In the Spring of 1929, the Neches River flooded out of its banks. The Dallas-Houston line of the Southern Pacific was cut off and flood waters swept bridges and fills away from the highways isolating several small communities such as Woodville and Colmesneil. Residents in those towns, after several days, began calling for bread but there was no means of transportation to get bread in from south or north. “Send us some yeast, then,” the towns’ leaders phoned to Beaumont. “You can fly it in to us, and you might drop a few newspapers, too.” So early one Spring morning, C. C. Scott, then pilot-instructor for Sabine Airlines, and I lashed a 50-pound carton of yeast cakes on the lower wing of a Waco biplane and tied a bundle of newspapers on the other side of the fuselage, crawled into the open cockpits, and swooped away from the Beaumont Airport. The flight north to the flooded area was uneventful, but when we arrived over Woodville, it was easy to see the ring of muddy water that encircled the town. Scotty had instructed me to cut, at a given signal, the strings that held our cargo; so, after a few practice runs over a pasture at the edge of town, he looked back and nodded, and I performed with the trusty Barlow knife. I’d had no instruction in bombing, and both Scotty and I failed to take into account what the forward-downward motion of the plane, air currents, and gravity would do to our bomb of yeast cakes. But I slashed away, as the little plane roared earthward. My aim was either perfect or terrible, depending on the point of view. The 50-pound box of yeast plummeted, tumbling over and over until it crashed on the roof of a cabin which stood at one side of the pasture causing an explosion of foil-wrapped yeast cakes looking like a Fourth of July fireworks display in reverse. There must have been a dull, sickening thud as the box hit the roof and disintegrated, but we couldn’t hear it over the roar of the airplane engine. Folks in the house could, though, and they must have thought the end of the world was at hand, people poured out the doors and windows with almost as much violence as the scatteration of the yeast cakes. We had better luck with the bundle of newspapers; they landed on a vacant lot. The bundle broke open, and readers had to glean over a 40-acre field to salvage their favorite comic strips, but we could tell by their waving and nodding, as we circled, that they were satisfied. We also could see people scraping up cakes of yeast from the yard around the cabin, and we found out later that they had been able to recover enough of the leaven to make bread for everybody and stave off famine. That was before the modern bombsight had been invented. Maybe it was just as well, for if we had been using precision instruments to drop yeast on flood-isolated communities, we might have deposited the precious packages in a well. What we had wasn’t a blockbuster, but it might as well have been, so far as the folks in the cabin were concerned. Incidentally, on the way back, some 50 miles, we ran into a rainstorm and heavy clouds, and flew blind, except for compass and clock. Scotty had something of a homing pigeon in his makeup, and we made it in.
Originally called by some (including Judge James E. Wheat who described the project in a 1952 Dogwood Festival publication) the Town Bluff Dam, the working name for the project caught on with locals.
Carl Goolsbee, together with his wife the former Ella Pedigo and his brother Tom, operated the Goolsbee Store in Warren from the time he bought Warren Lumber Company until he sold the stock to Archie Spurlock in 1954.
In 1936 Harold David hauled 300-year-old logs in an open-cab truck called a "muley." Twenty-first century logs go to the mills at twenty-two to twenty-eight inches in diameter.
As an attorney, oil baron and capitalist, he owned thousands of acres and dozens of sawmill camps in Texas and Louisiana. His enterprises provided jobs for over 16,000 men and women.
Dr. John Gardner, Dr. D.A. Mann, and two nurses, traveled 80 miles by any convenience available to make a house call when the Neches was 14 feet above normal, in order to save a patient.
Oscar Branch Colquitt – 25th governor of Texas, Mrs. Bessie Kirby Stewart (JHK’s daughter) and Mrs. Douglas Burnett of Houston at the dedication of Peach Tree Hall
Pomp had offered a full line of general merchandise plus an inviting atmosphere for visiting around the wood stove
Pioneers organized Mount Zion Baptist Church in the 1830’s at a location behind “the old Jim Powell house” between Mount Hope and Chester.
The Loop continues past Abram and Julia Pedigo’s home place, passes another Pedigo home and a former Hicks home once used as a store and post office.
In Book ‘E’ of the Tyler County Commissioner’s Court for the year 1892 (in February), J. Dallas Collier is instructed by the court to purchase a ‘Seth Thomas Clock No. 16 Town Clock’.
Steel gangs performed the hardest work at logging sites. Workers knew as they laid the cross ties and rails at one location that it was just a matter of time before they would undo their work and relocate the whole scene to a new site.
A few miles south of the confluence of Angelina and Neches Rivers, near the original site of Town Bluff, Dam B regulates the flow of water to the Lower Neches Valley.
Tyler County Historical Commission created a non-profit corporation, Tyler County Heritage Society, so that charitable contributions might be received and acknowledged.
Created at the death of Lucinda Barnes Rotan, occupies part of the front yard of James Barnes’ original home site
September 24, 2005, changed the face of Tyler County forever. Hurricane Rita took a ferocious swipe through forests and towns of Southeast Texas.
Julius Britton Best travelled throughout Tyler County offering Watkins products for sale and sharing news among the communities.
The original Tyler County Highschool burned in 1924 causing students to hold classes in churches and the courthouse, until taxpayers provided the second building.
Thompson Bros. rolled logs from rail cars into the mill pond to remove debris that might damage saw blades.
Through the years East Texas paper mills have generated a continual demand for pulpwood chips. At the same time, timber growers needed to manage their forests by thinning out the smaller trees so that larger trees would grow faster.
