“In 1848, Benjamin Boydstun left his home state of Illinois and brought his family to Texas with the intention of settling in Peter’s Colony, the site of present-day Dallas. When he reached the East Fork of the Trinity River, he encountered heavy rains. The swelling of the East Fork made a crossing impossible, so the Boydstuns waited for the flowing water to subside. Seeing the rich, blackland soil, Boydstun decided to obtain a grant for a 572-acre tract of land in Mercer’s Colony—the land that would one day become the city of Rockwall.” -from Legendary Locals of Rockwall by Sheri Stodghill Fowler. Come see this book and much more at our museum at 901 E. Washington!
The T. W. Bailey family moved to Rockwall County in the 1880s and became associated with the development of early Rockwall. Mr. Bailey owned a hardware store and later built the Bailey Hotel in 1887, to provide train travelers a place to spend the night. That hotel burned in 1903. He also served as a Justice of the Peace and County Tax Assessor for four years. Mr. Bailey was a stock holder in the Rockwall Light, Ice and Gin Company and actively engaged in management of the company until his health failed. His sons followed in his footsteps. Scott became a pharmacist, owned Bailey Drug Store and served as Mayor of Rockwall. Perry had a garage, the Ford Agency and served in WWI. John Titus Bailey, known as “Tite” to family and friends, worked in the banking business for more than twenty years, serving as cashier for the Citizens National Bank, later called Farmers National Bank.
Tite married Rockwall native, Lucy Estelle Curry in 1906. She was a graduate of Wells College and worked as a telephone operator before their marriage. Years later, she became the first woman to serve as County Clerk in Rockwall County, a position she held for eight years. Tite and Lucy had their home at 301 N Goliad built in 1909. Their four daughters were born in this home. From a family history published in the Brown History Book: Tite and Lucy had many friends they loved but home and family were most important to their lives.” Tite died April 30, 1919 but Lucy lived to almost 103 years of age dying on September 8, 1982.
It is a fitting tribute to the Bailey family legacy that the home was donated to the Foundation for preservation through relocation. Come see us at 901 E. Washington!
Fannie Truitt Hays: Aunt Fannie is the first recorded birth in Rockwall County. Aunt Fannie Hays was born on the same piece of property where she lived until her death at the age of 103. The property was owned by her father James Truitt. He owned much of the land north of Rockwall which was either passed to or bought by some of his children. The property where Fannie’s house stood now has a public school on it. I think Fannie’s father would appreciate this as he had donated property for a community school many years earlier. Locust Grove School ,where most of my siblings attended school, was erected on the site he donated.
Birth: Apr. 11, 1873
Death: Oct. 22, 1976
Original post By Janice Willess Johnson on Willess Family site.
This drawing was done by Ruby Laverne Willess Wampler, daughter of Benjamin Wayne (Ike) Willess. Fannie was the youngest sister of Amanda Lucinda Truitt Willess, Benjamin’s mother. – Jan Johnson
“Born in 1830 in Kentucky, Terry Utley Wade became one of the original pioneer settlers in what would one day be Rockwall County when he established a farmstead in the area in 1852. In need of a well, Wade and two neighbors began digging in the dense blackland soil and soon struck a hard surface that resembled stacked rocks. The men noted their discovery of this unusual “rock wall” and continued to dig to the full depth of the well, utilizing the rock wall as one side of the finished structure. This was the first documented discovery of the rock wall. Two years later, in 1854, when local leaders were looking for a name for their new city, Wade suggested Rockwall. In 1873, when a new county was formed, the name Rockwall was again utilized as tribute to the unusual underground formation.” – from Legendary Locals of Rockwall by Sheri Stoghill Fowler. Come find this book and much more at our museum at 901 E Washington.
The “Old Red Brick School” was a 3 story structure on Fannin St. Rockwall passed a bond in 1908 for $25,000. to build this structure. It stood near the site of our current City Hall. Clipping shared by Rosemary Crawford Miller in Pioneers of Dallas County. Photo appeared in “Blue Ribbon News”. No details mentioned since photo was part of a contest about Rockwall history. (Pictured: Helen Anderson, Opal Jackson Willess, and Ebbie Andrews)
Watson B. Bowles
“An original pioneer to the area, Watson Bowles moved to what is now Rockwall in 1847 and remained until his death in 1874. In 1852, he purchased 160 acres of land from Benjamin Boydstun. In 1854, he sold 40 acres of that land to Elijah Elgin, who platted Rockwall’s original town site. As a result, Benjamin Boydstun, Watson Bowles, and Elijah Elgin share the distinction of being the city founders. Bowles was very active in the affairs of the community and became partners with John O. Heath in the first full-sized corn-grinding mill in Rockwall. This significantly improved travel for farmers, as the next nearest full-service corn mill was near the Red River—a week’s round trip. Bowles is also known for donating a portion of the land for the Rockwall cemetery with the understanding that no charges would ever be made for any grave lots.”- from Legendary Locals of Rockwall by Sheri Stodghill Fowler. Come see this book and much more at our museum 901 E Washington.
ROCKWALL METHODIST CHURCH (Background)
Date unknown, but check out the Ford Model T Coupe and the kerosene lamps on either side of the windshield. The headlights were gas operated, too!
OLLIE STEGER, TOM CANUP & TOM BURRAS
Downtown Rockwall 1908
Note: First Baptist Church on right next to Wells College.
The Hartman windmill began its working life in 1866, pumping water from a well at a cotton gin near the corner of Hartman and Renfro streets. James Hartman and son Augustus ran the mill after their family moved from Tennessee to the Rockwall area following the end of the Civil War….