106-Year-Old Split Rail
Fence Being Moved to Corsicana
Kerens Tribune Friday, April 1, 1960
In 1900 Uncle Jim Persons, while driving
through the countryside with Mrs. B. P. Hemphill, had her stop to survey the beautiful
scenes surrounding them and reminisced that the two pear trees in the foreground had been
bearing their fruit for over sixty years. These scenes now surround the modernistic home
of Mr. and Mrs. Will Sidney Price. The pear trees still bear their fruits, but the split
rail fence of oat and cedar, which was erected by Phillips slaves in 1854 has been donated
to the Navarro County Historical Society and will be used around the log cabin in the
The ancient pear trees and the post oak
on a nearby knoll which is believed to be one of the oldest in Texas, stand as silent
sentinels over land rich in the heritage of the community's forefathers.
The old stagecoach road can still be
detected, snaking through the rich countryside, having once been the main thoroughfare
from Palestine to Waco. Earhart Ferry was the main Trinity River crossing in those days
and weary travelers often stopped at the wayside station of Rural Shade and Old
to "freshen up: a bit before the stage attempted the wooded road between Wadeville
Not too far from the old rail fence one
may view the famous twin trees, dubbed the ";goal post" trees. Some believe that
a cross marked on one of them directs you to $50,000 worth of gold, buried in a sand
knoll. Mr. Price, upon whose land these odd twins stand, hastens to assure one and all
that he has already checked this theory out thoroughly but is neither wiser nor richer for
The Phillips slave quarters are purported
to have been near "The Twins." When the land was purchased by Uncle Jim, a
thriving dairy was operated there, and Uncle Jim and his boys took their milk to
where they received a nice profit for their efforts. Uncle Jim's dairy was noted for its
cleanliness and the barn was set up in separate stalls; however, no automatic milkers.
Uncle Jim and his boys attended to that!
When Daniel-Price and Co. purchased this
land from Uncle Jim, the only stipulation made between Mr. Persons and Mr. Price was that
the old split rail fence remain. Today a portion of it surrounds Mr. and Mrs. Price's home
and this week the last of the original fence is being taken down to be preserved for
future generations to enjoy.
Note by Barbara Knox:
"Uncle Jim Persons" and his
twin sister, Mary, were the youngest children of of James Turner Persons and his wife
Catharine Hodge who moved to Navarro County when the twins were barely six months old.
After James Persons married Henrietta
Sawyer in 1882 they continued to live on the old home place on Rush Creek. . He did indeed
have a dairy and many are the family stories about Don, the horse which provided
transportation to Corsicana to sell his dairy products. In 1900, wanting better
educational opportunities for his children, he reluctantly sold the only home he had ever
known, and moved to Hico in Hamilton County.. In a letter to his cousin, "Dink"
Hodge, in Chatfield he wrote that the hardest thing he ever had to do was to leave the old
Rush Creek home.
Today, there is only one living
descendant in this Persons line. Robert Persons, of New York City, a son of Robert Hodge Persons, and grandson of "Uncle Jim."
Village attracts visitors to Corsicana
Corsicana Daily Sun - July 2000
By BARBARA FORMAN/DAILY SUN STAFF
The past of Navarro County comes into focus in a true-to-life fashion at
Pioneer Village in Corsicana.
The Navarro County Historical Society
(NCHS) is keeping thousands of
people informed of their heritage.
From the sign-in book it is not only local residents or even just other
Texans who are taking a huge interest in Pioneer Village, it is also people from
all over the United States and from around the world that are coming to visit.
The roll shows people from several other states coming to visit. Just
within the last few days people from Kansas made a tour.
Others that are showing have come from around the world to visit the
historical museum in Corsicana. Some of the intriguing foreign places people
have visited from include China, France, British Columbia, Holland, Scotland,
Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada and the list goes
In 1999 alone 989 people to visited from other states and countries. This
year has already succeeded that number with 1500 from various groups and 303
individuals taking self-conducted tours.
