THE HISTORY OF REAGAN, FALLS COUNTY, TEXAS
The History of the town and the people that once lived there.
By Author and Texas Historian, Leonard Kubiak, born in Reagan, Texas.
ANCIENT HISTORY OF THE REAGAN TEXAS REGION
For thousands of years, the region that became known as Reagan was inhabited by roaming bands of Native Americans.
Many Indian relics were found along the plowed banks of Fish Creek and a relic-laden midden once existed on the high side of the creek with a mound of clam shells over three feet thick. Bee Branch was another major site of Indian relics.
SPANISH CLAIM TEXAS IN 1519
Slightly more than three centuries elapsed between the time the Texas shoreline was first viewed by a Spaniard in 1519 and July 21, 1821, when the flag of Castile and León was lowered for the last time at San Antonio. During this period, the Spanish established missions to christianize the Indians. In 1821, the Mexicans defeated the Spanish and Texas once more became a territory of Mexico.
MEXICO ALLOWS SETTLEMENT IN TEXAS
After winning their independence from Spain, Mexico began to encourage Anglo Americans to settle into Texas. The area that became Reagan was part of Robertson's Colony settled in 1834 and 1835.
Sterling Clack Robertson
Sterling Clack Robertson was born on October 2, 1785, in Nashville, Tennessee. His father was Elijah Robertson, a brother of General James Robertson, the "Father of Middle Tennessee," and his mother was Sarah (Maclin) Robertson, for whom he later named the capital of his colony in Texas.
Major Sterling C. Robertson was one of seventy members of the Texas Association who on March 2, 1822, signed a memorial asking the Mexican Government for permission to settle in Texas. They finally received a contract in 1825, known as Leftwich's Grant, and Robertson came to Texas with the party sent to explore the territory, leaving Nashville on November 21, 1825, and remaining in Texas at least until August 24, 1826, on which date he made a deposition in San Felipe de Austin concerning the wife of Ellis Bean..
On October 15, 1827, this colonization project became known as the Nashville Colony, but nothing was actually done toward bringing settlers to Texas until April 26, 1830, when Robertson began to sign up families. The area assigned for settlements by the Nashville Company was transferred to Austin & Williams on February 25, 1831, and remained under their control until May 22, 1834.
ROBERTSON'S COLONY (1834-1835)
The decree of May 22, 1834, awarding the colony to Robertson confirmed the boundaries as they had been defined in the Nashville Company's contract of October 15, 1827. Beginning at the point where the road from Béxar (San Antonio) to Nacogdoches, known as "the Upper Road," crossed the Navasota River, a line was to be run along that road on a westerly course, to the heights which divided the waters of the Brazos and Colorado Rivers; thence on a northwest course along that watershed to the northernmost headwaters of the San Andrés River (Little River), and from the said headwaters, northeast on a straight line, to the belt of oaks extending on the east side of the Brazos, north from the Hueco (Waco) Village, known as the "Monte Grande" ("Great Forest"), and in English as "the Cross Timbers," and from the point where that line intersected the Cross Timbers, on a southeast course along the heights between the Brazos and Trinity rivers, to the headwaters of the Navasota, and thence down the Navasota, on its righthand or west bank, to the point of beginning. That included all or part of the 17 counties listed above, under Leftwich's Grant, plus the 13 additional counties shown under the Nashville Colony, constituting an area 100 miles wide, beginning at the San Antonio- Nacogdoches Road and extending northwest up the Brazos for 200 miles, centering around Waco.
In that 1834 session of the legislature, Robertson was recognized as the empresario of the colony, and he was to introduce the rest of the 800 families into the colony before April 29, 1838. Each family that dedicated itself solely to farming was to receive one LABOR (177.1 acres) of land; those who also engaged in ranching were to receive an additional SITIO (1 league, or 4,428.4 acres) . Single men were to receive 1/4 league (1,107.1 acres). For each 100 families introduced, Robertson was to receive 5 leagues and 5 labors (or a total of 23,027.5 acres) of premium lands. William H. Steele was appointed Land Commissioner of the Nashville (or Robertson) Colony on May 24, 1834, and he appointed John Goodloe Warren Pierson as Principal Surveyor, on September 17, 1834.
The capital of the colony was laid out at the Falls of the Brazos (about 6 miles northwest of the Reagan area and named Sarahville de Viesca: "Sarah" for Empresario Robertson's mother, Sarah (Maclin) Robertson, who had loaned him the money for the project, and "Viesca" for Agustín Viesca, the Mexican official who was presiding over the state legislature when it granted the contract to Robertson. All the Robertson Colony land grants were issued in Viesca, Texas.
The first land title was issued on October 20, 1834, but all the colonial land offices were closed, by the Provisional Government of Texas, on November 13, 1835, because of the outbreak of the Texas Revolution, thus preventing Robertson from completing the full quota of 800 families. However, according to a ruling handed down by the Supreme Court of the State of Texas, in December of 1847, Robertson was given credit for having introduced a total of 600 families.
Following the Texas Revolution, the Robertson Colony area was broken up to form all or part of the thirty present-day Texas counties which have been listed under Leftwich's Grant and the Nashville Colony.
FISH CREEK/GUFFEE/HOG ISLAND SETTLEMENTS
The region in Falls County located approximately five miles southeast of the falls on the Brazos and three mile southwest of Blue Ridge was originally home to several early-day settlements including: Fish Creek settlement, Hog Island settlement and the Guffee settlement.
FISH CREEK SETTLEMENT
The Fish Creek Settlement on the eastern banks of Fish Creek some 2 miles east of present-day Reagan was established in the 1830's during the days of the Texas Republic.
In this area, a few hardy settlers built log cabins, tilled the land and traded with the Indians at a trading post near the settlement of Fish Creek. One of the early-day Reagan region settlers was James Barton who was appointed tax collector of the Fish Creek Community by the Republic of Texas government in the late 1830's.
In the period from 1840 to 1870, several families settled the Fish Creek and Blue Ridge area including Joe Tucker who later operated a stage stop in Blue Ridge, the Curreys, Clarks, Wards, Johnsons, Kinnards, Beals, Cowans, Owens, Robertsons, Wyches, Combs, and Hagens families.
