SHORT HISTORY OF NAVARRO
COUNTY AND CORSICANA
BY C. L. JESTER
[This history was
transcribed in 2002 from a pamphlet in the Center for American History,
University of Texas, Austin, Texas. The
following two paragraphs are dated November 30, 1943 and appear as an
introduction to the pamphlet:
["This short history of
Navarro County and Corsicana, Texas, is written by C. L. Jester, former County
Judge. It was printed about the
time it was written--September, 1922--in The Corsicana Daily Sun and repeated in
The Corsicana Semi-Weekly Light. Copies
of papers containing these articles have become very scarce.
The newspaper office (and other) files for this period are incomplete,
and the author himself had disposed of all his copies, even to his manuscript.
Photostatted copy of the history is made--with the exception of the eighth
installment--from a file of The Corsicana Daily Sun lent by Dr. H. Bailey
Carroll, Director of Research in Texas History and Associate Professor of
History at the University. The
eighth installment was taken from a copy of the Light, (September 22, 1922),
also lent by Dr. Carroll. The
installments appeared in successive issues of the Sun (except on September 17)
beginning with September 13, 1922, and ending with the September 22 issue."
errors have been corrected for the 2002 transcript.]
By an act of the Second
Congress of the Republic of Texas, December 4, 1837, Robertson county was
created. It included all the
territory between the Brazos and Trinity rivers north of old Washington county
and extended to the cross timbers on the north, and within this territory was
included what is now Navarro county. Franklin
was designated as the permanent seat of justice of Robertson county by act of
the Third Congress January 26, 1839.
Probably the first white man
residing in the vicinity of what is now Navarro county was James Hall, who lived
in what is now Freestone county as early as 1834, and conducted a sort of supply
station to surveyors who began to arrive at that time.
The first land grant in the
present territory of Navarro county went to Thomas Jefferson Chambers, September
23, 1834, then followed grants to Jahu Peoples, John Taylor, Enoch Frier,
Michael Shire, Jeremiah Latham, Martin Latham, and John Choate, all in the month
of October 1835, and to Rachael Leach October 27, 1836.
The Battle of Battle Creek.
The earliest recorded
history of Navarro County tells of the battle of Battle Creek, fought in
October, 1838, near Dawson, between a surveying party consisting of twenty-four
men, and about three hundred Indians of the tribes of Tehuacans, Ionies, Wacos,
Caddoes and Kickapoos. The
surveying party was composed of W. F. Henderson, General Walter P. Lane, Samuel
T. Allen, Asa Mitchell, a boy named Baker, John Baker, Sr., Violet, Euclid Cox,
Ingram, Neill, Jones, James Smith, Thomas Smith, Fikes, (about 80 years old),
Richard Davis, Hard, W. M. Love, Wm. Jackson, Wm. Tremier, Rodney Wheeler,
McLaughlin, Thomas Barton, J. Button, and Earle.
All these participated in the battle except W. M. Love and Wm. Jackson,
who had been dispatched before the battle to Parkers Fort for surveying
supplies, and all were killed except the latter two, and Walter P. Lane, W. F.
Henderson, J. Button and Violet. This
battle though participated in by few in numbers, furnishes one of the most
heroic and courageous incidents in Texas history.
Geo. W. Hill—Navarro
County's First Settler—Spring Hill.
The first resident of
Navarro county seems to have been Dr. George W. Hill, who settled near Spring
Hill about the year 1838, for Col. W. F. Henderson, participant in the battle of
Battle Creek just mentioned, tells of the surveying party having spent the night
previous to the battle at his house in October, 1838.
He was sometime a member of the Texas Congress and was appointed to the
office of Indian Agent by President Houston; in 1843 he was appointed Secretary
of War of the Republic of Texas by President Houston, was reappointed by
President Jones in 1844, and served as such until the annexation.
How Hill County Got Its
At a session of the Texas
Legislature, held in the Spring of 1853,
Roger Q. Mills was reading clerk of the Texas House of Representatives; he was
reading a bill providing for the creation of a new county lying to the west of
us, but the name of the county was left blank in the bill, so young Mills, who
was a great friend and admirer of Dr. George W. Hill, read the name of
"Hill" into the bill, which was adopted as read.
Thus Hill county received its name after Dr. George W. Hill of Navarro
county, who sleeps his last sleep beneath the soil of which he was the first
settler and which he had sanctified in service and in sacrifice.
He died in Spring Hill, Navarro county, and his body was buried there May
29, 1859. He was a great uncle of
Dr. B. W. D. Hill of Dawson.
Britton Dawson in the Battle
of San Jacinto.
The present town of Dawson,
near which the battle of Battle Creek was fought, was named in honor of Britton
Dawson, a participant in the battle of San Jacinto, and who was an early
settler, moving there from Milam county in 1849; he was a large land owner
living in that vicinity when the Cotton Belt Railroad was build through there in
1880. He was of the tall, angular,
rugged pioneer type, always a privileged character in any company, possessed a
voice commensurate with the size of the broad acres over which he reigned.
Upon the location of Dawson, Spring Hill, which until then had been a
trading point of some consequence, became then and still remains well nigh
"a deserted village" but rich in memories and in tradition.
The last of the old settlers there, Harvey Matthews, departed this life
within the past few years.
Dresden, the Early
If Spring Hill was the
first, Dresden, known then as Melton, was the second settlement in the county,
it having been settled by Ethan Melton, John Welsh, and Wm. J. Ladd in 1844.
Melton was the first
postoffice in the county, established in 1846, and Ethan Melton was the first
postmaster, dispensing the mail from his residence about a mile from the
village. Dresden was for many years
the commercial center of the county. Several
men, afterwards prominent in commercial pursuits in Corsicana, began and
conducted their business in Dresden until Corsicana took the lead after she
became the county seat; while some awaited the arrival of the railroad.
Dresden has been a fickle dame and has changed her name some four or five
times; at one time she was called "Melton" in honor of Ethan Melton,
her first settler, and again "Spanky," then some say "Possum
Trot," and there is of record in the County Clerk's office (Book
"A" page 23) a map of the village under the name of Richland,"
promulgated by Jacob and D. B. Hartzell and J. A. J. Roark in 1849; it consists
of four blocks of seven 125 by 250 foot lots each, which are divided by two
streets running at right angles. It
seems that a committee headed by Dr. W. S. Robinson was appointed to name the
village and the name Dresden was selected at the suggestion of Dan Hartzell, who
was of German descent, in honor of the German city of that name. But another tradition is that it was named by Dr. Robinson
after the town of Dresden in Tennessee, from which state he came in about 1852.
