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Published: October 10th 2021
Shelby County Courthouse Museum
I drove East on Texas Hwy 7 about 50 miles to the downtown Center Square for the Poultry Festival. (Raising chickens is big business here in East Texas.) This small festival is limited to the square dominated by the Shelby County Courthouse Museum. Though a small festival, there were many nice people there to chat with. They had a small group of vendors including food and ride vendors for the children. This was the middle day of a three day festival. (I wish I was there to enter the chicken wing eating contest!) Later that afternoon there would be live intertainment on the square; but I had other places to see.
I was happy to see that the Shelby County Courthouse Museum was opem to the public. A nice lady there gave me a guided tour of the courthouse. She told me that the eight large chimneys had fireplaces that heated the entire courthouse. (Those chimneys and fireplaces are still functional, but fires are strictly forbidden.) Most of the first floor was office and storage space. They did have a good painting of JJE Gibson. We walked up the stairs to the secound floor courtroom with its very high ceiling.
The judge had a trap door behind his desk as his private entry and exit. In the back by the stairs, is a balcony where the armed sheriffs watched over things.
The first courthouse in Center was wooden, and it burnt down. Shelby County contracted John Joseph Emmett Gibson to build this brick courthouse. Gibson was Irish born and educated to be an architect. Gibson had a local brick making business with a kiln. JJE Gibson built this fine courthouse, like an Irish Castle, with his bricks from 1883 through 1885; with the building open for business in early 1886. Today this structor is still sound. Unfortunately, Shelby County never paid Gibson for completing his contract. At the same time JJE Gibson built a near twin courthouse for Panola County at Carthage. Gibson probably got paid for that project. Unfortunately that Panola County Courthouse was demolished in 1953.
I did not stay in Carthage for the live intertainment cuz I had other places to check out. I was interested in the Shelby County War 1839-1844. There is historic markers on Texas Highway 87, one South of Center and the other on the North city limits of Shelbyville (the
first county seat of Shelby County). I was driving South and saw a historic marker in somebodys front yard. I circled around and parked in that guys driveway. In less then one minute I shot the marker and was gone. This is the war started between the Regulators and the Moderators. There was a shady land deal that went bad leading to years of violence, killings, destruction of homes and barns, and livestock rustlings. President Mirabeau Bonehead Lamar did little or nothing to stop that war. Later President Sam Houston, in his second term, sent a militia of soldiers from the Republic of Texas to end the war. The militia ended the war and a peace treaty was signed. For the next ten years there were isolated murders due to that war.
I drove to San Augustine then West on Texas Hwy 21, AKA: El Camino Real. I drove into Nacogdoches County then into the small town of Chireno. On the far West side, inside the current city limits, is the Old Stagecoach Inn, AKA: The Halfway Inn, AKA: The Flourney Grandberry house. Flourney purchased some acerage and built his inn in 1840. Flourney provided food, lodging, and stagecoach
services roughly halfway between Nacogdoches and San Augustine. Sam Houston stayed there on his business trips. Later Flourney sold out to Granberry.
Then I drove the back roads to my home.
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