Heritage, Volume 6, Number 3, Fall 1988 Page: 19
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The upstairs living quarters were part of
the original structure but were expanded
and divided into rooms. A double-stack
fireplace in the east side room provided the
only heat. The sandstone bricks used in the
chimneys were probably from a quarry in
nearby Honey Grove. Short doors used
upstairs are typical of early pioneer homes.
Copies of DeMorse's newspaper that were
used to help plaster the walls were once
visible but have succumbed to time.
Part of the northern section of the house
downstairs, between the original kitchen
and the study, has been modernized. The
last of the DeMorse heirs lived in this part
of the house until the mid-1970s, when it
was abandoned. A modem stove and bathroom
attest to these modernizations.
The grounds of the home, now choked
with knee-high grass and weeds, once
contained fruit trees, flowers and a vege
table garden. A granite Centennial marker
detailing DeMorse's career remains near
the front gate, leaning precipitously. Servants'
cabins once located on the north
grounds have long been demolished.
Even though it has deteriorated inside
and out, Clarksville native and architect
Sam Buzbee believes it can be saved. "This
would be a historical restoration similar to
houses that were preserved up and down
the Mississippi River. But if we let it go
another five or six years, I don't figure we'll
be able to do anything with it," Buzbee says.
Buzbee, who helped restore the Clayton
House in Fort Smith, Arkansas, among
others, says the house needs at least
$150,000 to $200,000 worth of work to
stabilize it. An historical restoration,
which would return the home to a luxurious
Texas mansion circa 1850, would cost
from $450,000 to $500,000. Buzbee has
early records and photos to assure that the
home would be returned to its original state
if it is restored. The Red River County
Historical Society has some original furnishings
from the house in storage, and
they would be available when restoration
Although it still belongs to some distant
DeMorse heirs, the Historical Society
could acquire the home if it had the restoration
funds. The depressed state of the
area's economy has made it difficult to
obtain local funds for the project.
Sharon Wallace, the Society president,
says the home should be restored because it
is one of the few surviving examples of
Greek Revival architecture in the area,
and because DeMorse played an important
role in early Texas history. "At one time,
the house was one of the showplaces of this
town. There has always been a mystique
about it here, and when DeMorse was alive
it was the focal point for anything important
that happened in this town," she said.
Like Clarksville itself-a once-bustling
frontier city that has lost a significant portion
of its population and economic base
-DeMorse's stature as an historic figure
has diminished in the last 100 years. Called
an "irreplaceable loss" by a Gatesville
newspaper when he died in 1887, DeMorse
helped mold public opinion with his newspaper,
The Northern Standard, during the
turbulent period that saw Texas transformed
from a republic to a U.S. state, to a
Confederate state, and back to a U.S. state.
DeMorse was born Charles Denny
Morse in 1816 in Leicester, Massachusetts,
a descendant of morse code inventor
Samuel Morse. After completing his preliminary
education, DeMorse began studying
law with the firm of Inglis and Van
Wyck in New York City. While studying,
he began to hear reports of pending trouble
in far-off Texas-a lawyer at the firm was
related to Texan Samuel Maverick-and
decided to join a battalion being formed to
aid the Anglo cause in its struggle against
Mexico. Sailing from New York in November,
1835, DeMorse's ship was captured off
the Bahamas by the British and the 174
Texas volunteers were jailed for a time on
suspicion of piracy. A British official misrecorded
Charles D. Morse's name as
Charles DeMorse, which the young man
adopted as his name for the remainder of
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 6, Number 3, Fall 1988, periodical, 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45436/m1/19/: accessed August 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.