The Mercer Colony.
On January 29, 1844,
President Houston made a colonization contract with Chas. Fenton Mercer and
associates, covering Navarro county, and in the years 1844 and 1845 there had
moved into Navarro county only twenty-five families, living principally around
Dresden and Spring Hill, but some were scattered in other portions of the
county, some around Mount Pisgah near what is now the Richland community.
Among these early settlers were Dr. George W. Hill, Ethan Melton, David
R. Mitchell, Owen Humphreys, Reese Morrell, Bill McCabe, Thos. I. Smith, John
Welch, Wm. Watkins, Sam Bowman, John Hillburn, South James and Wylie Jones,
Corbin Jones, J. B. Moore, Gainor, Jack Sharp, Jacob and Dan Hartzell, Wm. J.
Ladd, H. Matthews, W. N. Anderson, Younger, and possibly others.
Bazette an Early Settlement.
Beginning as far back as
1845 there were some few scattering settlers in the neighborhood of the Bazette
community, principally between Bazette and Buffalo, and as early as 1846 this
community began to attract the pioneer Christians to its annual camp meeting,
and that custom continued for several decades.
Among the early settlers in this community were John M. and John T.
McFadden, Reuben and William Jones; Zack and William Westbrook; Abner Barnett;
Mrs. Edna Peck, whose son P. A. Peck was born there in 1847; John Singletary and
perhaps some few others, all of whom moved there in the forties or the early
fifties. It is believed that John
M. McFadden, Jr., who was born there in 1848, is perhaps the oldest native
citizen of Navarro county; he now resides in Kerens, Texas, only a few miles
from the place of his birth. There
are many descendants of these early pioneers now living in the county and most
of them in the vicinity of the old settlement, which includes the thriving town
of Kerens where several of them now reside.
Porter's Bluff—a Shipping
In 1846 settlements began in
and around Taos, now commonly known as Porter's Bluff, on Trinity River in the
northeast portion of the county, headed by Col. Robert H. Porter, James T. Lee,
Mrs. Matthews, John Noonan, ----- Melton, Joseph C. Bartlett, father of J. M.
Bartlett, the latter was born in Washington county, Texas, in 1841, and moved
with his father to this county in 1845; the writer is indebted to him for much
of the information contained in this article, especially concerning this
particular locality; he was a stalwart character and a much respected man; he
died while this article was being prepared in July, 1922, and was perhaps the
oldest citizen, in point of residence, in the county. There were possibly some few others who should be mentioned
in this group, but their names are not available.
Taos, or Porter's Bluff, was once the head of navigation on the Trinity
and "packets" with regular schedules furnished direct service to and
from Galveston. There appears of
record in the County Clerk's office a map of Taos (Book "A" page
367-8), which was sufficient to accommodate a town of five or six thousand
people, said to have been drawn by John H. Reagan, surveyor for Captain Robert
H. Porter, owner. There has been
for years a tradition to the effect that Taos, or Porter's Bluff, came within a
few votes of being made the Capital of Texas, but investigation fails to verify
Chatfield—How It Got Its
Chatfield was settled about
the same time. It took its name
from an old man by the name of Chatfield, who settled at the spring there,
living in a tent. He sold tinware
through the country from a wagon and made the spring his headquarters; then
there was a man by the name of Kincaid who settled at another spring near the
present Hodge place; then followed George M. and William Hogan, and John and
Jonathan Richardson, B. F. Lisman, Capt. Robert Hodge, whose son, R. L. Hodge,
was born there and who now lives in the home in which he was born, sixty-five
years ago; the Spurlins, the Jeffers, the Loops, W. D. and L. B. Haynie, Capt.
T. B. Poitevant, the Claytons, the Fortsons, ancestors of John T. and J. B.
Fortson of Rice, the Ransoms, I. B. and E. J. Sessions, Noble Wade, and later
the Ransoms, the Witherspoons, then others whose names are more familiar because
of their descendants living there at this time.
Robertson county, as first
created, remained intact until April 26, 1846, when the first Legislature of the
State of Texas, created Navarro county from a part of Old Robertson county, and
included within its bounds, all of what is now Navarro, Ellis, Hill, Johnson,
Tarrant, Parker, and parts of Palo Pinto, Somervell and McLennan counties and
provided "that until the seat of justice shall be permanently establish * *
* * the temporary seat of justice shall be at the residence of W. R. Howe and
all courts shall be held thereat." W. R. Howe was the first settler in Ellis county, having
moved there in 1844, and his residence was located near Chambers Creek in what
is now Ellis county.
How Navarro County Got Its
Navarro County was named in
honor of J. Antonio Navarro, an early Texas patriot, who was born in San
Antonio, February 26, 1796, but whose father was a native of the Island of
Corsica. He was a member of the
Legislature of Coahuila and Texas, and made repeated efforts to obtain a
separation of Texas from Coahuila. In
1832 he tendered his resignation, which was not accepted until he finally sent
his reasons therefor. He was one of
the delegates to the convention in the old town of Washington and was one of the
signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence; he was a member of the
ill-fated Santa Fe Expedition, and was tried for treason and sentenced to be
shot. He lay for years in a dungeon
in the castle of Juan d'Ulloa until 1845, when he was released for reasons never
explained, but supposed to be due to his membership in the Masonic fraternity.
He was a member of the State Senate of Texas in 1848.
He had traveled in the United States and was an ardent admirer of its
government and its liberty-loving people. He
was the first Mexican to join the Methodist Church in Texas.
He contributed two sons to the Confederate Army, one a captain and the
other a first lieutenant. During
his latter years he retired to private life, living in San Antonio and spending
his summers on his estate in Atascosa county.
While a great deal of prominence has not been given him, there are but
few men connected with the early history of Texas whose lives were so romantic
and none whose services were more patriotic.
He died and was buried in San Antonio in the year 1870, and his
descendants live in and around there. A
grandson, S. C. Navarro, living in the year 1905 at Concepticion, Texas, and
serving then as a school teacher there, furnished most of this information
through a letter addressed to the writer, the original of which was deposited in
the cornerstone of the court house, built in 1905.
Navarro County Court Houses.
