THC Approves Undertold Marker Topics

The Texas Historical Commission approved fifteen Undertold Marker topics at its quarterly meeting on February 3, 2021. A total of 67 applications were made from 36 counties.  Included among the fifteen was a marker topic submitted by Preservation Texas recognizing the Chinese laborers who worked on the construction of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad in 1870 between Bremond (Robertson Co.) and Thornton (Limestone Co.). The marker is to be placed adjacent to the railroad tracks in Kosse (Limestone Co.).

Chinese railroad workers en route to central Texas from California. They crossed the river and changed trains in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (Harper’s Weekly, January 22, 1870)

These markers will be produced at no cost through a program funded by application fees for regular historical markers. For each new and replacement historical marker, a $100 application fee funds “an account to offer funding incentives for special or priority markers” to address historical gaps, promote diversity of topics, and proactively document significant undertold or untold stories.

The complete list of topics approved in 2021 is as follows:

Anderson County: The Pinery Settlement

African Americans established a Freedmens’ Settlement known as The Pinery near the Trinity River. Historic institutions associated with the settlement include Living Green Church of Christ and The Pinery School. Marker location: Palestine, 8059 W. SH 294 Submitted by: Gwen Jewett, Gilmer (Ms. Jewett is also Upshur CHC chairperson.)

Bastrop County: Leah Moncure, P.E. 2250

Leah Moncure (1904-1972) became the state’s first licensed professional engineer in 1938 and worked for the Texas Highway Department for 32 years, specializing in research, right-of-way and road design. She was the first female life member of her profession’s national and state societies. Marker location: Bastrop, 1601 Main St. Submitted by: Sandra Chipley, King’s Highway Chapter NSDAR

Cameron County: Solomon Ashheim Store and Residence (RTHL)

Jewish immigrant Solomon Ashheim (1832-1894) built or modified an existing residence and commercial building circa 1877. Known as the Star (also Red Star and Lone Star), it is a significant property for its historic and architectural associations. Marker location: Brownsville, 1244 E. Washington St. Submitted by: Lawrence Lof, Cameron CHC

El Paso County: 1949 Bowie Bears Championship

In 1949, Bowie High School, at the time the nation’s only public secondary school dedicated to the education of Mexican Americans, won the state’s inaugural high school baseball championship. The team overcame many obstacles, including poverty, discrimination, and prejudice, to win the title. Marker location: El Paso, 801 S. San Marcial St. Submitted by: Janine Young, El Paso CHC

Galveston County: Japanese Settlers of Webster

In 1903, Saito Saibara brought 30 settlers from Japan to the Webster area and inaugurated a thriving rice-growing operation. Many families stayed and excelled in various fields, with 47 buried in a section of League City’s Fairview Cemetery marked by English and Japanese-language gravestones. Marker location: League City, Fairview Cemetery, 901 N. Kansas St. Submitted by: Barbara J. Holt, Friendswood

Galveston County: Jessie McGuire Dent

Galveston native Jessie McGuire Dent (1892-1948), noted African American educator and community leader, helped found Delta Sigma Theta sorority in 1913 at Howard University. She taught at Central High School. A 1943 district court ruling in her favor brought African American educators equal pay. Marker location: Galveston, McGuire Dent Recreation Center, 2222 28th Street Submitted by: Galveston Historical Foundation

Hidalgo County: John and Silvia Webber Ranch Cemetery (HTC)

John and Silvia Webber were an 1800s interracial couple with eleven children. Silvia was an enslaved person in Austin’s Colony in the 1820s, and with John was an early settler near Austin, establishing Webberville. They had large ranches along the Rio Grande and helped slaves escape to Mexico. Marker location: Donna, Webber Cemetery, Military Highway Submitted by: Leslie Alexis Dutcher-Trevino, Fort Worth

Hood County: Keith Street School

Granbury’s predominantly African American Keith Street neighborhood included such institutions as an 1872-1964 school and two churches (Mount Ebo Baptist and Pleasant Chapel Methodist Episcopal), all of which have been razed. The marker would be placed in a public park near the former sites. Marker location: Granbury, Lambert Branch Park, 500 N. Brazos Submitted by: Randy Leach, Granbury ISD

Kerr County: Kerrville State Sanitorium and Gate of Heaven Cemetery

This site of a 1915-36 tuberculosis recovery hospital became a state facility for African Americans in 1937. It operated until 1949, when remaining patients were transferred to Tyler. Approximately 90 graves of African Americans are in a segregated section of a cemetery on the former site. Marker location: Kerrville, Sheppard Rees Rd. behind Kerrville State Hospital Submitted by: Monica Clayton, Kerrville

Limestone County: Chinese Labor on the Houston & Texas Central Railway

Hundreds of railroad laborers from China arrived in Texas in 1870 to work on the new Houston & Texas Central line. Their first section was approximately 18 miles from Bremond to Thornton. The marker would be placed near the midpoint at Kosse near the still-existing railroad tracks. Marker location: Kosse, behind 102 N. Narcissus St. Submitted by: Evan Thompson, Preservation Texas

Nacogdoches County: Bridget Nancaro

Born in Spanish Louisiana, Bridget Nancaro (1783-1857) was born a mulatto slave but was living as a free person of color in Texas by 1813. She was part of such historic events as the Fredonian Rebellion (1826) and Battle of Nacogdoches (1832), later exercising property and other rights. Marker location: Nacogdoches, 101 W. Main St. Submitted by: Dr. Morris K. Jackson, Nacogdoches CHC

Scurry County: Lincoln School

A school for Snyder’s African American students was established in 1926, continuing until integration in 1965. During an oil boom, a new facility was built at this site in 1952, but later razed. This would be the first of 62 historical markers in Scurry County to record African American history. Marker location: Snyder, 34th St. and Ave. K Submitted by: Drew Bullard, Scurry CHC

Travis County: Holy Cross Hospital

In 1936, Father Francis R. Weber started Holy Cross Catholic Church to serve Austin’s African American population. In 1940, he opened a seven-bed clinic serving the community, and a larger facility in 1951. For many years this was the only healthcare facility available to the city’s minority community. Marker location: Austin, Austin Cancer Center, 2600 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Submitted by: Berri T. McBride, Austin

Wichita County: Jimmie Kolp

Electra’s Jimmie Kolp (1904-1970) was the first female licensed pilot in Wichita Falls and one of the first in the nation. Active in aviation from the 1920s to 60s, she was the first woman commissioned in the Civil Air Patrol during WWII and served on state and national aviation committees. Marker location: Wichita Falls, Wichita Falls Regional Airport, 4000 Armstrong Dr. Submitted by: Becky Trammell, Wichita CHC

Wilson County: Minnie (Washington) Yates

Yates (1878-1970) was an African American educator who studied at Guadalupe College in Seguin. On her 100 acres, she moved a former schoolhouse to be home to Mt. Moriah Baptist Church and a school for African Americans. This application received a letter of support from State Sen. Judith Zaffirini. Marker location: Poth, 156 County Road 226 Submitted by: Jesse Brown, Krystal Foundation, Carmel, Indiana