Live Oak County Historical Commission
Live Oak County Historical Commission

Live Oak County Historical Commission (LOCHC)Events  

Ross Harris Tribute

 The Life of Emmet Ross Harris

             1946-2021

 

Emmet Ross Harris, affectionately known as "Big Daddy" by his grandchildren, passed away on October 10, 2021.

 

He was born on July 19,1946, in Three Rivers, Texas to the late Emmet Stroman Harris and Thelma Ross Harris.

 

Ross lived a life full of laughter and love of God and his family. He is survived by his loving wife of 32 years, Novia Kinsel Harris of George West, his sister, Karen Harris Elliff and husband Gerald Osborne Elliff II, his aunt Mary Yvonne Ross, and his daughter Lee Farrell Harris Saunders and husband Stuart Donavan Saunders and their four children, Lee Marcella Saunders, Laura Catherine Saunders, Harris Donovan Saunders, and Ross Fredric Saunders of Houston.

 

Ross graduated from George West High School in 1964, attended Schreiner University (formerly Schreiner Institute) and graduated from Texas A&M Kingsville (formerly Texas A&I University).

 

After graduation, Ross joined Harris, Havins and Company as a certified public accountant working for his uncle, Morris Ray Harris. In 1979, he moved his family to George West to begin his banking career. Ross spent the next 42 years serving First National Bank (now known as SouthTrust Bank) in various roles including president and chairman.

 

In 2010 Ross was diagnosed with liver cancer. After exhausting other treatment options, he received a liver transplant in 2012. Ross was fortunate to receive this gift of life from an unknown organ donor which enabled him to live nine more years.

 

Ross was an avid reader, story-teller, and a devoted San Antonio Spurs fan. His knowledge of south Texas history led him to serve as Chairman of the Live Oak County Historical Commission where he was able to work placing State of Texas historical markers in Live Oak County.

 

Ross was an active member of the First United Methodist Church in George West where he served as Chairman of the Administrative Council. Ross also served as a Trustee for Schreiner University.

 

The family wishes to express its thanks to the many caregivers of UltraStaff Company in Houston, especially Ruth, Mike Raymond and Yomi, for their loving and excellent care over the last 21 months. We also wish to thank Immanuel for the many years of medical care he provided to "Bossman."

 

We will celebrate Ross' life on Saturday, October 16 at 2:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in George West, Texas.

 

A private graveside service will be held for immediate family prior to the memorial service. In lieu of flowers, contributions to Ross' memory can be made to First United Methodist Church, 501 Crockett Street, George West, Texas 78022 or to the charity of your choice.

Ross Harris contributions to Live Oak County, TexasWhile Ross Harris made numerous contributions not only to Live Oak County and to the State of Texas, the following is a summation of permanent LOCHC Markers he either sponsored or supported while in the office of LOCHC Chair. Each contribution is fully told in the links highlighted below. One photo of each is here. Follow the links to see the full story. This may be something to come back to many times as the list is lengthy!:)

Ross Harris is sworn in as Live Oak County Historical Commission's (LOCHC) Chair on January 27, 2017 by Judge Jim Huff with the approval and support of Live Oak County Commissioners. LOCHC appointees for 2017-2018 look on. Photo courtesy Richard Hudson.

Sworn in by Judge Jim Huff as Chairman of the Live Oak County Historical Commission. Live Oak County Courthouse, January 27, 2017. Photo courtesy of Richard Hudson.

Daughter, Lee Saunders, hugs "Big Daddy" after he becomes Live Oak County Historical Commission Chairman. Under Ross's leadership LOCHC Open Meetings continued to be held in Community Service Centers across the County. Photo courtesy Richard Hudson.

