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Thursday, December 30, 2010

1894 :: Hamilton-Henry Wedding

Bethlehem Community
To the Messenger:
December 24 [1894].

Once more I come, heralding the news from old Bethlehem. Since my departure it seems that marriage bells have been substituted for [Christ]mas bells. I have attended weddings for the past two weeks and still have several invitations left.

Last Thursday night [i.e., 20th December 1894] both young and old began to congregate at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Henry Sr., [my 2nd great-grandparents] for the purpose of witnessing the marriage ceremony between J. D. Hamilton and their daughter, Ella, conducted by Hon. W. D. Wells of Rockdale, with J. B. Henry and Miss Cornelia Bowling, Hubert Phillips and Miss Elma Rettig as attendants.

After which the entire crowd was ushered into the dining room, where they partook of a most wonderful, excellent and appetizing repast.

Well Mr. Editor, as I have an invitation to attend a wedding at Mr. and Mrs. Thos. Phillips, I will close by giving a list of presents. Enclosed please find some of the wedding cake.

The presents were as follows:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Thos. Phillips, table cloth
  • Miss Della Phillips, glass set
  • Miss Isa Phillips, set of casters
  • Mr. Hubert Phillips, syrup pitcher
  • Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Rettig, cake stand
  • Miss Elma Rettig, fruit dish
  • Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Bowling, fruit stand
  • Miss Nona Bowling, fruit dish
  • Miss Cornelia Rettig, head rest
  • Mrs. Lizzie Baumgartner of Iowa, photograph case
  • Mrs. M. F. Antony, set goblets [i.e., Margaret Frances Antony nee Davis (1833-1912), sister of Mother of the bride]
  • Messrs. Wallace Moody and Jno. Gore, pair towels and syrup pitcher
  • Mrs. S. H. Sharp, dusting brush [i.e., Emma Sharp nee Henry (1872-1944), sister of the bride, & twin sister of my great-grandpa]
  • Mr. J. B. Henry, set cups and saucers and spoons [i.e., Jerome Bonapart Henry (1870-1956), brother of the bride]
  • Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Henry Jr., price of present [i.e., William Paschal Henry, Jr. (1868-1941), brother of the bride, & his wife, Annie Mae Henry nee Calvert (1874-1950)]
  • Mr. L. O. Stewart, cake plate [i.e., Louis O. Stewart (b. June 1873), a 1st cousin of Berta Mary Sharp (1873-1955) who is the future wife of a brother of the bride, & my great-grandma]
  • Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Henry Sr., plates, knives and forks, salt and pepper stand, glass set, pair linen towels, table cloth, set glasses and lamp [parents of the bride, and 2nd great-grandparents of the Keeper of this geneablog]

Sweethearts Join Hands in 1894 Christmas Wedding . . . A copy of the above newspaper article turned up in my files -- source unknown. I assume it probably came from my 1st cousin once removed, Georgia Faye (Henry) Kaseberg (1925-2001), as she was always so good about giving me copies of whatever finds she made.

  • Bride :: Ella May Hamilton nee Henry :: born 26 October 1875 in Grayson County, Texas :: died 14 December 1967 in Rockdale, Milam County, Texas :: a daughter of my 2nd great-grandparents, William Paschal Henry (1836-1912) and Josephine Wingfield Henry nee Davis (1842-1899)
  • Groom :: James David Hamilton :: born 19 September 1872 in Kentucky :: died 03 May 1922 in Rockdale, Milam County, Texas after coming in contact with a high-powered electric wire following a storm :: son of Joseph David Hamilton (1832-1905) and Mary Katherine Hamilton nee Hughes (1842-1906)

1894 :: Christmas Weddings in Rockdale

The Galveston Daily News, Sunday, December 30, 1894. MARRIAGES. ROCKDALE MARRIAGES. Rockdale, Milam Co., Tex., Dec. 28. -- At the residence of Mr. W.H. Henry, two miles north of Rockdale, Mr. J.D. Hamilton and Miss Ella Henry were married on December 21 [sic].

At the residence of Mr. Henry Lockwood in this city on Christmas day at 5 o'clock Mr. W.H. Knight of Cisco and Miss Matie Bagley of this city.

At the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Phillips, three miles north of Rockdale, Mr. W.N. Vesey and Miss Della Phillips, both of this county, on the night of the 25th.

Mr. A.M. Scarbrough left Sunday for Van Buren, Ark., where he was married on the 26th instant.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

1888 :: Merry Christmas. Entertainments at Rockdale

The Galveston Daily News. 
Friday, December 28, 1888.
Merry Christmas. Entertainments at Rockdale. Rockdale, Tex., December 27. -- Christmas eve was duly celebrated here by two public entertainments. From 7 o'clock to 8:30 p.m. the doors of the Baptist church were open to all desiring to participate in the distribution of presents from a handsome tree which had been erected in the edifice. This is but another of the many generous acts of the Baptists here, who, being in possession of the largest church structure, never fail to allow the public, on proper occasions, to avail itself of the advantages offered by their commodious building. 

Promptly after the exercises at the Baptist church, as many as could gain admittance crowded into the opera-house, where Mrs. J. H. Cone combined the distribution of prizes to her music class with a novel Christmas boat, which appeared on the stage laden with gifts from Santa Claus. Much praise is awarded to Mrs. Cone for her management of this affair, and her patrons were well pleased with the advancement of her pupils as evidenced by their playing and singing. 

