"Elmina: A Ghost Town in Walker County" by Howard L. Oliphint.  
  History and recollections of the town of Elmina, Texas, and the Walker County Lumber Company in Walker and San Jacinto counties.  
Source: Oliphint, Howard Lee (1912-1982). Elmina: Ghost Town in Walker County. Huntsville, Tex.: Privately published, n.d. Reprinted with kind permission from the Walker County Genealogical Society, and expanded with images from the Texas Transportation Archive.
This long-form article is broken up into the following sections. Click to jump to that section:
  I. Acknowledgements  
  II. Introduction  
  III. Early Memories  
  IV. Early Recollections of Elmina  
  V. Letter from Mr. O.H. Miller  
  VI. Letter from Mrs. Billie P. Smith  
  VII. Letter from Mr. Guy Croom  
  VIII. Letter from Mrs. Tom (Blonnie) Bradley  
  IX. Letter from Mrs. Jim (Varya) Davis  
  X. Letter from Mr. E. H. McKenzie  
  XI. Letter from Mack Ohlund  
  XII. Letter from Mildred Dorman  
  XIII. Second Letter from Mack Ohlund  
  XIV. Letter from Elizabeth Oliphint  
  XV. Howard Oliphint's Memories of Elmina  
  XV. Letter from Martin McDonough  
  XVI. Thoughts on the Youth of Today  
  XVII. Regarding Hudson C. Oliphint  
  XVIII.Photo Captions  

"Elmina: A Ghost Town in Walker County"

by Howard L. Oliphint


Credit must be accorded to my many friends who furnished information and information related to this writing. Some of these people are Mrs. Tom Bradley, Mr. Guy Croom, Mr. E. H. McKinzie, Mr. O. H. Miller who is deceased, Mr. Mack Ohland and Kathryn Kagan.

Finally to my deceased father, Hudson C. Oliphint, my inspiration, my strength, and to whom this dissertation is dedicated.

Much of the information in this writing is fact, some is from record and some from persons relating it to me either in writing or orally. Much was from actually living the experiences along with many people mentioned in this short dissertation.

No part of this writing is fictitious and all the people mentioned in the writing are real.

DEDICATED TO my father: Hudson C. Oliphint, who believed that respect is nothing but silent acknowledgment of whatever is worthwhile in a person or in an institution. And that when parents win this silent acknowledgement from their children, one of the most powerful forces in the world comes into play – unconscious emulation. And that the parent need to be too concerned about bending the twig, because the twig will bend itself – in the direction it ought to grow.
Texas Transportation Archive
  Walker County Lumber Company commissary, c. 1910s. [Murry Hammond collection]  
Texas Transportation Archive
  Houses in Elmina's residential section, circa 1910s. [Murry Hammond collection]  
Elmina Texas
Texas Transportation Archive
The rail line of the Walker County Lumber's tram railroad, the "Elmina & Eastern Transportation Company", can be seen on this c. 1910 atlas. The E.& E. extended to Coldspring, where it connected with another lumber railroad, the "Fostoria & Northern Transportation Company." [Click map for more information]
Walker County Lumber Company's railroad was known for a time as the "Elmina & Eastern Transportation Company", as noted in this 1906 Official Guide of the Railways listing. By 1910 the "E&E" name was no longer used, although the company's railroad continued to operate until the end of mill operations in 1931. [Click for a larger view]

About a dozen years ago I was just a little tyke in the thriving community of Elmina which was located near New Waverly in southern Walker County. It was my good fortune to know many interesting persons who lived in this small town before it burned down in 1929.

Nothing remains of once thriving Elmina. It is now a ghost town. For many years there was a brick covered vault which once served the townspeople in the office building of the old Walker County Lumber Company. It could be seen from Highway 75 south about a mile north of New Waverly standing along the railroad tracks, mute testimony that people once lived there.

Each year there are between 250 and 300 persons who attend reunions of the old town. They meet sometime during the latter part of July and have for the past few years met at the Gas-O-Rama Building in Conroe.

Old-timers and their relatives get together and discuss old times, sing gospel songs and share basket lunches. The town seemed to be in full bloom from about 1900 to 1929 and this is the time of year when Elmina is alive again.

It is extremely difficult to determine the exact origin of Elmina but perhaps the following information will give some light in this matter. It is a deed which is recorded at the Court House in Huntsville, Texas on page 307 in book number 33.

"For consideration of $900.00, part of the L. M. Collard League of land being Lot No. 5 herein conveyed: Post Oak from which a pine 20 inches marked "X" – North 23 East 9.2 varas. Another 4 inch diameter oak marked "X" varas North 24 West 1 varas. Thence 60 West with North line of track No. 5 and South line of the Hoskins tract 630 yards to a stake for East line conveyed by S. C. and H. W. Fisher to C. D. Oliphint by deed of date June 16, 1902. Thence South with the East line of Oliphint tract and continuing South with East line of said Oliphint tract continuing in South direction with the West line of tract No. 5 being Eastern boundary of I. & G. N. Railroad right of way to Southwest corner of Lot No. 5 to point on North line of land owned by Barnes Hill, a stake for corner. Then to North 64 East with North lines of Barnes Hill and South line of Lot No. 5 to Southwest corner of lot 6a in road from which a Post Oak 16 inches in diameter marked "X" South 20 East 11 varas. Another 9 inches in diameter marked "X" varas. Thence North 30 East divided by lots No. 5 and 6 – 2200 varas to place of beginning containing 156.1 acres of land."

M. E. Lankford
Jesse B. Lankford
Robert H. Olmstead
Fannie D. Olmstead
Wm. E. Kirkland
A. J. Kirkland
W. T. Spencer
Mattie Spencer

Also at the Court House I found the following information in Book No. 34 on Page 43 which is dated October 6, 1911.

"From J. W. Thomason, Executor, estate of J. A. Thomason, deceased, from Thomas S. Foster to Walker County Lumber Company dated this 6th day of August 1902. 15 acres and 40 acres or parts of L. M. Collard League."

Elmina, Texas, Walker County
The road and railroad layout around Elmina and New Waverly is nicely detailed in this map issued by the U.S. Forest Service in 1938, several years after the end of operations at Elmina. Note the large network of tram railroads in the forests to the east and west of town. [Click the map for a more detail]
Elmina, Texas, Walker County
Elmina as sketched by Howard Oliphint, using data and contributions from former Elmina residents. The houses are numbered, and those numbers are referred to in Mr. Oliphint's text. This would represent Elmina as it was in the 1920's. [Click the map for an enlarged version]
The next several pages of this dissertation will be taken directly from the book, "A Hand On My Shoulder" which was written by Lena Holston Pope. Comments will be made at the close of this writing.

Vaughan Lumber Company's manager outlined new plans over a late dinner in the hotel dining hall. Pope was needed closer to the heart of their industry – at their largest mill – not far from the Houston office.

"You should both like the set up" he advised. "As sales manager there, Mr. Pope will not be constantly on the road. Living quarters are excellent. You will occupy the largest, most modern house on the mill-site."

Mr. Pope smiled, thinking of many mill town houses.

"Our little boys!" was the first phase, when they were alone. They talked far into the night.

"On the streets they are rough, tough little customers. Many of them have to be. Yet, at heart they are as guileless as our child. For me, the love and trust of these little men has been a healing balm." And then, "If only we had known the joy of service sooner!"

Over the morning coffee, Mrs. Pope talked again of her boys. "This is different from the time I had to leave school work and my teenagers. These lads need us so badly."

"You will find others who need us in the mill town. We have learned the joy of service the hard way. That – we will never forget."

"Our household furnishings, Ewell?" She had not asked about them before.

They were brought from the Houston home, and both found it strangely sweet to have the loved pieces – to fit them, again, into a semblance of the place that had been his home.

"You wondered if I wanted our Conrad's nursery set up here? –"

They had been planting roses, red roses, Conrad's favorite flower. "Remember I taught Bible in the Dallas Women's Missionary Union when the ladies met each week? Those dear ladies knew of our sorrow. They banded together to pray. That was when we had the lesson on Hannah. You know Hannah's story."

"Let us go in. We must read Hannah's life story, anew, together."

As she read, the truth gradually dawned on her listener. She had been to the Doctor for a check-up that afternoon.

"But – not after this span of waiting," – incredulously – "It has been ten years since our Conrad's coming."

"And now, a baby sister has been ordered."

"The women – I, too – feel that God will let me carry this one full time."

Months later, in the delivery room of a Houston hospital, an aged doctor held a baby girl in his arms.

Mr. Pope had brought him from the River Road. Fairchild (Mrs. Connella) had made the trip with him.

"She is the most beautiful baby I've seen since Lena was born. Young man – to the doctor who delivered her – I only wish I could – these poor trembly hands – I wish I could have brought her for them."

"I wish she was mine," Lena murmured. She was only half awake.

"She is all yours," and doctor laid the babe in her arms.

"Quite different, Mr. Pope, to the night your wife was born. It was a frozen old world" – he broke off with a quick look around. "Where's Huldah? That night it was just us – just Huldah and me."

The nurse lifted the glass window which opened onto the porch.

"Did somebody call my name?" – and as she saw the babe nestling in her Chile's arms, "Bless the Lord! Oh, bless the Lawd – my soul!"

"Huldah! Let her come to her Child!"

They named her Dorothy, but the mill people who, in their few months residence among them had become devoted to her parents, called her their little Princess – This child of prayer.

The three years in the Elmina Mill town represented joyous days of service. Mr. Pope found her niche the first week end.

Across the road, in a carefully tended vine covered cottage, lived the master mechanic and three motherless children. Also across the road, and a block away, was the little community church.

Soon after the lunch hour on this, her first Sabbath there, an emotionally disturbed young girl walked listlessly past the porch where Mr. Pope sat reading.

Mrs. Pope was quick to notice the discouraged slump of her shoulders, and a trace of tears.

‘Since we are to be neighbors, come sit with me," she coaxed. "My husband was called to Houston this noon and I'm feeling a little low today."

"Sunday, I always feel low," answered Benetta (we shall call her Ben, everybody did). Ben slumped to the foot stool at Mrs. Pope's feet. "Today it's worse. My brother is in an army tent in Fort Worth. I've just had a letter from him. It is cold in those flimsy tents, sleeping right on the ground. Our boys are dying like flies with that strange disease they call "war-time flu." Guy is not well. Besides, we lost our Mother on a Sunday -- Christmas. I hate Sunday – I don't even like Christmas!"

"I had a little son, Ben. He died on Sunday, too. Christmas, too."

There was silence while each nursed the sorrow that had bound them. Mrs. Pope thought it through first.

"You lost your Mother, I lost my child. You need me, and I do so need you. Go tell your father" –

He had come out of the cottage, and was hurrying toward the mill.

"Tell him we are adopting each other," and she added – "Ask him if you may spend the night with me since I am to be alone."

"The crowd will soon be gathering at the Church," Ben volunteered over the tea table.

"Good, shall we go to the service together?"

"No'm, your first Sunday night here, you wouldn't know how it is. We have no preacher and, you see, there is no place to go. My mother didn't let us. She thought it was sinful. The kids shove the benches against the walls, and they have a ‘break down' every Sunday night – in our Church."

"The Do-si-do or the quadrille?"

"Yes'm – and all kinds besides."

Mrs. Pope and Ben did not go over that night. However, they were ready for the following Sabbath.

Two big freezers of ice cream were in the kitchen, and pop corn, and home baked cookies – even sandwiches, rolled and wrapped.

