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P. A. & Mary Williamson Elder Family


P. A. Elder Family
By Mary Sheeran

When P. A. Elder came to Palacios in 1904 with anticipation of settling his family there, he was excited by the booming farming and fishing village. Poor health had made it imperative that he move his ever enlarging family to a warmer climate from Champaign, Illinois. His wife, Mary Williamson Elder, was attracted by the thought of educating her children at the Palacios Baptist Academy, and his father-in-law, William Williamson, was impressed with the fertile farm lands. The family arrived in October of 1905.

Mr. Elder and Mr. Williamson began at once to organize the first bank, the Palacios State Bank and Trust Company at the corner of Main and Fourth Streets. Early land developers added their support as did Lacy Pybus, B. F. Campbell, H. B. Farwell and others. John F. Barnett soon came as an assistant and Mr. Elder delegated Mr. Barnett to take his place when he realized he would not live to accomplish all his dreams. However, his optimism and faith in Palacios led him to help organize the first public school where he served as secretary of the board of trustees. His final act for education was to sign the papers for the construction of the old red brick high school building. Both he and Mrs. Elder were instrumental in getting the Baptists of Texas to locate their encampment there.

P. A. and Mary Elder were civic minded and worked tirelessly for any program which might better the town. Mrs. Elder became a dynamic force in the First Baptist Church where she served as a Sunday School teacher and W. M. U. officer throughout her long and fruitful life. Their home on south bay was always a gathering place for young people and distinguished guests who came to the encampment.

Mrs. Elder always considered herself a "newcomer" and treated with great respect the pioneers of the area as she immersed herself in Texas history and legend.

The Elder family consisted of: triplets, William, Marianna, Huldah; Olivia; Victoria; P. A., who was drowned in the bay at age twelve; Ted; Jane, the second child born in Palacios; and Estelle. The strong ties have drawn the family back to the bay. William, a dairyman, was deceased.

Marianna, who taught English in Palacios and acted as a football coach before her marriage to Joe Baines, was survived by a daughter, Mary, who made her home with the Elders following her mother's untimely death. Mary taught school in Palacios, and with her husband, Arthur Sheeran, raised four children and continued to reside in Palacios.

Huldah, likewise a school teacher, married C. E. Rees and had one son, Cliff. She later made her home in Orangefield. Olivia and her husband Fred Walters made Palacios their retirement home. Victoria, after years of teaching in Newgulf, lived next door to her twin in Palacios. Following years of a world wide tour of duty with the United States Department of Agriculture, Ted and his wife Cecile Grant resided in the family compound on South Bay. Jane acted as Missions Director of the Second Baptist Church, Houston. Following the death of her husband Harry Alley, a local rancher, Estelle built a house in the family compound.

Home for the Elder family will always be Palacios, Texas!

P. A. Elder House - 1906
[204 South Bay Boulevard]

P. A. and Mary Elder built this home in 1906 on Block B, Lot 8 overlooking South Bay at a cost of $2,180. At that time, Jules Leffland owned Lot 6 and evidently had a summer home overlooking the bay as tax records show that he had the property in 1905 and 1906 and sold it to H. B. Farwell in 1907. His son Kai, who also became an architect, was a friend of Elder’s son, Bill and played in the neighborhood with him as a child. Leffland lists the P. A. Elder house as Plan #1021 in his daybook. The architectural features of the house reflect Danish influence and looked like many of the homes in the nearby town of Danevang, a Danish settlement. The house was damaged by Hurricane Carla in 1961 and Mary Sheeran, a granddaughter, built her home in the same location.

Huldah Elder Rees

Huldah, the third of nine children, was born in Urbana, IL on March 29, l899.

She was pleased to have lived in three centuries. The Elder family moved to Palacios, Texas when Huldah was nine. She graduated from Palacios Baptist Academy, from Baylor University in l921 and earned a Master's degree from The University of Houston. She taught at Franklin School in Port Arthur until she married Clifford Ernest Rees in l925. Later, she taught in the Orangefield ISD until she retired in l962. After retirement, she traveled extensively and read voraciously even in her last days. At age 90,Huldah moved to the Community Retirement Home in Port Arthur where she lived for l8 years until moving to Cypress Glen Nursing Home. She was always active in her church. She loved teaching Sunday School and participating in mission activities. She was a 50-year member of First Baptist Church of Orangefield. The last l8 years she was a member of First Baptist Church of Port Arthur.

Her son Cliff and daughter-in-law Mary Lee Rees of Groves, grandsons Mark Rees of Chicago, Jeffrey Rees and his wife, Martha of Houston and great grandchildren, Brandon, Nathan and Raquel Rees, survive Hulda. Also surviving her is a sister, Estelle Alley and a niece, Mary Sheeran of Palacios.

Visitation will be Saturday, July 2l, 2007 beginning at 11:00 a.m. until service time at 1:00 p.m. at Levingston Funeral Home in Groves.

