Reminiscences of Colorado County
- Oakland -

1938 Letters to the Editor, Weimar Mercury

Oakland, Second Oldest Community In Colorado County

The thoughts and attention of the writer are this week centered on Oakland, second oldest community in Colorado county, located eight miles southwest of Weimar. There is a lot of history attached to this quaint little community, and with the view of obtaining same for publication in the Mercury, the writer a few days ago addressed letters of inquiry to a number of old time settlers, with the view of securing from them as much of said history as possible. Not all responded to our request, possibly some of them fearing to "rush into print", others with one excuse and another, but several of them did as we requested, as we are herewith giving their Information as to history of Oakland, one of the oldest communities of this entire section.

First to respond were those excellent people, Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Bouldin, many years of whose lives were spent in Oakland and who possess splendid memories of events of "the days of auld lang syne". Their letter follows:

Oakland and Its Early History

The first time I heard Oakland called 'Prairie Point", which was its original name, was In 1887, when I was working for Dr. C. S. Tatum, learning the drug business. Dr. W. T. McLeary hardly ever called that town by any other name. He was the first to call it Prairie Point. I went to Oakland Feb. 1, 1888, and stayed there twenty-five years. Knowledge acquired about Oakland since then I know; prior to that is hearsay.

Oakland was first established as a town about 1850. Among the first stores there was Neer & James. They continued in business until after the Civil War, then sold their business to Joe Kindred, who afterwards moved to Weimar and conducted a large store in the T. A. Hill brick building, south of the railroad. I have been shown the place where Santa Anna crossed the Navidad River west of town, in his pursuit of Sam Houston and on to San Jacinto.

R. VanWagner went to Oakland soon after Neer & James established their store and began a mercantile business which lasted until a few years ago.

Among the early residents of Oakland were the Simpsons, McKennons, McIntoshes, Strunks, Hutchins, Bocks, VanWagners, Calhouns, Laas', Grobes, Schotts, Carsons, Alberts, and others whose names I can not now recall. When I went to Oakland there were five doctors located there--four white, Dr. J. F. Hutchins, Dr. Laidley, Dr. Stockton, Dr. Harry Grace, and one colored doctor, Dr. N. Hill Middleton. They all did fairly well. There was just one drug store, The Tookes, Ferrells, Townsends, Allens, Woolseys, Wooldridges, Ivys. and hosts of others were prominent residents or lived in trading distance.

Dr. John H. Bowers used to come out there from Columbus in the early days and had a good practice. The Tookes especially used him as a family physician.

They always had a fairly good school there. especially under the teaching of Prof. McNeil and Prof. W. A. Pitts. Walter Pitts was one of the most erudite and capable teachers that ever sat in a school room. The Masons and school erected a building together, the school occupying the lower floor and the Masons the upper floor. It was probably erected in 1870. The building was burned down in 1892. The Masonic Lodge was established in Oakland in 1858.

The first gin I knew of was owned by Jeff Rhodes. He moved it to Karnes City in 1890, just about the time the "Sap" Railroad was built through there. Not long after Rhodes moved his gin away, C. J. Laas, who had a gin about two miles north of Oakland, moved it into the town. I think the Seiferts bought this old gin. moved it to another location and it is there now.

I think among the first postmasters at Oakland was a Mr. Strimsher; followed later by John H. Mullins. There is a joke about Mr. Strimsher, who was elected justice of the peace. He went over into Lavaca county to D. B. Simpson, who was justice of the peace over there, and told him: "I have come over here to qualify for justice of the peace". Simpson told him: "I can swear you in, but all h--l couldn't qualify you".

There were a couple of fellows there they said were partners in a grog shop. They wore a dime out passing it one to the other. One would take a drink and pass the dime to the other, and vice versa, until the dime was so thin you couldn't see it.

Marcus Townsend, that fine lawyer, was born in Oakland, and Jim Carson, Sr., the first man to board the Harriet Lane in Galveston Bay during the Civil War, lived there a long time.

I don't know who the first constable was, but James Townsend filled that office for a long time, and Bruce Mayes was constable for upward of twenty years.

Early methods of travel were by horseback, wagon, buggy and finally automobile. The roads have always been bad down that way, and often it was just impossible to get through except on horseback.

