Ellis County, Texas - Historic Markers #1

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Ellis County TXGenweb
Historic Markers and Monuments

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Year marker was placed appears at end of each text.

1936 Centennial Highway Marker

Location: U. S. Hwy 77 about 5 miles north of Waxahachie

Ellis County

Created December 20, 1849 from Navarro County.  Organized August 5, 1850. Named in honor of Richard Ellis, 1781-1846 a Virginian by birth and education jurist and statesman of Alabama 1813-1825.  Moved to Texas in 1825.  President of the Constitutional Convention, March 1836.  Member, Congress of the Republic of Texas.  Waxahachie, the county seat.

General Edward H. Tarrant
1936 Centennial Marker

Location: Intersection SH 34 and Couch St., Italy, Texas

Veteran of the War of 1812, member of the Texas Congress and a Courageous Indian fighter. Born in North Carolina 1796, died in Parker County, Texas, August 2, 1858. Reburied in Ellis County near his former plantation 1859. His remains removed to the county named in his honor in 1928 and reinterred in Fort Worth.

Site of Plantation of Edward H. Tarrant
1936 Centennial Marker

Location: private property off Lumkins Rd, near Forreston

Veteran of the War of 1812,  pioneer Indian fighter, commander of Texas frontier troops, statesman of  vision. The house was built in 1845. Nearby he built the first mill in Ellis County. Here he resided until his death August 2, 1858.

Old Ellis County Jail

Location: Corner of Rogers and Water St., Waxahachie

Due to overcrowding in the existing jail facility, this structure was completed in 1888. The Ellis County Commissioners Court awarded the contract to Paul Jail Building and Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, Missouri. A round turret with conical roof dominates the design. Decorative brick corbeling runs below the cornice. The two-story brick and stone jail contained the Sheriff's family residence on the first floor. There were twenty 4 x 8' cells which accommodated two prisoners each. The solitary confinement and death cells were in the basement. A rotary system, one of the few in the United States, was installed to prevent escapes. A cylinder contained a group of ten cells. The outer walls were stationary jail bars with only one opening. The cylinder turned to provide access to the single door. The entire jail yard was enclosed by a fence of iron bars. Bloodhounds were kept in the yard in the early days. After a new county jail was constructed in 1929, this facility housed the relief work commission during the Depression. Afterward a variety of commercial enterprises occupied the space.[1978]

Ellis County Courthouse

Location: Courthouse Square, Main St., Waxahachie

Built 1895-1897 of Texas granite, limestone, marble. Over east door sculptor carved face of beautiful local girl he admired. Example of Romanesque Revival building. Victorian period. The architect was J. Reilly Gordon. [1969]

A second marker for the Courthouse was placed in 1993. Text reads as follows:

Ellis County's first courthouse was made of cedar logs and built here in 1850. A second courthouse was built on this square in 1853 and a third in 1874. In 1894 Virginia Native and San Antonio Architect James Reilly Gordon was commissioned to design the fourth Ellis County courthouse to be built at this site. The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1895, and the courthouse completed in 1897 with each of its main entrances purposely oriented toward North, South, East and West compass points. Faces which adorn the courthouse were sculpted by European stonemasons. The "Richardsonian Romanesque" architectural style used by Gordon to design this building was created by Bostonian Henry Hobson Richardson in the 1870s and popularized in Texas by Gordon. For this structure Gordon deviated from previous Texas courthouses he had designed in the "Richardsonian Romanesque" style by displaying open, two-story arcades and colonnades porticos on the exterior of the building and placing entrances at inside angles. Red and gray granite from Central Texas and red sandstone from the Pecos River in West Texas were used to build this courthouse. Gordon's Ellis County courthouse design set a new standard for other public buildings erected in Texas.

Confederate Powder Mill
1936 Centennial Marker

Location: 300 block North Rogers St., Waxahachie

Erected in 1862 by William Rowen. On April 29, 1863 it was destroyed by an explosion and its owner killed. Also killed was Joshua G. Phillips.

Parsons' Cavalry C.S.A.

Location: On U. S. Hwy 77, about 5 miles north of Waxahachie

Originally comprised of men from Ellis and surrounding counties. Organized for Civil War service at Rockett's Spring (4 mi. E. of this site), Sept. 1861, unit was trained and commanded by Col. William H. Parsons, Mexican War Veteran, colorful duelist, editor, merchant, and lawyer. In a Confederate Brigade, this unit was joined with 12th, 19th and 21st Texas Cavalry regiments, Morgan's Battalion and Pratt's Battery, to scout and fight in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Indian Territory. It was famous for attacks on federal ironclad ships, Red River campaign, 1864. [1972]

Richard Ellis Monument
1936 Centennial Marker

Location: Courthouse Square, Waxahachie

By birth and education a Virginian, through residence 1813-1825 an Alabaman jurist. In that year Texas claimed him. As president of the Constitutional Convention in 1836 and as a member of the Congress of the young Republic,he steered the helm of state through troubled waters. Nutured in the culture f the Old South, practiced in the application of the law, he exercised, in behalf of Texas, courage, vision and leadership. Born February 14, 1761 - Died December 20, 1846. "Leaving the old, both worlds they view, that stand upon the threshold of the new."


