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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mason Temple Waxahachie, Texas

My Grandfather J. O. Bailey was a Mason. My father says he was a 32nd degree. I don't know enough about Masons to know if that is possible or what it means. I have heard that my Grandfather had told someone he thought it was silly. Maybe that is why he never got to 33 degree? :) I remember he had their symbol on his gravestone and they did something at his service. I do know that degrees have something to do about ranking. I know that many of our our forefathers were really involved in the Masons and it seems to have been influential in politics and business. Legend has it that Santa Anna was spared his life when he flashed a secret Mason hand sign to Sam Houston. Both Masons.

I've never been in a secret society except in fourth grade when I started a Women Haters Club. Our only rules was not to fraternize with the enemy. When my friend Bubba dissented by falling in love with Anita, it all fell apart. Some kids also at this time started a game where if you caught a girl you got to kiss her. I was a staunch member of my club and didn't participate. Man I was a dummy! But the Principle intervened and the game soon ended.

Anyway, Part of the Boze Mitchell McKibbin Funeral Home at 511 W Main St, Waxahachie next to the Library is a Mason Temple. Before that the Mason's met in the top floor where the Ellis County Museum is now. Built 1889.

According to the recollection of Shannon Simpson, director of Ellis County Museum, before that it was next to the Library but was a small building. So they probably already owned the land that the Temple was built on. They built the Temple at 511 w main st in 1925. "The Masonic Lodge building on Main Street was constructed around 1925. The Masons moved from the site of the Ellis County Museum to this structure around that time. When the Depression hit in 1929, the Lodge had to sell the bottom floor of the structure to make ends meet. The bottom portion has been a funeral home
since that time." According to the KBEC radio spot the Boze Mitchell McKibbin Funeral Home has been around since 1867 (if I remember right.) So it must have moved around. It seems to be common that a Mason Lodge will build a multiple story building and rent the lower floors to fund their Lodge. The Historical Marker at the Ellis County Museum tells about the different business' that were in the Lodge building.

Here are some pics of the Mason Temple at the funeral Home. Notice the peep hole. There was a closet upstairs where the doors had no handles on the inside. There is apparently some ancient breakers in the breaker box and the window for a projector for whatever movie they were watching. One can only imagine. There is a closet space under the stairs like where Harry Potter stayed for a while. There is suppose to be a trap door somewhere that is used for a test. They drop a guy down into this trap door and leave him there for a certain amount of time that symbolizes the 40 days in the cave.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hauntings, Ghosts and Monsters of Ellis County

The Catfish Plantation is probably Ellis County's number one location for experiencing the indigenous phantoms. I spoke to a lady and her husband who have worked for years at the Catfish Plantation and they say it is all true. The lady acquaintance told me that when the Ghost get mad they like to "break wine glasses and cause trouble." She told me that the ghost have written words on the windows when they fog up. The three Ghost that reside here are "Elizabeth, Caroline and Will. Both Caroline and Will died of natural causes while Elizabeth was murdered on her wedding day."-W.D.L.  Elizabeth was murdered in the bathroom which is said to be the most haunted place. When I was growing up I always heard that the Elizabeth lady would walk down the street in her wedding gown looking either for her lover or her murder.

