largely in Panola
County, this Sunday Drive will provide you with some of the
flavor of East Texas'
country and western music, a look at a ghost town, a stop at an
old railroad depot, and a drive through the beautiful pine and hardwood
forests along the Sabine River.
Start your Sunday
Drive at Carthage,
the county seat of Panola
County (Panola means cotton in Indian), where Potlatch,
a festival of arts, crafts and country foods is held every October.
named for the foreign city, but for Carthage, Mississippi.
It became the county seat in l884 when Jonathan Anderson donated
100 acres for the townsite.
If you find
yourself hungry in Carthage,
we recommend Joe's Cafe, which serves some of the best country-style
meals in the area. The meatloaf is especially good when it's on
is located about a block off the town square, where you'll find
a good collection of quaint shops as well as the Heritage Museum,
located in a restored bank building, and the Panola County Historical
Museum, located in the old county jail.
Panola Couny jail
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2006
head east on U.S. 79. Four miles out of the town, on the right
side of the highway, stop at the Jim Reeves Memorial, a tribute
to the country singer known as "Gentleman Jim". Reeves was
born near here in l924 and grew up around DeBerry.
He was killed in an airplane crash in l964. At the peak of his career,
Reeves recorded a number of successful songs, including "Bimbo," "He'll
Have To Go" and "Four Walls." He also starred in a film, "Kimberly
is also the birthplace of another famous musician, Tex
Ritter, who was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame
in l964. Ritter, christened Woodward Maurice Ritter, was born here
in l907 and intended to be a lawyer. He made his first recording,
"Rye Whiskey," in l931 and became the first artist signed by Capitol
Records in the l940s. He made more than 80 western films before he
died in l974 at Nashville, Tennessee. Ritter
is the father of another movie and television star, John Ritter. (
Timpson, Bobo, and Blair by Archie P. McDonald )
Methodist Church SE of Carthage
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2004
turn north on Farm Road 31, go through the settlement of
Fields (which means "a heavenly place"), and continue until
the highway intersects with Farm Road 2625. Follow it in
a westerly direction until you arrive at the intersection with
Texas 43. Turn south here and proceed through the town of Tatum.
you will cross the Sabine River, one of the major tributaries
in East Texas. The
name Sabine comes from a Spanish word meaning cypress and refers
to the great growth of cypress trees found on the river's lower
regions. The river, which becomes the border between Texas and Louisiana
further south, was probably named by Domingo Ramon in l716; it is
so designated on a map from l721 giving the route of the expedition
led by the Marquis de Aguayo.
you'll find a restored Sante Fe railroad depot dating back to the
days when the town bustled with railroad commerce. The depot is
located in a city park about a block east of Texas 43.
was laid off in l885 on land donated by the Tatum family when the
Not far from Tatum
is Hendrick's Lake, which has been attracting treasure hunters
since l913 when a man name Miller supposedly dredged up three silver
bars. Treasure hunters have probed the 470-acre lake (located on
private property) time and time again, using everything from ox-drawn
scoops to electronic equipment. If they've found anything of value,
they've kept the secret well.
Hendrick's Lake treasure -- supposedly several million in silver
bars and (by some acounts) two barrels of gold nuggets -- is rooted
in a legend tied to freebooter Jean
Lafitte, who reportedly took the loot from a Spanish ship
and hired a notorious smuggler, Casper (Hot Horse) Trammel, to haul
the plunder from Galveston
to St. Louis over an early road known to thieves as Trammel's
Trace. In what is now Panola
County, Spanish calvarymen intercepted the wagon train. In desperation,
Trammel ordered the wagons pushed into Hendrick's Lake and fled
with his men.
you leave Tatum,
drive a a few miles south of the community on Texas 43 and
take a left on Farm Road 1716. You'll come to a dead end
at historic Harmony Hill Cemetery, one of the last vestiges
of the old town of Harmony Hill, once a trading settlement.
Just down the road from the cemetery is Martin Creek Lake State
Park, a small but attractive lake overlooked by an electrical
generating plant. Harmony Hill was a prosperous trading center on
but died when the railroad came to Tatum,
bypassing its merchants on the old road.
Back on Texas
43, return to Tatum,
take Texas 149 southeast to the settlement of Beckville,
which was founded before the l880s by Matthew W. Beck, who settled
in the area about l850. The town was originally established about
a mile north of its present site but was moved in l887 to be near
take FM 124 and proceed in a southerly direction until you
come to the community of Fair
Play at the intersection with U.S. 79. Travelers
supposedly gave the town its name in gratitude for the way they
were treated at John Allison's store, hotel and blacksmith shop
in the l850s. One legend tells the story of a young girl, member
of a wagon train moving west, who died here and was buried in a
local cemetery. Over the years, townspeople have tended to the grave
as if it were one of their own. Just down the road from Fair
Play is another rural village known as Rake Pocket, which
supposedly got its name because merchants often cheated visitors.
Play, take U.S. 79 back to Carthage,
completing your Sunday Drive.
Book Hotel Here > Carthage
Excerpt by permission of author Mr.
Neal by Archie P. McDonald
Margie Elizabeth Neal of Carthage, Texas, really was the first woman
to do lots of things and do them well, besides.
College Among the Pines by
Archie P. McDonald
We who give "All Hail to SFA" think of our University by one of
its earlier nicknames, "The College Among The Pines." That also
described another excellent institution headquartered in Carthage,
Texas, named Panola College after its host county... more
a founder's descendant:
Andy Anderson of Cartage wrote to correct an error and to extend
a cordial invitation to visit Carthage. "Jonathon ANDERSON not Allison,
donated the 100 acres of land. Jonathan "Old Shelby" Anderson was
my Great-Great Grandfather [who is now buried] at the old plantaion
site, where the Anderson cemetery now stands. He out-lived three
wives. They are buried north & south and he is buried at their feet,
east & west." Mr. Anderson also mentions that the recently constructed
Veterans Memorial and the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame Museum
should be included under Carthage attractions. - Editor, January
for sharing your web sites ..... I grew up in the Carthage/Panola
County area and enjoyed that info. .... Tex Ritter is "Father" of
movie and tv's John Ritter. I'll try to share these sites with some
other folks. - Wayne
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history
and vintage/historic photos, please contact