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      Vol 1   Francitas, Jackson County , Texas , November 23, 1911   No. 51 


The Story of Francitas; Its Founding; Its Growth;

Its People, and Its Prospects



The Story of Francitas: Its Founding; It's Growth;
Its People, and Its Prospects

       When the final history of the gulf coast development is written the names of W. F. Schwind and John G. Maher will stand out very prominently in the story. In the founding of Francitas they have erected a monument to their industry and their ability which will endure for all time.

      In the world of modern colonization their work is recognized as an achievement unsurpassed. In such a short period of time that it seems incredible they have builded a thriving little city of 450 people, all happy and contented, and so fairly laid is the foundation that to picture the future of this city, as we see it, would cause our readers to doubt our conservatism.

      Messrs. Schwind and Maher not only founded Francitas, but since it has been turned over to the property owners, they have stood by it and have been first in development work and first in lending a helping hand when aid and encouragement were needed.

      There were many who believed that when the sale of town lots and farms constituting the original Francitas tract had been concluded these two men would move out to other fields and leave the people to work out their own salvation. But such has not been the case. Mr. Maher is now developing a 30 acre tract which he is having planted to orange, fig and pecan trees, and Mr. Schwind has broken out a considerable acreage just north of the city limits which he will plant trees. They have two blocks planted to orange trees and flowers and garden on the north side of the railroad track and are now preparing the ground to plant trees on both sides of the tracks clear through the city limits. It takes only an ordinary imagination to picture what this will mean to the city in the course of a few years. Passengers going through on trains will travel down a solid lane of orange and fig trees, cape jassamine and other beautiful trees and flowers.

      The fact that they refused to sell land along the railroad right of way indicates the good judgement of the two men. It means the first sight of Francitas will be pleasing to the stranger. There will never come a time when poor tumbled down shacks will make their appearance along the railroad as is so often the case in the ordinary country town.

      It will be pleasing to the friends of Messrs. Schwind and Maher, though no surprise, that their reputation for honesty and industry and square dealing in Nebraska has not suffered in Texas . They have lived up to their splendid Nebraska records and their names in Houston , San Antonio , and other Texas cities where they have had big financial dealings as well as in Francitas, is synonymous with square dealing.

      Mr. Schwind is a Missourian, having been born at Canton . He was graduated from the Central Wesleyan college in Warrensburg , Mo. , and from the law department of the Nebraska State University in 1891. That same year he entered the law office of Talbot and Bryan at Lincoln and in 1896 he became the secretary to Mr. Bryan and was with him, his intimate friend, during that memorable campaign. Mr. Schwind has always been most active in democratic politics and a friend and supporter of Mr. Bryan. He was married to Miss Lola E. Strother and they have two daughters, Misses Helen and Faith Schwind. These young girls attended Glen Eden in New York last year and are now students of the Nebraska State University .

      Mr. Schwind's father is a Methodist minister, now living in St. Louis , who for 53 years has followed his profession. In the early part of September he and his wife celebrated their golden wedding.

      Colonel Maher first saw the light of day in old Platte county, Neb. His father was one of the pioneers of that great state, stayed with it during the hard times, and like all pioneers who stayed with the game laid by a competency. His early education was acquired in a sod school house, his teacher being Hon. Charles H. Magoon who afterwards became a statesman of national reputation. Later he attended the Columbus high school and the Fremont Normal school . During the Indian war in the late eighties, Colonel Maher acted as war correspondent for several newspapers of the east, and in 1889 he opened the government land office at Chadron. He was elected and re-elected to the office of county clerk and register of deeds of Dawes county serving during the time Mayor Dahlman was sheriff of that county.

      Colonel Maher studied law and was admitted to the bar and began practice after retiring from the office of county clerk. He has served as court reporter for Judge Kincaid, now congressman, Judge Westover and Judge Harrington.

      Both Mr. Schwind and Colonel Maher have been prominent in democratic politics for years. Both have held positions in the state committee, and during Governor Shalleberger's administration Mr. Schwind declined an invitation to accept a lucrative position with the state. Both have been staunch followers and friends of Colonel Bryan. Just at this time Colonel Maher is receiving considerable notice by reason of his advocacy of the nomination of Governor Harmon. Both served during the Spanish-American war with a Nebraska regiment.