2014

Before Ross Harris was inducted as Chairman of the LOCHC, he supported the LOCHC State Marker program by offering space for the Charles and Emma Tullis marker's placement in front of SouthTrust Bank in 2014. Ross followed the long history of the George West Bank where Charles Tullis was also a long lived president of the bank. Descendants of Charles and Emma stand in front of the marker and bank with Leslie Tullis Walker, marker sponsor and granddaughter of the Tullis', after the marker's unveiling. Archival artifacts, photos, and refreshments were made available to a large audience in the lobby of the bank following the ceremony in the Dobie West Performing Arts Theatre. Photo courtesy of Richard Hudson.

2016

 

 

In 2016, Ross sponsored his home church, George West First United Methodist Church, with a Texas Historical Marker during their centennial year. Above is the auditorium of the church during the centennial ceremony. Church members presented a magnificent ceremony. Unveiling of the marker took place in front of the church courtyard. Photo courtesy of Richard Hudson.

2017

Jessy Franklin Gray World War I Hero - Jessy began teaching school in Oakville, then county seat of Live Oak County, at the age of 17. As superintendent, he resigned to become a WWI officer. Upon graduation he returned to wed past student, Pauline Campbell Gray. 

In the Meuse Argonne though wounded, he distinguished himself gaining the respect of all his regiment and superiors. The city of Saint-Mihiel, France awarded a French Commemorative Medal.

At home he represented District 69 in the Texas Legislature. His service there was stellar. The 54th House of Representatives issued House Simple Resolution 21 ... "in service and private life [Gray] displayed complete loyalty and untiring devotion... that rare qualification of a man always known to have gone 'That Second Mile". Sponsor and photo courtesy Eddie Davis, PhD. 

 

Thelma Laura Pugh-Lindholm (1898-1992) married Sergeant Major John Lindholm during World War I. He became a MIA and never was found afterwards. Thelma bore his daughter, Emeilia. They lived on the Pugh homestead while she taught and finished school. Finally receiving a Master's degree from former Texas A&I University (Now Texas A&M University at Kingsville, Texas).

By then, Thelma used her background of family historical local lore combined with academic acumen to become not only a lexicon of Live Oak County History but much of South Texas. 

She wrote 22 of Live Oak County's earliest Texas Historical Markers. Texas A&M Kingsville Library contains more than 2 linear feet of files on South Texas contributed by her. She tirelessly anthologized more than 655 memoirs in The LOCHC county tome, The History of the People of Live Oak County, Texas. She has earned the title "Mother of Live Oak County History". Photo courtesy Peggy Hilje.

2018

The Oakville Cemetery Historic Texas Cemetery Medallion. First cemetery to receive the Historic Texas Cemetery Designation in Live Oak County thanks to the work of many spearheaded by Sherry Kosarek, LOCHC Cemetery Chair; Bernard Lemley, Oakville Cemetery Association President; and Peggy Skoruppa, Wreaths Across America Live Oak Coordinator. 

Lemley unveiled the Historic Texas Cemetery medallion beside the Oakville Cemetery Marker in December of 2018. Judge Jim Huff and LOCHC Chairman, Ross Harris, delivered addresses to many attending this ceremony in one of the earliest cemeteries in the county. LOCHC Marker Chair, Richard Hudson, remarked, "...a wonderful tradition many folks really appreciate." Photo courtesy Laura Campbell.
 

The ceremony at Oakville Cemetery did not end with unveiling its Historic Texas Cemetery Medallion accompanying the earlier Texas Historic Marker about Oakville Cemetery. For the first time Live Oak County participated with the entire nation in laying wreaths on every veteran's grave in the cemetery. Photo to the left shows a wreath for every American Military Service while families were able to place wreaths on the graves of their own beloved service men and women. Wreaths Across America was begun and is coordinated by LOCHC Appointee Peggy Skoruppa. Lemley is now LOCHC Cemetery Chair. Photo courtesy John Walker.

More to come ...

LOCHC 2021 Schedule of Meetings:

January 18, Monday Quarterly LOCHC meeting. Dobie West Performing Arts Theatre, George West, 5:30 PM.

