32 wagons moved through Alabama travelling west out of Georgia
in 1875. One of those making that trip was Jesse H.
Ratcliff (June 22, 1844 - Jan. 1, 1920). Ratcliff,
Confederate veteran, had served with Co. G. 2 Ark. Inf., C.S.A.
Their settlement was a mile and half from the present State
Highway 7 in virgin pine country near the Neches River. It
is referred to as Old Ratcliff today.
J.H. Ratcliff recognized the timber value and
opened a small sawmill around 1885. Ratcliff purchased
land from H.W. Payne on which to build it. A postoffice
was established February 6, 1889, and was called Ratcliff after
Jesse H., first postmaster.
Ratcliff sold his sawmill and the land around
it to the Louisiana and Texas Lumber Company on January 10,
1901. With this purchase, the Four C (Central Coal and
Coke Company), a lumber and mining firm operating from central
offices in Kansas City, Mo., began development of one of the
largest sawmills at the turn of the century.
J.H. Ratcliff's early settled area moved
toward the sawmill which was built three-quarters of a mile to
the south. His daughter named Jessie Belle had married
Gary Mahoney and the couple had opened and were operating a
general merchandise store in the New Ratcliff.
Jesse Ratcliff died on January 1, 1920, the
year that the Four C Mill and the Eastern Texan Railroad wound
up. He was a Mason and Masonic graveside rites were
conducted at Mt. Vernon Cemetery.
By: Eliza Bishop
"History of Houston County, Texas 1687-1979"