B. W. Trull
Midfield was so named because it was in the midst of open fields practically equal distance from Ganado to the west, El Campo to the north, Bay City to the east, and Palacios to the south. The townsite was laid out and subdivided by Curley C. Duson, Sr., of El Campo in 1903. Duson was one of the promoters of the Southern Pacific Railway from Wharton to Palacios; the train made its first run July I, 1903. For many years the postal department called the town "Midfields," but they were finally persuaded to drop the plural and call it "Midfield" to agree with the original name and the name used by the railroad company. The main public road from Bay City to Palacios was through Midfield and was an all dirt road for many years.
The first hotel was built and owned by Duson and opened for business in 1903. It was managed by Ben Kuykendall and his sister, "Miss Emma," both oldtime residents of the Tres Palacios community. Other hotels were operated by Mr. and Mrs. W. K. Keller, Mrs. Lizzie Reeves, Mr. and Mrs. Nutt, and later by Mr. and Mrs. T. H. Skinner. The Keller Hotel was torn down and the material used to build the residence where Mr. and Mrs. Keller lived on State Highway 111 in Midfield.
The first general merchandise store was opened in 1903 by Bard and Shannon of Ganado. Living quarters were above the store which was in a two-story building situated on the west side of Juanita Avenue, the main street. They also built a large hay barn, as buying and shipping prairie hay was a profitable industry.
Nolan Keller and his son N. F. (Pete) Keller built a store, which opened for business in 1904, and had living quarters above the store. N. F. Keller was the first postmaster and the post office was in his store. The post office was a welcome service, since, prior to that time, mail had been taken by horse and buggy from EI Campo to the Hawley post office where residents from this area received their mail. Other postmasters serving Midfield were: Ernest Anderson; Elva Wyona (Dee) Cornelius, postmaster in charge; Alice Keller; Nancy E. Cornelius; Mattie N. Hurta, who retired in 1983; and the present postmaster, Collene Vavra.
About 1904 Grant Lumber Company opened a lumber yard. There was a two-story W. O. W. building on the west side of Juanita Avenue. Among the first homes built were ones for D. E. Mead, manager for Grant Lumber Company, and J. L. Blair, a carpenter. Both of these homes have been remodeled and are still in Midfield--one a rent house owned by Mrs. Fred Cornelius and the other owned by Martha Richardson.
Malcolm Owen, born in 1904 to Mr. and Mrs. George W. Owen, was the first child born in Midfield. Duson gave the Owen family a lot on which to build a home.
The school term of 1908-09 was in a one-room building in the country about one and one-half miles east of Midfield. The first school in the town of Midfield was during the term of 1909-10. Both terms were taught by Knox M. Aikin. The seats were homemade, and the students sat two at each desk.
A nice two-room schoolhouse was erected in 1911, and the teachers that year were Rosina Montier and Bertha Harris, both of Bay City. The building was later enlarged to four classrooms with an auditorium on the second floor. This school building was destroyed by fire in 1929, and another building was erected in 1930. It is no longer used.
Two brick buildings were erected on the east side of Juanita Avenue in 1911. One was a store building operated as a general merchandise by Coffee and Son. Later the store and building were purchased by F. Cornelius, Sr., who continued the operation under the management of Fred Cornelius and Nina Hoffhines. Other persons who operated a store in this building were Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Clapp, R. E. Coffin, and H. T. Anderson. The building has since been torn down.
The other brick building housed the Midfield State Bank which operated from 1911 to 1915 with W. B. Gaumer, president; J. R. Green, vice-president: and B. W. Trull, cashier. From 1915 until 1948, B. W. Trull maintained his office in this building and a feed and hardware store in an adjoining building. He also had a service station which was hand-operated. Trull hired a crew which cut and baled prairie hay, shipping many carloads by rail each year. James S. Williams was foreman for hay making and later was manager of rice farming and the Farmers Canal Company irrigation system. Beginning in 1918, Violet M. Brhlik was secretary and bookkeeper for B. W. Trull. E. C. Hoffhines and C. W. Nester were managers of the feed and hardware store at different times. This brick building housed the post office until recently when a new post office building was erected, and the old building torn down.
There was another grocery store operated by Frank Dunn, and a blacksmith shop operated by B. Lemcke. William Mullens operated a garage and filling station. F. J . Trojcak and J. W. Bures had a grocery store on Juanita Avenue, but later built and operated a grocery store and filling station at the junction of State Highways 71 and Ill, which is now Bill's Grocery. Trojcak also bought cotton. Mr. and Mrs. William Malcik owned and operated a store on this site for several years before it was acquired by W. E. Richardson.
There were four Fortenberry brothers- James, Forest, Idle, and Henry- and their sister Annie (Mrs. Guy) Brinkley, who lived in Midfield. Jim Fortenberry had mules and fresnos with which he built roads and did other dirt-moving work in early years. He also had a crew which cut and baled prairie hay, shipping it to market by rail. Jim also engaged in cattle raising.
Fred and Dee Cornelius were truly a ranching couple, devoted to that industry. In addition to being a rancher's wife, Dee spent much time working in organizations for the improvement and preservation of health and family life and in community development.