 

April 19, Monday Quarterly LOCHC meeting. Dobie West Performing Arts Theatre, George West, 5:30 PM.

 

July 19, Monday Quarterly LOCHC meeting. Dobie West Performing Arts Theatre, George West, 5:30 PM.

 

October 18, Monday Quarterly LOCHC meeting, Buck West House, George West, 5:30 PM.

LOCHC Last Quarterly Meeting, October 18, 2021. Buck West House, George West, 5:30 P.M.

LIVE OAK COUNTY HISTORICAL COMMISSION

Monday, October 18, 2021

Buck West House, 400 Nueces St., George West, TX

AGENDA

 

 1. Call to order

 2.  Moment of Silence

 3.  Introduction of visitors; recognition of anyone wishing to address the Commission

 4.  Approval of April 19, 2021, Minutes

 5.  Reports of officers and chairs of standing committees:

  • Financial Report—Leslie Walker, Treasurer
  • Marker Chair Report—Richard Hudson, Chair
  • Website Report—Janis Hudson, Webmaster
  • Oral History Report—Glynis Strause, Chair
  • Archeology/Endangered Properties Report—Jim Warren, Chair
  • Publicity Report—Richard Hudson, Chair
  • Education Report—Nancy Coquat, Chair
  • Cemetery Report—Bernard Lemley, Chair
  • Hospitality Report—Charlotte Schroeder, Chair

 6.  Marker Chair Position

 7.  Live Oak Courthouse Centennial Celebration Report

 8.  Live Oak Historical Foundation Update

 9.  Brush Country Market Days

10. Wreaths Across America

11. Grant Update

12.  Appointee Activities Report

       A.  Gipper Nelson’s Recent Archeological Discovery

       B.  Kurt House “Marshall Ashmun Upson:  The Investigation of a ‘Grave” Matter”

13.  Open Meetings Act Requirement

14.  Review of reimbursement requests before submission to the county treasurer

15.  Ask if any Appointees wish to address the Commission.

16.  Work sessions, if needed, for standing committees

17.  Adjourn              

First Baptist Church George West Texas Historical Marker was unveiled Sunday, April 18, 2021.

 

First Baptist Church, George West, The "Church with a Mission Heart", unveiled their FBCGW Texas Historical Marker this Sunday, April 18 at 2:00 PM. Pastor Bobby Hendrick, County Judge Jim Huff, and LOCHC Chair Mary Margaret Campbell along with the people who are FBCGW in joint effort with Live Oak County Historical Commission invited the public including all past members to this celebration of First Baptist Church George West church history.

 

The FBCGW church family officially began on April 6, 1919 in a printing office in the new town of George West, Texas. George West, town founder, donated original meeting space and two lots, as he did for each faith group in the new town.

 

Descendants of FBCGW charter members are still active in the church. Church membership grew. They purchased new property and served by supporting new churches, meeting personal needs of people and churches during crises, and working daily with other church faiths and community needs in Live Oak County. Global ministery serves physical, social, and spiritual needs. That's how First Baptist Church, George West meets their mission, "Love God. Love people".

AGENDA

LIVE OAK COUNTY HISTORICAL COMMISSION

Monday, April 19, 2021, 5:30 PM

 

 

 1. Call to order

 2.  Moment of Silence

 3.  Introduction of visitors; recognition of anyone wishing to address the Commission

 4.  Approval of January 18, 2021, Minutes

 5.  Reports of officers and chairs of standing committees:

  • Financial Report—Leslie Walker, Treasurer
  • Marker Chair Report—Richard Hudson, Chair
  • Website Report—Janis Hudson, Webmaster
  • Oral History Report—Glynis Strause, Chair
  • Archeology/Endangered Properties Report—Jim Warren, Chair
  • Publicity Report—Richard Hudson, Chair
  • Education Report—Nancy Coquat, Chair
  • Cemetery Report—Bernard Lemley, Chair
  • Hospitality Report—Charlotte Schroeder, Chair

