Rescuing Texas History, 2009 - Browse

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Along the Road in Bee County

Description: Postcard of a scene showing the area "Along the Highway Near Beeville, Texas" as printed at the bottom of the postcard. Note the electrical lines along the road. Beeville first connected with the outside world by telegraph on July 20, 1885, when the first telegraph office opened on the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad, even before the tracks were completed. Later, in 1891, Wright Van Meter set telephone poles along the Beeville-Refugio Road to Quincy’s Land and Colonization Company. Before 1900, Beeville had two telephone companies, the Southwestern Telephone and Telegraph Company and Eureka Telephone Company. Electrical lights went on in Beeville on November 30, 1896. L.D. Rhodes set up a plant near the Sims gin. Before 1900, lights were turned on and off because too many preferred the oil lamp. Central Power and Light came to Beeville in 1925 and the R.E.A. served all other rural areas.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Bee County Courthouse, 1912

Description: Postcard showing the Bee County Courthouse built in 1912. The Bee County Courthouse was built in 1912 by local architects W.C. Stephenson and F.W. Heldenfels. It is the county’s fourth courthouse. Recorded as a Texas Historical Landmark in 2000, the county courthouse is part of the Texas historical Courthouse Preservation Program. In 2006, after a large scale restoration, a rededication ceremony took place. Features original to the courthouse, such as the rotuda and district court balcony, as well as the details of the tile and marble, were carefully restored. After being repaired and regilded, Lady Justice was returned to the top of the courthouse in 2005. Unlike most representations of Justice, this lady reigns from her top-of-dome perch, not with a blindfold, but with her eyes open. W.C. Stephenson sculpted Lady Justice. The Courthouse is also on the National Register, and is located on the courthouse square which borders Washington, Houston, Corpus Christi, and St Marys Streets.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Bee County Jail, 1893

Description: Postcard of the "Bee County Jail, Beeville Texas" 1893. The first Bee County jail was built in 1874 west of the courthouse on the courtyard, or public square. Prior to its completion, prisoners were guarded by private citizens who were paid by the county. Nineteen years later, in 1893, this new jail was built. The first jail, a wooden building whose jail cells were lined with cast-iron material, was moved and is now preserved on the grounds of the Sheriff’s Office at 1511 E. Toledo. This second Bee county jail was completed in January of 1893. It was a two-story brick structure that, for almost half of a century, stood as a symbol of Bee County law enforcement. It was torn down and a new facility was built in 1936. In 1989, it was replaced by the present modern jail on Toledo Street.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Beeville Main Street 1909

Description: A 1909 postcard of Washington Street facing north in downtown Beeville. On the left of the card a corner of the Grand Opera House is visible. The First National Bank of Beeville can also be seen at the corner of Bowie and Washington on the same side of the street as the Grand Opera House. Washington Street is not paved in this picture. It will be 1921 before Beeville paved her principal streets.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Beeville Main Street 1914

Description: View of Washington Street in 1914 looking north. The red brick three stories building on the left was the first “skyscraper” for Beeville. It was the Grand Opera House, built by A.F. Rees and E.J. Kinkler at the corner of Washington and Bowie Streets in 1907, and opened in 1908. Many Broadway stage plays, musical comedies, and light operas were presented in the opera house. The building was destroyed by fire in 1919. The building to the left of the Grand Opera House was Beeville’s first bank, the First National Bank of Beeville, which opened in 1890, and moved to this location by 1894. This postcard shows the modes of transportation available in the early 1900’s, a buggy, automobile, wagon and horse. By 1908 automobiles were owned by several individuals in Beeville.
Date: September 29, 1914
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Beeville Post Office

Description: In 1857, Michael Seeligson was the first postmaster at Beeville-on the Medio (originally Medio Hill in Goliad County), five miles northeast of the present town of Beeville. In the new county seat after 1889, the Beeville Post Office was moved several times. Opened on June 5, 1918, the present neoclassical building was built under Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo, with Supervising Architect James A. Wetmore. During construction, on May 7, 1917, contractor Robert B. Brown shot and killed Drayman J.P. Hermes. Found guilty of homicide in federal court, Brown appealed. In 1921, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Homes ruled that Brown acted in self defense, thus establishing the right to stand one’s ground in federal law. With the WWII boom and Chase Naval Air Field, the Beeville Post Office was upgraded to a first-class post office in 1944. Other changes followed, such as the end of mail contracts for the railroads in December of 1952. In 1961, the size of the building was doubled by the matched addition of the north half of the present structure. Much needed parking space was provided on the south side of the building in 1989. One block from the courthouse, this historic building and its postal services continue to be vital to the life of the town.
Date: 1918
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

A. C. Jones Home

Description: Postcard of the two-story Baroque architecture styled home of Mrs A. C. Jones located at 611 East Jones St. Philanthropist and supporter of local schools, Mrs. A.C. (Jane Field) Jones (1842-1918) built the house on this site after her husband Captain Jones’ death in 1906. Governors and other Texas leaders were welcomed here. Located on the hill where the college stands today, the first and much grander A.C. Jones home was sold to the John Flournoy and moved into town by mule and wagon. It stood facing Flournoy Park until it was razed in 1946.
Date: January 7, 1907
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Chase Field Swimming Pool