Stock pens for use in loading cattle in railroad cars were serviced by a side track in the southwest area of the Midfield townsite.
In 1917 J. B. Bures and his wife, Theresa, with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Brhlik and family, Frank, Emelie, and Augusta, moved to Midfield from Colorado County. A few years later, B. W. Trull and J. B. Bures sold farms to a number of families in this area and dry crop farming became a more active industry. This provided a need for another industry. Koerth Gin Company built and operated a cotton gin with M. A. Hanys as first manager.
There was a Methodist congregation which had services in the Hawley Church, previously called Deming's Bridge Church. Mr. and Mrs. W. K. Keller and George Duffy were members of the Hawley Methodist Church who transferred to the Midfield Methodist Church. They with other residents in the Midfield area organized and had services in the dining room of the hotel owned by Mr. and Mrs. W. K. Keller. These members donated $200 and had ice cream suppers when Burton D. Hurd brought train loads of homeseekers to Midfield. They had other fundraising events, amassing over $1,200, so the church building and furnishings were completed in 1907. F. Cornelius, Sr., donated a bell for the church.
The first minister to serve was the Reverend N. W. Carter who came from Palacios and preached once each month. Students from the Baptist College in Palacios held services once a month. A parsonage was built in Midfield for the minister and his family. He drove to Markham and Francitas for services, until a parsonage was furnished in Markham. The church building is still in use as a community church with services now being held by a minister of the Czech Brethren Church.
Nolan Keller was the first county commissioner west of the Colorado River. Several commissioners have served Precinct #4,living in Markham and Blessing. Sam Hale was commissioner of Precinct #4; he and his family lived in Midfield. A. W. Hurta presently is commissioner for Precinct #4, and he and his wife Mattie N. "Totsy," live in Midfield.
There were many young men from the Midfield community in service during both World Wars, also in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. They served our country well; some were prisoners of war, wounded, or killed in action.
Electric service was brought to Midfield about 1926, and natural gas in 1930. Each home had its own water well, some were equipped with a windmill or an electric motor and tank until 1982, when a public water system was installed.
In the early 1950's, some oil wells were drilled in the town of Midfield which showed production but all have since ceased producing.
A great improvement came for the area when State Highways 71 and 111 were built, both of which are adjacent to or in the Midfield townsite. More recentlythe streets and roads in the Midfield area have been improved and hard surfaced under the capable management of Commissioner A. W. Hurta.
In 1979 W. E. "Bill" Richardson built and began operating Bill's Steak House, which is one of the favorite restaurants for miles around.
In addition to the post office building, Midfield has a new community center building and a new fire house. A washateria is under construction. A grant has been approved for a sewer line and distribution system. Several new residences have been built in Midfield and many mobile homes moved into town. A number of the residents are descendants of the early citizens of Midfield who have remained or returned to make their homes here.
There were many families not mentioned in this story who contributed to the day-to-day events in Midfield and the surrounding area.. Many were teachers, school trustees, ministers, church workers, or were in other occupations which contributed to the livelihood and improvement of the community. Some, but not all, of these families are listed below: Anderson, Armstrong, Barnett, Buchanan, Brown, Brdecko, Barclay, Beyer, Bohuslav, Bosak, Benold, Bullard, Carrio, Caspar, Calloway, Cox, Curry, Cessor, Deffenbaugh, Darnell, Dabelgott, Dornak, Dees, Evans, Flournoy, Fabrygel, Fink, Fagen, Garner, Garnett, Gunter, Graham, Goodenough, Gainer, Green, Hammond, Herman, Hackworth, Hickey, Haver, Harbison, Hagler, Ilbery, Jordan, Jaksch", Jones, Kopecky, Krebs, Kretschmar, Krueger, Knebel, Krenek, Kana, Kuhn, Lund, Malcik, McSparren, Melbourn, Magee, Morris, Merta, Midgett, Mellen, Martin, Macha, Mitchell, Nygard, Nemec, Norris, Neuman, O'Neal, Price, Patillo, Potts, Peteet, Peters, Prunty, Roden, Roberts, Rooth, Raleigh, Rickaway, Sedlacek, Speeds, Schley, Simpson, Stewart, Shindler, Smith, Schoelman, Singleton, Spires, Schroeder, Stephens, Talafus, Tobola, Troutman, Vacek, Woodson, Wilson, Wratislaw, Wolf, Warn, Wilkerson, Wheeler, Yates, and Zapalac.
The early history of Midfield was recorded in a newspaper story written by Mrs. W. K. (Alice Jordan) Keller in 1947, and saved by Grace Hale. Mrs. Keller was a native of the area and had personal knowledge of the facts in her story. Mrs. A. W. Hurta also furnished information she obtained from conversations with Mrs. Keller, R. E. Coffin, and J. E. Fitzgerald. This story is compiled from the above sources and the personal knowledge of Violet M. Brhlik.
Historic Matagorda County,
Volume I, 363-366,
Copyright 2005 -
Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
Feb. 8, 2005
Aug. 23, 2006