Since its organization,
Navarro county has had six court houses, the two mentioned elsewhere and four
others. The third was built in
1853, by T.J. Haynes, afterwards County Judge, at a cost of $4,000.00, and was a
two story frame building 40 by 46 feet, with a tower; this building was
destroyed by fire in 1855, supposedly by an incendiary, when many of the
District Court records, including all indictments, were destroyed. The fourth court house was built in 1858, and, as the last
one mentioned, was built on the present court house site; this was a brick
structure, the foundation was laid on heavy cedar boards which were found to be
in fairly good state of preservation when the excavation was made for the last
court house in 1905; it was the meeting place for all the pretentious social
functions in the county for many years. The
fifth court house was built in 1881, at a cost of $560,00.00, and the sixth, the
one now occupied, was built in 1905, at a cost, including furniture, of about
District Judges of Navarro
The following in the order
named have served Navarro county as District Judges, all with honor and all have
reflected credit upon themselves and their district:
R. E. B. Baylor, Benett H.
Martin, John H. Reagan, Henry J. Jewett, John Gregg, James Walker; all of whom
served before the Civil War except the latter who served during the war; Robert
S. Gould, Nat Hart Davis, F. P. Wood, D. M. Prendergast, L. D. Bradley, Samuel
R. Frost, Rufus Hardy, L. B. Cobb, H. B. Daviss, and Hawkins Scarborough, all of
whom have passed away except Rufus Hardy, now a member of Congress, H. B. Daviss,
in the active practice, and Hawkins Scarborough, the present incumbent.
County Judges of Navarro
At the first election in the
county after its creation in 1846, held in July of that year, Dr. John A. Young
was elected Chief Justice, now called County Judge; he died soon after his
election and his place was filled by Gen. E. H. Tarrant, who organized the
County. It is believed, with
possibly one or two exceptions, that the following in the order named,
constitute all who have held that office since the organization of the county:
Dr. John A. Young, Gen. E. H. Tarrant, S. C. Cross, P. Donaldson, J. R.
Loughridge, S. H. Kerr, Samuel Wright, John L. Miller, W. R. Bright, T. J.
Haynes, S. R. Frost, R. C. Beale, James L. Autry, J. L. Harle, John H. Rice, M.
L. Shelton, J. F. Stout, A. B. Graham, C. L. Jester, J. M. Blanding, R. R. Owen,
H. E. Traylor and A. P. Mays.
Early Lawyers of the County.
The first lawyers to settle
in Navarro county and enter the practice were C. M. Winkler and W. F. Henderson,
who came here in 1847, then came S. C. Cross, Wm. Croft, Alexander Beaton, Roger
Q. Mills, J. L. Miller, L. T. Wheeler, Gen. E. H. Tarrant, John E. Craven, Nat
M. Burford, G. L. Martin, J. L. Halbert, father of J. L. Halbert, the present
mayor of Corsicana, and some few others; all have passed to their reward.
Among that little company
were men who afterwards became prominent in the affairs of State and Nation.
Roger Q. Mills served in the Congress of the United States, both as
representative and senator, he was the Democratic leader in the house and was
the author of the "Mills Bill" and was regarded as one of the best
authorities on the tariff question; C. M. Winkler was Grand Master of the
Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas and became a Judge upon the State Court of Criminal
Appeals, and both commanded regiments in the Confederate Army.
J. L. Halbert, Christian gentleman and model citizen, was a captain in
the Confederate Army and was tendered a place upon the Supreme Court of Texas by
his friend and compatriot, Governor-elect Coke, but the condition of his
fortune, brought on by the war, impelled him to decline.
Wm. Croft was for more than fifty years the leading practitioner of the
criminal law in the county and enjoyed a statewide reputation in that branch of
the profession. Some of them
confined themselves with success to the practice of their profession, while
others drifted into different pursuits, but all added luster to the county and
state of their adoption.
Lawyers of the Second
Since the passing away of
that coterie mentioned above another has come and gone, among them were some who
took high rank in the profession throughout the State, of whom may be mentioned:
Samuel R. Frost, one of the really big men and lawyers of Texas, who
would have adorned the United States Senate or a place upon the Supreme Court,
and Robert S. Neblett, his partner, finished product in the law, whose knowledge
of the decisions was an ever recurring marvel to the bench and bar; R. Channing
Beale, Virginian, an advocate of great force and charm, and his partner, James
L. Autry, who became General Counsel of The Texas Company and attained large
wealth; John J. McClellan, successful practitioner and man of fine character and
of rare humor and charm of personality; John H. Rice, gentleman, for many years
an able County Judge and always of fine integrity; E. O. Call, who as a trial
lawyer in criminal cases had no superior; E. J. Simkins, fearless prosecutor in
his early days and afterwards State Senator and member of the Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals, and his brother, W. S. Simpkins, the only one mentioned still
living, a law book writer of repute and professor of law in the University of
Texas; and John D. Lee, the most brilliant of them all, whose legal arguments
were masterpieces in logic and eloquence. It
is not within the scope of this article to mention in this connection any of the
attorneys of the Navarro County Bar now engaged in the active practice, and
without violating this rule mention may be made of Dexter Hamilton, now a Judge
upon the State Court of Civil Appeals.
Early Preachers of the
Among the early preachers of
the county were Rev. David Rose, an Englishman, and a Methodist, who preached
first around old Dresden, and later when settled, in Corsicana; Elder N. T.
Byars, Rev. Hardin, father of notorious John Wesley Hardin; Rev. Cardwell, and
two brothers, Henry and Walter South; Rev. Ferguson, father of Ex-Governor James
E. Ferguson; Revs. Manley and Fly; Revs. N. P. Modrall and Horace Bishop, both
mentioned elsewhere; the Rev. Andrew Davis, father of B. L. Davis, born in Red
River county Texas, in 1826, whose father was killed and who himself was
captured by the Indians, and afterwards a student at old McKenzie College, who
lived under five separate flags and governments in Texas.
John Noonan, mentioned elsewhere, while not a preacher, is entitled to be
mentioned in this connection. He
was a devout Catholic, the first and for many years the only one in the county.
Growing weary of his isolation in Taos, or Porter's Bluff, so soon as
some of his own faith began to gather in Corsicana he moved there and later
purchased and donated to his church the convent property so long used by that
denomination, but which has since been acquired by the City for the public
The Old Log Court
Before the first church was
built religious services were held in the old log court house, and sometimes in
the "McKinney Tavern," and for quite a while in "The
Academy," which stood near where the T. P. Kerr residence now stands
between Second and Third avenues. The
lower floor was used for school and church purposes and as a general assembly
hall for public gatherings, while the upstairs was the lodge room of the Masons.
The First Court House—The
The first church was built
some years later near where the Will Gordon residence now stands between Second
and Third avenues; it was built and controlled by the Cumberland Presbyterians,
but was donated to and used by all denominations at agreed times.
