Marker Title: Alameda Cemetery
City: Desdemona vicinity
Year Marker Erected: 1998
Marker Location: 8 mi. NW of Desdemona on FM 2214; 1 mi. N on FM 571;
1.2 mi. W. on CR 483.
Marker Text: The earliest Anglo settlers in this area were drawn together
by the harsh life they found in Texas. William Mansker, who came to
Texas with his family in the mid-19th century, set aside a portion of
his land for use as a school and community cemetery. The first burial
in Alameda Cemetery is the subject of some debate. One legend tells
of a baby stolen by a large panther; another pertains to Amanda Elizabeth
(Henshaw) Coffer, identified on a plaque in the cemetery as Martha Coffee,
said to have been killed by Indians in 1860, at Alameda community's
peak. In the late 19th century the Alameda Cemetery Association was
formed. A tabernacle and community center was erected inside the cemetery.
In 1911, E.L. Reid bought the Mansker land and deeded approximately
5 acres to the Alameda Cemetery Association. Though the community of
Alameda had dwindled to only four homes near the cemetery by 1936, the
cemetery continued to thrive. A 1996 count revealed 879 graves, several
marked only by rocks, in seven acres. Veterans of several American and
international wars and conflicts are interred here. Family clusters
like that of the Bell children, four of whom died in 1877, testify to
the conditions endured by these pioneers. Alameda Cemetery is still
in use. (1998)
Marker Title: Camp Salmon, C.S.A.
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Location: North side of courthouse lawn, Main Street.
Marker Text: Guarding the frontier during the Civil War, this camp was
located 17 mi. west, 6 mi. north. Established as part of a chain of
posts a day's horseback ride apart stretching from Red River to Rio
Grande. Occupied by Texas Frontier Regiment. Named for Capt. John Salmon,
frontier Indian fighter and post commander. Later renamed Camp McCord.
Short of food, supplies, ammunition, horses, troubled with Indians,
and sharing few of the glories of the war at the cost of many lives,
these men served to protect the Texas frontier. TEXAS CIVIL WAR FRONTIER
DEFENSE 1861-1865: Texas made an all-out effort for the Confederacy
after voting over 3 to 1 for secession. 90,000 troops, noted for mobility
and heroic daring, fought on every battlefront. An important source
of supply and gateway to foreign trade thru Mexico, Texas was the storehouse
of the South. Camp Salmon and other posts on this line were backed by
patrols of State Rangers, organized militia, and citizens' posses scouting
from nearby "family forts." This was part of a 2000 mile frontier
and coastline successfully defended by Texans.
Marker Title: Early Settlers of Eastland County
Address: 210 S. Lamar
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Location: At public library.
Marker Text: First known Eastland area inhabitant was Frank Sanchez
(d. 1867), who grazed herds here in the 1850s. The United States in
1853 established Army posts at Fort Phantom Hill, in present Taylor
County, and Fort Belknap, in present Young County, giving the frontier
protection against hostile Indians. This opened a modest influx of settlers,
including families named Bell, Birden, Birt, Blair, Ellison, Fitzwaters,
Flannagan, Gilbert, Herring, Highsaw, McGough, Mansker, Melburn, Oliver,
Owens, Richards, Shirley, Singleton, Upton, and Wyatt, from "old
states" of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North
and South Carolina, and Tennessee. The county was created, but not organized,
in 1858. The U.S. Census for 1860 showed 99 residents. When Texas seceded
from the Union in 1861, and Army garrisons withdrew, many pioneers left
or took refuge at Blair's Fort, in southeastern part of the county.
Post-Civil War settlers included such leaders as Dr. Edwin Daniel Townsend,
who arrived from Kentucky in 1871. The county was organized in an election
held Dec. 2, 1873, with Merriman designated county seat (in violation
of legislation creating the county). In 1875 the government was moved
to Eastland, founded that year by investor Charles U. Connellee (1851-1930).
Marker Title: Eastland
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: SE corner of courthouse lawn, Commerce Street.
Marker Text: County seat, Eastland County. Named for William M. Eastland--Texas
War for Independence hero who was in Mier Expedition against Mexico,
and was executed in "Black Bean" lottery at Rancho Salado
in 1842. Most noted early local people were Comanches, who resisted
occupation of area by white settlers. The last recorded Indian raid
in county was in 1874. Eastland was named county seat in an election
on Aug. 2, 1875. With 250 people it was incorporated on June 6, 1891,
and W.Q. Connellee was elected as mayor. After a discovery in 1917,
one of the fabled oil booms of Texas occurred nearby, with Eastland
center for legal matters. With oil priced $2.60 a barrel, many wells
flowed at 10,000 barrels a day. The city quickly grew to 25,000 people;
5 banks prospered. Coming here to seek "black gold" were celebrities,
including evangelist Billy Sunday, circus owner John Ringling, sports
figures Jess Willard, Tex Rickard. An international wonder-story happened
here: the old courthouse cornerstone was opened (on this site) in 1928
to reveal survival of "Old Rip", a horned toad placed there
with other mementoes on July 19, 1897. Continuing oil production, agricultural
processing and clay products bolster the present economy. (1968)
Marker Title: Ellison Family Graveyard
City: Gorman vicinity
Year Marker Erected: 1977
Marker Location: From Gorman take FM 8 east about 3.5 miles, on north
side of highway.