Isaac Newton, Jr. and Rachel Louise Covington Crouch
Isaac Newton, Jr. and Rachel Louise Covington Crouch, pioneer settlers from Tennessee that settled in the fish creek area near Reagan Texas in the 1840's. Isaac was born Nov 1825 in Washington Co., TN and died Apr 15, 1900 in Reagan. Rachael was born on Jan 16, 1826 in Rutherford Co., TN and died in Reagan on January 26, 1887.
William W. Crouch was born in 1849 in the area that became Reagan Texas.
The Fish Creek settlement developed along what is now the "Reagan to Kosse" road, near the old Danford Dairy area and near the Blue Ridge settlement. Initially, the settlement contained an old general store and a gristmill but later expanded to include a stage stop/inn and a blacksmith shop by the Civil War era.
Blacksmith Shop in Fish Creek Settlement
Stagecoach, wagon, or horseback was the only way to get to the Blue Ridge community from the early-day Fish Creek settlement
One old log cabin from the Guffey settlement survived on the west side of Fish Creek until the early 1950's. This log cabin standing next to the Reagan Methodist Church was originally home of the Guffey clan up until the Civil War.
In this 1912 photo, you can see the old Guffey cabin in the background. (Photo courtesy Shelly Smith)
By the late 1860's, settlers travelling by covered wagon began moving into the Reagan area.
Wagon Trains from Tennessee and Alabama entered the Reagan area after the end of the Civil War.
Early day Blueridge and Reagan settlers were looking for a fresh start.
REAGAN TEXAS ESTABLISHED IN 1873
In 1873, the Waco and Northwestern Railroad completed the section of track between Bremond and Ross came through a couple of miles west of the fish creek settlement. Judge William Reason Reagan donated land for the new town of Reagan Texas and the town was on the map in 1873 absorbing the nearby settlements of Fish Creek, hog island and the Guffey settlement.
Coming of the Steam Train in 1873 put Reagan on the Map!
The town of Reagan was named after Judge William Reason Reagan. In 1849, William Reagan had become a citizen of Texas and by 1850, he resided in Henderson County with John, a younger brother, and a sister. William attended McKinney College in Red River County. In 1854, William Reagan received a land patent of 640 acres in Falls County and moved to Marlin where he taught school in the old Union Church for a couple of years. William married Elizabeth V. Stanley in 1856 and the couple had their first child, William Reason Reagan, Jr. in 1857. That same year, William was admitted to the bar.
In the Civil War, William Reagan volunteered for the Thirtieth Texas Cavalry. Later he served as enrolling officer of Falls County and once took the mail to Richmond.
In 1865 he was appointed county judge for Falls County. By 1871 William owned 2,846 acres and a town lot in Falls County and donated land for the town of Reagan on July 1, 1873. The following year he moved to the town named after him and lived there for five years.
William Reagan was a Methodist and a Democrat and married Elizabeth Stanley of Fairfield, Texas, in 1856.
William and Elizabeth had three sons and a daughter:
William Reason Reagan, Jr. (b. 1857)
John B. Reagan (b. 1859)
Morris R. Reagan (b. Falls County in 1861)
Timothy Reagan (b. 1864-Falls County)
Sarah E. Reagan (b. 1866 in Falls County)
Elizabeth Reagan died in 1868.
William Reagan and his family lived in Reagan from 1874 through 1879
when they moved to Georgetown, apparently to improve opportunities for the children's education. He continued to practice law.
In the 1890s, William Reagan and his family moved to Oklahoma City where Reagan served as a United States commissioner in the Chickasaw Indian Territory (1893 to 1896). According to newspaper obituaries, William Reagan was still living when his brother John H. Reagan died in 1905.
John H. Reagan, Brother of Judge William Reagan.
THREE CONFEDERATE GENERALS CAME FROM REAGAN TEXAS
A Texas Historical Marker errected in 1965 pays tribute to three young soldiers (the Harrison brothers) from the area near the falls on the Brazos that gained the rank of General in the Confederate Army. To find the marker, take SH6 3.5 mi N. out of Reagan Texas to a Roadside Park.
The marker reads," C.S.A. (1823 - 1891) Youngest only trio of Texas Brothers who all gained rank of general in Confederate Army. Lived in Falls County in 1850s. Veteran of Mexican War and of Texas frontier defense. Rose in Civil War to command of Terry's Texas Rangers. Rode with Cavalry of Gen. N. B. Forrest who got "Thar Fustest with the mostest". Fought at Shiloh, Murfreesboro, Ft. Donelson, Knoxville, Atlanta, was wounded 3 times and had 5 horses shot from under him. Elected district judge in 1866, was removed by reconstruction regime. Served as trustee of Waco University".
James Edward Harrison, older brother of Thomas, was born in Greenville District, South Carolina, April 24, 1815. His family soon moved to Alabama and then to Mississippi where he eventually served two terms in the state senate. Moving to Texas in 1857, he settled near the Falls on the Brazos. In 1861, James was assigned as commissioner to treaty with the Indians on behalf of the State of Texas. He also became a member of the Texas secession convention.
Harrison entered Confederate service in the 15th Texas Infantry, with which almost his Entire army career was in comparatively minor operation west of the Mississippi River. He participated under the command of Gen Tom Green in the Louisiana campaigns of 1863 and 1864. In both campaigns he received favorable mention by Green and Gen. Richard Taylor. He was appointed brigadier general to rank from December 22, 1864.
After the war, Thomas moved to Waco, where he was prominent in local affairs and served as a trustee of Baylor University until his death on February 23, 1875. He is buried in Fort Fisher Cemetery in Waco.
Thomas Harrison, born in Jefferson County, Alabama, on May 1, 1823 and raised in Mississippi.Thomas moved to Texas in 1843 and studied law in Brazoria County. Later Thomas returned to Mississippi from which he went to the Mexican war as a member of the 1st Mississippi Rifles. Living first in Houston after that war, he served a term in the Texas legislature from Harris County, and then settled in Falls County. Harrison was a captain of a volunteer militia company serving in West Texas.
