|History in a Pecan
called Tyler's Prairie or Tyler, Texas, the community dates to a
Mexican Land Grant in 1835. In 1855 the land was purchased by A. F. Westall and
Daniel Daily (also spelled Dailey) with Dailey buying out his partner in 1859.
A Baptist church was built in 1860, first named Salem and later becoming the Pennington
Daley platted the townsite in 1866 and named it after the
town's first storekeeper, Hugh (or Hill) Pennington. A coeducational school (Pennington
College) opened its doors in 1866 and stayed in operation through 1882, changing
its name to the Steele Academy sometime between those dates. (Daniel Webster Steele
was a teacher who became the school's president).
The town was granted
a post office in 1873 and became the Trinity County seat shortly thereafter, taking
it from Trinity, Texas, a railroad hub and timber
center in the southern end of the county.
The population has been estimated
between 1,000 and 1,500 residents in the late 1870s / early 1880s. Pennington
had no railroad and when the county seat was changed to Groveton
in 1882 (coinciding with the closing of the Steele Academy) the writing was on
the wall. By 1904 the population had dropped to less than 300 and as late as 1990
maintained 100 residents which has since declined (2000) to a mere 67 people.
|"John and Allie
Madden, Earline, Honor, Johnnie Faye, and Wyatt Dean as baby, taken in 1940 at
the Old Miles' Place in Pennington, Texas. I suppose Lois Madden Davis is taking
the picture. The house was so high off of the ground that Wyatt Dean and I played
under it with wooden toys made from scrap lumber from the sawmill that was across
the road. The only remains of the sawmill now is just the old mill pond."
- Jerry Davis, Hot Springs, AR |
Life in Pennington,
Bruce A. Martin
to the “Texas State Historical Association”, Pennington, TX, once known as Tyler’s
Prairie, within the 1835 Mexican Texas Land Grant, is near the Davy Crockett National
Forest. The community was incorporated in 1901, but became unincorporated by 1904.
A likely reason that growth diminished was due to the lack of a railroad and the
movement of government to Groveton.
In the 1920’s, grandparents John and Allie Madden share-cropped on the “old Mile’s
Place”, on US Hwy 287 towards Crockett
from Pennington. Children Lois, Honor, Earline, Johnnie Faye, and Wyatt Dean attended
school in Pennington. When Earline completed school in 1940, there were about
a dozen in her graduation class.
The community had a post office, feed
store, café, and several other small businesses. Nearby is the Pennington Baptist
Church and the Pennington Cemetery. A number of the Madden family members have
In later years, John and Allie moved east of Pennington
on FM 358 and bought forty acres on which to farm. Nearby, the Reynolds operated
a gas station and a store selling basic food necessities. Farther down the road
lies the Possum Walk Cemetery, where a number of Allie’s relatives, the Mabry
line, have gravesites.
John had two horses that were used to pull the hand plow for tilling the land
for planting. He and Allie grew corn, peanuts, and potatoes as major crops and
vegetables for table use and canning. A few cows provided milk, a few hogs were
raised for slaughter, and chickens provided meat and eggs. A pond provided an
occasional fish or two. Neighbors would often barter and trade to supplement their
stores of goods throughout the year.
we went for visits, the route usually taken was through Trinity
to reach Hwy 287. Traveling in the direction of Crockett,
we would turn off on the “old red road” (don’t know that I ever knew its proper
name) which led to the corner of the Madden property on FM 358.
with family gathered, a turkey was placed in the oven on low heat and cooked overnight.
The next morning, the house was filled with the aroma of baked turkey. What a
delight! We can picture John, sitting in his rocking chair on the front porch,
waving at passers-by in their cars. Allie always had smile and a cheerful greeting
for guests. Those are lasting, pleasurable memories.
Bruce A. Martin
Jason E. Stringer |
My mother grew up in the small community of Flat Prairie,
Texas. For those who don't know Flat Prairie is a suburb of that urban metropolis
Pennington, Texas, located near the Trinity County and Houston County Line. My
grandparents, Frank and Ruby (Smith) Tidwell operated a sawmill in Flat Prairie
for many years, as well as being cotton farmers and cattle ranchers. Later on,
after my grandfather's death in 1966, my grandmother operated a small Gulf Station
and grocery store in Pennington.
By the time I came along in 1970 the
gas station was long closed, and Pennington and Flat Prairie were barely map dots,
but one thing that remained in Pennington was the neatest store I ever had the
pleasure to visit. Brannen and Walker's located on FM 358 in "downtown" Pennington...
& Allie Madden, 1940, at the Miles' Place in Pennington|
courtesy Jerry Davis, Hot Springs, AR
Courthouse Fires by Bob Bowman|
Some of the most delectable historical
desserts of East Texas are found in the yellowed documents of the thirty-plus
county courthouses scattered across the pineywoods. One such morsel is the little-known
story of two courthouse fires in Trinity County, one of the rowdiest of our early
County 1907 Postal map showing Pennington|
(NW of Groveton)
Courtesy Texas General Land
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