Guided group tours are given on a daily basis. It has become a regular
happening for special groups to have chartered buses bring them to see artifacts
from the Indian trading era, early Texas frontier and the Civil
War. There are
even tour companies that list the museum in Pioneer Village as part of their
Although many visitors are coming from great distances, Pioneer Village
also works with Heritage Tours which was especially designed as an on going
educational program in 1972 for school children. The program was started by
Wyvonne Putman, former NCHS executive secretary.
"Our purpose is to give kids something good to think about,"
Putman said. "We encourage them to research their families."
Throughout the school year teachers from around the county make
reservations for student field trips with Heritage Tours.
During the tours students are given the opportunity to see, touch and be a
part of history that was made in their own county.
The museums are being advertised over the internet, in various magazines
and on The Nashville Network.
A company from Germany made a tour of Texas and filmed a travel log which
was compiled with points of interest all over Texas and included Pioneer
Village. This taping is being shown in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The
main points of interest being shown are the oil era history and the Lefty
In Europe, Frizzell is extremely popular. All of his revived popularity is
bringing many visitors and even more donations to the museum from Nashville and
places from all over the world.
Most recently, a pair of boots that belonged to
was donated. He
had the same boot-maker as Roy Rogers. There was also a poster of
donated by Little Jimmy Dickens.
The Hall of Fame Museum in Pioneer Village recently had a baseball
collection added to its memorabilia. It was donated by Mr. and Mrs. James Strum.
The baseball collection dates back to 1902 when there was as semi-pro
team. The Corsicana Oilers, (also known as Corsicana City Oil Team) were league
champs in 1903.
The collection includes Baseball Hall of Famers, baseball legends and
An excerpt from Navarro County History, Volume I states, "The
Corsicana team, Oil City, in 1902 won 27 straight games and set a world's
record. In that particular game between Corsicana and Texarkana the score was 51
to 3 in Oil City's favor."
Pioneer Village did not happen over night. It has taken years to acquire
the mass of historical artifacts.
Pioneer Village has something of interest for everyone. Whether it is a
desire to recall an era gone by or to learn about ancestors in your family it
can be found at Navarro County Historical Society at
revisits history at Pioneer Village
Corsicana Daily Sun -
Sept 26, 2001
Used with permission
By BARBARA FORMAN/Daily Sun Staff
Talmage Melton has a long history in
Navarro County and as he looked and reminisced over some of his
ancestry at Pioneer Village he only wanted to know more about his
"I wish I would have asked more
questions before my Dad died," Melton said. "There is so
much I would like to know."
Melton, who lives in Hill County, was
visiting with relatives in Corsicana and they were having a good
time Tuesday taking in the rich and incredible history at Pioneer
Melton said some of his family history can
be traced back to the Alamo to a man who was part owners with
members of his family in a general store. When the soldier returned
from the war, the store had been taken over by the partner and that
was the reason the Melton name was never on the store.
Pioneer Village is having what is know as
the Hartzell General Store refurbished by Timber and Stone
Restoration. It will have some of the original wood and brick in the
structure of the building and there will be original artifacts that
will be used when the it is re-opened.
The store was originally built with logs
from the Blacksmith Shop of Noah T. Byars in
Washington-on-the-Brazos during 1836 when the Declaration of Texas
Independence was being framed and signed there. By 1842 Byars had
torn the Blacksmith Shop down and a structure was built in the
Dresden settlement which later became Navarro County.
The building was bought by Dan Hartzell in
1851 and converted it into a general store. The store served the
Dresden community for many years.
Melton said when his family first settled
in Dresden they purchased 640 acres at 50 cents an acre and at that
time patents were issued instead of deeds. Melton said he still owns
100 acres of that land.
Melton's history goes back along way in
Dresden. The first settler in the town was a soldier of the Texas
Army for Independence, Ethan
Melton, who had a Spanish land grant.
