Markham - Fisher Hotel
Markham, Texas

Currently owned and being restored by A. E. & Beverly Richards.
 



 




This painting of Markham Hotel was taken from a 1913
postcard. The painting now hangs in the living room
of the hotel. Picture courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Richards.

 

 


Current Pictures Taken in August 2006 & January 2008
 




East side entrance
Originally, a balcony was on the east and south side.
One of the two large windows above the front door opened
onto the balcony.

 




South side porch
The balconies were destroyed in a hurricane in the 1940s.
Mrs. Fisher had this porch added and the two windows
framed by the porch were the windows of her room.

 




South side porch
 




Northwest corner
The original kitchen was housed in the one-story portion
at the back of the hotel.

 




Stairway in the front hall sanded and awaiting varnish.
 



The glass doors to Mrs. Fisher's room  are mentioned in the article below.
 


 

 
The Markham - Fisher Hotel


In 1903 the Moore-Cortes Canal Company contracted to have a hotel built to lodge the boom town's important business visitors. Cypress lumber for the construction of the hotel was brought from Louisiana by barge across the Gulf of Mexico and up the Colorado River to the boat landing at Cortes. It was then hauled by oxen across the prairie to the center of the new townsite where the two-story structure was erected. Mrs. Steve Perry, Sr., became the manager.

 

In 1905 a banker and unmarried businessman from Illinois named William Alard Furber bought the hotel as an investment. His widowed sister, Caroline B. Fisher, came down from Illinois with her daughter to run the hotel. Soon afterwards her daughter died of diabetes, the same ailment which had claimed the life of Caroline's husband earlier.

 

Caroline Fisher had a knack for entertaining. A story has it that she kept a red carpet in the hotel to be rolled out to the street to welcome prominent guests during the rice and oil boom days. Katayama, a well-educated and wealthy Japanese citizen sent to Markham to learn progressive rice farming, was reported to have been the hotel's most distinguished guest. Mrs. Fisher's grace and charm as a hostess became so well known that the "Markham Hotel" became known as the "Fisher Hotel." In the 1930s, teachers from the Markham and Blessing schools occupied many of the rooms. The teachers needed cooking facilities of their own so Mrs. Fisher remodeled the hotel into apartments. Caroline Fisher was their consultant, confidant and friend. Teacher gatherings, Christmas parties for the town, summer picnics, church socials and fund-raising events for the schools were common beneath the pecan, cottonwood and magnolia trees at the Fisher Hotel.

 

Furber died in 1935, after having lost his fortune in the stock market crash during the depression. The hotel was closed for many years and was thereafter used as a residence. Furber Switch, a railroad siding with cattle loading pens west of Markham, was named after William Furber.

 

Taken from the "Markham" article written by Stella McElrath, Marianne Hayes and Joel Hayes, Historic Matagorda County, Volume I

 

Note: Pictures were taken in August 2006 at which time the "hotel" was not in use.
 




Taken in the yard of the Fisher Hotel
Leone Yerxa, unknown, unknown, Mrs. Fisher, Mr. Furber, unknown, Lucy Yerxa
Photo courtesy of Shirley L. Brown

Additional Fisher Photos
 


Early Lore Lives At Stately Fisher Hotel

By Bob Redding
 

Loves were lost and gained. Old friends have been remembered there. Hurricane winds blew away the veranda in the 30's and the roof in 1961. Sacred wedding vows were promised. A child died. A fortune was lost. Vandals scavenged its walls.

 

And a widow's warm heart has been eulogized in the 73 years that the old Fisher-Markham Hotel has established its stately presence in Markham, Texas.

 

It all began in 1903 when the Moore Cortes Canal Company contracted to have a hotel built to lodge the boom town's important business visitors.

 

Then in 1905, William A. Furber, a banker and unmarried businessman from Illinois, bought the hotel as an investment property.

 

Soon thereafter, Furber's sister, Mrs. Caroline B. Fisher, moved from Illinois with her young daughter to manage the hotel.

 

The young widow, who had lost her doctor-husband to diabetes before their daughter had been born, was soon to experience the same tragedy.

 

It came rather slowly and unknowingly as the pangs of dysentery overcame her little girl during a course of several months. The nature of the illness and the responsibilities of the hotel allowed much of the time to elapse before Caroline Fisher realized her daughter was becoming very ill.

 

Water came from a cistern in those days and had to be boiled thoroughly before being safe for drinking, was believed to be the cause of the child's death.

 

It has been said that a suitor came into the life of the still young widow, who must have captured the eye of many a young Markham man with her immaculately kept household and well-educated austere.

 

The marriage she may have considered never came about, some say, because of the possessive influence of her brother.

 

Before Furber's death in 1935 he is said to have lost a fortune in a cotton panic, when the bottom fell out of the market during the depression.

