Stephen F. Austin State University

Ginger - The Vanished Town between Emory and Alba (April 2012)

Ginger - The Vanished Town between Emory (Rains County) and Alba (Wood County)
By Elaine Bay

A sign still sits in the yard of Elaine Jenkins' home on Hwy. 69, east of Emory. It is a prominently displayed railraod sign that in days gone by signified that trains were approaching Ginger.

Ginger was a thriving community in the early 1900s. It consisted of the Fraser Brick Plant, established by Walter B. Fraser in 1905, a school,. a church, a blacksmith shop, and a mercantile store, which housed the post office. "T.J. Shaw made a business trip to Lone Oak Tuesday evening. Mr. Shaw tells us they have about got their arrangements made to install a gin plant at Ginger." (The Rains County Leader, 2 May, 1913). "The first and only church built at Ginger was constructed of brick, made in the plant, and erected on a plot of ground secured from the Fraser Brick Company by Mr. Shaw." (The Rains County Leader, 11 August, 1939).

In the early years, Ginger school was called by various names - "Center Grove", "Stone's Chapel", and "Seed Tick" (so named because there were so many seed ticks in the community). Prior to 1900, Rains County established Center Grove School District #17; in October 1916, Mr. W. B. Fraser sold for $1.00 an acre of land to the trustees of school district #17 to County Judge J.B. Allred, desiring to aid the community school and the educational affairs of the community. At that time the school was known as "Stone Chapel". In August 1938, the school trustees of Emory and Ginger met and voted to consolidate Ginger school district with the Emory school district.

A.A. Willis was the first to discover lignite deposits near Alba, Wood County. The names "Cort" and "Spicer" were rejected as the name of the town. Actually the name of the town was a result of the color of the brick made.

The Katy Railroad's route was between the Fraser Brick plant and the first of three family houses built where the commemorative sign in the year of Elaine Jenkins now stands. The only remaining house in the area was built by Jay and Essie Shaw Jenkins. The school house's wooden floor was used for the roof decking and the brick plants kiln fire bricks were used for the facade of the home. Clumps of yellow and white daffodils scattered across the pastures are the only evidence of previous homesteads. Bricks from the Fraser Brick were used to "face" the Oklahoma City Post Office and Houston's Rice Hotel. The heart of the thriving town, the brick plant, closed in the 1930s.

Mr. T.J. Shaw and wife, Eunice, came to Rains County in 1908. T.J. Shaw was the first superintendent of the Fraser Brick plant. An ad in The Rains County Leader in May 1916 stated that T.M. Shaw of Ginger had "Corn for sale and sorghum hay." He also gave a demonstration of his peanut and small grain thresher. "Mr. Shaw tells us he is trying to interest the farmers enough in sowing wheat to justify him putting in a custom flour mill." (Rains County Leader, 7 July, 1916). "T.J. Shaw of Ginger was in town Saturday and told us he had just thrashed his first wheat, which made an average of 12 bushels per acre. The wheat was grown on Lake Fork... Mr. Shaw is anxious that farmers sow 250 or more acres of wheat this year, and if they do he will put in a small custom mill top grind it with." (The Rains County Leader, 29 July, 1916)

He established the Ginger Mercantile, which his wife and daughters, Essie, Eunice, and Shirley, operated; he had been injured in an accident at the brick plant and in 1919, Mrs. Shaw took over the reins of running the store. "Another line of the business... was the shipping of wood and carload lots." (The Rains County Leader, 11 August, 1939) In 1908 Jesse Jerome "Jay" Jenkins my Miss Essie Shaw, who at that time was staying with her aunt, and attending the Fort Worth Glenwood Public School; Jay was superintendent of the James T. Taylor Construction Company. (The Rains County Leader, 11 August, 1939). The two young people were married in Greenville on January 2, 1910. They moved to Ginger in 1914 but left in 1919 for Wichita Falls; during this time Mr. J.J. Jenkins was manager of the Ginger Mercantile COmpany. T.J. Shaw passed away and Mrs. Shaw continued to run the business until 1938, then the story was closed. The building was torn down in the 1960s.

"Fond Recollections of a Spicy Little Town"; Burch, Bonnie; Rains County Leader, October 5, 2010.