He settled there in 1838. There are still descendants living on the
same original land grant and some of the present surveys that are
done today bear the Melton names of Elijah, Buckner and others.
Melton said somewhere in the 1920's the old
store was visited and it still had the original old register in the
store. Later the store was donated for historical memorabilia in
As the Meltons moved further into the
prairies of Navarro County, a community became known as Melton. It
was at that time the a postal exchange called Richland was set up.
"The first post office was in the
Melton kitchen," he said.
Today that postal area serves the people
living in what is now Purdon to the
Cryer Creek community.
Melton said his grandmother was a Lee and
at one time she was the only white woman on that side of the lake.
Although there have been many changes and a
lot of travels, Melton still knows where his roots can be found.
Barbara Forman may be contacted via e-mail
Pioneer Village Still Teaching Area History to Many
By RUTH THOMPSON/Daily Sun Staff
On West Park Avenue, right by Jester Park, there's a
place where time has stopped. Pioneer Village has been locked in the 1800s since
1958, when two men, Alva Taylor and
Joe Daniel, started talking in the old
Navarro Hotel about the need to preserve the past. They realized the way of the
life changes constantly with each generation. And if they didn't preserve it,
future generations would never know or be able to learn from the past. That
realization founded the Navarro County Historical Society and project
"Frontier Home," otherwise known as Pioneer Village.
Pioneer Village was created as a permanent monument, by
Taylor and Daniel, to commemorate and display Navarro County's colorful past;
its goal is to preserve the county's surviving structures, artifacts and family
treasures handed down from the early settlers. Bobbie Young, executive secretary
at Pioneer Village, has always been interested in history.
"I've always been around history," Young
said. "My husband is an archaeologist, and I used to own an antique shop.
After a while, the past became dear to my heart and I became more interested in
trying to preserve it. That's why I applied for this job. I'm so glad I was
chosen; now I can help preserve history, too."
Pioneer Village currently has 14 structures, and almost
all of them were reconstructed from logs dating back to the 19th century. The
Old Barn, located right next to the Indian Trading Post, was built using
137-year-old logs from John Pickett's house.
"The Old Barn looks just like a miniature log
cabin they would have built back then, with exception of the white mortar,"
Young said. "While it's mostly dedicated to war memorabilia, there's
something for each member of the family. We store most of Taylor's photographs
in this building."
Upon entering the building, a man wearing a Confederate
uniform greets you. He stands in a glass case dressed in John P. Cox's 1838
uniform. John P. Cox, Euclid Cox's son, died at the Battle Creek
displayed is a coat from a World War I uniform that rests with old war medals
and artifacts in a glass cabinet which runs along one of the walls.
However, the opposite wall is one of the real prizes.
Some say a picture is worth a thousand words, but these pictures are worth over
100 years. Alva Taylor bought an old photography studio, now Ellis Studios on
Commerce Street, that had negatives dating back to the late 1800s. Taylor
printed those pictures and the ones he had taken of Corsicana in the early
1900s, and put them on display on the wall in the Old Barn. The entire wall of
photographs depict the history of Navarro County from the late 19th century to
early 20th century, with photos of the tombstones of famous outlaws, downtown
Corsicana in different time periods and the old Merchant's Opera House. The
other walls contain muster rolls, flags, and pictures from the Civil War.
The Old Barn is not a memorial that lists obscure
names; instead it shows Navarro County's history and what happened to the early
settlers. This summer, as a tribute to Navarro County's past, Corsicana Daily
Sun will be doing a series on the buildings at Pioneer Village every Monday.
Ruth Thompson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com
June 27, 2002
James Kirk of JLK Construction is building a replica of a stage coach out at
Pioneer Village. The stage is being modeled after one once owned by the G.W.
Grant Line which ran through Navarro County in 1860 and connected the cities of
Corsicana, Fairfield, Centerville, Madisonville, Anderson and Waxahachie. Daily
Sun photo/KIRK SIDES
Reprinted with permission of the
Corsicana Daily Sun
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