New(ish) markers in county show old history

Posted 11/17/20

Lately I’ve focused on local historical markers and I’m continuing in that vein today. I’ve written about several of them before. I’m not skipping them now, because you may have missed the earlier pieces.

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New(ish) markers in county show old history


Lately I’ve focused on local historical markers and I’m continuing in that vein today. I’ve written about several of them before. I’m not skipping them now, because you may have missed the earlier pieces.

The Jozye Church and Cemetery marker is south of Madisonville at the intersection of State Highway 90 and FM 1452, on the left when traveling south. Erected in 2000, it reads “Mormon Missionaries came to this part of Madison County in 1907 and were kindly received by families here, in what was then known as the Center community. The first baptisms occurred in 1907-08. In December 1908 a Sunday School was organized with meetings held in member homes. On June 14, 1909, Joe Shannon donated one and a half acres of land at this site for a church building. Additional land to a cemetery was acquired three years later. A meeting house was completed in September 1909, but was burned by arsonists in December. A new structure was completed February 1910 and remained for over 50 years. A branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was formally organized November 10, 1910 with A. Stiles Beeler as Branch President. Establishment of the branch brought more families to the area and by February 1911 there were over 100 members. Early families were Adams, Bartee, Beeler, Clark, Culbreth, Decker, Donaho, Dye, Eby, Foster, Goodrum, Grice, Harless. Hoke. McDonald, Montgomery, Pender, Peveto, Puckett, Sims, Stone and Strend. The branch was named the Shannon Branch, later the Utah Branch and in 1915 the Jozye Branch. A severe drought in 1917 caused many families to move to other areas. Samuel H. Foster served as Branch President 1919-1957. By 1957, only a handful of members remained; therefore, the branch was dissolved and the church building eventually torn down, A present branch of the church, organized in 1978, exists in Madisonville. Burials in the cemetery include several of the early area families and their descendants.”

Marian Anderson High School received its marker in 2004. That marker was placed at the school’s last location, 901 West Trinity. It reads “In 1880, Madisonville’s first school for African American students was established on the northeast side of town in a one-room schoolhouse. Spencer Davis served as the first teacher. In 1885, the school was moved to this site (901 W. Trinity), on land donated by the Rev. Neal McCloud, who taught the school’s 40 students. Other early teachers included ministers. Despite the difficulties the students and educators faced, the school continued to grow. By the 1920s, a new facility was needed. Funded by the Julius Rosenwald Foundation, a new schoolhouse opened in 1926. It had a cafeteria and eight classrooms, some of which could be opened together to form an auditorium. The school was the site of interscholastic events, proms, Parent-Teacher Association meetings, and special programs. Citizens also gathered at the school for the community Juneteenth celebration. In addition to its regular curriculum, the school offered woodwork, painting, and general repair training, as well as facilities for canning and for a farmers’ shop during the Great Depression. In the 1940s and 1950s, several rural schools consolidated with Madisonville Colored High School. During the 1950s, the school district constructed new facilities at this site, and the students voted to change the school’s name to Marian Anderson High School, in honor of the world-renowned contralto. Madisonville was one of the last school districts in the state to integrate, and Marian Anderson High School closed in December 1970, serving later as an intermediate campus. An alumni group continues to meet, raising funds for scholarships to benefit Madisonville’s youth and working to preserve the history of the city’s African-American community.” In case you didn’t follow that all, the Marian Anderson campus closed when our community integrated, and the buildings were used for schooling local students for decades longer.

In 2002, a historical marker was placed at 12283 State Highway 21 in Midway for the purpose of recognizing the history of Midway Church of Christ. The inscription includes “Although records to establish the exact founding date of this church are scarce, it is believed the Midway Church of Christ was organized about 1854. Traveling preachers served the congregation until Joseph Addison Clark (1815-1901) arrived as first minister in 1855. Many of the church's early members were influential in the development of Midway and Madison County. The church has worshiped at this site throughout its history, although the building has been enlarged and remodeled over the years to accommodate the congregation's needs. Originating before the Civil War, the Midway Church of Christ has long played a role in the cultural history of Madison County.” The church is still quite active, with Joel Douget the current pastor.

Robbins Ferry is commemorated with a pink granite historical marker that was placed in 1936 and is located on the north side of Highway 21 just west (this side of) the Trinity River Bridge. Imprinted on it are the words “First known as Paso Tomas (Thomas' Ford) at the crossing of the San Antonio and La Bahia roads over the Trinity. Ferry established about 1821 by Joel Leakey. Named in honor of Nathaniel Robbins who operated it many years. Acquired about 1852 by Elisha Clapp whose descendants operated it until 1930 when Clapp's Ferry Bridge was constructed.” Robbins came to the Republic of Texas with his wife and four children in 1819, first living near the Red River. In 1834 he applied for a league of land at the mouth of Bedias Creek on the Trinity River. Somehow, he got control of Leakey’s ferry, and under the Robbins name it became a focal point for early traffic across Texas. During hostilities against Mexico, Robbins served under Captain Elisha Clapp, who operated the ferry later, as stated on the marker. Robbins and six family members are buried in unmarked graves at what Findagrave calls “Nathaniel Robbins Plantation”.

In 2017, a marker was dedicated for Jubal Richard “J.R.” Parten and placed just north of Madison County Library at 605 South State Street here. It’s inscribed with the words “Born in Madisonville on February 16, 1896, Jubal Richard ‘J.R.’ Parten secured his legacy as a pioneer in the American oil industry and a reputation in local, state and national politics. Studying government and law at the University of Texas, Parten graduated and married Opal Woodley in 1917. Shortly after, J.R. joined the army, rising to the rank of major. After WWI, Parten joined his father-in-law in organizing Woodley Petroleum Company in 1919, thus beginning his over-seventy-year career in the petroleum industry. Throughout his career in the oil industry, Parten stayed active in the affairs of his alma mater and national politics. He served on the University of Texas board of regents from 1935-1941 and received a distinguished alumnus award from his beloved university in 1987. During WWII, Parten served as director of the Transportation Division of the Petroleum Administration for War, responsible for delivering necessary oil for the war effort. J.R. also participated in the post-war negotiations at the Potsdam Conference. President Harry S. Truman called on Parten again in 1950, to organize the Petroleum Administration for Defense during the Korean War. He held many public service positions throughout his life representing his country, state, and county. J.R. Parten divorced Opal in 1947, and married Patsy Edwards Puterbaugh and the couple had two children. Parten always generously gave back to Madison County whenever donations were asked. He also gifted multiple tracts of land for an elementary school, hospital, and the Madison County Library. Parten died on November 9, 1992, and is buried in the Madisonville Cemetery.”

Today I covered five more local historical markers but more still await! I’ll be back with others in a couple of weeks!

Madison County Museum, located at 201 North Madison Street, is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The mailing address is P.O. Box 61, Madisonville, TX 77864. You also might enjoy the Madison County Museum Facebook page, which we try to keep busy with old photos and facts.