Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Landmark Hunting in the Piney Woods, Part 1

We Went Snarfin', or Landmark Hunting, in the Piney Woods
To escape the rain of Houston, Texas the Sunday before Memorial Day, my family and I decided to go snarfing [a Markeroni term for landmark hunting] in Nacogdoches, Texas.  I looked up some places to go see there, and, lo and behold, there are a ton of them!  We only went to a few before it started raining again.  I have plenty of pictures [and stories] to share though.

Even the Landmarks Are Texas-Sized!
The Millard-Lee HouseWhen we got back, I started to sift through everything and look things up.  I found that Texas really loves landmarks.  I mean you cannot sneeze without hitting one, and Nacogdoches is no exception.  According to this listing of Texas Historical Markers, there are 80 landmarks of various designations in Nacogdoches County [where the town of Nacogdoches is], but according to the Texas Historical Commission [THC] and their 3rd party atlas/database, there are 306 markers in Nacogdoches County.  [Whew!]  Because of the interruption by Mother Nature, I knew that the kids and I would be back in the summer, but, goodness, I think it's going to take more than 1 more daytrip.  I cross-referenced the lists and discovered there are some double and triple entries in the listings on the second database because some landmarks had met, had applied, and were approved for more than one marker. [Sigh of relief.]  I won't go into detail about all the designations [you can find them here], but as I introduce you to the various landmarks I'll let you know what they are designated as [because that's the way I roll...].

What Exactly Is That Funny-Named Town?
I'm so glad you asked, and lucky for you, I know the answer.  Nacogdoches is located in East Texas, about  3 hours northeast of Houston and is known as the town of "firsts".  According to the Texas Historical Commission, it is the oldest town in Texas.  Some other "firsts for Texas" in Nacogdoches listed are as follows:
  • First Ceiling Fans [to those up north it may not sound like a big deal, but it gets HOT here!]
  • First Oil Well [drilled in 1866]
  • First Oil Field
  • First Pipeline
  • First Steel Storage Tanks
  • First 2-Story Building
  • First Newspaper [1813]
  • First Wine Cellar
  • First District Court Session
Burrows-Millard House

As you can probably guess Nacogdoches has a long and varied past.  It was the epicenter of a new republic that fought and struggled to keep its independence.  A total of six flags have flown over what is now the state of Texas [hence, the Six Flags Amusement Park], but a total of nine flags have flown over Nacogdoches.  This bit of information [courtesy of the THC] is new to me.  I remember learning about the six flags in 7th grade Texas History, but not the nine flags over Nacogdoches.  The additional three flags represent three failed rebellions prior to Texas' independence: the Gutierrez-Magee Rebellion [1812-1813]; the Dr. James Long Rebellion [1819-1821]; and the Fredonia Rebellion [1826-1827].  Keeping in mind that Texas became an independent republic in 1836, it seems that persistence and determination do pay-off.  For a full history of Nacogdoches and the beginnings of Texas, or anything else about Texas, see the Texas Online Handbook.  [I like the use of the word "handbook" for our online encyclopedia.  It makes it sound like before you come to stay here, you need to read it...]

Double Corn Crib
The First Stop
We first went to Millard's Crossing which was touted as a representation of a 19th century East Texas Village with a couple of Texas landmarks [nice and efficient], and it didn't disappoint.  Turns out, though, it's a registered Texas museum as well. [I told you we're serious about our landmarks!] This particular historical village/museum once started out as a dream to save Nacogdoches' history by a Lera Millard Thomas, and she is another "first" for Texas.  She became the first woman to serve in the U.S. Congress for Texas following the death of her husband former U.S. Congressman Albert Thomas for Harris County in 1966.  She was the daughter of John Joseph Millard who lived his whole life in Nacogdoches, Tx.  His father, Robert F. Millard came to Texas in about 1835 [actually it would've been known as Tejas then], and according to unverified information the Millard family came to Maryland from England in the early 1600's.  However, I was able to trace the Millard family by census through 1790 [they stayed in Maryland], and this coincided with the unverified information that I found on this family.  Along with Millard's Crossing being a recognized historical museum, there are two Texas Recorded Historical Landmarks located there: the Millard-Lee House and the Burrows-Millard House.  The rest of the pictures/collages are other historical beauties that I liked and wanted to share. [Census information accessed through Heritage Quest Online and]


This caboose was chartered by E.B. Hayward Lumber Co in 1905 to haul logs out of East Texas bottomland forests.  This charter eventually became the Nacogdoches and Southeastern Railroad Line.
Old Log Schoolhouse

Watkins House

A Few More...
I have a few more landmarks and stories from Nacogdoches to share with you next week.  Also, check out my companion blog Family Stories for a photo collage of an 1860's log office and visit my other companion blog Family Stories in Stone for some photos of a Texas historic cemetery...


1 comment:

Amy (WeTree) said...

Sounds like a good time. Thanks for sharing your adventures!