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History Of Town Of Lagarto

by

Jim Henry Newberry

This was written about 1942 by Jim Henry Newberry
and was published in The Mathis News, January 11, 1945.
It was reprinted in "Our Heritage," San Antonio, Texas Genealogical Society,
in 2 parts in July and October 1981,  with the permission of
Lt. Col. Harvey B. Newberry, a grandson of the author.
On March 6, 2002 Harvey Newberry gave his permission to place the
"History of Town of Lagarto" on the Live Oak County TXGenWeb Project.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"This is not intended as an attempt at poetry, but in my simple way endeavoring to record for the future a correct list of those who lived at Lagarto and vicinity. Also, some of the happenings in the days of LONG, LONG AGO.

Lagarto was truly a frontier town. The men in those days carried pistols and guns, but all their differences were amicably adjusted. Not a man was ever killed there, which is proof they were a peace loving people."

The town of Lagarto was started about the year 1858 - not so sure about the date.

The location was on Sweet Hollow, near the Steadman Place.

The citizens were all of the Mexican Race.

They built small huts and covered them with grass, but no floor.

For lumber in those days was only on the Gulf Shore.

On the Nueces River where DEMRIE MILLER now lives, was called Adkinson Bend.

Quite a large Mexican Ranch was there then.

Down the River from there was the ranch of SAM BELDEN.

Years later it was called Carmel.

Up the river was the Vela Ranch.

A lot of Mexicans lived on the Ramirena Branch.

Farther up the river was Chonaville,

Not so far from Gussettville.

For all these people Corpus Christi was their trading post.

To make the trip there and back would take a week almost.

The year 1866 JAMES RATHER, of Corpus Christi,
came up and built Lagarto's first store.
He covered it with shingles and it had a plank floor.

The early 70's occasionally you would see new faces --

People moving in from other places.

STERLING DOBIE, SR. moved from Buffalo Bayou,

Surely that was a long time ago.

To build his house in the river bottom he cut elm trees,

He hewed them with an axe until they fit by a squeeze.

The timbers were fastened together with wooden pegs,

For in those days they didn't have nails by the keg.

The house is still standing today and the wooden pegs

You can see as well as the original Live Oak Shade trees.

From the main road it's about a mile.

MR. DOBIE'S grand-daughter, MRS. FREEMAN McWHORTER,
will meet you with a smile.

Go by and see her, if you can, She is one of the DOBIE Clan.

JOHN W. RAMEY moved in from old Fort Merrill.

He was related in some way to BYNUM and BILL FERRELL.

He made saddle trees; his customers he strived to please.

He made them to fit the lean and the fat, the saddle horn was wide and flat.

Looked like a man's low crown hat, the forks of his trees would not crack-

Never was known to hurt a horse's back.

The country was full of mustangs and wild cattle-

Of course, everybody had to have a saddle.

 

The RAMEY boys, DIX and BILLIE, rode the Pony Express - Just the same as it was done out West.

From Lagarto to Oakville was the trail - Once a week they brought the mail.

MR. RATHER tired of his store; sold it to CAPTAIN C. C. COX and returned

To his beloved sea shore.

MR. SAMUEL COOK built a nice home - Part of it still standing there, all alone.

PATE McNEILL built his house - to the west it faced

It is now known as the STEADMAN Place.

MR. SWERENGEN built his ranch house of native rock.

MR. McNEILL bought it and there reared a large family and owned a lot of stock.

In the late 70's the citizens on the public square put down a well,

Over it was erected the first Lagarto wind mill by a MR. CARDWELL.

CLINT LEWIS dug a cistern in a grove of Live Oaks - To the wonderment of a lot of folks.

Over it he built a house with real lumber.

Since then in that house have lived great numbers.

The present owner, MRS. MATTIE HARDING, I believe -

Don't think it possible to persuade her to leave.

 

On the bank of Sweet Hollow where the town started,

A well was dug by Whites or Mexicans, it's not know which.

Anyhow, it was there in 1876.

In the 70's Sweet Hollow was named by H. B. NEWBERRY,

For on the branch were many yellow berries.