The Rev. N. P. Modrall was the first preacher of that denomination; he
died a much beloved and respected man, whose influence was then and continues to
be a blessing to the town. In the
outskirts of the city there is a small cemetery bearing his name in which many
of the early settlers are buried; little is known of this old burial ground by
the average citizen of today, but a visit there will be found of interest to
those who love tradition.
The Methodist—The Second
The next church house was
built by the Methodists in 1871 on the site where the present handsome edifice
of that denomination stands. This
was the church in which the Democratic Convention, mentioned elsewhere, was
held. The first minister was the
Rev. Horace Bishop, now a superannuate, but then only recently a valiant soldier
in the Confederate Army who so lastingly endeared himself to those to whom he
preached and ministered that though a half century and more has slipped by, he
is yet spared to return at times to join in holy wedlock or to baptize the
children and the grandchildren of his early friends, or to lay to rest the
parents of those children. The
Master whom he has served so faithfully and so long has never fashioned a purer
or finer man.
The Baptist began their
activities in the county as early as 1846, and organized in 1848 the Trinity
River Baptist Association, which included Navarro county.
As early as 1846, Elder N. T. Byars had settled in the county, and he and
a visiting missionary and organizer, Elder T. N. Modrall, in collaboration with
the District Judge, Elder R. E. B. Baylor, of Washington county, began to look
after the interests of that denomination. Judge
and Elder Baylor, who had served the Republic and State as District Judge, was a
great force for righteousness and was invincible before the people; he arranged
his court engagements so that he could preach the gospel as well as adjudicate
the rights of men. Baylor
University is his namesake.
Other preachers of the
denomination acme in later, among them the Revs. Freeman and Mullins, the
former, father of Fred W. Freeman, prominent in the oil industry in Denver,
Colorado, and the latter, father of Rev. Edgar Y. Mullins, president of the
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of Louisville, Kentucky, and one of the
eminent divines of that denomination; Corsicana was their home town.
The Presbyterians (The Old
The Presbyterians, called
the Old Schools, were organized May 30, 1868, with but a small membership, by
Dr. S. a. King of Waco; a charger member of that little company, Mrs. Alex Duren,
still survives; other charter members now deceased were Perry McCammon, Mark H.
Bird, J. G. Cook, Captain M. M. Morrison. Rev.
Hillery Moseley was the first preacher of that denomination in Corsicana; they
have since added to their numbers many of the stalwart citizens of the county
who furnish fine examples of citizenship of the right sort.
The Rev. Rotterstein
preached at times for the Episcopalians in the court house as early as 1855, but
it was not until about the year 1874 that they were organized under the
prayerful guidance and wonderful preaching of the venerable Bishop Alexander
Garrett, who though now blind and aged, yet lives to enjoy the fruits of his
ministry in a well organized and useful parish, furnishing the town some of its
best and most representative citizens.
The Protestant Methodists.
The Protestant Methodist
denomination was planted in Blooming Grove as early as 1867 and built its first
church there in 1869; another church of that denomination was organized at Cryer
Creek by the Rev. C. P. Miller in 1869.
The Christian Church.
The Christian Church, or
Disciples of Christ, was first organized in the county at Blooming Grove in
1874, and have since established prosperous and useful organizations over the
The Jewish Colony—and
The Jewish Colony, and
branches of other denominations of the churches mentioned, began their
activities later than the time of which this article treats.
But it may be mentioned that the Orthodox and Reform branches of the
Jewish faith, and most branches of the several other churches mentioned above,
are not represented by congregations made up of faithful members who are doing
well their part in the Master's Vineyard.
In the year 1846, the Rev.
Hampton McKinney, a local Methodist preacher, son of John McKinney, then
deceased, a revolutionary soldier, a native of North Carolina, but living then
in the State of Illinois where he moved in 1816, immigrated to Texas with his
two brothers, Jefferson and Jubilee McKinney, and a son-in-law, John Harlan, and
their families and other relatives. He
first went with his family to old Dresden and spent nearly a year there.
While living in Dresden he attended with his family, a camp meeting held
in the vicinity of where Bazette now is, and on their return passed over that
part of the county upon which the present city of Corsicana is now located.
There are two members of that party yet living in Corsicana, both
daughters of Rev. McKinney, Mrs. Jane (McKinney) Beaton, now past ninety years
of age, and Mrs. Mary (McKinney) Miller, a few years younger, and the story of
the location of Corsicana is thus told by them.
How Corsicana Was Located by
Upon our return trip from
the meeting, which was made in a large carry-all in which we had ridden to Texas
a few months before from Illinois, we drove by the present site of Corsicana.
There was nothing to be seen except a cabin here and there used on the
farms or cultivated patches, but it was such a beautiful part of the country and
our father was so charmed with it that he decided to locate his certificate
there and make it a permanent home for himself and family.
The land was high rolling prairie with plenty of large trees scattered
along the course of the streams; it was just the spot he was looking for;
therefore, he moved from Dresden and came here, bought an empty cabin and moved
it to where the R. Q. Mills place is, and located his headright certificate,
being entitled to 640 acres as the head of a family, and his sons, John O. and
Thomas McKinney, being entitled to 320 acres each.
After locating his certificate here, he lifted it and laid it in Johnson
county in order to assist in establishing a town on the site. He built a larger house by moving two cabins together,
leaving a hall between them and building a porch in front and a shed room
behind; this was at the site between the present court house and jail.
Hampton McKinney and his two
sons built "The McKinney Tavern" at the site of the present jail out
of rough boards riven out of logs; this was the only hotel in this section for
many years and accommodated within its walls some of the makers of Texas
history: Clinton M. Winkler and Roger Q. Mills were regular boards there; John
H. Reagan, afterward a member of the Confederate cabinet and a United States
Senator, etc.; Asa H. Willie and Robert S. Gould, afterwards, members of the
Supreme Court of Texas, and others of their kind and time were frequent guests
at "The McKinney Tavern."
The Rev. Hampton McKinney,
founder of Corsicana, was born in 1796 and died in 1857, and his wife, Mary M.
Kinney, was born in 1797 and died in 1883.
Both are buried in Oakwood cemetery, Corsicana.
