The forgotten settlements of Illinois, Iowa, Ohio colonies

   Illinois Colony, Iowa Colony, and Ohio Colony were “neighborhood” settlements northwest of Palacios.  
   They were named, obviously, for the persons who settled in their immediate areas, most of them coming south during the migrations from 1900 to 1920.  
   These settlements were never formalized and could not be found on maps; however, anyone at that period of time could give directions to them.  
   Items concerning the little communities could be found in the Palacios Beacon, giving news of births, deaths, illnesses, travels, social events, weather, school events, church services, and the like.

Austin Wyche family: A long Matagorda County history

   Austin Wyche, a blacksmith born in Virginia in 1827, came to Texas in 1863 with his wife, Emma. 
   Their son Joshua Wyche was born in Texas in 1866.
   In 1885, Joshua married Julia Stewart. 
   The minister was Orange Doss. They lived on their farm in the Live Oak Community, and he made his living as a farmer and a camp cook. 
  Their seven children were born at Live Oak, Matagorda County. Their children were: Hattie, Sessia, Suddie, Ira, Molly Bell, Jake “J.D.,” and Joshua.
   Sessia Wyche was born on Oct. 18, 1888, in the Live Oak Community and, at the age of 27, he married Nona Lue Dale, the daughter of John Lewis and Pinkie Yancy Dale. 
   Sessia became a farmer and a camp cook like his father before him. 
   He had his own farm, and he began cooking for the Poole Cattle Company as a side job in 1912. 

Hotel among Leffland’s surviving structures

Jules Leffland

   Of the 17 structures that noted Danish architect Jule Leffland designed in Matagorda County from 1900-1910, Hotel Blessing is one of the eight that remain today. 
   Jules Carl Leffland (1854-1924) was a Danish immigrant who was trained in architecture at the University of Copenhagen and immigrated to Texas in 1886.
   His first work involved moving homes from Indianola inland to Cuero after the devastating hurricane of 1886.
   From an office in Victoria, Leffland designed and supervised the construction of hundreds of structures.
   He designed churches, schools, banks, city halls, hotels and residences in an area from Wharton to Kingsville between 1888 and 1910.
   Blessing has two Leffland buildings —the hotel and Blessing Bank.
   In Palacios, only two Leffland buildings survive - the Luther Hotel and the Price-Farwell House.

Hotel Blessing icon from town’s beginning

The side view of Hotel Blessing as it was under construction in 1906.

   Hotel Blessing is one of the oldest buildings remaining in Blessing and for many years has provided the community with a unique landmark because of its location adjoining the town square and on well-traveled FM 616, west of Texas 35.
   The hotel was built in 1906 by Jonathan Edwards Pierce. 
   The original blueprints drawn and signed by Jules Leffland were discovered in the attic of the historic Pierce home in Blessing in 2005. 
   In Leffland’s daybook it is listed as Plan No. 1082. 
   It was designed in an unusual expression of the Mission Revival style using an entirely wood facade instead adobe or plaster over brick.
   About 1906 the Blessing townsite was platted and subdivided.
   Thereafter, the hotel that Pierce built provided lodging for land seekers settling the region and traveling salesmen.

Hotel fundraiser will be Saturday

   The annual Blessing Hotel Fundraiser will start at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 18.
   This year’s goal is to raise enough money to renovate the flooring in the dining room.
   “Every year we have a fundraiser to help with the upkeep of the hotel,” said Blessing Hotel coffee shop owner Helen Feldhousen.
   “The floor is weak in some spots all over and by the stoves.”
   One man doing repairs on a ceiling fan fell through the floor, she says.
   “Every day is a new adventure at the Blessing Hotel,” said Feldhousen.
   The fundraiser will have an auction, raffle and many more activities.
   Live entertainment will be provided by The Lazy Farmers Band.
   Food will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and feature a hamburger, chips and drink for only $8.
   “They’re going to pull up the floor and put new braces and beams underneath,” said Feldhousen.

Chinquapin still a remote corner of Matagorda County

Chinquapin today, as always, a remote fishing village.

