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Citrus Grove Community Thanksgiving Dinners 1909 - 1977

Citrus Grove School Students - 1913


In April, 1908, A. B. Pierce of Blessing contracted with the Burton D. Hurd Land Development Company to sell land in the Ace of Clubs Ranch situated in southern Matagorda County, bounded by the Colorado River on the east and Matagorda and Tres Palacios bays on the south and west. A town was laid out in 1908 and named Satsuma as orange groves were used as a lure to entice farmers from Kansas, Nebraska, and other midwestern states. The name, however, was changed to Citrus Grove since another post office was using the name Satsuma.


Land agents were employed in towns all over the target area, using the mild winters and rich soil, where anything would grow--especially citrus fruit--as enticements. Large numbers of "landseekers" came on excursion trains that were met by surreys, hacks, and wagons to take the buyers to see the land for sale.


Frank King was ranch manager for the Ace of Clubs Ranch with headquarters near the bay. When the first settlers arrived in 1909, the Pierce cattle were running wild but were soon corralled. The farmers built temporary shelters until more comfortable homes could be built.


The following are names of the first land buyers and their children. The first deed was issued to O. H. Gableman, a bachelor, on January 14, 1909, followed by many others:

Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Batchelder and children, Verne, Thelma, Cecil, Irene, Nellie, Reuel and Lois

Henry Delaplain, Lyle Delaplain and H. L. Delaplain , who lived to take an airplane ride on his 100th birthday  (Mrs. Batchelder's father, brother and grandfather)

George W. and Anna Corporon and children, Gaines, Ira, Ona, Lester, George, Percy, Dick, and Reba

Mr. and Mrs. Burnes and children, Charlotte and Jimmy

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Banneau and children, Ella Adelaide, Marie, Angelina, George, Josephine,
     Joseph, and Helen

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Peltier and children, Ronald, Ronalda, Dora, Walter, Roy, Mitchel, Annette, and Willie

Mr. and Mrs. Foulks and children, Luther and Alice (later Batchelder)

Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Crabill and children, Charlotte, Evelyn, Sanford, Faith, and Billie

Mr. and Mrs. S. P. Shuey, daughter Grace and son Will and his wife, Pearl (picture at right courtesy of Ethel Williams, granddaughter)

Mr. and Mrs. Lynn Yeamans and children, Donald and Lucile (Mrs. Yeamans was a musician
     and piano teacher)

Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Yeamans and son, Victor

Amos R. Johnson, a bachelor

Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Johnson and Dan and Phoebe

Mr. and Mrs. A. R. Meyers and child, Billie

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Fief, Eddie (a seaman middie), Fred and Nellie

Mr. and Mrs. Kielhorn and Anna

Mr. and Mrs. Buzzett and son, Timmy

George and Della Shuey Braden (daughter of S. P. Shuey) and children, Ruth and Paul

Mr. and Mrs. Anderson and Carl

Mr. and Mrs. Pete Johnson, Irene and Russell

Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Douglas (Mrs. Douglas was aunt to Ester Smith)

Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Hilbs [Hibbs?]

Mrs. Stanfield (Mrs. Hilbs' mother)

Mr. and Mrs. I. P. Miller, Glen, Raymer and Gerald

Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Erickson and son, Billie

Frank Ives

Mrs. Benedict and daughters, Francis and Ethel (a musician who played piano for the church)

Myrtle Benedict (one of the early teachers)

Mr. and Mrs. L. G. Cobb, joined later by son Frank and wife, Anna

Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Hunt, Nellie, Teddie, Buster, Lera and Gertrude

Mr. and Mrs. Frank King, Frank Jr., Able, Francis and Fred

Mr. and Mrs. Yates, Stella (who was a piano teacher) and Janie

Mize Family

Mr. and Mrs. Willis Reeves and brother Jack who were rice farmers


In the 1920s many new families began migrating to the area from East Texas: Bullington, Jenkins, Brown, Wells, Wood and Harvey.


The Hill brothers, George, Earl, Luther and Lawrence with their families were rice farmers.


The Chiles and Kopecky families, George Bowers and H. I. White were also rice farmers.


The early history of Citrus Grove is best told with the schools, churches, industries and community affairs.