At both entertainments Miss Texie Owsley, one of Rockdale's most amiable young ladies, gave some specimens in elocution, in which department she has been applying herself for some time at the Waco Baylor university. Miss Owsley acquitted herself most creditably. Christmas day was miserable in point of weather.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

1932 :: Wounds Fatal to Man

Dallas Morning News. December 25, 1932. Wounds Fatal to Man. Special to The News. Rockdale, Texas, Dec. 24. -- Luther Pickens died here Saturday as a result of gunshot wounds received Friday night at the home of his mother. Mrs. Jane Pickens at Chapman City. He died upon arrival at a hospital.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

1915 :: Dr. Sessions files for Bankruptcy

New York Times. December 23, 1915. Out of Town. Special to The New York Times. Waco, Texas, Dec. 22. -- I.P. Sessions, physician of Rockdale, Texas, filed voluntary petition in bankruptcy in Federal Court here, listing liabilities of $70,129, assets of $56,660, and $2,500 exempt.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

1956 :: Writer Still Missing

New York Times. December 18, 1956. Writer Still Missing. Connecticut Police Continue Search for Perry. Guilford, Conn., Dec. 17 (UP) -- The police said today that George Sessions Perry, missing writer, was not in the area of his home here. The 46-year-old author and magazine writer has been missing since Thursday. The police searched the woods and two ponds near his home, but could find no trace of him. Joseph Quinlan, police chief, said he was "positive" Mr. Perry was not in the area.

Friday, December 17, 2010

1956 :: Search for Writer Vain

New York Times. December 17, 1956. Search for Writer Vain. George Sessions Perry Still Missing From His Home. Guilford, Conn., Dec. 16 (AP) -- The police may abandon the search for the missing magazine writer, George Sessions Perry, tomorrow. Mr. Perry, 46 years old, has been missing from his home near here since Thursday. His wife found him gone when she returned home from a dentist's appointment. Mr. Perry wrote the "Cities of America" series for The Saturday Evening Post.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

1956 :: Helicopter Joins Hunt for Writer

New York Times. December 16, 1956. Helicopter Joins Hunt for Writer. But Searchers Fail to Find George Sessions Perry in Woods Near Home. By Richard H. Parke. Special to The New York Times

Guilford, Conn., Dec. 15 -- A wide search of the countryside failed again today to find any trace of George Sessions Perry. The 46-year-old magazine writer disappeared from his home here Thursday. The police and volunteer firemen from Guilford and neighboring communities tramped through miles of field and woodland surrounding Mr. Perry's home on Clapboard Hill Road, about three miles from here. This afternoon a helicopter took part in the hunt. Mr. Perry has suffered for some years with arthritis. He disappeared some time between 12:30 and 3 P.M. on Thursday while his wife, Claire, and Mrs. Milton MacKaye, wife of another writer, were on a visit to a dentist. He was in bed when the two women left. Mrs. Perry told Police Chief Joseph Quinlan that she and Mrs, MacKaye found him gone when they returned. They assumed he had gone to look for his Springer spaniel, Mr. Mutt. The dog, which had been missing for two days, was found last night at the home of a neighbor.

Not Heavily Dressed. Mr. Perry was wearing a tweed jacket, corduroy trousers and loafers when he left home, according to his wife. The Perry home is a large rambling colonial farmhouse that the couple purchased in 1944. They also maintain a home in Rockdale, Tex. They are in the habit of spending their summers in Guilford, and this year, Mrs. Perry said to day, they were considering remaining here for the winter. Mr. Perry, who is almost six-and-one-half-feet tall, has undergone intensive treatment for his arthritic condition and spent some months recently at the Grace-New Haven Community Hospital. Friends said he had shown marked improvement since his hospital stay, although he continued to walk with difficulty. He was said to have been generally in good spirits with only occasional periods of despondency. Mr. Perry has been a contributor to The Saturday Evening Post for many years. He and his wife originated the Cities of America series for the magazine.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

1956 :: Hard Rain Limits Hunt for George Sessions Perry

New York Times. December 15, 1956. Magazine Writer Sought in Woods. Hard Rain Limits Hunt for George Sessions Perry in Guilford, Conn. 

Guilford, Conn., Dec. 14 (AP) -- The police and firemen searched rain-sodden woods in vain today for George Sessions Perry, nationally known magazine writer. He disappeared from his home here Thursday afternoon. Mr. Perry and friends said they feared that the 46-year-old writer, who suffers from arthritis, had become lost in the woods while searching for his springer spaniel, Mr. Mutt, lost since Tuesday night. Police Chief Joseph Quinlan said he wanted the searchers to check a pond, partly on Mr. Perry's property, into which the writer may have fallen. The pond was dragged yesterday. However, Chief Quinlan said, "it's so full of stumps and trees that you can't do a very thorough job. We want to drain it, and we opened the dam a little more today; but it's raining so hard that the water runs in as fast as it runs out." Mr. Perry disappeared while his wife and Mrs. Milton MacKaye, wife of a fellow-writer, were on a two-hour trip to visit a dentist. "He was in bed when we left," Mrs. MacKaye said, "and when we found him gone when we got back, we supposed he had gone to look for the dog. We looked by ourselves for about an hour, and then we called the police because it was beginning to get dark. He had no identification on him, and we thought for a while me might have been picked up by somebody who took him to a hospital and didn't know who he was." Mr. Perry was wearing only a tweed jacket, corduroy trousers and loafers when he left home, Mrs. MacKaye said. He carried no wallet. Mr. Perry, who is almost six and a half feet tall, is a frequent contributor to the Saturday Evening Post. He and Mrs. Perry originated the "Cities of America" series for that magazine. They wrote the first several articles in the series.

