Texas | Columns
by W.T. Block, Jr.
SE Texas and SW Louisiana
Bonaparte Wiess 11-23-07
River Boats of Southwest Louisiana 9-6-07
William E. Rogers: Beaumont Steamboatman 8-18-07
Once Was Prosperous Sawmill Town 8-2-07
Edward Arrel Pye, A Texas Medical Hero 6-16-07
Whenever the virulent yellow fever plague came to town, the townsmen
who were cautious packed up their families and belongings and fled
elsewhere. Sometimes a town’s physician did not leave; they stayed
to treat their patients and occasionally died...
wasn’t popular in the South 6-2-07
My great-grandpa Duncan Smith was about as popular among his slave-holding
neighbors as a skunk in church.
Trail of Thread 5-15-07
Some Alamo Heroes Fought Twice for Texas
Scull: Texas' Pioneer "Bad Girl" 5-1-07
Notes on Our Texas Germanic Heritage 3-30-07
Magill Dorman: Confederate Heroine of Sabine Pass 2-1-07
Braunfels, TX: Pearl of the Comal-Guadalupe Valley 1-1-07
Last Voyage of the Hotspur 12-16-06
1862 Hangings at Gainesville Texas 12-1-06
Deye Owings of Maryland, Kentucky and Texas 11-15-06
Conroe, Byspot and Northern: A Tram Railroad That Time Forgot
from ghosts helps stomp some berry juice 10-16-06
Notes on the Civil War Jayhawkers of Confederate Louisiana 10-3-06
John August Tubbe 9-25-06
An Immigrant Farmer, Sawmiller, and Preacher
Transplants To East Texas
The Dutch Migration To Nederland, Texas, 1895-1915 9-11-06
Peninsula: Scene of Slaving, Smuggling, Filibustering and Farms
Vitalus Quinon: Early Catholic Church Builder of Southeast Texas
was depressing, except brother's paddling 8-21-06
of Nicaragua Smith Still Haunts Graveyard 8-14-06
Case of Beaumont's Missing Marble Corpse 8-7-06
Iron Smelting Attempt In Texas Ended In Ashes 7-30-06
Big Thicket Bear Hunters Club of Kountze
"They Dream Of Killing the Bears" 7-24-06
Brief History of Pioneer Entertainment in Beaumont, Texas 7-17-06
Cross Texas Killer 7-10-06
Legend of the Olive Ghost Train 7-3-06
Hardin County, Texas 7-3-06
An Extinct Sawmill Town and the Olive-Sternenberg Partnership That
Story of our Texas' German Pilgrims: or Death March to Comal County
"Of the first German Pilgrims to Texas in 1845... only one
in four survived the walk from Indianola to New Braunfels"
Hanging Tree of Orange Texas 6-19-06
River Rat Boys 6-11-06
"He had just made his promise to me, and I knew it was as good
as gold. Pa's like that--he always said his word was his bond...."
Remember "The Lucky Stiffs" 6-5-06
"...The day before, the 309th Infantry had jumped across the
Roer River, making a lightning advance into the weakly-defended
Rhineland, but several of our 78th Division soldiers had died during
of Reptilian 'Big Tooth' drew crowds 5-29-06
Eastland, Texas may have had Ol' Rip, but Southeast Texas had 'Big
slave's death in 1889 attracted rare news coverage 5-22-06
In February 1889, Beaumont Enterprise published an obituary about
a Black centenarian, nicknamed "Old Sock," in an age when Black
obituaries were usually printed only in Negro newspapers...
manager paid big price by dismissing 'untouchable' 5-14-06
Legend of Ann Eliza's Grave 5-8-06
"It soon became a byword among the Sabine River boatmen that
no other grave ever received more attention than that of Ann Eliza
Island on Mermentau River, A Slave Ship's Inhumanity
"... It was the story of 200 starving African slaves abandoned
on a marsh ridge on Mermentau River, where they were left to die
Legend of the Headless Yankee Cannoneer of Sabine Pass 4-24-06
"I already foresee that some character will accuse me of stealing
this yarn from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but I'm going to tell
Carey's Escape from the Murderous Yocum Gang 4-15-06
"... Carey not only survived his slated assassination and dismemberment
in Yocum's alligator slough, but he lived instead to finger the
gang and account for its destruction."
The Devil's Own Lodging House 4-5-06
"A gentleman's life... held no attraction for Squire Yocum,
a man who literally was nursed almost from the cradle on murder
and rapine, and for many years Yocum's Inn was actually a den of
robbers and killers."
begins April 2006
7/29/1920 - 12/15/2007
as "an old infantry dogface from the Battle of the Bulge," W.T.
"Cannonball" Block was born in Port
Neches and raised in Nederland,
Texas. He graduated from Chenier Radio College in Beaumont,
earning both a marine radio operator's license and a Broadcast or
Radiotelephone license. He operated an amateur radio station (and
repair shop) from his home until he enlisted in the Army in August
of 1942. Assigned to Camp Wallace at Hitchcock, he put his radio
experience to work teaching radio operation and repair. When Camp
Wallace closed in 1943, he was transferred to the 78th Signal Co.
of the 78th Inf Div. His unit crossed Belgium under fire, crossed
the Rhine and after intense mortar and artillery fire, saw the end
of the war on German soil.
After surviving the war, Mr. Block returned to deal with the perils
of SE Texas - including a near-fatal boiler explosion at a tire
plant and three hurricanes. In 1964, he began night classes at Lamar
University toward a degree in history. He received his BA in late
1970 and his MA in January of 1974. His passion for history was
demonstrated when his advisor suggested that he stop his thesis
with the end of the Civil War. At that point it was already 300
pages in length.
1972 and 1995 Mr. Block published nine books and has several unpublished
manuscripts. He began writing East Texas and Louisiana history columns
for the Port Arthur News, and later the Beaumont Enterprise.
His column was also picked up by the Midcounty Chronicle,
DeQuincy News and the Cameron Pilot. His final article
was published Dec. 31, 2005, at his request.
In April of 2003, Mr. Block became Sir Block. In a ceremony in Nederland,
Texas he was appointed Knight of the Royal Order of Orange-Nassau
by order of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
His dedication to East Texas history and his inclusion of Louisiana
History is an inspiration. It proves that no one can beat a passionate
native-born historian for detail and research. Mr. Block has stated
that he only writes "for the dissemination of knowledge" and he
has graciously allowed Texas Escapes to republish his columns. We
are proud to be able to share his wide-ranging articles with a Texas-wide
audience. The setting may be SE Texas, but the themes and characters
are truly "universal."
Mr. Block's website is www.wtblock.com