"The sign at the entrance to this quaint restaurant reads: "If you have a ghostly experience, please tell us!" The quaint Victorian house was built in 1895 by a farmer named Anderson. His daughter Elizabeth was strangled to death on her wedding day in the 1920s. She died where the ladies' room is now located and became one of the ghosts of Catfish Plantation. There are two others. One is a farmer named Will, who died in the house in the 1930s. The other is an elderly lady named Caroline Mooney, who died in the house in 1970. The three ghosts are responsible for the bone-numbing cold spots that move silently through the house, as well as flying objects and slamming doors. Elizabeth's kindly presence is felt mostly in the dining room, where she likes to reach out and touch people. Will's apparition is often seen on the front porch, and Caroline's angry spirit is detected in the kitchen. Ever since Melissa and Tom Baker remodeled the house into a Cajun eatery in 1984, dozens of employees, customers, and news people have witnessed paranormal manifestations here.
The Catfish Plantation Restaurant is located at 814 Water Street. Version one: it is haunted by benevolent Elizabeth Anderson who was murdered on her wedding day, a farmer named Will, and grumpy Caroline Mooney. Version two: it seems the spirits are those of Eliza Herrod Richards, who died 14 October, 1925, and her son, Jesse Thomas Richards, who died in the house on 9 October, 1937. Although Eliza was 77 years old at her death, she appears as a young woman of about twenty, close to the age she was at her first wedding in 1867. She apparently had an unhappy second marriage to a man in Kentucky whom she left. She moved to Texas with her eldest son, and returned to using her first married name, Richards. In all my researches, I've not found an Elizabeth Anderson who died in Waxahachie, or who ever lived at the house on 814 Water Street. The third spirit resident is known to be Carrie Jenkins Mooney, who lived in the house from the 1950s until her death in 1970. Version two supplied by historical researcher, Nancy Poole.
Slamming doors, knocking walls, pianos playing, clocks chiming, blue glowing lights, flying coffee cups, and cold spots are just a few of the strange happenings at The Catfish Plantation in the historic town of Waxahachie.
The restaurant is supposed to be haunted by three ghosts. Waitresses and customers are always reporting strange things that happen—rude patrons having plates dumped on them, cold spots in the bathroom, etc. Pictures have been taken that show a slender young woman in outline form. One is a farmer, one is an old woman who lived there, and one is a young girl who was murdered on her wedding day in the house. Supposedly a burglar attempted to burglarize the safe one night and seemed to leave in a hurry."
From the ->Texas ghost hunter site.

"Another famously haunted business in Waxahachie is the Rogers Hotel.
First built by Emory Rogers as a log cabin at a small town crossroads, this building has turned into a grand establishment" "This hotel is said to have had more than 300 ghosts in the building. The most known spirits are a cowboy, a little girl who drowned in the hotel pool and Emory Roger’s son. These ghosts roam the hotel appearing in several different spots. The little girl walks the lobby, while Roger’s son haunts the elevator and the cowboy makes appearances in room 409, which is said to be the room with the most ghostly activity."-WDL Emory Rogers was the founder of Waxhachie and a Civil War Veteran. He donated land for the Courthouse. He originally settled near Milford. Cleared the land on Richland creek and later came in 1847 where the Rogers Hotel is now and lived in a tent while he built his cabin.

"One story says that the ghost of a confederate soldier walks down Becky Lane in Waxahachie at night. Private John Hemerich's is suppose to be the soldier ghost. Becky Lane is supposedly the site of the last Union hanging after the Civil War."-WDL I have never found any Historical evidence of this hanging but interesting when you have to realize that the Reconstruction was brought right into the heart of our County! Just a mile or so from Rockett Springs where the first Confederate soldiers from Ellis County gathered to enlist in Parson's Brigade in 1861!
They say there is a Goat Man Trail in Italy. A boy who accidentally let some animals out of a pen. While trying to go home he and some of the animals got hit by a train. I have heard of th Goatman in Cedar Hill near Mt Lebanon along with the devil worshippers in Dallas County. Also in Italy there was a tale of a dinosaur that lived in a creek. It turned out to be a lost pet Iguana.

In Trumbull (near Ferris) at the Train tracks there where three Mexicans killed. I believe late 19th early 20th century. It is said they were buried near the spot and and some rails were placed on top of their grave. When the engineer would pass the place where the Mexicans were killed he would hang out a red lantern.

The town of Ensign had "The Monster". Of course the only thing with the name Ensign now is just the road. But back before 1872 Ensign and Oak Grove were the place to be in those days. The Creek through Ensign, which was either Onion or Waxahachie  was "home of this big hairy creature that issued a blood-curdling scream." Parents would run their children indoors and bar the doors. Not in the same area but  in Ellis County
I have heard  blood-curdling screams walking down Red Oak Creek not too far from Rocket, Texas. In this video I filmed with little Kellyn Dickinson(step-daughter) on a Dinosaur adventure(we didn't find any). But on our way back to the bridge we heard what sounded like a someone moaning in pain. I believe it is a mountain lion or panther of some sort. You can hear the screams if you listen closely but maybe headphones or a good speaker system would be better. It startled Kellyn and I. Anyway "The Monster" is kind of a Bigfoot thing. I think and I have heard in all cultures that this maybe the bogeyman syndrome. Keep the kids in line or maybe just a joke to scare them. Probably a combination of man made fear and something skiddish like a mountain lion that can make a terrifying noise. If anyone can identify the noise please let me know what you think it is.

