Centennarian...Historical Markers Placed
Early in 1958 Gentry Dugat organized the Bee County Historical
Commission and was elected president of the body. He called a public
meeting and the people who attended expressed a desire to hold a
countywide Centennial Celebration.
Mr. Dugat was oil editor and staff writer for the Beeville
Bee‑Picayune. He was a native of Mineral City, a son of Mr. and Mrs.
Alex Dugat who settled near Mineral in 1892.
Mr. Dugat and several representatives of the Historical Society
appeared before the Commissioners Court and urged the county to get
behind the proposed celebration. The court followed the suggestion,
and the Beeville and Bee County Chamber of Commerce, the City
Council, the civic clubs, the women's clubs, the churches, and the
citizens in general offered complete cooperation. and everybody went
The dates were set for Saturday, October 18, through the following
Saturday. October 25. Officials of the celebration were: Lincoln
Borglum, President; Teal Adkins, Active Chairman; Dewey Pieratt,
Treasurer‑, W. C. (Dub) Saunders, Secretary, and Mayor George
Spikes, Mrs. A. C. Jones, Judge Joe Wade, Mrs. I. P. O'Neil, Captain
Gerald Duffy. and H. C. Brinkoeter, Vice Presidents. On the Advisory
Council were County Judge John Monroe and County Commissioners Dewey
Sinclair, Hugo Spiekerman, Cyrus Fox, and E. T. (Boots) Mussett.
Mrs. Camp Ezell served as chairman of the Spectacle Division. Mrs.
A. C. Jones was head of the museum.
Several small social gatherings were held on Saturday, the 18th, but
the big celebration actually started Sunday night, the 19th, with a
nondenominational county‑wide religious service held at the Fair
Grounds, with all churches represented. It was an evening of
thanksgiving to Almighty God for the development of a wilderness
into a prosperous community of industrious, religious, and contented
A huge parade officially opened the celebration when the town clock
struck the noon hour Monday, the 20th, and eighteen bands,
seventy‑two decorated floats, marching units, novelty and historic
groups, and hundreds of horseback riders thrilled the approximately
twenty‑five thousand people who had come from far and near to help
pay tribute to Bee County's one hundred years of existence.
Miss Mary Wofford, great‑granddaughter of Mrs. Mary Hefferman Riggs,
one of the original Irish settlers who claimed a Mexican land grant
in this area, was Queen of the Fair and rode in the parade. Mrs.
Mary Hinnant, Queen of the Live Oak County Centennial Celebration,
who at that time had reached the age of 101 years, rode as a ''quest
Beeorama Pageant, with more than six hundred persons in the cast,
including a number of Navy personnel, was staged Monday through
Friday nights on a huge stage at the Fair Grounds.
Men grew beards three months prior to the dates of the scheduled
celebration, many of the whiskers and mustaches resembling those of
the Irish colonists and later settlers of one hundred years ago.
Women wore long dresses and bonnets to carry out the fashions of
pioneer days. A number of dances were provided for the visitors
during the eight‑day event, including old‑fashioned square dances.
Through the influence of Mrs. Teal Adkins, the wildlife exhibit of
the Texas Game and Fish Commission was shown in a tent at the Fair
Grounds, with no admission charge.
Saturday, October 25, was Navy Day, and Chase Field held open house
from I to 5 p.m., featuring the world‑famous Blue Angels in an air
show. That night, as the final number on the program, A. C. Jones
High School Trojans engaged the Cuero Gobblers in a football game.
This was not only the most gigantic celebration ever held since the
county was organized‑, it was the consensus of the people that if
did more to cement the citizens in the bonds of friendship and
brotherly love than any other event that had been held here.
Gentry Dugat is given the credit for advancing the suggestion that
the Centennial Celebration be held. He served several years as
president of the Bee County Historical Society, then resigned and
nominated Miss Ida Campbell for the office. Miss Campbell did a
great job, and it was through her influence that the McClanahan
House, the first store building erected in Beeville. was preserved.
Several years ago Miss Campbell resigned and Mrs. Dudley Braly was
named to succeed her. She is the incumbent.
Mrs. Gentry Dugat. the former Lena Ross of Dallas. made the first
Bee County Flag, which was adopted by the local Historical Society.
