Heritage, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1987 Page: 42
At the marker dedication ceremony of the Little Indiana School, several original inhabitants of the
town are presented with certificates by the mayor of Quitman.
The Last Pioneers to East Texas
by Jack Alexander
(R^he folk in New London and
Russiaville, Indiana, envisioned
their American dream in 1899
from an advertisement by B. L. Ludlowit
promoted prime timberland for sale in
Wood County in East Texas.
For John M. Hart, a furniture maker,
this was his vision from God. Oak, heart
pine, and walnut were becoming scarce in
his native state.
Financed by Mr. Ackenbert, a Russiaville
banker, it took only a short time to
convince many of the citizens of Indiana's
Howard County to sell and make the pilgrimage
Some said there were 500 familiesothers
insist 500 people, but 94-year-old
Winford Morris, born in Wood County,
declares, "All I know is, there was a
whale of a bunch of 'em."
Among those who bade goodbye to Indiana
to say hello to their new frontier
were the families of John M. Hart,
Roland G. Alexander, Thomas Smith,
Louis Smith, Thomas Hughes, and
Henry C. McAnally.
The men set out in wagons, buggies,
and on horseback, loaded with furniture
and farm equipment. The ladies and children
followed months later by locomotive,
except for young Joseph Alexander,
who chose to ride with his new bride
on the train.
Timing their journey almost to the day,
the pioneering crowd rode into Como,
Hopkins County, Texas, on or about the
same day the train arrived. They pitched
tents in a pasture near Como. The following
day, they set out in buggies to view
their new frontier.
Upon reaching the 2,000 acres surveyed,
subdivided, and sold to them sight
unseen, they discovered it was situated in
the sloughs of Caney Bottom. The "fertile"
sand fields, what little there were,
had not produced even a healthy crop of
bull-nettles that year. For their purposes,
the timber had been misrepresented. Discouraged
and heartbroken, they returned
to Como to decide their next step. Many
of the distraught families sold what they
had brought with them to pay their way
back to Indiana.
Arminnie Alexander, a Quaker with a
strong faith and constitution, vowed she
would not "stand to see what I have spent
my life working for, lost" and, with her
husband Roland and their children, had
the determination to remain.
It took sixteen oxen three weeks to
pull the gigantic steam-powered sawmill
from Como to the land which John Hart
had bought. It became known as the Indiana
Sawmill, and according to Raymond
Noe, "that Indiana sawmill was the finest
mill in all of Texas." He stoked the boiler
many times in later years. Equipped with
double blades, this equipment was capable
of splitting a six-foot log, and
"could turn out lumber, like a farm-boy
spitting watermelon seed."
Houses and a commissary for provisions
were soon built. It is said that John
Hart felt heavily responsible toward those
who stayed, and allowed the families
credit until he was broke. However, his
financial failure was not totally related to
that generosity but rather to the fact that
a large order of lumber was delivered to
Como to await shipment to Shreveport.
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 1987, periodical, Summer 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45437/m1/42/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.