HISTORY OF HIGHBANK, TEXAS
Texas Historian, Leonard Kubiak of Rockdale.
HISTORY OF HIGHBANK TEXAS
HIGHBANK AREA BULLETIN BOARD
Received the following email from Mary Lena (Salvato) Hall regarding early day Highbank:
Enjoyed reading about Highbank because my father Tony Salvato moved there when he was sixteen and we used to visit my grandfather Carlo Salvato. My daddy had four brothers and four sisters that lived in Highbank. I went to Ft. Worth a couple of weeks ago
and came through Highbank. There are nine of us grandchildren that own our grandfathers property in Highbank.
Mary Lena (Salvato) Hall
Received the following email from Margaret McClone regarding the Scamardo Family:
I love your website and have found some information regarding the Scamardo family. My daughter is married to Joe, son of Pete & Camella, and I am putting as much information regarding the family on my genealogy program so I can eventually print it out for my grandchildren. I'm gathering all of the family lines that I can find and I was wondering if you would share with me a photo of the Falco family of Highbank taken in 1920. The photo is on your website and contains:
Standing: Tony Falco, Jack Falco, and Louis Falco
Sitting: Antonino Lupo Falco, Jasper Falco, and
Antonino Lupo Falco's Second Wife, Maria Corpora-Falco. Antonino's first wife was Rosaria Palazzotto
I would be most appreciative if you would share it.
Received the following email from Francine Haas (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I just wanted to thank you for this wonderful website. My father, Robert Falsone, seems to have added a lot of history and pictures to it. I was fortunate to grow up in Highbank, in my Grandmother's house.
My uncle's Jim and Joe were the cornerstones of the Highbank I remember. The Falcos', LaBarberas', Corporas', Roppolos', Mueses', Tusas', Alfanos', and all the other fine people who called Highbank home will live in my heart and memory.
It was a fascinating place to grow up in. My cousins and I were always finding adventure there. The ghost stories and other stories I would hear only made me hungry for more. My Daddy would have story after story he would share. His mind was like a steel trap. He never forgot anything...even into his 90's he was full of interesting tales from his childhood and the people he grew up with.
Your website brings a tear to my eye and a smile to my face because of the memories it triggers. Highbank isn't the same as it was then, but the love and memories will forever stay intact in all of our hearts!
Thank you so very much,
Francine Falsone Haas
Received the following email from
tony spedale (email@example.com)regarding his Grandparents, Tony & Lula Spedale of Highbank & Marlin,Tx:
I'm visitng a friend of mine and I get on their
computer and lo & behold I come across your
fascinating & informative Highbank Web Page. My name is
Tony J Spedale , son of Felix J Spedale & Annie Mae
Bonora Roppollo (deceased). I have a sister, Lu Anne
Spedale Jankowski & one brother Nicky Spedale
(deceased), all of Houston.
As a young boy I couldn't wait for summer to begin so
my brother Nicky & myself could return to the Highbank
residence of our Grandparents Tony and Lula Spedale. In
Highbank, they had a home right over the RR tracks
across from the old Falsone Grocey & PO & Gas Store.
can still picture the old timers picking cotton by
hand , stuffing their brown potatoe sacks to the top.
The irrigation pipe pumped cold clean wet water
through what we used as a water slide.
My Aunt Clara &
her husband Ross Salvato (both deceased) had a farm &
also grew cotton (everybody did) behind the Falsones
store & I always enjoyed sleeping over at their big
comfortable home with the BIG front porch and listen
to my Uncle Carlo (deceased) tell stories of the Ghost
of the Brazos I'm glad I discovered your wonderful
site and will be back to visit the place that has so
many great memories. I hope to be able to make some
new ones . Thanks for the memories...
Tony J Spedale
If Mary Palermo reads this , send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Received the following email from A.C. Martin (MARTINAL28@aol.com), an early-day resident of Highbank:
WHEN I PREVIOUSLY WROTE TO YOU, I FAILED TO MENTION THAT MR. AND MRS. BRESENHAN WERE SCHOOL TEACHERS AT HIGHBANK IN THOSE OF YEARS OF 32-36.
MY GRANDFATHER, SILAS KUSSMAN WAS THE RAILROAD FOREMAN AT THAT TIME. IN 1936, MY GRANDFATHER SUFFERED A STROKE AND WE MOVED BACK TO HOUSTON TEXAS. HE PASSED AWAY AT THE AGE OF SEVENTY-ONE IN 1942.
I CONTINUE TO READ THE INTERESTING STORES OF PAST YEARS LIVING IN HIGHBANK.
Received the following email from Sam Labarbera, email address: email@example.com
My mother and father were both born and raised in Highbank. My mother would like to contribute to the website if you are still taking updates.
From your site:
Next to the hat shop was Labarbera's (My dad's uncle)general merchandise and meat market. Robert the oldest son, was the butcher. Next door was the Labarbera beer joint. Next to the beer joint was a Black African residence that was used as a bed and breakfast (their last name was Stewart). Next was a two story building own by Jim Harris, a black African American. He had a general grocery line and the family lived upstairs. The next building was also a grocery store owned by Frank Loria (My grandfather) The next store was a butcher shop.
Received the following email from A.C. Martin, an early-day resident of Highbank:
I continue to enjoy the updates regarding events that took place in Highbank years ago. The website is great and I look forward to others writing in and telling their stories. I have such great memories of those days in Highbank.
I especially enjoyed seeing the 1932 picture with Dorothy Martin and myself (A.C. Martin) and all our classmates and teachers. Dorothy Martin will be 80 this October 2006 and I'll be 78 in September 2006.
I recall a few years ago getting mail at my house (1514 Cheshire) that should have gone to 1415 Cheshire. When I took the mail over, I was pleasantly surprised to find this was the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Bresenham. We had a great visit talking about the old days at Highbank. Both Mr. and Mrs. Bresenham have since passed away.
A. C. MARTIN
Received the following email from Brian McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org :
My family, on my mother's side, is originally from Bryan, Brazos County, Texas. I am writing to you because I found your website www.forttumbleweed.net on the internet when I did a search for "Dechiro Texas". I am interested in some of the history that you have done on the Italians in Highbanks area.
In particular, I am related to the Margiottas. Lucia is my aunt on my mother's side. She was born to my grandfather, Charley Dechiro, in his first marriage to Stella. After the death of Stella, Charley Dechiro subsequently married Sarah Ribardo who was the daughter of Charley Ribardo and Josephine (Moreno) Ribardo. They all lived in an area formerly known as the Cameron Ranch north of Bryan, Texas.
The main reason that I am writing to you is because I recently learned of a flyer or handbill that had been circulated in Sicily that was intended to encourage Italians living there to migrate to Texas, in particular, Bryan. I am trying to locate a copy of that flyer or handbill. I have been told by a cousin in Bryan that a rich Italian doctor living in Bryan, Texas had created this flyer (back in the late 1800's or early 1900's) and somehow had it distributed in Sicily.
If you know anything about this flyer or perhaps would know of a source that I may obtain a copy of the flyer, I sure would appreciate it.
HISTORY OF HIGHBANK TEXAS
Highbank is a small farming community established near the banks of the Brazos River approximately 5 miles west of Reagan, Texas by a few hearty pioneers in the 1850's.
The earliest documented settlers included the Lynn family and John and Martha Dupree.
The Lynn family settled in the Highbank Community prior to 1855, and purchased land after the Civil War. This land is now worked and owned by fourth generation descendants of the Lynn family.
Jesse G. Dupree (born November 29, 1860 and died January 16, 1937) was the son of John and Martha Dupree, slaves from South Carolina, who came to Highbank after 1870. Jesse purchased one hundred acres of land, and operated the grist mill on Highbank creek at Highbank.
(James Falsone, Jim Falsone's son, and some of his cousins reported finding a large round stone in Highbank Creek behind his
house back in the late 1950's. They brought the stone to his dad's store (Jim Falsone was a former Postmaster and store owner at Highbank) and a man
there told the boys that
it was the grind stone from a grist mill).
In the 1870's and 1880's, a wave of immigrants from Sicily (large island near the tip of Italy) boosted the population of the Highbank settlement to over 300. These early settlers travelled by wagons, stage coach, by horseback, and Model T Ford from the Ports of New Orleans and Galveston to the banks of the Brazos River near Highbank.
Immigrants from Poggioreale, Sicily
Many of the early-day Highbank settlers could trace their roots back to Poggioreale, Sicily, a town heavily damaged by an earthquake in 1968 and completely abandoned. A new town was built a couple of miles away from the original settlement. The original village was founded in the eighteenth century and named Poggioreale, which translates to "royal well."
Photo taken in Poggioreale, Sicily in the mid 1990's.
Many of the Highbank settlers came from Poggioreale, Sicily and other surrounding villages and towns in Sicily, Italy. Poggioreale was the former home of many of Highbank's earlier settlers including the Falsone, Guida (Weido), & the Falco families. Other settlers came small towns in an around Poggioreale like Alcomo, and Palermero.
According to Mary Lena (Salvato) Hall, "My grandfather,Carlo Salvato passed away on November 22, 1949 at the age of 82. He was born in Italy on November 2, 1867. He came to the United States with his brother Frank Salvato. The two families purchased the Rogers farm that set up the beginning of the Italian farming community in High Bank. He is buried in Marlin, TX. He had five sons, Tony Salvato, Frank Salvato, Ross Salvato, Nick Salvato and Carlo Salvato all are buried in Marlin except Tony Salvato who buried in Houston. Four daughters Lula Lewis, Pauline Vetrano, Fena Rao and Mary LaPagelia all deceased and buried in Houston. They came through Louisiana and Tony Salvato was born in Luling Louisiana."
The Italian influence can still be seen with Italian surnames appearing on most of the area mailboxes!.
Prominent Italian families in the Highbank area once included the Salvato family, Alfano family, the Barbera, and LaBarbera families, the Burresha family, the Cangelosi family,
the Catalano family, the Corpora family, the Falco family, the Falsone family, the the Margoitta family, the Martino family, the Parrino family, the Salvaggio family, and others.
The railroad comes to Highbank
The Calvert, Waco and Brazos Valley Railroad (later part of the Missouri Pacific) ran it's tracks through the area in 1901/1902 making Highbank one of its railroad stops.
Other stops included Highbank's neighbors, the towns of Eloise, McClanahan, and Otto. The Calvert, Waco and Brazos Valley Railroad Company was chartered on June 28, 1899 and initially projected to extend from the International-Great Northern Railroad at Lewis Switch to Waco.
Members of the first board of directors were George J. Gould of Lakewood, New Jersey; Frank J. Gould of Irvington, New York; Leroy Trice, Nathan A. Steadman, George L. Noble, Alfred R. Howard, and William L. Maury, all from Anderson County, Texas; and Leonidas H. Parish and John T. Garrett, both from Robertson County, Texas.
The initial capital was $75,000, and the business office was in Calvert in Robertson County. By the end of 1900 the company had completed sixty-six miles between Bryan and Marlin and a branch from Calvert Junction to Calvert.
Johnny Dryman, Railroad Foreman in Highbank in the early 1900's
Highbank Officially Founded in 1902
The Highbank post office was established in 1902 at which time the area had several hundred residents and dozens of businesses, including a railroad depot, motel, a cotton gin, two saloons, a cafe, and several grocery and general stores.
Some of the postmasters at Highbank include:
Rogers, Alpheus L., 27 Jun 1902
Grove, Alfred, 28 Apr 1904
Tubb, Mayme, 2 Mar 1907
Storrs, Roy, 16 Oct 1909
Berryhill, John T., 14 Oct 1911
Jones, Charlie D., 8 Mar 1916
Stephens, John M., 26 Apr 1917
Tusa, Jos. C., 2 Apr 1918
Salvaggio, Dominic T., 23 Feb 1922
Falsone, Joe, 27 Oct 1926
Joe Falsone, Last Postmaster for Highbank shown inside the general store with post office in the background. Photo taken in 2002 (Curtesy Robbie Morrison)
Picture taken in
front of the
Highbank Post Office, circa 1970's. L-R : Tony Lewis, Robbie Morrison,and Felix Polito (photo curtesy Robbie Morrison)
Italian Wedding in Highbank
Highbank Wedding in 1907 Draws a Crowd
Miss Franeisca Barbera and Joseph Falsone, members of the Italian colony at Highbank and
quite a number of their countrymen came with them to witness the
ceremony, which was performed by Rev. B. C. Pfiffner at the Catholic Church in Marlin.
SNAPSHOTS OF LIFE IN EARLY HIGHBANK
The following description of early-day Highbank comes to us from Robert Falsone who was born in Highbank in 1911 and lived there with his family that included ten children.
Robert Falsone has taken the time to write down many of his early-day memories of Highbank that provide a facinating account of life in early-day Highbank! We are indebted to Robert for the hours and hours of work he put into this project and the amazing detail he is able to provide.
"My name is Robert Falsone and I was born in Highbank on July 24, 1911. The following are my recollections of our early day life in Highbank.
"When I was thirteen years old, daddy hired someone to paint door frames of the house. When The painter was out for lunch, I took the bucket of paint and the brush went behind the car garage and printed R F 13 years old. Everytime I would go behind the garage , I would look up to see
13 still on the wall. It seemed like I never would get to be 14".
HOME OF JOE AND FRANCES CANGELOSI FALSONE
"Our old house consisted of three bed rooms: a combination dinning room and living room and a small kitchen (ten feet wide and fifteen feet long). The kitchen was located next to the bed room, which was no bigger than today's modern walk in closet.
Linen were stored in metal trunks, Sunday clothes worn to church were hung in a cloth cabinet called chiffonier.
The old house was a single wall frame house with one window in each room. A netting was tacked on the walls from the ceiling to the floor.
Mother, with the help of the neighbors, papered the walls. The paste for sticking the paper to the wall was made what looked like flour mixed with warm water and brushed on the back side of the colorful paper. While the paste was still wet it stuck firmly on the netting tacked on the walls. In the winter when the North wind blew strong, The wall paper would push out and the go back against the wall. It appeared the wall was breathing.
In the flood of 1913, water stood four feet deep in the house. It seems that when the house was built, the builders forgot to put an opening in the ceiling to get in the attic. As the water began to enter the house, daddy took an ax to cut a hole big enough for us to get up in the attic. I was only two years old when the flood took place, but mother explained to me years later why there was still a hole in the ceiling".
(In the first week of December in 1913, a long wave stalled over west Texas that resulted in major flooding across the state of Texas. According to the official records, the Brazos crested at 42 feet at Highbank. In September of 1936, another flood hit Highbank but this time the river crested at 40 feet).
TRAVELING TENT SHOW COMES TO HIGHBANK
"Around the end of World War I, a traveling tent show set up in Highbank around once a year. A white sheet tacked on the back side of the tent was used for projecting Western movies. There was no electricity and the projector used a carbide light. The projector operator used a hand crank to move the film past a carbide lamp and into a tow sack. Course the film would break several times during the showing. Wooden stands were set up for people to sit on. The price was 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children. Many boys would slip in under the tent when the show started since it was easy to do in the darkness.
I recall two World War I veterans from Highbank,
John Hodge, an African American and Dominic Salvaggio, my father's cousin. After John Hodge came home from the war, he caught another African American trying to make love with his wife and killed him in the act. John was never convicted but began drinking heavily after that. One night he was walking on the railroad while he had been drinking. He fell asleep between the tracks and was found dead between the tracks the next morning.
My father's cousin, Dominic Salvaggio, was seriously wounded and hospitalized after the war In New Orleans. My father went to visit him in the hospital. Later, Dominic married a young lady from this area, and they made their home in Highbank. He owned a grocery store and was appointed postmaster. His wife's maiden name was Falco".
RAILROAD AGENT AND TRAGEDY IN HIGHBANK
"D.C. Robertson was the railroad agent for the I & G N Railroad for about ten years, There was need for an agent in those days. There were two day-time passenger trains that stopped and let off passengers and picked up those who purchased tickets. Robertson communicated by Morse Code with the trains crews. DC even tried to teach me to use Morse code, communicating by dots and dashes.
The agent fell in love with a Mexican girl. He would visit the family and buy them gifts. He even bought the family a buggy and a horse so they could come visit him (he had a room in the depot). They were finally married but the marriage was never consummated. The girl's father always had an excuse for the girl to stay at home.
After several months, DC was getting impatient. A traveling tent show came to Highbank and set up on a vacant lot about a quarter of a mile south of Highbank. DC invited his wife and her parents to come to the show. A northern had blown in and it turned cold.
DC and his wife and her parents approached the ticket wagon and DC told the agent he wanted a ticked for his wife pointing with a gloved hand at his wife. He then pointed to his wife's mother and said, "One ticket for her". Then he turned and pointed to his father-in-law and said one ticket for him as he began firing from a 25 automatic gun concealed in his glove.
Returning WWI veterans had on their heavy army coats which reached their ankles. The show had not started when the gun shots were heard. When the shots rang out, the sides of the tent exploded outward caused by people inside the tent rushing out to see what the comotion was about. A person at the show later told me there was one veteran on crutches. However, when the shots rang out, the veteran left his crutches and outran the healthy guys back to Highbank.
D.C. was arrested for the murder of his father-in-law and judged insane. Suspicious railroad auditors checked all his bookkeeping found only a one cent error and that was in favor of the railroad.
TRANSPORTATION IN EARLY-DAY HIGHBANK
The first car Robert's dad ( Joe Falsone) bought was a large touring car. The Car had a water proof canvas top. There was room for at least six passengers, more if passengers were small kids. There were seats which folded in the back of the front seats. The seats were pulled out remaining fastened to the back part of the front seat. The seats were strong enough to hold the smaller children. I don't remember the name of the car, but I am sure it is not being manufactured now. Father changed cars every two or three years. All the cars were second hand cars.
In 1924 Joe Falsone bought a new Oakland, sky blue in color with a canvas top and solid wheels. The person who sold my daddy the Oakland was the brother of Edward Hays who lives on Highway six near Perry. In those days the cars were not equipped with extras like automatic transmission. All cars were standard gear shift, first, second and third forward movement and a reverse gear. The Oakland had a fancy ornament for a radiator cap".
"When I was a small boy, my Dad, Joe Falsone, owned a farm in Mudvile, Brazos County, about 20 miles northwest of Bryan. The farm was located about 35 miles south of Hearne. There were no paved highways. Few roads were graveled, but most country roads were dirt roads. Early on a Sunday morning, the family got in the car and dad drove to Mudville to check on the crop which was cotton.
