Memoirs of Nederland Families

Several Nederland families have published their memoirs here. Check the list on the left and select the surname to read their family history.


By Mrs. Jo Evelyn Phillips

William Carlton Adamson, born October 17, 1902, son of Doctor Orestus D. Adamson and Grace Truman Chapman Adamson, was a native of Forest Park, Georgia. He moved to Jefferson County, Texas, after his father became resident physician at the United States Quarantine Station at Sabine Pass in 1923. The old Sabine Pass station is now maintained by the U. S. Coast Guard.

Elsie Ealer Bumstead Adamson was born in Fletcher, Hardin County, Texas, on April 13, 1903. She lived for most of her youthful years in Warren, Tyler County, Texas, with her parents, Henry Bumstead and Nancy Ealer Parker Bumstead. Elsie Bumstead and Carlton Adamson were married on October 12, 1928.

Two daughters, Jo Evelyn and Elsie Juanita, were born in old Sabine, Texas. A third daughter, Nancy Truman, was born in Sabine Pass, Texas, where the family lived until 1936. Carlton Adamson secured employment with Sun Oil Company and worked with a seismographic crew. The nature of his job required that the family move about quite often. Beaumont, Orange and Liberty were the locations of some of their short-term residences. In 1937, when Carlton began working at the Sun Company Station at Smith's Bluff (Nederland), the Adamson family made Nederland their permanent home thereafter.

Our home life was a happy one. Most of the family's activities centered around our church. Mr. Adamson served as a deacon of First Baptist Church for many years. He was chairman of the Board of Deacons from 1947 until his death December 1, 1958. Mrs. Adamson devoted her life to working with the youth of the church through Sunday School and Girl' Auxiliaries. Their home was always open to youth fellowships, such as taffy pulls and slumber parties.

After Carlton's death in 1958, Elsie worked in the material department of McLemore's Store on Boston Avenue for many years, while still maintaining her home on Fifteenth Street. Elsie retired in 1967, enjoying her family until her death on June 17, 1969.

The oldest daughter, Jo Evelyn, and her husband, Judson W. Phillips, live in Nederland. Judson is a retiree of Texaco, where he worked for 38 years. Jo Evelyn was employed by Nederland Independent School District, where she taught school for 25 years. Jo Evelyn and Judson Phillips have two daughters, Donna Rea Phillips Sanders and Beverly Diane Phillips Edmundson.

Juanita is currently employed as a teacher's aide at Highland Park Elementary School for the Nederland School District. Her husband, Otis Hilton Brown, is retired from Nederland Independent School District. Juanita and Otis have one son, William Henry Brown.

Nancy lives in Zavalla, Texas, with her husband, Billy Wayne Haight. She has three children, Pattilyn Thea Scott Perkins, James Kenneth Scott, and Joe David Scott.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Velma Weatherly and Mrs. Marlis Weatherly

Southwest Louisiana was the starting point for the early-day Nederland family of Clayton Henry and Thelma Lee Bartels. Clayton Bartels' parents were both born in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana. His mother, Chloe Anna Collins, was born on May 5, 1873, and died at the age of 24 on November 5, 1897. Hope Mill, Louisiana, was the place of her birth and death. His father, Elijah Earnest Bartels, was born on May 14, 1869. The Bartels ancestry in Vermilion Parish goes back to George F. Bartels and Catherine Ann Brickwadem of Amsterdam, Holland, who emigrated first to Columbus, Ohio, and then to Vermilion Parish in 1842, where they founded the Hope Mill Plantation. Following the death of his first wife, Chloe Anna, Elijah Bartels married Rosa Becker in 1899.

Elijah and Rosa moved their family to Nederland in 1918, where he helped to build the town's first Catholic Church at Chicago and Ninth Streets in 1923. (That church was organized and met on the second floor of the McNeill building in 1922-1923.) After the building of the first brick church at South 27th and Nederland Avenue in 1939, the old wooden church was moved to 2600 Avenue A and became the Catholic school. Elijah Bartels worked as an engineer for Sun Oil Company. He died on April 10, 1946, and was buried in Port Arthur. Many Nederland oldtimers may still recall when members of the Bartels family operated the Bartels Bakery at Chicago and Twin City Highway during the 1920s-1930s, and the smell of freshly-baked Bartels bread permeated the area around the Nederland Pharmacy and depot.

Thelma Bartels' mother, Anna Elizabeth Lee, was born in Henry, Louisiana, on June 7, 1879, and died on December 29, 1954. She was buried in Beaumont at Magnolia Cemetery. She and her husband had ten children, the youngest of those being the twins, Roland "Buster" Lee and Ruby "Honey" Lee, both born in Nederland.

Oliver Lee, the father of Thelma Bartels, was born on April 3, 1874, in Henry, Louisiana, where he worked first as a rice farmer and later as a barber so that he could move his family into town. The Lee parentage of Henry, Louisiana, goes back to James Frederick Lee and Jane Poole of Staffordshire, England, who were married in the Wolverhampton Old Church and who crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the sail ship "Josiah Bradley," before settling at Henry, Vermilion Parish, in 1847. The Lee ancestry in England goes back to Reginald de la Lee, a Norman of Normandy, France, who settled in Shropshire, England, in 1195 A. D. Oliver Lee, known as "Ollie," moved his family to Nederland in 1909. After Pure Oil Company (Unocal) refinery was built in 1923, he went to work there, remaining until he retired. He served as Nederland's first city marshal from the time the town incorporated in 1940 until about 1950. He died on November 21, 1951, and is buried in Beaumont at Magnolia Cemetery.

Clayton Bartels was born in Hope Mill, Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, on July 7, 1893, and moved to Nederland alone in 1914 as a very young man of 21. His first employment was with the Texas Pipe Line Company. He later joined the United States Army, serving as a cook and also as a French interpreter during World War I. Thelma Lee was born in Abbeville, Louisiana, on September 20, 1903, and moved with her family to Nederland in 1909 when she was six years old. At the age of seventeen, she met Clayton Bartels who was already 27 years old. They married at the court house in Beaumont on September 29, 1920, with Ollie Lee and Everett "Buck" Gardner as witnesses. It was such a special event in Clayton Bartels' life that he left and forgot his hat at the court house.

Around the time of his marriage, Clayton began working for the Texas Company (Texaco) asphalt plant in Port Neches, a job he held until his retirement at age 65. In his spare time and for ten years after his retirement, he continued to work cattle for Cornelus Doornbos. One of the family stories relates how Clayton, at age 75, socked a bull between the eyes with his fist so that it would stay still, probably for branding.

Concerning his civic activities which helped build a better Nederland, Clayton Bartels was a longtime member of Nederland's volunteer fire department. He served on the Nederland city council for eight years, and a large photograph of him and other members of the city council, taken in April, 1949, appears adjacent to page 33, of Volume III, of "The Chronicles of The Early Families of Nederland, Texas," now in Nederland's Henson Library.

A recent article in the "Midcounty Chronicle" reported on Clayton Bartels' luck as a betting man in the November general election of 1932. Although he actually voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt in the presidential election, Clayton made a bet with Judge R. L. McElvain that the Democratic candidate would lose to Herbert Hoover. The loser of the bet would give the winner a ride in a wheelbarrow from the post office in Port Neches to the post office in Nederland. The trip took 45 minutes on a Saturday afternoon, with the judge riding with ease on a pillow and Clayton Bartels pushing that wheelbarrow with all of his might.

In addition to the various jobs he held and his fun with the lost bet, Clayton and Thelma Bartels were the parents of four children, namely: Ethel Chloe, Velma Ray, and twin sons, Donald Elijah and Darold Ollie. Although the children grew up during the era of the Great Depression and World War II, the family nevertheless enjoyed many happy times and shared a lot of love with each other. Friends and relatives frequently gathered at the Bartels home for parties, dances, meals, and card games. A regular Sunday afternoon activity for the kids was baking pies -- a way to pass the time together, as well as of making a very special dessert for meals. The children developed a strong sense of family support, discipline, and responsibility -- with total thanks to the tender love, care, and discipline showered upon them by Thelma and Clayton Bartels.

Clayton Bartels predeceased his wife Thelma on August 17, 1979, at the advanced age of 86. Thelma Bartels passed away on February 17, 1984, at the age of 80. They are fondly recalled and sorely missed by their children, grandchildren, and a host of friends, whose lives they touched and who still live in the Mid-Jefferson County area.

Ethel Chloe Bartels was born on November 9, 1923, and died on November 12, 1987. She was married to Paul Ezia Williamson for 45 years. Their son Paul Wayne was born in 1945 and lives in Nederland with his wife, the former Jan Badger of Port Arthur, and two children, Chad Wayne and Jamie Lee Williamson.

Velma Ray Bartels was born on September 26, 1927, and worked variously for the Rio Theater and Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. She married Wesley Augustus Weatherly, and they enjoyed a marriage of 34 years before he passed away in 1980. They were the parents of two sons, Wesley Clay, born in 1951, and Kirk Lee, born in 1955. Wesley Clay married the former Marlis Land of Austin, and they live in Port Neches with their children, Wesley Clint and Darla Eve. Kirk married the former Kelly Mangum of Nederland. They reside in Nederland, and are the parents of two sons, Jim Wesley and Ethan Lee.

Darold Ollie and Donald Elijah Bartels were born on July 16, 1931, and they served in the U. S. Navy together during the Korean War. Darold worked for the Pennzoil Company in Houston for 31 years before retiring and moving back to Nederland in 1989. He died on April 20, 1991.

Donald Bartels married the former Patsy Carnahan of Port Neches on May 31, 1958. Donald worked for Union Oil of California refinery in Nederland for 28 years until his retiremnt in 1988. Patsy retired in 1990 as a teacher with 31 years of service in the Port Neches School District. Their two sons, Bryan David and Darren Hugh, have careers that have taken them many miles away from Southeast Texas. Darren attends college and works in Provo, Utah. Bryan, a graduate of Texas A and M University, has been in the United States Air Force since 1982 and has served in such faraway places as Okinawa, the Philippines, Greece, and Saudi Arabia.

The descendants of Clayton Henry Bartels and Thelma Lee Bartels are immensely proud of both their parentage and their connection with the early years of the growth, progress and development of Nederland. They likewise believe that the story of their ancestors should be perpetuated - a story of the hardships and hard labor they endured, as well as their coal oil lamp, wood stove, and horse and buggy existence, in order that their children and grandchildren might enjoy a better standard of living.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T.Block

Robert Bodemuller, Sr. was born at Crowley, Louisiana, on December 9, 1889, the son of Herman Karl Henry Bodemuller and Lillie Mary Castain. Herman Bodemuller (b. January 12, 1865-d. May 12, 1937) was baptized in the Catholic faith, but married a French Methodist, for whose sake he attended, but never belonged, to the Methodist Church. He learned the printing trade from W. W. Duson, a well-known, Southwest Louisiana figure, who published the Crowley, Louisiana, "Signal." Later Herman Bodemuller began his own business, known as "Bodemuller the Printer," in Opelousas, Louisiana, and published the Opelousas "Clarion." Herman's father, Karl Herman Bodemuller (b. Baden, Germany, ca. 1830-d. September 11, 1873) and mother, Helena A. Hils (b. Alsace-Lorraine, Ca. 1837-d. February 17, 1867) were married in Germany in 1852 before emigrating to Opelousas. Robert Bodemuller, Sr.'s maternal grandparents were Joseph A. Castain (b. March 24, 1834-d. October 21, 1881) and Emily Jane Bell (b. May 6, 1833-d. October 21, 1881), also of Opelousas.

Robert Bodemuller, Sr. graduated from high school and completed two years of college in Baton Rouge. All of his life he was an avid hunter and an expert marksman. When World War I broke out, he was working on a rice plantation as a chief or master mechanic. Later when he worked in the sulphur mines in Sulphur, Louisiana, Robert Bodemuller worked once more as a mechanic, and lived in a two-story house with a black family living on the lower floor. A black nanny, known as "Aunt Mary," cooked, washed, cleaned house, and took care of the Bodemuller children.

On October 10, 1910, Robert Bodemuller, Sr. married Hilda Evans (b. Plaisance, La., June 17, 1892-d. Nederland, January 19, 1982), the daughter of John S. Evans (b. Ky., November 18, 1861-d. September 10, 1928) and Mary Pamela Dejean (b. August, 1866-d. December 6, 1926). Hilda Bodemuller's paternal grandparents were William S. Evans (b. Ky., 1832-d. August 31, 1895) and Astie Burella Haynes (b. Ky., May 26, 1838-d. August 19, 1919), and her maternal grandparents were William DeJean (b. 1832) and Mary Penelope Lumpkin (b. April 18, 1846-d. January 11, 1872).

Robert and Hilda Bodemuller were the parents of three sons and one daughter, as follows: John Evans Bodemuller (b. October 24, 1911); Robert Bodemuller, Jr. (b. March 4, 1914); Rudolph Bodemuller (b. July 28, 1917); and Lois Bodemuller (b. December 7, 1919).

In 1922, Robert Bodemuller, Sr. moved his family to Port Arthur, Texas, and went to work for Texaco as a master mechanic. In 1923, he built his new home, which cost $3,600, on Sycamore Street (now South 15th) in Nederland, which is still standing. On June 21, 1932, he was issued patent No. 1, 864, 402 (filed on July 18, 1930) for an invention described as being an "automatic liquid level regulator." In 1935 Robert Bodemuller, Sr. was transferred to the Texas Pipe Line Company so that he could maintain and install engines, pumps, turbines, etc., along the pipe line's pumping stations. While working in Vinton, Louisiana, he developed prostate problems that were to plague him for a long time. He died on April 1, 1944, and is buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont.

All four of the Bodemuller children graduated from Nederland High School between 1929 and 1937. Robert "Boots" Bodemuller, Jr., married Alice Ruth Nagel, the daughter of Jacob and Myrtle Nagel, and granddaughter of James and Alice Burnfin, pioneer Nederland settlers and Nederland's first section foreman. They are parents of one daughter, Susan, who is married to Dr. Kim McMorries of Nacogdoches, Texas, and grandparents of Kyle, Ryan and Anne Elyse McMorries. Always a very civic-minded person, "Boots" Bodemuller served four years on the Nederland city council during the 1950s. He also served on the boards of the Senior Citizen Center, United Way, Project Care, and after his retirement, he was voted "Man of the Year" by the Business and Professional Women's Club. He also served as chairman of the Building Committee of First United Methodist Church. "Boots" Bodemuller is retired from Texaco and resides at 1412 Avenue D in Nederland.

John Evans Bodemuller married (1) Helena Doornbos, by whom he has two daughters, Marie and Cornelia, and (2) Melba Savigne of Cuba, by whom he became the father of his youngest daughter Grace. John is also retired from Texaco and resides at 7ll South Eighteenth Street in Nederland.

Rudolph Bodemuller married Frances Ross, and they became the parents of three children, Mary Frances, James, and Robert Bodemuller. Rudolph is retired and resides in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Lois Bodemuller married Dr. William Hixon, and they are the parents of two children, Jessie and David Hixon. They reside in San Angelo, Texas.

Robert and Hilda Bodemuller were Methodists. In addition to their four children, they were grandparents to nine and great grandparents to seven. They are still fondly recalled and sorely missed by their descendants and a whole host of friends whose lives they touched.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T.Block

The history of the James (Jim) Burnfin family as noted here reflects very much the fallacy of allowing all the members of a given family to die without any attempt being made to record that family's history. Hence, what knowledge of the Burnfin family survives is indeed meager, but it is deemed better to preserve even that than to allow a blank space in "The Chronicles of the Early Families of Nederland, Texas" for a family who arrived so early and played such an important role in the early affairs of this community.

Jim and Alice Burnfin moved their family of six children to Nederland from Humboldt, Nebraska, in 1902, making them one of the earliest native-born families to arrive in the Dutch colony. Jim Burnfin was the first Kansas City Southern Railroad section (track maintenance) foreman assigned to Nederland, and the family soon moved into one of the two railroad "section houses" that once stood in the 400 block of Twin City Highway.

Almost nothing is known of James Burnfin's early life except that he was born in Barbourville, Knox County, Kentucky on October 6, 1863. His grandfather, Thomas Burnfin, who was the father of the Burnfin clan in this country, arrived in New York City on June 15, 1811, aboard an immigrant ship from Londonderry, Donegal County, Ireland, when he was about 17 years old. It is assumed that Jim received whatever common school education that was available to him because the 1910 Nederland census records reveal that he was able to read and write. And surely, a certain amount of educational ability would have been required of him in the performance of his duties since he had to keep time for his crew of ten or twelve maintenance-of-way employees, who were commonly called "gandy dancers" during that early part of the twentieth century.

The 1870s-1880s was the great age of American railroad building, and Mr. Burnfin was soon caught up in that endeavor. Strangely, the states listed as the birthplace of each child are about the only record left as to where the Burnfin family was residing prior to 1902, while the father was engaged in either building railroads or track maintenance.

James Burnfin met his future bride, Alice Gouge, in Elston, Missouri. Alice Burnfin was born in Elston, near Jefferson City, on February 21, 1865, and she and Mr. Burnfin were married in Elston on March 28, 1886. The first Burnfin offspring was still-born. The family was living in Missouri in 1888, when daughter Bertha was born; in Colorado in 1890, when son Lloyd was born; in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, in 1892, when daughter Myrtle was born; in Kansas in 1894, when daughter Mae was born; and in Humboldt, Nebraska, in 1899 when daughter Alta was born. A daughter Ruth was born in 1896, but she died in Nederland in 1906 at the age of ten.

Whether Mr. Burnfin was engaged in railroad building all of those years or in track maintenance for a different railroad is likewise unclear. However, it does appear that Mr. Burnfin did not join Kansas City Southern until about the time he was sent to Nederland during the summer of 1902. (Ed.'s Note: Here is the logic for that conclusion. The K. C. S. Railroad owns no trackage in Nebraska, Kansas, or Colorado, all of its tracks being laid in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. In 1893, that railroad had built only its Missouri trackage to the Arkansas border at the time the company ran out of money and had to await the arrival of a $10,000,000 loan from Holland. The remaining trackage was built between 1895 and 1897. The Beaumont-to-Port Arthur tracks were built in 1895, but through travel had to await the bridging of the Neches and Sabine Rivers in 1897. Only the Missouri Pacific line runs through Plattsmouth, Nebraska, and only the Cheyenne, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad runs through Humboldt, Nebraska.)

Upon arrival in Nederland, Mr. Burnfin "had charge of the hand-car crew operating from the Nederland station to the station at Spindletop." Pictures of the Burnfin family living at the section house and of Mr. Burnfin and his "gandy dancers" on the handcar at Spindletop depot may be seen on pages 34-35 of the booklet "Nederland Diamond Jubilee."

The Beaumont "Journal" of March 4, 1906, noted the arrival of James Gardette Burnfin, the last family member and the only one born in Nederland, into the Burnfin household in 1906, the same year that ten-year-old daughter Ruth died in Nederland.

In the 1910 Nederland census, Jim Burnfin was listed as Nederland's railroad section foreman. The 1918 Nederland city directory listed Burnfin again as "section foreman, T. and Ft. S. Ry." (ie: Texas and Fort Smith Railway division of the Kansas City Southern). The 1938 Nederland city directory, however, listed Jim Burnfin as a railroad flagman, residing at 615 Williams Street in Nederland (now 316 Fourteenth, in back of what is now Rienstra Furniture). Already in the 75th year of his life, with 36 years (minimum) in the service of Kansas City Southern, Burnfin had apparently given up the much more strenuous duties of section foreman for that of a flagman.

The oldest child, Bertha Burnfin, married Pete Dawson, and they lived in Nederland for many years at the intersection of Boston and Fourteenth Streets. At one time, Dawson was a pumper at the old Texaco pump station and tank farm at Twin City and Highway 365. They had no children.

Lloyd Burnfin (1890-1926) married Ethel Connell, and they became the parents of three children, namely, James, a druggist; John Burnfin, and Mary Alice (Taylor). Lloyd Burnfin died very young when he was only age 36.

Myrtle Burnfin (1892-1987) married Jacob Nagel, and they became the parents of three children, namely, James Nagel; Homer Nagel, a longtime Nederland councilman and mayor; and Alice Ruth (Bodemuller). They resided variously in Beaumont and Nederland.

Mae Burnfin (1894-1983) married J. Earnest Williamson, and they lived out their lives at 704 Fifteenth Street, where their old home still stands. They were the parents of four children, namely, Bobbie (Griffin), Betty (Wyble), Joe, and Jimmie Lou (Weeren).

Alta Burnfin (1899-1990) married Charles Humphries, and they resided in Baytown, Texas. They also had no children. The youngest son, James Gardette "Chip" Burnfin (1906-1985), married Mary Lou Tyer, and they became the parents of three children, including two daughters, namely, Betty and Barbara (the latter deceased in childhood), and one son, Michael Burnfin (also deceased). After his retirement from Neches Butane Products Company, now Texaco Chemical, "Chip" is affectionately remembered as the school crossing guard at Highland Park Elementary School, who took special care of his little charges.

Three of the Burnfin daughters lived to remarkably old ages. Myrtle Nagel lived to be the oldest at age 95 when she died in 1987. Alta Humphries lived to age 91 and was the last family member to pass away in 1990. Mae Williamson live to 89 prior to her death in 1983. Gardette died in 1985 at age 79 after suffering a long illness.

James, Sr. and Alice Burnfin lived out their lives in Nederland, the tiny Dutch colony that they adopted as their own in 1902. Alice died first, at age 84 on November 6, 1948. Her widowed husband survived his wife by about five years, dying on September 6, 1953 at the age of ninety, and both are buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont. They are still fondly recalled and sorely missed by a number of their grandchildren and a host of friends who still live in the Nederland vicinity.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Eileen Newman

Marvin Dewitt "Dee" Chester was born in Grannis, Arkansas, on May 8, 1893, to J. H. and Mary Johnson Chester. They were the parents of nine children, six boys and three girls. "Dee's" first experience with "book learning" was under a brush roof. Whenever it rained, school was continued in a nearby barn. His first education in a school house occurred when a private school teacher built a log school house on Rock Creek.

His family migrated from Arkansas to Oklahoma, then known as the Indian Territory, when he was eight years old. They traveled in two covered wagons, driving from fifteen to twenty cattle along the trail with them. His mother passed away in 1905 from measles, and his father died of a heart attack in 1907, leaving him an orphan at the age of fourteen.

In his early youth, 'Dee' Chester met a man named W. A. James, that helped him mould that peculiar character that placed him in good stead throughout his turbulent years. He drove livery stable rigs and hauled passengers and freight over the dirt roads of Oklahoma. The Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Cherokee Indians were his customers. They were the best customers of the livery stable, because in some areas they were the only people with money. As luck would have it, some of the nation's richest oil fields were discovered on the Indian lands all over Oklahoma between 1906 and 1910, and tales of wealthy, pig-tailed, barefoot Indians being chauffeured about in Cadillacs became plentiful.

'Dee' Chester's education came from his work in the early days. One of his customers was Crockett Lee, United States Marshal for the District of Eastern Oklahoma. 'Dee' drove him through the hills of eastern Oklahoma on dirt roads and through canyons for a month at a time, sleeping out in the open under the stars. Lots of great conversation came from his association with Lee. Another man who figured significantly in his youthful days was Judge L. M. Crump, a well-known criminal lawyer, who aided 'Dee' Chester immensely by helping to mould his determined character. Chester found Crump to be an entertaining person as well, a man who knew the world and its people, and Crump's talks were to become another educational influence on the young man.

One of the oil booms drew Dee Chester to Cushing, Oklahoma, an oil town on the Cimarron between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, where he joined the Petroleum Iron Works. In 1915, he came to Port Arthur, Texas, to work on the Kansas City Southern docks as a material expediter for imported steel being rushed to all points in the United States. With the aid of friends, Dee traveled to Orange, Texas, where he met, courted, and married Ioma Enola Butchee, daughter of Jim and Josie Butchee, who is a descendant of Absalom Jett, a Texas veteran with a Texas State historical marker mounted on his grave. As a 12-year-old boy, Jett arrived in present-day Orange County, then a part of the Mexican province of Texas-Coahuila, in 1824. In 1836, Jett joined Captain B. J. Harper's company of volunteers at Beaumont and served a ninety-day enlistment in the Texas army, helping to escort General Santa Ana's Mexican armies back to the Rio Grande River.

Dee Chester often said that the best thing he ever did was to marry the girl from Orange. They moved to Nederland, Texas, in 1923 and established their home at the intersection of Twin City Highway and Helena Avenue, across from the Kansas City Southern railroad. Moving to Nederland was a good choice for the family, he often said, because Nederland had the potential to become a good city to raise a family in.

Dee and Ioma Chester were the parents of four children, as follows: three daughters, Eileen Enola Chester Newman and Muriel Dee Chester, both of Nederland, and Evelyn Marie Chester Thompson of Lake Charles; and one son, James Dewitt Chester of Nederland.

Marvin Dewitt 'Dee' Chester devoted seven years of his life, four as mayor and three as city councilman, toward bringing better city government to Nederland, Texas. A photograph of Mayor Chester and his city council appears adjacent to page 43, of Volume III, of "The Chronicles of The Early Families of Nederland, Texas," which is in the Henson Public Library. During those four years, he helped develop an extensive program for physical expansion and civic improvement, which was carried out as planned. During those years around 1950, his program included installation of two-way, radio-equipped patrol cars and the concrete paving of Boston Avenue from Ninth to Seventeenth Streets, which, along with Nederland Avenue, has become Nederland's most important thoroughfare.

Dee Chester was never one to claim that his was a great success story. He only said that he merely tried to earn his own way and pay at whatever he was doing, and to make every effort to do it right. He also said that the world may not owe any man a living, but it does owe him an education, and that a man could get it just as he did - the hard way. Being an expert in the steel construction of oil tanks, the craft he learned at the Petroleum Iron Works, in the oil refining areas of Texas, Oklahoma, and other southern states, he earned the reputation of a civil engineer, who trained many engineering students from Texas A and M University. When James Dewitt Chester graduated from Baylor University, he joined his father in the D. Chester and Company construction business, that has long served Sun Oil Company and southeast Texas.

Dee and Ioma Chester raised their family of four during some of the most turbulent history in America, the Great Depression, when one was lucky to have any kind of work at all, and World War II, when 10,000 outsiders moved into Midcounty to help build the rubber plants.

Everyone knew Marvin Dewitt Chester only as "Dee." He loved his family, but he also loved his City of Nederland, taking great pride in knowing that in some little ways he had helped out in that city's improvement.

Dee Chester died on January 25, 1954 at the age of sixty-two years. His wife Ioma died on March 3, 1990, at the age of eighty-nine years. They are both buried in Oak Bluff Memorial Cemetery in Port Neches, Texas. They are fondly recalled and sorely missed by their children, grandchildren, and a large host of friends whose lived they touched.

The Dee Chester family was genuinely proud to have contributed and been a part of the growing city of Nederland, Texas. In retrospect, the city of Nederland can consider itself as fortunate to have had this man and his family as a part of its growing future and past heritage.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Anna Antje Koelemay (Mrs. A. B.) Cooley

(This heart-warming story is the autobiography of a first-generation American as she struggled to combine the Dutch culture of her parents with that of her childhood peers. Although much of the story occurs in Holland, Beaumont, Winnie, and Devers, a great deal of it occurs in Nederland, where Klaas Koelemay served variously as dairyman, grain merchant, postmaster, postal clerk, & the first city manager of Nederland. The editor knew and worked in the post office with Klaas Koelemay for many years, and knew him to be a fine, devout Christian gentleman.--W. T. Block)

I was born in Bolsward (Friesland) Holland on the 10th of June, 1905. My mother was Neelkje Rienstra K. and my father was Klaas Koelemay. They were in Holland for an extended trip, and to make up their minds about their future. Would they remain in Holland, or return to America. They had met and married in Texas, U. S. A (met in Nederland-married in Beaumont).

The Koelemay family in 1897 lived (in Hoogkarspel) near Enkhuizen, Holland. My grandmother was Antje DeJong, who was born on January, 10, 1852 in Andyk, Holland. She was the daughter of Jan. DeJong born in 1818 and died in 1878, and her mother was Klaasje Koorman, 1826-1887. Their home was in Andyk, Holland. She married Maarten Koelemay (Koelemaij), who was born on October 2, 1847, in Berkhout, Holland. He was the son of Pieter Koelemay and Diewertje Waterman of Berkhout, Holland. Maarten and Antje were married April 8, 1872. They had eight children, all born at Hoogkarspel, Holland. There names were Pieter, Jan, Tryntje, Diewertje, Klaasje, Klaas, Maarten, and Laurens.

In the fall of 1897, the family was and had been engaged in the dairying business and also cheese making. Their home was some distance from the herd and pastures. It was necessary to travel by boat down the canals, and in winter it was quite a problem. The family had to work hard and long hour, and it was a happy family. Most were musically inclined and so the family nights share many hours of music and singing. The boys and girls belonged to choirs and school and town choral groups. Musical perfection was their goal, and several members belonged to a group that went all over Holland and won the highest award for harmony and knowing the many parts from memory. Among them was my father, Klaas Koelemay. He could never get over how carelessly and quickly our choir members and directors assumed that we knew a song well enough to present it as a special. His remark, partly as a joke, and mostly in criticism, was "I guess you can call it 'making a joyful noise unto the Lord.'" The older children had the equivalent of about a fifty or sixth grade education. However, one could not sell them short. Their mathematics was drilled in and drilled in until the way they could handle figures in their heads - without a pencil or paper - fooled many better educated people later in life. The understanding of their national mother tongue (Dutch), in view of the fact that every small province had a dialect of its own, also was very astute.

The family decided to send one of the younger sons to the next higher school as they were teaching English there, and the movement toward America was already stirring in many of these Dutch people's minds. Their intent, I am sure, was to send the three younger sons, but time did not permit. So Klaas, my father, was chosen to go to college as he was sixteen years old by then and had made good grades in his earlier schooling. As he learned the English language, he could teach it to others at home.

About the same time, Piet, the oldest son, came home with exciting stories about America. Men were talking in all the public places of the promising lands in Texas. He brought pictures of lush, green pasture lands, orange groves, banana trees, and fig orchards. They were being shown by the Port Arthur Land Company, begging for immigrants to come and go into the dairying and rice industries. Apparently the pictures were made in Florida, for no such pastures or orchards existed in the Port Arthur area at that time. The steamship companies were offering cut-rate fares for those signing up to come.

Due to the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War, the economy of the Netherlands was at a very low level; also, there was a compulsory military law facing all the boys. For those reasons, the family met and had many discussions about leaving for America. Grandmother Koelemay and all the boys and girls wanted to come, but Grandfather was hesitant about it. (Editor's Note: This reference to the Franco-Prussian War has cropped up in other histories about Dutch immigration to Nederland. However, the editor must question that as a cause. The Franco-Prussian War was fought between France and Prussia, the forerunner of Germany, in 1870-1871, or twenty-six years before the first Dutch immigrant set foot in Nederland. Holland was not involved in the war except perhaps from some financial or money-lending standpoint. The long history of The Netherlands in Encyclopaedia Britanicca does not mention that cause as plaguing Holland's economy during the 1870s-1890s, but does mention that Dutch agriculture was in financial straits as early as 1885. It seems more plausible that the severe depression of 1893-1894 in Western Europe and America would have been the catalyst for the large Dutch migration to Michigan, Iowa, and South Africa during the middle 1890s. Note the editor only said he questions the war as a cause. Note too that the availability of large-scale land acreage for sale had not existed in Holland for centuries, whereas it did in Texas, and surely had to have been the primary catalyst--W. T. Block)

They sold out their farm, and gathering their clothing and a few cherished heirlooms, the family decided to come as a unit. It was a giant step for a family of ten to start to Texas. Uncle Piet was so enthused that he gathered apple tree cuttings, berry cuttings, gooseberry plants, and also had the family bring their cheese molds, as he felt sure they could make Edam cheeses.

The family left from Europe in the dead of winter. The crossing was very stormy. Traveling at cheapest (steerage) rates, they were in the fourth class quarters, with people from Poland, Russia, Germany, Italy, and France, and confined in close quarters for several weeks. It was a horrible experience. Many years later, the family still got sick at their stomachs as the recalled the incidents with all the seasick, homesick, unwashed bodies.

I do not know the exact date of their arrival in Galveston, but do know that they landed in Nederland on March 1st, 1898, on my father's birthday. The weather was bitterly cold for a fresh 'blue norther' had blown in that day. They came by K. C. S. Railroad to the flag station at Nederland. They found a muddy street laid out on the proposed townsite. There were a few houses, a hotel, a blacksmith shop, a store, and a hardware store, a couple of saloons, and acres and acres of unfenced, unimproved lands. Aunt Myre'a folks - the J. B. Cooke family - also came to Nederland in 1898. (Ed.'s Note: The Koelemay exit permit, signed by the burgomaster of Hoogkarspel, is dated February 4, 1898, which meant they had to board ship immediately to make the three week voyage to Galveston. Also Dieuwertje Koelemay's (Block's) wooden steamer trunk was hand-painted "From Antwerp to Nederland, Texas," which meant they boarded ship in Antwerp, Belgium. The writer has tediously studied the marine columns of Galveston "Daily News" for all of February and March of 1898, only to learn that the only ship the Koelemays could have sailed on was the German liner Lauenberg of the Diederickson Line, which sailed from Bremen on February 1, Antwerp on February 7, arriving in Galveston on March 1st. So Klaas Koelemay actually arrived in Galveston on his birthday. They would then have caught the Galveston and Interstate to Beaumont, changed to the Kansas City Southern Railroad and arrived in Nederland possibly on March 2nd. The winter of 1899 was even worse. Temperatures dropped to 4 degrees F. in Beaumont on Feb. 14, 1899. Sabine Lake froze over, and many of Nederland's Dutch settlers took their ice skates on the train to Sabine Pass, where they ice-skated on the lake.-W. T. Block)

The house which had been thrown up for the Koelemays was referred to those days as a "shotgun house. There were four or five rooms built in a straight line, one behind the other, built with 1x12 upright boxing, with 1x4 lumber, called "battens," used to cover the cracks in between. The older boys hired out to the rice farmers or worked on the railroad for from fifty cents to one dollar for a 12-hour work day. The girls went to work in Beaumont as nannies, nursemaids, and household servants of the wealthy lumber families of Beaumont at three dollars a week. All the money earned was turned over to Grandmother Koelemay. As needs arose, they took turns at getting a new pair of shoes, or a dress. All the rest was pooled to buy a few acres of land.

On February 2, 1899 (date in error), a blizzard hit the Texas coast. Cattle died by the thousands, the Neches River and Sabine Lake froze over solid. Grandfather Koelemay had ridden a horse to town to get supplies, and had left while it was warm. By the time he returned home, the weather temperature had dropped dramatically, and his heavy beard had frozen on his face.

Early that spring or summer, a tornado moved the house across a fence on some land next to them. It must have been their land, as that spot later became the site of the original two story Koelemay house. A picture of that home has been presented to the Dutch Windmill Museum in Nederland. (See photo of that house, also Koelemay family pictures, adjacent to page 16, of Volume I, of "The Chronicles of The Early Families of Nederland, Texas").

A hotel (Orange Hotel at Boston and 13th) was built in the fall of 1897 by the Port Arthur Land Company, and it was soon to shelter all the immigrants who were coming into Nederland by that time. It was a three story hotel with thirty-five rooms. It was called the Orange Hotel, in honor of the royal House of Orange of Holland's Queen Wilhelmina, who was to be crowned in September, 1898. The building was painted a bright orange. The hotel was first operated by a Mr. (A. J.) Ellings, but only for a short time.

In (Nov.) 1897, a Mr. and Mrs. D. Ballast came from Holland with their daughter, Johanna, and son, Dierk; also some members of the Van Heinigen family arrived. There were fifty-one Dutch immigrants who sailed from Belgium at that time on "The Elena" (error-the Diedericksen liner "Olinda") Mr. Ballast was a builder and wood-carver (furniture builder), so he built some of the first houses and worked on the K. C. S. depot. This family also took over management of the Orange Hotel for a time.

During the year 1898 a great celebration was put on by the Port Arthur Land Company for the coronation of Queen Wilhelmina. The hotel was the scene of the gala affair, with dancing and many Dutchmen tasting their first ice cream. They had barrels of Dutch beer sent from Holland, and a park and trees were named in honor of the queen. Johanna Ballast and family and the other Dutch people shared in this affair. (See Port Arthur Herald microfilm, September 8, 1898, at Port Arthur Public Library, for this full-page account of activities and the Koelemay family members first mention in print in Texas. They won several prizes and sang in Dutch to the crowd. Piet Koelemay was a member of the planning committee of the event.)

The hotel was also proud of a library of over 1,000 books, some of which are still in the possession of some of the older family units.

Mosquitoes proved to be a great problem for all the early residents. They were very bad as drainage was bad and the many river swamplands and low lands around Port Acres were breeding places. There was quite a bit of malaria among the early settlers. This land of summer and flowers proved to be a testing ground! The freezes, the mosquitoes, the sticky black gumbo soil, and the lack of dairy cattle surely tried their mettle.

Then the gulf storm of 1900 hit the area. Papa recalled that they spent four days in the Orange Hotel, having to board up all the doors and windows, and the country was afloat. This was the same devastating storm that hit Galveston directly. Many people (6,000 drowned at Galveston) died in that storm, and horrible tales were told of the looting that took place after the storm. People were accused of cutting off fingers to get diamond rings, and the houses that were left standing were robbed of everything left in them. Many stranded victims were found on housetops and (tied) in trees. (Sabine area residents learned early to tie their children to stout branches of live oak trees at Sabine Pass when the water rose.)

Apparently the Ballast family decided to try other (greener) pastures, as somewhere around that period they moved to Colorado. Johanna, who loved music, learned many of the old folk-songs of America and later taught them to her children, especially Marie Fleming who still remembers some of the words.

After the Ballasts left, the hotel was run by my father's family, the Koelemays. Grandmother was especially known for her pancakes and "Olie Koeken," a sort of fritter. The whole family worked very hard, but they also played here too. This was the meeting place for all the many settlers who by now were flocking into the area. Big dances were held here and many times the dancing lasted all night. Papa's sisters, Dieu and Clara, were wonderful dance partners and could waltz (or polka) for hours. It was at one of the dances that Dieu Koelemay met and latler was married to Will Block of Port Neches. Also another sister, Kate, was married to George Rienstra, the first settler of Nederland who named the town.

My father taught English, along with a young woman from Beaumont, helping all the immigrants who were applying for citizenship papers. This was no easy task.

In rummaging through my father's papers after his death, I ran across a small ledger in which he kept the accounts of the roomers at the hotel. The meals were 25 cents each, and they kept a boarder for $15.50 per month, and also would do the laundry. In this ledger were many of the names of the early settlers whom we came to know and visit with in later years. They also kept accounts of all the items bought and these proved to be very interesting. Nederland must have had a doctor or two by this time, for I found entries of money paid to a Dr. Simmons (error-should be Sammons) and a Dr. Richards. Another item of interest was a sum of $17.000 paid for trees for an orchard on the land they were paying out. It was for $17.00, which was quite a big sum for those days.

Along about that time, my grandfather began to buy some cows. Also, in 1899 Uncle John Koelemay returned to Holland to marry his sweetheart, Jeltje Stelling.

The cows grandfather bought were longhorns and wouldn't give over two quarts of milk per day. The poor old fellow spent half the time climbing a fence or up on the barn to get out of the way of the wild cattle's paths. It was hard on him, as he had used to the fine pure-bred Holstein cows of Holland that had all been very heavy milkers.

In 1903, my mother, then living in Holland, decided to come to the United States for a visit. This is where the crossing of the lines of the Koelemays and Rienstras started. Mama was coming to Texas with her brother, D. J. or Dan Rienstra and his wife, Johanna Ballast, earlier mentioned. Dan Rienstra had come to America in December, 1898, on the same boat (ie: the German liner Ellen Rickmers ) as a Westerterp family. He came to joi his older brother, George, who was already established here. In 1903 he and Johanna Ballast were married and made a trip to Holland, bringing Mama with them on the return trip.

I now need to turn back a few years and bring Uncle George (Rienstra) up to this date. In 1895 George (or Gatze Jan Rienstra) heard of America. He came to New York, went to Michigan for awhile - then spent one year in Iowa where he learned the blacksmith trade. In 1896 he heard of a small settlement of Dutch people at Alvin, Texas, so he came with wagon and team to Alvin, having to ford many streams. He stayed in Alvin a while, and then decided to go back to Holland for a visit, leaving his wagon and tools with a friend in Alvin. While in Holland, he was contacted by the Port Arthur Land Company and asked to come and settle on some of their land. The Port Arthur Land Company gave him a choice of 80 acres, paying $1.00 down for the first transaction - and three lots in the townsite where he later built a blacksmith shop. At first he looked over the land and chose a ridge near the vicinity of Wagner-Block (Ave. H at So. 12th) Road. Marking the site with his stove and a stake, he went to Port Arthur to buy lumber for his home. He paid $8.00 per acre for his land. Returning late inthe afternoon, the mosquitoes go so bad he spent the night in the prairie. The next morning he climbed upon the wagon and located the stove. Here he set about building a house.

Aunt Fannie (Feikje Rienstra), who was in Alvin then, decided to come and keep house for him, so she caught a train to Beaumont, Spent the night in a hotel, and next morning she caugh the K. C. S. train to Nederland, which was still a flag stop. There was no one to meet her (the depot had not been built yet), and she couldn't speak English, so she just started walking down the railroad track toward Port Arthur. She finally saw the little new house.

In March, 1900, Uncle George Rienstra married Kate (Tryntje) Koelemay, my father's sister. In 1903 my Uncle Dan had married Johanna Ballast, so as of thatg year, my mother, Neelkje Rienstra, had two brothers and a sister in America. When Uncle Dan and Johanna went to Holland on their honeymoon, the wanted my grandmother Rienstra to come to America also. She and a brother were already residing in the small town of Bolsward, and my mother felt she should come first and see what it was like. So Mama, Uncle Dan, and Aunt Jo came back in July, 1903.

The trip was very stormy and rough. The came on the Bremen, which was on her last sea voyage. The ship having suffered damages en route, they had to make port at Baltimore, Malryland. It was there that Uncle Dan bought some cantaloupes and gave the girls a knife and spoon. They cut several, but threw them overboard, for they figured they must have been rotten with those watery seed inside. They reached Galveston on July 31, 1903, and then Nederland, by that time with a depot, on August 1, 1903. Uncle George met the train with a light spring wagon. It was a sweltering and hot humid day. Mama had on heavy Dutch clothing, and she said she welcomed the sight of two one-hundred pound blocks of ice. She just sat down on it!

There was a period of readjustment for Mama. She was a very pretty, rather plump, and a very sunny dispositioned young woman 23 years old. She was a very dedicated Christian girl, and those trying pioneer days were quite a change. Mama's father died when she was about three years old, nearer four. After his death, her mother awoke to hear one of her children crying. Grandmother Rienstra had fourteen children, eleven of whom were living. Of course, the older ones had already gone out to work or were married, but she still had five or six at home. She did not discvover until the next morning that her next to the youngest child, Neelkje, could not walk. The polio epidemic had hit their area. Mama was badly crippled on her right side, especially her foot. It dangled loosely, and she used crutches until she was fifteen years old. It was good that she possessed her optimistic outlook, and so she laughinly called herself "Crip" - or its equivalent in Dutch. She attended school with the others, and slid along on the icy streets many times. She told of how on one occasion she was running a little late for church. Everyone in the churches there were so solemn. She had ice under her shoe and as she started down the center aisle, she started skidding and went right on down the aisle and ended up sitting right in front of the preacher. She said that was another one of those times when she tried not to laugh, but it got funnier and funnier and that day's sermon was lost!

When Mama was fifteen years of age, the local physician told them of a wonderful specialist from Germany. Grandmother had him come to Holland and operate on Mama's foot. For almost a year, the casts were changed, and finally the day came when she could walk. Oh, she had to have heavy hand-made shoes, high topped and built-up heel and instep - but how wonderful!

Mama must have been about sixten years old or so when Uncle George Rienstra first left for America. Then her sister, Aunt Fannie, came back with Uncle George in 1897. She was still single at that time. One of her sisters had been courted by a Herman Houseman in Holland, but apparently he had his eye on Aunt Fannie. They were married in Alvin, Texas in 1898. Their first son was named John, and they returned to Holland for a visit after his arrival. There were seven children in this family - namely: John, Harry, Pete, Anna,m Dora, Henry and Katie. The family moved around quite a bit as Uncle Herman couldn't seem to find a place to settle down. This was hard on the children and Aunt Fannie. When Grandmother Rienstra died in 1916, she left Aunt Fannie some money, and with this she built a house in Port Arthur. Uncle Herman resented this, wanting to make another trip, so there was a "parting of the ways." The children, by then old enough to go to work, all started out to help maintain the large family. After a few years, Aunt Fannie met and married Ed Van Der Vegt, a bachelor and ex-seaman. He was a wonderful stlep-father to the children and a good provider All the children grew up to marry and have good jobs, nice homes, and made good citizens in their respective communities.

By 1900 there were as many ad five saloons on Main Street. many of the immigrants were from countries where they were used to meeting in beer parlors and pubs. There were not many who drank excessively, as most had to watch their pocket-books very closely. Also most of the saloons came into existence after the discovery of oil at nearby Spindletop.

Uncle John Koelemay and Aunt Joe returned to Nederland with their young son, Martin, who was born in Holland. This must have been around 1901 or 1902. He ventured into rice farming, along with some truck farming and buying a few milk cows. He farmed near Port Acres, Texas, and the other Koelemay brothers helped. it was hard work, with teams of mules and sulky plows. We have pictures of them. The mosquitoes dealt them much misery. They had to wrap their arms and legs with newspapers. Also it was necessary in the fall to keep men in the fields with shotguns to try to scare off the thousands of ducks and geese the came south in the winter. They got water from the McFaddin pumping plant, a picture of which is in the Museum in Nederland. (Probable error-author probably means Port Arthur Rice and Irrigation pumping plant at Smith's Bluff. McFaddin pumping plant at Dupont pumped on north of Dupon Road. Everything south of Dupont Road was served by the Port Arthur Rice Co. canals.)

They also used the old-time steam thresher, fired with coal. The rice was cut with mule-drawn binders and shocked by the men. After curing in the shocks, the latter was then loaded on wagons and pulled to the thresher. (Ed.'s Note: The thing that was "fired with coal" was usually a steam tractor, which then turned the thresher pulley with a foot-wide leather belt.)

In 1904 Uncle John and Pape changed localities. Theymoved tp Pine Island on old Highway No. 90 west of Beaumont. This was the old B. I Canal System. They put in their crop. In july, 1904, my dad went to Nederland and got Nellie Rienstra and they were married on July 31, 1904, in Beaumont, Texas. Mama insisted on a church wedding, so Dr. Godby, of the First Methodist Church in Beaumont, performed the ceremoney. In the book"Cornerstones," a history of early Methodism in Beaumont, which was co-authored by my cousin, Rosa Dieu Crenshaw, a page which was picked at random from Dr. Godby's four Pastor's Books contained the names of my father and mother and their marriage. We were so happy over this "happen so."

After a honeymoon trip to Galveston, they returned to Pine Island to live with Uncle John and family. The road to beaumont was still a dirt road, and after rains the water often came up over the floor of buggies as they crossed some of the sloughs between Amelia and Beaumont. Martin proved to be a source of entertainment and joy to Mama and Tante Joe. Mama and Tante Joe fed all the rice hands. Neither of them spoke English, and they were so afraid that they couldn't cook good enough; but that 'Dutch" cooking was gobbled up as they peeked out of the kitchen door. They made all the bread - white, whole what and raison - and would set their dough in thehall on the stairway. One time little Martin climbed up the steps and came tumbling down into the pans of dough. Mama and Tante Joe got so tickled they could hardly rescue the little boy who was "dripping in dought."

In looking over entries in the small ledger of Papa's, some interesting figures came to light. They had cows and chickens and sold lbutter and eggs at "Boyt's Store," that was at that time run by Uncle Capt. Boyt. They got 10 cents to 25 cents for eggs and 30 cents a lb. for butter. They paid shockers in the rice field $1.00 to #2.00 per day and their dinner. They bought rice sacks at 200 for $16.00 and wheat bran for 90 cents. A suit, stockings and shoes cost $12.31; corn chops at $1.20; McCalls Magazine at 65 cents; a dress at 93 cents; short 50 cents; and lemon drops at $2.40 (I think they must have really liked lemon drops). I later learned that all the rice farmers used lemon drops to help hold their thirst in the field. Ladies unio suit was 45 cents; undershirt 30 cents, and drawers, 35 cents.

When harvest time was over Uncle John and Tante Joe returned to Nederland to start on their dairying and pasture improvement programs. Mama and Papa went to Bolswalrd, holland, for a visit with Grandmother Rienstra - or "Beppa" as I called her later. upon their arrival in Holland a studio was for sale in thelittle town. Grandmother Rienstra helpled my dad to apply for and get his photographic material and the shop. He took a lot of very good pictures of the family, and they are scattered among the Rienstra relatives here in the States. After her coronation, Queen Wilhelmina made a tour of the Dutch towns and happened to visit Bolsward. Papa got the only picture of her in the great street parade and celebration in he rhonor. So he did quite well on his pictures of the Queen.

Mother was expecting a baby when she left the United States, so they decided to stay in Holland until after the birth of her child, for Grandmother was so anxious to see her baby daughter's child. So on June 10, 19056, Mama presented me to the world, and of course, she was named Anna after her Grandmother Rienstra, and also after her paternal Grandmother, Antje Koelemay, in Nederland, Texas. All of the first-born or oldest daughters in the Rienstra familes were named Anna, and most of the first boys were named Jan or John. Grandmother had a pretty broach made up for me, and I still have it. Mama wouldn't let me wear it until I was ten years old.

Mama and Papa lived above the studio and had to have a maid. Because of prestige, Mama couldn't push my cart down to the park - the maid must do all that. After the taste of American freedom, lthis didn't set so well; also Papa had applied for and passed all the requirements for American citizenship and was only on a visitor's visa in Holland. Also he had taken a Civil Service examination in Beaumont, Texas, befoire he left Holland. So Papa sold the shop, and we returned to America in May, 1906. I was eleven months old at that time. We traveled from Bremerhaven, Germany, on a Lykes Brothers ship, the Chemnitz, and arrived in Galveston on May 28, 1906. My name was not listed on the passenger list except as "K. Koelemay, wife and baby girl." Later in life this was the cause of quite a bit of trouble for me in establishing the fact that I was the baby girl mentioned.

Our family returned to Nederland for a while. uncle John had moved back to settle on a farm northwest of Grandpa and Grandma Koelemay. He (John) began to buy good dairy cattle and gradually built up one of the finest herds in Jefferson County. He was also one of the first to venture into permanent pastures, planting Lespedeza grass and other hay crops. Eventually he had a herd of fine Holstein cattle, and the baby specialists of Beaumont highly recommended John Koelemay's Grade A Holstein milk for babies.

Papa went to work for a short time on the (KCS) Railroad, awaiting word from the Civil Service exams he took upon his return from Holland. We lived near the railroad tracks. There were so many "bums" on all the trains, and since Mama was very sympathetic and could not speak English very well, she always had a handout ready. One day a drunk came up and asked for something to eat, so she made a thick ham sandwich, unlatched the screen door, and handed it to him. He snatched the screen door, came in and sat in the rocker; then he reached over and grabbed me out of the cradle. Mama rant out of the house to the neighbors and pulled the man over to our house. He called the law, and they took the drunk to the little one-cell jail just across the track from our house. When Papa got off from work, the man appealed to him for some food. Needless to say, when Mama relateld her tale, Papa ignored the man's appeal!

Along about this time, Mama lost a baby girl; also Tante Jo (Mrs. John Koelemay) lost a child too, and as there was no cemetery in Nederland, there were several of the babies buried at Grandpa and Grandma Koelemay's house beneath a big pine tree near the entrance to the gate farm.

When Papa and Mama left Holland, they sold the studio to a man who made only a few payments, and then left with the equipment for parts unknown. So they lost all the money they had invested in Holland and now had to start from scratch.

Papa passed all the Civil Service exams and was hired as a (post office) carrier out at South Park in Beaumont. We had to move hurriedly, and they had to move into an undesirable location at the beginning. They saved a penny and finally moved to Adams Street in South Park in Beaumont. Papa delivered mail with a cart and a horse. The route was long and the hours were long. Mama fed the horse every evening and once lost her engagement ring in the horse's hay.

Another little sister arrived January 30, 1908. She lived only five or six months. Her name was "Katriena." She was so delicate and frail, and Mama had to stay up day and night with her. I was only three years old, but could say "Doctor," and she would send me to the corner store. The owner was a very kind Italian man, John Benedetto, who had the only phone in the block. He understood and would call "Dr. Jim Gober." I believe Dr. Gober delivered more babies at home than any doctor in that area.

Many babies died that summer due to lack of refrigeration and poor sanitation. The "summer complaint" hit many homes in the neighborhood. It was a common sight to see a little funeral procession somewhere nearby that summer.

The neighbors had all been "stand-offish" toward us "foreigners," but now hearing of the baby's death, they all flocked in. Mama, being worn out, didn't understand and felt that it was just curiosity on their part. Dr. Gober also felt that they hadn't offered any help during all those trying months, so he ordered mama to bed and the neighbors "out." Kindly neighbors, however, helped Papa get a little casket and put her in "Babyland" in Magnolia Cemetery. Later in life we learned that this was the "American way," and we learned to be truly appreciative of the helpo offered in the loss of a loved one.

Papa now began to insist tht we speak only English in our home, as I was getting mixed up. Also he felt that this was the only Mama would break away from her mother tongue. Of course, Mama taught me my ABCs in Dutch also.

Mama's health was very delicate, but I do not remember her ever complaining of any of the upsets in her life. She had the most complete trust in her God. When "going became rough," her simple prayer was "God, help us!" She believed He would answer, and lived accordingly. During the year, another miscarriage occurred. This really made her weak. In November, 1909, however, she gave birth to my sistger Katrina (Katie). It was touch and go for eleven months with her, but she finally began to gain weight. She was nearly seven years old when she became robust.

Mama had been reared in the very Orthodox Dutch Church. I had her church membership under glass. She joined the church just before coming to America. Long before she could understand English, she insisted that Papa take he to church. One of their first experiences was during a revival at the Roberts Avenue Methodist Church. In those days when the evangelist held his last sermond, a special collection was tken. People raised their hands as the came for "Who will give $10.00 - $5.00 - or $1.00?" Mama watched in amazement, nudged Papa, and asked, "Are they auctioning the preacher off?" She said this in Dutch, and Papa got so tickled he could hardly answer. She had attended many auctions with her mother in Holland. Grandmother Rienstra loved a good auction and stiff bidding.

The next church she decided would be more like the Dutch church was -- the St. John's Lutheran's Church on Franklin Street and Avenue A. There were quite a number of German families here and she felt more at home. Also they taught Catechism classes and she like that for me. I was only six years old, and as soon as I knew my way, I rode the Park Streetcar to the Royal car line, transferred, and then walked two blocks over to the church. When I got a little older, I ventured forth and walked with some other children from Avenue A to Park Street. We went through part of the Negro section of town here, near the Gas Plant. One of the boys found a dead grass snake and wrapped it around my neck. I yelled for dear life, and an old negro mammy came to my rescue. She shamed the boy and chased him off. For many years I detested the sight of those three children, a sister and her two brothers.

Papa had joined the Woodmen of The World (lodge), and thus wasn't accepted (for membership) by the Missouri Synod of Lutheran Churches at that time. Mama felt the family should go to church together. So it was then decided to join the Westminster Presbyterian Church uptown. We remained members of this church until we left Beaumont. Papa was a bit slow in joining. Somehow in his college days, he had been shaken up on some of his beliefs and he found his mind questioning the divinity of Christ. Until he could accept this, he would not ask for church membership. Rev. Frank Robbins was our beloved pastor. He and some of the elders and a visiting evangelist met with Papa and he became a very strong church member and served in later years as Elder and senior Elder.

One Christmas Mama and I made five hundred red and white tissue paper flowers for a huge Christmas tree. The family also was to sing carols in Dutch. Sister Katie was always shy, ans so she turned her back to the audience and sang. Years late she pulled the same trick on me in Winnie.

The First Church decided to open a Mission Church out at South Park. So in the mornings we rode the streetcar uptown to Sunday School and Church; the the long ridehome; a quick dinner cooked on Saturday; and then to the Mission Church at two o'clock. Often Katie and I were the only children there, but we went right on. This later became the big Presbyterian Church on Highland Avenue.

After several years, Papa was promoted and took the business district on Pearl and Orleans Streets in Beaumont. He carried the mail on the west side of the street, and a fellow carrier, George Bristol, was on the east side. Before the birth of my little sister Katie, Papa kept the Bristols informed, and when she was born, Mr. Bristol sent his wife and daughter, Ruby, to see the little Dutch woman. I was posted at the gate as the welcoming committee. So I swung back and forth looking for them, being only about four and one-half years old. A life-long friendship sprang forth from this meeting.

All the rest of the Koelemays and Rienstras had settled around the South Jefferson County area. We were a very "family oriented" group. Grandmother and Grandfather Koelemay's home was the gathering place.These grandparents were both very small of stature, but were made of iron. They were such hard workers, and they kept a herd of milk cows, making butter to be sold in Nederland and Beaumont for their cash money. They had to abandon any ideas of making cheese for this climate would not permit it. They kept the milk cool on a large screened-in back porch. They had a large tin vat made, would set the big crocks of milk in it, and constantly during the day, someone had to pump cool well water around the crocks. The cream was skimmed off and put into a large barrel churn on a stand. It had a crank on it to be turned, and we all loved to help turn the churcn. Later they purchased a cream separator, and the warm milk was immediately put through it to save so much work. They then used old time ice chests to keep the cream cold. By then they could buy ice in Nederland.

