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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pictures from TEXANA at Getzendaner Park 09/27/2008

PS the paper towels and aluminum foil wouldn't normally be in the picture the wagon wasn't totally set up yet :)

Texana at the Chautauqua 9-27-2008

I recently attended part of the Texana event at the Chautauqua in Waxahahchie, Texas yesterday. I visited pioneer reenactment set ups in the park. They had an original Chuck Wagon. Which for pioneers was usually a smaller farm wagon for hauling stuff on the farm converted into a chuck wagon. This particular wagon was all original except the bottom floor had to be replaced due to rotting. The campfire setup and tents were run by reenactors in period clothes. I did not get to see the official reenactments. I did get to hear Caddo Nation tell their story and perform their dances. They talked about how their people were major deerskin traders with the French. I had heard about this when researching the Halberd head at the Ellis County museum. Jay Blaine had participated in the identification of a caddo site near cedar creek where French coins and trading items were being found, It was a major international trade and I believe took place in the 17th century. Deerskin was bringing good money in Europe at the time.

The next speaker of the evening was a historian who tied in Spain to the development of Texas. How the Spanish had designed their conquista based on what they took from being dominated by the Muslims at one time. How even spanish foods and words came from the Muslims. For example arroz the name for rice is of Arabic origin. How the Alamo and Goliad are examples of Muslim construction. How the use of a cavalry was learned by the Spanish from being defeated by the Muslims.

Very intertaining and learning experience.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Catfish Plantation welcomes Ghost Hunters

The Catfish Plantation is going to have a raffle Oct 25th for 8 lucky winners to meet long time Catfish Plantation residents Caroline, Elizabeth and Will on Halloween Night. Of course Caroline, Elizabeth and Will are dead but don't let that stop you from socializing with them. The Texas Spirit Seeker group is going to do some electronic surveillance of the plantation at the same time.

"Eight lucky winners will be able to work side by side with Texas Spirit Seekers, which is returning to the restaurant to further expand on some work it did in March that captured several eerie electronic recordings and a ghostly photograph."

"The winners will meet Texas Spirit Seekers at 10 p.m. Oct. 31 at the restaurant, where they will have the chance to help set up, position cameras and help monitor the activity as it happens."
- wdl

Click Here for more details on how to enter raffle and what it benefits.

Click Here for more info on Ellis County Ghosts.



Chautauqua 2008
Texana: A Texas State of Mind

Texas History, Texas Music and Texas Heritage Come Alive!

Celebrate the sights and sounds of the Lone Star State's early days with music, poetry, storytelling, historical reenactments, and a Chuck Wagon Dinner.

Featuring: The Caddo Indian Nation, AKA Vocal Ensemble, The Light Crust Doughboys, Early Texas Life Reenactors, and a
Concert by the Dallas Wind Symphony

Saturday, September 27 12:30 - 9:00 pm
Chautauqua Auditorium - Getzendaner Park

Tickets (available at the door):
All Day (12:30 - 9:00 pm) Adults $10.00 Students $2.00
Evening Concert Only (7pm) Adults $5.00 Students $2.00

For more information:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Reagor Springs Resort?

Entering the Twentieth Century, electricity was changing the World and Ellis County. The electric railways had already changed travel up in the northern states. The interurban electric railway in North Texas had started in Denison on May 1, 1901. Speculators were planning there lines from Sherman to Dallas then to Waxahachie. Why not patch Waxahachie into Ennis? To make sure people will travel that way J. T. Voss of Ft Worth would build a Resort in Reagor Springs! What? Reagor Springs? Yup the current drag race haven, beer store populated pit stop on 287. Though the Southern Traction wouldn't open for service from Dallas to Waxahachie until October 3, 1912 and then from Waxahachie to Hillsboro a year later on October 20, 1913, people were already securing right-of-ways. Just like the railroads after the civil war people were trying to get the property secured for the lines first. Thought the line was never built between Waxahachie and Ennis, Mr Voss originally had grand plans for the line.

Waxahachie Enterprise
July 4, 1902
Electric Lines in Texas cont'd Another inter-urban line is projected by a company recently chartered under the laws of the state and which has already run two surveys between Ennis and Waxahachie, a distance of about fifteen miles. J. T. Voss of Fort Worth, former president of the Poly-chnic Street Car company of this city, is the right-of-way agent for this company, and is no securing options on the right-of-way between Ennis and Waxahachie. Mr. Voss was here yesterday and said he had secured most of the route on one of the lines, and it was intention of the company to commence construction by the first of next September.
This company too, contemplates a belt line but for the present the route is not made public. At Reagor Spring, midway between Waxahachie and Ennis, there will be a resort on which company expects to spend considerable money in making it one of the most attractive places in central Texas. A similar resort is now being arranged for at Handley by the North Texas Traction company. - Fort Worth Register.
-Waxahachie Enterprise

Resorts were common attractions on the interurbans to encourage human traffic on the rail cars. WoodLake was a popular resort on the Denison-Sherman line. Quite a succes in it's time with swimming hole and a theater.