Mr. Dugat was a personal friend of the famous composer, Geoffrey
O'Hara of New York who composed the popular song ''Beautiful
K‑K‑K‑Katie'' during World War 1. Mr. Dugat asked Mr. O'Hara to
write a song entitled ''Bee County." Following are the lyrics that
''Bee County, Bee County, now we celebrate your hundredth birthday;
We're for you, we adore you, to you we all bow. We love your plains
and hills, where Herefords graze; we love your cotton fields,
broomcorn and maize. So now it's My County, Your County. Bee
County‑you're for me, Now.''
Mrs. Etta Lee Findley of Beeville helped Mr. O'Hara with the words.
The song was sung frequently by choruses at the Centennial
My friend Gentry Dugat passed to the Great Beyond on February 5,
1966. We had been pals since we were in the eighth grade in school,
when we were deskmates, with Professor J. A. Risenhoover as our
teacher. It Was my sad privilege to officiate at the Masonic
obsequies in Mineral Cemetery where his body was interred. The
Historical Society later erected a Historical marker at his grave
out of appreciation for the research Mr. Dugat had made on the
annals of Bee County.
The society has erected twenty‑one markers in the county, and four
others have been approved but not marked. These are Blanconia,
Mineral City, First Bee County Jail, and the Tom Alsup stone
residence. The inscriptions on the markers that have been placed
COOK HOME: Built by John Cook, who was born 1846 in Texas‑bound
wagon train‑, at 17 was in Civil War~ in 1866 married Frances
Miller. Lived in rock house near this site. With son, R. J.,
contributed much to area cattle industry with fine registered
Herefords. House erected 1897 of select long‑leaf pine placed to
catch gulf breezes. Each room opens on a porch. Has four fireplaces
with mantels of mahogany, maple, oak. Architecture is Victorian.
Owned by William D. Dugat and family since 1941.Historical Marker
PETTUS CHRISTIAN CHURCH: First Christian Church built in 1905. First
church to serve the needs of the Protestants in Pettus. Called a
Christian Church at request of land donor, Mrs. S. B. Hodges.
Contributions came from all denominations. On August 29, 1906, the
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was organized with 25
members. For many years the Baptists, Methodists and Disciples
conducted a union Sunday School and worshipped here. Its fall white
spire became the town landmark. Historcal Marker
JIM LITTLE HOMESTEAD: On F9 Ranch, granted to Little in 1873, grazed
earlier by his cattle. Home built about 1870 of cypress and heart
pine that came by steamer from Florida to Saint Marys, then by
ox‑cart to site. Kiln on ranch made caliche blocks for chimneys.
Good water well. Country store made this a camp site for such
travelers as Mexican horse traders. A stage stop on San Antonio‑
Brownsville Road until railroad came into area, 1886. Historical
BEEVILLE ON THE POESTA: Long before Mexico granted land (1834) on
Poesta Creek to the first settlers, Anne Burke and James Heffernan,
savage Indians roamed this valley at will. Their colony, although
successful at first, soon met disaster. In 1836 James Heffernan. his
brother John, and John Ryan, who had planned to join Texas patriots
at Goliad, were planting a crop in a field at this site when they
were massacred by Comanches. Also killed was James' family in his
picket house upcreek. Bee County was organized in 1858 and named for
Col. Barnard E. Bee, a Republic of Texas statesman. Soon after,
choice of a county seat came info hot dispute. A site seven miles
east on Medic, Creek was chosen for ''Beeville.'' But fen months
later. voters made the 150‑acre donation of Anne Burke O'Carroll
permanent county seat, on the banks of the Poesta. The new town,
first called ''Maryville'' for Mary Heffernan (relative of those
killed in 1836) was soon renamed Beeville. In its first decade, it
had two stores, one saloon, and a blacksmith shop. First Courthouse
was bull[ for $750 on west side of present square, 1860. First
railroad came through, 1886, and a larger Courthouse was soon built.
After if burned, the present one was erected in 1913. (Incised on
back of marker: ''Gift of Mrs. William Heuermann, a
great‑granddaughter of Samuel Reed Miller, a member of Austin's old
three hundred colonists and physician to Gen. Sam Houston after the
Battle of San Jacinto. Miller later had a ferry on the Nueces River.
