Vanishing Texas Vernacular Architecture

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Lipscomb

Lipscomb, Texas Bank

In what is a rarity among Texas counties, the county seat of Lipscomb County (Lipscomb, TX) is the smallest town in the county, is off the main highways, and lacks rail facilities.  The stately Classical Revival courthouse, designed and constructed in 1916 by William M. Rice, still stands in its original courthouse square surrounded by a lawn full of trees.  It is still the hub for county government in the northeast corner of the Panhandle.  Interestingly, the actual northeast corner of the Panhandle border between Texas and Oklahoma, established by law in 1850, remained in dispute for 79 years and was finally settled by the US Supreme Court.  Nine surveys were made to locate the corner on the ground and none of them coincided – much to the consternation of landowners in the area.  Three blocks were annexed into Texas from Oklahoma in 1903 and again in 1929, prompting a man to claim he went to bed in Oklahoma and woke up in Texas.

Originally its site in Wolf Creek Valley was deemed a cattleman’s paradise.  In 1886 J. W. Arthur, anticipating the arrival of the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway, established a combination store and post office at the site.  Arthur named his townsite Lipscomb, after pioneer judge Abner Smith Lipscomb.  Frank Biggers, the county’s leading developer, organized the Lipscomb Town Company, which sold land for $3.00 an acre.  The next year, Lipscomb was elected county seat after a heated contest with the rival townsites of Dominion and Timms City.  John Howlett operated a general store;  John N. Theisen took over the Gilbert Hotel after its move from Dominion;  H. G. Thayer managed a saddle and harness shop.  A school district was established for the community in 1888.  The first school, located in a church, had 25 pupils.  Liquor flowed freely at the Alamo Saloon until 1908, when the county voted to go dry.

As it turned out, the railroad routed its tracks south of the townsite. Subsequent attempts to get a railroad line to Lipscomb were unsuccessful, as was the attempt of local businessmen to develop a coal mine in 1888, after a five-inch vein was discovered in the area.  The present courthouse was built in 1916.  The community’s position as the county seat, coupled with the success of W. E. Merydith’s real estate ventures, has enabled the town to survive.  By 1910 several churches, a bank, a drugstore, and various other businesses had been established there.  Lipscomb has had two newspapers, the Panhandle Interstate and the Lipscomb County Limelight.  Only two businesses and the post office remained at the community by 1980.  Nevertheless, the importance of the town as a farming and ranching center, along with oil and gas explorations in the vicinity, kept Lipscomb’s economy alive.  For most of the twentieth century, its population level has remained fairly stable: population was reported as 200 in 1910, 175 in 1930, 200 in 1940, and 190 in 1980.

Lipscomb is on State Highway 305 in the central part of the county.

REFERENCES:

1.  A History of Lipscomb County, Texas, 1876–1976 (Lipscomb, Texas: Lipscomb County Historical Survey Committee, 1976). F. Stanley [Stanley F. L. Crocchiola], The Lipscomb, Texas, Story(Nazareth, Texas, 1975).

2. H. Allen Anderson, “LIPSCOMB, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hll48), accessed May 15, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


Archer City

Archer City is twenty-five miles southwest of Wichita Falls in the center of Archer County, of which it is the seat.  It was named for Branch Tanner Archer, a leading figure in the Texas Revolution and Republic of Texas.  The county was established and Archer City designated county seat by the state legislature in 1858, but the county was not organized until after the removal of the Kiowas and Comanches from the area. The townsite was originally surveyed in 1876 and was intended to lie on the projected paths of three railroad lines—the Fort Worth and Denver, the Houston and Texas Central, and the Red River and Rio Grande.  A local post office opened in 1878, and in about 1879 C. B. Hutto settled nearby and platted the town; he donated land for a town square, a lot for a county jail, and lots for the construction of Protestant churches.  He also donated a “frameless wooden building” to be used as a county courthouse.

Archer County’s first church, the First Baptist Church, was organized in the town in 1880 with eight members meeting in a building intended as a saloon.  The town soon after voted to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages, so the building continued to serve as a church; from 1881 to 1886 it was the first school building.  In 1884 the estimated population of Archer City was 150, and the principal business was county administration. Cotton was the most important shipped product, although the railroad had not arrived yet.