 6.  Website Contract Renewal

 7.  First Baptist Church-GW Marker Unveiling Report

 8.  Live Oak Courthouse Centennial Celebration Report

 9.  Report by Glynis Strause of recent address to LOC Commissioners Court

10.  Signage on IH-37 for Geronimo

11.  West Hotel

12.  Texas Rangers Project

13.  Update on Open Meetings Act Requirement

14.  Review of reimbursement requests before submission to the county treasurer

15.  Report on Friends of the THC Real Places 2021 Conference

16.  Ask if any Appointees wish to address the Commission.

17.  Work sessions, if needed, for standing committees

18.  Adjourn  

 

The public is invited.            

       

Mary Margaret Campbell sworn in as new LOCHC Chair

Mary Margaret Campbell is sworn in by Live Oak County Judge Jim Huff as the new Live Oak County Historical Commission Chairman. Standing in the back (from left) are county commissioners Emilio Garza, Richard Lee, Donna Mills, and former Commissioner Willie James. For the full story see Feature Article-Mary Margaret Campbell New LOCHC Chair. Photo by Jeff Osborne.

Cox Caliche Stone Stagecoach Stop Preservation Moves from Lagarto to Old Oakville Jailhouse Square.

Gipper Nelson placing some of the last stones on formation of Cox Stagecoach Stop in Old Oakville Jailhouse Square. Two restored cottages in background. Brick walkway for site visitors. Cox served in Texas Republic's Navy before Texas was a state and later built his home and Stagecoach Stop near what is now the ghost town of Lagarto in Live Oak County. Gipper joined LOCHC Appointees about 2016. Albert Davila, who's madeone of his life missions preserving Live Oak County history, joined him in moving the almost lost remains of the Cox Stagecoach Stop from an isolated, almost impossible to reach site to the Old Oakville Jailhouse Square on an Interstate 37 access between San Antonio and Corpus Christi below. 

Throughout Live Oak County History, many sites and artifacts share beautiful and rugged memories. "The creation of the present [Live Oak] county boundaries was by legislative act approved on February 2, 1856. (LOCHC History of the People of Live Oak County, Texas-1981:7.)

 

The old Cox Stagecoach caliche foundation stones are all that is left of one of the major stagecoach stops through Live Oak County in the last half of the nineteenth century. Moving those stones to a visible site took several years. The project was completed in December, 2020. It now seems a perfect segue to 2021.

 

The above synopsis begins this preservation story initiated by Live Oak County Historical Commission Appointee, Charles "Gipper" Nelson. Gipper is a descendant of Cornelious Cox who left this legacy.

 

State historical markers are one way of permanently preserving history. However, a building or artifact moved from its historical site must wait another 50 years before becoming eligible for a state maker. Some buildings and artifacts are fragile or decaying. Moving them to a useful site may save them from neglect and decimation. Placing a marker in a desolate and almost inaccessible location assures both. So sometimes, the choice to relocate is the most pragmatic.

 

Albert Davila and his wife, Mari, continue saving such buildings and artifacts of Live Oak County early days at the Old Oakville Jailhouse Square. Thanks belong also to people who donate these buildings and artifacts as well as those who do the work. Check out the results of the Davilas' project of historic Live Oak in the Progress Dec. 25, 2019 article. Gipper saw that his family's heritage was much better served at Oakville than in its isolated location near old Lagarto.

Caliche ruins of the CC Cox Stagecoach Stop were probably more delight than surprise when Gipper Nelson happened upon them. Deciding to retire in the homeland of his ancestors' sometimes brought more adventure than Gipper expected. Gipper loved his Live Oak relatives even as a boy. In return, they told him stories of their past and passed on artifacts representative of those stories. There is just something special about coming home again.

 

The editor of the Live Oak County Herald on September 18, 1841 reported that Cornelius C. Cox was born in Ohio, lived in Tennessee as a boy, came to Texas and served in the Navy of the Republic of Texas before Texas became a state.

