|Corsicana Daily Sun October 24, 2001 |
10/24/2001 X MARKS THE SPOT:
Historical group wants marker listings up to date
By BARBARA FORMAN/Daily Sun Staff
The Navarro County Historical Commission is doing a double take to make sure the county's 132 historical markers are in the physical location
as listed on the Texas Historical Commission report in Austin.
Alan Bristol, county judge, welcomed Wyvonne Putman, chairman of Navarro County Historical Commission, and other members and gave them an open door for the use of the commissioners courtroom to conduct their
meetings and discuss how to best preserve and remember Navarro County's history.
Bill Young, member of NCHC and an archeological steward for the Texas Historical Commission, said it was important to properly identify Navarro County markers and have the right location in the state listing.
"Markers are tourist attractions and we need to get the physical
address on many of the markers corrected," he said.
Often times the markers are not plotted correctly and bad directions have been given as to where they are located.
Several commented how tourists have become upset when they have
traveled to see a specific cemetery or marker and were unable to locate it. On some occasions old cemeteries have been inaccessible because of new buildings on the property.
Destruction of property and cemeteries has been a long-term problem in Texas because no one has been able to get any burial laws passed. Many feel it will take stricter laws to protect historical cemeteries. Neither
the Texas Historical Commission or any state agency enforces cemetery laws. The responsibility belongs to county and municipal law enforcement officials.
The commission feels without stronger laws and enforcement of them protecting cemeteries is almost impossible.
"People dig the burial grounds to get the artifacts to sell," Young
In addition to the cemeteries the commission also wants to continue maintaining the present markers and meeting the challenge of getting new markers.
Several in Corsicana are working to preserve Navarro County history. Out of 254 Texas counties Navarro is ranked No. 12 in the state of having
the most markers.
It requires constant attention to keep the history in the forefront and in the minds of the future generations in Navarro County.
"The purpose of the historical commission is to preserve what is
good so our future generation can know about it," said Arthur Patrick, member of the NCHC.
Wyvonne Putman, said some the markers are in need of some attention and cleaning.
"Some markers need to be restored," she said.
Besides the markers Putman said she would like the NCHC to join with
Gov. Rick Perry who has shown a big interest in old school houses. Putman said she would like the county to be surveyed to see how many old school houses there are.
At the present time the NCHC is working toward getting markers for Pisgah Ridge and Peters Bluff.
A look into Navarro County's history can assist in preparing for the
3/12/2002 BILL YOUNG: Historical markers, brief histories from the past
In 1936, the state of Texas was celebrating its centennial year.
As part of the celebration, the government decided to erect historical markers across the state honoring significant places and persons that played an important role in the beginning of Texas.
Four of these original markers were placed in Navarro County by
the state. Each of these is made of granite quarried from the granite quarries in central Texas near Austin. The largest of these is the marker for Josˇ Antonio Navarro which is located on the south side of the Navarro County Courthouse. This marker also has a life-sized statue of Mr. Navarro resting on the stone block. The second marker is dedicated to Navarro County itself and is located in a small TxDOT roadside park just north of the intersection of Hardy Avenue and Business 45. This is a smaller marker with a brass plaque attached,
giving a brief description of the county. The third marker is in Petroleum Park located on South 12th Street about one block south of Seventh Avenue (Texas State Highway 31). Similar in size to the Navarro County marker on Business 45, this marker's plaque describes the beginning of the oil industry by chance while drilling a water well.
The fourth 1936 state marker is located in the Spring Hill Cemetery south of Navarro Mills Reservoir. This marker was placed in honor of Dr. George Washington Hill who operated a trading post near there while this area was still part of Robertson County. Dr. Hill was
also instrumental in the early beginnings of Navarro County. While mentioning the Spring Hill Cemetery, I need to state that this is the only cemetery in Navarro County that currently has any legal protection status. Regardless of what people think, none of the other cemeteries located in this county have any protection. Fifty or a 100 years from now, one of these cemeteries may be bulldozed by a land owner and the family descendants of the individuals buried in the cemetery (why or how this could happen). The persons in charge of these cemeteries today need
to file papers to protect these sacred pieces of ground.
The Texas Historical Commission started offering to the various county historical commissions and societies cast metal markers of several different sizes whereby an individual or a group could erect a marker honoring someone or some place of historical significance in their area. In the late 1950s, the Navarro County Historical Society had its first beginning and within a period of several years started helping persons and companies with the research and acquisition of markers. The
earliest of these is a small state seal marker mounted on the old Indian Trading Post located at Pioneer Village. Another early marker was paid for by the Moody Foundation and honors the Early Texas Natural Gas Pipelines. The marker is located in front of the United States Post Office on South Main Street. A third early marker is located on the front of the Roger Q. Mills home at 1200 W. Second Ave. and another marker is mounted on the L.P. Hodge home in Chatfield.
