Part of our in-depth series exploring Texas Forest Trail Region Forts
Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section).
Austin Street Mercantile | Bell Factory | Benefield, Homesite of Barry | Bluebonnett Farm | Confederate Civil War Meat Packing Plant | Culberson, Charles Allen | Dalhart, Vernon | Gould Railroad Car, Jay | Jefferson | Jefferson C.S.A. | Jefferson Turn Basin | Kahn Saloon |Livery Stable, Old | Nash Iron Works | Perry, Captain William | Potter's Point | Todd, Site of Home of George T. | Vines, John M.
Austin Street Mercantile
Marker Title: Austin Street Mercantile
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Location: Austin St., across from Courthouse
Marker Text: Building. Typical of city's heyday as greatest inland port in southwest. Erected before 1866. Housed offices, grocery, saloon, drugstore. A famous owner was Sallie Harrison, given this building (1882) on her marriage to C.A. Culberson, later to become governor and U.S. Senator. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark-1970
Marker Title: Early Site of Bell Factory
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: SH 49 and FM 729, 4 mi. from Jefferson
Marker Text: From a log blacksmith shop in 1854 grew a bell foundry owned by G.A. Kelly which manufactured cowbells widely used by pioneer ox-team freighters. Later the Kelly plow, one of the first modern plows made in Texas, was manufactured here.
Benefield, Homesite of Barry
Marker Title: Homesite of Barry Benefield
Address: 909 Line St.
Year Marker Erected: 1984
Marker Text: (May 12, 1877 - Sept. 22, 1971) Born while Jefferson was a dominant East Texas city, Barry Benefield learned well the character and lore of this region while working at his father's found in the packed meat. The army complained it was made to accept this, though regular customers would have rejected it. The greater portion of cattle went out of Texas on the hoof, to be served as fresh meat after being slaughtered in the army camp. So much beef, pork, mutton, grain, sugar, salt, peas, beans, flour and corn meal was shipped away that Texas became known as the breadbasket of the Confederacy. Supplying of food was only one part of the Texas war effort, which included yielding her cotton crops as currency to buy guns and ammunition and other goods, and sending her mean and horses into the fight.
Marker Title: Bluebonnett Farm
Year Marker Erected: 1966
Marker Text: Raised cottage; begun in 1847. Main wing, built 1869, is of heart pine cut on the home place. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1966
Confederate Civil War Meat Packing Plant
Marker Title: Confederate Civil War Meat Packing Plant
Address: Walnut and Polk (SH 49)
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Text: About 2 miles to the southwest, the meat plant of J.B. Dunn dressed,packed and shipped beef, pork and mutton to the Confederate army. In 1861 began by packing 150 beeves a day. Well located, on the Cypress Bayou shipping route, with cattle in trailing distance, in east and north Texas. Herds were bought at $20 to $40 a head. Used 42-gallon wooden barrels. Filled these with meat and brine. Obtained salt from New Iberia, LA., and elsewhere through the Confederate government. Yet even with use of preservative salt, bloody water was sometimes found in the packed meat. The army complained it was made to accept this, though regular customers would have rejected it. The greater portion of cattle went out of Texas on the hoof, to be served as fresh meat after being slaughtered in the army camp. So much beef, pork, mutton, grain, sugar, salt, peas, beans, flour and corn meal was shipped away that Texas became known as the breadbasket of the Confederacy. Supplying of food was only one part of the Texas war effort, which included yielding her cotton crops as currency to buy guns and ammunition and other goods, and sending her mean and horses into the fight.
Culberson, Charles Allen
Marker Title: Texas Statesman Charles Allen Culberson
Address: Courthouse lawn (Polk and Austin St.)
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Text: One of Texas' most forceful leaders; 32 years in office as attorney general, governor, U.S. Senator. Born in Alabama; in childhood moved with parents to Texas. Lived in Jefferson 1861-1887. Was educated Virginia Military Institute, University of Virginia. Began practice of law in Jefferson, 1877, in firm of his father, United States Congressman D.B. Culberson. He moved to Dallas 1887. Won elections as attorney general, 1890 and 1892. In this office recovered for Texas more than 2,000,000 acres of public domain illegally claimed by railroads. He also gave strong support to reforms of Gov. James S. Hogg, notably in antitrust laws, and creation of Railroad Commission. In two terms as governor (1895-1899), was famous for vigorous law enforcement and a strong fiscal policy which reduced state expenses. Although known as "veto governor," he was able to show Legislature and the people the justice of his vetoes. Elected to the United States Senate, 1898; became Senate Minority Leader, 1907, and was considered for the presidency, 1908, by National Democratic Party. Chief Senate service was on Judiciary Committee, of which he was chairman, 1913-1919. Retired in 1922. Died in Washington. Is buried in Fort Worth.