They had a large orchard between their home, and what was later Piet Koelemay's home. Theorchard constined satsumas, pears, peaches, plums, fig trees, pomegranites. Later Uncle Piet transplanted dewberry vines all along a gully that ran around the outer fringes of the farms. He kept them fertilized and pruned and they bore beautifully. Also a large garden was planted each, both summer and winter vegetables ere grown and canned. For meat they had lots of cuks and geese in the fall and winter from the rice fields. They also raised chickens and tame ducks. There were lots of rabbits, and Grandmother could cook them to perfection.

Little grandmother kept the large house spotless, polishing her fine wood range every day. She made the butter, tended to the garden, canned, made all their dresses and shirts, did the laundry, and still managed to have a lovely front yeard full of all kinds of shrubs, trees and beds of roses, portulacacs, climbing vines, and roses.

With all that, one could wonder if it "was all work and no play?" But that wasn't true. During the cold winter months, she made doll clothes, bean bags, string balls. She helped us make kites. Outside of her kitchen window, she had a big swing put up, see-saws, gym-style rings and a croquet court. A long living room ran across the front of the house. At one end were tables for dominoes and cards. In the middle was a pool table, as all the men loved billiards. At the other end, a table with the finest photographs and records; also all kinds of stereoptican slides. Frandfather had a big pipe rack near the door. One of his pipes was the kind he had to sit and smoke - with a long stem - the bowl of it on the floor. The menfolk usually took over the front, and the women gathered in the kitchen and dining area. A long table near several windows, with a long built-in window seat down one side, took care of us children. The women gathered there and helped cook, exchange new recipes from America, and the latest dress patterns. All of them did handwork and a new crochet or knitting pattern was always being introduced. They had two beautiful hanging lamps with crystal drops hanging over the living room and dining room tables.

We grandchildren - and by that time there were many of us - had marvelous times. Every kind of game, both inside and outside, was enjoyed, the grown-ups often taking part, for they were a fun-loving group. The library was also enjoyed - a carry-over from the Orange Hotel days. Not having room in the house, a portion of the warehouse in the back was partitioned off and wall cabinets built to take care of the hundreds of books. Also all the early magazines were filed each year, and the pictorial news sheets from Holland were kept.

For a number of years we all traveled with buggies and horses. We owned none of our own, so Papa would hire a livery stable rig. At that time there were a number of livery stables on Main Street in Beaumont. We proudly climbed aboard, hoping all the neighbors were aware! We knew they were, for we could see the curtains pulled aside! Papa rode a bicycle to and from work on good days. We rode the street cars everywhere around. I remember having an abscessed tooth one time, and Papa taking me to the dentist several miles on the bicycle. I can still feel each hole e hit. Ouch!!

At one of the wedding anniversary parties of grandparents, we left near midnight. It was a bright, moonlit night. An old cistern had been thrown in the ditch alongside the road, and the horse shied at the sight of it, turning so suddenly and unexpectedly, it turned the buggy over on us and broke loose. We were not hurt, but Papa had to walk back two or three miles to get some of the folks to come and catch the horse and repair the buggy axles. We reached home at daybreak.

Often on paretty spring and fall days, Papa and I walked to Nederland from South Park. Most of the Dutch did much walking, to spare their horses for work. We lived several blocks from the streetcar line, and we had a terrible board walk from Highland Avenue to the line, especial after "big rains," as some of the boards would float off. I can still see Papa carrying Katie, and Mama and I feeling our way along in the dark. Many an fall and soaking feet occurred.

Around 1910 or 1911, Papa bought a home, our first, on Highland Avenue. It was a five-room house, with a bath tub, but still "a path to the rear (outhouse)." He fixed a nice playhouse for us children, with nice umbrella chinaberry trees for shade all around. It was from this house that I started to school. I had to walk six or seven blocks. I was so scared so Mama went along. She was so afraid I wouldn't look right, so she walked with me and left me with Mrs. Bristol and Ruby. They tried to get me to go in, but I stood firmly planted by the door, peeping in. The little girls didn't look like I did. I had a stiffly starched pinafore over my dress, with wide crocheted edging, and my hair was plaited back in two braids so tight I could not blink my eyes. The school superintendent, Mr. L. R. Pietzsch, came by and put his arm around my shoulders and said, " Don't be afraid, honey. You know, I was a little German boy and I was just so scared when I went to school the first day. you'll be alright." That did it - and so to me a wonderful world had opened up. Each day I learned something new and could hardly wait to get home and help Mama learn it too. Also, I made a new and a life-long friend that first day, as Kathleen Nelson (later Mrs. E. V. Boyt), and we always sat together in our classes through many years

In 1912 Mama had a baby boy. They were so glad to have a son now, but he lived only five days.

For entertainment on Sunday afternoons e often caught the Park Streetcar and exchanged to the other lines, riding out to visit friends, or to ride out to the end of the line and back. We paid regular visits to "Babyland" at Magnolia Cemetery, then we got off at Emmett Street near Hotel Dieu. Beaumont still had the old "lovers' lane," from Sabine Pass at Hotel Dieu, and over to Orleans Street was still river-edge property. The "O'Brien Oak" was at the other end. A wooden bridge was built over a slough that emptied into the Neches River. There was an ice cream parlor at the end of Emmett Street. They had the most wonderful ice cream, and so many, many kinds, it was so hard to choose. If we were good, we could have maybe four or five dips of different flavors! What a treat! Also it was a scenic walk, and there were domino games being played under the shade trees. Pipkin Park was also located there. Yeas later a street was built through there.

Not only did we make our trips to Nederland, but all the folks there took turns about coming to see us and enjoy the city events. When the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus came to town, the house was full. They brought all the cousins, some inbuggies, some in wagons, and we all went to the parade and the Big Tent; so excited and happy and undecided about which ring to watch! Usually someone would break out with measles, chicken pox, or whooping coughj shortly afteward! After the Kyle Opera House was built, we always knew Grandmother would come in with some of the others. They loved all the Al Field's Minstrels. We went to hear the stirring music of Philip Sousa, and when Marian Talley, the opera star, appeared, Papa, Grandmother and I attended. She loved beautiful voices, but she would get so disgusted when the accompanist would rise and come over to kiss Miss Talley's hand. The Koelemays felt they should never show outward emotions like that!

On several occasions when they ran the special excursion trains from Beaumont to Galveston in the heydays of High Island, Caplen, and Rollover, the whole Koelemay family would go to Galveston. This was fun! Eating out, some swimming, the penny arcades, the shell displays, and all the tourist attractions were such fun. There were big hotels at Rollover, High Island and Caplen. The 1915 storm demolished most of them.

Also in this area, the Neches River afforded pleasure trips. At one time it was a fad to own a house boat and many were anchored around the river's bend around Hotel Dieu, the hospital area. Mr. Bristol built himself a boat and named her the "Ruby G" after his daughter. People went down river to Port Neches Park, or Grigsby's Bluff as it was then known - spent the day - then came back usually at twilight. We made the maiden voyage on the "Ruby G." It was a short one as Mrs. Bristol was scared to death, so we skirted the river's edge, never getting out in midstream. It was soon after that Mr. Bristol found out his craft had sunk. Maybe Mrs. Bristol was justified in her fright!

One summer the Presbyterian Sunday School group rented a three-deck pleasure craft. We went down to Port Neches and had a picnic lunch and some games. We came back at twilight and all the harbor and home lights were burning. It was an unforgetable scene, and we sang "Let The Lower Lights Be Burning" as we came into the dock.

In 1915 we experienced one of the dreaded Gulf Storms. We boarded up doors and windows and stayed in our small house. The water came up over the third step. Because of back water in the Port Arthur area, it had to be evacuated. Our house was full! Part of Aunt Fannie's family were with us. They had been forced to move up on their second story floor and were rescued by boat. They locked all their clothes and foodstuffs and left, only to find everything had been stolen when they returned home. Harry, one of the older boys, had some sort of rare bone disease. He had been to Mayo's Clinic in Minnesota and was on crutches at that time. The Van Der Staals, a baker and his wife, their daughter and son came to stay also. Then the Bondsma family of seven in all. The Van der Staals' daughter, Lena, was to be married soon, with a planned church wedding, and she and her fiance, Walter Andrus, decided to hurry it up; so they became the "Storm Bride and Groom." They were married from our house and the City of Beaumont gave them a lot of gifts.

A few of the school incidents left some things I'd like to remember. One of our art teachers from the North was very strict. After one of our writing lessons she told me not to take our papers home. I was so proud of my grade and paper that I took it home for Mama to see. Nexzt morning I forgot the paper. When Miss Hanks called for it, I told her "I think Earl got mine." He denied it, and I was sent to her office. The older students had told us the wildest tales. They said she would lock one up with nothing but bread and water and keep you from lunch and recess hours for weeks. I was so frightened, I crawled up under the flounce of a small rocker she had in her office. When she came in, she called me again and again, so finally I crawled out. She saw how scared I was and pulled me up on her lap, where, crying my heart out, she consoled me and I found out she was human after all.

Each year at Fair time, each city school had some part of the opening parade. Beaumont had lots of parades in those days - down Pearl Street and back up Orleans. (From here on, some of this story is lost out of my computer, which I hope soon to put back-WTB)

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Marian Creswell Hayslette

The George Allison Creswell family came to Nederland in 1921 from Opelousas, Louisiana. George Allison (b. June 2, 1875-d. May 22, 1928) was born in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. His wife, Lydia Mary St. Gaudain (b. February 22, 1870-d. July 3, 1952) was born in St. Landry Parish also. They were married on December 9, 1897.

My father, Francis Douglas Creswell (b. September 22, 1898-d. July 11, 1969) was in the navy during World War I when the family moved to Texas. He was the oldest of nine children.

Two of his brothers, George Herbert (b. October 4, 1900-d. 1972) and James Edward (b. January 28, 1902-d. February 19, 1974) were living in Port Arthur when the family moved to Texas. One of his sisters, Marie Lydia Creswell Savoy (b. December 10, 1904) resides with her daughter, Dorothy Ruth Howell, in Nederland. Another sister was Blanche Creswell (b. September 30, 1914-d. October 19, 1983).

The four younger brothers were Alfred Allison (b. July 31, 1906-d. September 21, 1964), Richard Mayes (b. August 19., 1908), who resides in Beaumont; Harry Elmore (b. November 26, 1911-d. January 13, 1989), and William Lucas (b. May 4, 1916-d. February 14, 1970). All of them graduated from Nederland High School and were active in sports, basketball, football, and track. Allison and Richard appear in a picture in the Windmill Museum of the basketball team of 1925-1926.

Harry Elmore and William Lucas served in the Army during World War II.

In 1923, George Allison Creswell was among those who helped to construct the Pure Oil Company refinery at Smith's Bluff. He later became a gauger for the Marine Department. On May 22, 1928, George Allison Creswell was asphyxiated by poison methane gas while gauging a crude oil tank.

Three generations of the Creswell family have worked for Pure Oil, now Unocal: George Allison, Francis Douglas, and John Allison Creswell. Lydia Mary and George Allison Creswell are buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont.

Francis Douglas Creswell joined the Navy on May 1, 1917 when he was nineteen years old. He took boot training in Norfolk, Virginia, and was assigned to the battleship U. S. S. Pennsylvania . His ship escorted convoys to Europe. He was a radio operator aboard the battleship.

One of the highlights of his service was escorting President Woodrow Wilson to Europe to the Geneva Peace Conference. As a radio operator on the Pennsylvania , he completed one of the first ship to shore calls for President Wilson. He was honored to shake hands with President Wilson and also Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was at that time Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He was discharged from the Navy April 14, 1919. he came to Port Arthur in 1920 and went to work for Gulf Oil Corporation.

Francis Douglas Creswell and my mother, Augusta Lacoste (b. September 24, 1898-d. August 31, 1986) were married in Port Arthur, Texas on September 23, 1921. Her parents were John Lacoste and Marie Gieseler Lacoste. There were six children in her family.

John Lacoste was a dairyman and contractor (b. December 25, 1869-d. March 23, 1930). He came to Lakeview, Port Arthur, in 1912, and to Nederland in 1913, where he owned and operated the Jersey Farm Dairy. Marie Lacoste was born on January 29, 1871 and died on July 16, 1957.

Francis Douglas and Augusta Creswell have two children, John Allison (b. September 1, 1922) and Marian Frances Creswell (b. December 3, 1924).

In 1923 my parents built their home in Jake Carabin No. 1 Addition in Nederland. I was born there in 1924. The home still stands on South Fifteenth Street, which was originally Sycamore Street.

Francis Douglas Creswell went to work at Pure Oil Company in 1931. He retired from the company on October 1, 1963, with 32 years of service in the Oil and Transfer Gauge Department.

My father and mother are buried in Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches. They were members of the First United Methodist Church in Nederland. Francis Douglas Creswell was a member of the American Legion and World War I Veterans.

John Allison Creswell was born in Nederland on September 7, 1922. He graduated from Nederland High School in 1941 and went to work at Pure Oil Company in 1947. He married Shirley Mae Jewett (b. May 12, 1926-d. November 14, 1973). They have three daughters, Phyllis Augusta Creswell Matheson (b. September 8, 1951), Mary Ann Creswell (b. May 1, 1962), and Joan Marie Creswell Sonnier (b. July 23, 1969). There are two grandchildren, Angela Kathleen, and Jared Wayne Matheson.

John retired from Pure Oil, now Union Oil, in 1983 with 35 years of service as a Unit Operator. He is a member of Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite, Shrine, Grotto, Fraternal Order of Eagles, and the American Legion.

Marian Frances Creswell graduated from Nederland High School in 1942. She and Charles Eugene Hayslette, Jr. (b. September 7, 1921) were married on June 2, 1946. He was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He served three years in the U. S. Army during World War II, serving two years of that overseas. He was a Unit Operator at Gulf Refining Corporation, Port Arthur refinery (now Chevron) for forty-two years and he retired on July 6, 1982.

Bill and Marian Hayslette have one daughter, Cheryl Frances Hayslette James (b. October 5, 1948). She is a 1967 graduate of Nederland High School as well as Lamar University in 1970. She married Grady Wilson James, Jr., and they have three daughters, Diana James Prater, Jennifer Leigh James, and Jamie Amanda James. They reside in Conroe, Texas, where Grady is an attorney, specializing in family law.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T.Block

Earnest Grant Deese was born in in Alabama on October 6, 1906. His father, John Wesley Deese, and his mother, Mary Ann Grant Deese, owned turpentine stills, land, and a general mercantile store in extreme south central Alabama (Covington and Coffee counties). John W. Deese, who grew up an orphan on the frontier, had no opportunity to attend school as a boy, and eventually he employed many people, both Blacks and Whites, in his business enterprises. Because he had to depend on a ruthless bookkeeper to administer his finances, John Deese suffered heavily from embezzlement, the bookkeeper stealing from his employer.

One family tradition held that, when race troubles developed in John Deese' neighborhood, a hard-working, kind Negro, whom Deese knew to be innocent of any wrong doing, was being hunted by a lynch mob. Deese gave the black man food and money, and then dipped his shoes in turpentine so the blood hounds could not track him. The Negro made good his escape.

In 1913, Earnest Deese' parents sold their store, land, and dwellings in Alabama, and then moved by train with their furniture, livestock, equipment, and married children to Carriere, Pearl River County, Mississippi. Being unable to lease or buy timber lands in that area of Mississippi, the Deese family were soon reduced to share-cropping. One by one, the remaining children left home, until only Earnest was left to plow the fields, and care for the livestock as well as his aging parents. Because of that, he could only go to school a half-day at a time, but he nevertheless succeeded in finishing the eleventh and twelfth grades in one year. For a while, he worked in a nursery for ten cents an hour until he saved enough money to enter and graduate from Soule Business College in New Orleans, where he studied bookkeeping and banking.

On August 2, 1931, Earnest Deese married Willie Dell Watson of McNeill, Mississippi, the daughter of David Hubert Watson and Emeline Spiers. Eventually, the D. H. Watson family would also move to Nederland, Texas, where they resided at 904 Helena for many years prior to their deaths. The year 1931 was not particularly a good year to marry and start a family anywhere in this country, it being in the utter depths of the Great Depression, but especially so in South Mississippi. Most jobs there were only temporary, lasting perhaps a few weeks, and many men had to go out of state to seek employment. Earnest Deese worked for a while as bookkeeper for Wiggins Pickling Company. Later he worked for the W. P. A. (Works Progress Administration, a Federal agency under Pres. Roosevelt), first as a weigher, building roads, and later as a bookkeeper. Willie Dell Deese also worked for W. P. A., at first in the sewing room; later for the County Home Demonstration Agency, teaching food preservation; and eventually as a land assessor.

Earnest Deese first came to Texas in 1934, where his first work was in an oil field, and where he also caught malaria. By then, their oldest child, Jeanne Marie Deese was two years old. While Earnest was recuperating, Willie Dell picked cotton and did other farm chores to help support the family. Their second trip to Texas ended up for a time in Richmond, southwest of Houston, where Earnest caught malaria fever again, and Winnie Dell worked as a waitress at Green's Cafe. When Earnest was able to travel, the Deese family caught the train back to Carriere, Mississippi. After buying a second-hand car, they traveled through Florida to work the fruit harvest, even though Willie Dell was pregnant. For a time Willie Dell worked as a packer in a grapefruit plant, while Earnest worked as an operator and custodian in a fruit juice canning plant. Finally, Earnest got a part-time job at the box factory in Picayune, Mississippi, about the time that daughter Patricia Anne was born at the Picayune hospital.

In June, 1936, Earnest decided to hitchhike back to Texas, and although Willie Dell was pregnant again, she got a job in a shirt factory as a labeler. On this trip, Earnest ended up in Nederland, Texas, where he stayed with Willie Dell's cousin, Myrtle and Morris Green.

Earnest Deese got a temporary job, working "shutdowns" at Pure Oil Company (now Unocal) for only three days a month, but he was earning 65 cents an hour while he worked. That wage seemed fabulous, compared to wages being paid in Mississippi, so Willie Dell loaded up her two children into her Model A Ford and set out for Nederland in August, 1937. Fifteen hours later, she arrived with only fifty cents left in her purse.

The couple rented their first house in Nederland for $5.00 a month at 1007 Boston, next door to Twin City Tabernacle, where they also attended church for the next several years. In November, 1937, their third child, Billy Grant Deese, was born, and in the meantime they moved to another rent house three doors away, also in the 1000 block of Boston. At one time they lived at the corner of 11th Street and Franklin. Earnest was still working shutdowns, and Willie Dell took in washing, ironing, and sewing from the public, even though her three infants and toddlers kept her tied to her home.

In 1941, their youngest child, Jack Drexel Deese, was born. At that time, Earnest Deese was working in th oil field at Tomball, Texas, when he came home with double pneumonia. After two months of illness, he enrolled at Lamar College, in technical arts classes that were designed to train him as a journeyman pipe fitter. Willie Dell became a Sunday School teacher at Twin City Tabernacle, and later, music director, working with young people. She also had a radio program in progress, offered for a young people's singing group. She had a mixed quartet, and finally an all girls' quartet. Willie Dell wrote the theme song for a group called the Sunshine Gospel Singers, both lyrics and music, which have been edited.

In 1945 Earnest Deese went to work for Neches Butane Products Company as a first-class pipe fitter, and after twenty years service there, he retired with total disability in 1965. During 1946-1947, Earnest and Willie Dell were co-owners of Deese' Garage on Nederland Avenue.

In 1950, Willie Dell Deese attended St. Mary's Hospital and Lamar College Nursing Schools and graduated in 1952 with her nursing license. She was a surgical nurse for a few months and then started working for Physicians' Clinic for the next twenty years. After that, she worked for Beaumont and Port Arthur Home Health Service for two years until an auto accident left her unable to work for one year. After recuperating, she worked for Gaspard's Nursing Care Center in Port Acres, until she retired in 1989 due to her husband's failing health.

Willie Dell Deese became a charter member of the Pilot Club of Midcounty in 1960, and is still a member of that club in good standing. In 1971, 1972, and 1973, she was on the Citizens' City Council Coordinator of Public Buildings, and was on the steering committee when the new Police Station was started, as well as the Doornbos Civic Building. In 1969, as a Pilot Club member, Willie Dell donated one of her hand-made quilts to be raffled off to help raise sufficient funds to build the Dutch Windmill Museum.

Willie Dell also cared for a group of elderly people, checking their blood pressures, etc. She also helped them with projects, became an avid quilter, and belonged to the Super-60s group of Port Neches, where she still takes blood pressures for the elderly once a month, keeps records, and makes physician recommendations when needed. She also taught crafts to the residents of Gaspard's Nursing Home for many years.

About thirty years ago, Earnest and Willie Dell Deese built their present home at 1123 South Fourteenth Street, where they have resided for most of their lives in Nederland.

The Deese family is also proud that all four of their children are graduates of Nederland High School; also five of their grandchildren, the others having graduated from high schools elsewhere. They are also proud that all of their children, their spouses, and most of their grandchildren have attended Lamar University.

Between 1960-1966, the Deese family members owned and operated the Jiffy Food Store at Twin City and Nederland Avenue, as well as the Jiffy Food Store in Port Arthur in 1965. Willie Dell and her daughter, Jeanne Marie, also owned Marguerite's Beauty Shop in Nederland from 1974 until 1977.

For many years now, the Deese family have been members of First United Methodist Church of Nederland.

Daughter Jeanne Marie Deese is a graduate in Education of Lamar University and by profession a teacher. She is a member of Port Neches Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star and is a Past Worthy Matron. She married (1) Jude L. McBride, and (2) Dr. Charles P. McGuire. She is the mother of five daughters and seven grandchildren. She and her family are members of First Methodist Church in Friendswood.

Daughter Patricia Ann Deese is also a graduate of Lamar University and is by profession a teacher. She too is a member of the Port Neches Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star, is a Past Worthy Matron, as well as a former Grand Officer. Patricia Ann married (1) Hestel G. Sheffield, and (2) Charles L. Edwards. She is the mother of one son and three daughters and has eight grandchildren. She and her husband are members of First United Methodist Church in Port Neches.

Son Billy Grant Deese attended Lamar College and has been a Nederland postal employee for 32 years. Billy is the father of two sons by different marriages, and he has two granddaughters. (Ed.'s Note: The editor hired Billy Deese in the Nederland post office in 1959.)

Son Jack Drexel Deese also attended Lamar, and he is an electrician by trade. Jack served in the U. S. Marine Corps, the U. S. Army, and the U. S. National Guard. He married Marie Linda Toups, and they are the parents of one son and one daughter. Jack and his wife are members of First Baptist Church in Nederland.

Earnest and Willie Dell Deese are proud of their more than fifty years of residence in Nederland and found it to be a good place to raise their family. They are equally proud that they and their children have been able to contribute through their civic, educational and religious activities toward the improvement of their city.

The End

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T.Block



A leading Nederland philanthropist and businessman throughout his adult life, Cornelus Doornbos, Sr., was born on May 20, 1880, in Warfum, Groningen, The Netherlands, the son of Heino Harmanus Doornbos and Stientje Derks Bouwman Doornbos. He was the seventh child of a family of twelve brothers and sisters. He received as good an education as the elementary and high schools of his home town could offer. He went to school during the day, after which he would go home, pick up a sack lunch that his mother had packed for him, and then he would work until ten P. M. in a nearby store.

Cornelus Doornbos, Sr., came to believe that America offered to him greater opportunities for financial growth and security, especially in the accumulation of land, which had become virtually impossible to acquire in his homeland. Four others among his siblings had also settled in North America, as follows: Jacob (Jake) Doornbos in Nederland; brother Arien Doornbos on a ranch near Bozeman, Montana; brother Tjaart Doornbos, at Yellow Knife, Northwest Territory, Canada; and sister, Mrs. A. Sorenson, of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Accordingly, he sailed for the United States in 1901, settling first at Chicago, Illinois, where he was a meat boner for a packing plant, earning the sum of one dollar daily and board. Mr. Doornbos then spent the year 1902 farming on shares in Iowa, for a man he had met while working in Chicago.

Cornelus Doornbos came to Nederland in 1903, arriving just in time to share in the wedding party of Dan J. and Johanna Rienstra on January 22, 1903. He spent the next year raising a crop of rice with his brother, Jake Doornbos. In 1904, he farmed for Robert Gerbens of Port Arthur. In 1905, he purchased the tract of land where the Jefferson County Airport is located, where he raised the first crop of rice that was entirely his own. After retaining his Dutch citizenship for many years, Cornelus Doornbos, Sr., became a naturalized American citizen at Beaumont on November 23, 1922.

One day, while driving from his farm to Nederland, Mr. Doornbos turned his wagon over in a ditch and got his clothes wet and dirty. He then stopped at the Orange Hotel to get dry, and while there, he met Miss May Newman, the daughter of Mrs. Emma Burson, and step-daughter of Alanson Burson, one of Nederland's earliest merchants. Mr. Doornbos and Miss Newman, who was a native of Great Britain, soon decided to share their married lives together, and they were wed on July 15, 1907.

Mr. and Mrs. Doornbos continued to live for a few years in their first home near the present-day airport. In January, 1909, they visited his family in Groningen, Holland, accompanied by their small daughter Christina. At least two people's memoirs have revealed that Mr. Doornbos helped evacuate in his wagon the stranded Port Arthur refugees from the hurricane waters of August 16, 1915. And Marya Koekoek (Munson) observed that 5-year-old Bill Doornbos held the reins of that wagon while his father, Mr. Doornbos, carried her out of the flood on his horse when she was a tiny tot of perhaps seven years of age.

After the 1915 storm, the Doornbos family moved to the large two-story house at 1124 Helena Avenue (only a few feet from where the C. Doornbos Inc. office still stands) in order that his children could walk to the nearby Langham School at Twelfth Street and Franklin, and thus avoid the long horseback ride from their rice farm west of Nederland.

Mr. Doornbos started out as a rice farmer, and he would continue that endeavor in Jefferson and Chambers Counties almost until his death. However, he branched out into several other fields as well, including cattle-ranching in Texas and Louisiana; land accumulation, both as acreage and city property; house construction and home financing, oil and gas leases, and timber production in Louisiana.

In the course of his business career, Mr. Doornbos built scores of homes in Nederland, on Gary Street, on Jackson Street, and elsewhere in town, and for perhaps ten of fifteen years, two early-day Nederland home builders, Rene Bourque and David Lejeune, worked almost exclusively for him. Mr. Doornbos would then finance the homes for the buyers in days long before F. H. A. financing was even dreamed of. In 1937, he sold his first rice farm to Jefferson County, which today is the county airport on the west side of Nederland. Many Nederland oldtimers can still recall when the Doornbos family hay-baling operations were perhaps the largest in the county, employing dozens of people, and accounting for the sale of several thousand bales of hay annually, as well as the hay consumed by the Doornbos cattle herds. The Doornbos real estate holdings were widely scattered, in Nederland, Port Neches, Beaumont, Port Arthur; in Chambers County, the Doornbos Ranch at Sabine Pass, where normally 1,000 to 1,500 heads of cattle were grazed; in addition to the large Doornbos Ranch at DeRidder, Louisiana, which included several square miles of extensive forest lands suitable for logging operations.

Cornelus and May Doornbos became the parents of six children, namely, three daughters, Christina (Barnett), May (Youmans), and Emma (Miller), and three sons, William, Harry, and Cornelus (Cale) Doornbos, Jr.

Following Mrs. May Doornbos' death on May 26, 1925, Mr. Doornbos was wed a second time to Mrs. Jennie Elaine McCartney, a widow, who was already the mother of a young daughter, Rose Marie (Gladding). Another son, Richard Doornbos, was born to that marriage. And following Mrs. Jennie Doornbos' death on July 8, 1945, Mr. Doornbos was wed for a third time to Mrs. Bertha Stappers, who survived her husband at the time of his death.

Mr. Doornbos remained a member of First United Methodist Church for almost fifty years, and his church was to become the beneficiary of many of his private charities. His son William's best-known gift to the people of Nederland is the 22-acre C. Doornbos Park at South 23rd Street and Avenue H, where the Nederland Community Center and swimming pool are located.

His varied and extensive business interests required that Cornelus Doornbos, Sr., maintain memberships in many business, fraternal, and trade organizations. He was a charter member of the Nederland Lions' Club, as well as of the Chambers of Commerce of Nederland, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Port Neches, the East Texas Chamber of Commerce, and the United States Chamber of Commerce. He was likewise a member of the American Cattle Growers Association, National Cattlemen's Association, The Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, Texas Southwestern Cattlemen's Association, American Rice Growers Association, Coastal Cattlemen's Association, Fraternity of the White Heron, Louisiana Forestry Association, and the Beaumont Farm and Ranch Club.

In 1951, perhaps sensing that he was growing old and that his children would need the advantages of his wisdom, Cornelus Doornbos addressed the following letter to them for use in their business affairs, as follows:

Nederland, Texas, February 12, 1951

To Christina Barnett, May Youmans, Emma Miller, William Doornbos, Cale
Doornbos, Jr., and Richard Doornbos:

Do NOT sell any land unless it is necessary. Do NOT sell any (underground) minerals or royalties unless it is necessary. Do NOT sign any papers unless you get good advice. Educate your children. And be sure to keep books in first-class shape.

Affectionately, Your Dad.
C. Doornbos

All of the Cornelus Doornbos children were graduated from Nederland High School and have made contributions to Nederland's growth and progress in their own right. Certainly Harry Doornbos made the supreme sacrifice of his life for his nation and neighbors, having been lost in action in the South Pacific against the Japanese Navy in January, 1943. Nederland's Harry Doornbos Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars is named in his honor.

William Doornbos has been associated with every worthwhile endeavor in Nederland since reaching adulthood, and Nederland has honored him on several occasions. In 1933, he married the former Opal Vivian Smith, a native of Mississippi. They are the parents of one daughter, Barbara D., who is married to Dr. Felix Walters. They are the grandparents of Jeana Anne Dishman and Dellann Walters, and great grandparents of William Morrison, William's namesake.

Christina Doornbos married Robert L. Barnett, and they became the parents of two daughters, Mildred Jackson and Carolyn Barnett, and two sons Bobby Barnett and Donny Barnett. Mildred Jackson is the mother of two sons, Steven Jackson and Alan Jackson, and grandmother of Brian and Scott Jackson. Bobby Barnett is the father of two children, Andrea and Robert L. Barnett III, and grandfather of Nicole and Robert L. Barnett, IV. Donny Barnett is the father of two children, Ronald and Terry Barnett. Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Barnett, Sr. are both deceased.

May Doornbos married Herbert P. Youmans, a long-time Nederland realtor and insurance agent, and following his death, she married George Englin, who is also deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Youmans became the parents of one son, Herbert C. Youmans, who in turn is the father of three children, Duke Youmans, Debbie Roberson, and Phyllis Brewer. H. C. Youmans is also the grandfather of four, Ashley and Callie Roberson, and Joshua and Jacob Brewer.

Harry Doornbos died unmarried while he was in the United States Navy. Emma Doornbos married Turner Lee Miller of Port Neches, and there was no issue of their marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Miller are also deceased.

Cornelus (Cale) Doornbos, Jr., was very active in municipal and civic affairs, having served terms both as City Councilman and Mayor of Nederland. For many years, he supervised the family ranching activities at Sabine Pass and the Doornbos hay-baling operations in Nederland. He married the former Louise Clements of Nederland, and they became the parents of two sons, Billy Wayne and Cornelus Doornbos III, and one daughter, Peggy Jo Thomas. Mrs. Thomas became the mother of two sons, Kirk Thomas and Ashley C. Thomas (deceased), and two daughters, Amanda Thomas and Kristen Thomas. Billy Doornbos is the father of two daughters, Heather and Gretchen Doornbos. Mr. and Mrs. Cornelus Doornbos, Jr., are also deceased.

For many years before his return to Nederland, Richard Doornbos managed the family ranching and forestry activities on the large Doornbos Ranch at DeRidder, Louisiana. Richard has also been very active in Nederland civic affairs, as well as in Masonic and El Mina Shrine circles. He is married to the former Peggy Durham, and they are the parents of two daughters, Jennifer and Lisa Doornbos.

If ever there were a Horatio Alger epic in Nederland, Texas, it is indeed the amazing annals of Cornelus Doornbos, Sr., a Dutch immigrant, who carved out for himself a sturdy financial empire with little else than his own hard work and personal ingenuity. His was that brand of foresight, of stamina, and of industry out of which the Lone Star State was fashioned and which has enabled Texas to remain at the pinnacle of the world's cattle, rice, and oil production for many decades. Today (1991), C. Doornbos Incorporated, the family business, still stands at 1148 Helena, only a stone's throw away from the original homesite, where the Dutch entrepreneur reared and educated his family. C. Doornbos Inc. is a family-owned investment firm and is still managed by the Doornbos family children and grandchildren.


Name Born Died
Cornelus Doornbos, S.  May 20, 1880  July 12, 1954
May Newman Doornbos May 1, 1887 May 26, 1925
Jennie McCartney Doornbos January 21, 1885 July 8, 1945
Heino Doornbos November 15, 1839 May 17, 1917
Harry Doornbos February 12, 1912 lost in action Jan. 25, 1943

Emma Doornbos Miller

April 30, 1920

July 13, 1968

Turner Lee Miller

July 8, 1915

April 19, 1982

Cornelus Doornbos, Jr.

June 5, 1916

December 3, 1970

Louise C. Doornbos

June 27, 1919

September 18, 1981

Christine Doornbos Barnett

October 9, 1908

September 5, 1968

Robert L. Barnett

January 2, 1903

February 28, 1967

Herbert P. Youmans

August 1, 1906

August 11, 1970

George E. Englin

March 12, 1904

August 7, 1989

Ashley C. Thomas

December 29, 1976

December 7, 1978

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T. Block

Allen Monroe Fletcher was born at Rosepine, Vernon Parish, Louisiana, on Christmas Day of 1894, the son of Albert Riley Fletcher (b. October 30, 1872, Rosepine, La.) and Susan Louisa Holliday (b. June 5, 1878, Deridder, La.). A. M.Fletcher was the grandson of Richard A. Fletcher, who was born in Mississippi in 1837, and Elizabeth Cryer, who was born in Louisiana on February 14, 1841. Richard A. Fletcher had come to Louisiana during the early 1840s with his parents, Patrick H. Fletcher (b. North Crolina, 1811) and Martha Ann Arnold (b. North Carolina, 1812), and settled on Anococo Creek, near the mouth of Mill Creek, northwest of Rosepine, Louisiana.

On October 22, 1914, Allen M. Fletcher married Bertie Mae Packer, the daughter of Walter Moses Packer and Mittie Belle Murry of Vernon Parish. Her paternal grandfather was Henry Packer and her maternal grandparents were Zack C. Murry and Mary Elizabeth McElveen.

Allen and Bertie Fletlcher became the parents of three sons, all of them born at Rosepine, Louisiana, as follows: (1) Guy Maurice Fletcher (b. August 13, 1915-d. August 9, 1952), who was a Beaumont fireman, who had no children; (2) Glen Eugene Fletcher (b. November 11, 1919-d. July 20, 1923); and (3) Charles Ray Fletcher, who was born on October 3, 1926.

Allen and Bertie Mae Fletcher moved to Nederland, Texas in 1932. They lived at 212 Fifteenth Street for the first three years, before they bought their home which still stands at 2112 Helena. Their house formerly had been occupied by Rev. Troy Brooks, the Baptist pastor.

Allen M. Fletcher was a carpenter by trade, and he soon went to work for the old Pure Oil Company refinery after arriving in Nederland. In 1936, he was caught up in the massive Pure Oil (now Unocal) layoff, which saw half of the plant employees, about 350 men, laid off in a single day. Soon afterward, he was employed as a carpenter by the Sabine Towing Company, and he worked for that company for eighteen years until illness forced him to retire. Sometimes his duties would require that he go to sea aboard one of the Sabine Towing Company tankers during their voyages between Smith's Bluff refinery and Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. Allen Fletcher died on December 15, 1955, and is buried at Rosepine, Louisiana.

Charles R. Fletcher came to Nederland in 1932 at the age of six and attended the Nederland schools. During his teenage years, he worked at several locations, namely, the Percy Devries dairy on Helena, Woodward's Drug Store, Nederland Pharmacy, and the Rio Theatre. In 1944, at the end of his junior year in high school, C. R. Fletlcher joined the United States Navy and was discharged in 1946. He then returned to Nederland High School to finish his senior year and graduated in 1947.

Charles R. Fletcher worked two years in the Nederland Post Office before he quit in October, 1948, to begin work in the office of Neches Butane Products Company in Port Neches, where he remained until 1979.

On January 14, 1949, C. R. Fletcher married Alta Grey Block, who was born in Port Neches on August 17, 1930. Her parents were Will Block, Sr. (b. August 2, 1870-d. February 26, 1933) and Sarah Jane Sweeney (b. Grand Chenier, La., August 4, 1884-d. Nederland, June 12, 1983, age 99). Her paternal grandparents were Albert Block (b. Prussia, 1840-d. Port Neches, 1893) and Ursula Schmidt (b. Johnson's Bayou, La., 1848-d. Port Neches, 1914). Her maternal grandparents were James Hill Sweeney (b. Grand Chenier, La., September 25, 1849-d. October 7, 1891) and Lou Ellen Smith (b. Mississippi, January 10, 1847-d. Nederland, June 12, 1923). Alta Grey's paternal great grandparents, George Frederick Block (b. Prussia, 1802-d. Orange, March, 1893) and Augusta Wippenitz (b. Prussia, 1817-d. Orange, Tx., 1885), arrived in Port Neches, Texas in May, 1846, perhaps the third or fourth family ever to settle in that community.

Alta Block Fletcher moved to Nederland from Port Neches at age five on October 17, 1935. She graduated from Nederland High School in 1947. She was employed for thirty-three years as City Secretary-Tax Assessor Collector of Nederland from 1948 until 1981. During those years, the City Hall was located at four different sites, namely, the old Scout Hut that once was on the southwest corner of Ninth and Boston, at 216 Thirteenth Street, at the first city-owned City Hall on the northwest corner of Ninth and Boston, and at the present location at 1400 Boston.

Charles and Alta Fletcher also attended many semesters of real estate classes at Lamar University. Both Charles and Alta received their real estate salesman licences, and they continued to pursue their real estate educations until they received their broker's license. They have operated the Fletcher Real Estate agency for many years.

They are also the parents of three children. Rhonda Rhea Fletcher was born in Nederland on August 13, 1951, and on December 17, 1977, she married Gary Lynn Posey, who is a pipe fitter. They are the parents of one daughter, Amanda Leigh Posey, born on September 19, 1982. Rhonda Posey is a graduate of Nederland High School and holds both Bachelor and Master's degrees from Lamar University. For the past eighteen years (1973-1991), she has taught history at Central Middle School.

Rex Alan Fletcher was born in Nederland on December 15, 1954, and graduated from Nederland High School. He is employed by Quantum USI. On October 4, 1974, Rex Fletcher married (1) Darlene Thibodeaux and they became the parents of one daughter, Melissa Ann Fletcher, born on January 28, 1978. In December, 1981, Rex married (2) Gayle Coffey, and they are the parents of twin sons, Dusty Ray Fletcher and Rusty Clay Fletcher, born on September 22, 1982.

Johanna Meryl Fletcher was born in Nederland on October 21, 1956, and graduated from Nederland High School. She also attended Lamar University for three years. For many years, she was an employee of the Physicians' Clinic in Nederland, but in 1991, she went to work in the Groves Post Office. On September 8, 1983, she married Gary Porter, who is a Nederland policeman.

Allen Monroe Fletcher was a member and past Worshipful Master (1927) of the Masonic Lodge in Rosepine, Louisiana. Charles Fletcher is a longtime member of the Nederland Masonic Lodge.

As city secretary, Alta Fletcher attended all Nederland city council meetings for a great many years, and the Fletchers have always been very active in civic affairs, particularly those pertaining to the City of Nederland. Charles and Alta Fletcher lived at a number of addresses in Nederland before building their present home at 1516 Elgin Avenue. They are both retired and enjoy travelling in their motor home as often as circumstances permit.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Mary Ida Ligon and J. Clark Griffin

Clarence Franklin Griffin, Sr., was born in Kountze, Texas, on July 17, 1886, the son of Thomas Jefferson Griffin and Sarah Jane Lyon. When Frank was seven years old, his parents moved to Woodville, Tyler County, where Thomas was a farmer and Sarah Jane was the hotel proprietor. The Woodville school ran only through the eighth grade when Frank was a boy, but Frank's favorite joke was that he had gone to school only one day in his older brother Carl's place.

His father, Thomas J. Griffin (d. September 19, 1914) was born in Mobile, Alabama, on March 17 1844, and moved with his parents to the northend of Beaumont, Texas (near the French School), where his first employment was at a brickyard. About 1859, the family moved to Hardin County, Texas, where T. J. Griffin was enumerated in the 1860 census. His father, James Griffin (b. April 28, 1809-d. July, 1890) was of English parentage, and his mother Sarah Ann Jones, was born in Mobile, Alabama, on April 28, 1820.

Sarah Jane Lyon Griffin was born on October 4, 1851, in Quitman, Mississippi. Her father, Elisha Lyon (b. Ca 1791-d. November, 1851), was a lawyer, born in Scotland, and her mother, Sarah Woodard Nieson (b. Ca. 1808-d. October, 1867) was from Ireland.

According to his Civil War pension application, Thomas Jefferson Griffin enlisted in Company D, Col. A. W. Spaight's 11th Texas Battalion in January, 1862, and served until the Civil War ended. His unit was basically a Tyler County company, commanded by Captain W. J. Spurlock, who, along with four privates of his company, were killed at the Battle of Fordoche Bayou, Louisiana, in September, 1863. At a subsequent engagement in Louisiana, the Battle of Calcasieu Pass, fought on May 6, 1864, another Company D soldier, Private Jackson Risinger of Woodville, was killed and several others of that company were wounded. Company D was mustered out of service on May 24, 1865, at Beaumont, and T. J. Griffin applied for his Civil War pension on July 31, 1909.

On September 30, 1907, Frank Griffin married Ida Clementine Johnson. She was born in Woodville, Texas, on March 17, 1887, the daughter of Judge William Andrew Johnson and Mary Jane Clark Johnson. Before her marriage, Ida Griffin taught school at both Woodville and Rockland, Texas.

Soon after their marriage, Frank and Ida Griffin moved to Beaumont, where Frank was a brakeman for the Kansas City Southern Railroad. While living there, their first two children were born, C. Frank Griffin, Jr., on April 14, 1909, and John Clark Griffin on March 12, 1912.

Around 1913, the Griffin family moved to Port Arthur, where Frank continued his career with the railroad, and where son Goodwin Griffin was born on January 22, 1915, and son Wilbur Ivins Griffin was born on July 28, 1917. In Port Arthur, the Griffin family became close friends of the Raymond Ivins family, who later, would once more induce the Griffins to become their neighbors in Nederland. On August 16, 1915, a devastating hurricane, driving a large tidal wave in front of it, swept into Port Arthur and inundated Proctor Street with salt water to depths of two to six feet in places. Frank Griffin sought refuge for his family in the Kansas City Southern depot, while his home on Tenth Street, was flooded with more than one foot of water inside.

In 1919, the Griffin family moved back to Woodville, although Frank was working out of Colmesneil at that time. He ran the local wood yard, which supplied firewood to the Tyler County courthouse, schools, and business buildings. While living at Woodville, their first daughter, Mary Ida Griffin, was born on August 20, 1920.

In 1921, the Frank Griffin family moved to Nederland and built their home at 104 Thirteenth Street, on the exact spot where the First United Methodist Church stands today. The R. P. Ivins family, who had been their neighbors in Port Arthur, lived across the street at 103 Thirteenth. Frank went to work at that time for The Texas Company (Texaco) refinery in Port Arthur, first as a railroad brakeman, and later he served many years as the company yardmaster. He retired in 1951, following thirty years of employment there. He suffered a near-fatal ruptured appendix on Christmas Day of 1950.

The last two Frank Griffin children were born in Nederland, a son, Fred Lindsey Griffin, born on February 14, 1923, and another daughter, Willie Jane Griffin, born on January 9, 1929.

Frank and Ida Griffin were charter members of the Church of Christ, and they raised their seven children in a disciplined, loving Christian atmosphere. They had sixteen grandchildren. As of 1991, there are now three step-grandchildren and four great great grandchildren.

Frank Griffin served on the Nederland School Board from 1926 until 1930. He served as Nederland City Judge from 1956 until 1961. In his every endeavor, he took his work most seriously and gave to it his best efforts and total devotion. Frank Griffin remained a longtime member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.

His wife, Ida Griffin, was a longtime member of the Rebekah Lodge and the Ladies' Aid Society of the Christian Church. Both she and her husband strove diligently to be good parents, Christians, neighbors, and community members, and as a result, they earned and commanded the respect of their peers and neighbors.

Among their siblings, Frank and Ida Griffin each had ten brothers and sisters, and of the total of twenty siblings, the Frank Griffin family of seven brothers and sisters is the only one in which all of the children are still alive (as of February, 1991).

C. Frank Griffin, Jr., the oldest child, married Hazel Lee Myers of Griffing Park, Port Arthur, on June 14, 1934. They currently live in Baytown, and are parents of one aughter, Carolyn Ann, who has two children and two grandchildren.

John Clark Griffin married (1) Ruby Shires of Port Neches on June 23, 1932. They had three children, Jerry Clark, Marscha Eva, and Vickie Marie. Ruby Griffin died on October 26, 1962. Later Clark Griffin married (2) Edna Spalding of Port Neches on May 29, 1964. Edna was the mother of one son, George. They now have seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Goodwin Griffin married Bobbie Williamson on January 21, 1937. They have three sons, Wilbur Dale, Earnest Kent, and Mark Scott, as well as six grandchildren.

Wilbur Ivins Griffin, known as "Nook" Griffin, married Rowena Herbert in May, 1943, in California. They have two children, Jeffrey Wayne and Shawna Gail, and one grandchild. They currently reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Mary Ida Griffin married Rayford Scott Ligon of Lewisville, Texas, on July 3, 1948. They had two daughters, Ida Kathryn and Frances Raye. Rayford Ligon died on March 1, 1971, Mary Ida Ligon has three grandchildren, and all of her family live in Houston.

Fred Lindsey Griffin married LaVera Shepard of Port Neches. They are parents of two sons, Philip Lindsey and Craig, and they have three grandchildren.

Willie Jane Griffin married (1) Jasper Steve Snyder of Charlotte, North Caroliana, on March 25, 1948. They had three children, Jasper Steve, Mary Janelle, and James Franklin. On June 30, 1977, Willie Jane Snyder married (2) Donald Edward Fontenot, who had two children, Ronald and Donna Lynn. Don and Willie Jane have thirteen grandchildren.

About 1956, shortly before the current sanctuary of First United Methodist Church was built, Frank and Ida Griffin sold their home at 104 Thirteenth Street to the church. They then built a new home at 927 North Seventeenth Street, where they raised a garden and flowers and lived out their retirement years. Ida C. Griffin died at age 82 on October 29, 1969, and was buried at Oak Bluff Memorial Park in Port Neches. Her widower, C. Frank Griffin, Sr., survived his spouse for two years, dying on November 14, 1971, at age 85, and he is buried beside his wife in Port Neches. Although they had burial plots in Woodville, Texas, they chose instead to be buried nearer to their children, grandchildren and their many friends in Mid-Jefferson County.

C. Frank Griffin and Ida Clementine Griffin loved their adopted city of Nederland, Texas, dearly, and they lived out their lives and reared their family in such a manner as to contribute to that city's progress and improvement. They are still remembered and are sorely missed by children, grandchildren, great and great great grandchildren, as well as a host of friends whose lives they touched.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T. Block

(The writer is grateful to J. C. Kelly, Jr., for genealogical information supplied to the author.)

The family of William Sanford Gibson and wife Nancy Welker Gibson was one of the earliest native-born families to arrive in Nederland, only a short time after the Cooke and Spencer families settled here. W. S. Gibson was the son of Noah Woster Gibson (b. August 8, 1836-d. May 24, 1909) and Atlanta L. Ripley (b. June 30, 1838-d. July 25, 1917), both of whom were natives of Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio, on the north bank of the Ohio River. By the middle 1850s, each of them had emigrated to Iowa, for on September 18, 1856, Noah Gibson and Atlanta Ripley were married in Cedar County (Tipton), Iowa. They became the parents of nine sons and one daughter.

William Sanford Gibson was born in Floyd County (Charles City), Iowa, on January 20, 1859, and on November 8, 1885, he married Nancy Jane Welker (b. August 2, 1860-d. January 2, 1946), an Iowa native, at Stuart, Guthrie County, Iowa. For the first fourteen years of their married life, the couple lived variously at Stuart and Creston, Union County, Iowa, and perhaps elsewhere, while Mr. Gibson worked variously as a farmer and whenever possible, as a boiler or steam engineer. During those years in Iowa, the Gibsons became the parents of four children, two daughters, Verna May and Floy, and two sons, William Earl and Ross Gibson. The latter died in infancy in 1893.

Between 1893 and 1897, the Kansas City Southern Railroad was laying its main line trackage to Port Arthur, Texas. Passenger service between Beaumont and Port Arthur began in 1895, but "through" service was delayed until 1897, awaiting completion of the Neches and Sabine River bridges. At that time, the railroad ran countless excursion trains from the Mid-central states to Port Arthur and Nederland in its endless effort to attract settlers and rice farm buyers for its excess property -- 50,000 acres in Jefferson County between Dupont Road and Sabine Lake, and 3,000 town lots. A number of those trains originated in Iowa, and especially in the Dutch colony of Orange City, Iowa, as the railroad even solicited Dutch settlers already living in America. It is probable that W. S. Gibson came to Nederland for the first time on one of those railroad excursion trains.

In the spring of 1900, W. S. Gibson was recorded in the Nederland census (residence 239) as a farm laborer and boarder in the household of William and Novella McFarland at Smith's Bluff. Since the McFarlands, who were rice farmers, were also natives of Iowa, perhaps they knew Gibson at an earlier date and induced him to come to Nederland on a trial basis. During that interlude, his wife and children remained in Creston, Iowa.

After a few weeks or months, W. S. Gibson returned to Creston, Iowa, but he must have liked Texas because in 1901, he moved his wife and three children to Nederland. In 1901 Gibson worked a year as a rice farmer for the John C. Beaumont family of Groves. Also in 1901, Mr. Gibson began selling real estate in and around Nederland, and in so doing, he acquired a city block of land in the 1200-1300 blocks of Nederland Avenue, where he also built his home opposite Thirteenth Street. As of this writing (Nov., 1991), that 90-year-old house is currently being dismantled (roof already gone), and the remainder is on house-moving girders, bound for some unknown destination.

In January, 1898, the Port Arthur Rice and Irrigation Company, a subsidiary of Kansas City Southern, began constructing 25 miles of rice irrigation canals around Nederland, which in turn were connected to the river flume of the large pumping plant at Smith's Bluff. The two 24-inch outflow pumps there could supply 60,000 gallons of fresh water per minute, and were powered by a battery of four oilers and two 100-horsepower Chandler and Taylor steam engines, each with a 16-foot diameter fly wheel. From 1898 until 1903, C. E. Land was the plant's chief engineer, but in 1903, the railroad transferred John Chase of Arkansas as chief engineer until the canal company went bankrupt in 1915. In the 1900 census (C. E. Land residence No. 211), Edward Rockhill was the pumping plant's stationary steam engineer, but he quit in 1902 to found the First National Bank of Nederland and become its cashier and chief executive officer. Gibson's exact years at the pumping plant are uncertain, but it certainly appears that he replaced Rockhill there in 1902 and remained until 1908 or 1909.

In 1902, J. N. Pew of Sun Oil Company in Philadelphia sent John W. Barr (Alvin Barr's father) to Nederland, where he bought several hundred acres of high land and marsh at Sun Station and built several underground storage tanks, a pump station, and a dock. Before 1926, though, Sun Oil pumped all of its crude oil by pipe line to the Sun Oil tank farm in Sabine Pass, where it was loaded on Sun Oil tankers. The 1910 Nederland census, which is an excellent source of information on the W. S. Gibson family (res. 126-128), indicated that Gibson was already employed as "engineer, oil pumping station," which translates as Sun Oil Company at Sun Station. Again, dates are uncertain, but he must have worked for Sun Oil Company from about 1909 until 1922 or 1923. He then went to work for East Texas Electric Company, which company owned a power plant in Beaumont, the Beaumont street car system, as well as the Beaumont-Port Arthur "Interurban" Railway, which passed through Nederland. East Texas was the predecessor of Gulf States Utilities Company, and Gibson remained with East Texas until his death at Nederland on January 30, 1927. Nancy Welker Gibson survived her husband by 19 years, dying at Beaumont on January 2, 1946.

The W. S. Gibson family were charter members of First United Methodist Church of Nederland. On the rolls of 1901, Verna Gibson (later Kelly) was recorded as belonging to Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of Port Neches (see author's book, W. T. Block, SAPPHIRE CITY OF THE NECHES, p. 111). A Nederland church deed of 1910 shows W. S. Gibson as one of the church's trustees, and he probably served on the Board of Stewards for many years. An article about the Nederland church observed that: "....There were ten charter members....It is known that most of them were from the J. B. Cooke and Will Gibson families....In 1947 there were four surviving charter members....Mrs. J. C. Kelly (Verna Gibson) and Mrs. F. E. Keeney (Floy Gibson)...." (See Vol. III, p. 5, of "The Chronicles of The Early Families of Nederland, Texas").

The "Memoirs of Mrs. Alice Gentry" (see also Vol. III, pp. 23-24 of "The Chronicles etc.") devote a paragraph to Verna Gibson and the W. S. Gibson family. Mrs. Gentry noted that about 1907 or 1908 Verna Gibson founded and ran Nederland's first kindergarden for English-speaking children only, in the dining room of the old abandoned Orange Hotel. Alice Thompson (later Mrs. Gentry) sometimes replaced Verna Gibson as her substitute teacher whenever the latter was ill or couldn't attend. Also, according to the Gentry memoirs, the Gibson home became an "extension" of the Methodist church sanctuary whenever church space became scarce, with Sunday School classes and Epworth League meetings being held in the Gibson home.

Mrs. Gentry also recalled that around 1930, a niece of Mrs. Gibson named Miss Della Welker taught junior high school English in Nederland for many years and roomed in the Gibson home. She noted that Miss Welker commanded the respect and admiration of all who knew her and compared her impact on the Nederland schools with that of her English teacher colleague, Mrs. Cora B. Linson, who taught senior English in Nederland for perhaps twenty years or more.

Verna May Gibson (b. November 16, 1886-d. December 4, 1962), the oldest Gibson sibling, was recorded in the 1910 Nederland census as being employed as a clerk in a dry goods store. On November 16, 1913, she married John Claude Kelly, also an early Nederland resident, and during the early years of their marriage, they resided at Smith's Bluff on the Neches River, where they watched the building of Pure Oil's (Unocal) refinery around 1922. Even before Pure Oil arrived, J. C. Kelly worked for Colonel Albert Humphreys, both at his Mexia oil field, and at Humphreys Oil Company at Smith's Bluff, Pure Oil Company's predecessor. In 1928, the family organized J. C. Kelly Oil Company as a distributor of Pure Oil products, and Kelly built a bulk plant at Twin City and Atlanta in Nederland. In 1935, the Kellys left Nederland, moving first to Tyler, Texas, and then to Beaumont. They were the parents of three sons, Sanford; J. C., Jr.; and Joseph Edward Kelly, and one daughter, Verna May Abel.

Floy Gibson (b. August 14, 1888-d. September 26, 1966) married Floyd E. Keeney of Nederland on April 3, 1908. They resided in Nederland for many years afterward and were residing in the 1000 block of Nederland Avenue during the 1920s. In the 1918 city directory, Floyd Keeney was listed as a railroad car inspector. They were the parents of two sons, Ronald G. and Floyd E. Keeney, and one daughter, Darlene Cudd Jackson.

Son Ross Gibson died in infancy in 1893. Son William Earl Gibson, the youngest son (b. July 10, 1899), came to Nederland at age two and attended the Nederland schools. He too is listed in the 1918 directory, and on September 15, 1921, he married Mamie Crawford of Mississippi. Beginning around 1930 he worked as a bookkeeper for J. C. Kelly. Around 1935, he was employed by Pure Oil Company and later was transferred first to Port Allen, Louisiana, and later to Tampa, Florida. He retired and died there without issue.

Will and Nancy Gibson were special credits to their church and to their adopted city, the infant community of Nederland, where they endured the streets of mud and dust, dawn to dusk labor, and many other aspects of the primitiveness of life in their day and age. They are still fondly recalled and sorely missed by their surviving grandchildren and a fleeting remnant of Nederland's oldtimers whose lives they touched.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T. Block

Four Goodwin family members, three brothers and a sister, were very much a part of the early history of Nederland, Texas. Actually, a second sister, Bernice Goodwin (Mrs. T. A.) Spurlock of Rosedale, Texas, near Pine Island Bayou, migrated from Missouri to Jefferson County, Texas, to engage in rice-growing with her siblings, but the latter was never a part of the history of Nederland.

The Goodwin siblings were the children of Thomas P. Goodwin (b. April 1, 1852-d. May 23, 1913), a native of Missouri, and Martha Jane Goodwin (maiden name unknown, b. November 3, 1857-d. April 2, 1921), a native of Ohio. Thomas Goodwin was a farmer, who apparently moved around considerably in search of good agricultural land; he died in 1913 and was buried in Missouri. His widow, Martha Jane Goodwin, later moved to Rosedale to reside with her daughter, Bernice Spurlock, died there in 1921, and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery. (Obit., Beau. 'Journal,' April 3, 1921) After her death, the remains of her husband were exhumed in Missouri and reinterred beside her on the Goodwin plot in Beaumont.

