadden and his kin settled on their Uncle Father Malloy's land grant in 1835. John E. and James Wilson came to this area, and J. M. Dunlap received his share of the state's apportionment for teaching a school in his home in this upper Aransas community in 1860. E. J. Fitzgerald, Isaac Woottan and W. R. Hayes were paying faxes on the Malloy grant in the early sixties. Mr. Hayes was postmaster of the Aransas post office in his home.
Samuel Cyle Skidmore brought a large family to this settlement and built its first store. Son, Frank 0. Skidmore, settled first on his Olmos Ranch and 'Joined them in the late seventies. Bookkeeper R. W. Archer and later W. L. Dickson, both his brothers‑ in‑law, bought an interest in his real estate and thoroughbred cattle business. Samuel Cyle Skidmore bought a steam mill in the early 1880s. The Corrigan family settled on a large acreage of land where Poesta Creek meets Aransas Creek. This is known as the 'V."
Skidmore and Dickson donated a lot adjoining the store for a church of all denominations and to be used for a schoolhouse. Others who contributed to this settlement were: W. P. McGrew, J. C. Thompson, William Dugat, J. L. Dugat, F. J. Malone, John Fadden, Sam Matthews, E. D. Crow, U. A. D. Weathersby, Ross Dugat, John C. Brearly, W. Rose and J. E. Taylor.
Through a large land and cattle trade with Thomas O'Connor, the Driscoll brothers, J. 0'. and Robert, became owners of thousands of acres of ranch land and built a home near the Aransas community. The Driscoll families distinguished and endeared themselves to Texans in their philanthropic, civic and patriotic services. Robert Jr. contributed greatly to the building of modern Corpus Christi. His sister, Clara, won the gratitude of many Texans as the ''Savior of the Alamo'' and for countless deeds she performed for the State of Texas. Both were children of Robert Driscoll.
The wilderness that the pioneers settled was ''the hunting grounds of Indians, an empire of prairie land, a virgin wealth of pasture land and a stockman's paradise.'' The abundant wild game. which included deer in groups of many thousands, was killed only when needed by the pioneers. Many wild animals roamed at will on these prairie lands. The Indians often raided the homes of the settlers, sometimes killing entire families, causing the pioneers many hardships. The Corrigan family was compelled to leave their home several times to seek safety.
A few of the pioneers had a Negro slave or two to help with the large families and chores. But most of the women discharged their duties as homemakers in such an efficient manner that it would put the modern housewife to shame. The knowledge and skill those brave women had was evidenced in their making all the necessities in their homes.
Candles were made from cattle fallow with beeswax added, and cattle bones were boiled in an ash hopper to make soap. During roasting‑ear time, fresh shelled corn was boiled, and the foam which surfaced was skimmed and used for starch. While the housewife was busy with her home, her pioneer husband was tilling the soil and tending to his stock.
Stock raising began in this little community in about 1840, and cattle were brought from Gonzales and Austin. Mr. Skidmore brought the first registered Hereford cattle to This country in the I 870s. One rancher settled in the bend of Aransas Creek with a herd of almost eight hundred cattle. On this land was a deep pool of water and a spring which flowed continuously. There were no timber or brush obstructions, and as far as the human eye could see, this was promising virgin country. The stockman ranged his cattle on this vast expanse of prairie land, employing riders to keep his cattle from straying, since there were no fences. The Skidmore brothers (Tom, 0. S., Cal, M. A., and Frank 0.) became famous for Their hay. Frank gained statewide attention with his barbed wire fence in 1877, but in 1874 a slick black wire was used first.
In later years a thick, heavy Mesquite growth covered the entire prairie, resulting from freighting wagons passing through from Mexico. Rich Mexican merchants sent caravans of fifty or more wagons over the trails with coffee and other merchandise for sale or trade. These wagons were drawn by four, six or eight white mules to each wagon, and the drivers carried Mesquite beans as food for their animals. From these seeds a growth of trees developed for miles along the trail and continued to spread over the prairie.
Fine grass was plentiful near watering places, but not enough grazing land could be found adjacent to rivers or creeks for watering purposes. As 11 necessity becomes the mother of invention,'' the windmill was invented, and proved to become a great advantage to the rancher. By 1895 this area was virtually a windmill forest.
A number of early ranchers took part in the old cattle drives to points north, including the Kansas, New Orleans and Mississippi cattle markets. Young cowboys from this area took part in the Chisholm Trail drives taking cattle to northern markets. The original Chisholm Trail was surveyed north of [he Red River but feeder lines of the frail passed through this area in South Texas. Along these same trails traveled wagons used in trading or carrying supplies to the armies.
Since wagon trails were few and hazardous. Jefferson Davis, as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce, was convinced that the use of camels as beasts of burden for the army in its war against the Indians was feasible. Asking for and receiving a Congressional appropriation, the camels and dromedaries were purchased and sent to this area. It was known that they could carry hundreds of pounds, were adapted to hot, dry areas and could travel faster than horses.
