Heritage, Volume 7, Number 4, Fall 1989 Page: 28
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the state. The well-kept grounds contain
the tombstones of famous pioneer Texans
Jane Long, Mirabeau Lamar, Deaf Smith,
and many others. The year 1853, marking
the devastating yellow fever epidemic
which paralyzed the entire town, was
etched on many of the stones.
The unique 1896 county jail is just
down the street. The red brick and limestone
building in Romanesque style stands
behind trees which gives the building a
beautiful and mysterious aura. Costing
only $20,000 to build, the structure was
used by Fort Bend County until 1955. The
sheriffs living quarters were on the first
floor. The exterior is unchanged while
other buildings of the era did not escape
unaltered. There are plans to use the jail for
more museum space.
Built twelve years after the 1896 jail, the
county courthouse of Fort Bend County is
listed on the National Register of Historic
Places. This is actually the fifth courthouse
of Fort Bend County. Built across from the
site of the fourth courthouse, this imposing
classical style courthouse still has many
purposes. The first two courthouses were
built in 1841 and 1849 respectively. A
fourth courthouse was built in 1885. Many
Texas county courthouses have a unique
past, and the fourth courthouse of Fort
Bend County is no exception.
In 1889 reconstruction politics came to
a fatal crossroads in Richmond. The Jaybird
Democratic Society, former Confederate
supporters and soldiers, accused the
Woodpeckers-the small group of remaining
Democrats-of corrupt politics.
The Woodpeckers planned to pay the stiff
filing fee for a black candidate. Since there
were four times as many black voters in the
county as white, with his election they
would run the government.
On August 16, 1889 there was a gunfight
in the streets and on the courthouse
grounds. This struggle, now known as the
Jaybird-Woodpecker War resulted in three
immediate deaths and injuries to several
people who later died. Four Texas Rangers
witnessed the incident, but did not become
involved. Two days later, Governor Sul
Ross himself came to restore order. The
Jaybirds regained control of county courthouse
politics until 1953. The courthouse
was destroyed by a storm in 1900.
The imposing Moore home is on the
same street as the courthouse built in 1908.
When U. S. congressman John M. Moore
built the home in 1883, he used resources
from his ranching empire to build a
The 1880s Davis Home was moved from Richmond to the George Ranch in 1977.
Victorian style mansion. In the midst of
trips between home and Washington D.C.,
he remodeled the house to its present neoclassical
style. It was home to three generations
of the Moore family. Mr. Hilmar G.
Moore, the current mayor of Richmond,
and John M. Moore III, grandsons of John
Moore, gave the home to the Fort Bend
Museum in 1975. The home now serves as
the site of the annual Christmas Candlelight
Tour presented by the Fort Bend
Museum and its 300 docents. This is done
in appreciation for the county's strong
interest in the preservation of historic sites
throughout the area.
A tour of the Richmond-Rosenberg
area would not be complete without a visit
to the historic George Ranch. Located on
Highway 762 about seven miles south of
Richmond, this 23,000 acre living history
museum is the cornerstone of Richmond's
The ranch is open to the public on
weekends from 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
March through October. Group tours can
also be scheduled Wednesday through Friday.
The ranch forms a link between the Old
300 settlers and the present. A brief videotape
of its history, narrated by Ron Stone,
can be viewed in the Guy Lodge Hall.
Henry Jones got word of Stephen F.
Austin's colonization land grant and took
his wife Nancy Styles to the promised land.
They received a league of land-4,428
acres-and built a log cabin. In 1824,
Nancy planted an oak tree that now holds
a huge treehouse.
After years of many trials and triumphs
with farming, the Jones family replaced
their log cabin with a large plantation
house. This house was the setting for many
of the social gatherings of Richmond.
Their daughter, Mary "Polly" Moore
Jones, took possession of the lands when
her father passed away in 1861. Polly married
William Ryon. Everything that her
parents had so dearly worked for, Polly
consolidated and nurtured. The Ryons
were so successful that by the time of William's
death, Polly had 30,000 acres holding
The estate gained a great deal of wealth
through marriage over the generations.
Susan Elizabeth Ryon, daughter of Polly
and William, married J.H.P. Davis who
had already amassed a fortune. "Judge," as
everyone in the area called him, managed
both the Ryon Farm and his own Davis
and Company Bankers.
In the early 1880s, Judge Davis built an
elaborate home within the city of
28 HERITAGE * FALL 1989
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 7, Number 4, Fall 1989, periodical, Autumn 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45433/m1/28/: accessed August 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.