Jefferson County Historical Markers

Texas Brazos Trail Region
Markers (click on a topic to jump to that section).
Chaison, Jean Baptiste | City of Sabine and Sabine Pass | Site of Collier's Ferry | Dowling, Richard | Dutch Windmill Museum | Site of Fort Griffin | Fort Manhassett | French Trading Post | John Jay French Historic House Museum | Garner, Jacob Harmon | Jefferson County Courthouse | Jefferson County Historical Commision, Mini-Museum | Johnson, Benjamin | La Maison Acadienne | McFaddin, William | Museum of the Gulf Coast | Opelousas Trail | Pompeiian Villa | Spanish-American War Fortifications | Spindletop/Gladys City Boomtown Museum | Tevis, Nancy | Tex Ritter | United States Forces at the Battle of Sabine Pass
Uncommemorated Sites (click on a topic to jump to that section).
Fort Grigsby | Fort Sabine

Museums

Jean Baptiste Chaison

Marker Title: Jean Baptiste Chaison
City: Beaumont
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1976
Marker Location: Pipkin Park, corner of Sabine Pass St. and Emmett St.
Marker Text: (August 7, 1745 - July 20, 1854) Jean Baptiste ("Jonas") Chaison was born in Nova Scotia, of French parents. After imprisonment by the British during the French and Indian War, he and his parents fled in 1763 to France, where he was soon orphaned. He returned to North America, and joined the Colonial Army in 1775 at Quebec, to take revenge against the British. Continuing in the Continental Army, he served with Lafayette at Brandywine, 1777; fought at Germantown, 1777; was wounded serving under Greene and Marion at Eutaw Springs, 1781; and found under Lafayette's command at Yorktown, 1781. Coming to western Louisiana as a cattleraiser and farmer about 1785, he married Marie LeBlanc and had eight children. About 1840 he moved to Beaumont to live with his son McGuire Chaison (1809-1859). He was strong and healthy of mind and body as long as he lived, and farmed here until 1854. Dying at a few days under 109 years of age, he was buried in Jirou Cemetery (3 mi. N). He was one of the few men of the American Revolution involved in Texas history. The Daughters of the American Revolution marked his grave site in 1944. The DAR marker was moved here to Pipkin Park when a church was built in 1969 in the extinct Jirou Cemetery.

City of Sabine and Sabine Pass

Marker Title: City of Sabine and Sabine Pass
City: Sabine Pass
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1989
Marker Location: Sabine Pass Lions Park - 7th and Broadway
Marker Text: The first known settlers in this area were John McGaffey and Thomas Courts, who arrived in 1832. Sam Houston assisted Manuel de los Santos Coy in acquiring a land grant here in 1833. Two years later Houston and two partners purchased Coy's property holdings. On January 19, 1839, Gen. sam Houston signed the charter that established the city of Sabine. Houston was active in promoting the sale of 2,060 town lots. The city soon flourished. Houston and his partners lost title to the town when the General Land Office determined that John McGaffey held original claim to the lands. The city of Sabine developed into a major port. In 1860 the State Legislature, in approving a new charter for the city, changed the name to Sabine Pass. It was the scene of a major Civil War engagement in 1863, with Confederate forces preventing a Union attempt to capture the port and gain major inroads into Texas. The Federal Harbor Act of 1882 led to construction of jetties here and development of inland ports along the Neches and Sabine rivers. By the early 20th century Sabine Pass began to decline due to hurricane damage which prevented railway maintenance.

Site of Collier's Ferry

Marker Title: Site of Collier's Ferry
City: Beaumont
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Location: 5300 block of Pine St. at Neches River at park and entrance to Beaumont Country Club.
Marker Text: Main crossing on Old Jasper Road and alternate crossing on Opelousas Trail from Liberty through Beaumont to Louisiana. Used as early as 1750, route followed Indian traces and was highway for explorer-settlers, priests, soldiers, trades from Spain, france and Anglo-America. Ferry's most important use was as cattle crossing on famous Opelousas Trail rom 1820s to 1900. Herds came this way to bypass the streets of Beaumont. Although others ran it during 1831-1950 career, ferry took its name from John Collier family who operated it for 50 years.