Has many descendants in South Texas.'') Historical Marker
CAMPO SANTO: Situated on headright of an 1829 settler, Jeremiah
O'Toole, from New York. The isolated oak log home of O'Toole stood
on San Patricio‑La Bahia Road; his family fled repeatedly from
Indians or invading armies. In time other pioneers built homes
nearby in Corrigan settlement (named for O'Toole's son‑in‑law).
Community is now extinct. Ten acres were donated in 1871 by Ellen
O'Toole Corrigan and brother, Martin, as site for Sacred Heart of
Jesus Church (now razed) and grounds. This cemetery is a reminder of
the courageous pioneer settlers. (Inscribed on back: ''Early
settlers included Jack Barry, B. F. Burris, John Corrigan. Nicholas
Dunn, D. C. Grover, John F. Hynes, William Kennedy, P. F. Lattng of
Lattington Store, William Leahy, D. R. May, Hugh J. O'Reilly,
storekeepers D. S. and Caroline Page, Phil Welder.) Historical
TOWN OF PETTUS: Oil capital of Bee County, Pettus was settled in the
1850s when John Freeman Pettus (1808‑1878) set up his sprawling
ranch about four miles south of here. The son of one of Stephen F.
Austin's first 300 colonists, Pettus was an extensive cattle and
horse breeder. The town, previously called ''Dry Medic" for a nearby
creek, was named for him during the Civil War. The community was in
the vicinity of two important Indian skirmishes in Bee County in
1859 and the 1870s; but the town slept until 1886 when the tracks of
the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad reached this site. If then
awoke to become the cattle shipping center for the area. In the same
year, John S. Hodges, a pioneer citizen, laid out the townsite and
donated land to be used for streets and S. A. & A. P. right of way.
For years the railroad stockyards and depot were places of bustling
activity as freight trains came for loading and wood‑burning steam
engines took on water . In 1909 the presidential train of William H.
Taft stopped at the Pettus water tank. The tank‑a final monument to
steam railroading here‑was razed, 1965. In 1929 the Houston Oil Co.
brought in its well, ''No. I Maggie Ray McKinney,'' and from that
time Pettus has played a continuing useful role in Texas economy.
EVERGREEN CEMETERY: Block 1, Beeville Original Townsite, donated
1859 by Anne Burke. First owned by G. W. McClanahan, land was bought
1862 by county for ''public burying ground.'' In 1872, H. W. Wilson
donated northeast strip, land was added on the northwest, and court
gave consent for a fence. Cemetery was restored In 1970. Historical
FIRST BRICK BUILDING ON SQUARE: Victorian architecture. Built 1892
by grocer J. C. Thompson (1836‑1905) of brick from Calavaros kiln
near Elmendorf. Upstairs in 1892 was law office of Lon C. Hill, who
later founded Harlingen. Afterward on second floor was ''Beeville
Light Guard" armory. Acquired in 1910 by Eureka Telephone Company,
building was communications headquarters (1912‑1920) for
Southwestern Telegraph & Telephone Company, and then for
Southwestern Bell until 1957. (Incised in base: ''Restored 1957 for
law offices of John N. Barnhart.'') Historical Marker
ROUNTREE ROCK HOUSE: On land bought 1875 by Joseph Gustav Rountree
(1836‑1880), who planned house before his death. Built by his
20‑year‑old widow, Elizabeth Cornelia, with aid of her father, John
Stillwell. The lumber was Florida pine, hauled from Rockport. Stone,
quarried as caliche and hardened by the air, came from nearby Mulas
Hills. Structure has withstood major storms and is still owned by
descendants: Adele Rountree, Ann Marie Rountree Anderson and sons.
THE CAMP‑EZELL HOUSE: A settler's ''box'' home, board‑and‑batten
construction. Lumber is Florida long‑leaf pine from a house torn
down in Old Saint Marys by Robert A. Ezell. Has three chimneys; one
served as flue for dining room fireplace and kitchen stove. Food was
prepared on both. Ezell (1845‑1936), a stonemason, built at this
creek site in 1892. His wife, Sarah Jane, daughter of the
influential legislator L. B. Camp, was born at Mission San Jose, San
Antonio. Six of the Ezells' sons had popular orchestra 1896 to 1904.