Harrison entered the Confederate Army with his company in the 8th Texas Cavalry, better known as “Terry’s Texas Rangers”. He was promoted colonel just prior to the battle of Murfreesboro in Tennessee. His regiment served with Wheeler’s command at Chickamauga and during the subsequent campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas. He was appointed brigadier general the last months of the war to rank from January 14, 1865. Gen. Harrison was wounded at Johnsonville, North Carolina, March 10th, 1865.
Reagan Methodist Church founded in 1873 at Shady Grove near the Little Brazos River, approximately 3-1/2 miles east of Reagan. The church later moved to Railroad Avenue (main street). When that building burned, the present Reagan Methodist Church (shown in the above photo) was errected in 1893 next door to the Reagan School campus and adjacent to one of the oldest log cabins in the region. William Reagan, for whom the town of Reagan was named, was one of the original members of the Reagan Methodist church.
Interview with Mr. William P. Jones, Reagan, Texas.
"My parents were Richard and Sarah Jones, and I was born in Carolina County, Virginia, in 1852. I came with my parents to Texas in the year 1860. We came by boat down the Mississippi river, then through the Gulf of Mexico and landed at Galveston, Texas, and came from there up the Bayou to Houston and from Houston we came overland in ox-wagons to our first home, which was at Navasota, Texas. My father bought land from some squatters and in time, the rightful heirs came and claimed it, so we lost the land.
"While we were living in Navasota, the Civil War was declared and four of my brothers served under the flag of the Confederacy. Walter was in Hood's Brigade and was killed in action; another, Napoleon, was in the same Brigade but he lived to return home. Stanfield fought in Speight's Brigade and he, too, returned home after the war. He fought in Louisiana. Richard Hampton was in Tom Green's Brigade and he, too, came back. He was also in some of the battles.
"At the close of the war, the yellow fever broke out in Texas and was getting close to where we lived near Navasota, so, when the Houston and Texas Central Railroad reached Bryan, we moved to Falls County. I rode the first engine into Bryan, Texas. We settled on Hog Island, a little settlement a few miles above the present town of Reagan, nine miles south of Marlin, Texas. At this time the town of Reagan had not been laid off, but when the railroad came, Bill Reagan, brother of the late Judge John H. Reagan, owned a lot of land near by and he donated the town site, hence the name of Reagan, in honor of the man who gave the land for the town-site.
"When father became settled at Hog Island he organized a Baptist Sunday School. However other denominations worshipped with us until their church was built. Until we built a church, we held services in our home. Two of our first ministers were Rev. Harper and Tubb. Rev. Harper was the first postmaster and Brother Tubb had a store and later the post office was located in his store. The present postmaster, Mr. Higgins, has served as postmaster at Reagan Texas for fifty-two years.
"As the railroad was being built through the community, I spent my time playing around and watching the men at work, and during their lunch hour I remember how the men had their fun with me. After the railroad was built on to Marlin and Waco, we moved to Reagan Texas and lived there while I was a boy in school.
The first stores at this time were owned by Sam and Andrew Peyton, Captain Johnson and Dr. McDowell had a drug store. Other families were those of Harper, Robbins, Fountain, [Boyles?], McCoy, Cotton, Rankin, Hayes, Hagen, Rogers, Guffy, Davidson, and J. E. Davis.
At the foot of Blue Ridge were the families of Dick Beal, Owen, Hunnicutt, Harlan, Johnson and Adams. This was only about six or eight miles from Reagan and they came to attend church after the Reagan churches were built.
"At the close of the war there was constant fear of the negroes "rising up" against the whites, but in our community they settled peacefully to work, most of them stayed on with their former masters. They worked the land on the "shares" (part of the crop). Until the railroad came through, we travelled by stage coach. There is an old stage stand on the Kosse-Reagan road, eight miles from Reagan, and it stands today just as in the days when the stage travel was at its best.
But it is now used for a barn for stock in a pasture. As one looks back a vision of the hurry of the stage on its way as the horses dash madly up to the stand and the wait is only long enough for the horses to be changed. Instead of changing cars for "all points north and south, to Houston or Waco, Fort Worth and Dallas" the driver shouts as the ringing of the bells on the bridles of the horses, warn the passengers they are nearing a stop, "Change - Stage Coaches". And the passengers crawl out of the old coach and feel to see if their hats or perhaps their heads are still on. For you know that those coaches did not even have any springs to make riding easy, but were held by huge leather straps instead of the later-day springs.
"Our freight was brought by wagon train from Houston and Austin, the terminal of the Houston and Texas Central railroad when we moved to Falls County. Gil Ward ran a freight line and Mr. Mance Cabiness handled race horses and sold not only cattle but fine horses to men who followed the race track. A thousand dollars was not uncommon for a fine race horse to bring when it was sold.
"In September 1877, I married Miss Willie Riley, a daughter of Captain Riley of Alabama. To us were born thirteen children. All lived to be grown. There are two boys: Howard and Austin, who live in Reagan; another, Walter Lee, lives in Beaumont; Willard lives in Goose Creek; Clyde, Otis, Chester, Earle and Byrd live in Port Arthur. Two daughters live in Dallas. Orville Groner, liver in Dallas and is financial secretary of the Baptist Convention. Mrs. Maud Dilworth, lives in Longview, and Dexter in Waco, Tom, deceased.
"After I reached manhood I lived for a few years in Marlin and did contracting work. I helped to build some of the first business houses and hotels in Marlin. The wrecking of the Arlington Hotel recently, brings back to memory the days when the first hotel was called a tavern. This was during the days of the stage coach and the "tavern" was owned and operated by H. B. Coleman, who was known to all who frequented the place as "Uncle Henry". T.J. Read bought it from Mr. Coleman and owned the lot which was bought by the Marlin Natatorium Company in 1895.
"The tavern was the center of social life in Marlin and the better class of visitors, travelling men and politicians stopped here. It became the favorite gathering place, especially of the politicians. Here they gathered to select their candidates and to hold their party meetings. But it was not until 1894 that the first indication of the curative power of the Marlin Hot Wells became a thing to consider, when a visitor was cured of a blood infection after bathing in the hot water.
Interview with Mrs. J. C. Fountain, White Pioneer, Marlin, Texas.
"I was born March 27, 1873, at Pineville, Alabama . My parents were W. D. and Mary Katherine Kyser, who came to Texas in 1875. I was reared in Marlin and attended the public schools of Marlin and a college for young ladies at
Winston Salem, North Carolina.