Lt. Dick Dowling
Institute of Texan Cultures
Richard Dowling

Marker Title: Richard Dowling
City: Sabine Pass
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: Sabine Pass Historical Park
Marker Text: Sabine Pass. In memory of Lt. Richard W. Dowling and his men. Texas remembers the faithfulness and valor of her sons and commends their heroic example to future generations. Thus it will be seen that we captured with forty-seven men two gunboats mounting thirteen guns of the heaviest caliber and about three hundred and fifty prisoners. All my men behaved like heroes, not a man flinched from his post. Our motto was victory or death. Official report of Lt. Richard W. Dowling. At this site on Sept. 8th, 1863 Dick Dowling and forty-seven men comprising Company F, Texas Heavy Artillery, Jefferson Davis Guards, C.S.A., from a mud fort repulsed an attack made by four warships and twelve hundred men of the Federal Army thus saving Texas from invasion by the enemy. There is no parallel in ancient or modern warfare to the victory of Dowling and his men at Sabine Pass considering the great odds against which they had to contend. Jefferson Davis

Dutch Windmill Museum

Museum Name: The Dutch Windmill Museum
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 807
City: Nederland
Zip Code: 77627
Street Address: 1500 Boston Avenue
Area Code: 409
Phone: 723-1545
County: Jefferson
Types of Exhibits/Collections: Photos, Historical, Local/Pioneer History, Archives

Site of Fort Griffin

Marker Title: Site of Fort Griffin
Address: Sabine Pass Historical Park
City: Sabine Pass
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1969
Marker Text: (1863-1865) Renowned for brilliant Civil War victory, Sept. 8, 1863. Confederates in this form repulsed a fleet seeking to land thousands of Federal soldiers. Lt. Richard W. Dowling (1838-1867), in civilian life a Houston businessman, commanded fort during enemy assault. His men, mostly Irishmen from Galveston and Houston, had been comrades in arms since Feb. 1861. Sabine Pass, where Dowling's men (Co. F, Texas Heavy Artillery) were assigned in 1863, was a center for the blockade-running whereby Confederacy exported cotton and obtained in exchange vital goods such as medicines and arms. Here Co. F built Fort Griffin, named in honor of Lt. Col. W. H. Griffin, Confederate commander at Sabine City. Fort was designed by Col. Valery Sulakowski, formerly of the Austrian Army. Fort Griffin was an earthwork strengthened with railroad iron and ship's timbers. It was unfinished when Confederates learned of approach of 22 ships. Dowling kept watch, but ordered no response to the early shelling by the Federals. When first ships entered range of Fort Griffin's guns, however, the battle began. Dowling himself served as one of the gunners. The fort sent 137 shells toward the targets. Dowling monument (near here) tells of the victory.

Fort Manhassett

Marker Title: Fort Manhassett
Address: Sabine Pass Battleground, State Historical Park
City: Sabine Pass
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1991
Marker Text: To protect Texas against Federal invasion during the Civil War, Confederate General John B. Magruder ordered the construction of a fort at this site on September 4, 1863, four days before the famous Confederate victory won by Dick Dowling and his small company against Union ships and gunboats at Sabine Pass (7 mi. NE). After the Federal retreat, the Confederate Coastal Defense program continued, since Federal blockading vessels still patrolled Gulf waters and the threat of more invasions was feared. A storm on September 19 sent the Union patrol steamers out to sea, but drove ashore their coaling ship, the "Mannahassett". Confederate troops dismantled the ship and seized its cargo. Col. Valery Sulakowski, formerly of the Austrian Army, designed Fort Manhassett, whose name evidently was adapted from that of the captured ship. Major Getulius Kellersberger, a Swiss-born engineer who had settled in America some years earlier, oversaw the construction. By October 1863, five companies garrisoned the five redoubts of the new fort and manned its ten cannons. Fort Manhassett soldiers participated in the capture of two Union ironclad ships at Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana on May 6, 1864.