Monday, September 1, 2008

HANS SMITH: The Silver Tongued Orator

Hans Smith, born in Pennsylvania Sept. 15, 1799, was already a well established man before he took his chances with the Peter's Colony. He had represented Missouri and Arkansas in both Houses of government. He was General Commander of the Missouri militia for two years. Appointed Bank Examiner by Governor Boggs over the State of Missouri on Sept. 1, 1840. He even gave Missouri's famous "Bullion" Senator, Thomas Benton, a run for his money in one election for the Missouri Senate race. Hans Smith was a very big fan of President James K. Polk and was a 100 percent behind Polk wanting Texas to join the Union. In fact he named one of his sons James K. Polk Smith. The big problem with Texas joining the Union was the abolitionist felt Texas being a slave state would be moving the country in the wrong direction. Hans was a slave owner so I imagine he had no problem with this.

In the fall of 1845 Hans and his family began their move to Texas from Crawford County Arkansas. His wife Nancy and their children Robert aged 19,Sid aged 17, George aged 15, William Penn aged 12, Leila aged 8, and the baby ("little Jimie") James K. Polk started their journey. Also the slave Jerry was with them. They left Arkansas in three covered wagons drawn by oxen. They had all their belongings and necessities in their wagons. On the Smith's way to their future home they crossed the Red River and came into contact with the founder of the Dallas village,John Neely Bryan, at his one room cabin on the Trinity River.

From Bryan's home the Smiths forded the Trinity River and camped in the current location of Lancaster, Texas. Hans was headed toward Waco Country(named after the Indian village near the land) where Waco is today. While following the road south which was probably what became the Preston Road (Preston Road/ military road/ Shawnee trail)they went off a fork to the left taking them southeast(not their intended direction due south.).

They ended up on the north bank of Red Oak Creek in between the present day Rockett and Palmer, Texas. There camp was near Rutherford's crossing at Red Oak Creek. When they camped the kids went fishing and Hans killed some game. Later, Hans went walking on his own taking in the view of the Black Prarie land. South of Red Oak Creek Hans topped a beautiful hill and looked over the prairie valley. (I've always wondered if this hill may be where Hans is currently buried in Smith Cemetery. He is the first buried here and it sits upon a knoll looking over a valley.) Then he knew this was his new home! Hans said to his wife, "Nancy, I think we have traveled far enough. Their is plenty of timber and water here.


Hans built his house and claimed his 640 acres from the Peters Colony contract.Hans was elected representative of Navarro County. Two notable contributions to Ellis County by Hans Smith was he brought the first cotton seed to the area and he sat at the table for the organization of Ellis County out of Navarro County. It was thought that Texas lands could not grow cotton but they couldn't be more wrong! The Ellis County area at one time became the world's largest producer of cotton and it all started with Hans Smith. With the success of the cotton in the area Hans built the areas first cotton gin and ginned the areas cotton for 4 years. He also built a dry goods store being that the nearest was either north to Dallas, Texas or south to Corsicana, Texas. In 1852 Has Smith headed to Houston to get supplies for his dry good store. He took a $1000 of his own and $500 from a neighbor and left for Houston for supplies. He would not return. He was robbed a murdered in Houston. Nancy got her kids together and went to Houston putting Hans body in a metallic coffin. They brought him back and buried him on the beautiful knoll on their property now Smith Cemetery. Hans is the first burial in the Smith Cemetery. Emory Rogers said he was the greatest orator he ever heard and called Hans the silver tongued orator. He could have been one of the greatest politicians and business man in Ellis County history but his life was cut short March 20, 1852 at the age of 52. His wife carried on the honor of the family and paid back the neighbors $500 that had been stolen from Hans and kept the family going. She also settled his estate among her and the children.

"Under certificate 257 Volume 1, a survey of 640 acres granted in Ellis County was made in the name of Hans Smith, who emigrated to Texas and entered the colony which was granted to Peters and others prior to July 15, 1848, under patent 362, Volume 10, to the Heirs of Hans Smith deceased."

The story of the pioneers, Hans and Nancy Owen Smith
Ellis Country History-pg 70
Hans Smith pg 117-119