This venture seemed quite successful, but when the first shots were fired in an undeclared Civil War and the Union became divided, Jefferson Davis, sponsor of the camel purchase, resigned as Secretary of War and followed his home state into the Confederacy. The camels, which had proven their usefulness in endurance trips to California, were turned out to browse and shift for themselves on the range. The ranch horses, very much afraid of ;he camels, became disturbed when picking up their scent, so the ranchers killed the camels at every opportunity.
When the state capitol celebrated the first railroad built in that city, a Mardi Gras was staged. Camels, groomed before Oriental chariots and attended by Texas Negroes attired in Oriental dress, were driven down the streets of Austin in the parade. The camels made their exit and the railroad its entrance info the history of this country.
The building of the railroad in 1886 was one of the greatest history making events that occurred in this little pioneer section. Driving cattle to various markets was a firing trip, and a railroad was a necessary advantage. Nevertheless, numerous ranchers seriously objected to the proposed railroad running through their property, and refused to relinquish the right of way.
Uriah Lott, a great railroad promoter, went from San Antonio to Corpus Christi selling the ''palace stock cars,'' as he referred to them. Mr. Lott finished his railroad from San Antonio to Corpus Christi on October 28, 1886, and his first scheduled passenger train was run on that date. He located the first station, telegraph office and roundtable just north of the bridge across the Aransas.
In 1887 Mr. Lott planned an extension from his railroad to Brownsville, but certain ranchers refused to grant him right of way through their land.
In the little settlement of Aransas he used his salesmanship on Frank Skidmore, one of the pioneers who owned vast acreages. Mr. Skidmore donated every alternate block through his property and proposed a new townsite and named it after himself. The post office was moved to the new location and Me old town north of Aransas Creek was abandoned. Thus the little town of Skidmore had its beginning.
Originally, the land ‑in the Skidmore townsite belonged to Clayton Ross. On June 10, 1864, he received a government land grant for 640 acres. The land was sold to Frank Skidmore in 1880. Clayton Ross was the great great uncle of C. P. Ross, local electrician.
Although not actually invaded during the Civil War, Skidmore had a number of gallant sons fighting in the Confederate Army, and they participated in skirmishes on Padre and Saint Joseph Islands. Food was scarce during this period for the area was experiencing a drought. Coffee couldn't be bought at any price. Okra seeds and corn were parched and a drink substituting for coffee was made and used.
Homespun clothing became fashionable, for calico was very expensive at $50 a yard 'in Confederate money. Women carded cotton and spun it info thread, which was woven info coarse cloth. Many soldiers went to war in a suit of homespun material made by their mother or sisters. To brighten the drab homespun cloth, dyes were made from indigo weeds and copperas. Herb roofs and bark of certain frees were made into various medicines, and home remedies were used for all illnesses.
A young married couple who immigrated from Broxburne, Scotland, in 1884 made a rich contribution to the little settlement of Skidmore. John and Isabelle Galloway chose this little pioneering community as their home where John went to work for Frank Skidmore.
Soon after John Galloway arrived in Skidmore from Scotland he organized a community Sunday School for all denominations and taught the Sunday School classes. In 1890 he helped organize the Methodist Church and was Sunday School superintendent for thirty‑three years. Rev. J. C. Russell was the first pastor. The first Methodist church stood near the Baptist church and was badly damaged in the 1916 and 1919 storms. It was torn down and rebuilt in the place where the church now stands. In the 1931 fire which destroyed the hospital, the church burned. It was rebuilt. Pastor Ross Welch of Mathis is the shepherd of the church today.
Mr. Galloway also owned and operated a little store called The Little Gem Confectionery, in which were sold fish, toilet articles, stationery, Coca‑Cola and sundry other items. This store was also used for his office when Mr. Galloway was Justice of the Peace.
In Scotland a herd of cattle bears the Galloway name. The breed, often confused with the Aberdeen‑Angus, lost their origin in the obscurity of the Middle Ages. Bovine historians believe they were introduced info the area that is now Scotland by the Norsemen about 1000 years ago. These cattle, because of their double coat of hair, are hardy and bred to live in adverse climates. There are two herds of these ancient Scottish cattle on ranches in Clarendon and Ozona in Texas.
John Galloway Jr., son of the Scottish immigrants, grew to manhood in Skidmore. He married the former Miss Ruby Williams, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M. M. Williams. Mr. Williams was a former county judge in Coleman County and after moving to this settlement owned and operated the Commercial Hotel for a number of years.
John Galloway Jr. organized and was president of the Farmers Mercantile Company in Skidmore in 1912. In 1919 he added a funeral department. The mercantile was a general merchandise business and could care for the needs of anyone ''from the cradle to the grave,'' including Ford cars, seeds. hardware, dry goods, ready‑to‑wear and a complete funeral service.
A devastating fire completely destroyed the mercantile store in 1929. Mr. Galloway moved his funeral business info a small building in the same block on which his business burned. In May 1932 Mr. Galloway closed his Skidmore funeral home and moved his equipment to Beeville. His son, Charles, carries on the business that was founded by John Galloway Jr. Charles' sons, John III and Tom, are partners with their father and the business is known as Galloway and Sons Funeral Home.
