A 72-pound catfish and the county’s first sheep ranch

Posted 7/30/19

Recently I thought maybe I was wasting time and ink, writing about events already documented. Therefore, I chose here to sniff old newspaper ink and delve into microfilm, in search of things that may bring fond memories.

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A 72-pound catfish and the county’s first sheep ranch


[Editor’s note: This is the third of a three-part look back at some July events in Madison County expressed in the pages of the Meteor going back to 1929 (the earliest available editions of the newspaper). This final installment covers the post-war era back to pre-Depression days.]

Recently I thought maybe I was wasting time and ink, writing about events already documented. Therefore, I chose here to sniff old newspaper ink and delve into microfilm, in search of things that may bring fond memories.

News coverage differed from now. I hope you notice that for many years, married females were only talked about by their husbands’ names. You’ll see that many things were much cheaper, and folks’ diets differed too. You will note that for years we had movie theaters here. Personals made up a big part of the news, and there were special columns for Midway, Center, Jozye, and more. Sometimes the word “Negro” was used in print, I felt not in a derogatory way, and I went with history and used it here also. If it offends you, I apologize.

July 1949

Standley Locker Plant offered ice cold melons for 1½ cents a pound. Westmoreland Grocery touted a 25-pound bag of flour for $1.63, a head of lettuce for a nickel, and coffee 48 cents a pound. A newly-redecorated four-room house with one bath was for rent, $35 a month, on the south side of town. Phone 456 W.

Two local Boy Scouts, Bobby Clint Wakefield and Ebb Berry III, received merit badges after review by leaders E.A. Berry, Jr., Emil Carroll, and C.R. McIver.

Will Ernest Cannon was injured while roping steers at the American Legion Arena. After his horse stumbled and fell with him, he first went to our local clinic. Later Ory Heath and D.C. Cannon transported him to Houston’s St. Joseph Infirmary where it was found that Will Ernest had suffered a compound fracture of his left heel bone.

(Midway) Mr. and James Wakefield and daughters Rita Joyce and Nell Hope have returned from a trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Jimmie Wells celebrated his eighth birthday with a party at his parents’ home. Party favors were bells and whistles.

(Jozye) Sunday guests for Mr. and Mrs. Dick Lindsey and David, Reed Lindsey and son of Huntsville, Mr. and Mrs. Grady Lindsey, Mrs. Buna Wilson and Linda of Madisonville, Mr. and Mrs. Ruel Lindsey, Nawvis Mathis and daughter, and Mrs. T.M. Lindsey of Houston.

July 1939

Fred Westmoreland caught a 72-pound catfish in the Trinity River. In the way of business, he had been a co-owner of McAdams and Westmoreland Grocery stores in Madisonville and Normangee. He bought out partners T.W. McAdams, R.E. Samuel, D. F. McAdams, and W. D. McAdams and changed the store’s names to Westmoreland Cash Grocery at both places.

New Lions Club officers were installed, being President E.H. Smith, First Vice-President C.A. Heartfield, SEcond Vice-President Dr. J.A. James, Secretary Treasurer Charles Crouch, Lion Tamer R.L. Hardy, and Tail Twister John Weatherall.

John F. Tinsley, age 79, died at his home in Conner community July 10. Born in Virginia shortly before the Civil War, he came to Madison County as a boy by covered wagon. He and his parents camped seven miles north of Madisonville and lived in tents until a house was built. Tinsley was survived by wife Susan, four sons, and two daughters.

Burtis Brothers Cash Grocery Market advertised a four-pound carton of lard for 35 cents, six bars of Big Ben soap for 20 cents, and tender picnic hams for 20 cents a pound.

The June 13 wedding of Miss Merle Vaughn and Ray Reding was announced in July. She was the daughter of Charlie Vaughn of Jinkins and his parents were R.L. Reding of Madisonville. The newlyweds were making their home on Ray’s ranch near Middleton in Leon County.

The Plaza Theater charged 10 cents admission for children, 15 cents for adults. It’s a Wonderful World, starring James Stewart and Claudette Colbert, was showing.

At the end of the month, Elijah Carter, a Negro who farmed on the Trinity River, won a $33.50 prize for having brought the county’s first bale of cotton to Madisonville, and this was his third year in a row to accomplish that feat. The bale weighted 1,550 pounds and ginned out an even 500 pounds. He was quoted as saying he expected to bring in 104 more bales from the 115 acres he had planted.

July 1929

(North Zulch) Mrs. Jeff Mays (62) died July 3 at the home of a daughter after several months of illness. She was survived by three grown daughters. Her husband died the previous July.

Mr. T.C. Strawther of Cottonwood called on the Meteor the previous Saturday and paid for his subscription for another year.

E.L. Leonard previously raised cotton and cattle but converted his farm three miles west of Madisonville to a sheep ranch. He was proud to be the first man here to do that, and he received his first shipment of 193 sheep, hoping to convert to a sheep and wool growing plantation. He predicted the venture to be more profitable than cotton farming.

G.J. Osborne completed the first brick home in the county. Having moved here 12 years before and marrying a local girl, Vivian Wallace, he was “running” cattle on 337 acres at the time he built that home.

Standley Chevrolet Company advertised The Roadster for $525, The Coach for $595, and the Sedan for $685.

Cooper’s touted ladies wash dresses, 2 for $1, and men’s blue work shirts, 3 for $1.

Ford & Goff, the Men’s Shop offered all men’s straw hats at 40 percent off.

Mrs. G.W. Knox, 34, had died July 6 at home, just 30 minutes after the birth and death of her infant daughter. She was survived by her husband, Dr. G. W. Knox, and two sons, Ira (10) and William Horace (6).

Miss Margie Crawford and Mr. R.L. Hardy married on July 11 in Huntsville. She was “one of Huntsville’s most charming and accomplished young ladies”. He moved to Madisonville from Huntsville a few months ago.

(North Zulch) Mr. and Mrs. Carlton Hibbetts and Mr. and Mrs. Luell Taylor, all from Huntsville, spent the previous weekend in North Zulch.

Madisonville Schools hired Miss Rosa Jones as Grade School Principal, Miss Mary Lucy Cleere to teach domestic economics, Miss Ola Garrett to teach Spanish, as well as Marguerite Day, Mrs. R.L. Hardy, Miss Mignon McDonald, Miss Ella Mae Carter, Miss Clara Anderson, and Miss Clyde Griffith.


The Madison County Museum is located at 201 North Madison Street and is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Anyone who would like to volunteer or make a donation of any type should see the curator, Jane Day Reynolds, or call her at 936-348-5230.