I think Dr. J. F. Hutchins was the first resident physician there, or Dr. DeGraffenreid, father of Mrs. Dr. Murchison, Mrs. Jesse Holman and Mrs. Fannie Griffin,

I have heard Jim Holt tell in a most laughable manner some of the early incidents and experiences of those early days. He lived near Oakland with his step-father. John Tooke, and afterwards in Oakland. Mr. Tooke had a gin out about New Bielau, on farm Ben Baker Holt now owns, the old Tooke farm. Mr. Holt said he had seen Mr. Tooke feed that old gin (horse, I think) in the hot summer time in his shirt-tail, and it was a funny sight.

If you can use this in any way, all right. Cut out or re-write it, take from or add to as you may wish. There is a lot more that might be said, but of less general interest. I have answered nearly all of your questions as well as I could from memory. If you want anything else, let me know, and I’ll try to dig it up. With best wishes. Callie and Claught Bouldin.

(APOLOGY.--Due to a lot of matter coming in unexpectedly we are forced to carry over a part of the Oakland write-up to next issue. A very interesting article on same from the pen of Mrs. C. R. Foulk of Egypt (nee Miss Ivy Calhoun) will appear in next issue of this paper. We deeply regret having to split this very interesting writeup of Oakland, but circumstances force us to do so.--Eds.)

Weimar Mercury, April 8, 1938, pages 1 and 8

(Continued from last week)

The History of Oakland
(Written by Mrs. C. R. Foulk, Egypt, Texas)

Oakland, second oldest town in Colorado county, situated on the Navidad River, was settled in 1856 by the Townsend brothers, Tooke brothers and Mr. Jones. The town was on the stage line running from Columbus to San Antonio and was known as Prairie Point until 1860 when the post office, which was across the river on the Turner farm, was moved here and it was changed to Oakland. The first postmaster was Mr. A. Schrimsher, next Mr. T. H. Mullin. then J. P. Mayes, Jr., and sister, Mrs. Henry Schott, (of East Bernard and Oakland now) then Mrs. J. O. Sanders (of Oakland) and the present postmistress is Mrs. Henry Hasse.

Colonel Hereford owned most of the land in this town and in 1860 Mrs. Theresa E. Ivy purchased same from him and settled here. She donated the land where the school house now stands, to the school, as well as several lots to individuals. In 1875 a two-story building was erected on the lot belonging to the school, it being used for school, the Masonic lodge and Sunday school and church; the building burned down in 1893. Professor McMurry was Oakland's first teacher, having taught in a building located where the negro parsonage now stands; this was in 1859.

Among the early teachers to succeed Mr. McMurray were Professors Hargon, Harris (my grandfather), Holt, McNeil and Pitts, Mrs. Hattie Simpson (the late Mrs. Stephen McCormick of Weimar), Mrs. Payne and Mrs. Grobe. Of interest to the readers of the Mercury are the names of the following teachers who have taught in the Oakland school; B. H. Meinert (of Columbus), the late W. E. Rabb, Mr. Moore (county attorney of Colorado county), and his son, O. P. Moore Jr., Miss Byrtha Harris (of Brazoria county), Mrs. E. B. Obenchain, formerly Miss Vallie Strunk (now of Columbus) Mrs. G. W. Shaver, formerly Miss Sadie Humphreys (now of Weimar), the late Mrs. Towell, formerly Miss Emma Humphreys, Mrs. Lester C. Bock (of Smithville), the late Mr. Alexander, J. C. Scarborough, the former Miss Christine Cernota, whose married name I do not recall. Mrs. C. R. Foulk, formerly Miss Ivy Calhoun (of Egypt), Mrs. F. Grunewald and Miss Marie Fussell.

The first store was opened in 1857 by Neer & James and the next was owned and operated by Mr. Henry Bock, who with Mr. Steiner had a store and butcher shop combined, and Mr. Franklin had a saloon and store. In 1859 Messrs. VanWagner and Andrews opened a store. Two years later Mr. Andrews joined the Confederate Army and was killed, and his partner followed one year later, returning home it 1865. Mr. Van Wagner continued his business until his death in 1912, his store being the only store that is still in the hands of his heirs, the others having changed from one person to another.

Mr. Bill Townsend had the first hotel here in 1857 and was succeeded by Mr. Edwards, who continued the business for some time. The Civil War took a great number of the citizens of Oakland. Among those who returned home besides Mr. Van Wagner were the late Capt. J. A. Foulkes, the late J. P. Mayes, Sr., and Mr. R. S. Hughes of Oakland.

Oakland's first gin was owned by J. C. Kindred, who was succeeded by Jeff Rhodes, father of M. Rhodes of Oakland, C. J. Laas bought the gin from Mr. Rhodes and operated same for a good many years. The present gin is owned by the Seifert Brother.