Marker Title: Vernon Dalhart
Address: 123 W. Austin St.
Year Marker Erected: 1981
Marker Text: (April 6, 1881 - September 15, 1948) Born in Jefferson, Vernon Dalhart (Marion Try Slaughter II) began his career here at Kahn Saloon, starred later in operas in New York, and recorded for Edison's talking machine. His rendition of "The Prisoner's Song" (1924) was the first folk ballad to sell over a million records, and led to the rise of country music as an American art form. Dalhart is said to have made over 3,500 records, many under assumed names. Nostalgia for Jefferson echoed in his "Caroline," "Bully of the Town," and other hits. Within ten years he earned and lost a fortune, later living in obscurity. Incise in base: Marker sponsored by the Hoblitzelle Foundation.
Gould Railroad Car, Jay
Marker Title: Jay Gould Railroad Car
Address: 200 block W. Austin St.
Year Marker Erected: 1995
Marker Text: Built in 1888 by the American Car & Foundry Company of St. Charles, Missouri, this was the private railway car of Jay Gould (1836-1892). A native of New York, Gould was a noted financier and the owner of numerous railroad companies, including the Union Pacific, The Missouri Pacific, the International & Great Northern, and The Texas Pacific. This car, named "Atlanta," remained in Gould family ownership until the 1930s. Elaborately designed and elegantly furnished, the Atlanta features two observation rooms, four staterooms, two baths, a butler's pantry, kitchen, dining room, and office. Interior materials include mahogany and curly maple woodwork, silver bathroom accessories, and crystal light fixtures. Following Jay Gould's death in 1892, the car was used by his son, George Jay Gould (president of the Texas and Pacific Railroad), and his wife, actress Edith Kingston. The car later was brought to Texas from St. Louis and used as a family residence during the 1930s East Texas oil boom. Purchased in 1953 by the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club, it was moved to this site in 1954. It remains a focal point in Jefferson's heritage tourism industry.
Marker Title: Jefferson
Year Marker Erected: 1990
Marker Location: 2 mi. south of Jefferson on US 59
Marker Text: Home to the Caddo Indians for centuries, this area of Texas attracted Anglo-American colonists to settle here in the early 1800s. Founded in 1839, Jefferson developed along a double-grid pattern. Daniel Nelson Alley platted the townsite in a true north-south and east-west pattern, while Allen Urquhart drew a plan with streets leading diagonally to and from Big Cypress Bayou. Jefferson was a center of commerce and an important shipping point on the Red River system. Riverboats arrived at the wharves daily, making it a major inland port of entry for Texas pioneers. It was the seat of Cass County from 1846 to 1852, and was named seat of the new county of Marion in 1860. During the Civil War Jefferson served as a major supply center for the Confederacy. The late 1860s saw the imposition of martial law by Federal reconstruction troops, and a devastating fire in 1868 destroyed much of the central business district. Destruction of a massive logjam on the Red River in November 1873 diverted the river's flow and lowered the water in Big Cypress Bayou. The decline of Jefferson's economy due to the loss of its port continued until 20th-century tourism began to revive the town.
Marker Title: Jefferson C.S.A.
Address: 200 block of W. Austin
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Text: (Star and Wreath) Metropolis of commerce and culture for East Texas, Jefferson became important center for Confederate activity. Major quartermaster depot for northern Texas established 1862 supplied clothing and camp equipment. Cotton Bureau Station set up to buy cotton, "life blood of the Confederacy." Two iron works in county made plows, kettles, skillets and cannon balls. Thousands of cattle and sheep were driven to slaughter house for processing and shipment. Boot and shoe factory helped outfit army. Debarkation center for troops leaving Texas. A memorial to Texans who served the Confederacy. Erected by the state of Texas 1963.
Jefferson Turn Basin
Marker Title: Jefferson Turn Basin
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location: north side of bridge on Polk St.
Marker Text: Wide, deep lagoon in Cypress Bayou, used for turning around ships in Gulf-Red River trade. First steamer to reach here was the "Lama" in 1844, by way of Red River, which for 200 miles above Shreveport was clogged by a "raft" of debris that had begun forming about 1529. Cypress Bayou thus was best travel route into Oklahoma, western Arkansas and north Texas. Until Federal government in 1873 removed the raft, Jefferson was southwest's greatest inland port, with this basin its business center. Last steamer operated here in 1903.
Marker Title: Kahn Saloon
Address: 123 Austin St.
