Memories of Rosalie
[What follows is a description of Rosalie, Red River County, Texas. It is based primarily on the telling of Mrs. B. R. (Lucy Belle Jones) Holder, as found in The Clarksville Times, Friday, 24 AUG 1951, given for the centennial celebration of the city. Two other pieces are incorporated into the Holder version. The first piece is one by Mrs. Tom (Eva Williams) Watkins, prepared for the Historical Tour of 1976, sponsored by the Bogota Garden Club and The Red River County Historical Society. The second piece was as long as Mrs. Holder's; it was written by three early residents, Mrs. Levi (Lula Evans) Hinson, Mrs. J. W. (Dumpia Allen Hinson) Garren, and Mr. W. C. "Bud" Mauldin. John Howlis Gibson transcribed the version of their work used here. --R. M. Leahy/24 MAY 1999]
Although there were settlers here before 1840, the area around Rosalie was Indian country before that time, and it was hard for the white man to free the land from the Indians.
One hundred years ago (in 1851), when so many TX towns were either new or non-existent, our little village of Rosalie had its beginning. The settlement was at first near the junction of sand and black land about a mile and a half northwest of the present location and was then called Wayland. The first land grants in the area were recorded in 1840 for the Nugent and the Pirtle families. Will Greeley had previously occupied the Nugent land. Other early settlers were the Humphreys (near Bogota) and Hart (east of Rosalie) families. Soon, the center of activity shifted to the spring branch and wooded area which has been Rosalie during the memory of all of us here. The water of the spring branch has quenched the thirst of many, especially the travelers who passed by the water as they passed through the area. And many remark that it is the best tasting water in the country.
In 1850, after acquiring some of the Pirtle land, the Smith family built a general store, a gin and a flourmill south of the present store site. Smith's Store was in continuous operation from then until 1932 and, at one time, carried a complete line of merchandise, including buggies, wagons and other farm equipment, as well as caskets, jewelry, calico, dishes, toys, candy teddy bears of various colors, rock candy on a string, raisins dried on the stem, and innumerable other items. The merchant acted as custodian of funds, paying farmers for cottonseed upon presentation of an order from the gin.
By 1873, there were four stores in Rosalie. In addition to Sid Smith's establishment, there were Dowell Brothers' Store, and stores run by Cox and Parks. Other business houses soon sprang up, the number and variety no doubt sufficiently great to astonish many. Among them were Hiram Dodd's Store, John Crook's Store, Uncle Jimmy Williams' Drug Store, Meadow's and later Spear's blacksmith shops. In addition, there were Miss Ellen Garren's millinery establishment, Rose Layton's Barber Shop, Billy Crook's print shop where the Rosalie Courier was published, the shop where hatter Parks Allen made men's hats, D. T. Layton's telephone exchange. By 1874, there was a sorghum mill, built where Mr. Moore lives now; people came from miles around to get their syrup made. The first central telephone office had been operated out of Smith's store; Mrs. Julian Francis ran it. Back in those days, if people wanted to make a phone call, they had to come to the store to do so. Later, when people actually had phones in their homes, there still was no switch; everyone was on the same line. It wasn't until the exchange was moved to Miss Ellen Garren's home that a switch was brought in for the community. And, last but not least, the post office with grocery and ice cream parlor in the rear. (The first post office was established in 1851, according to the late Wright Patman, a congressman for the area.)
There was even a hut where whiskey and other liquor could be bought like you might buy groceries or anything else. But as the country became more settled, drinking caused confusion and created disturbances and, after a few incidents like the following, the sale of whiskey and other such beverages was prohibited. One Sunday afternoon, while people were singing in the little log cabin schoolhouse, two drunken men were outside the building. One of the drunkards fired at the other, very nearly shooting one of the ministers. Not only did that stop the sale of whiskey, but it also kept people from singing in the log cabin schoolhouse again. They were too scared.
The amount of activity around these places of business would be equally surprising to those familiar with only the present community. But the farmers of the area found the community an excellent place to do business: to bring their cotton for ginning, to bring the pelts they collected from the game they hunted, and to buy their supplies. At first, mail as well as merchandise was brought from Jefferson, arriving at infrequent intervals.