Monday, December 13, 2010

1956 :: George Sessions Perry Disappears

Southwestern Historical Quarterly. Vol. CVI, No. 1. July 2002. A Brief Peace: The Postwar Years of George Sessions Perry by Garna L. Christian. Whatever childhood or wartime demons hovered over George Sessions Perry as he disembarked from the European front of World War II, the fates appeared to favor his every turn. . . . A scant decade later, this fortuitous future lay submerged with Perry in an ice-bound Connecticut river, claiming the life of one of the most widely read writers in America. . . . Perry disappeared from his Guilford farmhouse between noon and three-thirty on the afternoon of December 13, 1956, when Claire left for a dental appointment. Since he apparently wore only a light coat and a pair of pants against the winter chill, his wife surmised that he had gone out to look for his missing spaniel, "Mister Mutt." After the dog returned alone, a fruitless search by police, firemen, and even a helicopter crew cast gloom on the prospects of recovery. An outpouring of messages of advice and hope included an offer from Post publishers to involve the governor in the search. The local police chief, a friend of the Perrys, recalled George recently "look[ing] remote" and having said, "The best thing I can do in this depressed state is either to jump into the river and swim to the North Pole or run into the woods until I drop." Two months to the day of his disappearance, a bridge inspector found Perry's nude body wedged against an abutment in the East River, several miles from his home. A coroner judged his death "consistent with suicide."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

1899 :: Baxter-DeGrassi Wedding

The Rockdale Messenger, Thur., 7 Dec 1899. Marriage - Winnette Duke DeGrassi and Miss Moselle Baxter were married in the beautifully decorated parlor of the bride's parents, Mr. & Mrs. B. B. Baxter on Thursday evening of last week by Rev. T. G. Alfred. A wedding feast followed in the dining hall. Mr. DeGrassi has been well known in Rockdale and at one time lived here. Miss Baxter is the second oldest daughter.

Friday, December 3, 2010

1903 :: Douthit files Deed of Trust

Business Matters. Files Deed of Trust. 

Special to The News. Cameron, Tex., Dec. 2. -- B.F. Douthit of Rockdale filed a deed of trust late yesterday afternoon, naming H.L. Witcher of that place as trustee. Douthit was in the jewelry business. His liabilities show about $2,315.63. The assets are not stated, but consist of the stock and fixtures.

The following are among the largest creditors: Mrs. Flora Douthit, Palestine, $850; Dr. R.W. Wallace, Rockdale, $310; Morgan & Hawley, Dallas, $380; L. Boumen Jewelry Company, St. Louis, $212.

Dallas Morning News, December 3, 1903

Thursday, December 2, 2010

1936 :: Mrs. Martha Smith

Mrs. Martha Smith, 99, Dies in Milam County. 

Special to The News. Rockdale, Texas. Dec. 1. -- Milam County's oldest citizen, Mrs. Martha Smith, 99, died Sunday at her home at Sandy Creek, seven miles from Rockdale.

Mrs. Smith was born in Grimes County Sept. 14, 1837. She was three times married. Her late husband, Joseph M. Smith, a Confederate veteran, served as the Justice of the Peace at Cameron for many years.

Following the death of her husband in 1911, Mrs. Smith had made her home with her son-in-law, John Williams, who is 86 years old. His daughter and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Coleman, for a number of years cared for the aged people.

Her two surviving sons, Jim and Tom Rogers, are in their seventies. She also leaves a large number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Dallas Morning News, December 2, 1936

Friday, November 26, 2010

1931 :: Thanksgiving Reunion

1931 Rockdale Reunion of Henry-Davis Descendants

In his 18th October 1931 radio address, President Herbert Hoover said that, "I appeal to the American people to make November 26 next the outstanding Thanksgiving Day in the history of the United States; that we may say on that day that America has again demonstrated her ideals; ... that upon this Thanksgiving Day we have removed the fear of the forthcoming winter from the hearts of all who are suffering and in distress -- that we are our brother's keeper." . . . Some members of my maternal grandpa's family apparently took this message to heart, for the group photo in the above collage is from a November 1931 family reunion held in Rockdale, Milam County, Texas. These family members (from left to right) are --

  • Emma Sharp nee Henry (1872-1944) [widowed twin sister of Edgar Henry]
  • Ella Hamilton nee Henry (1875-1967) [widowed younger sister of Edgar Henry]
  • W.P. Henry, Jr. (1868-1941) [oldest brother of Edgar Henry]
  • Annie Henry nee Calvert (1874-1950) [wife of W.P. Henry, Jr.]
  • Jerome Bonapart Henry (1870-1956) [older brother of Edgar Henry]
  • Sudie Henry nee Criswell (1881-1961) [wife of J.B. Henry]
  • Edgar Henry (1872-1950)
  • Berta Mary Henry nee Sharp (1873-1955)

The last named -- Edgar and Berta (Sharp) Henry -- are maternal great-grandparents to the Keeper of this history blog. By 1931, they had been farming in west Texas for more than a decade, so it was probably quite a big deal for them to travel back to Rockdale (their former as well as future home) during the desolate years of the depression. My connection to them is through their son, Robert E. Henry (1905-1976). In November of 1931, Robert was living in Massachusetts with his very pregnant 1st wife, Elizabeth, and their son, Robert, Jr., so they are not listed as being amongst the attendees. A little over two months later, Elizabeth would die following the birth of their daughter (my Mom).

