TIHAA Day Trip to Historical West Columbia - April 25, 2017

by Mary Brown

This day trip was a step back in time to Texas early settlement and history. Our first stop was at the Verner-Hogg Plantation. Martin Verner was one of the original Old Three Hundred and a veteran of the Texas Revolution. He received the 19th land grant from Stephen F. Austin.

This gave him 4,600 acres of land. In 1824 he built a log cabin and began farming. Among his crops he grew was sugarcane. He only owned the property for 10 years. In 1834 he sold the so called plantation to John D. Patton from Kentucky. However it was his son, Columbus R. Patton that ran the sugarcane plantation. Columbus brought with him approximately 60 slaves from Kentucky which built the plantation house you see today. The house was built in 1835 from bricks made on the property.

Mr. Patton had a slave/common law wife, Rachel Patton. She was a strong willed person. In the museum there is a whole section devoted to her. It is over 100 years ago and she is still making her mark. However, in 1854 Columbus Patton was declared insane. He died intestate in 1856. His family sent Rachel back to Kentucky. In 1869 the property was sold and then was run through a convict lease system through the Texas prison system until the 1900 hurricane. The Plantation house was all that was left standing after that disaster. In 1902 Governor Jim Hogg bought the property for his summer home. He also felt that there was oil on the property. Governor Hogg died in 1906 and in 1920 oil was discovered on the property. This is where his children received their great wealth. They became great philanthropists for the city of Houston. In 1958 Ima Hogg donated the home and property to the state of Texas.

Today you can visit the plantation. The grounds are beautiful. Many events are held at the plantation and grounds. They have recently opened one of the houses on the property for rent by the day or the week. They would call it a bed and breakfast; however, no breakfast.

Our second stop was one of our favorite to eat. This time we ate at the Smokin' R BBQ. I would say that I have had better BBQ;

however, it was just across the street for our next stop, The Columbia Historical Museum. However, due to old electrical wiring in the museum, it was closed for repairs. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we were invited to go behind the museum to the Rosenwald School. What a treasure it turned out to be. I believe all in attendance knew nothing about the Rosenwald Schools. These were schools that were started in the early 1900's by Julius Rosewald, President and CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Company and Booker T Washington President of Tuskegee University. They formed a program for building schools for African-American children in rural communities across the South. There were over 5,300 Rosenwald Schools built across the South, with over 500 in Texas. This is only one of a handful open to the public. This school closed in 1948 and was used as a hay barn until it was rescued by the Columbia Historical Museum and moved to its present location in 2001. Through much love, care and generous funding the school opened to the public in 2009. Our docent was the one that spearheaded the renovation so she was very knowledgeable. While looking at the names of some of the first students to attend the school Della spotted the last name Baugh. She pointed this out to Deloris. She said some of her husband's people were from around that area and she was going to have to see if any of those early students might be relatives.

It was a wonderful day!! I plan to go back and see more of Columbia. It is rich with history. If you have not been on a day trip in a while I encourage you to check it out. It is a wonderful break from the routine.

Attendees: Sarah Harvey, Gwen Dickey, Deloris Baugh, Gary Luckett, Jean Houston, Corall Harrington, Della DuHart, Mary Green, Lola Schellhaas and her guest Tino Solis and Stella Lynch, Mary Brown and her friend Sylvia Cruz, Daryl and Brenda Moss and their friends: Bill and Marilyn Ragan, Bill and Sharon Jackson.

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