French Trading Post

Marker Title: French Trading Post
Address: 2995 French Rd. at Arbor Rd.
City: Beaumont
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Text: Built 1845 by John J. French (1799-1889), merchant and tanner who came from Connecticut and New York to Texas in 1830s. Served as home and store, with tannery nearby. Early settlers came to "French Town" to trade tallow, hides, corn, and beef for shoes, harnesses, tanned skins, salt, coffee, tea, cloth, and everyday items. Home remained in French family for 95 years (until 1940). French Road, French schools in area still bear family name. Purchased by Beaumont Junior League, 1968; given to Beaumont Heritage Society. Restored to its 1845 appearance in 1969. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1969

John Jay French Historic House Museum

Museum Name: John Jay French Historic House Museum
Street Address: 2985 French Road
City: Beaumont
Zip Code: 77706
Area Code: 409
Phone: 898-0348
County: Jefferson
Types of Exhibits/Collections: Historical, Local/Pioneer History

Jacob Harmon Garner

Marker Title: Jacob Harmon Garner
City: Sabine Pass
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1995
Marker Location: Sabine Pass Cemetery, off SH 87
Marker Text: (1814-1887) Louisiana native Jacob H. Garner, son of Bradley and Sarah Harmon Garner, settled in Jefferson, a village on Cow Bayou in present-day Orange County, Texas, in 1825. In 1835 he took part in the Grass Fight and Siege of Bexar while serving one of two enlistments in the Texas Army for which he later received land and bounty grants. He married Matilda Hayes in 1838. A prominent citizen of Jefferson County, he served as Jefferson County justice of the peace in 1843, district clerk from 1846 to 1850, Sabine Pass alderman in 1857, and as a third lieutenant in the Confederate Army in 1861. Sesquicentennial of Texas Statehood 1845 - 1995

Jefferson County Courthouse

Marker Title: Jefferson County Courthouse
Address: 1149 Pearl St. at Franklin
City: Beaumont
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1980
Marker Text: The first county building constructed at this site was a jailhouse completed in 1838, two years after the organization of Jefferson County. Located on land acquired from Nancy Tevis, a pioneer settler of the area, it also housed county offices and courts. When the commissioners court outgrew the facility, sessions were held in private homes. The first courthouse here was completed in 1854. Built by John A. Beaumont, it was a two-story square structure surrounded by a six-foot picket fence. Baptist and Methodist congregations conducted Sunday services in the building and during the Civil War it was leased to D.T. Inglehart, a Confederate surgeon, for use as a hospital. A second courthouse was constructed in 1893, twelve years after the incorporation of Beaumont. Designed by E.T. Heiner, it was a three-story red brick building with white trim. Following the area oil boom of the 1920s it proved inadequate to meet the needs of the growing population and was replaced by the present brick courthouse in 1931. Designed by Fred Stone and A. Babin, the fourteen-story building features art deco styling in the use of sculpted ornamentation and marble interior work.

Jefferson County Historical Commision, Mini-Museum

Museum Name: Jefferson County Historical Commision, Mini-Museum
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 4025
City: Beaumont
Zip Code: 77704
Street Address: 1149 Pearl Street (77701)
Area Code: 409
Phone: 835-8701
County: Jefferson
Types of Exhibits/Collections: Archeology, Photos, Historical, Local/Pioneer History

Benjamin Johnson

Marker Title: Benjamin Johnson
City: Sabine Pass
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1972
Marker Location: Sabine Pass Cemetery, off SH 870
Marker Text: (1815-1872) Born in Louisiana; settled in Texas in 1832. Fought in victorious Texas Army at Bexar, Dec. 1835; in Capt. James Gillaspie's company, 2nd Regiment, Battle of San Jacinto, April 21, 1836. Married (1) 1838, Rachel Garner, who died 1856; (2) 1861, Matilda Myers. Esteemed and respected, he was a farmer, stockman, patriarch.