In 1890 Thomas R. Atkins started a hotel and for 11 months published the first newspaper, the Skidmore Pioneer. Thomas Atkins was the father of the late George Atkins, owner and publisher of the Beeville Bee‑Picayune. The Skidmore Signal was edited by Charles Blanton from 1907 to 1915. Professor Jenkins, a former school superintendent, bought the business from Mr. Blanton but soon after, closed its doors. The third newspaper in Skidmore was the Southern Breeze, published in about 1910 by R. A. Sommerville, father of Ross Sommerville of the Central community, and R. W. Sparks. This paper had a short life during a real estate boom in Skidmore.
Early in this century a telephone switchboard was set up in W. R. Miller's Dry Goods Store. Miss Georgia Von Roeder was the first telephone operator. When the new brick bank building was finished, the telephone office was moved info the little wooden building vacated by the bank. In 191 1 Mrs. Lila Williams moved here with her family from Runge and became ''Central,'' as everyone called the telephone operator. The building consisted of ample space for living quarters for the Williams family. Mrs. Williams also taught piano lessons. At her death, her daughter. Mrs. Cecilia Dixons, took over the business as manager and operator. The long fingers of progress closed the doors in 1949 and the solicitous voice of ''Central'' was gone forever.
Several times in the century the town was almost destroyed by fire. In 1900, Moore's Grocery, Sam Skidmore's Drug Store, the Benham Hotel and the Turner building were destroyed. A year later J. B. Brown's, William Miller's and again the Turner building went up in smoke. They rebuilt. In 1916 a lumber yard burned, and in 1918, the two‑story Wallis Mayo Hotel was destroyed.
A devastating fire in 1919 took its toll of Skidmore and economically it never seemed to recover. A large block of business houses burned to the ground at the time and it is thought to have started in an empty saloon. Businesses burned in this conflagration were the Elite Hotel, W. R. Miller's Dry Goods Store, Andy Tedford's Saloon, Gus Staples' Garage, Howard Faupel's Barber Shop, M. J. White's Store, Mrs. Murray's Cafe (owned by Gus Bruns), Midway Saloon, Galloway's Confectionery, Kemp's Tailor Shop, a millinery store, Borcher's Hardware Store, and Ed Crow's Palace of Sweets Confectionery, featuring the first popcorn machine and the first moving picture show in the back of the store.
Skidmore proudly boasts of many doctors during the years and one, Dr. 1. N. Thompson, had his office in the Elite Hotel that burned. Other doctors to care for the ills of the community were Drs. J. B. Hunter, J. B. Wheeler, J. R. Morton, M. T. Rowley, Herman A. Galtzman, W. J. Beckman, Mary Mills, W. E. Little, Joseph V. Dozier, and L. J. Vanden Bossch.
Dr. Hunter was the son‑in‑law of Mr. and Mrs., Frank Skidmore, founder of Skidmore. Dr. Hunter's late son, Joe, lived here for many years, then moved to San Antonio. His wife, Mrs. Louise Hunter, gave $150,000 to Bee County College in memory of her late husband with which the Joe Hunter Memorial Baseball Stadium was built. Mr. Hunter was an avid baseball fan. playing on the Skidmore team while a young man. The Skidmore team had a great record for winning games.
A few years previous to 193 1, the old Corrigan home, a large two‑story residence, was purchased by Dr. J. A. Malone of Beeville and a hospital was opened. It had minor success as a hospital, and in 1931 it, too, burned to the ground. Across the street stood the Methodist Church and it also went up in smoke. The adjacent telephone office was saved by the "bucket brigade.''
In 1907 the two‑story red brick building was built which housed the bank, a drug store and the Opera House. The first bank in Skidmore was a small wooden building which later became the Bell Telephone office.
The top story of the red brick building which featured a large stage was used as a movie house, for theatrical plays, and for dances. On the ground floor adjacent to the bank was a drug store which was operated for many years by Rupert Tuell.
The bank president was Dr. J. B. Hunter. and the first banker was a Mr. Miller who moved to Mathis later. Victor Kessler, formerly of Schulenburg, succeeded Mr. Miller as banker some time after 1909. Dave Madray was the cashier.
In 1929 the bank closed its doors after the Wall Street crash. The Opera House continued to be the scene of home talent plays and other entertainment, and the movies. Dan Malone, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Malone, another pioneer family, was in charge of the picture shows. As the building became old and frail, it was condemned for usage, and was vacated. The ravages of the elements and time took its toll of the fine old bank building and brick by brick it crumbled to the ground.
The first school was a three‑room wooden structure and Professor L. W. Bell. father of Robert Bell of Beeville, was superintendent here. In about 1909 the old school building was abandoned and a large two‑story red brick schoolhouse was built nearer the street. The building had four wings, built in the form of a cross.