By 1890 the population was an estimated 250, and a weekly newspaper was being published.  The town now had daily mail and a daily stage to Wichita Falls.  In 1892 the post office name, Archer, was changed to match the town’s name.  An ornate stone courthouse had been built, two more churches had been organized, and a brickyard and a hotel had opened.  By 1900 the town had a bank and three livestock dealers, although cotton remained the staple of outside trade.  The first oil well in the county, twelve miles from town, began producing in March 1912.  Although it never produced great amounts it continued in operation at least into the late 1970s.  By 1914 Archer City had two railroads, the Wichita Falls and Southern and the Southwestern, and the population was estimated at 825.  Archer City was incorporated in 1925 and continued to grow as more oil wells were opened nearby. By late 1926 there were seventeen fields with 411 wells within thirteen miles of Archer City.  The largest field by far was Oldham, with 103 wells. Archer City was also a milling and market point for wheat and other grains and had about seventy businesses, including three banks.

By 1930 the town’s population was 1,512, and the county hospital had been built there.  The county’s fiftieth-anniversary celebration had been held in Archer City the year before, a year early in honor of the opening of the county’s first highway, State Highway 79.  By the 1930s researchers from Harvard University were collecting fossils in Archer County.  Two of the best fossil pits are near Archer City, and from one of these came a fossil that was named Archeria in honor of the county.  Archer City continued growing slowly despite the loss of some businesses during World War II.  The population peaked at 2,025 in 1970; the number of businesses had begun falling off in the 1960s.  In Larry McMurtry’s novel The Last Picture Show (1966), which derives its setting from Archer City, the closing of the Royal Theater is a major symbol. McMurtry is a native of Archer County.  In 1986 the town had a post office, forty-nine businesses including a bank, and a population of 1,862. By 2000 the population was 1,848 with eighty-six businesses.

REFERENCES: Monte Lewis, “ARCHER CITY, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hja11), accessed July 21, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


Neches

Murdock McDonald, born in North Carolina, had come to East Texas from Georgia in the 1830s.  Jackson Jones (Jack) Davis was born in South Carolina and came to Texas with his wife Elizabeth around 1845.  Both men bought property northeast of what is now Palestine and settled with their families.  When the International Railroad announced in 1871 that it would build a railroad through East Texas to Palestine, McDonald and Davis were determined that the railroad be located close to their property.  After tough negotiations, the two men donated parts of their properties to the railroad on the condition that that the railway be built by December, 1873.  While the railroad was being built McDonald and Davis began laying out a townsite.

On December 23, 1872, a post office with the name Nechesville was opened (the community changed its name to Neches in 1892).  The McDonald Hotel was built in 1873 and by 1884 the community had a Masonic Lodge, two steam sawmills, a gristmill, two churches, a general store, a drug store (established by T.R. Dunn), two saloons (one of which owned by Murdock McDonald), a school, and an estimated population of 100.  The two-story structure in the photo above was the W. J. Foscue General Merchandise building erected in 1890.  The ground floor of this building later became the home of Guaranty State Bank with the second floor home to a variety of businesses.  When it was established in 1897, J. B. McDonald & Son, located in the middle of the three attached buildings, claimed to carry everything one could need “From the Cradle to the Grave.”  Murdoch McDonald also acted as justice of the peace, advertised as a supplier of “meats and justice.”  In 1896 a monthly newspaper, the Southern Poultry Journal, was published in the town.  Another newspaper, the Neches Tribune, was published in the community before the 1930s.  Neches had 261 inhabitants in 1900 and an estimated 400 in the 1920s and 1930s.  It was a prosperous community with twenty-four businesses and an estimated 900 inhabitants in 1939. It began to decline in the 1940s.

Throughout its history, Neches was a shipping point for the timber mills and produce-growers in the area.  In the 1920s, the East Texas oil boom, particularly the nearby Boggy Creek Woodbine and Neches Woodbine fields, resulted in prosperity for Neches and nearby towns.

Education was a priority for the citizens of Neches.  The Stovall Academy had been built three miles south of Neches 1866 by the Rev. Mr. Stovall.  It was later disassembled and moved to town and renamed Neches Normal Institute operating as a private school.  New school buildings were erected in 1882 and 1913 to serve local students.  In 1928 the Neches school, along with schools in Mt. Vernon, Hollywood, and Coperas Grove (now Todd City) consolidated into one school located in Neches.

