THE SPRING HILL MAP
NEW SPRING HILL....was drawn on the flyleaf of the Clerk's Book at the Navarro
Co Couirthouse byi Robert Harve Matthews 1814-1894. Notice that some lots
had been sold and the name written at those locations. The map was drawn at
some point after 1858 when Robert Harve Matthews purchased the property from his
brother in law, Dr George Washington Hill
Spring Hill, Navarro Co.
Texas, began in 1848 when Dr George Washington Hill moved his newly acquired
family from Fort Franklin to a area about sixty miles north and not far from a
stream known as Richland Creek. Dr. Hill had married, apparently for the
first time, in November 1847. His bride was Minerva Kathrine Matthews
Slaughter, daughter of Robert and Mary Ann Stewart Matthews of Maury Co,
Tennessee, and widow of Francis Slaughter who had died at Fort Franklin in 1842.
Three Slaughter children,
also, made the move.
Slaughter born 1836 Texas
Mary Ann Jane “Puss”
Slaughter born 1841 Maury Co TN
Slaughter born 1842 Texas
Others making the move
with Dr. Hill included Robert Harve Matthews, younger brother of Minerva
Kathrine, and family servants.
Minerva Kathrine, her
husband, Robert Harve Matthews and the family servants, had arrived at Fort
Franklin on December 1, 1835 after making the journey from Maury Co.
Tennessee. The journey began with a small boat that went north on the
Tennessee River until it reached the Ohio River east of Maysville, Kentucky.
There, a large paddle wheeler moved the passengers down the Ohio and Mississippi
Rivers to New Orleans where the travelers boarded a three masted sailing vessel,
called a schooner. Seven days later they were at the mouth of The Brazos River
and boarded flat bottomed boats that would carry them up river to where The El
Camino Real…aka..The Old San Antonio Road…. crossed the Brazos River.
Wagons from Fort Franklin
were waiting at the landing and by nightfall the destination of Fort Franklin,
Robertson’s Colony in Mexican Texas was reached. It is likely that Francis
Slaughter has been employed by Sterling Clack Robertson for some time, possibly
as early as 1831. He became Judge Slaughter upon arrival and began to record
activities generated in the settlement…marriages, deeds for land, etc.
Dr. Hill and his group
settled on a hill overlooking the valley created by Richland Creek and near a
fresh water spring that had supplied water for Indians and buffalo long before
the white men came. It was there that a cabin and trading post were erected
using logs from trees that grew near the creek.
The Webb Family, relatives
of Dr. Hill’s, arrived in August from Giles Co. Tennessee. When twenty-two
year old Sarah Webb died, she was buried two hundred or so yards north of the
cabin and trading post and became the first person to be buried at Spring Hill
Nine years passed and
Robert Harve Matthews…in 1857…purchased five hundred acres of land from Dr.
Hill. The price was five hundred dollars and the land was located, perhaps, a
mile north of the trading post and across a small stream later named Treadwell
Robert Harve Matthews
had worked as a surveyor’s helper in Maury Co and through the years had become
skilled at the trade. He had served as the state appointed surveyor when the
land district which became Young Co. opened and records show that he bought and
sold land in the Graham, Texas area in the early 1850s.
Now, upon his return to
Spring Hill and his acquisition of a large acreage, he dreamed of creating a
town. Today, on the flyleaf of one of the old books found in the office of
the Navarro. Co. Clerk, is a drawing entitled
“Sketch of Spring Hill
Robert Harve Matthews drew his
dream on the flyleaf and the New Spring Hill,Texas began. Heretofore, families
just settled here and there, but now there would be a real town…just like in
Maury Co. Tennessee. There were tiny town lots west of a wide street called
Broadway. Farm lots were located on the north end of Broadway and the
commercial area to the south.
Notations on the sketch, made
by Robert Harve Matthews one hundred thirty-seven years ago, are
interesting. One small area on the south end of Broadway has initials RHM
and leaves little doubt that this was the site where the General Store owned by
Rbert Harve Matthews once stood.
The name….T P Sparks owned the
next property north. Beneath his name “3 a” is written. Another store
would be constructed there by T P Sparks. Sparks would sell the site to Robert
Younger who married one of the Slaughter daughters. Alonzo McSpadden, no
doubt of the McSpaddens of Blooming Grove, had married the other Slaughter
daughter and is recorded to have operated the store at one point. James Rucker
Smith bought the property in 1879, but sold it to Robert Harve Matthews in
1883. Smith, then, opened a very successful mercantile business in the new
town of Dawson.
Broadway Street has already
been mentioned and its width, compared to the other streets, is apparent.
