Jones Chapel Methodist met in an old school house until they built a sanctuary in 1889, on land donated by Captain A. C. Jones to three former slaves, who served as trustees of the new church. Charter members included Classie Douglas, Ann Felix, Felix Garner, Lawson Glenn, Serena Hodge, Ellen Jones, Ben Lott, Leanna Lott, Mose Lott, J. J. McCloud, Carrie McCampbell, P.M. McCarty, Kimmie Nancy, Elvira Newton, Rebecca Simms, Wesley Simms, I.E. Starnes, George Steward, Katy Ware, Sam Ware, Harriet Williams and Mary Williams. Many of the early members were former slaves. In 1926, the present frame church was built on the original site, where the congregation fervently serves the African American community of Beeville. It is locate at 115 North Leverman Street.
Photograph of a side view of H. F. Matthews' home located on Washington Street. It stood at the corner on Washington Street, across from the Queen Hotel. Also known as the Mathews Building where furniture was sold on the first floor and the second floor was rented. In its present location, it served as the Moose Lodge, the May Rooming House and was owned by Mrs. Ann Reed, owner of the Kohler Hotel.
Photograph of the two story McClanahan house located on 206 East Corpus Christi Street. The McClanahan House is the oldest business structure in Beeville. The building, the second store built in Beeville by George W. McClanahan, was erected around 1867 on the east side of the courthouse square, near Poesta Creek. The house served as general store, lodging house, and post office. It was built in the pioneer western style, with southern porches. McClanahan was Beeville’s first merchant; he was among the first to buy auctioned lots in the newly formed town of Beeville in 1859. McClanahan also served as schoolteacher, postmaster, county clerk, innkeeper, and Sunday school superintendent. After McClanahan’s death, L.F. Roberts purchased and operated the store for many years. In 1962, the building was purchased by the Historical Society for $600, and moved to its present site. The building is still the “home” of the society, and meetings are held there periodically.
The Grand Opera House was a three-story building located on the corner of Washington and Bowie Street. Owners were A.F. Rees and E.J. Kinkler. Murray Eidson was the manager. His family owned the 1880's opera house located on the courthouse square. The Grand Opera House opened in January 1908 with W.B. Patton in a comedy, The Slow Poke. Admission prices were 75 cents, $1, and $1.50. There was a balcony, and four boxes, or loges. Some of the best dramas, comedies, and musical plays that came south were shown. William Jennings Bryan delivered his famous "Prince of Peace" address in the Opera House. People came from Goliad, San Patricio, Live Oak, Karnes, and Refugio counties, and Beeville became an entertainment center. The Grand Opera flourished for about eight years, but with the coming of movie theaters attendance begin to drop, and many of the big stage shows stopped coming south. In December 1919 a fire destroyed the building.
Photograph of cowboys herding cattle on the Ed Brown Ranch. The Brown family has been in Bee County for several generations. Austin II's great grandfather operated the mercantile store on the square in town. Austin I, his son, was in the bulk fuel business. As a wholesale dealer for Magnolia, which later became Mobil, he delivered kerosene and gasoline to farm families with a wagon and team. Every time he made a dollar or two, Austin Brown I bought a little piece of land. He began putting the ranch together in 1924. The headquarters operation, where their preconditioning facility is located, is in Bee County, but they lease several other ranches in South Texas. Early on, like many South Texans, the Browns ran Brahman cattle. In 1945, Ed bought some registered Hereford cattle from a man in the area. He began crossing these Herefords with the Brahman cattle and ended up with a "tiger stripe-looking animal," Austin says. "My grandfather found out right quick that the first cross (F-1) was one of the best animals ever developed for Texas." Eventually the Browns phased out the Brahman cattle altogether and began building their Hereford program. Today they continue to maintain a base herd of 200 registered Hereford cows.
Photograph of the Hugo Heldenfels home located at 514 North Monroe Street and built in 1886. Hugo Heldenfels and Viggo Kohler formed a partnership known as Kohler & Heldenfels, and operated a lumber yard a the corner of Washington and Cleveland Streets in the 1880's. Mr. Heldenfels was born in Germany, and died in 1896.
Photograph of Professor William E. Madderra, a Latin and Greek scholar, and a master mathematician. Professor W.E. Madderra, one of the most brilliant and intellectual teachers, started his teaching career in Beeville in 1898, In 1999, Mr. Madderra moved to Nacogdoches to serve as superintendent, however he returned after a year when his uncle, Superintendent T.G. Arnold, became ill. In 1900 the board named him superintendent, a position he held until his death in 1936.
