in a Pecan Shell
Things Historical" column by Bob Bowman:
One of my favorite chores with the Texas Historical Commission is
to travel around East Texas
and help local historians dedicate historical markers to places that
might otherwise be lost in time.
Buena Vista is one of my favorite places because it has such a colorful
history, and a few weeks ago we helped dedicate a marker to its cemetery.
Buena Vista was once called “Buck Snort,” supposedly because
a large buck snorted at “granny” Elizabeth Richards when she tried
to chase him from he pea patch. The name Buck Snort was later applied
to a political faction that controlled Shelby County’s political affairs
for years. Although the name was used in derision, the “Buck Snort
Clique” was respected for its ability to elect politicians.
Joseph Penn Burns, who received more than 4,000 acres for fighting
with the U.S. Army in its war with Mexico
in the 1840s, gave the community the name Buena Vista, which mans
“beautiful view,” for a town where he fought a battle.
Burns set aside ten acres for a cemetery and, ironically, his wife
was the first burial there.
Another early settler was John C. Morrison, whose wife was the niece
of Texas Governor Oran M. Roberts. Before coming to Buena Vista, Morrison
and his family had lived in places like Terrapin Neck and Lick
Morrison opened one of the town’s first stores, and had his goods
shipped all the way from New Orleans.
One of his shipments was a barrel of whiskey. Pestered by the town’s
men for a drink, Morrison opened the barrel and scooped out a bucket
and set it on the store’s steps for the men. They soon became drunk
and began fighting among themselves.
Buena Vista was once a leading trade center in East
Texas with a territory extending from Nacogdoches
to Shreveport and from Carthage
to Shelbyville and San
By 1884, the town had a tanning yard, a school, a grist mill, cotton
gin, bowling alley, stores, a church, post office, saloons and a racetrack.
In the 1880s the Houston, East and West Texas considered a
route through Buena Vista, but the surveyor wanted a large sum of
money to chart the line through the town.
Infuriated, a merchant who headed the town’s negotiating committee
felt it was bribery, and rejected the surveyor’s office.
The railroad bypassed the town and towns like Timpson
and Tenaha sprouted on the line and
drew away Buena Vista’s merchants and economy.
In two years, Buena Vista was a ghost town.
Things Historical July 2, 2008
Published with permission
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