Stephen F. Austin State University

Chambers County, Texas in 1910 (October 2012)

Chambers County, Texas in 1910
By Kevin Ladd

An old faded issue of "The Progress" -- the local newspaper in Anahuac -- dating from March 25, 1910 tells some fascinating stories about Chambers County. This issue contains no murders or wars or financial scandals. It just tells about the daily events of ordinary people, which in our modern and somewhat depressing times is sort of a great relief.

County Judge H. H. Jackson and his wife Emma were off to Austin on county business. We've included an unusual photograph of Judge Jackson taken inside his home in Anahuac in 1912. Interior photographs during this time period took a great deal of planning and a whole bunch of extra lighting. Judge Jackson's wife Emma was a Toland from Chappel Hill, Texas.

Miss Charlotte Lord, an attractive and popular teacher at the "Bay Side" school between Anahuac and Eminence had closed down that establishment for the term. There would be no more school until September. This was only March. When the boys were needed in the fields, the schools closed down early for the year back in those days. Her students could look forward to five blissful months of vacation. The Anahuac teacher, who was not identified, had also closed the school in that town for a similar period. Back in those days children, especially male children, were expected to work out in the fields.

Uncle Ben Barrow (this refers to Benjamin Samuel William Barrow) got his name in the paper, largely as a result of having recently planted a number of beautiful fruit trees at his place in town. These included peach, cherry, fig and Satsuma orange trees. "Since Christmas," wrote the editor, "he has set out an even one hundred orange trees in addition to the twenty he already had growing, and all of which are literally loaded with blooms and small oranges. The storm of last year did away with all the blooms for that year, but the year before he gathered quite a few oranges and this season he expects to be a bountiful one." Uncle Ben also had thirty peach trees from Tennessee, plus some grape and plum to round out his growing orchard.

There was a new attorney in Anahuac, a fellow by the name of H. L. Yates, who hailed from the Texas Panhandle. Yates, the paper said, was a college classmate of Harbert L. Davenport, who already had his shingle out. Davenport and Yates were going to be partners. It might be interesting to note that Harbert Davenport practiced law here until 1912, at which time he moved to Brownsville, Texas. He was recognized there as an expert on Southwestern land and water law. He also became a distinguished Texas historian, serving for many years on the executive committee of the Texas State Historical Association. He died in Brownsville in 1957.

Advertisements rounded out the newspaper. There was an ad for Ben Weaver, saddle and harness maker from Hankamer. C. A. McPhail's Restaurant in Anahuac specialized in short orders and oysters prepared any way you wanted them. They also handled ice cream, soft drinks, and Edison phonographic records. S. W. Bamberg, manager of the Anahuac Lumber Yard, handled lumber, shingles, glass window panes, doors, windows, screen doors, and a general line of builder's hardware.

Frank H. Havenkotte, who was located next door to the hotel on the north side of the canal, offered the public Studebaker wagon, John Deere plows, implements, paints, oils, varnishes, bush hooks, axes, scythes, and a wide range of hardware. Mr. Havenkotte also handled repair work and general blacksmithing. During the 1930s, Mr. Havenkott closed down the building and someone put a boxing ring there. It became a popular place for awhile all over again -- but in an entirely different field.

The good folks at Brice P. Sterrett's store in Stowell handled just about everything. Mrs. Laura Sterrett took care of the Dry Goods and Sundry Department. Cade White was in charge of the Groceries, Hardware, Boot and Shoe Departments, while Byard Hunter handled hay, grain and heavy hardware. Young Fred Sterrett managed the Winnie store. Henry N. Hughes and Theron Lashbaugh were the draymen.

Mr. Sterrett had a few rules at his business. No goods were sold on Sundays; no feed stuff was set out after dark. "I can't write an advertisement worth a cent," he wrote in his weekly advertisement, "but we put more goods out in a day than any concern in this country."

Those were the good old days.