The five Goodwin children who came to Jefferson County (whether others remained in Missouri is unknown) were as follows: Robert A. Goodwin (b. 1878-d. January 1, 1936); James H. Goodwin (b. September 28, 1885-d. May 14, 1952), born in Lincoln, Benton County, Missouri; William Franklin Goodwin (b. 1874-d. March 10, 1936), born in Cooper, Dallas County, Missouri; Dana Goodwin Defee (d. 1962), born in Sedalia, Pettis County, Missouri; and Bernice Goodwin Spurlock. Hence, it appears that the T. P. Goodwin family may have resided on several different farms within a large area of Missouri scattered out between Springfield and Sedalia.

The Goodwin name is of English origin, having arrived in that country about the fourth century A. D. with the Anglo-Saxon invasion. The name is considered to be a derivative of the Saxon surname of Godwin. (King Harold (Godwin) II, the son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex, was the last Saxon king of England, killed at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A. D.) Palmer Goodwin of Groves observed that one of his Goodwin ancestors was part Osage Indian.

It is likewise unknown whether all of the Goodwin siblings arrived in Jefferson County at one time, or whether their arrivals were staggered. It is known that they were rice-farming in the countryside around China and Nome by 1905 or 1906. According to Carrie Goodwin's memoirs, it was the fact that Margaret Cooke (later Goodwin) taught school in China, Texas, in 1908 that she became the instrument for bringing the first Goodwin brother, her husband Robert, to Nederland to farm rice in 1909, and ultimately three other Goodwin family members would follow. It is likewise ironic that while Margaret Cooke (later Goodwin) of Nederland was teaching school in China in 1908, Carrie Jones (later Goodwin) of China was teaching school in Port Neches in the same year.

Margaret Cooke boarded there at a home which was close to Carrie Jones' home, and each of them met their future husbands at functions at China's Methodist Church. Robert and Margaret Goodwin were the only Goodwin couple living in Nederland when the 1910 census was enumerated. They married in 1909, and as of one year later, Robert Goodwin was still rice-farming here.

Margaret Cooke (b. 1888-d. September 20, 1972) was born in Scatterwood, South Dakota, the daughter of John Bunyan Cooke (b. July 9, 1855-d. December 13, 1934) and Louie J. Groves Cooke (b. July 15, 1861-d. April 8, 1948), both of them originally from Viroqua, Vernon County, Wisconsin. It is likewise ironic that during 1896-1897, Margaret Cooke resided in Cedar County, Missouri, perhaps less than fifty miles from where her future husband was residing at that time. She was educated in the common schools of Missouri, Port Neches, and Nederland. The Cooke family arrived in Nederland on February 8, 1898, and resided at first at the Orange Hotel at a time when Nederland's population consisted of no more than fifty newly-arrived Dutchmen. Margaret Goodwin's uncle, Asa E. Groves of Wisconsin, had just acquired three hundred acres, upon which he planted 2,500 pecan trees, at Groves, Texas, and the town acquired its name from the man, not the "pecan groves."

Soon afterward, Robert Goodwin quit farming rice and went to work as a stillman at Gulf Oil Corporation's refinery at Port Arthur. Robert and Margaret Goodwin became the parents of four children, as follows: two daughters, Katherine, who married J. K. Poage of Baytown and still (1991) resides in Houston, and Frances, who married Lewis Hartwig of Weslaco; and two sons, John R. Goodwin and Reverend Wilton Jackson Goodwin of Weatherford, Texas.

In a recent letter to W. T. Block, dated June 22, 1991, Rev. Bill Goodwin of Weatherford, Texas, shared these coments: "I know it must seem strange for us to know so little about our background and ancestry. It was a subject that apparently was not of great interest or importance, especially in my father's family. I cannot remember that my mother or dad ever shared with me anything about my father's parents, who died before I was even born....I cannot exaggerate at all how wonderfully happy a childhood I had in Nederland with my Cooke grandparents living next door to me and four sets of aunts and uncles living within a two-block radius of my home. There were sixteen of us, all first cousins, living within that same distance."

Rev. Wilton "Bill" Goodwin married Helen Guerrant Thorington in her hometown of Taft, Texas on December 23, 1958. They are the parents of two children, as follows: Mary Margaret Goodwin, a graduate of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, lives in Atlanta, where she is employed by the Center for Disease Control; and Robert Thorington Goodwin, who is an automobile salesperson in Dallas.

In 1935, Robert Goodwin contracted Bright's disease, and following a long illness, died on New Year's Day of 1936. Margaret Goodwin continued to live at her two-story residence which still stands at 215 Fifteenth Street, and where she ran a rooming house for school teachers for about 25 years. In 1955 she celebrated fifty years of membership in the Women's Society of First United Methodist Church of Nederland. In 1957, she wrote a history of that church which appears as the Prologue of Volume III of "The Chronicles of The Early Families of Nederland, Texas." When advanced age impaired her health, Margaret Goodwin left Nederland to live with her daughter in Weslaco, and she died in Wichita Falls on September 20, 1972, the only surviving charter member of Nederland's First Methodist congregation. She and her husband are both buried in the Cooke family plot in Magnolia Cemetery. Bob and Margaret Goodwin were noted in Nederland for their devotion to Christian living and were thoroughly respected in their community as outstanding citizens.

Carrie Belle Jones (Goodwin, b. September 30, 1888-d. January 3, 1986) was born at Lake Charlotte, near the mouth of the Trinity River in Chambers County, and she moved with her parents from Chambers County to China, Texas, in 1902. According to the 1910 census of China, Texas (Res. 112, Precinct 5, page 7-A, Supervisor's District No. 2, Enumeration District No. 89), she was recorded as being a 21-year-old single female, a primary school teacher, whose parents were J. Coleman Jones, age 50 and born in Texas; and wife, "G. A." Jones, age 48, also born in Texas. (See "Memoirs of Carrie Belle Goodwin," Part X, pp. 83-87, Volume III, of "The Chronicles of the Early Families of Nederland, Texas.") According to Mrs. Wilda Yount, Carrie's father, James Coleman Jones, was descended from Chambers County pioneers who had settled there long before the Civil War, as was also her mother, George Ann Hill Jones. J. C. Jones was also a farmer, who owned 100 heads of range cattle, fattened and slaughtered hogs, raised corn and cotton, as well as "great wagon loads of peanuts."

Carrie Goodwin described her eight years of teaching school, which included two years in Nederland after she was married. She wrote, "I was a country school teacher - taught in Fannett and China. The one in Fannett was a little old prairie school with sheep under it. It was hard, hard - you don't know what I went through. And I boarded so far away I had to ride horseback to school. I already had a school in Amelia, but they were not ready to start that school as yet because of the big boys being needed at home on the farms. . . .I taught that one teacher school there (Port Neches). The next year, I got a school at home (China). I taught there four years, I believe, before my health began to fail."

Carrie Jones met Margaret Cooke (later Goodwin), who taught at China in 1908, long before she ever met Bob, Jim, or Will Goodwin. She met Jim one day at the China Methodist Church, when she was removing a flag from a stage, following a play, and Jim Goodwin came on stage and offered to help her. The romance between them began almost at once, but it was several more years before they were married.

Carrie Goodwin added that after the rice harvest had ended, Jim Goodwin worked at whatever employment he could find to support himself, including on occasion, guarding county prisoners who were doing road work.

Jim Goodwin moved to Nederland first because he went to work at Port Arthur's Gulf (Chevron) refinery in June, 1913. For many years, until he bought his first Ford car, he rode the Interurban trolley to Port Arthur and then caught a city street car back and forth to work. His first pay scale was $15.00 a week for 48 hours work.

On December 12, 1915, he and Carrie Jones were married in China before the Sunday morning congregation, and the wedding party then went to dinner at the old Crosby House in Beaumont. For the first two weeks they resided with Bob and Margaret Goodwin until their first home at 320 Fifteenth Street was completed. Later they built a second home next door at 324 Fifteenth, which is still standing. Carrie Goodwin recalled that they had no public utilities whatsoever in those early days of Nederland - only kerosene lamps, a kerosene cook stove given to her by her brother, a wood heater, well water, a cistern, and an outhouse.

Two children were born to Carrie and Jim Goodwin over the years, namely, (1) a son, James Horace Goodwin (b. April 18, 1918-d. February 19, 1984), a U. S. Army veteran, who lived much of his adult life in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. At the time of his death, he was retired from Burns Security Company, and he was survived by his wife, Betty June Goodwin. Jim and Carrie Goodwin were also parents of (2) a daughter, Martha Ann Goodwin Evans (b. October 8, 1926-d. December 9, 1969), who was divorced from her husband and died without issue. At first she worked in the Pure Oil Company office, but in 1961 she became assistant secretary of Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union, Local 4-228, of Port Neches.

In 1939, Jim Goodwin was a leading exponent and advocate for the incorporation of Nederland in the face of considerable opposition. He ran for and was elected Nederland's first mayor in 1940. In October, 1950, he retired from Gulf Oil Corporation, following 37 years of service there as an oil treater at the Port Arthur refinery. He helped organize the Nederland Chamber of Commerce. After his retirement, he worked for about a year as court bailiff for Judge Owen Lord's District Court in Beaumont. He was also a member of Port Arthur's Elks Lodge, a life member of Cosmopolitan Lodge, A. F. and A. M.(asons) of Port Arthur and of Nederland's First Methodist Church, of which he was an enthusiastic member.

James H. "Speedy" Goodwin died on May 14, 1952, and the Elks Lodge presented their graveside rituals at his funeral in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Beaumont. Carrie Goodwin not only remained a widow for 32 years, but it was also her unfortunate experience to have to bury both of her children. She died on January 3, 1986, after 97 years and three months of Christian living, and beloved for her role of senior citizen in the community.

William Franklin Goodwin (b. 1874), the oldest of the three brothers, may well have been the first of them to arrive in Texas since about 1905 or 1906, he married Zoe Maude Gleason (b. 1881-d. November 16, 1963), the exact marriage date not being readily available. They were the parents of four children, the first three of whom were born at Nome, Texas, as follows: Irma Juanita (b. September 21, 1907); Basil D. Goodwin (deceased, b. 1908); Palmer L. Goodwin (b. 1912); and Audrey (b. Nederland, 1918).

Very little is recalled about Zoe Gleason Goodwin's ancestry, except that her father, ------Gleason, was a Civil War veteran. His widow (Mrs. Goodwin's mother), Lucretia Gleason, later was remarried to -------Nokes, also a Civil War veteran. She died on April 23, 1937, and is buried on the Goodwin plot in Magnolia Cemetery.

From 1906 until 1916, while Will Goodwin was engaged in rice farming, the family resided at 1029 Twelfth Street in Nome, Texas, and the older children began school there. In 1916, however, the Will Goodwin family moved to Nederland (when Palmer was four years old), and all of the Goodwin brothers, Bob, Jim, and Will, appear in Nederland's city directory of 1918. At that time, Will Goodwin went to work for Gulf Oil Corporation, at its Guffey (Spindletop) plant on West Port Arthur Road, where he remained employed for twenty years until he died. Will Goodwin bought four or five lots between 1020 and 1036 Boston Avenue in Nederland, where he built his story and one-half home and two rent houses, which were later bought by John Ware, the postmaster. His former home, although remodeled into a single story dwelling, is still located there. While he resided in Nederland, Will Goodwin was a very active Methodist member, serving both on the church's board of stewards as well as board secretary.

About 1926, Will Goodwin bought ten acres of land between Merriman and Nall Streets when that area of Port Neches was open cow pasture. He built his home on the street that still bears his name - Goodwin Avenue. In addition to working for Gulf Oil, he and his sons operated a dairy there until Goodwin's death on March 10, 1936.

Of the four Will Goodwin children, daughter Audrey married (1) Bill Waggoner (deceased), and (2) Lamar Donald. She is the mother of one son, Van. Daughter Irma Junaita married Arthur Teaf and is the mother of one son. Son Basil Goodwin (deceased) married Laura Aycock, and they were the parents of four daughters. For the past ten years, Palmer L. Goodwin of Groves has been married to the former Mrs. Claris Cheshire Baird, and each of them is the parent of one son by a former marriage, William L.Goodwin and Charles Baird.

Although William Franklin and Zoe Goodwin left Nederland during their latter years, they remained active citizens of their church and community. Will Goodwin died in March, 1936, only two months after the death of his brother Bob, and he is buried on the Goodwin plat in Magnolia Cemetery. His widow, Zoe Goodwin, survived her husband for 27 years, and died in November, 1963, at age 82. She too is buried on the Goodwin plot beside her husband.

Dana Goodwin Defee, the only daughter of that family ever to live in Nederland, married James Franklin Defee and settled in Nederland around 1920. The writer, however, has very little genealogical data concerning her family. Her husband died in 1932. They were the parents of two daughters, Lola (Mrs. L. M.) Harvill and Inez (Mrs. H. H.) Bailey, both of Nederland, and three sons, James Arthur (Jake) Defee (deceased), Tillie A. Defee, and Luther Defee. The latter and his wife are retired and now live at Toledo Bend.

After remaining a widow for several years, Dana Goodwin Defee married Elbert Liner and moved to Wills Point, Texas, where she died in 1962. Jake Defee (died July 15, 1949) is buried on the Goodwin plot in Magnolia Cemetery, but the writer has no knowledge about the other family burials.

In retrospect, the Goodwin family members who are deceased contributed much to Nederland's early history, welfare, and improvement beyond all proportion to their numbers. They were particularly active in the town's political and religious affairs. Arriving during the community's infancy years, they helped chart the town's course through two world wars and the great depression. Jim Goodwin lent his expertise to Nederland's beginnings as its first mayor who helped set up the tax rolls, first police and fire protection, and the means for the earliest street, sewer, and water department maintenance. Each Goodwin family, both husband and wife, were pillars in the Methodist Church affairs of Nederland. As early-day school teachers, two Goodwin wives were to influence the youth of neighboring communities as well as the children of their hometown. They are still fondly recalled and sorely missed by their children, grandchildren, and an entire host of friends whose lives they touched.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Barney Green

My father, Morris F. Green, was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, on April 9, 1882. He was the second oldest in a family of ten children born to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Green. Not much is known about them since both of them died before M. F. Green was married. About all that is known by any of us about Joe Green and his wife is that he came down to Louisiana from the North after the Civil War, and his wife was a native of Louisiana, of Creole French descent.

Morris F. Green became a permanent resident of Nederland about 1909. He came by way of a boat to Port Arthur with the rest of his family. They were fleeing a hurricane at Johnson's Bayou, which had wiped out their farm. He had been to Texas on previous occasions. One time, he came as a volunteer to help clean up Galveston after the 1900 hurricane there. He had also come here after the Lucas gusher came in near Beaumont and he worked there for a while as a roughneck. His memories of that period were of wagons travelling to and from Spindletop all night long. Also he told of the fledgling oil companies stealing oil and everything else from each other, even of stealing boilers still hot from the fires that had been in them.

After coming here in 1909, he continued to work in the oil fields and to help his parents get their farm started again after it was destroyed by the hurricane of 1900. He also worked for rice farmers in the Nederland area. He became known as one of the few area men who could work well with a yoke of oxen. Dad always said that oxen were better for plowing in muddy ground. They were stronger than either horses or mules, but they were a lot more stubborn.

One of the things that the people of that early period feared most was a cattle drive by an area rancher. If a person had any loose cattle on the prairie, that rancher's cow hands would veer to the right or left in order to pick up the loose cattle on the prairie and get them into their herd. Whenever the rancher would acquire new property, the first thing he would do was put up posted signs. The standard joke of that period was that nobody had to worry about "going to hell," because that rancher was down there and he already had all of Hell posted.

Morris F. Green continued to take care of his parents until they were both dead before he gave any thought to marrying or acquiring a permanent residence of his own. That was about 1919. He bought three lots in the 600 block of Eleventh Street in the Burson Addition, and he built his home there.

In 1921 he married Myrtle Kennedy of Carriere, Mississippi. He was already 39 years old at that time. The four children that were born of that marriage were Raymond Morris Green, born on January 11, 1923; Barney Lee Green, born on August 24, 1926; Ruby Joyce Green, born on February 20, 1933, and Peggy Jean Green, born on March 21, 1937.

Morris F. Green continued to live on Eleventh Street during all the years he worked for Sun Oil Company. He retired from there in 1952 at the age of 70. He died on April 15, 1968, at the age of 86. My mother, Myrtle Green, died on April 4th, 1970, at the age of 70.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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The Haizlip Families of Nederland

bulletDr. John H. Haizlip -- Families
bulletWilliam O'Kelly Haizlip, Sr. -- Memoirs -- Interview 1973

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By A. C. Handley, Jr.

Alex C. Handley was born on January 5, 1905, in Patterson, Louisiana, to Alex C. and Jeanne Duplan Handley. His father was superintendent of the Williams Lumber Company sawmill in Patterson, later in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. His first job was as timekeeper and swamper for the Williams Lumber Company.

Alex "Frog" Handley attended Patterson High School, and later, Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

He went to work with Gulf States Utilities Company on October 21, 1924, in Port Arthur, Texas. In 1928 he was moved to Nederland as superintendent of the Midcounty region, and he continued to live here until his death on February 20, 1966.

About 1928, Gulf States built its new office in Nederland at 11th Street and Nederland Avenue, across from Weingarten Shopping Center and the old Fair Store building, in a building that for many years now has been a paint store. At that time, a railroad spur crossed 11th Street and ended up at the rear of the Gulf States building, which had a large storage room for ice in back. Ice manufacturing and distribution was a major part of Gulf States Utilities' business activities in those days, and each morning for many years a refrigerator box car, filled with ice, was sidetracked onto that railroad spur to be unloaded.

A. C. Handley was married to Holyn Eloise Whitley, who was born in Hammond, Louisiana on May 17, 1905. They became the parents of two sons, A. C. Handley, Jr., who still resides in Nederland with his wife, and Phil W. Handley, who resides in Richardson, Texas. About 1952, the Handley family bought the former home of Mrs. Pearl Niewoehner at 1304 Avenue A, and they resided there until their deaths.

Holyn Handley lived there until February 28, 1989, when she died following a small house fire in her bedroom which burned her severely.

While living in Patterson, "Frog" Handley acquired the nickname of "Bunny," which he did not like. Shortly after arriving in Texas, people began calling him "Frog," a nickname that he liked and always wanted to be called. At any time after 1928, A. C. "Frog" Handley loved Nederland very much, and he would never have chosen to reside elsewhere.

"Frog" and Holyn Handley are fondly recalled and are still sorely missed by their sons, grandchildren, and a host of friends whose lives they touched.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Raymond and Melba Hawkins

John Carson Hawkins was born in Lebanon, the Indian Territory, now the State of Oklahoma, on June 18, 1889. He was the second child and oldest son of John Thomas Hawkins, who was born in 1859 in Lewisburg, Tennessee, and died in 1935 at Ardmore, Oklahoma. The mother of John Carson Hawkins was Annie Catherine Hawkins, nee Adams, who was also born in Lewisburg, Tennessee, in 1861, and who died at Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1927. John Thomas and Annie Catherine Adams Hawkins left Tennessee for the Indian Territory in the latter part of the 1880's, before the territory was officially opened for settlement, and they settled in the southeastern part of Carter County, slightly north of the Red River. This part of Oklahoma was also known as the Chickasaw Indian Nation. John T. and Catherine Hawkins, who were the parents of nine children, are both buried in the Provence Cemetery, located seven miles east of Ardmore.

On September 17, 1910, John Carson Hawkins married Myrtle Nall, who was born on April 2, 1894, near McMillan, Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. Her father, John D. Nall, was born in Jacksboro, Texas, in 1866, and died at McMillan, near Ardmore, in 1944. Myrtle Nall was the second child and oldest daughter among seven siblings. Her mother, Margaret Ellen Williams, was born in Sedalia, Missouri, in 1867, and died at McMillan in 1954. When Margaret Williams was a very small girl, her 28-year-old, widowed mother moved to Jacksboro, Texas, where Margaret met and married John D. Nall. Soon afterward, they moved to McMillian, in southeast Carter County, in the Chickasaw Nation. John and Margaret Nall are both buried in McMillan Cemetery, ten miles southeast of Ardmore.

Until 1926, John Carson Hawkins was a tenant farmer. During 1926, he bought a 1926-model Ford roadster, and in order to pay for it, he went to work for the Pure Oil Company refinery in Ardmore, intending to work there only until he paid for his car. Instead, when he retired from Pure Oil 28 years later, he was still struggling to pay for a car! Pure Oil Company closed down the Ardmore refinery at the height of the Great Depression, around 1933, and for a few months thereafter, J. C. Hawkins worked at whatever odd job he could find in order to support his family. During the fall of 1934, he came to Nederland and went to work for Pure Oil's Smith's Bluff Refinery, where he remained until age 64, retiring in 1954. After the Nederland post office was moved to 1220 Boston (into what is now the east half of Rienstra Furnature Company), J. C. Hawkins worked as custodian of the post office for a few years, and retired from there as well on the small pension of $11.00 a month. Eventually, ill health caused from heart problems forced him to leave the post office, and his bad heart, coupled with severe injuries from an auto accident, resulted in his death on March 26, 1973.

Myrtle Nall Hawkins lived on at the family home at 1204 Kent Avenue at 12th Street. She survived her husband for thirteen years, dying at age 92 on July 2, 1986. At the time of her death, she had three sons and four daughters, eleven grand sons and five grand daughters, and thirteen great grand sons and eleven great grand daughters. She and her husband are buried in Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches, Texas. They are still fondly recalled and sorely missed by a host of descendants, relatives, and friends whose lives they touched.

Their oldest son, Raymond R. Hawkins (b. November 1, 1915), graduated from Ardmore High School in Oklahoma. During World War II, he served in the United States Army infantry from January, 1941, until November, 1945, twenty-two months of that period being in the European Theater. He married Melba Morgan in March, 1945, and a few months later, went to work for Neches Butane Products Company in the engineering department, where he also retired in 1978. They are the parents of two sons and two grandsons.

Daughter Winifred N. Hawkins was also born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and attended schools in both Oklahoma and Texas, graduating from Nederland High School in 1936. She married James A. Morgan of Nederland in 1940. They are the parents of two sons, two grandsons and one great grand daughter.

Son Warren G. Hawkins was born in Ardmore on November 7, 1920, and graduated from Nederland High School in 1939. He married Elva Segura of Delcambre, Louisiana, in 1942. He served also in the U. S. Army from April 1, 1944, until April, 1946. From November, 1944, until April, 1946, he served in the Combat Engineers in Europe. He was employed by Pure Oil Company (Unocal) in 1946 and retired in 1982. He and his wife are the parents of two sons and one daughter, four grand sons and two grand daughters.

John C. "Sheb" Hawkins, Jr. was born in Ardmore on November 8, 1924, and attended Nederland High School until 1942. He served in a U. S. Navy gun crew aboard merchant ships from 1943 until 1946. He worked as a construction pipe fitter from 1946 until he retired in March, 1983. He married Irene Hartner Hawkins in 1990 and now lives near Dam B. He is the father of one daughter, two grand sons, and one grand daughter.

Daughter Margaret A. Hawkins was born on October 2, 1926, in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and attended Nederland High School until 1944, when she married J. C. Soape of Carthage, Texas in 1944. She lived there until she died on October 23, 1987. She was the mother of two sons, three grand daughters, and two grand sons.

Daughter Sylvia J. Hawkins was also born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and she graduated from Nederland High School in 1949. She married Billy J. Hatchel in 1940, and they live in Kilgore, Texas. They are the parents of two daughters and one son, and four grand sons and seven grand daughters.

Daughter Betty S. Hawkins was the only Hawkins sibling born in Nederland, and she graduated from Nederland High School in 1952. She married James Walker of Belmont, Louisiana, in 1954, and they currently reside in Central Gardens Addition, north of Nederland. They are the parents of two sons and one daughter, and two grand sons and one grand daughter.

The Hawkins family members are very proud of their adopted home town of Nederland, Texas, and of the contributions the various family members have made toward that city's growth and improvement. (1991)

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Marian Creswell Hayslette

The Charles Eugene Hayslette, Sr. family moved from Birmingham, Alabama, to Port Arthur, Texas, in 1929. They then moved to Nederland in 1930. Mr. Hayslette was born in Summit Point, West Virginia, on June 6, 1892, and died in Nederland, Texas on November 14, 1951.

His parents were Charles Craighill Hayslett (b. March 26, 1852-d. July 17, 1919) and Rose Virginia Miller (b. May 2, 1861-d. March 11, 1925) from Middleway, West Virginia. He was a carpenter by trade. Charles C. Hayslett and wife, Rose Virginia, had two sons, Charles Eugene, who would eventually move to Nederland, and Fred Miller Hayslete (b. May 6, 1889-d. March 4, 1934).

In 1899 Charles C. Hayslett moved his family to Columbus, Mississippi, where he accepted a position with the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. He built the local passenger depot at that time.

Charles Eugene Hayslette, Sr. married Marguerite Greer (b. August 18, 1898-d. June 30, 1973). She was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Her parents were Charles Carlton Greer (b. October 6, 1855-d. Feb., 1932), born in Macon, Georgia, and Margaret Loyola Morgan (b. July 5, 1861-d. January 28, 1941), born in Montgomery, Alabama. Charles Carlton Greer was a machinist by trade.

Charles Eugene and Marguerite had four children, Jewell Margaret, Rose Mary, Charles Eugene, Jr.; and Fred Greer Hayslette.

Charles Eugene Hayslette, Sr. was also a machinist by trade. In 1929, he went to work for Texaco refinery in Port Arthur. While at Texaco, he developed a "Procedure Manual for Machinists" that is still being used today.

He went to work at Pure Oil refinery in 1930 and worked there for eleven years. Later he worked at Neches Butane Products Company (now Texaco Chemical) at Port Neches for three years, and then he worked in foreign countries until 1950. He worked in Saudi Arabia, Alaska, and Venezuela. Charles Eugene and Marguerite Hayslette are buried in Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches.

He was a member and past president of Machinists International Local 823 of Port Neches, as well as of United Brotherhood and Journeymen of America. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus.

The children of Charles Eugene, Sr. and Marguerite Hayslette are Jewell Margaret, born in Holt, Alabama on July 25, 1918. She ws a 1935 graduate of Nederland High School. She married Clifford Ellery Stephens (deceased). They had two children, Beverly Jean Stephens and Clifford Grant Stephens.

Rose Mary Hayslette was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on May 26, 1919, and died in Nederland on October 12, 1989. She graduated from Nederland High School in 1937. She was in the Women's Army Corps of the U. S. Army during World War II. She married Joe Wallace Gray (deceased) from Carthage, Texas, and they had an adopted son, Fred Gray. She is buried in Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches.

Charles Eugene Hayslette, Jr. was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on September 7, 1921. He graduated from Nederland High School in 1939. He went to work at Gulf Oil refinery, now Chevron, in 1940. He entered the army in 1942, during World War II. He was in the Army three years, serving two of those years overseas. He was discharged in 1945 and returned to Gulf Oil Company after his military service.

Charles Eugene Hayslette, Jr. and Marian Frances Creswell, born in Nederland on December 3, 1924, were married on June 2, 1946. She is the daughter of Francis Douglas Creswell and Augusta Creswell. She graduated from Nederland High School in 1942.

They are the parents of one daughter, Cheryl Frances Hayslette James (b. October 5, 1948). She graduated from Nederland High School in 1967, and Lamar University in 1970. On November 29, 1969, Cheryl Hayslette married Grady Wilson James, Jr., an attorney.

Cheryl and Grady have three daughters, Diana James Prater, Jennifer Leigh James, and Jamie Amanda James, all of Conroe, Texas. Grady James specializes in Family Law.

Charles Eugene Hayslette, Jr. retired from Gulf Oil as an operator on July 6, 1982, with 42 years of service.

Fred Greer Hayslette was born in Birmingham, Alabama on January 7, 1926. He joined the Navy on January 3, 1944 during World War II and was overseas for 21 months. Fred then worked for Bruno Shultz Shipyard in Port Arrhur after his discharge from the Navy. He then went to work for Gulf Oil (Chevron) on July 27, 1947.

Fred Hayslette married Billy Jo Price (deceased 1984). Their children are Fred H., Robert Earl, Mary Katherine (d. 1983), Charlotte Marie, Charles Eugene III, and Sharmaine.

Fred Greer Hayslette was a No. 1 Power Plant engineer at Gulf Oil. He retired on June 30, 1983 with 36 years of service.

He is a member of the American Legion, VFW, Fraternal Order of Eagles, and the Knights of Columbus.

Charles Eugene Hayslette, Sr. was responsible for adding the final letter "e" to the Hayslette name. He explained that "it just didn't seem finished without it." In an area filled with so many French and Acadian names, many of which ended with "ette," it became difficult, if not downright impossible, to convince anyone that the name was Scotch-Irish.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Eileen Henson

E. E. "Al" Henson and Eileen Hammer Henson first established temporary residence in Nederland, Texas in May, 1938, and permanent residence there in June of 1942, when they purchased the first house completed in the 2500-2600 blocks of Avenue E. Hillcrest No. 1 addition was very sparsely settled before World War II, with most streets without shell and only an occasional house scattered here and there throughout that area between Avenue H and Nederland Avenue and the area between the 2000-2600 blocks. Before World War II, the TC Development Company of Beaumont, with Sim Todd as representative, developed the 2500-2600 blocks of Avenues E and D, as well as Hillterrace and Hilldale Streets, adding altogether about 100 new homes to the City of Nederland.

At the time that Al and Eileen first met in 1934, Al was a construction supervisor for the then Pure Oil Company's (now Unocal's) own construction and maintenance crew, which travelled wherever the need arose to the company's various refineries scattered over the central and eastern states.

Roger Eisenmann (a longtime Pure Oil retiree who recently died) was with the same crew which was working at Heath refinery in Newark, Ohio, when Eileen first met both of the young men. Roger Eisenmann and Al Henson shared rooms in Newark, and when they were sent to Smith's Bluff Refinery at Nederland, they again shared lodging at 119 Fifteenth Street, at the home of Hugh and Cora Keeling, both of whom were well-known Nederland school teachers.

The construction crew also worked at the Cabin Creek, West Virginia, refinery, where Maebelle Bolte (Roger Eisenmann's future wife) worked in the club house. These four people became fast friends before either couple ever married.

Eileen and Al Henson had been engaged for some time when the crew was sent to the Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, refinery in May, 1937. Pure Oil Company decided to close that refinery after the crew and equipment had been dispatched there. Norman Yentzen, scion of Nederland's early George Yentzen family, was another supervisor charged with moving the construction crew's equipment.

The construction crew was then ordered to Muskogee, Oklahoma, with Cora Cappell Yentzen (Norman's wife), along with her children, leading the cross-country entourage. Norman followed her with the equipment truck and Al Henson brought of the rear of the convoy.

When the group reached Hebron, Ohio, about five miles from Newark, Al left the group at a motel, told Norman and Cora to wait there for him, and he left for Newark, where he and Eileen were married.

After their sojourn in Muskogee, Oklahoma, the group came back to Nederland in May, 1938, where Al and Eileen took up temporary residence at the Keeling residence, while Cora attended summer school.

Al and Eileen Henson became the parents of three children, as follows: daughter Sonya, who married David Willis, a native of Nederland; daughter Carol, who married Haywood Perkins, and son "Jim," who married Norma Cappucci of Boston. Sonya and David Willis own the Premier Press and Office Center on Highway 365 in Nederland. They are the parents of three sons, Kent, who just graduated from Southwestern University with a BA degree in Business; Kevin, who attended Lamar University; and Kyle, a talented art student, who will be majoring in art at Lamar University. Sonya Willis graduated from Lamar University with a BBS degree and later earned an elementary certification there.

Carol and Haywood Perkins both work for Chevron Oil Company. They are the parents of one son, Ron David, and a granddaughter named Sondra. Carol Perkins attended Lamar University for several sessions.

Jim and Norma Henson are the parents of one daughter, Jennifer, who works for Continental. Jim Henson became an Eastern Airlines captain. He attended Texas Western (now the University of Texas at El Paso) on a football scholarship granted by "Bum" Phillips.

Eileen and Al Henson witnessed many changes which came to Nederland from the moment they first saw the town. In those days before World War II, the Boston Avenue buildings consisted mostly of Nederland Pharmacy on the corner, Dr. J. C. Hines' office next door; the old Rio Theatre, which is now a vacant lot; the old Gardner and Cooke groceries, both of which were old wooden structures; an old two-story, red brick building (the original First National Bank building) at Twelfth and Boston, occupied until 1938 by Yentzen's Bakery; a small wooden post office at 1144 Boston, the old First Baptist Church, which was then a wooden building, but is now a vacant lot at Thirteenth and Boston. Across the street from that old church was the George Yentzen home, which is now the site of NCNB Bank. In 1938 the Nederland streets were topped only with shell, and when it was dry, the shell dust was drawn into the houses by the attic fans. Air conditioning at that time was only a dream of the future.

With no previous college to her credit, Eileen Henson entered Lamar University in July, 1965, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Homemaking in 1969. She also completed a Master of Education degree, with a specialization in English, in 1973. She then taught English at Bridge City Junior High School until her retirement. Al Henson remained active in the construction field, eventually founding his own company, the Jefferson Construction Company. His company completed many contracts for the firm he started out with, Pure Oil Company, as well as elsewhere. Al Henson died in 1978.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Shirley Gibson (Hise) Cook

The Joseph W. Hise, Sr. family came to Nederland after moving to Port Arthur from Louisiana. After living in Port Arthur for a few years, they settled in Nederland during the 1920s and lived at 1016 Nederland Avenue.

Mr. Hise's family, his parents and one sister, Carrie Marriot, lived in northern Louisiana around Athens. Joe attended a small college there for a couple of years, then moved on to Longville, Louisians, near Deridder, to work for a lumber company. He played baseball on the company team.

He met Bertie Mae Hall there, and after they were married, they moved on to Port Arthur. He also played baseball for the Gulf (Chevron) refinery there until he retired.

Three children were born to them, including two sons, Joseph W. Hise, Jr. and Leo Hise, and a daughter, Jane Elizabeth.

Most of the family are now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Hise and son Leo are buried in Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches. J. W. Hise, Jr. is buried in Memory Gardens in Nederland. As of 1991, Jane Elizabeth Hise still survives and is a guest at Nederland Nursing Home. A former daughter-in-law, Shirley Gibson Hise, now Mrs. Shirley Cook, and a grandson, J. W. Hise III, reside in Beaumont.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T.Block

(The writer is grateful to Mrs. Barbara Newberry for genealogical information graciously supplied to the writer.)

Hugh Alexander Hooks, a long-time Nederland plumber and scion of one of Hardin County's oldest and best-known families, was born in Thicket, Hardin County, Texas on April 13, 1903. His great grandparents were William "Pap" Hooks and Martha "Ma" Collier Hooks, who were progenitors of most of the extensive Hooks clan of Hardin County and who moved to Texas from Georgia in 1849.

Hugh's grandfather, Alexander Buchanan "Buck" Hooks, born May 5, 1848, was the last of the three children of William Hooks born in Georgia. At age seventeen, he was preparing to depart for the Confederate Army, when the Civil War suddenly ended. It was said that his older brother, James Darius "Day" Hooks, walked all the way back to Texas from Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, the scene of the Confederacy's demise. "Buck" Hooks, a very handsome man, was said to resemble King Charles II, who was his probable ancestor through his grandmother, Margaret Lane. In 1870 he married Mrs. Fannie Allums, a widow with two children, whose maiden name was Tarver.

Hugh A. Hooks' father, Benjamin Allen "Little Ben" Hooks, was the third child and third son of Buck and Fannie Hooks. Benjamin A. Hooks (b. November 26, 1874-d. September 5, 1942) married Mrs. Martha Jane Adams, whose maiden name was Smith. Hugh Hooks was the oldest child, that is, except for an infant daughter who lived for only seven weeks. Ben A. Hooks built the family's ancestral home at Thicket that Hugh A. Hooks would return to during his old age.

After Hugh's mother died in 1917, he left school at age fourteen in order to split railroad ties and cut "stave bolts." The Hardin County schools during Hugh's youth were rather primitive by today's standards, often requiring a long walk or horseback ride of several miles in order to reach a one-room, country school that taught only through the seventh grade. Hugh Hooks, however, never neglected his schooling, even as an adult, educating himself through night class attendance, correspondence courses, long hours of reading, as well as apprentice training in his chosen vocation of plumbing.

In 1921, Hugh Hooks began working in the Saratoga oil field, and long after his oil field days had ended, he claimed he kept a suitcase packed just in case he decided to make the next boom somewhere. The very early 1920s also took him to work as a driller in Colonel Albert Humphreys' (who would later found Pure Oil's Smith Bluff refinery) oil field at Mexia, Texas; the Corsicana oil field; the El Dorado and Smackover, Arkansas fields; as well as oil fields in Oklahoma. Hugh Hooks often remarked that he "didn't like what he saw in the oil fields. Women, worn out long before their time, tried to raise unruly families in filthy tents. I just didn't like to see people live like that!"

Hugh A. Hooks learned the plumbing trade in Houston during the middle 1920s while he was helping to build the old Hermann Hospital and the Nils Esperson and Nellie Esperson buildings. In 1926 he moved to McAllen, Texas, where he opened a plumblig business and where he likewise soon met and married the former Annette Gillespie.

Annette was born in Baber, Texas, a sawmill community north of Woodville, Tyler County, in 1906, the second of five children born to John Thomas Gillespie and Mabel Fox. She and Hugh met and married in the First Baptist Church of McAllen.

After her children were born, Annette Hooks taught Sunday School, Bible School, and was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Nederland.

She also became Hugh's office manager when he founded Hooks Plumbing Company, and she remained there until the business closed in 1963. She also was active in the Business and Professional Women's Club, the Pilot Club, and the Nederland Garden Club. Flowers and plants were her main outside interest, along with cooking, trying new recipes, chocheting, and whatever else was necessary to the tender and loving care she extended to her family.

The arrival of the Great Depression, however, was soon to end Hugh Hooks' first business venture at McAllen, Texas, and the young couple soon returned to Thicket, Texas, where in 1932 drought and other circumstances enabled Hugh to produce only one bale of cotton from seventeen acres planted in that staple commodity. This was also the age when farmers were paid for the acreage they plowed under or did not plant. So while the depression left most everyone else unemployed, the Hooks family left the family farm and moved to Nederland, where Hugh worked for Pure Oil Company from 1933 until 1942. The 1938 Nederland city directory noted that Hugh A. Hooks worked as a pumper for Pure Oil Company and resided with his family on College Street, later to become 1408 Avenue C. This was to become the only house that Hugh and Annette Hooks ever owned in Nederland and where they were to raise their children.

"When you went downtown, you knew everyone you met," was the way Annette Hooks described pre-World War II Nederland during those days when the town only extended from Ninth Street on the east to Fifteenth Street on the west.

The war years of 1942 through 1945 were to send Hugh A. Hooks scrambling about from one defense job to another, a life not greatly different from his oil field years. The years 1941-1942 brought about the building of many area army bases, Fort Polk and Chenault Field in Southwest Louisiana and Camp Wallace and Ellington Field in the Houston area, and Hugh Hooks was to hone his plumbing skills while helping to build such bases. Beginning in 1942, a number of new area defense industries, the huge shipyards of Beaumont and Orange and the synthetic rubber complex at Port Neches, allowed him to work closer to home until World War II ended. Sensing correctly that Nederland was soon to undergo a vast, post-war building boom that would double and redouble the town's population, Hugh founded the Hooks Plumbing Company at 320 Twelfth Street in 1945.

The H. A. Hooks family were soon to embrace their adopted hometown of Nederland in all of its various aspects, business, civic, religious, and scholastic. The three Hooks children are all graduates of the Nederland school system. During the 1940s, Hugh Hooks was elected to terms on the Nederland School Board, and in 1954, he was elected to the Nederland City Council. He was also a longtime member of the Nederland Chamber of Commerce and was elected to its Board of Directors. Hugh Hooks was also a member of the Masonic Lodge, No. 1368 of Port Neches, and he remained a Mason for fifty-five years.

The Hooks family were also active in the community's religious life and were members of First Baptist Church. While still a young man, Hugh Hooks was baptized at McAllen, Texas, and although unable to attend church regularly due to his trips to or residence at Thicket, he remained an avid Bible reader and led a Christian life to the best of his ability.

Although Hooks Plumbing Company prospered modestly during the building boom times of the 1950s, Hugh Hooks could hardly wait for the moment he could close out that business and move back to the family farm at Thicket. The eighty-acre plot still contained the old abandoned family home, which had deteriorated beyond any hope of repair. It was built in the famed East Texas pattern, with full-length porches, wood shingle roof, and the customary "dog trot" through the center. And most every weekend prior to 1963, Hugh would hurry back to the old homestead to watch the squirrels scurrying through the pecan and black walnut trees or just to inhale the fragrance of pine needles or the similar odors emanating from the pine forests he loved.

Finally in 1963, Hugh and Annette Hooks liquidated their Nederland business and other holdings and returned to Thicket to live. With the old farm house in such an advanced state of decay, they chose instead to build a new home, but they could not bear to see the old house torn down. In December, 1975, Richard Stewart, a former Enterprise staff writer, visited the Hooks farm and published his subsequent article and pictures in the Sunday Enterprise-Journal of January 4, 1976.

Stewart pointed out Hugh and Annette's love of the farm and nature was second only to their half-century love affair with each other that could end only in death. Their daughter added that the care of her husband was Annette Hooks' principal interest in life, and throughout their married life together, she always called her husband "Mr. Hooks."

Stewart added another comment of a friend who once inquired of Hugh Hooks, "It looks to me like your honeymoon has lasted about 48 years, true?"

"Yeah, about that," Hooks smiled back at him with a sheepish grin.

After sixteen years of canning, cooking, and the house cleaning that characterizes a farm wife's daily routine, Annette Hooks died on January 4, 1979, and was buried in Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches. Hugh Hooks survived her for nearly five years, passing away on December 31, 1983, at age eighty, and he was laid to rest beside his wife.

Hugh and Annette Hooks were the parents of three children, as follows: Hugh Hooks, Jr., a Dupont retiree with thirty years service, who recently moved back to the Thicket homestead; Thomas A. Hooks of Nederland, a Dupont superintendent; and Mrs. Barbara Newberry of Nederland, librarian of Henson Memorial Library. Hugh and Annette Hooks also had seven grandchildren, as follows: Roxanne Newberry Morrow, Carol Hooks Smith, Allison Newberry Dennis, Randall Newberry, Lisa Hooks, Kelly Hooks, and Tommy Hooks. As of 1991, the couple's great grandchildren are as follows: Jason Newberry, Blake Smith, India Morrow, Brandon Newberry, Erron Newberry, Justin Dennis, and Christian Dennis.

Hugh and Annette Hooks are still fondly recalled and are sorely missed by their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and an entire host of friends whose live they touched.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Martha Housenfluck

Tom and Florence Housenfluck, with their two little boys, Thomas and James, came to Nederland in 1928. They moved here from Beaumont because Mr. Housenfluck had accepted a position with the Lower Neches River Valley Authority to have charge of the fresh water canals from Spindletop to Taylor's Bayou, supervising the maintenance of the canals and locks and seeing that the cities and refineries of Mid-Jefferson and South Jefferson County got the water that they were supposed to receive.

The Housenfluck family bought a house at 741 Mena Street (now a vacant lot of the First United Methodist Church at 204 Thirteenth) from the Methodist Church. The house, one of the oldest in Nederland, was thought to have been built by J. W. Barr, the father of Alvin Barr. It was a rent house for several years until it was bought by the church in 1910 as its first church-owned parsonage. When a new parsonage was built across the street, the house was sold to the Housenflucks. The church trustees who signed the deed were J. Berthold Cooke, Dr. J. H. Haizlip, and Con D. Wagner. The house, which had again become church property, was torn down in the mid-1980s, and the lot is now used as a playground for the young children in the church's nursery programs.

Thomas Housenfluck, Sr., was born in Warren County, Virginia, on August 11, 1877, the eleventh child of James Jacob Housenfluck and Annie Elizabeth Rosenberg. The family moved to Texas when he was a small child and settled in the Georgetown area, south of Austin. When he was a very young man, he enlisted in the U. S. Army during the Spanish-American War. His services were quite brief as the war only lasted four months. His parents had given him the middle name of Tucker, but he never did like it because other children called him "Little Tommy Tucker," and when he was grown, he changed his middle name to Harold. His military records, however, still carry his name as Thomas Tucker.

He moved to Beaumont from Georgetown, and later he met and married Florence Emma Reid. He was working as a detective for the Beaumont Police Department at the time, and she worked for Rosenthals's Department Store on Pearl Street. During the 1920s, Rosenthal's was one of the three most important clothing and department stores in Beaumont.

Florence was born in Anderson, Grimes County, Texas, on October 12, 1893, the daughter of James E. Malcom Reid and Martha Evelyn Kendall. Her family moved to Beaumont by train when she was about ten years old. She always recalled that it was her responsibility to hold the large bowl of gold fish on her lap, and she had trouble keeping the water - as well as the gold fish - from sloshing out on the rough train ride from Navasota.

Tom and Florence lived on Magnolia Street in Beaumont, and both of their boys were born in that house, which is still standing not far from the Magnolia Cemetery. Thomas Harold, Jr. was born in 1919 and James Jacob in 1923.

When they first moved to Nederland, the water supply came from two cisterns and a deep well in the back yard. The water from one of the cisterns was piped into the bath room. The other plumbing was a "little house out back." The home was first heated by coal stoves, and later they had gas piped into their home. Their telephone number was 34W.

They kept a cow as nearly all the early Nederland families did, and Tom had a garden out on the canal banks. Sometimes he also kept pigs down near the canals, and he butchered them and cured the meat on his back porch.

Tom liked to hunt and fish, and usually he kept bird dogs. One of his frequent hunting partners was his neighbor, the Methodist minister Rev. J. L. Ross. He also liked to play dominoes, most often with J. L. Black and J. B. Cooke. Most of all, he enjoyed his family, and he kept up with his many aunts, uncles, and cousins who lived near Georgetown. Much later, when both of his sons were in military service during World War II, Thomas in the U. S. Naval Submarine Service and James in the Air Force, he was very proud of them and like to talk about the war news and their participation in it.

He became ill during the early 1940s and was diagnosed as having cancer of the larnyx. He grew progressively worse, despite having had his larnyx removed, and he was in and out of veterans' hospitals until he died on November 9, 1948. He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont.

Florence, who was a wonderful cook and homemaker, made her home into two apartments after she became a widow, and she managed very well until she had a stroke late in 1951. She was in a nursing home in Beaumont for two and one-half years until her death on April 15, 1954. She is buried beside her husband in Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont.


By Mrs. Martha Housenfluck

Thomas Harold Housenfluck, Jr., was born on April 6, 1919, in the family home on Magnolia Street in Beaumont. His first school years were at the old Junker School in Beaumont. After the family moved to Nederland in 1928, Tom attended for the remainder of his school years the "old high school," located on the present YMCA property at South Twelfth Street and Avenue A.

As a small boy in Nederland, his assigned chores included staking out the family milk cow on nearby vacant lots (most often somewhere on the Methodist Church property), milking the cow, delivering milk in the area around his house, and picking and selling figs.

When he was a little older, his first paid job was with Mr. Edmund Dohmann, helping to unload coal from a railroad car and into Mr. Dohmann's truck, after which it was delivered to homes around town. He also helped Mr. Dohmann move furniture in his truck, the only "moving service" that Nederland had in those days before World War II. One summer he worked moving dirt with a big scoop drawn by mules when the Memorial Highway, the "new highway" between Beaumont and Port Arthur, was built in 1938. He also worked as a helper for Frank Slaughter, a local brick mason, who lived next door to the Housenflucks. Like so many other high school boys, he worked as a car hop for Nederland Pharmacy, and later was promoted to "soda jerk;" and he also delivered the Beaumont Enterprise to Beauxart Gardens, riding all the way, regardless of the weather, on his bicycle.

He also found time for Boy Scouting and enjoyed many activities and camping trips to Camp Bill Stark on Cow Creek with Scoutmaster Jack Fortenberry, Assistant Scoutmaster "Coach' Johnny Konecny, and the other boys.

Tommy graduated from Nederland High School in 1937, and then went to Chenier's Business College in Beaumont, taking a course in radio. (It was around that time that he became involved in his lifelong hobby of amateur radio, he, Jim Radford, and W. T. Block being the first three ham radio operators in Nederland.) Later he operated a small radio repair shop in a building attached to the family garage.

In 1939, he joined the United States Navy, and after boot camp in San Diego, he was accepted into the submarine service. He was assigned to the submarine, Norwhal, and he advanced through the radioman ranks.

On December 7, 1941, he was stationed aboard the Narwhal at Pearl Harbor on the Sunday morning of the Japanese attack. He had duty that weekend, and he was on deck and saw the first Japanese planes fly over on their way to the battleships, which were directly beyond the submarine base. Later that busy morning, while he was engaged in delivering a radio message to the Officer of the Day on the bridge, he saw the battleship Arizona blown up.

He also served on the submarines S-28, Gunard, and Hardhead. Except for one tour of duty in the Atlantic and the North Sea off the coast of Scotland (where he was the coldest he has ever been), all of his wartime activities were confined to the South Pacific area.

At the end of the war, he was in Tokyo Bay on the submarine-tender Proteus when the Japanese surrender was signed, thus being present at both the beginning and end of World War II (the American part).

After his discharge near the end of 1945, he went to work at radio station KRIC in Beaumont as an engineer.

There he met Martha Ann Swafford, who had come to Beaumont to teach school in 1941, and then went to work for the radio station when so many men going into the military services opened up new opportunities for women. She was continuity editor, and she also had a full shift as announcer until the war was over and men began returning home. A native of Rockdale, Texas, Martha was the daughter of Dr. Edward A. Swafford, for many years the town's only dentist, and his wife, Locha Sutphen Swafford.

Tommy and Martha were married on July 12, 1947, and they moved into an older home in Wagner Addition in Nederland. Martha worked at the radio station until their daughter, Florence Anne,was born on September 30, 1948. At that time Tommy had a radio shop on Boston Street in downtown Nederland.

In October, 1950, a few months after the start of the Korean War, Tommy, who had been in the Naval Reserve, was recalled to duty in the submarine service.

He was assigned to the submarine Segundo, then in San Diego harbor, and was given temporary additional duty and assigned to the submarine-tender Sperry to teach radio school for the remainder of the Korean War. Later Martha and Anne joined him and they stayed in San Diego until his discharge in 1952.

An interesting thinhg happened early in his time in San Diego. Tommy had been active in the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Nederland, and they wanted to present him with the Outstanding Young Man award at the banquet in January, 1951. Since Tommy could not get leave to go home for the banquet, the Nederland Jaycees and the San Diego Jaycees arranged for a telephone hookup. At the banquet in Nederland at Tom and Skeeter's dining room, Clark A. Matthews made the presentation speech over the telephone, and Tommy, in his Navy dress uniform and with about fifteen San Diego Jaycees and his wife and daughter present, listened in by telephone and accepted the award.

His discharge at the end of the Korean War meant starting all over again, and he went to work for the Gulf Refining Company (now Chevron) in Port Arthur in the Light Oil Department in October, 1952.

In July, 1954, they moved into their present home at 2112 Gary Avenue in Nederland. Their son, Thomas Edward, was born on December 4, 1954.

Their next two decades were spent being busily involved with school activities, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, Methodist Church, shift work at his plant, etc. Even in those busy times, Tommy and Martha always managed to get away together each fall for their annual deer hunt.

Martha had several part-time jobs during those years. She was the first secretary for the Nederland First United Methodist Church. She also worked at the Midcounty Review newspaper and at the KPNG radio station in Port Neches. She was also involved with the Nederland Windmill Museum, was in the small group that began Nederland's participation in the Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio, and she helped put together the 1973 and 1986 Nederland history books.

At the end of 1981, Tommy retired from Gulf Oil (which had just become Chevron). He and Martha enjoy their retirement, traveling to Submarine Veterans conventions, Pear Harbor Survivors, and amateur radio conventions, and other trips, hunting and fishing, and being with their children and grandchildren.

Their daughter, Anne, is married to Daniel Surovik, a banker and farmer in Bellville, Texas. They have a fourteen-year-old son, Darren. Anne works as a Respiratory Therapist.

Son Ted lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife Dianne (Matta) and five-year-old daughter, Casey. After ten years as a Boy Scout executive, he has recently become associated with Standard Life Insurance Company.

Jim (James Jacob) Housenfluck, Tommy's brother, made a career of the Air Force, and since retiring from that branch of military service, he has made his home in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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The Memoirs of Nellie Belle Ryder

By W. T. Block

You could probably count on one hand, with a finger or two to spare, the number of people in Nederland, who had an ancestor who fought at the Battle of San Jacinto, but Nellie Belle Johnson Ryder of 311 Fifteenth Street, and her cousin and neighbor, J. Dennis Johnson, are two of them.

Her great grandfather, Benjamin Johnson, Sr., was born at the Big Woods settlement, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, at the head of the Bayou Choupique, on July 8, 1815, and settled about 1832 with his parents at Old Jefferson (now Bridge City), on Cow Bayou, in what was then the Mexican province of Texas-Coahuila. On November 12, 1835, Ben Johnson joined Captain Willis Landrum's company of Sabine County frontiersmen, who were marching to the relief of San Antonio de Bexar, where Mexican General Perfecto de Cos' army of 1,200 men were in garrison and threatening to subdue an army of revolting Texans. On December 6-9, 1835, Ben followed Colonel Ben Milam into San Antonio, and following three days of bitter fighting, saw the Mexican general surrender his army, and Colonel Milam killed by a sniper bullet. He was soon discharged at the Alamo.

Three months later, Ben Johnson enlisted once more in Captain Gillaspie's company, Colonel Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment of Texas Volunteers, who on April 21, 1836, stormed into General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana's ranks at the Battle of San Jacinto. At the end of eighteen minutes of fighting, the Texans, eager to avenge the Alamo and Goliad massacres, killed 600 Mexicans, wounded 200 more, and captured 600, while destroying the army of Mexico's "Napoleon of the West." Johnson enlisted for a third time and was not finally discharged from the Texas Army until May, 1837.

Ben Johnson's marriage to Rachel Garner, a daughter of Mr.and Mrs. Bradley Garner, Sr. of Big Woods, La. and Cow Bayou, Orange County, on April 24, 1838, is one of the first marriages recorded in Jefferson County. Because of that marriage to her great grandmother, Rachel Garner Johnson, Mrs. Nellie Belle Ryder is also a great grand neice (some of them by marriage) of an entire host of Texas Revolutionary figures, among them Claiborne West, who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence; John McGaffey, the father of Sabine Pass, whose original letters can be found in the Stephen F. Austin Papers; and Captain David Garner, Jacob H. Garner, and Isaac Garner, the latter three brothers having also fought at the Battle of San Antonio in 1835.

In 1838, Ben and Rachel Johnson settled at Sabine Pass on the league of land issued to her brother-in-law, John McGaffey. They were the parents of eleven sons and two daughters, the next to youngest of whom was Ben Johnson, Jr., born at Sabine Pass in 1849. On January 2, 1871, Ben, Jr. married Caroline Townsend, a native of Sabine Pass and daughter of two English immigrants, William and Sarah Townsend. On September 21, 1883, their son, Andrew Johnson, was born, but he was to know his mother only briefly since Caroline Johnson died in 1885. Ben Johnson, Jr. was Sabine Pass' leading Democrat politician throughout his lifetime, serving thirty years as that precinct's county commissioner, and beaten out by only a handful of votes in a hotly-contested race for county judge in 1892.

Andrew Johnson attended the Sabine Pass schools, and on reaching adulthood, worked for Sun Oil Company, which in those days soon after 1900, shipped its crude oil from Sabine Pass rather than Nederland. He married Ella E. Andrus, who was born on December 1, 1889, the daughter of Gabriel Andrus and Appalonia Hargraves, who were married at Beaumont on August 7, 1876. Andrew and Ella Johnson became the parents of two sons, Andrew (the father of Dr. Andrew Johnson of Lamar University) and Ras Lee Johnson (both now deceased), and one daughter, Nellie Belle Johnson, who married Mac Saunders Ryder.

Andrew and Ella Johnson lived at Sabine Pass until 1919, when they moved to Beaumont, and Andrew Johnson began working for Magnolia Petroleum Company, now Mobil refinery. They moved to Nederland in 1928, where they purchased the large, two-story house that an earlier Nederland merchant, Bradley Bell, owned before 1911, and in 1915 became the home of Captain and Mrs. W. P. Allen, who (along with Captain John Kaper) was one of two Nederland Sabine Bar pilots forced out of Sabine Pass by the devastating storm of August 16, 1915. Nederland oldsters will recall that the Andrew Johnson home once stood on Fifteenth Street, where Boston deadended in front of it, and the house had to be demolished before Boston Avenue could be extended to Seventeenth Street. Andrew Johnson died in March, 1946, and was followed in death by his widow, Ella, in 1966.

Nellie Belle Johnson attended David Crockett School in Beaumont before beginning the seventh grade in Nederland in 1928. She was valedictorian of her junior high school graduating class. During her high school years, she took extensive piano lessons from two Beaumont piano teachers, O. G. Parks and Dr. Minyard, who was an early director of music at St. Mark's Episcopal Church. She recalls with fondness some of her early Nederland teachers, among them: C. O. Wilson, Clark Matthews, Della Barron, Marjorie Newson, Floy Pinkerton, Frances Earle, Cynthia Press, and Cora B. Linson. She added that she loved school in 1930 just as she still enjoys life in 1991. She played basketball throughout high school. She also noted that one of the joys of her seventh grade class was whenever the teacher had them pack sack lunches, and they picnicked out in the open prairie west of Nederland about where the Market Basket store is located today on 27th Street.