Year Marker Erected: 1985
Marker Text: Built during the early 1860s, this structure served as a boarding house and as a mercantile before opening as the Kahn Saloon about 1900. Temperance movement leader Carrie Nation was denied entrance here during one of her campaigns through Texas. Jefferson native Marion Try Slaughter launched his career as country music singer Vernon Dalhart at the Kahn Saloon. The popular gathering place was closed after local prohibitionists won a 1907 election. Since that time, the building has been used for a variety of purposes, including a newspaper office, lodge building, furniture store, and funeral home.
Livery Stable, Old
Marker Title: Old Livery Stable
Address: Austin and Vale St.
Year Marker Erected: 1968
Marker Text: Near Trammel's Trace, a road charted 1813, used by thousands of settlers migrating to Texas. Site was owned 1868 by D.B. Culberson, later a congressman and a lawyer for defense in the Diamond Bessie murder trial. Culberson's 2-story building here was original site for the Chesterfield Club, East Texas' elite social group, 1870s-1930s. Present structure, built about 1900, housed horses and buggies for public hire until auto age. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark-1968
Nash Iron Works
Marker Title: Nash Iron Works
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Location: FM 729 about 20 mi. west of Jefferson
Marker Text: First iron furnace in Texas. Built by Jefferson S. Nash, who came here in 1846. He found much iron ore, wood for charcoal, and clay to make molds. From ridge back of the furnace, charcoal and ore were poured down the smokestack. Under the furnace grate, melted iron collected in a puddle, to be put into molds for shaping farm tools, cooking pots, smoothing irons, and-- in the Civil War-- cannon balls and possibly guns. Nash had difficulty securing machinery, workers, capital, and transportation. In the 1800s, at least 16 iron works operated in East Texas.
Perry, Captain William
Marker Title: Captain William Perry
Address: 200 block of West Austin
Year Marker Erected: 1995
Marker Text: (April 5, 1813 - January 2, 1869) William Perry was among first settlers of Jefferson, arriving ca. 1840. Through his shipping business and his work in dredging a turning basin for ships in the Big Cypress Bayou, he played a significant role in the early growth and development of Jefferson as an inland port. He bought and developed large tracts of land in the area, becoming quite wealthy in the process. After traveling to California during the late 1840s gold rush, Perry returned to Jefferson and built a home at the corner of Polk and Clarksville streets for his wife Sardinia (1826-1912) and their children. The home was later moved to 203 Clarksville Street and incorporated with another structure. In addition to his real estate dealings and shipping interest, Perry owned a hotel which is now a part of the historic Excelsior House. A respected community leader, he served as mayor of Jefferson from 1863 to 1864. On January 2, 1869, Perry was fatally shot while walking home after midnight. William Perry and his wife, along with other family members, are buried in Jefferson's Oakwood Cemetery.
Marker Title: Potter's Point
Year Marker Erected: 1969
Marker Location: Hwy. 49 at FM 727, 4 mi. east of Smithland
Marker Text: Site of one of most famous events in Texas. Robert Potter-a signer, Texas Declaration of Independence, a chief author of Republic's Constitution, first Secretary of Navy, Republic of Texas-settled 1837 on Caddo Lake. A former U.S. Congressman, he won election 1840 to Texas Senate. After Senate adjourned in 1842 he tried to arrest his political foe, William P. Rose. On night of March 1, 1842, Rose led armed men to Potter's home. At dawn Senator Potter jumped into the lake to swim for help, but was shot to death. He is buried in State Cemetery, Austin.
Todd, Site of Home of George T.
Marker Title: Site of Home of Captain George T. Todd
Address: Clarksville and Polk
Year Marker Erected: 1965
Marker Text: (1839-1913) Born in Virginia. Came to Texas 1843. During Civil War, served in famous Hood's Texas Brigade. At Chickamauga, took command after Gen. Hood was shot. In 1864-1865, fought west of the Mississippi with Lane's Partisan Rangers. After war, was in the Texas Legislature and on University of Texas Board of Regents. As district attorney, prosecuted Cincinnati jewelry salesman Abe Rothchild for the 1877 roadside murder of "Diamond Bessie" Moore. Covering 7 years, this famous trial put in conflict some of the nation's best lawyers and set numerous legal precedents.
Vines, John M.
Marker Title: John M. Vines
Year Marker Erected: 1967
Marker Location: Oakwood Cemetery, Central St.
Marker Text: (1844-1914) Born in Alabama. Joined W. P. Lane Rangers, C.S.A., 1861; was discharged 1865, rank of farrier. Served as sheriff-tax collector for Marion County, 1874-1876. In April, 1877, sent as agent of the state of Texas to bring Abe Rothschild back to Jefferson from Ohio to stand trial for the murder of "Diamond" Bessie Moore (one of the sensational murder trials of the 19th century.) Construction superintendent for Jefferson Federal Courthouse, 1888.
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