"Hi, neighbors! May I interrupt?"

Mrs. Pope called the greeting as gaily as she could. She had waited for a lull between dances before entering the church.

"We have planned a party at our house tonight, to get acquainted. Ben and I left Mr. Pope cranking the freezer, and there is another one. He needs help. I have some flares for the lawn, and I need help too."

"She was so matter of fact about it," one of the girls whispered to Ben. Most of the men work at the mill – will he – will they?

"He will love it. There will be no employer-employee stuff, I promise." Certainly there was none.

Moonlight, the stars, the flares, the lawn was almost as light as day-break and the fiddlers ceased their strumming when Mr. Pope brought out the freezers. Mrs. Pope asked their guests to sit in a circle while she and Ben, and some of the girls Ben had selected served.

There was method in the planning. Mrs. Pope wanted to talk to the group.

"Most of you know we have just moved here from Dallas. There, we had a loved group of young folks. We are going to miss them so – unless you will be our young folks here."

"We have had fun tonight – I hope you have."

They had played together and sung, and now were feasting.

"We put on some plays in the Dallas group. Sometimes, I reviewed a book. We had song fests. I noticed some good voices among you this night. And we always had eats! Now, you love to dance. They did too, but they did not dance in God's house."

"We have no other place" –

"Fortunately, our living room was built to entertain Mr. Vaughn, Mr. Dascomb or any other Executive. It is the largest room in our house."

"Let's make a trade. How about a dance in our home some Friday or Saturday nights? No more dances in the church, but an evening of music, a book review, a play – you to be the Stars. Shall we give this a try?"

There was ready assent.

"Then, next Sunday night we shall sing. I will review a new book, and we will have hamburgers over here on the lawn."

Crowds grew. Dedicated service was the key to the sweet fellowship, and it was something new to the people of the hill country. Young people, miles away, heard of the planned programs. They came to see and stay, glad to become a part.

The Popes were operating a ‘Teen-Canteen' for their section of South Texas, but the descriptive words had not been coined in that day.

Living altogether now with the Popes, Ben was finishing high school. Her father had been glad to transfer the responsibility.

He could keep his other early teen-agers happy, but he was worried about his Ben. She had not been able to find herself after her mother's death. She brooded too much.

"My Ben needs an intangible something I have not been able to supply," he confided to the Popes.

Acquainted with grief, they understood.

Ben was rated a genius in math in her senior high school year. Graduation brought the problem of every age – "What next - where – how?"

The Popes wisely allowed her to play the field. Nurses' training, teaching, a business career? After many yes and no sessions, Mr. Pope entered her in business college in Houston. Secretarial training and bookkeeping she chose.

Except for week-end visits for the gathering of the clan on Saturdays or Sunday nights, Ben came no more to the Elmina Mill, but she told old friends, "Once an Elmina girl – always I am a part of Elmina."

She finished business college with flying colors and was selected by her instructor for a bookkeeping position in an East Texas mill, and though she married after her first year in the office – a fine Christian businessman – the firm refused to give her up.

Today, she and George are community leaders of the youth of their East Texas (Timpson) hometown. Ben teaches a class of young Mothers; and the Elmina pattern of service is being duplicated.

"Through this lone girl's influence and consecration," Lena wrote her home folks after a visit, "a whole community that knows us not is being blessed."

For Youth, as in elder care, changes must be counted an integral part of daily living.

The most dreaded and devastating time for any mill, or owner, is that day – as sure as death or taxes – when the timber is all cut; and the mill must dismantle and be sold or moved to a distant location. With no industry or employment in the village save the saw mill, and every interest revolving around it, families are up-rooted and chaos and heartache reign.

The Popes missed the panic when Elmina died.

They had been transferred, months before, to Fort Worth to open a wholesale lumber office.

Yet having lived three years with these people, they are all too aware, in absentia, of the hardship, the fears, the haunting sense of disaster for the hundreds of displaced families.

"Our loved young people scattered – what will come of them? They knew nothing but saw-mill work – the commissary where they buy ‘on time' – the mill doctor for care. Their little world, so safe – the big world outside, so formidable, so strange."

Taking the long look, for most families in Elmina this upheaval was a blessing in disguise. They adjusted eventually into better schools and more lucrative positions, consequently into fuller and richer and more useful lives.

Half a century later, Mrs. Pope was privileged to evaluate her Elmina community service. Visiting with Ben in her lovely daughter's Beaumont home, word had been passed to the Elmina Re-union Group which still continues to meet each year – "Once an Elmina Chile, always one" – and a surprise homecoming was planned.

From South, East and West Texas they came - her young people, no longer young, bringing with them hosts of happy children and grandchildren. Families filling responsible positions in their hometown communities. People – so many, so grateful and so fine! Ben's little grandson reported at school they had a celebrity visiting in their home, and people from all over were coming there to see her.

The Fort Worth move came as a shock to the Popes. They had known Vaughn Lumber Company was on a deal for more timber, but that an entire thriving mill-town could be decimated, if the deal failed, was unthinkable.

Too, perhaps they had lived too long in the cosmopolitan city to the East. To be sent to Fort Worth seemed almost as tragic as the necessity of leaving the loved Elmina mill-town.

Many of the older people of Elmina take exception to the reference on page 88 about dancing in the community church.

Texas Transportation Archive
No. 8 began its career as Denver & Rio Grande Railroad No. 289 in Colorado. In this view No. 8 waits outside the company's shops in the 1920s. (Texas Transportation Archive collection)
Texas Transportation Archive
No. 7 was built new for the Walker County Lumber Co. by the H.K. Porter Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. in November, 1915. This "builder's photo" was taken at the Porter factory. (Texas Transportation Archive collection)

Guy Croom who now lives in Lufkin, Texas gave me the following information as he remembered it.

The Croom family arrived in Elmina in the early days of 1906 about 2:00 A.M. Our furniture was not available, so we went to the boarding house – all six children along with mama and papa. I was the eldest, Benetta (Bennie) next, Robert (Bob), B. B., Inez and Joe. Robert and Joe died an untimely death in early childhood.

The boarding house was operated by a widow named Gilbert and she had a daughter named Cary. The only boarder there at the time I recall – his name was Tom Byrum who was assistant to the planing mill foreman. One thing that stands out in my memory is that they served breakfast three times – first at 5:15 A.M. for the woods crew, 6:15 A.M. for the mill and planer crew, and 7:15 A.M. for two or three people who worked in the office; and at supper they served the town folks about 6:45 P.M. and the woods crew whenever they got in. Our household goods were long in transit and pretty well busted up when we did get them, so we stayed at the hotel several weeks.

There was a great big old black goat that stayed under the house that belonged to one of Mr. Clint's sons and we had quite a time trying to harness and make him pull the wagon. There was a man at the boarding house that owned a saddle horse and he let me ride him, and that was as near Heaven as I wanted to me.

I am the oldest and married Thelma Scarbrough of Lufkin. We have one daughter of our own and one adopted daughter. The oldest girl, Belle, died at Warren, Texas before we came to Elmina. Benetta (Bonnie) married George Hutcherson and they have one daughter and two grandsons and live in Timpson, Texas. Robert (Bob) died at Elmina about 1908. B. B. married Edwina Farr and they live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and have one adopted son. Inez married W. T. McMullen and they live in Lufkin and have one son and one daughter. Joe, the baby of the family, died of spinal meningitis about 1910.

Clarence Reynolds and I procured a second-hand projector and showed the first film in Elmina. The company cooperated with us and walled in a place on the same ground as the old show house. There was no floor or roof and we had wooden benches for seats with no back rest. The screen was elevated so every one had to look up and the projector was on a platform of some sort accessible only by a wooden ladder. Picture show business did not appeal to me and I soon got out.

I only attended school in Elmina one year, and the principal of this two room school was a Miss Fox. The elementary grades continued to be taught there until they consolidated with New Waverly. Some of the children that I remember in the two room school: George and Jim Thompson, sons of the woods superintendent. Lewis and Victoria Slotowske and their dad was in charge of car and bridge building, plus anything else that came to hand. There was a Gregory girl, don't remember her first name, but she was a beauty. Athnea Ellis, whose dad ran the main line engine, Myrtle and Bismark Fahr, whose dad worked in the machine shop. Beady, Auburn and George Lemmie, Mr. Lemmie did a lot of things around the plant and was a fine gentleman. As a side light, Mr. Lemmie came to see me while I was with the 36th division in training at Fort Worth during World War I and that's the last I saw of him. No doubt the Palmer children, Lula, Johnnie and Leslie, were in this school, but I do not remember them there. Lindsey and Ola Mitchell and Bob Fluellen were there.

The next year I, my sister, Bonnie, and Bob started to school in New Waverly. The principal's name was Mr. Rich. Miss Inez Heald was music teacher. There was also a Miss Valentine and Miss Albertine Wilson. Miss Wilson married Champ Traylor. She is now almost bed-ridden and blind in a home in Houston. Incidentally, it is my good fortune to talk to her on the phone almost once per week.

Some of the Elmina children that made the round trip with us down the railroad track each day were Bismark and Myrtle Fahr, Pliny Delaney and his sister. I believe Austelle Reynolds was in the crowd. Jennie and J. D. Blanton. I should remember more, but I don't. Of course some of the kids about my age at New Waverly were Carl and Arthur Hardy, Mae Traylor, August and Reid Traylor, Alice Traylor, Will and Ellen Jones, Browder, Joe Rice and Mabel, Spiller Montez and Hildred Branch, Belle and Emma Hall, Chester and Bright Watson. Kirby Keeland, Alvin Milliken and Lewellyn Milliken, Sybel Milliken, Billy Bukowski, Joe and Pearl Phillips, Myrtie Hardy and Ola Hardy, Billy Whitley, Sadie Mae and Stewart Richard, Hugh Edgerly (Hugh died in Oregon, 1964).

The old hotel changed many times. Mrs. Gilbert was there when we came and I believe Mrs. Byrd, Jim's mother, was next. I will not attempt to name them in order, but Mrs. Hays (R.W. Miller's sister) ran it, as did Mrs. L.C. Kline, and Mrs. Ed Byrd. I believe there was a widow named Wallace, those son worked in the main office, took a crack at it. I know this fellow Wallace had a sister about my age that was a grass widow and she was not bad looking.

There was no drug store in Elmina when we went there. Dr. Watson had his office in a downstairs room in the hotel. Dr. Curtis replaced Watson and the company put in the drug store during his time there. The Post Office was also moved from the commissary to the drug store. Blanch Kelly (Mrs. Frank Ferguson) was post mistress and drug clerk, and then came Sid Fluellen. Incidentally, the telephone exchange was there too and I was unfortunate enough to get a part time job in the drug store. One of my jobs was parching peanuts on a store-bought roaster that had a little whistle blown by steam, generated by the cooker or warmer. Between the time when Miss Blanch left and Sid Fluellen there was a boy just older than me named Glenn Chaddick that ran the place.

After Dr. Curtis went back to New Waverly, we had Doctor Grant, who is a great big fat, but young man, and a good Dr. Baldwin who was a half brother to Manie and Lynn of Huntsville. Dr. Autry stayed there quite awhile before moving to Port Arthur and then, of course, Dr. Robinson (a grand old man).