1875 CAPTAIN COX from the mercantile business desired to retreat.

He sold his store to H. B. NEWBERRY, of Spring Creek.

Seems from that time Lagarto commenced to grow.

And it grew and grew, until it had hotels, many stores, and a livery stable, too.

From Kentucky came PAPPY STEADMAN and put up a grist mill -

Evidence of the location is there still.

His son, HARMON, with a short sharp pick would sharpen mill stones.

When they started grinding corn, they would surely groan.

T. D. NEWTON, a saddle maker and widower, came to town -

Wasn't long in persuading JOSEPHINE FRANCIS to buy her wedding gown.

BILL DAVIDSON married J. W. RAMEY's daughter, GRACE.

He was a boot maker, and could make shoes to button or to lace.

There was a blacksmith named JOHN, as there were no Negroes he didn't stay long.

The greatest drought and stock die up was 1868.

The worst overflow of the Nueces River was 1869.

To help the stock it came too late.

From Louisiana with his family came DOCTOR EAST.

He was a brother of MRS. S. G. MILLER and J. EAST now deceased.

He had one son and two daughters, JOHN, NETTIE and BELL.

BELL was so pretty she would hold you in a spell.

 

MRS. ALBERT LAMB had several girls and not a boy.

But all those girls were really a joy.

 

The two LANE girls, BRENDA and MINNA.

Both were certainly prize winners.

 

The BEALL family of girls was a large flock.

The writer is quite certain he got the pick of the lot.

 

MR. MILTON DODSON lived on the Pernitas Creek.

To be with his daughter, NANNIE, was surely a great treat.

She was always full of life, jolly and sweet.

The younger sister, RUTH, was a beautiful girl with pretty bright eyes.

Had she entered a beauty contest she surely would have taken the prize.

PAT MURPHY had a ranch on East side of River, and a Catholic School was there.

Don't know when the school was moved or where.

Way back yonder years ago, the MURPHY ranch was called Echo.

The stage from San Antonio to Corpus Chrisiti had a stand there.

The keeper was an Irishman with red hair.

WM. STAPLES claimed he once traveled with a troupe as a black faced comedian.

But we have no proof that he ever crossed any Southern meridian.

 

 

In Lagarto lived COLONEL JOHN S. CRUMP.

To be as tall as he, you had to stand on a stump.

Has been said in a race with a Jack Rabbit he would gain on him every jump.

On his horse over the hills he would bound

Followed by a pack of well trained hounds.

If you were sick or in distress, he would help and do his best.

BILL HARRISON married LOTTIE SHIP.

He was tall, slender and not so much for looks.

He built the house where now lives MISS ZERAPHA COOK.

JOHN POLLAND of Corpus Christi have been told, he married MOLLIE GOLD.

To Lagarto they came and opened a General Store on the Rock Hill,

Near the public road to Oakville, there he built a bakery. Pie and bread he would cook.

Evidence is a pile of rock on the road to the creek, from MISS ZERAPHA COOK'S.

On the east side of the Nueces River lived Mr. & Mrs. S. G. MILLER.

They were very religious and devout -
Had visions of a church at Lagarto some day no doubt.

MR. MILLER was a leader of men as well as a teacher.

He devoted much time convincing the community they should have a church and a preacher.
Wasn't long until a church was erected.

And a fine bell was put in the belfry as directed.

The time of year was early spring.

Every Sunday with much joy MR. MILLER that bell would ring.

MRS. MILLER the organ would play.

MR. MILLER would sing and pray.

Results of this early Christian training.

There is a Christian Church at Mathis that needs no explaining.

In the belfry is the same wonderful old Lagarto bell swinging.

Every Sunday it's a joy to all those who hear it ringing.

There you will find MR. MILLER'S daughter ZENNA the organ playing.

And one of her sons singing and praying.

 

In the 80's there were churches, schools, and a college

Where the girls and boys went in search of knowledge.

Everybody was serenely happy and full of joy.

Never dreaming that anything their town could destroy.

The railroad from San Antonio to Alice was built.

That's when poor old Lagarto commenced to wilt.

Now you can cover what is left with a quilt.

ISUM RAILEY came from Kentucky and started the connected H-C brand.

