Two Rivers "Sandbar Histories"
The following is an excerpt from
Benjamin Babbitt's Quarter League
Written by BETTY DUNN
When E. L. Blair wrote the 1930 Early History of Grimes County book he admitted there was "scant information to be found concerning settler" Benjamin Bobbitt as he wrote biographical sketches of the 64 original land grantees in Grimes County.
Babbitt, records now show, was one of Texas first Methodist preachers as verified in A History of Early Methodism in Texas. (Macum Phelan, page 40-42 and Methodist Historical Quarterly, July 1909, pages 81-82), quoted from the book of Early Preachers and Churches in Texas written by Corrie Haskew Pattison and also referred to in the book, From Jamestown to Texas: A History of Some Early Pioneers of Austin County, by Betty Smith Meischen.
To read this entire article and more from "Two Rivers Sandbar Histories" you can order the book.
Contact Betty Dunn at email@example.com or
Lynn Hildebrandt at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve copies. (Mail orders will be $23.50 each.)
Each week we will endeavor to showcase excerpts from each of the writings from the book. So check back often to see portions of the 'treasures' it contains.
NOTICE: BEST MUSEUM at the Horlock House
1215 Washington, Navasota, Texas 77868.
Any organization or individuals who would like to visit the newly organized Best Museum by the Two Rivers Heritage Foundation are welcome.
Exhibits, at this time, include the City of Navasota’s historical collection of the Horlocks, Christian Becker, Jesse and Herbert Youens, Schumachers, and Texas Rangers; as well as the Two Rivers’ exhibit of the ”Railroads that built Navasota.”
Mance Lipscomb exhibit, Navasota's world known blues singer, guitarist, songster. Those wishing to see the Best Museum please contact E-Mail: email@example.com.
Two Rivers Heritage Foundation
Officers & Board of Directors
Chairman: Betty Dunn
Treasurer: Judy Reynolds
John Henry Botkin
Margaret Van Wagner Eppler
Honorary Director: Mildred Edwards
Two Rivers Heritage Foundation
c/o Judy Reynolds
P.O. Box 66,
Navasota, TX. 77868
August 26th --- September 9th
Boyce Ann Lewis Miller, a member of Two Rivers Heritage Foundation, years ago wrote a brief history of East Washington Avenue in Navasota. Since Two Rivers recently was awarded a Texas Historical Commission marker for Washington Avenue, we would like to share Boyce Ann’s memories and history of Washington Avenue.
Just this past week the Grimes County Historical Commission posted a photo of the Texas Historical Commission marker placed in the 200 block of East Washington for the Freeman Inn on Facebook. The marker was granted in 1968.
Copied below is Boyce Ann’s remembrance and history of the Freeman Inn.
Written by Boyce Ann Lewis Miller
“Lest We Forget”
In the early 1850's three families to be permanently linked made their way from Mississippi to Grimes County. The first family was W. E. Blackshear, his wife, their 9 children (and their spouses); the second family was the Foster family; the third family was the Ira Freeman family, his wife and their 2 children.
The Freeman family came to Grimes County by way of New York and Mississippi and upon settling in Grimes County built a stagecoach inn at the corner of Washington Ave. and Cannon (now known as Craig St.) in 1856. This large two-story pine building with barns housed many travelers throughout the years before, during and after the Civil War; the Inn was quite prosperous for many years but began to fall upon hard times when the railroad came to Navasota in the 1860s.
During its popular times, many dignitaries and travelers throughout the state were delighted by the accommodations offered. Confederate soldiers were housed in the attic; actors who came to Navasota to perform in plays and operas at the Opera House during the cultural season stayed at the Freeman Inn. A small child was reported to have died while staying at the Inn and to have been buried behind the Freeman Inn. This child was more probably buried in Oakland Cemetery in a Blackshear plot. There is a marker there engraved “Unknown Child.” The Blackshear’s became a part of the Freeman family when a daughter married into the Blackshears.
