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Grimes County Businesses
of Yesterday and Today

 

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Business Letterheads

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Businesses in and around Anderson


Anderson, the county seat of Grimes County, was booming between 1846 and 1885. According to The Handbook of Texas Online, Anderson had "two steam sawmills, six cotton gins, five hotels, a drugstore, a mercantile house, a hardware store, a tailor, a blacksmith, and a pistol [munitions] factory". Six different newspapers were published here during 1854 to 1900. The population grew to about 3,000. Major road or rail construction never passed through Anderson, so people and businesses gradually moved away. The population of Anderson in 1990 was only 320.


A. Buffington Hotel

Listed as hotel keeper on 1860 Grimes County census in Anderson P. O.


Fanthorp Inn

This inn began as Henry Fanthorp's home that he built in 1834 on land that he had bought in 1833 from Francis Holland. The house was originally a double-pen cedar-log dogtrot house and was reportedly built for Fanthorp's new bride, Rachel Kennard. Stores began to be built around the home in a town that was called Alta Mira. When Grimes County was organized in 1846, Alta Mira was absorbed into Anderson, which had been selected as the county seat. Stagecoaches came right up to the door of the Fanthorp home and many travelers stayed with the Fanthorp's. Between 1848 and 1850, Fanthorp expanded the home and it became known as the Fanthorp Inn. Besides being an inn, it also served as the first mercantile establishment in the area and as the first post office in 1835 with Henry Fanthorp serving as postmaster. This inn was also the place that Kenneth Lewis Anderson, then vice-president of the Republic of Texas, died in 1845. Anderson was buried in the Fanthorp Cemetery near the home, as are Henry and Rachel Fanthorp who died in the yellow-fever epidemic of 1867.

The Fanthorp Inn is now a Texas State Historical Park. It is located at 579 S. Main in Anderson. Tours are conducted on weekends, between 9:00 A.M. and 3:30 P.M. Fees - free for TCP members; $ for non-members; $1.50 for children 12 and under. On the second Saturday of each month, they have stagecoach days, where you can ride a replica stagecoach to the courthouse and back for an extra dollar fee.

Fanthorp Inn State Historical Park tours
Fanthorp Inn State Historical Park Information


Fanthorp, Womack, and Kennard General Store

A mercantile business opened in 1837 by Henry Fanthorp, his brother-in-law Mike Kennard and Abraham Womack. It was opened at Fanthorp Inn and was probably the first mercantile business in Grimes County.


General Merchandise Store of Samuel Wilson

Started soon after 1851 by Samuel Wilson. Managed by his son Lewis J. Wilson until 1861.


Kellum Springs Spa

Established around 1850, ten miles north of Anderson.


Munitions Factory

This factory was established in 1861 about two miles west of Anderson and was used to make cannon, cannon balls, guns, pistols, swords, sabers, bayonets, and gun powder for the Confederacy. It stayed in operation until 1865.


Piedmont Springs Resort and Spa

This popular resort and health spa was built around 1850 about seven miles west of Anderson at three sulfur springs. The resort had numerous bathhouses and drinking establishments. A four story hotel with 100 rooms was built in 1860. The hotel offered billiards, poker, and horseraces among other things. C. S. Taliafero was listed as the hotel keeper on the 1860 census. In 1865, the ballroom of the hotel became a military hospital and the hotel building became the headquarters for Gen. John George Walker. The owner closed the building in the 1870's after losing money in the panic.

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Businesses in Navasota


Navasota began as a double log cabin built as a stage stop by James Nolan in 1852. It was originally called Hollendale. Navasota began to boom with the arrival of the railroad in 1859. A cluster of commercial structures was soon built along Railroad Street and Washington Avenue. Early prosperity and growth was slowed by the Civil War and nearly stopped by a yellow fever epidemic of 1866-1867. The population dropped from 3,000 to 1,200. Then a fire was started by disgruntled, unpaid Confederate Soldiers in 1865 which partially destroyed the city. The town was rebuilt and incorporated as a new city in 1866 and by 1873, the population was about 2,700.


Blumenthal's Fruit Palace

A Popular turn-of-the-century fruit shop/ice cream parlor. It was owned by A. C. Blumenthal who perished aboard the HMS Titanic in 1912. The building has housed several commerical enterprises since then including a hotel named the "Mayfair". The building is located at 119 Railroad St.


Citizen's Bank

Opened in 1870.


Freeman Inn

This inn was built by Ira M. Freeman in 1856 as a way station and hotel for passengers on several stage lines through the city. It was a two-story pine building.


Giesel House

Three story restaurant and hotel built by R.H. Giesel and his wife Fannie in 1860. It was located near the Houston & Texas Central Railroad Depot. Fannie renamed her restaurant "The Good Morning John" in 1871 and managed it until her death in 1881. The hotel was called "The Exchange" and "The Hoyle" by later owners. This building is the oldest commercial building in Navasota.