The newspaper clipping shown on the following page was taken from a picture which was made August, 1919. In this building the Elmina Post Office, the Doctor Office and Drugs were available to the residents of the once-thriving town of Elmina. During World War I the Red Cross occupied the upstairs of the building where they did sewing, bandaging making and other work. The two young ladies in the picture are (left) Mildred Saxon McCoy, niece of Mrs. Lexie Robertson of Huntsville and (right) Irene Miller, deceased, who was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. W. Miller of Huntsville. The doctor in Elmina was H. S. Robertson, husband of Mrs. Lexie Robertson.

Now back to the information from Guy Croom.

I cannot recall anyone as store manager but Jake Shepperd, except of course Mr. Pilney was there when we came to Elmina.

The first man that I remember in the meat market was John Lee. John had a son named Robert who has recently retired after a long tenure in the higher echelon with the Texas Company. You can find his address in the Elmina Roster. When Mr. John needed meat in the market, he simply gathered up his faithful negro helper, along with all us boys that knew about it, went out into the company pasture, and butchered the first good-looking beef (male or female) that he could find. The slaughter house was off the railroad track just out of smelling distance toward New Waverly. Polly Roark was in the market when I left in 1917 going into the service. In the meantime Robert Cherry did a lot of work in the market along with his other duties.

The following is taken from Vol. V. , Page 275 of Texas Under Many Flags and written by Clarence R. Wharton:

"Jacob Henry Shepperd. Although a product of the agricultural regions of Walker County, where he spent his boyhood and youth, the major part of the career of Jacob Henry Shepperd has been identified with the lumber industry, and at present he is manager of the Walker County Lumber Company Store at Elmina. During the 32 years he has been identified with this industry he has become well known for his judgment and executive capacity, and few men are considered to be better informed upon matters pertaining to the trade.

Mr. Shepperd was born near Phelps, Walker County, in 1878, and is a son of Augustine and Emmaline (Palmer) Shepperd, natives of Walker County.

Jacob Henry Shepperd received only somewhat limited educational advantages, attending the district schools for several months each year during his boyhood. The rest of his time was demanded for the operation of the home farm, where he remained until reaching the age of 18 years. The hard labor and constant monotony of existence caused him to seek another vocation, and eventually be secured a position in a sawmill. He commenced at the extreme bottom of the ladder, but worked his way upward by hard and faithful labor and constant fidelity to the interests of his employers, and in 1911 became manager of the store at Elmina, a position which he still retains. Mr. Shepperd is one of the able business men of his community and an able-bodied supporter of all public spirited movements. He holds convictions on public issues that made him an adherent of Democratic principles and candidates, while as a fraternalist he is a knight Templar Mason and a member of the Mystic Shrine.

In 1901 Mr. Shepperd was united in marriage with Miss Catherine Strickland, of Phelps, Texas, daughter of Henry and Catherine (Adams) Strickland, the former a native of Mississippi, and to this union there have been born five children: Cecil, Thelma, Kathryn, Jacob Henry, Jr. and Elizabeth.

The company wagon was driven by a Mr. George Hall in the early days. George Hall had a brother named Calvin who for years carried the clock as a roving watchman at night. There were twelve keys located over the plant and he had to punch his clock with one of these keys every 5 minutes, making a round trip every hour for 12 hours. I know something about this round because I relieved Calvin a time or two. One key was located at the drug store and the far one was at the machine shop. The route was along the switch through the lumber sheds, planer boiler room and back to the store and drug store. As a side light, Calvin killed, with his own pistol the first armadillo seen in that part of the country and very few people knew what it was.

Mr. John Wells was next man on the company wagon and he had charge of the corral. There was an old house just north of the corral and east of the school house that at one time housed some imported Macedonians. They were all men and could not speak English. We enjoyed watching them do their cooking, washing, etc. , out of doors. One night we boys decided to "tick tack" them, i.e., tie a fishing line to a protruding nail in the wall, then get off and thumb and rub the string with a ball of resin. We perched atop the corral fence and were enjoying the confusion inside the house, but not for long, because one of them came out of the door blasting a shotgun. We all fell off the fence like a bunch of turtles, everybody ran and climbed the fence like a bunch of squirrels and made off into the thicket, except me and I crawled under the feed house. Well! Those fellows came out there with a lantern and surveyed the terrain pretty thoroughly, even attempted to look under the feed house, but with a lantern for a light they were unable to locate me. I was never so badly frightened before nor since.

Logging, for a long time, was done east of the mill and got as far away as East San Jacinto River in the vicinity of Evergreen. Transportation was over a narrow gauge road but the railroad was a good one and rolling stock was kept in good shape. For many years there was no logging camp. The woods crew was hauled out every morning and back in at night. They left the mill at 6:00 A.M. and it was almost invariably dark when they got in, even in the summer time. I am guessing that it was somewhere around 1910 that they built some houses for the people to live in and a general store on Punkin Creek about 14 miles from Elmina. They called the place Lick Skillet. Mainy Baldwin was store manager. After Mr. Thompson, we had a man named Williams for a woods superintendent and then we had Ed Byrd and he was it the last I knew of the situation. I was in and out of Elmina several times from 1911 to 1919 - one year school at Palacios, one summer working in Lufkin, two years at A. & M. , and then 18 months in service. Last time I was there I only stayed a few months. My family had already moved away and I got a job with Lufkin Foundry & Machine Company, where I stayed the next 44 years. Mr. R. W. Miller didn't like the idea of leading logs with horses so he got hold of a narrow gauge Shay Engine and an American Loader and was at least going to experiment with a steam loader on narrow gauge cars.

On the night before we were going to take the loader to the front, it came a torrential rain. I was running the Shay and pushing the car with the loader ahead of me. We were not out of the mill yard and were not going much faster than you could trot, but the soft dirt gave way under the track on one side, the car tilted enough for the loader to topple over. There was a sizeable red-oak tree right close to the track and this loader fell into that tree and broke the boiler loose from its mooring. I didn't know there could be so much steam come out of one small boiler. As I remember, we eventually tried loading under the narrow gauge handicap, but it was not successful. As I get the story, Walker County Lumber Company had considerable timber across San Jacinto River and at one time they were in the process of building a railroad bridge across the river, but owing to the narrow gauge handicap and the expense involved in changing over, they swapped out on or sold to Palmetto Lumber Company at Oakhurst. When the timber supply was exhausted east of the mill, they changed to standard gauge equipment, bought one new locomotive, one good second-hand engine from 4-C Mill at Ratcliff and we rebuilt one that they bought from Cut-Out Mill near Livingston.

We had thru the years many different locomotive engineers, especially on the switch engines. On the main line I can name only three that were permanent. Joe Ellis was there when we came. He was followed by Johnnie Rarick. Johnnie was killed by a falling tree while trying to catch a baby squirrel. Gilmer Sims was on the job for a long time. Don't know when he was not, but I guess John Rip had the job last. On switch engines there was my uncle Frank Croom, Bill Fahr, Oscar Hillard, Joe Byrd, Bill Byrd, Brack Shepherd, Lee Emery, Rube Layton, Bob Bean, Jim Marr, Jack Enas to name a few. One of Johnnie Rarick's daughters, Irene, married a Hardy boy.

At the front and in the logging department were some fine men. In the letter you read at your mother's house, we mentioned Mr. Bob Naul, Mr. Tom Thompson and Mr. George Palmer. Where are we going to find better boys than Ed, Joe and Jim Byrd? And I'll have you know that their father was among the best. Ole Luther Welch, we called him "Ug", short for ugly and the name fit him, but you could trust him to hold stakes.

Our subject city operated under the leadership of four managers. Number one, W. B. Clint was probably 35 to 40 years old. He seldom smiled and his sole purpose in life was to make a success of the business. Very cooperative, but smart enough to know that when he needed equipment or repairs, the best was none too good. Houses people lived in were, by standards at the time, about the best. All well lighted and running water, painted and in good state of repair. In those days the afternoon train going north did not stop at Elmina except to let Clint off when he was coming out of Houston.

They tell this story and I don't doubt but that it is true and I'll pass it along for what it is worth. It is said that Clint came in on the morning train and found the woods crew, including Mr. Thompson, sitting and milling around the station. He walked up to Mr. Thompson and asked, "Tom, what is the matter that these men are not working?" Mr. Thompson explained that we had had torrential rains and that mules and men could hardly work over the soft ground. To this, Clint replied, "It don't rain where I sawmill, so let's get the men together and get going." This story may not be true, but it was typical of Clint. I don't know why but Mr. Clint left pretty soon after we came there and went into business for himself in Houston.

Mr. Hobbs was our next general manager, entirely different type of man. He believed in squeezing the last drop of essence out of every thing, even to the point of inefficiency. He had three fine sons, Pierce, the oldest, was older than I and had quite opposed to going to school, Lennox (Buddy), the second boy, a little older than I, seemed to have the talent and personality for the whole family. Everyone liked him. Max was closer to my age and was a good kid. Hobbs is the one that built the two-story house, #47 on your map. They had a team of white horses that they kept in a big lot behind the house. One time Mrs. Hobbs had a guest she wanted to take for a buggy ride. Mr. Hobbs had the team hitched up and he decided he'd take the "edge" off the team by trotting them across and around in the lot, but by the time he got going good, the horses were so nervous that Mrs. Hobbs decided to stay at home.

When Mr. Hobbs left, Mr. Hardin Bale took his place. Mr. Bale was a younger man somewhat on the order of Clint, though not as stern. Mrs. Bale had a brother, Edgar McWilliams, that worked in the store with Jake Shepperd and stayed on even after Mr. Bale left. Mrs. Bale and my mother became very close friends and after they left Elmina, she and the children came back for a visit with us. Mr. Bale went to a mill in Arkansas and subsequently offered my dad and me a good job with him and we probably would have gone except for my mother's ill health. R. W. Miller was general manager at Oakhurst and when that organization bought out the Elmina interest he came there as the fourth general manager. The only mistakes Miller ever made were of the head and not of the heart. He was both loved and respected by most folks.

There were many and varied people employed in the saw mill proper. I am not sure who was mill foreman immediately following Harry Bendy. John Blanton was on the scene pretty soon though. He had two children. A girl Jenny and boy J. D. Jenny was a real blonde and not hard to look at. I understand J. D. or "J" as they called him, later lost one of his arms. Mr. Blanton went from Elmina to Old Benford and from there to Steep Creek. There was a saw filer named Wiley Malone that came there from Oakhurst as did John Blanton. One day the governor hung up on one of the saw mill engines when it was wide open. The engine of course ran uncontrolled and got so fast that the flywheel exploded and made shambles out of a big part of the mill. In an attempt to reach the throttle valve on the engine to stop it, Wiley Malone was fatally injured in the wreck and a man who was Tom Bradley's brother-in-law was killed outright.

For many years L. C. (Lum) Cline was millwright and relief sawyer. Lum's wife was a sister to Johnnie Rarick and they had three lovely daughters. All fine folks. The first sawyer that I can recall was Charlie Redding. They lived next to us and had two fine daughters. Tom Bradley was lumber grader ahead of the soda dip in the early days. Tom married Blonnie Reynolds and they live now in Huntsville.

Mr. G. W. Reynolds came there as saw filer, but was both filer and foreman after John Blanton left. Mr. Reynolds had a large family of high school children. Clarence and I are about the same age and he lives now just outside of Hot Springs, Arkansas on Lake Hamilton. Mr. Pugh fired the boilers at the saw mill. The Pughs also had a large family, mostly boys. Marvin went quite high in masonic circles. Tom had been coming to the reunions. Mrs. Pugh died in recent years. Mrs. Pugh and Mrs. Ed Scott were sisters.