I am extremely thankful that somebody in the family took the time to sit down and write out the details of this gathering, and to submit the article to the local paper (The Rockdale Reporter) -- and I am grateful for whoever sat down and clipped this news story from the newspaper and carefully preserved it over the years until it finally passed into the caring hands of a cousin, who shared it with me. The following transcription of the yellowed and crumbling newspaper clipping of that article was e-mailed to me in 1999 by Peggy Skeeters nee Fergeson (a 3rd cousin). The bold text is the original wording, and the remaining text is notes that I have added for the purpose of clarification, etc.

On Sunday, [sic] November 26 [sic], 1931, a happy event took place at the home of Mrs. Ella Hamilton in this city [Rockdale]. It was a get-together of the Henry family for the first time in twenty years. W. P. Henry and Mrs. Ella Hamilton being the only ones left in the old home town.

The 26th day of November in 1931 was Thanksgiving Day, and was on a Thursday. The photos from that gathering are actually dated Sunday, 22nd November 1931. Mayhaps the members of this family -- who had scattered over the years -- had an extended (and long-overdue) multi-day "reunion" at the Hamilton home that was located at 604 West Cameron in Rockdale, Milam County, Texas.

Dr. and Mrs. T. E. Riddle were guests at this occasion, they being old friends and Dr. Riddle the family physician.

Thomas E. Riddle came to Texas from Tennessee as a young man and was engaged in farming and ranching while studying medicine. It was by long hard work that he prepared to take and successfully passed the medical examinations. Thus he proudly "hung out his shingle" and framed his certificate for his office. He was one of those rare individuals whose treatment included medicinal aids and prayer. Many of his medicines he prepared from plants, herbs and roots. These he carried with him in his saddle bag as he became a familiar figure moving mile after mile among the early day residents. Many long vigils were kept by this good man as he faithfully fulfilled the Hippocratic oath he had taken years before. Dr. Riddle served in the Confederate Army with McCord's Texas Cavalry, Company F, was a lifelong member of the Baptist Church, and was a Mason. It is probable that Dr. Riddle served Rockdale and its surrounding territory longer than any other doctor in the history of the town. His death occurred in 1934 and he is buried among many lifelong friends of yesteryears in the family cemetery. . . . from A History of Rockdale, Texas 1874-1974 edited by Mrs. Ida Jo Marshall (1903-1982).

Everyone came early, talked and enjoyed themselves. The dining room was decorated with lovely ferns and chrysanthemums. The table spread in picnic style, then came the time to eat, and everyone seemed ready. Dr. Riddle returned thanks. In the afternoon some pictures were taken. Then came the parting time but all declared that they had enjoyed themselves. All the relatives were present except nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. 

See separate list > HERE < of all those not listed as attendees within this article. If the previous statement is correct, then there were quite a few at the reunion who didn't get listed in the 1931 newspaper article.

Grandpa Henry was born in Kentucky, came from there to Sherman in Grayson county. There he was married to Josephine Davis, she being a relative of Jefferson Davis. Grandmother was born in Georgia. Eight children were born to this union, three dying when infants. 

According to an entry in Josephine's family Bible, "Josephine W. Davis married to Wm. P. Henry at the residence of Mr. James W. Lance March 1st 1864." We now know that marriage took place in Brazoria County, Texas, in which county Josephine was enumerated on the 1860 census. :: As of this date, I have still not found any connection to Jefferson Davis. :: Regarding the children born to this couple, according to entries in the family Bible --

  • Born in Brazoria County Texas October 20th 1865 Margaret Ann Henry
  • Margaret Ann Henry died April 19th 1868
  • Wm. P. Henry, Jr. born October 3rd 1868
  • Jerome Bonepart Henry born April 18th 1870
  • Emma & Edgar Henry born January 31st 1872
  • Harry Henry born July 31st 1874
  • Harry Henry died in Sherman January 10th 1875
  • Ella May and Jesse Eugene Henry were born in Grayson County Texas October 26 A.D. 1875
  • Jesse Eugene Henry died September 1876

On Oct. 3, 1876, the Henrys arrived in Rockdale to visit a sister and family of the Mrs. Henry's, it being Dr. and Mrs. M. F. Anthony, who at that time had the post office and drug store combined on the corner where the Wolf Hotel now stands. 

This would be Margaret, Josephine's only sister. Margaret's husband (and also their 1st cousin once removed) was Dr. Milton Antony, Jr. He was a Confederate Surgeon in Brazoria County during the war between the states, and was the third Postmaster in Rockdale, serving 06th June 1876 to 26th April 1877 (which was one month after the entire wooden portion of Rockdale burned). He was a practicing physician in both Cameron and Rockdale. Margaret and Milton are buried in the Old City Cemetery in Rockdale.

The Wolf sat on the northeast corner of the intersection of Main and Milam. According to a history of Rockdale published in 1936, a two-story stone and brick bank building was erected in 1875, which later became the Wolf Hotel, and then, c. 1935, the American Legion Hall. An 1885 map of Rockdale does show a bank at that location, and on the corner across the street is a post office in the Mundine House (now McVoy's).

A year before Josephine went to Rockdale to visit her sister, Margaret, the following item appeared in the 12th November 1875 issue of the Galveston Weekly News: "There are street fights occurring (in Rockdale) almost every day and the officers of the law seem to enjoy it, taking their fines, never giving offenders the least word of warning or lecture. Nothing better could be expected when they license women of ill fame for ten dollars a month and receive half of the fines and their compensation. The most disgusting of it is, when they choose, these officers step beyond their authority and utterly disregard the law at pleasure. Every day or two some very interesting scenes occur in the pettifoggeries of Rockdale."