Neches is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 79 and Farm roads 321 and 2574, on the Union Pacific Railroad nine miles northeast of Palestine and four miles from the Neches River in eastern Anderson County.

REFERENCES:

Mark Odintz, “NECHES, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hln03), accessed April 07, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Author & date Unknown, http://www.inetwork-plus.com/palestine/neches_tx_history.htm

Author & date Unknown, J.B. McDonald & Son website, http://www.jbmcdonaldandson.com


Loraine

Originally established in the early 1880s as a cotton and cattle shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railway, Loraine saw little development in its early years. A post office opened there in 1890, and a school was built in 1893.  A hotel, a grocery, and a hardware store reportedly operated at the site before 1905.  In that year Parson Crandall bought the townsite land from the railroad and platted the town.

Growth was rapid after the town was platted.  A weekly newspaper began publication there in 1906, and the community was incorporated by 1910.  In 1914, when its population was an estimated 800, Loraine supported more than forty retail and service businesses, including a bank, a commercial club, and an electric utility company.  During the 1920s Loraine had an aldermanic form of government, operated its own public water system, and provided both high school and grade school facilities to local students.  In the 1930s cotton ginning grew in importance, and the town was recognized as a shipping, marketing, and ginning center.

Population estimates for Loraine ranged between 700 and 750 during this period.  A hospital was opened at the community in 1938.  During the 1940s the town was known for its cheese factory, for its annual dairy show, and as the headquarters for the Loraine Cooperative Association, which handled the milk supply for several surrounding counties.  The number of businesses at Loraine varied from an estimated high of fifty-five in 1940 to a low of thirty-four in 1947.  Population estimates remained at around 700 in the 1940s but rose to more than 1,000 during the 1950s, though the number of businesses began a steady decline.

Loraine is on U.S. Highway 20/80, Farm Road 644, and the Missouri Pacific line, ten miles east of Colorado City and fifty-eight miles west of Abilene in northeastern Mitchell County.  Three conflicting stories concerning the town’s name exist: the first says that Loraine was named for a railroad official’s wife, the second that the community was named for the daughter or wife (possibly Loraine Crandall) of a local landowner, and the third that the town was named for the French region of Lorraine.

REFERENCE:  Patricia L. Duncan, “LORAINE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hll60), accessed July 08, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


Blessing

Blessing is west of the junction of State Highway 35 and Farm Road 616 and twenty miles west of Bay City in northwestern Matagorda County. The town was promoted by Jonathan Edwards Pierce, on whose land it was established. In 1903, when Pierce gave the right-of-way to the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway, the future of the unnamed settlement seemed assured.  A grateful Pierce hoped to designate the place “Thank God,” but the United States Postal Department rejected his proposal.  As a compromise, the place was named Blessing, and a post office opened in 1903, with James H. Logan as first postmaster.  Between 1903 and 1905 a library building was attached to the train station.  In 1905 the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway also built through Blessing.  D. A. Wheeler’s hotel soon followed.

On September 1, 1907, residents platted the townsite, and the townsite company made provisions for school and church sites.  In 1909 P. Ansley established a local newspaper. B y 1914 Blessing had 500 inhabitants, two churches, a bank, a hotel, a telephone connection, and a weekly newspaper, the Blessing News. In 1925 Blessing’s population was still recorded at 500. In 1931 the town had a population of 450 and twenty-two businesses.  During the 1937–38 school year, nine teachers instructed 251 white students in eleven grades, and two teachers instructed thirty-eight black students in seven grades.  By 1949 the Blessing district had been consolidated with the Tidehaven Independent School District.  In 1945 Blessing’s population had risen to 600, served by thirteen businesses. Though in 1966 the population was reported as 1,250; in 1968 it had dropped to 405. In 1990 the town had 571 residents and twelve businesses.