I almost forgot the Hamblins. John Hamblin had a contract of some sort where by loading the dry kiln with stacks of green lumber that had already been stacked on small trucks made for the purpose. Then when the lumber was dry his crew would unstuck it and place it in the dry shed. This was a continuous cycle. I believe it took three days in the kiln for lumber to dry, but every day he put some in and took some out. Reason I know about this was because I worked for him one summer (hardest job I ever had too). The Hamblins had two sons and at least one daughter. Guyler, the eldest son, has an insurance business in Cleveland and last I saw Dewey, the youngest, he as did Guyler lived in Cleveland. Incidentally, Mrs. Hamblin took a fling at running the boarding house.

Later, after I left there and they had built the new mill, Mr. Netherly was mill foreman and he married Ida Smith.

As in the saw mill, the planer had its ups and downs. Will Dunman (sp?) was foreman when we went there and I don't know the line of succession, but Jim Manning and Arthur Whitman were on the throne at different times and others that didn't stay long. I remember your father quite well. He had great physical strength. Once when I was at the peak of my physical fitness, and had used a sledge hammer all of my life, Mr. Oliphint showed me up. I had made a new wrist pin for the planer mill engine and was in the process of driving it up with a 20 lb. sledge. Different ones were helping me and we got it within 1/8" being home and I couldn't move it. So, Mr. Oliphint took the hammer and finished the job in four blows.

Mr. Tom Hudgins was master mechanic at Elmina before my father. Incidentally, when I came here to Lufkin in 1919, Mr. Hudgins was working here in the shop and he later went into business for himself, now the business, Hudgins Machine Company, is operated by his grandson. Ernest Hudgins. My dad stayed at Elmina until after World War I and he too was working for Lufkin Foundry & Machine Company when he died in 1943. There were many fine people that worked in that old shop such as Mike Rip and ole Mike is still living at New Waverly. Bill Fahr, J. W. Cooksey, Joe Shepherd, Ed Scott, etc. The last time I worked there Hardy Dudley was master mechanic, but I know Jewell Hamerly had the job at one time.

It is hard now to realize how popular the game of baseball was about 1910 to 1920. No kid was worth his salt that didn't try to play baseball, and of course every village and community had a team of sorts with Elmina no exception. There were organized teams at New Waverly, Old Waverly, Hawthorn, Hill's Store, Willis, Dodge, Oakhurst, and of course Huntsville and Conroe. Such people as Tom Bradley, Robert Cherry, Homer Perry, Mr. Pilney, Tony Rip, Frank Ferguson were some of the boys that played before I was old enough. When we had an important game we would hire a pitcher from some other place. That was common practice. But, by today's standards, there were mighty few of those boys that could be classed as good amateurs. In the early days, Old Waverly had its Bud Elmore that had the knack of beating you some way nearly every time. Felix Hardy that played at New Waverly was pretty good and Louis Coehn at Hawthorn was a good pitcher. About 1917 there was a boy at New Waverly, Roswell Cox, that was a real good ball player as was Edwin (Pete) Trow at Huntsville. I forgot Dick Hooper at Conroe that reached his peak around 1912. Dick had his arm off just above the elbow but he was as good an outfielder as you will find, a fair hitter and extra aggressive as a base runner. He first went to Baylor where he made the team and later went to Texas University. I believe he was at Texas University when I was at A & M, but the two schools were not speaking in those days. Anyway, ole Dick went on and got rich in oil business and died in Houston a few years ago."

Mr. O. H. Miller related to me the type of water system at Elmina in 1902 and the manner in which Walker County Lumber Company attempted to solve its problems.

There was one shallow well dug near the light plant and boiler room and this was used by all the people of the community. The water was drawn out by a rope and bucket and carried to its destination. The well would often go dry as you can imagine due to constant use and growth of the town.

The Company, to help this situation, erected two large wooden cisterns which were designed to elevate the water shortage. The cisterns and well were located almost in the exact spot where the later 90 foot tower stood. Residents will recall that this tower was erected in front of and to the left of the old hotel. It was supplied by a deep well and afforded piped water to all needs of the community.

Many a boy and perhaps some girls have climbed this tower in order not to be called chicken. I can recall very well the night I ventured this 90 foot climb to the top of the tower. At that time it seemed to be 1000 feet tall and a mile around and to say that I was frightened would be the understatement of the century. This venture along with others was necessary before you were accepted by the clan. I can recall a few who were smart enough not to meet the challenge and they were never considered a part of the clan.

Yes, water was a problem for the people of this community but I think they met and overcame this problem very well.

My thanks to O. H. Miller and Bill Davis for furnishing me with this information.


The following is a latter to Guy Croom from O. H. Miller.

"When I returned to Elmina in 1908 I found your family there and your father as the very capable master-mechanic. I had lived there before 9 months in 1904, returning to Louisiana on Christmas of that year. At that time there were no electric lights, no deep wells and of course no system for supplying water to the houses. As I remember nearly all the houses had tin cisterns and there was a very large wooden cistern between the two wings of the hotel.

That morning train going north was a mixed train. When I was there in 1904 there was no Express Office there and C. H. Pilney occupied the same position as you mentioned in your letter. By the way, his associate was Charlie House who died soon after I left there. His widow married a Mr. Gray who was station agent at Huntsville. Mrs. Gray, as I understand, died in a house she owned in the next block to me on 10th Street. Mr. Gray had died earlier.

During my first stay at Elmina there was no machinist as such. A man they called "Governor" Ross was doing the blacksmith work. A Mr. McCall was mill foreman and Alfred Elliot was planer foreman. Roscoe Brooks was helper at the planer. He had a brother Cleve, and a few cousins – all at the hotel. Being a young single man, I fell in with them and Oras Mitchell who was there at their farm home. He was still there when I returned in 1908 and the last I heard of him he was planer foreman near Smithville. A Mr. Coombs was shipping there but he soon left and Mr. O. S. Tom who later became manager for Miller-Link Lumber Company at Orange, and who committed suicide at Orange, was there when I left at Christmas 1904.

Suppose you remember the preacher Garrison who married Mable Lemma. He was there during my first stay and I was surprised to find him a minister when I came back.

I had no children of course and do not know if there was a school there or not. Dr. Watson was the doctor when I left and Dr. Grant was there when I returned. The Drug Store building was the Office in 1904. The new building was built about the time you people arrived, I think.

Did not know George Johnson as Robert Cherry was electrician when I returned. Did not know Joe Ellis nor Johnnie Saxon. Of course I knew the Kelleys who are both dead. You know of course that Blanch Kelley married Frank Ferguson and Doris married Bill Byrd. Blanch and Frank have been coming to our reunion. Ola Mitchell married a local farm boy there whose name I cannot remember.

Maybe you knew that Oras Mitchell was killed by a runaway team. I knew Oscar Hillard, in fact, the woods crew setup was about the same when I returned in 1908 as it was in 1904, and it continued that way until the "Front" was established for them to live closer to their work.

Bill Slott is dead and his boy, Lewis, joined the army and was lost in the Phillipines as I remember.

I saw Mr. Jim Lemma just before the last war, he said he was past 90. He said, "come here, I want to throw you down." I remember Charlie Courser, the Naul family – some of the girls attend our reunion. I think Homer Perry died in Houston last year.

I remember Harve and Clint Stonham, the Woodsons and Hurley Bradford, as well as Big Tree and of course Lizzie. Shine died some years ago. His widow lives in New Waverly, I think.

Elmina is a ghost town now and New Waverly is the same old sleepy country town. See you at the reunion."


The following information was sent to me in a letter from Mrs. Billie P. Smith.

"Wish I could give you information that would be of use to you about the prosperous days of Elmina, but don't believe that I can.

I did teach there in 1916-17 and 1917-18. Just a two teacher school – Primary. Other grades went to New Waverly. Was a thriving saw mill & planer mill town at that time. One large general store & post office combined with drug store. A company Dr. Robinson from whom teachers received free service and this helped our small salaries. Free open air picture shows once a week for everybody. Sunday School and Church every Sunday.

One thing I remember was the board walks, laid cross wise which was quite a problem for high heels – which were the thing to wear at that time. Dirt very black and sticky when it rained.

"A large per cent of pupils were Polish and were very smart and well behaved children."


Now I would like to give you the memories of Frank and Mamie Ferguson as written in letter form to Mr. Guy Croom.

"Your memories of old Elmina sure has perked up my memory which runs back it seems, for several centuries. There was lots of sadness, joys and pleasures mingled in the memories of that old town. Yes, I remember it all as you have it, but Mrs. Gilbert had two daughters there at the hotel, Cary and Sadie, and a little negro boy about six years old named Rastus. And there was Myrtle and Beedie Lemmie and you forgot the Charlie Redding family, and after Harry Bendy there was John Blanton and after George Johnson, Bob Cherry. After Bendy left, he was filer and foreman. Mr. Reynolds took the filing.

I don't remember how long you had been there until I came. I'll tell you about my coming to Elmina. I got on the train in Houston without a ticket, when the conductor came around. I pulled out some change and asked how far it would take me. He said to Elmina. I had 30 cents left and when I got off I saw a man there with a wagon and team. I gave him 25 cents to take my big suitcase to the hotel. I went in the store and bought a sack of Bull Durham smoking tobacco with the other nickel. Then went down thru the planer and on to the saw mill looking for a job, wound up at the shop. Your daddy put me to work after we went to your house for dinner.

They were overhauling the No. 5 engine and the shop was working a quarter at night. That night Mr. Thompson, the one woods foreman, came in telling Buddy (my dad) that he needed an engineer on the switch engine No. 3.

Lee Emory had been running the No. 5 and had turned her and the caboose full of men over, spilling them all out. Lee was hurt so badly he didn't come back. So the No. 3 was having to do the work of both engines No. 5 and No. 3. I asked for the job and got it. I had to go easy with the caboose for a while because the men were all scared so soon after the spill, but pretty soon we were making pay car time. The road bed was like the I. & G. N. , and was good for a log road and the No. 3 could run like a scared sage hen so we got along fine. Hurley Bradford was firing.

One cold rainy day we had the curtain down and the loading crew niggers were crowded in the cab. They got to talking about what they would like to be and one big husky voice said, "I'd like to be one of dam civilized engineers." (meaning civil engineers).

We never had but one wreck but it was pretty bad. Nobody got hurt. One hot evening about 2:30 we were backing 20 empties back up thru them hills as fast as I could get them to roll. We had been rolling them about two miles when the engine came upon a sort of hogback hill so I could see the end of the cars. Hurley was shoveling in coal. I hollered at him to look down the train where the cars were turning out and back at a sun kink on a bridge over a small creek. When the engine struck this place the rails broke but she went on across on the ties and stringers. The cars broke loose and run up on the side of a hill about a quarter mile and come back and almost rammed the 3 out of the right of way. By the time the engine first stopped, Hurley had made it to the top of the tender. Off he went and fell flat on his back in a mud hole. Bill Slott came with his wrecking crew and it took all night and next day to pick up the wreck.

They piled all the doctor's stuff in part of a room, put a bed and wash stand in there and that was my room at the hotel.

I bought the furniture from some people that moved out of the little red house at the end of the street that ran in front of your house. (This was the Ross family mentioned in Mr. Miller's letter. After Uncle Frank left, the Fluellen family moved there). Mama came and kept house for me.