A missing-link(if I may) to "The Monster" may be found in the story of "The Monster" near Reagor Springs along Waxahachie Creek. According to the Boren Cemetery web-site, it all started when Uncle Frank Boren turned up missing after playing hide and go seek with the kids and everyone claimed a monster had gotten him. They found the Uncle Frank later where he had fallen asleep where they milk the cows. But "The Monster" Legend spread through the county.

When I was a kid we had the "Woo Woo" man legend. The "Woo Woo" man haunted Shiloh cemetery. It's located on Shiloh Road about quarter mile west of FM 664. We were told that at Dusk or night time you stand at the entrance to the cemetery and yell "Woo Woo, Woo Woo, Woo Woo"! I'm guessing like a train. Then supposedly at the back of the cemetery a lantern will appear and walk along the back fence line. Ledgend says an old train engineer is the specter. I did do this a few times and did see a light behind the cemetery. I also noticed that when cars drove by sometimes there was a reflection of light on the graves. Another legend is there is a particular grave at Shiloh cemetery that has a large granite sphere. It is said that it is cold in the summer and hot in the winter but I never found that to be true.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

La Belle Ship Wreck presentation by Dr. James Bruseth

La Belle

Ellis County Historical Commission and the Ellis County Museum

at 7:00 PM, Thursday, October 11th

201 South College Street (Ellis County Museum)

to celebrate Archeology Awareness Month.

Dr. James Bruseth, Texas Historical Commission Archeology Division Director, will give a presentation

on the excavation and preservation of the Belle, one of La Salle’s ships

that sank in Matagorda Bay more than 300 years ago.

The talk will describe the efforts that took place inside a large, steel cofferdam built around the shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico.

I believe it will only be for Ellis County Museum members but I will try to attend. The greatest ship wreck find in North America!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"Oh Susanna" with Peters Colony on your knee

Stephen Collins Foster (July 4, 1826 – January 13, 1864),
What does the song "Oh Susanna" have to do with Ellis County? 20 petitioners were originally involved in the Peters Colony that was a major force in bringing settlers into the Ellis County area. Of the American petitioners, 4 were from the Peters family and seemed to be the prime mover's in the organization of the colony. Hence the name Peters Colony. In the 1840's one of the major players in the Peters Colony was William C Peters a music teacher turned publisher. One of his students, Stephen Foster, as a gift, gave him the copyright to "Oh Susanna". W C Peters with his company Peters, Field and Company from Cincinnati did pay Stephen Foster a $100. People claim that W C Peters did not treat Stephen Foster fairly. But there was not really a song writers industry at the time and Foster never proclaimed to have been treated wrong by W C Peters. In fact he had written someone on the "delight" he experienced when he received two $50 bills for "Oh Susanna." "Oh Susanna" became a big hit and made W C Peters wealthy. W C Peters sold the song for $10,000. Using an inflation calculator the song would have sold today for about $200,000. Seeing that Foster died impoverished at the age of 37 with 38 cents on him, you can see where people feel he was taken advantage. The song was influenced by minstrel music Foster was exposed to at the age of 16 and by the full lyrics is very offensive and definitely politically incorrect. Though it is said that Stephen Foster was not a racist and instructed his performers to sing his songs with compassion towards the slave. Only God knew his heart I guess. Stephen Foster never visited Ellis County but his successful hit "oh Susanna" did help make W C Peters wealthy and maybe helped keep his investment in the Peters Colony alive a while longer.

reference "The Peters Colony" by Seymour V. Conor, Wikipedia

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Few First for Ellis County

First major road in Ellis County was a military road that cut through the middle of Ellis County near downtown Waxahachie in 1850. It ran from the Red River to San Antonio. Another road later crossed Eastern Ellis County and went from Dallas to Houston. The commissions court of Ellis County declared these two roads the first official roads in Ellis County in 1860.

Hans Smith reportedly built the first cotton gin in Ellis County in Palmer near Red Oak Creek.

William R Howe was believed to be the first white settler in Ellis County back in 1843.

Edward H Tarrant is believed to have built the first mill in Ellis County. Tarrant County was named in his honor.

