DEMING'S BRIDGE


Hawley Cemetery          Hawley Newspaper Columns          Map of Hawley & Deming's Bridge Area

Photo courtesy of Theresa Brady
 

Located within Hawley Cemetery - 721 CR 436 Hawley Cemetery Road

28°53'55.75"N          96°10'46.39"W

Marker inscription typed by Faye Cunningham


DEMING’S BRIDGE COMMUNITY

     THE DEMING’S BRIDGE COMMUNITY GREW UP AROUND A WOODEN BRIDGE BUILD OVER THE TRES PALACIOS RIVER AT THIS SITE IN 1857 FOR EDWARD A. DEMING, OWNER OF LAND ALONG THE WEST SIDE OF THE STREAM. THE CROSSING PROVIDED BY DEMING’S BRIDGE BECAME A NATURAL GATHERING PLACE FOR SETTLERS OF WESTERN MATAGORDA COUNTY.

     TRES PALACIOS BAPTIST CHURCH, SITE OF MANY COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES, WAS ESTABLISHED ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE RIVER. THE DEMING’S BRIDGE POST OFFICE OPENED IN 1858, WITH EDWIN A. DEMING SERVED AS POSTMASTER UNTIL IT WAS DISCONTINUED IN 1866. REINSTATED IN 1872, THE POST OFFICE NAME WAS CHANGED TO HAWLEY IN 1899. IT CLOSED AGAIN IN 1903 WHEN IT WAS MOVED TO THE NEW SETTLEMENT OF BLESSING (2 MI. W). A MASONIC HALL, ESTABLISHED IN 1874, WAS ALSO MOVED TO BLESSING AFTER LOCATION OF THE RAILROAD THERE CAUSED A POPULATION SHIFT.

     HAWLEY CEMETERY ORIGINATED AS A TWO-ACRE PLOT OF LAND CALLED DEMING’S BRIDGE CEMETERY. AMONG THE BURIALS ARE THE GRAVES OF BROTHERS AND NOTED CATTLE RANCHERS ABEL HEAD “SHANGHAI” PIERCE (1834-1900) AND JONATHAN EDWARDS PIERCE (1839-1915). JONATHAN PIERCE DONATED LAND TO ENLARGE THE CEMETERY AND WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN CHANGING ITS NAME IN 1898 IN THE HONOR OF TEXAS SENATOR ROBERT B. HAWLEY (1849-1921).

Texas Sesquicentennial 1836-1986
 

History     Letters     Newspaper Columns     1894 School Census     1895 School Census

 

This historical marker was dedicated
August 12, 2006 and replaces an
earlier marker which was damaged

One of two existing beams from
Deming's Bridge.

 



 

 

Program participants representing the Hawley Cemetery Association and Matagorda County Historical Commission pose with the newly unveiled marker.

 

 


Deming's Bridge & Hawley
Courtesy of Bobbie Dykes
 


Geo. A. Duffy          H. E. Moore
 


J. E. Pierce Return Address
 


Registered Letter to James W. Keller

 


DEMING’S BRIDGE COMMUNITY
MATAGORDA COUNTY TEXAS

Matagorda County was one of the original twenty-three counties created when the Constitution of the Republic of Texas was adopted on March 17, 1836.  As settlers migrated into the county, many made their homes along the Colorado and Tres Palacios Rivers. One such settler, Edwin A. Deming (1832- ), purchased 1,196 acres (Wade & Scott head rights) on April 25, 1853 from William Keller, for $4,000, which he borrowed from his relative Brazillae Deming of New York.  The Tres Palacios River flowed through this very property and was the future site of the historic Deming’s Bridge Community, where early settlers would eventually make their homes, build a church and cemetery as they forged a new life near the Texas coast.