We went through Eloise. The road looked better on The Brunet Farm and it was a short cut, Father drove through the farm. We passed through Calvert and Hearne. At Hearne, Daddy drove westward for about 5 miles and then crossed the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks and headed south again going through Mumford and Steele Store.
We arrived at the farm, and daddy chatted with the tenant who operated the farm. Then we visited friends for a few hours. We started back for home. It began to rain. The roads got muddy and we got stuck. Along came a man with a wagon pulled by two mules. Daddy made a deal with him to pull the car out of the mud hole for five dollars. The wagon was backed up to the front of the car and with a rope he fastened it to the bumper of the car and to the back axle of the wagon. We all stayed in the car. Dad put the car in low gear and when the farmer hit his mules to pull the car, the coupling that connected the front wheels of the wagon to back axle broke and the farmer in the wagon drove off leaving the back wheels still connected to the car. The farmer hitched his mules to the car and pulled the car out of the mud hole and on hard road again. Most of us little ones slept most of the time. We arrived home near midnight but safe.
In 1924 farmers had a good cotton crop. The share croppers made enough money to buy a " tin Henry Ford" as they were called. Will Norman, an African American bought a new ford for $500. The vehicle had only three doors. There was no door on the driver's side. When Will came to town, he drove sitting on the passenger side of the car. I asked him why he did not sit under the steering wheel. He said,"There is no door there. If this thing gets out of control, I have a way to get out. He never drove over ten miles an hour. Gasoline cost 25 or 29 cents a gallon".
FALSONES GET A NEW HOME
As the Joe Falsone family grew in number (six girls and four boys), Joe had Marlin Lumber Company ship three boxcars of lumber to Highbank to build a bigger house. The old house was moved on the back side of the gin lot where it sat on the banks of the Highbank creek.
Before starting the new house, Joe had many loads of dirt dumped on the area where the new was to be built. The house was build on four foot blocks making it over six feet higher than the foundation for the old house and hopefully high enough to withstand another flood.
(Curtesy Robert Falsone)
Top left sitting on the bannister is Brother-in-law Tony Denena. The good looking couple standing on the porch are my parents, Joseph and Frances Falsone. Next to mother is brother Tony, third boy of the family. The tall one to the right of Tony is Brother-in-law Billy Dicorte. The girl standing on the left is sister Benetta and behind her sitting on the bannister is sister Rose Denena. The little boys sitting on the steps, left to right are brothers Joe and Frankie William and seated to the right of Frankie is Mary Frances. The little girl next to Mary Frances is Roseann, Children of sister Mary and Billy. On the far right is sister Mary standing on the first step. Sitting on the bannister is my wife Cora and I (Robert Falsone) am seated behind Cora.
The picture was taken about sixty years ago. All are grandparents I am a great grandfather.
(Curtesy Robert Falsone)
HIGHBANK SCHOOL SYSTEM
Highbank was originally part of the Bethany common school district until 1957 when it consolidated with the Marlin Independent School District. Some of the early teachers included:
MS Windsor from Reagan and
Mr. Davis from Cedar Spring (came by horse and buggy;
the older boys would help take care of the horse during recess) and
Rupert Sprott from Reagan.
Robert Falsone taught middle school history and math in Highbank until the Bethany Districted consolidated with Marlin ISD. Robert received his masters degree from Baylor in 1954 and was the high school counselor until he retired in 1976.
Robert Falsone started his teaching career at Highbank in 1932. In the following photo, he is the handsome teacher at the far left side of the photo. Robert Falsone and his brother Joe did a great job of identifying the kids in the photo.
HIGHBANK SCHOOLS, (1932).
Top row from left to right: Robert Falsone (teacher), Marion Sancetta, Tony Falsone,Tony Burresha, G. D. Johnson, Frank Felix Tusa, Jack Falco, (unknown), Felix Joia, Carlo Salvato, Lena Benderito, Evelyn Croman, Josephine Tusa, Mary Joia, Mary Todaro, Fena Spedale, Miss Kelly (teacher)
Middle row from left to right: Joe McBee, Nick LaBarbera, Frank Charlie Tusa, Tony Falco, Johnny Catalina, Robert Sam LaBarbera, Pauline Tusa, Annie Mae Riche, Evelyn Johnson, Annie Riche, Fena T. Spedale, Sarah Falco, Mary Lena LaBarbera,
Next row from left to right: A. J. Falco, Sammy LaBarbera, Joe Todaro, William Riche, Sammy Sancetta, (unknown), Joe Falsone, Jr., A. C. Martin, Frank J. LaBarbera, Felix Spedale, Sam Spedale, Joe Sam LaBarbera, Angelina Falsone, Lena Spedale, Pauline LaBarbera, Sarah Falco, Maurice Bresenhan (teacher)
Bottom row from left to right: Mary LaBarbera, Lena Falco, Frances LaBarbera, Maria Morales, Vancie Roppolo, Dorothy Martin, Christine Johnson, Sarah Roppolo, Camella Falsone
Received this email from one of our readers:
From: "Mary Heffernan"
"I have confirmed that my grandmother (Mary Todaro who married Basil Lombardo) is in the picture. She was
about 12 or 13 years of age when the picture was taken. This is like a family photo.
Mary has cousins in the picture as well as her little
brother and friends that I met years later in Houston where we
Mary Todaro married Basil Lombardo who grew up in
Highbank/Marlin. Mary was born September 10,
1920 and she passed away January 19, 2004.
This was certainly a treasure found and I thank you ! My
grandmother is/was my heart !
My great uncle is still with us.
HIGHBANK FLOOD OF 1936
"In the 1936 flood, we could walk outside our house while water was deep enough in front of the house for a motor boat to came down the road headed toward Eloise. The Harlan brothers owned a gin in Eloise. Mr. Harlan and one of his friends came to the top of the hill about three quarters of a mile east of Highbank. They put the little motorboat in the water and motored all the ways to Eloise and returned. The flood took place in the fall of the year.
There were bales of ginned cotton on the railroad property, and displaced people spent the night sleeping on the bales. I owned a model A. Ford, and I used my car to transport people from the railroad to daddy's store that faced the railroad property. People would buy sausage, cheese, crackers and cold drinks. Then I would take them back to sit on the bales of cotton".
Taking Refuge on the Bales of Cotton During the 1936 Highbank Flood
(Curtesy Robert Falsone)
Street Scenes from the 1936 Highbank Flood, Peacock's store and Gin
(Curtesy Robert Falsone)
Shot of the Old Catholic Church During Flood of 1936
(Curtesy Robert Falsone)
Another Street Scene During the Flood of 36
(Curtesy Robert Falsone)
HORSE AND BUGGY DOCTORS IN HIGHBANK
According to Robert Falsone:
"There were two doctors in early-day Reagan. One of the doctors was Dr. Ward and the other was Dr. Davidson who came by horse and buggy to Highbank to bring me into the world.
His Son, Dr. Mlton Davinson, who had his practice in Marlin, was the doctor that delivered my four children Joseph Robert, Ronald Francis. Francine Falsone Haas, and Rosemary Falsone Teague.
OLD DOWNTOWN HIGHBANK BEFORE THE FIRE OF 1936
"The old Highbank before the fire was a typical village like you see in western movies. All the buildings were on one side of the dirt road. IGN Railroad was on the other side. There was a rail spur which ran the length of the buildings.
Starting at the edge of town, the first building was a saloon with a long bar and copper pipe railing for resting the feet of the drinker. There were also copper spittoons long the floor by the copper railing. The business belonged to Uncle Joe Labarbera. The prohibition law caused the place to be closed.
The adjoining building was my father's general merchandising store. Father stocked farm supplies, over the counter medicine, hair oil, shoe polish, staple groceries, etc.
I was told by my father that he and his brother-in-law, Joe Labarbera, sold buggies and wagons. They also owned a cotton gin. When brother Jim and I were old enough to operate the gin, daddy bought uncle Joe's interest in the gin.
The next building was owned by Mrs. Holston, a black African American who made ladies hats. There was a ten foot space between daddy' store and Mrs. Holston hat shop. On week ends the Jones boys from Reagan would set up three wood milk bottles and for twenty-five cents you were handed three baseballs to throw at the bottles. If the bottles were all knocked down, the thrower would receive a cigar or small prize.
Next to the hat shop was Labarbera's general merchandise and meat market. Robert the oldest son, was the butcher. Next door was the Labarbera beer joint. Next to the beer joint was a Black African residence that was used as a bed and breakfast (their last name was Stewart). Next was a two story building own by Jim Harris, a black African American. He had a general grocery line and the family lived upstairs. The next building was also a grocery store owned by Frank Loria. The next store was a butcher shop.
All these buildings were joined wall- to- wall with the exception of the ten foot space between daddy's store and the hat shop. There was another space between Harris and Loria's building.
There was a board walk that joined the two galleries. When we were small, eight or ten boys my age played hide-go -- seek, running the length of all the building looking for places to hide.
From the last meat market mentioned and the Mike Bruno Property, there was a space fifteen or twenty yards wide. The first building was sort of a residence or motel where Mr. Bruno had a meat market. He also sold ice cream on week ends, The ice cream came by passenger train in a five gallon container in heavy barrel type fabric container filled with ice, The ice cream was still hard when received, but Bruno's son would fill the fabric container with more chipped ice to keep the ice cream hard. The cost was five cents for a dip on a cone.