Willie Love was the first black man to serve as city commissioner in Ellis County on June 19, 1969.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cotton Gin Scales Ovilla, Texas

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The way I've been told is that the wagon loaded with cotton would ride upon the wooden platform and be weighed. I believe the measuring device were in the building next to the scales. Then after the cotton was unloaded they would weigh the wagon again. The difference was how much cotton the farmer would get paid for. I guess the wood scales floated. It would be kind of like when you got to the dump and they weigh your vehicle when you come in and weigh you after you dump your stuff. Then you pay by the weight difference. Pretty amazing that scales have lasted all this time even after al the fires of 1918 and 1966.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ellis County Museum may have Halbard Head from Desoto's Expedition

Around 15 years ago at the Ellis County Museum, I saw this intriguing artifact on display. I recently emailed the Museum director to make sure I remembered it correctly. The Director, Mr. Shannon Simpson responded,
"The artifact you are referring to is thought to be a Spanish conquistador lance-head and the information provided at the time of the donation stated it was found in the vicinity of Reagor Springs. I wish I could elaborate more on the piece but that is all I know."

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It has basically been sitting in storage for quite a while. Mr Simpson gave me the privilege to take pictures of it. I thought to myself that if it was a Conquistador artifact it would be a big find. They are very rare and Ellis county isn't known for any metal artifacts from the Spanish expedition times.

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So I took my pictures and started Googling. Nada! There is nothing really out there on the net to use as a reference to this artifact. I even tried to look for paintings that depict the Conquistador armies or Spanish explorers. Then I came across a fella who had a web-site about the Spanish explorers. Don Sheppard was the fella from Florida History and he referred me to an expert from England. Ian Eaves is an expert in European armour and weapons. He has worked on European armour and weapon's books and has worked for museums to help Catalogue their armour and weapons. He has been President of The Arms and Armour Society since 1995. He graciously answered my email and to my disappointment sent this reply to my pictures.

"I am sorry to say that the so-called "lance-head" in the Ellis County
Museum is actually a crudely made forgery of an axe-head in the vaguely
"medival style". In truth, it does not really match any authentic type of
axe very closely. I am reasonably confident, even from photographs, that it
was made after the middle of the 19th century and very likely in the 20th

I hope that this answer is of some help to you even if it is not the one
that you ideally wanted to hear.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Eaves"

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Well I informed Shannon of the bad news and we both were like "oh well" you can't win them all. In my mind it was still stirring, Where did this thing come from? Why does it exist? Is it something where somebody was just playing around and made it? Was it made for decoration? Why would it be in a creek(reportedly found in or near a creek)? Maybe it was made after the explorers got here? With crude resources to shape iron it would look,well, crude. I imagine Mr. Eaves was use to museum quality probably more ornamental type of weapons. I imagine the crudely made ones he has seen were established to be forgeries. But I doubt he has seen many weapons actually made in North America. I'm sure very few have ever been found. But I'm not going to challenge an expert. I thought there might be a more local expert I could contact. So just for the heck of it I looked up an SMU archaeologist. I'm sorry I can't remember the SMU professor's name but he was a nice fella and gave me another professor to contact named Grant Hall from Texas Tech. Dr. Grant was also nice and then informed me "one of the leading experts on Spanish metal artifacts" lived not to far from me. A Mr. Jay Blaine who is a self-made expert Archaeologist. Specializing in metal artifacts. Something that he started as a hobby became something that he is very, very good at and the Professors look to him for answers. He is the recipient of the Crabtree Award. He is known for his work on The Gilbert Site. Fascinating archeology site near Lake Fork.
In the Post-Oak Savanna about 50 miles east of Dallas is an unusual archaeological site, a place that played a little-known part in Texas history. Here, some 250 years ago, a Caddo-connected Native American group established a deer-hunting and hide-processing camp that produced thousands of deer hides for an international market.
I had never even heard of the Gilbert Site but how awesome is that discovery! Mr Blaine also helped with the identification of Coronado's army campsite in the Texas Panhandle.