Edwin A. Deming, a rancher by trade, was born in New York. His wife, Anna R. Deming (1837- ) was originally from Maryland.  As early as 1850, the land on the Tres Palacios River that was purchased by Deming was a natural meeting place for landowners who lived in the western part of the county. On July 4, 1852, the Tres Palacios Baptist Church was organized on the east side of the river. This was the location of many community activities.  Lack of a crossing from the western bank of the river to the eastern side was a problem. It was apparent that a bridge was needed for settlers to cross at this site that became known as “Deming’s” crossing. The Matagorda County Commissioners, Matthew Talbot, William Hillard, and H.J. Powell voted on February 19, 1857 to pay William A. Dawdy (1810 – 1887) $150 to construct a bridge over the Tres Palacios River at Deming’s Crossing for the citizens of the Deming’s Community. The new bridge was to be constructed of wood and was to accommodate foot traffic as well as horse and buggy passage. Frederick W. Robbins was paid $61 for freight and the hauling of timbers for the bridge.

Increasingly, Deming’s Bridge became the socio-political hub for the residents. Norman Savage deeded an acre of property adjoining the Tres Palacios Baptist Church property on August 17, 1854, to the church trustees, Daniel M. Wheeler, Horace Yeamans and Samuel Pilkington. This acre was used to create the Deming’s Bridge Cemetery. Sarah E. Moore, who died on June 16, 1855, was the first to be buried in the new cemetery.

In June 1858, a post office was created for the Deming’s community and Edwin A. Deming was named its first Postmaster. The Deming’s Post Office was deactivated on November 5, 1866. The post office was reinstated as the Deming’s Bridge Post Office in 1872, with Joseph A. McIntire as postmaster. Jonathan E. Pierce served as postmaster from 1876 to 1884, when Henry E. Moore was named postmaster. Moore was the last postmaster. The post office, serving the Deming’s Bridge Community, was closed on May 14, 1903 and moved to the new settlement of Blessing, two miles west.

A Masonic Hall was built on January 29, 1874, on property near Deming’s Bridge, but was later moved to the town of Blessing, where the new railroad caused a population shift.  In 1875, the Tres Palacios Baptist church was destroyed by a storm. While the congregation waited for a new church to be built, they gathered for services in the log cabin home near the original church site, with Brother N. Hill as orator.

The change in name from Deming’s Bridge Cemetery to Hawley Cemetery, was made by Jonathan Edwards Pierce (1839 – 1915), the brother of famed Texas cattleman, Abel Head “Shanghai” Pierce (1834 – 1900). Jonathan E. Pierce plated the town of Blessing after granting the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railroad the right-of-way for their rail lines and later the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad lines, making Blessing, a two railroad town. After deeding an acre and a half to the Deming’s Bridge Cemetery, Jonathan E. Pierce decided to change the name of the cemetery to Hawley Cemetery in honor of Texas Senator Robert B. Hawley (1849 – 1915), who had helped appoint his son Abel as a naval officer during the Spanish – American War. This name change caused quiet a stir from the community, but it prevailed. Hawley Cemetery hosts the graves of Jonathan E. Pierce and his brother Abel Head “Shanghai” Pierce.

After the post office was moved to Blessing, there was progressively less traffic over the old wooden Deming’s Bridge. Eventually the bridge was deemed unsafe and was removed about 1930. In Hawley Cemetery, the county has erected one of the massive tree-trunk beams from the original bridge. It is a reminder of early building practices and the lost community of Deming’s Bridge. Although the Deming’s Bridge Community is now a memory, the Hawley Cemetery is well maintained and visited often by historians and cemetery visitors. The Deming’s Bridge Community was instrumental in developing the western part of Matagorda County and was called home by many pioneering families.

Originally Researched by Kathleen Tatum (1921 – 1997).
Researched and Written by David Holubec - February 2006
 

 


Deming's Bridge Newspaper Columns
 


Deming's Bridge, Oct. 8, 1894

Madam Rumor has several weddings promised us between now and the holidays.

Miss Osie Moore has been quite ill for the past two weeks, but we are pleased to state is convalesing (sic).

R. C. Logan, who, on the 19th of September, accidentally cut his leg while chopping wood, is still unable to be about.

Mrs. T. E. Partain and son, James, will leave to-morrow for Houston , where James will attend school the coming term.

