The Museum Building

The Manson-La Moreaux-Hartman House

The Museum is called the Manson-La Moreaux -(pronounced La MOR o)-Hartman House to designate people who lived there the longest. The house became available to the Foundation through an anonymous donor. The House is believed to be the oldest structure in Rockwall. The original two rooms and hallway were built in 1850  by W. B. Bowles, one of the town’s founders. Other rooms were added as the house was sold to others. These people, according to Rockwall County Court records, although the area at that time was Kaufman County, were Amos and Mary Ann Dye, before 1861; A. D. Edwards, 1865; J. D. and Elizabeth Boystun (not town founder), before 1880. The property was sold to Dr. Henry Walker Manson November 3, 1880.

The Exhibit Room, originally the kitchen, is where the fireplace was located. The first families who lived in the house used the fireplace for cooking and heating the kitchen. The walls of the interior rooms are cypress bead-board from a sawmill in Jefferson, Texas. The room across the open hallway was the original bedroom with a wood-burning stove, simple beds and was lighted by kerosene lanterns. In the evenings, the family would retire to the bedroom to read, sew and relax after a long day of working.

The house was built as a “dog trot” style house. The high ceilings were to help keep the house cooler in the Texas heat. This style house was popular in early Texas before electricity.

The other rooms in the museum contain memorabilia of early Rockwall County residents. Some of these include a dresser, rug, piano, table, child’s desk, wood cook stove, and kitchen “appliances” such as sausage grinder and press, and coffee grinder.  The two cases of mounted birds were prepared by Myrta Castle Manson Bost, second wife of Dr. Manson, and after his death, Lawson Bost. When showing them to her step-grandchildren and grand nieces and nephews, she always reminded them that she had not killed them…”I preserved as best I could after nature had had its way.” All were preserved prior to 1919.

Two architects who looked at the Manson-La Moreaux-Hartman House could not agree on the time the house was built. Each gave different year, these approximately. Dr. Kenneth W. Schaar, Faculty Advisor for School of Architecture & Environmental Design, University of Texas, Arlington, and Mr. Raiford Stripling, restoration architect, looked at the house and reported that it was well built in the early 1880’s with the first two large rooms and central hall with other rooms being later added. The house finally had eight rooms plus the entry hall. The RCHF was able to move only four and the hall.

The most definite date concerning when the house was built comes from a story in an 1886 issue of The Rockwall Success by Solomon Fletcher:
“I emigrated from Mo. to Texas, in 1852 with five children, and bought 600 acres of land, locating one mile east of where Rockwall now stands. This was then Caufman county. My land then worth from $1 to $2 an acre I divided among my children . Some of this land is now worth $50 an acre. The family including all children, grand children and great-grandchildren now numbers 46.  The town of Rockwall was located in 1846 by Dr. Elgan (Elgin) and Mr. Gray. W. B. Bowles built the first house on the hill 36 years ago. The foundation of this house was four bois d’arc posts set three feet in the ground and the house was weatherboarded with clapboards. This house is now a part of Dr. Manson’s dwelling and I presume the bois d’arc foundation and framing is still in it.”

PRINCIPAL OWNERS/RESIDENTS OF MANSON-LA MOREAUX-HARTMAN HOUSE 1880-1981

1880-1905 Henry (Hal) Walker Manson, H.D., CSA soldier Co. H. 7th Tenn. (1861-1865), physician, farmer/stockman, publisher of Rockwall Success (1883-1905), representative in State Legislature for Rockwall and Dallas Counties (1897). Born Tenn. Feb. 12, 1843, married 1st 1869, 2nd 1897, died Rockwall 1905 (date on tombstone in Rockwall City Cemetery is wrong). Dr. Manson was wounded in the last Civil War battle in which he fought. He was taken prisoner and lost one of his legs from the injury and for the rest of his life, wore a wooden leg and used a cane. After the war, Hal returned to Tennessee to complete his medical studies and earned his Doctorate.

1880-1889 Catharine Bowen Scales Manson, teacher, 1st wife of Dr. Manson. Born Tenn. 1845, married Tenn. Dec. 24, 1868, moved to Dallas 1869, taught in school conducted by brother Wm. Scales, moved to Nadine farm 1870-71, to Rockwall house late in 1880, died Tenn. 1889 following surgery. Note: See Rockwall County History, p. 83. Fannie Barnes lived with Mansons at Nadine 1879-1880 as did a girl named Annie, age 6, born in Texas. The relationship of this child is not known or whether she moved with them to the Rockwall home. Dr. Manson and Catharine had no children. Dr. Manson’s three nieces and one nephew lived with him at the house in Rockwall during his second marriage.

1897-1945 Myrta Belle Castle Manson, journalist, poet, taxidermist, moved to Dallas from Michigan in 1896, met Dr. Manson in Galveston while attending National Editors Convention (representing The Dallas Morning News), married in Dallas at home of friend, Isadore Miner, June 16, 1897, died Rockwall Jan. 28, 1945.

???-1953 Jessie Estelle Castle La Moreaux, D.D.S., 1896 graduate University Michigan Dental College. First woman with formal training to practice dentistry in Texas. It is not known when she first moved into house with sister, Myrta. Born in Mich. July 30, 1866, moved to Texas May 1898, practiced in Dallas until early 1901. She lived in Rockwall 1901-1917 with time out in part of 1914 and 1915 when she moved in with Myrta and brother-in-law, Lawson Bost, and parents to Bost farm at Nadine (Blackland). She married Lynn La Moreaux (Isadore Miner’s half brother) in house at Rockwall Dec. 25, 1898, divorced Nov. 1901, had been living in Rockwall six months at time of divorce, died Dec. 6, 1954 in Terrell hospital.

1912-1919 Lawson Philip Bost, farmer/stockman, cotton gin owner in Blackland, livery stable Rockwall. Born Dec. 6, 1859 in N. C., married Nellie Manson (Hal Manson’s sister) in Rockwall 1885 (Nellie died Dec. 1897 in Blackland), 2nd marriage Myrta Belle Castle Manson,1912, after the death of her husband Hal Manson (Myrta was his former sister-in-law). Died Rhome, Tx Jan. 1919, buried Blackland Cemetery.

???-1917, 28 Elizabeth Lee Reefer Castle and Warren Burte Castle, parents of Jessie and Myrta. Followed their daughters to Texas from Battle Creek, Mich. sometime in 1898 (they attended Jessie’s wedding Dec. 1898). They lived in the house on the hill at various times after they came to Texas. Elizabeth was born in New Jersey, died in Rockwall June 3, 1928, Warren was born in New York died in Rockwall Jan. 26, 1927. Both are buried in Rockwall City Cemetery.

1914-15 The Lewis Lee (Pete) Darr family lived in the house for about a year while Jessie, Myrta and husband, Lawson Host, Warren and Libbie Castle lived in Nadine. The Darr’s daughter, Blanche/ was married to Erwin Pope Parrish in the house Feb. 15, 1915.

1950-51 Mollie Bost Wilkerson, daughter of Nellie Manson Bost and L. P. Bost; niece 1960-62 of Dr. Manson shared the home with Miss Jessie after the death of her husband.

1947-1981 Nellie Bost Hartman, daughter of  Nellie Manson Bost and L. P. Bost, and husband, Bedford Forest Hartman, were married Dec. 13, 1913. Nellie was born in Blackland in 1894. Bedford Hal Hartman, their son, and his wife, Helen Smith Hartman, and child Regina were residents about 1947-49. Regina and Hal Hartman Jr. were frequent guests of their grandmother as was Phyllis Hartman Phelps, daughter of Nell and Forest.

1982-83 The property at 106 W. Washington was sold, contents auctioned, and the house given to Rockwall County Historical Foundation. It was moved to Harry Myers City Park where RCHF has a 99-year lease with the city of Rockwall. The two rooms extending to the rear are believed to have been added by Dr. Manson after its purchase in 1880. Records indicate the price at that time, including two city lots was $600. The inventory of Dr. Manson’s Estate made in 1906 lists the property at $1,000. It is interesting to note that the will also stipulated that his widow maintain “the house on Success Hill” as a home for Edward Manson’s minor children until they reached their majority. The inventory valued the Success property on the square at $300 and the newspaper plant at $500.

The information about the residents of the Manson-La Moreaux-Hartman house was compiled by Harold R. Bost, grandson of Lawson Bost. He spent many summers visiting his aunt Nell and slipping across the street to visit his Aunt Myrta and Miss Jessie to hear their stories. Other information came from the letters and personal papers which were auctioned when the house was sold.