Next to the Bruno market was Tusa's grocery store. The post office was located in this store. The next building was the barber shop. one hundred yards from the barber shop was a two story house which was used as a residence or rooms for rent.
Across the railroad was a small grocery store owned and operated by Johnny Holmes. Mr. Bloodsaw operated a bar-b-que stand on weekends and holidays. Along the banks of the creek, there was a meat market owned and operate by a Mr. Stewart. Peacock ran a big store with anything anyone needed. He also owned the other cotton gin and over eleven hundred acres of Brazos River land."
The following letter is from from A.C. Martin who lived in Highbank in the early 1930's and gives us more glimpses and memories of life in this former great town of Highbank.
"I lived in Highbank from about 1932 till 1936 when my grandfather had a section gang for the railroad repairing the ties, etc., on a particular stretch of the rail line that ran through Highbank.
We lived in the Section House that had wooden floors.
Mother baked home made bread on a wood stove and you could smell that great scent once the bread began to bake. We had chickens so therefore no need of worrying about mowing the lawn in those days. My job was to cut the wood for kindling for the next morning.
We had an open verandah screened porch. Water well in the side yard using a bucket to fetch a pail of water. One day a chicken fell in the well and my grandfather had to get the railroad section gang to bail out the water. A tank car would come and bring us more water and the train would come so close to the end of the front porch that the house literally shook each time the rail car came.
Mother would heat stones to put between our sheets on the bed to get them warm before we went to bed in the winter time.
We had a three room school house. One grocery store was called Falsone Grocery. This building was a stucco type building I recall. A Phil Jones was the telegrapher at the Rail Station.
One day some of us young kids were playing hide and seek and I was locked in the mail box on the side of the Rail Station. Luckily there were letter slots in each end and I could breathe. I was so scared at the time, but now that I look back it was a memorable occasion for me and my sister. The mail box was used for the mail sacks that were held there until the next train came by from Houston or from Waco.
To me those were the Good Old Days when people took time to visit one another. Didn't hurry about as now. I'm nearing seventy-five years of age and like I said before those were the good old days. The children growing up nowadays have missed a lot in my way of thinking."
MAJOR FIRE DESTROYS BUSINESS DISTRICT IN HIGHBANK (1936)
The town of Highbank prospered until a major fire destroyed most of the business district in 1936. That same year, Highbank experienced a devastating flood as the nearby Brazos River went on a rampage. These two catostrophic events pretty much put the once mighty town of Highbank into a major decline that eventually transformed Highbank into a ghost town. The Highbank post office was discontinued in 1973, and the general store that had housed the post office closed soon thereafter. The St. Joseph's Catholic Church closed it's doors and in 1957, the Bethany common school district of Highbank was consolidated with the Marlin Independent School District. Highbank's population was reported at just over a hundred folks from 1970 through present.
Photo of St. Joseph's Catholic Church (Photo taken in the early 1970's).
FALCO FAMILY OF HIGHBANK (1920 PHOTO)
Standing, L-R: Tony Falco, Jack Falco, and Louis Falco
Sitting, L-R: Antonino Lupo Falco, Jasper Falco, and
Antonino Lupo Falco's Second Wife, Maria Corpora-Falco. Antonino's first wife was Rosaria Palazzotto.
CORPORA AERIAL SERVICE OF HIGHBANK AREA
Joseph Samual Corpora who attended the Highbank schools established the Corpora Aerial Service in Hearne and Highbank serving the farmers of the region for years. Later, his son, Samuel Anthony Corpora, followed his dad in the flying business and still does a lot of aerial spraying in the Highbank area, working off of the Highbank airstrip just across the railroad tracks on land now owned by the heirs of Jasper Falco.
Joeseph Corpora was born in Falls County on April 21, 1918, attended school at Highbank,and enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 15, 1941. He graduated as a pilot where he flew combat missions P 38 fighter pilot in the European theater. After the war he applied his piloting skills and established Corpora Aerial Service in Hearne and Highbank. Joseph married Sara Falco, daughter of J. T. Falco and Vincent Tusa Falco of Marlin, Texas,on April 27, 1947 and they had four children: Samuel, Audette, Joseph Charles, and Priscilla Jean.
Joseph passed away on January 25, 1981.
MORE MEMORIES OF EARLY-DAY HIGHBANK
"As a young boy in the late 1940's, Leonard Kubiak recalls hoeing cotton in the fields near Highbank. The buckvine that grew in the cotton fields required the use of an eye-hoe and you earned your $1.00 per-day wages.
During the noon break, several of us kids would slip off to go swimming in nearby Mussel Run Creek. We also swam the muddy rivers of the Brazos when the opportunity came up. I recall that the Brazos river after a rain became extremely treacherous, particularly near the bends of the river which created powerful swirling currents (whirl pools). The river bend whirl pools would pull you down and the only way out was to swim to the bottom and then swim away from the river bend.
Mussel Run Located two miles north of Highbank was a favorite swimming hole for the Highbank area farm hands of the 50's!
Leonard also remembers the sweet scent of freshly pulled cotton as he rode on top of a trailer loaded with cotton that his dad, John Kubiak, pulled with a Farmall tractor to the Highbank gin for ginning. Then it was off to the post office and general store to get a Coke a cola and a "Dixie Cup" with vanilla ice cream (the lids had pictures of movie stars).
Sometimes we'd have an extra nickel to buy a round container of peanuts with a chance to find up to a quarter at the bottom of the box!
"Back in the early 50's, my brother, Daniel Kubiak and I also worked the irrigation ditches in the fields near Highbank providing artesian water for the crops. Using shovels and toe sacks that we filled with dirt, we repaired breaks in the water channels and set a series of siphon hoses at regular intervals to flood selected cotton fields. This was a fun job except when the channel banks erroded away allowing the water to escape. Repairs to the channels required lots of sand bagging and dirt shovelling!"
"Then in the early 50's, construction began on a bridge across the Brazos just below Highbank. Several of us would ride out from Reagan in an Old Model A to see the progress and wet a line in the Brazos. Many a good yellow and blue cat came out of the Brazos.
These were some of my early memories of Highbank".
The Zion Rock Baptist Church of Highbank Celebrated it's One Hundred Second Church Anniversary on June 11, 1995
The following writeup is taken from the original work written by Mrs. Ernestine Lynn Evans, a lifelong member of the Zion Rock Baptist Church, a retired educator, and unofficial church historian.
Zion Rock Baptist Church is located less than fifteen miles south of Marlin in the once bustling farming community of Highbank, Texas. It is probably one of the many, many, small African American churches that broke ground in the long years following the Emancipation Proclamation.
Established in 1893 by Reverend P. Williams, Zion Rock began its journey as the first of two (2) churches. The first church being built on a tract of land known as, "On The Hill." A historical reference to the structure's original site situated on a slope on the main highway leading into town. When a decision was made by church leaders to move the building to its present location at Highbank proper, some of its then-members and deacons expressed an unwillingness to make the move. The remaining group, instead, choosing to pool their monetary resources and raise a second church. This second building housed both a church and a public school.
The two churches, Zion Rock "On the Hill," and Zion Rock, Highbank, would eventually merge as one complete house of faith in the late 1940s.
In the early days, as was the custom with most churches in modest communities, Zion Rock was the focal point around which all other activity revolved. It was a place of praise and a meeting place. A place, whereby, after services on Sunday, town's folk briefly socialized, exchanged a pleasantry, or perhaps offered the invitation of a meal before getting back to the trials and tribulations of the harsh work week ahead.
Many of the descendants of Zion Rock's founding fathers and prior members still make up the Body of Christ there today.
As of June, 1995, while celebrating its 102nd Anniversary, Zion Rock had had a total of nineteen (19) pastors. Some of whom traveled long distances in keeping with their Sunday commitment. One minister, Rev. R. T. Morgan (1948-1950) drove from his home in Brownwood, Texas, to Highbank every second and fourth Sunday, returning on Sunday nights to prepare for his civilian job the following morning as principal of a school.
Rev. R. L. Westbrook took the helm at Zion Rock in 1950. He later resigned to become pastor of a church in Marlin.
Under the leadership of Rev. M. H. Evans (1953) Zion Rock's membership grew. It was also under Pastor Evans' supervision that Zion Rock's largest overall restoration to date took place. The church building, pastor's study, and choir room were remodeled. New carpet was laid, and after years of using oil lamps mounted along the walls for lighting, electricity was introduced.
In 1964, under the auspices of Rev. R. L. Harris, a wing consisting of a kitchen and dining area was added. It was under Rev. Harris' charge that the church's first and only Corner Stone was erected. Rev. Harris also maintained the longest tenure as head of the Zion Rock congregation - 17 years.
In September 1986, Rev. A. C. Franklin of Austin, Texas, was called to pastor. His guardianship brought about much abundance and prosperity. Bringing to the fore a renewed physical, spiritual, and financial growth. Central air and heat was installed, insulated walls were put in place, a water fountain, microphones for the pulpit, telephone communication, the Lord's supper table, just some of the many things Pastor Franklin achieved.
As with most institutions that have braved the centuries, Zion Rock's facade has undergone several changes. Evolving over the years from one distinct look to another. Each stage providing a cherished memory for every member assembled there. Baby-boomers will most recall the church's early double doored front entry. Each separate doorway having its own set of steps leading into the vestibule. A more somber memory many might also recollect is the sad tolling of the bell in the church tower when someone in the Highbank community had passed away.