Some of the Descendants of
At the McKinney Tavern in
1852, Major Alexander Beaton, participated in the Mexican War, a native of
Scotland, who witnessed the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837, was married to
Miss Jane McKinney, and from this union descended the Beatons, among whom is
Ralph Beaton, whose faith and vision has directed the public mind to many an
enterprise and natural resource which was receiving no attention from those less
thus less endowed than he. It was
this faith and vision that moved him to organize a company to drill the first
test for oil in the Corsicana field, after the accidental discovery of a trace
of oil in an artesian water well, and it was this same faith and vision that
betook him to Pennsylvania to successfully interest experienced oil men in that
pioneer oil field of the mid-continent. He
passed away in his seventieth year, in September 1922, after this article was
prepared but before it went to press, hence it chronicles this account of his
death. A little later Miss Mary
McKinney married Major J. L. Miller, recently from Tennessee where he had served
as a member of the Legislature from Murray county, a personal friend of Jas. K.
Polk, and from this union descended the Millers.
The oldest daughter, Diadema McKinney, had married Levi Jester, in
Illinois, after his death she and her children moved to Corsicana, in 1858, and
from this union descended the Jesters. The
three brothers, Charles W., George T. and L. L. Jester, under the firm name of
Jester Brothers, began the banking business in Corsicana in 1881, and they and
Garitty and Huey, who began ten years earlier, conducted the only banks in
Navarro county for many years; this business in another form has passed to the
management of a younger generation of the same family.
These three brothers under the guidance of a widowed mother early
identified themselves with the church and with the moral and cultural side of
every move looking to the profit of the town and county.
Charles W. Jester, the oldest and who was an officer in the Confederate
Army, passed to his reward in 1903, leaving being him an honored name and an
unblemished character; he was a model of integrity and wholly without guile.
George T. Jester became a State Legislator, a State Senator, and Lieut.
Governor of Texas; he was actively identified with constructive legislation
passed under the administration of Gov. James S. Hogg, and became Lieut.
Governor under Chas. A. Culberson, who succeeded Governor Hogg, and who s
administration completed the constructive work began by his great predecessor;
he passed away in his seventy-sixth year, in July 1922.
L. L. Jester, the youngest, but now passed the allotted three score and
ten years, quit the moorings of his youth and is now living in Dallas; he
organized and successfully conducted banks in Houston, Tyler and Dallas, and at
the end of a successful business career has retired from active business, but
continues, as did his older brothers during their lifetime, to give much of his
time and means to the church of his and his ancestors choice.
Winkler, Henderson, White,
Riggs and Others—Among the First.
The first newcomers to the
village were Clinton M. Winkler, father of Mesdames Sam R. Frost and Kate
Mooring of Corsicana; then W. F. Henderson and R. N. White, whose sons, Harry
Henderson and Cyrus White, were the first children born in Corsicana; Col. W. F.
Henderson is mentioned elsewhere; R. N. White was the first County Clerk of the
county, being elected in the summer of 1846 and continued in that position for
many years; he died years ago and is survived by three daughters, living in
Corsicana, Mesdames Aaron Ferguson, W. J. Green, and A. M. Wilson, and by a son
living in another portion of the State. Then
came J. M. Riggs, the first District Clerk of the county, father of Mesdames W.
N. Kenner and Ruth Teas, who now reside on the land occupied by their father in
1850. Then came other whose names
are mentioned elsewhere in this article and some whose names are perhaps not
mentioned. About the time the
village was platted there lived within a radius of fifteen miles of the
settlement on small farms, using the open prairie for grazing, quite a few
families, well known and now largely represented in the city and county, among
them being the Pettys, the Highnotes, the Whites, the Hamiltons, including J. D.
Hamilton, now living in Corsicana; W. M. Love, who afterwards built the most
palatial mansion in the county, the Crabtrees, Buck Barry, Indian fighter and
fearless sheriff of the county, Eleazer Nash and H. C. Nash, father of the
present citizens of that name, C. and M. Fouty, Benj. Roberts, Evan Roberts,
still living and who came here with his father in 1846, from Illinois; Col.
Henry Jones, father of Mesdames Fannie J. Halbert and R. Q. Mills; John Pickett;
Wm. W. Frost, father of Judge Sam R. Frost, and A. Barry, father to Bryan T.
Barry, a native of the county and twice mayor of Dallas, who lived in Old
Raleigh, and some others who have been mentioned before.
How Corsicana Got Its Name.
Until 1848, there had been
no name for this new settlement, but Clinton M. Winkler, who became a member of
the legislature from Navarro county, brought about the establishment of the
permanent county seat at the place where the McKinney Tavern was located.
The honor of naming the county seat was very appropriately given by Mr.
Winkler to J. Antonio Navarro, then a member of the State Senate, and the old
patriot wrote upon a piece of paper the name of "Corsicana," saying
through in interpreter that his father came from the island of Corsica, the
birthplace of the great Napoleon, and that the names of Navarro and Corsicana
when taken together signify "Navarro the Corsican."
Another tradition is that the town was named in honor of a daughter of
the old patriot, but this theory is evidently wrong for a letter to the writer
from a grandson of Antonio Navarro says he had no daughter by the name of
Corsicana. And by the act of the
second Legislature of Texas, February 12, 1848, Thomas I. Smith, Wm. F.
Henderson, Ethan melton, James B. Johnson, and James Riggs, were appointed
commissioners "to select the most suitable portion of the survey marked on
the map of the Robertson County Land District in the name of G. A. Campbell in
the neighborhood of what is known as Richardson's Settlement, and the point thus
selected shall be and the same is hereby declared the county seat of Navarro
county to be called by the name of Corsicana, and the various courts shall be
held thereat after March 1, 1848."
David R. Mitchell Donor of
The land on which Corsicana
was located was originally granted to a Mexican settler named Jesus Ortez by
virtue of his certificate of settlement dated march 16, 1838; this certificate
was traded in and passed through several hands prior to its final location, at
one time being owned by one G. A. Campbell and finally passing to David R.
Mitchell, who was surveyor of the Robertson County Land District, which included
Navarro county. He held in his name
the title to this land for himself and his associates, J. C. Neill and Thomas I.
Smith. The title being in dispute,
in order to permit the immediate building of the town, he gave the town
commissioners a bond for title on February 23, 1848, agreeing to make deed when
the title was clear. The title was
finally cleared and he conveyed the 100 acres known as the "Old Town Plot
of Corsicana," to the town commissioners on January 30, 1850.
Thus David R. Mitchell was privileged to do what his associates in all
probability would have done had they survived, and he has become known as the
donor of the townsite of Corsicana. In
recognition of his great generosity to the town and county there was erected to
his memory by the county a suitable monument in Oakwood cemetery where he rests.
