Ellis County, Texas - Historic Markers #3

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Historic Markers and Monuments

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Year marker was placed appears at end of each text.

Graves Cemetery

Established 1959

Robert Russell Graves (1814-1897) came from Alabama in 1838 with his wife Esther (Hinkle) Graves (1815-1865), their children and her father, Joseph Hinkle (1771-1859(. They came to Ellis County in 1857 and settled on 510 acres purchased from Thomas C. Marchbanks. The first marked grave on this site is that of Joseph Hinkle, who was interred here in 1859. Robert and Esther's son, C. R. Graves (1857-1938) and his wife, Maria Callie Graves (1857-1927) deeded 1.06 acres including Joseph's grave for a family burial ground in 1895. Many early pioneer families of the area near the Rockett Community are represented here. Graves Cemetery continues as a chronicle of the pioneer days of Ellis County.  [2001]


Presiding Elder's House

Location: 201 Oldham Avenue, Waxahachie

Built in 1901, this house served as the parsonage for the presiding elder (district superintendent) of the Waxahachie district of the Northwest Texas Conference of the Methodist Church for more than 40 years. Mrs. M. J. Cooke, for whom the house was built, sold it to the Methodist Conference in 1902. The Rev. O. F. Sansabaugh was the first of 13 church officials to reside in the house, which features late Victorian-era detailing in its porch, windows and gables. [1988]


Bessie Coleman

Location: East Main and Clift Streets, Waxahachie

(1892-1926) Born in Atlanta,Texas, pioneer aviatrix Bessie Coleman grew up and went to school in a Waxahachie neighborhood a few blocks north of this site. At age 23 she moved to Chicago and first expressed her desire to fly. Since there were no flight schools in this country that would teach African American women, Coleman learned to fly in France and obtained her international pilot;s license in 1921. Upon her return to the United States, she was hailed as the first black woman pilot. Extremely popular, "Queen Bess," as she was known, performed as a barnstormer for integrated audiences at air shows and exhibitions around the country before her death in an air accident in Jacksonville, Florida. [2001]


Rutherford's Crossing Bridge

Location: On Rutherford Road, 8 miles south of Waxahachie

Constructed in 1919 by the Texas Bridge Company at a cost of $565.00 this Warren Pony truss bridge provided transportation across Red Oak Creek for area residents. Prior to the bridge's construction, the only way people to cross the creek in this vicinity was by fording the waters, a task which ofteh proved impossible due to bad weather and floods. A once-common bridge tyupe, this structure is representative of early 20th century bridge building technology. It stands as a reminder of early transportation patterns in Ellis County. [1990]


Waxahachie Chautauqua Building

Location: Getzendaner Park off Grand Avenue S., Waxahachie

Some 25 years after Chautauqa cultural programs originated in New York State, annual Chautauqua assemblies in Waxahachie began in 1899. Large crowds from North and East Texas and Oklahoma camped here, studying literature and the arts, attending dramas, lectures, concerts, exhibitions. This 2500-seat hall, convertible into an open-air auditorium, was built by Waxahachie Chautauqua Park Association in 1902. [1972]


N. P. Sims Library and Lyceum

Location: 515 West Main Street, Waxahachie

A pioneer among privately-endowed Texas libraries. Situated in Getzendaner Park, which had been donated to the city on Dec. 31, 1895 by Capt. W. H. Getzendaner (1834-1909), and attorney, Confederate veteran, banker, and president of the Dallas & Waco Railroad. Nicholas P. Sims (1806-1902) a native opf Virginia who settled in 1833 in Ellis County and prospered as a farmer and investor, endowed the library and luceum in 1902, naming as trustees his stepsons O. E. and S. W. Dunlap, along with George H. Cunningham. Architect S. Wemyes Smith of Fort Worth designed the Neo-Classical building, using Carrara marble and other fine structural materials. The library opened in April 1905. Books and reading rooms were on the first floor, with the auditorium, athenaeum, anterooms, and state for performing arts on the second floor. Braden and Jones designed the wings. The west wing was financed (1958) by an Ellis Countian, the talented inventor, J. Harry Phillips (1892-1962). Industrialist W. H. Larkin and Mrs. Larkin financed (1865) the east wing. Other major gifts were received from sale of the home bequeathed by 1938-52 city secretary Robert A. Watson and Mrs. Watson, and from sale of the farm of Judge Oscar E. Dunlap.[1972]

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