REFERENCE:  Stephen L. Hardin, “BLESSING, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlb36), accessed December 10, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association


Kosse

Kosse is located southwestern Limestone County on State Highway 7 approximately eighteen miles east of Marlin.  Settlers made homes by nearby Duck Creek in the mid-1840s and ran a stage stop for the Franklin-Springfield and Waco-Marlin stage routes.  In 1869 Kosse became the end of the Houston and Texas Central Railway and was named for Theodore Kosse, a chief engineer for the railroad and the man who surveyed the road for the town.  Businesses moved to Kosse from Eutaw, two miles west, and the Eutaw post office was moved to Kosse in 1870.  Development of a town government began in 1871 and within ten years had reached a population of 500.  Union, Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches were organized.  The New Era, the first newspaper, was published before 1880.  The Cyclone was begun in 1885 by James O. Jones.  That year the town had several cotton gins, two sawmills, and three gristmills.  John Dimelow, an Englishman, opened a ceramics lab in 1870.  Kosse also had the first brickyard in the county.

Limestone County historically supported numerous pottery producing kilns.  This industry succeeded near area outcroppings of kaolin, or potter’s clay, within the Wilcox geologic formation.  Alberry Johnson began the first county pottery in 1859 near Dooley Creek.  Like most other regional potteries, Johnson’s kiln was of the groundhog variety, a subterranean design with a doorway leading to a long underground passage lined with brick or rock.  At the end of the corridor, a chimney rose out of the ground, drawing heat from a firebox outside the door which baked pottery within the passageway.  William Curtis Knox later moved Johnson’s operation and established the town of Pottersville (later Oletha).  The pottery was one of the largest in Texas, remaining active until 1912; today, Pottershop Cemetery marks the site.  Several other kilns in the area provided work and income to supplement residents’ farming efforts. Near this site, German immigrant Lee Kimik built a kiln active in the 1870s and 1880s. Records indicated that the business remained in fulltime operation eight months of the year. The kiln, similar to other groundhog examples, had longer and deeper sidewalls, possibly indicating European design influences. Unlike other area potters who marketed their work collectively, Kimik sold his wares directly to the community of Headsville. He also marked his pottery, a rare feature among his Texas peers. In 1984, archeologists documented the Kimik Kiln site reviving the story of Lee Kimik through archival research and archeological investigation. The historic site has made significant contributions to understanding the industry and artistry of 19th-century Texas.

On October 1, 1884, an acre of land was granted for a public school.  Kosse’s school became an independent school district with J. Thomas Hall as superintendent around 1892–93.  In 1893 one school in Kosse had 225 students and six teachers, and another school had eighty black students.  In 1914 Kosse had three businesses, two banks, and a population of 700.  In 1921 the chamber of commerce was organized.  By 1931 Kosse the population was over 1,500 and the town had fifty-eight businesses. After that the population and number of businesses slowly began to decline.

REFERENCE:  Stephanie A. Panus, “KOSSE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlk14), accessed August 25, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


Pep

Much of the Texas Panhandle was once part of the vast XIT Ranch - created by the Texas Legislature in 1879 to finance construction of a new state capitol building.  And like similar small towns in that part of the state, Pep was created after the XIT was subdivided and sold to investors.  I think that this building is a service station, but it could have been a small car dealership.  Design of the building - using Art Deco motifs - would more likely have been used for a car dealership, but I’m not sure that a small town like Pep could have supported one.

Pep is on Farm Road 303 near the Lamb county boundary in northwestern Hockley County.  The site was part of the Yellow House Ranch of the XIT Ranch.  It passed to the Littlefield estate and was then sold by the Yellow House Land Company in 1924.  Much of this farmland was sold to Germans interested in establishing a Catholic colony, which they originally named Ledwig for Rev. Francis Ledwig, their pastor. Settlers at the community included John Andrews, John Stengel, and Pete Herring. J. G. Gerik opened a store there in 1925.  The first Catholic church in the county was built at the community in 1930.  A post office was established in 1936 with M. A. Burt as postmaster.  Reportedly the name Ledwig did not suit the post office department, and Pep was chosen as the town’s new name, to reflect an admired characteristic of its residents.  Since 1945 an annual community Thanksgiving dinner, including a savory Czech sausage, has drawn crowds of visitors to the small community.  Its population was sixty in 1950 and by 1980 had declined to fifty, where it was still reported in 1990. By 2000 the population had dropped to thirty-five.