La Maison Acadienne

Museum Name: La Maison Acadienne
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 807
City: Nederland
Zip Code: 77627
Street Address: 1500 Boston Avenue
Area Code: 409
Phone: 723-1545
County: Jefferson
Types of Exhibits/Collections: Science, Art, Military, Aviation, Natural History, Archeology, Interactive, Photos, Historical, Local/Pioneer History, Archives, Other

William McFaddin

Marker Title: William McFaddin
City: Beaumont
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1966
Marker Location: Magnolia Cemetery, 2200 Pine St.
Marker Text: (1819-1898) Served in Texas War for Independence at first Siege of the Alamo and San Jacinto. Supply agent in Civil War. McFaddin, noted for his hospitality and generosity, founded empire in ranching that survives today.

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Museum Name: Museum of the Gulf Coast
Street Address: 700 Procter Street
City: Port Arthur
Zip Code: 77640
Area Code: 409
Phone: 982-7000
County: Jefferson
Types of Exhibits/Collections: Science, Art, Military, Natural History, Archeology, Interactive, Photos, Historical, Local/Pioneer History, Archives

Opelousas Trail

Marker Title: Opelousas Trail
Address: Hwy. 90
City: Nome
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Text: Named for one of several Atakapan-speaking Native American tribes originally connected by this trail, the Opelousas ran from La Bahia (later Goliad) to the Mississippi River in Louisiana. Evidence of cultural interchange between tribes indicates the presence of such a trail for hundreds of years. Spanish explorers, soldiers, and vaqueros employed this route. by the 1750s, French traders had been traveling the trail for about twenty years. After 1820 settlers began to arrive from Louisiana and other southern states. Don Martin de Leon and Anglo cattlemen such as James Taylor White and William B. Duncan herded large droves of cattle, mules, and horses to market in New Orleans. A post route was established along the Opelousas in early 1836. That spring, Texas pioneers fled along this path during the "Runaway Scrape." Later Santa Anna was led down the trail toward New Orleans and ultimately to Washington, D.C., as a prisoner of war. A stage and mail route followed the trail after 1850; the Confederate Army used the road to move troops during the Civil War. Use of the route continued throughout the 20th century. Many segments of the trail were incorporated into U.S. Highway 90 from Liberty to Orange. (1998)

Pompeiian Villa

Museum Name: Pompeiian Villa
Street Address: 1953 Lakeshore Dr.
City: Port Arthur
Area Code: 409
Phone: 983-5977
County: Jefferson
Types of Exhibits/Collections: Historical, Local/Pioneer History

Spanish-American War Fortifications

Marker Title: Spanish-American War Fortifications
City: Port Arthur
Year Marker Erected: 1983
Marker Location: Between Bank, Sabine River at the Sabine Pass and First Avenue
Marker Text: As tension mounted between the United States and Spain during the late 1890s, U.S. Representative Samuel Bronson Cooper of Texas recommended the War Department begin plans for the defense of the strategic Sabine Pass area. Maj. James B. Quinn of the Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans, was authorized to direct construction of two forts on land granted by Augustus F. Kountze. Work on the batteries was under way by May 1898, one month after the formal war declaration. Military efforts were coordinated with area residents by government engineer J.L. Brownlee. Although the emplacements were soon completed, the shore guns were never part of military action here. The Spanish-American War ended December 10, 1898, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Later efforts were made to locate permanently a military installation at the site following the war. The plans were dropped, however, by 1901. In 1913, fifteen years after the war, the fortifications were the site of a tragic accident, in which a Sabine boy was killed when an abandoned ammunition cache exploded. Evidence of the fortifications has been severely damaged by hurricanes, but the site remains a symbol of an important era in U.S. history.