On July 1, 1933, Nellie Belle Johnson married Mac Saunders Ryder. For many years, they lived in an apartment in the Johnson home until they built their present brick home next door at 311 Fifteenth in 1957. Mac Ryder was born in Woodville, Texas, on July 12, 1905, one of nine children born to Howard C. Ryder and Isabelle Beulah Herrington. During much of his teenage life, Mac Ryder lived in New York, before he returned to Beaumont to work for Magnolia Gas Company, which later became United Gas Company, and is now Entex. Mac retired in 1970 with 44 years of service. For ten years or more, he was a leading sandlot baseball pitcher, playing variously for the company teams of United Gas Company, Pure Oil Company, and Sun Oil Company.

They are the parents of one daughter born during World War II, Virginia (Ginger) Ryder, who married (1) Doyle D. Kerr, and (2) Bobby Romero. She is the mother of one son, Sean Kerr, and one daughter, Stacy Kerr.

For sixty years, playing the piano has been a principal activity and a way of life for Nellie Belle Ryder. She played either full or part-time at First United Methodist Church for many years, much of which was in the Junior and Sunday School Departments. For years, she and three Beaumont women pianists practiced extensively on grand pianos in preparation for the two concerts presented annually by the Women's Club Piano Ensemble of Beaumont. She taught piano in Nederland for thirty years, and she estimates she has taught between 200 and 300 students in the course of her lifetime.

Give Mac Ryder a set of "bones," and he'll still hammer out a tune that sounds like jazz artist Gene Krupa's drums of yesteryear. Despite retirement and the 85 years that have piled up around him, Mac still takes his duties seriously as honorary "associate" manager of Nederland's Dairy Queen, where his job there is to keep everyone "in line." And Nellie Belle Ryder, despite the passage of years, says she still enjoys life as much as ever, or perhaps more than ever, and they fully expect to be around Nederland whenever the twentieth century turns tail and makes ready for the year 2001.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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An Undated Typescript, Perhaps 1973

{Editor's Note: I went back into the China, Texas, census enumerations of 1910 in an effort to find out something about the parentage of Mrs. Carrie Goodwin. I found that she was enumerated at Residence No. 112, Precinct 5, China, Texas, Jefferson County Census of 1910, page 7-A, Supervisor's District No. 2, Enumeration District No. 89. Carrie Belle Jones was recorded as a 21-year-old single female, a primary school teacher, born in Texas (and probably in Chambers County). Her father was J. Coleman Jones, a 50-year-old male, born in Texas and employed as a farmer. Her mother was "G. A." Jones, a 48-year-old female, already married for 31 years and also born in Texas. A 16-year-old brother, J. I. Jones, still resided in the household. It is probable that older siblings had already married and left home. W. T. Block}

We bought this lot (324 Fifteenth) to be close to the Interurban. I was married to Jim Goodwin on December 12, 1915; that is also when we moved to Nederland. I had been a school teacher, and I substituted some after I was married. We had the old Langham School then, that was built in 1911. Gardette Burnfin was one of my students.

There was a little old school across the railroad track - at Chicago and 10th Street, I think, with two teachers in it. I taught school for eight years and went to teachers' institutes in Beaumont and was associated with the Nederland teachers there. I was a country school teacher - taught in Fannett and China. The one in Fannett was "a little old prairie school - with sheep under it." It was hard, hard. You don't know what I went through. And I boarded so far away I had to ride horseback to school. Then I was called to teach school in Port Neches. I already had a school in Amelia, but they were not ready to start that school as yet because of the big boys being needed at home on the farms. They waited until after September and even the first of October. The county school superintendent called and told me that a teacher in Port Neches had resigned and asked if I would go there and take that job. They had two schools there then. One on "this side" with two teachers and another on the "other side" of the Texas Company asphalt plant. They built the new school on the other side of the asphalt plant because there were so many children a way down there with no way to get over to "this side" of town, and I taught that one teacher school there. The next year I got a school at home. I taught there four years, I believe, before my health began to fail.

Langham was the only school here then. (Talked about Horace, her son, starting to school. Edna Barron was his teacher.)

The earliest history I can remember of the city is having no telephones except for one in the Freeman building. The Freemans had some kind of store building; as I can recall, it was mostly hardware. They were located in the block on the other (east) side of Gardner's store (1155 Boston), same side of the street. I recall vividly that I had mumps in the month of January after I was married, caught from the (Glenn) Spencer boy jumping into my lap, and I got quite sick. While I was sick, a man rode up on horseback right to our front steps and said, "You are wanted on the telephone down at Freemans (which was five blocks away)." I wrapped my head up and almost ran all the way to Freemans to answer that phone. There was another school teacher in Nederland then whose name was almost the same as mine, and she was the one they wanted.

The first telephone building was on the corner of Twelfth and Chicago (403 12th, now a vacant lot). An old friend from Beaumont, Lula Nelson, was working in the telephone office there, and they sent her down here to work. Her phone number was 43-W. She asked for phone number 1, but was told that that number went only to businesses, and Roach Drug Store (Nederland Pharmacy) had phone No. 1 for many years.

Lots around me on Fifteenth Street sold for $100 in those days. That's what we paid for this one and the one we built on. The house next door is my old home. We built it while we were getting ready to get married. We bought all of our "household effects" on credit. Jim was making $2.50 a day in those days. We went to Phoenix (Furniture) in Beaumont and bought all of our furniture. My brother gave me a cook stove, a coal oil stove. Jim worked at Gulf refinery (in Port Arthur, now Chevron). He went to work there in June, 1913.

Mr. (John) Kaper offered us "that house" (pointing across street at 323 Fifteenth) and the lot Crissy (Mrs. B. O. Newton) lives on for $4,000. The old Paulus place (504 Fourteenth) wasn't quite finished on the interior - it was offered to us along with three lots for $1,350. The lots we bought belonged to people named Waters.

My maiden name was Jones. We lived in China; moved there in "ought two" (1902) from Chambers County. My father was a farmer on a rather small scale. He owned about forty acres of woodland and raised and butchered hogs, cured the meat. He owned as many as 100 heads of range cattle. There was open prairie range then, no fences or anything. We lived on cattle, hogs, turkeys, eggs, corn, cotton. He fed corn to his stock that he raised. And he raised peaunuts...."great loads of them"....wagon loads.

Did Mr. (James H.) Goodwin live here before you were married? No, he lived in the country. They farmed rice. They rice farmed near Beaumont and finally went over to ...(Amelia?)...where I had taught the year before. Margaret (Cooke) was teaching in China, and boarded right close to me and she was at our house a lot. Bob (Goodwin) would come down there to see her and they would all go to church in China. That's where I met Jim. He was going with one of the Turner girls. She was a great church worker. One day he (Jim) said, "Who goes with this Jones girl?" They had a play on February 14 and had a flag on the stage and I (Carrie) was trying to get it down after the affair and Jim saw me and came over to help me. When rice farming time was over, Jim went to work for the county---guarding county prisoners working on the roads. He would do any honest work, didn't make any difference, just so he could feed his horse. I kept his horse for him some --- he had a horse and buggy -- and when he didn't need it, I kept it.

We lived with Bob and Margaret (Goodwin) during the first two weeks after we were married, waiting for our house to be finished. Bob and Margaret married first, and Katherine (Poage) was born before Jim and I were married. John (Goodwin, son of Margaret) was born in June after we married. Margaret was pregnant and wouldn't play the organ for our wedding because of that. We were married in the little Methodist church in China that she went to -- on Sunday morning and the house was full. Then we went to Beaumont and had dinner at the Crosby House -- in the Dutch room. It had a plate rail around the walls with old-fashioned dark blue plates on it -- with windmills, etc. The whole wedding party went, and the dinner cost only $14.00. Jim went in before hand to make arrangements, and the Negro man who waited on them asked what he wanted served. Mr. G. said, "We'll have to talk about that." And the Negro man said, "Why don't you let me take care of that?" And we had plump, little baked ducks, each person had one, with all of the dressing. And then they had slices of cake with ice cream. And of all things, we had oyster cocktail, and I can't stand them. "I don't know how I got by with it but I did." That night we went to the First (Methodist) Church in Beaumont, and sat near the front. Preacher's name was Goddard, from Galveston. His wife sat by us, and he came down to see who his wife was sitting by, and he said, "Why J. C. Marshall (Nederland's Methodist minister, 1919-20) was over here last week talking to me about that wedding. It was his first wedding." And his text was, "What is there in life for me?" ----just as if he saw us coming. I will never forget that sermon.

I came to my house (after staying with Margaret G.) on the last day of December (1915), and Jim was working the 3-11 shift. And Margaret didn't want me to stay by myself, but I told her I had to start sometime.

Brother (P. I.) Milton was preacher here when I came. I didn't think that he also preached in Port Neches. No, I mean he was here when I taught in Port Neches. That was 1908-1909, that's when Milton was here. I remember because he visited me and asked me to come to church, but I had to go home to China to visit with my Mother and Dad on weekends. Sometimes Jim met the train when I go off here on Sunday night, .....and sometimes I rode the hack - two-seated with a fringe on top - 50 cents to Port Neches. (Ed.'s Note: This was the hack that Bill Haizlip discussed in his memoirs, driven by Lloyd Johnson, which delivered the Port Neches star route, but which also met all incoming Nederland trains in search of passengers for Port Neches.)

Dr. Haizlip was the physician here when I arrived in Nederland. Mrs. G. told about going to see Dr. H. when "he had a little old place by the post office." He died soon afterwards (1938). (Ed.'s Note: For a few months prior to his death, Dr. Haizlip's last office was next to the old wooden post office at 1144 Boston, which was replaced by a brick building in 1940. The old wooden building was removed to 216 Thirteenth St., where it remained the Nederland city hall for about ten years.)

Mrs. Carrie Goodwin then talked about......there being so few people in Nederland back then......pushing Horace in his stroller...going to post office....then across the track to the big two-story house where Will Goodwin lived then....when she got there her purse was not on the she walked back and there was her purse, still in the middle of the street. (Main, now Boston) No one had come along Boston during that length of time that she was gone from her purse. The (John) Wares later lived in the Will Goodwin house....Will Goodwin then moved from there to Goodwin Avenue in Port Neches, where Audrey still lives, and others. Will was Jim and Bob's brother. Audrey (Goodwin) married (Wm.) Waggoner.

Everybody is good to me. I owe so much to the Nederland people. I used to teach Sunday school in a little room, built on the back of the church, that was also used for a choir room, preacher's study, etc. Told of fixing up that room. Bought four seats from a lumber yard. Got money somehow. They were little seats, but made just like the seats in the old church. And I had that room full of little folks.

I was recently reminiscing about how Jim and I used to sit on the front porch and watch and listen for the Interurban trolley to go by. There was a switching place just up about a block from our house (324 Fifteenth) toward Beaumont, where the train (electric 2-car trolley) from Port Arthur would get off the main track (on sidetrack) and wait while the Interurban from Beaumont passed by. (Ed.'s Note: By this description, this sidetrack would have been where Detroit intersects Sixteenth Street. In early-day Nederland, Detroit, then called Neches St., ran only two blocks west of 15th Street, with only two houses on it, the Lawrence Koelemay home at 1516 Detroit, now a day care center, and the S. R. Carter home - now torn down, on school property at 17th Street and Detroit.)

When Jim would hear that, he would know it was time to go out and get on the Interurban to ride to Port Arthur. He worked at Gulf Refinery from 1913 on, and for many years, until they bought their first Ford car, he rode the Interurban to work. When he got to downtown Port Arthur at the Interurban station, he would get off the Interurban and catch the street car out to the Gulf refinery.

We had no city facilities whatsoever for many years. We had a cistern for water. We had kerosene lamps for lights. I particularly remember one evening when we went out in our back yard - there weren't many trees around here then - and we counted how many kerosene lamps we could see from our back yard and we counted 18 in just the houses close around us.

Did I say that we were married on December 12, 1915? Jim went to work for Gulf in June, 1913, about 2 1/2 years before our marriage. During the 1915 storm, water reached the tank farm. (Ed.'s Note: the remnants of that tank farm, with all tanks now removed, still belongs to Texaco at the southwest corner of Twin City and Highway 365.) We drove down there then and watched the flat boats bringing refugees to Nederland from Port Arthur. We had terrible mosquitoes, especially in 1918. Cattle running loose would come up on people's porches trying to escape from them because mosquitoes stayed pretty much in the grass. Men had to wear mosquito bars whenever they went to work, and we had to screen our milk cow's stall so the poor beast could get some respite from the insects.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Ellen Jordahn

The Captain Carl Oluf Jordahn family moved to Nederland, Texas, in the year 1937.

Captain Carl O. Jordahn was born in Kolding, Denmark, on March 3, 1896. He attended public schools in Kolding, graduating at the age of fourteen. Captain Jordahn was a true SAILOR, rather than seaman, inasmuch as he first went to sea for many years, manning ships with sails, schooners, square-riggers, etc., where he had to climb onto the masts and spars in order to furl and unfurl the sails.

In 1919, he received his first master's and pilot's licenses, although he had already sailed for many years previous to that. Family traditions reveal that he sailed to Russia as a cook when he was ten years old because he wanted to taste the goof caviar that he had heard so much about, and that he sailed every summer thereafter until he finished his formal schooling the age of fourteen.

In World War I, he worked his way to America in order to sail for the United States on American troop ships, carrying soldiers to France. After his first three ships were torpedoed and sunk, he paid his own way back by working on ships so that he could sail once more under the Stars and Stripes. Thereafter, he was able to become an American citizen, and he was naturalized in New York City on November 4, 1920.

During his lifetime of sailing, he made many trips around the world, sailed in Alaskan waters during the gold rush days around 1917, and he was able to transact business for his shipping line in every port of the world that his ship docked in.

During World War II, he captained the lead tanker in ship conveys in the Pacific Ocean, in Japanese waters, carrying bunker and fuel oil for the United States Navy's Seventh Fleet. Captain Jordahn retired from the sea in 1961, and he died on November 14, 1973.

On December 23, 1925, Captain Carl Jordahn married Olga Karen Elisabeth Bager, who was born in Kolding, Denmark, on September 30, 1898. She graduated from the public schools in Kolding, after which she also completed and graduated from business school. She was a bilingual secretary for the soap factory in Kolding at the time of her marriage. She was the first member of her family ever to leave Denmark, moving to America soon after her marriage to Captain Jordahn in Kolding, Denmark. They sailed from Copenhagen to New york in January, 1926.

At first, they lived in West Palm Beach, Florida, where their two daughters were born, namely, Ellen Beata Jordahn and Inge May Jordahn.

In 1935, the family moved back to Kolding, Denmark. Ellen and Inge were to have a Danish education prior to returning to the United States for their American education. The Danish period would enable their two daughters to make an intelligent choice for citizenship and a homeland. Because of their antecedents and their bilingual education and upbringing, Ellen and Inge Jordahn could function as easily in Denmark as in the United States. Olga Jordahn was naturalized in West Palm Beach, Florida, on November 16, 1929, and she died in Nederland on Nobember 20, 1982.

Ellen Jordahn attended Palmetto School in West Palm Beach, Florida; the Real Skole in Kolding, Denmark; and the Nederland school from grade three until her graduation in 1945, finishing as valedictorian of her class. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Sam Houston State University in 1949; her Master of Science degree in Business Education in 1960; and she did graduate work at many schools, including the Universities of Maine and Houston; Colorado State University, and Louisiana State University. She taught business subjects for thirty-eight years in high schools and colleges.

Inge Jordahn attended schools in Denmark and in Nederland, graduating in 1948. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in History and Government from the University of Texas at Austin in 1952, and her Master of Arts in Government from the same college in 1960.

Inge taught at Victoria College, Victoria, Texas and worked as a regional director and camping specialist for Camp Fire Girls Incorporated in Wichita Falls and Beaumont, Texas; in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than twenty-two years, she has worked for Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in the Admissions Office, handling foreign students' and graduate students' admissions. In addition, she has an honorary position with the foreign student admissions program under the Department of State. Her geographic areas are in the Middle East and Far East and her special programs include petroleum refining, sugar refining, and forestry.

(Ed.'s Note: On two separate occasions, the editor enjoyed visiting with Captain Carl Oluf Jordahn in his home. He went there in search of information about sailing ships, and found that the captain had many books and pictures to look at and much information to offer. While sailing American flag ships, Captain Jordahn probably saw as many or more German and Japanese torpedoes than anyone afloat during the World Wars. He also showed the editor the 'souvenirs' from those wars that he carried to his grave - the scars from a badly burned and mangled leg, caused by one of those torpedoes.--W. T. Block.)

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T.Block

(With grateful appreciation to J. C. Kelly, Jr. for genealogical data supplied to the writer.)

In 1906 a man named Sam Collins operated a rice farm at Rice Farm Road and Twin City Highway, two and one-half miles south of Nederland (although those streets did not exist at that time), on land that Collins had purchased from Port Arthur Rice and Irrigation Company. He was married to the former Elizabeth Kelly of Ellis County, Texas, and in 1906, Collins brought his brother-in-law, John Franklin Kelly, to Nederland to work for him. Kelly, a widower, brought four children to Nederland with him, two sons named Lee A. and John Claudius Kelly, and two daughters, Minnie Pearl Kelly (later Cone) and Mary B. Kelly (later Shofner). This was the beginning of the early-day Kelly families of Nederland. John F. Kelly did not arrive with all four children at the same time, one or more of them having remained longer or returned to Tarrant County to work or study, but by the time of the April, 1910, Nederland census, five of six Kelly family members were enumerated at Residence No. 11. Apparently a sixth member, Jessie Ray Kelly, had already left for California.

The nineteenth-century origins of the Kelly families of Nederland go back to Gallatin, Sumner County, Tennessee, on February 5, 1816, when a Joseph Kelly signed an indenture to the Governor of Tennessee, bonding himself for $1,250 in order to marry Hevelina (or Evelina) Penticost. At first glance, one might wonder if Hevelina was an indentured servant. However, the writer has ruled out that possibility since there is nothing else to support that conclusion. Neither the words "indentured servant" nor a period of servitude appear on the document; also colonies, states, territories, and counties did not own slaves or indentured servants, although in some instances they perhaps might have been seized for delinquent taxes. Hence, it appears that the indenture was nothing more than an early-day bond marriage, which existed in one form or another in all the frontier states and territories during the first half of the nineteenth century. Such a document guaranteed that the bridegroom could adequately support a wife. As a Texas example in December, 1835, Simon Wiess of Jasper County bonded himself to his bride's brother for $12,000, wherein he had to put up land titles equal to that amount as security.

The oldest child of Joseph and Hevelina Kelly was James L. Kelly (b. Gallatin, Tn. April 6, 1817-d. Midlothian, Tx. October 29, 1884), who on January 26, 1843, married Sarah Melvina Ragan (b. Gallatin, August 16, 1824-d. Midlothian, Tx. August 4, 1887), also of Sumner County. The couple's first three of ten children were born in Tennessee or Alabama, but shortly after their arrival in Ellis County, Texas, about 1849, their fourth child and second son, John Franklin, was born at Mansfield, Texas. John Franklin Kelly (b. March 6, 1851-d. Nederland April 19, 1919) was a farmer like his ancestors before him, and on February 20, 1879, he married Martha Jane Board (b. February 18, 1861-d. May 1, 1897), the daughter of J. A. Board of Fulton County, Kentucky. The couple became the parents of five children, as follows: Lee A. Kelly (b. June 13, 1885-d. June 18, 1950); Jessie Ray Kelly, who moved to California; John Claudius Kelly (b. July 14, 1890-d. November 11, 1976); Minnie Pearl Kelly, who left Nederland and moved to Ventura, California and married Leon Charles Cone; and Mary B. Kelly (b. July 5, 1895-d. July 22, 1967), who married Floyd Shofner and lived out her life in Beaumont. Only two years after the birth of her second daughter, Mary, Martha Jane Board Kelly died in 1897 at age 36 and was buried at Mansfield, Texas.

In the meantime, John Franklin Kelly's younger sister, Elizabeth (Bettie), married Sam Collins, who was to become one of Nederland's early rice growers. Bettie Collins' period of residence in Nederland was comparatively short since she died in Nederland on December 12, 1910. It was at Sam Collins' invitation that the Kelly family moved to Nederland. Collins farmed rice until after World War I, that is, until about 1919 or 1920, when he went bankrupt. Later he sold out his interest in the rice farm, and moved to Williams Street (now Fourteenth) in Nederland. He died at Corpus Christi in 1938.

John F. Kelly moved to Nederland in 1906 with his three youngest children, John Claude Kelly, Minnie Pearl Kelly, and Mary B. Kelly. Soon after his arrival in Nederland, John C. Kelly altered his middle name from Claudius to Claude. In 1907 he returned to Fort Worth to take business courses in business administration, and he did not return to Nederland until about 1909. In 1906, Lee A. Kelly was working as a cattle ranch employee in the Jacksboro, Jack County vicinity, and he did not arrive in Nederland until 1907. Apparently, Jessie Ray Kelly had already settled in California by 1906 because he did not move to Nederland with the family in 1906, and he was not listed in the census enumeration of the Kelly family household in Nederland in 1910.

The Nederland census of 1910 provides the best record of the Kelly family members only four years after their arrival in Jefferson County. Residence No. 11 of that census lists John Franklin Kelly as a rice farm employee on the Collins farm. Lee A. Kelly was employed by a dirt contractor, and John Claude Kelly was a laborer at the Texaco asphalt refinery in Port Neches. Minnie Pearl Kelly was a Nederland school teacher, and Mary B. Kelly was a student.

During the next decade, three of the siblings married and began homes of their own. On November 11, 1913, John C. Kelly married Verna May Gibson, an Iowa native who had come to Nederland with her parents, William and Nancy Gibson, in 1901. On October 28, 1915, Lee A. Kelly married Lois Jane Thomas (b. August 31, 1897-d. May 28, 1983), daughter of John Thomas and Lois Stoddard Thomas, in Jack County, Texas. Lee Kelly was born in Jack County in 1885 when his parents lived there for a short period, but by 1888, the John Franklin Kelly family was living in Tarrant County. Evidently, Lee Kelly had met Lois Thomas when he worked as a cowboy near Jacksboro in 1906. On July 15, 1918, Mary B. Kelly was married to Floyd Shofner at Beaumont by the Rev. Harold Cooke, also a Nederland native. Minnie Pearl Kelly apparently moved to California at an early date since she was not recorded in the 1918 Nederland city directory. She married Leon Charles Cone at Ventura, California, in December, 1935, eventually retired there on a school teacher's pension, and died there in 1963. In 1918, John Franklin Kelly was recorded in the Nederland city directory as working as a watchman. He died in Nederland on April 19, 1919, and was buried at Midlothian, Texas

As soon as John Claude and Verna May Kelly were married in 1913, they moved to Texas City, Texas, where Claude Kelly worked for Texas City Refining Company, built in 1908, which was the eighth and largest refinery then in Texas, and the first built along the Houston-Galveston Bay gulf coast. On May 20, 1915, their oldest child, Sanford Franklin Kelly was born there. Only three months later, they rode out the August, 1915, storm in a passenger train coach that had been chained to the rails.

Claude Kelly also worked in the Mexia, Texas, oil field for Colonel Albert Humphreys, but it is uncertain exactly what year(s) he was there. By 1917 he was back in Nederland, where his second son, John Claude Kelly, Jr., was born on May 29, 1917. In the 1918 Nederland city directory, Claude Kelly was recorded as working as a stillman for an oil refinery, but it is unclear whether his employer was Texaco or Gulf Oil Corporation. The couple's third son, Joseph Edward Kelly, was born in Nederland on March 8, 1919.

Late in 1919, Claude Kelly moved his family to Wilson, Oklahoma, while he worked as construction superintendent of a small refinery built for Humphreys Oil Company. In mid-summer of 1920, he moved to the Smackover, Arkansas oil field, still employed by Coloney Humphreys. In mid-1921, he moved to Ruston, Louisiana, where in worked both in the oil field southeast of Ruston and at Oil City, Louisiana. The Kelly's rented an upstairs apartment in Ruston, where their fourth and last child, a daughter named Verna May, was born.

In the spring of 1922, Colonel Humphreys sent Claude Kelly back to Smith's Bluff, north of Nederland (where Unocal refinery currently is located), where Humphreys had built a pipe line from the Mexia field and a small dock for shipping crude oil in whale-back barges (sometimes called "cigar boats"). At that time only the Kelly family, the Choate family, and the Flora Staffen family were living at Smith's Bluff. (A year later, Mrs. Flora Staffen would sell out her 300 acres of land there to Pure Oil Company, Humphreys' successor.) In the meantime, the writer wonders if it were Claude Kelly that induced Colonel Humphreys to build at Smith's Bluff, and thus indirectly, bring in Pure Oil Company with him.

After Pure Oil Company bought out Colonel Humphreys in 1923, Claude Kelly continued on with Pure Oil Company as pipe line superintendent in the Pure Transportation Department. J. C. Kelly, Jr. writes that:

". . . At first our place was just east of the old entrance gate -- the Choate place was on toward the river one-half or three-quarters of a mile - a shell road went to the loading dock where crude oil was pumped into the whaleback barges for transport at sea."

"My two brothers and I, J. C.Kelly, Jr., continually watched the removal of trees, the pouring of foundations for the first stills, and the construction of office, warehouse, and other buildings. Then the old coke stills were built. Arthur J. Davis drove a small truck to town ech morning for the mail and also to transport Earl Choate, Sanford Kelly, and myself to school. . . .Four company houses were built on Pure-Atlantic Road for refinery supervisors and four more about a quarter-mile farther for the pipe line group. . . .We were moved to the pipe line group of houses just before the coke stills were put into service. . . .My father left Pure Oil in 1928 and started his own business in Nederland (J. C. Kelly Oil Company, Inc.), wholesaling Pure Oil products. . . .

"We used to swim in the (Neches) river just upstream from the docks," Kelly recalled, "and there was a large sand bar there. Believe it or not, the water was clear then. My brothers and I had full access of the refinery's holdings to roam in. My father had a permit to run his cattle on Pure Oil property before the refinery was finished and later on land away from the refinery (tank farm) after it went on steam. . . ."

(J. C. Kelly, Jr. did not mention the huge alligators at Smith's Bluff, but perhaps by 1923, the large alligators had grown scarce there. In 1911 Rufus Gallier killed a fifteen foot alligator there, and in 1929, Roy Sterling killed another fifteen foot alligator at Magpetco dock, a few hundred yards downstream. For the record of the huge alligators there between 1911-1929, see W. T. Block, "River Rats and Alligators," Sapphire City of the Neches, pp. 132-136, and "Memoirs of Marya Koekkoek Munson," Vol. II, p. 78, of "The Chronicles of The Early Families of Nederland, Texas," at Henson Memorial of Nederland, Tyrrell Historical of Beaumont, and Port Neches libraries.)

In 1928, John Claude Kelly organized J. C. Kelly Oil Company, Inc. at Nederland, in conjunction with Arthur J. Davis and Charlie V. Phillips, to wholesale Pure Oil products. Kelly, however, was the major stockholder in the firm. He built a bulk station at Atlanta Street and Twin City Highway in Nederland, and he had other bulk stations at Woodville, Lufkin, and Tyler, Texas. During the 1930's, J. C. Kelly, Jr. spent much of his youthful years hauling bulk products to those various locations. With the exception of the Tyler plant, Pure Oil Company bought out Kelly Oil Company in June, 1935. At that time, the J. C. Kelly family moved to Tyler, Texas, where they lived for several years before they moved back to Beaumont.

In January, 1940, J. C. Kelly sold out his bulk plant at Tyler, and he and a man named Guy Hitt founded a dealership for Hudson automobiles at Tyler. This was only shortly before World War II began, and all automobile production ended in January, 1942.

Kelly then went to Pascagoula, Mississippi, where he built a pipe line for Littrell Construction Company from Lucedale, Mississippi to Pascagoula. During World War II, he worked as a pipe fitter for Brown Shipyard in Houston, later transferring to Pennsylvania Shipyard in Beaumont in the same capacity. He then bought a home in Beaumont and sold his home in Tyler.

J. C. Kelly had a long and difficult illness about 1945 that finally resulted in most of his stomach being removed. In 1948 he went to Lake Charles for Clarence Crenshaw's Oil City Welding Works to install a new water system in that city. Later Kelly built a Gulf States Utilities power line across the Atchafalaya River swamps between Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Kelly continued to work in Lake Charles until he returned to Nederland to become the city's director of public works in 1956. He retired in 1958.

Verna May Gibson Kelly died at Beaumont on December 4, 1962, and was interred at Magnolia Cemetery. John Claude Kelly, Sr. lived to age 86, dying at Midland, Texas, on November 10, 1976, and was laid to rest beside his wife in Beaumont.

Sanford L. Kelly, their oldest son, married Ann L. O'Brien of Tulsa, Oklahoma in California in 1939. He died at San Jose on March 31, 1975 without issue. Joseph Edward Kelly married Jean Webb, and they also had no children. He died at age thirty at Jasper, Texas on June 26, 1949.

John Claude Kelly, Jr. married Winifred Charlotte Richards of Bath, Maine, on December 26, 1941, and they currently (1991) reside in Beaumont. They are the parents of two sons, Lewis S. Kelly of Beaumont and John C. Kelly III, who married Sheila Lynn McGill of Port Arthur. They also have two grandchildren, Cammie Lynn Kelly and Troy Wade Kelly. J. C. Kelly, Jr. retired after forty years as a construction electrician, and on several occasions he worked inside the Pure Oil refinery at Smith's Bluff where he had grown up and played as a boy.

Verna May Kelly married Malcolm D. Abel of Mosheim, Texas, on April 19, 1946, and they currently (1991) reside in Midland, Texas. They are the parents of two sons, Joe Curtis Abel and Donald David Abel, and one daughter, Claudia Jane Tomlinson, all of Midland.,

Of John Franklin Kelly's two daughters, Minnie Pearl Kelly did not marry Leon C. Cone at Ventura, California until she was age 42 in 1935, and apparently she died without issue. Daughter Mary B. Kelly married Floyd Shofner, the son of Martin Luther and Matilda Collins Shofner, in 1918. They lived out their lives in Beaumont and are buried in Magnolia Cemetery. They were the parents of three sons, as follows: Floyd Kelly Shofner, who married Lois Marie Crane in 1945; James Franklin Shofner, who married Mary Jean Stewart; and Jack Shofner, who married Frances Viola Dishman in 1949.

Lee A. and Lois Kelly lived out their lives in Nederland. The 1938 Nederland city directory listed Lee Kelly as a bricklayer residing on Shell Street, but he was also in the trucking business during the latter years of his life. The family also resided at various times on Gary Street and in the 700 block of Nederland Avenue.

Lee A. Kelly died on June 18, 1950, and was buried in Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches. Lois Kelly survived her husband for 33 years, died on May 28, 1983, and is buried beside her husband in Port Neches.

Lee and Lois Kelly were the parents of one son and six daughters, all of whom are still alive (1991) except Nellie Jean Kelly who died as a ten-year-old girl in 1938. The others are as follows:

Albert Lee Kelly married Mary Jane Porter, and they are the parents of two daughters, Cathy Hagen and Kitty Auwerter. Daughter Edith Kelly married Allison Prejean, and they are the parents of four daughters, Lois Savoie, Carolyn Pearl Arsement, Sheila Fay Frederick, and Mary Elene Latta.

Daughter Jennie Lois Kelly married Eugene Frazier (deceased), and they were the parents of one son, Frank Eugene "Butch" Frazier. Daughter Pearl Kelly married Micajah Hutchison (deceased), and she operated a beauty shop at Twelfth and Chicago for about thirty years. They had no children.

Daughter Mary Elene Kelly (deceased) married Howard Harvey Keith, and they were the parents of two sons and two daughters, as follows: Lee Albert Keith, Howard Harvey Keith, Jr., Violet Ann Emfinger and Opal Northcut. Daughter Vivian Fay Kelly is married to Kenneth Langham. She is the mother of two daughters, Gwen Cantrell and DeAnna Gosney, and one son, Jerry Lee Tyer, by her first marriage.

John Franklin and Martha Kelly, John Claude and Verna Kelly, and Lee A. and Lois Kelly are fondly recalled and still sorely missed by their surviving children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and a host of friends whose lives they touched.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Mary Helen Terrell

At least three, perhaps four, books detail at length the story of the Kieschnick forebears, Andreas and Johann Kieschnick, the grandparents and great grandparents of Henry Ben Kieschnick, who were a part of Pastor Johan Kilian's Wendish colony, who sailed from Liverpool, England, for Texas aboard the full-rigged sailing ship Ben Nevis on September 26, 1854, and docked in Galveston on December 14, 1854. The ship carried Kilian's entire congregation of 586 Wends from their home in Prussian Lusatia, south of Berlin, to their new home in Serbin, Lee County, Texas. Of the original colony of 586 Wends who left on the Ben Nevis, 76 died of cholera and dysentery and were buried at sea.

The Wends spoke and wrote a Slavic language, known as Wendish, and held services in that language. They left Prussia because they feared the "germanization" of their culture by the Prussians, but the "germanization" that they feared actually took place in Texas. After arriving at Galveston, their ship was quarantined for three weeks, and most of them ended up walking the two hundred miles to their new home in Serbin.

Henry Ben Kieschnick was born on July 13, 1905 in Lee County, Texas. His father was Samuel Friedrich William Kieschnick, and his mother's maiden name was Mary Kaspar. He was baptized at home on July 14, 1905 by Pastor F. Wunderlich of St. John's Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Texas.

Ben and his twin brother, Arthur, were the fifth and sixth children born to Sam Kieschnick and his wife. Sam had eleven children in all: Paul Kieschnick, Sam Kieschnick, Louise Kieschnick Behrend, Alma Kieschnick Wukasch, Mathilda Kieschnick Arldt, Bertha Kieschnick Arldt, Renata Kieschnick Schaal, Fred Kieschnick, and Edward Kieschnick.

Five years later in 1910, his family moved to another farm, this time near Manheim, Texas. When Ben was thirteen years old, on Palm Sunday of 1919, he was confirmed. He was still on the farm, helping with all the farming chores, when he became seriously ill from a ruptured appendix. His father took him by train to Austin where he had surgery. After surgery, he learned he could not go back to riding horses, so he went to work at St. David's Hospital in Austin and lived with a sister there. Two years later, on August 3, 1927, he moved to Port Arthur, Texas, and he worked there for 43 years at Texaco refinery until his retirement in 1970.

On July 16, 1929, Ben Kieschnick married Martha Evelyn Dunk of Austin, Texas, the daughter of Charles Dunk and Christina Edling. Her family had a small grocery store in Austin. Martha was confirmed May 19, 1929, at St. Martin's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Austin by Pastor F. G. Roesener, and she was married in the same church less than one month later.

The couple's first home was a garage apartment on Fifteenth Street in Port Arthur. Two years later they built a home in Port Arthur, and four of their children were born there.

Seven years later, in 1938, the Kieschnick family moved to Nederland, to 1323 Hill Street, which has been the family home since then. They bought the Nederland property from Tom Eagleson, who owned a nursery in Port Arthur, and for whom Ben Kieschnick worked part-time. The two youngest Kieschnick children were born in Nederland.

Their first child, Henry Ben Kieschnick, Jr., was born prematurely and died on March 27, 1931. The other six Kieschnick children are still living, as follows: Alice Marie Kieschnick, born on April 6, 1933, was married on April 7, 1946 to Fred L. Clotiaux in Beaumont, Texas.

Franklin Ben Kieschnick, born April 13, 1934, married Sarah Frances Clark on July 14, 1961, and they are the parents of four sons, as follows: Stuart Ben Kieschnick, born May 19, 1962, married Jodi Rodnick on July 18, 1990; Todd Clark Kieschnick was born on July 13, 1965, which was his grandfather Ben's sixtieth birthday; Wade Eric Kieschnick, born July 22, 1968; and Thad Franklin Kieschnick, born June 23, 1970.

Nellie Bernice Kieschnick, born April 28, 1936, married Marion E. Jones,a postal supervisor, on December 9, 1955, in Nederland, and they are the parents of three sons, as follows: Russell Marion Jones, born December 17, 1961, married Caroline Williams on November 7, 1980. Russell and Caroline have a daughter, Rachael Cherie, born April 21, 1985, the family's only great grandchild. The two youngest sons are Phillip Wayne Jones, born October 3, 1963, and Joel Edward Jones, born August 6, 1966.

Martha Ann Kieschnick, born January 8, 1938, married John Harry Murphy on May 15, 1966. They are parents of one daughter, Staci Ann Murphy, born on March 3, 1975.

Mary Helen Kieschnick, born on April 29, 1940, married Charles Roy Terrell on November 26, 1959. They are the parents of two children as follows: Timothy Charles Terrell, born September 27, 1966, who married Teresa Cain on November 24, 1990; and Tamara Deanne Terrell, born on April 30, 1969.

The younges Kieschnick family member, Elmer Earl Kieschnick, was born on June 17, 1943, and married Ann Heartfield on December 31, 1986, in Beaumont.

The Kieschnick family were lifelong members of the Lutheran Church, but for the first nineteen years that they resided in Nederland, there was no Lutheran congregation in Nederland. For that reason, they attended Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Arthur. Hence, when Holy Cross Lutheran Church was organized in Nederland in 1957, Ben and his family became charter members. Ben and his family loved the Lord and wanted to share their Savior with others. Ben and Martha Kieschnick served actively on the church's various boards, departments, and committees, as well as teaching Sunday School and Bible classes.

Ben Kieschnick was also an avid gardner and always had a large garden on Hill Street in Nederland. He also loved flowers and grew large beds of these as well.

Henry Ben Kieschnick died on May 16, 1982, at his home on Hill Street, only two months short of his 77th birthday. His funeral service was held at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Nederland, Texas, on May 18th, with burial in Memory Gardens Cemetery. His widow, Martha, still resides at the family home, and three of her children still reside in Nederland.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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(This interview was conducted by Janie and Walt Sergeant of The Institute of Texan Cultures' Oral History Program on October 31, 1986, and it is the exclusive property of that organization. Before her death, Irene Kirkwood was the widow of Earl L. Gish, twice mayor of Nederland, and of O. G. Kirkwood, former mayor and city councilman of Port Neches.)

((K. denotes Mrs. Kirkwood; JS, WS denotes the Sargeants.))

K: I was born in Louisiana in a little town that is no longer in existence. It was called Almadane. It was near Leesville, Louisiana. My father was a timber inspector for the Lutcher-Moore Lumber Company of Orange. He was a Louisiana inspector. I grew up there and graduated at Deridder, La. High School. I came to Port Arthur in 1919. I went to work....well, I was really too young to go to work....I was going to go off to college....I'd been gone several months, and they put up on the board that the Gulf Oil Company needed two girls. So my girl friend and I said, "Oh, well, we can go to college at night. Let's go out and see if we can get the job." Well, we did. So I went to work and worked there forty years for Gulf Oil.

J. S. Is that so?

K: When I retired in 19.... This is my sister.

WS: You and your sister went to work then....?

K: No, my girl friend went to work delivering mail in a six-story building. Gulf Oil had their own little post office on the first floor. So I delivered mail there during the war (WWII?) Then I worked part time in the ....what they call....I worked under accounting all right. It was shift work. During the war, every....the office stayed open 24 hours during the war. Everyone, well, not everyone, not any of the supervisors, but we had one night supervisor. And when the war was over, I was promoted to supervisor of all communications. So I did that then until 1968. I retired October 1, 1968. I really spent a little more than forty years. I took off five years and had my two girls. And then the company called me to come back to work. And on my return they gave me those five years (of seniority), which was very generous. You don't get things like that very often. They were always, very, very good to me. I love the Gulf Oil Company (now merged with Chevron).

I lost my first husband (Earl L. Gish). He was mayor (of Nederland) at the time. He died in 1961. And then in 1962 I went to Europe and the (Gulf) Company gave the the whole summer off so that I could go to the Holy Land and study. As I said, they've been very good to me. But at that time, when I first moved to Nederland, I don't suppose there were over 1,000 people in this whole area here. I moved out on the highway know where our place was on the highway? The old Gish home. I sold it to the girl that lived down the street. Now she has sold it and they have torn the house down. The girl that worked....what is that girl's name? When you get to be 83 years old, you can forget names quicker than anything.

JS: You don't have to be that age. I found that out.

K: Anyway, we moved in, that was in 1938, I guess....You know where the Farris's lived in that white house? Not very far, just one block. Then in 1941, the (H. L.) Ingrams were transferred to Houston or went to Houston - I don't know whether he was transferred or just quit and went with another company. Anyway, he was one of the big shots out at Pure Oil (now Unocal). We bought this house (915 Fourteenth) and have been living here ever since.

JS: When were you married to Mr. Gish?

K: 1921.

JS: What type of business was he in?

K: He was a refrigeration engineer at the Refinery. My second husband was the mayor of Port Neches. I worked for him out at Pure Oil (Union or Unocal) in the office. I knew the people; I knew Edith, I'm sure, that is Mrs. Kirkwood. She was a lovely, lovely lady. My husband died in 1961 with a heart attack in Los Angeles. He was away on County business, he and Dr. (Paul) Meyer (of Port Arthur), and he passed away on the airplane coming home. I was sitting there waiting to take off when he died on the plane. And then four years later, I married Mr. Kirkwood. I knew Mrs. Kirkwood very well, but I didn't know him. She and her family were my closest friends. Her family in Houston. She died the next year with a heart attack. I didn't see him or anything for three years, four years, actually before I married Mr. Kirkwood. And he was mayor of Port Neches. And he had finished up his term so he left Port Neches and moved over here and we were married 19 years, but he died two years ago this month.

JS: How long had Mr. Gish been mayor?

K: He had been mayor twice. I don't remember the first time, but the last time, he was mayor when in died in 1961. He had been mayor ten months then, the second time.

JS: I understand you've been active in all kinds of activities here in Nederland.

K: Well, yes, to pass away the time. My daughters had finished college, married and left home so I spend my time heading most all organizations, I guess. I'm still a charter member of the Nederland Business and Professional Women's, which, I guess we're the oldest women's organization in this area.

WS: When did you form this organization?

K: Back in 1947. I was president in 1948 and 1949. When Nederland, the main street, Boston Avenue, was a shelled street, and during my term as president, Mr. Chester was mayor, and they were paving the street, and he asked me if the Business Women's group would like to open it up with a celebration and a big street and everything, which we did. I was just looking at the paper; I just found it today. It was the first....I though you might....I have an edition of parts of it at least of the first paper ever put out in Nederland. Volume I, Number I. And it tells of the paving. And the reason I kept it was because I was president of the Club at that time and we were going to have the opening of the street. That was back in 1949. Then on April 10, 1955, we voted in our Home Charter, which we are still under. I was very interested in that, trying to help with that, too, to put that through. We're still under the same Home Charter, four different areas in town, and councilmen from four different areas.

JS: How about school activities? I understand.......

K: Well, yes. When my girls were in school, they graduated in 1941. One of them went to Lamar and the other to TSCW, which was TSCW at that time and is now Texas Women's University at Denton. She taught in Midland; she retired this year from teaching in Midland, Texas. My youngest daughter graduated from Lamar and went to work at Union Oil (Pure). She now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. I have three grandsons and eight great grandchildren. Six of those are adopted, but they're mine anyway.

JS: What school activities were you......

K: Well, I was president of the PTA at one time. And then I was a home room mother several times. I worked with the teachers in every way that I could. My closest friends were the teachers that ran the school at that time. I tried to stay very close to the school. We always, I do mean always, had a good school system. In 1929, my husband, I was working, my husband took the girls to register in Port Arthur. And they were down in the basement at Dequeen School. I came home from work, he happened to be off that day to register the children. He said, "I'll tell you, mother, we aren't going to put up with this. They put them in the basement, right next to the lavatory. I can't take that. We're going to Nederland." His mother and dad had bought a place out on the highway in Nederland, so he said, "Let's go talk to Mother and Dad, and see if Mother will keep the kids so you can work. We'll just drive back and forth to work. I hear there's a good school system in Nederland." At that time the old Langham School was there. That's where they started. It's been torn down now. This new school (Langham School at 12th and Helena) is in its place; has been there for many years now. And then they graduated, they were never anywhere else except the Nederland schools. They graduated in 1941. They both started school the same time. My oldest daughter was sick and couldn't start when she was six, so they both started the same year and both finished the same year. At times I felt I had to get out on the corner with a cup, (as a result of) having two in college. Takes two of us working. I said I did't work because I wanted to; I worked because I had to.

WS: Was school just 11 years at that time?

K: Yes

WS: When did it change over to 12 years?

K: I don't know when they changed. (voice: I should remember-I used to teach). You drift away when your children are out of school. (Ed.'s Note: Nederland became a 12-grade system during World War II, probably 1943-44.) You just lose interest more or less. Our interest was in the college. We spent a lot of time going back and forth to Denton and then I was interested in....well at the time it was South Park College; it wasn't Lamar then, South Park College, a junior college. Now it's Lamar University.

JS: When did it change to Lamar University?

K: I don't remember the date. (Ed.'s Note: Although Lamar has been Lamar University only since 1972, it was Lamar State College of Technology as far back as about 1951 and Lamar College back to about 1934. It began as South Park Junior College in 1923. It remained a junior college under the South Park School District until 1951, when it became a four-year state school.) (voice: it was a junior college and then it was a college before and then....) It's been an accredited college nor for 10 or 12 years (Ed's Note: Lamar's accreditation goes back many years before that. Lamar began issuing Bachelor's and Master's degrees during the middle 1950s.) It was as junior college, it was South Park when my daughter went. John Gray was president of the junior college at South Park when my daughter went. Then he was later president for many years. (Ed.s Note: John Gray signed the editor's M. A. degree as college president in 1974.) But I don't remember the year when they changed over to Lamar. As I said, my daughter was teaching in Nw Mexico. I just lost track of colleges too.

JDS: How about social activities? I understand that you were active in these too.

K: Well, I guess I belonged to about everything they had. Garden Club, I was active in the Garden Club. The B&PW, I'm still a charter member. At the church, all the things we had at the church.

JS: What church was that?

K: That was the Methodist, First Methodist. Later years, my husband had his first heart attack....He could'nt walk very far and the Methodist Church had gotten pretty big. And then we didn't have the parking lot we now have across the street. So he couldn't walk, I'd have to let him out at the door. He could get in. By the time I found a place to park, I was going to church by myself so I said, "Look, Brother Duran, if they form a new church out here on Helena, we're going to transfer to the Wesley church. I'm tired of going to church by myself." Then they bought the property and built the new church on Helena out near the airport. By the time I got my car parked, I found my seat the best way I could. So I stayed in the Wesley Methodist Church until I married Mr. Kirkwood in 1965. He went to church with me a few times, but you can't make a Methodist out of a member of the Church of Christ. No way. So I said, if anyone is going to change, I guess I'll change, but I couldn't think that way so we settled on the Christian Church. My grandfather and three of my uncles were Christian Church ministers. But they were Disciples (meaning Christian Church, Disciples of Christ). Our church is an independent church. Christian Church is a disciple church, is in Port Arthur. A fine church. It's out there on the highway now. My grandfather and three uncles were disciples, ministers.

WS: You spoke of the Garden Club. What did you have for projects?

K: We looked for information and we did try to beautify the town. We did try to do that. Get people interested in yards and in garden work. Then the Business and Professional Women kind of picked up with us on that, and then we'd plant flowers along the railroad tracks, you know, just really trying to make it a better town.

JS: More or less the starter of beaufification.....

K: Yes, a starter like doing the railroad. Mrs. Kelley took it over. And that was the Chamber of commerce. She does that and she does a beautiful job. For people coming through, it makes it nice to see the pretty flowers.

JS: It makes a nice impresion.

K: It sure does. And that was really the main thing of the Garden Club, keep people interested; keep up their yards nice; making the town look better.

WS: I was talking earlier and they said your jail was non-existent. You don't have a need for one? Everyone behaves himself here? How about it? As mayor did he (Mr. Gish) have any problems?

K: No. Earl never did, the times that he was mayor. No big problems. Of course they didn't always agree. I'll never forget the night he wanted to lay this 30-inch line out and there was only one house out in that area, on Nederland Avenue, out where J. D. Chester lives, and he wanted to lay a 30 inch line out there and he had to fight like the dickens. Even the engineer, Charles Haille and Associates in Houston said, "Oh, you're crazy." He said, "No. In ten years there won't be a vacant lot out there." He (Haille) said, "Oh, I think you're crazy but I'll go along with you." ......And he said, "Well, you're a more far-seeing man than I was." Ten years? He was right - there is not but a few vacant lots out there. And he said, "It saved the city having to tear all that up in order to lay a bigger line." But half the people thought he was crazy.

WS: Are you speaking about a water line?

K: Water line. The big one; the big 30-inch one. Now they could even use a bigger one. As far as having a lot of problems......any city council has disagreements. They're not always going to agree on everything. But they just didn't have any down right fights about it. Earl was very outspoken. I think that was one thing that was a detriment to him. Sometimes you can't be as outspoken as you want to be. But if you thought something, really thought it, he said it. You didn't have to wonder how he felt about anything; he'd tell you.

JS: I think they appreciated it; they trusted him probably.

K: He made no bones about it; he wasn't disagreeable and he didn't get mad at the people that disagreed with him. But he said exactly what he thought. A lot of people didn't like that, and some people do. Then a lot of people, you'd be surprised, that do not like that. He was not a "yes man" to anyone.

WS: The sewer system, they say, was pretty poor.

K: For a while it was. I remember him staying up at night, holding flash lights working on the sewer at night. We had a bad sewer system for a while, but they finally go that straightened out. They built a new sewer plant out there; that helped a lot.

WS: When was that put in?

K: I can't remember that either; the year they put that in. That relieved the whole town a whole lot. They had bad drainage for a long time. But we didn't pay much taxes. I remember the first taxes I had to pay on this house; I went and paid them myself. It was $12.50. And the little old City Hall was across the (railroad) track in a little tiny black one room building. (Ed.'s Note: Nederland's City Hall during World War II was in the old Lion's Club "Scout Hut." However, the building was some fifty feet square, with another room, a kitchen, built on the rear. Klaas Koelemay, the first city secretary, was an original Dutch settler who came to Nederland in 1898.) And that was before Sandy Rienstra (city manager) went to work for the city. His name was......(Koelemay)....Oh, he was an old settler here....was the first one (city secretary or manager), then Mr. (C. E.) Gibson took over. Back in the 1940s, early forties.

WS: This was your combined tax or just your.....?

K: No, it was just the city tax. $12.50 on this house. I don't remember what the school taxes were, but they weren't very much either. Not like they are now. I watched the town grow and I thoroughly enjoyed watching this little town grow.

JS: I thing the more involved you are, the more interested you are in it.

K: The more you appreciate people.

JS: That's right.

K: Because we do have fine people in this town. Our crime rate, now these last years, (Police) Chief Neal tells me it has risen conderably. But you know, in years gone by, I'd go on vacation and leave my house unlocked; my neighbors might need something they needed to borrow. They'd do the same thing. No one locked their houses. Oh now, heavens, you're scared to answer the door at night. It has changed considerably. Even in the last 25 years, the four years that I was a widow, I lived here by myself. I once kept a school teacher for nine months, but other than that, I was alone the other three years. I lived here by myself and I was never afraid. My neighbor across the street, if it were going to freeze, he worked out at the plant where I did, and he would call me from the plant and say, "Now, Mrs. Gish, it's going to freeze tonight. If you hear someone in the house, that will be me. I'm going to cut the water off and drain the pipes. You never thought of that, of being afraid. I woundn't do that for anything now.

JS: Can you think of anything we should.......?

K: We have a very, very good little town here.

JS: It seems that way. We've enjoyed it.

K: It's growing; it's been growing; and it's still growing. When my husband was mayor, he took in, in a buffer zone, all where Port Arthur now is, across from our hospital, across the highway 365, he took that in as a buffer zone for Nederland to grow. He said that Nederland would grow that way. So he took it all in. I guess he took in a whole bunch more. They laughed and teased him, "Well, I guess we'll be the biggest city in the United States." Someone put it in the paper. But he did take it in, just as a buffer zone. Because Port Neches was coming this way; Beaumont was coming this way; Port Arthur was coming this way. He said, "We're going to be hemmed in if we don't do something."

After he was out as mayor, Preston ------, bless his heart, I don't know why he did it. Dr. Hall was mayor, but Dr. Hall was not at the meeting - he was sick or something. Dr. Hall got sick right after he went in as mayor, but Preston ------ took over. Well, he gave it up one night, all of the buffer zone. Port Arthur called a meeting at 10 o'clock the next morning and took all that buffer zone into their city limits. It made me sick. Our Central Mall and all that has been built's all the way in Port Arthur now. I think that hurt my husband more than anything else that could have possibly hurt him. He said, "They're leaving us out and it has..." (voice: We have the airport on that side.) ...and he took in all around the airport, just a buffer was all, but no one complained as long as we had it in the buffer zone. Why Preston did that....There was an attorney in Port Arthur, he's dead now, came out here. He happened to be city attorney for Port Arthur. He came out here and when he left, my husband was so mad. I said, "What in the world...." I went out in the back. I didn't know what the man wanted. He was so mad. He said, "That city attorney of Port Arthur wants me to release this land that I've taken in toward Port Arthur. He must be crazy. I don't need money. He offered me money to do it." He said, "I don't need money that bad." We were getting by. We weren't people that had a lot of money. But we didn't need a lot of money. Our girls had finished school. We didn't need the money, but he was offered it. That was wrong in the first place."

K: And why that man did that, I don't know. I'm not saying whether ------ took that money or whether he just - I don't know whether he did or just went ahead, the man talking him into turning it loose. He let it go. But at 10 o'clock the next morning, Port Arthur called a special meeting and took it all in. And they had all that. And it just makes you sick when you think what it did to Nederland. It stopped us right at Highay 365. And Preston later died to. He died several years ago, I believe. Preston passed away with a heart attack. He quit his job and left here and went up to Kerrville and went into some kind of shrimp business, trying to bring in fresh shrimp up there. Anyway, his wife left him. He just had a sad life after that. I don't know whether the boy took a dime or not, I don't know. But I do know what the man had offered Earl.

JS: What would you say your husband's greatest accomplishment was as mayor?

K: I think, when he was mayor, the laying of water lines would be most important, as far as I know and I don't know a lot, but getting sewer lines and trying to straighten out that situation. I never really paid a lot of attention because I just don't think wives ought to be butting into that kind of stuff. I stayed out of everything like that - I stayed out of his business. I did know he was very interested in the sewer and water lines being laid out. He really expected Nederland to grow that way and to grow all the way to Port Arthur. He really expected it to. He said that eventually Nederland would go all the way to Port Arthur. He said it would be the focal point of any election. It would be the balance of power, which it is today.

K: How the country goes as a rule, is the way elections go. And he always said that, if we could just keep going.

JS: Had he always been interested in politics?

K: No. Mr. Farris was mayor at that time. We lived across the street from them. And I think, really, it was Mr. Farris who got him more interested than anyone elese. Trying to make Nederland grow. Before that, he was quite a bowler. He would go to the bowling conventions. He bowled for the plant. He was more interested in the plant and in the children. After he got interested in politics, I didn't see much of him..... (laughter).....The telephone ringing all the time. I remember one woman telling, she said, "There's a dead cat out here in my yard. Is the mayor there?" I said, "No, ma'm, he isn't" She said, "I don't know what to do with the cat." I said, "I know what I'd do. I'd go dig a hole and bury it."

JS: And you were the mayor's wife.

K: I'm sure it wasn't a very good answer. She didn't know what to do. You'd be surprised the calls the mayors get. And I'm sure poor old mayors have a jillion of them.

WS: You had pretty much of a party system, didn't you?

K: Yes. And I think we are still more or less more Democratic; this area. Now Texas may go Republican this time. I don't know. But in this area, we're more Democratic than anything else. The way I see it. Of course, I could be wrong. (Gov. Wm.) Clements may even carry this area. I don't think he will. But then, that's just my opinion.

WS: How about the segregation problem?

K: Never been a problem as far as I know. We have so few blacks; very, very few. My children never went to school with a black child. All those years they were in school, they never went to school with a black child. You see, it didn't start until after 1960. It was after Earl was dead, before we ever had a Negro living in this area. So we never had any problem with that. At least I never did. Not that I had anything against Blacks. I think we are all created equal as far as that's concerned. I think the thing we need to do, the whole country, not just us, not just the South. The North is worse than we are or were.

JS: I've heard that.

K: Earl was from Indiana. They were worse than we are down here. So, I can't say that.....I don't look to ever, really.....maybe in 60 years, when they have problems. But I think what we need to do, and we are doing it, it's happening all over the United States, they're educating the people, which before they did not. That was not fair. If we had started out, many, many years ago, educating the Black people and Hispanics the same (as Whites). In fact any foreigner who comes here, as we all go back to foreigners, as far as that's concerned. My family came from Ireland. We're really all foreigners as far as that's concerned (Ed.'s Note: Except Indians). But we needed....when they brought the Blacks over here, they should have started educating them right then. (Ed.'s Note: Blacks who came direct from Africa prior to 1808 were slaves, however, and it was against the laws of all slave states to educate slaves.) We'd have a different country altogether, than we have now. But it's only in recent years that we're.....and some of them are very, very smart and fine people. I have had my maid 13 years, and there's no finer, better Christian person than the girl that works for me. She's a woman of 58, I think, now. (Ed.'s Note: During the segregation years, 1892 to 1954 (Plessy VS. Ferguson to Brown VS. The Board of Education), education of Negroes was mandatory under all laws, so it is not something "new" of the 20th century. Segregation, however, meant that more often Negroes were educated in obsolete buildings and with obsolete books and equipment left over from the White schools.)

K: Very fine person. So I don't see segregation is going to be any problem for us in many years to come. Now they tell us there's about three families (of Blacks) who have bought out in Stonegate, a new addition here in Port Arthur (across Highway 365 from Nederland). There are about three families; I think one is a doctor.

WS: How about your doctors? Are you fortunate to have good doctors?