Marker Text: The first settler in this part of Eastland County, James
Madison Ellison (1840-1923) built a cabin near Ellison Springs in 1858.
He married Eliza Jane McGough and was a stock farmer in this area for
half a century. As a young man, he was permanently disabled while serving
in a militia company defending frontier homes against hostile Indian
attack. Ellison established this cemetery after the death of his mother
Nancy Baird Ellison (1818-1876), a native of Georgia and midwife for
her pioneer neighbors. Although intended for family burials, the plot
has always been available to friends and others in need. An unknown
child, from a family who camped on Ellison's land as they moved west,
died of pneumonia and was buried here. Ellison's son John, his younger
son J.T., killed in a fight over a horse, and his daughter Lanie are
among the 12 family members interred here. The cemetery contains 26
graves in all. In 1901 the land was legally deeded for use as a graveyard.
In 1918 petroleum was discovered in the county, and Ellison leased his
land for oil exploration. He moved to the Rio Grande Valley with a granddaughter
and her family, and bought a citrus farm. He died there in 1923 and
now lies buried in the family cemetery. (1977)
Marker Title: Ellison Springs
City: Gorman vicinity
Year Marker Erected: 1974
Marker Location: From Gorman take FM 8 about 3.5 miles, on north side
Marker Text: Used for centuries by Indians inhabiting the region. Named
for James Madison Ellison (1840-1923), a native of Alabama, who was
the first settler in this section of Eastland County, erecting a cabin
near the springs in Oct. 1958. He soon married Eliza McGough, a member
of another pioneer family, and had 3 children. During the Civil War,
frontiersmen organized militia companies for mutual protection against
the Indians. Ellison joined the company mustered from Eastland, Shackelford,
and Callahan Counties. On Aug. 9, 1864, a group of 12 scouts from the
company was attacked near the springs, and took refuge in Ellison's
cabin. The commander, Capt. Singleton Gilbert, and Leroy "Button"
Keith were killed, and Ellison, Tom Gilbert, and Tom Caddenhead wounded.
Ellison was disabled for life. After cessation of Indian activity, Ellison
Springs became the center of social and cultural functions for the scattered
settlers in the area. Picnics, community gatherings, and brush arbor
camp meetings were held at the site. In the early 1870s, a Baptist church
was constructed, with the Rev. C. Brashears as minister. A cemetery
was begun in the mid-1870s. The present frame house at the springs was
built by Ellison in 1886. (1974)
Marker Title: First National Bank
Address: 708 Avenue D
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Text: Scene of daring Santa Claus Bank Robbery, Dec. 23, 1927.
During Christmas festivities, costumed Santa and three fellow bandits
looted bank of $12,200 cash, $150,000 in securities. They escaped through
gun battle with two little girls as hostages. A three-day manhunt followed.
The children and money were recovered; the robbers captured. Six persons
were killed, eight injured. Later a mob lynched "Santa" when
he broke out of jail. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1967
Marker Title: First Oil Well Drilled in Eastland County
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: Main Street at Loop 254, across tracks from train station.
Marker Text: The J.H. McCleskey No. 1 Discovery Well of the Ranger Pool
was drilled by Warren Wagner under the supervision of W.K. Gordon of
the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company, July 2-October 27, 1917. Initial
production was 1600 barrels with three million feet of gas. Abandoned
May 30, 1930 after producing 275,000 barrels of oil.
Marker Title: Fort Blair, C.S.A.
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: SH 16 at south city limits.
Marker Text: A few miles to the southwest. Largest far western "family
fort" used throughout Civil War. Started by C.C. Blair, 1857 settler.