The first superintendent in this new structure was Professor O. A. Heath. He was the father of Mrs. Lulan Heath Fraser, Tax Assessor and Collector of Beeville. Professor Heath was also the first boys' basketball coach, and the winning team had an unbroken record. To their credit went their defeating a team from Corpus Christi.
The red brick building was condemned in the late 1920s and razed in 1929. A modern seven‑classroom school was built with a large auditorium and library. Professor R. J. Gladney was superintendent then. During the early 1950s space became a problem and Superintendent Sam Hudspeth saw the need for a new high school and gymnasium. This was completed in October 1953. Under the coaching of LeRoy Hoff, both winning boys and girls basketball teams, many times state contenders, emerged from this gym and school. The ever‑growing student population and enrollment necessitated an elementary school being erected in 1955. Mr. Hudspeth passed away in 1963 as the result of a sudden heart attack and Mr. Hoff became the superintendent.
In 1965 under Mr. Hoff's direction, a cafeteria was built, containing a library and space used as a study hall, and in 1967 a modern homemaking cottage was added. The school has active farm clubs in the Future Farmers and Future Homemakers.
After the Farmers Mercantile Company burned in 1929, the company rebuilt the store. It was divided into two parts and the west side was occupied by a drug store and adjacent to that was a grocery store and meat market. Owners of the stores were Jack Linnet (1933‑1960), M. J. Finger (1960‑1965), and David Ross (1965‑1968). The stock was sold and the store closed. The market was owned for a few years by A. H. Spokesman and L. E. Range and operated by Mr. Spokesman (1930‑1933). Paul Beyer managed the market for Mr. Linnet for a few years, then it was closed.
Kurt Hartman owned the Drug Store (1931‑1935). Mr. Hartman and his family moved to Premont, and the building was turned info a pool hall. and later a picture show. Now the entire building is occupied by Mr. Cloverdale, who has a beehive assembly plant there.
In 1946, Mrs. A. H. Spokesman and Mrs. Maurice Finger opened a drug store on the main highway through Skidmore. In 1951 it was sold to two sisters, Mrs. Jim Naylor and Mrs. John Cosby. The 1952 fire, which was caused by an exploding gasoline truck, burned down the drug store, Paula's Cafe and the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Lewallen. The late Hugh (Slats) Lewallen was a linotype operator for the Bee‑Picayune. The drug store reopened in the Harriden building. Mrs. Ida Belle Copeland bought the drug store in 1957. Later she opened the Dairy Mart and moved her drug business in with that. She closed the drug store in 1961, but continued the Dairy Mart until January 1973.
In the early part of this century, Charles Blaschke and Joe Beyer built a cotton gin near the existing overpass. L. E. Range worked at the gin. The cotton was carried by hand in baskets from the ginstand up to the press to be made into bales. This gin was sold to August Natho, and changed ownership when Fritz Striedel bought it. It, too, was destroyed by fire.
T. C. Buerger built a gin on the Blaschke property in the residential section of Skidmore. Charles Blaschke bought a partnership in the gin, and later George W. Black became a third partner. The gin was Closed, torn down and moved to Olmos where J. S. Hall of Beeville rebuilt the gin.
When the post office was moved from Aransas to the new townsite, it stood for many years on the block adjacent to the one that was completely destroyed by fire. Here Judge Hayes, Will Moore, Mr. Baldswiler, Professor Jenkins, Gus Natho and Emil Spokesman served as postmasters. In the early 1940s the post office was moved info the former Virginia Cafe where Robert Mueth and Mrs. Frances Stubenthal served as postmasters. Mrs. Stubenthal continued her services in the new brick building near the main highway, which was erected in 1967. In 197 1 J. C. Linnet Jr. became postmaster and serves in that capacity today.
For many years Skidmore had a Sons of Hermann Lodge Hall and a Woodmen of the World Hall, with lodge activities and meetings. These halls were scenes of barbecues, dances, political gatherings and town meetings. Both halls were built in the early years of this century. The Woodmen Hall was a two‑story structure with the top story featuring a stage and auditorium. Here home talent plays were given and meetings held. Later, the fop story was removed and the hall remained useful for many years. In 1929‑1930 the Woodmen Hall was used for classrooms while the new school was being built. Some time in the 1930s if was torn down and moved away.
Near the Woodmen Hall was a ''calaboose" where numerous "roomers" had the misfortune of spending the night for various infractions of the law. The little square building still stands on the county property, another landmark of long ago.
The first Catholic Church service known to be held here was in 1895. A horseback rider, Father O.Dorofy, was on his way from Dinero to Aransas but due to a severe spell of weather stopped in Skidmore. He stayed at the Russek Ranch and was detained from continuing his trip for three days due to the bad weather. He celebrated mass each day in the Russek home.
Father Goebels was the first priest in charge of a parish here. He also lived with Mrs. Rosina Russek and her family, where he continued to reside even after the church and rectory were built. In 1908 Father Placiclos was the first priest to occupy the rectory. A new parish house was completed.
Father Placliclos was an artist and painted murals depicting the four seasons on the dining room walls of the rectory. In 1928, during Father Chenzosky's tenure, the rectory burned to the ground during a severe freeze the greatest loss being the works of art in several of the rooms. The rectory was rebuilt.