And a just a year before that 1875 report, the same paper, in the 09th November 1874 issue, described the brand new city of Rockdale as being "delightfully located in a thriving section of the county. . . . there are two or three banks, fifty or sixty merchants, and plenty of saloons, and has generally all the appearances of a railroad town. . . . While all it new and in some degree crude, there are some fine stone and brick buildings. . . . Where a population of eighteen hundred now thrive, was ten months ago the home of the deer, and the pleasure ground of the black bear."

Grandpa liked the country so he moved to a place just across the road from Dr. Riddle, just south of town, and stayed there awhile. He then bought 100 acres of land three miles north of town, moved there, and raised his family, . . .

Milam County Record, Volume 54 Page 526-529 . . . Know all men by these presents that I, Mary Estes of the State and County aforesaid in consideration of the payment of a promissory note . . . for three hundred ($300) Dollars given by W. P. Henry, have granted, bargained sold and released and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell and release unto the said W. P. Henry all that tract or parcel of land known as a part of a two league survey . . . containing an area of one hundred acres of land. . . . Witness my hand this the 14 day of December 1878.

. . . lived there until his death, Feb. 10, 1911.

According to William Paschal Henry's printed obituary (actually a photocopy of an undated newspaper clipping), as well as his tombstone, he died in 1912, not 1911.

Grandmother was killed Oct. 28, 1899.

According to her tombstone, Josephine Wingfield Henry nee Davis died the 28th January 1899. Family lore said that she was drug to death by the hair of her head when it became entangled in the wheels of her buggy, but we were never able to find a newspaper account of her death in the existing newspapers for that time period. After receiving this conflicting information regarding Josephine's date of death, my Mom went to the Rockdale Public Library to once again peruse the microfilm copies of the 1899 Rockdale Reporter, and sure enough -- in the 01st November 1899 issue, she found write-ups supporting the family lore.

Three of the children left here at different times. W. P. Henry and Mrs. Ella Hamilton are the only ones left in the old home . . . (crumbled edge, but I would guess the word missing is town) Those present on this occasion . . . (part of the word "occasion" is crumbled away) . . .

  • W. P. Henry (Jr. 1868-1941),
  • Miss Grace Henry (1908-1996) . . . (Henry is frayed & the first part of someone's name is crumbled away; the next line begins with) . . .
  • (Er) nest Henry ("Buck," 1911-1995),
  • Mr. and Mrs. (Birdie Henry 1894-1943)
  • Jack (Kyle) . . . (crumbled) . . . and
  • Lucille,
  • Graham (1917-1984),
  • We(l) to (n) . . . (crumbled) . . . Delbert Kyle,
  • Mr. and Mrs. (William Clinton 1896-1969) . . . (frayed) . . . Henry and
  • Nathlee Henry,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Will (Pearl Henry 1899-1981) Vogel,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Eddie (Bessie Henry 1901-1964) Backhaus and
  • Ruth Backhaus,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Joe Henry (1903-1955) and
  • Wesley Bert Henry.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Jerome (1870-1956) Henry and granddaughter,
  • Gloria Sue, of San Antonio;
  • Mrs. Emma (nee Henry 1872-1944) Sharp, Crockett;
  • Mr. and Mrs. Edgar (1872-1950) Henry, Norton;
  • Mr. and Mrs. Sylas (Ruby Henry 1895-1978) Christian, Rockdale;
  • Frank (1899-1952) and
  • Nellie (1912-1996) Henry, Norton;
  • Mrs. Ella (nee Henry 1875-1967) Hamilton,
  • Misses Laura (1898-1987) and
  • Ruth (1909-1998) and
  • Harry (1913-1983) Hamilton, Rockdale.
Those who were visitors:

  • Dr. (1838-1934) and Mrs. T. E. Riddle and
  • Miss Docle Williams, Rockdale;
  • Cleve Calvert, and
  • Miss Margaret Calvert, Houston;
  • Milton Phillips, Norton;
  • Mrs. Ida Halyard (1871-1964), Crockett. [sister of Berta Mary]

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Every Family Has One :: My Hometown

My Hometown . . . when I return . . .
the main street still is filled with pleasant faces and glad hellos
with an atmosphere of calm . . . with time for neighborly concern
with joy in sharing another's fortune
or heartfelt words to one who mourns.
Hometown is more than just a town
it is a way of life, a place of peace and quiet
and when I return it is as if I have never been gone
and in my heart I have not.
Craig E. Sathoff

Old Rockdale postcard . . .
Main St. north from I & G. N. Depot, Rockdale, Texas

The postcard has been reproduced in multiple Rockdale publications . . .
location / ownership / existence of original unknown . . .

According to a newspaper clipping from the files of my cousin, Peggy (Ferguson) Skeeters, a Henry family reunion was held at the old Hamilton homeplace in Rockdale, Milam County, Texas sometime in 1931. That yellowed and crumbling piece of paper recorded the following about the arrival of my 2nd great-grandpa, William Paschal Henry (1836-1912), and his family in the brand-new town of Rockdale, Milam County, Texas . . .

On Oct. 3, 1876, the Henrys arrived in Rockdale to visit a sister and family of Mrs. Henry's, it being Dr. and Mrs. M. F. Anthony, who at that time had the post office and drug store combined on the corner where the Wolf Hotel now stands.