Church baptisms, long since performed indoors, were once conducted in a nearby creek known as the "Corner Hole," and the "Annie Murry Fishing Hole," named for a Highbank resident.
Today, at 112 years old, Zion Rock is as vibrant a congregation as ever. Flourishing under the pastorate of Rev. R. L. Franklin who, like several messengers before him, makes the biweekly pilgrimage from his home in Austin, Texas.
Church Homecoming festivities are held every June. It is an annual bringing together of existing members and former members from towns and cities both near and far away. A joyous gathering together to celebrate with worship Zion Rock's rich and full past and its future.
CURRENT & FORMER RESIDENTS OF THE HIGHBANK AREA
John and Maude White Berryhill (John was appointed Highbank Postmaster on 14 Oct 1911
Fola Berryhill, born November 29, 1901 in Marion, Alabama ; died February 11, 1907 in Penelope, Hill, Texas.
Thomas Raymond Berryhill, born April 19, 1914, in Highbank, Falls, Texas.
Jesse G. Dupree, born November 29, 1860, died January 16, 1937 at Highbank, Falls County, Texas - was a son of John and Martha Dupree, slaves from South Carolina, who came to Falls County, Texas after 1870, settling at Highbank. Jesse purchased one hundred acres of land, and operated the grist mill at Highbank.
Joseph Samuel Corpora, Sr.- was the son of Sam Copora and Lena Salvato Corpora. Joseph was born in Falls County, Texas, April 21, 1918 and attended school at Highbank.
Joseph enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 15, 1941 and later graduated as a pilot where he flew combat missions. Joseph married Sara Falco, daughter of J. T. Falco and Vincent Tusa Falco of Marlin, Texas,on April 27, 1947.
Sara Falco Corpora attended school at Reagan and graduated from Marlin High School with the Class of 1940. The following children were born to Joseph Samuel and Sara Falco Corpora:
Samuel Anthony Corpora
Joseph Charles Corpora
and Priscilla Jean Corpora.
Received the following email from Joseph's son, Samual Anthony Corpora (
"Thank you sir for your time and effort it took to compile this history and establish this site. My father Joseph S. Corpora did indeed join the Army Air Corps and became a P 38 fighter pilot in the European theater. After the war he applied his piloting skills and established Corpora Aerial Service in Hearne and Highbank. He passed away on Jan.25, 1981, and I followed him in the flying business. I still do a lot of aerial spraying in the Highbank area, working off of the Highbank airstrip just across the railroad tracks on land now owned by the heirs of Jasper Falco. My mom, Sara Falco Corpora is still doing well and living in Hearne. Thanks again for your interest in the history of Highbank, my family's roots.
Sam A. Corpora
Louis and Lena Falco Corpora
Louis Corpora was a paratrooper during WWII and bailed out over Germany. According to Louis, "On my way down, the Germans put a light on me
and when I hit the
ground there were Germans all around." Louis was taken to
a POW camp where he
spent the remainder of the war until the
him. During his imprisonment, Louis got frost bit on the toes
of his left foot.
Louis married Lena Falco and had four daughters:
Angela Corpora Dominey of Houston
Vincencia Corpora Ward of Cypress
Lois Corpora Hay of Austin
Theresa Corpora Collins of Bremond.
Lena Falco Corpora
Oct. 11, 1927 — March 29, 2001
MARLIN, Texas — Services for Lena Falco Corpora, 73, of Marlin are set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marlin. The Rev. Peter Royal will officiate. Burial will be in the Hillcrest Cemetery.
Mrs. Lena Falco Corpora died Thursday in a Spring Branch hospital.
Lena was born in Highbank in Falls County and was a homemaker and lifelong resident of Falls County. She was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marlin.
Lena was preceded in death by her husband, Louis Corpora.
Survivors include four daughters, Angela Dominey of Houston, Vincencia Ward of Cypress, Lois Hay of Austin and Theresa Collins of Bremond; a sister, Sara Corpora of Hearne; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
Antonio Lupo Falco Born: Born in Italy on June 9, 1861; Died in Highbank, Texas in 1942. Antonio married Rosaria Palazzotto of Highbank. After her death, Antonio married Maria Corpora.
Carl J. and Lena Todaro Falco. Carl and Lena were married on April 15, 1931.
Jack Frank and Vancie Roppolo Falco
Jackie Paulette- Born December 9, 1942.
Lucia Falco-married Frank Brai in Highbank.
Joe and Frances Cangelosi Falsone. Joe was born in Porggoreile, Sicily and settled at Mudville in the Brazos Bottom when he and Frances first came to the United States, later moving to Highbank in Falls County, Texas. Joe and Frances had
six girls and four boys including:
Jim Falsone- ran the store and Post Office at Highbank before becoming a postal carrier.
Frances Falsone Reistino- born in Mumford, Texas on January 3, 1905.
Robert Falsone was born in Highbank on July 24, 1911.
Mary Falsone-born on July 12, 1913.
Photo of Joe Falsone, the last postmaster at Highbank and Mary Lena LaBarbera Lewis.
The following account of a followup visit to the homeland was sent to me by Robert Falsone:
"Ten years ago, my son Bobby, brother Tony and his wife Polly and I went to Italy. We visited my father's birth place in Poggioreale, Sicily. The town where my father was born, was destroyed by an earthquake. A new site was selected two or three miles from the destroyed village, and a modern town was started with new homes and new government offices.
Photo taken in Poggioreale, Sicily in the mid 1990's. Group picture taken on a street of the city destroyed by the earthquake. The mayor of the destroyed village gave us a tour of the of the outskirts of the town. The mayor told us it was too dangerous to enter the destroyed village because of the leaning walls.
The mayor is a distant cousin of mine. He introduced me to his mother whose name was Falsone before she married. The mayor's name was Ignaizio Salvaggio. He took us to his home and introduced us to his wife, children and his mother. We were served icecream and cake. He gave us a tour of the new village.
Photo taken in Poggioreale, Sicily in the mid 1990's. Robert Falsone is the guy with the straw hat walking down the street. The lady on the right wearing a black dress is the mayor's mother whose maiden name was also Falsone.
A Plaza was under construction which was going to cost several million dollars. The plaza was surrounded with offices whose stoops were held by sculptured statues. He tooks us to view the destroyed town. There were walls standing with no roofs. There were signs stating the place was a restricted area and no trespassing allowed. His mother took my hand and in Italian was saying she was going to show me where her home was located. Her son heard her and in Italian told her she could not go there because it was too dangerous. The streets were very narrow and some of the old walls were leaning towards the streets. Recalling to mind what my father's mother told me when we were very young that when she left Sciliy, her cousins moved in her home. I figured the mayor's mother is a granddaughter of the family that moved in the house."
Photo taken approx. 5 miles outside Poggioreale, Sicily in the mid 1990's. University law student and guide on the left. Tony Falsone's wife Polly in the middle and Robert Falsone on right with camera.
Robert and Cora Josephine Roppolo Falsone. Robert Falsone was born in Highbank on July 24, 1911. He graduated from Marlin HS in 1931(paid tuition to attend MHSsince the Highbank School was not an accredited school; he also had to repeat most of the courses.
Robert served three years in the army.
"I volunteered July 7, a year to the date of Pearl Harbor and went overseas on June 6, 1943. The troop ship I was on was the Argentina. In peace time the ship was a pleasure cruiser accommodating several hundred passengers. We had five thousand troops on our trip across the North Atlantic. We were in convoy with other troop ships, supply transport ships, and one huge oil tanker. We were escorted by destroyers on either side of the convoy. Our ships were being trailed by Germans Submarines. The destroyers would heave Ashcans full of explosive that detonated several feet under water. The ships changed course every five minutes. Reason I was told for the zig zaging was that it took submarine more that five minutes to aim and release a torpedo.
We had a big storm on the way. I was sea sick all the way across. I made sick call and was told to go on deck and get fresh air. There were huge waves. The oil tanker in calm ocean was only a few feet above the water. During the storm, the tanker would disappear under water but would come up like a cork.
Our ship stopped a few miles out of Liverpool, England waiting for night fall because of the German Air force was bombing cities daily. At night we docked and boarded a passenger train with all windows blacked out. We traveled all night.
Early in the morning, we marched to the mess hall for breakfast.
We had our on mess kit as we went through the serving line there were scrambled eggs, bacon toast and coffee. My appetite had returned. I had not eaten solid food for twenty days, the time it took for the convey to reach Liverpool. I filled my mess plate with scrambled eggs, three slices of bacon, toast and coffee. I could not eat the eggs. They tasted gritty. They were dehydrated eggs. I ate the bacon and toast and drank half of the coffee. I went out to empty my eggs in the garbage can located out side, I met a soldier coming back into the mess hall. He saw the eggs in my mess kit and told me there was a soldier with a rifle attending the garbage can and he told me to come back in and eat my eggs. I scraped the eggs in my coffee cup which was half full of coffee, the eggs were so heavy they sank to the bottom of the cup, I came back to the mess and saw the sign above the door that stated, "Take all you want but you must eat all you take." Reason for the sign -many supply ships were sunk coming over.
After returning from the service, Robert received his Bachelor's Degree from Southwest Teachers College in 1947.