K: We have very good doctors. We have more doctors now than I ever thought we would ever have. We do have many.

WS: How about in the past? Have you always been fortunate to have.....?

K: We've been fortunate to have good doctors. In the last five lyears, we have gotten so many, most of them are foreigners that are coming in now. But they're good doctors I understand.

WS: How about hospitals? I never thought to ask about......?

K: We have one very good hospital. Mid-Jefferson County Hospital. It's a very good hospital.

WS: When was that built? Have you any idea?

K: Let's see. When was that hospital built? When my husband died, he was trying to get a hospital going at the time that he died.

WS: Where did you have to go to a hospital prior to that?

K: He went to Houston to talk to people about a hospital. I think it was Humana, I'm not it a Humana out here? I'm sure it is. (Error: it is American Medical International.) He first was talking, before he died, to Humana in Houston.....trying to get a.....and then I think, our first hospital, didn't the doctors own it?

(voice: yes, at first, physicians and surgeons.)

Then they sold out to Mendico first, I don't know whether it's Humana, or what it is. But anyway, we have a very good hospital.

WS: Ever since you have been here, you've had a hospital?

K: No. we did not...It's just in recent years....maybe 20 years; 18 to 20 years since we've had a hospital. Otherwise, we used the one in Port Arthur.

WS: Port Arthur had one long before.....?

K: Oh, yes. St. Mary's. And Beaumont, too.....had several hospitals for many, many years.

WS: So if anyone was hospitalized, you had to go either to Port Arthur or Beaumont?

K: But we do have a very good hospital. And we have several clinics now. There's Mediquick Clinic.....what do they call them? You can go to the doctor at any hour. They don't work regular hours. I think we have one like that on Highway 365. I had to go one Saturday. I had an upper respiratory and they were very good; very thorough. I couldn't get hold of Dr. Walters; weekends sometimes you can't find.....

JS: Irene, you've been so active in all phases in the community. I'd like to ask you, put you on the spot: What area would you like to see changed, if any? Do you see any need for a change?

K: No, I really don't know of anything that could change. I'd like to see our downtown not die like most downtowns have. But I'm afraid that that's what's going to happen if we're not careful.....that our downtown area.....we have several places that are closed now. And the little shopping center across, is mostly vacant I think, over there (Weingarten's?) I would like to see our downtown not go down; I'd like to see it built up more.

JS: And the sad thing is that every town is in the same situation.

K: But we're so close to Nederland Avenue, I don't see the difference. Why Nederland Avenue has become the main part of town when Boston is just two blocks away. (voice: now we're going out to Highway 365.)

K: We're going out on 365 now. I'd like to see our downtown stay or built up, even. Even some of the buildings need to be worked over, done over downtown. I think that would lhelp, if people that owned them might.....I think it would help.

WS: Do you have active lodges? I've heard you speak of the Shriners. Was your husband a Shriner?

K: My last husband was a 32nd degree. He was a Shriner.

WS: Did they have a Masonic Lodge here? Did they have a Masonic Lodge right here in Nederland?

K: K: Yes, Nederland has a ..... we have a Temple over here on 27th Street. I belong to the Eastern Star; Daughters of the Nile.

WS: We're they active when you came to the area?

K: No. Well, they had a small one, I think. In think in 1963 the Masons and Eastern Star built over on 27th Street. I went in to the Eastern Star in 1966, I guess, and in 1969, I went in to the Daughters of the Nile in Galveston, which is the temple for this area. I've been active in both of those.

JS: It's been interesting to talk to you. I don't want to take any more of your time. We do appreciate, Irene, taking your time.

K: It's nice that you are doing this.

The End

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Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T. Block

Dutch Version

The Koelemay Family

Considering the number of family members and the contributions to local history made by the members of the Koelemay families, it is indeed an irony that present-day Nederland's telephone directory no longer lists anyone with the Koelemay surname.

Arriving in Nederland on March 1, 1898, members of that large family, including five sons and three daughters, of Maarten Koelemay, Sr., were all at or approaching adulthood at the time of their arrival. Actually, the oldest son, Piet Koelemay, arrived with the first contingent of immigrants in mid-November, 1897, with intent to build a house for the family and have it ready for occupancy in March. Until 1928, the year that it burned, the old Koelemay home was a prominent landmark in the 2100 block of Koelemay Road, which was renamed Helena Street in 1948.

Maarten Koelemay, Sr., was born on October 2, 1843, in Berkhout, Holland, the son of Pieter Koelemay and Dieuwertje Waterman. On April 8, 1872, he married Antje (Anna) DeJong, who was born in Andijk, Holland, on January 9, 1852, the daughter of Jan DeJong and Klaasje Koorman. For about 26 years prior to their departure for Texas, the family lived in the village of Hoogkarspel, near Enkhuizen, on the Zuider See, where their eight children were born. Koelemay, who was by trade a dairyman and cheesemaker, brought his cheese molds to Texas with him, expecting to continue the manufacture of cheese, but he soon found out that the climate of Southeast Texas was much too warm for much of the year and otherwise unsuited for cheese-making.

The Koelemay sons were Pieter, John, Klaas, Martin, and Lawrence. The latter two sons were only eleven and nine years old respectively when they arrived in Nederland, and they were the only members of the family who attended the earliest Nederland schools. The three daughters of that family were Tryntje (Kate) Koelemay, who married Gatze Jan (George) Rienstra, Sr., Nederland's first settler who arrived in May, 1897; Dieuwertze (Dora) Koelemay, who married Will Block of Port Neches in May, 1899, to become the first Jefferson County marriage involving a member of Nederland's Dutch colony; and Klaasje (Clara) Koelemay, who married another early Dutch immigrant, Sebe Richard Carter. The daughters had taken part-time employment as maids in the homes of the wealthy lumber families of Beaumont.

Upon arrival in Nederland, all male members of that family hired out as farm and railroad laborers in an effort to accumulate as much rice land, cattle, and farm apparatus as possible. As soon as they were able to purchase land, they became rice farmers during a period of time when that pursuit was highly profitable. Although rice-farming was not as laborious as cotton, it was nevertheless a hard occupation to follow, for one plowed a single furrow at a time with a primitive turning plow and a team of mules.

At first, the two-story Koelemay home on Helena stood somewhat alone on the prairie, about midway between the railroad and Highway 69. It soon became something of an agricultural showplace because of its neatly-arranged garden and orchard areas, its well-kept flower beds, as well as its poultry and livestock outbuildings. But before building their home there, the Koelemay family had served as the Port Arthur Land Company's hotel hosts, while they resided in the new Orange Hotel for about three years, where they rented out the 33 rooms to newly-arriving immigrants, cooked and served the meals to guests, maintained the 1,000-volume library room, and hosted the earliest religious services (performed by lay leader Dirk Ballast, Sr.), dances, and other entertainments.

One of the first activities witnessed Pieter Koelemay as a member of a committee of immigrants charged with preparations for the all-day celebration of Queen Wilhelmina's coronation on September 6, 1898. The Port Arthur Herald of September 8, 1898 (which can be copied from microfilm at the Port Arthur Memorial Library) devoted an entire page to that celebration, and it bears the first mention of the Koelemay family members in a newspaper. It was a day of fun and games; it was soon noted that among the obstacle contestants, that "....the first prize was won by John Koelemay." Another paragraph of the same article observed that "....Another very interesting feature of the evening was the vocal selections rendered by Piet Koelemay, Misses Tryntje Koelemay, Dieuwertje Koelemay, Klara Koelemay, and John Koelemay. All their selections were sung in the tongue of the fatherland (Holland), but the music was all that one could ask for."

Indeed, Dora Koelemay was an accomplished zither (autoharp) player, whose melodious notes on any given evening might be heard guiding the toes of the polka dancers at the Orange Hotel. After the departure of the host Ellings family from the Orange Hotel in 1899, the Koelemay family moved in, remaining there about three years before moving into their new home on Koelmay Road. After Dora Koelemay's death in 1917, her zither was a familiar sight around the Will Block home at Port Neches, its strings never to be struck or chorded again. During those years at the Orange Hotel, young Klaas, who was bilingual and fairly-well educated before leaving Holland, served as interpreter for Nederland's first school, which held its classes in one of the hotel's small outbuildings. During that period of time, Klaas Koelemay was Nederland's only photographer, and one of the writer's prize photographs is one of Klaas' originals, made of Nederland's first school students in 1903. The writer has made negatives and reprints of the picture, which are widely circulated in Nederland, and one of the students easily recognizable in it is Lawrence Koelemay.

John Koelemay certainly became one of Nederland's sturdiest citizens, and his old home place still stands at the intersection of North 27th and Canal Streets. During the earliest years, he rice-farmed with brothers Piet and Klaas, but he later established one of Nederland's most successful retail dairies. For perhaps twenty or more years, the Koelemay Dairy delivered milk door-to-door in Beaumont. During the 1930s, John was likewise well-known as a large satsuma orange grower and a speculator. John Koelemay was wed about 1901 to Neltje Stelling, also a Dutch immigrant, who became the mother of John's only son, named Martin, and who predeceased her husband in 1941. John Koelemay married a second time, and when he died in 1948, he was survived by the widow of his second marriage, Mrs. Nancy Koelemay. Martin Koelemay, son of John, married the former Edna Lester of Nederland, and after the family disposed of their large land holdings in Nederland around 1950, they moved to their new ranch near Winnie. Edna Lester Koelemay died about 1991, but as of 1993, Martin still resides there near the home of his son Glenn.

Klaas Koelemay was Nederland's only photographer around 1900, and most of the town's original photographs of that period were taken by him. Perhaps three or four of them still survive, each marked by a notation, "K. Koelemay, Nederland, Texas." Klaas Koelemay worked as a rice farmer and truck grower, as a grocer, grain merchant and dairyman, and during the 1920s, he spent some time near Winnie as a fig grower. In 1940, he became Nederland's first city secretary and remained in that position for several years of World War II until he was replaced by his nephew, Sandy Rienstra. He was also postmaster at Nederland during the latter years of the Woodrow Wilson administration, at a time when if a different political party assumed office in Washington, all postmasters lost their appointments. For some years around 1910 Klaas carried mail in Beaumont, and after about 1946 he served as a post office clerk in Nederland. During those years, the writer, also a postal employee, became closely acquainted with Klaas, and knew him to be a devout, Christian gentleman. Klaas Koelemay married Neltje Rienstra, the sister of his brother-in-law, George Rienstra, the progeny of that marriage including Anna (Mrs. Adrian) Cooley of Devers (deceased), Katie (Mrs. Gayford) Smith of Beaumont, and Carl John Koelemay of Beaumont (also deceased). Nelly Koelemay died in 1963, and her widower died a year later. Anna Cooley left a very long typescript, "From The Netherlands in Europe to Nederland in Texas," the history of the Koelemay family, a copy of which is owned by this writer.

Lawrence Koelemay, the youngest family member, married Myra Cooke, the daughter of another pioneer Nederland family, the J. B. Cooke, Sr. family. Myra Cooke was one of the few charter members of First United Methodist Church of Nederland, and was for thirty years, one of that congregation's leading members. Lawrence was a prominent Nederland grain merchant in the building currently housing Setzer Supply Company. The building was one of the original warehouses, built by the Kansas City Southern Railroad adjacent to its tracks in 1899, and used to house sacked rice until a rice mill was built in Nederland in 1904. Lawrence and Myra Koelemay built their home at 1516 Detroit, and although extensively remodeled with brick veneer, the house still survives as a day care center. The Koelemays operated Koelemay Grain Company (along with a radio franchise business) until 1938, when they sold out to a brother, Martin Koelemay of Port Neches. They then moved to Shreveport, La., and opened a wholesale radio parts business which prospered for many years. Lawrence and Myra Koelemay have been deceased for many years. Their progeny included three sons, James M. and Lawrence, Jr., and John Bunyan, two of whom still live in Shreveport, and the latter resides in Many, Louisiana. Two of the young men enlisted for military service during World War II, and the youngest, John Bunyan Koelemay, now retired, became a well-known Methodist minister in the Louisiana conference. James M. Koelemay still operated Koelemay's Stereo Center in Shreveport.

Dieuwertje (Dora) Koelemay, well-known in her youth for her musical ability, married Will Block, a Port Neches farmer, on May 1, 1899. She was the mother of eight children, as follows: Albert Asa Block (1900-1962) of Port Neches; Anna Block Knight (1900-1991)of Angleton; Clara Block Phillips (1902-1965) of Woodville, Tx.; Katie Block Goolsbee of Port Neches; Willie Mae Block Winberg of Hemphill, Tx.; Mary Lou Block Tullos of Houston; Nellie Block Singleton (1914-1981) of Oklahoma City, Ok.; and Rosa Dieu Block Crenshaw (1917-1980) of Beaumont. As of 1993, three of her daughters still survive.

Klaasje (Clara) Koelemay married Sebe Richard Carter, a Dutch immigrant. Carter immigrated about 1893 to Pella, Nebraska, where he was a wheat farmer, and came with his brother Peter to Nederland in 1899 to become a rice farmer. Later, he accumulated considerable real estate and surveyed the S. R. Carter Nos. 1, 2, and 3 additions to Nederland. The Carters had no children. S. R. Carter died in 1947, and his wife died a year later.

Tryntje (Kate) Koelemay married Jan Gatze 'George' Rienstra, Nederland's first settler, who arrived in May, 1897. She was the mother of three children: Gatze Jan Rienstra, deceased; Martin Sandy Rienstra, also deceased; and Marie Rienstra Wilson, until recently of Livingston, Texas, but presently living at 145 Green Rich Shores, Huntsville, Tx. 77340; and a second daughter, who died in infancy. Sandy Rienstra served for many years as city manager of Nederland, and later served as right-of-way agent for Jefferson County in the county auditor's office.

Martin Koelemay, son of Maarten Koelemay, Sr., was the first person drafted from Nederland in World War I, and he served in France as a sergeant in Co. B, 601st Engineer Battalion. For a few years after 1920, Martin Koelemay lived at Labelle, where he ran a dairy. Later, he moved to Port Neches, where he opened Koelemay Grain Company, and where his old home still stands at the intersection of Avenue D and Merriman St. About 1938, he purchased the Koelemay Grain Company of Nederland from his brother Lawrence and operated it for about five years. Martin married Anna Westerterp, a member of another Dutch immigrant family, and their only child, Rev.Ralph Koelemay (formerly U. S. Navy, World War II) is a retired Methodist minister who lived for many years in Plover, Wisconsin, but has recently moved to Missouri. Upon her death in 1977, Anna Koelemay was, to the best of the writer's knowledge, the next to last (John Van Oostrom was last) surviving Dutch immigrant of Nederland.

Amazingly, not a single person named Koelemay still lives in Nederland as of 1993, and that from a family that had five sons. In fact, the only Koelemay descendents still living in Nederland (as the writer can best recollect are Jan G. Rienstra II (and his four children) of 808 South 13th Street.


Name Born Died
Maarten Koelemay, Sr. Oct. 2, 1843 April 2, 1915
Antje Koelemay Jan. 9, 1852 Nov. 21, 1923
Gatze Jan Rienstra Aug. 26, 1867 Jan. 27, 1939
Tryntje (Kate) Rienstra Feb. 16, 1877 July 14, 1953
Dieuwertje (Dora) Block May 7, 1878 Mar. 7, 1917
Will Block Aug. 2, 1870 Feb. 26, 1933
Sebe R. Carter Nov. 16, 1867 Dec. 1, 1947
Klaasje (Clara) Carter Oct. 22, 1879 Nov. 29, 1948
John Koelemay Feb. 1, 1876 Feb. 3, 1948
Jeltje Stelling Koelemay Nov. 3, 1874 Jan. 19, 1941
Martin Koelemay, Jr. Feb. 17, 1887 July 31, 1965
Anna W. Koelemay Dec. 12, 1885 Oct. 13, 1977
Klaas Koelemay 1882 1964
Neltje Rienstra Koelemay 1880 1963
Pieter Koelemay Dec., 1873 unkn.
Lawrence Koelemay Nov., 1889 Aug. 14, 1968
Myra Koelemay unkn. April 10, 1980

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Helen Leatherwood Craig

My father, Franklin Pierce Leatherwood, was born near Atmore, Alabama, on June 10, 1876. My mother, Belle Leatherwood, nee Corley, was born in Sabine Parish, Louisiana, on June 25, 1883. They were married in Sabine Parish in 1903. My father was a carpenter by trade, and the family moved from place to place in Louisiana and Texas while he followed his line of work. Later, as the children were born, my mother stayed on their farm near my grandparents in Sabine Parish.

In 1918, while he was working in a shipyard in Beaumont, my father fell and injured his back severely, was in a plaster-of-Paris cast for two years, and thereafter, he wore a heavy steel and canvas brace for as long as he lived in order to get around. He established a broom and brush business and sold Zanol products around the sawmill, logging and turpentine camps in Sabine Parish. When the camps moved too far away for my mother to drive him in a horse and buggy, they decided to move to Nederland so that he could continue his business in Nederland and the surrounding cities.

Dad and my oldest sister, Ruth, arrived in Nederland in mid-August, 1925, and bought a house in Wagner Addition. In those days, Wagner Addition was very sparsely populated, with a house about every two blocks. Mother and the remaining five of six children arrived in Nederland on October 25, 1925. Mother and Dad Leatherwood lived in the same house until their deaths, Dad in 1943 and Mother in 1960.

Carl Leatherwood, my oldest brother, had earlier moved to the oil fields around Mansfield, Louisiana. He later joined the Army and, while he was stationed in San Antonio, he met and married Evelyn Dorris from Alabama. They settled in Alabama, had three children, and lived in Birmingham until his death in 1982.

Ruth Leatherwood married Alson Beldon (Dutch) Crane in 1928. They had two children, Alson Beldon (Bill) Crane, Jr., who married Margie Theis from Port Neches, and they still reside in Nederland. Ruth's second son, Jerry Crane, lives in California. Bill graduated from Nederland High School in 1948.

Ruth Crane lived most of her married life at her home at 408 Thirteenth Street in Nederland. After her sons were grown, she worked in public relations and newspaper work for the next thirty years. She began as manager of the Nederland Chamber of Commerce from 1948 until 1953. She then worked as a reporter and social editor of the Midcounty Review from 1953 until about 1962. After leaving the Midcounty Review, she worked for Port Arthur News in Port Arthur for the next ten years as general reporter and assistant to the editor. For six years following 1972, she returned to the location of her first employment, as manager of the Nederland Chamber of Commerce. Dutch Crane died in 1950, and Ruth Crane died in 1986. Many Nederlanders still recall with fondness the days when Ruth served them with her winsome smile and disposition at the newspaper or chamber offices.

Houston Leatherwood graduated from Nederland High School in 1931. He then joined the Air Corps before returning to Nederland to marry Allie Billiot. They had two children and reside in Groves, Texas.

Chester Leatherwood graduated from Nederland High School in 1932. He then joined the Navy and won appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy. After two years there, he was forced to leave the Academy because of ill health, and he moved to California. He was married twice, but he never had any children. He died in 1977.

I (Helen Leatherwood) graduated from Nederland High School in 1933. I married J. V. Craig in 1935 and became the mother of four daughters. My husband worked for Texaco; we were transferred several times, but always in Texas. I was a legal secretary from 1953 until 1979. J. V. Craig died in 1985 in Longview. I presently live in Longview with Bill Petty, who is also retired. We have travelled extensively in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Hester Leatherwood graduated from Nederland High School in 1934, married George Capps, and had two daughters. They lived in Port Arthur. She later married Floyd Todd, who was working in Saudi Arabia. When he retired, they built a home in Brownsville and, about three years later, they took a boat trip back to Europe. As the ship entered the harbor at La Havre, France, another ship rammed the ship they were on. Hester Leatherwood Todd was thrown into the water, and she was killed in 1970.

Louis "Bob" Leatherwood graduated from Nederland High School in 1938. He then joined the Navy and served in the Pacific Ocean Theater all through World War II. He then graduated from the University of Maryland, with a Master's degree in Business, and he then worked for the Internal Revenue Service in the Pension and Trust Division until he retired. He has one daughter, and he and his wife now live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvlania, where he is in the insurance and securities business.

Franklin P. and Belle Leatherwood are still fondly recalled and sorely missed by their surviving children, grand children, great grand children, and a host of friends whose lives they touched.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Melba McInnis

John J. McInnis was born in Fred, Tyler County, Texas, and his wife, Sallie Blanche Sheffield, was born in Spurger, Texas, same county.

John served in France in the United States Army during World War I, and many of his surviving letters from France are still owned by his daughter-in-law, Melba McInnis. During John's early working career, he worked for the Kirby Lumber Company as a logging engineer for the big Kirby sawmill at Call, Texas. John and Sallie were married on January 9, 1921.

John and Sallie McInnis moved to Nederland about 1931, and they built their home, where they were to live for the remainder of their lives, at 724 Nederland Avenue at Eighth Street. John McInnis went to work for the old Pure Transportation Company, which at that time was the pipe line and tank farm division of the old Pure Oil Company, now Unocal, at Smith's Bluff refinery. At one time, John McInnis served on the Nederland School Board, but the exact dates are not available.

They were the parents of two sons, Maurice and Kenneth, who were both graduates of Nederland High School. Maurice played football for Nederland and was also a member of the band. He graduated from Lamar Junior College's two year program, but soon afterward he entered military service during World War II, serving in the Air Transportation Service Command in both Hawaii and Guam.

After his return from military service, Maurice went to work for the Pure Oil Company, Smith's Bluff refinery, where he worked for 36 years as a maintenance foreman. He married Melba Rasberry, a daughter of Pearl and Beulah Rasberry of Nederland, and they became the parents of two daughters, Elaine Johnson of Houston, and Maurine de Villeneuve of Livingston, Texas, and four grandchildren. Illness forced Maurice to retire in 1982, and he eventually had to have one leg amputated. He died on March 10, 1991.

Kenneth McInnis married Velma Jean Wallace, daughter of Archie and Ella Wallace of Nederland, and they became the parents of two children, Johnnie McInnis of Beaumont and Jo Lynn McInnis Price of Hawkins, Texas. Kenneth and Velma Jean McInnis also have five grandchildren.

John, Sallie, and Maurice McInnis are so fondly recalled and are sorely missed by their surviving children, Maurice's widow Melba, grand children, great grandchildren and a multitude of friends and relatives whose lived they touched.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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(Recorded on Tape During Interview With W. D. Quick on Feb. 28, 1990)

My name is Annie Marie McLain, and I reside at 1143 Dixie Blvd. in the Hollywood Addition of Nederland. My father, Jens H. Peterson, Sr., moved his family here in 1917. Mr. Peterson had been in business in Beaumont before he bought land and moved his family across the highway (347) from the Sun Oil Company gate, one mile north of Nederland. He married my mother, Annie Mary Kelly, in Galveston. In 1900 my father lived in Galveston with his parents, when he was sixteen years old. My grandparents and one of Dad's sisters were drowned during the horrible storm of September 8, 1900, which destroyed Galveston, but another aunt and my father were saved, the latter because he was at work inside the Galveston court house and took refuge there when the storm began.

I had four brothers, Mike, William, Henry, and Clarence, but no sisters. Clarence was a soldier killed in France in December, 1944, and he is buried over there. There were hardly any homes all around Sun Station whenever we moved here in 1917, only the Price and Beard homes - that's Carrie Beard - and the Nourse family.

My first school was the old Langham school, now torn down. My father always took me to school. Father was a sheet metal worker, and he opened a sheet metal shop on the highway, with a little store and a filling (service) station in front of it on Highway 347, just a little bit south of the Sun Oil gate. I don't know who he bought that land from.

My family was of the Catholic faith. I recall well when Father (Fred) Hardy organized the St. Charles Catholic Church here on the second floor of the old McNeill building on (1154) Boston in 1923. The next year it was moved to a wooden building on the corner of Ninth and Chicago. When I was a child, we had no mail delivery, and only well or cistern water. My Dad got the electricity and gas lines extended to Hollywood Addition during the 1920s. There were not many children in that area for me to play with when I was small. I used to make "mud pies" with Hazel Price.

Both of the "Peterson tanks" were already on the land when my father bought it. There was a "run around" (fire levee) encircling each tank, with water inside of the "run around," and a bridge to each tank. Both tanks had clear water, and the front tank had blue water in it. People used to swim there, and J. D. Neely downed there on Memorial Day of 1956, and he is buried in San Augustine. The other drowning was much earlier. (Ed.'s Note: An old clay excavation of a former brick kiln near Sulphur, Louisiana, once had blue water in it and was called "Blue Lake." Evidently, the coloring originated with the type of clay there. The editor is uncertain about the origin of the "Peterson tanks." The Littell Brothers--L. A. Spencer families operated a brick kiln in that immediate area between 1895-1900 and may have excavated their clay there. Most anywhere in that vicinity, there is a good, yellow clay of brick quality a short distance under the top soil. Beginning in 1902, Sun Oil Company built several underground oil storage tanks for storing its Spindletop crude oil, and the editor certainly believes that the underground storage tanks there were built on the site of the former Littell clay pits. At one time about 1950, Pure Oil Company was pumping waste oil into one of the pits. After two drownings on the site, they decided to bulldoze the levees, fill in the pits with dirt, and thus destroyed the old tanks. As the editor can best recall, the "Peterson tanks" were located midway between Canal and Spring Streets, about 200 feet west of Peterson Street. There may still be abandoned pipe lines in that immediate area-W. T. Block)

My first husband, Jack Watts, died in 1953. We always rode the Interurban trolley to Beaumont in those days - got off and on at the Spurlock Road or Sun Station terminal. My brother, Mike Peterson, and his bride rode the Interurban home, getting off also at Spurlock Road. Spurlock Road then was a dirt road that deadended at the old Spurlock place which still stands where it was originally, and maybe one of the Price homes as well. It was about 1/2 mile from our house to the station. I don't recall the size of the building - it was just a waiting room to protect passengers from the weather, very small. I do recall the Interurban Station in Nederland (near the present-day Windmill), behind the old Johnson home, in days when Main (Boston) Street deadended at Fifteenth. It was a little larger. You had to watch out for the trolley about the time it was due, or signal it at night with a torch light. You could not hear it coming because it's electric engine made no noise.

My father's first car was a Model-T touring car with a rain-proofed cloth overhead, and side curtains that "buttoned" down and that had 'isenglass' windows that would crack in extreme cold temperatures (made of a transparent, plastic-like material). I spent a lot of time with the Price girls at Sun.

Father farmed some, and one time the government made him plow under his cotton crop because our field had boll weevils in it. We raised chickens too and had baby chicks in incubators. Mother milked cows and made butter. We kept it in an old-fashioned "ice box." In days before the Iiams ice plant was built next door, we would sometimes buy a 50 pound block of ice in Beaumont, and half of it would be melted by the time we got home. A Model-T car could only go about 25, maybe 30, miles an hour. Highway 347 in those days was a narrow, two-lane paved road, concreted in 1921. I don't remember any airplanes in those days, but I know there must have been some around.

Of the old families around Sun Station in those days, I can remember the Moutons, Perrymans, Beards, Prices and Winters (families). Some of the old Nederland merchants of that period were (Coryell) Freeman, (J. H.) McNeill, and of course Nederland Pharmacy, owned by Mr. (F. A.) Roach. Dr. (J. H.) Haizlip made house calls in those days, and sometimes he stayed all night until the patient got better. I remember Dr. Tribble (office at 1112 Boston, died 1931 or 1932), Dr. (J. C.) Hines (who replaced Tribble, 1933), and Dr. (B. H.) Hall (arrived with Dr. Hines, 1933).

My father built Peterson Street, and he was a good friend of Mr. R. L. Vernor (superintendent, Pure Oil Refinery). Mrs. Rube Wrinkle is the one who changed the name to Peterson Street. Daddy built all the buildings. It was vacant land whenever we moved there.

Iiams delivered ice. (Ed's Note: E. S. Iiams (Ice Co.) installed a 20-ton ice-making plant next door to the Peterson Sheet Metal plant about 1930. Next door to Iiams was a cafe, and north of the metal shop was the Hollywood Inn, a tavern owned by "Slim" Perryman. Iiams sold ice to businesses and door-to-door except during WWII when gasoline was rationed. During the 1950s, when Highway 347 was widened, the state bought up a lot of property there to build the present railroad underpass, and they took all the Iiams, Peterson, and Perryman land. Iiams, his wife, and only son, with no other heirs, soon died in middle 1950s, unaware that land they owned north of Port Arthur was a gas field that would earn them $6 million dollars after their deaths--W. T. Block). Ice became hard to get during the (WWII) war. There were always long lines waiting for ice at the Iiams plant.

I never rode the train to Nederland. I rode the Interurban mostly to Beaumont. We bought groceries in both Beaumont and Nederland. Father built his second home after Humphrey (Ed.'s Note: Mrs. McLain meant Pure Oil Co., which began in 1923 as Humphrey Oil Co., and bought Peterson's vacant acreage, including the "Peterson tanks") bought our property. Weldon Davis wanted to buy Dad's second home, but Dad wouldn't sell. So Davis bought the old (J. H.) McNeill (Sr.) home (at 12th and Detroit) for his new funeral home. Our farm and old home were on Fairbanks Street. We built the second home on the highway (that the state later bought), and the City of Nederland bought it and moved it to Ninth and Boston and fixed it up for the new City Hall.

I worked a long time for the school tax office. While Dad was in the hospital once, I had to go pay his Nederland traffic ticket in the same building that was once our old home. I told the judge, but he made me pay the ticket anyway. I worked fifteen years for the tax office. The first office was built in a small wooden building on old Langham school property, built next door to the old Pete Stehle home, which is next door on the north side of Davis Funeral Home. They built the new tax office (administration) building at 17th and Boston, and then they moved our old building next door to the Windmill, where today it is used as a storage place.

Norine Barras, Johnny Bourque, and I were all of the staff of the old tax office. I remember when E. W. Jackson was the school superintendent (Ca. 1922-23, see p. 51, "Nederland Diamond Jubilee"). My teacher, Miss Poage, married Bill McNeill. (Ed's Note: Mrs. McLain errs. A Langham teacher named Miss Lois McIlhenny married Judge W. T. "Bill" McNeill in March, 1914, but surely that must predate Mrs. McLain's arrival here. Later, in 1918-1920, a Miss Alberta Poage taught in Nederland, and later her younger sister, Miss Margaret Poage taught here too and married W. O. "Bill" Haizlip, the postmaster, who was "Bill" McNeill's first cousin--W. T. Block)

We had an old "tattle-tale" clock in our home. When my brother Henry would stay out late, it would start ringing whenever he would shut the front door, waking Mama up.

In those days, Highway 347 was very narrow, with even narrower shelled edges a foot or so wide, and beyond, very deep ditches. A person saw a lot of cars that ran into the ditches, especially during fog or at night. Spurlock Road was a dirt road, but later was shelled. Jens H. Peterson, my dad, kept a lot of hogs, and George Yentzen of Yentzen's Bakery gave Daddy his stale bread to feed to our hogs. Dad gave the hogs small amounts of strychnine to control their worms. We bought all of our bread direct from the bakery.

We sometimes travelled on the West Port Arthur Road, via Viterbo Road (now Canal Street). I belonged to the 4-H Club and raised chickens as my project. The nuns from the old Hotel Dieu Hospital (in Beaumont on Sabine Pass Avenue by the river) came often to visit us and buy eggs from my mother. I don't know whether the eggs were for themselves or for patients.

After father sold his land to the oil company, they used the back tank at first to pipe waste oil to. There are a lot of pipe lines through that property. The tank levees were very high. I built my home in 1957 or 1958 whenever the highway came through. The county bought my old home, and C. F. Bosse built my new home on the only two lots I could locate to buy. Mae Youmans told me that she used to beat me all the time playing jacks at school. I can remember when the old D. Chester home was still on the corner at Helena and Twin City. I started to school and finished high school in Nederland. Caroline (Giebelstein, later Mrs. F. A.) Peveto was one of my school chums. Dad once said he wanted to run for the school board. He went to Austin on school business for some reason with Mr. (M. W.) Oakley, who at that time was on the school board (as well as Nederland's hotel keeper), and when they came back, Dad said, "People in Austin should be locked up in the insane asylum, and the insane should be kept in the Texas capitol!" I don't know why he said that. I knew Ray Oakley, Edith Oakley, Ralph Oakley.....End of tape. (Note: the young Oakleys gradually left Nederland upon growing up, some moving to Austin. The old Oakleys, M. W. and wife, sold the hotel to Dick Rienstra about 1939, and they too moved to Austin).

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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The Morgan Families of Nederland

bulletHenry Louis Morgan
bulletLowell O'Neal Morgan

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
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By Donald B. Moye

My father, Elmer Bates Moye, was born on October 15, 1899, in Doucette, Tyler County, Texas, the son of Jason Moye and Emma Sheffield. My paternal great grandparents were O. Benjamin Moye and Elizabeth Salter Moye, both of them born in Alabama. Benjamin Moye fought in the Confederate States Army in the War Between The States and was a private in Company D, 15th Alabama Cavalry.

There is an old family tradition that the Moyes' home was burned by the Federal troops and that the family hid out in the woods during the rampage of war that had surrounded them. One of their slaves supposedly went back to the house after the raid and brought back burned sweet potatoes for the family to survive on.

Elmer B. Moye moved to Nederland in 1919. He met Fannie Belle Stark in 1929 when she moved from Crowley, Louisiana, to Nederland Texas. Her father, Jonah Dallas Stark, was born on April 15, 1881, in Olney, Illinois. He was a rice farmer in Crowley before he came to Nederland in 1929. He died on July 13, 1934 and is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Port Arthur, Texas. Her mother was Azelina A. (Lena) Moore Stark, a seamstress, housewife and home maker, who was born on September 24, 1886, in Jeanerette, Louisiana. She died on July 17, 1938, and is buried beside her husband in Greenlawn Cemetery. Elmer B. Moye and Fannie Belle Stark were married in 1930.

In 1932 Elmer Moye ran for Justice of the Peace of Precinct 7, Jefferson County, Texas, which included Nederland, Port Neches, Groves, and a part of Port Arthur. He was sworn into office in 1933. Fannie B. Moye was secretary for the Justice of the Peace office. Earlier she had worked at Nederland Pharmacy behind the present (1991) soda fountain, and she was also the first hairdresser in Nederland.

Elmer and Fannie Moye were very active in civic and community affairs. Elmer Moye helped with the Nederland relief work, was a charter member of the Nederland Lions Club, was a charter member of Masonic Lodge No. 1358, was a member of the Nederland Chamber of Commerce, and he helped to incorporate the City of Nederland in 1940.

The Moyes were also very active in the First Baptist Church of this city. Fannie Belle Moye was a charter member of the Lioness Club, Mid-Jefferson County Hospital Auxiliary, Eastern Star Chapter 1079, and was also an active worker in the Garden Club. She became well-known in Nederland for the beautiful, four-inch in diameter hybiscus blooms that she grew in her garden.

Judge Elmer Moye died on September 20, 1957, at age 57, after serving 24 years as Justice of the Peace of Precinct 7. The Commissioners Court immediately appointed Fannie Belle Moye as Justice of the Peace to fill Elmer Moye's unexpired term of two years. She then ran for that office and became the first woman Justice of the Peace ever elected to that office in the State of Texas. She served a four-year term and then left office.

On March 21, 1986, Fannie B. Moye was honored by the Women's Commission of Southeast Texas for being a Pathfinder.

Elmer and Fannie B. Moye became the parents of two sons. Donald Bates Moye, born June 1, 1933, completed his secondary education here and graduated from Nederland High School in 1951. He then graduated from Texas A and M University in 1956 and received his Doctor of Law degree from Baylor University in November, 1957. Since that date, he has practiced law in Jefferson County, Texas.

Ronald Ray Moye, born November 30, 1934, also graduated from Nederland High School and received his Bachelor of Science and Master's degrees from Stephen F. Austin University. He was a high school football coach for a number of years until he bought Automatic Pump Company in Beaumont, Texas, in 1979.

After the death of Elmer Bates Moye, Fannie B. Moye married E. A. "Jack" Eastin of Richmond, Indiana. Jack was retired from the railroad, and while in Jefferson County, he became Chief Deputy Tax Assessor/Collector under Only Greer, the Jefferson County Tax Assessor/Collector.

Jack Eatin died in 1987, and Fannie Moye, as of 1991, is 78 years of age. The E. B. Moye family residence has been located at 1520 Avenue B for around sixty years. Donald Moye is still in the private practice of law in his hometown of Nederland, Texas. His brother, Ronald Moye, continues to operate his business, Automatic Pump Company, in Beaumont, Texas.

Elmer Bates Moye and his wife, Fannie Belle Stark Moye, made a significant contribution to the growth and improvement of their adopted hometown of Nederland. They raised their family with the affection and gentleness, the necessary guidance and discipline that enabled their two sons to pursue successful careers of their own.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Marya K. Munson

My earliest memories of Nederland, Port Neches, and Port Arthur are those of getting off the train, wherein I had been sitting as near the aisle as possible, being sure that the swaying, careening Pullman would be turning over on its side at any moment. I was just as sure that the heavy weight of my body - all thirty pounds of it - would keep the train on the track. That was in 1911.

My next recollections were of living at the rice (canal) pumping plant, where my father had been hired as the engineer - anyway he kept the huge engines going and kept the water pumped from the river, flowing into the canal that kept the rice fields inundated.

Our house stood where Union Oil Company (docks) now stands. Our front yard edged on the Neches River and stood on a bluff where alligators and turtles sunned themselves in the Texas sun.

Our sport was throwing rocks - I think they were rocks - or perhaps clods of mud and anything else we could throw, onto the alligators and feeling very successful if we could make the alligators open their huge, hideous mouths.

We were always in fear of the alligators, especially after a dear friend and fellow workman of my father's fell out of a row boat and was eaten by an alligator.

Our back yard skirted the woods and was a haven of mysteries. We would always picture wood demons who stole little children, grape vines that wrapped themselves around humans and animals and strangled them, large ants that would sting people to death. And then there was the constant fear of snakes. Everything from garden snakes to water mocassins and black mocassins.

One evening when we arrived home we found two mocassins curled up at the front door - probably disappointed we didn't invite them in. Another time, two huge snakes crossed my path as I was going to our outdoor plumbing facility. Needless to say, I wet my clothes out of fear while running back to the house.

Blackberry picking was one of the fun experiences of living in the woods. We would go out with our little lard buckets and we would soon have them filled and our black lips and tongue were a confession of where the rest of the berries had gone.

At times we were brave enough to take a picnic lunch into the woods - find a nice grapevine to swing on - eat our lunch and spend the rest of the time swinging on nature's natural swings.

Many house boats plied the Neches River in those days and would tie up along the river bank where the water and land were pretty much on the same level. Houseboats were seventh wonders to two little inland city bred youngsters (my brother and I) and how the interiors fascinated both of us. For years I wanted to live on a river houseboat and sit at the bow and catch fish for the next meal. I have many stories I could tell about life in Port Arthur.

Later my father had gone to work as a drafting engineer for the Texas Company (Texaco) and we first lived on Galveston Street, and later on Savannah Avenue near Proctor.

One day my mother gave me 15 cents with which I was to buy steak. I had seen someone tie some money in the corner of her handkerchief so being a smart five-year-old, I tied my 15 cents in the corner of my handkerchief and went on my merry way. All at once the knot in my handerchief gave way and flying away went the 15 cents, a dime and a nickel.

Our sidewalks were boards laid across a wooden frame with cracks between the boards to let the rain run through. Well, I found the nickel, but not the dime and went on the butcher shop, purchased a nickel's worth of steak and quaveringly went home. My mother's humiliation was only bested by my fear of what my father would do when he arrived home, father being a Dutch disciplinarian.

Of course, the worst experience our family had was going through the 1915 flood (hurricane of August 16, 1915). This was known as the Galveston Flood (Ed.'s Note: Mrs. Munson may have the 1915 storm confused with the Sept. 8, 1900 hurricane, which destroyed Galveston and killed 6,000), but the whole coast, even north of Port Arthur, was inundated and among many families, we suffered great losses of household goods and clothing. Many friends and relatives came to the rescue of the Port Arthur residents.

Two of our family friends from Nederland came down to help us, Mr. Dan J. Rienstra and Mr. Cornelus Doornbos. Both men had come up with wagons and Mr. Doornbos had one of his sons drive his wagon while he rode on horseback.

The wagons were soon filled with men, women and several children. It was decided that one more person could ride in one of the wagons if someone would ride with Mr. Doornbos on his horse. I'll never knew why, but I was chosen to be that one. On second thought, it was because I was the lightest in weight. After all, the poor horse already had a load - Mr. Doornbos was a big man.

We stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Schmink for several days and then moved into the superintendent's house on the Rice Farm. From there we moved into a small house on what is now Nederland Avenue. From there we moved to a new house that J. H. McNeill built as a rent house.

My folks were good friends of the McNeill's, in fact, I called Mr. McNeill "Daddy Jim" and it was fun to visit with him at his big desk that stood on the end of the candy counter and in front of the big front window. The reward for a visit was a nice piece of candy.

The McNeill's had one daughter, Frances, who was a very pretty and friendly person and often gave me scraps of material for my doll clothes. Frances' nickname was Frankie. She passed away shortly after she married Berthold Cooke, who was manager of the grocery store.

Sometime later, my father had to be out of town and I was privileged to stay with the McNeill's and occupy Frankie's beautiful pink bedroom. Mrs. Minnie McNeill was quite a disciplinarain and her youngest son, Paul, and I, each had to practice our piano lessons for one-half hour before breakfast. Mrs. McNeill thought that all little girls should wear pinafores to school to protect their dresses so she made me three of them - two rather plain ones for school wear and one with ruffles for Sunday School.

Pinafores at that time had been passe for some time, and I was embarrassed to tears, real tears, to be wearing such old-fashioned clothes to school. After three weeks of this, was I ever glad to go home.

Recess time at Langham meant hurrying out to the side porch and finding room for an exciting game of jacks. Another game often indulged in was "crack the whip." I liked the game - it was lots of fun - but all too often I was given the end position. I did have sense enough to grasp hands loosely so I could let go whenever the whip cracked.

One interesting thing about living at the rice mill was walking to school - living the fartherest out. I would get to Kitchen Road and join Celeste and Earl Kitchen. Next we would pick up the Wagner kids, Nettie and Marvin. I think the Blocks came next and sometimes we would meet up with Charlie Biermortt, but we didn't like him because he was always teasing us and if my hair happened to be down in braids, he would yank them - real hard too.

When we moved to the McNeill rent house on Chicago, we were very near the remains of the old Nederland (Orange) Hotel. And my! How we loved to go over there and play! There were lots of bricks and pieces of wood (I think the hotel had burned down. {The editor believes it was torn down, but most of the lumber, etc., was left on the site.}) We built forts and houses and scrambled all over the ruins. The participants of these escapades were Murdock and Elizabeth Ingersen. Delmar Johnson, a couple of other neighborhood children whose names I don't recollect except one girl's name was Elsie.* Oh, yes, J. B. Morgan, a friend of my brother John. (*Elsie-a very good little Acadian schoolmate of mine). We children were finally chased away permanently because there were lots of rusty nails and other hazards lying around. I think it was Delmar Johnson who did get a rusty nail in his foot and after that, the old hotel ruins were off limits! Realy taboo!

I remember when Brother (Robert) Day, a good old time evangelist in the Baptist Church came to town (CA. 1917-1918), and John and I were allowed to join the church. The baptistry at that time was near Magnolia Grove (Figtree Landing on Main Street) down by the Neches River (in Port Neches). A large group (so it seemed to my child's mind) was baptized on a summer evening. This included my Father and Mother, who had not been immersed before. Our minister at that time was a Rev. (V. V.) Youngblood.

I can remember when cars first appeared on the scene. The last of the good old horse and buggy days! We had a very nice black horse and a black buggy, and how proud I was when Daddy let me hold the reins - with a giddee yup and a whoa at the right time. We found out our poor horse was "frightened to death" of autos, so when we were on the road, and we saw or heard a car approaching, my father would give mother the reins, get out of the buggy, and hold the blinders (I think that was what they were called) over the horse's eyes. This seemed to calm Ol' Charley. One day I wanted to treat a friend of mine (one of the Broussard girls), I think it was Inez, to a soda, but I only had a nickel, so I asked the soda clerk for two straws! I think the soda clerk was William Haizlip - could that be?

One Sunday afternoon, I was visiting Ida Hillman, who lived in back of the bakery (I don't know the name of the street). The odor that emanated from the bakery alerted us to the fact that some cookies were being baked. Being a very disciplined Christian, I was not allowed to spend money on Sunday, so I coerced Ida to go in and buy us some cookies. We got four cookies for my 5 cents, so we sneaked into her bedroom, closed the door, and enjoyed "Sunday afternoon tea."

The old Interurban was our modern means of transportation between Port Arthur and Beaumont. Our third grade tgeacher was Miss Katherine Kuehn, who lived in Port Arthur. Our childish delight was taking Miss Kuehn to the Interurban Station and seeing her off on the train (trolley). Of course, there was always the children vieing as to who was to carry her lunch bucket, her satchel of papers, and a book or two. I was always so proud when I was allowed to carry her pretty lunch pail. I never had one. I either carried my lunch in a papersack, or when in town, I had to go home for lunch.

Blackberry picking was always a spring or early summer venture. The drawback was getting chiggers or red bugs that would itch like you couldn't believe. When we arrived home form those childish excursions, my mother would have a big tub of warm water waiting for us. In this water was carbolic acid, and off would come our clothes, and in we went for a good soaking, and the clothes would go into the wash tub - no electric washers in those days. We would come out clean, smelly, but disinfected.

Two childish tricks we had were feeding green persimmons to a newcomer or getting one to put two stems of (don't recall the name) grass in their mouth crosswise, telling them we were going to weave a basket. Then we would pull on the ends and leave all that horrible grass fuzz in their mouth.

One fun thing I did was with my friend Elsie who lived nearby. My mother could not go along with many things Southern people did. One thing was the "sopping" up of syrup or gravy or any kind of sauce with broken off bread or biscuits.

Now Elsie was well schooled in that mode of eating, so after school we would go to her house and she would mix up a batch of fried bread - biscuit dough fried in a heavy iron skillet. We would pour ourselves a saucer of sorghum syrup, break the bread into it and then go out on her porch, straddle the porch railing, break up the bread, sop up the syrup thoroughly, and gobble it down. It was a delicious after school treat.

Mrs. McNeill introduced me to cheese toast, cornbread, and black-eyed peas, and were they ever yummy.

Before we had cars, we had to depend on the electric interurban to get to Port Arthur or Beaumont, and before that, it was the train. The Interurban was quite a treat because we could visit quite late and still get home that night. I think they ran every hour or on the half-hour. When we needed to catch a late car, we would have to send up a flare by lighting a roll of newspaper. Flash lights weren't strong enough for the motorman to see.

One night, the motorman missed the first flare and the second flare and the only thing that stopped him was hearing us screaming our heads off. He backed up (he had gone that far down the track before he could stop) and four very tired, bedraggled, harassed people got on and headed for home in Port Arthur.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Crissy Newton

Bevis O. Newton was born in Newton County, Texas, in 1908, the son of Wade and Emma Newton, who were also from Newton County. Mr. and Mrs. Wade Newton moved to Nederland about 1920, where they operated the Newton Hotel and rooming house at 1146 Atlanta for many years. Mr. Newton died about ten years later.

Wade and Emma Newton were the parents of two sons, Bevis O. and Harry H. Newton, and two daughters, Cecille and Mary Frances, all of whom graduated from Nederland High School. Mary Frances married Johnny Konecny, who was Nederland's coach and history teacher in 1935.

Following graduation from high school, Harry Newton went to work for Sun Oil Company, and he and his wife, Merle, lived on Spring Street until Harry's death. Bevis Newton worked for Pure Oil Company for about twenty years. He then left that company, and followed construction work for another twenty years until he retired.

On December 24, 1935, Bevis Newton married Crissy Kaper, daughter of John and Minnie Kaper of 403 Fifteenth Street in Nederland. Captain John Kaper, a native of Holland, sailed for many years before he joined the Sabine Bar Pilots Association. He and Minnie Kaper resided in Sabine Pass until the 1915 storm drove them to Nederland, where they bought the former home of J. William Barr and where they resided until their deaths.

Bevis and Crissy Newton built their first home at 323 Fifteenth Street, next door to her parents. About 25 years ago, they moved their old home away and built the blond brick home in which Crissy Newton still resides.

Bevis and Crissy Newton were the parents of two sons, Bevis O. Newton, Jr. and John Wade Newton. Bevis, Jr. died in 1955 of leukemia, a childhood disease he struggled with for many years. He died at the age of eighteen.

Bevis Newton, Sr. was a thirty-second degree Mason. After a few years of retirement, he died in 1981, survived by his wife Crissy and son John Wade. As of 1991, his sisters are still living, Cecille in Houston, and Mary Frances Konecny in Bryan, Texas.

Deceased members of the Kaper and Bevis Newton families are either interred or entombed at Oak Bluff Memorial Park in Port Neches.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T.Block

The family of Arnold and Louisiana Pelloat came to Nederland from Louisiana in 1927 and settled at 651 Dequeen Street, now 1024 Chicago, where the former Pelloat home still stands. The five Pelloat children were already at or near adulthood. Arnold Pelloat was from Delcambre, Louisiana, and his wife, Louisiana, was from Chenier Aur Tigue, Vermilion Parish, Louisiana. She was the daughter of Hypolete Broussard (b. 1828-d. 1910) and Louisiana Vaughn (b. Pecan Island, Vermilion (now Cameron) Parish, July 4, 1850-d. 1913). The father of Hypolete Broussard was Joachsin Broussard.

Arnold Pelloat worked at Sun Oil Company and was an avid and extensive gardner during the nine years he lived in Nederland. He died in Nederland in 1936. The children of that family were Delphine (b. 1906), Josephine (b. 1908), Irena (b. 1910), Hypolete (b. 1912), and Eula (b. 1914).

Delphine Pelloat married Russell A. Merrell, Sr., about 1930, and as of 1938, they were still living at 651 Dequeen (now 1024 Chicago). Later they bought a home at 135 Hilldale in Nederland, where Mrs. Merrell still resides as of 1991, and where her husband died in 1972. They were the parents of five children, namely, Russell, Jr.; Harvey, Jethie Louise, Shirley, and Sandra; as well as fifteen grandchildren, and 22 great grandchildren.

Josephine Pelloat married Adam Robin in 1929. They were the parents of three children, Jo Ann, Richard Arnold, and Robert Robin, and they had five grandchildren. Josephine Robin died in 1985, and her husband Adam died about the same time.

Hypolete Paul Pelloat was born in Delcambre, Louisiana, in 1912, and about 1935, he married Lizie Bell Lee, who was born in Iowa, Louisiana, in 1915. At that time, both of them worked for the old Gardner's Grocery, which at that time was located in the two-story wooden building at 1155 Boston, which Mattie Gardner tore down in 1940. They built their home at 212 South Fifteenth Street soon after their marriage. When World War II started, he began work for Pure Oil Company (now Unocal) as an operator in the Dewaxing Unit.

About 1940, Mrs. Louisiana Pelloat and her two unmarried children, Irena (Rene) Pelloat and Eula Pelloat, bought a house at 203 South Seventeenth. That home, where Eula still resides (1991), was the scene of many family "get togethers" and reunions, where the family members played volleyball and made ice cream. Rene Pelloat was a Mason and automobile mechanic, and he ran his own shop on South Seventeenth Street for thirty years. He died in 1979, and his mother died a few years earlier.

Hypolete and Lizzie Belle Pelloat are parents of two sons, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Son Jack E. Pelloat worked at first for the Nederland post office, before moving to the Union Oil of California refinery until the refinery closed in 1990. He then transferred to Unocal offshore operations, where he plans to remain. Jack Pelloat married the former Barbara Carroll, a Nederland school teacher, and they are parents of two daughters, Sheila Kay and Vicki Danielle. Sheila Pelloat married Rudy Garcia, and they live in Round Rock, Texas, where she is a school teacher and he is an engineer. Vicki Pelloat married George Brock, and they are parents of two children, Deacon and Donovan.

James A. and Cathy Pelloat live in Orange County, Texas, where he is band director at West Orange High School, and she is a respiratory therapist. They have two daughters, Renee, a student at Stephen F. Austin University, and Christie Pelloat, a high school student.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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A Compact Disc Recorded By Bill Quick at 1232 Boston on April 29, 1990

I go to the Seventh Street Baptist Church. My church group is small, but good, only seven in my Sunday School class. I came from old pioneer families of Orange, Texas -- the Harris, Smith and Delano families. My father was Will Harris - the Harris family came to Orange in 1856. My mother was Tessie Smith. (Ed.'s Note: It is unclear exactly which Harris family Mrs. Quarles meant, but he presumes the V. N. Harris family. According to the 1860 Orange County census, there were three Harris families living there, all of them farmers, and perhaps kin, perhaps no relation at all to each other, namely: Res. 139, Anthony Harris, age 45, born in Louisiana; Res. 140, Travis Harris, aer 49, born in South Carolina; and Res. 181, Victor N. Harris, age 58, born in Tennessee. V. N. Harris had close family ties with the Delano families. A. P. Harris, son of Anthony, was founder-editor of the Orange Tribune in 1875--W. T. Block)

My husband, Mr. Quarles, was from Louisiana. Both of our families had been in Orange for a long time. I attended the old Curtis School there. We were married in 1926. Mr. Quarles at that time was an insurance agent. Quarles left Orange in 1929 and went to work for Pure Oil Company (Unocal). We moved first to Port Neches and then to Nederland. My first two children were born in Orange. In Port Neches, we lived across from Dr. J. L. Chiasson at the intersection of Dearing and Avenue C. In Nederland we moved first to Jim Goodwin's rent house (320 15th). We first moved into our present home 53 years ago (1936).

Our house was one of two buildings built here by Coryell Freeman -- built to be a saloon, but Nederland went dry. The buildings were sold to the Peveto (First) Baptist Church. They had moved both houses from the corner lot, and when we moved here, they were already building the big, two-story, wooden white church. We attended the First (Peveto) Baptist Church back then.

Nederland was first incorporated in 1940. The streets were shelled, and were pretty bad, just wide enough for two cars to pass. There were deep ditches in front here, with a wooden bridge across the ditch. We had plants, called elephant ears, with big, wide leaves growing in front. In back was an outside toilet. (W. N.) Carrington put in a water systen then (1938). Later we had a ceptic tank for sewerage, and then after 1940, we hooked on to the city sewer lines. Ollie Lee was the city marshal in those days - we didn't really need any police. Our children all graduated from Nederland High School.

My husband (Ewell Edward Quarles) died seven years ago (in June, 1984). My son died in 1962 - 28 years ago. Our oldest daughter is a teacher in Austin. My youngest son is a school principal in Orangefield. There were no buildings this side of the street in this block except my home and the old (M. W.) Oakley Hotel. Across the street were the Rackley Cleaners and the Jack Fortenberry home. In the next block (at 1304 Boston) was the George Yentzen home. Yentzen was still baking bread here then, across the street (1203 Boston) in the old First National Bank building. Evelyn Mullins on Avenue H is George Yentzen's niece. The first bank here back in 1902 - the building, that is - is where he baked his bread. Then the second bank here (Nederland State Bank - now NCNB at 1304 Boston) was built across the street from me, where the fish store now is.

I always had my own car. We banked at first in Port Neches in those days. I bought my car in 1937. I remember the Ingwersen family, the Merediths, the Stickers (all of whom were Baptist).

She then spoke of her children - Elsie born in Orange; Sammie born in Warren. I had an uncle living in Warren then. She remembered the local political speeches, particularly before World War II - they used to speak in the street in front of her house. Candidates mostly were local or county. And there was lots of football rivalry in those days too.

I remember the picture shows (movies) here at night. Rats all over the place. Our oldest daughter said they ran all over the floor. Once she was so frightened by them that she froze up in her seat, and we couldn't get her to come home. Nolia Barnett could tell you all about that. Dr. Haizlip was the doctor here then. When the kids started to school, it was in a wooden building. The old Langham School was here then. The new Langham School on Helena had not been built yet (built in 1940). (Ed.'s Note: Mrs. Quarles must mean a wooden building on the Langham campus. The writer went to school at the high school on South 12th in 1936, but cannot recall any wooden building there.)

We had no telephone at first. Our first number was 375. You had to get operator assistance in those days -- the operator manually connected one phone to another with a plug at a switchboard. Mrs. (R. L.) Jones and Mrs. (Emily) Wallace ran the telephone office in those days in a house that once stood on the side of the Davis (Schroeter) Funeral Home (actually at 403 Twelfth, now a vacant lot). Our oldest daughter worked there. My daughter has a 1926 paper showing Nederland Pharmacy when Gussie Collins first started to work there. Gussie (Augusta Collins Bly) wasn't but twenty years old then. I used to stand there on that corner and watch the cars passing on Twin City.

The old Andrew Johnson home used to be at the deadend on Boston - it had to be torn down in order to extend the street to Seventeenth. There weren't many airplanes when I first came here. (Ed.'s Note: Dr. B. H. Hall, the dentist, bought one of the first airplanes in Midcounty about 1937 and learned to fly it. His plane became a common sight, circling above Nederland, at that time, yet so far no one has mentioned that in his/her memoirs.)

There were lots of church revivals. The Baptists built their parsonage on the vacant property behind the bank - that is, Loveless Theriot built his home there, and later sold it to the Baptists for their parsonage. We lived in Jim Goodfwin's house then, near the Kaper and Ingwersen homes. Crissy Kaper was still single then - that was before she married Bevis Newton. I remember the (E. E.) May home on (520) 15th before it was torn down. I remember when my children all had whooping cough - I had six children. Dr. Hines would come out then to make house calls. He had his office in back of the pharmacy. Dr. Hall (B. H., the dentist mentioned earlier) had his office there (1120 Boston) too. There were no lawyers in Nederland then. I had no time to belong to clubs or such. There used to be the Kimler Grocery (1204 Boston) then, before Albert and Dick (Rienstra) opened the Roger-Byron Dry Goods Store.

