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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
,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
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.
By Ervin L. Sparkman
(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
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
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
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
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.
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
By Mary Cornett Winebrenner
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
By Katherine Boldt Bohanan
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
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
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
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 . . .
By Margaret Moore
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
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.
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.''
By Lillian Range
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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'
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.
By Esther Selgelid
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
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
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.
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
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
The discovery of oil and gas in the area in 1929 gave the town a
Mrs. Grady Chandler is postmaster, and Leonard Black owns the Tuleta
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:
By Evelyn Anderson
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
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
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
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
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.