Red's, Burleson's lakes and the men who built them

This is not a researched history of the lakes, but as related to me by various individuals and personal knowledge. Red’s Lake is located several miles east of Fairfield on U.S. 84; this is a small lake (by today’s standards) but was the largest in county when built. Known for its privacy, beauty, and peacefulness, it's not very noticeable from U.S. 84 but more conspicuous traveling the Freestone County Road known by many as Rabbit Ridge Road where the dam is crossed.
Built in the late 1920’s about the same time as what is now U.S. 84 was built. Located on natural water springs and slough, some call Jolly Slough and others call Jollico Slough. Before the lake was built Walter Durham’s grandfather operated a steam-powered cotton gin, the steam engine boiler remains under water in the lake. 
Walter Durham’s grandfather was brought to Tyler as a slave along with his mother. They were separated and the boy was brought to Texas, and he never saw his mother again. Following Emancipation he became a successful landowner. 
The slough was populated with alligator and other wildlife. Walter Durham told me that as a boy living there it was often he and his brothers job to go with family livestock (mostly hogs) and protect them from the gators. Frank Martin tells of an incident when his father, Wilbur Martin, and Walter’s grandfather were trout line fishing in the slough catching an alligator that shook the boat while they trying to shoot it and nearly caused Wilbur to be shot. There is also the story of a woman being murdered and thrown in the slough for the alligators.
Frank Martin told of the time the new highway washed out on the slough with two Gulf Pipeline employees drowning when they drove off into it, also the bridge across Keechi Hole washed out what is now FM 489 with a local big time gambler driving his buggy into the flood waters. He survived by hanging onto a tree until help came with a boat. 
The area taken in by Red’s and Burleson Lake’s at one time belonged to Rubin Red, Walter Durham’s grandfather, and John Miller. Rubin Red  (Lyle Red's grandpa) operated a commercial bus line between Waco and Palestine called the “Bee Line” which he sold and financed the lake. Actual lake was constructed by S.A. Burleson, of Wortham. 
Burleson was John Miller’s son-in-law. The Red’s were also originally from the Wortham area and related to the others. Built before the days of heavy equipment in the area, large mules were used pulling fresnos and slips. I feel sure this took at least all of one summer with numerous mule teams and employees; it took at least one, and sometimes two, hardy men to operate a large Fresno with endless walking. Frank Martin’s father bought some of the large mules when the job was completed. The earthen dam today is used as part of the public road on the south.
In its early days Red Lake remained a private lake operated by S.A. Burleson and wife, Edna, who lived on the lake during this time. A restaurant and honky tonk were built (club house). During some of this time 

 

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