Small county communities part of rich fabric of history

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Editor’s note: This is the first of two articles detailing the history of small towns in Madison County.

Madison County Museum has a new exhibit about Mrs. Jane Colwell and the one-act plays she directed at Madisonville High School. I may have told some folks that my next Musings would focus on that. However, computer problems and a sick cow have slowed me, and that one will appear soon. Still, I hope some of you come see the exhibit soon.

I’ve written about some of our local communities before but I don’t think I’ve nearly covered all of them. Each is unique in its own way.

Rocky Hill is located eight miles south of Madisonville. According to Findagrave, Rocky Hill cemetery is located in a pasture east of I-45 and south of Boyd Road a bit, and holds just two graves. Of course, there could be more there that weren’t recorded on the website.

Originally there was a church by the cemetery there, and Willis Glover gave an acre of land for the church. Glover’s parents, Thomas and Mary Glover, were brought from Louisiana as slaves. The church later moved to east of Highway 75, near what is now called Glover Lane, but the church building was torn down several years ago.

Rocky Hill’s residents were mostly farmers. After crops were laid by each fall, several of those families celebrated the harvest by going to Bedias Creek, where they would fish, hunt and cook stew. Andy Baker’s home was considered to be part of the community and he had the first phone and automobile there. Solen Glover, son of Willis Glover, raised his family in Rocky Hill too, and he bought his first car, a Model T, in 1925 for $210.

As in most small communities, originally Rocky Hill’s church and school shared a building. Some of the early teachers were Ozelia Banks, Dora Gooden, Adene Byrd, Viola Perry, Alva Viser, W.D. Mott, Annie Grace, Abbie Grice, Corine Dixon, Carrie Byrd, and Bernice Washington. Preachers at the Missionary Baptist Church included Dave Byrd, Henderson Spurlock, Will Hill, Henry Chambers, Marion Smith, Herman Johnson, and Frank Williams.

The Kickapoo community, sometimes also known as Dugan, is located west of Madisonville on FM 1372. Named for the Kickapoo tribe of Indians who once lived in the area, it is bordered by Willowhole on the west, Cottonwood on the north, and Union on the east.

The earliest church in Kickapoo was on Luther Magness’ property. In the late 1920s, a new Baptist Church was built on land donated by the same Mr. Magness. For years he planted a big field of cotton around the church. Members went there and picked the cotton, which was then ginned into bales. All proceeds from that field went to the church.

Kickapoo School had a dug well. It furnished water not only for the students, but people of the community hauled water from there to drink and use to wash clothing. School picnics and church baptisms were held at Whitfield Lake.

In the late 1930s, Silver Dollar Jim West came from Houston and bought 600 acres of land in Kickapoo community. He drilled several wells for oil but struck gas instead. He was a big help to the community because he hard-surfaced roads to the wells and employed local men. Some folks today call the community West Production, for Mr. West.

Where did I find the above information? Most of it came from “The History of Madison County Volume I,” copyrighted 1984. Mary Baugh Batson was History Book Chairman, Lynda McCarn Breeding was the editor, and Vernon Baugh Farris was Historical Commission Chairman then. Other committee members were Elaine Brown, Lucille Bates, Lucille Garrison, Lucille Farris, Lynda Myers, Marie Bledsoe, and Melba Frossard. Lynda Breeding moved away in the summer of 2015, and I’m not sure where Linda Myers lives now or even if she is living. The rest are deceased.

That labor of love was followed by a thinner update, Volume II, published in 1997. By then, the History Book Committee had grown large, and some of those members survive today. I don’t want to call names, but you know who you are. We need you back, desperately. Too much local history did not get into the first two volumes, and 20 years of local history is now being neglected. We need folks who are interested in local history as members and workers in Madison County Historical Commission, which meets in the Museum at 10 a.m. on the third Wednesday each month, but not in December. I sure hope to see some of you Jan. 17. If you can’t make it to the meetings but might be interested in working on Volume 3, please let us know.

Madison County Museum is open 10-2 Wednesday through Saturday, at 201 N. Madison. Curator Jane Day would welcome your visit. There are still 2 great cookbooks for sale there, $10 each, I case you need a Christmas surprise for a friend!

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