Robert Falsone married
Cora Josephine Roppolo daughter of Joe and Rose Roppolo Of Marlin, Texas. Robert and Cora Josephine Falsone had four children including:
Joseph Robert (Bobby)- attended Marlin schools and received a BS degree from Southwest Texas University and
taught school for thirty-three years. Bobby Falsone taught in San Antonio, where he lives now, but most of employment was in New Braunfels, Texas. He retired in 2001.
Ronald (Ron)- attended the University of Texas finishing his junior year. His Dad urged him to continue for his degree. He said, "Daddy why should I continue going to school when there are people with master degrees and doctor's degree Ph.D. not MD) looking for the same jobs I have applied." The time he was talking about NASA had released many of their employees and those people were looking for any kind of work. Ron currently lives in Austin, is single, self-employed and calls his business, WHAT EVER YOUR HEART DESIRES.
Ron has established a business taking elderly people to see their doctor or go shopping for them. He also takes care of pets for people that go on vacation, and baby-sits homes while the owners are away on vacation or on business.
Francine- graduated from Marlin High School and attended Southwest Texas State University, whose name was changed September 1, 2003. She met her husband, Stephen Haas in college. He lived in Houston. Stephen's father was Dr. Felix Haas, a cancer research specialist with MD Anderson Hospital.
Francine and Steve have one son, Stephen Christian. Steve C. is married and has one son, Addison five years old.
Rosemary- graduated from Marlin High School and attended Southwestern State University, San Marcos. She finished her junior year at SWTSU and got married and then divorced in a couple years. She later married Garry Teague of Athens who is employed in public relations representing Bard, a medical supply company that caters to hospitals and doctors in north America and Europe. Gary and Rosemary have two beautiful girls: Briana, age 16 is president of her Junior Class, and works as a swimming instructor and life guard. Payton Abby is thirteen and in the eight grade.
After retiring from school teaching, Robert Falsone went to work as a Deputy sheriff under sheriff Brady Pamplin. At the next election, Brady did not choose to run and Larry Pamplin, Brady's son ran for sheriff and was elected. After Larry was certified as the winner of the election, Brady resigned and Larry became sheriff.
Deputy Sherriff Robert Falsone in the 80's.
Robert went to school to get certified as a deputy sheriff and was a deputy for 20 years before retiring from law enforcement.
H.R. No. 51
R E S O L U T I O N
WHEREAS, Mary Falsone Dicorte, a lifelong Texan, is
commemorating a momentous occasion with the celebration of her 90th
birthday on July 12, 2003; and
WHEREAS, Mrs. Dicorte was born in Highbank to proud parents
Joe and Frances Falsone; she is a highly regarded resident of Waco,
where she has lived since 1931; and
WHEREAS, A doting wife to her husband, Billy, during his
lifetime, Mrs. Dicorte helped to run the family grocery store as a
young woman and gained a reputation as a superb cook and immaculate
housekeeper; she has lovingly raised four children and has watched
with pride as her family has grown to include nine grandchildren, 16
great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren; and
WHEREAS, Mrs. Dicorte has been an active member of St. Louis
Catholic Church for many years and enjoys spending time with her
close-knit family, sharing daily phone calls with her siblings, and
watching television; and
WHEREAS, This beloved woman is a joy and a blessing to all who
know her, and she is truly deserving of special recognition on this
memorable day; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 78th Texas
Legislature, 1st Called Session, hereby congratulate Mary Falsone
Dicorte on her 90th birthday and extend to her sincere best wishes
for continued happiness; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be
prepared for Mrs. Dicorte as an expression of high regard by the
Texas House of Representatives.
Robert Falsone, 92 (left), with the guest of honor, Mary Falsone Dicorte (on the far right), and her daughter, Mary Frances Dicorte Hope. The occasion was Mary's 90th birthday.
Around Thanksgiving of 2005, I received the following tragic news from Robert and Joe's niece, Charlotte.
"Joe's Uncle Robert Falsone, Uncle Robert's brother Joe and wife Christine, were all 3 killed in an automobile accident on Thursday as they headed home (to Marlin) from Thanksgiving with their children and grandchildren in Austin. I would really appreciate your prayers for the Roppolo and Falsone families at this very sad time. The rosary will be Sunday night at 6 and the three funerals at St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Monday morning.
The three were only about 20 minutes from Marlin when a 27 year old man driving a truck ran into them head on. He was also killed in the accident, such a tragedy. This fork in the country road, where oncoming traffic from one road forks into another, has been the scene of many accidents in past decades. We were told that upon impact there was an explosion.
Uncle Robert (whose wife Cora was Joe's dad's sister) has been very close to our family all through the years. He raised 4 children on his own after his wife Cora died at a young age. He was working on his PhD at the time, but in order to take care of Cora (who was bedridden for 13 years due to brain tumors) dropped his studies and became a math teacher in the Marlin schools. Cora was a beautiful, witty lady and he was so devoted to her. He never remarried.
After he retired from teaching, he worked as a deputy sheriff. He was a devout Christian, and we all loved him so much and he always had a hug and big smile for all of us. His brother Joe (also very special to Joe and me) farmed the family land in Highbank, a rural Italian community about 10 miles from Marlin, where all the Falls County Italians originally settled after immigrating to America (via New Orleans, then the Bryan area) from Poggiareale, Sicily. Joe and Christine did not have children, but helped raise one of Robert's daughters, Francine.
Every Sunday after mass the family gathered at the old home place for the traditional Italian food. When (my) Joe was sick, Joe Falsone visited us and brought us watermelons from his garden. Christine emailed me several times a week, sending inspirational material and also telling us that they were praying for Joe. In fact, Christine sent us a happy Thanksgiving message on Wednesday. Uncle Robert (94 years old, healthy and sharp) also kept in close touch with us. So we are devastated by the loss of 3 such wonderful people. All 3 had such magificent, friendly personalities and wonderful senses of humor. They did a great deal of research about the history of the Italians in our area, and created a wonderful website describing that history and their traditions. Joe's dad and the four sisters grew up on a farm in Highbank, before Joe's grandfather moved into Marlin and opened his furniture store and other businesses.
We ask your prayers especially for Robert's children - Francine, Joe, Ronnie and Rosemary (now on her way from Atlanta). Christine was like a mother to all of them, Joe was like a loving stepfather as much as an uncle - I guess you'd say all 3 raised the children.
I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving. We had a wonderful time with our children here in FW, and kept in touch with Gina and family (who celebrated Thanksgiving in Birmingham with her in laws). Gina, Tom and the children made the entire drive back to Chicago in one day, and we were so glad last night to get their call saying they'd arrived home safely.
Thank you for praying for the Falsone family. God bless you all.
Robert's nephew, Rob Scamardo, delivered the eulogy at the funeral at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marlin on Monday, November 28, 2005.
The following eulogy on the Falsone family was written by Robert Peter Scamardo of Houston, son of Camella Falsone Scamardo. Rob regularly visited Highbank with his mom and spent summer vacations in Highbank as a child from 1965-1969 visiting his grandmother, Aunt Christine and Uncle Joe, and Francine. Uncle Robert and Rosemary were frequently present for those visits.
Robert, Joe and all of their surviving siblings were born and raised in Highbank. Christine was born in Kosse and lived there until she married Joe and moved to Highbank.
Highbank, TX; tragedy strikes Falsone family
Thursday, November 24 -- Thanksgiving Day 2005 -- was a tragic day for the Falsone Family, especially for the children of Robert Falsone: Joseph Robert Falsone, Ronnie Falsone, both of Austin, Francine Falsone Haas and her husband Steven Haas of Round Rock and Rosemary Falsone Teague and her husband Gary of Conyers, Georgia...a tragic day for all who knew and loved Robert, Joe and Christine Falsone...it was a day we will long remember...its difficult to imagine family events without them...and it was also a beautiful day.
I was blessed to have been their nephew, one of many and humbled to eulogize them at their funeral at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marlin on Monday, November 28. I offer here some excerpts from my remarks.
The day was tragic not because they experienced death but tragic because of the manner of their death. In one single day, these three loving, giving, caring and beautiful people were taken from this life...without an opportunity for any of us to say goodbye. I've resisted accepting the news, struggling to understand the chaos of their automobile collision on Highway 53, just a few miles from home....and so we grieve for ourselves that they are no longer here with us as we knew them in this life...but they are alive as they have passed over to the other side of this life.
As we reflect on their lives and grieve their passing, we rejoice for how they have shaped our lives, all of us who knew them will never forget, they live on in our heart, in our memories, in our stories. I know I'm a better man for having known and loved these three and their experience of death has also shaped me...for it is a clear and undeniable reminder that none of us know the hour in this life which will be our last.. that we are called to live humbly, act justly and love unconditionally as they did.
Just as they shared so much of their life together...they also shared death. They took their final journey like they had taken so many before, their final journey into death together. And they experienced death on Thanksgiving Day when our nation pauses to give thanks to God for all that we have been blessed with...and today we give thanks for them...in reflecting upon this is why I also consider their death beautiful.
Uncle Robert lived a full life of 94 years. He was born July 25, 1911, second son to Frances LaBarbera Falsone (1890-1970) and Joe Falsone, Sr. (1880-1953). He was a man of service, serving his nation in the military during World War II, serving the children and youth of Reagan and Marlin as a teacher and counselor and after retirement from eduction, serving the citizens of Falls County as deputy sheriff/jailer. He was a man of devout Catholic Christian faith, attending Mass often and serving the parish as lector, eucharistic minister and altar server.