Present owners, Camp and Helen Ezell. Historical Marker
COMMUNITY OF NORMANNA: Settlement dates from about 1850. First town,
two miles west, was called San Domingo for its location near
junction of San Domingo and Dry Medio Creeks. After railroad was
built, 1886, citizens moved to Walton (new flag station) to be on
line. Name honored Sheriff D. A. T. Walton. When Norwegians settled
area, 1890s, Walton became Normanna. Word originally suggested the
qualities of old Norse heroes, but through local usage came to mean
''Home of the Norseman.'' Town thrived for years, then declined
after series of fires and advent of the automobile.
PAPALOTE CREEK: A few yards south passes Papalote Creek, crossed by
the fierce Karankawa Indians who found kite‑shaped pebbles and named
it Papalote, which means ''Kite‑Shaped'' or ''Wing‑Shaped.'' Along
its banks came the leaders of the Power and Hewetson colonists,
holding Mexican land grants in the 1830s. On its Rata tributary
there is evidence the Mexican Army camped on its way to suppress the
Texas Revolution. By 1857 the town of Papalote had emerged. It was
the center of entertainment for the county, boasting of a circular
dance hall built by cowboys trading steer yearlings at $3 a head for
lumber. There were rooster fights, ring tournaments and horse races.
In 1886, when the railroad came, the town was booming. After the
turn of the century, however, Papalote began to die away. A land
company sold lots to settlers from as far away as Hawaii. Expecting
to grow citrus fruits, they were disillusioned when the first
killing frost doomed the project. Threats of Pancho Villa's raids
continued as late as 1916, when women and children hid in a brick
schoolhouse. In 1948, Main Street was bypassed by U. S. Highway 181.
Today there is no post office‑only a rural route for the few
remaining households. Historical Marker
EARLY TRAILS IN BEE COUNTY: From pack trails and wagon roads that
marked this area at least 300 years have developed such modern roads
as U. S. Highway 181. The old trails of Indians, wild cattle and
Mustang horses formed highways for 17th, 18th and 19th century
expeditions coming from Mexico to claim sovereignty for Spain over
land in Texas. When pioneers established land grants in this
section, they also found Indian trails useful, placing towns along
them. Beeville, the county seat, was situated at the natural
intersection of San Patricio‑Helena Road with Goliad‑Laredo Road.
About 20 miles south, the Matamoros‑Goliad Road (Camino Real to
old-timers) was probably the most historic road in this area. In the
years 1861‑1865 the ''Cotton Road''‑called ''lifeline of the
Southern Confederacy''‑crossed Bee County. A later route of great
value was a cattle frail that channeled thousands of Longhorns north
from the Rio Grande to the Red River and up the Dodge City Trail of
the Chisholm Trail to northern markets. In this area were also La
Para (or grapevine) Road, the Indianola‑Papalote Road, and a road to
now‑vanished Saint Marys, a port on Copano Bay. off the Gulf of
Mexico. Historical Marker
GEORGE HOME: Built in 1890 by Will H. and Julia George of materials
from early house on land inherited from her father, Major J. H. Wood
(Texas cattle empire builder) who came from New York to join Texas
War for Independence. Remodeled in 1900, house is raised cottage
architecture and has elegantly detailed interior woodwork. Many
social and cultural functions were held here at turn of century.
Present owner is Mrs. Mary M. Welder, a Wood descendant. Historical
CAPTAIN A. C. JONES (1830‑1905): One of builders of Southwest. Born
in Nacogdoches County, son of very early settlers. Became a
cattleman; served as sheriff of Goliad County in 1858‑1860. In Civil
War Cavalry of Col. John S. ''Rip'' Ford for four years. Fought at
Palmito Hill, war's last baffle, 34 days after the surrender of Gen.
Robert E. Lee. In 1886, raised $75,000 to build S. A. & A. P.
Railroad from San Antonio to Beeville. Aided in getting G. H. & S.
A. to extend line from Victoria here In 1890. Was county treasurer,
banker and the president and general manager of Beeville Oil Mill.