Reverend Don Falke, pastor of First Baptist Church of Port Arthur will officiate. (Orange, Texas), July 19, 2007

Olivia Alfreda Walters

13 Sep 1901 - Oct 2001

Graveside services for Olivia Walters, 100, of Palacios, were held Oct. 19, 2001 at Palacios Cemetery with Rev. Ben Sheeran of Hochheim Baptist Church officiating.

Mrs. Walters was one in a set of triplets born Sept. 13, 1901 in Frankfort, Ind. to Mr. and Mrs. P. A. Elder. The other two children were Victoria Alberta who died in 1998 and Paul Adolf who drowned in front of the family home in Palacios at the age of 12.

The family moved to Palacios in 1905 when Mr. Elder established the first bank in town. The family consisted of nine children—William, Marianna, Huldah, Ted, Jane, Victoria, Olivia, Paul and Estelle. After Olivia married Fred Walters, administrator of Santa Fe Railroad’s hospital in Topeka, Kansas, she made a name for herself as a leading hostess and volunteer worker. The couple retired to Palacios in 1978 to be in the company of Olivia’s family. The Walters were active in local church and civic activities. Fred died in 1984.

Mrs. Walters is survived by two sisters, Huldah Rees and Estelle Alley; and a niece and nephew.

Funeral arrangements are with Palacios Funeral Home.

Palacios Beacon, October, 2001


Victoria Elder

Funeral services for Victoria Elder, 97, of Palacios, were held Jan. 2, 1999 at Palacios Funeral Home Chapel wit Rev. Dr. Ben Sheeran officiating. Interment was at the Palacios Cemetery.

Miss Elder was born on Sept. 13, 1901 in Frankfort, Indiana to Mary Hess Williamson and P .. A. Elder. She died Dec. 30, 1998 at Palacios Healthcare Center in Palacios.

When she was born, the headlines read "President McKinley is shot and triplets born to P. A. and Mary Hess Williamson Elder." The size of the family was doubled with the advent of the triplets-Olivia, Victoria and Paul Adolf. The family moved to Palacios in 1905 where Mr. Elder started the first bank in town. Mr. Elder died in 1911 and the boy triplet, familiarly known as P. A., drowned in 1913 in front of the family home on South Bay. '

Victoria was the brains of the trio, graduating from Palacios High School in 1918 as valedictorian of her class. After a year at Baylor University she returned to Palacios to teach school. She attended various colleges and universities and received her Bachelor's Degree with honors from SuI Ross Teacher's College in 1935, and her Master's Degree from University of Houston in 1952. She taught school in Palacios for many years and in 1929 she joined the fledgling faculty of the Boling-Newgulf system teaching in a church, and continued to teach, there until her retirement in 1962. Vic's devotion to her pupils was well known, as she kept up with them through the years and enjoyed bragging about them. Miss Elder was a Charter Member of Alpha Iota Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, International Teacher's Society, Life Member of Retired Teachers and a devoted member of First Baptist Church in Palacios where she had a continuous membership since her baptism at the age of eleven. . '

Following her retirement she returned to Palacios and a cozy brick cottage on South Bay where she became active in the community. She taught a women's Sunday School Class and acted as Out Reach Director, Palacios Library volunteer, Wednesday Club President and various civic activities. Traveling was her hobby and she visited many foreign countries, and did extensive travel in the U.S. Victoria is remembered for her devotion to her family, especially the great nieces and nephews who called her Bambi, because she was their dear.

Survivors include: sisters, Huldah Elder Rees of Port Arthur, Olivia Elder Walters and Estelle Elder Alley both of Palacios; nephew: Cliff Rees of Port Arthur; niece Mary Sheeran of Palacios; great nephews Mark Rees of Dallas, Rev. Jeff Rees of Houston, Henry Sheeran of Midland and Rev. Dr. Ben Sheeran of Victoria; great nieces Marianna Young of League City and Vikijane Blomberg of Palacios; and 12 great great nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, brothers William, P. A. and Ted Elder, sisters Mariana Elder Baines and Jane Elder

Pallbearers were Joseph, Jacob and Daniel Bear, Matthew Blomberg, Robert Young and J. A. Sheeran.

Death of Paul Elder

Funeral services, conducted by Rev. R. T. Hanks, pastor of the Baptist church, will be held this afternoon at 4:30 o'clock at the home of Mrs. M. H. Elder, over the remains of her son, Paul Adolph, who met death suddenly yesterday afternoon as the result of an accident at the B. Y. P. U. bathing pavilion. The boy was one of the triplets, the two surviving being girls [see family history above]. The lad was in bathing with a number of other boys, and they were playing hide and seek. Paul either dived or fell into the water, about two feet in depth, and evidently struck some object or the hard sand bottom which stunned him, and he did not rise. The boys with him, not finding him anywhere thought he had slipped away from them and gone home. Other boys, who came to bathe later discovered the body, and called for help which was responded to by Mrs. Harper, of Bay City, who is stopping on the encampment ground, who drew the boy out of the water. The physician was called and everything possible was done to revive the boy, but to no avail.

The news of the deplorable accident cast a gloom over the whole city. The heartfelt sympathy of everyone goes out to the stricken widowed mother and her family in this great sorrow so suddenly thrust upon them.