 

According to Live Oak County historian, Ervin Sparkman, Cox made many contributions to Live Oak County after he decided to make it his home. He not only bought a ranch near Lagarto, a thriving pioneer community, he built his home and store near Lagarto also. He became a Live Oak County Commissioner in 1865. He owned a store from 1866-1875 and sold it to HB Newberry. In 1885, Cox served a second time as County Commissioner. From 1887 until 1899 Cox was the Live Oak County Judge. His memoir "Reminiscences of C.C. Cox" was published by The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association. Vol 6. No. 3 (Jan.1903. 204-235). This memoir leaves a rich history not only of events of our state and country but the changing culture of that period. Photos above and below are courtesy of Gipper Nelson unless otherwise stated.

CC Cox was one of the early stagecoach owners in the Lagarto area. Buildings in the area at the time were most often built with caliche and wood. Without proper preservation both are subject to deterioration by sun, rain, time, and other climatic irregulaties. Very few remains still exist, are deteriorated and now covered by undergrowth. Albert Davila (right), and one of his crew begin the hard work of removing these large stones quarried around 1858 from a nearby caliche pit. More to come tomorrow. 

The work is hard but Gipper, Davila, and crew perservere. After all they are preserving history and letting us peak into the culture of a time we know too little about.

Caliche is unlike other stones. The word "caliche" is Spanish in origin meaning "porous materials that have been cemented by calcium carbonate". It is found as particles and even as subsurface layers in a variety of soils and arid-to semi-arid climates. Live Oak County lies between the semi-arid inner ranges of South Texas and the Texas Coastal Bend of the Gulf of Mexico. For early settlers, caliche was an abundant stone found in rocks small to large and even in layers thick and deep enough to quarry.

 

In early 1800's settlement periods, people found a conglomerate of beautiful fertile valleys closely allied to semi-arid conditions. As a result, the land had not been filled with settlements. Historically before that time, the area was a passageway between more easily settled areas from every direction. For these primary settlers seeking to build homes and communities, caliche became a go to building product. Large stones were quarried nearby and made safe, sturdy homes and stores. 

 

However, porosity of caliche rock with its collection of silt is vulnerable to a harsh clmate. Live Oak's clmate varied from hot summers to seasonal hurricanes and infrequent ice storms. Over the warming years since the nineteenth century, areas of caliche dwindled. Near Lagarto, a small region of mountains called "Los Picachos" had beautiful white peaks. These have seemed to melt in the sun and rain. Building constructions from the quarried stones have all but disappeared. They can be preserved today, but these strategies were little known in the 1800's. 

 

Caliche edifices of the 1800's are almost extinct. This makes Gipper's and Davila's efforts all the more historically important today. 

 

 

 

Gipper, Davila, and crew continue work removing caliche stones from the original Cox homeplace.

 

 

 

 

 

Bernard Lemley and Albert Davila discuss Cox legacy and the importance of this preservation project.

 

 

 

The work is not easy. Gipper and Davila are happy for all the help they have.

 

 

Old CC Cox Stagecoach Stop ruins begin to take shape at Oakville Square. Other edifices ready for highway and or destination views at the Square are visible in background.

Gipper Nelson placing some of the last stones on formation of Cox Stagecoach Stop in Old Oakville Jailhouse Square. Two restored cottages in background. Brick walkway for site visitors.

Final resting place for CC Cox Stagecoach Stop remains at Old Oakville Jailhouse Square just off Interstate 37 access at Oakville between San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Cox Stagecoach Stop remains join the Recorded Texas Historic Landmark Oakville Jailhouse, also in the National Register of Historic Places, and many other Live Oak historic buildings and artifacts at the Square. 

Quarterly Meeting Announcement:

 

LOCHC FIRST 2021 QUARTERLY 

MEETING NOTICE


LIVE OAK COUNTY, TEXAS  HISTORICAL COMMISSION

 

WHEN:  Monday, January 18, 2021, 5:30 to 7:30 PM

WHERE:  Buck West House, 400 N. Nueces St., George West, TX

 

 

 

Photo from George West Chamber Wesite.