       It was voted at the opening of Francitas, December 10, 1910 that the day should forever be observed by a reunion of the property owners and a general celebration. The first observance of the founding of the town will be December 9-11 and a program of unusual interest has been prepared for the occasion. It is the hope of the pioneers that every non-resident property owner will be here and join in the festivities and a special invitation is extended to all the neighboring towns to come in a body.

      Among the speakers who have places on the program are: Ex-Governor Shallenberger, W. H. Thompson, Nebraska's "Little Giant;" James C. Dahlman, a Texan, now mayor of Omaha, Judge P. James Cosgraye, A. L. Bixby, Former Labor Commissioner W. M. Maupin, Colonel John G. Maher, Colonel W. F. Schwind and others of Nebraska; E. S. Stockwell of Alvin; R. H. Bushway of Algoa; a representative of the Alvin-Japanese Nursery; representative of the Chamber of Commerce, Houston; representative of the Galveston Commercial club; county officers and others. Special vocal music by Mrs. H. C. Richmond of Omaha and Miss Bonnell of Lincoln will be a delightful feature of the celebration. They are among Nebraska 's sweetest singers.

      The last day of the celebration, Tuesday, will be devoted to the big barbeque. There is nothing more enjoyable than a real barbecue and as the people here have had experience in that one, this last day will be a mighty enjoyable one. The program will be started at 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon and this period will be devoted exclusively to Texas speakers. It will be worth the while for every property owner to hear what these men of gulf coast experience have to say. One night will be set aside for Bixby and Maupin and their joint debate which has chased the blues away from so many Nebraska towns.


       It will be one year ago, come December 9, since the train load of people from the northwest landed in Francitas to build a town. There was here at the time the Nebraska Inn, the lumber yard, the canning factory building, a store building, five cottages and an artesian well. These were presented to the town by Messrs. Schwind and Maher and the proceeds of the sale of the buildings is being used for the construction of a school house and other improvements.

      It has been a year of experiences for all of us, and not unpleasant experiences. The town has watched the arrival of every new family and given its members a royal welcome, until now to keep an accurate record of our growing population is a task. George Papineau was early on the ground and looked after the construction of the company buildings. James Miller came with him. Both were preceded by Charles O. Hardy, who assisted S. L. Chalk in surveying the tract. He is our most worthy postmaster. G. J. Phelps came down from Lincoln as resident manager for the land company. For the men employed on the work Mrs. S. Ticha and Ed Long and his wife operated boarding houses, or rather tents. Charlie Comstock was here to do the painting and did it.

      To secure a post office required a long, hard struggle. While waiting for the postal authorities to act on the petition, mail for Francitas was delivered at Blessing and was carried over here by whoever happened along. The courtesy of George Walker, Blessing's postmaster, made his arrangement much more pleasant for our people. The depot was just as slow about being opened. It had been built a month before the agent was appointed. But we have an agent in W. L. Beatty worth waiting for and the depot is one of the prettiest on the Brownsville railroad. These waits however were merely little vicissitures and did not dampen the enthusiasm of the people who kept right along with their work.

      Colonel L. Ward, the original owner of the lands upon which this city is located, is one of the very prominent and very big men of Texas . He was born southwest of town where Henry C. Coates now lives. Though he counts his acres and his cattle by the many thousand, he earned them by the sweat of his brow. He is a self made man. His home is within a short distance of his birth place, overlooking Caranchua bay, one of the most picturesque places for a home in all this great state. The magnificent house of three stories, modern in every way, broad galleries, the great big yard, all, make this one of the show places of the gulf coast country. Colonel Ward raises fine cattle and hogs and does a general farming business. He never loses an opportunity to improve the standard of his stock. He is mighty interested in Francitas and takes great pride in its growth. Colonel Ward's family consists of his wife and their two sons, A. P. Ward vice president of the First State bank of Francitas and L. Ward, Jr., who has been attending school in San Antonio . Some of these days the people of Francitas, if they can get Mr. Ward's consent, intent to assist in sending him to Austin to represent this section. He would grace the legislative halls.