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Mr Blaine graciously wrote this letter to Shannon and I.
(Just a note: a few times Mr Blaine refers to the Ellis County Museum as the Ennis Museum. Probably because I told him I work in Ennis)

"Dear Mr. Bailey,
I truly appreciate your calling attention to this particular artifact in the Ellis County Museum. The artifact photos were excellent and, although not reliable as personal examination, can provide a basis for the following speculations.
The artifact photos strongly suggest this artifact, a Halbard head, is of hand-forged wrought iron. Halbards saw service from the 13th through the 18th centuries. By the 18th century, this general form, a pole axe, had been relegated to serving as a symbol of authority instead of primary service as weapons, and commonly were lighter in form and decorated by fret work and engraving. As is common, only specimens of unusually high (parade) quality have been preserved in the museums and Royal collections and see publication. Those of ordinary quality were used, recycled, seldom preserved to afford direct comparisons.
The convex main blade edge of the Ennis Museum specimen appears to be much less common than the concave to straight blade edge profile typical for those of "parade" quality. The Ennis Museum Halbard also employs a socket whereas long iron straps were commonly used to secure such heads on the shaft and protect it from being cut. However I've seen a notation that early forms were simple and heavy, a description that seems appropriate for the Ennis one.
While I'd personally not favor the term "conquistador" in labeling the possible source of this Halbard head, an early exploring expedition (entrada) such as the Moscoso extension of De Soto's party possibly could have resulted in the artifact being lost in the "Reagor Springs creek".
The 1992 Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society examined the very scarce Texas artifacts evidence for early European explorations. I much regret no Halbard was brought to our attention. Since that time I've worked with the metal artifacts from the 154] Coronado camp site recently found in west Texas. Again, no Halbard evidence has turned up.
I've no present reason to doubt some Halbards probably were being carried in these 1540's expeditions. These would be valued (even if only for a reworked metal source) and normally only lost by accident, in battle, or some other serious nature of mischance.
Pending other more sophisticated conservation treatment,
I'd strongly recommend this potentially very important metal artifact now be stored in an air-tight container, together with colored silica gel monitored for periodic dehydration. I'd also strongly recommend that you and Mr. Simpson team up to see if any other possibly involved Reagor Springs creek data can be retrieved.

Jay C . Blaine
cc: Shannon Simpson
Ellis County Museum
Dr. James H. Bruseth Director Archeology Division Texas Historical Commission"

I found this on the internet about Luis de Moscoso
In July, 1543 the Tangipahoa probably were watching as seven makeshift boats, carried the battered remnants of De Soto's army of conquistadors past them to the Gulf of Mexico. For four years, the Spanish had crisscrossed the southeast United States running roughshod over its native peoples, but by 1543 they were beaten men. De Soto had died the previous year, and after failing to reach Mexico overland across Texas, his successor, Luis de Moscoso, returned to the "Great River" (Mississippi) for a last desperate effort to escape the interior by following it to the Gulf.
Apparently after everything went to pot they tried to go threw Texas to Mexico. Maybe they did pass through Ellis County? And tromping around for 4 years maybe they attempted to make weapons during this time?

In conclusion, Mr Blaine is not claiming this artifact is the real deal. He is leaving the possibility of it being the real deal open. He admits it is crude and not European. But his observation of the artifacts picture leaves him to speculate how it might have gotten into Ellis County. Mr Eaves observation of the pictures left him to think the artifact was a forgery. In his mind it was crude and did not match his extensive knowledge European of weapons. Mr Eaves could only imagine that it was a forgery. He has probably came across European forgeries in his European research. But one must look at how this was found. Apparently some one walking a creek or maybe working a field came across it. Then they donated it to the museum. Nobody knows who it was that found it. Museum has never claimed it was the real deal. Mr Eaves probably doesn't realize that the Ellis County Museum is in the 1889 Mason Lodge and needs local donations and volunteers to keep it up and running. What I am saying is that whomever donated the Halbard Head wasn't intending to mislead. Now the original creator of the artifact's intentions, that we may never know. The artifact was intriguing enough for Mr Blaine to recommend it's preservation be taken seriously.

It is an interesting coincidence that Mr Blaine sent a carbon copy of his letter to me to Dr. James H. Bruseth. Shannon Simpson has informed me that Dr. James H. Bruseth will be coming to Ellis County during Archeology month in October. I will post when it is to happen. DEVELOPING........