In 1910 the first schoolteacher, Omar Crabill, was paid by the patrons and taught classes in Corporon's barn. The first county school was held in a house built by a Mr. Foulks before he was ready to occupy it. Velma Mills was the teacher. This building was a meeting house also for the United Brethren who had organized a Sunday School. When a larger structure was needed for both school and church, lumber and labor were donated by community members. The church was built north of the Yeamans store on land donated by Burton D. Hurd Land Company. The new school/church building had no siding on it when the first classes were held there. May Powers was the teacher.


The school was divided in 1913-14 with the northside students attending the church/schoolhouse; Myrtle Benedict was their teacher. The southside students went to a new building situated in the center of the population. A Miss Belknap was their first teacher. The list of teachers who taught in these schools and later at a new location nearer the center of both groups where two teachers were needed were:

Margaret Holsworth (1915-16) and Thelma Sikes (1917-18), North School

Elda Jacobson (1915-18), South School

Adelaide Bonneau (1918-21)
Dora Peltier (1918-20)
M. L. Hersey (1919-20)

Hulda Elder (1920-21)

Ruth Braden (1921-22)

Thelma Batchelder (1922-25)

Nellie Batchelder (1924-25)

Faith Crabill (1925-28)

Irene Batchelder (1925-26)

J. R. Laslie (1928-29)

Louise Walter (1929-30)

Dorothy Corporon (1930-31)


The district was consolidated in 1932, and the students were transported to Collegeport by bus. Later Collegeport was consolidated with Palacios Independent School District.


The community built the church/schoolhouse which was the center of religious life for many years. In 1926 C. S. Douglas, H. A. Crabill, and I. P. Miller--the three trustees of the United Brethren in Christ of Citrus Grove--conveyed the church property to Citrus  Grove Community Church under Presbyterian supervision. This was the Houston Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The board of trustees were A. F. Johnson, H. A. Crabill, A. R. Myric, with Mrs. A. F. Johnson, Mrs. H. A. Craybill, P. V. Corporon, Lu Ellen Corporon, and R. L. Corporon. The relationship was helpful with the regular visits of the Presbytery representatives from  Houston. An unfortunate confrontation with the missionary of another denomination disrupted the church. Several families moved their memberships to the Presbyterian church in Collegeport. The Roman Catholics worshipped in the home of Joe Fief.


The first Thanksgiving dinner, November, 1909, began a tradition that continued for sixty-eight years, ending in 1977, when the reunions were no longer feasible. The first dinner was in the Satsuma House. During 1910 a depot was built, and the freight room became the home of the annual Thanksgiving dinner. The train crews always enjoyed the dinner.


In 1940 the schoolhouse was moved to become a community house on land conveyed by Jane Savage to the board of trustees, R. L. Corporon, H. S. Crabill, P. V. Corporon, Lawrence Hill, and A. F. Johnson, for a community center. This building served for all community gatherings and elections until 1977, when there was no longer a need for a community house.


As in all pioneering communities, the residents enjoyed many kinds of entertainment. Dances were held in the depot; Joe Buzzett played the violin while George Braden and Verne Batchelder took turns on the guitar. Berry-picking, pecan-gathering, fishing, oystering, domino playing, and card games comprised other forms of entertainment.


In winter several men went to the bay and gathered oysters for oyster suppers. A copper boiler filled with milk produced the savory oyster stew for which Della Braden was famous.


A. H. Yeamans and his sons, Lynn and Charles, owned and operated a general store. Yeamans called his customers "snow-diggers." Mrs. Yeamans sold Brown Swiss milk cows to the newcomers. Amos J. Johnson was manager and later owner of the Theo Smith Lumber yard and Grocery Store. Grace Shuey was a clerk. She became expert at grading milk to find the butterfat content. As a means of living, many families shipped milk in ten-gallon cans by rail to Bay City.


The post office was at the Johnson Store. the main gathering place in the afternoons was at the depot at train time, and afterward, to wait for the mail. Fred S. Robbins and a nephew, Savage Cartwright, came on horseback from their ranch on the Colorado River for their mail.


Verne Batchelder was a clerk at the Johnson Store. He also ran a cotton gin in the fall. When the fruit industry did not prove profitable, cotton became the main crop.


Everyone grew fruits and vegetables which were preserved for winter. The first home demonstration agent was Betty Hart, who introduced pressure cooking and canning to the homemakers.