After the building of the railroad to Clarksville, a star route was established from Clarksville to Halesboro. Mr. Babe Smith brought the mail by horseback once a week. As services improved, Bill Stephens carried the mail. He would ride a circuit between Clarksville and Sulphur Springs, through Rosalie. The mail came about three times a week, as the circuit took two days to ride. Of course, when the weather was bad, it could take longer. Eventually, a mail hack made a daily run to Clarksville in the morning, returning in the afternoon. Passengers were also able to make the trip on the mail hack. In bad weather, the hack passengers were often called upon to help cut the mud from between the spokes at Mannon Lane, or help push the hack through Cuthand and Scattercreek bottoms. A rural route had its origin at Rosalie. Later, when the railroad came to Bogota (then called Maple Springs), the driver, Mr. Newt Dowell, complained at having to change his starting point and residence to that city. Back in those days, the people of Bogota came to Rosalie to do their shopping!
The first school on record in the area was on the Hart place. It was a small, windowless, one-room cabin with a large fireplace, which was cold in the winter, and an uncomfortable place to sit and study. Miss Eugenia "Jennie" Armstrong was the teacher there. Shortly after she started teaching there (in about 1870), she built a two room house in Rosalie. She and her mother moved into one room of the house, and the other room was used for the school. Her home was just north of the more recent tabernacle. School was in session for five months, and each student was charged tuition. She supplemented her teaching income by raising and shipping silkworms. Her pupils remember gathering mulberry leaves for the worms and watching them spin cocoons.
Soon, a boxed building which served as both church and school was built. At the front was a rostrum; there was a door under the rostrum which gave entry to a small closet. When the door was closed, it was very dark in the closet. Mischievous youths were placed in the closet for punishment. Often, more than one child was in the closet at the same time. And there was just enough light admitted to the space that the occupants could contentedly play William Tremble Toe while they served out their time.
Dumpia Allen Hinson, according to one classmate, was one of the cutest, fattest, little urchins in the group. And, when Dumpy winked, everyone was being notified that things were about to start happening. Punishment had not changed much several years later. Louis Reed covered bad boys with a big, black overcoat because, he said, they were just too naughty to be seen.
About 1884, the old building gave way to a new building, better suited to caring for the educational needs of an expanding community. Professor Smith was its first teacher. The white building, with its sweet-toned bell tolling in the entry tower enabled the occupants to win for themselves an outstanding reputation in the surrounding territory. Boarding students came from great distances. In 1916, this building was replaced with a still more modern one, which stood until 1949. Although it has never been able to boast of having schooled a president, our educational center has sent out many worthy citizens in various vocations and has maintained a record of which it can feel justly proud. (By 1976, the school had been moved to Bogota.)
Lodges, politics and other civic enterprises occupied their proportionate share of the time and interest of our forefathers. The Masons held their meetings over the Methodist church, while the Woodmen of the World and the Woodmen Circle met over the Baptist church. Later, Smith's store boasted a new domicile with a second floor, which served as meeting place for both Woodmen and Macabees. Houston Burgess won a trip to Niagara Falls in a Macabee membership drive. All the lodges had proverbial goats to hold us children at awful and respectful distances. And the Bogota Masons still go by the name of the Rosalie Masonic Lodge.
Public-spirited election judges served without pay, voting taking place under the trees in favorable weather. Among these judges, the name F. C. Mauldin has stood through the years.
Little realizing what a railroad and good roads were to do to their beloved community, these enterprising citizens were always progressively concerned over improvements. Road workings were under the supervision of overseers, with each man putting in his allotted time or hiring someone to work for him. With the advent of automobiles, roads which had been adequate were no longer sufficient. Cane chews would not make sand beds passable. Improvement was imperative. After deliberation, claying sand beds was thought to be the solution. Robert Hardin says he was selected to circulate the petition and collect the funds for the project. At a spot south of where Uncle Jimmy Williams' store stood and northeast of Buck Kidd's house, a bridge with a big square hole in the middle was built. Wagons were driven under this bridge to be loaded by scrapers dumping clay through the hole. Pay for driver and team was four dollars a day. All major sand beds in the vicinity received a thick topping of clay. In 1924, the Jim Hogg Highway was constructed, and today there are good roads in every direction from Rosalie.