Among the early physicians were Doctors DeGraffenreid, Laidley, Brown and Hutchins, and those who came along later were W. H. Walker (who lives in the state of Oregon), the late R. F. Pridgen and the late V. R. Havens.

Mr. T. H. James donated the land for the Methodist Chinch which was erected in 1887 by Messrs. Watson and Bennett. Among the later Prominent workers in this church were Mrs. I. A. Strunk (of Oakland), who served as superintendent of the Sunday school for many years, the late Mrs. J. F. Hutchins, Mrs. J. C. Calhoun (of Oakland), Mrs. W. C Bouldin (of Luling), the former Miss Callie Hutchins, Mrs. Chas., Zweiner[sic] (of Austin), the former Miss Hallie Bock, and W. D. Obenhaus (of Oakland).

Mr. J. P. Mayes. Sr. and Miss Eliza Fowlkes were the first couple to be married in Oakland, and the first child born here was Marcus Harvey Townsend. Among the older ones who still reside here are Mr. R. S. Hughes, Mr. and Mrs. J. O. Cherry, Mrs. I, A. Strunk and Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Strunk.

At present there are three stores, operated by H. W. Hasse, Messrs. Obenhaus and Sanders and John Woytek, the post office, a garage and blacksmith shop.

For the past two years a "Home Coming” has been staged under the able leadership of Mrs. J. O. Cherry, assisted by Mrs. C, A. Brown, the former Miss Ola Frazer, Mrs. M. Rhodes, Mrs. H. B. Mayes. Mrs. J. O. Sanders, Mrs. W. D. Obenhaus, Mrs. George Strunk, Mrs. Otto Strunk and Mrs. George Fowlkes. This is indeed always a very happy occasion.

Weimar Mercury, April 15, 1938, page 2

As F. A. Strunk Remembers

Oakland was first called Prairie Point. First stores, Henry Bock and R. Van Wagner. Doctors, Laidley and Brown. Gins, J, C. Kindred, later C. J. Laas, T. J. Rhodes and Hoyak. Postmaster. Eason Bros. Justice of the peace, A. Schrimsher. Constable, Larkin Secrest. Old settlers. Old man Dreyer, Bernard Miller. Capt. J. M. WooLsey. F. A. Strunk

Weimar Mercury, April 15, 1938, page 2

Mr. Cherry Came in Late

I know you think I know a little about, Prairie Point (Oakland), but I do not. I landed in Fayette county Dec. 1859, on the hill east of the old crossing on the Navidad, some eight miles from Prairie Point, as it was then called. I was then 4 years old, born in North Carolina. I wish I could give you some pointers on your question, but cannot, as I moved here in 1897. High Hill was our nearest town. J. O. Cherry

Weimar Mercury, April 15, 1938, page 2

From An Old Timer, Mr. Hughes

Oakland, known as Prairie Point, was first laid out by the late Capt. A. C. Hereford of Virginia, who was a Mexican War veteran. A. Schrimsher was postmaster about 1866. at the close of the war. J. C. Kindred was postmaster in 1876 when I came to Oakland. After that Ed Caldwell, J. H. Mullin and family for several years, later Miss Leona Mayes, then Josh Mayes, Mrs. J. O. Sanders and now Mrs. H. W. Hasse.

Early day stores were Neer & James (in 1857), Henry Bock, R. VanWagner, merchants; Dr. L. M. Laidley, Dr. J. Duff Brown, doctors. V. L. LeTulle was an old settler of this section. Other old residents of Oakland or Prairie Point were James H. Simpson, J. H. Mullin. H. J. Strunk, Pat Hargon. L. B. Shropshire, J. A. McNeil, J. W. Holt, W. A. Pitts, the J. C. Benthal family, L. B. Simpson, Larkin Secrest. Oakland Lodge of Masons now has the old Osage Masonic Lodge jewels. I came to Oakland in 1876. R. S. Hughes

Weimar Mercury, April 15, 1938, page 2

More About Oakland—Mrs. Strunk Tells of Its Early Days

I will try and write you what I know about the history of Oakland. As far as Prairie Point is concerned, I know very little, as that was before my time. The town of Oakland was located on a tract of land belonging to Mrs. Theresa Ivey. This land was surveyed by Captain Hereford, cut up in blocks and sold to various parties who built homes and improved their places. Mrs., Ivey donated the land for the school house. I have heard my father, Mr. J. R. Harris, say he taught the first school in Oakland, which was two years after the close of the war between the states. He and my mother lived in a double room log house, which belonged to Mrs. T. Wooldridge. Mr. J. O. Cherry now owns the property. My father taught in one part of the building, and lived in the other end. After many years a school house was built, a two-story structure. The Masons used the upper story and the lower story was used to teach the young idea how to shoot. My father also taught the first session in the new building.