That is the Hotel Wolf in the lower right corner of the above collage, with an arrow pointing to the same building on the old Rockdale postcard. The Hotel had gone out of business before 1935 when Rockdale's American Legion post purchased the building.

During World War II the building's second story was lopped off and its Main Street front was shortened and remodeled. A stage was added and the hall became the place to be for dances and music for almost 20 years. Rockdale Reporter, 06 Aug 1998

When I was in high school (the 60's), we frequently spent a portion of our weekend hours attending teen dances -- with real live bands! -- in the un-airconditioned bottom-half of this building. My parents were regular fixtures as chaperones at these events.

Directly across the street was McVoy's Grocery Store where my parents shopped weekly. Every Friday, my widowed Grandma, who never learned to drive, had her grocery list ready for Mom or Dad to take with them to McVoy's. There was a large wooden magazine rack near the front door where I would sit and read comic books while Mom checked out. Mr. Galbreath kept the produce stocked and freshly washed, and would give us pieces of fresh sugar cane to chew on. The meat market at McVoy's was where Mom bought steak cutlets for making her infamous chicken-fried steak with cream gravy which NONE of us have ever been able to replicate.

I was back on Main Street in June of 2009 while in Rockdale for the 75th Annual Rockdale Homecoming as well as my Mom's 60th RHS Class Reunion, where I was flattered to be told by numerous people (who had known Mom since the 40s) that, "You look just like your Mom!"

At the Homecoming gathering, one lady said to me, "Aren't you the one who found the snake in the bedroom when you were babysitting Delaine?" That was also during high school in the 60s! I was babysitting for the local pharmacist in his home. The baby and I were sitting in the rocker / recliner in her nursery when I saw a snake come crawling in the room! I got out of the room with Delaine and shut the door (which wasn't much of a barrier since it had such a gap at the bottom) and called my trusty Dad at our home (no cell phones in those days). Dad was there immediately, but it took him a while to find and kill the poisonous copperhead -- it had crawled up into the coils under the rocker / recliner!

Before I left town, we (me & Mom & my sister) visited the Dan Kubiak exhibit at the I&GN Depot, and I also took a few photos of Joy Graham's Bit of History building on Cameron Avenue.

The journey back home to Main Street was nostalgic, while somehow filled with the sweet assurance that at Home we are not forgotten. These people knew me as a child. They knew my grandparents. And in some cases, their parents and grandparents knew my ancestors. And many of the families of Rockdale have somehow managed to climb into my family tree!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

1899 :: An Awful Accident

The Rockdale Messenger
Rockdale, Texas
Thursday, November 2, 1899

Accident - Mrs. W. P. Henry who has lived on the Cameron road, 3-miles from Rockdale for over 20-years left her son’s home on the Dr. A. C. Isaacs farm, about 3-miles beyond her home, to come home and as was her habit, she pushed her buggy animal, a gray mare that she has driven for several years, into a lope.

She drove over the hill at the home of George Banzhaf and turning down the hill, Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Bradly were going from Rockdale to their home beyond Minerva in a light spring wagon, seeing the vehicle coming down the hill near them, pulled their team, a pair of young mules, to one side to give the road, but before the left wheel had cleared the track to the right fore wheel of Mrs. Henry’s buggy struck the hub of the wagon wheel and smashed it.

The woman had probably never seen the wagon or saw it too late to stop, and she was pitched foremost and fell with her dead between the left fore wheel of the buggy and shafts and was so held that her hair was wound around the buggy hub and spindle and she was held there until some young man, met the buggy at the gate near the old Ferguson place, more than a half-mile this side of where the accident occurred.

She was dead when found as her neck was broken. She was buried at the Pleasant Grove cemetery Sunday evening. She leaves a husband and five grown children, three sons and two daughters, all married. Brother Henry does not blame the drivers of the wagon for the accident but thinks they should have ascertained the results before driving home.

Monday, November 1, 2010

1899 :: Deplorable Tragedy

The Rockdale Reporter
Rockdale, Texas
Wednesday, November 1, 1899

Estimable Lady Meets Death Through an Accident

Last Saturday news reached Rockdale that Mrs. W.P. Henry had been killed by her horse running away with her.

When she was found between her home and that of George Banzoff, near the gate that leads to Dr. Isaac’s home, she was lying across the axle dead, with her hair and clothing wound around the spindle of the buggy.

One of the wheels was broken, and the rim of this broken wheel was found near the Murray school house, from which place she was dragged to where she was found.

The road indicated that the horse had been frightened and ran away. The wheel showed that the rim of the wheel had received a wrench and broke it loose from the spokes.

Her funeral took place Sunday at Murray school house, and a large procession of friends and relatives witnessed the ceremonies that consigned her body to its last repose.

She was the wife of W.P. Henry, one of our most substantial and upright farmers and the mother of five children, all grown [plus three who died young].
The Reporter extends sympathy to the bereaved family.

Later Developments

Since the account of the tragic death of Mrs. W.P. Henry, on another page of this paper, was printed, we learned the following details in regard to her death.

As she was nearing the house of Geo. Banzhoff, her buggy ran into a wagon in which were two young men*, Messrs. Bradley and Jenkins.

This collision broke the rim off the wheel referred to in the other account, and evidently she was thrown out of the buggy at that time, as when found her head was caught between the wheel and the shaft, on the side opposite the broken wheel.

The road over which she went showed where her limbs had been dragged from the point where the collision occurred to the place where she was found.
The men state that she was in the buggy as far as they could see, but in this they were mistaken.