A large colony of Swedes are expected by Mr. John Pierce this week, from the northern states, who will all locate in Swedeland.

Bro. Partain was to preach yesterday but was prevented by the illness of Mrs. Partain. However, Sunday school was conducted as usual.

Cattle buyers are becoming quite numerous and prices range better than for several seasons past. Especially is this the case for spring delivery.

Sunday, for the first time, the new bell at the Union Church peeled forth the summons to worship. This does not seem a country settlement now, and we really feel like putting on city airs.

The west side desires to be connected by a mail line with the new county seat, it requiring a letter an entire week's time to reach Bay City . Why can't something be done in that line? Let's try.

In speaking of the pioneer settlers of Matagorda county, the BREEZE overlooked one of the oldest, in the person of Mr. J. B. Smith, who has called this county home for many, many years, coming here when quite a young man, while now his form is bent, his locks grey and his step slow. He has always been a model citizen, one whom all love to call neighbor.                                          "SAL."  

Bay City Breeze, October 11, 1894
 


DEMING'S BRIDGE DABBLINGS.
(Too late for last week.)

     T. E. Partain is making a shipment of cattle this week.

Mr. Roland Inglehart has accepted a position in Mr. Moore's store.

We are sorry to learn that Mrs. Ella Partain is confined to bed with slow fever.

Mrs. T. E. Partain has gone to Houston, where she will place her son Jimmie at school.

Charles Partain left Wednesday for Beeville, where he will spend the ensuing winter.

The cool nights and short erring days serve to remind us that "the melancholly days have come."

Mr. Clasper Bell has returned from the Territory, and is circulating among his Deming's Bridge friends.

The gin's shrill whistle is heard early and late, the cotton crop is fast being marketed and "everything is lovely and the goose hangs High."

MEMA.

Bay City Breeze, October 25, 1894
 


DEMING’S BRIDGE BUDGET

Farmers are busy plowing and preparing for the next crop

Sunday school will be held regularly at 2:30; hereafter—the weather permitting.

This post office now issues money orders, which is quite a convenience to the public.

Hugh Phillips, of Ashby, passed through, one day this week, en route to El Campo.

Rev. Powell and mother are keeping house in the cottage formerly occupied by Mr. Clark.

School re-opened Monday, after two weeks vacation, which was enjoyed to the utmost by the pupils.

Mr. Clark, who has been in the employ of J. E. Pierce, has moved to his home on the Carancahua.

J. P. Pierce came up from his home down by the “sad sea waves” to do some repairing on his father’s gin.

The Teachers’ Institute failed to materialize, much to our regret. We trust another effort will be made in that direction in the not far distant future.

Mrs. B. A. Yeamans and family and H. Yeamans, Jr., from Cash’s creek, and Mr. Fred Pybus and his mother and sisters, from Ashby, attended divine service at this place Sunday.

Rev. Cother preached on Sunday morning and in the afternoon to small congregations. We hope to see a better attendance on public worship, now that we can hope for better weather.

Demings Bridge is getting to be quite “citified.” Come over and see her nicely graded streets (?) which extend far out into the suburbs, her lordly mansions and cozy cottages, and see if we are not correct.

Idlewilde

The Matagorda County Tribune, January 14, 1899
 


DEMING'S BRIDGE BUDGET

By Idlewilde

The meeting begins Saturday. Let everybody attend.

Willie Keller came up, Friday, to see his grandmother, Mrs. McSparran.

Mrs. Fred Robbins and children were guests of Mr. Keller and wife, the past week.

Mr. Branch, of West Caranchua, came over on Saturday to patronize our blacksmith.

F. Cornelius and Mrs. George Duffy have returned from a visit to relatives in Jackson county.

Mrs. G. B. Garnett and children left, last week, for Goliad, where they will visit till winter.

Nolan Keller and W. D. Williams and family returned from El Campo, the last of this week.