I was named after him and he was my godfather. He was a great story teller, especially ghost stories, he was the historian of our family, Highbank and the local area. He had assumed a patriarchal role since 1979 and the passing of his older brother, Jim Falsone, and also had a passion for hunting arrowheads. Robert is also survived by three grandchildren, Steven Haas of Plfugerville, Briana Cora Teague of Austin and Payton Abby Teague of Conyers, GA. He was preceded in death by his wife of 24 years, Cora Roppolo Falsone.
Uncle Joe was was 79 born February 25, 1926, youngest son of Frances and Joe Falsone. Aunt Christine was 74, born October 11, 1931. For me and many of us in the Falsone Family, Uncle Joe and Aunt Christine embodied Highbank...a word which evokes memories of family and fun, aunts, uncles and cousins. I never knew Highbank without them, they lived their entire married life of over 50 years there. For our family, Highbank forever changed with the passing of Grandma (Frances Falsone) 35 years ago but as the population declined, Uncle Joe and Aunt Christine remained, always there with open arms and welcome smiles.
Uncle Joe was a farmer, former U.S. Postmaster, and owner/manager of the last general stores in Highbank. I fondly remember helping out in the store and being "paid" with unlimited soda water and snacks. Uncle Joe was a very active member of the Catholic Knights of Columbus, 4th Degree. Aunt Christine was an excellent seamstress and owned/managed a fabric shop in Marlin for several years. Above all, Aunt Christine had a great sense of humor and in recent years, would regularly use email to share jokes with us. We will always recall their smiles and their love.
They are survived by five siblings: Mary Falsone DiCorte (born 1913) and Anthony Joseph "Tony" Falsone (born 1920) of Waco, Benetta Falsone Wenning (born 1917) of Dallas, Angeline Falsone Cangelosi (born 1924) of Sugarland and Camella Falsone Scamardo (born 1929) of Mumford.
Robert Peter Scamardo of Houston, son of Camella Falsone Scamardo
Frances Falsone was born at Mumford, Texas on January 3, 1905, the daughter of Joe Falsone and Frances Cangelosi Falsone. Her parents were born in Porggoreile, Sicily and settled at Mudville in the Brazos Bottom when they first came to the United States, later moving to Highbank in Falls County, Texas. Frances married Joe Reistino on January 18, 1925.
The following children were born to Joe Reistino and Frances Falsone Reistino:
Louise Reistino-married Charles Scarpinato
Gathan Reistino, who married Angeline Stratta
Frances Reistino- married Vince Corpora
and Joe Reistino Jr.
James Falsone- son of Jim Falsone recently sent me the following email.
"I grew up in Highbank and found your web page on the
interesting. My father was Jim Falsone, Joe and Robert's
He ran the store and and was postmaster until he was
carrier. At that time my Uncle Joe assumed the
responsibilites for the
store and post office until its closure.
I found the
information on the
Dupree Grist Mill very interesting. As a young boy, my
cousins and I
found a large round stone in Highbank Creek behind my
house. We brought the stone to my dad's store and a man
there told us
it was the grind stone from a grist mill which I assume was
Mill. I don't recall who the man was, but we gave the
stone to him.
This was 45+ years ago and I had no appreciation for its
historical interest like I do now.
My older brother Joe lives in Bowie would like to
visit with you
about this. He doesn't have access to the internet, but
number is 940-872-1355.
Alfred Grove (Postmaster)
Charlie D. Jones, appointed Highbank Postmaster on 8 Mar 1916
Frank Joseph LaBarbera and Lena Mae Harris LaBarbera
Received the following email from Jacqueline LaBarbera,
"My name is Jacqueline LaBarbera. I grew up in Highbank and I am the daughter Frank Joseph LaBarbera and Lena Mae Harris LaBarbera. My Grandfather was the Joe LaBarbera who had the bar next door to the Falsone store. I was born in 1952 so I never knew my grandfather but grew up around my grandmother Josie LaBarbera. There are truely some interesting stories about Highbank. I rememeber the tent show once a year. I don't recall what year it was when the train derailed, I just remember there were box cars stacked miles high. All of my cousins used to play in the church yard all the time. Those Falco brothers were always building something. Anyway congratulations on a job well done. Maybe we can get some pictures of the LaBarbera story posted some day with a little history".
Anna LaBruzzo family
Received the following email from Liz Bertucci inquiring about the Anna Labruzzo family that were also from Poggioreale and worked as hands in the fields of Highbank in the 1920's. If any of you have information about the La Bruzzo family, please let us know.
From: "Liz Bertucci"
Subject: La Bruzzo Family
"My husband and I had the joy of visiting Highbank and Marlin last year to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Monsignor Ignatious Roppolo's Ordination to the priesthood. I'd always heard from my mother Anna Labruzzo Maenza that her family, when she was a child, had lived for a while in Highbank. They had worked as farmhands in cotton fields.
I do not have much information. I suspect it was sometime between 1910 and 1920 that they were there. Her parents had come to America from Poggioreale in the early 1900's. She was born in 1908. Her mother was Elizabeth Manno.
In 2003, we visited Poggioreale and was just awed by it's beauty.
Do you have any information about the La Bruzzos?
They lived in New Orleans for most of their lives. I was born and reared in New Orleans. There are many descendants in New Orleans from the immigrants from Poggioreale.
If you have any information, I would be delighted to have it.
Mary Lena LaBarbera Lewis
Antonino "Tony" and Anna
Giuseppe Loria (Joe T. Lowry) was born on January 16, 1917 in Highbank, Texas. He died on 21 Oct 1979 in Dallas, Texas. He was married to Wanda Lee Vanderburg and had the following children:
Wanda Gay Lowry- married Thomas Joseph VIAU had two children:
Michael Joseph VIAU and Craig Joseph VIAU,
Diana Joy Lowry
Joe Brent Lowry-married Teri BARNES had two children:
Joe Brent Lowry JR. and Jeri Lynn LOWRY.
Joe Brent Lowry and EVELYN had one daughter,Tamra Lowry.
Princess Anne Lowry-married Jason Elliott Beck had two children:
Michael Justin Beck and
Mandi Dawn Beck.
Russell Kent Lowry
The Lynn Family settled in the Highbank Community prior to 1855, where they purchased land after the Civil War. This land is now worked and owned by fourth generation descendants of the Lynn family.
John Lynn and his second wife, Irene Estelle (Burch) Lynn
James Elvis Lynn, born February 16, 1922 at Highbank, Falls County, Texas.Married Zona Mae Hunnicutt. James and Zona (Hunnicutt) Lynn are members of Zion Rock Church at Highbank, where he teaches a Sunday School Class, and she is Church Clerk.
Joe and Lucia Dechiro Margiotta
Vincent-Born August 3, 1934
Mary Stella- Born January 19, 1941 (my classmate)
Milton- Born May 22, 1944
Francis-Born May 7, 1947
Pat and Dora Abate Margiotta
Anthony Charles-Born October 25, 1930.
Dorothy Patricia- Born November 14, 1932
Basil- Born June 3, 1942
Annette Marie- Born January 22, 1944
Letter from Robbie Morrison
"I enjoyed perusing your web pages about Reagan, Texas. I was looking around trying to find anything on the web about Highbank, Texas, which as your surely know is not far from Reagan. I found a few things, but not too much.
My maternal great-grandparents lived out their years in Highbank, having migrated there from Louisiana with their family of 4 around 1917. My great grandparents were George and Tina Polito (i.e., Giuseppe and Agatha Spedale Ippolito) having immigrated to the United States from Sicily in the 1880's. They owned a farm in Highbank for years, finished raising their family, and were were buried in Marlin upon their respective deaths.
Do you know of any histories of Highbank? I am putting together a book about my great-grandfather and his travel to America and ultimately to Texas. I have found a few things here and there, but I would love to have copies of any pictures that may exist of the Highbank that I remember as a child. I spent many weekends in Highbank with my grandparents, Nick and Dora Polito, and have wonderful memories of the farm in Highbank. I remember that we used to travel through Reagan to get to Highbank.
I have traveled to Highbank several times during the last few years. The last time, my brother and sister and I spent a little time with Joe Falsone, and he took us for a short tour of the old Highbank Post Office. I've also spent time with Vancie Falco in Marlin talking about the Highbank of Old...
Perhaps you can add to my memories. Would love to hear from you."
Dominico and Lula Salvato Parrino- Dominico Parrino was born in Alcomo, Sicily and Lula Salvato (daughter of Frank and Fena Salvato) was born in Munford, Texas.
Mary Ann Parrino-born in Highbank in 1934
Mary Ann Parrino-born in Highbank in 1934. Married Anthony Palermo of Houston, Texas.
The following letter comes from Mary Ann Parrino Palermo:
"Hi I enjoyed your website so much. I was born in Highbank in 1934 on the Lee farm near town.
My father, Dominico Parrino, was born in Alcomo, Sicily. He married Lula Salvato, one of the daughters of Frank and Fena Salvato. Lula was born in Munford, Texas. Dominico and Lula Salvato Parrino had three children:
Frances-married Joe Spedale
Mary Ann (me)- I married Anthony Palermo of Houston. We have one daughter, Darlene Palermo Dichero and two sons, Anthony J. Palermo and Dominick Palermo. I also have 9 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren and two on the way!