The construction of a modern brick parish house is now under way, soon to be completed. Father L. H. Kelly is the resident priest. He has been here about seven years.
The first lumber yard and hardware store in Skidmore was owned by Mr. Michalke in the early century. It was a large, imposing building east of the railroad depot. It was destroyed by fire in 1916. In the 1919 fire the Borcher's Hardware and Lumber Yard burned. In 1927 the Southwest Texas Lumber Company of Victoria built a large lumber yard and Pete Bailey was the manager. H. H. Harriden of Beeville bought the business and moved his family to Skidmore in 1932. In 1957 Charles Gossett of Victoria bought the lumber yard from Harry Harriden and it is still in operation.
In 1926 an icing dock was built by a company from Victoria and its purpose was to re‑ice train cars of vegetables coming from the valley. It was the only icing dock between Edinburg and Hearne, where the vegetables were again re‑iced. Frank Mallory of Victoria was the manager. The dock was closed after several years of usage.
The oldest cemetery is in the heart of the old O'Toole lands, where the first settlers buried their dead. Over two hundred markers stand near Aransas Creek east of Skidmore in this plot.
Land was donated by R. V. Stubenthal to enlarge Evergreen Cemetery. The Highway Department planned to use the cemetery frontage on which to construct one lane of the new highway being built from Beeville. The citizens of Skidmore were opposed to relinquishing the right of way, so the new lane will be built east of the existing highway.
In 1926 the Humble Pipe Line Company built a booster station three miles west of Skidmore, and modern machinery and five living quarters were provided. D. R. McCoun, now of Beeville, was the chief and he and his family lived In one of the houses, the others being occupied by engineers or oilers with the company. The presence of the booster station lent a large boost to the town of Skidmore both economically and socially. This was enjoyed until 195S when the station was closed and the machinery and houses moved away.
In about 1950 a Lions Club was formed with meetings held in Paula's Cafe. The club helped with fund drives and other civic duties, and enjoyed a fairly large membership. Gentry Dugat of Pettus, a fluent and artful curator, was often called on as speaker. He referred to Skidmore as ''the metropolis with Beeville as its suburb.'' The club disbanded after about five years. Charter members who still reside here are: M. J. Finger, Jack Linnet, Edgar Range, and Kenneth Nutt.
In 1960 Skidmore organized a Fire Department and named Allen Bohac the chief. A previous try had been made to organize a department and a small pumper was bought, but the idea was soon abandoned. Presently There are twenty‑four members in the Fire Department, with sixteen active members. The department has three tanker‑pumper combination trucks which can carry a total of 3300 gallons of wafer. They also have an emergency until and can apply oxygen when needed. Several of the firemen are qualified to give artificial respiration and use the resuscitator. Mr. Bohac continues as chief today.
The Women's Auxiliary to the Fire Department was organized the same year as the Fire Department. Mrs. Ruby Rylant was the first president. The Auxiliary has twenty non‑active members and eighteen active members. Two women voluntarily man the base radio during every fire and coffee and tea are always available for the fire fighters when they return to the Fire Hall. Mrs. Allen Bohac is president of the Auxiliary. In 1970 a Firemen's Meeting Hall was built with money donated by the community. 11 is used as a meeting place for firemen, the Auxiliary, Boy Scouts and other groups, and has full kitchen facilities.
The building of The Round‑Up in 1964 enhanced Skidmore with a definite western flavor, and revived the art of horseback and trick riding and feats of the arena for a wide area surrounding this community.
The Round‑Up is a many‑faceted recreation and entertainment center and is spread over a large area about a mile from Skidmore on the Corpus Christi highway. It was developed by Charles H. Griffith, formerly of Sinton. Rusty, as he is known to most everyone, is a rancher and has extensive land holdings. He and his wife live on their ranch near Papalote.
The Round‑Up Clubhouse is a large open room with substantial seating capacity. Here are held dances, private parties and get‑togethers. Bigname bands and entertainers are featured here. The Western Dining Room can accommodate bridge or other parties with dinners, luncheons, or any food flowing from the kitchen into either the dining room or ballroom.
Also on the grounds nearby is a rodeo arena, a horse race track, and skeet and trap shooting. In conjunction with the activities at the Round‑Up is the Papalote Shooting Resort. All kinds of native game is available here, including quail, pheasant and chukar, which is a partridge imported from India.
Near the large clubhouse is a small ''Teepee,'' which is the home of the Improved Order of Redmen, a fraternal non‑political, non‑religious organization. The Order of Redmen is the oldest fraternal organization of American origin in the U. S. today. If was chartered by an Act of Congress in 1814.
In 1970 a swimming pool was added on the Round‑Up grounds. This is a membership club and sponsored by the Redmen Club.
Rusty Griffith was elected constable of Skidmore in 1972 and has his office in the same building with his ranch office.