He was a shrewd trader, made money and bought several thousand acres of land.

Came a drought very severe. Water in the creek began to disappear.

To protect his own stock he erected the first pasture fence with barbed wire.

Indignation grew like a house on fire. Water and grass had always been free.

The barbed wire fence was cut down night of December 7, 1883.

To PATE McNEILL he sold his land and all his rights.

The land now belongs to HOLMAN CARTRIGHT.

JIM DOBIE bought the RAILEY horse stock and trailed them to Kansas in the Spring of 1884.

From that time his fortune grew as it never had before.

At Lagarto lived UNCLE BILLIE GOODWIN, by his friends he was called.

He made Texas history, the same as RANGER CAPTAIN LEE HALL.

He was with the Texans and helped fight the Mexicans.

Said he with many others were captured at Mier.

Many days for their lives they had great fear.

One day the Mexicans came with a pitcher of beans, black and white.

They were blindfolded and told those that drew a white bean could make their flight.

UNCLE BILLIE said fortunately the bean he drew was white.

No time did he lose in getting back to Texas with all his might.

At Lagarto today lives one of his sons whose friendship you encourage and win.

It's none other than the smiling, happy genial, good hearted, fine fellow - BUD GOODWIN.

 

Lagarto was once a town of much merriment and glory.

Below is a list purely from memory. Some may have been omitted because they have been forgotten. It also includes some that did not live in town, but were claimed by Lagarto because they traded there and children attended school. No one is listed that was not living there prior to 1889:

James RATHER - Built first Lagarto store.

J. W. RAMEY - Later County Judge.

John S. CRUMP - Brand 101.

C. C. LEWIS - Buried at Realitos.

John ELLIS

John POLLAND - Merchant.

CAPT. C. C. COX - Later County Judge.

Sterling DOBIE, SR.

John STILLWELL

A. J. KAY

Pate McNEILL and Toll McNEILL

Mode PEARCE and Bug PEARCE

A. J. BUSH - Teacher and Preacher.

Frank CROUCH - Teacher

MR. STRINGFELLOW - Teacher

A. J. HART

MR. POOL - It's claimed he was a member of the QUANTRELL and Jesse JAMES Band.

Max BAUER - Merchant

T. D. NEWTON - Saddler

MR. LOCKHART - Merchant

MR. SWARENGEN - Merchant

Isum RAILEY

S. G. MILLER

Tom LEWIS - Carpenter

Bill LEWIS

Runels PETERS - Hotel

William BAYLOR

? C. BARFIELD, R. C. BARFIELD, KNOX BARFIELD, FRANK BARFIELD

(could be a J or I)

DR. EAST

Samuel COOK, Sr., Evans Bob COOK, Sam COOK, Jr.

Tip LANE

John McMASTER

Mr. DOW, Leslie DOW - Later Custom Inspector

Bob DOW - Later Sheriff of Maverick County

Luke DOW - River Guard on Border, Cam DOW

Bob DOBIE, Nevil DOBIE, Richard DOBIE, Jim DOBIE

Dr. EAST, Albert LAMB and Townson BOATRIGHT owned a store together

W. B. BOATRIGHT - Brother of Mrs. H. B. NEWBERRY

Eli BOATRIGHT and Townson - Brothers of H. B. NEWBERRY

Bill DeBERRY, and Al DeBERRY

Albert LAMB and Drew LAMB

Frank TAYLOR - Ginner

Joe HANCOCK - Merchant

King HINNANT, Tobe HINNANT, John HINNANT, Sr.

Alf. ROBERSON - Father Jesse ROBERSON
(Ed. note: another source spells it ROBINSON and says he is son of Sally SKULL and Jesse ROBINSON)

John LAHAM

Mr. DeBERRY

Clarence McNEILL - Editor of Lagarto Times

Mr. HOLLAMEN - Teacher

R. W. COLE - Teacher

America SMITH

Pony SMITH and Alex SMITH

Bill DICKSON

Bill BURK

Mr. GILLAN

Frank HOWARD - Teacher

Tom STRICKLAND - Blacksmith

Charlie WILSON

Jim ROARK

Archie CLARK - Hotel

Harmon STEADMAN - Postmaster

Pappy STEADMAN - Miller

Doctor TULLY

Dr. A. C. HEANY

Mr. WHIPPLE - Photographer

John MOORMAN

Mat HANEY - Teamster

Billie HOBBS

John FUSSELMAN, Sr. and John FUSSELMAN, Jr.