1861-1865 occupants were Wm. Arthur, Blair, J.M. Ellison; Jasper, Jim
and Tom Gilbert; W.C. McGough, W.H. Mansker and sometimes others. The
fort had 12 log cabins, 14 ft. square, 14 ft. apart in two parallel
rows. Pickets walled spaces between cabins. Ammunition and supplies
could be bought only by making long, dangerous trips to the Brazos settlements
or to the south. Men were hard to spare for a trip, from the fort's
defenders against Indians. Candles, soap, soda, food, clothing were
made in the fort, by use of fat renderings, beeswax, wood ashes, wild
herbs, bark, roots, berries, animal skins. Families had to promote education
for their children. Other area forts included Allen's Ranch, also in
Eastland County; Lynch and Green Ranches, Shackelford County; Buffalo
Springs, Clay County; Bragg's and Murray's Forts, Young County; Picketville,
Fort Davis, Owls Head and Mugginsville, Stephens County. After the war,
Desdemona was established as a stop on the Old Waco-Ft. Griffin Road.
It boomed to fame when oil was discovered in 1918. Its call for help
to end lawlessness added new glory to Texas Rangers.
Marker Title: Hargus Farm
City: Eastland vicinity
Year Marker Erected: 1982
Marker Location: North access road to IH-20, just west of SH 69 interchange,
2 miles east of Eastland.
Marker Text: North Carolina native Larry Hargus (1810-87) and his wife
Mary (Corder) (1824-1910) came to Eastland County in 1879. In 1881 they
bought the original tract of their farm at this site from C.U. Connellee,
a founder of Eastland. Members of the Hargus family were active in the
development of a local Methodist church and a son, James, was a Texas
Ranger and a Civil War veteran. The family farm was later inherited
by Larry Hargus' son Barry, who lived here with his wife Mackie (Gilbert)
and eight children. This land has remained in the family for over 100
Marker Title: Site of J.H. McCleskey No. 1, Discovery Well of the Ranger
Year Marker Erected: 1995
Marker Location: From Ranger take FM 101 west, just 0.1 mile past city
limits. Turn south onto CR 459 to its end, past gate and onto oil derrick
Marker Text: The Texas and Pacific Coal Company struck oil at 1,000
feet about 10 miles east of Ranger in 1915. This event raised the hopes
of area ranchers, farmers, and businessmen struggling to survive an
economic slump brought on by severe drought and boll weevil-ravaged
cotton fields. Oil expectations mounted then subsided when subsequent
test-drillings turned up dry holes. Desperate local leaders sought out
Texas and Pacific Coal Company general manager William Knox Gordon in
nearby Thurber to help them continue the search for oil. Contrary to
the conclusions of some geologists, Gordon believed oil lay much deeper
within the earth than the depths reached by previous test drillings.
Gordon agreed to drill to a depth of 3,500 feet and on July 2, 1917,
contractor Warren Wagner began drilling here on J.H. McCleskey's farm.
On October 17, 1917, at a depth of 3,432 feet, McCleskey Well No. 1
hit pay sand and roared in with an estimated daily flow of 1,600 barrels
of oil. The well was plugged on May 18, 1920. J.H. McCleskey Well No.
1 sparked the much-heralded, wild, and prolific Ranger oil boom that
gained Ranger international fame as the town whose oil wiped out critical
oil shortages during World War I, allowing the Allies to "float
to victory on a wave of oil." (1995)
Marker Title: Old Mobley Hotel
Address: 104 E. 4th
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Text: First hotel owned by Conrad Hilton, who proceeded to become
"The World's Foremost Innkeeper". Built in 1916, who sold
out (1919) during Cisco's great oil boom to Hilton, then a 32-year-old
ex-legislator and banker from New Mexico. On night of purchase Hilton
"dreamed of Texas wearing a chain of Hilton hotels". In time
reality outran that dream. Hotel was in use many years after sale by
Hilton in 1925. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1970
Marker Title: Rising Star
City: Rising Star
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: City Park, Highway 36 at west side of town
Marker Text: First settlers--families of Andrew Agnew, Isaac Agnew,
Fletcher Fields, David McKinley, Allis Smith and W. W. Smith--arrived
in a wagon train from Gregg County, Jan. 6, 1876. Area was known for
hardships: Indian raids, vigilante activities, gunfights. But a stable
community developed around log school-church building erected in 1876.
First store was founded about 1879 by Thomas W. Anderson and son William.
Post office established 1880. The most creditable story as to how the
town got its name is that the settlers suggested the name Star for the
post office but it was rejected by the U.S. Postal authorities as another
Texas town had that name. The settlers argued all night over the name
selection, looked up and saw the morning star as they started home from
their meeting and agreed to call it Rising Star. The city was first
incorporated in 1891. In a 1905 election, there was a vote to dissolve
the corporation but the charter was restored later the same year. Rising
Star is the home of Texas (1939-1941) poet laureate Lexie Dean Robertson.
Unique local structure is city hall built of stone from buried petrified
forest. Economy is based on ranching, farming (a chief crop is Spanish
peanuts), commercial pecans, industry, oil. (1968)