LOCHC FIRST 2021 QUARTERLY MEETING AGENDA

 

The Live Oak County Historical Commission may discuss and/or take action on any of the following items:

 

 1. Call to order

 2.  Introduction of visitors; recognition of anyone wishing to address the Commission

 3.  Pledges of Allegiance

 4.  Election of officers for 2021-2022 biennium

 5.  Responsibilities of a county historical commission and its appointees

 6.  Approval of October 18, 2020, Minutes

 7.  Results of Website Proposal vote taken via email

 8.  Reports of officers and chairs of standing committees:

  • Financial Report—Leslie Walker, Treasurer
  • Marker Chair Report—Richard Hudson, Chair
  • Website Report—Janis Hudson, Webmaster
  • Oral History Report—Glynis Strause, Chair
  • Archeology/Endangered Properties Report—Jim Warren, Chair
  • Publicity Report—Richard Hudson, Chair
  • Education Report—Chairmanship now open [Nancy Coquat accepted]
  • Cemetery Report—Bernard Lemley, Chair
  • Hospitality Report—Chairmanship now open [Charlotte Schroeder accepted]

  9.  Live Oak Courthouse Centennial Celebration by Nancy Coquat & MM Campbell

10.  Wreaths Across America report by Peggy Skoruppa

11.  Notification of Section 106 filing

12.  Goals for 2021

13.  Review of reimbursement requests before submission to the county treasurer

14.  Ask if any Appointees wish to address the Commission.

15.  Work sessions, if needed, for standing committees

16.  Adjourn

Live Oak County Historical Commission

This notice posted the 14th day of January 2021.

 

Mary Margaret Campbell, Chairman

Live Oak County Historical Commission

P. O. Box 476, George West, TX  78022

 

THIS MEETING IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Our last 2020 Story:

 

National Wreaths Across America (WAA): 

 

Saturday, December 19, 2020, the LOCHC partnered with Live Oak County Cemetery Associations, Veterans of War Post 6119, and American Legion Post 413 to remember Live Oak County Veterans in National Wreaths Across America. A virtual tour of Live Oak County's WAA 2020 Veteran's Memorial begins on LOCHC Events page. Last year full celebration and history of WAA in 2019 Archive. Refreshments were served at George West Cemetery by LOCHC. Memorial WAA Schedule included Oakville Historic Texas Cemetery,George West Historic Texas Cemetery, Gussettville Cemetery, and St. George Cemetery.

 

Memorial services of the highest standards honor men and women of Live Oak County who served in our American Armed Forces in this National Veterans' Memorial. Photo credit to Peggy Skorupa.

 

"Taps" back story at the closing of Oakville Historic Texas Cemetery Memorial. HoorahCapella lyrics for Taps at the end of George West Historic Texas Cemetery's Memorial services.

Note: No link on this page is intended to be a product advertisement. Links are chosen solely on the basis of their addition to historical and informational content.

 
Live Oak County Courthouse

The Honorable Jim Huff, County Judge for Live Oak County, welcomes you to the Live Oak County Historical Commission (LOCHC) Website. The Live Oak County Historical Commission is an arm of the Live Oak County Commissioners' Court; appointees are selected at the beginning of odd numbered years and serve two year terms. Judge Huff and the Live Oak County Commissioners support and approve actions of the LOCHC in coordination with the Texas Historical Commission (THC).

 

Live Oak County Commissioners:

Precinct 1: Richard Lee

Precinct 2: Donna Kopplin Mills

Precinct 3: Mitchell Williams

Precinct 4: Emilio Garza

The Commissioner's Court is committed to the preservation of our county's history. Judge Huff and your local commissioner welcome suggestions.

The Honorable Jim Huff, Live Oak County Judge.

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