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Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas


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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 Corsicana Park.

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 Wadeville to "freshen up: a bit before the stage attempted the wooded road between Wadeville and Corsicana.

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 effort.

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 Corsicana 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."


Pioneer 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 on.

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 tours.

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 Frizzell Museum.

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 Frizzell was donated. He had the same boot-maker as Roy Rogers. There was also a poster of Frizzell 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 baseball cards.

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 Pioneer Village.

 


Melton 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 heritage.

"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 Village.

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 1960.

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 at bforman@corsicanadailysun.com.


6/17/2002 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 Massacre. Also 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 dailysun@airmail.net



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

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Reprinted with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun
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