Vanishing Texas Vernacular Architecture

Archive for July, 2012

Greenwood

Greenwood is on Farm Road 1204 fourteen miles northeast of Decatur in Wise County.  It was established when two cowboys camped in the area in the 1870s.  The two men, named Hart and Greenwood, decided to begin a new settlement, and so they gave their names to the area.  The creek, which was near their campsite, became Hart’s Creek, and the town became Greenwood.  Tenvill Cecil built the first cabin, and Wag Wilson built Rock Ranch, a stone house used as a fort in the constant battles between settlers and Indians.  The post office was established in 1877.  In 1884 Greenwood had a population of seventy-five, a steam gristmill, and a cotton gin.  The town served as a post for shipping cotton.  In 1892, when the population was 200, Greenwood built the Greenwood Male and Female Normal College, which lasted until 1908, when the building burned down.  From 1895 to 1920 the Campbell Hotel flourished in Greenwood, as the town became a major trade center for area farmers.  In 1886 a weekly newspaper, the Greenwood Enterprise, began documenting local and state events, and Greenwood had two dry-goods stores, two drugstores, and a blacksmith.  By 1914 Greenwood had a telephone company, a bank, four grocers, three general stores, and two drugstores.  But a series of devastating fires did irreversible damage.  The population fell to 100 by 1925 but then rose again in the 1930s to 314.  During the Great Depression the WPA built a stone school building.  In 1937 the high school was consolidated with that in Slidell.  After World War II small farms disappeared as farming procedures became more mechanized.  In 1962 the Greenwood elementary school was consolidated with the Slidell school.  In 1949 Greenwood had a population of 200.  In 1953 another terrible fire wiped out half of Main Street, and it was not rebuilt.  In the 1970s the economy was dependent on the dairy and beef industry.  In 1972 Greenwood had Baptist, Church of Christ, and Methodist churches, a post office, a fire station, and a Masonic lodge.  The buildings from the old businesses were used to store hay.  From 1974 through 2000 the population was reported as seventy-six.  In 2003 the town had a combined grocery and gas station.

REFERENCES:  Robin Dutton, “GREENWOOD, TX (WISE COUNTY),” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hng33), accessed August 25, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


Myra

Myra Store

Myra is twelve miles west of Gainesville in western Cooke County. It was founded in 1887, when the Gainesville, Henrietta and Western Railway constructed a line from Gainesville westward to Henrietta, and was named after the daughter of the railroad superintendent of  construction.  In 1900 the Sears and Bradford Company, which owned land in the area, decided to build a separate town on the south side of the railroad tracks.  George W. Aldridge, the real estate agent for Sears and Bradford, sold town lots and recorded the name of the town as Aldridge in the county deed records.  However, the post office department refused to change the name from Myra, and Aldridge was eliminated as a separate town.  Eventually, the communities became the town of Myra.  In 1898 one of the first oil wells in Cooke County was drilled at the townsite. Interest in Myra grew, and lots sold for as much as $500.  The well was abandoned in 1901, however, when oil and gas production proved unprofitable.  Myra nevertheless continued to grow during the following years.  In 1902 Thad Harrison began a water system and Jack Felty a telephone system.  The latter became the Myra Telephone Company in 1906.  A bank was begun by H. C. Bluhme several years before the First Guaranty State Bank was started in 1910 by T. P. Rosson.  An electric plant was built in 1919 by George Thomas.  James Harrison purchased the plant in 1920 and maintained it until 1927, when Texas Power and Light extended service to Myra. Dr. C. L. Maxwell opened a drugstore in 1903, and in 1914 he established Mercy Hospital.  A decline in population and an exodus of businesses to more profitable towns started when U.S. Highway 82 bypassed Myra in the early 1930s.  In 1964–65 the Myra Independent School closed, and in 1967 the school district was divided among Muenster, Era, and Lindsay.  In 1988 Myra had a population of seventy and six businesses.  It also had a volunteer fire department, a Masonic lodge, and two churches.  In 1980 Myra began an annual spring barbecue dinner for the public as a fund-raiser to benefit the Myra Volunteer Fire Department.  In 1990 the population was still seventy. The population grew to 300 by 2000.