Location: FM 1183 at Inter Urban Road

Settlement of this area began as early as 1848.  The town of Alma was established in 1871, when the Houston and Texas Central Railroad was built through Ellis County.  C. C. Hemming deeded part of his property for the railroad right-of-way and a town to be named in honor of his daughter, Alma.  Soon the town included numerous homes, businesses, churches, and civic organizations.  It was the center of a farming community until the 1950s, when interstate highway 45 was built throughj the middle of the town.

Auburn Cemetery

Location: County road off FM Road 916, 5.9 miles west of Maypearl

Pioneer settlers used this site for burials as early as 1856. In 1865 it was part of 20.5 acres deeded to the Methodist Church for a school and church by Rezi Jarvis Banks (1817-1889), CSA veteran born in Tennessee. Among the earliest marked graves is that of Banks' wife Minervia (1822-1893). In the late 1800s, Auburn was a thriving farming community with four churches, stores and a post office. Later the lack of high school facilities and the railroad bypassing resulted in residents moving away. The cemetery is a link with the town's past.[1977]

Avalon Missionary Baptist Church

Location: Corner of Kirby and Giles Sts., Avalon

Originally known as Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, this congregation was organized on July 6, 1879 by Elders Josiah Leake and S. C. Talley and 16 charter members, J. C., Isabel, and Sarah Martin; W. L. Pierce; J. P. and M. F. Giles; William Hendricks; William and N. L. John; M. E. Lattner; M. C. Steward; Alice Godfrey; and Melvina Killey. Early worship services were held in the Muscat School and under an arbor. A sanctuary was built in 1924-25. Sunday School facilities and a parsonage were added later. This church has served Avalon for over 100 years.[1988]

Bell's Chapel Cemetery

Location: Rockett community on Bell's Chapel Rd. off FM 813

Founded 1875. Site for church cemetery was given on Dec. 27, 1875, by local landowners John and Elizabeth Gibbons. This tract and some later purchases were deeded to the Methodist Episcopal church South. Church and cemetery were named in honor of Confederate War veteran Jodie M. Bell, a church and civic leader in Rockett Community, and first person to be buried here, 1877. Red Oak Masonic Lodge No. 461, chartered in 1876, helped build 2-story chapel and meeting hall. The lodge moved to Red Oak in 1894.[1970]

Bethel Cemetery

Location: From Waxahachie, FM 876 south about 10 miles to Bethel Rd.,
then west about 1/5 miles to cemetery

In 1852 N. P. Sims (1806-1902)  gave 10 acres of land at High Springs (4 mi. W) for a church and burial ground to trustees of Bethel Methodist church. Several graves remain there. G. H. Cunningham (1828-1916) and P. C. Sims (1819-1903) gave church trustees 10 acres here at Bethel in 1868. Earliest marked grave is that of the Rev. J. W. Reynolds (1816-1873). In 1918 trustees for Bethel Cemetery Association bought 3.9 acres of the 10-acre plot from the Church. Heirs of Cunningham and P. C. Sims gave 14 adjoining acres in 1961. The site has over 400 graves, including those of the 3 original land donors. [1978]

Bethel Methodist Church

Location: Take FM 876 from Waxahachie about 10 miles to Bethel Rd;
west on Bethel Rd. about 1.5 miles to church

In 1853 Bethel church was begun under a brush arbor at High Springs. After meeting in a log school building at Greathouse, services were moved in 1860 to a schoolhouse at Bethel on Baker's Branch. The first meetinghouse, built south of the cemetery in 1872, was destroyed in an 1892 storm. The second, located north of the cemetery, was replaced in 1924 by the present sanctuary. The tabernacle, built in 1902, served for camp meetings and god;s acre sales. A parsonage, erected in the early 1900s on E. M. Brack's land at Boz, was moved to this site in 1952. [1979]

Boren Cemetery

Location: 7 miles south of Waxahachie on US 1287; then 2.2 miles se on Old
Waxahachie-Ennis Rd (old US 287), then .02 miles south on Boren Road.