Charlie FUSSELMAN - Texas Ranger. Murdered near El Paso April 17, 1890.

Rudolph ZIMMERMAN - Shot N. GUSSETT; killed himself at Corpus Christi.

F. H. DUBOSE

Frank BYLER

L. K. FOSTER

John R. FRANCIS

George FRANCIS

Jim WALL

Jim PREWITT

Gus KRISHELL - Teamster

Dix RAMEY

Bill RAMEY

Jim DICKENS and Frank DICKENS

John STEGALL

Theofolus LEE - Preacher

Mr. GRAHAM - Preacher

J. C. RUSSELL - Preacher; married Saluda NEWBERRY

Jim LITTLETON

Mr. PAGE

Dan NICHOLS

Mr. RICKFORD

MRS. GARLICK

MRS. Louisa WILLIAMS, Sam WILLIAMS, Rab WILLIAMS

Sam BEALL

Dick DOBIE and Sterling DOBIE, Jr.

Bill WOODWARD

Ed WILLIAMS

Bud WOODWARD

Bill FERRELL

D. S. BOOTH

Mrs. BAILEY

Alex KOEPEL

Jim KELLY

Jim McNEEL

F. L. FAUPEL - Music Teacher

Bill DAVIS - Mistaken for hog; shot by Eps GOODWIN

Eps GOODWIN

Joe McCAMPBELL, Jim McCAMPBELL, Bill CAMPBELL

Tom SEELY

Jim DINN

Lew LATHAM

Perry WILLIAMS

Joe DOWDY

W. W. WHITE

Mrs. George WRIGHT, Willis WRIGHT, Orian WRIGHT

Chat VELA - Brand FGV

Senobia BALBOA - Wheelwright

Homer SHIPP - Married Minnie DOBIE

J. R. CHANDLER - Married Mary DOBIE

Sid COX, Jake COX, June COX, Jim COX

Mrs. KENNER

John WADE

D. CRAVEN - Saddler

Wash BARKER

Brag WRIGHT, Bud WRIGHT, Billie WRIGHT

Milton GALVIN - Shoemaker

Wade McLEMORE

Charlie MORGAN

Miss Lizzie PARKER - Married Virgil WRIGHT

William STAPLES

Mr. BOYD

Putnam SHIPP

Mat GIVENS

Jim GROVER

Mat KIVLIN

Ed McGLOIN

Mr. PYE

Henry HARROL - Married Betty COOK

Mr. JOHNSON - Henry Bend Ranch

Walter BILLINGSLY - Married Mattie Johnson

Billie COFFIN - Married Iona JOHNSON

Three WORRELL boys were murdered at night in their house by their Mexican sheep herders north of Lagarto on the Ramirena Creek. The old house was moved and is now the HOBBS Ranch House.

D. K. WOODWARD

Theodore DIX

Ben DIX, Olvin DIX

Mr. DOWNEY - Married America SMITH's daughter.

Mrs. THORNHILL, Mollie THORNHILL and Sadie THORNHILL - Sadie later San Antonio Chili Queen.

Bill MESSENGER

Dr. E. S. COX

Sam McWHORTER and family: Nora, Sylus, Burton, Wilson, Laura, Rhoda, Freeman (Sam McWHORTER was H. B. NEWBERRY's mess mate during the Civil War.)

Grandpa DODSON - Father of Milton

Sam WATSON, Pink WATSON

Low GORBET

George W. NEWBERRY, H. B. NEWBERRY

Ed KILMER

Milton DODSON

Ford SIMS

I. GILMORE

Mr. NUGENT

Only two were born in the old town of Lagarto and married there  - they were
John BARFIELD and Lura BEALL

** END **

(Editor: a newspaper story in San Antonio Express. Sunday, Nov. 18, 1934, about history of Lagarto is in the library under "Live Oak County, Texas" - by Dudley DOBIE)



 



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