Photograph of John Clark Wood's cottage. Near the Creek by the old gin where John Clark Wood and family lived temporarily when they moved from Refugio County in 1888. They built a home on North Adams where they later resided.
Photograph of the Cook home located on 1001 West Cook Road, built by John Cook himself. Born in 1846, in a Texas-bound wagon train, cattleman John Cook fought in the Civil War at age 17. He married Frances Miller in 1866. The cooks lived in a rock house nearby until their tarried Victorian mansion was wired for electricity and completed in 1897. In 1918, the U.S. Cavalry established a camp here..
Photograph of the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church congregation standing outside in front of the church before their Sunday Services. The church was organized in 1884. Behtlehem Baptist is the oldest African-American congregation in Beeville. Charter members included Matthew Broadus, Peter Flannigan, L. Broadus, Martha Bess, M. Peters, Salanas Davis, and Edna Canada. Served originally by a circuit pastor, the congregation held Sunday services in a schoolhouse donated by Captain A.C. Jones. The church purchased land from Jones and built its first sanctuary in 1893. In 1926, the original white-frame structure and its two towers were replaced by a larger, but smaller structure. The church has been replaced several times since then, including its most recent construction in the 1980’s. It is located at 108 North Burke Street.
Photograph of the Skidmore float in the 1916 parade in Beeville. The Bee County Fair Association was organized in 1890. One of the features of the Fair was the spectacular parade with decorated floats pulled by both horses and automobiles, and bands furnishing music for the pageant. The first fair grounds were located about two miles west of the city on what is now known as Viggo Road. Farmers and ranchers exhibited agricultural products and livestock, and the women displayed articles of clothing which they had made by hand. After a few years, the annual fair succumbed because of lack of interest only to be revived in 1912, on a much larger scale. The exhibits building was then located about three blocks west of Poesta Creek on the left side of Corpus Christi Street. The big social event was the crowning of the Queen of the Fair, held in the Grand Opera House. During World War I the fair was dormant because so many of the young men were in the armed forces. At the end of the war it was revived and continued until 1933.
Photograph of a man and C. A. Pressey standing behind his plane that has crashed. This is the first plane crash that occurred in Bee County. In 1911 Charley A. Pressey arrived from Georgia in a Curtiss flying machine. It was the first airplane most of the residents of Beeville had ever seen.
Photograph of Camp and Helen Ezell's home located on 1313 West Flournoy. A settler's "box" home, board-and-batten construction. Lumber is Florida long-leaf pine from a house torn down in Old Saint Marys by Robert A. Ezell. The house has three chimneys; one served as flue for the dining room fireplace and kitchen stove. Ezell (1845-1936), a stonemason, built at this creek site in 1892. His wife, Sarah jane, daughter of the the influential legislator L.B. Camp, was born at Mission San Jose, San Antonio. Camp Ezell, a historian and Beville Bee-Picayune editor, and wife Helen can be seen standing on the porch of the house.
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.
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.
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.”
Photograph of Jim Little's homestead located on Cadiz Road. This home was built in 1870 on the F9 Ranch, which was granted to Jim Little in 1873. The home is made of cypress and heart pine that came first by steamer from Florida to Saint Mary’s, and was then hauled by ox-cart to the ranch. A kiln on the ranch made caliche bricks for the chimneys. It had a good water well. Travelers such as Mexican horse traders camped on the site. It was a stagecoach stop on San Antonio-Brownville Road until the railroad came into the area in 1886.
Photograph of C. A. Pressey flying the first plane in Bee County. In 1911, Charley A. Pressey arrived from Georgia in a Curtiss Flying machine to the thrill of the people of Bee County. Mr. Pressey returned to live in Beeville after his retirement. Trans-Texas Airways made the first air passenger and air-mail flight into Beeville in July, 1949, but it contiued for just a little more than a year. Oscar Travland opened Travland Airport north of the city during the 1940's, and operated it for a number of years. In February, 1967, the city of Beeville opened a municipal airport about three miles west of town.
Photograph of an aerial view of Bee County College. In 1965 the voters of Bee County named the entire county as a college district and issued bonds in the amount of $1,500,000 for a junior college. One hundred acres of land was donated for the college campus by the widow of A.C. Jones II, and her three living children, Mrs. W.M. Thompson, W.W. Jones II, and Mrs. H.B. Hause. In the fall of 1967 the first classes of Bee County College were held. Today the college is named Coastal Bend College and includes campuses in Beeville, Alice, Kingsville, and Pleasanton.