We are pleased to note that Miss May Wheeler, who has been quite sick, is on the road to recovery.

Bro. Cother went to El Campo, Wednesday, and brought down his wife, who has been visiting in Austin and Salado for the last three months.

Hill and Hodges have begun syrup making. From 2 small wagon loads of sorghum they made 20 gallons of syrup, which they say was a good yield.

The public school closes, Friday, and Miss Katie Deck will leave for her home in Lavaca, Monday. Miss Katie has given satisfaction as a teacher, and besides will leave many warm friends at this place.

Died--on Friday, July 28th, the infant of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Gainer. Its remains were interred in the private burying grounds of its grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Thos. Kuykendall, on Sunday morning. May God comfort the bereaved ones!

The Matagorda County Tribune, January 28, 1899
 


DEMING’S BRIDGE BUDGET

J. J. Smith was up from Ashby Saturday.

We begin to sign for spring, gentle spring.

J. P. Pierce came up from his home on the bay last week.

Preaching and Sunday school were frozen up again Sunday.

H. E. Moore has returned from a business trip to Galveston.

We notice that the gin is still busy on Saturdays ginning and grinding.

Our young friend, Dee Powell, works in the blacksmith shop with his uncle.

Brother Powell, our preacher-blacksmith, gets all the work he can do, and is spoken of as a splendid workman. Bro. Powell also preaches, every fourth Sunday, on Cash’s Creek.

Idlewilde

The Matagorda County Tribune, February 18, 1899
 


DEMING'S BRIDGE BUDGET

By Idlewilde

Mr. Miller is hauling lumber for his residence.

The peach crop as was feared, has been almost entirely destroyed.

G. B. Culver, the genial county assessor, was doing the west side, last week.

Farmers are, at last, able to resume work in the fields, and corn planting is being pushed.

Quite an acreage of oats had been sown on Caranchua, Cash's Creek, and in other localities, all of which was killed during the late freeze.

Great is Col. Pierce, the weather prophet! As early as last fall he predicted a severe winter, and now he smiles and says, "I told you so."

The stockmen did not lose as heavily as they expected to and this, with the present propitious weather, is causing them to smile all over their faces.

Mrs. J. H. McCrosky, who has been in Cuero under the care of _______, passed through, last week, on her way home. Her sister, Miss Emma Kuykendall, will return later.

The Matagorda County Tribune, March 4, 1899
 


DEMING’S BRIDGE BUDGET

By Idlewilde

The Woodmen met again on Saturday.

T. E. Partain finished branding his calves last week.

Alex Moore went to El Campo, Monday, returning Tuesday.

Mrs. Thompson, of Goldthwaite, is visiting her sister, Mrs. J. E. Pierce.

Mrs. Downer and daughter, Miss Mary, attended church at this place on Sunday.

Dr. E. E. Scott was called to Cash’s Creek, Saturday, to a child of B. F. Hodges, who had sustained injuries from a fall out of the barn.

Mrs. T. E. Partain and Miss Anna Davidson attended the Sunday school picnic near Bay City, Tuesday, and from there went to Bay City to visit friends.

Bro. Callaway delivered a good sermon to a large congregation, Sunday at eleven, and then went on to Carancahua to fill his usual appointment there. He was accompanied by his daughter, Miss Linnie.

Deming’s Bridge Sunday school will have a picnic, the last of this month. The exact date will be announced later. Committees were appointed, last Sunday, and a program is being prepared. We hope to see all take an interest and help to make it a success.

The Matagorda County Tribune, May 13, 1899
 


DEMING'S BRIDGE BUDGET

BY IDLEWILDE

June 27th, 1899

Some of our citizens much regret the change of the name of our post office to Hawley. While we confess we are of that number, being somewhat attached to the old name, because of the days of auld lang syne, still we shall take the change philosophically, realizing that time changes all  things. After all, "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

The Matagorda County Tribune, July 8, 1899
 

 

Copyright 2006 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

This page was created
Jun 26, 2006
This page was updated
Apr. 13, 2009
 

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