 

It can be safely said, then, the early years in Markham were scarred by considerable frustrations for Mrs. Fisher despite the tragedy she thought she was leaving behind in Illinois.

 

But to know her in those days, according to recollections of the years, was to remember her knack for entertainment and her penchant for showing southern hospitality to all her guests.

 

A story has it that she kept a red carpet in the hotel to be actually rolled out to the street to welcome prominent guests during the oil and rice boom days of Markham.

 

One of the guests was said to be a well-educated and wealthy citizen of Japan, sent by his country to run a 600 acre rice farm near town.


A camp was built on the farm for the foreign workers, while during the six-year stay, the prominent oriental was reported to have been Markham Hotel's most distinguished guest.

 

Mrs. Fisher's graciousness and charm as a hostess became so well known, the "Markham Hotel" lost its identity to "Fisher Hotel."

 

Mrs. Fisher could be quite elaborate when it came to the comfort of her guests. She had a library which included many first edition copies contained in big glass bookcases out in the wide hallway of the hotel, which extended from one end of the building to the other.

 

Mrs. Fisher, it is said, was always more interested in geniality than in matters of moneymaking.

 

A man who lived in the town then, said the hotel remained solvent during the Clemville oil boom period at a time when some of the other businesses in town faltered because of train schedules.

 

He explained that businessmen in those days had the habit of coming to town in the morning for a day's business and leaving on the afternoon line back home.

 

But that was a time for keen competition for railroad service, and tiny Markham had two trains that traveled in the same direction one day and back the next.

 

Therefore, the hotel became a second home for men who had business in Markham week after week.

 

Some of the railroad men, cowboys and rice farmers must have been taken aback when they entered the clean and proper quarters at Markham Hotel, although none of the men were known to offend Mrs. Fisher or her ways.

 

While there were as many as 11 drinking establishments in Markham during the height of open salooning, Mrs. Fisher was adamant in her views on intoxicating beverages.

 

She never allowed drinking in her house.

 

When a guest tried to slip a bottle past the wary hotelkeeper, her subtle wrath became known to all.

 

A favorite story told about Mrs. Fisher by a neighbor in much later years bears witness to her similar feelings about coarse language.

 

It seems a hired boy to care for the yard was swearing at a mower because it would not start.

 

Within a few moments, as the story goes, Markham's matriarch swept out of the house in a determined flurry to inform the young servant that there had never been any swearing at Fisher Hotel, and if he chose to continue he could just take the mower off the property.

 

Through the years, Caroline Fisher was always known for her jolly nature. She liked seeing folks have a good time. Tender moments are recalled by the many people who had associations with Fisher Hotel.

 

In the 30's, teachers from Markham and Blessing schools occupied many of the rooms.

 

Mrs. Fisher became endeared to many of the young teachers who rented there. She was their consultant, confidant and friend. On numerous occasions she was hostess to bridal showers when one decided to forego the teaching career for one of matrimony.

 

Teacher gatherings, Christmas parties for the town, summer picnics, church socials and money raising events for the schools were common events beneath the pecan, cottonwood and magnolia trees at Fisher Hotel.

 

Afternoon teas, resplendent with lovely silver and china, became the talk of the town for young brides of the era, who received parties from Mrs. Fisher and her friends.

 

The teachers needed cooking facilities of their own, so the hotel was remodeled into apartments by the accommodating Mrs. Fisher.

 

Caroline Fisher lived in the old hotel through tragedy and triumph as it became Markham's dominant building and landmark. In 1960, a series of heart attacks made keeping up the place herself difficult so Mrs. Fisher was cared for in Bay City by Kathleen Burke, who had been like a daughter to Mrs. Fisher over the years.

 

When Hurricane Carla swept away the old hotel's roof in 1961 and damaged much of the interior, it was repaired and redecorated for Mrs. Fisher in case she would be able to return.

 

But her apartment on the south side of the hotel, with its familiar glass doors kept shut, was vacant until Caroline Fisher died at the age of 87 on October 18, 1963.

 

Since then the hotel experienced a rather sad decline.

 

The stately old hotel, once considered the most beautiful home in Markham, became the home of cats, squirrels, bats and owls. It is said the noises of these predators and vandals alike, kept some of the neighbors awake at night.

 

Black magic caught the imagination of many children in the town who claimed the house was haunted.

 

By the time the old hotel was bought by the A. E. Richards family for a restoration project and home in October 1975, the lawn that was once the strolling place of young ladies was in weeds.

 

The Daily Tribune, July 2, 1976, Section 2 page 6

 


William Allard Furber

By Emma Lewis Carleton

In the death of William Allard Furber at Markham, Texas, on Thursday, July 25, 1935, Matagorda county lost from its citizenship an outstanding figure--a man long identified with the business, political and social life of the county and particularly in the rice industry of the Gulf Coast section of Texas.

