Houston County Celebrates 175th Anniversary in June


Houston County, the oldest county in Texas, is celebrating its 175th anniversary  with multiple activities happening over several weeks in June.

Situated at the Gateway to Texas Forest Country, Houston County was named for General Sam Houston and created by act of the Republic of Texas June 12, 1837.

The American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT) will bring an 80 percent-scaled replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. to Crockett, the county seat of Houston County, on May 30.

The Traveling Vietnam Wall stretches over 360 feet long from end to end and contains all 58,253 names of veterans that lost their lives in the war.  The “wall” is current through 2009 and is constantly being updated by the AVTT to accurately pay tribute to all those who died during the Vietnam War.

The Traveling Vietnam Wall is open to the public from Noon May 31 to 3 p.m. June 3. At 1:30 p.m. on May 31, some of the county’s most senior veterans will light the eternal flame at the wall.

The Cost of Freedom Tribute that accompanies the Traveling Vietnam Wall features displays representing statistics from every war/conflict in which the USA has been involved.

 Along with a series of World War II panels portraying the entire timeline of events, the Cost of Freedom Tribute, includes a Korean War tribute representing the timeline of the entire conflict with corresponding battle maps and photos.

Visitors also will see a timeline, series of facts and figures and a display of art from Vietnam veteran artists depicting patriotic and veteran themes.

There also will be a display about the founding of the United States of America and significant historical documents including the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and other historical documents.

The Cost of Freedom Tribute additionally features panels for honoring law enforcement and firefighters with a pictorial display, as well as a panel memorializing the casualties at the 2009 Fort Hood shooting.

Other features of the Cost of Freedom Tribute include:

A 9/11 tribute with the names of all 2,984 casualties, organized by where they were located at the time of death.

Pictures of each of the United States Commanders-in-Chief throughout history.

The AVTT “Gold Dog Tag” display, a one of a kind tribute honoring those who have fallen and to which there currently is not a memorial for their honor and remembrance. Each dog tag permanently records the casualty information (full name, branch of service, rank, date and location of casualty) for that American Hero.  Currently, the AVTT Gold Dog Tag display is the tribute to those who have fallen 1) In hostile military actions between the end of Vietnam and the 9/11 attack and 2) As a member of the armed forces who have given their life in the Global War on Terror.

Houston County veterans are planning a host of events to honor veterans of all ages each night the Cost of Freedom Tribute is in Crockett.  Opening ceremonies will include the lighting of an eternal flame. The flame will be extinguished in a closing ceremony on June 3, accompanied by the playing of Taps.

At 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 2, the 1st Cavalry Division, Horse Cavalry Detachment from Fort Hood will perform a thrilling 30-minute mounted drill and weapons demonstration in the Porth Ag Arena in Crockett.  The Horse Soldiers use the original 1874 Drill and Tactics Manual as their guide for this performance.

Tour Historic Sites
in Houston County

From May 30 – June 12, take a self-guided tour of Houston County’s historic sites.  The Houston County Historical Commission will have maps available at the Houston County Visitors Center on West Goliad Ave. in Crockett, and at other locations throughout the county.

Some sites to see are the historic Glenwood Cemetery in Crockett where many of the county’s founders are buried, and Brewer Springs where Davy Crockett once slept.

There are nearly 300 historical markers in Houston County. A new book by the historical commssion tells where 261 of these markers are located. Four markers are located in the Augusta community, nine miles east of Grapeland at the site of the Edens-Madden Massacre. 

The cities of  Crockett, Grapeland, Kennard, Latexo and Lovelady will proudly share their unique histories.

Don’t miss the Victorian-era Aldrich-Downes House and the Monroe-Crook House, both in Crockett.  The City of Crockett, named for David Crockett, was incorporated by the Republic of Texas on Dec. 29, 1837.

Here good Blues music at the historic Camp Street Cafe, also in Crockett.

The City of Grapeland was settled about 1850, and was founded in 1872 by International and Great Northern Railway investors.  Named for rank wild grapevines, the town was incorporated in 1924.  Its economy once was based on peanuts, and it is well known for its watermelon crops.  The town also is known as the gateway to the 1,500-acre Houston County Lake.  On May 26, Grapeland hosts a Trade Days event and a spectacular fireworks display.

Nearby Salmon Lake Park, features cabins, RV sites and historic exhibits.  May 24-27,  Floyd and Fannie Salmon host their 15th Annual Bluegrass Gospel Music Festival.

Houston County was home to 13 Freedom Colonies and 22 Rosenwald Schools, symbols of Black America’s pride in education.  The county’s last Rosenwald School was moved from Ratcliff to Kennard where the current Kennard ISD is situated.

The City of Kennard was founded in 1903 by the Louisiana and Texas Lumber Company and platted on 160 acres.  In Kennard, you’re likely to find Jerry and Margaret Wright picking some lively tunes on their fiddles and dulcimers.

The City of Latexo once was called Oldham, then Starks’ Switch when the International and Great Northern Railroad in 1872 laid sidetrack to serve Starks’ sawmill.  Around 1915, Latexo became the first Houston County School to teach agriculture and ranches sprang up in the community during the 1960s.

The City of Lovelady was founded by Houston and Great Northern Railroad investors as the line was built through a grant of Cyrus Lovelady, near the communities of Nevil’s Prairie, Pennington and Weldon.  The  Lovelady Old Gym hosts several concerts throughout the year, bringing famed artists such as Johnny Lee and Mo Bandy.

76th Annual
Fiddler’s Festival

The Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce hosts the 76th Annual Fiddler’s Festival and Steak Cook-Off Saturday, June 9.  The Antique Tractor Show is always a favorite event held in conjunction with the Fiddler’s Festival, and this year there also will be a Classic Car Show.  A parade around the Courthouse Square in Crockett will feature both the antique tractors and classic cars Saturday morning.  Saturday evening, following a steak dinner, Dennis Ivy’s Texas Opry will delight visitors at the Crockett Civic Center.

On June 10, it will be Houston County Day at area churches.  Several of the churches have their own rich histories dating back more than 100 years. The First United Methodist Church in Crockett recently was recognized as a National Historic Site for its neo-Gothic architecture, and many other churches also boast historic markers detailing their histories.

Founder’s Dinner

On June 11, descendants of the signers of the petition to create Houston County will be treated to a Founder’s Dinner which is also open to the public.   Also that night, there is a re-enactment of that historic signing.  J. Bryan Lake, executive director of the Pineywoods Fine Arts Association, directs the two-hour program.

The Big 175th
Birthday Bash

Finally, on June 12, at Noon, a silhouette of the late Eliza Bishop is unveiled by artist Michael Brenner at Brewer Park in Crockett.  Bishop is credited with writing volumes of Houston County history, and identifying Houston County as “Where Texas Began.”

At 6 p.m. an official birthday ceremony begins with proclamations and politicians addressing the public on the square in Crockett.  The first 2,500 people to arrive get a free birthday cupcake.  The cupcakes will be positioned in the shape of Houston County.

For more information call 936.544.2238.


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