A telescopic view of modern Skidmore brings to focus a picture featuring five brick school buildings. with 480 students, an active athletic program and a 65‑member high school band. with Homer Krueger as director. The L&G Biglow Grocery and Meat Market, William Holubec, owner‑, two drive‑in groceries, Fermino Olivares and Joe Case, owners; Paula's (Ziese) Cafe‑, The Gulf Cafe and Pete Vanasek's Barbecue Stand; The Round‑Up, Rusty Griffith, owner; Charles Gossett's Lumber Yard; DeWitt's Appliance Repair Shop; Ross Electric Shop, C. P. Ross, owners Barb's (Mrs. Monte Dickinson) Beauty Shop; Tyler's Barber Shop‑, Fire Station and Fire Hall; Railroad Depot; Exxon Service Station, Chuck Mortensen, owners Manuel Olivares' Texaco Service Station and Fermino Olivares' Billups Station, and a modern self‑help gasoline station in connection with the new Joe Case Drive‑In Grocery.
The Fruit and Vegetable Stand and Green House is owned by Troy Shaw; Cloverdale's Beehive Assembly Warehouse; the First Methodist Church and Annex: First Baptist Church and Annex; Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, rectory and modern parish house; the County Building with Justice of the Peace Office. Allen Byer, J. P.; Post Office; three taverns, the Drive‑Inn, Upchurch's, and Frances' Place‑,
A modern Imported Curio Shop, with Manuel C. Perez of Beeville, owner, which has just been completed and opened in February. Mr. Perez bought the large Harriden building and completely remodeled it for his Curio Shop. and John F. Petrus Garage.
The oldest business building in Skidmore today is still in use by the owner, John Petrus. In 1929 Mr. Pefrus built a large garage adjacent to the bank building and here he quickly became ''Mr. Fix‑It.'' Any job that couldn't be done satisfactorily any place else. ended at Mr. John's. When parts for machinery were hard to find or non‑existent, Mr. John with his skilled hands and inventive mind most often brought usefulness out of shambles. Today, nearly 80 years young, Mr. John still opens his shop every day, in bad weather or good. He complains of leg problems, and uses a cane, but his individuality hasn't changed. He is honest, soft spoken, kind. interested and helpful to his fellowman.
"All the great and fundamental questions are answered, if at all, only by leap of heart, by deepest feeling, by faith."‑Allen Wheelis.
My kindest thoughts and love go to the friends and my husband who so patiently answered my questions and shared Their memories and experiences with me. They are: Mr. and Mrs. C. P. Ross, R. G. Blaschke, Superintendent LeRoy Hoff, Sam Skidmore, Edgar J. Range, John F. Petrus. Charles Galloway, and Charles Griffith. Also credit must go to George H. Atkins, Mrs. 1. C. Madray, and J. Frank Doble, all of whom are deceased.
Tuleta, the youngest of the North Bee County towns. was founded in 1906 by the Rev. Peter Unzicker, a Mennonite minister who brought a colony of Mennonites from Indiana to this area to become residents. There were farmers, teachers and business men and women in the group. The Rev. Mr. Unzicker purchased forty acres of land from the Chittim‑Miller Ranch for the townsite, and the village was named Tuleta in honor of a daughter of J. M, Chittim.
Some of the first houses built in the settlement in 1906 and 1907 were: The Rev. Peter Unzicker home, which 'is now owned by Rex Henry: Sam Steiner home, now owned by Sam Edwards; the Holderman home, now owned by W. W. Hill; A. J. Silcock home; the J. M. Swartzendruber place, now owned by Bruce Withers; Dave Teuscher home. which Joe Boeck recently purchased‑, the Ike Eash home, which Catherine Frerick owns; and the J. M. R. Weaver home, owned for many years by J. H. Richards but has changed ownership several times recently.
The Post Office was located in the old hotel building, recently razed, and Mr. and Mrs. Overall were 'in charge of it.
A store, used as a confectionery, drug store, post office and ceramic shop next door to the hotel building was torn down in October 1972.
The Mennonite Church, built in 1906. was used for religious services on Sundays and for school during week days.
In 1910, Miss Amanda Stoltzfus saw the need for a better school system and was instrumental in promoting the establishment of the Tuleta Agriculture High School‑the first of its kind in Texas. Pupils from Colony, Pawnee, Pettus, Mineral, Normanna, San Antonio, Port Lavaca and other places joined the Tuleta students to fake advantage of this remarkable school. Miss Amanda Stoltzfus was the principal. She was a graduate of Peabody College and Columbia University, New York. On the faculty were:
History and English: Mary Kate Stoltzfus, who also served as assistant principal, a graduate of State Normal School. Mathematics and Languages: Olga Smith, Smith College. Domestic Economy: Christine Holly Stoltzfus, University of Tennessee. Agricultural and Manual Training: Clark Craig, University of Wisconsin. Primary Department: Alta Yoder, Goshen College, Indiana. Piano, Violin and Voice: W. W. Lettingwell, Dana's Musical Institute of Warren, Ohio; student of Amberg at Royal Conservatory, Copenhagen, Denmark.
School trustees were A. J. Miller, A. J. Sillcock, and A. E. Hostetler.