Bill Furber, as he was familiarly known to the pioneer families of the county, was born November 20, 1871, in Carlinville, McCoupin County, Illinois, and spent his early life there. His father, James K. Furber, was a central figure in banking circles of that section for over fifty years, being a large stockholder in the banking house of C. H. C. Anderson & Company at Carlinville and later directed its activities as president.

After receiving his early education in the Carlinville schools, Mr. Fuber matriculated at the University of Illinois at Champaign, finishing there; however, throughout his life, he was a keen student and there was, perhaps, no man in Matagorda county more widely read or better informed on local, state, national and world affairs than he.

Mr. Furber came to Texas in 1902, located at Corsicana, being associated there with a large insurance company, where he remained until 1904. In 1904 he came to Markham as bookkeeper for the old Moore-Cortes Canal Company, whose operations covered 16,000 acres of land, and large activities in the rice industry. He subsequently acquired a large block of stock in this concern and in 1905 became its manager. In this capacity he extended his business connections throughout the rice belt of Texas and Louisiana and was a prominent figure in this field. His interests ramified to large land holdings, warehousing, banking, rice milling and kindred industries, during which time he acquired the controlling stock in the Markham State Bank, the Markham Warehouse and the Bay City rice mill. He was president of the Markham Bank at one time and from 1925 to 1928 was president and general manager of the Bay City rice mill.

Throughout his life as a substantial business and social figure in the life of the Lower Colorado river valley, Will Furber built lasting friendships among a large circle of men and women who knew him and appreciated his sterling qualities--qualities of sincerity, highest integrity of character, ability, loyalty, to friends, and conscientious citizenship.

Funeral services were held at the family residence in Markham on Friday afternoon last, with interment in Cedarville [Cedarvale] cemetery at Bay City, where he was laid to rest among friends and the scenes he loved so well.

Surviving Mr. Furber is his sister Mrs. Caroline B. Fisher of Markham, to whom the sympathy of a large circle of friends over the county is extended.

Matagorda County Tribune or Daily Tribune, August 8, 1935
 



Cedarvale Cemetery, Bay City, Texas
 


Mrs. Fisher Passes Away

Mrs. Caroline B. Fisher, 87, of Bay City passed away Friday night, after a heart attack in the early morning hours.

Mrs. Fisher was born January 8, 1876, in Carlinville, Ill., and came to Markham with her brother and little daughter in 1903. She moved to Bay City in 1957 and lived at 2316 Avenue F. The church and its work were her chief interests in life.

Services, under the direction of the Bay City Funeral Home, were held from the First Methodist Church at 3 Sunday, with burial in Cedarvale Cemetery.

Her closest friends were Mr. and Mrs. George R. Burke of Bay City and their children, Mrs. Robert L. Wright of Bay City and George R. Burke, Jr. of Eagle Lake.

Pallbearers were Herschel Orr, Pat Thompson, L. B. Luder, W. J. Luder, Guy Townsend, and Clyde Estlinbaum. Honorary pallbearers were Harold Barber of Markham, J. C. Lewis, Jack Walker, Sims Doughtie, George Yeager, Dr. Mark Poole, Dr. Charles Shoultz, and Dr. Lane Barbour of Bay City.

The Daily Tribune, October 21, 1963
 

 


Hotel Residents - April 15, 1910
1910 Federal Census - Markham, Texas
 

NAME

AGE BIRTHPLACE RELATION TO
HEAD OF
HOUSEHOLD

OCCUPATION

Caroline B. Fisher

30 Illinois Head

Hotel Keeper

William A. Furber

36 Illinois Brother

Irrigation Plant Manager

George B. Berg

28 Tennessee Boarder

Banker - State Bank

Thomas A. Walker

29 Texas Boarder

Hardware Merchant

Mamie Walker

30 Texas Boarder

None

D. James Byars

62 Tennessee Boarder

Physician-General Practice

Jim Gordon

20 Texas Hired Man

Hotel Porter

 


Hotel Residents - January 1, 1920
1920 Federal Census - Markham, Texas
 

NAME

AGE BIRTHPLACE RELATION TO
HEAD OF
HOUSEHOLD

OCCUPATION

W. A. Furber

48 Illinois Head

Banker

Mrs. C. B. Fisher

43 Illinois Sister

Housekeeper for brother

 


Hotel Residents - April 1, 1930
1930 Federal Census - Markham, Texas
 

NAME

AGE BIRTHPLACE RELATION TO
HEAD OF
HOUSEHOLD

OCCUPATION

William A. Furber

57 Illinois Head

Real Estate Agent

Carrie B. Fisher

54 Illinois Sister

None

Will L. Swindler

41 Arkansas Roomer

General Farm Manager


 

Copyright 2006 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Created
Sep. 19, 2006
Updated
Mar. 22, 2012
   

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