Kentucky native Michael Boren and his second wife, Mary Ann (Ridgeway) moved to this part of Texas with their children and slaves in 1847. Hers is believed to be among the earliest graves in boren Cemetery, as she died in 1857, but 1868 is the earliest death date recorded on a stone marker. It belongs to Sidney T. Boren, the five-year-old grandson of Michael and his first wife Bettie (Morrow). Boren and his son George donated land for this cemetery for the use of the Reagor springs and Bethel communities. A reflection of the area's history, it contains the graves of numerous military veterans and members of Ellis County pioneer families. [2001]

Bristol School

Location: Corner of Church St. and Union Hill Rd., Bristol

The community's first school was housed in a multi-purpose building erected here in 1870. The Bristol School District was established in 1877. Youth from throughout the area attended Bristol schoolhouse built in 1886 and 1913. A new brick school containing five classrooms and an impressive auditorium and state was completed here by the U. S. Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1940. 130 pupils attended the 9-grade, 6-teacher school in 1940-41. The school served the area until 1955. In 1957 its facilities and grounds were deeded to the Bristol Cemetery Association. [1995]

Burnham Square and Cemetery

Location: 6-1/2 miles southwest of Ennis
[marker moved to Clay & Lampasas, Ennis]

William R. and Edeline House bought the land on which Burnam Square and cemetery were located in 1856 for the price of a slave named John. In 1861, after her husband died, Edeline House had the 25-block town laid out and donated one acre for a graveyard. The Houston & Texas Central Railroad bypassed Burnam Square in 1871 and founded Ennis. Residents and businesses moved here, causing Burnam Square to decline. The 40-grave burial site is all that remains of the once-thriving community of Burnam Square. [1978]

Chambers Creek
1936 Centennial Marker

Location: one mile south of Forreston on Hwy 77

Named in honor of Thomas Jefferson Chambers, 1802 - 1865 to whom the first land grant within present Ellis County was made in 1834 by Mexican Governor. Also known as Howe's Settlement in honor of William R. Howe. First settlers in the region in 1843. An early post office in Robertson County. First county seat of Navarro County 1846-48.

Town of Ennis

Location: Piece Park, US 287 and NW Main St., Ennis

Founded 1872 as market town on Houston & Texas Central Railway; Named for an H. & T. C. official, Cornelius Ennis (1818-1899). Cumberland Presbyterian built first church 1872; First school session opened 1873. Chezchslovaks settled here 1874, adding a new segment to Anglo-French-Mexican-Texans employed in cattle and cotton economy. In 1892 banker Joseph Baldridge and associates secured H. & T. C. division shops for the town. In 1911 St. John's school was established here. In 20th century, local industry, recreation areas, and municipal services spur continuing growth. [1970]

Ennis City Hall

Location: 109 Brown Street, Ennis

Designed by prominent local architect Hix McCanless, this classical revival structure was built in 1915 to house city offices and the Ennis Police and Fire Departments. A native of Tennessee, McCanless (1868-1938) was the leading designer and builder in Ennis during the first part of the 20th Century and also served as a surveyor and city engineer. The interior of the City Hall building at one time held a large auditorium and still contains the original jail. Its exterior features a sedimented entrance and brick pilasters. [1985]

Ennis National Bank Building

Location: 110 W. Ennis Avenue, Ennis

This structure was built in 1883 to house the Ennis National Bank, which was established the same year, with businessman Joseph Baldridge as its first president. Until 1917, when a new facility was built, the bank occupied the first floor, while the second story was leased for offices. Since that time, numerous businesses have occupied the classical revival building, which features a corner turret, corbeled brick parapet and the original cast iron storefront. [1983]

The Southern Pacific Railroad in Ennis

Location: 100 Block of East Main Street, Ennis

In 1872, the City of Ennis was established at this site, the northern terminus of the Houston and Texas central Railroad (later part of the Southern Pacific Railroad). The city is named after early railroad official Cornelius Ennis. Expansion by the railroad at this location in 1892 spurred decades of agricultural, commercial and industrial growth. Completion of lakes for the railroad's use and the construction of shops, a roundhouse and offices earned Ennis renown as the junction of railroads and cotton fields. The lakes and several railroad buildings remain. [1992]

Old Lake Dam

Location: Kiwanis Park, Park St. and N. Preston Rd., Ennis

Constructed in 1891, this dam created a body of water known variously as the City Reservoir, Ennis Railroad Lake and Old City Lake. It was built in answer to a proposal by the Houston and Texas Central Railroad to move its divisional headquarters to Ennis from Corsicana. The lake provided water for the train station and machine shops. The location of the railroad here constituted to the growth of the city,. and in recent years the Old Lake Dam has provided recreational facilities and flood control for the area.

The H. P. Barkley Home

Location: 709 North Dallas, Ennis

Local contractor B. F. Sargeant constructed this residence in 1892 for H. P. Barkley, a conductor and yardmaster for the Houston and Central Texas Railroad. Built in the Victorian style, it features elaborate gingerbread detailing. T. H. Floyd, a local businessman, purchased the house in 1905 and resided here until 1949. Later used as a church parsonage, the Barkley home now serves as a reminder of Ennis' early days as a growing railroad town. [1981]

Matthews-Atwood House

Location: 307 N. Sherman St., Ennis

Pearl C. Matthews purchased this property in 1900 when he and his brother Will, owners of a McKinney department store, opened a second establishment in Ennis. He and his wife virgie (Thompson) lived in a cottage at this site until 1908 when they constructed the present house. Harry Atwood (1873-1948) a native of Arkansas, purchased the home in 1917. His wife Bessie (Craig) deeded the residence to their son Felix Atwood (1908-1974) in 1955. A Lieutenant Colonel during World War II, Atwood lived here and maintained a law office in Dallas. [1980]