This runs my memory back to other days. Sure would love to go to your reunion and see those people again. You forgot to mention Felix Hilderbrandt – he was Harry Bendy's helper in the filing room. He had two sisters, Mary and Martha. They were real pert and pretty girls. You also forgot to mention Bill Fahr, Tom and Carl Bradley. George Bobbitt ran the store after the Pilney's left. Mr. Hobbs took over after Clint, Miller after Hobbs. Will have to stop now. Write me real soon."


Mrs. Tom "Blonnie" Bradley who lives at 1317 Ave. J. in Huntsville, Texas wrote me on the following information.

"Shortly after our marriage in 1912, we were very fortunate in finding a very capable negro woman who could come and do our laundry and other cleaning duties around the house. She was an ex-slave and was a "Traylor" negro – that is, her people belonged to some the early Traylors in New Waverly during Civil War days. Her old husband, Stephen, was a "Fisher" slave. "Aunt Dora", as everyone called her, was fat and jolly and delighted to recall many of her experiences as a young slave. She admitted getting many whippings since she was, as she phrased it, "a devil in those days!" She really scrubbed the clothes clean, and sometimes to the point of rubbing holes in them. As she said, she did not know her strength! A very fast worker, she washed old Mr. and Mrs. Kelley's clothes Monday mornings and the same afternoon a huge washing for their daughter, Mrs. Frank Ferguson. Then, bright and early Tuesday morning she did a washing for Mrs. Hudson Oliphint. Afternoon she would go and door and wash a load for Mrs. Tom Bradley. She told many of her experiences as a slave, and said she had chopped and picked cotton all over the land where Elmina was located. Her kind is no more. After Stephen's death she was moved into a little shack in some woods about a mile north of Elmina. We had moved to Huntsville by that time. We went to see her twice – once taking her a cat to catch the rats infesting her house. We were shocked a short time later to learn that her house had burned to the ground, and she was alone in it. Her daughter, Clara, lived in Huntsville then, and told me that Aunt Dora was buried in a dress. I had feared there might not have been anything left of her body to bury in a decent manner. So ends, I believe, the last vestage of slavery in these parts.

A brief resume of our family to date:

Clarence C. Reynolds, Rt. 1 Box 106 Hot Springs, Ark.
Penton Reynolds, 3826 Tenth St. Port Arthur, Texas
Austelle lives in Houston, Texas and Faustina lives in San Jose, Cal.
Our oldest sister, Mrs. Williams or rather Mrs. Franklin is dead and is buried by her husband, Greenville, Ala.
The next oldest sister, Mrs. Williams, often visited us in Elmina, still lives in Sylacauga, Ala. Faustina has become a very successful school teacher; also one of her daughters and her son are school teachers. Our little girl, Dorothy Ann, is happily married to an Ohioan and lives in Huntsville. They have three children. So, you see, the Lord has blessed us greatly, and I hope you and your family are blessed too.

My brother Clarence Reynolds, operated the projector at the old Picture Show in Elmina. Will any one ever forget the serial, "Elmo, the Fearless?" All the children, especially the Aden boys expressed themselves with fervor!


The following recollections of Elmina were given me by Mrs. Jim (Varya) Davis who now lives at 2036 Ave. L in Huntsville, Texas 77340.

"Uncle Litt Early lived in the old school house and passed away there in either 1906 or 1907 (September). Aunt Lizzie's mother, Mrs. Lawrence passed away within a few days of his death. Uncle Bill lived at Elmina which was after 1915 when I had married and lived at Onalaska. Jim and I moved to Elmina on February 27, 1927 and we lived in one of the big white houses facing the little red ones. I guess it would be 13 or 17 as shown on your map; then moved to main street or in house number 53. The planer and lumber yard ran somewhat back of our house. George Palmer lived in number 57. Dr. Robertson was our Sunday School Superintendent. We had Union School but had a Methodist Church. Brother Spraker and Brother W. H. Jones were to that I remember and I recall that we had other Baptist preachers. Both of these men are dead now. Fluellens lived in the house back of the church before I married. Edna Mitchell kept the post office and later her sister Lucille Hill. Lucille worked in the main office also. Jim Davis worked as pumper for the water system."


The following information was given to me by E. H. McKenzie who now lives at 9010 Chatwood in Houston, Texas.

"First there was a saw mill there before there was an Elmina. It seems that it was called Hutchins Mill or a similar name. How large the mill was I do not know. The mill's railway ran out to and beyond the Faulkner place. When the iron rails were removed the road bed became a wagon road. The road crossed the 160 acres owned by Mr. R. G. Cherry. Traces of the old tram have remained through the years, even until 1959.

The next tram way built by the mill, whether Elmina or some other, I can not say, but this time the track ran east, crossed Gourd Creek and close to Walker Lake, crossing Winters Bayou and into San Jacinto County to the company Front. Now this track had a right of way through our farm. I do not remember when the tram was laid through our field. It was there far back as I can remember. When the log engines pulled a load of logs through the field I always counted the cars.

And that log engine was No. 6 and I presume it was the one mentioned by Guy Croom. The best known and best loved engineer on old No. 6 was Johnnie Rarick. He was killed in the woods by a falling tree in August 1912. He left three small girls; Irene, Clara and Betty Pearl. It is possible you attended school at New Waverly with one or all of them.

Mr. R. W. Miller attended the funeral at Gourd Creek Cemetery. That was the first time I had ever seen him. Mr. Clint had been Superintendent before Mr. Miller. I do not know the details but it seems that ownership of the mill changed hands before or about the time Mr. Miller arrived.

There were but a very few people that I knew at Elmina before 1923 when the family moved from the farm to Elmina. I knew Mr. Shepherd, Mr. Palmer, Mr. O. H. Miller, Sid Fluellen, and of course, Dr. Rob. I met Dr. Rob in Philadelphia, Pa. in the early part of 1919, April or May. Of course I had seem him at Elmina, but it was only at a distance, and I had never talked with him until I saw him in the railroad station. He was up there to meet Flint from overseas.

In those houses, 66 through 71, way back before the first were several families of Italians living in them. The houses were not painted and these farmers sold vegetables and other produce. They had among them a beautiful girl – Maria or Mary – that did the purchasing for all. Something happened and they all moved away. Years later the story w as told that Maria was the cause of the break-up and that she died at Oakhurst. I do not know except that t hey did live in those red houses.

When we moved to Elmina in 1923 a widow woman, Mrs. Blasingime, with her three daughters, lived in the old school house. Mrs. B. had been a Mrs. Watson. Mr. Watson died and left her with two little girls. Then she married Jim and had another daughter. This was before any Federal handouts. Things got bad and Jim pulled out and left. Then Mrs. B. moved to Elmina into the old school house. I knew Jim all my life.

You mentioned the old hotel. I remember the old building but I never was in it but one time. I remember going there one Sunday afternoon for a game of penny ante poker."


The following letter was received from Mack Ohlund who then lived in Alpine, Texas.

Dear Howard:

"Your letter about memories of Elmina started the wheels turning. To begin with, let me say that I remember your friend Melvin Lillard whom you mentioned. He was the boy who had lost some fingers from one hand due to a dynamite cap explosion, I believe.

I read Guy Croom's recollections and also those of Mrs. Bradley and O. H. Miller with interest but they are of such earlier time than mine. O. H. Miller and Mr. and Mrs. Bradley were still at Elmina when I was there, but Guy Croom had been gone for some time. I heard much of Guy Croom while I was at Elmina, all of it good, but I did not have the privilege of meeting him until many years later. He had been machine man there before my time and set a standard that I had to measure up to. It was not always easy. Of those mentioned in this letter, I remember Ola Mitchell. She married one of the Early boys. I also remember George Palmer and his sons and daughters. I especially remember his youngest son, Ben Palmer. He was just a young lad who kept my car washed and greased and drove the car on occasions. Good old Ben!

In my first year there, R. W. Miller was superintendent, Mr. Worthington bookkeeper, "Buck" Walton timekeeper. There was also a girl in the office, one of the Hamlin girls I believe. Jake Shepperd ran the store, Glen Chandler the meat market, O. H. Miller was shipping clerk, Arthur Whitman planing mill foreman, Hudson Oliphint ran the planing mill engine. R. G. Cherry operated the light plant, Mr. Neathery was saw mill foreman, Earl Hanks was sawyer, "Big Boy" Lackey operated the gang saw, Mr. Reynolds was saw filer with Tom Bradley as his assistant. Arnet Aden also did something in the saw mill but I do not remember what.

After R. W. Miller resigned as superintendent in 1924, there were many changes in supervisory personnel, however I do not remember now who took whose place. Mr. Wilson who took Mr. Miller's place, later married Adah Cooksey. They had one son, Joe Arnold Wilson.

When I first came to Elmina, the hotel was operated by a lady by the name of Mrs. Brown. Mrs. Brown was a good hearted woman but had the temperament of some Irish ancestor. The daily rate for room and board at the hotel at that time was eighty cents, which was deducted from the daily wages at the company office. Mrs. Brown sent to the office about once a week, turned in the names of her boarders and collected board bills due. In collecting the board bills she noticed that she was one board bill short. After two weeks of this she went to the office and in checking the names one by one, she found out that a Mr. Dempsey was not employed by the company and never had been. Mr. Dempsey had told Mrs. Brown that he was working at the Front. Mrs. Brown got up at five each morning, fixed his breakfast and a lunch basket to take with him so he could catch the log train to the woods (the "Front"). It turned out that Mr. Dempsey was a tramp who had been living fat and sumptuously at Mrs. Brown's expense for two weeks. He had eaten breakfast in the mornings, taken his lunch bucket and sneaked off to some secret hide-out where he spent the day, returned to the hotel after the last log train came in, in the evening, ate supper and went straight to bed, making himself as inconspicuous as possible. When this hoax was discovered, instead of breakfast Mr. Dempsey was given a bawling out for his dishonesty. I do remember it ended with, "Don't come in here and eat another meal unless you find work." Mrs. Brown had an iron triangle hanging from a wire on the porch and she beat this triangle with a 5/8" bolt to announce that meals were ready. It made a terrific clatter and it was known among the boarders as the "hash hammer". When the "hash hammer" fell for lunch that day, the first man to the table was Mr. Dempsey. Mrs. Brown turned to him sharply and asked, "Mr. Dempsey, did you find work this morning"? Mr. Dempsey looked up and answered cheerfully, "I didn't find nuttin else." Mrs. Brown asked, "where did you go to work?" He answered, "at the mill". "What doing?" asked Mrs. Brown. He answered "cutting weeks". Mrs. Brown said nothing more and went back to the kitchen. I noticed Mr. Dempsey's table manners at the meal. He ate wolfishly, finished his meal before any of us, and got up from the table and left. After he had gone, Mrs. Brown came back in and said, "if he has lied to me, I am going to take a rolling pin and knock his head right off. A Mr. Owens, apparently a son of the old sod, spoke up saying "I wish you'd do it now Mrs. Brown, long time since I seen anything like that and I'd like to see you do a good job of it." General laughter, in which Mrs. Brown joined in, followed this wisecrack and the meal ended on a more congenial note than it started. The following morning Mr. Dempsey was gone. He did not want to work for a living."

The picture on page 43 shows the mill office at Elmina. This old two-story building is peculiar to mill offices of some years ago, with a large porch surrounding the building and looks exactly as I remember it in 1931 when I worked in the office there just before entering Sam Houston State Teachers College at Huntsville in the fall. We moved to Elmina at that time after the mill burned down.

Oliphint's Mill was situated here in the early 1870's, and for many years furnished the settlers thereabout with lumber. Mr. Oliphint had a small mill, and the town was not large then.