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Maybe the location of where the artifact was found. Not much is known about who found it or exactly where. Just Reagor Springs and maybe in a creek. I have a lead that I am going to try to contact who seems to be a history buff on Reagor Springs.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rural Free Delivery in Ellis County

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About ten years ago near the community of Rankin, I found some artifacts metal detecting. First I came across a cylinder to what appears to be part of a toy gun. I was thinking people may have dumped trash here. Then near a tree I came across a padlock then part of a belt buckle. The lock looked old and didn't have the connecting loop just the pad part. On the pad it says "RFD". Which I was thinking might mean Rankin Fire Department. But on the other side it says "MAIL". A little later by coincidence, a lovely postal employee brought to my attention that a new stamp was coming in commemoration of the 100 years of Rural Free Delivery by the US Post Office. So I'm guessing that possibly the pad lock was meant for a mail bag that had a belt around it. Or maybe the it locked a door to a cabinet. Also I was told by an old timer that once there was an old road that crossed the area where I found the pad lock. The road supposedly went across an area that is now a corp lake. Maybe something happened on the delivery or a hand off. It's possible that maybe somebody just used the lock for personal use and it ended up out here. If the mind wonders enough you could imagine some thief who stole a bag or something that was locked up and took it out here and cut off the lock.

Rural Free Delivery
The rural free delivery system also contributed to the development of a parcel post system and played an important part in the good roads movement. True to some of the dire predictions of its early opponents, however, RFD cut into the profits of main street retailers; brought an exotic and sometimes threatening urban culture into rural living rooms; and added to the growing sense that residents of small towns lived at the margins of a consumer economy dominated by America's biggest cities.

All those roads that go deep into the woods or the country pretty much were a result of people wanting to get there mail. You know how picky the mail can be if you have ever lived out in the country. If a road was too muddy or difficult the mail wouldn't deliver. The person out in the country would have to ride or walk into town and get their mail. I have read where some citizens took it upon their selves to finance some good roads to their place so they could get their mail delivered. They weren't going to wait on the government.

Here is a mail drop off Aug 22, 1903. Cute little kids walking buy witrh their dog in the lead.
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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Old picture of a RFD wagon
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket another old RFD pic

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why Ovilla is dry -Double-Barreled Shotguns

It's a mentality that stays in Ovilla today. Especially now since Ovilla is not the commercial hub it use to be in the 1850's. Now it's a place you want to retire or raise your kids and keep out the outside world the most you can. Leave all the violent crime and sinful pleasure business' in other communities. Ovillians can just drive to them if they need them. Of course having 5 or 6 churches in such a small community helps keep the those evil spirits out of town.

Ovilla in it's early days of the 1850's was a fairly big community for it's time but it was made of Church going people. Diehard Christians. Shiloh Church was the backbone and the community formed it's morals around it. They liked it that way. Keep the carnal in other towns. Well when some Dallas boys showed up to set up a mobile saloon near the Shiloh meetings, the citizens became the mighty hand of God. Shiloh was a big attraction and these Dallas boys were sent by a business man to capitalize on the Churches traffic. But didn't account for the Christians of action in the congregation.

The following is an account from the early days of Ovilla. Just for reference, according to an inflation calculator, what cost $300.00 in 1850 would cost $7014.96 in 2006. The recollection was written in 1890's about an even earlier time in Ovilla History.


Be it said to the honor of the early settlers, not only of Ellis county, but all over the State, that it was considered beneath the dignity of a man to misbehave at church; and so general was this the case, that if any one violated the rules of decorum, he was spotted as not a Texan, and this was not only true among church people, but even among those of desperate character. This state of decorum continued for quite a number of years, until people began to flock into Texas in large numbers, and then and not until then people began to misbehave at church. Es-
pecially was this true at Shiloh, at which time a man of Dallas sent some boys with "material" to Shiloh during one of these protracted occasions to run a saloon. When they opened up they were waited upon by the authorities to leave, but did not leave. Then the owner of the land waited upon them and notified them to desist, but still of no avail. Then a legal notice was issued and read to them, whereupon the boys began to pack up and dilly-dallied about it until services began at the stand; then started, and, as they passed the stand, fired off their pistols, putting their team to the top of their speed. Whereupon the male part of the congregation with one impulse arose and gave chase, overtaking them in about a half-mile, brought them back, tried them, bound them over to court, and placed them in the church house under guard. Their friends said there were not men enough on the camp-ground to keep them until morning, but by sundown we had twelve double-barreled shot-guns well charged, while the rabble on the outside numbered between fifty and a hundred; but we kept them all the tame till morning. Then their friends said we could not take them to Waxahachie; but we did, and lodged them in jail, and it cost the man who sent them to run the saloon about $300. Right here permit me to remark, though it is not a part of the history of Shiloh church, that doubtless through the influence of Shiloh no saloon has ever existed in the neighborhood, though it was tried a few years ago; but died in a short time for want of patronage." from the memories and biographies of ellis county

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

-------Katie Litty Daffan----------

Katie Daffan

The prolific Miss Katie Daffan was born on July 29, 1874, in Brenham, Texas, daughter of Laurence A. and Mollie (Day) Daffan. Her father was an official of the Houston & Texas Central railroad. Miss Daffan was raised in Ennis. She died in Ennis on May 22, 1951 after being hit by a car the intersection of Dallas St and W Baylor in Ennis, Texas.