Katie Daffan
July 29, 1874 - May 22, 1951

Location: Pierce Park, Northwest Main Street, Ennis

Born in Brenham, Katie Lilly Daffan was a well-known author, educator, journalist, and club woman. She began her career as a teacher and was an officer of the Texas State Historical Association. She wrote several books, including a Texas history textbook. Active in the United Daughters of the Confederacy, she served from 1911 to 1918 as superintendent of the Confederate Woman's Home in Austin. She was Literary Editor of the Houston Chronicle from 1921 to 1928. Miss Daffan taught school in Ennis and was feature columnist for the Ennis Daily News 1936-1950. She died here in 1951. [Recorded Texas Historic Landmark Texas Sesquicentennial 1836-1986]

Jack Lummus

Location: Ennis Public Library. 501 West Ennis Ave. Ennis

(October 22, 1915 - March 8, 1945) Born on an Ellis County farm, Jack Lummus attended school at Alma and Ennis, and Baylor University on an athletic scholarship. He played minor league baseball in Texas and football for the New York Giants. He joined the U. S. Marines in 1942 and on February 19, 1945, landed with the Fifth Marine Division in the first wave of assault troops on Iwo Jima. On March 8, after fighting without respite for two days and nights, Lummus and his rifle platoon slowly advanced toward a complex of pillboxes before being halted by Japanese forces. Despite injuries from two grenade explosions, Lummus single-handedly destroyed three enemy emplacements before stepping on a land mine, sustaining fatal wounds. His Congressional Medal of Honor celebrates his "conspicuous gallantry and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds." [1999]

The Mulkey-Loggins House

Location: 110 N. Elm St., Ennis

This property was part of a tract settled in 1854 by pioneer Philip A. Mulkey (d. 18762). Ennis was founded in 1871, when the Houston and Texas Central Railroad reached this point. Mulkey's son James (1859-1903), a prosperous cattleman, included this site in the highland addition, a neighborhood that he developed after Ennis became the railroad's divisional headquarters in 1891. Dr. James C. Loggins (1845-1921), Mayor and City Alderman, erected this Victorian residence in 1898. It was purchased in 1944 by Keith Mulkey, James Mulkey;s grandson, and his wife, Tina Beth (Wheeler). [1978]

Thomas C. Neel

Location: 5 miles west of Ennis on US 287

(1825-1863) Georgia native Thomas C. Neel married Willia E. Latimer in 1848. The couple moved their family to Texas in 1854 and to Ellis County in 1855. They established a cotton and wheat plantation near what would become ennis. Neel called his wife "Will" and the plantation became known as Will's Town, which was later shortened to Wilton. A post office opened on the plantation in 1857; it served under both the United States and Confederate governments. In 1861 Neel was appointed a delegate to the Session Convention. Later that year, he was elected to represent the 42nd District in the House of Representatives in iht 9th legislature. Shortly after that term ended, he was elected state senator from the 19th District, bur he became ill and died before he was able to serve in the 10th Legislature. [2000].

Philip R. Pierce

1936 Centennial Marker

Location: South of Ennis 1.3 miles on Shackle Road, 2 miles off FM 660 Born September 16, 1813 in North Carolina. Soldier in the Texas War of Independence. Member Madisonville Cavalry, Texas Volunteers. Died in Ellis County December 2, 1891.

Frederick Harrison Rankin
1936 Centennial Marker

Location: Myrtle Cemetery, West Knox Street, Ennis

Born in Kentucky, February 15, 1795. Came to Texas in 1822 with Austin's first colony, died July 2, 1874. His wife, Elizabeth Smith Rankin, born January 30, 1802, died June 1, 1882.

Myrtle Cemetery

Location: End of West Knox Street in Ennis

W. H. Parsons deeded the original ten acres at this site in 1875 for use as a cemetery. The burial ground was named "Myrtle" for a child whose single grave was included in the tract of land. Also buried here is Frederick H. Rankin (1795-1874), a member of Stephen F. Austin's "Old 300" colony and veteran of the Texas Revolution. Other graves include those of author Katie Daffan (12874-1951) and Marine Lieutenant Jace Lummus (1915-1945), who was killed at the battle of Iwo Jima during World War II and later awarded the' Congressional Medal of Honor.

