J.R. Sonny Sessions


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. 

The life, times of resident John Karner

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Published November 2006
One of the most colorful and historical characters to live in early Freestone and its adjoining counties was John Karner. Born in Bavaria in 1817, he was often called "Dutch John." Karner emigrated to America in 1831 with his family and, leaving them, he came to Texas in 1835. At San Augustine, John Karner joined the forces then forming the defense against the invading Santa Anna and the Mexican Army. This command joined General Sam Houston at Gonzales and was with them at the Battle of San Jacinto. At the Battle of San Jacinto, John Karner had charge of a wagon and team which was used after the battle to haul the wounded General Sam Houston and General Santa Anna, who was taken prisoner.


Buzzards in Wortham

This article was written by A.C. Black some years back and appeared in the Mexia Daily News. I only knew Mr. Black a short time before his death, but I am sorry I didn’t know him much longer as I really enjoyed our short friendship.
Mr. Black a World War II Navy veteran with service in the South Pacific. “I grew up in Wortham during the 1920-30’s. The big oil boom had followed on the heels of the big one in Mexia and was approaching an end about 1926. The large influx of oil field workers and others began departing
rapidly. Soon the town had settled back down to a thriving little farming community of about two thousand or so citizens.


WWII veterans, Battle of the Bulge

Although I didn’t participate in this I have always felt I probably would have if I had gone into the Army instead of the Navy and the Pacific. I had many friends who were. This was a surprise to the Allies and occurred in terrible winter weather with few of our troops having proper clothing or training, many suffered from frost bitten feet there and the rest of their lives.
Troops with no combat training were thrown in with very high casualties. In Woodland Cemetery many World War II veterans are buried, the only one known whose disinterred body is buried here lost his life in this battle. Ernest Orville Payne was born August, 31, 1925, to Charlie and Mae Bryson Payne in Streetman.

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