REFERENCES:  Robert Wayne McDaniel, “MYRA, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org /handbook/online/articles/hnm77), accessed March 14, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


Close City

Close City School

Close City, on Ranch Road 399 two miles north of U.S. Highway 380 and eleven miles west of Post in western Garza County, was on a site within the area purchased in 1906 by Charles William Post for his projected settlement.  So many of the first inhabitants used tents for homes that the village was called Ragtown, but it was later renamed Close City after Post’s son-in-law, E. B. Close (Edward Bennett Close), who married his daughter Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1905.  For a while Post encouraged construction there, until surveyors discovered that the site was eleven miles from the geographical center of the county and thus could not serve as the location of the county seat. Post ordered work to stop in Close City and he shifted resources to a site located nearer the center of the county - the present site of Post.  Close City consequently developed slowly.  By 1920 it had a store, a school, two churches, and a population of fifty.

In 1909, Close City students attended classes in a one-room wooden schoolhouse built as a commissary school.  A common school district was established in 1916.  In 1919, George Samson and Jimmie Napier built a new, one-story brick schoolhouse.  Two years later, a second story was added.  This building served the community well until 1965, when Close City School was consolidated with the Post Independent School District.

The town site was chosen as the original location of Post City, a model community and grand social experiment conceived by C. W. Post, an American breakfast cereal and foods manufacturer.  In the early 1890s, Post developed a popular caffeine-free coffee substitute called Postum and later made a fortune on breakfast cereals such as Grape Nuts and Post Toasties.  As Post’s wealth grew, his interests began to expand into other areas. One project that had always intrigued him was the creation of a planned community of model homes and industry.   His success in the prepared foods industry provided the financial resources to make this dream a reality.

Today, Close City is primarily a farming community and is surrounded by numerous sections of plowed land.  The primary crop is cotton but lesser amounts of grain sorghum and winter wheat are also grown in the area. Crops are grown on a mixture of irrigated and dryland farms.  Water for irrigation is pumped from the underlying Ogallala Aquifer and is applied using center pivot irrigation systems. The Ogallala Aquifer is quickly becoming depleted and, sometime in the future, all farms may have to revert to dryland agriculture.

REFERENCES:  Julius A. Amin, “Close City, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrc72, accessed July 4, 2012, Published by the Texas State Historical Association;  Charles D. Eaves and C. A. Hutchinson. 1952. Post City, Texas. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 171 pp;  Donald R. Abbe and Paul H. Carlson. 2008. Historic Garza County: an Illustrated History. San Antonio: Historical Pub. Network, p. 23;  Recorded Texas Historic Landmark: Old Close City School, erected in 1968 by the Texas Historical Commission, marker number 3710;  Linda Puckett. 2010. Images of America: Garza County. Arcadia Publishing, p. 39.


Fluvanna

Fluvanna is at the junction of Farm roads 612, 1267, and 2350, sixty-six miles southeast of Lubbock in northwestern Scurry County.  Named for a surveyor’s home county in Virginia, Fluvanna was established by realty promoters who knew that the Roscoe, Snyder and Pacific Railway would terminate at its site.  By the time the railroad arrived in 1908, the townsite had already been staked off and lots put on sale.  It boomed briefly and by 1911 had two real estate offices, a thirty-room hotel, a lumberyard, a cotton gin, and other businesses.  Fluvanna was also home to the Fluvanna Mercantile Company.  This store joins the ranks of a handful of other famous Texas general merchandise stores around the state which are a type of functioning museum.  Started in 1915, by two partners named Stavely and Jones, the store operated for profit, but also with a strong sense of community.  It bartered its goods for eggs and cream during the depression and continued operations even after the railroad pulled out.  The community’s population in 1915 was estimated at 500, and in 1920 and 1940, at 375.  Fluvanna’s importance lessened when major highways bypassed the area, and when the Roscoe, Snyder and Pacific closed the Fluvanna station in 1941, the town’s days as a shipping center were over. In 1980 Fluvanna had a post office, an estimated population of 180, and at least four businesses.