Henry T. Scott High School in Woodville celebrated its 1947 Homecoming with a parade on Saturday and a spirited football game played on the shared Kirby High School field.
Beginning in 1920, Scott worked with P. I. Hunter to plan for a real school building. He solicited financial support from community members and his own earnings, which resulted in the Henry T. Scott School being built in the early 1930’s
A few days before his ninetieth birthday in 1932, “Uncle Tom Seamans” told a Beaumont reporter about his Confederate soldier experiences at Sabine Pass
Before the age of aerial surveillance and satellite GPS maps, fire towers gave a vantage point for protecting the county's greatest natural resource - pine and hardwood forests.
Clyde E. Gray pioneered the art of recording Texas history on ceramic tile and established The Heritage Garden Museum to attract tourists to Tyler County.
As a reward for the hard work, Thomas Motor Company Company presented the Warren FFA Chapter with a truck for use in their school projects.
Shivers’ collection of books and papers reflects his wide-ranging interests and activities.
John Henry Kirby, local attorney, oil baron, and capitalist, endeared himself to his friends with his annual Christmas letters and frequent gifts of Bibles, which he personally inscribed.
Following World War II students at Spurger High School expressed their patriotism by dedicating their yearbook to local veterans of the war.
In 1932 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) brought together two of America's most wasted resources, land and unemployed young men.
Shivers and his wife, Marialice, acquired the historic R. A. Cruse home which was slated for demolition. They arranged for it to be moved, restored, and furnished as a museum holding papers and artifacts from his years of public service.
The Lake Tejas complex contains a 14-acre lake and 13 acres of parks and beaches on land donated to Colmesneil School by Lee Feagin, J. P. Mann and D. P. Mann.
Like so many artifacts that increase in importance and value over time, the Tyler County Courthouse Bell lacks a well maintained and documented history.
Zachariah Cowart Collier built a general merchandise store as part of the Town Bluff complex in 1863. He and his family served the needs of overland and river travelers until the late 1920’s.
Brian Shivers, the Governor's son, followed the family tradition of providing visionary leadership. He broke ground on February 20, 2010, for an expansion to the Allan Shivers Library-Museum.
In 1942, the Chester Echo (school yearbook) featured advertisements from businesses in Chester, Lufkin, and Woodville
In 1966 the Honorable Allan Shivers held the distinction of being the longest serving Former Governor of Texas.
The “Rainey Hotel”, earlier known as the “Stewart Hotel”, was located in Woodville at the corner of Bluff and Beaver Streets.
Wade Best served as a cook for the Civilian Conservation Corps unit stationed in Woodville, until he went to work at Levingston Shipbuilding Company in Orange and finally joined the U.S. Navy to serve in Japan during World War II.
Snow River Lodge takes its name from the Native American name for the nearby river now called the Neches.
S. H. Reid offered a complete stock of household and farming supplies on West Bluff Street in Woodville. Ready-made clothing items hung in the display windows, while rolls of wire rested on the sidewalk.
Alabama Indian Chief Sun-Kee joined John Henry Kirby in celebration at the dedication of Peach Tree Hall.
In the late 1930’s when Tyler County Courthouse remodeling took place, Mount Zion acquired the ornate iron fence and used it to enclose their cemetery.
, Issac James Gilder focused on student achievement from the time he began as principal of Colmesneil’s black school in 1909.
Built for $5,000 in 1903 to specifications of a first-class public building, Tyler County High School belonged to the corporation formed by its subscribers.
Turpentine Jim” McFarley Brown migrated from Florida to Alabama, and finally, in 1914, to Spurger, Texas. The area’s long leaf pine provided the pine sap Brown distilled into marketable turpentine.
Captain James G. Collier conducted the survey laying out the new road between Town Bluff and the chosen location. That road became the main east-west thoroughfare in the new town, Woodville, and was called “Bluff” Street.
M.L. McAlister and Harold Goolsby were the first two janitors of the Tyler County Courthouse in 1892 and 1893, at a wage of $50 per year.
In 1866 Robert Tolar built this log home which was later converted to a "cook house." Here family meals were prepared over an open fireplace with a "mud cat" chimney until 1960. In 1964 the Heritage Society accepted the Tolar Kitchen as an exhibit for Heritage Village.
In 1882 commercial railroads stretched across Texas and privately owned steam locomotives rolled through piney woods in Tyler County on “portable” logging tram roads.
An English minister held a brush arbor meeting which led to the formation of the first United Methodist Church in Tyler County.
Mrs. Leggett ran the Commercial Hotel originally named the Collier Hotel.
Rev. Sam Mann baptized John T. Kirby whose son, John Henry Kirby, commissioned Russian artist, Boris Bernhard Gordon to record the event with a painting to be hung in Peach Tree Village Hall when it was built in 1912.
In the Spring of 1929, the Neches River flooded out of its banks... isolating several small communities such as Woodville and Colmesneil. Residents in those towns began calling for bread but there was no means of transportation.
Former Governor Allan Shivers purchased the chapel and Kirby home property and presented it as a gift to Tyler County. Today, a Christian encampment, Camp Ta-Ku-La surrounds the chapel and the Kirby home and provides maintenance for those structures. The camp’s name is taken for the Indian phrase meaning peach tree – ta-ku-la.
For centuries Caddoan, Alabama, and Coushatta Indians called the Tyler County area home and then settlers, predominantly from the southern United States, arrived before even the Texas Revolution. The people of Tyler County have endured through much, and their stories and the stories about places of historical importance have been catalogued in our online museum.
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