"On December 20, 1893, I married Mr. James C. Fountain, Jr., who was born in the vicinity of Reagan, Texas, on October 21, 1871, and is the son of Thomas G. Fountain, who became a citizen of Texas about the year 1869.
He was a
descendent of Dossey Fountain of South Carolina, of Scotch ancestry. Mr. Thomas Fountain was a native Southerner, was born at Sparta, Alabama , in 1839 and spent his youth on a plantation which was tilled by slave labor.
"When the war between the States came on he joined the Confederate Cavalry and with his brother Henry was enlisted in the cause of the South until the end of the conflict. He enlisted in 1861 at Pineville, Alabama , in Company F, Fifty-third Cavalry, and was first placed in General Forrest's command. After the battle of Iuke, the regiment was ordered to Northern Alabama, where it joined the army under Gen. Roddy and remained with it until transferred to the command of General Wheeler a few months later. Mr. Fountain fought in the battle of Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, the defense of Atlanta, the campaign against the advance of General Sherman's army, following him through South Carolina.
"The last battle that Mr. Fountain fought in was at Statesburg, and he lay down his arms at Columbia, South Carolina. He then resumed the life of a farmer and began the labor of rebuilding the family estate. This was done under the greatest difficulties for the trying days of reconstruction came on and when he came to Texas in 1869 he had made small progress toward financial independence.
HOG ISLAND COMMUNITY NE OF REAGAN TEXAS
Mr. Fountain came by rail to Falls County and settled in the Hog Island community near Reagan with a wife and three children and seventy-five cents in money. For some years he was a tenant on rented land but prosperity finally
came his way until he was enabled to move to Reagan, Texas where he engaged in the lumber business and bought a farm nearby.
The following historical biography of Ed Robbins comes to us courtesy of his grandson, Ben Peek and son of Annie Robbins Peek. email@example.com
"......Ed Robbins left Alabama at the age of 16 and settled in Reagan Texas in 1882 joining his cousin, George Robbins, who lived there with his family.
Located in the southeast part of Falls County, Reagan Texas had been founded in 1873 with the building of the Waco and Northwestern Railroad. The townsite had been donated by W. R. Reagan, former county judge, and had been named for him. By 1880, Reagan Texas had a population of 250, Davis Barclay had a cotton gin and gristmill, Thomas Yarbrough operated a general store and H. A. Keeling was postmaster.
One of the biggest crops in the history of the county was harvested in 1882 and everyone was prosperous. Perhaps a hint of such prosperity sounded good to the young Alabaman; it could have encouraged him to come to Texas.
Prosperity dimmed in 1887 when the county suffered from a severe drought.
Ed Robbins attended Toby’s Business School in nearby Waco and began to keep books for businesses in Reagan.
While working alone late one night, a young Negro man came into the store. He said he wanted to buy some tobacco and when Robbins turned around to get it, he attacked him with a knife, slashing him on the neck, narrowly missing the jugular vein.
Romance entered Ed Robbins’ life when he met Lula Thames.
The young lady from Hempstead was teaching school between Reagan and Marlin, rooming with the Luther Moore family. They were married on February 2, 1891 in Hempstead.
The Robbins family began to grow in several years with the birth of a daughter, Ruth, in 1892. Clotilda was born in 1894 and on January 8, 1899, Annie Lula was born. Mrs. Robbins’ mother, Mrs. Matilda Ann Thames also lived with them a great deal of the time.
The young family visited with Mrs. Robbins’ grandmother, Mrs. Ann Morrison in Hempstead nearly every summer until she passed away in 1901. On those trips, they were able to visit with other relatives, such as Aunt Vessie Whiteside, “Granny’s sister,” and got to feast on the famous watermelons of that area.
Mrs. Thames, widowed for many years, always dressed in black when she went out, as was the custom in those days. She also had a black cape and black bonnet-type hat which she wore.
Two boys were soon born into the family, first Edward Tyler in 1902, and then William King in 1904.
In 1906, the Robbins moved from the smaller home they had bought in the northeast section of Reagan, to a two story home which was their last residence. It was on a two and one-third acre tract of land. The large home and land were purchased for $1,000. The Robbins purchased most of their furniture from the R. T. Dennis Furniture Co. in Waco. They only had to purchase the living room furniture when they moved into their larger home.
Mr. Robbins also owned other acreage, which he farmed.
Living with the Robbins family about this time was Ed’s brother, Henry, who had come to Reagan Texas from Alabama. Henry married Mary Bailey of Anniston, Alabama, in 1912, and at their Reagan home reared three boys, Harry, Bob and Elijah King.
Reagan was, by 1910, a busy community of 600 persons and now had a bank and lumberyard. Saturdays would find the town bustling with activity as the nearby cotton farmers came to town to market, filling the sidewalks with people.
The active little town also had a good school system. Ed Robbins was by now a school trustee, and a member of the board that hired Ben S. Peek as school superintendent in 1912.
Recreation for the five Robbins children was much simpler than that for the youth of today. The three girls used to like to take walks together, going down the railroad tracks to Fish Creek, or farther on down to what they called “the cut.” Fish Creek also offered recreation for the Robbins boys for fishing and swimming.
On Sunday afternoon, the young people would gather at the railroad station to watch the train come into town. Once a year, a circus came to Reagan, attracting people from all over the area. And there was Willard the Magician, a famed performer of his time, who also stopped in Reagan. Altogether, though, their entertainment was much simpler and people looked forward to visiting one another, and the company of their neighbor at a church gathering or picnic. Churches, and there were two, the Methodist and Baptist, created a large part of the social life of the town.
Each of the children in the family had his or her task to do in helping to run the house. It may have been to bring in wood, run errands, clean the upstairs, work in the garden or pull weeds. The family was all taught to work together.
Coal oil lamps furnished light for the family at night; a new gas light was tried, but didn’t work too well, so coal oil lamps were again pressed into service. When electricity came to Reagan later on, it was, of course, wired to the house. As there was no refrigeration or ice available, a cooler, or cloth covered box, was used for milk and butter.