The buggy top was raised and it was impossible for them to see a person in the vehicle, and as they saw no one on the ground, they naturally supposed that she had not fallen out.

It is indeed unfortunate that these men did not follow her and rescue the body, when they found out the wheel had been broken.

While they doubtless thought she was unhurt, they should have gone to her and rendered what assistance seemed necessary.

Her neck was doubtless broken by the fall, and while they could not have saved her, they could have carried the body home when the accident happened.

Friday, October 29, 2010

1899 :: A Very Sad Accident

Dallas Morning News
Dallas, Texas
Monday, October 30, 1899, page 4.

Rockdale, Milam Co., Tex., 29 Oct – A very sad accident occurred about three miles north of Rockdale late yesterday [Saturday] afternoon in which Mrs. W.P. Henry, a lady about 60 years old lost her life. While driving home from her son’s her horse became frightened, ran away and smashed the buggy into kindling wood and when found Mrs. Henry was dead. It is supposed she was killed instantly. She leaves a husband, a large family of children and many friends to mourn her untimely death.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Trucks Built To Carry Mail

The Dallas Morning News
October 27, 1950

Special to The News

Rockdale, Texas, Oct. 26. -- Trucks fitted like railway post office cars and costing $18,000 each will begin serving two routes from Waco, Rep. W.R. Poage announced Thursday.

Poage said one route will serve Chilton, Lott, Rosebud, Burlington, Ben Arnold, Cameron, Rockdale, Giddings, LaGrange, Schulenberg, Hallettsville and Yoakum.

The other will serve McGregor, Oglesby, Gatesville, Jonesboro, Hamilton, Hico, Dublin, Gorman, Carbon and Eastland.

Three of the $18,000 vehicles will be stationed at Waco, two will be in daily service and one in reserve. Vehicles in service will be manned by a driver and a postal clerk.

The services are designated by the Post Office Department as highway post office routes. They will replace discontinued railway post office services. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Milam County Ex-Confederates

The Galveston Daily News, (Houston, TX)
Tuesday, October 14, 1890; Issue 168; col D.

The Old Soldiers of Milam County Organize —
A Call for State Organization

Cameron, Tex. Oct. 13. -- The ex-confederate soldiers of Milam county effected permanent organization here to-day. Over 400 names were enrolled. By invitation, Judge X.B. Saunders of Belton delivered an address, which was greeted with cheers.
The following resolutions were adopted and proper provision in the charter and constitution made to carry the objects to success:

Resolved, that it is the sense of this association that the ex-confederate soldiers residing in Texas should effect an old soldiers' state organization, the same to be composed of camps or associations of the several counties of the state, and we therefore call upon every camp or county ex-confederate association in Texas to enlist as a regiment in this association, that the ex-confederates of Texas may possess the power to move as a disciplined army toward the accomplishment of the task of caring for those of us who are needy; of providing aid to the indigent widows and orphans of the confederate dead; of preserving and maintaining the sentiment and fraternity born of a common affection for a common cause, and the hardships and dangers shared in the march, the bivouac and the battlefield, and of making an authentic history of the war between the states, that we may transmit to posterity the causes which stripped our allegiance and affection from the flag of the union and intertwined it with the destiny o the flag of the stars and bars.

The following resolution, directed against the histories now taught in the schools of the county, passed:

Resolved, that a committee be appointed whose duty it shall be to guard the historical literature taught in our schools against all encroachments calculated to misrepresent the part taken by the confederate government in defense of the rights of the people.
All county associations of ex-confederates in the state are requested to correspond with N.H. Tracy, Rockdale, Tex., with the view of effecting a state organization.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

1951 :: Old Grocery Firm Makes Last Stand

Special to The News
Rockdale, Texas, Oct. 12. -- After a life of fifty years the Noack Grocery Company will operate for the last time Saturday. 

The business was purchased this week by T.A. and M.D. Weems, owners of Howell's Grocery and Market. 

The Weems brothers will moves their store to the new location when remodeling of the building has been completed. 

The Noack Grocery Company was started by the late Andrew Noack, who came to America at age of nine. He came to Rockdale in 1899 on horseback from Winchester with but 50¢ in his pocket. He soon found work, and by thrift and good management within a short time opened a bottling works. The next year he opened a small grocery store with $99 capital. 

The business later was operated by a son, Eddie Noack, and a son-in-law, H.L. Fieseler, who sold to the Weems brothers. 

Both Fieseler and Noack have farm interest and cattle and will operate these and other interests individually. 

Dallas Morning News
October 13, 1951

Sunday, October 10, 2010

1888 :: Rockdale in The News

The Galveston Daily News. Thursday, October 10, 1888. A LIVE TEXAS TOWN. ROCKDALE SITUATED IN THE SOUTHERN PORTION OF MILAM COUNTY. Its Trade and Business Men, Enterprises, School, Churches and Societies -- The Rich Country Around the City -- Statistics and Future Prospects.

ROCKDALE, Tex., October 9 [1888]. -- TO THE NEWS: Having recently observed in the columns of THE NEWS an article on Cameron and Milam county, in which the writer seems to have ignored Rockdale, I have concluded to furnish your readers with a brief sketch of this town.

Rockdale is a city of over 2000 inhabitants, situated on the International and Great Northern railway, in the southern part of Milam county, in one of the best producing sections of the state. The sandy loam in the immediate vicinity of the town is of exceeding fertility, while the rich black lands a few miles to the northwest are admitted as being among the finest farming lands on this continent.