 Chinquapin is on an unpaved road on Live Oak Bayou just north of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and East Matagorda Bay, east of the Big Boggy National Wildlife Refuge, and 18 miles southeast of Bay City in southeastern Matagorda County.    
   It is surrounded by swampland. 
   It and nearby Chinquapin Bayou were probably named for a type of tree in the area. 
   The community, which has been in existence since at least the 1940s, was built on land that was once part of Bay Stock Farm, property owned by John J. LeTulle (a half brother of Victor Lawrence LeTulle). 
   At one time Chinquapin had grown to around 100 cabins. 
   In 1961 it was completely destroyed by Hurricane Carla; it gradually rebuilt, and by 1972 a landing strip and nineteen new dwellings had been added. 
   The community appeared on 1989 highway maps. 
   It is primarily a fishing village. 

Forrest Bess: Native son a world-class artist

Forrest Bess at work painting at his Chinquipin bait camp.

    Forrest Clemenger Bess lived an extraordinarily simple life during most of his residency in Matagorda County, yet this man could never be described as simple.  
   Indeed, complex, provoking, visionary, enigmatic eccentric, egocentric, intelligent, sensitive, kind, generous, contradicting, cantankerous, perceptive and witty are but a few of the descriptive adjectives used by those who knew him to profile him. 
   Forrest, the first born son of Arnold “Butch” and Minta Lee Farrell Bess, was born on Oct. 5, 1911, in Bay City.   
   At the time his parents were living in Clemville, where Butch was an oil driller, and Forrest spent his childhood there along with his only sibling, a brother, Milton. 
   Forrest began drawing and sketching as a child and must have known then that he would someday become an artist.   

Pledger's economy often tied to area developments

Matagorda County genweb: www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txmatago/
Pledger area farmers raised sugar cane, cotton and corn. There were three cotton gins to process cotton grown in the 1920s and 1930s.

   The Pledger community, a 36-square- mile area, is in the northeast corner of Matagorda County.  
   The Pledger townsite, which was platted and filed March 3, 1902, is about 17 miles south of Wharton, 17 miles north of Bay City, and 17 west of West Columbia.  
   FM 1301, which connects Wharton and West Columbia, passes through the townsite. FM 1728, which begins at FM 1301 in Pledger goes south toward Sugar Valley and Bay City.  
   Pledger remains primarily an agricultural community.  
   Products include pecans, turf grass, grains, soy beans, hay, livestock and cotton.  
   Pledger’s 2014 population is 217 - it is now a “bedroom” community for workers in Houston, Wharton, West Columbia, Bay City, Old Ocean, Freeport and the STNP.  
   Although the present townsite was not platted until 1902, the area has been served by post offices named Pledger since May 17, 1880. 

Huffines find another unmarked family grave

   After marking the graves of Tressie and Clyde - from the story above - Patsy and Gene Huffines took on the task of locating the grave of another Huffhines relative.   
   Through their efforts in 2009, he is no longer lying in an unmarked grave.
   In November 2009, Raymond Calvan Huffhines (May 5, 1908 - June, 15, 1925), son of the late Adonia Wright and Margaret Fitzgearld Huffhines, received a well-deserved, long-overdue tombstone after 84 years.    
   Raymond also was the brother of Tressie Huffines who drowned near Collegeport in 1925.
   Provided by Gene and Patsy Pulis Huffhines of Yukon, Oklahoma. Gene is a great-nephew of Adonia W. Huffhines.    
   Raymond Calvan Huffhines only 17 years old, broke and out of work at the time of his death, was found dead beside the Rock Island tracks, East of Shawnee, Okla. 

Markers for long-unmarked Collegeport graves

Grady Clyde
March 29, 1922 - March 14, 1931

   Hundreds of former Matagorda County residents lie in their last resting places with no gravestones to prove to the world they existed. 
   Many cemetery associations have records, but often those records don’t record the exact grave of someone buried in their cemeteries. 
   Sometimes they know the place, though unmarked, but often there is only a name with no known place. 
   The graves went unmarked for various reasons. 
   If the grave was an infant death or an accident, the grief of the family was often too much to bear. 
   Economic hardship was a common reason. 
   Many family genealogists have worked to locate those lost graves and mark them so those relatives will not be forgotten.  
   Such is the case with Patsy Pulis Huffhines and her husband Gene, of Yukon, Okla. 


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