Description: Postcard of the "Swimming Pool, Chase Field, Beeville, Texas" as printed at the bottom of the card. On June 1, 1943, Chase Field was commissioned as a Naval Air Auxiliary Station to train naval aviators during World War II. The base was named for Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Brown Chase, who went down in the Pacific on a training flight in 1925. After the war, Chase Field was closed until 1953, when it was reopened during the Korean War to help with the over-crowding at NAS Corpus Christi. In July 1968, Chase Field was elevated in status to a full naval air station. With the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the number of armed forces was greatly reduced and on July 1, 1991, Chase Field was put on the list for closure. VT-26 was decommissioned May 22, 1992, with VT-24 and VT-25 de-commissioned on September 18, 1992. Finally, on February 1, 1993, Chase Field was officially disestablished, bringing an end to fifty years of service in naval training.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Cleveland Street in Early Beeville

Description: Postcard of Cleveland Street in Beeville. The large church on the right side of the street is the First Methodist Church which was erected in 1904-1905.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Commercial Hotel in Skidmore 1912

Description: Postcard showing people sitting on the porch of the "Commercial Hotel" in Skidmore. The picture was taken on December 4, 1912. The names of the individuals sitting on the porch are on the back of the postcard going from left to right. The Commercial Hotel was destroyed by fire.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Downtown Beeville in 1917

Description: Postcard of Washington Street in Beeville in 1917. The person who sent it mentioned going on an "auto ride".
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

First Methodist Church Beeville

Description: Postcard of First Methodist Church of Beeville, Texas. In 1861, three years after Bee County was organized, the Rev. Berry Merchant of Corpus Christi assisted Beeville Methodist in establishing the Methodist-Episcopal Church. Circuit-riding preachers served the congregation and held services in the courthouse until the early 1870’s, when they built their first church on the corner of Bowie and Monroe Streets. Relocated to 106 East Cleveland in 1904, and blessed with a new sanctuary in 1955, the church continues its role in the religious life of the community.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

First National Bank Building and World War I Postcard

Description: Postcard of the "First National Bank Building, Beeville, Texas". This first bank in Beeville opened its doors in 1890. In 1894 it moved to this location at Washington and Bowie Streets. Notice that there are no powerpoles in this picture. According to the message on the back, this postcard was part of a package of letters sent by family members to a soldier in WWI. The writer mentions a hope for peace. “The Express said last night that the Germans only had until 11 o’clock Mon Nov. 11 to give their answer whether they surrender or fight. Of course we are all praying anxiously as I know you boys are too.”
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

First National Bank of Beeville

Description: A 1913 postcard with an image of a two-story, brick building labeled "First National Bank Building, Beeville, Texas." The postcard was sent from Beeville January 24, 1913 and addressed to Mr. & Mrs. W. M. Billingsly in Mineral, Texas. Part of the postcard is damaged, but the text reads "...certainly did...ourselves while w...all day think I will fo...my good time any ways...You must come and see us when you come...With Love from R[..]erta & Lonnie"
Date: January 24, 1913
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

First National Bank of Beeville

Description: Postcard showing Washington Street in Beeville Texas. The ornate building on the left, at the intersection of Bowie and Washington, was the First National Bank of Beeville's location from 1894 to 1960. The First National Bank of Beeville was organized on December 30, 1889, and opened on the courthouse square in 1890. Prior to the opening of First National Bank, people left their money either in sacks under loose floor boards behind the counter of Captain A.C. Jones’ store on the east side of the Public Square, or in kegs under that same counter. The increase in population and trade volume brought on by the arrival of SA&AP, and the Gulf, Western & Pacific Railroads in the late 1880’s made the establishment of a bank necessary. Note the electrical lines along Washington Street. Electrical lights went on in Beeville on November 30, 1896.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Fowler Saloon in Skidmore

Description: Postcard showing men standing in the Fowler Saloon in Skidmore. Skidmore In the early 1900’s the population of Skidmore was close to 3,000. Skidmore had eight stores, three saloons, two drug stores, three garages, three churches, a lumber yard, bakery shop, two gins, a newspaper, and the First State Bank of Skidmore (1907-1937). Most of these businesses were burned in the fires that almost destroyed Skidmore through the early years of the 1900’s.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

