Live Oak County Historical Commission
Live Oak County Historical Commission

     Chauncy and Minnie Canfield House

Canfield descendants stand with Robert Canfield, sponsor of the RTHL family marker, before the marker unveiling in George West, Texas at the original Canfield home. The home was moved to its present address in 1947 and the family worked to encase the original in the Southern Colonial styled home, porch framed with neo-classical columns, doors and window sidelights from the original doorway for the front entrance and transoms above completing a graceful ambiance as one enters the home now owned by Cody and Mary Margaret Campbell.  Photo courtesy of Richard Hudson.

Live Oak County Judge: Honorable Jim Huff

Live Oak County Historical Commission Chair: Sue Denniston

LOCHC Marker Chair: Richard Hudson

Chair Assistant: Janis Hudson

Canfield Marker Sponsor: Robert Canfield

Date Unveiled: 2014

Contact: raven@historyraven.com

 

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark Text:

 

                                              Chauncey and Minnie Canfield House 

  George Washington West invited Chauncy Canfield to build a business in his new town of George West in 1914. Canfield preceded his family and established a store. His wife, Minnie Elizabeth (Hale), sister Callie and three children arrived on the first passenger train. 

  Designed in Prairie and English cottage style, the Canfield House was the first family home in George West. Eventually, son, Hale, married Mabel Frances Lamm and relocated nearby. 

  In 1947, the original house was moved one block west and north to 508 Crockett Street to allow Houston Street commercial construction. Minnie, daughters Josephine and Lou Emma, added a southern colonial exterior and lived in the house until Lou Emma's passing in 1988. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. (2014) Marker is Property of the State of Texas.               

 

APPLICATION NARRATIVE and BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR OFFICIAL RECORDED TEXAS HISTORIC LANDMARK MARKER:

 

 

CHAUNCY AND MINNIE CANFIELD HOUSE

 

I.                   CONTEXT

George Washington West and his wife, Kittie Searcy West, bought 140,000 acres of land in Live Oak County and made their ranch home on it in 1880. [1] George West began amassing a fortune as a cattle drover at the age of sixteen in 1867 as one of the youngest and first drovers from Texas to Kansas and beyond to the Rosebud Indians in Montana until the trail was closed.[2] West continued ranching in Live Oak County until he owned 200,000 acres. Then he bought a mansion at the corner of Travis and Navarro Streets in San Antonio where he and Kittie made their new home in 1904 until his death in 1927.  With a watchful eye toward changing times, especially the railroad, West turned his efforts in Live Oak County toward colonization by donating $100,000 and granting right of way for the San Antonio, Uvalde, and Gulf railway to come through his ranch.[3] When the railroad laid tracks in 1913, West began efforts in earnest for a first class town to be located in the geographic center of the county adjacent to the rails.  The town named George West was recorded in the Live Oak County Clerk’s office on September 22, 1914.[4]

Chauncy (Chan) Zachariah Canfield was among those whom George West invited to establish business in his namesake town. In 1914, Canfield built a general merchandise store and placed four rooms with canvas partitions at the back as his family’s home where they lived until their house could be completed.[5]

II.    Overview 

Chauncy and Minnie Elizabeth (Hale) Canfield who lived in Floresville, Texas became interested in farm land near the town of George West when West began widespread advertising. Chauncy bought a Nueces River farm and brought three families overland to help work the farm with teams of work animals and cattle brought from the Canfield property in Floresville and La Vernia, Texas. At West’s behest for Chan to build the first general mercantile store in the town, Chan also bought town lots located on either side of a large central park area which in 1919 became the grounds for the new Live Oak County Courthouse. [6] Chan built the store in block 11 east of the park facing Houston Street, the main downtown street. The Canfield home was built in the middle of block 25, lots one through four, west of the park also facing Houston Street.[7]             

Chan came ahead of the family in 1914 while his store and home were being built. The family arrived on November 17, 1914 on the first passenger train into the town of George West. Minnie Elizabeth brought their three children: Josephine Elizabeth, Lou Emma, and William Hale along with Chan’s beloved sister, Callie Canfield, called Aunt Taddy by the children.  They quickly settled into the canvas partitions in the store, and Minnie minded the store while Chan worked at getting the farm in order. [8]