He is survived by many descendants in the county who reflect credit on
The Town Commissioners Build
a Court House
And Have a Meeting—Early
In 1848 the town
commissioners contracted with J. D. Johnson for the building of a temporary
court house costing $100.00, built of logs, situated on the northwest corner of
Block 262 of the present city map, some attended it as a temple of justice, some
made daily pilgrimages there as the only seat of learning here, whilc others on
the Sabbath gathered there to do homage unto God in those primitive days gone
by. They also contracted with
Charles Wantland and Francis Young to dig a public well for $100.00, but the job
not being satisfactory, the dispute was submitted to arbitration and $68.00 was
awarded to the contractors. These
expenses were defrayed from the sale of town lots by the commissioners and not
from the collection of ad valorem taxes, for a report of the Tax Collector, Wm.
Hamilton, shows that the financial condition of the county would stand no such
extravagance, and since that was before the people were educated to the idea of
bond issues other means were devised for raising money.
The sworn report of that officer shows that for the three years of 1846,
1847 and 1848, respectively, there was collected 52c, $5.20, and $95.72 taxes, a
total for the three years of $101.44. In
1850, however, the financial condition of the county was evidently improving and
the Court made bold to order two Bibles to be used in the administration of
oaths, and authorized the District and County Clerks to purchase on ream of
paper. By the year 1850 the town
had grown to a population of about three hundred and continued to show a gradual
increase in population until the Civil War.
Some Settlers in the Early
In the early fifties there
moved to the village Wm. Croft, G. L. Martin, Alexander Beaton, Roger Q. Mills,
John L. Miller, L. T. Wheeler, Mack Eliot, William Roberts, father of the late
Hawk Roberts, Thos. J. haynes, J. L. Halbert, Col. Jacob Eliot, and his
son-in-law, Dr. B. D. McKie, gallant Captain in the Confederate Army, father of
W. J. McKie, a present prominent citizen; L. S. Tatum, father of William Tatum;
the Kerrs and the Johnsons, names which are too numerous to individualize, but
which are synonyms of good citizenship and which are now perhaps more largely
represented in the town than any others; E.E. Dunn, officer in the Confederate
Army, father of Mesdames J. W. and N. B. Edens, and Mrs. O. E. Hyndman and Wm.
F. Dunn, and forbear of a large connection; W. H. Neblett; Drs. Oaks, Wooten,
Tate, Croom, and Green Kerr; Marion Martin, who afterwards became Lieut.
Governor of Texas and a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1875; the Van
Hooks and others, the descendants of many of whom are daily met upon the streets
of Corsicana. It is believed that
not one of these early settlers just mentioned survive to correct the
inaccuracies which must have crept into this article.
Corsicana's First School.
It was in the court house
built in 1848 that the first school was taught in Corsicana, by a Prof. Laffoon
and then by Mack Eliot, father of Mesdames John D. Lee and Ellen Chancey, and
grandfather of Mrs. H. G. Johnston; and Prof. Wilkinson, an Englishman, and
Monroe McKinney, son of Hampton McKinney, and by Prof. Dickson, all in the old
court house; then came W. M. Peck, father of the now prominent citizen by that
name, who taught here as early as 1851; he and others of them boarded at the
McKinney Tavern; then, there was a Prof. Robb who taught at Old Academy; then,
to quote from a letter written in 1854, " we have two schools which can
scarcely be beaten in Texas, a primary school taught by S. H. Kerr and a high
school taught by G. A. Rakestraw, Esquire, an accomplished classical
scholar." S. H. Kerr was the
father of F. S. Kerr, S. M. Kerr, Cal E. Kerr, and Mrs. Abe Mulkey; G. A.
Rakestraw was the father of Mrs. B. L. Davis and Mrs. Chas. W. Jester.
Then the Rev. N. P. Modrall, a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher, and
Capt. H. H. McCoy, both rendered the community fine service as teachers.
Education After the Civil
After the Civil War, in
1865, J. D. Hamilton taught for a session, and then Henry Bishop and Jno. E.
Bishop, brother of the Rev. Horace Bishop, conducted for several years a
flourishing school in the southern part of the town, the site for which was
donated by the enterprising citizens of the town; and Prof. Roberts and others
taught in Cedar Hall; then Capt. J. A. Townsend and wife, Mrs. Emma Townsend,
she still living, conducted for many years a large private school, and scores of
Corsicana citizens still living attended that school; Miss Ellen Ferguson,
afterwards Mrs. N. J. Mills, still living, and Mrs. Dr. J. W. Gulick, also
conducted private schools; and there were from time to time other private
institutions of learning until the advent of the public free school system about
the year 1880, which seemed thereafter to attract most of the patronage.
Early Business Houses Around
Public Square—Some Early
Until 1871 all of the
business houses in Corsicana were built around the public square, and among the
merchants of those days were William Hamilton; Alex Michael, who built the first
brick building; N. H. Butler, father of J. E. Butler; A. N. Byars; Morris and
Alex Fox, the latter only recently deceased; Jim Cyrus; James Kerr, father of T.
P. Kerr; Chas. W. Jester, mentioned elsewhere, W. H. McElwee, father of W. T.
McElwee; Dr. Leach; J. M. Talley, father of Mrs. R. E. Prince; J. D. Clark,
father of Mrs. Mattie Houston, the Corsicana Carnegie Librarian; Melton and
Duren, of which firm John Duren, still living, was a member; D. B. Smith; H. D.
Moss; C. L. Jernigen and possibly others. It is believed that all except John Duren has passed away.
Among the prominent doctors
at this time was Dr. William Love, father of Mrs. Frank P. Wood, who came in the
fifties and should have been mentioned earlier in this article; also Dr. Starley,
who moved here from Freestone county, and Dr. J. W. Gulick, a Northerner, who
had served in the Confederate Army.
Corsicana and Secession.
At a meeting held in
Corsicana on January 14, 1859, a resolution favoring secession was passed,
signed by C. M. Winkler, W. F. Henderson, G. L. Martin, W. H. Neblett, father of
the late R. S. Neblett, Jos. Clayton, Elijah Melton and J. P. Anderson, the
committee. Navarro county responded
early to the call for service in the Confederate Army.
Many a [illegible word] man and officer enlisted and gave good account of
themselves. Besides the two
Colonels mentioned elsewhere, the gallant John B. Jones (son of Col. Henry
Jones, who himself though overage was Brig. General of the Militia at the home),
made quite a name for himself and became Major during the war; he was Grand
Master of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas, and also became Adjutant General of
Texas in the seventies or eighties, commanded the Texas Rangers on the frontier,
defending against Indian depredations [illegible words] in general; he led the
forces that captured the notorious Sam Bass and rendered his State other
services of a like character; there were the brave Captains Wm. Melton, J. D.