John F. Pettus Homestead

Description: Postcard of the John Pettus Homestead, the name sake of Pettus, Texas. Virginian, John Freeman Pettus, was one of Stephen Austin’s original “Old Three Hundred” settlers. Mr. Pettus’ land grant was in Goliad, but he bought thousands of acres near what is now Pettus in north Bee County because he needed more grazing land. He paid 25 cents to $1.25 per acre. In order to watch his stock Mr. Pettus built an adobe one-room cabin with a chimney. Here he lived for approximately twenty years, but went home on weekends to stay with his family. Over time more people moved to the area and established a community, which was named Pettus in honor or John Pettus, the first land owner. John Pettus daughter Sarah married John Sutherland Hodges, and the young couple came to live near her father. They built a five or six-room cottage. The lumber for the cottage was brought by wagon train from Saint Mary's. The wagons were pulled by oxen. The Hodges family lived here until the land was purchased by the late G.A. Ray St. in 1895. Mr. Ray built a two-story house on the same spot as the Hodge/Pettus house and used some portions of the cottage in his house.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Normanna Gin 1910

Description: Postcard of the cotton gin in Normanna in 1910. Santa Domingo was the community’s first name. It was located nine miles north of Beeville where the Santa Domingo Creek joined the Medio Creek, and was settled about 1848. Jose Maria Uranga’s eleven leagues, the largest single Mexican grant in Bee County (1831), covered much of the community. In 1874 it was known as Walton Station after the sheriff of Bee County, D.A.T. Walton. In 1893 a Norwegian colony moved into the area and settled two miles east of Walton. That settlement is still called the Colony. A Walton post office was established in 1894, but another Texas town already had the name of Walton, so the town became Normanna. (Norwegian for “far north or one from the far north”.) In the early days Normanna had three churches, two doctors, two schools, a hotel, a weekly newspaper, five general stores, a drugstore, a gin, barbershop, a tin shop, a saloon, dance hall, the post office and a general store.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Oil Tanker at the Maggie Ray McKinney Oil Well

Description: Postcard of the first Humble Oil Tanker taking out the first load of oil from the Maggie Ray McKinney oil well. On December 29, 1929 as the Houston Oil Company drilled for gas, the first oil well in Bee County was brought in on the JJ McKinney land east of Pettus. Humble Oil and Refining Company completed McKinney No. 1 Oil Well, Bee County, January 31, 1930. The discovery brought a rush of people to the community of Pettus. The discovery of oil relieved the pressure of depression. By 1937, the county boasted of 53 gas fields, with 212 wells, and 62 oil fields, with 456 wells, producing 1,863,806 barrels of oil. Oil and gas are still important industries in Bee County.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Public School In Pettus

Description: Postcard of school children standing in front Pettus school. In 1892 this one-room schoolhouse, 18’ by 24’, was built in Pettus. It had two windows on the north side and two windows on the south. The boards on the inside of the east end were painted black to be used for a blackboard. The only door was to the west. The benches were home-made and the children brought their own lunches and water to drink. Miss Evelyn Hardeman was the first teacher and she had 13 students in grades first through fourth. As the community continued to grow the school was classified as a third-class high school in 1912. In 1917 or 1918, a stucco school building was erected
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

SA&AP Railroad Depot, Skidmore, Texas

Description: The building of the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad through Bee County in 1886 was one of the greatest history-making events that occurred in this little pioneer section. Driving cattle to various markets was a tiring trip; cattle could now travel by rail. Frank O. Skidmore, a rancher on the Aransas Creek, gave SA&AP the right of way across his land and also donated land to develop the town site of Skidmore. To provide a rail connection with the Texas Mexican Railway, Uriah Lott, the man who built the SA&AP Railroad, built a line south from Skidmore to Alice in 1887. As an indication of the importance of Skidmore as a rail center, it had a round house and by 1926, an icing dock to re-ice the vegetables from the alley. It was the only icing dock between Edinburg and Hearne. The eleven-mile section between Skidmore and Beeville accommodated an average of eighteen trains a day, with as many as forty-two trains during the peak of the harvest season
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Saint Mary's Street Bridge

Description: This postcard, sent in 1907, shows a horse drawn buggy crossing the St. Mary’s Street Bridge over Poesta Creek. In the 1870’s the county provided roads with plowed furrow on each side of a clearing in the direction of Refugio, Goliad, San Patricio, Oakville, Saint Mary’s, and Helena. In 1888, a bond issue called for four bridges. Eight wrought iron bridges were reported at the turn of the century.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Section House in Pettus

Description: Postcard of the 1886 Railroad Section House in Pettus. On May 17, 1886, the first passenger train backed into Pettus. A depot and a section house had been built; a well was dug, and a cedar tank had been erected just north of the depot, where the train got water. A section house was where the crew foreman and his family normally lived. Most meals and other get together would take place for all the railroad workers at the section house. There was usually a bunk house where the crews slept near the section house. A tool shed would also be nearby to store the tools used to maintain tracks along the section, and there had to be a source of water. The spacing of the camps was based on the distance a locomotive could travel on a tank of water and how far a maintenance crew could travel by handcart in one day.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission

Skidmore High School in 1929

Description: Postcard showing the Skidmore High School in 1929. This modern seven-classroom school was built with a large auditorium and library after the old high school was condemmed in the late 1920's. Professor R.J. Gladney was superintnedent then. This high school was used until the present one was built in 1953, when a larger high school became necessary.
Date: unknown
Partner: Bee County Historical Commission