A history of Freestone County's prison land

Published September 26, 2007
When Texas bought the large tract of land in Anderson County they also bought a small tract, about 600 acres in Freestone County, for the iron ore deposits to be used on roads and a low water crossing was made on the Trinity River to cut the hauling distance to Coffield. That’s another story that will come later.
Coffield was named for a generous citizen, I think, from Milam County, who was a strong supporter of Texas Department of Corrections (TDC). The land in Freestone County had served as an entrance to the river by the public since the earliest days of Freestone County.
The area known as Tyus Bluff and Board Pile was in this. It also included the old Tyus Cemetery – which created another problem – the public and friend, Bill Tyus, of Teague, was opposed to all of this being closed to the public.


Local hide tannery and its Civil War history



Steward's Mill and its relationship with Troy

Last week I wrote about the community of Troy/Pine Bluff located on the west bank of the Trinity River in Freestone County. This inland port played a very important role in the progress of growth for several counties located westward from the town, especially Freestone, Navarro and Limestone but other communities farther to the north and northwest. 
Most of the time, steamboats could go as far upriver as Troy but any other shipping points farther upstream were very limited depending on the water table within the river channel. Since the boats could reach Troy/Pine Bluff, a lot of cargo going in either direction was either received or shipped from Troy. 

History, memories surround Ft. Parker Memorial Park

Located just west of Groesbeck, in Limestone County, this historic cemetery originated while Freestone County was still part of Limestone. I have deep roots here where many of my mother’s family and ancestors are buried. A large, impressive monument remembering the Indian massacre and its victims is located on a circle drive in the middle of the well-kept grounds to greet you. 
If you haven’t visited this historic place it's well worth a trip to see. This is the resting place of early settlers and many Limestone County officials, including my friends Judge Fountain Kirby and Judge Norton Fox, and many former sheriffs, including my mother’s great-grandfather Anthony Sharp who served as confederate sheriff.

Plum Creek once bustling, community now gone

Abe Jones

Information courtesy of Sessions Reflections, usgwarchives.net, and Patricia Pratt


Lt. Col. Joseph H. Bennett, family cemetery

This historical marker, discussing Bennett's life and army career, is in Montgomery County.

Photo courtesy of findagrave.com

Published November 2006

A few miles east of Streetman and north of FM 3059 lay the remains of a hero of the Texas Revolution Battle of San Jacinto, Colonel of a regiment defending its frontier, a Representative in the Congress of the Republic of Texas, who was involved in the Somervell Expedition and other early events. Colonel Bennett's head rights were located in Freestone and Navarro counties. More than 25 years ago I became interested in Col. Bennett and the small cemetery he and family members were buried in.

At that time Miss Sally Epps and Mrs. Stella Jo McCowan, two lovely elderly ladies living in Streetman who were granddaughters, became concerned the little cemetery had been destroyed.


A brief history of the Butler Church Bell

Butler Church Bell

The Freestone County Museum observed its 40th anniversary since opening in 1967. It is now located in the third jail building built about 1885 and used until the fourth, which was located on the courthouse square was built in 1911 and used until 1974. There are many early things to been here, with the planned expansion from a gracious local grant there should be much more. 
On the outside grounds there are more displays with two early Freestone County log houses, an early church building, and an old church bell with an interesting history. Didn't realize until recently how much the Trinity River played in the early development and settlement of Freestone and the other counties joining it. 
Bill Young's informative research and articles in the Corsicana paper have brought much out. 

Lost letter describes pre-statehood Texas

Newspapers receive a lot of mail, much of it deservedly destined for the trash can. Fortunately, whoever opened the letter from New York that came to the Austin Statesman sometime in January 1920 had the good sense to realize it contained something worthy of attention.

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Radio Days

In the early 1960s, hit songs either came through the gas-filled tubes in your car radio, a plug-in, toaster-size plastic device with round dials for tuning and volume control or a battery powered transistor radio only slightly smaller than a cereal box.
Like the distant signal of a far-away station bouncing off the ionosphere, for millions of Boomers radio memories fade in and out – sound waves converted to memory messages traveling from neuron to neuron in our brain.
My first recollection of commercial radio dates to the early 1950s, when my grandparents seldom missed an evening episode of “One Man’s Family,” a soap opera. 
If we were traveling in 

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Texas “Mail Call” Inspired by a Civil War Letter

One day in the spring of 1942, an old photograph rescued from a trunk at a relative’s house in the small San Patricio County community of Round Lake caught Robert Dougherty Bluntzer’s eye.
The sepia image had captured an instant in the life of a young man with fair, piercing eyes and a Prince Valiant-style haircut.
His too-large cotton shirt, despite the scarf-like cravat he wore, allowed for at least an inch of empty space around his scrawny neck. He did not look happy. Maybe that was his nature. Maybe he didn’t like getting dressed up.
Or maybe Chrys Sullivan had posed for the glass negative portrait not long before


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