Clark, C. Fouty, H. H. Molloy, B. D. McKie, J. L. Halbert, and Barber and
possibly others, who organized and commanded companies from Navarro county.
Captain McKie, who had been previously wounded in the Mexican War, was
again seriously wounded, from which he never fully recovered; the gallant and
much respected Capt. Molloy was the only one who fell in battle, the others
lived to return home and to continue to serve their country in peaceful
pursuits; all have now passed to their reward.
The Reconstruction Period—
Col. C. M. Winkler, Capt. A.
For the first five years and
more following the war, the horrors of reconstruction were, in common with the
entire South, suffered by the town and county, but with a fortitude and patience
which reflected only honor upon the people. During the reconstruction period, the federal troops
stationed at Corsicana, were in command of Capt. A. R. Chaffee, afterwards a
General in command of the U. S. troops in the Philippine Islands and conspicuous
in the Spanish-American War, and it was due to his fine poise and common sense
that chaos did not reign during that period.
This instance will illustrate the quality of his leadership: While Col.
C. M. Winkler was walking towards his home in a perfectly peaceable manner,
he was insulted without cause by one of the federal soldiers, and being unable
to suffer such indignity, he felled the offender to the ground with a large cane
which he was accustomed to carrying. There was a bugle sound and soldiers from every direction
rushed to the scene, but fortunately Capt. Chaffee was nearby and promptly
quelled the riot. After an orderly
court-martial proceedings, the offender was properly reprimanded and Col.
Winkler held to be blameless. This
incident seemed to gain for Capt. Chaffee the respect of the entire community
and was the means of avoiding much disaster and bloodshed.
The Coming of the H. &
T. C. R. R. in 1871.
The Houston and Texas
Central Railroad Company was induced to build through Corsicana in 1871, largely
through the efforts of a committee composed of Major Alexander Beaton as
chairman, and James Kerr, Sr., Judge Loughridge, Wm. Croft, and R. N. White, and
possible others, and it was in recognition of these efforts that with one accord
the main street of the city was named after Major Beaton.
There was many a stormy session of this committee, the chairman's
enthusiasm for the enterprise caused him to brook no obstacle whatever, whereas
the last mentioned member was much perturbed lest his bois d'arc hedge might be
destroyed by the advent of the iron horse, but all differences were composed and
be it said to his credit he unselfishly gave way and the two families have been
close and loyal friends since 1846. With
the railroad came new life and many new faces, afterwards prominently identified
with the progress and growth of the town and the State.
The Railroad Brings New
Among them was Capt. James
Garitty, then recently of the Confederate Army, now passed eighty, benefactor
and donor of a $100,000.00 fund for the poor of the county, the nestor of the
banking fraternity in Navarro county, and with him came his partner, Joseph
Huey; they organized the banking house of Garitty and Huey in 1871; they were
the Gibraltars of local finance and splendid examples of business sagacity and
integrity, their business continues under the National Banking System; also came
E. J. and W. S. Simpkins, uncles of Richard Mays of Corsicana, the now
President of the Texas State Bar Association; the Van Horns, editors of
"The Observer," who came in the sixties; J. M. Blanding, now chairman
of the Board of Trustees of the $100,000.00 Garitty Fund, nestor of Corsicana
Bar, and now President of the Board of Trustees of Austin College at Sherman,
Texas; J. E. Whiteselle, deservedly successful and popular; B. H. Woods, Sr. and
family, including State Senator J. H. Woods; F. W. Carruthers; J. W. and N. B.
Edens, stockmen and planters; Stephen Smith; Capt. Chas. H. Allyn, a union
soldier who had just married a southern bride and who so fitted his life into
the lives of those with whom he cast his lot that when he passed away in 1918,
he was beloved and respected of all men; Aaron Ferguson, still living, a retired
merchant; S. A. Pace, who attained wealth and prominence in business; J. M.
McCammon and wife, who rode into Corsicana on the first regular passenger train;
Wm. Tatum, long a resident, but about this time entering upon a successful
business career; Alex and Phillip Sanger, and T. L. Marsalis, who afterwards
moved to Dallas; the Schneiders and Padgitts, Adams and Leonard, who also joined
the Sangers; A. Sutherland and his son, Bank Sutherland, who as undertakers have
buried perhaps ninety per cent of the dead in Corsicana for the past fifty
years; also Albert Lea, a retired United States Army officer and an
Ex-Confederate officer, classmate at West Point of Robt. E. Lee, Jefferson Davis
and Edgar Allen Poe, and who stood third in the class of which Robt. E. Lee
stood second; a contemporary of John C. Fremont, whom he accompanied in his
explorations of the great Northwest, and after whom Albert Lea in Minnesota is
named; who participated with the Confederates in the Battle of Galveston at the
capture of the "Harriet Lane," a U. S. vessel of war, and whose son in
the union navy, Lieut. Commander Edward Lea, while in command was mortally
wounded on that vessel, but lived long enough to be found and ministered to by
his father, one of the most touching incidents of the civil war.
Also Commodore Brown of the Confederate States Navy; and Louis Cerf and
E. Raphael native of Alsace-Lorraine in France, and Max H. London, who came to
Texas in 1853, Confederate soldier, native of England; B. Marks, the latter
three still living, and David Deutchner, L. Cohen and Aaron Shwarts, all
splendid representatives of their race and whose descendants are daily met in
the town; also W. D. Johnson and his brother, E. W. Johnson, father of Luther A.
Johnson, unopposed candidate for Congress; they deserted old Dresden and moved
their business; J. F. Stout, an ex-county judge and ex-mayor of the city; J. T.
Johnson and M. Drane, father of the present prominent citizen, F. N. Drane, who
is always at the forefront of all worthy enterprises in the town and county,
began their partnership about this time, the former having been a merchant at
Dresden and the latter moving from his farm a few miles west of Corsicana; and
John S. Gibson, successful merchant and planter; about this time Abe Mulkey
began business, failed, paid up and began business again, making a signal
success, but afterwards retired to enter the ministry, and using his own
business experience in his great sermon on "Restitution," became one
of the leading Evangelists of the country.
There were others, some of whom, or their descendants, are still living
in Corsicana. The majority of those
mentioned now sleep their last sleep in Oakwood Cemetery, Corsicana.