My grandfather was Frank Salvato who was married to Fena Tusa. Both grandparents came from large families that lived in Highbank and later moved to Marlin, Waco and Houston. My father was from Detroit, so we moved back during the war as he was not making much money farming.
I am related to the Tusa family, the Salvato families, the Polito families and the Spedale families, too numerous to mention here.
My father, Dominico Parrino, was the first farmer to buy a tractor and everybody told him he could not plow a good field with the plow and big tires on the tractor, but he did well. So the next year, many of the other farmers bought tractors and are still plowing the fields that way! Course now they have even better tractors.
We all had gas pumps on the land for fueling the tractors. The gas was Mobile Gas and we had the Red horse with wings on the pumps.
I remember that each winter, Dad would kill a hog on a cold day (we had no refrigeration) and we made a lot of Italian sausage and hams which my dad smoked in a barrel and then stored them in coolers in Marlin".
The following information was sent by Darlene Palermo Dichero, daughter of Mary Ann Parrino Palermo
Hi! Great work on the website. I'd like to add some information for you. My mother is Mary Ann Parrino Palermo. I was first married to Anthony Romeo of Houston and we had two children Vincent Anthony Romeo and Suzanne Marie Romeo Massiatte. Suzanne is married to Danny Massiatte and they have a son, almost 2 yrs. named Daniel Mason Massiatte. We were divorced and I remarried to Joseph A. Dichero, Jr. He is somehow related to Joe and Lucia Dechiro Margiotta (spelled differently that ours) and his family used to visit them when he was young. He's not sure if Lucia Dechiro was his grandfather's sister or not. He also remembers that they had a son named Joe that is not listed there. You might have to verify that somehow.
Also, my mother's sister Frances Parrino Spedale was married to Joe Spedale (now deceased). Listed is one son, the youngest, Don Spedale residing in Atlanta Ga. with his wife Patty Nordielo Spedale and their four sons, Matt, Cole, Dean, and John. Joe & Frances' oldest son, Mike Spedale lives in Houston with his wife Virginia Dalio Spedale. They have one daughter Stacie Spedale Austin married to Dean Austin, and they have one son, 1-1/2 yrs old named Tanner Austin.
Darlene Palermo Dichero
Abner Mandell Peacock, b ca 1890 d in 1966, was a prosperous farmer in the Highbank area of Falls County, Texas until the heavy floods of the Brazos River wiped him out. He was a brother of Frank Peacock, who settled in Marlin, Texas.
In 1915, Abner married Mary L. Jones, b March 21,1898 in Reagan-a daughter of Charles D. Jones (b April 1, 1874, d October 19, 1941) and his wife, Dovie (Marlin) Jones (b November 18, 1877, d August 11, 1954), who married in 1895 in Falls County, Texas. Dovie's parents were William Payne Marlin (b April 14, 1855 at Hog Island in Falls County, d October 5, 1916) and his wife, Sarah Ellen Erwin (b September 22, 1854, d January 23, 1923) - a daughter of A. J. Erwin (b ca 1825 in Tennessee) and Ellen A. (Adams) Erwin (b ca 1830 in Arkansas, d before 1870). A. J. Erwin married second to Minerva Curry. William Payne Marlin was a son of James Marlin (b October 29, 1794 in Tennessee, d July 28, 1862) and his second wife, Emeline (Payne) Gentry (widow of Samuel Gentry), who was b April 3, 1816, d in 1881 in Falls County, Texas.
Abner Mandell and Mary L. (Jones) Peacock had four children:
Abner Mandell Peacock, Jr., b February 3, 1916
Richard Lee Peacock, b March 26, 1918, married Katherine Gillespie
Mary Louise Peacock, b September 15, 1919
Dorothy Jean Peacock, b March 26, 1924.
The Abner M. Peacock family moved to Marlin, where the children all attended school. Abner and Mary were later divorced, and she remarried Sam H. Oakes, having one son, Charles Robert Oakes, b February 3, 1944.
George and Tina Polito (i.e., Giuseppe and Agatha Spedale Ippolito) immigrated to Highbank from Sicily in the 1880's. They owned a farm in Highbank for years, finished raising their family, and were were buried in Marlin upon their respective deaths.
Photo of Giuseppe and Agatha Spedale Ippolito (George and Tina Polito).
Nick and Dora Polito
Louise Reistino. Louise Reistino was born on October 23, 1925 in Highbank, Texas and died on Oct. 28, 2001. She was married to Charlie Scarpinato.
Rogers, Alpheus L., Assigned as Postmaster of Highbank on June 27, 1902
Dominic T. Salvaggio, Appointed Highbank Postmaster on 23 Feb 1922
Frank and Fena Tusa Salvato
Charlie and Louise Reistino Scarpinato. Louise Reistino Scarpinato was born on October 23, 1925 in Highbank, Texas and died on Oct. 28, 2001. She was married to Charlie Scarpinato. Survivors include her husband, Charlie Scarpinato of Hearne; a brother, Gathan Reistino of Hearne; a sister, Frances Corpora of Hearne; and six nieces.
Edward Hughes and Lula Scott
The following email is from Wayne Scott Sr., son of Alton Scott:
From: "wayne" (email@example.com)
Subject: Ed Hughes and Lula Scott
"I very much enjoyed your Highbank webpage. My Grandmother and Grandfather lived there until his death. His name was Edward Hughes and her name was Lula Scott. They had two boys, Edward and Alton Scott. Alton was my father. He died several years ago in Dayton, TX. I believe Edward Hughes was a German. He died long before I was born in 1940.
Lula was a light skin black woman and live in "housekeeper" for Ed. I think they came to Highbank from Brenham, TX. I would like to know more about Ed Hughes. My Grandmother didn't talk about him much. Thanks and I will be checking back for updates. I don't think I have any pictures of them but if I find some, I'll send them to you."
Received the following reply regarding Wayne Scott's inquiry:
From: "Luedell Taylor" (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I just read Wayne Scott's email about his grandmother and grandfather, Lula Scott and Edward Hughes. I understand that he wants to know more about them. My name is Luedell Taylor. I was born in Highbank in 1948 to Jack and Lillie Taylor. I am sorry to say that I, of course, did not know Mr. Hughes and I think I may have seen Ms. Lula once or twice. I was a little girl then. My mother knew Ms. Lula as they came from the same place, (My mother was born in the Washington County, Brenham area. She died in 1996). I know more about Mr. Alton Scott as he was the bus driver who drove us Highbank kids to Marlin to attend school. I found Mr. Hughes and Ms. Lula in the 1930's Census. Mr. Hughes was 69 years old then. At www.familysearch.org , I found what appears to be his death certificate if he died in 1936. Please pass this along to Mr. Scott. Thanks.
Joseph and Frances Parrino Spedale. Joseph Spedale was one of 12 children raised in Highbank. Most of the Spedale clan moved to Houston.
Don Spedale-currently lives in Atlanta Georgia.
John M. Stephens, Appointed Highbank Postmaster on 26 Apr 1917
Roy Storrs, appointed Highbank Postmaster on October 16,1909
Mayme Tubb, former Postmaster of Highbank
Jos. C. Tusa, appointed Highbank Postmaster on 2 Apr 1918
Tony and Katherine Mary (Tusa) Todaro
Angie Weido-born on March 4, 1936 in Highbank, Texas. She worked for Bailey Oxygen Tool Company and had been a member of St. Anthony Catholic Church in Bryan.
Angie died on Sept. 18, 2000
She is survived by a son and daughter-in-law, Jody and Kelly Weido of Bryan; a daughter, Jacque Weido of Bryan; a sister and brother-in-law, Providence and Tony Lombardo of Marlin, Texas; and seven grandchildren.
Received the following email from Vincent Weido:
"Very interesting web page.
My wife's maiden name is Katherine Josephine Todaro and she was born in Marlin in 1941. Her parents, Tony Todaro and Katherine Mary (Tusa) Todaro, lived in Highbank for several years; they are related to many of the people listed. It was a joy to read about the history and people that lived in Highbank.
You have misspelled the town in Sicily that is illustrated by several pictures; the correct spelling is Poggioreale. We visited there in October, 2004 and had the great opportunity to meet with the current mayor, Gaetano Salvaggio. At present there are about 1,600 residents of the "new" town Poggioreale.
Gaetano does not speak English, but his daughter does. Gaetano is very interested in locating his relatives in Texas, so if any readers have names and addresses, I will be most pleased to forward them. You can contact me at email@example.com or write to me at 131 Ravenhead Drive, Houston, Texas 77034-1519.
My paternal grandfather, Simone Guida was married in Poggioreale and came to America (via Ellis Island) in 1912. The surname Guida has transitioned to Guido then to Weido. I was very interested in your listed the birth of Angie Weido in Highbank, I didn't realize that her parents had lived there; I only knew of their Bryan home. (Interestingly, when we spoke of Texas to Gaetano, he recognized the city name Bryan and had little knowledge of Houston.)
I have informed others of your webpage and I'm sure they will have great joy in reading about their old home town, Highbank.
This is a work in progress and I need your help to complete the Highbank webpage. If you have any old photos or memories that you'd like to share with our readers, please send me an email. And don't forget to bookmark this page and come back often to see the latest postings.
For questions or comments, send me an Email
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