Bill Quick asked about her canning food. Yes, I still can my mayhaw jelly. You used to could pick blackberries all over Nederland. My husband used to keep bees too. One, a queen bee, went up a gutter pipe into the new Baptist Church alongside my house. Later, when they tore down that church, it still had a big hive of bees in it. I've lived to see four different post offices in Nederland, first the old wooden building that for a time became the city hall after it was moved to 13th Street, then the brick building that replaced it at 1144 Boston, then Dick Rienstra's building between the furniture store and the bank (1220 Boston), and the present building at 223 Fourteenth. I have had old post office box 88 here for all these years. (Ed.'s Note: During my 25 years as acting postmaster and assistant postmaster, I worked in three of those buildings. Other post office sites were in Nederland Pharmacy, 1906-1918, when C. X. Johnson was postmaster and druggist; at 1155 Boston in the old wooden, two-story Wagner building (later Gardner), 1918-1921, when Klaas Koelemay was postmaster; at 123 Twin City and 1148 Boston, 1921-1932, when Johnny Ware was postmaster and where he burned out twice; and in the old King Mercantile Company, in the middle of the odd side of Boston, around 1901-1902. There is a space in there between 1903 and 1906 when I don't know where the post office was located-W. T. Block, ed.)

We bought groceries at McNeill's. Bill Haizlip and his brother had a grocery too (Neches Company at 1152 Boston). We got gasoline across from Nederland Pharmacy (Albert Rienstra, later Goody Griffin's Texaco station, in a wooden building, cater-cornered across the lot, its front facing the depot). I didn't drive back then. I had the Cub Scout pack here for 13 1/2 years. Every kid in Nederland was in my pack. The kids got their hamburgers for 5 and 10 cents over at the Home Sweet Shop (operated by Matt Giebelstein at 1154 Nederland Ave.), where the doughnut shop is today. It was run by the M. Giebelstein family. Their son Albert was in my pack. Their oldest daughter (Caroline) married (F. A.) Peveto.

Could not remember any high water in Nederland. (Ed.'s Note: The editor in 1936 recalls riding a horse on what is now South 1st, 1 1/2, and 2nd Streets in water so deep that it came up to the horse's stirrups, caused by a 14 inch rain, poor drainage, and low land up against the old abandoned rice canal levees.) I evacuated my home once during a storm (Carla in 1961). We lost power lots of times during severe thunder storms and high winds. I remember a lot of the old-time school teachers -- Misses Ruth Hansbro, Anna Rienstra, Mollie Williams, and Mrs. Emma Risinger, who roomed at the Spencers. Asked by Bill about "Granny" Quarles. Yes, she had her own dairy out near the airport, bottled her own milk, and took it to town. My children helped her out whenever they could. There were a lot of dairies here then. E. T. Smith and John Henderson were on Koelemay Road (Helena at 27th). You turned right there then and the John Koelemay dairy was where Koelemay Road intersected Viterbo Road (now 27th and Canal). And the Streetmans -- Kirtis had his dairy on Wagner Road (1600 Ave. H) and his daddy (F. A.) was on Beauxart Gardens Road.

Bill Quick asked, "Do you remember the Willis family?" Yes, David Willis' dad and mom (George and Cora Willis at 820 Atlanta). Our boys were in the 4-H club with him. We had a milk cow in those days that we staked out between here and the Oakley Hotel on the corner (1204 Boston). And we had chickens in the back yard. Our youngest girl had her chickens in the 4-H club.

I remember Dr. Joe Stoelje who was here about one year in the McNeill building in 1940 before he relocated in Beaumont. And Dr. (P. T., 1946-1949) Weisback and Dr. (R. J.) Seamons (who replaced Weisbach). And being only one and a half blocks from the railroad tracks, we had to put up with a lot of loud steam whistles in those days. One long freight train came through going to Beaumont every morning at 5:00 A. M., and the engineer kept the steam whistle open for thirty minutes while he was passing through Nederland. There had been some bad and fatal train-auto wrecks, both at the S-curve and Sun Station, around 1930. You know, our kids had never ridden a train. So one day we took them to Port Arthur, put them on the train, and let them ride to Nederland.

Do you remember the justice of the peace here? Yes, it was Judge Elmer Moye, who was Eustace Moye's brother. Do you remember any celebrations? Well, they were church celebrations mostly - no parades and such. We had only one Baptist, one Methodist, and one Catholic churches in those days. (Ed.'s note: While the editor cannot speak for Nederland in the era of the late 1920s-early 1930s, Port Neches did have huge July 4th celebrations that had most of the Nederland residents in attendance. Those celebrations had no parades, but did have massive barbeques, pavillion dancing, bands, and dozens of politicians speaking, for in those days the Democratic primary was in July. Usually two beeves were barbecued on open pits about 50 feet long. My father, Will Block, furnished about 200 water melons for each event. Also Nederland, as well as the entire county, turned out in mass for a huge Red Cross picnic in Port Neches park on May 24, 1918, during World War I. See pp. 202-203, of Sapphire City of The Neches.-W. T. Block)

Don't forget the Caldwells across the street (Caldwell Sewing Center) - it started in her home first. Mrs. Caldwell taught all of my girls to sew - more than they ever learned in school. Do you still want to live in Nederland? When my husband died, I wanted to move back to Orange, but already I had been gone for more than fifty years. I changed my mind. My great great grandfather settled there in 1856, you know. One of my great great grandfathers was killed during the Civil War, and I also have a great great grandfather buried in Orange. All of them buried in Harris Cemetery. I was eleven years old there during World War I. I remember the men working in shipyards there then and wrapping their legs in newspapers to fight off the mosquitoes. I came down with the flu then (Spanish flu was endemic in the fall of 1918). There was a false alarm there about the Armistice (November 11, 1918), everybody believing it had already took place a week before it actually happened. I remember the old wooden ships being built in Orange and the old Weaver Shipyard there. (In most of the remainder of this tape, Mrs. Quarles' voice in inaudible and incomprehensible because Mr. Quick apparently held the microphone near himself and too far away from Mrs. Quarles. Later when he handed her the microphone, it was near the end of the tape and she was still talking about Orange history, not pertinent to these volumes.) The End.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
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By Mrs. Melba McInnis

Pearl and Beulah Rasberry were married in Eunice, Louisiana, on March 12, 1912. They moved to Orange, Texas, in 1924, where he found employment in an oil field. In 1927, he went to work for Sun Oil Company in Orangefield as a machinist. In 1931 Mr. Rasberry and Mr. R. A. Moss were transferred to Sun Station in Nederland. Mr. and Mrs. Rasberry had four children, as follows, Helen, Melba, W. C., and Ray, and all of them are graduates of Nederland High School.

Helen Rasberry married John Woods, Jr. of Nacogdoches, Texas. They have two sons, John Alvin and Gary Lynn, and six grandchildren. All of them still live in Nacogdoches.

W. C. and Ray Rasberry also went to work for Sun Oil Company, and both of them are retired from that firm. W. C. Rasberry married Ruthie Mae Weeks of Nederland, and they had two sons, Clinton and Keith. Clinton Rasberry died at the age of thirty, and Keith still lives in Benford, Texas with his wife and daughter. W.C. and Ruthie Mae Rasberry also have two grandchildren.

Ray Rasberry married Chaille Guidry of Port Neches, Texas. Ray and Chaille moved to Berwick, Louisiana, around 1959. They have three daughters, as follows, Patti Rasberry of Houma, Louisiana; Becky Rasberry of Berwick, Louisiana; and Susan Rasberry Blanchard, who lives with her husband, Lonnie Blanchard, and two children in Berwick, Louisiana.

Melba Rasberry married Maurice McInnis and still resides in Nederland. Maurice worked for Union Oil Company for 34 years. He had to take early retirement at age 59, and he died in Nederland on March 10, 1991. Melba and Maurice McInnis were the parents of two daughters, Elaine McInnis Johnson, of Houston, Texas; and Maurine McInnis de Villeneuve of Livingston, Texas. Melba and Maurice also have four grandchildren.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
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bulletGatze Jan (George) Rienstra
bulletMarion J. Rienstra
bulletAlbert Henry Rienstra

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
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James E. Ritter came to Nederland from Panola County in 1919 to work as a guard at the Texas Company (Texaco) tank farm. His wife Elizabeth came to Nederland in June, 1920, with her son David, who worked for Townsend Grocery; daughter Lucille, who taught school in Nederland; son Booty, who went to Port Arthur Business College; and son Woodward (Tex) Ritter, who went to South Park High School.

Booty Ritter finished college in 1921 and went to work in Louisiana. Tex worked on the construction of Pure Oil Company's Smith's Bluff Refinery (now Unocal) at Nederland. In 1923 Tex finished South Park High School and went on to the University of Texas Law School. Tex told Booty that he could have his job at Pure Oil Company, and so persuaded by his family, Booty A. Ritter returned to Nederland. He was to live and work there for the remainder of his life.

James L. Price and his wife Rannie and their daughters Dainy and Anna Beth moved to Nederland from Port Arthur in 1921. Both Mr. and Mrs. Price were born in Coryell County. He was employed by Gulf Refining Company (now Chevron), and he retired twenty years later. We lived where Baker-Williford Pharmacy is presently located (1203 Nederland Avenue at South Twelfth Street), and there was one block of dirt road in each direction. My father got busy and got the road shelled before too long. We had no paved streets in those days.

My father, James L. Price, became very active in Nederland and he was very civic-minded. He saw that Nederland needed to build a new school, since there was only the old original Langham school which, before it was torn down, was built on Twelfth Street between Franklin and Detroit, in an area that at present is a vacant school playground. He was elected to the school board and was instrumental in getting the new school built. When the new school was built in 1924, Nederland started growing steadily due to the building of the new Pure Oil refinery in 1923.

David Ritter returned to Panola County in 1922. After teaching a few years, Lucille Ritter married the Reverend Bruce Powers, a Methodist minister. After his job with Pure Oil Company ended, Booty went on to South Park Junior College. During the summer of 1924, he played baseball with the Pure Oil team. He was hired permanently by Pure Oil Company in October, 1924. They had a fine baseball organization under the supervision of Arthur J. Davis. The team played all around the Southeast Texas area. I remember going with the team to Sabine Pass in 1924 and then to Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1925. We had to wait 45 minutes to catch the ferry to cross the Sabine River and the mosquitoes were biting us! The local playing field was where the current Langham School is located.

Booty Ritter and Dainy Price met shortly after he returned to Nederland in September, 1923. The Ritters had built their home on Nederland Avenue at its intersection with Thirteenth Street, one block from our home. While Booty was attending South Park Junior College and I was finishing high school in Port Arthur, we usually walked to the old "interurban station" on what is now Boston Street. The Beaumont "interurban" (a one or two-car electric trolley) arrived before the Port Arthur interurban. We all loved riding on the interurban trains. We went to so many activities in Beaumont - church activities, school activities, the fair, or just to go downtown to a show. At that time, very few young people had cars.

Booty had come home from Louisiana in a Model-T Ford, but he never drove it to school. It was not unusual for us to go to some social, school or church function, and then we would have to walk home because he had loaned his car to someone.

The Methodist Church and our friends often had parties. We enjoyed riding up and down the West Port Arthur Road and singing when riding. We were always singing somewhere and playing a victrola or phonograph to dance by.

Booty and I were married on February 7, 1925. The night before our wedding, Booty was called to the door by a group of men who surprised him by taking him to a dinner in his honor at Fuller's Cafe in Beaumont. About 20 or 25 business men had planned the event, and Fuller's Cafe was the best restaurant in the area in those days. We bought a home in the McCauley Addition on South 14 1/2 Street. The twenty acres in the McCauley Addition were rapidly being built up.

We had a son, James Price Ritter, and two years later, a second son, Allan Ritter. When I was pregnant with Allan, Booty was severely burned during an explosion at the Pure Oil refinery. My mother kept my oldest son Jim so I could stay with Booty. He came home from the hospital practically helpless, but we had many friends to help get him to the Doctor and help us out in other ways.

We all weathered the Great Depression (1929-1940). Booty was never out of work, but we all learned to can vegetables in order to reduce expenses. Booty's sister, Ola McCauley, and her husband Mac (Walter K. McCauley) lived nearby (at Nederland Avenue and 14th). We grew a very large garden of wonderful vegetables, and Ola McCauley, Booty and I canned vegetables - everything! The employees at Pure Oil refinery in those days worked four days one week and three days, enabling many men to have a job, even if parttime, and continue working. Fortunately, Booty received a promotion about that time, so his pay remained about the same.

Mr. James Ritter (Booty's father) was ill for a year and eventually died on November 19, 1934. Mrs. Elizabeth Ritter died on March 12, 1935. After her funeral, just as we were preparing to leave for Forest Lawn Cemetery for her burial, we happened to look across the street and see the roof of our parsonage covered with smoke. It was located where the First Methodist Church Fellowship Hall now is. We had no fire department here and had to have Beaumont and Port Arthur fire trucks come and try to save the buildings around the parsonage. All the roofs in those days were wooden shingles. It was very scary to sit behind the hearse until the building burned down. Afterward, we went to Beaumont for his mother's burial.

At that time the Reverend R. C. Terry was our pastor of First Methodist Church. He had to go on and complete the funeral even though he knew that everything his family and our church owned was completely gone. We later built a new parsonage next door to the Griffins (the Frank Griffin family at 104 Thirteenth), which was where our First United Methodist Church main sanctuary is located today.

The Rev. R. C. Terry put Booty and several other young men on the church board. They were called the Board of Stewards in those days. The church board became very active, and Booty became very active in all other civic affairs as well. He became a member and officer of the Chamber of Commerce, and he served on the School Board for twelve years. He was always called a "leveling influence" on the different boards that he served on.

In 1947, after our sons were gone (Allan was in the Navy after having attended the University of Texas for a year and a half, and Jim was in dental college), we decided to start up a little business. We didn't know where or what we wanted to do, but we recalled that Mac (Walter K.) McCauley owned a small office and lumber shed, in the 600 block of 11th Street, that he had operated before World War II, and later he sold it to Midcounty Lumber Company. Later Midcounty moved to Beaumont and the place was closed.

Booty talked to Mac about going into the lumber business on a fifty/fifty basis as partners. Booty was excellent with figures, but I had to learn everything from scratch. Mac and Booty worked part-time. Ola McCauley had been in New York, but she later returned. We handled the little business we had. Later Ola moved to Houston, and we had to hire additional help. Booty worked all of his spare time in the business.

In 1948, our son Allan Ritter was injured in the Pacific and was taken to Pearl Harbor, and later to Oakland, California. His injuries caused him to become quadraplegic. Through the efforts of our relatives in California, we were able to get Allan transferred to Houston as everyone thought at that time that he would not live.

During this period of time of our extreme bereavement concerning his physical condition, the Ritter-McCauley Lumber Company became our salvation. The harder we worked, the better our minds became because we had no time to dwell on his physical condition that medical science was at loss to improve. Our son Jim also spent all of his spare time working in the lumber company, and he was a very hard worker.

When Allan arrived in Houston, we all went there, but Booty had to return to work at Pure Oil Refinery (now Unocal). Ola stayed in Nederland and continued to work. Later I would get a relaltive or my son Jim to come to Houston to be with Allan, and I would return to Nederland for a couple of days. We always worked as that became our salvation. Booty would come over to Houston on his days off, and he continued to work hard at the lumber company and his job when he was by himself. He was a shift supervisor at Pure Oil Company for the first five years that we operated the lumber company.

Allan was soon moved to Memphis, Tennessee, for rehabilitation. I spent one week of every month with him. Booty or Jim would go there one weekend until he was able to come home at the end of a year.

Jim graduated from dental school in 1950, and he soon opened a dental practice in Beaumont. He had four children: James Price, Jr.; Patricia, Allan Brown, and John Charles. He often spent his holidays working at the Ritter-McCauley Lumber Company.

It took Allan about two years to adjust to people looking at him. He then started working at the lumber company every morning. He worked from his wheel chair, and an attendant assisted him as needed. He was very sharp mentally and managed the hardware department, building it up greatly. Salesmen pushed his wheel chair around, and Allan often attended sales shows in Houston.

Allan lived for nineteen years after his accident. He died in Memphis on May 7, 1967. Allan had a wonderful group of friends, that have continued to remain friends of our family.

The business suffered as a result of Allan's death and the two months Booty and I spent with him in Memphis. So, in 1968, we purchased Mac McCauley's interest in the business and renamed it Ritter Lumber Company, which it still remains today, and is still owned and operated by our grandsons.

Booty was a charter member of the new Port Arthur Savings and Loan, the second savings and loan company in Jefferson County. He became a director. The Savings and Loan company was later sold to Republic Savings and Loan of Houston, and Booty still remained on that board as well, going to Houston once a month for board meetings. He had resigned his directorship, however, by the time that Republic was taken over by Savings of America. He received no stock in that takeover, but we had made a good profit on the shares we sold to Republic.

Booty also became an excellent builder of homes, and he continued to build them until after he was eighty years old. Home-building more or less became his love. He also became a director of First National Bank of Port Neches, which later became First National Bank of Midcounty. He remained a director there until 1987 when he resigned due to ill health.

After the McCauley family sold their home on Nederland Avenue in 1946, our home became the place for all Ritter family gatherings. Booty's brother Tex dropped by whenever he was in this area, and we always had a large group of relatives and friends when he was in town. Tex died on January 2, 1974. His funeral service was held at First Methodist Church, and he was buried on the Ritter family plot in Oak Bluff Memorial Park in Port Neches. About fifty feet away from his grave stands the Texas State Historical Marker, honoring Tex Ritter, the cowboy movie star. The Governor of Tennessee sent the pallbearers and other celebrities attending the funeral in his plane, and all of them congregated at our house. When the Tex Ritter Park in Nederland was dedicated some years ago, we hosted a dinner for 55 people, mostly family and friends, in our home at 1220 Seventeenth Street.

Booty and I continued to be involved in as many activities as possible until his failing health prevented it. He died on April 23, 1989. Allan, Tex, Booty, his parents and my parents are still fondly recalled and sorely missed by the many relatives and friends whose lives they touched. The End.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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The Sanderson Families of Nederland

bulletClyde McKinley Sanderson
bulletPercy Fred Sanderson
bulletJohn Wesley Sanderson

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By W. T. Block

Earnest Newton Singleton moved his family to Nederland in 1901 to operate a meat market, making his household one of the first native-born families in an immigrant colony where almost nothing but the Dutch language was spoken. Singleton's parents were Rudolph Sidney Singleton and Samantha Stephenson (Ca. 1854-Ca. 1891), who were early Orange County settlers from the Duncan Woods community, the forest that is visible across the Neches River from Port Neches.

Earnest Singleton's maternal grandparents were Gilbert Stephenson (Ca. 1810-Ca. 1871), who crossed Jefferson County in 1824 while en route to Stephen F. Austin's colony, and Mary Tevis (b. Ca. 1817), whose parents, Noah and Nancy Tevis, were Beaumont's first settlers, who lived on their Mexican land grant and gave to Beaumont its first name of Tevis Bluff. Gilbert and Mary Stephenson lived across the river from Beaumont on their Mexican land grant in Duncan's Woods. Singleton's step-father was Blewitt Langham, and Singleton's arrival in Nederland would result in the subsequent arrival of the Blewitt Langham family, as well as Singleton's half-brother, Virgil Langham, and his family.

On December 19, 1890, Earnest N. Singleton married Edna Elmira Peveto at Orange. She was born at Johnson's Bayou, Louisiana (across the lake from Port Arthur), on April 21, 1873, reared there, and was the daughter of John Peveto, Jr. (b. 1847) and Charlotte Gillen (b. 1851). Her great uncle was Michel Peveto, Jr. (b. 1819), who fought through the Battle of San Jacinto as a 16-year-old youth almost too ill to hold up his musket and died at China, Texas, three weeks later. Her great grandfather, Michel Peveto, Sr. (b. 1795), fought at the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815, as a member of the combined 17th, 18th and 19th Louisiana Regiments.

At first the Singleton family lived in Orange County, and later at several points in Beaumont, before moving on to Nederland in 1901. Page 33 of "Nederland Diamond Jubilee" shows the E. N. Singleton family standing on the front porch of the "City Market," the meat market that E. N. Singleton founded on Boston Avenue in 1901, and which would be continued by Hammond Singleton and Virgil and Blewitt Langham after Earnest Singleton moved to Port Arthur in 1908. (See 1910 Nederland census, Res. 52-54, Sheet 3-A-5001, Enumeration District 91, for the Hammond Singleton family.)

The E. N. Singleton family lived in rooms behind the City Market for the seven years that they lived in Nederland. He bought cattle off the prairies from the nearby farmers and ranchers, or else purchased them in Beaumont, Texas, to be driven to Nederland. In his memoirs, Bill Haizlip described the early morning killing of animals at the meat market, where, as soon as slaughtering was finished at daylight, the meat was hung up in a screened-in room (to keep the insects away), since there was no refrigeration available. House wives had to buy their meat very early, while it was still bleeding and warm, and cook it immediately to keep it from spoiling. What meat was not eaten at noon was either thrown away or fed to barnyard livestock. Bill Haizlip also told of rescuing Dillard Singleton from drowning in the No. 2 rice canal.

The "History of the Wagner Family" in Volume I also described the early morning activities in a Nederland meat market (name unknown) that once occupied the downstairs of the Wagner building at 1155 Boston about 1904. Since hand meat grinders were then unknown in Nederland, meat was ground by hacking it constantly into small particles with a knife or meat cleaver on the chop block. In early-day Nederland, all the saloon keepers kept an open container of chipped or hacked raw meat, chopped onions, and slice black bread, because the early Dutch and German patrons would not buy their beer without the stock of free raw meat, onions and bread to go with it. Since only a cheese cloth covered the food, the number of kitchen flies circling the saloon bars was enormous.

Earnest and Edna Singleton had five children that grew to adulthood, also losing three others in infancy, as follows: Lola (b. October, 1891-d. May, 1985; Dillard (b. June 27, 1894-d. January 6, 1982; Nona (b. October 22, 1895-d. Ca. 1970); Naoma (b. August 11,1900-d. Ca. 1980); and Rudolph (b. 1908-d. Ca. 1982).

Edna Singleton is principally recalled today as being one of the seven charter members, who organized the First Baptist Church in Nederland in March, 1907. One of Mrs. Singleton's uncles, Gille Peveto, formerly of Johnson's Bayou, paid off the balance of the bank note of that first church building (which had been built by W. L. Freeman to be a saloon), and because of his generosity, that first church was named the "Peveto Baptist Church."

In May, 1908, Earnest and Edna Singleton moved to Port Arthur, where he also worked as a butcher. Two years later, he left his family and moved to Houston, where he worked in a packing plant. Nothing else is known of him, except that he died of a ruptured appendix on November 10, 1910, at St. Joseph's Hospital and was buried in the Stephenson Cemetery in the Duncan's Woods.

Mrs. Singleton maintained her home in Port Arthur, at first with the help of her son, Dillard, and later, with the help of her youngest son, Rudolph. To help support herself, she worked as a cook in the Franklin School on Tenth Street. When old age approached, she moved to Shreveport, La. to make her home with her youngest daughter, Naoma (Mrs. J. N.) Matthews. Edna Singleton died at Shreveport on February 5, 1964, and is buried in Forest Park Cemetery.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
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Typescript, 1972--Author Unknown

Louis Andrew Spencer was born in 1853, near Wheeling, West Virginia, the son of Thomas G. Spencer and Mary Jane Harris Spencer. His wife was Lovina Jane Adams, born in 1859 in Logan County, Illinois, the daughter of Elisha H. Adams and Eliza Jane Clayton Adams. They moved from Logan County and settled near the town of Pleasanton, Kansas, where they lived for several years and where five of their sons were born, namely: Orren Grafton, Elmer Henry, William Andrew, Earnest Ira, and Louis Robert. Later they moved to Salida, Colorado, where son Albert Clyde Spencer was born in the year 1890.

The Cherokee Strip of the Oklahoma Indian Territory was opened to settlers in 1889, and Spencer staked a claim there at that time. In 1893 Louis Andrew Spencer, his wife, and their six sons loaded their belongings into a covered wagon and headed for Oklahoma. They took a couple of cows and some horses with them. When they finally reached their destination, about the first thing that they did was to build a sod house, which consisted of only one large room with a dirt floor. There were several double-deck bunks along the wall. Water had to be hauled in barrels from the nearest stream, which was several miles away, until a well could be dug. They tried farming, but with so little rainfall, it was difficult to make things grow. The well was nearly completed when a horse fell into it and broke his neck; of course the well was ruined. Due to drought and many other hardships, they gave up the Oklahoma land venture as a bad investment and sold out. Elmer Spencer used to tell of the times when his dad and mother would travel the long distance into town for "rations" and leave all six of the boys at home. They would tell the boys of all the things they were forbidden to do while they were gone, but he said they always found something mischievous to do that their parents had failed to mention.

In 1897, Louis Andrew Spencer bought a small spring wagon, hitched his last two horses to it, and with his four oldest sons, Orrie, Elmer, William, and Earnie, they headed for "Sun Station," Texas, which is about a mile north of Nederland, Texas, on the Kansas City Southern Railroad. Spencer's half-brothers, known as the "Littell Brothers," were running a brick yard at present-day Sun. Mrs. Spencer and the two youngest sons, Louis and Clyde, went to Caldwell, Kansas, where they remained until Mr. Spencer sent for them, and then the family moved to Nederland, Texas, in 1897. They worked and operated one of Mid-Jefferson County's earliest industries and places of business, which was a brick kiln. Bricks were made by hand and baked in a crude kiln, fired by wood. Bricks made by the Spencers were used in the foundation and chimneys of the thirty-three room, three-story Orange hotel. Their bricks were also used in the casing for the water well that was used by the hotel. The copies of the old Port Arthur "Herald" also noted that bricks made in Nederland were also used in a number of early Port Arthur brick buildings, and that the quality of the bricks was as good as many imported bricks. It is likewise believed that Spencer bricks were used in building the Windsor Hotel at Sabine Pass and in the building of a Spanish-American War fort there in 1898.

The Orange Hotel housed the early Nederland settlers, most of whom were Dutch immigrants, until they could get their own homes built. When the Spencer family came to Nederland in 1897, Nederland consisted of a depot and an ambitious set of blue prints. Beaumont then had one paved street, and Port Arthur had a population of 500 persons. There was only one house in a twenty-mile stretch between the two towns. A gulf hurricane had just destroyed Sabine Pass in October, 1886, and in September, 1897, another hurricane damaged the town again and killed ten people in Port Arthur, as well as destroyed the K. C. S. depot there. Work on dredging a ship channel from the Gulf of Mexico to Port Arthur was underway, and plans were being made to move the railroad's port inland.

About 1900, Louis A. Spencer built the old Spencer home, a two-story house, which was at 207 Twelfth Street, midway between Atlanta and Boston Avenues. Probably the last family to live in that house before it was torn down in 1972 was the R. X. Cook family. Mr. Spencer worked at various jobs until he and his wife took over management of the Orange Hotel about 1900.

Elmer Henry Spencer, the next-to-oldest son, lived in Nederland with his family most of his life from the time he came to Texas in 1897. He did live in Beaumont for a few years, while he worked for the Kansas City Southern Railroad. His wife, the former Edith Cooke, was a teacher in the area's first school, which Elmer Spencer helped to establish. He also helped to establish the first Methodist church, and likewise he watched the Texaco asphalt plant and docks at Port Neches go up over his favorite swimming hole in the Neches River there. He built one of the first large two-story homes in Nederland, which still stands in the 200 block of Fifteenth Street.

Many of the early roads of the area and in Nederland townsite were graded by Elmer Spencer while he worked for Conrad Wagner, who was a road contractor as well as rice farmer. Elmer Spencer also told of the 1915 hurricane, at which time a large oil tank broke loose from a Gulf Refining tank farm and floated to Nederland as a result of high water that came into the edge of town. The tank was grounded in the vicinity of what is now Highway 365 and Memorial Highway (69). He also liked to talk of the famous Lucas gusher that blew in at Spindletop on January 10, 1901. He recalled the terrible odor of methane gas and the high-pitched hissing sound that was carried to Nederland by a northwest wind. The Dutch settlers did not know what was happening until some one came from Beaumont and explained that it was the gas from the well, escaping at extreme high pressure, that they were smelling. Later, Elmer worked for the Texaco asphalt plant in Port Neches for thirty years prior to his retirement in 1946. He saw many changes during his lifetime in the Mid-county area.

Louis Andrew Spencer and his wife, Lovina Jane, moved to California after all their sons were grown, and Mr. Spencer died there. Later his widow married a Mr. Getty. She lived a number of years after that and lost most of her eyesight prior to her death in California.

Orren Grafton Spencer served three enlistments in the U. S. Army, tha last served as a Captain in World War I. Between enlistments, he married Rosa Nelson, a Nederland girl. They were the parents of two children, Evelyn and Orrie, Jr., both of whom later married and lived in California. Later Orren Spencer married Esta ------- and spent his last years living at Death Valley, California, which he dearly loved and where he also died and is buried.

The third brother, William Andrew Spencer, left Nederland also and moved to Colorado, where he met and married Bessie Littell in 1907. Two daughters were born to that marriage, Ardith and Eddith, both of whom later lived in California. William Spencer died at age thirty-three, the result of an injury. His widow, Bessie, died several years later.

The fourth son, Earnest Ira Spencer married Eva ------. They were parents of two sons, Lee and Orville, and all were living in California with their families as of 1972. Earnest and Eva lived in Texas for a number of years, in both Houston and Nederland, where Ernie was involved in sales work for an oil company. Earnest and his wife later moved to "Leisure World," a retirement community at Seal Beach, California.

Louis Robert Spencer, the fifth son, married Pat Freeman of Nederland in 1907. The couple had two children, Leon and Bette. Leon died, but his widow was still living in Houston as of 1972. Bette married, reared a family, and lives in Houston. Louis Spencer spent the remainder of his life in Texas. After leaving Nederland, he was employed by the Sante Fe Railroad. Later he went to Houston, where he raised his family, and was employed by the International Derrick and Equipment Company, first as a salesman and later as District Manager. He died several years ago, leaving his widow in Houston.

Albert Clyde Spencer, the youngest of the six Spencer brothers, left Nederland when he was about seventeen years of age. He worked in Louisiana where he was employed by the Lyon Cypress Lumber Company. In 1914, he too went to California, where he followed the lumber business for several years. In 1917 he married Madge Waite of Los Angeles. One child, a daughter Jeanne, was born of that marriage. Madge died in 1942. In 1947 Clyde married Elizabeth Johnson of Seal Beach, California. They lived out their lives in Seal Beach, along with Clyde's daughter, Jeanne, and her family.

After Elmer Henry Spencer's marriage to Edith Cooke on April 14, 1904, the couple resided at their home on Fifteenth Street until Mrs. Spencer's death on March 21, 1949. They were very active in the building of Nederland's first public school and in the organization and activities of the earliest Methodist congregation. After his first wife's death, Elmer H. Spencer married Mrs. Oma Ellis of Nederland and resided at 203 Fourteenth Street until his death on August 21, 1963. He and his former wife Edith are buried at Oak Bluff Memorial Park in Port Neches.

Elmer and Edith Spencer were the parents of four sons and a daughter. The oldest child, Asa Leroy Spencer, married the former Maudie B. Peveto Dubose, who at that time had one child, James J. Dubose, know now as James J. Spencer. James is married to the former Jimmie Bass of Port Neches. They have two daughters, Cheryl and Debbie, and they live in Nederland.

After their marriage, Asa and Maudie Spencer had four children. Asa Leroy Spencer, Jr. married Denise Ford of Nederland, and he and his family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Edith Lee Spencer married "Fleto" Broussard of Nederland. She and her children live in Houston. Kenneth Earl Spencer married Ruby Sheffield of Nederland. He and his family live in Pasadena, Texas. Joyce Ann Spencer married Donald W. Belt of Beaumont, and she and her family live in Silsbee, Texas.

Asa Leroy Spencer, Sr. died in Nederland in 1966 after working as a deputy sheriff of Jefferson County for thirty-five years. At the time of his death, he was Supervisor of county jail trustees of Jefferson County. His widow, Maudie B., remained in Nederland. Asa and Maudie Spencer built their home about where the Nederland Chamber of Commerce building is located in 1991. At that time, Boston deadended at Fifteenth Street, and the 1500 block of Boston, where they lived, was that offset street which was built to reach Nederland's early Interurban trolley depot. The Asa Spencer home was immediately in back of the Elmer Spencer home at 223 Fifteenth.

The second son, Earl Henry Spencer, married Lydia Janet Whitley of Oakdale, Louisiana, in 1933. They became the parents of four children. Gary Earl Spencer married Margaret Dean Jackson of Beaumont. They have two children, Cheryl and Steven, and reside in Paris, Texas. James Berthold Spencer married Barbara Jane Warfield of Woodville, Texas. They have two children, Melissa and James Edward, and live in Jasper, Texas. Sharon Jane Spencer married James A. Barclay of Dallas, Texas. They have one son, Bruce, and live in Desoto, Texas. Brenda Gail Spencer married Jim D. McCloud of Nederland. They have one son, Jerod, and reside in Nederland.

Earl Henry and Lydia Spencer lived in Nederland until they raised all their children and after Mr. Spencer's retirement. In former years, Earl was very active in city, school, scout, and church activities. Earl worked for several years as a machinist for Texaco asphalt plant in Port Neches. He later was business agent for the International Association of Machinists union for several years; and also worked during World War II in the shipyard in Orange. He is now retired from Neches Butane Products Company of Port Neches, where he worked for twenty-seven years. At the time of his retirement, he was Superintendent of Industrial Relations there. Earl and Lydia Spencer lived for many years in their home in the 1200 block of Avenue I. Later, they built a brick home at the intersection of Elgin and Eighteenth Street. They now reside in Jasper.

Glen Alford Spencer married Alice Bates McFadden of Alto, Texas, and they were parents of two children. Gerald Winston Spencer married Kathleen -------- of Dallas. They reside in Duncanville, Texas. Glen Daniel Spencer married Jill Day of Dallas. They had one son, Jason, and live in Lewisville, Texas. At first Glen Alford Spencer worked for Texaco in Port Neches and lived in Nederland until 1942, when he and his wife and Gerald moved to Dallas, where Glen Daniel was born. Glen Spencer was a laboratory technician for Mobil Oil Company in Dallas until his death in August, 1963. His widow, Alice, continued to reside in Dallas, and she was employed for many years by the Dallas School System.

Ethel Spencer married Emory W. Wilmore of Houston. They became the parents of four children, Carl, John, Virginia, and Elizabeth. Carl married Debbie -------, and they became the parents of three boys and live in Houston. John married Zillah Short of Houston, where they also live. As of 1972, Virginia and Elizabeth were still living at home with their parents.

The youngest, Harold Orren Spencer, married Betty Jo Risinger of Nederland, and they became parents of three children. As of 1972, two were college students, Carol at Texas A and M University and James at the University of Texas. Daughter Edith Ann was a student in the Sweeny schools. Harold has served as band director in the Sweeny school system for a long number of years, and his wife, Betty Jo, is head of the Secretarial Science Department of the same school system. They are also active in their church and in civic affairs of that community.

As of 1991, Elmer Henry and Edith Spencer are still fondly recalled and sorely missed by their three surviving children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and a host of friends in Nederland, Texas.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Ron Sticker

Archie O'Neal Sticker was born in St. Tammany, Louisiana, on January 13, 1896, one of nine children born to John Martin Sticker and Mary Elizabeth Lloyd. Mr. Sticker served in the United States Navy during World War I, as a boiler fireman aboard the U. S. S. Newburg . His active duty service included seven trans-Atlantic crossings, five of them during the war and two more after the Armistice was signed. After his discharge in June, 1919, he migrated to Southeast Texas in search of employment. While living in Beaumont, he responded to an advertisement of The Texas Company (Texaco), and he was hired on July 5, 1919, as a laborer in the company's asphalt plant in Port Neches.

In May, 1920, he met the daughter of one of his co-workers. Her name was Abi Amanda Arnold, one of six children of Cyrus Ausley Arnold and Arrie Elizabeth Barnett. Abi was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on November 24, 1903, at the intersection of Louisiana and Maximillian Streets. When her father came to Texas in search of work in 1920, she came with him, thus bringing about the occasion of meeting her husband-to-be, A. O. Sticker.

Abi Amanda Arnold and Archie O'Neal Sticker were married on August 21, 1920, and they soon bought a house and lot on Llano Street in Port Neches for $2,000. In time, they became the parents of three sons, Milton Dalton Sticker, born in Port Neches on October 16, 1923; Maurice Malcolm Sticker, born in Nederland on February 14, 1926; and Ronald Lee Stickr, born in Nederland on May 2, 1932.

Archie and Abi moved to Nederland in May, 1925, after they purchased five acres of land on what was then Peek Road. In those days, neighbors were very, very sparse in that area of Nederland. Their property was located between South 27th and South 29th Streets, and they built their home, where they spent most of their married years together, at the corner of Highway 365 and South 29th Street. The purchase price of the five acres is believed to have been $400.

Archie O. Sticker remained at Texaco in Port Neches until his retirement in January, 1961. His job classification at the time of his retirement was boiler house operator. He served as a board member and trustee of the Nederland Independent School District during the late 1930's, exact years not recalled.

Both Archie and Abi Sticker were very active and loyal to their Baptist faith and were charter members of Hillcrest Baptist Church. The Christian Growth Center at Hillcrest Baptist Church is named in his honor. Archie Sticker died on March 13, 1975, and is buried in Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches. At this writing, Abi Sticker still resides at 919 South 29th Street in Nederland.

Milton Dalton Sticker, the oldest of the three sons, graduated from Nederland High School in 1941. After serving in the United States Navy during World War II, he worked for Jefferson Chemical Company (now Texaco Chemical, East) until his retirement in 1986.

Maurice Malcom Sticker graduated from Nederland High School in 1943 and also served in the United States Navy during World War II. Two or three years after his discharge, he reenlisted in the Navy and made it his life's career. After his retirement as a navy electrician, he returned to Texas and continues to follow the electrical trade.

Ronald Lee Sticker graduated from Nederland High School in 1949. He began working at Pure Oil Company in 1949, and continued there after that company merged with Union Oil of California in 1965. Ronald retired from Unocal in September, 1988. As of this writing (1991), all three of the Sticker sons still reside in the Southeast Texas area.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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My father, Francis Alvin Streetman, was born in Cameron, Louisiana, on December 14, 1887, and he died on February 26, 1964. My mother was Essie Gertrude White Streetman, who was born in Dublin, Erath County, Texas, on November 29, 1892, and died in Nederland on November 28, 1970. They actually moved to Nederland twice, the first time in 1914 when I was two years old. I was born in Mamou, Louisiana. The family lived on what was later called the Walling Dairy property, on Peek Road, now Highway 365. My father started rice farming there, and he lost his entire crop during the 1915 storm which drove salt water into the edge of Nederland. They farmed about two more years here, before we moved to Vinton, Louisiana, where my Dad continued to farm rice, and where my brother, Dr. Edward G. Streetman, was born.

Francis Streetman brought his family back to Nederland in 1926, moving back to the same general area on Walling Dairy property, although until 1939 it was Lohman Brothers Dairy (Henry Lohman and brother), who also owned the old Home Laundry in Port Arthur. There were five children in our family. I am a retired dairy farmer. Edward was Nederland's first veterinarian, with over fifty years continuous practice - is now semi-retired. My younger brother, Jack Streetman, is a retired supervisor from Texaco refinery. My sister, Rita Dell, now lives in Youngstown, Ohio. She married Colonel Randall Hendricks, an Army Air Corps officer, now deceased. Dorothy Streetman, the youngest, married Kenneth White, and she died in a drowning accident about 20 years ago.

I remember so well the old Interurban electric trolley that used to run between Beaumont and Port Arthur. The Streetman family lived one-half mile from the Interurban track, which ran through Nederland adjacent to Sixteenth Street, over the right-of-way where the Gulf States Utilities high lines still pass through Nederland. Between 1912 and 1932, the trolley service was operated by the old East Texas Electric Company, which was the predecessor company of Gulf States. I remember so well when a small child was killed in the early days by the Interurban not far from where we lived. I hated to see the old Interurban shut down, but our modes of travel were fast changing in 1930. When I was a teenager about 1926, I plowed farm land where the Mid-Jefferson County Hospital is located today. Many changes have occurred since the Streetmans first moved to Nederland seventy-five years ago.

{The preceding information is from a two-page handwriten script by Kirtis Streetman and given to W. T. Block. From this point on appears on a two-side compact disc, made on January 30, 1990, by W. D. Quick during his interview with S. K. Streetman, with all the questions asked by Quick}.


The Streetmans moved to Nederland twice. I was born in Louisiana, moved with my parents to Nederland in 1914 when I was 2 years old. We lived here two years, and then we moved to Vinton, Louisiana. I was born in 1912 in Mamou, Louisiana. My father, Francis Streetman, married my mother, Essie White, in Louisiana. Father was a farmer. He came to Texas because this was an industrial area, but he continued raising rice after he got here. The 1915 storm wiped him out so he moved back to Louisiana. The land in those days belonged to Lohman Brothers (the Lohmans were Dad's uncles). They started out in 1918 in the hog business in Nederland, until hog cholera killed all their hogs. Then they switched to thoroughbred Guernsey cattle. When we moved back here from Vinton, Father moved back on the Walling Dairy property, but at a different location {{Ed.'s Note: Before the Lohmans sold out to S. E. Walling in 1939, they owned about 100 acres, roughly bounded by Avenue H, Highway 365, South 21st Street, and South 27th Street. The video store building at South 23rd and Highway 365 was built to be the Walling Dairy bottling plant.}}

There were five children in our family. I am the oldest, then Ed (Dr. E. G. Streetman), then Jack, then Rita Dell Hendricks of Youngstown, Ohio. My youngest sister, Dorothy (Mrs. Kenneth) White, was 38 years old when she died in a drowning accident about 25 years ago.

When Dad left the Walling (Lohman) property, he and I went into the dairy business together on the old George Rienstra property on Wagner Road (AvenueH). We bought cows from a man named Lacoste. Later we split up, and my dad, F. A. Streetman, moved his dairy to the Beauxart Gardens Road. I bought 28 acres of the old George Rienstra tract of 80 acres. It was immediately on the west side of the Interurban tracks, now the Gulf States high line through Nederland. My home was located where 1604 Avenue H is located today, almost in front of the Pat Riley Funeral Home. That land is now part of the Oaklawn Addition. In 1942 I sold the property and moved out on 27th Street (1519 27th). I still own 42 acres of a 59-acre tract in Beauxart Gardens. 27th Street is the only other street, except Twin City, that goes completely through Nederland, all the way from Spurlock Road to Highway 365. I remember the old George Rienstra home when it was a two-story home on South Twelfth. He built the house for Lacoste on Avenue H (that Kirtis later bought).

I bought my cow feed from the Sabine Grain Company in Port Arthur, some from Josey-Miller in Beaumont, and some from Koelemay Grain in Nederland. I raised my own hay and some grain. In 1943, Koelemay Grain sold out to Moak, and later Moak sold out to Bean and Setzer (Setzer Supply Company).

I had no windmill. I got water from a shallow well, pumped at first by a gasoline engine and later changed to an electric motor. We sold our milk to Walling Dairy, at first on Avenue H, but later they built a modern bottling plant on Highway 365 (at South 23rd, now a video store). I also sold milk to Dailey Dairy, which was also an independent milk wholesaler and retailer in Port Arthur. During the 1930s, there were 25 dairies in Nederland.

In 1936, Texas passed a mandatory livestock-dipping law to combat fever tick infestation - it was done state-wide. At first cattle were dipped twice a month. When Ed was 21 years old, he was a cattle-dipping inspector. It was a lot of trouble, and everyone hated dipping. The other inspector in Nederland was Babe (George) Vanderweg, and there was another inspector in Pear Ridge (Port Arthur). There were several dipping vats built - one vat in Beauxart Gartdens, another at C. O. Wilson School, another at Nederland Avenue and 8th Street, on Vanderweg property, another on Lohman property, and one in Port Neches at Highway 366 and Merriman Street. A dipping vat consisted of holding pens for dipped and undipped cattle, and a deep water vat fenced in by two wooden fences spaced four feet apart, that is, the width of a cow or horse, also a shallow well for filling the vat, and a small room for storing insect chemicals. Cows had to be physically pushed into the vat twice a month. The dipping program lasted four months in Nederland.

Even with the electricity used to power the interurban's electric engines passing so close to my house, I still had no electricity at first. We rode the interurban in both directions. There was a tragedy when a small child was killed at Wagner Road by my house. The child's family was named Yawn, from Silsbee - it was a grandchild of the Lacoste family. It happened on June 26, 1928. Joe Bagwell was the motorman on the interurban trolley. We really missed the interurban when it stopped running in 1932.

I went to Nederland High School when it was located at 200 South Twelfth Street, where the YMCA is today. I graduated in 1931, long before the old Langham School was torn down. We attended the Baptist Church, but I had been a Presbyterian for twenty years. We attended the old Baptist tabernacle and later the old two-story, white church at Thirteenth and Boston Streets. I remember well the old tent meetings and the revivals held in the old tabernacle.

My first auto was a Chevrolet car with a small bed built on the back just large enough to hold four milk cans. Later I bought both a pickup truck and a car.

In 1936, I married Elizabeth Dewitt of New York, who was of New York Dutch descent. Rev. Troy Brooks, who was twice the Baptist pastor in Nederland married us. We have two children, a son, Russell, who is a chemical engineer and lives in Houston; and a daugther, Elaine, who works in a chemical plant and lives in Beaumont.

We had much more rainfall in the 1930s than we have today, and more hurricanes too, three of them hitting here between 1937 and 1943. Also drainage was terrible. We always hated to see a lot of rainfall at one time. Peek Road (Highway 365) was a dirt road. Cars were always getting stuck and had to be pulled out with mules. Avenue H east of the railroad tracks was Block Road, and it ran all the way to Port Neches Avenue. There were very few airplanes back then. One day a plane landed in my field, an emergency I guess. There was no airport here then, except a small, private airport, Parker Air Service, down near Port Arthur.

Nederland's physicians around 1930 were Dr. Tribble - Dr. (J. C.) Hines took his place. Dr. (B. H.) Hall was the first dentist in Nederland. Dr. (Bedford) Pace came about 1937; then Dr. (P. T.) Weisbach about 1946 and Dr. (R. E.) Moore in 1947. Dr. Hines was single then and stayed in his office until about ten P. M. every night, or else in the drugstore. My daughter Elaine got sick one night at nine o'clock, and I found Dr. Hines in the drug store. Doctors made house calls in those days. (Ed.'s note: Streetman overlooked Dr. J. H. Haizlip, who practiced in Nederland from 1907 until his death in 1938.)

I got my first telephone in 1944 or 1945 - a party line. The exchange was in a house (now moved) at 403 Twelfth Street, and Mrs. Emily Wallace was the operator on a hand-operated switchboard with plugs. She also ran a paging service if you went to Beaumont or elsewhere. There were only 1,400 people in Nederland in 1940. Mr. (A. C.) Frog Handley, superintendent, ran the Gulf States Utilities Company in Nederland-Port Neches almost by himself, climbing up on poles and everything.

I banked at Port Arthur's Merchants National Bank at first, and later at the First National Bank in Port Neches. There was no bank in Nederland until 1947. (Ed.'s Note: There had been a First National Bank of Nederland in 1902-1905, in which lots of Nederland and Port Neches people had lost sizeable sums of money; hence, the lack of desire to start a second bank in Midcounty in either town.) I bank in Nederland now. W. D. Quick noted that once Kirtis Streetman had been paged at the Nederland State Bank when his cows were loose in town, and K. acknowledged that he used to drink coffee at the bank every morning and chat with friends there.

Kirtis told about Jack Fortenberry and his barber ship, also about Jack's years as Nederland's first scoutmaster. Kirtis said that at Jack's funeral, the Baptist minister, Rev. J. P. Owens, said Jack Fortenberry was "the end of an era." Jack lived a long time in the 1200 block of Boston until the end of his first wife's illness, then about 1948, he bought out the Alvarez dairy down at the "S-Curve" - a railroad crossing on Spur 347 (Twin City), 2 1/2 miles south of Nederland, that has since been replaced by a railroad overpass. Jack's home and "lake" are still quite visible from the top of that overpass. K. said that Jack went out of the dairy business and opened up a "barrow" or dirt pit, which supplied the fill dirt for overpasses in that area of Twin City near his home and created the 15-acre lake on the property that Mrs. Fortenberry still owns.

Kirtis Streetman said that he also supplied fill dirt for four area overpasses out near the Jefferson County Airport from his own dirt pirt located north of Beauxart Gardens between Holmes Road and a cafe, known as "Dorothy's Front Porch," on property that the F. A. Streetman estate sold to Burroughs.

Kirtis also recalled Mr. (S. R.) Carter (whose home was on school property at Seventeenth and Detroit). K. said that Mr. Carter was well-read, but was largely self-educated; and he loved conversation and talking to people. K. also said that Carter's (one of Nederland's original Dutchmen dating from 1898) real name was TEN CARTER (presumably meaning in English the cart-driver or wagoner), but he dropped the TEN part from his name. Carter sold his property to the school district at a very reasonable price shortly before he died in 1947. Earlier he had been a rice farmer, but later he became a dairyman, realtor, and home financier. Carter Nos. 1, 2, and 3 Additions to Nederland are named for him.

Kirtis also remembered the Terweys -- Gerrit and Peter. Gerrit was his longtime neighbor dairyman. Pete Terwey worked in a refinery. K. also recalled Kaper family children, but he said he was not well-acquainted with their parents. Kirtis recalled the old Doornbos 2-story home that burned, and the Cale Doornbos home on Helena, but could not remember the earliest Doornbos home near the airport. K. remembered that the Pete Stehle and Edmund Dohman families boarded early-day school teachers, and when the McNeill family sold their old home to Weldon Davis in 1945. K. recalled that McNeill's Grocery and Gardner's Grocery (across from McNeill's at 1155 Boston) were the town's two leading mercantile houses during World War II days - there were no supermarkets in Nederland in those days. There was a McKee's Drug Store on Boston for a short time around 1936-1937. Otherwise, Nederland Pharmacy had no competition for many years, and Mr. (F. A.) Roach, the proprietor, was Nederland's only druggist (that is, along with L. D. "Doc" Gunter).

Dr. Hines' office was adjacent to the Nederland Pharmacy (at 1112 Boston) in the Wagner Building. Minaldi's Shoe Shop has been here since the 1920s. K. remembered the old Mr. Tony Minaldi, now long-since deceased. K. said he had graduated with his son, Joe Minaldi. The old wooden Minaldi building was later torn down, and replaced with brick.

K. said that rather than wait patiently for some long-winded talker to get off a party line, it was easier to get on a horse and ride to the person's house that you wanted to talk to. K. said he used to ride his horse to church and to the Baptist Young People's meetings. There were no blacksmith shops left in Nederland in the 1930's although there were still two former Nederland blacksmiths living here in 1935. In 1915, Lee Meredith had sold out his blacksmith shop on Twin City, across from the depot, to E. P. Delong; however, Delong very soon converted his shop to an automobile repair garage at 11th and Boston, and in 1935 he and Meredith still lived in Nederland. The need for a blacksmith shop in Nederland went out with the rice field days or when most of the rice farmers switched over to dairying. Some of the early service stations were owned by Albert Rienstra (who sold out to Goodie Griffin at Spur 347 and Boston); E. P. Delong, later George Netterville, at their garage at 11th and Boston; "Shorty" Hand at Nederland and Twin City; H. O Morrison at Franklin and Twin City, and L. B. Cobb at Helena and Twin City.

Interurban -- during the 1920s, when auto ownership became much more common, traffic on the interurban was greatly reduced, resulting in its discontinuance. Buses soon replaced the interurban. Taxis at Nederland Pharmacy were common before the war - E. C.Whatley, George Yentzen, Buck Gardner, Sluggie Nagle. All of them hauled sailors.

K. - Yes, Mr. George Yentzen was the same man who had operated the Nederland Bakery. He's the man who started making the "Butter-split" bread, that all the stores handled. Also Bartels Bakery was here then. In 1938, all of them shut down when the new big bakeries in Beaumont, Taystee and Rainbow, dropped bread to 10 cents for a large loaf.Yentzen had a large route, and he also invented the Yentzen Duck Caller, for which he held the patent. It is still being manufactured in Groves. He was a big duck hunter. You could kill lots of ducks in the rice fields around Central Mall.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T. Block

The history of Ellen Sweeney and her children reveals a family who came to Nederland for the most unique of reasons. Not unlike the Dutch, good cotton land was growing scarce in the part of Louisiana where they lived, so acquiring land and economic opportunity as an alternate reason cannot be denied. Not unlike Nederland's Capt. John Kaper, Capt. W. P. Allen, and Andrew Johnson families, who came from Sabine Pass, the Sweeneys had been buffeted by hurricanes along Louisiana's south coast, so chalk up "hurricanes" as another alternate reason. The poor schools where they lived would for most persons qualify as an alternate reason for leaving, except that the Sweeney children were already grown. Several Sweeney families had lived at Grand Chenier, in east Cameron Parish about fifty miles east of Port Arthur, for 75 years, and even the meaning of the name indicates another alternate reason for leaving. In the Acadian 'patois' of Louisiana, Grand Chenier is roughly translated as "big oak-studded island in the marsh," with all communication with the outside world cut off except by water prior to 1931, the year the first road to that region was completed. Only one thing could have driven people to settle in such an isolated locality -- the constant march for better cotton lands. And that was the Sweeney family's livelihood, for they produced 25 to 30 bales of that staple every year. None of these, however, was the ultimate reason which drove Ellen Sweeney to Nederland. In 1906, the family, comprised of four sons and three daughters, were first cousins to all of the young people on the "island," and the children were already scattered out in age from twenty to thirty-three. In that age, the concept of "incest" was interpreted all the way to fourth cousin, making any marriage with the "island's" population unthinkable. Hence, Ellen Sweeney brought her family here in quest of potentially eligible marriage partners. The only alternative in Grand Chenier was either remain single or violate the state's incest laws.

In January, 1906, the Sweeneys sold their home and fifty acres of land, loaded their meager possessions on a wagon, and with a couple milk cows in tow, they started down the beach road toward Johnson's Bayou, across the lake from Port Arthur, and crossed the Mermentau and Calcasieu River ferries while en route. At Johnson's Bayou, they hired a sail boat to bring them across the lake to Texas.

It is unclear why Ellen Sweeney chose Nederland since she had two brothers and three sisters-in-law living in Port Arthur and a sister at Sour Lake, but she had a niece, Mrs. Martin Block, living in Nederland. The Sweeney history is labeled under the mother's name because the father of the family, James Hill Sweeney (b. Sept. 25, 1849-d. Oct. 7, 1891) died at Grand Chenier before the Sweeneys came to Texas. The Sweeneys were of Scots-Irish descent, dating their ancestry from Edward and Martha Sweeney who emigrated from Ulster, North Ireland, to Elizabeth County, Virginia, in 1655. James Hill Sweeney was the son of John William Sweeney, Sr. (b. Ca. 1807-d. Aug. 17, 1886) and Sarah Jane Hickok (b. May 14, 1814-d. June 30, 1893), who arrived in Grand Chenier in 1839 from Virginia. Lou Ellen Sweeney (b. Jan. 10, 1847-d. Nederland, June 12, 1923), born at Brandon, Mississippi, was the daughter of Duncan Smith (b. North Carolina,1810-d. San Marcus, Tx., 1887) and Margaret "Peggy" Russell (b. May 9, 1817-d. Nov. 5, 1891) of Cameron, Louisiana. Margaret Smith was the daughter of Rev. Jeremiah Russell, Jr. (b. April 14, 1788-d. Feb., 1863), a War of 1812 veteran and the first Methodist missionary to the Choctaw tribe in 1826. His father, Jeremiah Russell, Sr. fought three years in the South Carolina militia, Gen. Greene's command, of the Continental Army. John W. Sweeney's grandfather, Edward Sweeney of Frederick, Maryland, settled on land patents of Lord Baltimore on the Monocacy River in about 1750, and he was a major (on "muster rolls of the Georgetown Hundred, Frederick County Militia"), who fought with the Maryland militia of Gen. Washington's Continental soldiers.

In 1891, the Sweeney family suffered a double tragedy when the father, James H. Sweeney, and the oldest daughter, Virginia (Jennie) Sweeney, died only four months apart.

Upon arriving in Nederland in 1906, Ellen Sweeney purchased $500 worth of lumber in Beaumont, and she hired her nephew, Virgil Smith of Port Arthur, to build her new six-room house at 149 Nederland Avenue for $40, or a total of $540. That home, now 85 years old, has been only slightly remodeled and removed to 207 Boston. One of the Sweeneys' first activities in Nederland was to meet the Dr. J. H. Haizlip family at the depot upon their arrival from Arkansas and carry them and their belongings to their first home here, a rice farm near the end of Nederland Avenue (now the Mobil tank farm). The Sweeneys bought a 10-acre tract of land at 149 Nederland Avenue, but for thirty years or more, they also leased the adjacent 10-acre tract on their east side from George Vanderweg and the 80-acre tract on their west side from George D. Anderson for grazing their dairy cattle. Today that land is the Anderson Estates additions to Nederland, Texas, South First Street through South Fifth Street.