In the early 1920's, the town began to pick up again, for a new mill was operating there. The town had been named Elmina for El Mina Temple, A.S.C.M.N.S., of Galveston.

Foster Lumber Company owned the mill, and 280 acres of land around it. T. Frank Ferguson, now an oil well contractor with headquarters in Conroe, was timekeeper at the Foster Lumber Company mill at Elmina, and says that he remembers about 188 houses there, all owned by the lumber company. He estimated the population at about 1000 when the mill was working full blast.

Mr. Ferguson tells about the old mill at Elmina:

"We took a certain amount out of each man's pay each month for rent, and when we did, we punched a certain amount out of the time-card which they had to present for their money." "one time", he continues, "two negro men were walking down the street. They saw a pig with a hole punched in one of its ears. ‘Well, now, who do you reckon that pig has been living with' says one; ‘Mister Frank done punched his car for the rent.' "

In the early 1930's, timber within hauling distance of the town became scarce, and about 1934 the mill was abandoned. The last houses were moved from the site in 1936. Fences were built, and now, the site is a field.

I was able to get the history of only three families during my research for this writing. One of these is my own.

* * * * *

Dave Walker
Dave married Alice Pursley in 1930 and now lives in Boettcher's Mill in Huntsville, Texas. Dave fed one of the machines at the Planer.

Louis married Jewel Stowe and lives at Willis, Texas. Elmer married Nina Fletcher and lives in Houston, Texas. Novelene married Al Worzelas and lives in Philadelphia, Pa. Pearl married Sam Monroe and now lives in Dallas, Texas. Betty Ruth married Don Novak and now lives in Angleton, Texas. Ada married Edgar Lillard and lives in Huntsville, Texas. Robert married Agnes Stowe and now lives in Houston, Texas. Margaret is not married and lives in Huntsville, Texas.

* * * * *

Frank Brasfield
Frank married Georgia Davis and now lives at 1310 Ave. B in Huntsville, Texas. They moved to Elmina around 1926 and lived in house No. 20.

Preston married Erika Hoffmaster and now lives in Florida and they have one son.

John married Polly Palermo of 120 Poinsetta in Lake Jackson, La. and they have 9 children.

Mildred married Bill Indo of 2202 Droxford Dr. in Houston, Texas and they have one son. This son [this was John Lamar Indo, convicted in 1970 and released in 1987 -- ed.], a graduate student at Texas University, killed both his parents on November 29, 1969 while joining them for Thanksgiving.

Ernest Brasfield married Mary Smith of 103 Azelia in Lake Jackson, and they have three children.

Wilburn Davis – brother to Georgia – never married but has lived with a family for a long time.

* * * * *

Hudson C. Oliphint
Hudson (deceased) 1940 married Jennie Perrie who now lives at 1308 Ave. B. in Huntsville, Texas. They moved to Elmina around 1904 and lived in the houses numbered 62, 37, 25 and 14. He worked at planer as engine operator.

Etta married Steve Brown and now live at Box 39 in Henderson, Texas and they had 9 children.

Odessa (deceased) died in early childhood.

Ruby (deceased) 1961 married Claude Hardy (deceased) 1960 and had 2 sons.

Howard married Verna McDonald and now lives at 905 Randall in Taylor, Texas and have two children.

Aubrey (deceased) 1969 married Loraine Ashwood and they had two children. Loraine now lives at 1205 Jefferson in Baytown, Texas.


I would like to share with you a letter dated January 24, 1960 and written by Mildred Dorman (Mrs. Bill Indo).

2202 Drexford
Houston, Texas 77008

Dear Howard:

I read your interesting account of Elmina, and there are many, many memories which I have but I'll send them along as they occur... I'm always pressed for time, you know.

John Dorman was up last week and after reviewing your plan he did say there was one error… his memory is supposedly real keen … he recalled the days when his contemporaries played baseball. There were three teams; those behind the church were known as "Snuff Ridge" players; those in our neighborhood were "Tin Can Alley", and he couldn't remember the "rich, elite" section's name…

Your theater comments are not entirely correct, as I recall … While there were many, many westerns, there were also some love stories... It was there that I was first introduced to Laura La Plante and Bebe Daniels... just before they tried for talking pictures, but somehow their voices were not suited or something... and do you remember the night the show caught fire... I remember I jumped through a window right behind Frederick Cherry, and he jumped first, then I came second, and the window fell on my coat tail and I dangled for a few minutes, I slipped out of my coat and left it there, then decided to run for home (it must have been about 8:45 in the evening... and I was bawling... I remember meeting Mr. Helton, very aged then even, and he said, "Child, what's the matter?" I told him the picture show was burning down and thousands of people were burning up... The thing might have seated 390 people... And John Dorman broke a pane with his fist, then took one dive through... and I can still hear Grandpa Eddings saying, "Take your time, take your time!"... and the Hollis kids, Minnie Lee, Lilla Mae, Llewlyn and Frederick Cherry, John, Marguerite and Virginia Palmer and the Lackey kids and how we used to go back to the partially burned building and play as though the building were on fire... and one of the boys would play the part of Mr. Eddings, standing on a bench and saying, "Take your time"...

And you must tell of the burning of the mill somewhere … that was most dramatic … I immediately started packing my suitcase … and I put my Bible in first … Mom asked me what on earth I was doing … I told her the whole town would burn … and I wanted to be ready with my clothes…

Be sure to tell of the thick virgin pine thicket … of course you may have been a little too old to do this, but I remember in the fifth and sixth grades when it was cold we would always walk through the thicket … and occasionally we would come across a little clearing where some hobo had recently slept … for there would be charcoal for his fire and a few cans opened and discarded … And don't forget about the persimmon trees on our walk through the meadow … we always stopped for persimmons when they were ripe …

Oh yes, Howard, do try to find out how many doctors, lawyers, teachers who came from this little place.

I've had a great deal of experience editing for the McGraw-Hill Company. If you need any help (free gratis, I'll help you this summer), but I surely couldn't before … In June, we're going to Florida, and in late July, John and I are planning to fly to Germany for the Wagnerian Music Festival … so don't know when I could help you … John is playing in the Symphony tonight …

Good luck,


Now I would like to share another letter from Mack Ohlund while he lived at Box 451 in Alpine, Texas and dated January 8, 1965.

Mr. Howard L. Oliphint
Taylor, Texas

Dear Mr. Oliphint:
I received your interesting letter with your memories of Elmina a few days ago.

We should remember each other since we were both there at the same time. You probably my wife or some of her family. She was Ida Faulkner. She attended the same school after it was moved to its present location and graduated from that school in 1924. We were married in Huntsville in 1926. I remember Hudson Oliphint (a fine old gentleman) but of his children, I remember only one, Ruby, and her husband Claude Hardy.

I came to Elmina in late September 1922 and left there in March of 1929, during which time I was employed in the machine shop in the capacity of machinist. Fate favored me in getting a job at the time. The machinist who was there, one Charlie Aiken, had gotten full of locally concocted booze called "shinny" and driven his Ford off the road into a deep hole from which he was extricated with a broken arm and multiple bruises. He was also afflicted with boils in painful and inconvenient spots on his body and was totally unable to work, all of which conspired to give me a job. Arthur Whitman and Mr. Dudley brought poor Charlie home free from the scene of the accident in Mr. Dudley's Overland. According to a later account by Mr. Whitman, "Every bump Dudley hit, Charles started cussing his Ford, I was afraid he would go to cussing the Overland next and Dudley would make him get out and walk."

I remember your school chum Edwin Hanks very distinctly, but I remember his parents a lot better. I lived in the "beanery" during the time Mrs. Hanks had charge of it. There was one incident that contributed to our amusement in those days. A preacher came to Elmina every two weeks to hold church services, Saturday night and Sunday mornings. The matrons of the town always killed the fatted chicken to provide him with proper ministerial diet while he was there. A hotel room was reserved for him to sleep. One dark night in trying to find his way to the little house in the back yard, he stumbled over a low fence which Mrs. Hanks had erected to keep the chickens off the porch. "God bless it" roared the preacher as he stumbled head over heels out into the yard. I heard that preacher say that he never uttered a curse word in his entire life, and to be sure, he did not do so then, but his voice did not exude the same reverence as during his usual supplications.

If you walked the new pavement to school, you remember perhaps how deep the mud was on both sides of the concrete, if you do not, I can tell you. I borrowed a car from Wiley Jones (night hostler) one afternoon to go to New Waverly on an errand for the shop. I was making about 35 miles per hour when the steering wheel came off in my hands. Before I could say Jack Robinson, the right front wheel ran off the pavement into a foot of stiff mud. The car reversed its direction and turned over, pinning me underneath. When I collected my wits, I was under the car with hot oil from the crank case running out in my face. Tom Bradley and a few other fellows drove out from Elmina and lifted the car up so I could crawl out. You may also remember the incident, since I think the whole town laughed about it for a week. If it hadn't been for the mud being as deep and soft as it was the car might have flattened me like a flounder. Not my lucky day! Or maybe it was. I had three pretty good tumbles that same day, each of which could have been serious. Mike Rip (blacksmith) had a cantankerous mule to put shoes on so he asked me to help him "since I wasn't afraid of mules." I walked over, grabbed the mule's hind leg and yanked it out from under him. The mule regained his balance and started kicking wildly, kicked me ten feet high. I landed on my face twenty feet away and scrapped off a piece of skin the size of a half dollar. We had to throw that mule to shoe him. Next, I ran a motor car off the end of the track at the round house, about a six foot jump off. One rail stuck out some five or six feet farther then the other one and the motor car flipped over and settled with the wheels still spinning. A five gallon can and myself rolled over and around each other until the momentum was spent. Mr. Dudley relating it afterwards said, "He came roaring down through the round house, went over the end and drawed his picture on the ground." Dr. Robertson said piously "God is watching over him." I was cold sober during all of these adventures but some Elmina citizens teasingly admonished me to leave the "shinny" alone.

Do you remember the night the picture show burned? I was running it that night. Mr. Worthington (bookkeeper) asked me to take over the operation of the show, and I ran it for a year or two until that fire put a stop to the fun. I remember Emmett Evans (employed at the saw mill) and his wife, Mary Lee standing there holding hands and each other. When the rush was over, they calmly walked out the door.

There was a minister (I do not recall his name) living in Elmina about that time. He held to the belief that picture shows were misleading of spirit and would not permit his children to attend the show. His son, a lad of about twelve or fourteen years of age, sometimes managed to sneak out and since he could not afford to be seen in the audience, camp up in the booth and saw the show through a hole in the wall. I am sure glad that he wasn't in that booth when those films caught fire. We might not have both gotten out of there.

With best regards,
Mack A. Ohlund




The memories of Mildred and Mack are things that happened during my duration at Elmina. The following note was written by Miss Elizabeth Oliphint, who was also one of my third grade teachers at New Waverly and I consider one of the finest persons I have ever known: "Howard, your teacher in Elmina was Miss Annie Mae S. Parrish. She is now Mrs. B. P. Smith of Route 1, Box 60 in Crockett, Texas. She would be glad to hear from you. I'd like to see you sometime when you come to Huntsville.