The teachers whom I can recall were Mr. Pat Hargon. Mr. J. W. Holt, Mr. Hall, Mr. McNeil, Mr. Scarborough, Mr. W. A. Pitts. and several others whose names I can not now recall. The school house for quite awhile was used for Sunday School and preaching services. Mr. T. H. James gave a site for the church, which was built and dedicated when I was a girl in my teens.

The first postmasters I remember were the Eason brothers, Bill, Jack and Warren. I've been told Mr. Schrimsher was the first postmaster Oakland had. The oldest residents were the Townsends, McKennons. Clements, Dreyers, Bocks, VanWagners. James & Neer, Kindreds, Harris, Calhouns,. Blakeneys, Edwards, Browns, Carsons, Mullins, Rhodes, Rhodes, Schotts, Benthals, Simpsons, Pierces. Downings, and possibly other whose names I can not now remember. Dr. Duff Brown and Dr. T. M. Laidley were the oldest doctors. At one time Oakland had five doctors. and I guess they all made a living.

The merchants I remember were R. VanWagner. "Uncle Henry" Bock. J. C. Kindred, and J. Schrimsher. Business merchants of a later date were H. J. Strunk. C. H. Strunk and F. A. Strunk. J, P. Mayes & Co. Our present. merchants are Obenhaus & Sanders, H. W. Hasse and H. B. Mayes. Our present postmistress is Mrs. H. W. Hasse.

Oakland at one time could boast of the finest lot of young people in the whole country. We also could boast of a fine choir, led by Mrs. W. C. Bouldin, nee Callie Hutchins.

During my childhood days we had a debating society, which was interesting as well as amusing. We also had singing circles, where the old and the young would turn out, and those who could sing the loudest were considered the best singers. (We didn't call it choir practice in those days.) Old Captain Woolsey was many years ago a pillar in the church. He would ring the bell, superintend Sunday School, conduct the prayer meeting. and when he prayed he was so in earnest it would make you tremble. A good man gone to his reward!

Those were happy days. but they have fled, and the old landmarks have long been gone. and we are now living in a new age. MRS. ILULIA[sic] STRUNK.

Weimar Mercury, April 15, 1938, page 3


In connecticn with the recent writeup of Oakland in its early days, we had intended to give a few excerpts from a statement made out to the late Mrs. Mary A. Ward, who lived a few miles northeast of Oakland, and later moved to Weimar. The firm furnishing the statement to Mrs. Ward was Kindred & Mullin, at that time) Fall of 1873 and Spring of 1874) the principal merchants of Oakland. The prices mentioned in the statement (purchases made by Mrs. Ward from said firm) will give the reader an idea of what goods sold for in those days. A brief mention of items and prices follows:

3 spools thread, 25c; 8 yards checks, $1.76; 1 broom, 50c; 1 wool hat, $1.00; I pair brogans, $2.00; I pair serge gaiters. $2.25; 3 yards domestic, 50c; 1 yard blue denim, 20c; rice buttons, 15c; alum. 15c; freight on bale cotton to Weimar, 50c; 5 yards calico, 63c; I oz. blueing, 25c; I fine comb, 35c; 2 plugs tobacco, 50c; 2 lbs. soda. 25c; I bridle. $1.25; 1/2 quire paper, 15c; 2 1/4 yards jaconet muslin. $1.69: 1 1/2 yards lawn. 90c; I side-saddle girth. 50c; 5 yards domestic. $1.00; I paper pins, 10c; I pair women shoes, $2.25; 2 pairs cotton hose, 50c; 1 1/2 dozen buttons, 30c; I pair ladies gloves. 30c; 1 box creso ointment 25c; 1 cake soap. l0c; 6 1/2 lbs. starch, 82c; 2 milk pans, 80c; 9 yards cotton stripes, $1.98: 23 lbs salt, 58c; 11 yards calico, $1.38; 6 yards bleached domestic. $1.00; I oz indigo, 25c; I well bucket, $1.25; 1 box axle grease, 25c: I 7-gal. stone jar. $2.80; 1 lb rosin, 15c; one pair men's shoes. $2.00: 1/4 oz. quinine. $1.00; 40 lbs salt., $1.00; 1 sewing machine tucker, $3.00; 1 set needles, 10c: 1 pair plow lines, 40c.

Weimar Mercury, April 22, 1938, page 3

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