Over the years, many other markers have been acquired and placed
at important locations within the county. Many of the earlier churches located across the county have erected one or another of the various types of markers honoring each church. Churches have always been very instrumental in the affairs of towns and families. Officially on the list for Navarro County, there have been 133 markers bought and placed. A recent survey by members of the Navarro County Historical Commission has found one marker stolen for the second time. This marker used to be located at the burial site of the surveyors who were killed by marauding
Indians back in 1838. The burial ground is located just north of State Highway 31 between Dawson and Hubbard. We were not able to check the status of two markers during deer season but we should be able to visually check these in the near future.
Contrary to what people think, the markers belong to the State of
Texas. If for any reason a marker is removed from it designated location and not returned within a reasonable period of time, the marker must be shipped back to the State Historical Commission. Over the past 40 years, the costs for these markers has risen considerably. The smaller markers run as much as $750 each while the larger pole markers today cost $1,250. This money pays for the foundry cost to cast each marker but does not pay for the plaque since each marker is the property of the state.
Any individual or group wanting to acquire a marker for either a person or place can contact either the Navarro County Historical Society
or Commission or the Texas Historical Commission. There are several changes in the rules pertaining to markers today. First is the rule about the location of a marker. It must be placed whereby the public can always view the marker. In earlier times, several markers were placed in locations not accessible to the general public. Second, much research is required before a marker can be issued. Many of the earlier plaques had very limited, or in some cases, incorrect information. An individual today wanting to place a marker should understand that the State
Commission may send the paperwork back asking for more information.
3/19/2002 BILL YOUNG: Some history behind those historical markers you see
Beginning in the late 1950s after the Navarro County Historical
Society was formed, there have been a number of state historical markers erected around the county honoring persons and places of historical importance.
Counting the one missing marker, we have a total of 133 markers in Navarro County. Of the 254 counties in Texas, this count of 133 markers places our county No. 12 in the state regardless of the population in a
county and we are No. 2 in the state based on a per capita basis.
For us to be No. 12 with so many counties having a greater population is quite an accomplishment. This indicates that over the past 43-plus years, both citizens and members of the local historical society have spent a lot of time and money to erect plaques pertaining to our rich history. Wyvonne Putman, who for 26 years served as the executive secretary for the Navarro County Historical Society, deserves a lot of credit in helping to acquire these markers.
Please note that there are several markers in our county that
would not meet the more stringent criteria for a marker today. The new rules call for each marker to be visible to the general public anytime someone wishes to view a marker. There are a few markers placed in small private cemeteries that are behind locked gates. In our recent survey, we were able to confirm that each marker is still in place but not readily accessible to the general public.
Most of the markers are called "information" markers simply because the writing on each marker explains a small amount of pertinent information about an individual or a place. There are several
markers here in the county that are called R.T.H.L., which stands for Recorded Texas Historical Landmark.
These markers don't necessarily mark a place or person that is more significant than the standard information markers. Instead the original person or persons acquiring the marker elected to pay a little
more for the R.T.H.L. marker so that the place is afforded some protection status. Any structure that has a R.T.H.L. marker comes under a set of rules that affects any remodeling especially to the exterior of the structure. There is a total of 18 R.T.H.L. marker sites in Navarro County.
Another type of marker is called a S.A.L., which is the abbreviation for State Archeological Landmark. There is an explicit set of rules and guidelines as to what may be included into a S.A.L. marker site. This type of designation does not necessarily require that a
marker is erected on the site or structure. In the case of a prehistoric site that is considered very important, a marker is never erected.
There are two sites designated State Archeological Landmarks within the confines of Richland-Chambers Reservoir, one each in Navarro County and Freestone County. Anyone caught collecting artifacts from any of these S.A.L. sites can receive either a jail sentence and a fine or both. Within the city of Corsicana are two more S.A.L. sites, Temple
Beth-El on South 15th Street and Petroleum Park on South 12th Street.
The most positive factor for having a structure designated either an R.T.H.L. or S.A.L. is the low-interest funding that becomes available from time to time. Any person or group that has a marker with the higher status designation should be aware of this. Forms are available from the Texas Historical Commission to apply for one of these loans.
There is another type of preservation designation that comes from the federal level rather than the state. In most cases, the term National Register of Historic Places can designate either a structure
such as a house or building or a district. Mills Place, a group of homes built in the 1920s, is a National Register district and most of downtown Corsicana is in another National Register district. The rules qualifying an area for this type of designation is not as strict as the Texas Historical Commission designations.
However, there is one type of federal law that affects Indian artifacts looted from a protected site and transported across state lines. This act is referred to as A.R.P.A., which means the
Archeological Resource Protection Act. I know of several cases where people were prosecuted under the A.R.P.A. act and I would not want to be in their shoes.
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