City of Ferris

Location: Main Street at FM Road 983

Site was occupied in 1851 by the Ephraim Andrews family and their in-laws, the McKnights, settling a purchased land grant. The Duffs, Greens, McDaniels, and Orrs also pioneered here. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was founded in 1858. The Andrew Family (1874) deeded 100-acre townsite, named for Judge J. W. Ferris (1823-99). To the Houston & Texas Central Railway. Post office opened June 22, 1874, in store of the first postmaster, Jackson J. Straw. First cotton gin opened in 1880, first newspaper in 1889. The Ferris Institute was operated 1892-1907. City has been a brick-making center since 1895. [1974]

First Presbyterian Church of Ferris

Location: 201 North Church Street, Ferris

Organized by 13 charter members in 1858, its original site near Bluff Springs (2 miles west) to Ferris in 1875. A church building, erected here in 1890, was razed when this sanctuary was built in 1925-26. Its classical revival design features paired pilasters, a 3-bay primary facade with a round arched entry, classical columns and 2-story stained glass windows. The congregation and sanctuary continue their integral role in the community, [1994]

First United Methodist Church of Ferris

Location: 101 Redbud Land, Ferris

The town of Ferris was laid out by the Houston & Texas Central Railway in 1874. In that year, the Reverent John S. Davis and the Reverent George W. Owens became the first of a series of circuit-riding ministers to serve Ferris, establishing a small body of the Methodist congregants. In 1885 the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, received the donation of two town lots from the railroad, on which the church erected its first building. A parsonage was erected in 1895. Circuit riders continued to serve the Ferris congregation until the late 1890s. Ferris became a part of the Waxahachie District, Northwest Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1899. Ferris boasted a population of 311 at the beginning of the 20th century. A post office railroad depot, express office, about 20 business and mercantile establishments, cotton gins, hotels, a school for children from primary grades through high school and several churches were among the town's features. In 1910, the Ferris church and the rest of the Waxahachie District became part of the newly formed Central Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. New facilities was erected as' needed. For much of 1924 the congregation met at Ferris High School and in the First Presbyterian Church. In 1925 the Presbyterian congregation met in the new Methodist facilities in anticipation of the completion of their new structure. A more modern facility was constructed for the Methodists in 1964. The congregation continues a strong tradition of worship, community outreach and service and mission programs. [1999]

Greathouse Community, Church and Cemetery

Location: From Waxahachie take FM 876 about 10 mi. S. to Bethel Rd;
west to Greathouse Rd., and left about 1.6 mil. to cemetery

Archibald and Mary Greathouse, who settled in this area in 1848, gave their name to a creek and rural community that grew up here. The church, school, and cemetery that formed the focal point of community life were located on land deeded later by Martin Judy Dawson and George W. Whitefield. John Edward Dawson hauled lumber from Waxahachie by oxcart to erect the Greathouse Millionary Baptist Church building. Other early church leaders included Martin Judy Dawson, Jr., Caswell R. Tirey and Thomas A. Tirey. The Rev. John Bailey was the first pastor. In the 1890s, a school was begun in the church building. Oldest known grave in the cemetery is that of Nancy Caroline Sims (1828-1881). When the railroad reached nearby Maypearl in 1904, many residents moved there and Greathouse began to decline. The school closed in 1912 and the church about 1927. The frame building was razed in 1958. A Cemetery Association, formed in 1974, maintains the burial ground. This community produced four Christian ministers: Rev. Joseph M. Dawson (1879-1973), a prominent Baptist leader; the Rev. Everett H. Tirey; The Rev. J. W. Whitfield, Jr. and the Rev. Austin Woodard. Another resident, Judge Jake Tirey, served on the Texas Court of Civil Appeals. [1978]

John Marr Hardeman
1936 Centennial Grave Marker

Location: 300 block North Couch St., Italy

A soldier in the Army of Texas 1836. Born in Tennessee February 2, 1804, died October 15, 1891. His wife Mary Hardeman born in Tennessee, February 12, 1812, died February 19, 1857.

Ozro Cemetery

Location: Intersection of Ozro Rd. and Smith Rd.,
1 mi off FM 157, 3 miles north of Maypearl

In 1858 J. P. Gilmore and Richard D. Graves gave land for Pleasant Hill Methodist Episcopal Church South, and for this burial ground. The earliest marked graves date from 1870. J. h. L. Jackson donated additional land in 1895. At that time, the cemetery served Nation Town, a thriving community with several stores and a school. The village was renamed Ozro in 1898, when that post office opened. After the International & Great Northern Railroad reached this area in 1902, many residents moved to Maypearl, and Ozro declined. Today the cemetery is the only remnant of its past. [1978]

St. Paul Cemetery

Location: About 4 miles N.W. Midlothian, off US Hwy 287, of St. Paul Cemetery Road

In 1881 William Gardner deeded this site to the Mountain Creek School Community. This tract, which contained graves dating' from 1875, remained in use as a public cemetery and adjoining land was set aside for a school. After W. S. Fife and his wife, L. M., gave adjacent land for a church in 1894, the property became known as St. Paul Church and Cemetery./ Burials here include those of pioneer area settlers and several victims of the 1918 influenza epidemic. The school closed in the 1940s, and the land was later conveyed to the cemetery association. [1983]