The Inn was situated on property with 200 ft. of frontage on Washington Ave. and from south to north on Cannon St. (now Craig St.) down to Cedar Creek. This Inn was occupied by Mr. Ira Freeman until his death in 1878 and later by his granddaughter, Miss Ira Blackshear. Miss Blackshear, who never married, taught piano for many years at the Inn. The Inn was razed to make room for the Navasota Medical Center in the 1960s. With the building of the Medical Center, it meant the end of more than 100 years of ownership of the area by the three families previously mentioned — the Blackshears, the Freemans and the Fosters.
As we travel north on Cannon (Craig) Street from East Washington Avenue we come to the first house. This house was built for the Freeman's daughter, Laura, and her husband, Duncan Blackshear (another connection between the three families). Laura and Duncan had two children, a son Ed Freeman Blackshear and a daughter Ira Blackshear. The Blackshear family resided in the house for many years. Ed Freeman Blackshear died in 1940 and Miss Blackshear, who never married, continued to live in the house (she owned a gift shop in downtown Navasota) until it was sold and moved to its current location on Leake St. The Medical Center's rear parking lot is where the house once stood.Beside the Blackshear house stood The Spann Cottage. This house belonged to the son of Ira Freeman, W. E. Freeman. He lived at this house until he moved to Dallas County. The deeds show that he sold his interest in the Nolan Addition house and property to Ed F. Blackshear and Miss Ira Blackshear, and they now owned the property in its entirety. The deed was dated 1911. The Spann Cottage was so called because a Mr. Spann was a tenant for many years as a close personal friend of the Blackshears. In the deed records, it was stated that Mr. Spann could live there as long as he wished.
In 1945, Bessie Blackshear sold The Spann Cottage. The house has since had many owners. The following are a list of former owners: Albert Miller, former mayor of Navasota; Judith Oliver, known as Donny; William McIntyre, along with his wife and three boys (the McIntyre family added the back bath and enclose the back porch); the Stokers (this family did extensive remodeling and the Navasota Garden Club records show that the Stokers had the most beautiful yard in town). After the Stokers sold the house, it became rental property and fell into a state of disrepair until the present owner made much needed restorations. In 2008 the home was occupied by tenants Bob & Cheryl Wyatt who were awarded at Christmas of 2008 the Garden Club’s “Best Decorated Yard.”
The next house in our history trip is located at 128 Craig (formerly Cannon) St. The two-story home with underground garage was easy to research since it had only one previous owner, Neil Craig. Mr. Craig built the house for his wife, 2 sons and a daughter in 1938. When the present owner acquired the house in 2004, it too stood in disrepair. Extensive restoration has been done along with the addition of a side porch. The veranda offers a country like view of Cedar Creek and old Brule Field to the right of the porch (Navasota's football field built in the 1930s by the CCC and the WPA from natural stone. Brule Field is a definite part of history for Navasota). The present owner, though encouraged to demolish the old shed in the backyard, elected to keep the small part of history intact (possibly an outbuilding of the original Freeman property). Upon completion of renovations of what is now known as The Bluebonnet House Bed & Breakfast, it was awarded a Beautification Improvement Award by the city of Navasota in 2004.
Next in the historical tour we would have found the home of Mrs. Lillian Knox. Mrs. Lillian taught piano to the children in Navasota as did Miss Ira Blackshear. Boyce Ann (Lewis) Miller, the author of this historical account, remembers being a student of Mrs. Lillian’s. Boyce Ann, being a “tomboy” and not that interested in piano lessons, on special occasions would sit by the fire with her arms around Mrs. Lillian’s beloved German Shepard, “Jack”, while Mrs. Lillian played piano for her. This was a secret between Mrs. Lillian and student Boyce Ann who was, at the same time, allowed to put specially prepared pinecones into the fireplace that sparked with beautiful colors of red, blue and green. Mrs. Lillian's home was razed to make room for what is now Guaranty Bank along with the previous house mentioned that belonged to the Foster's.