The town was laid out in 1874, when it was the termination of the International and Great Northern railway. After the extension of the road beyond this point, the country surrounding Rockdale began to settle up with small farmers and the town began its growth, which has been steadily progressing, without the spasmodic impetus of a boom, until it was reached its present population.

The trade of Rockdale is extensive; from 10,000 to 13,000 bales of cotton are shipped from this point annually. Its total trade, embracing merchandise sales, lumber sales, exportation of cotton, etc., amounts to $1,250,000 yearly.

The enterprise and zeal of the citizens in the


is evidenced by an architectural building of brick, two stories high, at a cost of $10,000, which is an ornament to the town. Its capacity is sufficient for the present use. A public school, under the management of Prof. J.W. Clark, with 225 pupils in regular attendance, is kept in operation in this magnificent structure nine months in the year as a free school, paid for out of the state school fund and a small tax, self-imposed, upon the citizens of the town.

The streets of Rockdale are of extra width, the two principal ones being 100 feet wide. The business houses are generally 30 feet by 125 feet back, and are calculated to hold immense stocks of goods. In fact, the merchants of Rockdale carry larger stocks than those of any other town of its size in the state, the principal of whom, Messrs. Scarborough & Hicks, merchandise and groceries, an immense stock; B. Loewenstein & Bros., I. Baum, Isaacs & Lockett and Solon Joynes, manufacturers' agent for all kinds of machinery.

R.H. Ames has one of the best appointed gins in the county, turning out twenty-four bales of cotton per day.

The citizens of Rockdale have not lost sight of those moral and religious principles that ought to actuate a civilized and christian people. They


in which they weekly bend their knees in devout prayer to the giver of every good and perfect gift, to-wit: Methodist, Presbyterian, Old School and Cumberland, Baptist, Episcopal, Catholic and Christian. The several secret orders all represented by their various lodges, I.O.O.F., K. of H. and A.F. and A.M., with others too numerous to mention.

The press is ably represented by the Rockdale Messenger and the Rockdale Reporter, both weeklies.

Manufactories have not been neglected in the progress and building up of the town. There is one cigar factory, two brickyards that turn out a splendid article of red brick, two cotton gins that during the cotton season are run to their full capacity.

The town also affords ample facilities for the presentation of the drama, for the amusement of its good citizens.

The banking house of J.S. Perry & Co. furnish financial facilities for carrying on the trade and commerce of the city and surrounding country -- J.E. Longmoor, manager.

A contract has been made with the Aransas Pass Railroad company on its Waco extension to pass through Rockdale. The town has guaranteed the right of way from the country line on the south to the bank of Little river, twelve miles north of Rockdale, and a cash donation of $12,500, all of which has been secured.

The sandy soil in the vicinity of Rockdale has proved to be well adapted to fruit growing, which is now becoming one of the most important.


The apple, peach, plum, pear, apricot and grape succeed well. The present season, with abundance of rain, has developed the fact that apples and pears compare favorably with the same kinds of fruits imported from Arkansas and Missouri in size, and are superior in flavor. As each succeeding year proves prosperous, pomologists [someone who cultivates fruit trees] are enlarging their orchards, and in the near future a canning establishment will be demanded to save the increasing crop.

Five thousand boxes of fruit have been shipped from Rockdale during the present season. Your correspondent is indebted to Mr. Homer Eads, the obliging station agent of the International and Great Northern railway, for data as to shipments from Rockdale: Cotton shipped to September 28, 4090 bales of this season's crop. Receipts for shipment of freight for August amounted to $8975.85. Tickets sold, $350.90. Rockdale ships from 20 to 35 cars of cotton seed each season, besides large quantities of corn, hides. etc.

Two coal mines have been opened three and three and a half miles each of Rockdale, near the International and Great Northern line of road, which are likely to prove valuable, since its quality compares well with Indian Nation coal. The mines are not yet fully developed, since only about fifty carloads have been shipped per year.

The International and Great Northern company is well prepared to handle the immense trade of Rockdale. There is a new and neat passenger depot, large freight depot, cotton warehouse and plenty of platform room, stock pens, etc.

Another important enterprise in which the leading citizens are interested is the


The object of this association is to promote trade and increase the business of Rockdale. About fifty of the leading citizens of the town compose the combine. The association has its constitution and bylaws and regular order of business, and is sure of success in effecting the object of their organization. The association has its own hall, a find building.

The town is regularly incorporated, with W.R. Kennard, M.D., mayor.

The writer concludes that Rockdale, by reason of its natural advantages of location, its surrounding rich, fertile and productive lands; its facilities for railroad transportation, the industry and enterprise of its people, the high tone of business integrity of its leading citizens, the moral and religious character of its inhabitants; render it one of the most desirable towns in Texas.

Your representative can not close this brief sketch of Rockdale without acknowledging in grateful terms the kindness extended by Colonel E.M. Scarbrough, R.H. Hicks and B. Loewenstein, all prominent business men, and also Colonel N.H. Tracy, late of the Denver deep water convention, who is a leading legal light of the Milam county bar. Also to J.E. Longmoor, the efficient representative of THE NEWS at Rockdale, and to Rev. W.E. Copeland, who is extensively engaged in fruit culture.


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Transcribed & shared here by V. Everhart

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

1754 Spanish officer leaves San Xavier missions

Texas State Historical Association
The Handbook of Texas Online
Texas Day By Day
August 11, 1754.
Decline continues as Spanish officer leaves San Xavier missions