A. G. Hunt and wife, Ina Corporon, built a blacksmith shop that was expanded later into a machine shop, which was important to the farmers.


With the introduction of rice farming, many changes took place. Joe Peltier had the first deep well to provide water for his rice. Because the rice canal system was not finished in time, the first crop was lost. A pumping plant on the Colorado River, ten miles east of Citrus Grove, furnished water through a canal system to Collegeport by way of Citrus Grove. George Braden barged fuel on the canal from a tank car on the Citrus Grove railroad siding. A team of mules driven by Jimmy Bruns on the canal bank pulled the barge. The Braden children, Paul and Ruth, with Reuel and Nellie Batchelder, made the trip several times. Albert Le Compte and his sons operated the pumping plant. Joe Peltier invented the Peltier Sulky Road Drag. Gaines Corporon was a salesman for Peltier.


The use of rice dryers was introduced by the Broughton Brothers of Bay City, followed by Ray Bowers and his sons, and rice growing became more profitable.


Will Cornelius of Markham leased land from people who had moved away, and he had a ranch of about 5,000 acres for many years until rice farming provided more rent for the owners. Dick Corporon rode pasture for the Cornelius ranch.


In 1930 good roads finally were being built, however, there was not enough money to provide paved roads to the small towns. A six [nine]-foot slab connected Collegeport and Citrus Grove and passed through El Maton to State Highway 35. This roadway was a great boon to these mud-road communities and served for many years.


There were some disasters. In 1914 an outbreak of anthrax disease reached epidemic proportions, and all the work stock were killed. In a time when farming was done by mules and horses, this was a real tragedy. The gulf storm of 1912 did much damage to the homes and crops. Any medical need became a real problem because the doctor was so far away and transportation so slow. Mr. and Mrs. Braden and many others were skillful with home remedies. Mrs. Corporon served as the community midwife.


The only persons from the original families now (1986) living in the Citrus Grove area are R. L. and Dorothy Corporon, their son Russell and his family, Percy and wife, Lu Ellen, and their son, Duane.


[In 2007, Russell Corporon's family are the only Citrus Grove residents from the original families living in the Citrus community.]


Ruth Braden Matthes

Dick and Dorothy Corporon

Historic Matagorda County, Volume I, pages 324-327


Citrus Grove Community Thanksgiving Dinners
1909 - 1977



A number of people from Collegeport attended the Thanksgiving celebration at Citrus Grove Thursday.

Matagorda County Tribune, December 7, 1923


Collegeport Planning for Big Dinner for 17th Annual Picnic; Local and Church News

Collegeport, Texas, Nov. 13--Planning for a big dinner, old time get-together and general grand celebration the Thanksgiving picnic committee of Citrus Grove have set to work. This is to be the seventeenth annual picnic, according to the older people of Collegeport and Citrus Grove communities.

The Matagorda County Tribune, November 13, 1925

Collegeport and Citrus Grove held their usual joint Thanksgiving get-to-gether at Citrus Grove to the enjoyment of all parties who attended.

Matagorda County Tribune
, December 3, 1926


(Jimmie Murray and Laurence Conover)

The boys of the Collegeport School have been practicing basket-ball lately and are getting ready for a game with Citrus Grove Thanksgiving.

Matagorda County Tribune, December 17, 1926

Thoughts About Thanksgiving
By Harry Austin Clapp

If Carey Smith would give me all the columns of this issue I could not enumerate all the things we have to be thankful for. Well, anyway, I am thankful that Mrs. Liggett invited me to ride out to Citrus Grove for the annual Thanksgiving dinner. This has been an event for nineteen years, just as the New Year's dinner at Collegeport has been a gathering for the people for the same period. The tables were loaded with chicken, turkey, roast pork and beef, ham, meat loaf, cakes, pies, salads, fruits 'neverything to tempt the gustatorial ability of all those present. Iced tea by the gallon, coffee strong enough to float a ship, but quite as fine a product as if George Braden had made it out of doors on an open fire. I counted 48 autos and estimated that at least 200 people were present. Houston sent its quota in Dr. Fawcett and his wife, Charlotte, and two fine children, and Mrs. Widemeyer. Seven different communities of Matagorda county were represented. It was a great neighborly gathering and was a joy to meet the old timers and renew experiences. It was a day in which to Give Thanks.

A Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without what some people insist on calling pumpkin pie. I always call it punkin. It listens better, means more and it is not such a severe strain on the vocal cords. One of my kinfolks, being very strict in the use of words, insists on asking for pumpkin pie and I, as a rule, ignore the request because I do not understand what she means. Now comes no less an authority than John Kendrick Bangs, who says: "when I hear a man say punkin pie I know that he is a human being." It only proves that I am nearly always right. Whoever heard a child ask mama for pumpkin pie? Well, anyway, we had punkin pie at Citrus Grove Thursday and as a slab was eased into ones facial crack, memories of boyhood days flooded ones heart. My mother always made punkin pie and never made pumpkin pie and I can see them now, pie after pie, brown, rich, rare, tasty and how I longed for the time to cut them. Might as well call turkey fowl.

Matagorda County Tribune, December 2, 1927

Thursday was Thanksgiving Day and the Citrus Grove community held their annual community dinner. This has been their day for twenty years.

The Matagorda County Tribune
, November 30, 1928


By Harry Austin Clapp

Amos Johnson in town, and announced that the regular Thanksgiving dinner will be held at Citrus Grove. Now that we have a "9-foot sidewalk" between here and Citrus Grove guess I and the miserable wretch will take our little basket and attend. The walking is good all the way and having no auto we are still able to use our legs, and are provided with tail lights.

The Daily Tribune
, Tuesday, November 26, 1929


By Harry Austin Clapp

This is not all of it, but sufficient to give a tip to all who assemble at Citrus Grove Thursday, for the twenty-second annual Thanksgiving dinner. Let us hope that instead of standing around and grouching that every one will greet others with the statement: "we sure have had a fine year and times are good with us."

The Daily Tribune, Tuesday, November 25, 1930


By Harry Austin Clapp


Well, anyway, I had a swell time the next day at Citrus Grove where the twenty-second annual Thanksgiving community dinner was served. Thanks to my good friend, Mrs. Liggett, I was not obliged to walk.

Well, boys and girls, who were not there, you missed a big feed. About one hundred and fifty-one were present, the one being Frederick Taylor Matthes whom I met for the first time. I am unable to tell all that was provided but it included turkey, fried chicken, roast beef, ham, pressed meat loaf, salads in numerous variety, cakes, pies, but O Boy, soon as I saw that big tank of the Famous Carrie Nelson Noodles I put side boards on my plate and took on a load that brought me to the Plimsoll mark. Perhaps some of you are aware that I simply adore noodles, so I may be forgiven for taking such a load. A short and interesting program was given by the school pupils under the direction of Louise Walter and Mrs. Richard Corporon sometimes known as "Dorothydick."

Mr. Delaplain, one of our old timers, aged 82 years and 9 months, asked God's blessing and then the procession passed by the tables. I followed Mrs. Holsworth for I knew that she would lead me to the best and sure enough she led me right to the noodles. It was a great day, a beautiful day, and mingling with people from all parts of the county was a joy.

The people of Citrus are to be congratulated on the fact that for twenty-two years they have observed this day.

The Daily Tribune, Tuesday, December 2, 1930


By Harry Austin Clapp

Thursday, as has been the custom for twenty-two years, people assembled at Citrus Grove for the annual community dinner. As one glanced at the table groaning with food, one could not think of depression for that old party had evidently not stopped at Citrus. The attendance, because of the inclement weather, was cut down some but over one hundred were present. Had I know that the maker of those Famous Carrie Noodles was to be present, nothing could have kept me away from those noodles. In the afternoon the weather cleared so after all it was a fine day. As usual, the train crew were well fed as the evening train stopped at that station.

The Daily Tribune, December 1, 1931



Among those who attended Thanksgiving or harvest home dinner at the depot at Citrus Grove were several old neighbors who always return on that day from other places where they have moved from here. We always love to get together with them on that day to renew old times together.

Those present from other places than our community were Mr. and Mrs. Will Batchelder and family from Palacios; Reverend Pain from the Methodist Church of Palacios, who gave us an address; Mrs. Della Braden and Will Shuey from Blessing; Mitchell Peltier and Jack Bonner from West Columbia; Dr. and Mrs. Fossett of Houston and their two sons and Mr. and Mrs. Longuet of El Maton.