Photograph of four different photographs from the Evergreen Cemetery. The Evergreen Cemetery is on Block one of the original town site map of Beeville. It is the town’s oldest cemetery and is bounded by Polk, Bowie, Filmore, and Hefferman Streets. First owned by G.W. McClanahan, the land was bought in 1862 by the county for “public burying ground”. In 1872, H.W. Wilson donated the northeast strip, land was added on the northwest, and the court gave consent for a fence. The cemetery was restored in 1970. Thanks to the efforts of the Evergreen Cemetery Association’s efforts in 1998, the cemetery is lighted at night and blanketed with wildflowers in the spring.
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.
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.
Barnard Elliot Bee attorney, soldier, and statesman, was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1787. He was the son of Thomas B.Bee who was a member of the Continental Congress, and was Justice of the U.S. Circuit Court of South Carolina under President George Washington. In 1836 Barnard E. Bee and his family moved to Texas and settled near Houston. He served as Secretary of State under David G. Burnet’s ad interim government, and escorted Santa Anna to Washington DC after the Battle of San Jacinto. During the Republic of Texas he served as Secretary of State under Sam Houston and Mirabeau B. Lamar. He also served as the Republic’s minister to Mexico and the United States. In 1846 he returned to South Carolina where he died in 1854. He was the father to Confederate Generals Hamilton P. Bee and Barnard E. Bee, Jr. Bee County was named for him in 1857 at the request of his son Hamilton, who served in the Texas Legislative from 1849 t0 1859. A THC marker is located in front of the Bee County Courthouse in his honor.
In 1905, the Anniversary Club held their annual banquet, which was attended by prominent Beeville business men and their wives. Their names are listed at the bottom of the picture, along with a copy of the membership of the club, and the menu for the banquet. In the 1890’s and early 1900’s the Anniversary Club, a men’s club, met once a month and held birthday dinners which were served at the Nations Hotel. From its beginning clubs and organizations played an important part in the progress of the citizens of Bee County, both culturally and civically.
Photograph of Tom Lyne's house located on 1701 North Madison. W. C. Stephenson designed the house. In 1910, Tom Lyne moved his family to Beeville from Live Oak County. Because he loved the railroad, he built his house near the tracks north of town. As a cattleman he took advantage of the SA&SP line in Bee County. He drove his cattle from his ranch in Live Oak County across the Nueces River into Beeville to ship them off to market in San Antonio. The house is now owned and occupied by the William B. Mosers. Mrs. Moser is a granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Lyne.
Photograph of C. A. Pressey sitting in his airplane, which is the first airplane for Bee County. In 1911 Charley A. Pressey arrived from Georgia in a Curtiss flying machine. Charley Pressey is also known for establishing the first moving picture theater in Beeville in 1906. The name of the business was Superba Family Theatre and the admission price was five cents.
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"
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.
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.
Photograph of loads of cotton piled onto mule-drawn wagons outside of Wimmer Store in Oakville,located in Live Oak County, Texas. The wagon driver is Lee Crawford. Similiar scenes took place across Bee County in the early 1900's.
1906 photograph of veterans of the Texas Revolution. Pictured are W. P. Zuber of Austin, J. W. Darlington of Taylor, Aca C. Hill of Oakville, S. F. Sparks of Rockport, L. T. Lawlor of Florence, and Alfonso Steel of Mexia. "We'll rally 'round the flag boys, we'll rally once more". The Texas Veterans Association, an organization of those who had served prior to, during, and immediately after the Texas Revolution, held its first convention in Houston on May 13–15, 1873, with about seventy-five veterans present. After 1876 the annual meetings, held in some seventeen different Texas cities, always took place in the week including April 21, San Jacinto Day. At the Goliad meeting in 1906 only six of the last ten known survivors of the Army of the Republic of Texas were present: William P. Zuber, Alfonso Steele, John W. Darlington, Asa C. Hill, S. F. Sparks, and L. T. Lawlor. The association dissolved in Austin on April 19, 1907, during its thirty-fifth annual convention. With its dissolution its work was taken over by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The stories of some of these men can be found in the Handbook of Texas.
Photograph of John Cook's Victorian style home. Built by John Cook, who was born in 1846 in a Texas-bound wagon train; at 17 he was in the Civil War; in 1866 he married Frances Miller. They first lived in rock house near this site. With his son, R.J., John Cook contributed much to area cattle industry, he raised fine registered Herefords. The house was erected 1897 of select long-leaf pine placed to catch Gulf breezes. Each room opens on a porch. It has 4 fireplaces, with mantels of mahogany, maple, oak. The architecture is Victorian. It was later owned by the Dugat and Warner Families. The house was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1966
Photograph of the inside of the McKinney Brothers Store located in downtown Beeville. According to local legend, a KKK boycott forced Frank McKinney to close the store after he refused to boycott their Catholic customers.
