TexasEscapes.comTexas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1500 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
 
 Texas : Features : Columns : All Things Historical


NUGGETS OF HISTORY

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
Without books written by hometown historians, some of the most interesting morsels of East Texas history would likely go unnoticed. So it is with "The Jasper Journal," a wonderful local history written by Nida A. Marshall of Jasper County about ten years ago. I received the book as a gift for making a speech in Jasper, and found it filled with nuggets from the past.
Some examples:
  • In 1913, a little girl living with her father in the Kirby Lumber Company sawmill town of Bessmay was kidnapped by her mother in a family dispute. After years of court wrangling, the mother won legal possession of little Virginia Katherine McMath, who would later win acclaim as movie star and dancer Ginger Rogers.
  • For centuries, historians have tried to confirm the gravesite of French explorer La Salle, who reportedly was murdered by his companions somewhere in East Texas. In 1913, Jasper native Jesse J. Lee wrote to a friend at the University of Texas in Austin that a camp of German stavemakers cut down a large white oak tree near Burkeville, in Newton County, and found carved in its trunk the words, La Salle.
  • Charlie Ratliff of Jasper may be the only person in East Texas with two gravestones. When the 80-year-old man lost his right arm to cancer, he had it buried in Little Hope Cemetery with a marker bearing a carving of an arm and hand. When Charlie died four years later, the rest of his body was buried beside the arm.
  • Because of his popularity in the l830s, Sam Houston was given the first lot in the newly-organized community of Bevilport, an early Jasper County seat of government. But old Sam never paid any taxes on the lot, so it was auctioned off. An entry in an old store ledger at Bevilport also shows that the hero of San Jacinto once bought a gallon of kerosene on credit in the l830s -- and never paid for it.
  • When Captain E.I. Kellie came home from Confederate service in the Civil War, he brought with him the flag of his company, which left Jasper for the war in 1861. When Kellie died in 1928, his beloved old flag was buried with him.
  • Two of Deep East Texas' most respected men, Dr. W.W. Pugh and preacher-poet Andrew Allen Vetch, staged an old-fashioned shootout on a Brookeland street in 1900. Pugh fired from a distance of sixty paces, but missed Vetch, who then fired his gun. The weapon, however, jammed, and Pugh's wife rushed screaming into the street, ending the duel. A rematch was avoided by the intervention of a hometown peacemaker.
  • When Haley's Comet raced through the skies in 1910, another comet plunged into the Seed Tick community, setting the woods afire. A farmer also brought to the Jasper News-Boy an egg laid by one of his hens. The egg, according to the newspaper, had "a natural tail composed of pure eggshell." The editor concluded it was a freak caused by Haley's Comet.
  • The names of two East Texas counties, Jasper and Newton, come from Sergeant William Jasper and Corporal John Newton, who fought side by side in the American Revolutionary War in the 1770s. Seven other states named counties or county seats for Jasper and Newton. In states having Jasper and Newton counties, the two counties (like those in East Texas) are neighbors.
  • In 1865, eleven years before Little Big Horn, George Armstrong Custer and his troops camped on Jasper's courthouse square and along Sandy Creek. Custer and his men had been sent to Texas after the Civil War to chase down the last of the Confederate rebels in Texas.
All Things Historical
September 29, 2003 column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
All Things Historical is distributed by the East Texas Historical Association. Bob Bowman of Lufkin is a former president of the association and the author of nearly 30 books about East Texas
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS
Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South |
West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | MAPS | FORUM

TEXAS FEATURES
Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII |
History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books | MEXICO
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters |
Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators |
Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Corner Stones | Pitted Dates |
Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS
TEXAS HOTELS | Hotels | Cars | Air | Cruises | USA


Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us | Links
Contributors | Staff | About Us | Contact TE |
TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE
HOME
Website Content Copyright 1998-2007. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: January 11, 2004