Beef was purchased twice a week in Reagan Texas from Mr. Guffie, the butcher. One of Annie’s chores was to go to his market on the day he butchered to pick up the family’s beef. Hogs were killed when a norther came in; the men would have to work butchering the hogs until the work was completed, with the biting, cold north wind blowing around them. The slabs of bacon and ham were then kept in the smokehouse until they were needed.
In addition to their vegetable garden, the Robbins of course had their own cows and chickens. Sugar cane was raised for syrup. A man would come around once a year to make the cane into syrup.
During years of farming, cash income from the farm occurred only during the fall season, after cotton was harvested. A number of items, such as flour and sugar, were bought in bulk at that time.
The family always started the day with a big breakfast, with such things as ham, rice, grits or potatoes, eggs, or even fried chicken. Hot biscuits were served every morning. Since Ed Robbins often went out to his acreage to work, this was a farmer’s breakfast. Mrs. Robbins prepared deserts every day, and if it was something like a pie, it had to be eaten that day because of the lack of refrigeration.
A terrific rain storm struck the area in 1913, causing severe flooding on the Brazos. Mr. Robbins had gone into Marlin on the train the morning it struck. Marooned in Marlin, it was several days before he could return, and then only by walking the railroad trestle over flooded Big Creek. This was known as the second great Brazos flood.
About that time, it was discovered that a Negro occupant of their servants quarters had smallpox, and the whole family had to be inoculated. The man had not appeared for several days and his wife had been ironing in the Robbins house before they revealed what had happened.
In 1915, Grandma Thames died while visiting her sister Florence, Mrs. H. C.. Willis of Nacogdoches. Then 73 years old, she died of a ruptured appendix. The doctor said she was too old to have surgery. Maltilda Ann Thames died March 10, 1915 and was buried beside her mother, Mrs. Morrison.
Ed Robbins worked to offer as much education as possible to his children. Ruth attended the University of Texas, as did the two boys, Edward and Bill. Clo and Annie went to Waco to attend Baylor University.
The first to be married was Clo, to Charlie Barclay. Annie married the Reagan school superintendent, Ben Peek, and Ruth married Joe W. Vanham, a Uvalde rancher. Edward chose as his wife, Lois McCarver of Hearne and Bill became the husband of Helen Meroney.
As the pace began to slow in the Robbins’ house, so too did life in Reagan. The advent of the automobile allowed farmers and other citizens to go to Marlin and Waco to shop.
In addition to being a long-time trustee of the Reagan schools, Ed Robbins also served for many years on the Falls County Democratic Committee and was a ranking member of that body. For many years, he was a precinct chairman and was a delegate to the state convention on several occasions. His background in the turbulent reconstruction days had made him a very loyal democrat. Along with J. E. Davis, he was one of the party leaders of the area.
Typical of the stormy precinct conventions that used to occur is told in a story of an argument between Ed Robbins and J. E. Davis. At this particular meeting, they were trying to decide whether to endorse or not to endorse the state candidate and the platform of the National Convention.
Both became quite angry over some remarks and had a battle of words. “I’ll have you know I’m a loyal democrat,” Mr. Robbins emphatically retorted. Both stomped around and pounded the floor with their walking canes as was usual at a meeting of this kind.
They parted friends.
County government was the local government. Interest centered on the local and state government. Matters relating to the federal government were rarely mentioned as this level of government scarcely touched their lives. World War I was an exception.
A staunch democrat, Ed Robbins was a great admirer of President Woodrow Wilson and U. S. Senator Tom Connally of Marlin. He was one of Connally’s strong supporters in the county and worked for his interest. Connally and Robbins were also very good friends.
Although he had obtained but six years formal education, Ed Robbins, who possessed a keen interest in the education of his neighbors’ children, as well as his own, was especially recognized for his knowledge of the history and folklore of Falls County. An avid reader, he had attained his own education where his formal training ended. His own library included many history and reference books, including a number of texts on both the Civil War and World War I. He helped to organize the Reagan Masonic Lodge in 1915 and was the secretary continuously until it closed many years later, for lack of a suitable location for meetings.
In later years, Ed Robbins could often be found playing dominos in the back of Lonnie Robbins blacksmith shop. Some of the older men gathered here.
The big Robbins home was often filled with footsteps and noise from their nine grandchildren. Many afternoons were spent looking through the large stack of old comic papers stored by Mrs. Robbins in a big trunk on the back porch. Unaccustomed to all of the wonders of rural life, they spent many active hours at their grandparents.
Edward Walker Robbins died on May 29, 1944 shortly after suffering a heart attack at his home in Reagan Texas. He had been troubled with a heart ailment for a number of years.
The Robbins oldest daughter, Ruth became a widow the following year with the death of her husband Joe on July 25.
Ed Robbins’ widow, Lula, survived him two years. She died on June 8, 1946 in a Marlin hospital after a lengthy illness. She was laid to rest beside her husband in Calvary Cemetery in Marlin. Assisting at the funeral services was her uncle, the Reverend Hubert C. Willis of Madisonville.."
Got the following email from James Bigham (firstname.lastname@example.org)with some history of the area from the 1930's and 1940's:
My father moved us to Fishcreek in 1936 on the Covenington place. Fish Creek had a church and a one-room school house. Our teacher was Miss Susie D. Whitefield. My dad was a blacksmith and worked at the Lonnie Robbins blacksmith shop until he sold the shop to John Kubiak.
My dad then went to work for the railroad.
In the summers, I worked for Boyl and Jeff Burks delivering ice. Mr. Boyl had a locker plant in Marlin.
I remember playing at the Reagan depot before anyone moved into it. The Section Foreman at that time was Mr. Howard Moore. The men that worked on the railroad at that time included
Johnny Henderson, Dave Woodruff, I.J. Matthis, Elijha Bigham, and Clifton Bell.
I also hauled hay for John Kubiak. I remember Daniel Kubiak. When he was about 7 or 8 years old, we picked cotton for the Moore brothers. I remember there used to be an old man named Milton Raynor who cooked BBQ every Saturday behind John's blacksmith shop.
I also remember working for Mr. Zay Kelly, hauling hay for T.K. Kirkpatrick and working for Claude Buell. These are my memories from the 1940's in Reagan.