This unusual school continued in operation for several years, but later became a part of the Pettus Independent School District. The high school building was torn down in 1939 and a grade school building was erected facing Highway 181.
At the height of the town's progress there were three churches‑Mennonite, Presbyterian and Baptist. But many of the Mennonites returned to their former homes, and some died, leaving so few members that the church was closed. And after the Rev. Dr. R. A. McCurdy, minister of the Presbyterian Church for many years, refried, the Presbyterian Church also became *inactive, leaving only the Baptist Church at the present time. The pastor is the Rev. Leo Oliver.
Among the early business firms in Tuleta were: Stoltzfus Mercantile Company and Gin; Nelson's Grocery: Gilbert's Grocery; Dirks Brothers Lumber Yard and Garage; and Elizabeth Speer's Coffee Shop. Mrs. Lee (Mae) Dirks started a Green House and the Garden Club. After she was killed in an automobile accident the Garden Club was named in memory of her.
The discovery of oil and gas in the area in 1929 gave the town a boost.
Mrs. Grady Chandler is postmaster, and Leonard Black owns the Tuleta Grocery.
Dr. Ernest P. Cayo practiced medicine and surgery in Tuleta in 1909, later moving to Beeville. Dr. C. M. Pot, who married Miss Christine Stoltzfus, took care of the sick people of this area from 191 1 until about 1957 when ill health forced him to retire.
One of the big events of the olden days was the Tuleta Community Fall Fair, held Saturday, October 22. 1927, when ''everybody was invited'' and asked to bring a basket dinner.
Prizes were awarded for the best exhibits in the following categories: Field Crops, Swine, Dairy Cattle, Beef Cattle, Horses and Mules, Baby Show, Culinary, Textiles, and the best collection of fresh vegetables and fruits.
The Executive Committee was comprised of Rev. Crockett, R. A. Barneff, Mrs. W. Davis, and Mrs. J. P. Harris. Other committee heads were: Dinner Arrangements‑J. M. Murphy, Charley Nelson, T. 0. Orrell, and Curtis Murphy; Cold Drink Stand‑Howard Murphy, J. B. Pullin, J. W. Davidson, and L. B. Pullin; Culinary‑Mrs. R. A. Barnett, Mrs. L. B. Pullin, and Mrs. Amos Cox: Textiles-Mrs. irks, Miss Mary Miller, Miss Riley, and Miss Wenzel; Baby Show‑Mrs. Mortimer, Mrs. S. D. Bass, and Mrs. Meek; Field Crops‑A. J. Silcock, George Shaw, and Ross Staples; Poultry‑‑‑Waldo Suffel, J. W. Davidson, and Mr. Meek; Dairy Cattle. D. Bass, J. W. Suffel, and Lee Dlirks; Beef Cattle‑R. C. Harris, D. E. Robinson, and A. W. Cox‑, Swine‑Dr. Aflee, Mr. Morris, and J. P. Harris; Horses and Mules‑Mr. Broadway and Ernest Staples; Curios and Relics Mrs. J. W. Davidson, Mrs. Charley Nelson, and Mrs. Waldo Suffelk Athletics‑Edgar Barnett, Carl Harris, Frank Demory, and James Harris; Entertainment‑Rev. Crockett, Mrs. Crockett, and Miss Effie Cox.
This event was held annually for several years.
Mrs. Ralph 'Travis of Carson, Iowa, the former Evelyn Anderson who was a student in the Tuleta Agricultural High School when it was at its highest peak, was in Tuleta for a visit with friends in February (1973). She showed US an article she wrote for the Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin in March 1945, entitled Miss Amanda. It was a tribute to Miss Amanda Stoltzfus, who organized the school and served as its principal. Excerpts from the article follow:
A traveling preacher came to town (in Ingleside). He said something in his sermon about a school in Tuleta, Texas. It was a public school with an unusual principal. She had put in sewing and cooking for girls and manual training and agriculture for boys. She had built dormitories with her own money so that children from other districts could come. He said that she had a fine corps of teachers and that she was a wonderful woman.
And so it was arranged. I was to go to Tuleta and Miss Amanda was to have a new problem. Miss Amanda met me at the station. She wasn't one of those lovely young things that you see in modern schools. She had a way of looking at you and seeing what you needed rather than what you wanted. As I think of her now, she was fall and straight and energetic. Then I thought she was an old lady. Now I know she was probably about forty. She had a well modulated voice when speaking and a lovely, low singing voice. She loved music and seemed to know dozens of assembly songs which she taught with enthusiasm.
You never found Miss Amanda in the limelight. She always praised her teachers and her students, at least ''before folks.'' Among the pictures I have of the school. even those in the school annual. I look in vain for Miss Amanda. In just one I see her face showing above a display of manual training. Even in this picture she is assisting a boy with his work.