GENTRY DUGAT (April 25, 1895‑February 5, 1966): Colorful historian,
orator and journalist. Born on nearby ranch, son of Alex and Martha
(Page) Dugat. Earned Law Degree. Worked on seven Texas newspapers;
edified Cotton Ginners Journal. Wrote biography of post‑Civil War
editor‑orator, Henry W. Grady. World War I veteran, Methodist,
Mason; member Sons of American Revolution, Lions. Collected rare
books, newspapers, artifacts. In 1958 organized and chartered Bee
County Historical Commission. Historical Marker
MEDIO CREEK: Named by the Spaniards about 1800 because of Its midway
position between the San Antonio and Nueces Rivers. Rises in Karnes
County; empties into Mission River. Crossed by explorers, padres,
soldiers, settlers who traveled on early ox‑cart roads that led from
Mexico to Mission La Bahia at Goliad. The Cart War of 1857, between
Texas and Mexican teamsters on the freight route between San Antonio
and Gulf ports, originated along San Patricio Road, southernmost of
the three roads. The Mexican cart drivers used Mesquite beans as
feed for their teams, starting the Mesquite brush which thrives
along creek. Settlers were attracted here by the fall grass and many
veterans of the Texas Revolution were given bounty lands in the
area. First post office in Bee County was established in 1857 at
Medio Hill pioneer community, once a downcreek settlement. In 1909,
the town of Candlish was founded within 50 feet of here, with a
hotel, general store, school. The store closed; Candlish became a
ghost town. In 1938‑1939 on Medio and Blanco Creeks, fossil beds
yielded 1,000,000‑year‑old fossils of a new mastodon species (named
Buckner's Mastodon), rhinocerous, elephants, alligators, camels, and
three‑toed horses. Historical Marker
ARANSAS CREEK SETTLERS: Earliest known residents were Karankawa
Indians who named creek. On this stream was one of the most famous
ranches in early Texas, occupied in 1805 by Don Martin De Leon, who
in 1824 founded Victoria. In 1830s Irish colonists came by way of
Copano Bay, settling downcreek. Anglo‑Americans from older
settlements came by road and trail, stopping mainly upcreek.
Stockraising, trucking and freighting provided livelihoods in the
rich, new prairie land. In 1850 Patrick Fadden sold to Fort Merrill
corn and vegetables from 1835 land grant of his uncle, Father John
Thomas Malloy. Fadden and W. R. Hayes freighted supplies to settlers
in 1860s. Hayes had early post office in his home, 1870; was county
judge 1876‑1892. John Wilson, an 1850s upcreek settler, brought
first Durham cattle to country~ built one of first wooden fences,
enclosing 600 acres of homesite with rough heart pine plank. On
creek's north bank stood ranch of Frank 0. Skidmore, founder of
Skidmore, who gained fame for building first barbed‑wire fence and
windmill in county. He promoted breeding of registered Herefords and
in 1886 gave much right of way to San Antonio & Aransas Pass
Railroad. Historical Marker
McCLANAHAN HOUSE: Oldest business structure in Beeville. Erected
about 1867 on east side of Courthouse Square, near Peosta Creek.
General store, lodging house, post office. Pioneer western style,
with southern porches. Built by G. W. McClanahan, Beeville's first
merchant, school teacher, postmaster, county clerk, ‑inn keeper.
Sunday School superintendent. Historical Markers
SAINT PHILIP'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH: First unit, transept, built 1893 on
this site purchased 'In 1890 from heirs of G. W. McClanahan. In
1910, nave added with funds from sale of block of land given to the
Missionary Jurisdiction of Western Texas by English‑born H. W.
Wilson, 1888. Early members donated furnishings, bell tower, and in
1896 inscribed memorial bell. First Protestant parochial school in
county was organized here in 1954. Gothic design retained in 1964
renovation. Historical Marker
THE A. C. JONES HOME: Built 1906 by Mrs. Jane Field Jones
(18421918), philanthropist, builder of a local school and teacherage,
widow of ''Father of Beeville,'' Captain A. C. Jones. Occupied
1918‑1966 by Mr. and Mrs. Allen Carter Jones 11. Sill property of
descendants. Early 20th century Baroque architecture with large
formal rooms, 8 fireplaces, hardwood floors, high ceilings. Has been
site for entertainment of Texas leaders, including governors.