Electricity came to the area in 1929. Until that time, people used tallow candles or kerosene lamps. An old settler in Rosalie was heard to say that the coming of the kerosene lamp made a bigger impact than the coming of electricity. Kerosene lamps allowed people to move indoors and stay up later to read and work.
Dr. Gibson constructed the first house built with glass windows in 1880. He was also the first to build with lumber rather than logs, and the first to purchase a cook stove.
Entertainments had their part in the development of the community. Fourth of July picnics with the brass band from Clarksville, the merry-go-round, and the immense crowds, including people from miles around was one of the biggest events. Barbecue and other good things filled enormous tables. Old timers still declare that no place produces food comparable to that of Rosalie. Parties were frequent. Hunting and fishing offered outdoor sport. And there were medicine shows, dog and pony shows, and Bugger Red's Wild West Show, with its mule-drawn flying jenny visiting the village. Occasionally, such attractions as a man with a dancing bear and a tin cup, and later, one with a phonograph with "The Preacher and the Bear" on a record shaped like a can of baking soda made appearances. Home talent plays, community Christmas trees, ice cream suppers and hayrides gave ample relaxation for old and young.
Miss Land was the first to practice medicine in the area. Other doctors followed: Dr Allen and Dr. Kennedy. In 1893, Dr. Robert Jones (1868-1934) came to Rosalie; he stayed and practiced medicine for over 39 years.
Standing paramount in importance through the century have been the churches. The first services were held in about 1871 by Rev. McCullough, a Baptist minister. He held his services under a mill shed south of Smith's store. Soon, Rev. L. F. Palmer, a Methodist minister came. Rev. Palmer preached the first Sunday of the month, and Rev. McCullough every fourth. And while the Baptist church has now moved to Bogota, the Methodist church continues to hold services in Rosalie (in 1976). As I speak of the churches, I grow sentimental, and I feel that my sentiments are shared by each of you. No doubt, you too remember sitting near the front, before your feet could reach the floor, and singing, "Then Palms of Victory, Crowns of Glory," "Marching to Zion," or some other equally familiar favorite. Also, each has in mind, sterling, stalwart characters without which old Rosalie could never have been the Rosalie we have known. From the ones who worshipped in the old boxed house through the ones who filled to overflowing the old two-storied Methodist and Baptist churches, on down to our immediate forebears, they have all manifested those same Christ-like characteristics so fundamental in a community and a nation. And so it is fitting that as the physical evidence of a flourishing village fade away, the churches with their spiritual influence should remain. The old brush arbor with its mourner benches and shouting, the parsonage, the Epworth League and league encampments, and the tabernacle are gone, but in our hearts live the memories and influences of these, our ancestors, of whom we are so proud. Like the spring branch with its increasing flow of beneficent water, the stream of influence of the past century continues to pour out its blessings upon the present. Only with a faith in God as firmly rooted as the oaks in our familiar grove can we live true to the principles upon which our community grew. Whether remaining among the remnant here or fused into larger groups elsewhere, may we remain ever faithful to this illustrious heritage which is ours.
Points of Interest
[As noted by Mrs. Tom (Eva Williams) Watkins.]
The Springs: Located on the E. L. Holder farm where their driveway enters FM909. Look for a flag. People travelling west used these springs to obtain water and used a place near them to camp. Medicine shows, dog and pony shows, and Bugger Red's Wild West Show camped here until they could no longer get any nickels. Early settlers used these springs until other sources of water could be found.
Billy Crook's Tomb: It can be found in the Smith Cemetery, west of Rosalie on FM909. Crook published the Rosalie Courier. The tomb is on the first row west of the driveway. See flag.
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The Hinson Family Tree
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