REFERENCE:  William R. Hunt, “PEP, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnp18), accessed November 21, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


Flint

Flint, at the junction of Farm roads 2868, 346, and 2493, four miles north of Bullard in Smith County, was originally part of the Tomás Quevedo survey.  The site, named for local landowner Robert P. Flynt, became a stop on the Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad in 1882.  The post office began operations in 1887 as Flint, when postmaster Charles B. Brown misspelled the name on application forms.  Robert Flynt succeeded him the next year. In 1890 the settlement had a general store, three cotton gins, a physician, and a population of twenty-five. In 1892 the Etna Methodist Church was moved there. By 1902 some 100 local families were engaged in truck farming.  That year they shipped eighty-five railroad cars of tomatoes, as well as large amounts of cabbage, cantaloupes, and peaches.  The town supported a blacksmith shop, a telephone exchange, a telegraph service, and the C. B. Rather and A. M. Campbell mercantile companies.  The local gin and gristmill shipped 750 to 1,000 bales of cotton each year.  Flint also had Methodist and Baptist churches.  Records for 1903 showed two schools, one with three teachers and 147 white students and the other with two teachers and eighty-one black students.

By 1914 local farmers shipped record amounts of nursery stock, fruit, and tomatoes from Flint. That year the population peaked at 450.  The town had six general stores, a bank, and a newspaper, the Flint Weekly Reader.  During the 1920s the original frame school building was torn down and replaced with a two-story brick structure where six teachers taught grades one through ten.  There were five businesses, a physician, and a justice of the peace court.  By 1925 the population had stabilized at 200.  In 1936 a Flint school with seven teachers had 203 white pupils, and a two-teacher facility had fifty-one black students.  The Great Depression greatly injured the business of the area.  After 1950 the population remained around 150.  By 1952 the Flint Independent School District had been established, but it was later consolidated into the Tyler Independent School District.  Maps showed two churches and a cemetery at Flint in 1973, when the old school was in use as a community center.  In 1989 an incredible thirty-seven businesses and a post office were reported.  In 1990 the population was still recorded as 150, but in 2000 it had increased to 700.

REFERENCES:  Vista K. McCroskey, “FLINT, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlf14); accessed August 25, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

 


Draw

In its heyday sixty years ago in the late 1940s, Draw, Texas was a bustling, if not exactly thriving, little village of perhaps 200 people.  It boasted two general stores, a blacksmith shop, one or two cafes (depending on the season of the year), a cotton gin, a small lumberyard, a Methodist church, a large six-room redbrick schoolhouse with an auditorium/gymnasium, and at least a dozen proper residential buildings, along with various lesser dwellings — railroad boxcars and a tin shanty or two — that housed gin workers and itinerants.  Both general stores also doubled as gas stations and carried a stock of hardware goods, livestock feed, and small farm implements.  To one was attached an ice house, for the summertime storage (but not manufacture) of block ice, which was transported from the ice plant in Tahoka.  Later a second gin was built, adjacent to the first and operated by the same company, and in the fall ginning sometimes went on twenty-four hours a day for several months, from September until December.  In those years of bumper cotton crops in the late 1940s, one or another itinerant tent movie operations appeared at the beginning of the harvest season and set up on some lot near the gin, showing old cowboy movies and catering to both locals and the hordes of Mexican-American families who flocked into the community to pick cotton each fall.  Today, Draw is a ghost town. The gins and all the other businesses (and many houses) are gone; perhaps a dozen people live there, mostly in trailers scattered among the ruins.

The earliest evidence of Draw’s existence comes not from contemporaneous records but from the memories of those who, fifty years later, contributed to a history of the Methodist Church there.  As early as 1901, there existed a small building used as a school house and located some one and a half miles northwest of the present location of Draw.  About 1904, this building was moved to a site three and a half miles northeast of present Draw and became known as “Moore’s Draw School House,” apparently taking its name from a geographical feature and the otherwise unknown settler named Moore (possibly spelled “Mooar”) who was identified with it.  How “Moore’s Draw” was shortened and moved to its present location is unknown; one can only assume that soon afterwards there were the stirrings of some sort of commercial activity at the crossroads of what are now the small highways designated FM (Farm-to-Market) 213 and 1054, and those who used “Moore’s Draw School House” as both school and church decided that was the place to be.  Obviously, the shorter version of the name followed along.

REFERENCES:  “History of Draw, Texas”, Nolan Porterfield; TexasEscapes Online;   Donald R. Abbe, “GRASSLAND, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online ,  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.


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.