Reagan Texas Post Office one of Last Standing Buildings from Early Day Reagan
The red brick used in this building was the same brick that was used for all the Business district buildings except the old Livery which was located behind the Robbins Blacksmith shop.
Old Reagan Livery
The following biography of Mr. Will Winzer, a settler in Reagan Texas in the early 1880's (built the current Reagan post office building), was sent to us curtesy of Patricia Ruth Kelly Gandy, another former Reaganite.
“William Pickens Winzer was born Dec 21, 1860 on a farm near Preston in Webster County, Georgia . He was the youngest child of Elijah and Mary McJunkin Winzer. He came with his immediate family, grandparents, John Saunders and Elizabeth Morrow McJunkin to Grimes County, Texas in 1867.
His Mother Mary McJunkin Winzer died in 1869 during the Yellow Fever epidemic when he was only 8 years old. His older sisters probably took care of him till one of them, Mattie married James C. Tubb and at the age of 19 he was a farm laborer living with her and her husband in Grimes County.
Will Winzer married first Mary E. Runnels in 1883 in Reagan Texas at the age of 23. She died very shortly thereafter and the one son by that marriage, Edward Winzer, soon went to live with his Mother's relatives.
Will first purchases of land in Falls County TX are around 1899-1900. He had no one to help him out so it took him a long time working as a laborer and bartender to save enough money to purchase his own farm. After that he prospered and became a rancher, President and organizer of the Reagan State Bank and served on the Reagan School Board.
In 1912, Ben S. Peek was hired as Reagan school superintendent And Ed Robbins served on the school board.
Will Winzer built a two-story brick building in Reagan Texas that housed the Moore Drug Company with an apartment on the second floor. This building is still standing and until recently housed the Reagan Texas Post Office. Will had little or no formal schooling but he was able to read and write and keep math records.
William Pickens Winzer built the Moore Drug Company building used as the Reagan Post Office until the early 2000's. Great early-day view of Reagan Texas main street (Railroad Street).
Will married Lela Elizabeth Moore on December 18, 1893 in Reagan Texas. She was the daughter of Luther and Elizabeth Ann Jones Moore of Morton (Scott) Mississippi.
He was able to send all his children to at least 2 years of college and that included the females. His wife had insisted that he educate his daughters too but I suspect that he agreed eagerly as he certainly felt his lack of a formal education.
Mr. Will was my Grandfather. I and my cousins called him “Grannie”. I do not know why, I guess Grandpa seemed too formal for this simple, kind and decent and honest man. My fondest memories of life in Reagan Texas revolved around Sunday dinners at his house (before it burned) and then upstairs in the Moore Building in his apartment. I sometimes spent the night with him and then rode with him in his car out to the farm. He went to the farm every day and I can remember him riding his horse when in his 80’s. The night before he would tuck me into a cozy bed, wake me in the morning, fix a breakfast of bacon, biscuits and eggs for both of us and off we would go. To this day when I smell an oak fire burning in a neighbor’s fireplace, memories of those simple, wonderful years are evoked and thoughts of my dear Grandfather come flooding back to me. Never too important to talk with or care for children, principled but forgiving of our small indescressions he was a beacon of joy to us small children.
Will's wife died in 1923 in Dallas in a hospital. She was taken ill and her daughter, Ola took her to Dallas for additional medical diagnosis. It turned out to be a ruptured appendix and in those days that was sure death. She died there on Sept 25.
Mr. Will had six children by Lela Moore. The youngest child being Elizabeth Winzer who was only 8 years old when her Mother died. The other children were; Ola Lee Winzer who married Henry Earl Kelly, the Southern Pacific station agent in Reagan: Bess Winzer who married Lee Shirley, a cattle buyer and trader from West Texas; Nadine Winzer who married Josh Crump and secondly Claude McCollum; William Pickens Winzer Jr. who married Alice Saxon, Maurice Moore Winzer who married Dorothy Marie Davis from Princeton, Texas and Elizabeth who went off to live with Bess after college and married Clark Anderson of Princeton, Illinois
Henry Early and Ola Lee Winzer Kelly family taking a stroll in Marlin. The young girl is Patricia Ruth Kelly Gandy.
Ola Lee Winzer Kelly, Daughter of Will and Lela Elizabeth Moore Winzer, former Reaganite.
My father, Henry Earl Kelly who came to Reagan Texas in the 1920’s from Boyce , Texas moved the family (Patricia Ruth, brother Robert Milton Kelly and Ola Lee Kelly to Riesel in 1940 and then to Waller, TX in the summer of 1940. Our family remained in Waller until I went away to college and until my Mother moved with me to Deer Park, TX I after my Father had died.
I went back to Reagan many times to visit my Grandfather, my Aunt Nadine and Uncle Bill and their children Betty Sue Crump and Jack Warren Winzer. Jack and I were the same age and visited together quite a lot. I sometimes stayed a night or two on the farm but I usually stayed with my grandfather, Mr. Will as he was called by all who passed him on the street. In his later years. his daughters did not want him to drive but he did anyway for a really long time. When I visited, he would let me drive him to Bremond to get a shave and a haircut when there was no longer a barber in Reagan Texas.
Mr. Will is my kin but I would claim him even if he were not. His children loved and respected him and so did his grandchildren. I am sure there are others who did too because I never heard him say an unkind word about another person. I did hear him ‘cuss” a mule one time, mildly but he never mistreated an animal, a child nor an employee. He was a Gentleman in the truest sense of the word, beloved by all of us who knew him well. I am proud of my Grandfather.
He died June 25, 1955 in a hospital in Marlin, TX. He was care for in his later years by his daughter Bess Winzer Shirley. He was 94 years of age. He lived a full and exemplarily life of playing by the rules but not getting rich except in the devotion of his family, the respect of his friends and service to his community. He was my grandfather, this MR WILL. “
Patricia Ruth Kelly Gandy
Post Masters of Early Reagan Texas
Harper, Robt. S., 23 Jun 1873
Harper, Thos. P., 8 May 1876
Harper Jr., Thos. P., 22 May 1876
Harper Sr., Thos. P., 15 Jun 1876
Keeling, Henry A., 6 Jun 1879
Davis, John E., 7 Dec 1888
Higgins, Thos. B., 20 Aug 1889
Richardson, Billy John, 1954 to 1987
Reagan After the Civil War
During the mid-1880s, Reagan Texas entered a boom period. The town had two steam gristmills, nine cotton gins, five general stores, two hotels, a church, a district school, and approximately 250 residents. Ten years later, Reagan had grown to 500 residents and had a weekly newspaper, the Herald.
By 1905, Reagan Texas had two one-teacher schools with 117 black students and one three-teacher school with 140 white students.
The reported population of Reagan reached a high of 600 in 1914, when the town included a bank and assorted other businesses.
Teachers at the Reagan Texas schools included Misses Dovie Davis, Miss Mary Rosie Barclay, Marion Peyton, and Elvie Price.
Miss Dovie Davis was a teacher at the Reagan schools in 1908!
Miss Mary Rosie Barclay was a Reagan teach sometime after 1912. (Photo courtesy Shelly Smith).
Early day photo of the Reagan school taken around 1910. (Photo courtesy Shelly Smith).
Installing the bell tower at the Reagan School (1910) (Photo courtesy Shelly Smith).
Reagan kids on the playground around 1908 (Photo courtesy Shelly Smith).
Early day pagent performed by Reagan students around 1910. (Photo courtesy Shelly Smith).
Early day pagent performed by Reagan students around 1910. (Photo courtesy Shelly Smith).
Early day pagent performed by Reagan students around 1910. (Photo courtesy Shelly Smith).
Early day automobile in Reagan. (Photo courtesy Shelly Smith).
High mileage transportation in early day Reagan. (Photo courtesy Shelly Smith).
Received the following email from Kevin Alston:
PaPaw's retirement/ news articleFriday, September 28, 2012
From: "Kevin Alston" (email@example.com)
My brother Keith, who lives in Marlin, sent me this article about my grandfather, M.K. Alston. He and his
wife lived in Reagan from 1918 until their passing. Before electricity came to Reagan, he built
all of the radio sets in the area. Cool story.
The following recollections of life in early-day Reagan came to us from George S. Macdonald, grandson of Sibyl M. Burnett who taught in the Reagan schools until 1946 and the son of her daughter Marian Burnett who graduated from Reagan High School in 1927.
George lived in Reagan Texas from 1935-1945 and then again from 1949-1952 while attending college at U.T.
George's Grandmother, Sibyl Burnett was married to J.R.Burnet (president of the old Reagan Bank at one time). J.R. and Sibyl divorced and J.R. Burnett moved to Cisco where he became a judge. George's aunt, Eula Young, was a retired school teacher. His great grandmother was a Moorehead whose family came from the Bremond, Franklin area.
George recently sent me the following recollections of life in early Reagan that many of you will be able to identify with.
"I attended the Methodist church and Mrs. Burnett and my aunt Eula Young both taught Sunday school there as did Mary Kirkpatrick. Thaggard Kirkpatrick (owner of the lumber mill and unfortunately a died in the wool aggie) was one of the deacons. Thaggard was a fine upstanding Christian man.
The preacher of the Methodist church at the time was Rev. Bates. Can't recall his first name but he had a daughter named Burtis Ruth Bates. I last saw her in the winter of 49 when she was either a frosh. or soph. at SMU.
Robert Barnes was the preacher at the Baptist church. He had a daughter, Nell Barnes, two sons named Fella (Robert) and Biff. They later moved to Valley Mills Texas. The last contact I had there was with Biff in the fall of 49.
The pricinpal was Robert Hughes. who used to bust my ass with an M-1 rifle belt. I believe the principal prior to him was a Mr. Creagher. (sp.?) Hughes had a son by the name of Lynn David and I think a younger daughter. After Robert Hughes left The Bull family occupied that house. Jean (Bull) Angelo who you probably know, and Clifford Bull (deceased) along with an older sister were their sibs. Next to that home was a family by the name of Robins. The Robins daughters and my mother were close friends. The younger daughter, Edwina was married to a paratrooper who lost one hand in WW11. He gave me my first plane ride in a piper cub. He used the land in front of Thaggard Kirkpatricks place by the hwy.
The businesses I can recall at the moment were Shaunfield's grocery, Buell's garage, and do not remember the name of the man who ran the drugstore. He later moved to Marlin and worked in the pharmacy across from the old hospital there.
Mr. Will Winzer lived above the post office. His son and wife owned a farm on the way to Highbank. Their son Jack and I were good friends. Jack took agriculture at A@M and I believe worked for the state in some capacity along that line. He is deceased.
There was a lady by the name of Mrs. Ward who lived next to the Baptist parsonage. I used to mow her grass. She had one son I believe named Charles. Not sure of that but him being a confirmed bachelor is the only thing I can remember about him.
Horn Kirkpatrick lived in a large white house on hwy. 6. Francis Swinnea lived on the hwy. on the other side of the lumber company. When the railroad station was active it was run by a Mr. Kelly. They lived in the house where the Hughes and Bulls had lived earlier. Mr. Kelly had a daughter Patsy and son Robert. They moved to Waller Texas. Patsy died in her 20's of cancer. Don't know about Robert. I remember playing on the cotton bales on the rr. sta. platform and watching the troop trains go through during the war years. Biggest thrill was the freight cars carrying tanks and other war equipment that rolled through.
Coming of the Steam Train in 1873 put Reagan on the Map! The old Reagan Depot stood next to the Train tracks until the 1960's. This old photo , curtesy of Julia Whatley, was taken in the early 1950's.
By the way Mr. Henry Kelly also ran the telegraph office at the train station in the late 30's. Also during the war there were many occasions when truck loads of German pow's would go by our house on the way to Highbank to pick cotton. They were always singing and would wave to me. Think they were damn glad to be out of the war. Many of the pilots in training in Waco would fly over and sometimes dogfight much to my pleasure. Occasionly men from the FBI would come by seeking info on one of my grandmother's ex students who had filed as conscientous objector's.
In regards to the bank. I am pretty certain it was never reestablished after the big fire. It was located across the street from the drug store and as I recall that corner lot has been vacant ever since.
The telephones were the old crank variety and we all used party lines in those days. Don't remember when the dial phones came in."
In April of 1944, Scout Troup 59 of Reagan was alive and well. George Macdonald's First Class Scout certificate.
By the early 1940's, Reagan Texas started a period of decline with the population falling to just over 350. In the late 40's, the town still had a business district along Railroad street. Businesses included a Five and dime store, a bank, three grocery stores, a drugstore, an ice house, Kubiaks Garage and Blacksmith (the old Lonnie Robins Blacksmith), a beer tavern,and two gas stations and the Reagan High School still had 12 grades and a football team (the Reagan Bearkats)and a marching band.
In 1944, Lonnie Robbins sold his blacksmith shop to a farmer from the Reagan area, John Kubiak who operated the black smith and mechanics shop until 1953.
Wagon Wheel Repair Equipment. This old equipment was still on hand when John Kubiak ran the old Lonnie Robbins Blacksmith Shop in Reagan.
The following recollections of Reagan Texas in the 1940's and 1950's comes to us from Donovan J. Kirkpatrick, son of Thagard and Mary Holloway Kirkpatrick:
"Rev. Tommy Holcomb was the Methodist minister. His wife was Florence.
In 1948, with the declining population of the Reagan school district, Reagan schools were consolidated with the Marlin Independent School District. Over the next few years, the upper classes of the Reagan schools were shifted to marlin and eventually, the Reagan school was closed.
Hi and Willie Mae Heflin ran the gas sation. Hi Heflin drove a school bus for Reagan and farmed. They had two daughters. Billie Hi and(?). Billie Hi married Hedrick Maxwell from Marlin who sold hats on the road. Their son is a Colonel in the Air Force and currently a Professor of Air Science at Texas A&M.
Willie Robbins was a carpenter and painter in Reagan. He married Pauline Kirkpatrick, an older sister of T. K. Kirkpatrick and they had three girls: Lucia,Edwina and Anna Paul. I believe all three girls graduated from Reagan.
"Little" Tom Kelly was son of Roscoe. Seems like Claude Buell owned the garage before R. J. Dees bought him out.
Horne and India (Burke ) Kirkpatrick had three children;
Elanor, Burke and William (Bill). I think Billy was on one of the Reagan football teams.
Dad use to talk about how good a pitcher Harrison Burke was. He ran a grocery store in Reagan. I remember him working for Ernest Boyles and later he had the old Shaunfield grocery.
Dad mentioned numerous time how the "Woodland girls" rode horseback to Reagan to school, even though they lived in Robertson County, because Reagan had a better school.
Mr Dees (R. J. 's dad) was a very successful farmer but
went broke during the depression. The Restaurant over by the railroad, south of the depot about where Pete Saxon's place was, was a honky tonk in the late 40's early 50' s. Sam Cole ran it. He lived in that little house in a hole on the Highbank road in that turn before you got to Jimmy Hetheringtons and the Kindred place.
also ran the Sinclair gas station located on Hi-way 6
before Mr. Charlie
Short bought the station.
The folks who lived behind the Sinclair station were
Brittian and "Pete" Moore. Pete's dad was the druggist in Reagan that ran
Moore's drug store. I remember buying school supplies and ice cream there about 1946. (first
and second grade). I think Beth Boettcher has the soda
fountain that was
Mr Hughs, School Superintendent, lived in Herman
Kirkpatrick's house. They
had a son my age, Larry. I can remember eating supper
over there and
drinking tea out of Mason jars. I thought that was neat.
There was another
Moore who was in charge of the Section Gang that worked on
Seems like Will Hickman, Ed Linton, Mose Rogers and others
were in the gang.
Black people who worked on the railroad were well respected
community. It was a big deal. I can remeber the trains
going by the house
at all hours and Blimps flying over . This was during
We lived by the railroad tracks
across from Hugh
Davison's and across the tracks from where Carl Evans
lives now. Henry and
Elizabeth Anderson lived next to us. Henry made arrow
heads out of scrap
metal for Tom Davison and the Porter boys to use on their
arrows. I was very
envious but I suppose I was too young to have such.
Mr "Lige" (E. R.) Anderson drove a mule powered scrapper
to build up the
road berm up by Big Creek when they were building Highway
Brother Wyatt was the Baptist minister in the 1946
time frame. He had five daughters. Jessie was in my 1st grade class, maybe 2nd
grade too. He was
pastor when they built the addition on to the Baptist
Too bad we did not save that log house behind the Methodist
Donovan J. Kirkpatrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reagan Texas lost its rail service in 1965, when the Southern Pacific abandoned the section of track between Bremond and Waco. By the early 1970s the Reagan population had fallen to 200, and it remained at that level through 1990. Currently, only the Post Office, Evans Saddle Shop, and the Dees Auto Repair Shop and gas station remain along the main street (Railroad Street) of Reagan.
Leonard Kubiak (holding Richard Kubiak), standing next to Jean Kubiak.
Reagan Methodist Church (and old log cabin to the left of the church)
in the background. Snow on the ground! (Photo taken in 1951 by our mother, Connie Kubiak).
The main street of Reagan Texas with it's wooden sidewalks and picturesque old west storefronts with banks, a blacksmith shop, dry goods stores, drug store, ice house, and grocery stores ceased to exist by the 1960's.
Most of the older inhabitants (who formed the bulk of the town) now rest in peace in the local cemetery. Most of the younger generation grew up and moved away with a few notable exceptions.
Most of the landmark buildings of the era about have been torn down, and for many of these, very little physical evidence remains of what once was a thriving little town in central Texas. The old school campus was torn down and the bricks used to build a modern home. The town proper with its majestic sidewalks, banks, grocery stores, drug stores, variety stores, etc. were torn town a half century ago and the brick sold to brick vendors. Only vacant lots and memories stand in silent testimony to that thriving little town of yesteryear.
Texas Pneumatic Tools Founded in 1978
In 1978, Carl Wayne Evans, who grew up in Reagan and went off to A&M to get his engineering training, came back to Reagan and formed
Texas Pneumatic Tools,a landmark of present-day Reagan.
Carl Wayne Evans, who grew up in Reagan came back and founded Texas Pneumatic Tools, the largest industry in the area.
More information about this Reagan success story can be found at the following website.
Texas Pneumatic Tools.
LEONARD KUBIAK's ONLINE TEXAS HISTORY WEBPAGES