Site of Old Hawkins Springs

Location: One mile east of Midlothian on FM Road 1387

William Alden Hawkins (1800-67) and wife Anna Eddy (1800-95) from LaPorte, In., arrived with family at this site in May 1848, becoming first settlers in area. The family included Marcellus Tolbert (1824-96); Mary Melissa (1824-84), with her husband Harrison F. Hinkley and child Annie Lucretia; Benjamin Franklin (1828-91) and wife Mary; James Emerson (1829-1912)l William Alden (1831-89); Elizabeth Ann (1838-1903); David Peter (1838-1863); John Wesley (1841-1876); and George Washington (1842-1931). As a member of Peters Colony, Wm. A. Hawkins and adult children claimed about 2500 acres of land. In a critical period of 28 days prior to July 1, 1848, logs were cut and hauled from Dallas County cedar brakes to build five houses, to sustain the claims. Hawkins Spring, about 100 feet from the Wm. A. Hawkins home supplied water for all households and often for passers-by. Upon the organization of Ellis county in 1850, William A. Hawkins (1800-1867) was appointed first Chief Justice (County Judge). Currently situated on Hawkins family lands are part of Midlothian business district east of Santa Fe Railroad, on the Wm. A. Hawkins survey; Northridge Shopping Center, on Harrison Hinkley survey, First United Methodist Church on B. F. Hawkins survey. [1971]

First United Methodist Church of Midlothian

Location: 800 South 9th St., Midlothian

Methodist worship services in this area date to the late 1840s, meeting in homes, the people were served by circuit riding ministers from Waxahachie. A schoolhouse built for the pioneer community of Hawkins was also used as a church. Beginning in 1861 a church built in lebanon, another pioneer settlement, served the Methodists of the area. The congregation moved to Midlothian in 1883, and a church building was completed in 1902. A new house of worship was erected in 1966. Members of the church include many descendants of its pioneer founders. [1988]

Site of Polytechnic Institute

Location: Kimmel Park, 2nd Ave. and Ave. F., Midlothian

Founded in 1883 by W. W. Works (1856-1895), Polytechnic Institute was a private coeducational school. A respected educator and native of this area, Works left here in 1888 to attend the University of Texas. When he returned in 1892, local stockholders erected a two-story school building at this site. After Works died, the facility became Whitten Institute, with the Rev. Thomas G. Whitten as president. It was also operated as Midlothian College. In 1907-08, the building was dismantled, and the property was acquired by former stockholder J. C. Kimmel. In 1915 his widow gave it to the city for use as a park. [1976]

William L. and Emma Hawkins House

Location: 803 Ave. G., Midlothian

William L. Hawkins, the son of area pioneer settlers, and his wife Emma (Barker) purchased land and a house here in 1892. They removed the original structure in 1901 and hired local wood artisan Will Price to build this house. Made of imported cypress timber, it was completed in 1903. It features an asymmetrical Queen Anne design and ornate wood trim hand carved by Price. Prominent businessman Tom Dees and his wife Mattie (Hawkins) purchased the house in 1905, and in 1913 the property was acquired by Edward and Mollie Byrd. It remained in the Byrd family until 1957. [1994]

First Baptist Church of Milford

Location: 200 E. Crossmain Ave., Milford

Chartered in 1855 with eleven members, this congregation was organized at the home of Dr. J. M. Higgins. The first pastor was the rev. J. M. Perry (1817-1905), a native of Alabama. A chapel on College Street, built in 1856, served the Fellowship until 1871, when the church was moved to this site. The property was deeded to the First Baptist and Cumberland Presbyterian Congregations, who financed the construction of a sanctuary here. Separate Baptist Church structures were built here in 1890 and 1917. Former pastors include prominent state and national Baptist leaders. [1980]

Milford Cemetery

Location: On East Water Street, off US Hwy 77, in Milford

W. R. Hudson and J. M. Higgins, early pioneers in this area, came from Cherokee County in East Texas to settle here in 1853. They laid off a townsite in 1854 and named it Milford. The town developed steadily, and soon boasted homes, a school, post office, churches, and other community institutions.

Although there are no specific records to document the establishment of the Milford Cemetery, the oldest marked grave is that of E. F. Kimbrough Smith, wife of W. P. Smith, who died at age 23 in 1855. The size of the cemetery has increased over the years, and it is the final resting place of generations of some early Milford families.
Ellis County pioneers buried in this historic graveyard include Texas Revolutionary soldiers Thomas Jefferson Jordan and James McDaniel. Nearly two hundred small graves of infants and young children from the 19th Century attest to the often harsh living conditions of the frontier. Also interred here, in addition to the Texas Revolutionary soldiers, are veterans of the Mexican War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II and Vietnam. An important element of Milford's history, the cemetery stands as a reminder of the area's frontier heritage.

