Yesterday’s News: Vol. VIII No. 1 — Winter 2012

Kaufman County Heritage Society Celebrates the 160th Anniversary of the Courthouse Square

Yesterday’s News vol. VIII No. 1–Winter 2012  (Open print version.)

Early Kaufman historical figures portrayed by local re-enactors

Early Kaufman historical figures portrayed by local reenactors.

Members of the Kaufman Heritage Society and the Downtown Kaufman Association joined forces to sponsor a grand Birthday Party in October to celebrate the 160th Anniversary of Kaufman’s Courthouse Square. Hundreds came to celebrate and enjoyed a wagon train parade bearing Kaufman’s legendary figures and a magnificent cake decorated to replicate the original courthouse. In Maples Hall, following the parade, the piece de resistance was “Show and Tell” exhibits presented by Kaufman folk who brought photos, documents,
and family histories to share their stories with the public.

The “Birthday Party” was the first of many future events planned to revitalize the “Square” and downtown Kaufman: “Kaufman Goes Kajun” Mardi Gras Celebration is scheduled in February; Kaufman’s own “Antiques Road Show” will be held in April, and other fun filled events are planned every other month for the rest of the year. They hope to build on the success of previous events making them annual affairs, and will consider monthly events
held in the KHS Heritage Garden and the Square.

The Kaufman Heritage Society and Downtown Association have formed a common objective and, with the City’s support it plans to implement ways and means to enhance and improve the significance of historic sites, beginning with the Kaufman Town Square. Members of the Heritage Society have identified their Heritage Garden (by Remax on the Kaufman Square) as a primary project and plans are underway to develop the site into a venue for public events. The group hopes to secure funding through event fundraising, grant applications, private sponsors and membership donations.

Kaufman County residents are proud of their history and eager to share it with others. One common dream everyone shares with the Kaufman Heritage Society is the establishment of a County Museum where everyone has the opportunity to contribute to, and learn about, the collective history of the community in which they live and the surrounding area.
The Kaufman County Historical Commission is working with the Texas Historical Commission and Preservation Texas to preserve and protect the rich history of the county, and strongly supports the Heritage Society and Downtown Association, along with the City, EDC, and Chamber of Commerce Visitors Bureau, in their efforts to bring new business and visitors to Kaufman. To make this dream a reality, it won’t just take a “Village”, it will take a “County”.
For further information on upcoming events or Heritage Society Membership contact:
Carolyn Allen Long, V.P. – 972-962-6004 – .

Kaufman County – One Hundred Years Ago

Excerpts from the Terrell Transcript – January 3, 1912

Jacob Label * Tells of the Zionist Movement in Texas

Jacob Label has just returned from the meeting at Austin of the Texas Zionists association, of
which he was made vice president. The meeting was largely attended. Mr. Label states, a feature of which was an address by Governor Colquitt **

The Zionist ideal, Mr. Label says, is to acquire land in the old home of the Jewish race,
“Palestine,” and establish there a haven for those Jews in all countries who are persecuted or who are dissatisfied and feel impelled to seek the hallowed cradle of the nation’s early development and struggles. It is a movement, said he, which seeks to make the Jews remember that they are a nation, not a sect, and to inspire them with a fine enthusiasm for preserving the racial ideals and culture, the language and religion. The logical place for this great work is Palestine, and the process is already well started. Moreover, there is the opportunity for Jews to become a majority, with a degree of self-government, though, of course, still subjects of Turkey.

The St. Louis Zionist have raised a fund of $70,000 and purchased 1000 acres among the hills of Galilee, and it is now proposed that the Texas Zionists join those of St. Louis in making further purchases. Collections for the purpose the past year, it was said, were more than double those of the year before.

*Jacob Label owned a department store in Terrell. The Anderson building was at one time called the Label building This is Terrell’s contribution to what became the country of Israel.

**Oscar Branch Colquitt was from Terrell. Colquitt Road is named for him. He was the 25th Governor of Texas from January 17, 1911 to January 19, 1915.

The History Corner

by Jean Ann

Matthew Cartwright (1807-1870)
Matthew Cartwright was born in Wilson County, Tennessee, on November 11, 1807, the eldest of nine children born to John Cartwright and May (Polly) Crutchfield. The Cartwrights moved first to Wilkinson County, Mississippi in 1819, in order to take advantage of the opening of the Indian lands there. Subsequently they moved to Pike County, Mississippi, and then to Texas in
1825. They settled in the Ayish Bayou District where John and Matthew owned a store in joint partnership. Also, in partnership with his father, he operated a grist mill and the simple cotton gins of the day. Matthew began the first of his many land acquisitions in 1833 just as San Augustine was being founded; a new store was built there as well.

Note: Entry in District Court docket, San Augustine county, TX for March Term, 1838: John G. Love, Customs Collector vs. Matthew Cartwright. John G. Love was Jean Ann Ables-Flatt’s 3rd great grandfather.

Matthew married Amanda Holman on October 18, 1836, and their first son, Columbus, was born on August 23, 1837. Matthew continued his acquisition of land, receiving many land certificates in payment of debts to the Cartwright stores.

His father died on July 18, 1841, leaving to Matthew about $10,000 as his share of the estate – quite a sum in those days. He then became a trustee of the University of San Augustine. The really difficult financial times that had begun in 1837 extended into the 1840s, and despite his financial prowess, Matthew himself fell deeply into debt. Unlike many in Texas at the time, he did not farm, but chose to buy and sell cotton, sell merchandise in his store, and ever increasingly, to buy and sell land. However, by 1850, he had recovered financially, and he was the wealthiest person in San Augustine County. By 1860, he was the sixth wealthiest person in Texas, and despite the Civil War, by securing a pardon from President Andrew Johnson; he was able to retain ownership of all his properties. He invested in a railroad line to serve a part of East Texas and prospected for oil on land he owned in Jefferson County near Beaumont. His land was a part of the great Spindletop development that began in 1901. At his death on April 1, 1870, he was said to be the fourth wealthiest person in Texas. Among his other holdings were 298 parcels of land in 56 counties, comprising a total of 361,632 acres.

Matthew and Amanda Cartwright had six children, five of whom survived Matthew’s death. Their youngest son, Matthew, moved to Terrell in 1874, followed in later years by other members of the family. After the death of his mother in 1894, the young Matthew moved the remains of his parents from San Augustine to the Oakland Cemetery in Terrell.

Why did the young Matthew move to Terrell, leaving the rest of the family in San Augustine? At the age of 17 the young Matthew, as a result of insults heaped upon the Cartwright family by a 40 year-old man, Carol Ballard, got into a gun fight with him. Matthew was unharmed, but severely wounded Ballard, a man with a bad temper who also drank heavily. Ballard was an invalid for several months, and Matthew was arrested. He was found innocent of the charge of assault to kill, but was fined $25 for carrying a pistol in a day when men commonly carried pistols. It was deemed unsafe for Matthew to remain in the area, and he departed for school at Cumberland University in Tennessee. A year later, Ballard died (apparently of other causes), but there was still much anger against Matthew by Ballard’s friends. On return from school that year, Matthew decided to live elsewhere and that towns on a railroad had a good future. He selected Terrell after extensive travels in North Texas, moving here in 1874.

Note: The Matthew Cartwright home in Terrell is located at 505 Griffith Ave. It has been lovingly renovated and restored by the current owners, Tom and Nancy Aldinger who have most graciously shared their home with the public for many events.

Story abstracted from Cap’n Terrell’s Town by Horace P. Flatt, PhD.

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