True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 230
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
230 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
house extending across the middle of the block from Preston
Avenue to Congress Avenue on Market Square.
Court House Square was a great place then, and if I may
borrow from the geography I will say it was bounded on the
north by the residence of Wm. M. Rice and a frame postoffice;
on the south by the residences of Peter Sampson and E. W.
Taylor; on the east by Peter Gable's brewery and the residence
of Cornelius Ennis, and on the west by the residences of Judge
Peter Gray and John Brashear and a number of law offices.
Messrs. Tankersley, Palmer, Hamblen, Manley, Riley and others
whose names escape me were among the old time lawyers who
had offices there.
I remember this old, first brick court house well, for it seemed
a magnificent building then, though I suppose it could have been
placed in a space about the size of one of the present court
rooms in the building of today. There were no blinds to the
windows and common calico curtains were used instead. As a
kid I went through the lower halls, but do not remember to have
ever ventured to the second floor. I do remember the staircase
and the cistern that was built under the building and in which a
man was drowned. All the neighbors got water from the court
house cistern in that day. This water got to tasting and smelling
bad and finally an investigation revealed the dead body in
the cistern. I don't know whether the man jumped in the cistern
or whether he fell in, but I do know that he gave those court
house square residents cause to remember him for some time.
Another thing I remember about that old building was a long
rope that was coiled up under the steps. Doubtless this rope
was used for ordinary purposes, but we boys always looked on
it with the most profound awe and respect for it was a notorious
fact among us that more than a dozen men had been hanged
with it and that the sheriff kept it in a convenient place, always
ready for instant use.
A year or two before the war that old building became so
cracked and decayed that it was torn down and another larger
brick building was erected, this time on the north side of the
square, facing Congress Avenue. This building had a basement
and two stories placed on that making it practically a threestory
building. This building was scarcely finished when the
war broke out and during the war the basement was used as a
guard house and later converted into a receiving prison for
Federals, who were captured at Galveston, Sabine Pass and
other points. The real prison was located just this side of
Hempstead on the Houston and Texas Central Railway, not far
from Col, Jarad Groce's residence, now used as a colored state
school. We used the basement of the court house to lock the
Yankees in during the war, but after the war, during reconstruction
days, they turned the tables and locked us up in the same
place, whenever they could find the slightest excuse for doing
so. Major De Gress was provost marshal and ran things to suit
himself, which he could do with impunity, seeing he had the
Here’s what’s next.
This book can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Book.
Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/230/: accessed April 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .