By Jack James
If you find yourself bored and needing something to do, take a small trip about five miles east of Lavaca. Located on the corner of highways 217 and 252, this old structure can be found on the Harold and the late Pauline Jones home place. Hickory Ridge Cemetery is just down the road to the east.
The old building is in bad shape. The native rock walls stand firmly holding up ailing walls of weathered wood and a rusted tin roof. You may not know it, but the building is an important piece of area history.
I am getting some of my information from an old article printed many years ago. It has been in the museum since I inherited my position there in 2005 and the print is very faded. This page drew the attention of several visitors recently so I thought maybe I should bring it back to our view.
I researched a few sites and discovered that the building is listed on an 1887 map of Sebastian County and detailed in the Beverly Township area. The article visits a genealogy of people and homesteads of the area and suggestions about who owned the land and when. Mr. Luther Seaton is quoted in the article as saying that a post office was once located in the space. Sure enough. On the 1887 map, it is plainly documented as “Beverly P.O.” According to Seaton, the place where the building stands was once given as a wedding present by a Mr. Hunter to his daughter Ellen who married F. M. Nixon. Mr. Nixon used the structure for a store at that time. It also held the post office.
According to my research, the postmaster of the Beverly area was Mr. T. H. Carter in 1888. The area also was home to the Carter Plantation where the first post office was located in 1877. This Carter Plantation was once over 1000 acres that were worked by slave labor and had its own grist mill, gin and this store, evidently. There is history that states a wedding anniversary party took place there in the early 1900s and the happy couple received congratulations by President and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt. (Perhaps this is why he made a Whistle Stop campaign tour through Lavaca when he was running for the presidency?)
The post office was located there until 1915, according to some pages that I found online. Slowly, the postal service from the outlying areas of Arbuckle Island, Union, Ursula and Beverly were consolidated with Lavaca. The little building was still a store until the 1930s when a new store was built and the old place became used as a barn.
This neglected little building is, by my calculations, somewhere in the neighborhood of 128 to 138 years old. Harold and Pauline Jones are quoted as wishing that the structure could be restored for historical value. Harold just passed away this week, joining his beloved Pauline in the hereafter. I hear that others in the family agree that it needs to be saved. I don’t have a say in the matter except I do think that it would be a shame to let this little building fall down and be destroyed.
How about someone taking an interest into seeing if preserving this place? It may be eligible for becoming a historical structure and placed on the National Historic Register! If I can help as a part of the Lavaca Museum, please let me know. Also, if the history that I have written from other writings is mistaken, please drop by the museum this Saturday and help me straighten it out.
See? Sometimes we pass things time and time again and never really pay attention! Keep your eye out for other places in the area that you would like to know about and we will see if we can uncover the real untold story!