When Ellen Sweeney moved to Nederland, her children included Mildred Sweeney, age 33 (b. Jan. 3, 1873-d. Jan. 19, 1969); Austin Sweeney, age 31 (b. 1874-d. 1963); Andrew Sweeney, age 28 (b. Jan. 20, 1878-d. July 25, 1960); Ella Sweeney, age 26 (b. March 13, 1880-d. Dec. 17, 1965); Lawrence Sweeney, age 24 (b. Aug. 6, 1882-d. Dec. 29, 1935); Sarah Jane Sweeney, age 22 (b. Aug. 4, 1884-d. June 12, 1983); and Hugh William "Bump" Sweeney, age 20 (Oct. 29, 1886-d. Jan. 23, 1972). Ellen Sweeney was only partially successful in her quest to acquire marriage partners for her children. Two sons and a daughter married after reaching Texas, but four of her children remained single for life.

During their first year in Nederland, three Sweeney sons worked for Dr. Haizlip on his rice farm. The following two years, they raised rice for themselves on land owned by Sun Oil Company. About 1910, Lawrence, Andrew, and H. W. Sweeney began working in the Texaco asphalt roofing plant in Port Neches. Lawrence Sweeney worked there for the remainder of his life, but H. W. and Andrew Sweeney left Texaco in 1918 and entered the dairy business for themselves on Nederland Avenue. The Sweeney dairy remained there until about 1947 when the Sweeney family retired from dairying.

Austin Sweeney married Victoria Miller of Grand Chenier and moved to a farm at El Vista, near Port Acres. Later he raised watermelons at Sabine Pass for about thirty years. During the flood water of the 1915 storm, a floating, 55,000-barrel Gulf refinery tank threatened to demolish their farm house at El Vista, but a farm wagon deflected its path enough to miss the house by a few inches. Austin and Victoria Sweeney were the parents of one daughter, Rosabelle, who married Floyd Wiess, a Magpetco (Mobil, Port Neches) tank farm employee from Sabine Pass. They were the parents of one son, Richard Wiess, who lived all of his working life in Nederland. Floyd and Belle Wiess built their home at 1003 South Twelfth Street in Nederland, and about 1930, Austin Sweeney bought the old Gordon Wilson home at 903 South Twelfth so they could be near their daughter. They were members of First United Methodist Church of Nederland. Victoria Sweeney died in 1955, followed by Austin Sweeney in 1963, and later Floyd and Belle Wiess died during the 1970s, all of them in Nederland. Richard and Doris Wiess, after their retirement, moved to Hemphill, Texas, where they still reside. For about thirty years, Austin Sweeney supervised the Broussard and Hebert ranch lands and cattle at Sabine Pass.

Lawrence Sweeney married Nancy Williams, a daughter of Melvin and Minnie Williams, who came to Nederland in 1907 from Galloway, Missouri. They built their home at 619 Tenth Street, and for thirty years, Lawrence Sweeney rode his bicycle to and from the asphalt roofing plant daily. They were the parents of two sons, Leslie L. Sweeney and Elton N. Sweeney, and a daughter Juanita (deceased). Lawrence Sweeney died on Dec. 29, 1935, followed by his wife Nancy on April 10, 1942, and they are buried in Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches. Leslie Sweeney served in the Air Force and Elton Sweeney in the Navy during World War II.

In 1908, Sarah Jane Sweeney married (1) Robert L. Staffen, (1882-1917), a grandson of Johan Mikiel Staffen, who settled at Smith's Bluff near Nederland in 1851. For nine years, they lived at the Port Arthur Rice and Irrigation Company pumping plant at Smith's Bluff on the Neches River, where Robert Staffen was a steam engineer, and where a son, Everett Albert Staffen (b. Dec. 20, 1909-d. Nederland, Sept. 11, 1989) was born. After Robert Staffen's death in 1917, Jane Staffen worked for two years in the Texaco roofing plant, filling the round boxes of nails that go into the rolls of roofing. In June, 1919, she married (2) Will Block, Sr., whose farm and sugar mill were located at 100 Block Street (Oak Bluff Cemetery) in Port Neches. Block's first wife, Dora Koelemay, one of Nederland's original Dutch settlers, also died in 1917. In 1902-1905, Block owned a half-interest in King Mercantile Company in Nederland, and also lost heavily in it when the business went broke. In 1903, he was a member of the Nederland school board of trustees (see "Nederland Diamond Jubilee"). And as late as 1917, Will Block still received all his mail in Nederland (his son still having an original envelope addressed "W. T. Block, Nederland, Texas," and postmarked 1917). Hence, Will Block seems to have been as much a part of Nederland's history as he was of Port Neches.

After Will Block died in 1933, Jane Block wasted no time in buying a home at 836 Detroit in Nederland, and she soon returned to the town that she always considered to be her home. She survived for another fifty years, dying there at age 99, on the sixtieth anniversary of her mother's death, on June 12, 1983. Jane and Will Block were the parents of two sons, W. T. Block of Nederland and L. Otis Block of Buna, and a daugther, Alta, who married Charles R. Fletcher of Nederland. Alta Fletcher was Nederland's city secretary-tax assessor collector for thirty-three years. W. T. Block was Nederland's (now retired) assistant postmaster (and for fourteen months, acting postmaster) for 25 years and is the co-editor and principal writer for "The Chronicles of The Early Families of Nederland, Texas." He is also the author of two published books, A History of Jefferson County, Texas From Wilderness to Reconstrution and Sapphire City of the Neches: A History of Port Neches, Texas. Everett Staffen served in the U. S. Air Force, was shot down over Italy during January, 1944, and remained a German prisoner fore sixteen months. W. T.Block served in the 78th Infantry Division, with five months of combat service in Belgium and Germany, and L. Otis Block served in the Navy during World War II.

Ellen Sweeney died in Nederland on June 12, 1923. Four of her children lived out their lives, unmarried and without issue, on the Sweeney Dairy at 149 Nederland Avenue. The Sweeney siblings lived to remarkably old ages and also remained quite free of most of the diseases that torment the aged, namely, cancer, strokes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Jane Block died of cardiac arrest, following colon removal caused by a bleeding polyp, at age 99. Mildred Sweeney died also of cardiac arrest at age 96. Austin Sweeney died of blocked kidneys at age 89. Ella Sweeney, only four feet, seven inches tall and 65 pounds in weight, died of blocked bowels at age 86. H. W. Sweeney died of cardiac arrest at age 85. Andrew Sweeney died of hardening of the arteries at age 82. Only one of them ever saw the inside of a nursing home, and that for only a few months; and Jane Block could still dress and bathe herself until one week before her death at age 99. None of them died a lingering, or excruciatingly painful death, and those facts must approach a record for longevity among the early Nederland families.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Dorothy Theriot Concienne

Loveless Theriot was the son of Charles Adolph Theriot and Celestine Millet, born on February 11, 1901, in Kaplan, Louisiana. Later, however, when Loveless was still quite young, the family moved to Grand Chenier, Louisiana, where he grew to adulthood. He was the youngest of a family of eleven children. In 1917, an older brother, Elodias Theriot, moved to Port Neches to work for the Texaco asphalt plant. A year later, all the sons in the family, including Loveless, moved to Port Neches, and he also went to work for the asphalt plant. After working there for three months, he decided that that was not what he wished to do with his life, so he quit. He then joined the army at age eighteen, weighing only 112 pounds. However, the army required that he weigh a minimum of 118 pounds. He had to stay in the barracks and eat for two weeks until he eventually reached the required weight. (Ed.'s Note: W. T. Block attended the Golden Wedding celebration of Adolph and Celestine Theriot at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church in Port Neches in 1929 when he was only nine years old.)

After Loveless Theriot served his enlistment in the army, he went to California for three years, where he worked in restaurants and cafes. After returning to Texas, he heard about a barber school in Houston that had as its motto - "Earn While You Learn" - and he decided to try that. That was to become Loveless' livelihood for his entire life. First he started out in Port Neches; then in 1924 he moved to Nederland to work for Mr. Chestnut, who had a barber shop in the livery stable. The muddy Main Street had little more than one drug store, owned by Fred Roach, Sr.; the railroad depot, George Yentzen's Bakery, J. H. McNeill Grocery, and the Oakley Hotel. Johnnny Ware, the postmaster, ran a grocery store and the post office (which later burned). Later, Mr. Theriot went to work for Mr. M. L. "Shorty" Boyer, who owned the shop in back of the drug store. Later he owned his own shops at various locations on Boston Street.

Late in 1924, Loveless met Miss Mary Louise Landry, born October 30, 1910, to Sidney Paul Landry and Canellia LeBouef (whose photograph appears in Sapphire City Of The Neches: A History Of Port Neches, Texas page 265) of New Orleans, the only daughter among four children. They were married in Saint Elizabeth's Catholic Church on August 9, 1925. The progeny of that marriage were two children, Dorothy Mae Theriot Concienne and Robert Edward Theriot. The Theriot family are longtime members of St. Charles Catholic Church in Nederland.

In 1926, Loveless Theriot bought his first home in Nederland, a two-room "shotgun" house from Mr. L. Van Marion. In his desire to better himself and his surroundings in Nederland, he moved, remodeled, and built three more homes on the corner of Twelfth and Chicago. In 1938, a garage apartment that he owned burned to the ground, and that incident initiated the beginning of the Nederland Volunteer Fire Department.

In 1940, Loveless Theriot built a lovely, story and one-half residence, which was at Thirteenth and Chicago, built on the vacant lot in back of NCNB Bank and on the side of the J. H. McNeill, Jr. home. He later sold that home to the First Baptist Church, to become the church's parsonage. The sale price of the transaction was $10,000, and a newspaper of that day stated that it was the highest price involving a Nederland real estate residential deal up until that year.

Loveless, who acquired the Oakley apartments and eight apartment complexes, built the Theriot Motel, which is now the Villa Motel, as well as the commcial building at the corner of Twelfth and Nederland Avenue, which he originally built for Baker-Williford Pharmacy. During the late 1940s, he had the contract to demolish the original Langham school, and the floor joists from that old Langham school building became the rafters in the new Theriot building.

In 1949, he built his last home where he and Mary Louise Theriot still reside at 113 Twelfth Street. In 1960, he built his last business on Helena Avenue, which is known as the Fashion Cleaners.

Loveless Theriot was instrumental in starting the old YMBL, which later developed into the Nederland Chamber of Commerce. He worked to get the City of Nederland incorporated and served on the city council. He was instrumental in starting the French Home in Tex Ritter Park. He always has worked for the betterment of the city of Nederland until even the Dutch descendents have affectionately labeled him as Loveless "Van" Theriot.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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Samuel S. Thompson was born in Virginia Ca. 1854. About 1873, he married Mary --------, who was also born in Virginia Ca. 1858. Mrs. Thompson was the mother of seven children, all born in Virginia, but only four were still alive or came to Texas with them when they left Kansas. The family were enumerated in Nederland's 1910 census at residence 65-67.

Mr. and Mrs. Samuel S. Thompson and their four children came to Nederland in 1902. They had come from Kansas to Texas before 1900 and lived for a short while in Beaumont, being there at the time of the 1900 storm. They then moved to Port Neches, with all of their household goods and part of the family made the trip by sail boat down the Neches River.

Soon after the Spindletop gusher blew in, Mr. Thompson decided to move his family to Nederland because he was engaged in rice farming on the edge of Nederland. His farm was located in the area of the present-day 300 and 400 blocks of Nederland Avenue, Atlanta, and Boston.

He built his home in the 1000 block of Atlanta, constructing most of it himself, before he moved his family over from Port Neches. The house, with additions, still stands and is the home of the Thompson's daughter, Mrs. Alice Gentry. {This story was written about 1972, and Mrs. Gentry has died in the meantime.}

The Thompson's younger children, Alice and Cora, attended the early Nederland schools. Miss Susan Thompson worked for a time at the Orange Hotel and is remembered as having stayed with Mrs. William C. Sammons, the doctor's wife, and other young mothers after their babies were born. The Thompson's son, Harvey, was married when they came to Nederland. All of the family were active members of Nederland's Methodist Church.

Mr. Thompson died in 1932 and his wife, Mary Thompson, in 1947. Their children, Susan, Harvey, and Cora (Mrs. George Willis) are already deceased. Cora had three children, David Willis, Etta Alice (Mrs. Charles) Sheehan, both of Nederland, and Mary Beth (Mrs. Leon) Hastings of Beaumont. Harvey had four sons and a daughter, all of whom lived in other parts of Texas (a son in Dallas, two sons in LaGrange, and a son and a daughter in Alvin).


Mrs. Gentry, who before here marriage was Miss Alice Thompson, and her parents and her brother and two sisters (Miss Susan Thompson and Cora (Mrs. George) Willis) came to Beaumont, Texas, from Kansas before 1900. She said they came in three wagons that were fixed like vans and a covered buggy. They took a month along the way, and the boys often fished and hunted. They had brought their guitars and fiddles (violins) - and she remembered the trip as a very pleasant experience. Her father was a lumber man in Kansas, and that is why he came to Beaumont, to work in a lumber (saw) mill. Just a short time later they moved to Midcounty (Port Neches-Nederland); however, they were in Beaumont at the time of the 1900 storm, and she said that was quite an experience for them. She remembered it very vividly. She said too that the river - the Neches River - impressed them very much. They lived in Beaumont, in a big house that faced the river close to Hotel Dieu - she called it "the Catholic hospital." Her uncle and cousins, three boys and a girl whose mother was dead, had come with them from Kansas together. The families were very close.

These cousins had built a boat on the river there where they lived, and when they got ready to move to Midcounty so that Mr. Thompson could work as a rice farmer, part of the family and the household goods came down the river on that boat. It was a sail boat, and they landed about where the Port Neches Park is now. She showed us a picture of their sail boat, the "Rosalee." Mrs. Gentry was one of the ones who made the trip on the "Rosalee," and her eyes sparkled as she told us about it; she remembered it as an exciting adventure. She said the trip took all day, and they could hear animals screaming in the bushes along the shore.

Her father had rented a house for them in Port Neches on Merriman Street, and they lived there for a while. They were living in Port Neches when the Lucas gusher at Spindletop blew in. They showed us a picture that one of her cousins had taken of the gusher. She said that they heard the roar and felt the earth tremble. The boys, her brother and cousins, got on their horses and rode up there to see the gusher and took the picture.

They didn't live in Port Neches very long before they moved on to Nederland. Her father built the house in Nederland at 1020 Atlanta before they moved, and it is the house where Mrs. Gentry still lives (that is, in 1972, before her death). The house was remodeled and enlarged, probably about 1920.

Mrs. Gentry recalled many things about the early schools. She showed us pictures and told us about the schools and the people that went to them. She told us about the early church, that is, the Methodist Church, as well as about the people who lived here then. She said that at first, the school was on present-day Tenth Street (formerly Kuipers or Cooper Street), back behind where that "tabernacle church" (at 1004 Boston) is now. And then the school grew and they needed more room, so a room was added to the Dutch Reformed church building (at 1003 Boston), which was used for part of the school. So really, Nederland had two schools in the very early days, the early 1900s. That Dutch Reformed church was located where the (C. E.) Gibson home is now (1003 Boston). C. E. Gibson on 10th and Boston and Mrs. Gibson told us that the Gibson home was actually built around and over the church. In other words, part of the old church is now part of the Gibson home.

She (Mrs. Gentry) had a diploma that she got when she finished school in Nederland. She told us about some of the things she studied, in addition to Reading and Writing, and courses like that, she studied Spanish and Latin. She said they really went to school to study in those days, but that they had a good time as well. She said they also had a literary (dramatic?) society that put on plays. One of the plays she remembered was "Pocahontas." She said there were very long parts that had to be studied and memorized.

Mrs. Gentry described Nederland in those early days, soon after 1900, as looking just like the towns we see in the western "picture shows" (movies), with board (wooden) houses and stores down both sides of a big, wide, muddy street, with porches on all the houses so you could walk along under the porches. She said their were three "open" saloons, one of which was owned by Mr. Freeman. The other was in a two-story building where Nederland Pharmacy is now located. She couldn't remember the name of the proprietor, but she said, "Boy, you were afraid to walk along by there, afraid you might get hit in the head by a beer bottle!" But she said that never happened to her. (Ed.'s Note: The editor believes that most beer sold in the Nederland saloons of 1902-1905 was draft beer sold in mugs or "schooners." There were three saloons, Freeman's, Steiner's, and Peek's during those years, and at that time, a saloon was a saloon. The name "open saloon" did not exist before 1933, the year that Prohibition ended, and indicated a mixed drinks bar as opposed to a package store.)

She said that the Methodist Church had Sunday School every Sunday although they didn't have preaching every Sunday because the preacher also had to go to Sabine Pass to preach (on alternate Sundays). She told about Mr. John Bunyan Cooke, the Sunday School superintendent, the father of Mr. (J.) Berthold Cooke, Mrs. Margaret Goodwin and others. She said (while laughing) that Mr. Cooke often was late and Mr. Spencer (Cooke's son-in-law and the father of Earl), who was the assistant Sunday School superintendent, would have to take over. And then Mr. Cooke would come in, and no matter how far along they were in the opening exercises, Mr. Cooke would always start over at the beginning, and repeat the prayers, the hymns, everything. She showed us a large, flowery certificate that she had received for perfect attendance at the M. E. Church Sunday School (Methodist Episcopal, South). She told us that later, when they had their own church, the young people would sometimes have to chase the bats out of the church before they could have their meeting. But she said they always enjoyed that because young people always enjoyed things with a lot of activity.

She had a colored picture of the old Langham School. It was a post card picture and was the first colored picture we have ever seen of this school.


Her father, Mr. (Samuel S.) Thompson, instead of being in lumber work in Kansas, worked in a mine. She showed us a picture of his mine, a coal mine.

She said that her father moved his family around a lot, but he always made a point to be close to a school so that the children could go to school and be close to a church so they could go to church. Mrs. (George) Willis' name (before marriage) was Cora Thompson and she was Mrs. Gentry's sister. Their father's name was Samuel S. Thompson. He came to Nederland in 1902, and he was a rice farmer.

Shortly after they came her Mrs. Verna Kelly started a kindergarden in the Orange Hotel in the dining room. This was for the native-born children, not the Dutch children, and when she had to be away, Mrs. Gentry would substitute for her in the kindergarden. We asked Mrs. Gentry if she remember the Orange Hotel and she said, "Oh, yes! I taught kindergarten there - in the dining room."

Marie mentioned that somewhere she had read that the storeroom of the Orange Hotel was destroyed by the storm of (Aug. 16) 1900- and Mrs. Gentry concurred. This was the storeroom that had served as a school for the little Dutch children up until that time. It was as a result of its having been destroyed that the two-room frame building was erected near the site of the C. E. Gibson home. Later, a room was added to the Dutch Reformed Church and also used as a school. This church building had three uses at that time - it was used as a school, as the Dutch Reformed Church, what it was built to be; and also as the Methodist Church.

This Mrs. Verna Kelly who started the kindergarden in the hotel dining room was (at that time) Miss Verna Gibson. The Gibsons used to live where Thirteenth Street deadended on Nederland Avenue, and was later the H. C. LaGrone home. Marie remembers that when the Methodists began outgrowing their first church that was built on Thirteenth Street, the Gibsons offered their home for Sunday School classes and also for Epworth League in the evenings. So they felt as though the Gibson home was an extension of the Methodist Church. That (Wm. S.) Gibson family was not related to the C. E. Gibsons. (One of the best teachers Nederland ever had lived with the Gibsons. Miss Della Walker. She exerted much the same kind of influence on the children that in later years Mrs. Cora Linson gave. They were much the same type of people. Those who remember her remember her with much love, respect, and affection.-Marie)

Verna Gibson later married J. C. Kelly. The Gibsons had one other child, a son named Willie.

Mrs. Gentry mentioned the Frank Butlers who lived near them. The (C. E.) Gibsons and the Butlers and the Thompsons all lived near one another. This Mr. Butler had two children, Vernon and Mary. (A son Roy was killed in World War I and a younger daughter was named Irma) He had started a private school in 1900 for his own children because he wanted them to be educated. This is something we would like to find out more about. We don't know whether this was one of the other schools that he instigated getting started, or whether this was a completely different thing. F. A. Butler was a school trustee in 1903. We need to find out more about this. This Mr. Butler was a bookkeeper for a construction company. (The 1910 Nederland census listed Frank Butler's occupation as a clerk, dry goods and groceries and the 1918 Nederland city directory listed him as a boilermaker.) His name (F. A. Butler) was listed as one of the school officials (trustees) on a report card that Mrs. Gentry had. We feel that perhaps he was instrumental in building the second school.


1). More about these plays they put on. Where did they give the plays? In the school or in the church?

2). The names of the two sisters she said taught in the school here. One had lived on the border of Mexico at one time and taught Spanish. (We are not sure whether this Spanish was taught in the school or was just taught to some young people "on the side," just because these young people wanted something to do, meaning outside of the curriculum.


Mrs. Gentry was married in 1918 in Houston.

(Discussion concerning relative marrying Freeman). It was a cousin Lou who married the Freeman. Mrs. Gentry said "really a double cousin," since her mother was Mrs. Gentry's mother's sister and her father was Mrs. G.'s father's brother. When she passed away with pneumonia, Mrs. G.'s mother kind of looked after the children, the girls especially. The cousins were the ones who built the sail boat. Her brother did not have anything to do with it. "He was not that much of a duck."

The cousins never did live in Nederland. Both families moved from Beaumont to Port Neches together and lived close together there, but when the Thompsons moved over to Nederland, the other family of Thompsons stayed in Port Neches until they later moved to Vidor.

"It must have been.....well, we were in Port Neches in 1901, but we were living in Beaumont in 1900." But she knows she was going to school in Nederland in 1902 because she has a card showing the names of those in school with her - the card given out when school closed in the spring of 1903. Asked if the names were all in one class, she said evidently more than one, but she didn't remember. The certificate she has - from the 7th grade - was the highest the Nederland school went to at that time. Some went (to high school) in Beaumont, some in Port Arthur. Where did she go? " I didn't go to either one. I took extra courses here, in Latin - in Spanish - and in mental arithmetic." "The mental arithmetic is the best thing you can do - it gives you short cuts. But I can't remember them now."

Asked about the kindergarten in the Orange Hotel where she substituted as teacher - Do you remember what year that was? "I sure don't." Was it after you got your certificate from the school here? "Yes." Then it would have been after 1906. "That's right." Then it was after you finished school. That was just a little private kindergarden.

Do you remember when the Orange Hotel was torn down? "I don't know. I was probably gone at that time.....I worked out a lot." the White House....going back and forth I just didn't pay any attention to things like that. ......Yes, there was a while when the old hotel was vacant. An old man lived there alone by himself. I don't know if anybody ever knew who he was. (Ed.'s Note: Mrs. Bertha Anderson referred to the tramp who ran them out of the hotel whenever they played there as "Uncle Jimmie." The 1910 Nederland census listed a "Jim Burns, tramp, age 38," who was evidently the tramp that lived in the vacant hotel.)

.......talking about the picture of the old Baptist Church, etc. "We'd give anything to have a picture of the Dutch Reformed Church. Mrs. G. said, "That was it where Edith Spencer is standing in the door of the school."

Did the Methodists use the Dutch church too or did they use the school? "They used the school. But it seems like they used the church before that. As time goes on you forget."

Who were some of the people - beside Mr. Cooke and Mr. Spencer - who were real active in the Methodist Church when it first started? "Well....I don't know.....It was going when we moved here in 1902. The Cookes......the Gibsons.....and Mrs. (Anna) Kitchen. Mrs. Kitchen was very active. "And Mrs. Dohmann?" Yes, they were active, but they didn't come until later.....but they were very active. And old Mr. Nelson was very one time. And Rosie Spencer. And they lived in that two-story house (before it was torn down about 1960, the R. X. Cook home at 211 Twelfth St.) behind the old bank (First National Bank building, which until 1940 stood at 1203 Boston). The old Spencer family lived there.

Didn't the Spencers manage the Orange Hotel at one time? Yes. That's where Boy (Willie Lee Freeman) and Lou (Lula Thompson) met. When we were living in Port Neches, she came over here to work for Mrs. Spencer at the Orange Hotel - and that's where she met Boy Freeman. So the Spencers and the Freemans were both here at that time. Do you know the year the Spencers managed the hotel? Well, I know they were there when we were living in Port Neches (1901), but I don't know how long before that.

"You know, it was funny. After they voted the saloons out of here, Mr. Freeman - the grandfather Freeman - went down to Winnie and went into a store business and did well. It shows you don't have to do anything like that." 'Cause he made a good living for himself and his family. Of course, there were just the two of them. Then he finally moved back to Beaumont.

Asked if she knew anything about when the hotel was built. "I understand that it was built by the Dutch people to take care of the immigrants that came over. The Cookes came in 1898 and they stayed at the Orange hotel. (Marie's info from Myra Koelemay.) They stayed there until they could find another place to stay. Myra (later Mrs. Lawrence Koelemay) was about 18 months old and she would pull up to the windows and look out at the horses and wagons carrying lumber - because the town was in the process of being built - they were building the stores along Main Street - and they said she would stand there for the longest time and watch. Then the Cookes moved out on the Kitchen Road - they lived in the house that later the Kitchens would buy and live in, where Celeste K.(itchen) was born. When they lived out there, Lawrence K.(oelemay) would come out there to play with her brothers - he was about seven years older than she was - and she said, "I think I fell in love with Lawrence then." She said that, when they stayed in the Orange Hotel, Lawrence came (and Marie said, he's the first one I've heard of that actually came to school in the little school behind the Orange Hotel) - and Lawrence told her later that lots of times, he would come in the hotel and pick her up and carry her around. The Koelemay children walked from where they were living to the school behind the hotel. Later the Koelemay's managed the hotel; they were the last ones to manage it.

Asked if the hotel was still being run as a hotel whenever the kindergarden were there, Mrs. Gentry said, "No, it was vacant except for the kindergarden held in the dining room - unless perhaps that elderly man lived there then. She didn't know. It had been vacant for some time. Observation: It must have been used as a hotel for about eight years. (Ed.'s Note: Eight or nine years seems about right. Between 1903-1906, all the boarders there were Spindletop roughnecks, drillers, and boomers, who rode the train back and forth to work, and after the oil boom ended, there were no more boarders.)

Marie Fleming said she asked Anna Koelemay Cooley about when the hotel was torn down, what the lumber was used for, etc.? She couldn't remember the date it was torn down; she said she didn't know that the lumber was used for anything, that it just rotted down.....that the boys, the kids, just sort of tore it down, wrecked it, when it was decided to do away with it. And then the building materials, or at least some of it, stayed on the premises a long time. That seems odd, Marie said, since some of the other things that were built then are still standing.

Mrs. Gentry said that she was interested to see the picture of the hotel in the Nederland State Bank because it was the only picture of it she had ever seen. "It was really a nice hotel. It was nothing to be ashamed of at all. Asked if she remembered going to any special function at the hotel, she said, "No."

Marie observed that Mrs. Gentry would have been almost too young to have participated in any of the parties, dances, etc. held at the hotel in the early days, and she agreed and then said, "And you know, we always thought that when you belonged to the church, you couldn't dance.....and so we just didn't pay any attention to it.....and they would have the biggest dances upstairs over that building where Thornell is now (old McNeill building at 1154 Boston), and we'd just go up the street there and go on over to the church to the prayer meeting.....and we could have gone and Papa wouldn't have known it. He never asked us."

Mr. G. was asked about the plays that she said the young people used to put on and that they enjoyed so much. "And we had such long parts to learn too." Asked where the plays were performed: "As well as I remember, up above McNeill's store (1154 Boston). And we must have made a temporary stage. One of the plays was "Pocahontas." Asked if it was sponsored by the church or the school, she said, "No, it was just general, but all the young people in town went. All the young people of the town went to church then, because that was just about the only place to go. She thought that one of the Sunday school teachers helped with the plays. She didn't think any admission was charged. "We just bought our own costumes and made them." "That whole building would be full - of young and old - people just wanted some place to go." "One year when Mrs. Williams - Lancaster used to be - taught school here, she was real interested in that, too, she took a good part in it."

Asked about the two school teachers she said had taught here and had previously taught school down on the Mexican border and one of them taught Spanish - Mrs. Gentry said, "Yes" - that that was the person she had studied Spanish under. Asked if that person had taught Spanish in the school or on the side - "Well," she answered, "you didn't have to take the course, just those who wanted to." Mrs. G. believed her name was Neild, a Miss Neild. She didn't believe either teacher had been married, but didn't remember their given names. (Ed.'s Note: The editor believes that Miss Neild taught school with Miss Lizzie Waterston, principal, in 1903, and that a picture of her survives in a photograph between pages 67-68 of Vol. II.)

Asked about another hotel that was about where Rienstra's store is (1204 Boston) - that Anna Cooley told Marie F. about - that a Mrs. (Emma) Burson ran, Mrs. Gentry thought she remembered it. Later it became the Oakley Hotel, and they remodeled it, then it was remodeled again. Probably the same building as the later Dale Hotel. Christina said there was a Mrs. Sanders who had a daughter named Mrs. Matthews who also ran the hotel. Bursons first, then Mrs. Matthews. Mrs. Burson was Mae Newman Doornbos' mother. (More talk about the hotel - when started, etc. - but Mrs. G. could not remember.) {Ed.'s Note: The 1900 and 1910 Nederland censuses are especially vague about hotels. Mrs. Emma Burson may have given up her hotel about 1908-1909, since in 1910 census she was listed as living alone and a real estate agent. In the 1918 Nederland city directory, the Nederland Hotel was being operated by Mrs. Florence Mathers (not Matthews), widow of George E. Mathers. Mathers must have sold out to M. W. Oakley soon afterward. Oakley was still operating the hotel in 1938 city directory, but he sold out to D. X. Rienstra soon afterward - probably 1939 or 1940 - and moved to Austin. Rienstra moved the hotel about 100 feet to an inside lot, reopened it as the Dale Hotel, and built a dry goods business building (Roger-Byron) on the corner at 1204 Boston.)

The old Mr. and Mrs. (L. A.) Spencer ran the Orange Hotel for a while and Mrs. G. believed that her sister, Susan, worked for Mrs. S. there for a while. Elmer S.(pencer) told of working there and they would cook the "flap jacks" (pan cakes) just on top of the wood stove.....Mrs. G said that she remember the youngest Spencer, Clyde - that he was quite a musician; he loved to play.

(Marie F. told story that Earl (Spencer) had told her about her father having moving picture - rented film - had a little projector mounted on a wagon - and showed pictures down town.....And one of the Spencer girls had a real pretty voice and would sing - and Mr. R(ienstra) showed the films....Mrs. G. didn't remember anything about that, but she thought that the Spencers had only boys, no girls. (True-the Spencers had only 6 sons.)

"It was the funniest thing, when we started from Kansas--with covered wagons and with a surrey with two pretty ponies, if we wanted to ride in it - but naturally kids would rather ride the rough way. We could have written a real interesting book. Lou's oldest brother had gone to Kansas City and he was quite well-educated, and he could have written an interesting book, and I don't know why he didn't. We had a lot of fun on the way. I was too young to write about it, but I always wondered why he didn't because he was grown then.....They had their bicycles and their fiddles, as they called them in those days, and a rooster and a little hen.....I imagine what we looked like was one of those medicine shows that go around the country selling patent medicines.

(Comments on picture Mrs. Anderson had of building with group of people on front porch, one Sam Thompson, Mrs. G's father. She said the building as the school, that was also used as the Methodist Church. (Not the Dutch church).....Discussed a person evidently in picture - M. L. Kenney. Mrs. G said, "You might contact Floyd Kenney." Asked - Didn't Mr. E. P. Delong marry a Kenney. Mrs. G. said she thought he had married Velva Kenney. Mr. Delong had a garage, which probably was a blacksmith shop before that. In those days, that was before automobiles were even thought about, I guess."...."I remember my first automobile ride. There was a Mr. Appleby. He was a contractor in Beaumont, and he went back and forth in a little, old open red car - a Ford I imagine, just two seats. I was going to walk with Verna Gibson (Kelly) - they lived up at Sun Station - I was going with her and we were walking up the highway and this fellow - he had been to Port Arthur and he was on his way back to Beaumont - well, he offered us a ride. Well, we got in there and I mean he really gave us a ride. We had to hold on. There were no back seats or windbreaker or anything. It was really fun though. He was very nice."

Mrs. G. said downtown Nederland, as she remembered it, was like a little western town. In 1902 there was already a business section. Mr. Cooke (Sr.) was running the (Nederland) lumber yard - up the railroad track somewhere. McNeill's store (later) was first where Vaughn (George C. Vaughan Co., now Ritter Lumber Co.) is. (Discussion of location of Bradley Bell, other early stores). B. Bell was on the "other" (?) street, he burned out (Ca 1910), then was in a warehouse by railroad. Then he sold out to McNeill. Then later McNeill moved to Main Street (1154 Boston). Old Mr. and Mrs. (M.) Wagner lived in the building recently torn down (Modern Cleaning Shop, 1159 Boston). Then one of the boys ran a store (Paul Wagner Gents Wear) in a two-story building next door or close there somewhere (1155 Boston). There were some residences on Main Street mixed in with the stores. Old Dr. Sammons lived in a house where the wig shop is now. (In 1910, "old" Dr. Wm. Sammons was age 42, with a wife age 25). Asked if there was another doctor here before Dr. Sammons, Mrs. G. said she din't know because they went to Beaumont to the doctor for a long time. She knew Dr. Sammons was there, though, because her sister, Susan went there and "waited on" Mrs. Sammons when she had her baby. (Marie mentioned Orange Hotel register listed two doctors....)

Asked about when Dr. (J. H.) Haizlip came, Mrs. G. said, "Well, let's see, he was rice farming at Port Neches." He was a doctor back in Carolina or someplace, but he came here and went into rice farming, then he went to Austin and took his state examination and came back here and went to practicing. They lived on Atlanta on the other side of the R. R. tracks (from Mrs. G.?) for a while, and then moved over to the present home. He was married but the children had not been born. (Ed.'s Note: Dr. Haizlip came from North Carolina to Arkansas to Nederland in 1906. The writer's uncles met them at the depot. The Haizlips were following their friends from Arkansas, John and Alice Chase, who had just taken a job as chief engineer of the Port Arthur Irrigation river pumping plant. Dr. Haizlip rice-farmed for one year, on C. X. Johnson property, now Mobil tank farm at Port Neches, before beginning practice here in 1907. Mrs. Gentry was wrong about all the Haizlip children being born here. Son Wm. O. "Bill" Haizlip was born in North Carolina in Oct., 1899, and brother John was born in Arkansas two years later.)

Mrs. G.'s father's place - where he farmed - was where the (Rev. Emmet) McKenzie's live (304 Atlanta), or where the Women's Club is (320 Atlanta). Dr. Haizlip put in a crop of rice across from there - "I believe on Johnson's land."

Old Mr. and Mrs. C. X. Johnson lived down here before they moved "up here." (?????) They came from Preston, Iowa. The elder sister - "she would mother them." Her name was Lily. The mother had died when the children were small and she took care of them. (showed piece of handwork Lily had made for her mother.) ...more about Johnson family. (Ed.'s Note: The Johnson woman that Mrs. G. calls "Lily" was actually Fannie P. Johnson. In 1910, there were four Johnson siblings, none of them married, living in the black stone house at 1420 Boston, where police station now is, Charlie X., age 33, Fannie P., age 29; Elmer L., age 27; and Nellie M., age 22. C. X. Johnson was postmaster of Nederland twice, for a total of about 15 years, Ca. 1908-1922, 1932-1933, and owned Nederland Pharmacy, where post office was, from about 1906 until 1922. C. X. Johnson finally married about 1923 and moved to Port Neches, where he sold real estate, but believes the other three Johnson siblings remained single for life. C. X. died in Port Neches about 1952.)

Talk about how bad mosquitoes were. And the floods. Marie said her mother said they would burn smudge pots around the church on Sundays for the horses. (Mrs. G.: "But you know people were happy in those days. People are not happy now. They're restless. And they just search for something, they don't know what.")

When they were building the Baptist Church, Lee Meredith was single and he ate with the Thompsons every day. "We fed more Baptist preachers before that Baptist Church was built; however, we were glad for them to build. As Baptist people moved in, we thought they would have their own church. They built some kind of 'tabernacle' concern. Just a big old building, no floor; I guess they had sawdust on the floor - on that lot next to Rackley Cleaners (13th at Boston, NE corner). It was just temporary, for they had to get organized.....Methodists and Baptists used to let out church to attend each other's revivals and bible schools. The Baptists were trying to get organized "when Lee ate with us." "You know there were no eating places then like there are now and you couldn't got to the store and buy TV dinners."

End of Memoirs

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Jo Ann Haltom

Rufus Dalton Tyer was born on November 19, 1892, in Water Valley. Mississippi, the son of Joseph Johnston Tyer and Molly Johnson Tyer. He served in the United States Army Infantry during World War I.

On November 3, 1923, Rufus Tyer married my mother, Nina Ellen Plane, at Ardmore, Oklahoma. She was born on September 24, 1900, in London, Arkansas, the daughter of Charles Alphus Plane and Mary Ellen Nordin.

My father was a machinist by trade, and my mother, Nina Tyer, worked for the telephone company. My older sister Mary was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, but the remainder of the family were born in Nederland, Texas. My parents moved from Ardmore to Mexia, Texas, in 1928, and in 1932, they moved to Nederland, where they remained for the rest of their lives.

My father and mother built their home at 1220 Avenue A, across from what was then the Nederland High School. My father then went to work for Pure Oil Pipe Line Company, but later, he transferred to the main Pure Oil (now Unocal) refinery, where to continued as a machinist.

My sister, Mary Elizabeth Tyer, was born in Ardmore on August 21, 1924; she married Carl R. Osborne of Port Neches. Later they moved to Tomball, Texas, where Mary Elizabeth Osborne died on January 20, 1976.

All of us attended the Nederland schools. I was born here on June 17, 1933, and I (Jo Ann Tyer Haltom) married David Lee Haltom (deceased in 1989). My younger sister, Joyce Elaine Tyer, was born in Nederland on February 18, 1935, and she is married to E. Victor Tibbetts. My brother, Hubert Dalton Tyer, was also born in Nederland, and he is married to Dianne DuPuis.

Rufus Dalton Tyer retired from Pure Oil Company in 1957. He and my mother continued to live at our home at 1220 Avenue A during their retirement years. My father, Rufus D. Tyer, died on December 1, 1965, at age 73. My mother, Nina Tyer, died three years later, on September 28, 1968. I can truly say that my parents were a gentle and Christian couple, who lived their religious faith in their everyday lives and who brought up their four children in a loving and disciplined home. They are still fondly remembered and sorely missed by their surviving children, grandchildren, and a whole host of friends whose lives they touched.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T. Block

George Vanderweg, Sr. came to Nederland in May, 1898, at a time when extensive railroad track-building was under construction in South Jefferson County. A Dutch-language advertisement of B. J. Nauta, a colonizing agent of the Port Arthur Land Company, published in Leeuwarden, Friesland, The Netherlands, on March 30, 1898, bears Vanderweg's and Robert Gerbens' names as two emigrants who had agreed to emigrate to Nederland, Texas.

George Vanderweg, Sr. was born on November 20, 1871, at Holwerd, in the northern province of Friesland. He and two friends, Gerbens and Jake Doornbos, sailed on the North German-Lloyd steamer Olinda from Antwerp, Belgium, probably in April, 1898, and arrived in Galveston three weeks later, in May, 1898. Gerbens, who married Elizabeth Westerterp, another Dutch immigrant in Nederland, and settled in Port Arthur, was from Hardegarijp, Friesland, and Doornbos was from Warfum, province of Groningen.

One of Vanderweg's and Doornbos' first jobs in Texas was to help build the Sabine jetties at Sabine Pass. Their task was to haul the heavy boulders or rocks, some of them weighing up to ten tons, out of which the jetties were constructed. That first job did not last very long before they began working as day laborers for the Port Arthur Rice and Irrigation Company in 1899. In 1900, Vanderweg and Doornbos, as partners raised their first crop of rice, about where the YMCA is located at South Twelfth Street and Avenue A. In the early years of Nederland, South Twelfth deadended at the 400 block, up against the levee of one of the early Nederland rice canals.

Vanderweg married his wife, Theodora Cornelia Van Oostrom, about 1909. She was born, one of eight children, in Abcoude, near Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on October 15, 1886, and arrived in Nederland at a very early day, probably 1904-1905. Her first marriage to Hendrick Van Cleave ended in divorce. She became the mother of two children by that marriage, Guy Van Cleave of Nederland and Wilhelmina Van Cleave (Detrich, Sterling) of Galveston. During those years prior to her marriage to Vanderweg, Cornelia Van Cleave resided either with her brother and sister-in-law, John and Johanna Van Oostrom, or at her home at 105 Nederland Avenue, adjacent to another early rice canal (now the Port Neches city limits).

George Vanderweg, Sr. farmed rice until the Port Arthur Irrigation Company and its canal system failed and went bankrupt. He then turned to dairying, as several other Dutch immigrants had done, and he built his home at 823 Nederland Avenue, where he lived out the remainder of his life. After his marriage to Cornelia Van Cleave, they became the parents of two children, a daughter, Elizabeth, born on February 19, 1910, and a son, George Vanderweg, Jr., born on March 25, 1917.

George Vanderweg, Sr., became a substantial land owner in Nederland, acquiring two tracts of acreage on Nederland Avenue; a 70-acre tract on Avenue H, where Midway Addition was surveyed and sold in 1948; and business property along South Twin City Highway. After residing here for 42 years, during which time he became a well-known and respected Nederland dairyman, Vanderweg died of a heart attack on September 10, 1940. His widow survived her husband for 26 years, dying at age 81 on April 11, 1968. The original Vanderweg home still survives, but it has been moved to 224 South Ninth Street, where today (1991) it is used as a day care center.

All of the Vanderweg children graduated from Nederland High School. Elizabeth Vanderweg was a very beautiful girl and a talented piano player. She married Nick Ruysenaars, and for forty years prior to their retirement, she and her husband operated a dairy at their home at 3135 Nall Street in Port Neches, where they also still reside. They are the parents of three children, including two sons, John and Nick Ruysenaars, Jr. and a daughter, Theodora Elizabeth Quibideaux.

At age nineteen in 1936, George "Babe" Vanderweg, Jr., was appointed "tick inspector" by the State of Texas for Nederland and the surrounding area. He had charge of a mandatory livestock-dipping program, which eliminated tick fever in Texas, that took place for four months of that year. Nederland livestock had to be dipped, no exceptions, every week or two weeks during that period at dipping vats built in Beauxart Gardens, 27th at Helena, Eighth Street at Nederland Avenue (on Vanderweg property), and on Avenue H.

In 1939, "Babe" Vanderweg built the "drive-in cafe" at Nederland avenue and South Twin City, that was operated by J. E. Pitre for the next twenty years. Later he sold that site to Mobil Oil Company. "Babe" and his wife, the former Virginia Godwin, began a number of other business enterprises along South Twin City, including Jiffy Trophies, Arnold Bowling and Billiard Supply, and others, most of which they sold when they retired. They built their home at 2900 Merriman Street in Port Neches, where they resided until "Babe" Vanderweg died on August 25, 1988. After his death, Mrs. Virginia Vanderweg sold her home in Port Neches and moved to 1410 Nashville Street in Nederland. They were the parents of one son, Joe Warren Vanderweg, who is the father of two children.

Cornelia Van Cleave Vanderweg was also the grandmother of three children by her first marriage. Wilhelmina Van Cleave married (1) E. Detrich of Galveston, and after his death (2) -----Sterling. She is the mother of one daughter, Mrs. Ethel Detrick (maiden name spelled with an "h;" married name with a "k"). Guy Van Cleave, Sr. was the father of two children Guy Van Cleave, Jr., and Kay Van Cleave.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Mrs. Shirley Van Oostrom Chapman

My grandfather, Johan Theodorus Van Oostrom, was born the seventh of eight children, in Abcoude, Holland, on November 8, 1888. His parents owned a modest dairy farm in that small community or village. His first entrance to America was around 1905 at about the age of eighteen. Up until that time, he had worked on the family farm, but seeing no future there, he decided to head west across the ocean. Being so far down the totem pole of the family heirarchy, so to speak, he knew that the bulk of the farm would be given to his older siblings. He may have joined the Dutch army around 1906, for it is known that he visited the Dutch Guiana colony in South America while he was still a soldier. It is unclear whether he entered America after his military stint in South America, or whether he went home to The Netherlands first. At any rate, he still had to obtain permission to be released from military duties in order for him to come to America. It is likewise unclear whether he first arrived here via New York, Galveston, or where, which was about the year 1907. He worked as an itinerant farm hand, riding the railroad trains, following the harvests for a few years. He saved his money wisely, though, and may have returned to Holland around 1910. His family found him a sort of apprenticeship as a butcher in Amsterdam; however, he did this only for a short time, for he had heard of a wonderful Dutch settlement in Southeast Texas. He could have arrived in Nederland as early as 1905-1907, and he was certainly here by 1912; Grandpa was never good at remembering dates. He worked at many jobs when he first arrived---rice farming, butchering and selling meat from his wagon and market, as well as construction and building of houses. He also met the Pleiter family, who told him about a young neice in Holland who very much wanted to come to America.

My grandmother, Johanna Pleiter, was born in Wapenueld, Gelderland, The Netherlands, on February 22, 1900. She was the oldest of several children, who were born to a farming couple in a rural area. Being the oldest, she was aware that that meant the responsibility of rearing all of her younger siblings. She learned to sew and cook wonderful things, as she was given special training at a large "manor" house nearby. However, this was not the way she wanted to spend the rest of her life, and especially since World War I had put Western Europe in great turmoil. A large encampment of German soldiers spent a large part of World War I just down the road from her parents' home. Hence, she was anxious to come to America as soon as the war was over.

She obtained financial help to come to American from her uncle in Nederland, so she boarded a ship in 1920 and came alone to Nederland. She met my grandfather soon afterward, and they were married. My uncle, Johannes Geisbertus Van Oostrom, was born on November 27, 1921, and my father, Albert William Van Oostrom was born February 10, 1925. They were born in houses my grandfather built on what is now Twin City Highway, near the railroad tracks, between Highway 365 and Nederland Avenue.

My grandfather worked very hard in early-day Nederland, operating his buther shop, constructing homes, trading cattle, doing whatever was necessary to earn a livelihood, and saving his money diligently. He bought many acres of land in the Nederland-Port Neches area when land was very cheap, often no more than $50 or $100 per acre. He was a quiet, gentle man, who would give a stranger the shirt off his back. During the Depression, he was well-known for helping out those who needed help. During the early 1940s, he purchased quite a few acres of land on the north side of the railroad tracks in the Central Gardens area of Jefferson County, still very close, however, to his hometown of Nederland, and he built a large brick home there, as well as barns for his farm, and a large covered building for the lumber he used to build homes for others. During the 1940s-1950s, he operated the Van Oostrom Lumber Company from that point. He and his sons built small homes for others and ran the family farm there until his death at the age of 92 in 1981. It can truly be said that my grandfather, John Van Oostrom, was the last survivor of Nederland's original Dutch colony who came here from Holland before 1910.

My grandmother, Johanna Van Oostrom, was a delightful person to know. She was warm and friendly, and liked to entertain her granddaughters endlessly. She was a fantastic cook and a very talented seamstress. Her training at the manor house certainly came in handy. She was the "author" of the famous Dutch cookie recipe found in quite a few of Nederland's cook books. She travelled back to Holland in 1929, but she never saw her Dutch family again after that.

Her brother, Bernard Pleiter, came to Nederland during the 1950s, and he ran a thriving drapery business until the late 1960s. We called him Uncle "B" Pleiter, and he lived on the same road, about one block away, from John and Johanna's farm on Fourth Avenue in Central Gardens. He died in the 1970s while living in Holland, Michigan, where he had moved earlier.

My Uncle "Hanse" and my father, Albert Van Oostrom, may have been the sons of immigrants, but they certainly gave everything of themselves except their lives during World War II. Hanse received his degree in Pharmacology from the University of Texas in 1942, and immediately he went into the navy as a corpsman (medic). He saw duty in the Pacific sector, but once quipped that his more horrible moment of all was while he was riding out a typhoon near Japan in late 1945. He came back home and worked with his father and brother, building homes and maintaining the farm. Hanse had a heart of gold and loved good conversation of a historical or political nature. He could always spare a moment to play a game of hide-and-seek with his neices. He died in April of 1988, after suffering a long illness.

My father, Albert, retired from Union Oil of California refinery in Nederland in 1986, after having worked there as an operator for over thirty years. He has always found time to devote to the farm, and he enjoys raising Angus cattle. He too gave a lot of himself during World War II, having been shot down over Eastern Europe in 1944, and spending nine months in a German prisoner of war camp. He lost quite a lot of weight, but was otherwise unhurt by that experience. He came home from the war late in 1945, and met a young lady from Jennings, Louisiana, named Genevieve Montroy. They were married in 1946, and they had the first of their three children, Carolyn, in November, 1947. Shirley came along in 1952, and Mary Kay was born in 1957. Albert and Gene have resided for many years at their home at 1611 Detroit Avenue in Nederland.

My grandfather's sister, Theodora Cornelia Van Oostrom (Vanderweg) came to Nederland at an early day, probably 1905-1906. For a while, she lived with John and Johanna and later she married George Vanderweg. Her children include Betsy Ruysenaars and George Vanderweg, Jr., who died in 1988. She lived most of her life at her home at 803 Nederland Avenue, where she ran a dairy for many years. Her old home has been moved and now stands in the 200 block of South Ninth Street, where it is used as a day care nursery.

Email received 11/23/2002

Hello Mr Block

I`m Vera van Oostrom, and I have some information for you About Johannes Theodorus van Oostrom and Cornelia Wijnanda van Oostrom (in your story John Theodorus van Oostrom and Theodora Cornelia van Oostrom).


Gijsbertus van Oostrom, born on: 26 October 1837 Schonauwen, Province Utrecht, Married on: 9 January 1879 Abcoude-Baambrugge, Province: Utrecht, passed a way on: 27 December 1899 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province: Utrecht, son of Hermanus van Oostrom and Cornelia van Rossum.

Elisabeth Gerarda Peek, born on: 8 April 1951 Abcoude-Baambrugge, Province: Utrecht, Daugther of Arnoldus Peek and Gerritje de Rijk.


  1. Hermanus Arnoldus van Oostrom, born on: 14 December 1879 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province Utrecht,passed a way on 22 February 1943 Weesperkaspel, Province South-Holland, married on: 29 August 1906 Ouder-Amstel, married with: Hendrina Witteveen,born on 16 November 1881 Ouder-Amstel, passed a way on: 30 October 1960 Weesperkaspel, South-Holland.
  2. Arnoldus Hermanus van Oostrom, Born on: 5 December 1880 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province: Utrecht, passed a way on: 1 September 1895. Abcoude-Proostdij, Province, Utrecht.
  3. Arnoldus Johannes van Oostrom , Born on: 13 December 1881 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province: Utrecht.
  4. Gerardus Cornelius van Oostrom, Born on: 26 November 1882 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province: Utrecht.
  5. Cornelis Gijsbertus van Oostrom, Born: 24 January 1884 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province Utrecht.
  6. Gerarda Maria Cornelia van Oostrom, born: 13 February 1885 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province Utrecht.
  7. Cornelia Wijnanda van Oostrom, born on: 15 October 1886 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province Utrecht.
  8. Johannes Theodorus van Oostrom, born on: 8 November 1887 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province Utrecht.
  9. Gerarda Anna van Oostrom , Born on: 13 June 1889 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province Utrecht, passed a way on: 19 July 1889 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province: Utrecht.
  10. Theodorus Martinus van Oostrom, born on: 16 June 1890 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province Utrecht, passed a way on: 4 March1983 Wilnis, Province Utrecht.
  11. Gerarda Christina van Oostrom, born on: 3 September 1892 Abcoude-Proostdij, Province Utrecht.

I have all the Dutch Born Documents of these People !!!!!!

About number 6 Cornelia Wijnanda van Oostrom

In 1886 the 18 th  mouth December came Gijsbertus van Oostrom, 49 Years old, Dairyfarmer, lived Abcoude, to the County of Abcoude-Proostdij.

On 15 October 1886 at 11:30 pm in this county in the house Wijk B number 105 is Born a child a girl with the names CORNELIA WIJNANDA.

People sign: Jan Koekenbier, 66 Years old, Dairyfarmer, lived in Abcoude, and Maarten Vaars, 42 Years old.

About number 7 Johannes Theodorus van Oostrom

In 1887 the 10th mouth of November came Gijsbertus van Oostrom, 50 Years old, Dairyfarmer, lived in Abcoude, to County of Abcoude-Proostdij.

On 8 November 1887 at 4:30 am iin this county in the house Wijk B 106 is born a child a boy with the Names Johannes Theodorus van Oostrom.

People sign: Maarten Vaars, 43 Years old and Peterus Johannes Rentinck, 35 years old.

Number 1 is the Father of my Grandfather Gijsbertus Martinus Theodorus van Oostrom.

Best Regards,

Vera van Oostrom

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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Gerka "Dutch" Van Randen was born in Meppel, Holland, on April 19, 1900. Having been a merchant seaman from age eighteen on, he decided to emigrate to America and join his aunt, Mrs. Wilma Devries, who lived in Nederland, Texas. In 1921, he made his final voyage from Amsterdam to New York City. He then traveled by train to Nederland in pursuit of his ambition of becoming an American. His first job in Texas was delivering a newspaper route on horseback. Later he took a business course in Beaumont. About 1922, he went to work for Postmaster Klaas Koelemay, who operated the Nederland post office inside of his grain store at 1155 Boston, the building in which subsequently Mrs. Mattie Gardner founded Gardner's Grocery about 1925.

In 1924, Gerka Van Randen sang with Tex Ritter, later to become a well-known movie cowboy, on several occasions. Singing was his favorite pasttime, and later, Gerka was in a quartet with Jack Fortenberry, Jess Lester, and Will Lester.

On April 21, 1925, Gerka Van Randen married Euda Sehion. They became the parents of three children, a son John, and two daughters, Nancy and Katherine.

John married Virginia Hastings on October 21, 1949, and they built their home on Jackson Street. John served in the United States Navy during World War II. He and his wife became the parents of three children, Mike, LouAnn, and John, Jr.

Nancy Van Randen married Charles Bernard on June 5, 1953. They built their home in the 700 block of 16th Street, where they reared their two daughters, Susan and Amy.

Katherine married Mike Hazelwood on September 7, 1968, and they have one daughter, Susan Michelle.

In May, 1947, Gerka's brother Hendrik "Henk" Van Randen, his wife Tine and son Johnny, emigrated to Nederland to escape the economic aftermath of World War II, and for the next nineteen years, Henk worked for George C. Vaughan and Sons, a wholesale building materials manufacturer, in Nederland. After Henk's retirement on March 17, 1966, the family moved back to Meppel, Holland. Son Johnny was on vacation in Holland in 1957, when he married over there. He and his wife now live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and they have two children, Henk and Julia. Henk Van Randen died in Meppel on October 4, 1972, leaving his surviving widow.

Gerka Van Randen died on December 4, 1960. His widow Euda continued to live at her home, next to her daughter Nancy, until her death about fifteen years later.

Gerka Van Randen had a number of cousins living in Nederland, all of whom are believed to be dead, as follows: Mrs. Annie Bruinsma Holcomb, Mrs. Dena Devries Mudd, Mrs. Effie Bruinsma Sanderson, Mrs. Anka Bruinsma Terwey, Gerka Bruinsma, and Dirk Ballast.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T. Block

While the surname of Viterbo may not sound as familiar as other early Nederland family names, it was to connect in many ways with the infancy years of the Dutch colony. And all of the Nederland oldtimers could have told you that the earliest name for Canal Street during those three or four decades that it remained a dirt thoroughfare was "Viterbo Road," even if they didn't know why.

Likewise, the name "Viterbo" is a freight terminal slightly south of Beauxart Gardens, on the Texas and New Orleans Railroad tracks along the West Port Arthur Road. Although everyone in town is familiar with the Kansas City Southern trackage which runs through the heart of Nederland, perhaps many residents are not even aware of the railroad that runs in back of the airport, principally because they have seldom seen a train running along it in daytime. Nevertheless, that stretch of tracks carried passenger trains from Beaumont to Sabine pass before the Civil War, and continued to do so until passenger service to Sabine Pass was discontinued about 1922. For almost forty years, that rail junction in back of the airport was known as "The Cowpens," because the Hillebrant and Hebert ranches shipped their cattle to market from there. In 1897, Jacques (Jack) and Leon Viterbo began shipping sacked rice from that point, rice grown on the 1,600-acre "Viterbo rice plantation," two miles to the west on Hillebrant Bayou.

One of the Viterbo brothers' greatest contributions to Nederland history was the fact that their canal system became the template for the Port Arthur Rice and Irrigation Company's pumping plant and canal system at Nederland. In 1895, the Kansas City Southern Railroad was laying its rails to Port Arthur, was studying rice horticulture by experimenting with several varieties of that grain at its "Experimental Farm" at Pear Ridge, and although it had organized the Port Arthur Rice and Irrigation Company early in 1897, the railroad knew nothing at all about operating pumping plants and irrigation canal systems. The Port Arthur "Herald" (the railroad-owned newspaper) of March 18, 1898, ran a full-page article, titled "Green and Growing--800 Acres of Rice In One Field," detailing the visit of two railroad officials to the Viterbo rice plantation on Hillebrant Bayou to study all the "hows and whys" and "dos and don'ts" of operating an ideal canal system, and somehow transpose that knowledge into Nederland's canal system. The visit actually took place in August, 1897, even though it was not published until eight months later.

The Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record of November, 1987, concluded that "the Viterbos'....model farm became the template for the Port Arthur Rice and Irrigation Company, as well as for other canal systems which were then or later in the process of construction" in Jefferson County.