Besides about 65 of our own community which includes Citrus Grove, Ashby, Simpsonville and Collegeport, all had a good visit and fine dinner.

Matagorda County Tribune, December 1, 1932


By Harry Austin Clapp

The old timers at Citrus Grove will get together this week and have their twenty-fifth Thanksgiving Community dinner. This had been an annual affair for many years and it offers opportunity for folk to mingle, talk over old times and get acquainted. No program is needed or desired at such affairs for people do not attend community dinners to listen to an entertainment. They are there to eat a good dinner and have a fine visit and they want nothing more.

Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, December 7, 1933


By Harry Austin Clapp

The town was deserted Thanksgiving Day for nearly every one went to Citrus Grove to attend the twenty-fifth annual community dinner. About one hundred and twenty-five people were present and enjoyed the bountiful well-laden tables and visited with old-time friends. That is the great thing about community dinners, the getting together. From Houston came Mr. And Mrs. Weborg, Mrs. Hoffman, Dr. and Mrs. Fawcett and their two sons. Others from various places all coming back for the one purpose of seeing old friends. Nearly every community in this county was represented.

Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, December 8, 1933


By Harry Austin Clapp

For twenty-five years it has been the custom of the good folk of Citrus Grove to observe Thanksgiving day with a big community dinner. This year, in spite of the deluge that made rivers out of roads, they kept the custom and although only thirty four were present, a most enjoyable time was had, food was there in generous quantities from turkey, roast goose, to salads and fruits, but the most nourishing and satisfying was a big tank of those famous Carrie Nelson Noodles. No matter what sort of an affair is arranged, it is not a complete success without those noodles. The railroad station building being no more, the dinner was held in the church house where a splendid program was given and games provided other amusement.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, December 6, 1934


By Harry Austin Clapp

Oh, yes, we have plenty to give thanks for and we fail in our bounden duty if on Thursday we do not bend the knee, bow the head and acknowledge God as the great creator of us all, give devout and humble thanks for what has been so generously given us. The folk of this community will have an opportunity Thursday to meet at 10 a. m. and with Rev. Janes as leader, turn our thoughts toward God and render thanks for all things. At noon the people of Citrus Grove, continuing an idea that has been followed for twenty-five years, will hold the annual community dinner and everyone is invited. At night a program at Mopac House for the entire community.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, November 28, 1935

By Harry Austin Clapp

Rev. Mr. Janes held a Thanksgiving service at Citrus Grove Thursday morning and at noon the usual community dinner was served. I am informed that the attendance was the largest in twenty-five years and that never were the tables so generously loaded with food of the finest quality, which included the turkey, with dressing, salads, pies, cakes, nuts and soups. No sign of depression at Citrus Grove this year. Like the famous dinner Jesus gave when they gathered up many baskets of the fragments, these folks also gathered up many baskets which were distributed to those who were unable to be present. January 1 the Collegeport Community will hold its twenty-sixth community dinner. December 5th the Woman's Union will hold its annual bazaar in the church house. Many articles for sale, oysters at noon and night and everyone invited.

The Matagorda County Tribune
, Thursday, December 5, 1935

By Harry Austin Clapp

Thanksgiving eve came Reverend Paul Engle and read to us the Litany. This is the grandest prayer in the Prayer Book. It is of age many centuries. Kings have sought to destroy it. People have been forbidden to read it under pain or death but it lived, sometime tattered and torn. It still lives and brings to us the perfume of the life of Christ.

Thursday Citrus Grove offered its twenty-fifth annual community dinner. Plenty of fine eatables, table loaded, good attendance and an enjoyable time and in the evening a party attended by about fifty. No dancing.

The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, December 3, 1936


Citrus Grove and Collegeport observed Thanksgiving with their annual Thanksgiving dinner at Citrus Grove. About one hundred and twenty were present, including many of the original settlers and out of town guests. Many guests came back that night to attend the “forty-two” and old fashioned play party held there. This Thanksgiving dinner has been given annually ever since Citrus Grove was settled years ago, and serves as a reunion for many old friends.

The Daily Tribune, Friday, December 5, 1941


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