On May 6 2020 I drove from Nacogdoches, Texas, North on US Hwy 59 past Appleby, and made a brief stop to shoot the front of the Circle A ranch. I passed through Garrison and saw the abandoned downtown (North side), and the Wiley Hotel (South side). I had photographed an 1920s photo of Garrison with the downtown and the Wiley Hotel.
I entered Shelby County and passed a nice Catholic Church, and I knew I was close to the potential work site. (All the following pics are from Shelby County.)
I was visiting a friend just West of Timpson, Texas (Shelby County) who had a large pine tree damaged by a tornado with three large branches busted and dangling with the wind causing a real hazard. I gave him an estimate on removing the dangerous branches that were about fifty feet up the pine tree that could fall on people.. He accepted my offer and I would arrange for a young athletic guy to climb up the tree (with me a ground man) as I was to old to do that kind of tree climbing any more. (A week later we removed those hazardous branches.)
Circle A Ranch
destination was to drive SE to San Augustine, Texas and explore that old historic town. At Timpson I paused for a while to visit the old downtown and the Railroad; both South of US Hwy 59. I took Texas Hwy 87 SE towards Center and passed the de-funked community of Huber (just South of Texas FM 1645). At Center I turned South on US Hwy 96, where I stopped at the Masonic Lodge in Center and saw their nice Bar-B-Que smoker that was to be raffled off there at $100 USD a ticket. The proceeds would be used for a good cause, but I have my own large BBQ smoker at home.
I passed a number of county roads with signs for old family cemeteries. About five Kilometers North of the San Augustine County line by impulse I turned East on Texas Farm Market 2140 to the Neuville Cemetery. After about one Kilometer I passed the Neuville Community sign, then saw a very neat old abandoned stone Neuville School building, built about 1940. There was no posted sign so I stopped for a look-see. Next to the school by a private home was a lady working outside. I asked
her if I could enter and photograph the school. She nicely told me to look and shoot as much as I like, so I did. About a Kilometer East of the Neuville school I made a stop at the Neuville Baptist Church. They had a nice large brass bell with no rope...and I was to short to ring the bell.
It was mid afternoon and I drove South on US 96 to San Augustine and had a wonderful photo shoot.
According to TSCA (Texas State Historical Association) Neuville was founded in the 1840s by Stephen Neuville at the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad line. The Post office opened in 1901 with William Neuville postmaster. Neuville had its peak population of 450 people in 1914; then declined. In 1938 they had two segregated schools, several stores, and a large lumber sawmill. In 1955 the Neuville schools were consolidated with Center; then the Neuville school closed and became private property. The post office closed closed in the 1960s, ending the town. There are still some nice people living there.
On my original draft I made a few mistakes and omissions that I corrected now.
On May 31,
City of Garrison
Wiley Hotel (renovated)
2020 I returned to the Neuville School. I met the nice man outside that owned the property beside and behind the school; probably the owner of the old school property also. After my photo shoot I had a nice historical chat with him. He told me that this was the original school for white children; but before it closed it served as a combined segregated school. The property was then sold to an independent buyer. He said the buyer wanted to use the school walls by the gym else-ware. (The structure was sound then, including the roof that is completely gone today.) They used trinitrotoluene (TNT) to blast the wall segments free. Unfortunately the blasts fractured the entire structure including the roof making the walls unusable. There was an immediate partial roof collapse, and shortly there-after the entire roof was down and hauled away as landfill. He told me that the front door section is only holding itself up by gravity, and it is a dangerous place to stand. I can not confirm that historic story, but I find that of interest.
I drove about two Kilometers East of the Baptist Church to shoot the railroad tracks. I then
City of Garrison 1920s photo
downtown with old train depot, Wiley Hotel
drove back to US Hwy 96 South for another look-see of San Augustine.
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