Broadway continued southward until the rock crossing of Treadwell Branch was
reached. The rock crossing was used for hundreds of years by Indians and by
the buffalo herds. The Old Broadway Street can still be identified during
winter months when trees and brush are clear of leaves. It runs north from the
rock crossing and connects with Broadway at the top of the hill. A bridge,
upstream from the rock crossing, was constructed at a later date and remains in
Waco Street , the first named
street north of Treadwell Branch, ran east and west….so named, probably, because
that was the direction of the little village of Waco which was occupied mostly
by a tribe of Indians. The next street north was Mechanic Street.
Four streets ran north and
south, but only the names of three have been identified. Broadway was the first
street on the east side of town. The next street has not been identified.
The third street, north to south, was Commercial Street. The fourth street was
named Fleet Street.
Block 1 was, apparently for
businesses. Dr. Dean purchased three lots; J M Ferguson purchased four on
the north of the block; J Scales …and an illegible name …each owned a half
lot on Broadway; T P Sparks owned the lot on the southeast corner. T P
Sparks, also, owned Lots 3 & 4 in the next block north, apparently for his
residence. Dr. Dean owned a residential lot on Mechanic street as did a man
by the name of Rattan who operated a saloon and may have married a sister of W W
Newton Lafayette Wright, son
of Samuel and Prudance Shaw Matthews Wright, purchased Lot 3 of Block 5 on South
Commercial Street. Newton Lafayette Wright, a nephew of Robert Harve
Matthews, married Eugenia Capitolia Cockrill. He died in 1891. Two years
later, his wife married his nephew, James Boydston Wright.
Joseph Calvin Matthews,
another nephew of Robert Harve Matthews, arrived at Spring Hill in 1869 after
traveling from Maury Co Tennessee as part of a wagon train composed of family
and friends. Joseph Calvin purchased two farm lots on the east side of north
Broadway. His General Store operated on Broadway for many years, but in the
1890s, his son, Dr H L Matthews, persuaded him to build a new General Store on
Waco Street. That building stood until the 1930s when it was demolished by a
Lots 4 & 5 of Block 5 , just
north of the Wright lot, were purchased in 1889 by Dr. H L Matthews, a Grand
nephew of Robert Harve Matthews. He built a residence on Lot 5 and a large
barn on Lot 4. He and his family lived there until 1911 when a move was
made to Dawson. His son, Virgil Matthews, lived there for many years
Spring Hill grew by 1880 into
a prosperous community that boasted black smith shops, a wheelright, a cotton
gin located on Treadwell branch, physicians, a saddle shop, a flour mill, a
school and a church, a brick kiln, several saloons, and general stores. A
rock quarry was located on the side of the hill west and north of the road that
ran to the old Iron Bridge that crossed Richland Creek. The huge dam that
created Lake Navarro Mills covers the rock quarry. Several pieces of stone from
the quarry remain piled across Commercial Street from the Joe Kyle
residence….all that remains from the J M Johnson home.
When the railroad arrived in
1881 it was routed several miles south of Spring Hill, a new town called Dawson
was created …and Spring Hill began to die. Residential and commercial sites
were offered for sale in Dawson in the summer of 1881 and many were purchased
the first day by some of the most prominent Spring Hill residents.
As property values in Spring
Hill diminished, Walter Matthews, the bachelor brother of Dr. H L Matthews,
began to acquire the vacated property at fire sale prices. He eventually owned
all but one lot of Blk 1 where the business had been located, all of the farm
lots east of Broadway, and all lots of Blk 10 which had been owned by R B
Marsh….then by Samuel Barber…then, his son, Doyle Barber…who sold the property
to Walter Matthews.
The stone monuments, placed at
Spring Hill by the Texas Historical Commission, stand today on one of the farm
lots once owned by Walter Matthews. The monuments offer bits and pieces of
Spring Hill history and glimpses of those who once lived there.
Waco Street remains, but all
the old structures have long since vanished. Fleet Street was, eventually,
enclosed by a fence, and became property of the land owner under the Texas Seven
Year Fence Law. Mechanic Street has disappeared as well as the unknown street
that once ran between Commerce and Broadway.
Joe and Pat Kyle have, today,
a beautiful home that faces the once proud Broadway where businesses once
flourished and where horse racing was said to occur on many Sunday
afternoons. A survey in recent years indicated that the present fence line
on the east side of Broadway is many feet west of where the original fence was
positioned, verifying the stories that told of the wideness of the street.
The Lord Giveth,
The Lord Taketh Away
Spring Hill, Texas is Gone,
Map Found in the Navarro Co Clerk’s
Dr H L
Matthews Wedding day…1889
Markers As they look today
Matthews Candid shot
store Very old photo
The Waco St
store Drawing by Carla Allen, Ft Worth
Home Very old photo