H. Schumacher Oil Works

A cottonseed oil mill that was established by Henry Schumacher in 1873. It produced cottonseed oil, meal, and cake. He assembled the machinery for this mill with only the aid of an old encyclopedia. Before building this mill, Henry had also started a wooden blind manufacturing shop in 1865, a grist mill, a cotton gin, and a planning mill. This mill remained in operation until 1954, when the firm changed over to warehousing cotton. The building is located at 104-107 Duke Street.


J. Youens & Co Lumber

Established in the late 1860's by Joseph Brooks. The lumber company operated a planing mill and workshop. Jesse Youens became a partner in the business in 1871. The business at this time was in a large stone and wood building between Railroad and 10th Streets that is now demolished. It is the oldest continuous business in Navasota. The business is currently located on W. Washington Ave.


Mercantile Store - Lewis J. Wilson Building

This store was built in 1871 - the first brick commercial structure built in Navasota. It was a second store to complement one owned in Anderson by Lewis J. Wilson and James Q. Yarborough. Yarborough left in 1875 and the business continued under the name of Wilson and Howell for six more years. The building is located on the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Railroad St.


Morning Star Hotel

Hotel keepers were listed as James and William Nolan on the 1860 census. Navasota history states that James Nolan built a double log cabin as a stage stop in 1852 that was the beginning of the town of Navasota. He also built a combination smith shop/grocery.


Old First National Bank

Located in a building built in the 1880's by local architect, contractor and stonemason James Davern and his brother-in-law C. C. Camp. The bank occupied this building until 1952. The building has also housed a hotel, offices, a telephone company, and many other stores. Located at 107 W. Washington St.


P. A. Smith Hotel

Built in 1876 by Captain Philip Aurene Smith. It served as a hotel until the death of his wife in 1890. After that time, the top two floors were used for the Smith residence and the bottom floor was leased as commercial space. P. A. Smith also owned a furniture store, operated the Navasota Opera House, and founded the Navasota Weekly Tablet. This hotel is still part of the Navasota commercial district. The bottom floor has been modified to house several commercial establishments, but the other two floors still have the original hotel room organization. The building is located on Railroad St. in Navasota.


Wansata Depot Hotel

L. Lofton was listed as hotel keeper on the 1860 census.

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Early Sawmills


Alex Williams

In operation in 1879 and 1880. Produced 1,500,000 feet of lumber cut during the reporting period of the 1880 census. Located in enumeration district #64. Employed 16-18 men. Power source was a 30-horsepower steam engine.


Alexander & Collins

In operation in 1859 and 1860. 750,000 feet of lumber cut during the reporting period of the 1860 census. Used a 20-horsepower steam engine. Employed two men. Unknown location.


Edwin Bowin

In operation in 1869 and 1870. Unknown location. 400,000 feet of lumber cut during the reporting period of the 1870 census. Employed ten men. Power source was steam.


Fowler

In operation in 1879 and 1880. 900,000 feet of lumber cut during the reporting period of the 1880 census. Used a 40-horsepower steam engine. Located in Enumeration Dist. 59 in Precinct 1. Employed 10-12 men.


J. M. and J. A. [illegible]

In operation in 1859 and 1860. 390,000 feet of lumber cut during the reporting period of the 1860 census. Unknown location. Used a 18-horsepower steam engine. Employed seven men.


J. M. Randolph

In operation in 1884. Located in Bedias. Listed in an 1884 railroad directory.


J. W. Mitchell

In operation in 1859 and 1860. 1,000,000 feet of lumber cut during the reporting period of the 1860 census. Used a 40-horsepower steam engine. Unknown location. Employed ten men.


J. Youens and Company

Located in Navasota along the Navasota River. Established in the late 1860's by Joseph Brooks and continued by Jesse Youens in the 1870's.


James Firogard?

In operation in 1869 and 1870. 400,000 feet of lumber cut during the reporting period of the 1870 census. Used a 30-horsepower steam engine. Unknown location. Employed eight men.


Montgomery & Co.

In operation in 1859 and 1860. 3,000,000 feet of lumber cut during the reporting period of the 1860 census. Used a 20-horsepower steam engine. Unknown location. Employed seven men.


Post & Terrell

In operation 1859 - 1884. In 1860, 960,000 board feet; 1870, 500,000 board feet; 1880, 1,500,000 board feet of lumber cut. Located in Precinct 1 of Grimes County. The power source grew from a 20-horsepower steam engine in 1860 to two engines totaling 50-horsepower in 1880. Listed as being in Montgomery in an 1884 railroad directory. Employed 10-20 men at different times during this period.


W. H. Allen

Listed in an 1884 railroad directory. Located at Bedias.

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Stock Certificates


State Oil Stock Certificate Stock certificate for State Oil Company, 1920's Bedias. Submitted by Bob Powledge

Bedias Hardware Stock Certificate Stock certificate from Bedias Hardware, 1920's. Submitted by Bob Poweledge

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