Chauncy Zachariah Canfield was born on the Cibolo in Karnes County, Texas on April 3, 1865. He was the eldest son of William E. and Josephine V. Canfield. After the death of his mother, Chan and his siblings lived for a time in Goliad with their grandmother Canfield, but later lived with an aunt, Martha McDaniel, in Floresville, Wilson County. There Chan worked with W. C. Agee, a pharmacist and drug store owner. Afterwards, Chan and his sisters moved to LaVernia, Texas near San Antonio where he was in the mercantile business and postmaster for a number of years. He married Minnie Elizabeth Hale at LaVernia. They had three children; Josephine Elizabeth, Lou Emma, and William Hale. At the time of their move to George West, the family was once again living in Floresville. [9]

The original Chauncy and Minnie Canfield one-story frame house was the first house built by a family in George West. Two others built by progenitor, George West, housed realtors who sold property for the town, as well as farms and ranches being offered by West in the surrounding area. A two story Land Office building was also intact at the time with offices on the first floor and a large meeting room on the second. The rest of the town was a tent city as prospective home owners and workers earned their way and lived in floored tents awaiting completion of their homes. Trenches for water and sewer works were in process and open during that first year. The rains created such soupy, thick mud in the black earth that many lost shoes permanently in efforts to reach important destinations. Horseback was the best transportation in wet weather. Rattlesnakes and other vermin as well as wild animals also predicated the need for floors in the tents.[10]

Chauncy and Minnie’s house was a prairie style blend reminiscent of an almost unornamented English cottage with cross-gabled medium pitched roof, a pragmatic peer and beam foundation, hardwood flooring, tall, narrow windows, and high ceilings all designed to receive welcome cool southerly breezes blowing seasonally from the coast some miles away.  Even though the house was quite modest, the front porch entrance was embellished with sedate window sidelights and modestly sophisticated round pilars supporting the porch roof.[11]         

The Canfield family lived in the house until 1947 when Minnie and the sisters moved it one block west and another block north to 508 Crockett Street to make way for commercial buildings on Houston Street. Earlier in 1921, D.P. Hale, Minnie’s father, passed away in the home while living there with the family. Chan passed away in the original home in 1932. School was dismissed in his honor.[12] Their son, Hale, moved into another house though he stayed in George West with the business when he married Mabel Frances Lamm in 1936. Minnie Elizabeth, Josephine, Lou Emma, and Aunt Taddy each remained until their passing. Lou Emma passed away in 1988 as the last of six in the family to die peacefully in the home. [13]

The original Canfield home is well preserved within the framework of its renovated sixty-six year old Neo-classical Revival Exterior, which is sometimes called Southern Colonial by the general public.[14] It was placed on the new lot where its previous rear entrance faces west with a side portico entrance for family and “Miss Josephine’s music students”. The symmetrical renovation changed the roof style to a lower pitch with end gables, on the west side a new spacious living room west of the entrance, and the music room with its Steinway grand piano. This placed the prior living room now serving as a master bedroom with the front entrance to the east, opening onto a large concrete side porch. All of the bedrooms are on that same east side of the house.

The present front porch extends symmetrically almost the length of the south facing home framed with neo-classical porch columns. The family incorporated the window sidelights from the original doorway for the front entrance and placed transoms above completing a graceful ambiance as one enters the wide foyer, a former bedroom. The ample entrance hall tees into a longer hallway joining the older section with the new. This establishes a seamless union of the more modest, original hundred year old 1914-15 pragmatic structure with the 1947 renovation to Neo-classical Revival. Their unity reflects the ever-changing needs and growth of the town from modest frame houses to more affluent homes over 33 years of progress from the time the Canfields built their first house. Later when Minnie became ill, the sisters added an extra bedroom and enlarged the kitchen to accommodate live in help for their mother. Minnie passed away in 1963 making this rear addition still within the historic reference of the home. Josephine and Lou Emma, and homeowners since dutifully and willingly maintain the blended integrity of the home. [15]

      George West was correct in judging that the Canfields would be a contributing first family. On April 3, 1914, Texas State Representative John Nance Garner sent a request to the First Assistant Postmaster General to establish a post office in George West and appoint Mr. C.Z. Canfield postmaster. [16] When the request was fulfilled, Chan set up a post office in the northeast corner of his store.[17] While Chan served as postmaster, his wife, Minnie Elizabeth was assistant postmistress.[18] They continued in this office until 1922.[19]