Tuleta was a Mennonite community. Miss Amanda's father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Stoltzfus, had migrated there with their family from Tennessee. She and her father were instrumental in building the first consolidated school in the South in Tennessee. Fired with the ambition to give the boys and girls of Texas the same opportunity, she undoubtedly was putting her ideals info this public school in Tuleta. Her four brothers were in business in the town and I cannot think of the school apart from them. Two of them were unmarried and entered info the social life of the school as if they were members of the faculty. Miss Amanda's sister, Miss Christine, and cousin, Miss Mary Kate, were members of the faculty. Miss Amanda was not a Mennonite, but she was deeply religious. This I felt rather than heard.
When I think back, I wonder what her status in Tuleta Agriculture High School really was. Of course, we all knew that she was the principal, but I don't suppose she was getting any salary for her work. She was away much of the time, traveling for the Extension Department of the University of Texas. They had borrowed her from the Tuleta school to inspire other communities to do likewise. But she was the power behind everything in the school and she came back often to see how things were going. I have an idea that her salary went to hire another teacher that year.
Indeed, I don't see how the little community ever afforded such well equipped teachers. There were five, all with university degrees. Miss Mary Kate was a graduate of Geneva College, Pennsylvania. I learned about Sir Walter Scoff from her. Miss Christine was a graduate of the University of Tennessee. She taught home economics and art, and had charge of the Glee Club. Miss Alta Yoder taught the primary grades. She was a sweet Mennonite girl and a graduate of their college at Goshen, Indiana. Miss Olga Smith came all the way from South College in Connecticut to teach us the elementary fundamentals. She and Miss Yoder lived in the ''Bungalow,'' as we called our dormitories. What I learned from Miss Smith about music appreciation I would not trade for a college course now.
Once a week Professor W. W. Lettingwell came over from Beeville and gave instrumental instruction. He had once been a student at the Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen. Young and handsome Clark Craig from the University of Wisconsin taught manual training and agriculture.
They were wonderful teachers‑quite an imposing group for a tiny Texas town. Under the influence of Miss Amanda, they inspired and instructed about one hundred wrigglers from six to twenty years of age and gave us a love for the better things of life that we shall never forget. I cannot measure what they did for me. and I am only one. I learned to draw from life, we cooked a meal and served our mothers, we started sewing by making ourselves dresses.
The list of things I made in sewing seems impossible for a sixth‑grader, but here if is, copied from one of my own letters which I found in my mother's belongings: A needle case, dust cloth, hair receiver, sewing apron. pin cushion, embroidered towel, cooking apron, corset cover, underskirt, panties, nightgown, and a dress. The list of accomplishments in cooking is longer and ranges from boiled potatoes to Twin Mountain muffins. And while we were learning to cook and sew, we were learning science as well. One day Miss Christine set a saucer of agar‑agar on the floor where the janitor was sweeping. The dust settled on it and within a few days sprouted into tiny plants; my first introduction to microscopic organisms.
When we served a dinner to our mothers we used the common yellow daisies for a centerpiece. They grew like dandelions everywhere. But we were shown the red scallops around the brown center and the perfect yellow stars on the brown background. Do you Texans love those wild flowers as we were made to love them, or have they disappeared like many of our Iowa wild flowers because we teachers do not take the time to make our children love them?
The boys learned farming by caring for the school farm and feeding livestock. How Miss Amanda managed to get a school farm and livestock to feed I don't know, but she did. Some of the boys earned their way and made extra money that winter, trapping, and nobody said anything if there was a faint aroma of skunk in the assembly room sometimes.
We had a pretty good football team that year and both boys and girls played baseball. Miss Amanda was enthusiastic about athletics as she was about all the other things. Later she was called the Play Lady of Texas because she taught other communities how to play and wrote many pamphlets about it. But she loved programs and plays more than anything. Our programs were built around the things we learned in our classes. And when the day came for the event, here would come all sorts of strange people from other parts of Texas. Miss Amanda invited them to see what could be done in a rural community so that they could be inspired to go and do likewise.
Even when Miss Amanda was away she managed to superintend our movements at the Bungalow. I remember she wrote Miss Smith to have us wash our hair on a certain Saturday. Periodically she inspected our rooms and once she suggested that I clean my closet. When I started to argue she said: ''Excuse me,'' and vanished. I cleaned my closet.
If was my job to dust her room once a week. I loved to do it because it gave me a chance to look at her ornaments and pictures. She had traveled in Europe and she had a wonderful stein with a music box in the bottom of it. As I dusted it and placed it back on the ledge where she kept it.
I would wind it and listen to the music. There was also a brass candelabrum from Rome, and there were paintings of European cathedrals. I was starved for beautiful buildings. There were not any in the part of Texas I had seen.
In our search for pioneers in education, I want to submit her name. Lest she be forgotten, I want to honor her here. Upon her foundation, who can say what walls are still being laid?
When spring came my family moved back north and left the Lone Star State, never to return. But I'd like to go back and place a wreath on Miss Amanda's grave. I wrote her a letter of appreciation three years ago after I had become a principal and realized the things a principal must experience. It was too late. She had passed away.
The Historical Story
of Bee County Texas By Camp Ezell
Updated Thursday, December 21, 2006 21:02
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