TEMPLEMAN…EARLIEST NAVASOTA BUSINESS MAN
We know that the coming of the railroad built the town of Navasota, but in 1860 it also brought the earliest of the early Navasota outstanding business leaders…Robert B. Templeman.
Scottish born Templeman had arrived in Texas in 1849 after he answered an advertisement of East Texas Merchant Tom Scott who was visiting New York. Scott was looking for a young man to work in his Palestine store.
Born in the summer of 1830 at Dunfermline, Scotland, Templeman, at the age of 16, intrigued by fascinating stories of America, left his family and boarded a ship bound for New York. He spent time in New York, then Boston, then returned to New York as a mercantile clerk where he then saw Mr. Scott’s ad. Templeman made the trip to Texas via boat from New York to Galveston, took a cotton boat upriver, and over land to Palestine.
Templeman worked for Scott three years before opening his own business with partner Thomas Elson under the name Elson & Templeman. Eight years later the pair moved to Navasota to take advantage of railroad shipping. Following the Civil War in 1865, the mercantile business occupied a large building in the center of the 100 W. Washington Avenue block where the Chandelier Event Hall and Navasota Theatre Alliance are now located. In the early 1870s, Templeman bought out his partner, and fifty years later, in the1920s, it was still the site of the massive R. B. Templeman & Son mercantile business. The Templeman’s business interests included every facet of Navasota…cotton compresses and seed oil mills, gin mills, banks, the telephone company, and Brazos Valley bottom lands.
Ellen (Howell) Myers, Templeman great granddaughter living in San Antonio who is also a Two Rivers Heritage Foundation member and supporter, tells of Templeman’s Civil War service. “During the Civil War, Templeman received a field promotion to Major when the officers in his unit either died or were wounded in the Battle of Corinth.“ He had begun service as an aide to General William Cabell. Near the end of the war, Templeman was on the Mexican border obtaining supplies.
A business trip to Galveston in the late 1860s was a life changing event when he met Miss Anne Maria Hunter of Brownsville, Tennessee. They married on June 4, 1868. She died 12 years later in December of 1880. Templeman never remarried. A sister of his wife, with her husband, John Sangster, moved to Navasota to help with the Templemans’ son and three daughters.
Not only did Templeman leave a big imprint on Navasota businesses, but two magnificent homes that still enhance Navasota’s historic neighborhoods. Built in the mid-1890s for newly-weds son, Ward B. and Annie (Foster) Templeman, it is known as the Castle at 1403 East Washington. Originally a Queen Anne design, it later was bricked and modified to reflect Prairie School architecture.
The second home is the three-story red brick structure with Corinthian columns at Church and Johnson that was the home of a daughter Dr. and Mrs. S. J. Emory. It was in this home that Templeman lived his final years from 1905 until his death in January 28, 1924 at the age of 94.
(Written by Betty Dunn, Two Rivers Heritage Foundation)
Two Rivers Heritage Foundation
Officers & Board of Directors
Chairman: Kathy Cave Wells
Vice-Chairman: Betty Dunn
Secretary: Lynn Hildebrandt
Treasurer: Baker Goodwin
John Henry Botkin
Margaret Van Wagner Eppler
Two Rivers Heritage Foundation has partnered with Community Foundation of the Brazos Valley's Brazos Valley Gives, which supports non-profits by providing a platform for funding and to bring greater awareness to our community of citizens.
Please help us to build a stronger knowledge base for the multi-cultured and vibrant history of Grimes County and the surrounding areas. This opportunity for giving ends on October 19, 2021.
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The mission of Two Rivers Heritage Foundation is to learn, teach, conserve, and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of Texas and to establish a repository for preservation of historic documents and artifacts of Navasota and its surrounding region to be made available for research, study, education and the enlightenment and gratification of all people of all ages.
Two Rivers Heritage Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit
TWO RIVERS “'SANDBAR' HISTORIES” BOOKS
Two Rivers Heritage Foundation’s “Sandbar Histories” book is 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. The price is $20 or $23.50 for mail orders.
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.
BEST MUSEUM at...
Horlock Art Gallery & History Museum
Navasota, Texas 77868
Best Museum is open by appointment only.
To make an appointment:
Exhibits, at this time, include the City of Navasota’s historical collection of the Horlock's, Christian Becker, Jesse and Herbert Youens, Schumacher's, and Texas Rangers; as well as the Two Rivers’ exhibit of the ”Railroads that built Navasota.”
Mance Lipscomb exhibit, Navasota's world reknown blues singer, guitarist, songster.