She was a graduate of the Corsicana class of 1890 ,also graduated from Hollins Institute in Virginia, was a special history student at the universities of Texas and Chicago, She taught elementary school in Ennis and San Augustine and high school history in Houston, served as principal of a girls' school in Dallas, and taught summer sessions in the normal schools of East Texas, first Vice President of the State of Texas Teachers Association,on the Texas State Text-Book Board, state secretary to the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the first president of the Houston Story Tellers Club, first vice president of the Texas Historical Society, superintendent of the Confederate Woman's Home in Austin in 1911 making her the first woman in Texas appointed to head a state institution, she wrote or edited around 7 books(some articles say 8), her book Texas Heroes was adopted as a Texas school text book, She served five terms as president of the Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy,state historian of the Daughters of the American Revolution (1909-10),state secretary to the General Federation of Women's Clubs (1909), first vice president of the Texas State Historical Association (1912, 1913, 1914)she was a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas,a charter member of Houston Pen Women, a board member of the Houston Public Library (1904-29),charter member of the Houston Board of Recreation (1922-29), first president of the Houston Storyteller's Club (1922-29). twice appointed sponsor for Texas to the General Confederate reunions and in May 1913 was appointed sponsor for the South to the General Confederate Reunion held in Chattanooga,Tennessee-the highest social honor conferred upon a woman of the South, hostess for Texas at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, ,She was also secretary for life of Hood's Texas Brigade, in which her father had served,Daffan was literary editor of the Houston Chronicle(7 year term),president of the Texas Women’s Press Association,delivered the welcome address that formally introduced Pres. William Howard Taft on his official visit to Houston in 1909, ran three times for public office, came close to winning a seat in the Texas House of Representatives in 1922, campaigned for Governor of Texas in 1930,and feature columnist for the Ennis Daily News from 1936 to 1950.

HER BOOKS:wrote or edited New Orleans (1906), Woman in History (1908), My Father as I Remember Him (1908), The Woman on Pine Springs Road (1910), As Thinketh a Woman (poems, 1911), Texas Hero Stories (1912), History of the United States (1924), and Texas Heros (1924)

Yeah,it almost seems impossible someone could be that prolific. She was the definition of prolific and a trailblazer for the modern woman.

She did marry in 1897 but it was short lived. In fact she came back from her Honeymoon alone. It never was known the true reason for the marriage's failure. Her Husband Mann Trice, assistant attorney general of Texas, went all out for the wedding which took place at the Daffan House on Dallas street in Ennis. He had a red carpet placed at the train station before they went off on their honeymoon. It seemed it was off to a great start. Latter people have speculated this marriage failure to her questionable sexual orientation. But this could be dismissed by those who knew her that said she never got over Mr Trice. Seems more probable that her social activities and independence were not what Mr. Trice expected of his wife and realized it would never work.

Here is a recollection of Mr. George Graves, Jr. who is a long time resident of Ennis and has a deep heritage in Ennis. You can see that in her later years Miss Daffan became a more eccentric character through his personal encounters as recalled in the Ennis Daily New's Story.
"Graves remembers many local personalities from Ennis’past. A boarder with the redoubtable “Miss Katie” Daffan in 1948, he once put out a fire caused by a water heater in the well-known author’s house on Dallas St. and won her heart. But he said that the eccentric Daffan soon forgot his heroism and in order to redecorate the upper floors of her home, practically threw him out of his room."