Nearly two hundred small graves of infants and young children from the 19th century attest to the often harsh living conditions of the frontier. Also interred here, in addition to the Texas Revolutionary soldiers, are veterans of the mexican War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II and Vietnam. An important element of Milford's history, the cemetery stands as a reminder of the area's frontier heritage. [1991]

Saint James A. M. E. Church

Location: FM Rd 308, South and Bois D'arc, Milford

This church was organized by the Rev. Joshua Goins, Sr. in 1883. Services began in the home of Pleasant Zollicoffer and moved to the Odd Fellows' Hall before this church structure was erected in 1907. This building exhibits exceptional craftsmanship and incorporates gothic revival style details such as twin towers and gabled facade and Romanesque style rounded windows. Saint James is Milford's oldest African-American Church and building. [1992]

Milford Presbyterian Church

Location: 300 Block Main St., Milford

Organized in June 1855 with 16 members, as one of 4 Presbyterian churches within a radius of 500 miles. Early horseback-traveling pastors organized and served 3 churches in outlying areas. Congregation built houses of worship in 1860, 1896, 1921. This church was 4 times host to the Presbytery, 1861-71; to Synod, 1920. Records show Milford has been self-sustaining, faithful to support Presbyterian colleges of Texas, and high in benevolences. Church bell, cast in new York, and brought here by ship, rail and ox-wagon, has called area to worship since 1871. [1970]

Thomas J. Jordan
1936 Centennial Marker

Location: East Water Street in Milford

Soldier in Texas Army in 1836, born in Tennessee June 17, 1808, died November 24, 1880. His wife Stacy Choate Jordan, born in Tennessee October 15, 1816; died January 27, 1884.

James McDaniel
1936 Centennial Marker

Location: Milford Cemetery, Milford

Served in the Army of Texas in 1836, born in Alabama September 10, 1810, died January 11, 1885. His wife Idabella Weir McDaniel, born in Alabama March 8, 1818, died May 4, 1897.

Mount Zion Cemetery

Location: 2 miles south of Milford on Mt. Zion Road

An Indian who often rested on this hill was killed by his wild prairie horse in 1850s and buried here. Sarah Witherspoon (1832-1857), an early Anglo-American settler, was interred nearby in the first marked grave. Soon after Coleman Jenkins died in 1861, his brother Alexander (1829-1895) deeded this public burial ground. In 1873 Jenkins helped found the Mount Zion Presbyterian Church here. A church house was erected and used for school in the early 1900s, as the population shifted, the church and school closed. The cemetery is all that remains of this pioneer community. [1979]

George Rossan Home

Location: East of Milford on Water Street


Nash Public School

Intersection FM 55 and Howard St. in Nash Community

In 1873 pioneer settler Thomas Alexander Williams (1827-1900) brought his family to this area, which was known as Garden Valley. Soon after his arrival, he directed the establishment of a school for the community. Classes were conducted at this site, originally part of Williams' farm. Renamed after the Nash post office opened in 1883, the public school closed in 1938 and students were transferred to nearby districts. The existing two-story frame building, which served as the second schoolhouse, is now used as a community center. [1980]

Oak Branch Cemetery

Location: Oak Branch Road, on FM 66, 7 miles SW Waxahachie

In 1875 area pioneer William M. Claunch (1815-1888) donated twenty acres of his ranch land for a Methodist church, church campground and cemetery. The oldest grave in the burial ground is that of Susaner Bynum, the one-year-old daughter of M. C. and L. C. Bynum, who died in 1881. Many of the gravestones date from the 1880s and bear the family names of "Bynum, Hollingsworth, Williams, Gilbreth, Martin, Claunch and Blakely - all early settlers in the once-thriving community of Oak (1 mile N.) Since 1927 the historic graveyard has been maintained by the Oak Branch cemetery association.


Location: FM 664 and Main Street in Ovilla

One of the oldest communities in Ellis County, Ovilla began as a fortified settlement built in 1844 on upper Red Oak Creek. Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church was founded in 1847 and the town's first schoolhouse was erected in 1849. By the turn of the century, Ovilla had a post office, banks, several stores and a cotton gin. A marketing center for area farmers, Ovilla was bypassed by railroads and major highways. The town suffered destructive fires in 1918 and in 1926. Proximity of urban areas has stimulated new growth in recent years.  [1978]

Ovilla Cemetery

Location: 1403 Red Oak Creek Drive, Ovilla

The Ovilla community was founded by members of the Peters Colony in 1844. Benjamin and Erixna Caroline McFarlin were among the early members of the thriving farm community. On November 17, 1886, they deeded four acres to the new Ovilla Methodist Episcopal church, South, for a church building and a burial ground. Though there may have been earlier burials, the earliest marked grave is that of Rebecca Summers McElroy, the wife of Tom C. McElroy, who died in 1884. Among the more than 440 people buried here are early settlers, at least seven veterans of the Civil War, and veterans of World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Ovilla Cemetery remains a chronicle of the pioneers of Ovilla community. [2000].

Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Location: Intersection of Shiloh Road and FM 664, Ovilla

The first organized church in Ellis County, the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church congregation was chartered with twenty members on July 25, 1847, two years before the formation of the county. The church was begun under the leadership of the Rev. Finis E. King, a pioneer area minister, with the assistance of the Rev. J. C. Provine of Paris in Lamar County. Worship services were first conducted under a brush arbor and later in a cedar log tabernacle constructed by Matt McElroy and his eight sons. In 1872, during the pastorate of the Rev. D. G. Molloy, the present frame sanctuary was completed. J. P. Laughlin built the structure using lumber from Cherokee County in East Texas./ Ministers here have included such prominent early Presbyterian preachers as the Rev. King, pastor from the church's organization until his death in 1859, and the Rev. E. M. White, who was instrumental in the formation of the several Ellis County churches. Since the earliest days of settlement, the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian congregation has led in the development of Ovilla and the surrounding area. [1962]

Harkey-Payne House

Location: 216 West Jefferson St., Palmer

Originally a four-room house with south and east porches, this home was built about 1870 by carpenter and blacksmith D. H. Harkey. Dr. J. M. Johnson bought the property in 1896 and added the second story and the colonial revival style columns. In 1897 the house was sold to Confederate veteran John Payne, who ran a successful mercantile business in Palmer. Built of cypress, the home remained in the Payne family until 1906. [Purchased and restored by Roy Adams and family in 1945. [1983]

First Baptist Church of Palmer

Location: 205 Cooper Street, Palmer

The Rev. T.H. Durham preached at the organizational meeting of this Missionary Baptist Church on Nov. 17, 1873. Charter members included Lucinda Crawford, Susan and John Nixon and Elizabeth and James Perkins. Worship services were originally held in the members' homes. By 1891, this Baptist fellowship was sharing a Union Church building with three other denominations. The Present frame structure built in 1900-1901, has been periodically enlarged and modernized. Five persons from this congregation have been ordained into the ministry. [1976]

First Christian Church of Palmer

Location: Corner of Stacks and Paris St., Palmer

In 1853 disciples in the area around Rockett and Brushy Creek (8 miles northwest) established a church called "Liberty-Sylvana." Members of the congregation were instrumental in the formation of new churches in Corinth, Ferris, Palmer and Waxahachie.

Two members of the church at Rockett, Robert "Uncle Bob" Smith and his wife Lavisa, moved their family to Palmer in 1868. With their help the First Christian Church of Palmer was organized that same year. A one-room schoolhouse served as the first meeting place.

An agreement, signed in 1880 by representatives of the Baptist, Christian, and Cumberland Presbyterian Churches of the town, called for the construction of a community church building. Completed later that year on Dallas Street, the Palmer Union Church sanctuary was used by all three congregations. Each church was assigned a specific Sunday of every month for their services.

Members of the First Christian Church constructed their own sanctuary at the intersection of Dallas and Jefferson Streets in 1898. The congregation moved to this site in 1940 when the present brick edifice was completed. The church bell, still in use, is from the Palmer Union Church building. [1980]

Richardson Cemetery

Location: North of Reagor Springs at intersection of US 287 with Old US 287

John I. Richardson (1839-1922), county surveyor, Mason, and veterans of the 12th Texas Confederate Cavalry, married Ann Elizabeth Reagor (1849-1923) in 1865. Both were descendants of the family for which Reagor Springs was named. A cousin, Robert S. Reagor, was buried on the Richardsons' property in 1879. In 1890 the land was deeded for use as a cemetery. Also buried here are two of the Richardsons' six children. The Richardsons left Reagor Springs near the turn of the century. Other early area families also are buried in' the cemetery, which contains thirty graves. Those interred in the Richardson Cemetery helped to forge Reagor Springs and early Ellis County. [1998]

Fry - Butcher House

Location - Red Oak

Sam and Sarah Jane "Jennie" Fry purchased 150 acres here in 1882. Aided by noted local carpenter Lewis Butcher, the Frys build this farmhouse in 1883. The house is an excellent local example of the Queen Anne architectural style and features a gable roof, turned-wood porch posts, and jig=sawn brackets and porch friezes. The Property eventually passed to George A. Butcher, Jennis\e's son from a previous marriage, and remained in the family until 1986. [1992]

Red Oak Cemetery

Location One miles south of Red Oak on SH 342

Originally known as the Kemble Cemetery, this graveyard began as a family'burial ground. Abraham Kemble acquired the land on which the cemetery is located about 1860. He and his wife Mary were both buried here in 1867. In 1892 Kemble descendants gave the land to Liberty Baptist Church, later renamed First Baptist Church, Red Oak. The cemetery became a public burial ground after the turn of the century. Those interred here include generations of Kemble family members, area pioneers and veterans of several wars, beginning with the Civil War. (1988)

Rockett Christian Church

Location: Intersection FM 183 and Loma Linda Rd., Rockett

The Rockett Christian Church grew out of early worship services that began in the area about 1853. Formally organized in 1894, the congregation constructed this sanctuary in 1900-01. The Carpenter Gothic building features lancet windows, and octagonal front porch, interior beaded board wainscoting, and the original wooden pews. Despite a period of inactivity in the 1960s, the sanctuary was later reopened for regular services. [1983]

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