TexasEscapes.com Texas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1600 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

East Texas' Mark Twain
Edward I. Kellie

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman

He was a 109-pounder with piercing eyes, a walrus mustache, and a pen of penitence that dug furrows in the conscience of East Texas.

When his words evoked the wrath of northern carpetbaggers, they arrested him. Lacking a jail, they tied him to a tree on Jasper's courthouse square. But he had his revenge. When he died, he was buried with a Confederate flag.

He was Captain Edward I. Kellie, a plucky little publisher who in 1865 founded the Jasper News-Boy.

Some historians have called Kellie the Mark Twain of East Texas because their lives were remarkably alike. Twain dreamed of being a cowboy. So did Kellie. Twain labored in a print shop as a boy. So did Kellie. Twain loved the river and longed to captain a steamboat. So did Kellie.

Both Twain and Kellie possessed in their writings a biting wit that almost drew blood. A Kellie biographer could have been alluding to Twain when he wrote in the 1920s: "His editorials were witty and colorful, and one was never left in the dark as to his views."

Kellie's parents died of yellow fever at New Orleans in 1856. Three years later, he headed for Texas with the cowboy fever, landing in Galveston. Hunting for work, he landed a job as a printer's helper. He stayed there a year, moved to Sabine Pass, and found another printing job. In 1861, when the Civil War erupted, he quit his job and joined the Confederate Army. "We drilled on the prairie for about six months," he wrote. "Seeing no chance to fight, six of us under age packed our duds without asking anybody and went up to Jasper County, where we learned a company was going to war."

Kellie's Baptism into battle came at Elk Horn, Arkansas, but he wrote disgustingly of the experience: "I never did know which whipped what, as the federals quit and so did we, they going north and we going south."

In 1865, with the battle flag of his Confederate company hidden in his uniform, he returned to Jasper. From the ruins of an old newspaper, he found a hand press and a box of jumbled type, rented an office, and started the weekly Jasper News-Boy.

Few escaped his scoldings as the News-Boy's editor.

On crime: "A Missouri horse thief was hung to a telephone pole on his way to election...this manner of polling a voter is calculated to deaden one's interest in politics.

On Masonry: "We always thought Masonry was a good thing...but this stripping a fellow and tearing his undershirt all to pieces, we don't like. We ain't got but two undershirts."

During his editor's career, Kellie left Jasper with a mystery. In 1872, he reported that the News-Boy had received a cable from Queen Victoria asking that a subscription be sent to Buckingham Palace, claiming the News-Boy "is impossible to live without." Kellie never said if the wire was genuine or a hoax.

In 1880, Kellie left the News-Boy to fulfill a lifelong ambition. He joined a steamboat crew at Sabine Pass an eventually became a captain and pilot, but continued his New-Boy columns. He later entered politics and won a county office. "I made such a record that I got beat by a Prohibitionist. I did not believe in prohibition, and nearly every preacher took to the stump and succeeded in beating me by 100 votes," he wrote.

On his deathbed, Kellie extracted from his daughter a promise to bury him with his cherished Confederate flag in his casket.

A Galveston historian pleaded with the daughter to preserve the old flag in a museum. But she was resolute and Kellie went to his grave with the flag next to his body.

All Things Historical
January 14-20, 2001 column
Published by permission.
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
(Bob Bowman is a former president of the East Texas Historical Association and the author of 24 books on East Texas history and folklore.)


More East Texas Towns
People

Bob Bowman's East Texas
A timely gift for any East Texan. Sample a little of East Texas here, a little there--and come away with a good helping of stories you might not know if you didnít read this book.
Order Here
 
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES
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

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 | Then and Now
Vintage Photos

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | USA

Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us
Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE
Website Content Copyright ©1998-2007. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: February 9, 2007