The triplets were born Sept. 13, 1901. Hence Paul was 12 years and nine months old at the time of his death.

Palacios Beacon, June 12, 1914


PALACIOS - Estelle Angeline Elder Alley was born Jan. 28, 1910, in Palacios, the youngest of nine children of P.A. and Mary H. Elder. After a brief illness, she died Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009.

She was an active member of First Baptist Church. She had taught a women's Sunday school class at First Baptist following a tradition teaching the class which her mother started many years before.

During the Depression, Estelle visited her cousin in Chicago and met Charles Henry Alley an artist whom she married. When she brought him to Texas for a visit he was charmed by Texas and quickly began pulling strings to find a job in Texas. Fort Worth was their home for several years and he got started in the farming and ranching business. When World War II happened they both came to Palacios to work at Camp Hulen. Estelle helped care for her invalid mother and participated in the Home Demonstration Club.

She prided herself on her cooking and entertaining. She delighted in calling herself Grand Ma to her great nieces and nephews. Her last years before going to the nursing home were spent in the family compound at South Bay along with her brother, Ted; her sisters, Olivia and Vic; and her niece, Mary Sheeran.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Henry Alley; and her parents, P. A. and Mary H. Elder; her sisters, Marianna, Huldah, Olivia, Victoria, and Jane; and her brothers, William, P. A., and Ted.

Her niece, Mary Sheeran, and her nephew, Cliff Rees, and many great-nieces and nephews and great-great-nieces and nephews survive her.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to First Baptist Church of Palacios.

Published in the Victoria Advocate on 2/16/2009

James Addison Elder



James Addison Elder was my Great Uncle and the first veterinarian in this part of the country. Following his brother to Palacios who had arrived in 1905 to start the first bank in Palacios, “Ad” , as he was called, first managed the pavilion which consisted of renting bathing suits, selling soda waters and supervising dances. On the side he took a correspondence course to become a veterinarian and was called upon far and wide. There was no vaccinations in those days so his practice consisted of breach births or scours. He bought a Ford car which my aunt Jane, a teenager, taught him to drive. My fondest memories were breezing around in his car with him. When his sister died he returned to Ohio to manage her estate until his death and my grandmother had to pay to have him shipped back to her to be buried. I did not hold to my grandmother’s prejudice against Uncle Ad. When his car jugged into the yard I knew there were animal crackers and candy for me. -- Palacios Cemetery Tour

Marker photos courtesy of Renee Huff



Elder Building


Elder Building - 320 Commerce - Built c 1920
1926 - 1st floor used as warehouse and 2nd floor as a lodge hall
1940s - 1st floor north Telephone warehouse & shop; south Auto Electric; 2nd floor meeting hall

Haynes Bros. Open Garage

W. O. and J. N. Haynes, of Canton, Van Zandt county, will open a first class garage in the Elder building on Commerce street Saturday, as announced in their ad on another page. The mechanical and repair department will be under the superintendency of Mr. Joe Shaw, a thoroughly competent and expert mechanician.

The new firm announced as its policy absolutely reliable workmanship in all branches of the garage work, and solicits business on this ground.

Palacios Beacon, February 7, 1919


Quick Service Garage

Don't let your auto troubles worry you; just take your car to the Quick Service Garage and Dr. Jones will quickly locate the cause of the trouble and will soon have it running as good as new. In the Elder building.


If your car gets sick, has its bones broken or is disabled in any way, call up Doctor K. W. Jones the auto trouble specialist at the Quick Service Garage in the Elder building. He'll soon have your car acting just like a new one.


Doctor K. W. Jones the trouble specialist of the Quick Service Garage in the Elder building, has ordered a steam tube vulcanizer and will be prepared to vulcanize your tubes as well as cure all other car troubles in the best, quickest and most scientific manner.

Palacios Beacon, June 27, 1919


Green Garage

The Green Garage has moved into the cement building, known as the Elder building. Maynard Green and John Fox are on the ___ as managers. The Curtis Auto Sales Company have their headquarters in this same building.

Palacios Beacon, February 25, 1921


Palacios Beacon, January 2, 1930

S. D. Vick, of Houston, was in Palacios today, visiting with Carl Ehlers and other friends. Mr. Vick made Palacios his home about eight years ago, and at one time ran a garage in the Elder building.

Palacios Beacon, September 15, 1932

Douglas Machine Service Moves to Larger Quarters

The Douglas Machine Service which has held forth on Pavilion Street just at the north line of the city limits ever since it was started several years ago by its proprietor, Calvin P. Douglas, was moved last week to the Elder building on Commerce Street, just east of the Palacios Filling Station.

Mr. Douglas feels that in making this move he is much better located and can give the public better service as the building in which he now occupies can be more complete equipped, the shop room is larger and lighter and altogether a more complete place for service.

The Douglas Machine Service specializes in welding, electrical service, radio repair and all kinds of machine work and they invite the public to call and see them in their new home, whether you are in need of their assistance or not.

Palacios Beacon, October 9, 1930


Copyright 2008 - Present by the Elder Family
All rights reserved

Oct. 4, 2013
Sep. 13, 2014