      Hon. G. J. Phelps is the real builder of Francitas. As the resident manager for Messrs. Schwind and Maher he has given his personal attention to the development of the town, the construction of roads, and streets and drainage ditches. He came here when the only building in the town was the section house. When the First State Bank was organized he was unanimously elected president, and his name at one inspired the utmost confidence in the institution. Mr. Phelps loves every foot of ground in this great district and his knowledge of the country has given him confidence in its future. In partnership with his son, Vernon Phelps, he is developing a 22 acre orange orchard. Mr. Phelps works for Francitas all the time. He has, by repeated appearances before the county commissioners' court, made it a mark of interest to our county dads. Having handled big business all his live, he has found the great work of building a town most congenial, though strenuous. His great, big, broad, mind, his face, his human sympathy, have combined to make him our natural leader and the position has been accorded him by unanimous consent. Mr. Phelps is a fine, substantial citizen. Mrs. Phelps is the president of the Lincoln Women's club, the largest in the United States . She just recently went to Lincoln from Francitas to look after the duties of her office.



       One of the chief factors in the development of the Francitas Farms is the Francitas Land and Development company, R. C. Young, president and general manager; John M. Young, treasurer, and Robert Young, secretary. This company had its tent pitched and was signing contracts to grow orange and fig orchards before the formal opening of the town. While the auction sale was in progress it purchased one of the best business lots in town, and day and night it has been busy.

      During the past eleven months the company has broken more than 600 acres of ground, planted many orchards to oranges and figs and has hundreds of lots under its contracts.

      When the company first started out it employed local men to do its plowing, but its increased business demanded greater equipment, and now the company mans its own mule teams and plows.

      Ralph C. Young, the general manager of the company, is all the time a booster, day and night, and he has urged development and hustled the business to such an extent that many who would simply have let their land lay idle and held it for investment have planted trees and are growing crops. He is one of the greatest enemies of the hook worm in all Texas . Possessed of remarkable energy and having an unlimited amount of confidence in Francitas, he is one of the town's most substantial citizens and best hustlers. At this time he is president of the local school board.

      Mr. Young is a surveyor of ability and has done much work in that line since moving here. Optomistic [sic] at all times he is the kind of men needed in a new country. His company has the confidence of the people here and those who entrust it with work will never regret it, for the company will deliver the goods.

      John M. Young is the field man of the company. He superintends the workmen and sees to it that every acre of ground that is broken is broken right and that every tree that is planted, is planted right. And he knows when things are right. He has full charge of the equipment and when he puts the outfit to work it works.

      Robert E. Young is traveling in Nebraska in the interest of the company and showing property owners the advantage of developing their tracts. He knows and he knows how to say it, that a tract of land undeveloped around Francitas will not bring its owner any revenue, while a tract planted to fruit trees will not only bring in an annual income, but can be sold at a price asked for it by the owner.

      It has been a good thing for Francitas that such a company does business here. The members of it invested much money in their equipment and their work and their advertising literature before they received one cent of returns, but no one even heard one pessimistic note from their headquarters. Their work shows for itself and when the crowds get here December 9th, among them will be many who have contracted with this company for trees, and they will discover their faith has been vindicated. To the Francitas Land Improvement company Francitas is the "Capital of the World."

Volume 1  #52  November 30, 1911

Visits Old Home

After Absence of More than Quarter Century Miss Ella Labouve Returns.

Her voice choked with emotion occasioned by the awakening of slumbering memories as she gazed upon the delapidated building which was her home, in the edge of the timber which skirts the Caranchua a mile and a half south of town, Miss Ella Labouve of Houston told her story of the early days of the Francitas country, during a recent visit here.

"I have never been back to the old home since I left it so many, many years ago that I can scarcely remember the time," said Miss Labouve, "but I have always wanted to visit it again, and if possible to own it. So overpowering became the desire to again stand in the old yard where our family had enjoyed life, that I could not resist the temptation longer. So here I am."  

Miss Labouve was the daughter of Captain Victor Labouve of Louisiana , who moved to the Francitas country in the early days just preceding the war. The family first lived for a short time at Texana, then the county seat, and a flourishing little city. From there they moved to the Jordan place west of town where Miss Labouve was born. The next move was to a log cabin built in the timber on the Caranchua south of town. The house which stands there now, examined by all visitors to Francitas, was the home of the Labouve family, taking the place of the log cabin. Its gallery is rotted and one end has fallen down, and its broken windows are nailed up with boards and the yard which surrounds it has no resemblance to the home of a thrifty family. Yet as Miss Labouve talked of the old days of the assembling of far away neighbors for their parties, and as she pointed out, here was where the big rose bush grew, and there the lilac bushes, and here was a fig tree, and there the big flower bed, one could in his mind's eye see a beautiful home full of joy and sunshine.