The railroad not only aided the economy of Bee County, it was also used for recreational purposes. In 1914, this group of Beeville ladies boarded the Southern Pacific train bound for a fun trip to Houston.
The intersection of Washington and Corpus Christi Streets in Beeville on a Saturday in 1892. Located at this intersection is the three story Ellis Hotel. A small portion of the courthouse lawn is visible in the lower right corner of the picture. . Captain A.C. Jones, who owned property surrounding the Public Square, offered to donate a building site to anyone who would build a first-class hotel. Francis M. Ellis offered to move his hotel in St. Mary’s to Beeville. His hotel was dismantled with every board numbered, brought in large freight wagons, pulled by eight and ten-horse teams, and rebuilt at this intersection in Beeville. In the 1890’s a third story was added.
Photograph of the Thompson Building located on 108 West Corpus Christi Street across from the courthouse. The Thompson Building built in 1892 in the Victorian style, was the first brick building in Beeville. The building was built by grocer, J.C. Thompson (1836-1905) of brick from the Calavaros kiln near Elmendorf. Upstairs in 1892 was the law office of Lon C. Hill, who later founded Harlingen. The “Beeville Light Guard” was later housed on the second floor. Acquired in 1910 by Eureka Telephone Company, the building was Beeville’s communications headquarters from 1912 to 1920 for Southwestern Telegraph and Telephone Company, and then for Southwestern Bell until 1957. In 1957 it was restored for the law offices of John N. Barnhart. Facing the courthouse, the proud old building displays a historical marker, and at the top of the facade, the date “1892”
This picture is of G.W. McClanahan’s first house in Beeville. George W. McClanahan was born in Craig County, Virginia in 1824. He graduated from Emory and Henry College in 1853, and came to Texas where he became the principal of Paine Female Institute in Goliad. In 1858 he resigned that position and moved his family to Beeville in 1859. He established a mercantile business on two blocks of land in the vicinity of present Klipstein Park. His son, William, born in January 1861, was the first Anglo child born in Beeville. When the county seat was moved from the Medio to Maryville (Beeville) Mr. McClanahan purchased some lots around the Public Square. In 1866 he moved his family to Corpus Christi where his wife died during a yellow fever epidemic in 1867. After his wife’s death, Mr. McClanahan moved back to Beeville with his four children, Mary, William, George, and James. He opened another store which he operated until his death in 1874. Mr. McClanahan and his wife taught school in his first store for children who lived in Beeville in 1860. Mr. McClanahan was a storekeeper, farmer and gardener, deputy clerk in the county clerk’s office, postmaster, land owner, and had a few head of cattle. He is known as the first merchant in Beeville. His store, built by Viggo Kohler, is preserved and maintained by the Beeville Historical Society, and is now located in the 200 block of Corpus Christi St. The inscription at the bottom of the picture says, "1st house built in Beeville by G. W. McClanahan. Storeroom built first and dwelling house later."
Photograph of the R. W. Linke home located on 1011 North Avenue C. Originally designed in 1913-14 by F.W. Heldenfels, who was one of the architects of the Bee County Courthouse. Their daughter, Gertrude later lived there.
Photograph of the parlor and entry way inside of the McClanahan house. The two story building was the first store erected in Beeville. George W. McClanahan operated a general merchandise store in the 1860's. He was one of the pioneer settlers in Beeville. The building was purchased by the Bee County Historical Society, moved to the 200 block of East Corpus Christi, restored,and is now known as the McClanahan House, home of the Historical Society.
Located off the Refugio Highway 202, the Campo Santo burial ground is not accessible to the public. The old cemetery is located on the head right of 1829 settler Jeremiah Toole of New York. Toole’s isolated oak-log home stood on the San Patricio-La Bahia Road. His family was in constant danger of attacks from Indians and invading armies.
Photograph of the "Front of Rialto Theater, Beeville" as stated at the bottom of the photograph. The Rialto Theater was built in 1922, as the flagship for the 22-theater chain owned by H.W. Hall and family. After a fire in 1935 destroyed the interior, the theater was remodeled in an Art Moderne style by the original architect, W.C. Stephenson and the theatre architect John Eberson, famous for the Majestic Theater in San Antonio. The first radio station in Beeville was located in the threatre's second story. KFRB took to the airways in December, 1924. Local and neighboring town's talent entertained listeners as far away as Oklahoma City. Months later, interest died, and the station ended its broadcasting.
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