Mr Graves' son, Kevin Graves, recalled his fathers' stories of Miss Daffan in more detail on his Kevboy Flikr web-site.
"Another aside to this woman. My Dad was rooming in this house when his sister and children moved back home, he moved out to give them room. Dad said the old boiler in the house was red hot and the wallpaper was scorching. He turned it off. She exclaimed "Oh, Mr. Graves! You have saved my beautiful home!....I shall forever be grateful to you!" Three weeks later, she told he and another border they had to move because she was having the house papered. She made the paperers paper around all the photos and paintings on the wall, because her mother had hung the pictures and they had never been off the walls. Dad said the paperers waited till Miss Katy left the house and went right ahead and took the photos down and papered under them, knowing SHE would never take them down to check. Three weeks later, Miss Katie saw my Dad in town, and chirped "you room is ready for you, Mr. Graves. Mr. Graves had found other accommodations. Miss Katie was quite the character. She would walk into the Post Office and buy whatever she wanted and say "put those on my account". The bewildered clerk would say "but Miss Katie, no one has an account at the post office! Overhearing, the Postmaster, Mr. Barney would yell, "CLERK, put those on Miss Katie's account as she told you". Of course HE was paying for it. She got a lot of mileage out of being eccentric."

Kevin elaborates on her death and the Daffan house destruction.
"Tragically, Miss Katie was run down by a car in front of" her "house on her late night coffee run." "Her nightly haunt."
N 32 19.661 W 096 37.659

What Katie's Historical Marker says:
"Katie Daffan
July 29, 1874 - May 22, 1951
Location: Pierce Park, Northwest Main Street, Ennis
Born in Brenham, Katie Lilly Daffan was a well-known author, educator, journalist, and club woman. She began her career as a teacher and was an officer of the Texas State Historical Association. She wrote several books, including a Texas history textbook. Active in the United Daughters of the Confederacy, she served from 1911 to 1918 as superintendent of the Confederate Woman's Home in Austin. She was Literary Editor of the Houston Chronicle from 1921 to 1928. Miss Daffan taught school in Ennis and was feature columnist for the Ennis Daily News 1936-1950. She died here in 1951. [Recorded Texas Historic Landmark Texas Sesquicentennial 1836-1986] "

"The house was sold and in 1962." "It was sadly razed in 1960 when Safeway went in." "Nothing was taken out of the house. I remember seeing the wrecking ball tear it down."
Kevin was only 5 but remembered thinking "why?" did they take down the house.


Kevin has a great picture on his "Flikr" account that his Dad, Mr George Graves Jr., had taken in 1938. Mr Graves and his cousin had climbed the old grain elevator in Ennis. It is across from the Sonic and behind the Diamond Shamrock today. If you run your mouse across the picture the picture will highlight the Daffan house on N Dallas street. The picture can be found here.


Ennis Daily News Special History Edition Feb 29th 2008

Get a copy of the Ennis Daily News paper from 02/29/2008(leap day) it has great detail into Katie Daffan's life. Managing Editor, Randy Bryan Bigham, is writing a book about Katie Daffan and if not by know will be the authority on her life. Randy also informed me that the Ennis Library has a wealth of Katie's material that includes literature and pictures. Randy is even getting to know her little quirks like how she always used two cups to drink her coffee. She would pour her coffee back and forth from one cup to another until it cooled down. In the Feb 29th article it gives a good detail into Katie's Death. It goes on to tell how Katie had left Miss Pearl's cafe at 3 am May 17, 1951 to return home. (Picture is of old Interurban Station at the corner of W Baylor and Dallas St. Probably looks similar to what it did in 1951. Interurban had been shutdown for 10 years when Katie was killed)While crossing W Baylor on Dallas St she was ran over by Vesta McClain. Miss Katie died of her wounds 5 days later at the local hospital on May 22, 1951. Vesta was charged with manslaughter but charges were dropped. I've heard that Katie's family believed that Katie would not have wanted Vesta McClain charged with her murder.

I have always told people that a play should be made about Miss Katie and thought to mention this to my Mother's close friend PJ Searsy who runs the Waxahachie Community Theater. Well apparently a Mrs Sandra Wakefield of Ennis is planning to take on the eccentric Katie in a one woman play. The play should open within a year. It is to raise money for the historic archives of the Ennis Public Library. Read more of the Ennis Daily News article at the above Sandra Wakefield link.

Miss Katie's burial site is located in the Myrtle cemetery in Ennis, Texas. Within in a mile from the location of her house and the site of her death.

This emblem is on Katie's tombstone.

Daffan Family grave pictures

Daffan Family grave site picture

Another Daffan Family grave site picture

Katie Daffan grave stone flat

Katie Daffan tombstone vertical