Spindletop/Gladys City Boomtown Museum

Museum Name: Spindletop/Gladys City Boomtown Museum
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 10070
City: Beaumont
Zip Code: 77710
Street Address: Hwy. 69 at University Drive
Area Code: 409
Phone: 835-0823
County: Jefferson
Types of Exhibits/Collections: Local/Pioneer History, Other

Nancy Tevis

Marker Title: Nancy Tevis
City: Beaumont
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1976
Marker Location: 700 Pearl St. at Julie Rogers Theater
Marker Text: (1795-1863) Nancy Nixon Tevis, a native of Louisiana, came with her husband Noah (1772-1835) and children in 1825 to settle this bluff beside the Neches. They were the first known Anglo-Americans here. They received in 1835 a Republic of Texas land grant that included much of the future site of Beaumont. Before dying, Noah Tevis sold some of this land to Henry Millard. When civilians fled toward Louisiana to escape the Mexican Army in the "Runaway Scrape" of 1836, the widowed Nancy and her eight children held their own, remaining here. In 1837 she joined with Joseph Grigsby, Millard, and others to establish a town, changing the name from Tevis Bluff to Beaumont. She was firm in upholding her rights. At one time she appealed by letter to Texas President Sam Houston against a man who claimed some of her land. She also blocked all rivalry to her profitable ferry service across the Neches and the bayous. About 1838 she married Joseph Hutcheson, who later disappeared. She survived for many years, dying during the Civil War (1861-65). Her burial was in the Tevis Cemetery, now extinct. Descendants of Nancy and Noah Tevis have been leaders in the local community. Incise in base: Marker Sponsors: Andrew Jackson Tevis Heirs and Friends.

Tex Ritter

Marker Title: Tex Ritter
City: Port Neches
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1976
Marker Location: Oak Bluff Memorial Park, 101 Block St.
Marker Text: (January 12, 1905 - January 2, 1974) Western singing star Woodward Maurice ("Tex") Ritter was born in Panola County, Texas. After attending college, he began singing cowboy ballads on a Houston radio station in 1928. He advanced to broadway, where he was nicknamed "Tex," and in 1936 began a series of popular western movies. Ritter performed later for television and the Grand Ole Opry and was named to the Country Music Hall of fame. His best-know recording is the title song from the film "High Noon."

United States Forces at the Battle of Sabine Pass

Marker Title: United States Forces at the Battle of Sabine Pass
Address: Sabine Pass Battleground State Historical Park
City: Sabine Pass
County: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1980
Marker Text: Federal forces in the Civil War failed in most of their early efforts to capture Texas. In the fall of 1863, after taking New Orleans and Vicksburg, their leaders attacked western Louisiana in a renewed effort. they wished to divert valuable stocks of cotton from Confederate to Federal uses, and to cut off French troops who might come from Mexico to aid the Confederacy. General N.P. Banks, U.S.A., ordered 5,000 troops to go by sea, capture Sabine Pass, and establish a land base near the river. He wanted these men to rendezvous later with troops he was leading overland to the Red River for a sweep into Texas. Federal ships carrying men and materiel converged beyond the sandbars, and on Sept. 8, 1863, began to run north through Sabine Pass. They saw a Confederate installation, Fort Griffin, sitting about the Pass, but got no response when they fired upon it while advancing. When they came within 1200 yards of the fort, however, fire was returned, crippling te gunboats "Clifton" and "Sachem." After the battle, at least 56 men were dead or missing. Both gunboats surrendered and the rest of the fleet retreated.

Fort Grigsby

Fort Grigsby was located at the site of present-day Port Neches, southeast of Beaumont, as part of the defense to block any Union advance after the fall of Fort Sabine. It was occupied from October to December in 1862, then was no longer necessary after the construction of Fort Manhassett. Fort Grigsby seems to have been abandoned after July 1863.

Fort Sabine

Citizens of Sabine Pass in the southeast corner of the state, fearing a Union invasion during the Civil War, built a fort to protect their town. Residents, including slaves, constructed a dirt and timber earthworks fort overlooking the Sabine River. September 24, 1862, the fort was shelled by Union gunboats and severely damaged. Following construction of a new fort (Griffin) the 32-pounds cannons were then moved and installed there.


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