      As proprietor of C.Z. Canfield General Merchandise, the first store in George West, Chan was also a pharmacist. The store provided clothing, fabric, dry goods, and seasonal produce was available for the public as late as November. Chan continued as manager of C.Z. Canfield General Merchandise until 1932 when he passed away. His son, Hale, and daughter, Lou Emma, took over the store at that time. Later, under Hale’s management, the store joined the Red and White Food Chain, moved, and built a modern building on the west side of the courthouse facing Houston Street in 1948 after the original home was moved.[20]

      Lou Emma launched Canfield’s Dress and Gift Shop next door to the grocery. Her business swelled as she kept women of the area in the latest and most up to date attire.[21] Lou Emma’s attention to individual client style and taste during special clothier events in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and the internationally famous Dallas Market secured a loyal following.[22] The women of Live Oak County and surrounding area knew they would be comfortable anywhere they went with a purchase from Lou Emma’s.

      Josephine’s musical talent was discovered as she took lessons from Lydie Nixon in the early tent city. She excelled in piano, organ, and the violin. She continued musical study through college at Westmoreland, now Trinity University, then the Chicago Musical College, and on to Europe where she performed many concerts. She left lasting musical appreciation and accomplishments by teaching children and adults in the area. Joyce Jones, her most recognized student, became organist in residence and chair of the music department at Baylor University in Waco, Texas with a successful national and international concert career. Josephine became renowned as a music teacher and was often called upon far and wide to judge competitions. Her more than 100 compositions are in the library at George West. The Josephine Canfield Music Scholarship is awarded to a deserving student each year by the Coastal Bend Professional Music Teachers Association. [23]

      Before the Canfields moved, West promised to provide a school. While his children attended the little green schoolhouse furnished by West, Chan prevailed upon him to provide school for all of the children.  West soon began work on a new two-story brick school. Chan and friend, Webb Rhodes, served on the first school board. Minnie Elizabeth later served on the school board also. The Canfields and some other families arranged for Mrs. Peabody to come from Corpus Christi, and in 1915 between ten and twenty children attended the school. Children played on the foundation and among the framework while a $50,000 modern brick two-story building was erected. Classrooms were downstairs and an auditorium upstairs. Josephine Canfield was the first student to graduate from the George West High School. West prepared a special ceremony, and though he could not attend, he had a phone installed so that he could listen to it from his home in San Antonio.[24] Each of the other children graduated from the school as did Hale’s three sons: Chauncy Edward, Thomas Hale, and Robert Porter. Each of the grandsons also graduated from the University of Texas.[25]

      The first Sunday School, the Union Sunday School, was begun by Chauncy and Minnie Elizabeth in the little green schoolhouse. Chan, Minnie Elizabeth, Josephine, and Lou Emma were charter members of the First Methodist Church, and Chan was one of the original trustees. All denominations met at first in this building. The Canfields provided an overnight home for many of these ministers and some of their families. Mr. West donated property for each of the denominations. The Canfields opened their home for services until the first church building could be completed. In 1921, George West First Methodist Church hired their first resident pastor, and the Canfield home became the temporary home for Pastor Wheeler, his wife, and their two children while a parsonage was built. Hale was later a trustee of the church.[26]

      During World War II, Hale was already a father and manager of the Canfield store. Lou Emma became an officer in the WACs where she reached the rank of Captain and managed more than 230 people in a security office in the Philippines. The rest of the family participated by volunteering for Red Cross preparations sent to hospitals and men and women in the armed services. [27]  

III.             Significance

The original Chauncy and Minnie Canfield house, the first family built home in George West, Texas, designed in a blended Prairie and English Cottage style represents the efforts of one of George West’s first pioneer families.  When the house was moved to make room for further commercial development of the town, the chosen renovation style was Neo-Classical Revival representing the growth of the family and town from early pioneers with modest incomes and homes to well-educated, affluent families. The original home is well preserved with a high degree of original materials and original design within the framework of the renovated home at 508 Crockett Street.