It is not the province of
this article to mention those citizens who are leaders at the contemporaneous
time, no matter how worthy, except that they have descended from those who
wrought as far back as fifty years ago; this would necessitate an article all
too long and would only tell of people and incidents generally known.
But it may be added that few communities of equal size could present a
more creditable showing if such were the program.
Before proceeding to take
notice of the more modern Corsicana the writer can not close that portion of
this article which refers to the early history of the town and county without
first expressing his gratitude to Mr. James D. Hamilton, for many of the facts
and incidents related; his information and his statements, like his life and
character in this community for the past seventy-five years, are always correct
The State Democratic
Convention of 1872.
In 1872, just fifty years
ago, one of the most historic meetings in Texas, the State Democratic
Convention, was held in the then recently completed Methodist church.
The Dallas News is now in its "Fifty Years Ago" column
reproducing the names of the delegates to that convention from the different
counties. All the great democrats
of Texas were in attendance. It was
the first meeting of its kind after the Civil War which was held without the
handicap of the military and out of it came the restoration of Texas from the
rule of the E. J. Davis administration. It
was at this convention that a Corsicana citizen, Roger Q. Mills, was nominated
for Congress. Though half a century has elapsed since that convention, it
is now never mentioned by any one who was present that does not refer to the
fleas which infested the delegates. It
seems that there was no hog law in those days and the hogs lounged under the
church where the convention was held, and it is said that it was a lively
convention—politically and otherwise.
The Oil Industry—Corsicana
Corsicana is the cradle of
the oil industry of the mid-continent, and furnished the first oil field west of
the Mississippi River, the discovery being made by H. G. Johnston, E. H. Akin
and Charles Rittersbacher, composing the American Well & Prospecting
Company, in 1894, while drilling for artesian water for the city.
Of the members of this firm the first named now resides in Corsicana and
has retired from active business, while the two last named are deceased, but two
sons of Mr. Rittersbacher, J. E. and Edgar, now conduct in Corsicana the
business organized by the old partnership and devote themselves in the
manufacture of deep well machinery under the old firm name; it is one of the
leading institutions of its kind in the country, shipping its products to every
oil field in the world. Many men,
some of whom afterwards became nationally prominent in the oil business, came to
Corsicana following the discovery, and while Corsicana was the cradle of the oil
industry in that section it was also the kindergarten and the graded school of
the industry. It would be difficult
to go into any oil field west of the Mississippi and not find some one of the
craft who had learned the trade or who had not at some time worked in the
Corsicana oil field.
Mr. J. S. Cullinan, now of
Houston, who, together with Judge Jas. L. Autry, also of Corsicana, as counsel,
and others, organized the Texas Company, was a pioneer oil refiner and dealer in
petroleum and its products in Corsicana, coming there as a young man and removed
from here to Beaumont after the "spindle top" strike.
Messrs. E. R. Brown,
Vice-President and General Manager, and W. C. Proctor, Treasurer, and others
prominent in the affairs of the Magnolia Petroleum Company, spent the first
nearly twenty years of their Texas residence in Corsicana and laid the
foundation there for that great Texas institution, which was organized in
Corsicana and which now maintains a refinery there. A visit to the Magnolia offices in Dallas today is like an
old settlers reunion of Corsicana people, and a visit to the Texas Company's
offices in Houston would impress one similarly.
Mr. E. H. Buckner,
Vice-President and General Manager of the Houston Oil Company, is a native of
Corsicana and obtained the firm grasp upon the business which he now holds from
the early training there.
The Corsicana of Today.
The Corsicana of today
in reality began in 1871, after the coming of the Houston and Texas Central
Railroad. Before that time the town
perhaps had never acquired a population of more than eight hundred people, but
since 1871 it has maintained a steady growth and is now the largest city between
Dallas and Houston. It has some
twenty miles of paved streets and perhaps a hundred and fifty miles of brick and
concrete sidewalks; churches of every denomination; educational facilities, upon
completion of its present program which will not be excelled by any city;
graduated eighty-five from its high school in 1922; a water works system
consisting of a three billion gallon artificial lake covering some seven hundred
acres of land, furnished excellent fishing and recreational facilities; several
hot artesian wells, furnishing medicinal and bath water excelled nowhere; a
country club and golf links which is one of the beauty spots of Texas; four
railroads, including three trunk lines radiating in seven directions out of the
city, with fifty-two passenger and interurban trains daily; an interurban line
to and from points north, furnishing hourly service both ways; three hundred
miles of hard surfaced roads projecting in every direction from the city; the
junction point between the main line of Colorado and Gulf Highway north and
south, and Texas and Mexico branch of the Bankhead Highway from Mexico City; the
State and Odd Fellows Orphans Homes, wonderful institutions, are both located in
the outskirts of the city; electric street car system; modern incinerating plant
and sewerage system; complete motorized fire fighting system with a 28c key fire
insurance rate; commission form of city government; natural gas in abundance,
some wells producing as high as sixty million cubic feet daily; a live and
progressive Chamber of Commerce, operated on the budget system; handsome homes
and well kept lawns; Carnegie Library; $150,000.00 Y. M. C. A. plant, paid for
and successfully run; all the secret orders are represented, most of them owning
their own property; five strong banks whose deposits exceed five million
dollars; post office of the first class, annual receipt exceeding $43,000.00; a
morning and evening and weekly and semi-weekly newspapers; various soils
suitable for diversified farming. Navarro county is the third largest cotton raising county in
Texas, near the center of the great black land cotton belt and crop failures are
unknown; an annual rainfall of thirty-nine inches. Navarro county ranks fourth
in Texas in individual farms; Navarro county has the greatest number of acres in
farms, and is second in value in farm improvements in Texas; and is sixth in
farms operated by owners; Corsicana factory output $15,000,000 annually;
wholesale output over $25,000,000.00; twenty-five wholesale houses; thirty-one
industrial plants; cotton mills, twine mill, only one in Texas; home of the De
Luxe fruit cake shipped everywhere; District center of Trade District No. 17 of
the Texas Chamber of Commerce, including nine counties; was during the Great War
designated as center of large area for war activities; petroleum pipeline center
of Texas; district headquarters for seventy-five nationally known business
concerns; home of 156 traveling men; large cotton warehouses and compresses; two
cotton oil mills. And best of all
Corsicana and Navarro county possess a cultured, law-abiding, church-going,
God-fearing and hospitable people, who extend an outstretched hand to strangers
from without and who are welcome an opportunity to share with them the
traditions and the history of which they are the happy inheritors.