"When we lived on the Caranchua," said Miss Labouve, "there was only one road in the state, and that ran into Houston . Our nearest town was Texana, which was the county seat, and down the river our big town was Indianola, destroyed by a storm I believe in the early seventies.  

"My parents came by boat from Morgan City , Louisiana to Texas , and they brought with them fifteen slaves who lived with us for some years after the war. Father put his slaves to work cutting timber, and this he hauled down the river in boats to Indianola where it was sold. He raised corn and cotton and vegetables and I have never seen better sweet and Irish potatoes than those we raised down on the Caranchua. I remember once when we went over to the Branch home and got a wagon load of sweet potatoes and I would hate to say how big they were. We also had a fine peach orchard and raised delicious peaches. Just before the war closed father traded two slaves for some cattle and that gave us quite a start at the close of the war."

"We had no schools here then of course and the children of our family were taught by a teacher who stayed at the house with us."  

"In those days the cow boys use to come to see my sisters and all of them wore big spurs and pistols. Father always took their pistols at the door and placed them in his room and kept them until the boys left. At Christmas time we used to do alot of visiting, and there would be parties at practically all of the homes in the county. Among the homes here in those days that I recall were the Chivers, Roland Duprey, the Billips, the Branch place, the Ward place, the mother of L. and Leander Ward--now occupied by Henry C. Coates, the Mitchells and Pierces and others. Roland Duprey lived below Red Bluff and I believe now lives in Austin . Leander Ward built a home at what you all call your park down on the river south of town."

"At these homes the latchstring always hung on the outside and all were given royal welcomes."

"In our family there were eleven children and all of us grew to be men and women in the little home down on the river. Two brothers died there, one of measles and one of an absess, they with my father are buried in the little cemetery there in the woods. One of my sisters married Mr. John Logan, now of Blessing. Our nearest doctor was six miles away, Dr. Pilkington, if I remember his name correctly."  

"My father raised a company to fight in the war of Texas and Mexico , and on the night he was to leave for the front the people in our home town in Louisiana gave him a farewell banquet and during that banquet word came that peace had been declared. When my father reached Texas he gave his sword which had been presented to him [by] Colonel Owen, who was killed in battle during the Civil War with the sword on his body. His descendents still have the sword."

"At the death of my father my mother kept the place running for some time, but as my brothers preferred raising cattle to farming we decided to sell out. The place is now owned by Dr. Brooking, he having bought it from the man to whom mother sold."

"Mother bought from Abel Pierce the lumber of which our house was built. The lumber was shipped from Florida . Mr. Pierce was one of our best friends and looked after the erection of our house."  

"When I hear of women coming to a new town like Francitas and getting home sick, I wonder what they would do if they had to go through the pioneer days of my mother. She was young when she moved here and had not been reared to work. I never recall hearing a complaint from her. She was always cheerful and kept our home full of sunshine all the time. And your Francitas is one of the most healthful places in the world."

"There was never any sickness in our home, except when my brother had measles and another brother had an absess, caused by a bruise."

"I wish that I was in a position to do something for Francitas. I love the town and I want to see it prosper. It is very gratifying to me to see what a beautiful place it is and to hear of the plans for its future."

Among Miss Labouve's close relatives still living are Mrs. A. K. McDonald, Mrs. F. Sparks, Mrs. L. Keiser, sisters, and Valcourt Labouve, a brother of Houston, Mrs. Killingsworth of Ganado; Mrs. E. M. Yeamans of College Port, sisters; Henry Labouve of Austin, and a brother in New Orleans and a brother in Edna.  

C. T. Joines of LaWard was a Francitas visitor Tuesday having spent the day with his son, George Joines.


On December third Evangelist W. A. Boggess will be here to preach for the people, and will continue the services over Francitas Day, December tenth.

Mr. and Mrs. Richa celebrated their silver wedding anniversary Tuesday night. The reception was held from eight o'clock until eleven, and a large crown of their friends called and paid their respects. Music was furnished by W. C. Street and wife and N. Landrigan, and all enjoyed the evening. Light refreshments were served.

The ladies will serve oyster on Thanksgiving evening at the home of Mrs. Baer, from five o'clock all during the evening, and at eight o'clock there will be a short program given by the little folks. The public is cordially invited. The proceeds of the evening will go to buy stoves for the new church.

Photo of Eleanor Josephine Elina LaBauve courtesy of Louis Keizer


Copyright 2004 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
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Jan. 10, 2005
Jul. 28, 2007