REFERENCES:  Noel Wiggins, “FLUVANNA, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlf18), accessed July 07, 2012.  Published by the Texas State Historical Association;  TexasEscapes online.

 


Grassland

Grassland is two miles south of U.S. Highway 380 and two miles west of the Garza county line in east central Lynn County.  It is Lynn County’s oldest community, having been established around the ranch headquarters of Enos and Thomas Seeds in 1888.  Their ranch was named Grasslands, and in 1889 it became the county’s second post office with Enos Seeds serving as the Postmaster.  By 1900 the ranch had been broken up and sold to farmers.  A small agricultural community, with an economy dominated by cotton farming and a modest ginning industry, slowly evolved around the site of the old Grasslands ranch.  By 1930 Grassland had seventy-six residents. From the 1940s through the 1970s the population was recorded as 200.  It had dropped to sixty-one by 1980.  In 1974 Grassland still had two cotton gins, a store, and a station.  The population was still sixty-one in 1990.

REFERENCES:  Donald R. Abbe, “GRASSLAND, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hng25). Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


New Moore

Sitting at the intersection of Farm Roads 179 and 213 in southwestern Lynn County, are the remains of the last school building built in the community of New Moore.  The roof is gone, but enough remains of the structural clay tile walls to discern four classrooms.  Fertile fields surround the ruins, so it’s encouraging that landowners have preserved this remnant of New Moore.

In 1892, Samuel F. Singleton and Marion Virgil “Pap” Brownfield filed on 16 sections of land along the present-day Lynn and Terry County lines for future cattle, railroad and township purposes.  In 1896, Singleton sent his son, Willie and a cook to the area to set up camp.  As with many business propositions, the men had different ideas about the use of the land.  The men decided to part ways and divided the land. Singleton ended up with the Lynn County territory and Brownfield, the Terry County land.

Singleton then purchased the nearby Slash L Ranch, consisting of 30 sections, in 1898.  He put more than 5,000 head of cattle on the land.  However, the problem of drought and poor watering holes forced the rancher to spend $19,000 to dig wells.  The most successful and least tainted water came from present day New Moore.  After Singleton’s death in 1922, the family decided to sell the ranch. W.McCarty Moore from Dallas purchased approximately 17,000 acres and commissioned G.O. Newman of Newman Bros. Land Development Co. in Fort Worth to market his purchase.  To prove the worth of the land the company broke and planted 3,000 acres in cotton in 1924.  Within the year, the company sold inexpensive land of 13,240 acres to about 50 farmers who came largely from the Nolan County area.

As families with the names of Rogers, Bevel, Crutcher, Strasner, Light, Pharr, Parker, Fails, and Isreal came to western Lynn County, the company dubbed the settled area New Moore in honor of Newman and Moore.  In 1924, Moore built the Slash L School on the west side of the land that later came to be known as the Marshall place, about five miles southwest of New Moore.  The school was to take care of the many children of the new farmers.  The school building was a crude, one-room structure, without water or electricity.  It had many windows to let in light, according to Hoskins’ New Moore, Texas account.

“Mesquite wood was used in the stove to warm the building.  The room held from five to seven grades with one teacher for all students.  Mrs. Ella Walker from Wolfe City was an early teacher there.  Moore personally paid her salary, as well as the salaries of other teachers out of his own pocket as long as the school existed,” according to Hoskins.

Another school was authorized by Lynn County Commissioners later in 1924, a wooden structure built at New Moore, across from the Frank Rogers home, which was the old Singleton Ranch headquarters.  Both the Slash L School and the New Moore School operated until they were consolidated in 1928.

In the fall of 1928, another school was started one mile north of New Moore.  In 1929, the modern four-room brick building was opened and the two other schools were closed and consolidated into the new larger school.  Unfortunately this was also the first year of the depression so families began to move to towns to seek employment. The population continued to dwindle in subsequent years.  The New Moore School closed in 1953.  The last business to close in New Moore was the cotton gin, which ginned its last bale in 1986.

REFERENCES“New Moore, Texas, A Collection of Memories and Accounts”, Tom Hoskins and Margaret McCullough;  Texas Escapes online magazine.



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