Next we would have traveled to find the Brosig brothers homes. The first Brosig brother's home was demolished to make room in later years for the Navasota ISD parking lot. On the next site where we now find the old Navasota High School, built in 1930, was the original home of James Nolan. Mr. Nolan came to Grimes County and settled in 1843. He built a double log cabin on the property for his mother, father and his pet bear in the 1850s. Nolan was an early land developer and donated land for the railroad. After digging a well on his property that had an abundant flow of water, he created the 12.5 acre Nolan Addition in 1859. He encouraged friends, neighbors and travelers to come and share the abundance of water. W. C. Brosig built a home on that site prior to the actual building of Navasota High School. On the site adjacent to the Brosig home, was the home of his sisters, Mrs. Eleanor (Brosig) Brown and Miss Nettie Brosig. At this beautiful home were held many gala affairs throughout the years. Mrs. Eleanor and Miss Nettie were as elegant as their house and never left their home without a hat, a pair of gloves, powder and perfume. Their home was demolished to make way for a business now in that location, presently the real estate office of Dell Martinez.
As we return along Washington Avenue back toward the Freeman Inn do you smell the aroma of Evening in Paris? Do you hear the growl of a bear? Is that Jack barking? Do you smell the faint whiff of ether? Do you feel the spirit of a small child? Do you hear the whinny of the horses and the jingle of the harnesses......Listen!!!!
The information was garnered from many sources. Thank you to the following for their assistance: Jewel, City Hall of Navasota; Marie Kampbell, County Clerk/Deed Records Office; Trisha, Navasota Abstract; Kathleen Terrell, of Guaranty Title; the Navasota Library's Genealogy Room; and the Oakland Cemetery records. Information was also gathered from the book Grimes County History; The Navasota Bluebonnet 1854-1954; and Mary Crawford, a long-time resident of Navasota. Thank you to Eleanor Anderson for driving me. I hope you have enjoyed this little vignette of some of the early history of our town. Sadly, only three of the homes addressed in this vignette remain…the Bluebonnet House, the Spann House, now called the “Green” House, and the Ed and Ira Blackshear house that was moved to Leake Street.
Betty Dunn, Chairman
Hope all are staying safe and well as we progress into late spring and early summer. Also hope all are keeping a diary of sorts so that this epic history is family recorded.
🌎 🔔 We are still accepting 2020 dues 💰 to Judy Reynolds...$20/per person. We would like to update our ❤Membership List. We much appreciate member support so that Two Rivers Heritage Foundation can continue with the mission of our local historical preservation. Mail dues to P. O. Box 66, Navasota, Tx. 77868. If you are a new member, please fill out the membership form under the above 'More" tab and mail. Thanks!
🎅 Remember that we are trying to raise money 💲 for our Development Fund by selling our Sandbar books... $20/each... they make great gifts! 🌝 The cover art is by local artist Nikki Sullivan. Contact Betty Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lynn Hildebrandt at email@example.com to reserve copies. (Mail orders are $23.50 each.)
Click on the menu tab 'VIDEOS' above or the button below to see some of our previous ‘history mixer’ programs. The Wendy Watriss & Fred Baldwin appearance in Navasota in February is now for all to view or review under the VIDEO tab.
TWO RIVERS “SANDBAR HISTORIES” BOOKS
Two Rivers Heritage Foundation’s “Sandbar Histories” books are available for purchase. If you are looking for a fascinating gift idea these historical books will make a great gift!! The books contain over two years of the “Grains from the Sandbar” columns that have been complimentarily offered to the Navasota Examiner weekly newspaper since August 2015 through the years 2016 and 2017. The price is $20. This is a fund-raising project for the Two Rivers Heritage Foundation’s Development Fund. The cover art is by local artist Nikki Sullivan. Contact Betty Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lynn Hildebrandt at email@example.com to reserve copies. (Mail orders are $23.50 each.)
Check out our website: www.tworiversheritagefoundation.org
Betty Dunn, Newsletter Coordinator, 281-507-1671