Elizabeth Oliphint


The very first time that I can remember living in Elmina was when we lived in the house just back of the church or house number 62. We moved into this house after spending one year on a farm near Willis, Texas. My formal education while living in this house as I attended this school my first year under the teacher given by Miss Elizabeth Oliphint. The next year the school consolidated with New Waverly and the building at New Waverly was moved approximately half way between the two towns and was approximately one mile from Elmina. On the way to school in Elmina, I gave my teacher a quarter which I had found on the way to school that morning for I loved her very much and it was done in appreciation of her work. She returned it by my sister, Ruby, that same day. I was so pleased that I had been promoted to the second grade. The old building at Elmina was used for a time by the people stated before as a residence but most of the time it was vacant and afforded we kids a fine place in which to play during bad weather.

During my school days, there were three routes that children could take in going to school from Elmina. During bad weather, most of the kids walked down the track until the pavement on highway 75 was completed. I recall that when the market received a car load of blocked ice, which was approximately once a month, that some of us boys would miss school that morning to help unload the 300 pound blocks which numbered 1000 it seemed but really was only 100. We received 75 cents each for this job and in those days that six bits would buy a great deal. There were two jobs which required a great deal of strength and know how to do and the only boys that I remember taking the blocks out of the box car or ending the blocks up in the store room were Vernon Pursley and myself. We always had a job and the others were selected.

The Jake Shepperd family bought a car later and I remember that I envied them as Mrs. Shepperd drove Catherine, Jake Henry and Elisabeth to school each day and I had to walk. Cars became more common during my junior year in school and I shared riding to school then with Merritt Warner and his sister then. I rode with Martin McDonough to school during my senior year and later the next year with him to Huntsville to Sam Houston State Teachers College since we both still lived in Elmina. We moved to Huntsville the following year and Martin still drove back and forth. He later married Ben Evelyn White of New Waverly and they now live in California where he is a lawyer. The most common route to school from Elmina for me and my bother, Aubrey (Hut), was by a trail through the company pasture which ran parallel to the railroad tracks and was a bit shorter than the one mile required by the other two routes. I remember well the persimmon tree mentioned by Mildred Dorman and I recall that it was approximately half the distance between Elmina and the school. I also recall falling out of this same tree along with Aubrey Welch. Aubrey broke his glasses when he fell and could see nothing without them. Others that I recall climbing this tree were Raymond and Marion (Tater) Eddins, Victor and Jonnie Mae Aden, Eugene, Sam and Sebastian (Cooter) Jones, Alfred Little, Adelle Hendley, Robert and Frederick Cherry, Happy Jack Ferguson, Hazel Glover, August and Lillian Vay, Irene Lackey, Lewis and Chuck Walker, Warrene Deer, Mildred, Preston and John Dorman, Berlin, Jute and Nig Aden, S. A. McPhail, J. C. Trammell, Alfred (High) Little and many, many others that I do not recall at this moment.

In those days each teacher was assigned two grades to teach since the classes were small. I want to give you the assignments for Girtie Bell who taught the sixth and seventh grades while I was in the sixth grade.

-- Sixth Grade
Raymond Eddins
S. A. McPhail
Frank Krystiniak
Howard Oliphint
J. C. Trammell
Cecilia Krystiniak
Martha Slott
Irene Lackey
Thelma Kelly
Louise Lewis
Cecilia Slott

-- Seventh Grade -
Claudie Templeton

Aubrey Welch
Alvin Delaney
David Pursley
Arthur Ellis
Charles Alrich
James Scott
Happy Jack Ferguson
Velma Collins
Ella Mae Deer
Dorothy Mae Whitley

The varsity football team during my junior year in high school consisted of the following with Morris Haltom as coach of the "Bulldogs"

Marvin Jones
James Ed. Hardy
Augustus May
Howard Oliphint
Alfred Little
Walter Bell
Jake Shepperd
Ernest Ellisor
Arnold Neiderhoffer
Wilson Neiderhoffer
Merritt Warner
Marvin Hardy

The boys besides myself who lived at Elmina were August May, Alfred Little, Jake Shepperd, Merritt Warner and Walter Bell who lived north of the town.

We moved across town to house No. 37 where my next recollection of Elmina took place. This was where we lived when the old picture show was in operation and you have already read some of the accounts that took place there and of the burning of the building. I do recall that the shows were of silent films and were shown only on Saturday nights and were mostly western with a comedy added. "Elmo The Fearless" is the serial that I remember most vividly along with the comedy of Charles Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle. These shows were furnished by the company and were free. This building which was situated next to Dr. Robertson's office was made of wood and was not painted as I recall. It afforded the citizens a nice place for meetings as it was supplied with long wooden benches which would seat some two or three hundred people. I do not recall that I was there the night the building burned but I do recall that we used it for many things afterwards as we even skated in the building. The slanted floor did not help much with our sport of skating.

If you are in possession of one of the old pictures of the mill and planer mill crew of Elmina, you may want to identify some of them – I do not have one of these pictures but I have seen them at our reunions and have been able to tell who some of them are from left to right. I do not know any of the negro men in the picture.

1. Lonnie Curry
2. Claude Bush
3. Unknown
4. John Burton
5. S. E. Warner
6. Mr. Hilton
7. Tom Bradley
8. Sam Manning
9. Arnet Aden
10. H. N. Eddings
11. Mack Hilton
12. H. C. Oliphint
13. Marion Eddings
14. Howard Oliphint
15. Merritt Warner
16. Charles Pollard
17. Unknown
18. A. W. Colburn
19. Carlton Lambert
20. Dave Walker
21. Melvin Lackey
22. John Aden
23. Unknown
24. Marvin Lambert
25. Frank Brassfield
26. Stash Rip
27. J. W. Randall
28. J. M. Wilson
29. Bill Cooksey
30. Emett Evans
31. Raymond Rod
32. Ed Bonds
33. Ellis Parker
34. Jim Eddings
35. A. E. Aden
36. Victor Aden
37. Melvin Aden
38. Mr. Deer
39. J. W. Bailey
40. Kensey Hollis
41. G. W. Reynolds
42. Raymond Eddings
43. Jim Davis
44. Jesse Shepperd
45. Unknown
46. Lee Cooksey
47. Unknown
48. Jimmy Moore
49. George Palmer
50. Letha Rogers
51. Unknown
52. Jewel Hamlin
53. Unknown

The old hotel building was another thing that I recall about Elmina and I can only add to the things that others have already given you in their writings. The hotel was operated by Mrs. Hanks in my day and I was much in love with her eldest daughter but I can't recall her name. I remember Edwin Hanks, her brother and the trouble he and Byron Dudley were always getting into at Elmina. Too, I remember the narrow walk which ran on the East side of the hotel and the wide one which went in front of the building all the way to the church at the other end. , The narrow walk consisted of two 2 x 12's laid length wise and the wide walk was constructed of 2 x 4 x 6 which were laid cross wise. I remember the many times I hunted for money that had been dropped between the cracks in the walks. I wished very much that I could live at the hotel in those days but I was never able to do so.

In early days, the drug store, post office and doctors office were all in the two story frame building on the south side of the company store and facing the railroad tracks. Mr. Sid Fluellen ran the post office and the drug store and I recall the many times I purchased candy and ice cream from Mr. Sid. This was always a treat in those days. The negroes called an ice cream cone by the name of "say so" and always asked for a "vinally" (vanilla) "say so" and etc. This name was also used in Huntsville and Phelps. We have a dentist, Dr. McWhorter, here in Taylor who was reared at Phelps, Texas and who never sees me but that he says "how about a say-so?" The Post Office part was very small but did have combination locks on the boxes if you were fortunate to rent a box. They were really in demand and very hard to get. I do not remember the number of the box we had but I know you were never able to change since they were so in demand.

The passenger train did not always stop at Elmina. It stopped only when someone wanted to get on or off the train. The mail was hung out on a fixture for such each day since there was no way of knowing whether someone wanted off or not. It was flagged down if someone wanted to get on. The baggage man always caught this sack with a hook, designed for the purpose, as the train sped by this spot. We use to watch this procedure with much anticipation of its sometime missing the bag but it never did as I recall. After this building was torn down, the building housed only the Post Office and it was in the same location as the two story one.

"Doctor Rob", as he was affectionately called by all who knew him, had his office in the rear of the two story frame building. It was in this building that I first witnessed the good doctor treat a patient other than myself. Two men from New Waverly had been brought to Dr. Rob for treatment. They had engaged in a fight with the butcher there and had been cut with a butcher knife very badly. He had cut both man's throats from ear to ear and they were still bleeding badly. Doctor Rob opened the wounds and poured iodine from a bottle on the wounds. This caused the men to scream loudly and this was the first time and last time that I ever fainted. I recall seeing him treat another patient in his new office. A negro woman who worked for Dr. Rob hit another negro woman in the head with a hatchet which she had in a paper sack and cut a deep gash in her head. This happened on the front porch of the company store and I recall seeing the injured woman chase the other woman across the porch and out on the ground between the store and post office. She caught her there and stabbed her to death with a long-bladed knife. Dr. Rob was very put out with the women and was giving her a rough time and I can hear her to this day say, "I don't fight to win, I fight to kill". She seemed real proud of her accomplishment. This treatment took place in Dr. Rob's new office which was built between his home and the picture show building. He was the only doctor that I ever knew in my days at Elmina and he remained there until the place burned in 1929. The good doctor and Mrs. Robinson adopted a boy by the name of Robert Taylor who now lives in San Angelo, Texas and attends our reunions. Robert was one of the finest boys that I have known and I had the good fortune to participate in all sports in high school, along with classes, with Robert. We played for Joe Holsomback who is a medical doctor now in Baytown. We later played for T. P. Jones who is now a professor at Southwestern University at Georgetown, Texas.

There was only one cemetery in Elmina and that was the one located just across the road from the company mule lot and barn and behind the old school house and was owned by the Polish Church in New Waverly. We were never allowed to go inside this beautiful and well kept area and the boys honored the fence which surrounded the land. We watched with amusement as the long funeral procession would drive through Elmina to the cemetery. I recall how silent we were as we watched through the fence as the priest conducted the funeral in Latin – I could never understand any of the chant until after I had taken Latin in High School and then I could remember some of the words he used and knew what they meant.

As far back as I can remember, the only person who operated the company store was Jake Shepperd but he had many men work for him in the meat market during this time. The one I remember most was Olen Chandler. There was another real large fellow that worked in the market who went with Edna Watts at the time. This same fellow broke up Adelle Henley when we were going steady and I recall how much I disliked him during this time. He had money and I had none. The store honored "punch outs" and special coins made for the company in addition to regular money. The store would deliver such items as feed, wood, and etc. I recall Mr. John Eddins, who always wore a mustache well trimmed, drove the company wagon. He was one of the most gentle and gracious men I have ever known in my entire life. We referred to him affectionately as Grandpa Eddins. Later on this wagon was replaced by a pick-up truck which had a very wide bed with only 2 x 12 sides. Most of the time the truck delivery was made by Cecil Shepperd or "Big Boy" Bradford. Later, after the Shepperd family had moved to Houston, Cecil was crushed between the bed and cab of a truck which he had gotten a ride on while going from Elmina to Houston. I also recall going to Houston to attend his funeral. Some times Jake Henry and I would fill in on making deliveries. I recall one occasion when we were returning from a delivery from the Front, we were driving down the pavement near Elmina when something went wrong with the steering and I sent sailing from the truck into the bar ditch by the side of the road. I received only a few scratches and bruises for this experience. Jake Henry did not have to dive since he head hold of the wheel and went with the truck into the ditch.