Notrees

Notwithstanding the few remaining trees planted by the early residents of Notrees, the name is apropos.  In fact, you have to drive 23 miles to Odessa or 23 miles in the opposite direction to Kermit to see a tree.  The late Frank X. Tolbert, columnist at the Dallas Morning News, once reported on local lore that the town was named by “visiting drunk in the cafe…who said “Look at all those baldies out there.  Not a single tree.  This is Notrees.”.”

Located 22 miles northwest of Odessa, Texas, on State Highway 302 in western Ector County.  The community developed after the discovery of oil in TXL Field on December 1944.  The community was known at various times as Caprock, TXL, and Strawberry before Charles E. Brown, a local merchant, petitioned for a post office and selected the descriptive name of Notrees.  Reportedly, the town had one native tree before it was destroyed in the construction of a gasoline plant by Shell Oil Company.  The post office opened in December 1946 and Brown served as the first postmaster.  At that time the town consisted of two cafes, one gas station, two welding shops, Brown’s grocery store, three company houses, and 85 people.  The area thrived as new horizons were added to TXL Field in the 1950s and Notrees continued to serve the oil industry as those horizons were developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Population remained at 85 until 1966 when 338 residents were reported.  Over the years, Notrees was the site for ten oil company camps, a grade school, and a recreation hall.  The number of businesses fluctuated from seven in the late 1950s to one in the mid-1980s. By the 1980s oil companies abandoned company camps that had provided housing for employees and their families.  With improved roads and good transportation, workers were able to live in Odessa and drive to work in Notrees.  In 1998 Notrees had many trees, but was still closely tied to oil production.  At that time it reported a population of 338, served by four businesses and its post office.

REFERENCES:  William R. Hunt, “NOTREES, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hln31).  Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


Speaks

Bradbury Store - Speaks, TX

In 1828 Jesse H. Cartwright received from the Mexican government a small grant of land on the east side of the Navidad River near the crossing of the Atascosito road.  In 1835 Archibald S. White received a much larger grant that surrounded Cartwright’s land and included most of the area that became Speaks.  In 1866 the community, named Speaksville in honor of the owner of its single store, acquired a post office that remained in operation until 1876, when the name of the community was changed to Boxville.  Under the new name the post office operated until 1882, when the store apparently closed.  In 1928 J. W. Koonce reestablished the store and post office under the name of Speaks, and with the coming of a new wave of residents the community grew and prospered. By 1950 the settlement had two stores, a population of fifty, and the Speaks Community Church.  The discovery of the Speaks oilfield and the Seclusion gas field raised the value of property in the area but not the size of the community.  In 1987 the post office, a store, and the church remained, serving a dispersed population of about sixty.  Speaks is on Farm Road 530 twenty miles southeast of Hallettsville in Lavaca County.

REFERENCES:  Jeff Carroll, “SPEAKS, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook /online/articles/hns67), accessed November 26, 2011.  Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


Sharp

Sharp General Store

Located in rural Central Texas, Sharp is one of those “blink your eye and you miss” places.  And I almost did.  The community grew up around a Presbyterian church that was built in the 1870s and was named after William Frank Sharp, a physician in nearby Davila.  In 1895-96, a General Store (above) was built by Daniel G. Davis, Sr., a Civil War veteran.  Davis and his descendants operated the store until 1985.  During its life, it was the area’s largest mercantile building and the main outlet for local produce.  The store also offered banking, public scales, and a place to socialize for the area’s residents.

A local school district, comprised of the communities of Lilac, Duncan, and Oakville, was established in 1931.  Along Farm Road 487, there are the remains of an old school building, built in 1939.  The cornerstones proclaim that funds to build the school were provided by the federal Administration of Public Works under the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Also included on the cornerstones are names of the Board of Trustees, the Architect (J.E. Johnson), and the Contractor (J.R. Blackmore & Sons).  The brick school has an almost Bauhaus look typical of the 1930s, except for the main entry which is embellished with pilasters, lintel, and frieze made of local limestone.  Additionally, there is an out-of-place split-pediment false window made of limestone on a building projection located at either end of the building.  Architectural license I suppose.  While the exterior of the building remains in decent condition, the roof has collapsed in several large areas, exposing the interiors to the elements.  Looking through the windows one can see the sky in many places.

You can see more photos of the Sharp School on my website.  Information for this post came from:

REFERENCES:  Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “SHARP, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hns39), accessed March 30, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.


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