For the first three generations since the founding of Three Rivers, Chauncy and Minnie Canfield’s family collectively had a major impact on the growth and development of the George West community in multiple ways. They built the first store and were the first family to build a home in the new town of George West, Texas in 1914. Their commercial endeavors generated the first general mercantile store and post office where Chauncy was the first postmaster, and Minnie his assistant. Son, Hale, and daughter, Lou Emma, continued this commercial tradition as did Hale’s, sons, Chauncy, Thomas, and Robert. Education was profoundly impacted as both Chauncy and Minnie served on the school board. Daughter, Josephine was the first graduate of George West High School.

The Canfields and daughters, Josephine and Lou Emma, began the first church and were charter members of the First Methodist Church, and had many meetings in their home. Daughter, Lou Emma, joined the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps in 1942 and became an active WAC during WWII reaching the rank of Captain while in the Philippines managing a security office with 230 under her. She returned to George West and continued by developing the finest women’s apparel shop in George West. The town developed an exceptional appreciation of the arts, especially music and music education when daughter, Josephine, returned from European studies and concert tours to teach piano, organ, and violin.

The Chauncy and Minnie Canfield home stands today with the historical integrity of the renovated 1947 house as a testament to their family’s character and valued heritage which still resonates throughout the community.  It represents the versatility and indomitable spirit not only of this family, but the past and present owners of the house, as well as the town.  

IV.            Documentation


[1] Author Unknown. “George Washington West and his wife, Kittie Searcy West.” The History of the People of Live Oak County, Texas. George West: Live Oak County Historical Commission. 1982, 350. George West Library.

 

[2] Hunter, J. and Saunders, G. The Trail Drivers of Texas. University of Texas Press, Austin. 1924-1992. 835.

 

[3] Obituary, “George W. West, Southwest Texas Pioneer, is Dead.” Beeville Picayune, February 16, 1927.

 

[4] Handbook of Texas online. Barbara D. Robins, "George West, Texas." (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgg01), accessed October 26, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

 

[5] Adlof, Viola. “More About the Early Days of George West.” The Progress of Live Oak and McMullen Counties. February 4, 1981. p. 9.

 

[6] Deed Records: Book V, 76-77; Book T, 414; Book T, 480; Book T, 482; V. 618, 133.

 

[7] Deed Records: Book V, 76-79; Town Plat: Dobie, Roberta. June 22, 2010.

 

[8] Adlof, Viola. “More About the Early Days of George West.” The Progress of Live Oak and McMullen Counties. February 4, 1981. 9.

 

[9] Obituary. Canfield, CZ. Floresville Chronicle-Journal. November 16, 1932.

 

[10] Canfield, Minnie to Viola Adlof. Ibid.

 

[11] Statement by Robert Canfield to Richard Hudson and supplied with photographs now in LOCHC files from November 5, 2013.

 

[12] Obituary. Chauncy Zachariah Canfield, Live Oak County Herald, November 17, 1930, p.1

 

[13] Canfield, Robert. Email to Richard Hudson. July 18, 2013.

 

[14] Davis, L. Real Estate advertisement. January 14, 2004.

 

[15] Canfield, Thomas. Statement to Janis Hudson, November 11, 2013.

 

[16] Garner, John Nance, letter to C.Z. Canfield. April 3, 1914, Author’s collection.

 

[17] Canfield, Mabel Frances. “Chauncy Zachariah Canfield.” The People’s Book. Live Oak County Historical Commission. George West, Texas. 1982, 76.

 

[18] Adlof. Ibid.

 

[19] Sparkman, Ervin. The People’s History of Live Oak County, Texas. 1981. Ide House, Mesquite, Texas. 105.

 

[20] Canfield, Minnie to Viola Adlof. Ibid.

 

[21] Stewart, Liz. Statement to Janis Hudson in Liz’s George West home. October 23, 2013.

 

[22] Canfield, Inga. Statement to Janis Hudson in Inga and Robert’s San Antonio home. November 5, 2013.

 

[23] Interview: Betty Dickinson, President of Coastal Bend Music Teachers Association, with Richard and Janis Hudson. August 23, 2013.

 

[24] Adlof. Ibid.

 

[25] Lindholm, et. a.l.. “Tom Canfield.”  76.

 

[26] Sparkman, Ervin. 25-27.

 

[27] U. S. Army Records. Lou Emma Canfield: Promotion to Captain, December 30, 1945; Certificate of Service, January 16, 1946. Canfield Family Records. 

 

 

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: Willie James

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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