The "Front" was created in the woods so that the men who worked there could live and not have to make the trip twice a day to work. These were all company houses which had a store there supplied by the one at Elmina. Mr. Jim Byrd was in charge of this log camp as far back as I can remember. I know only one other family that lived at the front besides George Hall who operated the store and that was the Gunter family. I know the girls Lottie and Mattie well, in fact, Lottie was my girl friend until I started going with Aileen Bush who lived at Hawthorne. On weekends, they brought all the mules from the front and put them in the lot at Elmina. The only two horses there were permanent since they pulled the company delivery wagon. Melvin Lillard and I use to watch them bring the mules in on weekends. I remember the big thicket back of the lots and also a company pasture which I passed through on my way to pick cotton for John Gregory.

I remember people talking about the early days of baseball at Elmina when such men as Homer Perry (my uncle), Tom Bradley, Robert Cherry and Jake Shepperd were playing but I recall seeing the following men play in the pasture just south of Elmina which had a big wooden fence around the park. These men were real ball players and consisted of players like Johnny Fulton (attends our reunions), Tom Bradley, Cecil Shepperd, Glen Cooksey, Johnny Gregory and many more. Some of the boys who helped me keep baseball alive in Elmina were: Jake Henry Shepperd, Alfred Little, Wilburn (Stormy) Davis, Aubrey (Hut) Oliphint, Julius Pleggins, Ellis Parker, Tom Cherry, James Hardy and many more.

Perhaps you will remember some of the players in this baseball lineup of August 19, 1930 in a game in which Elmina won over Pinedale 16 to 5 and over Roark Prarie that same day by the score of 7 to 5. Here are two lineups:

-- First Game
Howard Oliphint - cf
Julius Pleggins - 2b
Jake Shepperd - lb
Glen Cooksey - 3b
Cecil Shepperd - ss
Bill Davis - o
Tom Cherry - lf
Merritt Warner - rf
Tom Bradley - p

-- Second Game
Howard Oliphint - p
Julius Pleggins 2b
Jake Shepperd - lb
Glen Cooksey - o
Cecil Shepperd - ss
John Gregory - cf
Tom Cherry - lf
Merritt Warner - rf
Ellis Parker - 3b

Or would you believe that I once had a leading part in a three act play? I did and this is the play and the people that were in it. See if you remember:

"The Absent Minded Bridegroom"
Directed by Mrs. G. H. Hunt

The Cast of Characters
Timothy Shea
Patrick Rooney
Howard Oliphint
Jimmy Rooney
Robert Taylor
Fred Grady
Claudie Templeton
Slade _______
Jake H. Shepperd
Daphney Rooney
Aileen Hardy
Nora Shea
Lorene Thomas
Kathleen O'Connor
Ben Evelyn White
Tessie Connors
Lottie Mae Mabry
Betty Roy West
Morris Haltom
Virginia Palmer
Hugh Hardy

Then let's see how many you remember in this one:

"That's One On Bill"
Directed by Lillian Kolb and Mr. Glen Hicks

Uncle Jimmy, a young bachelor -- Howard Oliphint
Bill Hailey, his nephew -- J. W. Scarbrough
Battling Bonnie Boso, a pugilist -- Ernest Ellisor
Harry Dover, engaged to Lil -- Julius Aden
Ned Collins, too rich to work -- Martin McDonough
Patricia Niles, Patricia Pansy, La Gloria, Aileen Bush

Mab Allen, Uncle's choice for Bill -- Ben Evelyn White
Mrs. Hailey, mother of Bill and Lil -- Virginia Traylor
Rosie, the maid -- Thelma Williamson

Mr. J. B. Monroe was superintendent of the school at New Waverly all the time that I attended school there. During our freshmen year at Sam Houston State Teachers College, the three graduates from New Waverly – Ben Evelyn White, Martin McDonough, and myself set a new grade average record at the college. I would like to give you these results:

The New Waverly High School leads all other high schools in scholarship with three of the graduates representing that school in the freshman class of 1931-32. Marshall Rix, Registrar, complied the following figures which was based upon the grade points made by students of high schools of this section during this session. Every high school which has three or more graduates enrolled in the collect is represented:

School = Grade Points Average:
New Waverly -- 14. 3
Crockett -- 13. 3
Palacios -- 12. 7
Somerville -- 12. 5
Shepherd -- 12.3
Grapeland -- 12. 2
Sour Lake -- 11. 8
Bryan -- 11. 3
Palestine -- 11. 3
Kirbyville -- 11. 0
Trinity -- 10. 8
Caldwell -- 10. 7
Marques -- 10. 3
Axtell -- 10. 0
Sam Houston -- 10. 0
Normangee -- 10. 0
Richards -- 10. 0
Groveton -- 9. 8
Lovelady -- 9. 7
Navasota -- 9. 3
Huntsville -- 9. 1
Jewett -- 9. 0
Hampstead -- 8. 8
Liberty -- 8. 7
Livingston -- 8. 6
Madisonville -- 8. 3
Demonstration School -- 7. 9
Saratoga -- 7. 7
Conroe -- 7. 3

The picture below is of my grandfather, Dr. Hudson Curtis Oliphint who did his practice in Huntsville, Texas. You will note type of office during those days and his hat hanging on the wall. I received this picture from Martin McDonough in Sacramento, Cal. I want to give you a copy of the letter I received from Martin on the next page which is No. 61.


McDonough, Holland, Scharwartz, Allen & Wahrahaftig
Attorneys at Law

September 16, 1964

Mr. Howard Oliphint
Principal, Taylor High School
Drawer 1130
Taylor, Texas 76574

Dear Howard:

In my researches I have come across a picture of your grandfather, Dr. Hudson Curtis Oliphint, and his sister, Josephine Oliphint Herndon, who principally looked after your father after your grandmother died. You probably have pictures, but I am enclosing a copy of each of the ones I have for your disposition.

Your father's mother continues to elude me as far as photographs go. I hope that sometime your mother finds one around the house, and that you will send this one to me or a copy of same.

With very best regards from both of us,


Martin McDonough


In this small town of Elmina many children were raised and went on to make worthwhile citizens and some have even become famous in one way or another. As a whole, the families and parents of this generation did not fail to instill the necessary and proper values in their youth.

Why is it that nowadays as many parents fail? – One of the chief reasons, I'm convinced, is the radical changes in background that has taken place in our lifetime – and the consequent changes in point of view. Most members of my generation were brought up, if not under conditions of actual hardship, at least in times of economic austerity. As it was at Elmina, were we not warned that we had better get ready to fight for survival – or starve. So our standards of success were, perhaps, somewhat self-centered and materialistic. In addition, we were called upon to fight or support wars that seemed to us both necessary and just. So our concept of patriotism was nationalistic, simple, and direct.

Today's youngsters have no real fear of unemployment or lack of money, so they can think in terms of reforming the world. They have been called upon to fight a war that many of them find both unnecessary and unjust, so their sense of patriotism is diluted. They have been raised, most of them, in an atmosphere of permissiveness that has left them highly allergic to authority of any kind – of the church, of the law, of the police, and certainly their parents.

So often when parents "fail" today, it is because they don't realize how removed the viewpoint of their children is from t heir own; and when there is conflict, they react with bewilderment or anger instead of with understanding and tolerance.

What I am saying is that when parents fail with their children, very often it is because they are trying to judge those children against backgrounds remembered from the parent's own childhood – backgrounds that have changed or disappeared.

As principal of Taylor High School, these are the trouble areas I have encountered most frequently:

a) Don't deprive a young child of discipline – if a parent doesn't discipline a child with love, life will discipline him later – and without love.

b) Try to keep your home a lively place – young people get into trouble when they are bored.

c) Don't merely demand your child's respect; earn it! Respect is nothing but silent acknowledgment of whatever is worthwhile in a person.

d) Beware of using your children as ego-props – stop trying to stamp them into the mold that suits you best; of treating them as extensions of yourself instead of an individuals in their own rights.

e) Don't fulfill your time with fussing over your child too much – Give him room to grow – let him have some privacy, and give them a good dose of loving neglect.

f) Strive for a subtle transmission of spiritual values – I say "subtle" because I don't believe religion should be crammed down a child's throat.

Good parents are needed now more than ever. It takes tolerance, it takes patience and faith and sacrifice and understanding. But nothing in the world is as rewarding as watching a child move into maturity and independence, and be able to say to your partner, "Well, by the grace of God, we didn't fail!"


Hudson C. Oliphint

In dedicating this manuscript to my father, Hudson C. Oliphint, I would like to give you my recollections him who had his own memorable way of bringing up a boy.

Father had two daughters and two sons. His idea of girl-rearing may have been somewhat tentative. I don't know, being one of the sons – the eldest. But he was positive about what a boy should be.

A boy was a male and with any degree of luck, he would grow up and become a man. He felt that boyhood was a period of preparation for mature, masculine life and to Father, only one sort of adult male was conceivable: a "real man".

His code for boys was detailed and demanding. They had to be honest and trustworthy and self-reliant, of course. But I suspect it was courage that Father admired above all other qualities. Father was a Baptist, and, like so many men who find a strong and shining symbol in their religion, he was devoid of physical cowardice. He was not merely brave – he was above having to be brave. So it behooved us not to display weakness.

His means for instilling courage were often brilliantly effective. I remember one night of shattering thunder and lightning, and my terror. I was four. Father talked to me a while about the splendor of thunder storms and then took me out on the porch to watch this one. Little by little his calm words made me become fascinated with the forked, near-striking bolts, and I was unable before but now could take the bolts of thunder without a quiver.

In Father's book, a "real man" was more than brave. He was courteous. It was almost as much a crime not to rise the instant a female entered the room as to moan when hit by a pitched ball.

I can remember my last conversation with Father in the Summer of 1940. He was sitting up in bed and wearing what we called, as kids, his "eagle expression". He was telling me how proud he was of my work. Suddenly, I knew the Old Man never expected to see me again. And suddenly I knew what I had to tell him. "Father, there's one thing you have achieved that I'm still trying for." I made it almost fierce. "Father! You're a man!

Meaning, of course, a real man.

He winked at me.

And I would like to end this dissertation about my Father for I think this prayer of Assisi applies well:

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may seek not so much to be consoled as to console,

To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


The End

  These captions were included in Mr. Oliphint's original manuscript, but the accompanying images are missing from known copies:  

1. Dr. Harry Stephen Robertson came to Elmina in 1916 and the picture above was taken in 1918.

2. This is a picture of the baseball team in Elmina in 1907 and are identified by number as follows: 1. Tom Bradley 2. Frank Ferguson 3. Nick Dunham 4. Robert Cherry 5. Will Dunham 6. Willie Bilnoski 7. Fred Fluellen 8. Doss Chesshire 9. Jake Shepperd 10. Oasis Mitchell 11. Charlie Bilnoski.

3. The picture above is of Ann Fulton standing on the old store porch at Elmina. I am unable to identify the man leaning against the post looking toward the track loaded with box cars. This is the old store building that I remember at Elmina.

  Bibliography and Further Reading  
Croom, Guy. When The Pines Grew Tall. Lufkin: Red Mountain Publishing Co., 1986. 25-32, 76-79. A very good section on Mr. Croom's childhood and young adulthood at Elmina.
Do you have any further stories or photographs of Elmina in its heyday? If so, I would love to include anything you'd like to contribute to a page that would expand on Howard Oliphint's and Guy Croom's excellent histories. Uncovering history of this sort is a real joy, but can be a real puzzle, and your contributions help piece the puzzle together. My information can be found here. -- Murry Hammond.
Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections and contributions of new material.