HAVE INTERESTING INFORMATION
CONCERNING EARLY HISTORY CITY
Interesting mementoes of the early history of Corsicana as a city are now the
treasured possessions of Mrs. Robert Neblett of Scheneciady, N. Y. handed down
from her grandfather, the late Dr. D. G. Kerr, in the form of copies of pioneer
newspapers printed within a few years after Navarro county was created and in
the first decade of the history of the municipality.
Examination of the early newspapers was made possible to a representative of the
Corsicana Daily Sun, successor of these periocicats, through the courtesy of
Mrs. R. B. Molloy, a granddaughter of one of the early editors.
Among the earlies publications was “The Navarro Express” and a copy of this
paper dated “Corsicana, Texas, Dec. 17, 1850,” with R. A. Van Horn as publisher
and proprietor, is included in Mrs. Neblett’s memoirs. It is numbered Vol. 1,
No. 5. Some historians relate that it is the immediate successor to the “Prairie
Blade,” first publication in the county. The date of the “Express” places it
just five years after the city of Corsicana was incorporated under an act of the
Texas Legislature which boasted among its members one Jose Antonio Navarro, for
whom this county was named. A daughter of the first editor now resides in
Corsicana, Mrs. Nellie Piper.
Under the name plate of the periodical on page one appears the following:
“Devoted to News, Literature, Science, Morality, Agriculture, etc.” Its form
resembles modern newspapers only in the fact that it carries advertisements, and
has an editorial column, and the bulk of the news was contained in the form of
letters from various citizens. On the masthead on the editorial page Rev. N. P.
Modrall and R. A. Van Horn are listed as editors. Rev. Modrall was a pastor of
the Cumberland Presbyterian church at that time.
One interesting advertisement in the paper urges patronage of the U. S. Mail
Line from Anderson (Grimes county) to Waxahachie, listing a fare of $3 from
Corsicana to Waxahachie, and $15 from Anderson to the Ellis county city. Another
item of interest is a reference to State Senator Marion Martin whose direct
descendants still reside in Corsicana.
A lengthy letter on the preceedings of the Texas Legislature over the signature
of Roger Q. Mills, calls attention to the fact that on December 2 of that year
it was too cold for the representatives to attend to business.
Among the professional men and merchants listed in the newspaper are J. L.
Halbert, attorney, father of the former mayor of Corsicana and the man for whom
the city lake was named; H. W. Tate & Company, grocers; James Talley, groceries
and liquors; C. M. Winkler and T. S. Sweatman, attorneys; J. C. C. Winch,
Attorney; William Croft and L. T. Wheeler, attorneys; C. L. Spencer and H. B.
Lee, attorneys; William H. Mitchell, attorney at law and general land agent.
Another copy of the “Express,” dated Nov. 23, 1860, is also included in the
collection. Among the more interesting features of this paper is an
advertisement of the “Masonic and Odd Fellows Male and Female High School at
Chatfield’s Point.” Rev. William H. Stokes, principal; Miss Mary Stenhour,
assistant. By this time William H. Neblett appears as an editor of the paper,
with J. T. Spence and R. A. Van Horn listed as the proprietors.
The professional card of Dr. N. J. Mills, brother of the late Roger Q. Mills,
appears in the issue, along with that of Dr. H. H. Molloy, an uncle of R. B.
Molloy, local attorney.
“The Texas Immigrant.”
Still another edition listed in the collection is one that is not mentioned by
some narrators of the early history of the county. “The Texas Immigrant,” dated
April 25, 1875, with J. W. Scott listed as editor and publisher. Included in the
professional cards of this newspaper are those of Simpkins & Simpkins, Sam R.
Frost, Bryan T. Barry, William Croft, all attorneys; A. Beaton & Sons, John B.
Jones & Company, bankers; Kerr & Roberts, dry goods and groceries; S. A. Pace,
groceries, and C. H. Allyn & Company, grocers. A list of the churches is also
carried with the names of their attendants carried at the end of the
announcements for the week. It shows the Church of the Immaculate Conception
with Rev. P. Chandy; Presbyterian (O. S. ) Rev. Hillery Moseley; Methodist, Rev.
Horace Bishop; and Baptist, S. G. Mullins.
Still other members of the Collection is the “Corsicana Observer,” Vol. VII, No.
47, Oct. 8, 1873, evidently a successor to the “Express,” since R. A. Van Horn
is listed as the editor, with Ely H. Forman as associate editor.
A copy of the state Democratic ticket shows that Hon. Richard Coke of McLennan
county was the nominee of the party for governor, with Hon. R. B. Hubbard of
Smith county as candidate for lieutenant governor.
A three-column advertisement with several illustrations announces that on Oct.
20 of that year “John Robinson’s great world’s exposition, museum, aquarium,
animal conservatory, and strictly moral circus” would appear in Corsicana.
Recognition of Texas and particularly Corsicana and Navarro county as fertile
commercial fields is shown by the fact that the later papers carry
advertisements from the New York Sun, Harper’s Weekly and other early
periodicals, along with the commercial cards of Houston, Navasota and New
Orleans merchants, brokers, and shippers.