of my favorite history addicts is ninety-four-year-old Pearl Weaver
Havard, who also cooks a mean plate of cat head biscuits and brown
Pearl has lived in the same part of Angelina Country--within the so-called
prairie communities along Farm Road 1818 east of Diboll--all of her
She was born at Lay (now known as Beulah), the child of David and
Josephine Weaver, grew up riding horses and growing farm crops, married
Avy Joe Havard, a boy living down the road, and has always lived within
five miles of where she was born.
On a recent visit, we talked about East Texas history over a dinner
of chicken, biscuits and gravy, fresh tomatoes and watermelon, iced
tea and fried apple pies.
Pearl still refers to lunch as dinner and, in her household, dinner
is always supper, just as my mother and grandmother did.
Pearl remembers with ease nearly forgotten places like Renfro Prairie,
Olive, Philistine, Round Prairie, Stovall Prairie, Fairview, Red Branch
School, Prairie Grove, Pine Grove, Dollarhide and Beulah Store.
Beulah Store, which has stood at the intersection of FMs 1818
and FM 58 since the late 1930s, was founded by Leah Hales and,
for lack of a better name, people called it “The Store.” Mrs.
Hales operated the business in her front yard, selling Texaco
gas for ten cents a gallon and household goods for a nickel and
Mrs. Hales closed The Store when she retired, but Wilbur Grimes
reopened it and named it Beulah Store for a nearby church. Grimes
made the store a place where people not only came to buy things,
but to exchange gossip and news.
Two other owners--C.B. DuBose and Hulon Squyres--ran the store
until it closed in 2006, following a trend that has seen thousands
of small country stores succumb to the competition of shopping
centers and malls.
years, Pearl Havard wrote a newspaper column, “News From FM 1818,”
for the Diboll Free Press.
She sprinkled her current community news with personal recollections
such as these.
“In my day,
boys and girls never wore shoes until they were thirteen years old.
Then, the shoes had to last a year or longer. They wore them as
long as they could patch the leather.”
lights sure made thing easier. I really liked an electric iron.
It was much better than heating those ol’ flat irons on the stove.”
of Angelina County in 1850 was 969 people. There were no railroads.
The roads were mostly trails, people traveled by foot, horses, wagons
and oxen. There were no bridges across the rivers.”
Uncle Ben and
Nancy Weeks never missed church. I can see Uncle Ben with his walking
cane and white gloves on. When Aunt Nancy never went with him, she
had to fix her long hair and her dress had to be a perfect one for
Road (off FM 1818) got its name because people had more of it (buttermilk)
to share with other people.”
in the early days had no stove to cook on; they cooked in the fireplace.
Their beds were made of Spanish moss, which grew wild, on a frame
made in one corner of a cabin. Quilts were made from scraps and
“When my father-in-law,
Joe Havard, got his first car, a 1926 Model T Ford, he wanted to
put the car under the wagon shed. But the shed was too low, so he
let the air out of the tires.”