Jacques and Leon Viterbo were residents of Nederland insofar as they received their mail and purchased supplies there, but the Viterbo rice plantation was six miles west of town. Nevertheless, it was much closer than driving a wagon to Beaumont. To get there from Nederland, one needed to travel the dirt thoroughfare known as "Koelemay Road" (now Helena) to present-day 27th Street, turn right, and then follow the Koelemay Road until it ended at the John Koelemay Dairy (at present-day 27th and Canal). From there, the dirt trail became Viterbo Road and ended up four miles to the west at the Viterbo farm. Along the way, one would pass the original C. Doornbos home (near the present-day airport), the Viterbo rail junction on the T. and N. O. tracks, and pass a short distance from the old ranch and plantation house owned by Ben and Martin Hebert. There was no Beauxart Gardens or other residences in that area in the early days. (Beauxart Gardens began as a Federal farm project about 1932).

Jacques (Jack) and Leon Viterbo were actually "citizens of the world," although they considered themselves as being of Italian parentage. There is a town in Italy named Viterbo. They were born in Constantinople (Istanboul), Turkey, the sons of Elia and Gracia Viterbo, prominent bankers. Since Jacques Viterbo was to live out his life in Jefferson County while running the Viterbo plantation (as opposed to Leon Viterbo, who resided at Lake Charles, where he managed their even larger Louisiana rice interests), it is actually Jacques Viterbo who is primarily concerned here. Leon Viterbo was born on September 15, 1862, followed by Jacques on June 23, 1863, leaving them so close in size and age that most people probably mistook them for twins. They received their earliest education at Jesuit College of Constantinople, but while still in their teens, they moved to Paris, France, where they completed their schooling, to include good Latin educations. Having been exposed to both the Middle Eastern and West European cultures, the best of two worlds, the Viterbo brothers acquired excellent liberal arts and business training, and along the way, picked up a few foreign languages, including English.

Jacques and Leon Viterbo reached Southwestern Louisiana about 1885. Their first business activity there was to start a "large commissary, twelve miles north of Jennings," that became known as "Viterboville," and supplied the planters of that region. By 1890, the Viterbos also owned several square miles of rice plantations there and one of the first canal systems in that part of the state.

In 1895, they followed two Crowley, Louisiana, bankers and rice growers, P. S. and Willard Lovell, to the Taylor's Bayou region of Jefferson County, where the Viterbos bought their 1,600-acre Hillebrant Bayou plantation. The miracle was that in just the span of twenty short months, they converted two and one-half square miles of bald prairie and high marsh into one of the most ingenious canal systems and productive farms in Jefferson County. According to the "Green and Growing" article of 1898 in the old Port Arthur "Herald," much of the success of that accomplishment was due to a ditching and levee-building machine of their own design, perfected in Louisiana (probably some type of large, mule-drawn scoop), which allowed the Viterbo brothers to build 1 1/2 miles of levee a day. During that twenty months, they had completed one main elevated flume through there property, thirty feet wide and two miles long. Before the spring planting of 1897, they had laid out eight 100-acre fields, four on each side of the canal, complete with laterals and levees, steam engine, boiler and lift pump, and when Colonel Furlong and J. R. Gleason of Port Arthur (and the K. C. S. Railroad) visited the Viterbos in August, 1897, those eight fields of rice were already shoulder-high with rice pods, with harvesting well-advanced before the visitors arrived. The Viterbos had already managed to harvest 600 acres (worth $30,000), but lost the last 200 acres to a small, but severe, hurricane, which struck Port Arthur, killing ten people, on September 10, 1897, being the first storm to deal significant damage to Texas' infant rice industry.

The Viterbo brothers agreed to accompany Colonel Furlong and Mr. Gleason to the proposed site of Nederland and its canal system the following Monday (of August, 1897), and inspect the railroad's proposed pumping plant location at Smith's Bluff. The Viterbos would then make their recommendations for the building of Nederland's elevated, main canal flume, two miles long and 100 feet wide, four main canals scattering in all directons, and 25 miles of lateral canals.

While Colonel Furlong was on the Viterbo plantation, he observed an infant child in the Viterbo household; first "he (Furlong) captures the baby and then he is sure of the mother." That infant baby was Verne D. Viterbo, who was born on the plantation on September 27, 1896. Earlier, Jacques Vierbo had married Liza Reeves, the daughter of William Reeves and Jane Seaman, who was born in Freemont, Michigan, on June 23, 1873. The Reeves family owned and operated the Lakeshore Hotel in Lake Arthur, Louisiana.

The children of Jacques and Liza Viterbo were as follows: Verne D. (b. 1896-d. December 1, 1943, who married Emilie Catherine Hebert (b. April 5, 1899-d. May 26, 1987); Doris Viterbo (b. June 10, 1898-d. May 21, 1970); Inez Viterbo (b. February 5, 1905-d. May 14, 1975); and Ralph J. Viterbo (b. April 10, 1907-d. December 12, 1955).

Verne Viterbo was to unite the Viterbo family with a descendent of their Hebert neighbors when he married Emilie Hebert. His wife, the daughter of Jules Hebert and Ada Truett, represented the fifth generation of the Hebert family to live in Jefferson County. Her paternal grandparents were Joseph Martin Hebert and Emilie Broussard. Her paternal great grandparents were Joseph A. Hebert and Melina Andrus, who founded the Hebert cattle barony on West Port Arthur Road, that their children continued. Joseph Hebert, who came to Jefferson County with his father, Louis Hebert, in 1842, had accumulated a herd of 3,000 heads of cattle on West Port Arthur Road by 1860, making him and his neighbor, Christian Hillebrand, the two largest cattle barons in antebellum Jefferson County. In 1861, Joseph Hebert was elected captain of Jefferson County's first cavalry militia company, the 55-man "Jefferson County Mounted Rangers."

On January 31, 1931, Verne and Emilie Viterbo became the parents of a son, Jules R. Viterbo, who was born in Beaumont on January 31, 1931. Jules, who is best known as "J. R." and apparently is the last survivor in Jefferson County to bear the Viterbo name, attended the St. Anthony Parish schools and graduated from St. Anthony's High School in 1948. He has one brother, Verne D. Viterbo, Jr. (b. August 14, 1921), a WWII prisioner of war now living in San Antonio, and one sister, Harriet Viterbo Avery (b. October 22, 1924) of Port Arthur. Verne, Jr., a navigator on a B-17 Flying Fortress, was shot down twice, but ditched the first time over the English Channel and was rescued. He was shot down the second time over Emden, Germany's submarine pens and spent 17 months in a POW camp, Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany

Between 1948-1950, J. R. Viterbo attended St. Edward's University in Austin and Lamar College. In 1950, he joined the United States Marine Corps and served fourteen months of 1951-1952 in the First Marine Division in Korea. He received two combat decorations, attained the rank of sergeant, and was discharged from duty in September, 1953.

J. R. Viterbo then returned to college at Texas A and M University in February, 1954, and graduated with honors in January, 1957. In October, 1957, he was employed by L and W X-ray Company of Beaumont, and five years later, he became a junior partner in the firm. In 1963, he returned to Lamar University's Vocational School to complete an Industrial Electronics degree needed in his employment, and he graduated there in 1965. In 1972 he became the senior partner in L and W X-ray Company. In 1983, he sold his majority control of that company when he retired.

In July, 1958, Mr. Viterbo was married to Patricia Ann Moreau of Port Arthur, the daughter of Albert K. Moreau and Ruby Mae Guy. Mr. Moreau was born on December 18, 1914, in Moreauville, Louisiana, the son of Victor Ovide Moreau and Alice Gauthier. Mrs. Ruby Moreau was born in Halsum, Texas, on February 3, 1917, the daughter of John Taylor Guy and Lucy Anna Welch. Mr. and Mrs. Albert K. Moreau still reside in Port Arthur.

In 1963, Mr. and Mrs. Viterbo purchased their present home in Nederland at 504 34th Street. They became the parents of three children, as follows: daughter Elizabeth Viterbo graduated from Nederland High School in 1978 and from Texas A and M University in 1982. She is married to David McLaughlin of Midland, Texas, and they have one son, Gregory McLaughlin. Son Edward Viterbo graduated from Nederland High School in 1982 and from Texas A and M University in 1986. He is employed by Sonat, Incorporated in Houston. Daughter Catherine Viterbo graduated from Nederland High School in 1988 and attends Texas A and M University, where she will graduate in 1992.

Although J. R. Viterbo retired in 1983, his wife, Patricia Moreau Viterbo, is still employed as an elementary teacher in the Nederland school district. They are members of St. Charles Catholic Church of Nederland. Nevertheless, J. R. Viterbo is still actively interested in many pursuits. He owns the Belmont Company, a real estate and investment firm. He is still actively involved in rice farming, soy bean farming, and land management programs in Jefferson County. And he was a member of the Board of Directors of Gateway National Bank in 1981-1983.

Mr. Viterbo's hobbies are hunting and amateur photography. He enjoys working with the photography section of the Nederland high School Annual Staff. And whenever circumstances permit, the Viterbo family enjoys travelling.

J. R. Viterbo and his siblings still own more than 100 acres of the original Viterbo plantation, but not through the usual channels of inheritance through his grandfather, Jacques Viterbo. Actually, when Jacques Viterbo became ill in 1920, shortly before his death, he sold 1,500 acres of the land to J. Martin Hebert. The 100 acres was inherited through his mother Emilie Hebert Viterbo, from her father, Jules Hebert.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Luetta W. Powell and Louise Weber

Alexander Weber was born on March 23, 1884, in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Franz Weber, born April 4, 1831, in the Province of Bavaria, Germany, and Orena Klein, born July 28, 1849, in the Province of Hesse, Germany. On February 14, 1913, Maude Hall was married to Alexander Weber in Port Arthur, Texas. Maude Hall Weber was born on November 29, 1891, in Melder, Louisiana, the daughter of Henry Hall, born September 8, 1846, in Nobleboro, Maine, and Henrietta Whittington, born August 24, 1855, in Pass Christian, Mississippi.

Alexander and Maude Weber moved to Nederland, Texas, from Port Arthur in February, 1919. Their first home was located at 1022 Nederland Avenue, where Savings of America is now located, across the street from the Weingarten Shopping Center. Alex Weber worked as an electrician for Gulf Oil Corporation (now Chevron). Maude Weber was a mother and home maker who, in addition to the affection and tender care lavished upon her family, was very active in the First Baptist Church of Nederland. Maude Weber died on January 11, 1989, at the advanced age of 97. Alex Weber died on January 1, 1939.

The children of Alexander and Maude Weber are as follows: (1), Louise Weber, who was born in Port Arthur and came with her parents to Nederland as a child. She graduated from Nederland High School, worked 34 years as a government employee, and has continued to reside in Nederland throughout her adult life.

(2) Daughter Luetta O. Weber was also born in Port Arthur and graduated from Nederland High School. She married Carroll Powell of Newton County, and they became the parents of two children, as follows: (a). Daughter Carolyn Powell married (1) Leon Alexander, and (2) Carroll Lockhart. The children of Carolyn and Leon Alexander are as follows: (a) David C. Alexander, born in 1959, is married to Julieanne Thibodeaux, and they are the parents of three children, Amanda Ann, David Allen, and Christina Lynn Alexander. (b) Trudie Donnell Alexander, born in 1965, who married Steve Crutchfield, and they are the parents of four sons, Brandon, Justin, Chadd, and Dakota Crutchfield; and (c) Eric Leon Alexander, who is single.

The second child of Luetta and Carroll Powell is Alex Windham Powell, who married Janice Cherry. They are the parents of four children, as follows: (a) Valerie Lynn, who married B. R. Jerry. They are the parents of an infant daughter, Ashley, who died in infancy, and a son, Josh; and (b) Leanne B., who married Steve Nelson. They have one daughter, Tiffany Nicole, born in 1987. Leanne Nelson, a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve, served aboard the hospital ship "Mercy" during the Desert Storm War of 1991 in the Persian Gulf. The third child, Alex Powell II, works for Exxon in Baytown, Texas, and the fourth child, Bryan Kent, is studying criminal justice in college.

The third child and only son of Alex and Maude Weber was (3) Jack Alex Weber, who was also born in Port Arthur on August 25, 1919. He graduated from Nederland High School and married Laverne Sampson from Wisconsin. He died without issue in an automobile accident on April 30, 1955. He was a government electrical inspector.

The youngest child and third daughter of Maude and Alex Weber was Jewel Ellen Weber, known as "Judy" Weber. She was born in Port Arthur on July 4, 1921, and passed away on July 10, 1986. Judy Weber married (1) John Wilson Hossley, and (2) Charles Edward Taylor. Judy was employed in the emergency room of Mid-Jefferson Hospital at Nederland for many years. Judy was the mother of three children, all by her first marriage, as follows: (1) Sharon Ellen Hossley, who married Donald Ralph Bennett. She and her husband are the parents of one daughter, Donna Jacqueline Ellen Bennett, who is married to Darwin James. They are the parents of a son named Dylan; and (2) Shirley Louise Hossley, who married Reuben Lane Spittler. They are the parents of two sons, Troy and Scott. Troy Spittler married (a) Toni Thibodeaux, by whom he had one daughter, Alisa, and (b) Nicole Minter, by whom he has two children, Summer Nicole and T. J. Scott Lee Spittler married Janet Edelman, and they are the parents of one son, Jacob Lee Spittler.

Judy Weber Hossley's third child was John Wilson Hossley, Jr., who married Suzanne Christian. They are the parents of two children, Rachael Dianne Hossley and John Wilson Hossley III.

Maude and Alex Weber lived out their lives in Nederland, and were loved and respected by many. A great factor in their daily living was the welfare of their church, the First Baptist Church of Nederland, to which at one time five generations of their family belonged. In fact, their grand daughter, Mrs. Carolyn P. Lockhart, wrote the church's history on its seventy-fifth anniversary, which appears as the prologue of this volume (Vol. IV). Maude and Alex Weber are still so fondly recalled and are sorely missed by their surviving children, grand children, great grand children, great great grandchildren and an entire host of friends whose lives they touched.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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Geschiedenis van de Familie Bauke Westerterp

door W.T. Block

Het verhaal van de aankomst van Bauke Uiltje Westerterp en zijn vrouw Sjoerdtje Willems Westerterp in Nederland, Texas, vlak na de kerst van 1898 is dat van een typisch Hollandse immigranten familie die arriveerde in de beginjaren van het bestaan van de Hollandse kolonie. De vader, Bauke U. Westerterp (1856-1920) was de zoon van Uiltje Baukes Westerterp en Antje Willems Koekoek uit Oldeboorn, Utingeradeel, Friesland, en de moeder, Sjoerdtje Willems (1858-1945) was de dochter van Willem Sietzes Nijdam en Elizabeth Lefferts Annema, ook afkomstig uit Oldeboorn. Dominee Ralph Koelemay uit Plover, Wisconsin, meent dat zijn grootvader in Holland kaasmaker was, maar er is een verslag waarin zijn beroep wordt beschreven als dat van handelaar.

Het belangrijkste historische document van die familie is het emigratie- of uitreis-certificaat, uitgegeven door de burgemeester van Oldeboorn op 25 november 1898. Het gezin Westerterp vertrok op 6 december 1898 aan boord van het schip, de “Ellen Rickmers,” volgens kleindochter Dorothy Callon uit Ledbetter, Texas. De schijver van dit stuk (W.T. Block) heeft de dagelijkse zeevaartberichten (op microfilm) van de krant, de “Daily News” uit Galveston nagekeken en het staat vast dat de Westerterps in Texas aankwamen aan boord van het lijnschip van de Duitse Lloyd, de “Ellen Rickmers,” die op 6 december vertrok uit Bremen. Het stoomschip arriveerde in Galveston op 27 december 1898; dit komt overeen met wat veel familieleden zich herinnerden die hun aankomst in Texas rond de kerst houden. Anna Westerterp (later gehuwd met een Koelemay) vierde haar dertiende verjaardag op 12 december aan boord van het schip als gast van de kapitein. De  “Ellen Rickmers” vervoerde 110 passagiers tussendeks, evenals vijf hutpassagiers onder wie Willem Beukers (op zijn tweede reis naar Nederland), een Hollandse journalist die drie reizen naar Texas maakte waarbij hij aantekeningen bijhield over de jonge Hollandse kolonie Nederland die hij later publiceerde. Volgens Koelemay mochten zulke tussendeks passagiers Holland verlaten met weinig meer dan hun kleren en één schaap, één geit, een paar kippen en een koe. De melkkoe werd gevoed en twee keer per dag gemolken om de kinderen aan verse melk te helpen. De koe werd pas geslacht op de laatste dag van de reis en toen opgegeten. Bauke Westerterp had ook $1.600 baar geld bij zich voor de start van hun nieuwe leven in Amerika.

Bij aankomst in Nederland waren de zeven kinderen Westerterp, Elizabeth, Anna, Fokje (Lena), W. Bauke (Julius), Hantje, Pietje (Nell) en Willem (William) drie tot vijftien jaar oud. Het achtste kind, Nickolas Ralph, werd al zes weken later, op 10 februari 1899, geboren en werd daarmee het eerste Hollandse kind dat geboren werd in de jonge gemeenschap van Nederland in Texas.

Nog maar vier dagen na de geboorte van Nick trof de ergste kou ooit geregistreerd in de geschiedenis  Zuid-Oost Texas en de temperatuur daalde snel tot 4 graden Fahrenheit in Nederland. Het water van de Sabine Pass werd van oever tot over bedekt met een dikke ijsvloer. Sommige Hollanders in Nederland gingen schaatsen voor de eerste en misschien enige keer in Texas. Langs de oevers van Sabine Pass spoelden tonnen forel aan die verdoofd waren geraakt door het koude water. De bewoners bij Sabine Pass schepten de vis in wagens en vervoerden deze naar de stad om ze te verkopen (Sabine Pass “News” van 16 februari 1899). Twee schoeners zonken in Sabine Lake toen het kruiende ijs de scheepswand doorboorde. Volgens het verhaal dat keer op keer in de familie werd verteld, werd de kleine Nick warm gehouden door zijn oudere zusters door hem om beurten eventjes in de oven van de houtkachel te houden.

De drie oudste zusters hadden in Holland gewoon de school afgemaakt, hadden daar ook Engels geleerd en konden het redelijk spreken. In 1898 was er in Nederland een grote vraag naar Hollandse meisjes om te werken in de huishouding bij welgestelde hout-baronnen van Beaumont. Elizabeth en Anna vonden vrijwel onmiddellijk een betrekking in huizen in Beaumont, evenals hun zuster Lena twee jaar daarna. De meisjes droegen, na aftrek van de kosten van trein of buskaartjes, alles wat ze verdienden af als bijdrage het gezinsinkomen.

Omstreeks 1904, toen Nickolas ongeveer vijf jaar oud was, verhuisde het gezin Westerterp naar Roswell in New Mexico, waar ze zo’n vijf jaar bleven. Vandaag aan de dag is niets bekend over wat ze tijdens hun verblijf daar deden, behalve dan dat ze rond 1910 terug verhuisden naar Nederland. Bauke Westerterp stierf op 27 oktober 1920, tien jaar na zijn terugkomst uit New Mexico. Zijn weduwe, Sjoerdtje, overleefde hem met 25 jaar; toen ze stierf op 26 augustus 1945 op 87-jarige leeftijd, had ze het leeftijdsrecord van de hele familie gebroken. Het paar ligt begraven op Greenlawn in Port Arthur. De schrijver heeft de Westerterps niet kunnen traceren in de volkstellingen van 1900 en 1910, evenmin als in de lijst van inwoners van Nederland van 1918, maar het gezin verbleef waarschijnlijk nog in New Mexico toen de volkstelling van 1910 werd gehouden.

De meeste zonen en schoonzonen van Westerterp, twee uitgezonderd, werkten in de olie-industrie bij de raffinage van de ruwe olie. Elizabeth trouwde met Robert Gerbens, die ook Hollander van geboorte was en zijn hele leven werkte als opzichter bij Texaco; ze kregen vier kinderen. Haar zoon Harry (overleden) was schoolmeester en ook “scout master” bij een van de meest prestigieuze padvinderstroepen van Port Arthur. Haar drie dochters waren Helena (trouwde met S.D. Leffingwell; adres: 3228 Willing, Fort Worth), Roberta (trouwde met B.A. Daigle uit Port Arthur (ook overleden)), en Anna Dora (gehuwd met J.C. D’Abade) die in 1991 nog in leven was (adres: 4525 Alamosa, Port Arthur).

Anna Westerterp trouwde met Piet Koelemay op 30 december 1909. Het huwelijk eindigde in een scheiding. In de jaren rond de Eerste Wereldoorlog voorzag Anna in haar onderhoud met het huis-aan-huis bezorgen van melk voor de melkzaak van John Koelemay in Beaumont. Ze trouwde later, op 29 januari 1925, met Martin Koelemay en werd de moeder van dominee Ralph Koelemay. Deze is gepensioneerd voorganger van de United Methodist Church en oorlogsveteraan uit de Tweede wereldoorlog uit de marine van de Verenigde Staten; zijn adres is 702 Opportunity Lane in Plover, Wisconsin. Martin Koelemay had een melkbedrijf in LaBelle en beheerde de Koelemay Graan Maatschappij in Port Neches en Nederland gedurende zestien jaar totdat hij in 1943 de zaak verkocht. Hierna werkte hij bij de B.F. Goodrich Rubber Company uit Port Neches tot hij 65 werd, dat wil zeggen rond 1952. Hij stierf op 31 juli 1965 en ligt begraven op de Oak Bluff begraafplaats in Port Neches. Anna leefde zo lang dat ze één van de laatste overlevenden van de originele Hollandse kolonie Nederland werd; ze overleed op 13 oktober 1977 en werd in Port Neches begraven naast haar echtgenoot. Het originele huis van M. Koelemay bestaat nog op de hoek van Avenue D en Merriman Street in Port Neches.

Lena Westerterp huwde Cleve Pemberton, eveneens werknemer bij Texaco, en woonde een aantal jaren in Port Arthur waarna ze haar huis liet bouwen in het 2900 blok van Merriman Street in Port Neches. Ze nam de rol op zich van moeder van de drie zonen uit het eerdere huwelijk van haar echtgenoot met haar zuster Hantje. Dit waren de latere dominee Cecil Pemberton die woont aan Route 2, Box 225-A in Kirbyville, Texas, waar hij voorganger is aan de Baptistenkerk van Roganville, Texas; Charles Pemberton, wiens laatst bekende adres was Box 474, Mammoth Lake, Colorado; en James Pemberton (zie ook: W.T. Block, Sapphire City of the Neches: A History of Port Neches, Texas (Austin, 1987) pagina’s 347, 352) die als marinier eerste klas sneuvelde tijdens de bloedige invasie van het eiland Iwo Jima in de Stille Oceaan in april 1945. Lena Pemberton stierf op 2 februari 1972.

Uiltje Bauke Westerterp jr. die zich Julius noemde, trouwde eerst met Lula Decuir, een zuster van Nick’s eerste vrouw, en later met Hattie .... . Ralph Koelemay herinnert zich slechts één kind uit deze huwelijken, Jack Westerterp die woont op 2740 Village Green Drive in Miami, Florida 33165.

Willem Westerterp, die bekend staat als William, huwde Minnie Mae Will en werd de vader van drie kinderen, zoon Julius Ben Westerterp (2234 Tenth Street in Port Neches), een dochter Jean (gehuwd met Harvey; adres: 6235 Chisholm Trail in Beaumont), en dochter Margaret (gehuwd met Burnham Murray; adres: 94-451 Keapoopua, C-139, Milioani, Hawaii 96789). In hun jonge jaren werden Willem en Anna Westerterp beschouwd een goede zangstem te hebben; Anna zong voornamelijk in haar kerkkoor. William was ook een vooraanstaand vrijmetselaar, lid van de Tolerance Loge 1165, El Mina Shrine Patrol, Cashan Grotto, en de Scottish Rite Masonry. Hij werd gepensioneerd vanuit de Mobil raffinaderij in Beaumont na een dienstverband van meer dan veertig jaar. Hij stierf op 1 mei 1963.

Pietje Westerterp die zich Nell liet noemen, trouwde met Cornelius MacDonald Robinson op 2 december 1922. Later in haar leven woonde ze in Houston. Er waren twee kinderen uit dit huwelijk, een zoon Donald (adres bij de schrijver onbekend), en dochter Dorothy (gehuwd met G. Callon; adres: Route 1, Box 49 in Ledbetter, Texas 78946). Nadat zijzelf en haar echtgenoot gepensioneerd waren, verhuisden ze vanuit Houston (Ahrens Street) naar hun boerderij. Nell Robinson was het laatst nog in leven zijnde lid van het gezin Westerterp en stierf op 23 maart 1982.

Er is vrijwel geen andere informatie over dochter Hantje Westerterp dan dat ze jong stierf op 34-jarige leeftijd op 16 maart 1926. Ze trouwde met Cleve Pemberton op 13 februari 1921 en was de moeder van de drie zonen die door Lena Pemberton werden grootgebracht.

Nickolas Ralph Westerterp, de eerstgeboren baby in Nederland, woonde zijn hele leven in de gemeente waar hij was geboren en stierf op 26 januari 1981. Toen hij in 1980 geïnterviewd werd, zei hij tegen de verslaggever dat zijn vader veehouder was geweest in Holland, en dat toen deze in Nederland, Texas, aankwam, daar slechts zeven huizen hadden gestaan. Nick is ook tweemaal getrouwd geweest. Zijn eerste huwelijk was met Ollie Decuir wier zuster Lula getrouwd was geweest met Julius; de weduwe uit zijn tweede huwelijk is Dickie M. Lee Westerterp die nog steeds woont in het huis van Nick Westerterp aan de Beauxart Gardens Road. Zijn enig kind, Ben A. Westerterp (adres: 3995 Reed in Beaumont) is het kind uit zijn eerste huwelijk. Nick vertelde ook in het interview dat hij naar het eerste schooltje in Nederland ging dat drie klaslokalen had. Tegen dat hij zeven jaar oud was had hij al een baantje voor een paar uur. De eerste echte voltijds betrekking van Nick was bij de asfalt fabriek van Texaco in Port Neches. Nick Westerterp vertelde ook dat hij afgekeurd werd voor de marine tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog, maar dat hij toch in de Tweede Wereldoorlog in het Amerikaanse leger had gediend. Hij werd tenslotte pijpfitter bij de oude Pure Oil Company en ging in 1965 met pensioen.

Vertaald door dr Willem Renooij, Amersfoort, Nederland.

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A History of the Bauke Westerterp Family

By W. T. Block

The arrival of Bauke Uiltje Westerterp and his wife, Sjoerdtje Willems Westerterp in Nederland, Texas, soon after Christmas of 1898 was the story of a typical Dutch immigrant family arriving during the infancy year of the Dutch colony’s existence. The father, Bauke U. (1856-1920), was the son of Uiltje Baukes Westerterp and Antje Willems Koekoek of Oldeboorn, Utingeradeel, Friesland, and the mother, Sjoerdtje Willems (1853-1945), was the daughter of Willem Sietzes Nijdam and Elizabeth Lefferts Annema, also of Oldeboorn. Rev. Ralph Koelemay of Plover, Wisconsin, believes that his grandfather was a cheese maker in Holland, and one record gives his occupation in Dutch as “verhandelaar,” which apparently is translated as “business man” rather than as an occupation.

The principal historical document of that family is the immigration or exit certificate, issued by the burgomaster (mayor) of Oldeboorn, of November 25, 1898. The Westerterp family sailed on December 6, 1898, aboard the Ellen Rickmers, according to granddaughter Dorothy Callon of Ledbetter, Texas, and a check by the author of the daily maritime columns of (microfilm) Galveston Daily News for December, 1898, leaves no doubt but that the Westerterps arrived on the North German-Lloyd liner Ellen Rickmers, which sailed from Bremen on December 6th. The steamer arrived at Galveston on December 27, 1898, confirming several family members’ recollections that they arrived in Texas at Christmas time. Anna Westerterp (later Koelemay) celebrated her thirteenth birthday aboard the ship on December 12th as the guest of the captain. The Ellen Rickmers carried 110 steerage passengers, as well as five cabin passengers which included Willem Beukers (on his second voyage to Nederland), a Dutch journalist who made three voyages to Texas while keeping tab and publishing his stories about the infant Dutch colony in Nederland. According to Koelemay, such steerage passengers were allowed to leave Holland with no more than their clothes, and one sheep, one goat, some chickens and a cow. The milk cow was fed and milked twice daily to provide fresh milk for the children, and then was slaughtered only during the last 24 hours of the voyage to be used for food. Bauke also carried $1,600 in cash for beginning his new life in America.

Upon arrival in Nederland, the seven Westerterp children, namely, Elizabeth, Anna, Fokje (Lena), W. Bauke (Julius), Hantje, Pietje (Nell), and Willem (William), ranged in age from three to fifteen. The eighth child, Nickolas Ralph, was born only six weeks later (on February 10, 1899), to become the first Dutch child born in the infant community of Nederland.

Only four days after Nick’s birth, the worst cold spell in the recorded history of Southeast Texas arrived, and temperature quickly dropped to four degrees (that’s 4 DEGREES) in Nederland. The Sabine Pass froze over solid from shore to shore, and some of the Dutch in Nederland used their ice skates tor the first and perhaps only time in Texas. At the Sabine Pass beaches, speckled trout, stunned and benumbed by the frigid water temperatures, washed up on the beaches by the tons, and people from Sabine Pass shoveled them into wagons to be carried to town and sold (Sabine Pass News, February 16, 1899). Two schooners in Sabine Lake sunk when ice flows punctured their sides. The infant Nick, so the family story has been perpetuated, had to be kept warm by his older sisters taking turns at holding him for brief periods in the oven of the wood stove.

The three older sisters finished the common schools of Holland, where they also studied and became reasonably conversant in English. In 1899, Dutch girls in Nederland were in great demand to work as house maids in the homes of Beaumont’s well-to-do lumber barons. Almost immediately Elizabeth and Anna found such employment in the Beaumont homes, to be followed two years later by sister Lena as well. The girls contributed all of their earnings to the family larder except for token amounts withheld for train or trolley fare.

Around 1904, when Nickolas was about five years old, the Westerterp family moved to Roswell, New Mexico, where they remained for about five years. At this time, nothing is known about what they did during their period of residence there, except that they moved back to Nederland about 1910. Bauke Westerterp died on October 27, 1920, only ten years after his return from New Mexico. His widow, Sjoerdtje, survived him by 25 years, and broke all of her family’s age records before her death at age 87 on August 26, 1945. The couple is buried in Greenlawn in Port Arthur. The writer has been unable to locate the Westerterps in either the 1900 or 1910 census enumerations, as well as the 1918 Nederland city directory, but the family was probably still in New Mexico when the 1910 census was made.

Most of the Westerterp sons and sons-in-law, with the exception of two, were refinery workers. Elizabeth married Robert Gerbens, also a native of Holland and a lifelong Texaco supervisor, by whom she had four children. Her son Harry (deceased) was a school teacher and also scout master of one of the most prestigious Port Arthur troops. Her three daughters were Helena (Mrs. S.D.) Leffingwell, of 3228 Willing, Fort Worth; Roberta (Mrs. B.A.) Daigle of Port Arthur (also deceased); and Anna Dora (Mrs. J.C.) D’Abade, who still lives (1991) at 4525 Alamosa, in Port Arthur.

Anna Westerterp married Piet Koelemay on December 30, 1909, but that marriage ended in divorce. For some time around World War I days, Anna supported herself by delivering milk door to door in Beaumont for the John Koelemay Dairy. Later she married Martin Koelemay on January 29, 1925, and became the mother of Rev. Ralph Koelemay, a retired United Methodist minister of 702 Opportunity Lane, in Plover, Wisconsin, as well as a United States Navy veteran of World War II. Martin Koelemay dairied at LaBelIe and managed the Koelemay Grain Companies of Port Neches and Nederland for sixteen years until he sold out in 1943. He then worked for B.F. Goodrich Rubber Company of Port Neches until he was 65, or about 1952. Martin died on July 31, 1965, and he is buried in Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches. Anna lived on to become the one of the last survivors of Nederland’s original Dutch colony, and died on October 13, 1977. She is buried beside her husband in Port Neches. The original M. Koelemay residence still stands at Avenue D and Merriman Streets in Port Neches.

Lena Westerterp married Cleve Pemberton, also a Texaco employee, and lived in Port Arthur a number of years before building her home in the 2900 block of Merriman in Port Neches. She became the mother of three sons, namely, Rev. Cecil Pemberton, of Route 2, Box 225-A, Kirbyville, Texas, where he is a Baptist pastor at Roganville, Texas; Charles Pemberton, whose last known address was Box 414, Mammoth Lake, Colorado; and James Pemberton {see also W.T. Block, Sapphire City of the Neches: A History of Port Neches,  Texas (Austin: 1987) pp. 347, 352}, a Marine private first class, who was killed during the bloody invasion of Iwo Jima Island in the Pacific in April, 1945. Lena Pemberton died on February 21972.

Uiltje Bauke Westerterp, Jr., known as Julius, married (1) Lula Decuir, who was a sister of Nick’s first wife, and (2), Hattie ---. Ralph Koelemay recalled only one child of those marriages, Jack Westerterp of 2740 Village Green Drive, Miami, Florida 33165.

Willem Westerterp, known as William, married Minnie Mae Will and became the father of three children, a son Julius Ben Westerterp of 2234 Tenth Street in Port Neches; daughter Mrs. Jean Harvey of 6235 Chisholm Trail in Beaumont; and daughter Margaret Burnham Murray, formerly of California, but now of 94-451 Keaoopua, C-139, Milioani, Hawaii 96789. In their youthful days, Willem and Anna Westerterp were regarded as accomplished singers, Anna singing principally in her church choir. Will was also a prominent Mason, a member of Tolerance Lodge 1165, El Mina Shrine Patrol, Cashan Grotto, and Scottish Rite Masonry. He retired from Mobil refinery in Beaumont following more than forty years of service, and he died on May 1, 1963.

Pietje Westerterp, known as Nell, married Cornelius MacDonald Robinson on December 2, 1922, and she lived her later years in Houston. There were two children of her marriage, a son Donald, of whom the writer has no known address; and daughter Dorothy (Mrs. Gerald) Callon, of Route 1, Box 49, Ledbetter, Texas 78946. Mrs. Callon formerly lived on Ahrens Street in Houston, but moved to her farm after she and her husband retired. Nell Robinson was the last surviving Westerterp family member, and she died on March 23, 1982.

Almost no information is recalled about daughter Hantje Westerterp, except that she died very young, at about age 34, on March 16, 1926. She married Cleve Pemberton on February 13, 1921, and was the mother of the three sons that Lena Pemberton raised.

Nickolas Ralph Westerterp, Nederland’s first baby, lived out his life in the community where he was born and died on January 261981. In an interview with a reporter in 1980, he reported that his father had been a cattleman in Holland, and upon his arrival in Nederland, he found only seven houses in his new home of Nederland, Texas. Nick also married twice, first (1) to Ollie Decuir, whose sister Lula had been married to Julius, and (2) his widow, Dickie M. Lee Westerterp, who still resides in the Nick Westerterp home on Beauxart Gardens Road. His only child Ben A. Westerterp, of 3995 Reed in Beaumont, is the child of his first marriage. Nick also noted that he attended Nederland’s first three-room school and by age seven, was already holding down a part-time job. Nick’s first full-time job was with Texaco asphalt plant in Port Neches. Nick Westerterp also noted that he had been turned down by the navy during World War I, but still he served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He finally retired in 1965 as a pipe fitter with the old Pure Oil Company.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block. 
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By Four Whitley Daughters, Janet, Raye, Faye, and Peggy

Kelly Whitley was born on September 29, 1909, in Oberlin, Louisiana, the son of J. I. and Harriet Whitley. On June 9, 1930, he married Bicy Reeves, the daughter of Brown and Lenora Reeves, also of Oberlin, Louisiana.

In 1934, Kelly and Bicy Whitley, along with their son, Jimmy, moved to Nederland, Texas. Kelly was employed by McNeill and Company grocery for seven years before he went to work for Fair Maid Bakery in Beaumont. He worked for Fair Maid from 1941 until 1946.

During the year 1946, Kelly decided to go into business for himself. He started with a grocery store and service station at the corner of Twin City and Helena, that had formerly belonged to L. B. Cobb, who had decided to retire due to age. Kelly's desire to create a prosperous business in Nederland continued in 1955, when he became owner and operator of a Pure Oil Company service station, located at the intersection of Twin City and Chicago, where formerly Bartels Bakery had been located, and a florist and nursery are located today (1991).

Kelly Whitley was always a very religious and civic-minded person, who placed the welfare of others at par with his own. He served both on the Nederland City Council as well as the Nederland School Board. He was also a longtime member and deacon of the First Baptist Church of Nederland, and a member of the Masonic Lodge. His love of people, family, and community fed his desire to devote his time to the service and well-being of others.

After their move to Nederland, Kelly and Bicy Whitley had four daughters, including a set of twins. Their son, Jimmy, was killed in a bicycle-auto accident as he was riding to his home on Ninth Street from the Langham School. Their daughters, Janet, Raye, Faye, and Peggy, were all reared, educated, and graduated from high school in Nederland. The family continued in their devotion as active members of their church, First Baptist of Nederland. During the 1950s, the Whitleys built their new home at 1904 Elgin. The leadership and thoughtfulness of Kelly and Bicy Whitley were to have a positive impact on their children, friends, and others in Nederland.

Janet Whitley is married to Wayne Tollefsen, and they reside in Crystal Beach, Texas. Janet has three children as follows: Lisa Hooks Beckcom, married to Blake E. Beckcom; Kelly Hooks, and Tommy Hooks. Raye is married to Jimmy Norwood. They reside in Silsbee, Texas, with their two children, Don and Jill. Faye is married to Jack Martin, and they reside in Nederland. They have one daughter, Shari Martin Walker, married to Sean Walker. Peggy is married to Gerald Cowart, and they also reside in Nederland. Her son, Darrin Dykes, and his wife, Lina, live in Houston, Texas.

Kelly Whitley passed away on October 9, 1962, after suffering a long illness. He was buried in Oakdale, Louisiana. Bicy is married to William E. Poss, and they still reside in Nederland. The children of Kelly and Bicy Whitley are proud of the contributions that they and their parents have made to the growth and improvement of Nederland, and they are likewise proud for the standards of living instilled in them by their parents. Kelly Whitley is still fondly recalled and sorely missed by his family and an entire host of friends whose lives he touched

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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(An Interview With W. D. Quick Made on March 30, 1990)

I, Adam Davis Winters, Jr., was born on May 22, 1911, the son of Adam D. Winters, Sr., and Effie Emma Price. I came to Nederland, Texas, in 1922 at age eleven, having attended through the fifth grade the Magnolia Elementary School in New Iberia, Louisiana, where I was also born.

My father was hired by Sun Oil Company at Smith's Bluff in June, 1922 (Ed.'s Note: Adam's father, A. D. Winters, Sr., along with William H. Smith and Tom Housenfluck, Sr., were the only three Nederland residents of pre-World War II days who drew Spanish-American War pensions that the editor has knowledge of.). My uncle was foreman at Sun Station. Mrs. Winters, Sr. had three brothers in Nederland (Eugene and Gilbert Price) and Beaumont. I started the sixth grade in Nederland when Mr. (E. W.) Jackson was superintendent. We lived at Sun Station in the one company house that was near the dock area on the river.

As a teenager, I played in the old-abandoned Port Arthur Irrigation Company pumping plant that was located at the river end of Sun Station at Smith's Bluff. We had no modern conveniences - only outdoor plumbing, no electricity, and bath water from an old underground cistern, filled with water caught on the roof top and conveyed to the cistern through gutters, along with a few dozen frogs. We had a pot-bellied wood stove in our house for heat. We had no close neighbors. Our house was the only house down there up until the time Sun Oil Company built its docks there during the 1920s. (Ed.'s note: Although Sun Oil Company has been located at Sun Station since 1902, the year that J. N. Pew sent J. W. Barr from Pennsylvania to Nederland to buy up Spindletop crude, there was no need for docks there at first and no water deep enough to float large tankers until the 1920s. Sun Station was merely a station that collected Spindletop crude, stored it in underground tanks, and then pumped it to Sun Oil tank farm at Sabine Pass, where it was loaded and shipped coastwise to Pennsylvania by tanker.)

When Sun built its docks on the river, I went to work for Sun Oil Company as a water boy for $3.50 a day for nine hours work. My pay went to 50 cents an hour when I did other work. There was only one gate into Sun Oil at the railroad tracks. Later another gate and road was built into Pure Oil property at the river end. My father had a horse that I rode the two miles to the main Sun gate, where I staked out the horse to graze, and then walked to school either on the highway or railroad tracks. Sometimes I walked with the Price and Nunez children. The Prices lived in a company house near the railroad tracks.

At one time, where the suction pump of the old Port Arthur pumping plant was located, there was a small dock, where Dad and I used to fish. On day a ship came by, being towed to Beaumont by a tug. The side of the boat came in close to the little dock and hit the pier. As it turned out, the boat's rudder was missing, and it could not be steared properly. Oil began bubbling up because the ship had hit and damaged Sun Oil's underwater pipe line that crossed the Neches River and went to Terry in Orange County. The pipe line went to No. 18 underground tank. Our telephone could reach only Sun Station. The pipe line had to be cut off and replaced. The pipe line was weighted down so that it would sink into the silty river bottom, and it had to be pulled out until the broken part was clear of the river and could be repaired.

Some of the early Sun tankers that I can recall that docked at Sun during the late 1920s were the Delaware Sun, Bidwell, Pennsylvania Sun, and Chester Sun. (Ed.'s Note: I would have thought that Adam might have mentioned something of the Pennsy Sun's steam whistle around 1935, but he did not. Captain January, the master of the Pennsy Sun, had a unique method of informing his wife, who lived in Central Gardens, that he had arrived in the river. Upon reaching the river bend between Pure Oil docks and Magpetco (today Mobil tank farm) docks, the Pennsy Sun kept up a series of long and short steam whistle blasts that lasted 20 or 30 minutes and informed Mrs. January, and everyone else in Midcounty for that matter, that the captain would soon be needing a ride home from the docks.)

About 1930, the Corps of Engineers dredged out a cut that eliminated a mile of horseshoe bend in the Neches River, located at Sun Oil docks. I helped a Mr. Alexander survey the site for the docks, where also a large mud flat had once been located. Around 1930, much of the Sun Oil Company marsh was filled up with silt, clay, and dirt dug from the new McFaddin Bend river cut.

Near a slough by the river, there was the remains of an abandoned cemetery. There were a few old cypress, unreadable headboards still up, but all the thin marble stones were already destroyed. Sun Oil put a chain-link fence around it. On Pure Oil (Unocal) property, there were two small headstones near the dock, and one bore the last name of Rose. (Ed.'s Note: Mrs. Jane Staffen, the editor's mother by her first marriage, lived on the river on Staffen property near Sun Oil docks from 1908 until 1917. She often told that the mud flat there contained the wrecked hulk of an old sail ship about 80 feet long. The old captains on the river told her it had been there at least since Civil War days, and they thought it had once been a Confederate boat. It was later blown up. By 1908, the old cemetery on Sun Oil property had had sixty or seventy graves in it and already was long abandoned and destroyed. The following Smith Bluff residents from Civil War days are believed to be buried there, as follows: Johan Mikiel and Wilhelmina Staffen, Frederick William and Mary Painter Block, Johan and Christina Wiltz, Henry Wendt, Henry and Frederika Wendling, Karl and Wilhelmina Meinke, and many others--W. T. Block)

When I went to Langham School, one of the teachers was a Miss McIlheny, who later married Judge (W. T.) McNeill--also a Miss Biggers. In 1924 they built the new Nederland High School (at 200 South Twelfth at Avenue A, where the YMCA is). A Miss Kennedy taught me history; Mrs. Cora Linson taught English; Mr. Greer was the superintendent; and a Mr. Adams was principal (Ca. 1925-26). Then C. O. Wilson came over from Port Neches. He taught math and coached all sports. Recently they had ten coaches for only 22 students. Then Mr. (L. R.) Pietzsch became superintendent (Ca. 1927-1928). Wilson ran the school, and sports was not stressed so much then as it is today. Wilson brought football to Nederland, which until then had only track and basketball - no baseball. Classmates were Stan Hardy, son of the Baptist preacher, who later was killed at the Pure Oil docks while cleaning out ship tanks (1930?); Katherine Goodwin, Elizabeth Ingwersen, Hardy Johnson (from Sabine); Dena Devries, William Doornbos, John May, Glenn Spencer and Ruby Snellgrove.

I bought a camera from a distant cousin - Norman Yentzen - a little Kodak. Our class was the first to put out an annual in hardback - the Pilot. We had a "senior day." Johnson had replaced Price as superintendent at Sun Oil, and he arranged for the entire senior class to ride to Sabine Pass on a Sun Oil tanker. C. O. Wilson said they would probably learn more on the trip than they would in school, so he allowed them to go. After reaching Sabine Pass, they rode back to shore on the pilot boat. When they were still in the channel, I took some pictures with my camera.

When asked if he had done any of the pen or pencil art work on the 1928 annual, A. D. Winters replied that he had not. I first took pen and ink art classes at Texas A and M in conjunction with architecture classes. I did happen to be design engineer in the Sun Oil Company geophysical department. Actually, I had wanted to be an archeologist in Biblical Studies in the Middle East. I went to Lamar Junior College for two years, then finished two years at A and M to get my electrical engineering degree in 1935.

A. D. Winters then commented on the old Interurban - the old Beaumont-Port Arthur electric double-trolley of the 1912-1932 era. Each summer I worked for Sun Oil at 50 cents an hour. I still lived at Sun Station. Got on and off the Interurban at Spurlock Road crossing, which was then a dirt road that deadended at the Spurlock home. There was a little "waiting house," called Sun Station, at the Spurlock Road crossing. Interurban station in Nederland was in back of the Andrew Johnson home, only a few feet from where the present-day windmill stands. Boston deadended in those days at Fifteenth Street, and the offset road from 15th Street (the road in front of the Chamber of Commerce and Donald Moye's law office) deadended at the Interurban waiting room. There was another Interurban station at South Park, where I got on and off while attending Lamar Junior College. An interurban passed through Nederland, one in each direction, every hour.

No, I do not recall any Interurban mishaps. The Interurban was operated by the East Texas Electric Company, the forerunner company of Gulf States Utilities Company. Yes, I had heard some wild stories about the Interurban - Hardy Johnson attended Lamar with me. After 1921, Twin City was a two-lane concrete road. Most people didn't know that that road was built on top of six pipe lines. Yes, my folks went to Beaumont once a week to the ABC Food Store to buy groceries, but Dad always bought meat in Nederland. Downtown Beaumont had a lot of traffic back then -- there were no shopping centers or malls in those days. Going to Beaumont, there was the ruins of a small refinery on the right.

Lamar University campus in 1920 was an abandoned Texaco tank farm and pumping station before the college located there, and the campus today is filled with abandoned underground pipe lines. Earlier it had been known as South Park Junior College, and was located on the third floor of the South Park High School. My Dad had a 1916 Model T. Ford, bought from Broussard Motor Company in New Iberia. As to the early Nederland service stations, J. H. Peterson operated one across from Sun Station. E. P. Delong had a two-story garage and service station at Eleventh and Boston during the 1920s-1930s. It was across from the side of Setzer Supply Company (which was then Koelemay Grain Company), and traces of that garage's old concrete foundation are still visible in the parking lot there. About 1934, Delong sold out to George Netterville. H. O. Morrison and L. B. Cobb had service stations on Twin City at Helena and Franklin Streets.

I remember the J. B. Cooke home before it was torn down. Also the old Star Theatre on Boston that had no sound. It was called the "Bucket of Blood" because of the violence in the Western movies they showed. (Ed.'s note: "Bucket of Blood" must have been a common name in early Nederland. Nederland's "drug store cowboys" of the 1936-1938 era commonly referred to a pool hall, known as the "Dolf Club" and located in what would later be the Creswell Home Supply building at about 1131 Boston, as the "Bucket of Blood.").

We had the Beaumont Enterprise and Journal delivered at Sun Station. We received mail in Nederland. The old wooden St. Charles Catholic Church was located at Ninth and Chicago. The Baptists had their old tabernacle located at Thirteenth and Boston. The Methodist Church was located across from where it still is. I was Catholic when I first came to Nederland, but I am Methodist now.

I married my wife, Archie Dean Campbell, in 1936. Earlier I had graduated from Texas A and M in 1935. I went to work for Sun Oil in 1936. My wife was Presbyterian, and we were married in the Presbytertian Church. At first, we traveled for Sun Oil, in Louisiana and in Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. In 1941 we bought a house in Beaumont on Pipkin Street.

We have three children, a daughter Effie Gaye Winters Trahan, a son A. D. Winters III, who is an Air Force colonel with two doctorates. Our youngest is Patricia Dean Krueger. Gaye is in the school system.

I went on active duty with the army in July, 1941, at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. My degree is in electrical engineering. I had been in the Officer Reserve Corps at first, later in the Army Replacement Center, when I was transferred to the 8th Observation Battalion. In March, 1942, we got orders to report to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Our entire brigade moved to Camp Sutton, N. C., and my wife got there one week ahead of me. In convoy, our brigade was 75 miles long on the road. It took three days to get there, and it rained all the way. We spent the first night in Selma, Alabama, and the second night in Columbia, S. C.

We never attended church in the army. In Beaumont we attended Westminster Presbyterian Church until we moved back to Nederland. We decided to become Methodist in 1948. We still had small children. (Adam then discussed a bad train-auto accident at Helena and the K. C. S. railroad track in 1923, which killed several people and involved one of his uncles.)

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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By W. T. Block

In 1925, the New Encyclopedia of Texas carried the following account of George J. Yentzen and the business he had built up in ten years time, the Nederland Bakery, as follows:

"George Yentzen, for around a decade, has taken an active part in the development of Nederland, and during his residence here, has built up a commercial bakery which ranks as one of the largest in Jefferson County, and is one of the most modern plants in the state. Mr. Yentzen is the owner of the Nederland Bakery, which was established here in the early days and which he bought out in March, 1915, at the time of his arrival in the city. At that time, a small plant, alone, gradually expanding as the quality of his bread became known, until now he has one of the largest bakeries in Jefferson County, equipped with the most modern bread-baking equipment, and employing a force of eleven persons. The plant has a baking capacity of ten thousand loaves of bread per day, Mr. Yentzen specializing in this product, and he has built up a trade with a fleet of four motor trucks. The product of the Nederland Bakery is regarded as the finest bread in this section, and in addition to the trade supplied by truck, Mr. Yentzen handles a large shipping business."

Marya Koekoek (Munson) was a little girl of about ten when she was living on Chicago Street in Nederland in 1918. She wrote that her father had given her a nickel to spend, but her parents being strict Baptists, and it being Sunday, she was forbidden to buy anything until the following day. However, she and a little friend walked one block over to the Nederland Bakery, from whence was emitted the enticing smell of freshly-baked cookies. Her yearning for cookies was much stronger, however, than her religious convictions, so she instructed her young friend to go inside the bakery and purchase a nickel bag of cookies. And in her own child-like mentality, she had thus avoided disobeying her parents.

One would have to have lived in Nederland during the 1920s-1930s in order to visualize a Boston Avenue filled with the marvelous aroma of freshly-baked bread, cookies and pies. The writer knew those pleasing fragrances perhaps as well as Marya, since he had to pass the bakery daily on his way home from school. Actually there were two bakeries in Nederland in 1935 that I had to pass, because as the writer prepared to cross the highway and railroad tracks, he was opposite the Bartels Bakery, located at Twin City and Chicago, presently (1991) occupied by a flower shop. However, Bartels' Bakery was considerably smaller than the Nederland Bakery establishment. The early 1930s was a period of innovation, automation, and adjustment for both bakeries, for each of them had to install automatic slicing equipment, as well as packaging machinery that sealed bread in air-tight wax paper wrappers. Should one include Adams Bakery of Port Neches, there were three bakeries in the Mid-Jefferson County of those days.

The memoirs of Samuel Kirtis Streetman told the story quite well as to what happened to all three of those bakeries, as follows:

"Mr. George Yentzen was one of the taxi drivers who hauled sailors here during the war (1941-1945). He also ran a bakery here for 25 years. I used to buy his bread either at the bakery or at the store. He started the "butter-split" bread way back there, and he had a large delivery area. It was the two big Beaumont bakeries (Rainbow and Taystee), who came to this area about 1938 and, by dropping the price of a large loaf to ten cents, succeeded in running all of the little bakeries out of business. They just couldn't buck the big bakeries. Mr. Yentzen was a great sportsman and duck hunter too. In fact, he invented and patented the "Yentzen duck call," which is still being manufactured in Groves at 6835 Capitol Street. Away back there, you could hunt ducks in the rice fields where Central Mall is now located and out where Airport Addition is located too."

George Yentzen was born on August 6, 1886, in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, the son of Smith Yentzen and Josephine Barbier. His father was the pioneer baker of Donaldsonville, having been in the baking business there for 36 years. George Yentzen attended all the school grades that were available in the Donaldsonville of that day, but his greatest education of all was that learned at his father's knees. From the time that he was "knee-high to a duck," he was already molding dough and preparing loaves for the oven. In fact, New Encyclopedia of Texas observed that Yentzen:

". . . . began making bread before he could reach the top of the bench, using a box instead to stand on, and at as early an age as eight years, he was to be found in the baking shop, engaged in this work. He has continued in this business all of his life, with the exception of several years during which he played professional baseball with the old Gulf Coast League."

Very few details are known about George Yentzen's baseball career, except that it ended in 1909. He probably began playing professional ball about 1904 or 1905. His obituary noted that he "remained actively interested in baseball and other sports, and he was well-known over the area for his hunting and fishing activities."

George Yentzen married Miss Louisette Heriard, a native of Plattenville, Louisiana, at Donaldsonville on June 2, 1908. Her parents were Mr. and Mrs. Jean Marie Heriard. The Yentzens became the parents of five children, as follows: Norman Yentzen (b. September 15, 1909-d. March, 1987); Vurrell A. Yentzen (b. June 28, 1915-d. January, 1976); Velma Rae Yentzen (b. January 17, 1918); Maryon Ruth Yentzen (b. December 28, 1919-d. April, 1980); and George J. Yentzen, Jr. (b. November 8, 1922).

Norman Yentzen was born in Deweyville, Texas, and died at Lake Charles, Louisiana. In 1954 he was elected to one term on the Nederland School Board. He married Cora Cappel, and they became the parents of four children: Norman J., Jr. (b. July 17, 1934; Cora Marcella (b. September 8, 1935); William Michael (b. July 22, 1940); and Patricia Louisette (b. November 15, 1951).

If you should visit the old battleship Texas at the San Jacinto battleground, you would quickly note on the ship's muster roll the name of "Vurrell A. Yentzen," imprinted on the aluminum register of the ship's company. The old Texas fought the Japanese fleet in the early days of the war, but later transferred to the Atlantic, where she did convoy duty and on June 6, 1944, shelled the French coastal fortifications during the Normandy invasion. Vurrell Yentzen married Maureen -------, but there was no issue of their marriage. He died at San Antonio in 1976.

Velma Rae Yentzen married Warren White, and they became the parents on one daughter, Linda Rae White (b. November 6, 1942), and three sons, Larry Thomas White (b. July 19, 1947), Lance Warren White (b. November 8, 1948), and Lew David White (b. May 28, 1952). Velma Rae White resides in Houston.

Maryon Ruth Yentzen married Monta A. Miles, a gas company employee. As a young married woman, Maryon Ruth worked variously for the gas company (as did also her husband), the Nederland Post Office, and elsewhere. She was the mother of one son, Jack D. Miles (b. November 14, 1939), and a daughter, Jane Susan Miles (b. July 8, 1948). Maryon Ruth Miles died in 1980 while on a visit in Bombay, India.

George J. Yentzen, Jr., married Maurene Houston, and they reside in Grand Prairie, Texas. They are the parents of one son, Joseph Edward Yentzen (b. December 21, 1946). George Yentzen, Jr. graciously provided most of the information for this story.

In 1909, whenever George Yentzen's professional baseball career ended, he wisely decided to return to the baking business, the trade he had learned on his father's knee. Hence, he soon migrated to Port Arthur and began working in a Port Arthur bakery. Hearing that the small bakery in Nederland was for sale, he rode a bicycle to Nederland, bought the bakery, and he then quit his job all on the same day. In July, 1920, George J. Yentzen, along with the writer's father, W. T. Block, and three other men organized and for many years, served as directors of the First National Bank of Port Neches.

George J. Yentzen also bought the site where the old Orange Hotel had formerly stood, and he built his large home there, where four of his children would be born. In 1940 he sold his home (where NCNB Bank stands today) to D. X. Rienstra, who then moved the house to 1220 Helena Avenue, where it became the Dick Rienstra home and still stands today.

Also in 1940, George and Louisette Yentzen moved to 412 South Twin City Highway, where they resided for the remainder of their lives. After closing the bakery, he began the Yentzen Taxi Company, and like all Nederland taxi drivers of the 1930s-1940s, a large percentage of his business came from hauling sailors to and from the Midcounty docks. For the last twenty years of his life, he likewise concentrated on the manufacture and marketing of the "Yentzen duck caller, of which he held the patent, and which had to be made from a special kind of hardwood.

Louisette Yentzen pre-deceased her husband, dying on November 3, 1949. George Yentzen Sr. survived his wife by nine years and died on April 2, 1958, at age 72. At the time of his death, he was also survived by two brothers, Wilfred and Wilmer Yentzen of Port Arthur, and three sisters, Mrs. Arnaud Mire, Mrs. Gabriel Placette, and Mrs. Felix Heriard, also of Port Arthur, and twelve grandchildren.

As of 1991, only two children, Velma White and George Yentzen, Jr., survive their parents. A loving couple, who reared their family in a gentle, but disciplined, environment, George and Louisette Yentzen are still remembered and sorely missed by their many descendents and a whole host of friends.

Copyright © 1998-2021 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Digital Rights to that material were granted to the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library by William T. Block on 8/8/2018.
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